Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tell your kids the truth!

From infancy to adulthood, this following post applies. Think back to your childhood and decide what is best for you and your family in reference to this. Do what is the right thing, not the easiest. The rewards will flow.

Telling your children the truth from day one is the first step to creating a lasting bond of love in your family.

Telling the truth to your kids will help them learn to trust you, in the most trying of times.

Telling them what is real is going to help them learn to decifer what is real and what is not in the world as they experience it.

And, the biggest surprise is, they already know what's true and real. So when you tell them otherwise, they learn to distrust you. They learn to ignore their own knowledge and override their intuition. They learn to lie.

Here's a great example, one that most of us will experience at least once with our kids: Injury. When your child is hurt, do you say "shh... Don't cry... It's okay... it's not a big owie... you're allright....?"

Now, tell me, when you're hurt, does it help you when someone tells you not to cry, that it's not a big deal, that you aren't in fact hurt? I doubt it very much, because you're being lied to, being told to ignore your own body, and told not to feel the feeling that comes with injury.

What if, instead, someone said "Ouch! That really hurts, doesn't it? It's okay to cry, that helps, doesn't it. I'm sorry you got hurt, I don't like it when you get hurt. I feel sad when you are hurting. I also felt scared! I feel scared when you get hurt because I love you so much and want you to stay safe."

We can help our children through pain and injury in this way. We don't have to lie, or minimize what they're feeling or experiencing. And I'll tell you, when we acknowledge the injury for what it is, and no more and no less, the pain goes away faster. The frantic scare of the owie goes away faster. We start to heal sooner. And your kids may even want to tell you how it happened, and what they're going to do next time.

Do this, too, when your children are about to experience an owie, say, like getting a vaccination. Tell them that yes, it hurts. That yes, it's important to you, and that you feel it's for their greatest health. Tell them that you're sorry it has to hurt, and that you'll stay with them and help them as much as you can.

Life in this human body of ours is complicated enough without being told to ignore what we know to be true. Support your children, and yourself, by being honest about what is happening, and how you feel. This will create an atmosphere of trust and love, and teach your children emotional intelligence.

Now that's love.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dealing with time changes and holidays with your children

Yesterday I was out and about running errands and getting tasks done, and everywhere I went I heard and saw sleepy, grumpy, acting out kids! Everywhere! Between the time fall back and halloween, our kids are out of their normal routine by far, and kids love their routines. (Yes, they also love halloween and fun things to do.)

I have known many parents who tried to deal with these issues in many ways. Some who keep their children awake that extra hour at night so they get back on track faster, some who re-arrange their days as much as possible so their kids don't get disrupted in their sleep rhythms.

At the same time, many thoughts are out there about how to manage a day like halloween, when candy and sugar and late bedtimes and excitement abound. Some just let their kids gorge on candy that day only, and then have the candy doled out a piece at a time. Some have the candy under lock and key, and use it as "motivation" to get chores done. Others buy the candy off their kids with activities or actual money.

So what's a concious parent to do? Here are some thoughts and ideas:

Time changes:

1) Try to have your kids stay up a little later than usual and then make your days easy-going, so they have more energy to stay up that little bit of the day. This method is respectful of your kids, and you too. Did you know that there is a huge hike in the percentage of car crashes the day after the time change? "Losing" or "gaining" just that one hour of sleep will do it. So, while your kids are adjusting, also go easy on yourself and let yourself adjust slower too.

2) If you have an infant, you won't be able to do much about stretching out their bedtimes in the previous way, so your best bet is to adjust your schedule if possible. Also, remember that babies' sleep cycles change often as they approach different developmental states and ages anyway, so whatever is happening now will probably be different in a month or so anyway!

3) Since time changes happen on the weekends, prepare ahead with lots of activities to wear your older kids out, so they'll take sleep whenever they can get it! Also, the early darkness helps their bodies think it's bedtime anyway, so that many help as well.

Halloween and holidays:

1) The candy. It's always the candy! Again, I say prepare ahead and let your kids know that while they may get a ton (literally) of candy, they won't be able/allowed to eat it all. This is just a terrible thing for them if you allow them to eat it all. Help them learn how to take proper care of themselves! Especially as this year the two events were at the same time, mixing in a ton of sugar is very hard for the kidlets.

2) Decide with the kids how much candy they'll get to eat/keep and at what rate it can be eaten. My mom had a great idea for this: Haloween night after trick or treating, we sorted all of our candy into "like" and "Icky" piles. The icky piles were immediately tossed, or given to the local food bank. Though calling it food is debateable! Then, we were allowed to eat lots of it right away, while sorting, and that evening. The rest went into safe keeping, and we were given either two small pieces or one large per day. That was it. No negotiating. And anything that lasted until Thanksgiving was tossed.

3) Another family I knew purchased the candy back at 5 cents per small piece and 10 cents per large. By the end, each kid had tripled their week's allowance and got to enjoy their money instead of a months worth of angst trying to wheedle candy out of their parents. This worked well for everyone.

So get creative, and figure out some things with your kids ahead of time (no springing it on them, that's not fair!) and start a new tradition for halloween and time changes!