10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part III)

If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of this series, I invite you to go over those articles before jumping on this one.

6.Physical and Developmental Issues

As we all know, screen time is a primarily sedentary in nature. Our kids are sitting down or lying around while using their electronic devices.
The time our children spend without physical activity while on their electronic devices  adds on to their already high number of hours they spend sitting inside the school. All this time without physical activity, inevitably leads to weight gain, poor muscle development, and many other physical issues. Lack of physical movement not only affects our children’s physical development, but it also negatively impacts brain development, as it is needed to form brain connections necessary for physical coordination.
Additionally, the use of screens might delay a child’s ability to form words. A recent study presented by the American Association of Pediatrics argues that for each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, there’s a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay. As we all know, when kids can’t express themselves properly they get really frustrated, which causes them to act out more and to use their bodies to try to communicate with us, and to use destructive attention-seeking behaviors.

7. Dangerous EMF Exposure

One growing area of concern is the fact that our brains (and especially our children’s) may be harmed by overexposure to electronic devices. While EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure in smaller doses doesn’t seem to be a concern over short periods of time, the more frequent and intense the exposure the more problems arise. This is especially true for children, as their brains are rapidly growing and changing from birth through adolescence.

Children who use devices close to their heads for longer periods of time have potentially a higher risk to the damaging effects of EMF exposure.

8. Disconnected Families

We can’t deny that technology makes family organization and calendar management much easier. It also allows us to immediately communicate with our children and spouses, via text, email, whatsup… It allows us to connect with family and friends that might live far away from us, via Skype, whatsup, google chat…

However, in our busy lives, finding good quality time to connect with our children is very difficult. Allowing technology to cut into those precious moments is something we might try to avoid . Excessive screen time also leads to an increase in serious parent-child conflicts.

While it can be fun to have a family movie night or play a video game together, we should not resort to that as an every day activity. The reality is that screen time means less face-to-face, natural interactions with our children.

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part I)

Since my May Parenting Resolution is to get the use of electronics under control, I figure I would start by explaining why I believe it’s an important thing to do, and why May is the perfect month to get this started.

There is no question about how the advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to our daily lives. We can coordinate family calendars, connect with friends and family who are miles away, easily control our finances, buy almost anything from the comfort of our own home, have access to information 24×7…

However, as new technology evolves and transforms, many studies are finding strong links between screen time and a variety of behavior problems in children. Those studies don’t necessarily prove causation, just correlation. Despite the inconclusiveness of recent studies, I believe it’s paying attention to them.

1. Unhealthy Sleep

Electronic stimulation, such as that from watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, using the iPad… has been shown to interfere with sleep, both falling asleep and staying asleep. Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can negatively impact your sleep.

When our children (and us) use electronic devices right before bed, the artificial blue light that these devices emit interferes with their circadian rhythm (a.k.a. their body’s internal clock). This suppresses the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), which makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Using these devices right before bedtime, also delays the onset of REM sleep (deep and restorative sleep). All this adds up to chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep habits.

Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues down the road.

2. Poor Social and Relational Skills

Research shows that an excessive use of technology can create social disconnection, negatively impact the development of social and relational skills, diminish our children’s understanding of how to engage with others and read non-verbal cues.
In a recent UCLA study they observed that kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives. Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs – understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills
Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets.

3. Increased Aggressive and Defiant Behavior

According to Psychology Today, what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. You may have seen your child having a complete overreaction and utter agitation to a simple request.

Electronic use creates hyperarousal in our children. The constant firing of neural pathways created by this hyperarousal suppresses the function of the brain’s area that regulates their mood. Our children become angrier, and meltdowns and tantrums actually become their go-to coping mechanism.

In addition, children who are exposed to violent online content (videos games, TV shows, and movies) tend to have more aggressive behaviors and reduced moral development.

 

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part III)

We have come to the final post on how to raise respectful children. If you haven’t done so yet, go back to read Part I and Part II of this series.

8. Respectful Communication

Listen To Them

Nobody likes to be ignored, nobody likes to feel that they’re being ignored. The reason why I make this distinction is because it is all about how actions are perceived by others. If we are ‘listening’ to someone but we are not making eye contact or we are putting away groceries at the same time; the other person might feel she’s being ignored. This has the same effect as if we, in fact, were ignoring her.

When our children feel we are not listening to them, they feel unimportant, small, unappreciated, not valued, unworthy of our attention (and love). Children need us to fully listen to them, validate their message and respond accordingly. They need our undivided attention.

I’m not saying that you should drop everything as soon as your child wants to talk to you. That wouldn’t teach them respect, it would teach them that we don’t have enough respect for ourselves and that we are at their beck and call all the time. They will learn that lesson and believe that what we are doing at any given moment is not important and they can interrupt and demand immediate attention.

That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting is that we acknowledge our child’s need for connection and conversation. If we are doing something else, we can let them know we heard them and we will be with them as soon as we can. While doing this, we need to be mindful to not make our children feel like they always have to wait, and that there’s always something more important than they are. We need to strike a balance, and that’s the tricky part!

BsWx8LLIQAAUngP

Let Them Finish

We all know the feeling of trying to make a point or express our opinion, while the other person is constantly interrupting us. We feel ignored, disrespected and frustrated, and we probably lose interest in talking to that person again.

When we do that to our children, we are showing them that we don’t care about what they are talking about, and that we feel that what we have to do is more important or interesting than what they’re saying. Whether we mean it or not, that’s the message our children receive.

Because of my childhood experiences, I feel specially hurt when I feel that someone is constantly highjacking my conversation. That’s why I am especially attentive when it comes to give my children the chance to finish their thoughts, and to fully express their ideas before interjecting mine.

Encourage Them To Use Their Voice

Our children need to know that what they think, feel and say matters. They need to know that their voices count, and they should use them. What better place to learn and practice this than at home?

Let your children make choice, solve problem, make decisions, and express their opinions -even if they’re different than yours.

Don’t belittle their opinions by saying “that makes no sense”, “what do you know?, you’re just a kid”, “don’t question my decisions”, “that’s ridiculous”… Instead invite them to share and explain their point of view with sentences such as “what do you think about that?”, “what do you think we should do?”, “can you explain me that better?”.

Avoid talking for your children. Let them answer for themselves when talking to other people. That will not only show them that you respect their opinions, but that you expect other people to respect them as well.

That’s a great way to let them know you respect them, that they should respect themselves and that they’re worth being respected by others. When our children learn how to use their voice, it becomes their biggest defense against bullying, low self-esteem, and even sexual abuse. Let them learn this at home!

little-girl-helping-out-around-the-house-chores

9. Foster Autonomy

Don’t Do For Your Children What They Can Do For Themselves

You might be wondering what does this have to do with raising respectful kids. When we treat our children like babies and do everything for them, we are in fact, disrespecting. In fact, you are crippling them. Undue service is disrespectful.

When our children learn that they are capable, and that they can be self-sufficient, they grow into responsible adults, with pride in their capabilities, and with great self-esteem. They know they can manage, and it makes them so much happier. You know how you feel when you accomplish something difficult. Let them enjoy the same joy and be their cheering section when they do.

In general, avoid doing for your children what he can do for themselves. Give them space and time to do things for themselves. There’s nothing to gain from stripping away our child’s autonomy – even when they are really little – other than the short-term relief of not having to be patient and calm, as our child struggles to do something on his own. Let them do it!

Allow Them To Make Their Own Decisions

Allowing your children to make their own decisions is one of the best ways to empower them, and show them that you respect them and their ideas. Obviously, I am not suggesting that our children should run our household. The idea is to let them make age-appropriate decisions, within certain parameters defined by you.

For example, your toddler can choose his outfit out of two you have already picked out. Your preschooler can decide whether he wants to eat the broccoli and the mashed potatoes together or separately. Your elementary school child can choose whether he reads the book to you or whether you read it to him. Your high schooler can choose when it’s the best time for him to do his homework.

When we don’t give our children the choice to make their own decision, it will foster an inability to make their own decisions later in life. They will not be able to respect their own opinions and ideas, because they have learned that those ideas are wrong or not worth considering. Therefore, they will navigate life with no self-confidence, no self- esteem, and. no respect for themselves.

I hope this series about how to raise respectful children was helpful to you. Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know!

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part II)

We continue with our series on how to raise respectful children, if you haven’t done so already, head back to my previous article to read the first 3 tips I shared.

4. Identify The Cause For Disrespect

When our child disrespects us by yelling at us, talking back, hitting, bitting… we should first try to figure out what is causing him to act this way.

  • Is it because he is harboring some resentment towards us from something that happened in the past? Remember the story I shared before about my 9 year old blatantly yelling “NO” to me?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the ability to communicate his feelings? Does he lack the vocabulary or knowledge to describe his feelings?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the tools to work through the situation and his feelings are overwhelming him?
  • Is it because it is developmentally appropriate for him to be testing boundaries?
  • Is it because that is what we have modeled for him?
  • Is it because our boundaries and rules have been shaky, and he has learned that he can get what he wants by pushing back long enough?

What is the cause for the disrespect? Children aren’t born with the intention to disrespect their parents. There’s always a reason behind their behavior. The tough part of parenting here is to stay calm, figure out the reason behind the behavior, and then address that reason.

5. Kind And Firm Discipline

Many of us fall in the trap of becoming too permissive when we try to follow conscious and positive parenting. However, positive parenting calls for having kind but firm boundaries and rules. Set few, but clear and firm boundaries, and stick to them all the time. This way your child will know what to expect in every situation.

When the boundaries are broken, respond with kindness, acknowledging feelings, needs and wants, while still maintaining the boundary. Yelling and punishing in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior.

If you are in public,  don’t discipline them for everyone to see, don’t shout at them, admonish them loudly, criticize them or correct them in front of others, or embarrass them. Instead, pull them aside in a calm manner, and quietly address the disrespect or misbehavior making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.

For example, before you take your toddler to a playground remind him of acceptable and not-acceptable behavior (i.e. hitting, pushing, taking away toys…), and the consequences (i.e. leaving the playground). If your toddler breaks those rules in the playground, pull him aside and remind him what’s expected once. If the disrespectful behavior continues, calmly follow through and leave the playground.

Your toddler will learn that your word is to be trusted, that the boundaries are firm, that his actions and decisions have consequences, and that despite his behavior he is loved and respected. 

baby-and-father-hands_4460x4460

6. Apologize When You Mess Up

A mature, respectful grownup takes responsibility and apologizes when he or she makes mistakes. That’s what we hope our children to learn, and that’s what we should expect from ourselves.

Parents who respect their kids, acknowledge their mistakes, and apologize for them, even when that means that their kids were right and they were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, or with making mistakes. It’s important to show our kids that we are fully capable of not only recognizing when we are incorrect, but showing them how we learn from our mistakes, learn the lesson, correct our behaviors, and become a better version of ourselves.

I mess up more than I would like to admit. I sometimes lose my temper,  let the stress of the moment overcome my better judgement, yell, bend my rules because I exhausted… I sometimes am not the best example for my daughters. However, every time I mess up, I apologize. I don’t let them go to sleep without letting them know that I acknowledge my shortcomings, and that I’m working to avoid them in the future.

7. Praise Respectful Behavior

Don’t miss any chance to let your child know when he’s acting well, and be specific when doing so. Go back to my previous post and read all about how to point out and encourage your child’s respectful behavior.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part I)

As I mentioned yesterday, we can’t expect our children to be respectful by being disrespectful to them. It all start with us. When we treat our children disrespectfully, we are making them lose their respect for us. If our child is strong will, we will surely face rebellion and constant confrontation. If our child is more easy going, we might get temporary compliance out of him, that may resemblance respect. But as soon as he can make their own decisions, we will find ourselves wondering why he doesn’t respect us anymore.

How can we make sure our children grow up being respectful, not only to us, but to themselves and to others?

1. Define What Respect Is

We often get confused as to what respect means. Many of us equate respect with blind obedience. That is though, a dangerous goal to have when raising your children. Most of us would say that we want our children to grow up into adults who are self-confident, outspoken, curious, strong, determined… How will they grow up to be that when we don’t let them practice those characteristics when they are little?

We do our children a disservice, when we demand our children to do as they’re told, without questioning our requests; when we constantly tell them what to do and how to think; or when we expect them to never speak their mind. When we do that, we are not teaching them to be respectful to us, we are teaching them to be fearful of us, and to lose respect for themselves.

2. Set Realistic Expectations For Your Children’s Behavior

We sometimes forget that our children are that, children. We usually expect too much of them, too soon. There is usually a change in our expectations as soon as our child becomes verbal and mobile. We somehow assume that they can think rationally, that they can control their feelings, that they can stop and breathe when they get frustrated, that they can listen and do what we ask of them… That’s neither realistic, nor fair.

As adults have trouble regulating our own emotions at times. We have trouble doing what we set out to do or what we know we need to do. We make mistakes. We forget things. We snap out when we don’t sleep well… We are humans, and so are our children. Make sure you place unrealistic and age-appropriate expectations on your child, and that you are forgiving when the behavior is not as you expected.

Be consistent in your expectations. When you are lax one day and firm the next day, you are showing disrespect for the relationship with your child. It tells your child that you can’t be trusted and that the boundaries are not really there to stick.

daddy-and-daughter-in-winter_925x.jpg

3. Demonstrate Respectful Behavior

“We don’t generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them.” Jerry Wyckoff

Think about this. We often demand a behavior from our children that we don’t display ourselves. Let’s focus on teaching our child  how to respect by respecting her, by treating your child as a person in the same way you would treat adults.

What better way to teach a behavior than modeling the behavior we want to teach? It is hypocritical to expect our children to respect us, when we don’t respect them. Would you respect someone who tells you that smoking is horrible as they light up a cigarette? Would you respect someone who tells you that you need to exercise and eat healthy as they sit around on the couch all day eating chips? The answer is no. The same goes with respect!

Respect cannot be demanded. It can only be earned. Let’s earn our children’s respect and they will grown up into respectful people.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Which comes first, a respectful child or a respectful parent?

Many parents would say that they yell at their kids, grab their kids, spank their kids… because they aren’t listening, they aren’t doing their chores… Insert whatever you want your kids to do that they’re not doing.

This argument is often followed by the sentence ‘If only he… I wouldn’t have to…’ The truth is that our children aren’t making us do anything, they aren’t making us respond in a certain way, they aren’t making us be disrespectful to them.

If a parent treats a child in an unkind, inpatient, abusive, overpowering manner (i.e. disrespectful manner), the child will either retreat and become a people pleaser, or the child will treat the parent the same way. However, if a parent treats a child with kindness and respect, the child will treat the parent with kindness and respect.

The answer to the question ‘which comes first, a respectful parent or a respectful child?’ is obviously ‘the parent.’ As everything in life, it all begins with us, the parents. Our children are still learning how to relate to other people. We need to help them do it by setting an example, starting by how we relate to them.

 

Think of this situation…

My nine-year-old daughter blatantly yells at me “NO” when I ask her to go brush her teeth. The tone and the attitude cut me deeply, I feel disrespected, and my mind goes immediately into reaction. My thoughts range from “how dare she talk to me like that?”, to “I should be stricter with her, and punish her to end this attitude.”

However, I pause, I breath and I don’t react. Instead, I respond “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that.” As I remove myself from the situation for a few seconds, I try to understand what may be upsetting my daughter, because to me, that disproportionate reaction has nothing to do with brushing her teeth.

I remember than she had been trying to show me a world she had built in Minecraft all afternoon. I was busy with my three-year-old, and helping her twin with homework. I kept saying “not right now” and “I’ll come find you when I can sit down and see it.” However, that moment never came. We carried on with our crazy afternoon, took showers, prepared dinner, had dinner, and before I knew it, it was time for bed. So, I sent her to brush her teeth. Then, it hit me. I realized I had done the same to her with my actions. I told her “No” repeatedly ruring the afternoon.

623-01298057

After she brushed her teeth and got into her bed. I sat down with her and told her “You’re the sweetest girl I know. I had never heard you yell at me like that. Is there something bothering you? How can I help?.”

She opened up about how I had been ignoring her all afternoon, and how she really wanted to share with me this really cool world she had created in Minecraft. She had been patient all afternoon and had cooperated with me, and trusted that I was going to follow through with my promise to sit with her and let her tell me all about her exciting accomplishment. When she realized that wasn’t going to happen she snapped at me.

After this conversation, we hugged, I apologized for not having kept my word, and I promised I would sit with her the following day. Immediately after, without being prompt or asked to, she apologized for yelling at me and being rude. See? I modeled the behavior I expected from her, and she learned it.

Had I reacted to her “NO” in the heat of the moment, the situation would’ve been very different. It would’ve probably escalated, we would’ve entered a power struggle, I would’ve probably yelled at her for yelling at me, I would’ve missed the chance to connect with her, she would’ve resented me, she would’ve lost interest in sharing her important things with me, and our relationship would’ve suffered.

I am certainly not perfect. I mess up on a daily basis, but I wanted to share with you a situation in which I chose the right way to act, setting a good example for my daughter.

Respectful children are raised by respectful parents. To Learn Respect, Children Must First Be Respected

Much love, Diana-

Touched by Childhood Cancer… Savor Every Moment With Your Little Ones

My friend’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer last week. She has sarcoma in her spine, and will start chemo next week after her second high risk surgery in less than 2 weeks to remove the tumors.

I’ve been helping taking care of her other two children, since they don’t have family here, while they went through the heart wrenching process of figuring out what was wrong with her. It wasn’t until today that it really sunk in that this is not a temporary illness. She’s really sick and her road to recovery won’t be an easy or guaranteed one.

She’s only nine years old! Just like my twins. Kids shouldn’t have to go through things like this. A nine year old shouldn’t have to worry about whether her treatment will be painful. She shouldn’t have to worry about whether she’ll be alive for her 10th birthday. She shouldn’t be scared because she knows she has cancer, and cancer kills a lot of people.

Life is fragile and unfortunately can change in an instant. Don’t take any minute with your children for granted! Yes, they drive us crazy at time; yes, we feel like failures on a daily basis; yes, sometimes we wish we didn’t have the tremendous responsibility that is raising little humans; yes, we feel like a broken record sometimes; yes, we wish we had more time for ourselves … yes, yes, yes… all that and more is true.

But believe me! We are lucky! Those of us raising healthy little ones are incredibly blessed. We sometimes forget it, but it’s worth remembering. We don’t have to worry about whether we will see our child will grow up. We don’t have to worry about caring for a sick child while still showing love and attention to our other children. We don’t have to see our child suffer as she holds on to life. We don’t have to worry about whether the new treatment will save our child’s life. We don’t have to worry about keeping our child’s spirit up when she wants to give up. We don’t have to worry about whether we can afford the medical treatment our child needs. We don’t have to worry about all these life altering things.

We worry about much, much simpler stuff, such as whether the homework is done, whether she’s eaten her veggies, whether she’s learned how to read, whether she’s brushed her teeth, whether she’s in bed on time… We worry about stuff we shouldn’t really worry about.

father-hugging-children.jpg

We shouldn’t let the little daily life events get on our nerves and prevent us from enjoying our children. We should enjoy them as they are, enjoy the messiness of childhood, enjoy the inevitable occasional chaos of parenthood, enjoy the little hugs and kisses, enjoy the loud and constant background noise that surrounds us, enjoy the daily lessons we learn, enjoy the ups and downs. Just enjoy life with our kids!

Take every opportunity to tell them how amazing they are, how much they lighten up your life. Take every chance you get to hug them, kiss them, cuddle with them, listen to their stories, read with and to them, play with them… BE with them, fully present and conscious.

Because life is fragile and precious, and we should never take it for granted!

Much love, Diana-

My child doesn’t listen!

Do you repeat the same thing over and over again without response? Are you frustrated because your child doesn’t listen to you?

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone! Those are some of the most common complaints I hear from parents during my private consultations; and whenever I hear that, two questions always come to my mind:

1. What do we really mean by ‘listening’?

Is it a synonym of ‘obeying’? More often than not, when parents complain about their children not listening, what they really mean is that their children do not drop whatever it is they’re doing, right the second the parent asks them to do something.

Therefore, the issue is not so much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘compliance and obedience.’ I believe in parenting with love and respect, and ‘obedience’ does not fit into this definition. The same way I wouldn’t expect my spouse or any other adult to blindly obey what I say, I don’t expect that from my daughters either. Obedience, in my book, is NOT the epitome of good parenting.

As Alphie Kohn points out in his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ that when parents are asked what their long term goals for their children are, they say they want their kids to be ethical, compassionate, independent, happy, accomplished, self-confident, etc. No parent says they want their children to grow up into obedient adults. I certainly do not want my daughters to grow up to be compliant women, I want them to question authority, to have their own opinions, to make their own decisions (and their own mistakes), to be creative… and to not mindlessly obey anybody (not even me!).

Most of what we see as disobedience in our children is either natural, curious, discovering, learning, developmentally appropriate behavior; a way of letting you know that one of their needs is not being met; or a reaction to a situation in which they do not feel comfortable or safe with, or have no control over.

Child not listening

The need for children’s obedience that many parents have is usually associated with parents’ fear that…

  • the child will grow up to be a rebellious, sociopath, anarchist monster. This terrible view of humane nature is not based on any empirical evidence.
  • they will be misunderstood by their peers and by family. After all, most people still believe a good child is an obedient child.
  • their child will have trouble at school with her teachers. Many teachers are still not open to the idea of having their students questioning their lessons.

Forcing children into blind obedience has terrible consequences. Children might not learn to think for themselves and will always value their parents’ (or other authoritative figure’s) voice over their own. They might not learn how to make their own decisions. They might be pushed around and manipulated by their peers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating permissive parenting, I am not arguing that children can be disrespectful and have no limits, I am not suggesting that children can do as they please whenever they want. I am proposing a way of parenting that is based on mutual respect, love and cooperation; and that will eliminate the power struggles between the parent and the child and will allow the child to turn into an independent, confident and mindful adult.

 

2. How well do we listen to our children?

As with many other issues in parenting, the way our children do something tends to be a direct reflection of how we do that same thing. What does this mean? It means that in order to get your child to listen, you first have to listen to her. If they feel listened to, they will be more inclined to listen to you. It is that simple and that complicated!

We are giving our children the best example of what listening is all about. We are modeling a certain way of listening and communicating for them. How do you listen when your child talks to you? How do you usually respond when your child talks to you or asks you to do something for her (read a book, tell a story, play on the floor, go see a bug…)? Is your common response any of these…?

  • Delay request (i.e. ‘Just a minute,’ ‘I can’t right now, I doing something else’)
  • Casual nod, but no eye-to-eye connection (i.e. ‘Umm’)
  • Uninterested response while you’re still looking at your cellphone (i.e. ‘I see’)
  • No response, just ignore and go on with what you’re doing
  • Repeated (and not very uplifting) lecture (i.e. ‘I told you many times not to…,’ ‘That happened because you….’)
  • Constant interruptions
  • Frequent commands
  • Response before they are done talking

Ignoring

As parents we often create communication problems with our children, because we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Whenever we don’t listen to our children, they notice. Not listening does not only mean that we are not hearing what they are saying, it also means that we are not plugged in with what they are trying to tell us. We make assumptions about what they are trying to say, we draw conclusions without making sure we understood the message. We talk too much or launch into lectures.

The best way I know to get children to listen is to listening to them first. Listening intently, listening with interest, listening making sure we ‘get’ what they are saying, listening making sure we understand what’s not being said, and listening making sure our children know they are loved, always and that we are listening.

Mom_Talk_vs_Baby_Talk_636x424_0

Parenting is a journey in which we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, about our children and about human nature. Parenting is the best journey towards self-understanding, personal improvement, mindfulness and consciousness.

Let’s love the ride!

Much love, Diana-

 

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #8: Fill Up Their Love Tanks

Connection & Communication

“Bedtime is often experienced by children as a form of separation, so children need the reassurance of connection to help them let go and sleep well. It’s also a time of day when feelings tend to bubble up that haven’t been processed in the day, so for positive parents, it’s actually one of the most important times of day.”

Kate Orson

Bedtime is the best time to connect with your children. I know it’s probably one of the most difficult ones, because by the time bedtime comes around, your energy levels are extremely low and all you want to do is get it over with, sit back and relax.

However, positive parenting at bedtime is an investment on your relationship with your child and on his emotional wellbeing. Every night, when you tuck your child into bed and wish them a good night, you have a unique opportunity to connect with her and make her feel your love. This connection will also help erase any uncomfortable parenting moments from the day, any conflicts with your child, or any tension.

I must confess that since my third daughter was born, my bedtime routines haven’t been as good as they were when I only had the twins. They are more rushed than I’d like to, and some days I don’t have the time or energy to do everything I love to do with them at bedtime. But, this month, I am focusing my energy on getting back on track on connected and soothing bedtimes, because I know the tremendous impact it has on my children’s mood and desire of cooperation.

 

Hispanic father reading book to daughter
Hispanic father reading book to daughter

 

My recommendation is to communicate with your child at bedtime. With babies, it will be a unidirectional communication, you will talk to them about your day, about what they did, about what’s coming the next day… With older kids who can actually maintain a conversation, it will be a bidirectional exchange. You can tell them about your day, ask them about their day, check how they’re feeling… You share and they share.

Bedtime is  a time to listen to our children’s feelings, deepest fears and worries, whether directly in conversation, or indirectly, through our child’s behavior. So, don’t miss this opportunity!

 

One very special thing that I do every night with my daughters, is to sing them the same song since they were little, as I cuddle with them. For one of them is ‘Twinkle, twinkle”, for other is “You are my sunshine”, and for the other one, surprisingly is the “ABC song” in English and Spanish.

How do you connect with your children at bedtime?

Much love, Diana-

8 Simple Hacks for Stress-Free Bedtimes

As we near the end of March, I continue with my resolution of improving our family routines to have a more peaceful and connected life with my daughters.

Bedtime routines are not only important to help your children develop healthy sleep habits. Children who have irregular bed times are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. Most important of all, bedtime is a specially important time to connect with our children and help them go to sleep feeling unconditionally loved and accepted. Bedtime gives us a daily opportunity to build a strong relationship with our children.

parents-sleep-guide-reading-together-in-bed

Many families struggle to keep a consistent bedtime routine. Many moms and dads are so exhausted by the end of the day, that their patience is gone, and they find themselves wanting to get it over with and have some alone time to relax. Additionally, worn out from a busy and day, our children seem to wind up at the end of the day. Therefore, bedtime becomes a struggle, instead of a relaxed time to finish the day.

However, we should do our best to keep this time as calm and smooth as possible. The first step is to have routines in place for each of our children. Consistency and a clear structure help children feel safe. When our children know that the same thing happens each night before bed, they don’t have to worry about what’s coming up next. In the next few days, I will share with you some tips on how to set up bedtime routines for each age.

Just like I did with Morning Routines, I will go over 8 simple hacks for smooth and peaceful bedtime routines. In the next few days we will cover each of the following hacks:

  1. Complete Tasks As The Day Goes On
  2. Keep Everything As Organized As Possible
  3. Set Up Before Kids Get Home
  4. Drain Energy And Get Ready For Bed
  5. Safe and Soothing Environment
  6. Bedtime Routines and Kid’s Charts
  7. Remain Calm
  8. Fill Up Their Love Tanks: Connection & Communication

Much love, Diana-