Have Kids? Have Technology? Here’s a New Ebook You’ll Want to Read

May 5, 2014 at 7:27 am (General, Positive Discipline)

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One day I wrote a post about a time in which my children and I were struggling with screen time. I wrote about how we detoxed. Then one day soon after that post came out, Jane Neslen, author of the Positive Discipline series, contacted me, said she loved the post and wouldn’t it be great if we could put together a resource for parents on this very important topic? I said absolutely yes and started to get to work on what would become our ebook collaboration.

The irony was, every time I sat down to work on the book, I was tempted to either turn on a movie for my kids or hand them an iPad so I could get work done on it. I remember thinking, “Do I really want to write a book about the value of reducing screen time while my kids sit in front of a screen so I can get it done?” I decided no. I couldn’t do that.

So the book had to wait. Wait a bit until my kids were a little older and our schedules aligned and I had some uninterrupted work time…without the assistance of screens. Since that day a few years ago, we have had even more chances to work through additional challenges with our use of screens…adding to my growing understanding that there was certainly no cut-and-dry answer for every family and their screen time dilemmas.

It would be easy to declare, “Go screen free! Here is why, here is how, and here are the alternatives.” To give families ONE simple answer for their media use. The truth is, there is no ONE answer that works for everyone. Viewpoints on the topic of screen time range from 100% unlimited access to disowning TVs completely and avoiding video games like the plague.

Though, there is much in between.

That’s where our new resource comes in. For the families in the in-between…Those who fall somewhere in between full access and total banishment for their kids’ media use. I was thrilled when the ebook started coming together and we finally had a pub date. That date was last Monday, so the ebook is now available to everyone!

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Don’t think I missed the irony of publishing a book about screen time in (only) a digital format. I noticed. I wondered about that. Realistically, this is how we live. Like the opening line of the book says, “Screens are everywhere.” So many aspects of our lives have been infiltrated by electronic gagets….and that’s not always so terrible. Tablets? Pretty handy. Smartphones? Helpful. eReaders? Awesome. I happen to love our gadgets. The danger–and where I think many parents struggle–lies in not finding balance of your family’s screen use. Of forming strong habits and depending on those devices too much.

It becomes easy to lose track of time when kids play on the computer or xBox. It becomes easy to fall into routines that involve screened entertainment when it may not be necessary–when there are alternative forms of engagement  we could be having with our kids.

So keep your iPhones, keep your TVs, and keep your video games. Keep reading ebooks (especially this one!). The key lies not in banishment, but in balance. This resource is meant to help parents understand the value of interpersonal connection, as well as the enjoyment of our devices, and to help you find a balance that works for your family.

In this book you will learn how to….

  • Be proactive in managing your media use
  • Set your family up for success with appropriate amounts of screen time
  • Set limits effectively
  • Solve problems when problems arise

You will also find a section of questions from parents just like you and answers from Positive Discipline experts and educators. How do I get my son off Minecraft? What are the best rules to set for Xbox use? What guidelines do you suggest for getting a child a cell phone?

There is also a template for a phone contract you can use with your kids that follows the principles of Positive Discipline. When your kids are ready for their first phone, this is  a great agreement to use to help everyone in the family get clear on the expectations and responsibilities that come with owning a phone.

The book is on sale now and available at these retailers:

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Amazon

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iTunes

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Positive Discipline Store (downloadable as a PDF)

If you’ve read it already, we’d love to hear your feedback! Please let us know what you think.

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Sit in the Dark; No Silver Lining

April 25, 2014 at 9:00 am (Attachment Parenting)

I love this presentation of Brene Brown speaking about empathy that was turned into an animated clip. Take a look…

She speaks about a topic that is so important for everyone, of all ages, but I especially love it as it applies to parenting. I know as a mom, I often want to “silver lining” things for my kids. They are struggling and having a hard time, and I want to help them feel better. I want to turn an unhappy situation around. My first instinct is to go for a response that minimizes the negatives and emphasizes the positives. It’s like I want to make my kids forget about what’s upsetting them so we can get back to being happy. To brush it under the rug.

But Brene makes an excellent point in that rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.

Instead of silver lining things to help my kids feel better, I need to meet them where they are with those heavy feelings. I need to sit in the dark with them. I need to be present and not try to sweep their feelings under the rug just because they are unpleasant, but reach out and connect so that they know what they are feeling is normal. Only then will the weight of those feelings be lifted.

Here’s the difference between silver lining and sit-in-the-dark responses:

My friend was mean to me today. He didn’t want to play with me and just left me to play all by myself!
Silver lining: Well you still have your other friends to play with.
Sit in the dark: Oh, I know you were looking forward to playing with your friend today. You felt hurt when he didn’t want to play.

I am losing this game AGAIN! I ALWAYS lose at games!
Silver lining: That’s not true; you do great at games! We’ll play another one and I’m sure you’ll win the next time.
Sit in the dark: It’s so hard to lose a game. You feel really angry. I bet you wish you could win all the time!

I am trying to build a blanket fort but it keeps falling over! One part won’t stay when I let go, and the other part isn’t tall enough. I can’t get it right!
Silver Lining: What do you mean? This is a great fort! Look, you have a little cave you can hide in!
Sit in the dark: Oh that sounds frustrating! It’s not working out as easily as you hoped? I wonder if there’s something you could do to help make it more stable.

I’m trying to do this magic trick, but it’s not magic at all! It doesn’t even float in the air like the picture shows! 
Silver lining: But now you have a cool magic wand to play with. You can use it as a prop with your dress-up set!
Sit in the dark: Yeah, the picture makes it look different doesn’t it? That must be disappointing. You wish the wand would float all by itself so you could see real magic.

Sitting in the dark with our children means understanding that their feelings are real. It means not minimizing them or trying to wash them away, but validating, embracing, It means teaching kids how to feel them. We may not necessarily agree with a child’s feelings but we must communicate that we accept them. This is the essence of connection.

We must listen not with the intent to respond but with the intent to understand. ~Steven Covey

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Nourished Living Summit

April 9, 2014 at 10:31 am (General)

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This online parenting conference is going on now and is jam-packed with interviews! You can listen for free each day to a different interview, or you can purchase the whole series to listen to at your convenience. I was honored to be a part of this interview series and I’m looking forward to hearing from some of the most respected professionals in parenting education.

Laura-Markham-150x150 Dr. Laura Markham will be speaking on how we parents can manage those inevitable moments of anger and overwhelm.

Elizabeth-Pantley-150x150 Elizabeth Pantley, author of the oft-recommended “No Cry” parenting series talks about gentle sleep solutions.

Dr.-Jay-Gordon-150x150 Dr. Jay Gordon’s interview is about understanding autism.

ariadne-brill-150x150 My friend and colleague, Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection will discuss how we can help our children develop healthy independence.

1223_squatty_potty_300And just because I happen to really like our Squatty Potty, I am looking forward to hearing what its creator, Robert Edwards, says about potty training!

Kelly-Bartlett-150x150 My own interview on understanding attachment parenting through the ages and stages (oh, so many misconceptions!) will air on April 25th. I hope you’ll tune in then if you’re listening to the free daily interviews.

If you’d like to take a look at buying access to specific interviews or any that may have already aired, go here.

And if you’re feeling like you’d enjoy the entire series, go here for purchase details.

For emails and links to the free daily interviews, this is where you sign up.

Happy listening, and here’s to parenting mindfully!

 

 

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A Quote to Inspire You This Week

April 7, 2014 at 6:28 am (Attachment Parenting)

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Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement;
and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

~Brene Brown

This week, let’s strive to deepen the connection with our children and be conscious of the ways in which we make sure they feel seen, heard and valued.

Feelings are ok, mistakes are fixable, and there’s nothing our children can do to push us away or make themselves un-lovable. We won’t judge their behavior as right or wrong, good or bad, but see it for what it is–communication.

Let’s embrace the imperfect and show our children they are worth holding close to our hearts, no matter what. Let’s nourish them with the strength of our relationship.

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How to Encourage Kids to Try New Things

March 31, 2014 at 8:57 am (Attachment Parenting, Positive Discipline)

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“How can I encourage my child to try new things?”

There is collective agreement among many parents that this can be difficult depending to a child’s temperament and overall outgoing-ness. Some children have no problem trying a new activity (like our children’s recent introduction to parkour, above), while others are just never quite up for it.

“New things” is outside their comfort zone and there are many reasons a child might not be enthusiastic about heading down that path. It means doing something unfamiliar or uncomfortable. It means not knowing what the outcome will be and that it may very well result in failure. It means a child might not be “good.” All of which are reasons to be scared.

But we adults know that some of the best things in life have come from stepping outside our comfort zones–trying new activities, learning new skills, and having different experiences. Pushing ourselves just a little bit is how we learn and grow and become oh-so-well-rounded. Of course we want our kids to become just as experienced and diversified. But this means they must be willing to try new things even when that seems daunting.

How can we teach this? When considering how to encourage your children to try something new, keep in mind a few of their most essential needs that must be met in order for a child to feel comfortable enough to agree to try it:

Children need a strong sense of autonomy–a realization of their basic skills and capabilities in taking care of themselves. A sense of, “I am capable,” and “I can do this.” Help your children develop autonomy by stepping back and allowing kids to take the lead in taking care of themselves. Teach them how to choose their own clothes, get themselves dressed, start their own baths or showers, make their own simple meals and snacks, fix things, build things, clean things. Feeling autonomous is the first step in being able to try anything different.

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Children need a sense of confidence. This is different from autonomy in that instead of a sense of, “I can do this,” confidence is more a sense of, “I CAN do this!” and, “I am successful.”

Help kids develop this by celebrating successes when they occur. Wow! You did it! Look at what you’ve accomplished! That was hard. Congratulations! Thank you! You’re a huge help to this family. Remember: it’s not heaps of superficial praise from a parent that builds a child’s confidence, but regular encouraging words that draw out a child’s own thoughts on the experience. We want a child to be able to pat himself on the back, to praise himself and say, “I did a good job!” Confidence comes when one doesn’t have to look to others for praise and validation, but finds it within oneself.

When encouraging children to try new things, start with small challenges. Everyday successes. Build up confidence with the small things and he’ll be ready to tackle bigger “new things” in time.

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Children need a sense of security. It’s a comfort that comes in knowing, “I am safe,” and, “I belong.” Strengthen your child’s sense of security on a daily basis by making time for them and paying attention during those times. Talk to them, but…mostly listen to what they have to say. Constantly aim to get to know who they are. Accept them wholly. Meet their needs regularly for nutrition, sleep, and physical connection. Have family routines. Play together. Get into the habit of empathizing and validating their feelings. Make sure to communicate to children that they are more important than anything else in the world…let them know, “I’ve got this; I’ve got you.”

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Children need a sense of resilience. They must know that they can survive life’s challenges and hardships. That not everything will go their way, but they are capable of handling frustration and disappointment and moving forward. They must know: “I can survive this.”

Help kids learn that mistakes are OK by disciplining with problem solving versus punishment. Instead of looking for what to do to a child to teach a lesson, look for ways to work with a child in finding a solution. This teaches children that mistakes are a part of life and they’re fixable; mistakes are not anything to be feared.

You can set a powerful example of resilience by trying new things together with your child. Take a new art class together. Try a new activity. Go somewhere you’ve never been, or do something you’ve never done before…together. When you make mistakes, acknowledge them and figure out together what to do next. Talk about that you might not be good at this new skill yet, but you’re learning and having fun anyway. You can model resilience by allowing your child to see and be a part of challenges in a cooperative way.

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When you first work on meeting these needs of children–autonomy, confidence, security, and resilience–you will be able to encourage your child to try new things with greater success. She’ll be ready to step outside that comfort zone because she’ll be well-equiped to know she can handle it. It won’t seem quite so scary out there.

If your child is having a hard time wanting to try whatever new activity you’re suggesting, take a step back and wait. Revisit some of the tools above. Suggest and encourage, but don’t push or insist. Encourage them through their small successes and make sure your relationship is secure.

Encouraging children doesn’t mean finding the right incentive or prize (I’ll give you $20 to try the rock-climbing wall). It doesn’t mean using your relationship as a bargaining tool (It will make mommy so happy if you play T-Ball this year). It doesn’t mean taking whatever means necessary to lure your child out of his comfort zone and try a new experience. It means strengthening a child’s inner senses of autonomy, confidence, security and resilience for him to be able to step out there on his own. To help him want to.

When children have this inner strength they know that they can try any new thing, and despite the discomfort, they will survive the mistakes as well as master the challenges.

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