Teaching rudeness!

Photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr

How many times do we look at our children, sometimes in disgust or with red faces and say, “that was RUDE!” Or, better yet, we ask our kids, “why would you do something so rude?” We already know the answer to this question…and they do not.

A comedian I once heard recounted a story of being at a local pool with his 4 year old son. As the story was told, an overweight lady wearing a Guess jeans T-shirt with the word “GUESS?” written in bold across the front walked by. The child walked up to her, turned his head to the side and said, “200? 250?”

GASP.

Things such as “rudeness,” “politeness,” and other social rules and boundaries are learned over time, experience after experience. Our role as parents is to show our kids where these lines are, but more importantly, to give them experiences that will result in positive outcomes so they will be more likely to engage in that socially acceptable behavior again. Continue reading

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Five Parenting Lessons from T-Ball

I just finished up my first year as a coach of my son’s four to six year old T-ball team. I’ve never coached anything, but hoped everything was going to turn out alright. Sure, I have handled my fair share of four year olds thanks to my job, but generally speaking, they have not had bats in their hands or were throwing semi-hard baseballs at each other. It was a blast and no one got hurt! Success.

Reflecting on the season, I could not help but think of how many parenting and behavior lessons can be learned from the perspective of my experience as a T-ball coach. Here are the first 5 (the others soon to come):

           

1. Always keep your hand on (or close to) the bat.

I appreciated this lesson that came up in the coach’s meeting when an experienced coach said, “don’t let go of the bat until you are all clear and ready for that kid to swing.” What a great lesson. I was always especially careful of where the bat was at all times. And he was right…once you let go, that kid is gonna swing away.

As for parenting, I think this speaks right to the heart of always being prepared and super focused when the situation is potentially dangerous (physically, emotionally or behaviorally). Keeping an eye out, surveying the field and then letting go of the child when it is safe for them to swing away ensures success or extremely reduces the chances of failure. In those situations…hold onto the bat until you are sure everything is ready.

2. Never forget to show them where first base is.

I could not believe it. The last game of the season and I still had a few players run in the wrong direction or not run at all when they hit the ball. I assumed too much. I assumed since we had practiced running the bases and had been playing for so long they would have it. Nope. Not all of them (including my son who I had to stop from chasing down the ball he had just hit and redirect him to first base).

There are times when, as parents, you will assume incorrectly that your child knows what behaviors are expected. “He should know by now” situations will come up and potentially be tough to manage. Until you are completely sure your child knows what do to and what behaviors you are looking for, remind them. Show them.

3. The team will tell you when you are not in control.

Yes, there were times when things were more hectic than I had planned. The players got a little pushy in line, started talking more about “being first” or “thats my ball.” This always, without exception, occurred when I did not have as good of a grasp on the current situation as I had planned.  Too many kids in the line waiting to catch, too much time between batters, too few helmets, lost gloves, etc. Their behavior was a reflection on how well I had prepared them and the activity.

In the same way, your kids will tell you (with their behavior) when you are less in control: when you had too little sleep, too much aggravation, not enough time to finish that first cup of coffee in the morning. Remember, your kid’s behavior is often a reflection of your preparation and organization. Dont take it out on them. Wake up earlier, sleep more, take a “chill out” if frustrated, etc.

4. Find a white line.

When we were out on the field, I was always looking for some physical something to help the kids know where they needed to be. The white line became my source of boundaries. The circle around the home plate area was where they needed to be while we were hitting, the line from third to home was where their feet needed to be during fielding drills, the line from home to first base was where they needed to walk to shake hands with the opposing team after the game. 

Boundaries with children are important to maintain as are very clear expectations. Sometimes we have to make it exceptionally clear and give physical references for the behaviors we want. I mentioned the Parking Pal on the Facebook page previously, which is a perfect example for this. Find those physical boundaries and things in the environment to make sure your expectations are clear and visible.

             

5. Huddle up.

This is probably one of the practices most influenced by my work. I know sometimes kids have difficulties transitioning from one thing to another. Especially when they are in a group of 13 all getting ready to bat, things can go haywire if you do not watch out. So, every time we had any transition at all, we “huddled up.” Everyone together, hands in the middle, I would give the instructions of what we were going to do next, then finish it off with a “1,2,3 – GO ORIOLES!” That part was necessary because it made them want to come to the huddle. Otherwise, I would have struggled to get them in a group and maintain them at such close quarters. Also, it allowed me to have control and everyone’s attention at a time of transition. I was able to assign batting order, get them behind the line and do so in an orderly manner because I had then all right there with me.

This is so important in the daily lives of parents. There are changes in the schedule, some going more announced than others, and some when you are going into something that might not be as fun as the last thing you just did. Huddle up, inform your kids of what is coming up. Be prepared yourself so you can prepare them. Bring them together so you can start from a good, organized position rather than going into your next activity without fully gaining control of them. This is huge.

Oh, and as always, make it fun and cheer for them. A good high five goes a long way!

Pick it up! An Easter egg hunt and dirty socks

At the time I am writing this, we are closing out a week of Easter activities and fun. Amongst the chocolate bunnies with no ears, headless Peeps, and halves of plastic eggs in every corner of the house, I sat back and thought about how many times we had “egg hunts” this week. I chuckled to myself when I thought further about it…we threw a bunch of plastic around in the yard and the kids thought it was FUN to pick them up. Literally hundreds of kids at the neighborhood hunt lining up for an opportunity to fill their baskets. We spend the other 51 weeks of the year trying to get our kids to pick up after themselves, but they have been begging to pick up Easter eggs all week.

What can we learn from this? Continue reading

Three strikes? Who’s out?

Recently, on the BehaviorBandAid facebook page, I posted an article by renowned parenting expert, John Rosemond.  In this article, a mother asked a question about loud, screaming kids.  Apparently, when the kids play together, they are super loud, banging stuff…well, Im sure you get it. Kids being kids, but a little much for inside the house.

He proposed the “Three strike rule,” which is fairly simple: if the kids get too loud, they get 1 strike.  Loud again, two strikes, and after the third strike the two are separated from each other for an hour (“each in their respective rooms”).  After the hour, they can begin play again.  Three strikes two times in a day?  He says they spend the rest of the day in their rooms and go to bed early.

Here is why I am writing about this article:

  1. I don’t always agree with Rosemond, but there are some things in here I like
  2. If misused, you can be in some trouble
  3. Explain why this works and how this works so you are less likely to make those mistakes. Continue reading

“Why is bath time so hard?” – Rubber ducky is NOT the one!

During a recent presentation I made to a group of parents, we had some extra time at the end for me to answer questions from the audience.  One parent raised her hand and essentially said, “why is bath time so hard?” 

Good question…here you go.

Bath time is not hard just because it is the bath

There are other reasons why bath time is hard.  A lot of the problems can be remedied even before the water starts splashing and you wonder how dirt got in “there…”

One of the first problems is when bath takes place.  Not necessarily the time of day (although this can be important too), but where in the series of events does bath time occur.  Is it after dinner, after homework, after TV time and right before bedtime?   

It might very well be more about what you are taking your kids from (telling them to stop doing) rather than what you are asking them to do (take a bath).  Stopping a highly preferred activity such as an epic battle of Wii bowling or the Thomas the Train episode right before Percy dumps into the mud is NOT the time to ask your kid to take a bath.  Terrible timing.  When you say, “you can bowl the last 2 frames when you are done,” your kid is thinking “or, I could bowl them NOW!”

Another problem comes from what they do after bath time.  If your kids go to bed right after taking a bath, bath time is like the Krispy Kreme “HOT NOW” sign except the sign is blinking, “Your night is over, pal…”  Bath time stinks because they know what is coming next: bedtime, and that is generally not fun.

Combine the two, and you have a problem: most preferred activity to lesser preferred activity to least preferred.  Bath time is NOT likely to happen.

So, have I convinced you its not about the water, the soap or the terrible “Rubber Ducky” song you try to sing to make it all better?  No soapy crayons or Mickey Mouse sponges will be likely to help this situation.

Here is the suggestion: think about your evening routine.  Set things up for your advantage.    Least preferred things (bath time, tooth brushing, picking out clothes for tomorrow) happen first, then more preferred things (Wii, TV time, computer time, preferred book time).  Control access to those things so you dont get stuck taking them away from games or TV.  Don’t get stuck on the “it needs to happen now” thing.  Let the motivation of access to preferred things work.  Stand back.  Don’t force it.  Wrestling your kid into the bath will not work out for you (or them).

Warning…you might have to be OK with a bath not happening or the teeth not getting brushed a few times to make sure the contingency sinks in.  A night without a bath or furry teeth are not worth the continued struggle and fight.  If it happens over and over, you need to find things that are more motivating…your Wii has lost its power.