Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Christmas is less then a week away and I, as usual, have put off getting gifts for my grandchildren right down to the last days. I want to get them something that will teach and benefit them, not just another splashy piece of plastic in its little molded card that will hold their attention only until the next gift is opened.

It’s not easy to find a lasting gift in the newest list of plastic heroes with special powers that are the rage of the 6 to 12-year-old set. Last year Pokeman cards, lost out to Harry Potter books, toys, games, and t-shirts. But Harry Potter might not make the top ten this year. No customers are as fickle as children, so with six days left, who can predict the next best seller.

I remember very few gifts from my own childhood. One or two stand out, but most were broken, lost or in the trash after only a few months. I do remember my Aunt Emily’s card promising me a trip to the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago. She didn’t have a lot of money, so she gave “services.” We went while school was still out for the holidays, and I still remember where we had lunch. I don’t remember any other gift from that Christmas.

Memories of gifts during my teenage years are also a blur except I remember that my older cousin, Harold, picked up Aunt Emily’s idea and took me bowling one year. The next year, he took me back to his old college for a day just to show me what college was all about. I graduated from that school years later.

For our own nieces and nephews, we have taken the hint from Aunt Emily. My wife, Eileen, gave a card to our niece, Ashley, that said, “Good for one lunch and adventure trip with Aunt Eileen.” During lunch at the Smithsonian Ashley said, “This is great. I wish you would always give this kind of gift.”

But lunches, museums and other special trips are not easy gifts to give. Often they don’t make a big impression at first and they may be inconvenient, time-consuming, and costly later on. If you think a regular gift needs to be part of Christmas morning, maybe you could make a secret promise to yourself to give a special “services” gift later on.

Time is the most precious of these gifts we give our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. It is truly irreplaceable and the memories will last into their adult years.

So this holiday season consider a gift of your time – time to listen without jumping in with criticism or advice; time to seek out one of the many capabilities or likable characteristics of the children and let them know you found it; time to give over more responsibility so the child-rearing moves along toward adult-rearing; and time to show tolerance so that tolerance will be admired.

For the Christmas morning gift under the tree, my guess is no better than yours, but gifts of time will make the lasting memories.

Dr. McIntire is the author of Teenagers and Parents: 12 Steps to a Better Relationship and Staying Cool and In Control. Contact him through Parentsuccess.com.


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Excerpt from: Raising Good Kids in Tough Times

Kids starting middle school next month take a big lonely step out on their own. With the challenge of new friends, values, and temptations, it may be the biggest culture shock of their lives. Yet parent involvement both at school and at home seems to taper off in middle school – just when it’s needed most.

Most of the tragic stories of kids gone wrong at this stage begin with a surprise – a surprise to the parents that the kids even had a problem. But as the review goes on, it turns out there were signals: isolation, anger, following the lead of new friends or new models in the fantasy of TV, movies, or social media.

It’s a time when parents are tempted to view every opportunity as a chance to “get in their licks.” But the kids are thin skinned, defensive, and easily embarrassed. They don’t have the verbal abilities of adults and can’t express their ideas and feelings in words so easily.

So if parents are to keep up with how it’s going in middle school, and the kids are to stay around long enough to hear some parental advice, us parents will have to slow down. You can avoid quick parental advice by asking questions and just repeating your child’s last remark instead of always centering the talk on the quick fix:
“Boy, is that school boring!”
“Gets pretty dull sometimes, I guess.” (Instead of, “You have a bad attitude.”)
“It’s like that all the time over there.”
“What bothers you most?” (Instead of, “It can’t be bad all the time, You shouldn’t be so…”)
“Math is really tough.” (Parental patience has allowed the real topic to come up.)
“It was tough for me, too.” (Instead of, “You just need to apply yourself.”)

Body language also makes a difference. Face your conversational partner. Put down the paper and turn off the TV. It won’t help to be right in their face, but talking while keeping one eye on the TV commercials so you can turn off the mute when the program resumes will make the talk hectic and the child discouraged.

Children need confidence to take chances and tinker with ideas in their talks with you. Avoid “Why would you think that? That shows that you are (to blame, wrong, or off-base).” If the talks always center on the child’s defects the child will just want out.

Talking doesn’t make a good competitive sport. If every conversation is treated as a tennis game where each return requires yet another return until someone wins, kids will harden their defensive style early and the exploration stage will be short. Once the score card is started in a conversation, the tallies get more attention than the ideas.

As the kids encounter the new school, you may feel that you’ve lost your influence over them. The children may try to give you that impression, but as every teacher, counselor and minister knows, you have an effect, even when the kids react with, “You don’t know anything.” and “It’s not the same nowadays.”

In the everyday rush to jobs, shopping, and school buses, it’s easy to miss your chance to hear what’s going on. Watch for it and use it, it can help you keep up.

Dr. McIntire is the author of Teenagers and Parents: 12 Steps to a Better Relationship (5th revision out (9/15/16) and Raising Good Kids in Tough Times.

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What is the top priority of most teenagers? Adults would put family, security and friends near the top, but most teens I know also assign high priorities to being liked, competent, and “cool.”

As for the greatest fears, teens usually put fear of embarrassment, mistakes, and failure at the top of the list. Memories of our own teenage experiences include these same concerns–yearning to be liked and worried about embarrassment.

The next teen you encounter will probably have all these priorities and fears – all disguised or covered by an attitude that says everything is just fine. That teen needs you to confirm his or her competencies, likableness, and “coolness.” Look for chances to ease her fear and bolster her confidence. Even though you may find plenty to fix and teach your teen, keep to the positive and avoid the urge to work for perfection. Many adults have sadly told me: “As far as my parents are concerned, I always felt I was never quite good enough.”

So while talking to your teen, remember that criticisms, quick-fixes, advice, and focus on shortcomings hit vulnerable buttons. Admiration, compliments, and respect for who they are and their successes are always gratefully received even if they are too “cool” to acknowledge it.

Be generous with your positive support, find the good points. Encourage your teen to value himself and you will help insulate him from the temptations to try dangerous “S.A.D.” behaviors: sex, alcohol, and drugs.

Since “coolness” is related to being “non-parent,” your teen may also worry she will be accused of being similar to an adult such as a parent, perish the thought! Still most of us are surprised to eventually hear ourselves say, “I can’t believe I said that, I sound just like my Dad (Mom)!”

Teens are always struggling to be their own adult and yet still tempted to be reckless, irresponsible children, too. This preoccupation with who they are and whether they are properly cool makes life tough for your teenager. They must always be on guard, questioning each comment from their parents and wondering: What are you saying about ME? Are you challenging one of my desires to be cool (hep, with it, in, or whatever the word for the upcoming generation is)? Are you endangering me with one of my greatest fears of embarrassment, a mistake uncovered, a failure?

Parents try to make their children and their teens as similar to themselves as possible; they try to instill their standards, their view, their attitude towards community, work, family, religion, and values. It’s the way we pass along our culture.

Children and teens try to make themselves as different from their parents as possible! They feel a drive to get out from under the umbrella of protection and influence of their parents. That’s the way we change, and hopefully improve, the culture!

As your teenager approaches adulthood, positive comments to your teen will be your most effective influence. Let it never be said by your son or daughter, “I always felt I was never quite good enough.”

Dr. McIntire is the author of What Every Parent Should Know About Raising Children, Raising Your Teenager: 5 Crucial Skills for Moms and Dads and Raising Good Kids in Tough Times. Review his books on Amazon.com. Write him through http://www.ParentSuccess.com

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Raising Good Kids in Tough Times

By Dr. Roger McIntireImage

 The Many Sources of Behavior Problems

            Of all the culprits that contribute to bad behavior in childhood, allergic reactions may be the most difficult to identify. Parents may quickly recognize common allergy symptoms such as runny noses, coughing, and other cold-like indicators. Less obvious symptoms could go unnoticed in daily activity. Dark lines under the eyes, dry lips, inflamed ears and unusually pale skin can easily slip under the parental radar.

            Allergies to pollens are in the forefront this time of year, but food allergies are common the year round. Children who have these allergies are often fussy eaters with a craving, paradoxically, for the food that is the source of the allergy. These children often also like peculiar smells, particularly smells of the very substance causing the trouble, food odors or even gasoline are common examples.

             So when a mother of a fussy child with springtime stuffiness and sniffles, dry lips and that tired look under the eyes says her daughter would “live on just that special cereal if I let her,” you have to wonder if the culprit for the trouble is right there in the bowl.

            Children bothered by such symptoms are usually irritated and prone to tantrums as well as showing the sniffing and sinus symptoms expected in an allergic reaction.  

            Common treatments with non-sedating antihistamines such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec are available over the counter and, by prescription, nasal steroids Flonase and Nasonex may help.

     For stubborn cases, allergy shots and stronger medications are sometimes recommended. Many have a sedating affect that will cover up the problems or tempt the child to use the illness to excuse bad behavior. Benadryl, for example, is so sedating that in the state of Virginia, driving under the influence of a sedating antihistamine is illegal because it impairs driving.

            Sinus infections can also be a result of allergies. The infection can develop when the normal sinus secretions get trapped and don’t drain well–and then become infected.

            While your child’s emotional responses may be related to allergies, your reactions to these outbursts will still be a strong influence. When a child who regularly throws tantrums has a request, parents need to make a careful decision. As every parent knows, the decision to deny the request should not be altered by a tantrum, but often a less clear reaction gets parents into hotter water.

            The request from an explosive child may tempt the parents to put off a confrontation with, “I’ll think about it,” or “We’ll have to wait until your mother (or father) comes home.” This sets up a long and risky period when a tantrum is likely. For the moment the request is denied, but it was done in a weak way that tempts the child to fight for what he or she wants–plenty of time to try out a tantrum along with other obnoxious behavior.

            Another argument for prompt decisions is that they allow less time for a tantrum to develop and for parents to give in. With delayed decisions, parents are tempted to hold out until bad behavior gets worse. Giving in then is certainly a move in the wrong direction. Delays in decisions and giving in to expanding tantrums develop the childish willingness to try to manipulate others by making them miserable.

            Many parents I know have used the “all stop” method with success. The term comes from the Navy when the ship captain commands, “All stop!” and all engines, whether in reverse, slow, or full speed, are shut down and the ship is dead in the water. For tantrums it means no progress is possible until the tantrum stops–no discussion, no alternatives, no argument. Mom merely says, “We’re in “all stop” until you stop this tantrum.”

            The pitfall to this approach is that most of us parents will not really stop. We are tempted to continue to talk, cajole, plead and threaten–especially if the tantrum gets longer and louder. If this attention is part of the child’s reason for tantruming, then we’re going in the wrong direction by providing attention only for escalation.

            Keep your reactions plain and unentertaining. No sense in providing a new challenge – plain vanilla will do.

            Many parents have told me that tantrums occur at regular times-_ often when routine is disrupted by holidays or company or when the competition from a sibling is the focus. Here’s a good place to keep a behavior record. You may find that food shopping with your child right before dinner is likely to be a tantrum situation or homework arguments right before bed produce the most tantrums.

            The best solution will come from patience with a child not experienced with the unusual stress and not mature enough to handle frustration, hunger, or fatigue without emotion. Parents can help with a thoughtful and consistent reaction when tantrums do erupt.

Dr. McIntire is the author of Raising Your Teenager: 5 Crucial Skills for Moms and Dads and Raising Good Kids in Tough Times. Write him through the Journal or go to www.ParentSuccess.com

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