How To Make Sure Your Kids Have Good Role Models

Emma Watson

As they get older, we need to keep a closer watch.

Regardless of what parenting style you adhere to, you know that children can be very impressionable. At all ages, parents must keep a close eye on the things that their kids consume, be it TV shows or websites, and we need to make sure that they’re not idolizing – or more importantly, emulating – the wrong things.

The task of making sure that our children have good role models is deceptively easy, because younger children aren’t nearly as hell-bent on having their way. Correcting bad behavior in children has sometimes even been said to be as easy as 1-minute magic, because let’s face it, younger children are much more keen to accept your authority, and much more fearful of a parent’s wrath.

But as they get older, children start to grow much more independent, and much less accepting of the authority of their parents. When this happens, it can be a bit more difficult to tell them off for listening to offensive material or watching inappropriate shows. It’s harder to correct bad behavior, and much harder to help them find and keep good role models. So how do you make sure that they don’t end up idolizing the wrong people?

Sometimes, the best solution is the easiest, and in this case, the simplest solution is to find an alternative. Begin by asking your children if there’s anyone they idolize, or aspire to be in the future, and if it seems to you that the person they idolize could be a negative influence, don’t go and tell them off.

After all, if there’s anything older children hate, it’s being told what to do. As the UK’s National Health Service says, “Teenagers hate being lectured or bombarded with solutions. Instead of trying to be the expert on their lives, try to help them think for themselves so that they can make good decisions.”

Ask them what it is exactly that they like about the person they say they idolize. Is it the fact that they make a lot of money, have a lot of friends, or maybe it’s the successful career? As soon as you find out what it is, you can then start giving alternatives.

Rather than tell them right off the bat that their idols are bad for them, try to find positive influences in people you think also embody the characteristics your children find admirable in their idols. Present these people to your children casually, by watching films that these people star in, or talking about things you see on the news.

Positive role models aren’t that hard to come by, and it’s best to introduce them to your kids in the medium that they use the most. On Youtube, we have Bethany Mota, a personality described by Business Insider as “relentlessly upbeat and bouncy” and “a virtuoso of positivity” despite being bullied in her early teens.

In theater, we also have Catherine Bennett of Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, which Tootsa MacGinty describes as “a ‘modern heroine’ – not the over-sexualised-material-disney-girl that seems to have become the norm, but someone who would inspire our younger female generation”.

There are a slew of potential role models out there, and even if your child doesn’t take to the first one or two that you introduce to them, keep trying. The important thing here is to help your child identify just what it is exactly that makes a role model positive, or negative, so in the future, they won’t even need your help in discerning which is which.

What are some ways you’ve talked to your kids about their role models? Do you have any tips for confronting older children about their idols? Let us know!

Exclusively submitted to Loving Your Child by JenniB

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The Dangers Of Helicopter Parenting

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Many parents these days tend to be extremely protective of their children, to the point that it seems like they’re constantly hovering above their kids. This behavior has been jokingly coined “helicopter parenting,” and despite the humorous name, experts believe it’s no laughing matter.

It’s natural to be protective of your children. I myself have two boys, and I experience an incredible urge to shelter them from harm. In many times, it pays off—we can often anticipate trouble better than our kids, and know how to best avoid it.

The problem arises when we overdo it. We find ourselves demanding to know every single detail of our kids’ lives. We ask where they are 24/7, who they’re spending time with, and what they’re doing.

We end up crossing the line between being involved and being overbearing. While helicopter parents believe they’re doing the right thing, they actually tend to negatively affect their children’s development in several ways:

Robbing children of learning opportunities

Everything that happens in life is a learning opportunity. Failures and mistakes are more so, teaching valuable lessons about how to handle different situations in life. Children can’t learn to deal with failure and bad luck if their parents never let them have these experiences.

Taking care of everything for a child deprives them of the most important impetus to succeed. For  kids to become strong adults, they’ll need to know just how bad things can be. They also need to feel they have choices.

If those are always being made for them, they won’t know how to make smart decisions without mom or dad to help out – and let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we can’t always be there for our children. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is let them figure out how to deal with problems on their own.

Expanded childhood or adolescence

A 2010 study by Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in New Hampshire, showed that helicopter parenting cultivates dependent, anxious, and vulnerable children.

Surveying first year college students, the study associated helicopter parenting with decreased openness to new ideas and actions. Hovering over a child can hamper their maturity in taking care of themselves and in facing difficult situations, making them constantly worried about even the simplest things.

Overprotected children also become easily upset when situations don’t go their way, because they’re used to their parents making things work for them.

Lower self-esteem

Similarly, doing everything for your children removes their confidence to do things on their own. Helplessly feeling that they can’t do anything for themselves, they hesitate to even try. Over-parenting breeds children who hesitate in aiming high for fear of failure, or who do so only when they know that their parents will make ways for them to succeed anyway.

Montgomery’s study also suggests that these children can become neurotic. They may even rebel in the future in an effort to break away from hovering parents.   How can we remain involved in our kids’ lives without resorting to hovering over them? Here are a couple of tips we use in our family:

  • Encourage, Don’t Hound

If your kids are uncertain about new situations, show them the advantages of trying new things but don’t push them. When they’re doing a school project or preparing to join a competition, offer your help but don’t pressure them into doing things your way.

Children of all ages face problems, and the best way for them to learn how to handle things is usually by experiencing it themselves. Talk to them and let them know the consequences of each decision, but let them do the rest.

Don’t save them from every awkward situation because failure and sadness are a healthy part of life.

  • Trust in Your Child

Relax and let your children live their life as their own. This may be difficult, but if you truly believe that your child is great, then trust that they can go through life with flying colors. This also does wonders to a child’s self-esteem.

What helicopter parents rarely see is the beauty of their children’s personalities; they forget that children are people, too. A little respect for kids’ decision-making abilities can go a long way, both developmentally and socially.

Pasha Lubeck is a single mom to two beautiful boys and a part-time designer for Kichler Lighting. She believes that being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world—and also one of the most rewarding.

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Laws Of Adoption In India

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This article is the second in a series by Pallavi Bhattacharya, the first of which was published as Adoption For Single Women In India.

Child adoption in India is governed by the Personal Law of each community.

The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA):

This Act provides for legal adoption to those of the Hindu faith or religions that have taken birth from Hinduism. Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Brahmos and those belonging to the Prarthana, Arya Samaj, Virashaiva and Lingayat faiths are included under this act.

The woman who adopts should be an adult and of ‘sound mind’. If a single woman is adopting a son the age difference between them should at least be 21 years. If she is however adopting a girl child this age gap restriction doesn’t apply.

The Act allows the adoptive parent to have just one boy child and one girl child. The law makes no distinction whatsoever if the child she may have at the time of adoption is born to her or adopted.

Under this Act the child who is being adopted should be a Hindu and below fifteen years, unless there is a custom or usage applicable to the parties which permits persons who have completed the age of fifteen years being taken in adoption. Under this Act the adopted child has the same rights as the biological child as far as inheritance to parental property is concerned.

The Guradian And Wards Act, 1890 (GWA):

Non-Hindus (Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Jews) and foreign nationals can adopt under this Act. Foreigners obtain the guardianship of an Indian child who will later be adopted in accordance to the adoption law prevailing in their country. A person can take the guardianship of any number of children of either gender under this Act.

This act has been designed to appoint a guardian for the child rather than substitute his birth parents. Unlike a child adopted under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, the child adopted under the Guardian and Wards Act can’t take the family name or inherit parental property.

The adopted child can’t avail of the same status as a child born biologically to the family under this Act. The legal guardian-ward relationship exists till the child becomes a major. In practical terms the child may however be able to enjoy the status of an adopted child by receiving inheritance by the way of a will.

The Guardian and Wards Act has been made as the personal law of Muslims, Parsis and Jews don’t formally recognize adoption. Initially Christians weren’t legally allowed to adopt.

However according to the new interpretation given by two High Courts in the country of the personal law governing Christian adoption, legal adoption of a child is now possible for Indian Christians.

Christians under the Guardian and Wards Act have the right to petition the court to adopt the child two years from the date on which the guardianship order was passed.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000:

This Act provides for adoption as one of the options for rehabilitation and social integration of the children in need of care and protection. This Act offers the placement of the child in a permanent substitute family through the legal process of adoption.

Adoption according to this Act means ‘taking permanent custody and responsibility of a juvenile or a child covered under this Act who shall have pari passu rights of a natural born child.’ Under this Act a person can adopt any number of children of either gender.

Unfortunately not many people are adopting under this Act. Child Right Activist Anjali Pawar Kate, Director of Pune based NGO Sakhee, working on child trafficking for adoption issues, explains why, “Adoption under the Juvenile Justice Act is very complicated and lengthy. That’s why adoption agencies prefer the other two acts that they have already been using for many years”

The adoption procedure:

The majority of adoptions in India take place through adoption agencies. Adoptive applicants are first asked to register with the agency. A nominal registration fee is charged.

In the application form you need to fill in basic information like your name, age, education, occupation, income and the preferred age and gender of the child you want to adopt. A single woman who wants to adopt an infant shouldn’t be more than 45 according to CARA guidelines. You need to get a police clearance for the adoption agency to allow you to adopt.

A series of interviews will be taken of the prospective adoptive parent. Her family, friends, relatives, family physician and priest may also be interviewed if felt necessary.

Health check:

Evidence should be provided to clearly prove that the prospective adoptive parent is in good physical and mental health and free from communicable diseases. HIV and Hepatitis B tests are done.

The adoptive parent shouldn’t be suffering from a health problem which may act as a hindrance to raise the child. This however doesn’t mean that any health problem will instantly debar you from adopting. For instance diabetes which is under control or a previous surgery shouldn’t necessarily disqualify you from adopting.

Home-study:

The adoption agency will conduct a home study to ascertain whether you’ll be able to give the child a loving and caring home. The prospective adoptive parent’s home environment and neighbourhood are studied.

Are the family members supportive of adoption? Is the neighbourhood safe and conducive to raising a child? Is she financially solvent to raise a child?

The adoption agency will try to ascertain your personality and lifestyle through observation and interviews. You may be asked to describe a day in your life to help the adoption agency to ascertain if you are suitable to raise a child.

You may be asked to state your likes and dislikes and how you have coped with stressful situations in your life. Have you sailed smoothly through ups and downs in life? Or do you have weak coping skills and low EQ?

Your motivation for the acceptance of adoption will be carefully explored. Most importantly are you adopting just to fulfil your needs or for the sake of the child?

After all for adoption agencies the well-being of the child is the primary concern. If you are adopting a child as you think he/ she will ‘solve your life’s problems’ like loneliness and boredom, you may have to undergo counselling to modify your thinking.

Through the home study you are explained what raising an adopted child requires of you. Faulty notions of adoption and replaced with authentic factual information.

Selecting a child:

If the home-study has deemed you eligible for adoption, the process of selecting a child begins. You are not taken to a nursery full of children to choose a child for yourself.

The adoption agency will show you one child at a time. They will select a child who they think is suitable for you. Data like the age, health details and social background of the child will be shared with you before showing you a child.

Some adoption agencies will show you the photograph of the child before actually showing him/ her to you.

Mal-practices by adoption agencies while selecting a child for you:

Advocate of the Mumbai High Court, Uday Prakash Warunjikar points out, “The demand and supply ratio of adoption shows an imbalance. The demand greatly exceeds supply. Because of this adoption houses have started giving preference to certain candidates.”

Anjali Pawar Kate adds, “Unscrupulous adoption agencies make rich candidates pay more than the stipulated adoption fees in exchange of a fair-complexioned, healthy and good looking baby.”

Make sure that you don’t pay a rupee more than the adoption fee fixed by CARA. For Indian adoption (in country adoption) it is maximum Rs 15,000, for foreign adoption (inter country adoption) it is maximum $ 3500.

Don’t make looks a criteria for adopting a child:

Psychologist Dr.Sanjoy Mukherji cautions prospective adoptive parents against making the looks of the child a parameter for selection. He says, “Please don’t go by the looks of the child. For instance just because you are fair you don’t have to adopt a fair child.”

“Rather than trying to find a child who matches your looks, try to see if your vibration matches with the child. Especially if you are adopting an older child try to ascertain if the personality of the child suits you.”

“It is the soul match that matters. Ultimately the child as well as the people around you will know that the child is adopted; hence, the looks should not be the criterion at all. Give the child so much of love that even someone’s own child may not get.”

Adopting an older child:

There is a long queue for adopting babies. Some candidates just have to wait on endlessly for adoption. Older children have fewer takers. So if you go for an older child, adoption may be a faster process for you.

Sometimes you may be dissuaded from adoption an older child as it is believed that as older children ‘come with a lot of emotional baggage’ it’ll be difficult for them to adjust easily to your home, family and lifestyle. Bonding surely takes longer with an older child but please do remember that people have adopted and successfully raised older children.

Arrange for several preliminary meetings for longer and longer periods till an older child is comfortable with you. The adoption agency may allow you to take out the child for outings and even night stays at your home. Try to win over the confidence and trust of the child.

An older child has the right to choose whether he wants to be a part of your family. In the case of placement of a child above six, both written and verbal consent must be obtained from the child.

The child should be freely allowed to express his views of being separated from his familiar institution and being reintegrated into a family. His institute’s social worker needs to assure him/ her that he/ she will keep in touch as long as he/she needs to.

You may find that a child who was quiet and polite in the institute is having behavioural problems like temper tantrums, disobedience, loss of appetite, bed-wetting and poor performance in school. Please don’t worry. Visit a child psychologist who will guide you how to handle this.

Adopting a special child:

The reason for adopting a special child should never be to show off to society how noble you are. Nor should you adopt a special child because you pity him/ her. Rather it should be a pure act of love.

Special needs children seem to be the hardest ones to place in adoption. So adoption agencies sometimes try to coerce prospective adoptive candidates to adopt a special needs child.

Please don’t adopt a special needs child if you aren’t prepared for it. Adoption agencies don’t have the right to make you feel guilty if you don’t want to adopt a special needs child.

Special needs children require extra time, energy and money to be raised as compared to children without disabilities. They also need extra love, patience, compassion and strength. You need to update yourself on the disability the child has and train yourself to be able to handle it.

Adoptions within the family:

In India unlike certain foreign countries it is not the norm to advertise in newspapers or magazines if you want to adopt a child. Most adoptions are done through adoption agencies. However adoptions within the family also take place. Many families feel that rather than giving up a child to a stranger they should rather place the child with a relative.

Can you adopt a child from a foreign nation?

Foreigners adopt children from India. But can we adopt children from foreign nations including our neighbouring countries? According to Anjali Pawar Kate, “The Hague Convention has categorized India as a ‘sending country’ as far as adoption goes. So Indians can’t adopt children from other countries.”

Adopting from a town:

As queues for adoption from metropolitan cities are long, people are going to small towns to adopt. Adoption agencies in towns may have far shorter queues.

Integrating an adopted child into your life:

Bringing an adopted child home needs intensive preparation. Just painting and decking up a nursery with expensive stuffed toys is hardly a preparation. Buy some toys for your child but you don’t have to convert your whole house into a toy shop.

What is far more important that you locate a paediatrician to look after your child. Make sure that your child is given all the vaccinations.

Buy some basics like baby clothes, furnishings (crib, pram, baby car seat) and baby food. Take leave from work for a while. Find out if your work place gives adoptive parents the same length of leave as birth parents. Ask people who have children to train you in infant care before getting a child home.

Says single mother Sulochana Kalro who adopted a two-year-old boy nineteen years ago, “All the time you need to plan for a very important little member to be added to your family. Before the child comes home you think just of yourself. But after adoption you think of the child too. His/ her health and welfare comes first.”

“You need to make adjustments in your life for the sake of the child. For instance the food you cook for him/ her will be different from the spicy food you normally eat. You need to cut down late hours at work to come home early to spend time with your child.”

Some neighbours and relatives may ask inquisitive questions and make annoying remarks on you adopting a child. Try to stay away from these unpleasant people. Handle them with firmness and maturity instead of getting self-conscious and hurt.

How to tell the child that s/he is adopted:

It is detrimental not to tell the child that s/he is adopted. Many couples sadly don’t have the courage to tell their adopted child the truth. If the child finds out from other sources that s/he is adopted s/he may feel highly betrayed, undergo an identity crisis and try to search for his/her birth parents.

A single woman of course has no other choice but to tell the child that s/he is adopted. After all as the child grows up he/ she will ask why s/he doesn’t have a father.

Jaissita Panigrahi, Managing Trustee of Bal Vikas, advises, “Through stories of adoption from epics and religious texts, children may be acquainted with the concept of adoption. The word ‘adoption’ should often come up during conversations.”

Sulochana Kalro, Managing Trustee of Bal Anand World Children Welfare Trust India adds, “Between age five and six the child should know that he is adopted. This is because the child begins to go to school at this age and meets his peers. Peers won’t be as protective as parents are.”

“In the case of adoption by a single mother peers will start asking the child about his/ her father. Use your wisdom and maturity to tell your child about his birth parents. What you tell a ten-year-old will be different from what you tell a fifteen-year-old about his/ her adoption. You give a teenager a more realistic answer about his birth parents.”

Hansa Apparao, Consultant of the Indian Association for Promotion of Adoption and Child Welfare says, “You can’t hide from the child that he/ she has two sets of parents- one who brought him into the world and the parent who is raising him/ her.”

“Telling the child that he/she is adopted is not a one-time-affair. It is a gradual process that can start early. There is no single way to deal with this. Each child is different, and so are the parents. Important thing is that the parents be comfortable about their adoptive status; and avoid falsehood.”

“At the same time they need to keep in mind their child’s level of understanding and age, when talking about the birth parents. Even though they may go through temporary disturbance, especially during adolescence, most children are able to absorb the sensitive information about the birth parents. A strong bond between the adoptive parent and the child helps in overcoming the challenges.”

Explain to the child that only blood ties don’t make a family. Husband and wife are not related by blood, nevertheless deeply love one another. Similarly an adopted child may be loved just as much as a biological child.

Psychiatrist Dr.Rajiv Anand advises, “Explain to the child that his/ her adoption is just a theoretical reality. You are my child. I am your mother. Not only have I adopted you but you have also adopted me. We are now a happy family. You should never ever give the child the impression that the biological mother deserted her and therefore s/he is a rejected child.”

Rather tell him/ her that his birth mother loved him/ her so that she gave him/ her for adoption so that he/ she would find a happy home to grow up as unfortunately the situation wasn’t conducive to her raising him/ her. If the bond between the adoptive mother and child is strong enough he/ she may never want to go on a search for his birth parents.

Says 21-year-old Siddharth Kalro, the college-going son of Sulochana Kalro who is also a talented artist, “I never thought it was important to find out who my birth parents were. Nor did I ever miss not having a brother or a sister. My mother is my world. She is very sensitive, loving, caring, understanding and hardworking. I feel she is the greatest mom in the world.”

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Parents, Google Yourself Before Your Kids Do

Child on Computer

People share far too much information online. They post revealing or suggestive photos of themselves on Facebook or Twitter, they run inappropriate blogs and use their full name, they comment on posts with anger, poor spelling and grammar, and potentially offensive comments. And they willingly share this information, forgetting that there are consequences.

When you have a child, you need to remember that your kids can now find this information. There’s no such thing as true privacy, because once something is online it’s there forever, even if it’s “deleted” or it’s posted on an account you believe you be private.

To be a great parent, you need to make sure that your web presence is as safe as possible, so that when your kid is old enough to Google you, you can be proud of the results that they find.

How to Prepare Your Web Presence

  •  Stop Posting Private Things

I spoke with a young woman awhile back. She was posting rants with numerous expletives about the people she meets, and several photos of her in attractive poses in her bikini. I asked her why she posted these things in public and her answer was “my friends want updates on my life.”

This is the most likely reason that people post private information online, and it’s a misguided one. No one needs to hear the private things that have happened to you in your life, nor do they need to see you in suggestive photos. Maybe they enjoy watching you share this information, but they don’t “need it.”

So stop. Stop posting things that you don’t want your children to read. If you really need to vent, call a close friend or two or vent on the phone. If you want someone to see you looking attractive, invite them over for a romantic night together.

Don’t post pictures of you drinking, smoking, and doing drugs unless you’re okay with your child doing it too. None of these are things that anyone else needs to see or hear in digital form. There are ample more private places to share this information.

  • Create a Better Web Presence

There are often things you can’t control. If you broke the law, for example, you can’t clear your record and erase your past from the Internet.

But what you can do is create a professional web presence your child can be proud of. You can do this by keeping everything you do online as clean and professional as possible – this includes your Facebook and Twitter pages.

You can create a professional website or two dedicated to your accomplishments, guest post on relevant websites related to your field of study or your career, or you can register for the types of social media sites that indicate adult behavior, like LinkedIn.

You cannot necessarily prevent your child from finding out information on you, but at least you can improve the general information they see when they search for your name.

  • Google Yourself, Delete What You Can

Finally, search for yourself early and often, and see what you can get deleted. Everything you post online stays online. Everything. Even if you delete it, it doesn’t go away.

But if you delete it, you can make it much, much harder for your child to find the information, and that’s still in your benefit. Never assume your child can’t still find it, but at the very least they’ll need to be trying long and hard to get access to any of that cached information.

Maintaining a Healthy Web Presence

There’s a lot that goes into raising your child. Don’t let what you’ve decided to share on the Internet get in the way of all the hard work you put in every day.

Maintain a better web presence so that your child finds encouraging information whenever they Google you.

About the Author:

Ryan Rivera understands the value of a good web presence. He writes primarily about anxiety and anxiety cures at www.calmclinic.com

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Parenting After Divorce: Tips From A Divorce Lawyer

Parenting after divorce

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time for every member of a family. Although parents can experience a great deal of emotional pain and stress during this time, they must learn to help their children cope with the changes in the family structure.

Parents who have no experience with divorce may be unsure how to proceed. An uncooperative ex-spouse can make parenting with traditional methods seem impossible.

However, a divorced parent can also be a great parent. Using the following five strategies will help you be an excellent parent in spite of divorce.

  • Let Your Kids Know that the Divorce Was Not Their Fault

Tell your children that you love them and that the divorce was not their fault. Even if your marriage made your home life miserable, it was still familiar to your child. The changes will probably be upsetting to him.

Children may wonder if you will stop loving them or if they caused the divorce. You must periodically reassure your children that this is not the case in the months following the divorce.

  • Be Consistent

It can be tempting to slack off on providing boundaries when you are tired or when you haven’t seen your children in awhile. Yet, children are more secure when parents provide rules and boundaries.

Even if your ex-spouse does not have the same rules, it is okay to lovingly tell your children, “I know your mom does things differently, but when you are here, you must do as I say.”

Your children will eventually adjust to the differences in households, although they may accidentally “slip-up” from time to time. Be sure to give them grace for unintentional mistakes.

  • Find a Healthy Outlet for Your Emotions

Divorce will stir up many strange and difficult emotions. You may feel angry, depressed or lonely, particularly when your children are visiting their other parent. To cope with these emotions, some people may overeat, drink excessive alcohol, watch too much television or develop other bad habits.

However, a wise parent will find healthy outlets for emotions. Expect these feelings to come, and have a plan in place to manage them. Instead of eating, perhaps you may want to exercise.

Instead of drinking, you may need to call a friend to talk. Instead of watching television, you may want to take up a new hobby.

  • Be An Adult

Even if you feel that your ex-spouse sometimes acts childish, stay calm, and behave in a mature way. Likewise, you should remember that, even if your child seems sophisticated and mature, she is still a child.

Children are unequipped to handle certain information, such as the specifics of your failed marriage or your feelings regarding your ex-spouse. Your child needs to know that he can count on you to behave consistently and maturely.

  • Find Ways to Communicate with Your Ex

Even if your ex drives you crazy, you still share at least one child. You are going to have to talk sometimes. Try to stay matter-of-fact and to the point. Make the conversations brief and calm, and try to avoid getting sucked into arguments.

Learn to recognize when your ex is attempting to provoke you into a fight, so that you can make an effort to avoid it. Texting might be a good way of communicating necessary information in an unemotional manner.

Divorce changes so much in a family. In order to be a good parent, you are going to have to learn to adapt to those changes.

Even though your marriage may not have lasted, you still have wonderful children as a result of the relationship with your ex-spouse. Make them a priority in the months following the divorce so that they will be secure, loved and healthy.

About the Author

Scott Morgan is a board certified Austin divorce lawyer who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at AustinDivorceSpecialist.com

Divorce Resources:

  • The Secret to a Friendly Divorce – The divorce book you want your soon-to-be ex to read. Your personal guide to a cooperative, affordable, and out-of-court settlement. It shows you a surprisingly simple way to discuss money with your soon-to-be ex without stirring up trouble and without making your divorce harder than it has to be.
  • How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide – This unique book doesn’t just tell you what to say — it says it for you! Fill-in-the-blank templates show parents how to create a storybook with family photos and history to simplify this tough conversation. With therapist advice. Professionally endorsed.

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Child Psychology: Understanding Children And Their Temperaments

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By Priya Florence Shah

One of the most sensitive and important issues parents have to contend with is the matter of their child’s temperament.

Understanding children and their temperament is one important key to better growing-up development of each child’s personality vis-à-vis the world at large.

Understand Your Child’s Temperament

There is never a better way of knowing your child than understanding his temperament. Doing so means you accept his uniqueness and not your pre-conceived ideas about him before he showed up in your life.

Understanding his temperament will help you in letting go and not blame yourself or your child for situations that are normal as seen from the point of view of your child’s temperament.

Understanding your child’s temperament can help you and your spouse plan strategies to deal with complicated circumstances and situations your child may find himself in. Mild situations need not escalate into major conflicts or difficulties that may cause harm for all parties, especially your child.

You will also understand better how your child learns on his own accord. Experts place fast-adjusting temperaments as those who learn more by doing and practicing. Slower-to-warm temperaments learn by watching and rehearsing internally.

Remember, everyone is different. In this situation, you will learn to forgive yourself and your child after some bad times.

As authorities had expressed before, there are no bad temperaments, only that some are more challenging than others and it is up to you to meet up these challenge. Even the most challenging of situations can be “planned” in some way because it had been understood.

With everybody having their own temperaments, you will have to accept that yours and that of your child might not be great going together at present circumstances.

However, you may want to look at the possibility that your child’s temperament might just work out fine for him out there in the world. It could happen, too, that maybe in the future your lives may work out fine.

  • Easy/Flexible Temperament

This child has a generally optimistic outlook, can adapt quickly and is usually positive. He is an easy learner, eats and sleeps regularly (has no trouble sleeping), pleasant and cheerful, And maintains a low-intensity mood.

He can be a crybaby and feels deeply some situations, but he has few significant emotional outbursts. This type comprises about 40% of all people.

  • Feisty/Difficult/Spirited

The Feisty/Difficult/Spirited type has about 10% of the population, the opposite of the Easy /Flexible. This child is difficult to nap or feed in regular ways. Moreover, he has irregular bowel movements, and sometimes shows his mastery with some things in general.

He has tantrums, is fussy with things, hard to transition and is often unpleasant in manners and ways. On the other hand, he or she is bursting with energy, gets into mischief, and is capable of exploring anything with great intensity.

This type attracts all kinds of negative things and it is easy to scold, punish or even resent this child with this kind of temperament.

  • Slow-To-Warm Types

The 3rd temperament type is aptly called Slow-To-Warm. 15% of the population belongs to this category. Sometimes, these guys are mistaken for shy or highly-sensitive persons (which they sometimes are).

They usually observe a lot on the outside of things before coming in. he or she may have an irregular sleeping, feeding and other personal habits. This child seems to be always enjoying things or doing them at his own sweet pace.

The rest of the population (35%) cannot be categorized or typed into a group with a pervading form of temperament to classify. The only feature they have is that they all have all features of all three temperaments.

In all these temperament types, you will also find yours. Understanding children and their temperaments also includes understanding your own.

Doing so will open your eyes to the many areas where you can connect to that of your child’s, whether you are compatible with each other or not.

© Loving Your Child

This article may be reprinted with attribution to www.lovingyourchild.com

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12 Parenting Tips for Working Parents To Juggle Work And Home

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Gone are the days when dads were the breadwinners of the home while moms stayed behind and cooked, cleaned, and tended to the children.  In society today, both parents are often forced to have a career outside of the home in an effort to make ends meet.

One thing has not changed.  There are still children that need to be taken care of and homes that need to be tended to.  Balancing home and work life can often be difficult.

The following 12 tips can help working parents juggle all the responsibilities that come with work and parenting children.

  • Establish a routine.

A daily routine is essential for working parents.  Children do much better when they know what is going to happen next.  What is your daily routine?  Create a daily schedule for activities.

Include what time you will get up, be out the door, have supper, etc.  This will help your children to function better under the circumstances and help you get everything you need to get done throughout the day.

  • Include family time in your routine.

The routine must include family time. This is a time for spending time with each other and reconnecting after a long day. It is essential to a healthy family.

  • Reliable childcare is a must.

Things will be much easier on you if you know you have childcare you can trust.  If your children must have care throughout the day, ease your mind by getting reliable care.

  • Refuse to bring work home.  

This is hard for some people to do.  Classify work time as time in the office, and home time as time with your family.  This will keep the two totally separated and be very helpful to you.

  • Schedule doctor’s appointments on your days off.  

With children come endless doctor’s appointments.  To avoid time off from work, schedule appointments on your days off.  There are many clinics that are catering to working parents by being open for business during the weekend. Take advantage of these.

  • Have a good support system.  

Your mom, dad, friends, etc. can help make up a support system that will be very beneficial for working parents.  If you are running late, who will pick up the kids? Make sure you have your support system on standby for times that you may need them.

  • Let your boss know that you have a family.

If you don’ t know your boss on a personal level, explain to him that you have a family and that things often get difficult as a working parent.  Bosses are usually in the same situation and are willing help you work through some issues.

  • Make your children’s needs a priority.

While working is important, there is no job more important that parenting. Be sure that you are making you children’s needs priority.

  • Keep a positive attitude about your job.

A positive attitude can go along ways in parenting your children and completing your daily duties at work.  Don’t let a negative attitude ruin your chances for a promotion.  Keep a positive attitude regardless of how things are going for you.

  • Share responsibilities with your spouse.

This is an important suggestion that can make being a working parent much easier.  Realize that if both you and your spouse work, the responsibility of the children must be shared. From feeding to bathing, share it all.

  • Opt for take out!  

Don’t feel that you have to go home after a long days of work and slave over a meal for your family to be happy. Many times, they will settle for take-out.  Choose a night of the week to go for pizza and enjoy each other’s company instead of cooking a big meal.

  • Find some alone time to sit back and unwind.

After the day is finished, there must still be time for you.  Include a small area of time in your daily schedule to spend reading and relaxing from a long hard day.  This can help reenergize your mind and prepare you for the next day.

Being a working parent isn’t easy.  Its like having two full time jobs. Use the tips listed above to help you be both the best employee and parent that you can possibly be.

Marina is a freelance writer and co-owner of nesting doll store located at MatryoshkaNestingDolls.com

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Parenting Tips: Five Reasons To Stop Saying Good Job

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By Alfie Kohn

Must reading for every parent. Find out why saying “Good job!” creates many negative consequences for your child.

Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: “Good job!”

Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together (“Good clapping!”). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic.

Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation (“time out”). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here’s why.

1. Manipulating children.

Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as “sugar-coated control.” Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes.

It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done — or failed to do.

The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people. The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience.

A “Good job!” to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why.

2. Creating praise junkies.

To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behavior. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done.

Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us.

The more we say, “I like the way you..” or “Good ______ing,” the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval.

Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice (“Um, seven?”).

They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.

In short, “Good job!” doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more.

Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure.

Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, “Good job!”, though, we’re telling a child how to feel.

To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary — especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development.

Unfortunately, we may not have realized that “Good job!” is just as much an evaluation as “Bad job!” The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.

I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, “Good job!” because I don’t want to dilute her joy.

I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, “I did it!” (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, “Was that good?”

4. Losing interest.

“Good painting!” may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, “once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again.”

Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a “Good job!”

In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightly less generous on an everyday basis than other children were.

Every time they had heard “Good sharing!” or “I’m so proud of you for helping,” they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end.

Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.

5. Reducing achievement.

As if it weren’t bad enough that “Good job!” can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do.

Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.

Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to “keep up the good work” that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming.

More generally, “Good job!” is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviors that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviors.

For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future.

Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), “Good praising!” Still, it’s not an easy habit to break.

It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it.

Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing. What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise.

“Good job!” is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us.

This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recommend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids “earn” it.

But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values.

So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done.

When unconditional support is present, “Good job!” isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, “Good job!” won’t help.

If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehavior, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now “behaving himself”; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him.

The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey.

(Instead of using “Good job!” to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.)

We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, “What do you think we can do to solve this problem?” will likely be more effective than bribes or threats.

It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage.

Tossing off a “Good job!” when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why “doing to” strategies are a lot more popular than “working with” strategies.

And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:

  • Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be “reinforced” because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – then praise may not be necessary.
  • Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement (“You put your shoes on by yourself” or even just “You did it”) tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: “This mountain is huge!” “Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!”
  • If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: “Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack.” This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing.
  • Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking “What was the hardest part to draw?” or “How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?” is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying “Good job!”, as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so.

Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life — or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head.

It’s not a matter of memorizing a new script, but of keeping in mind our long-term goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.

© 2001 Alfie Kohn

NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title “Hooked on Praise.” For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here, please see the books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting.

 

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Power Struggles With Your Child: Should You Give In Or Not?

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By Diana D’Souza

At some stage between babyhood and toddlerhood, all babies develop a strong urge to assert their autonomy. You will recognize this moment in the first time your baby says “No” when you tell him or her to do something. You will probably find it rather amusing the first time – better steel yourself though.

This is just a sign of things to come. Very soon, you’re likely to find it tiresome being challenged time and again by your little tot, who is standing her ground and refusing to give in on increasing occasions.

Should you establish your authority by overpowering your kid, or should you concede ‘defeat’ in an attempt at keeping the peace? What you choose to do when you come to this crossroad will forever influence the way your child sees you. Do you want your children seeing you as being ‘bossy’ or ‘wimpy’?

If neither of these choices seems terribly attractive, you will need to find another way of dealing with the situation. Here are a few tips on how you can subtly – but deftly – avert a full-blown power struggle at home. All you need is a bit of tact, some craftiness and oodles of patience.

Recognize The Behavior For What It Is

It is important to realise that your child is not being recalcitrant or stubborn. Nor is she being rebellious just to get you all wound up. Well, rebellious maybe… but that’s only because from about the age of two children start developing their own individuality.

They begin forming their own opinions and making their own decisions. Being told what to do and what not to do does not go down very well with them, especially when this is in direct opposition to what they feel they should be allowed to do.

Clash Of The Titans

Does that mean you should allow children to have their own way? Certainly not! The trick lies in being able to side-step the power struggle. You ask your child if she is ready to go indoors. Your child knows she has to go in, but she still says “No”.

She has now thrown down the gauntlet, and it’s up to you whether you want to accept the challenge or not. Remember, though, that every challenge results in one person being the winner and the other one a loser.

is a situation you want to avoid at all costs. Imposing your authority on every occasion will crush her self-esteem. Nevertheless, if you let her get her way every time, you will soon have a tiny little despot who will want her own way every time on your hands.

The Fine Line Between Empowering And Overpowering

The next time you ask your child to do something and your resolute child decides to ‘hold my breath till I explode’ in opposition, try not to explode before your child does.

On the other hand, do not panic and give in immediately, either – even if your child looks hell-bent on carrying out her threat. Don’t let that breath-holding act get to you. Once your child lets out that pent-up steam, she will be fine.

You will notice that the breath-holding act will almost always follow an order. Why not change track?

The next time, when you feel your child is likely to throw a tantrum when you ask her to come indoors, brush her teeth or clean up her room, don’t order her to do so. Instead, give her a choice.

Let’s assume your child’s evening schedule includes going out to play for a short while, followed by homework, half an hour of television and then bed.

If she chooses to stay out longer, tell her she will have to forego her favourite TV programme, but that the homework WILL be done.

This way, you give your child the power to choose while still making sure that your rules are not broken. If she throws a tantrum and threatens to ‘hold her breath’ at having to miss her programme, let her!

Most parents make the mistake of giving in at this point, mostly because they are just plain tired of it all by then. Therein lies the problem – children immediately pick up on such weak spots. The next time, you can expect a full-blown power struggle.

How To Give Your Child Choices

When giving choices, you need to ensure that all the choices you offer your child will affect that particular child only, and nobody else. If the whole family is at a restaurant and your child refuses to settle down, you may not want to give her the choice of ‘behaving or leaving the restaurant’.

If she chooses the latter, it would be unfair to the rest of the family. Giving your child the choice of ‘behaving or leaving’ would work great at the dinner table at home, but it would not be appropriate in a restaurant.

The Importance Of Empowering Your Child

Everyone wants to feels powerful, irrespective of age or gender. When you constantly impose your authority with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, you foster a sense of powerlessness in your child.

All children will react to this in either of two ways – they will either learn to give in constantly and ultimately become meek and submissive, or they will start harbouring a sense of resentment and ultimately revenge.

Neither of these attitudes is healthy or nurturing. What’s worse, these attitudes will, over time, become a habitual trait and that influences how your child deals with her peers right through childhood into adulthood.

It is from the way that you deal with this power struggle that your child will learn to be submissive to every request or rebellious to every order. However, children who subtly imbibe the fine art of negotiation will have picked up a valuable tool that will stand them in good stead in every sphere of life.

© Diana D’Souza is a freelance writer based in Pune.

This article may be reprinted with attribution to the author and a link back to www.lovingyourchild.com

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