The Bitty Book Club

wpid-20150216_101216.jpgLet me begin by saying that I love to read. My husband loves to read. Our kids love to pore over their books and all of our fabulous library finds. But, this habit has taken a backseat to well, other things.

I have always enjoyed reading: getting drawn into a great story, expanding my knowledge, and challenging my thinking. When my husband and I find something of interest we spend countless hours reading and researching online. For example, when I was first looking into homeschool as an option, you couldn’t find me reading or doing anything unless it was related to homeschool. My hubby has delved into the world of small motors (he wants to build a go kart type vehicle for the kids) and learned about batteries, gear boxes, drills, and most recently aquaponics. So, even though we do read, I would not by any means define us as avid readers.

In an attempt to change our casual reader status to well-read we have a few goals. 1. Read all of the books we have in our house. (Really, how could we have so many titles and have only read maybe half of them?) 2. Choose a book to read “together.” Not a read aloud type deal but a read as we make the time kind of a thing. It’ll be a great way to deepen our relationship as we share our ideas and thoughts on a book. 3. Keep a running list of books to read. I am more likely to pick up a new title if I know I already have an interest in the book. Oh the anticipation!

Our first choice is Magic Trees of the Mind How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth Through Adolescence by Marian Diamond, Ph.D., and Janet Hopson. This copy was given to us by an aunt who read it for her early education courses. We began reading this a few years ago. Admittedly, I stopped because the beginning was full of information about the brain and neurological processes. It’s difficult for me to understand very technical language related to the medical field (and sometimes to be interested).  But, I have a wonderful hubby who always knows how to explain it in a different way for me. And I really do have the desire to get to the good stuff – “learning to develop and expand my child’s mind.”

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Tinker Toy Delight and Old Treasures

Finn’s 2nd birthday landed him with a Tinker Toy set from the grandparents. I really don’t care for the kids accumulating too many toys and things. Even though it does seem to be difficult for me to actually purge their things. I keep saying I’m going to get rid of some toys or at least put some away and try to rotate. Somehow I just can’t seem to make it happen –yet. I really do believe that less is more and when the kiddos have less to play with than they have more imagination.

Case in point… I have already seen flowers, vacuum cleaners, cars, and lawnmowers put together using the Tinker Toys. Elle was busy “vacuuming” for quite some time. All of those building type toys are great. I showed Elle how to make furniture with the wooden blocks and arrange it like a living room or bedroom. Another “building” toy we love in our house is the train set. We like to make different configurations and pretend it travels around doing different jobs or picking up people at the airport and dropping them off at the zoo.

I noticed lately that Elle has been interested in Barbies… well the Disney Princess Barbie dolls to be exact. I enlisted my Mom, who is famous for saving everything, to find just one or two of my Barbies and just a few outfits. She was awesome! She found a small stash of Barbies and stuff and brought it up when she came to visit. We went through the things together after the kids were in bed. I decided I couldn’t let Elle have all that stuff, I knew it would be too much. So we left out one Barbie, one fancy dress, three other outfits, the bed and sheets, and the dog. Everything else is put away for another day. Some of the other items were a picnic table, a gym locker, couch and chair, and more clothes and shoes for the Barbies. Elle was so excited when she found the few pieces on the table in the morning. And there were plenty of hours of play with just those few things.

Mwpid-20150211_180458.jpgy Mom also found a little plastic lunchbox sized container with matchbox cars and McDonald toy cars. These were the Chip & Dale and Looney Toon cars. I LOVED playing with cars as a kid. And I didn’t have a fancy carpet that had the roads mapped out, although I wanted one. But I did have paper and markers and tape. That was one of my favorite ways to play. I built my own “city” by drawing roads and parking lots and houses and there were stores, a church, and a school. It was awesome! When I finally finished taping together my map I played for days making this car go here and that car go there. When the kids opened the box to find these treasures they immediately were driving the cars to the store, the zoo, and back home. I don’t know what it is about those silly little plastic novelty toys but they have truly gotten a lot of use in our house.

Are there any toys you deem timeless and worthy of hours of playtime?

Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 2 of 2)

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My last post was about recognizing certain behavior that leads to having a spoiled child – a brat. In this post I’d like to share how you can transition away from these behaviors to lead to a well behaved, content child.

Is your child refusing to accept your answer when you say no to him? Is there kicking and screaming, so to speak? Maybe there really is kicking and screaming? Have you had enough? Then let me ask you one last question… who is more stubborn?

I ask this because you are caught in a battle of wills, my friend. Will he continue to make a fuss and eventually get his way (which will make him more stubborn next time)? Or will you continue to stand your ground and show him that when you say something, you mean it. This has to be one of the hardest things for a parent of little people. At least, in this season, it is for me.

There will be a few rough days ahead, maybe even weeks. But stick to your guns, it’ll be worth it in the end. The first step after realizing you have given in one too many times is to understand that this ornery attitude is unacceptable. If you don’t address this now there will only be more headache and frustration to come. This battle you are facing with your child can lead to disrespect. Maybe he’ll be so angry with you that yelling, door slamming, hitting, or kicking will result. Gratitude will start to wither away. You tell him he can have “one more” but it isn’t enough. Sooner or later he’ll be inconsolable and uncontrollable. And that just won’t do.

The next step is to make the decision that when you say something you have to follow through with what you say. How many times do you find yourself telling your 5 year old “okay, one more episode and then it’s time to do something else” and two (or three or four) episodes later they are still watching? Or you tell your two year old “no, you can’t have a snack this close to dinner” but after a few moments of tears he’s eating those grapes he wanted. Your child is learning that they don’t really have to listen to what you say. They don’t believe your words and your credibility is gone. Remember that you are the parent. If you said no it’s probably for a good reason.

Finally, don’t give up. You will be tested. You will feel overwhelmed, perhaps defeated. Here are some ways to persevere through these trials. Change the subject. Sometimes all it takes is diverting your child’s attention away from what’s going on. Telling a joke, a funny story, or even a tickle can help to lighten the situation. Ask for help with something. “You know what Elle, Mommy needs some help in the kitchen. Let’s go put away the dishes, you can put the silverware in the drawer for me.” A time out or some quiet time alone to think about how they are acting. They have to know that their behavior is not okay, and that they can choose to act better.

We were at the grocery store and my pet peeve is any kind of riding or hanging on to the cart. The rule is you walk beside the cart. Well, we were almost finished and Elle insists that she’s tired and her feet hurt. Little Miss Dramatic here. She wants to hang off the side and put her feet on the bottom so that she doesn’t have to walk. “Sorry, honey, but you need to walk.” I stopped and waited for her to follow directions. Yes, I was pressed for time. But at the moment it was too important for me to miss the opportunity to ensure that my daughter is listening and obeying her mother. It was a battle of wills. I kept my cool and I stayed firm. Only 5 minutes later we were both walking to complete our shopping trip. Success!

You have to resolve to change this bratty attitude. Know that it’s not acceptable, follow through with what you say, and don’t give up. As your child learns that he isn’t the boss he will learn that he can count on your word. He will accept your answer and move on. And just because you don’t give in to his every whim does not make you love him any less. In fact, exhibiting consistency and discipline will show him that your love for him is because you want to see him do well.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 1of 2)

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My kids are great. I love them dearly. They are good at keeping busy playing. They mostly get along with one another. They listen – most of the time. They’re kids – they do what kids do. But, there are times when I feel so worn down by them. I feel defeated. I just want to give up, go in the other room and let them wreak havoc. But I know I can’t do that.

I have to teach these little ones that it isn’t always about them. And that just because they ask or they want something doesn’t mean they can have it. It was when Finn (the 2 year old) cried – tantrum style – after being offered the normal breakfast choice of cereal or eggs that I noticed this behavior has been happening all too often and that this was not acceptable. It was also hubby who pointed out this disagreeable disposition Finn was displaying.

So how do you recognize when your child is being ill-mannered and obnoxious? There is a difference between the occasional discord and the constant campaign to rule. I am talking about the latter. There are times when children won’t like your answer or when they just need to complain and wine, probably because they don’t know how else to express themselves. But, there are times when children refuse to accept your answer and when they complain and wine about everything.

There are two things to look at first. One is your child’s response to a want or desire that you just turned down. Second is your response to your child after his want or desire was rejected. Let’s say your little guy just asked to play with the play doh or get out the paints. You explain that lunch time is coming up and that we can’t get out those things because it’s time to eat soon. You even offer something else to do instead that isn’t so messy or involved. He is not happy. He asks again and he even resorts to crying (which can be appropriate for a little tot but not much older). Now here is the tricky part – your response. Do you tell him no again and remove him from the area to redirect his attention elsewhere? Maybe you tell him no again and walk away, allowing him to figure out how to deal with the situation. Perhaps you said no and then decided that it’s not that much of a mess and proceed to help him do the activity. If the last one was your response then you could be shaping him right into being a brat. Don’t worry though, we all respond that way at some time or another. But we do have to be careful that it is not the normal reaction. Here are some other indications to help you recognize that things need to change.

  • You are saying yes to a request because you don’t want to hear any complaining.
  • You are constantly getting push back. Your child never seems to be happy with your answers or requests.
  • You find yourself changing your mind. After you have said no you start to justify why you can say yes instead.
  • Your child cries, stomps, yells when you say no.
  • You child demands your attention in negative ways.
  • Your child has become ungrateful.
  • Your child has become “uncontrollable.”

It is important to stand your ground. If you tell him no then he needs to be able to accept that. You are the parent and you gave your answer.

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” -from Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann

When you change your mind all of the time or appease your child because you just don’t want to hear it then you are doing a disservice to him. He will learn that he can have whatever he wants and when he doesn’t get it he won’t know how to appropriately react.

Check back soon for: Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 2 of 2)