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The ABCs of De-Stressing: From Parenting to Work

Trying to cope with a toddler tantrum on an hour’s worth of sleep?

Battling with your teen about staying out to late?

Nobody said that parenting was going to be easy, but come on!

Don’t you wish that someone gave you the manual for parenting and stress management when your little bundle of joy was born?

Arm yourself from A to Z with 26 tips that will get you through the most trying days:

A- Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It’s important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on.

B- Breathe: When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C- Count your blessings. Even though you have the weight of the world on you right now and feel far from compassionate for others who have things much worse than you do, there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today, such as your child’s tantrum-free morning or how your spouse took out the trash…

D- Decompress. Believe it or not, there are many who do not know how to take a break. Some parents don’t even realize that it’s okay to take a break. Take time out to read a book, go out or simply hang out with family or friends. A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E- Eat nutritiously. We take care of everyone but ourselves…working, chauffeuring, monitoring homework, cooking and so on. Remember to eat breakfast and be sure to eat more than just a power bar for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F- Focus on the big picture. Does it really matter that your child insists on wearing his Spiderman pajamas to the supermarket again? You’ve heard it before. Don’t sweat the small stuff (and yes, this is small). When choosing between Spidy and sanity, choose sanity.

G- Go to the gym. Do yoga. Step outside and take a long walk. Take a martial arts or dance class. Just get your body moving. Exercise will not only keep you fit and healthy to do the best parenting job you can (not to mention keep up with the kids) it will also help to clear your mind.

H- Hang up the phone. Sometimes we spend more time on the phone than with the kids, and then we wonder why they act up while we’re on the phone. Reserve some “family only” time so that the kids won’t feel so deprived of your attention and when you do need to converse on the phone, you’ll be able to without interruption.

I- Identify the kind of family you are aiming to be. Have you ever sat down with your family and actually discussed the kind of family you aim to be? Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Discuss those Powerful Words! Get your family together, discuss and create the vision as a team so everyone is on board and knows what they are trying to achieve.

J- Joke around. Don’t take everything so seriously! What makes your hair turn gray today will likely make your face turn beet red with laughter one day down the road.

K- Kiss, hug and show affection. Affection is such a simple thing that can make your family feel more secure as opposed to feeling like they need a therapist! Set the precedent for your family and show that you appreciate one another.

L- Listen to your family. Your children have great stories to tell. Your significant other has dreams about the future. When we listen, we expand our minds and catch all the subtleties that otherwise pass us by. Listening enables us to know what to say and when to say it.

M- Make time for family fun. Shuttling between extracurricular activities all the time? Remember that it’s important to take time out for family fun. Take a vacation, have a family game night, go for a bike ride together. It’s important to do something together and that everyone will enjoy.

N- Negotiate time for the couple. We all love spending time with the kids, but it is just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Rekindle your love every week, whether it’s going out to dinner alone or spending time cuddling while the kids are at Grandma’s house.

O- Open your mind to “the opposition.” You and your partner are a united force, however you may not always agree. Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise.

P- Play with your friends. Go to a movie, play golf, go to lunch! Having some adult company, conversation and laughs will make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q- Quiet your mind. Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall. When it’s time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.

R- Recruit some outside support. Need help reaching your personal and family goals? Enlist the help of a coach who will help you deal with present challenges and create action plans to make the most of your future.

S- Simplify your family’s schedule. There really is no need to commit your child to 40 different activities per week. One or two activities during the school year is okay. Really.

T- Teach the lessons you want them to know. Schools do not teach character development, parents do. When you teach your child about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.

U- Utilize your resources. Did the grandparents volunteer to baby-sit? Did your neighbor offer to tutor your kids in that math you don’t understand? Take them up on their offers. Reaching out for help enables us to collect ourselves and do the things we do well.

V- Value your time. Learn to say “no.” It’s important to be involved and volunteer your time to help with fundraisers and so on, but don’t overextend yourself. It takes time away from your family and robs you of your sanity.

W- Wipe the tears. Yours and theirs. Holding grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness. This is a legacy you do not want to leave.

Y- Yearn to grow and learn. Just because you are a parent does not mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals. You may need to modify your ambition, but you can still express yourself, volunteer, take courses or even teach!

Z- Zzzzzzzz. Try to make up for that lost sleep. Parenting always seems easier when you are rested.

Have a Powerful (and stress-free) Week!

Tips that Work! How do I get my kids to do their chores?

Chores. So many children dread them. Why would anyone want to work when they would rather play? Cue the frustration, fighting and fury!

choresIt doesn’t have to be this way. And tasks at home must get done! So how can we get our children to do their family “chores?” Here are my “4 Cs” that can get everyone to pitch in and help out!

 

 

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Mind Your Manners! Top 10 Tips for Helping Children Show Manners during the Holiday Season

boy_potatoes-199x300Joey, a seven year old boy with big brown eyes and a proven love for mashed potatoes did the unthinkable.  Sitting around the holiday table, Joey wanted to show his Aunt Theresa that he could be part of the “clean the plate club” just like his Great Uncle Lester.  With great conviction, he picked up his plate and licked it—sending his leftover turkey onto the floor, his unused gravy into his lap, and his mashed potatoes up his nose.  Then he sneezed…and no, he didn’t cover his mouth or nose.

Joey’s mother, Trish, told me during one of our coaching sessions, “Perhaps it would have seemed funnier if half my guests weren’t covered in remnants from Joey’s dinner…my mother-in-law included.”

Holiday time can be unpredictable. It can encourage parents to push the limits of their credit cards and children to push the buttons of their parents. The excitement of these special days coupled with “once-a-year” guests, competition for parental attention, anticipation of gifts, power shopping and elaborate meals can inspire children to do things that they might not try at any other time of the year.

How can you help to ensure that your child doesn’t do a repeat performance of Joey’s dinner disaster?

(1)  Expose them to role models with manners: It’s challenging to teach good manners if a key adult or older sibling in the house isn’t modeling them. Actions speak louder than words. Children must be shown as well as told what you would like to see with regard to manners. Older “cool” friends or siblings who have great manners can be a particularly powerful influence. If your children see others showing great manners, your children will learn to do the same.

(2)  Set the expectations: Talk to your children about how you would like them to act in certain situations before they arise. Role-play these ideas.  What would you like them to say when someone gives them a present (even if they don’t like it)?  How should they behave at the holiday table?  Give them the step by step and allow them to help you generate ideas.

(3)  Start practicing at home: Going to someone else’s house for the holiday? Manners begin at home.  If you want your child to use manners out in public or in someone else’s house, they must be reinforced and used in your home.  Practice using a napkin, asking someone to pass the food, saying thank-you to the host, and saying goodbye to the guests.

(4)  Be consistent: Children retain what you repeat.  “Please” and “thank-you” will only become habits if you teach your children to say it every time it’s appropriate.  This does not mean you should nag.  Remind your children without making a big deal of it.

(5)  Use books and posters to show examples: If you have worked with me, you know that I like to compile children’s books by category such as manners, discipline, courage, and other character education words.  The use of books and posters can be great visual ways to start a conversation about manners during holiday time as well as throughout the year.

(6)  Play the “what if” game: Provide scenarios and questions and allow the whole family to discuss manners in this interactive way.  I like to provide about 18-20 questions for each of my clients to use so that each person in the family can answer several questions.  When you do this as a family, it makes it fun as well as educational.

(7)  Play the “messy manners” game: Another fun game I encourage people to play is the “messy manners” game.  During this game you can brainstorm all the rude manners one might exhibit at the holiday table.  You can even role play these “messy manners.”  Everyone gets a good laugh but most importantly, it provides a springboard for the questions, “Why shouldn’t we do that?” and “What should we do instead?”

(8)  Review the Powerful Greeting: Any child who attends a Powerful Words Member School or has worked with me during a presentation at a school knows about the “Powerful Greeting.”  This greeting is really quite simple.  First, teach the child how to shake an adult’s hand.  Then, teach him how to look at someone in the eye.  Finally, teach him to say, “hello, my name is ____, it’s nice to meet you,” or “Hello, it’s nice to see you again, thanks for having us.”  Everyone is always very impressed and the praise the child receives from others always makes the child feel really good!

(9)  Teach the Child How to Write Thank-You Notes: In the age of email, we all know how simple it is to send a quick note.  However, we also have to admit that getting thank-you card in the mail is better.  Teach your child how to write a thank-you card if he has received a nice gift for the holidays.  Young children can draw a picture and sign their name to the card.  You can even take a picture of that child with the gift and send that along as well.  It doesn’t need to be perfect or complex; it simply shows children the importance of saying thank-you.

(10) Praise it if you like it: When you compliment children on good behavior, they’ll want to do the same thing again.  Be specific with your praise.  What did you like?  “I like the way you helped clear off the table without anyone asking.  That really put a smile on my face and shows that you have very nice manners.”  Children will be looking to do a repeat performance and find other ways to make you proud.

Good luck with your holiday plans.  Remember to try and relax through the hustle and bustle of it all.  These tips are sure to prepare you for a great day. And if the mashed potatoes still end up flying in the face of your mother-in-law during holiday dinner, don’t forget, there’s always next year.

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