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Qualities of a Well-Rounded Child

Here’s a list of qualities that I feel best describes a well-rounded child:

He or she is able to embrace and appreciate “alone time.”

This is a valuable skill that is possessed by less and less children these days.

He or she is able to delay gratification.

In other words: Child is patient!

He or she is able to see both sides of an issue.

This is a special “skill” that many adults lack!

He or she appreciates and has a respect for diversity.

Child is not bothered in the least bit by people that are “different” than him.

He or she is vigilant.

Child is aware of his or her surroundings and is alert to potential safety issues and/or concerns. He or she is observant.

He or she knows when to “drop it.”

Sometimes arguments just aren’t worth the time and effort that goes into having them. A well-rounded child knows when to drop the issue and how to bow out gracefully.

He or she is appreciative.

“Thank you” is not something that goes unsaid. He or she shows his appreciation when appropriate…and that appreciation appears to be genuine.

He or she is able and willing to put others first.

This one is self-explanatory…and well-rounded children do this without being asked.

He or she is optimistic.

Instead of dwelling on the negatives, this child looks “at the bright side” of any given situation. He keeps things positive and refrains from negativity.

He or she learns from his mistakes.

Enough said.

He or she takes responsibility for his actions.

Rather than making up silly excuses and/or blaming others, this child takes full responsibility for his actions and accepts any repercussions that might result.

He or she takes good care of his mind and his body.

This child eats healthy while keeping junk food to a minimum. He or she reads and seems to enjoy learning.  Child avoids harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.  He or she gets regular exercise and possibly even plays a sport.  Child might even play an instrument or participate in a school club.

He or she does things in moderation.

Video games don’t rule his day. An endless barrage of sweets isn’t necessary in order for him to make it through the day.  He spends time doing a variety of activities…with a variety of friends. He is able to put his mobile device away for an hour or two at a time without going spastic!  You get the idea!

…and, most importantly, he or she is considerate towards others!

Can you think of any other qualities that well-rounded children possess?

Things to Keep in the Car: An Essential List for Parents

kids in carGot kids in the car? If you are a busy parent that is constantly searching for things in your car that AREN’T there, then this list is for you!

Here is my list of essential items to keep in your car (especially if you have kids!):

Wet Wipes– These are great for quick hand-washing, cleaning messy faces, and other uses that require a bit more than just a napkin.

Hand Sanitizer– Great for hand-washing (quick fix for sticky hands!) or general sanitizing.

Fingernail Clippers– This multi-purpose tool has many uses.  You never know when you might need one!

Kleenex– This is a no-brainer!

Napkins– Hitting the drive-through?  We know all-to-well that these rarely make it in the bag when we pick up our food.  I always keep a small stack in my glove box.

Paper Cups– These are especially useful if you have more than one child.  I often use these when my daughters want to share a drink after stopping at a convenience store.  They are also useful for a variety of other reasons.  I usually keep only two or three of them in the car at a time.

Lotion– Because dry skin is a drag!

Band Aids – You never know when you might need one…and there’s nothing worse than needing one and not having one!

Sun Screen – It’s always good to have some readily available “just in case!”

Bottle of Water – Just like the Kleenex, this is also a “no-brainer” to have with you in the car!”

Small Blanket – Because kids like to take naps sometimes!  A small travel pillow would also be nice!

Pen – These come in handy quite often!

Sticky Notes – Need to write down a number or address?  This would certainly help!

Loose Change– Because vending machines and parking meters are a reality we must deal with at times!

Q-tips – Can be used for more than just cleaning one’s ears!  Handy to have around!

I have a small plastic box in my car that I replenish every-so-often. I can’t begin to tell you how often I resort to this little box during various escapades!

Can you think of any other items that are a must-have for traveling parents?

Positive Parenting: Are You Doing it Right?

“Effective discipline begins with positive parenting,” is one of the many quotes I recently read on one of my many social media pages. It’s a great quote that certainly makes sense, but it would have been nice if the author had expanded on that thought. Since that wasn’t the case, I decided to take my own little “stab at it.”

So, with no further ado…

Positive parenting involves the use of firm but fair discipline. This means that parents need to be assertive when stating expectations (or when giving instructions) without sounding too wishy-washy or timid. It is equally as important for parents to be reasonable and just when dealing with their children. Failure to do so is likely to result in further behavior problems.

Positive parenting involves the ability to communicate with one’s child in a calm, positive, and constructive manner…without resorting to yelling and/or threatening. An “out-of-control” parent is rarely, if ever, effective.

Positive parenting also involves a high level of patience and empathy. Understanding a child’s feelings and motivations will (in most cases) lead to a more positive result with regards to managing that child’s behavior.

It is important for parents to choose effective consequences if improved behavior is the desired result. This includes positive and negative consequences. Ineffective consequences are unlikely to motivate a child to behave better…and a lack of motivation usually means a lack of change.

Positive parenting means being involved and being connected to one’s children! Children need to feel as though they are not only loved and cared for, but truly appreciated by their parents. Spending quality time with one’s children is essential to building that child’s self-esteem and developing their self-worth.

So, there you have it. The five short paragraphs above are how I would define “positive parenting.”

If you are interested in becoming a more positive or effective parent, then The Parent Coach Plan is perhaps something you should look into. It is a simple and effective behavior plan that promotes positive parenting.

parenting tools 5

Horror Movies and Children: NOT a Good Mix

Halloween is quickly approaching.  Soon, images of zombies, witches, skeletons, and all sorts of scary beings will be commonplace.  Haunted houses, corn mazes, and Halloween parties are certain to be on the list of “things to do” for most adults.  It’s also that time of the year when scary movies inundate every television channel.

children and scary movies

What many adults fail to realize is that these scary “horror” movies are often viewed by children that are too young to understand the “Hollywood magic” that goes on behind the scenes.  Though this writer considers it incredibly irresponsible for parents to allow their young children to watch these types of movies, it can often happen during sleepovers, while an older sibling is caring for the child, or simply while the child is “unsupervised.”

According to the summary of a study that looked at the psychological effects of horror movies on children,

Toddlers and young children who watch violent movies, including Halloween horror films, television shows or video games may be more likely to develop anxiety, sleep disorders, and aggressive and self-endangering behaviors. The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center study, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was presented on Oct. 28 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in San Diego.  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061031113446.htm#)

With that being said, please be aware of the potential trauma you may be causing to your child by allowing him or her to watch these types of movies.  The danger in doing so has nothing to do with your child’s potential to become a serial killer in the future….but to instead have long lasting psychological effects such as anxiety, sleep problems, and other such issues.  The ratings are there for a reason…I suggest abiding by them and making sure your child does as well.

For My Daughters: Is Your “Friend” Actually a “Good Friend?”

friendshipOver the last few years, my two daughters have entered into a handful of new friendships with a number of classmates, neighbors, teammates, and other “associates.”  Some of those friendships have stood the test of time (at least so far) and others have not.

So, what exactly is it that determines whether or not a particular friend should be elevated to the level of “good friend” or even “best friend?”

The answer to this question is probably best answered by asking further questions.  The answers are obvious and should be used to determine whether or not a friend is worth keeping…or if he/she should be kicked to the curb.

With that being said, here is a list of questions one should ask regarding a particular “friend:”

  1. Do you and your friend have anything in common?
  2. Does your friend “give” as much as she “takes?”
  3. Does your friend seem genuinely concerned about your feelings?
  4. Is your friend supportive?
  5. Does your friend encourage you to make good decisions?
  6. Is your friend a good listener?
  7. Can you confide in your friend?
  8. Does your friend “build you up” rather than “tear you down?”
  9. Is your friend honest and trustworthy?
  10. Is your friend tolerant and accepting of those that are “different” from her?
  11. Do you genuinely enjoy being around your friend?
  12. Do you ever get the feeling that your friend has taken advantage of you?
  13. Does your friend gossip about you to others?
  14. Does your friend “make fun” of others in an effort to be funny?
  15. Does your friend give off “positive vibes?”
  16. Does your friend ever pressure you to do things that you know aren’t right?
  17. Is your friend there for you always or is she simply a “fair-weathered” friend?
  18. Is your friend generous?
  19. Is your friend forgiving?
  20. Do you have a genuinely good time when you hang out with your friend?
  21. Does your friend have a positive outlook on life?
  22. Does your friend treat others with respect?
  23. Is your friend loyal? Will he/she stand by you through “thick and thin?”

So, how does your friend look to you now?  Has your opinion changed?  After answering these questions, is your friend worth keeping?

10 Reasons to Try a Behavior Contract with Your Child or Teen

Why try a behavior contract with your child?

  1. Because they promote and encourage positive behavior.
  2. Because they clarify behavioral expectations.
  3. Because they are easy to use.
  4. Because children learn accountability and self-discipline from them.
  5. Because they make privileges and consequences predictable.
  6. Because they create an environment that is consistent and structured.
  7. Because they prevent manipulation.
  8. Because they motivate children.
  9. Because they open the lines of communication between child and parent.
  10. Because they are effective!

If you are looking for a set of prewritten, downloadable behavior contracts then please visit www.ParentCoachPlan.com or www.TeenBehaviorContracts.com.  Both sites offer highly affordable behavior contract packages that cover a variety of behavioral issues and character traits.  Each package also includes additional parenting tools as described on the site.

Better behavior is only a signature away!

behavior contracts for children
Click on image if you are interested in learning more about these behavior contracts…

Our Children’s Memory Banks

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”  -Charles R. Swindoll

Such a great quote…but have you really sat down and thought about it?

What memories are you leaving your children with?  Are they going to remember you as a kind, fair, hard-working parent?  Are they going to remember how well you treated others or maybe how passionate you were about the things that made you happy?  When they picture your face will you have a smile?  A frown?  A stressed-out look?

Will they remember how safe and secure they felt in your (their) home?  Will they remember you as a good housekeeper or as a complete slob?   Will they remember your good home-cooking or will they remember eating fast-food every day?

How will they recall your relationship with their mother/father…and how much of it will they emulate?  Would that be a good thing?

Will they look back and think to themselves, ”You know, mom/dad always had my back” or “Mom/Dad took really good care of me.”

parenting-quoteWill they have memories of you drunk?  Stoned?  High on prescription pills?  Will they remember multiple boyfriends/girlfriends of yours coming in and out of their lives?

What it boils down to is this:

Children watch their parents…much more than we might know.  It is therefore important that we parents set our own standards high enough that our children will remember their childhood days as having been positive, safe, loving, and nurturing.  Negative memories breed emotional burdens, anxiety, resentment, and bitterness.  Try at all costs to avoid leaving them with these types of memories.

It’s quite scary to think back at all of the things our children might remember about us…but we can start making positive memories from this day forward.  It’s difficult to erase the negative ones but if we fill our children’s memory banks with many more positives then we can at least hope that some of the negative ones will be forgotten.

Student Contract

ParentCoachPlan.com offers a unique set of prewritten behavior contracts that address a variety of child-related and teen-related issues.  The most sought-after contract on the site is the student contract which is offered in their Behavior Management Package.

Sure, there are several other contracts in the package (besides the student contract) but for some reason it is the student contract that seems to get all of the attention.

The contract aims to keep students on-task, properly prepared for class, respectful of school property, and compliant with school rules.  The student contract is prewritten and can be downloaded immediately from the site then put into use shortly afterwards.

Along with the student contract are contracts that cover the following topics:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety
  • Character
  • Emotional Management
  • Following Directions
  • Specific Behaviors

Teachers love the student contract because it helps their students focus.  Parents love the contract for the same reason and also because there is built-in accountability since there are consequences for not meeting the contract’s expectations.

Because the student contract is so popular, ParentCoachPlan.com also includes it as part of their Classroom Management Plan (also available on their site).  It is also included in their “Teen Contracts Package” on their sister site www.TeenBehaviorContracts.com.

So, no matter which “behavior contract” package works best for you, there is certain to be a student contract included in that package.

If you are interested in checking out any of the aforementioned contract packages then please click on the relevant ads located in the right-hand column of this page.  You’ll then be taken to the site where these wonderful parenting tools are available.  The contracts are highly detailed and easy to use.  Simply print, read, and sign…then sit back and enjoy the results.

How I Almost Killed My Daughter…By Accident

daughterOkay, so here it is…a list of 7 ways in which I almost killed my daughter. If not for her resilience, my experience as a father may not have lasted past the first year. So glad she survived the errors of my ways!

With that being said, here’s my list:

  1. Didn’t slice a hot dog small enough when she was a toddler and she almost choked.
  2. Backed out of the garage and almost hit her, not realizing she had come out of the house to say goodbye.
  3. Didn’t put the “gate” up at the top of the stairs because I figured she was old enough to not try to navigate the stairs on her own. I was wrong.
  4. When she was one year-old I left her in a room for about 10 minutes…and in that room was a bag of packing peanuts that was within her reach. Fortunately, she had no interest in that bag!
  5. When she was an infant, I set her on a table at a restaurant (in her car seat) and forgot to stabilize it. She fell about 4’ off the table…face down. She was startled, but in better shape than me. Thank goodness she was still buckled in!
  6. Allowed her to play with Lego’s…way before I should have.
  7. Almost got into a car accident because I was too busy “appreciating her cuteness” in the rearview mirror.
  8. When she was in middle school I joined her and her friends during a dance party at our house. She almost died…of embarrassment!

This isn’t really something I did, but she once had a diaper that was so bad…it quite possibly could have killed her if I hadn’t changed it when I did.

So there you have it! I’ve confessed…and I feel much better now!

What to Do After Your Child has been Disciplined

after-disciplineAs parents, most of us eventually reach a point in which we are so experienced at dishing out consequences that we can practically do it in our sleep. Impressive? Yes. However, despite this incredible ability, there is still an important factor that is often overlooked by busy and/or preoccupied parents…and that is what to do AFTER you have disciplined your child.

More often than not, parents neglect to follow up with what I consider to be the important final steps to disciplining a child: processing, forgiving, and allowing the child to “save face.”

Keep in mind that these steps may not be necessary for all children but when a particular child is emotionally charged (after receiving his or her consequence) then these steps may go a long way in remedying the situation and turning it into a learning experience.

STEP 1: Process the situation

Make sure that your child…

1) knows which behavior it is that led to the consequence

2) understands why his or her actions were inappropriate, unsafe, or unacceptable

3) discusses some of the better choices that could have been made, and finally,

4) make sure that your child offers an appropriate apology.

STEP 2: Forgive

Calmly express your disappointment with regards to his behavior…but be sure to let him know that he is forgiven and that you are confident he will make a better choice next time.

STEP 3: Allow Your Child to “Save Face”

Find a subtle but kind gesture that allows your child to maintain his or her dignity. Apologize if you over-reacted or lost your temper while giving the consequence, give a quick but meaningful hug, say “I love you,” offer a Kleenex if he or she has been crying, etc. Let your child know that you appreciate his or her ability to accept and/or follow through with the consequence (if applicable). Be careful not to “reward” your child for his negative behavior by offering a treat (or such) afterwards.

So there you have it…three “follow up” steps to take after dishing out consequences.

Reality TV and Parenting

This last decade of television programming has brought with it a huge influx of reality-based shows that now seem to be on every channel one turns to. Many of these shows are ridiculous in nature, but there are some true gems among them. When I say “gems,” most of you probably assume that I’m talking about American Idol, Big Brother, or even Survivor. While there are millions of individuals that evidently find value in the above-mentioned shows, these are not the ones that I would describe as “gems.” I am instead talking about the small but highly informative group of “self help” shows. Dr. Phil, Nanny 911, and Supernanny all fit into that category. Yes, I realize that Nanny 911 is no longer on and that Supernanny is only being shown in reruns, but these shows do offer parents an entertaining format from which important parenting and/or relationship skills can be learned.

It is now possible to learn how to effectively use time out (or the “naughty spot” as it is referred to on Supernanny) or to recognize the warning signs associated with common childhood disorders (as identified by Dr. Phil on his show). Nanny 911 taught frustrated parents the correct way to put a non-compliant sleeper to bed as well as how to get fussy eaters to eat. These are only a few examples of the advice, tips, and techniques that parents can learn from these shows then use to effectively manage their difficult children.

Clearly, there is a lot that can be learned from these informative shows. If you are a frustrated or overwhelmed parent looking for solutions to your child’s unruly behavior, give these shows a try. You’re likely to learn valuable parenting and discipline tips that can benefit your family and/or child (unless, of course, Dr. Phil’s guests are there in an effort to fix their annoying habits of juggling in their sleep or of unintentionally burping the alphabet every time they drink a sip of soda!). Looking for help with YOUR difficult or challenging child?

In addition to watching these shows, you can find a wonderful set of parenting and discipline tools at the following sites:

wwww.parentcoachplan.com

www.behavior-contracts.com

www.teenbehaviorcontracts.com

11 Tips for Being a Good Friend

good friend
  1. Be considerate. Being considerate means that you are being thoughtful and kind.  Make sure to always take your friend’s feelings into consideration when making a decision that affects him or her.  Avoid doing things that will lead to hurt feelings or resentment.
  2. Be willing to make sacrifices for your friend. This means doing things for your friend that you might not otherwise want to do.  Maybe you play a game that he or she wants to play even though you aren’t really interested in playing it.
  3. Be supportive. Support your friend in any way you can.  If he plays a sport and you go to his game, then cheer him on and root for his team.  If your friend has a cause that she believes very strongly in, then you could show support by joining her in furthering that cause.  There are many ways in which you can support your friends.
  4. Be understanding. It helps to understand your friend’s moods and to know a little bit about what he or she has gone through in their life.  The better you know your friend the easier it is to understand him or her.
  5. Remember the things that are important to your friend. A good friend should know such things as what their friend’s favorite color, song, singer, band, foods, activities (and so on) are.
  6. Be a good listener. Good listeners make good friends.  Provide encouragement if your friend needs it.
  7. Avoid gossiping or talking behind your friend’s back. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to LOSE a friend.  Be careful what you say.
  8. Be positive. Nobody wants to hang out with someone that drags them down.
  9. Be willing to put your friend first at times. Let her go first when playing a game or allow him to make decisions about the things you are doing.  Avoid being selfish or greedy.
  10. Be loyal. Being loyal means that your friend can trust you.  It also means that you are dedicated and devoted to your friend.  You stick by your friend “through thick and thin.”
  11. Keep your word. If you say you’ll do something, then do it.  Be reliable and dependable.

Addressing Risky Teen Behavior

We all know the issues and concerns associated with teen behavior.  What teen hasn’t engaged, to some degree, in at least some sort of risky behavior?  After all, it’s almost expected during those years.

Risky behavior isn’t the only thing parents have to worry about when it comes to their teenaged children…there’s dating, driving, cell phone usage, participation in sports, substance use, social media, negative attitudes, unusual hairstyles, school grades, and so much more that parents must worry about.

So, what can parents do to alleviate this worry?  Is there anything that can be done to minimize this risky behavior?

Communication

The first step parents can take is to communicate with their teen.  Communication should be open, honest, constructive, and validating.  Avoid roadblocks to communication such as criticizing, yelling, over-reacting, name-calling, or monopolizing the conversation.  Your teen wants and needs to be heard.

Keeping Tabs

Next, parents need to keep tabs on their teens.  This means checking in on them regularly and insisting that they do the same.  When asked, teens should be expected to notify parents of where they are at, who they are with, and what they are doing.  If there is any reason to doubt where the teen is, then verify it by showing up or by confirming it in another way (phone calls to parents or locations, etc.).

Searching the Web

Specific behavior issues might arise which need special attention.  Perhaps the teen is stealing, sneaking out at night, bullying, causing problems at school, or even texting while driving.  An excellent source for “intervention” ideas is the good ol’ internet.  Google the specific problem and see what others have done to address the issue.  There is a wealth of information out there waiting to be found.

Counseling or Other Treatment

If all else fails and the risky teen behavior becomes too much to handle, then it might be time to seek outside help in the form of counseling or some other type of treatment.  If counseling is sought after, then it would be best to choose a counselor or therapist that is the same gender as your teen and one that has a considerable amount of experience with adolescents and teens.  Hospitalization and residential treatment are also an option if safety becomes an issue or if there is suspected substance use or mental health issues.

Behavior Contracts for Teens

If things are manageable but in need of a little consistency, structure, and accountability then perhaps you could try using a teen behavior contract.  Teen behavior contracts are designed to establish firm limits and clear boundaries.  Teens are then held accountable for their risky behavior since they are bound by the rewards and consequences outlined in the contract.

If you are interested in learning more about teen behavior contracts, then please visit http://www.teenbehaviorcontracts.com/.

behavior contract for teen

Teaching Kids to Take Pride in their Appearance

girl smiling

Here are a few tips for teaching children and teens the proper way to take pride in their appearance.

  1. Shower and/or bathe regularly.  Children older than 7 years old should shower a minimum of every-other-day (my opinion anyway).  Children and tweens should shower daily once they hit middle school…though an occasional day off is acceptable every few days or so.
  2. Wear clean clothes every day. This includes clean underwear!
  3. Wear nice clothes that are practical, that match, and that are situation-specific. Be sure to consider the day’s weather and the day’s activities.   Children and teens should dress modestly and should avoid wearing clothes that don’t fit properly.
  4. Take care of your hair. Keep it clean, trimmed, and in style.  It shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of bed…nor should it look as though it is housing a small family of rodents.
  5. Wear deodorant and/or a nice scent. People that smell good always leave a pleasant and lasting impression!  Be careful not to over-do  it…too much is worse than none!
  6. Use accessories to add some pizazz! A nice bracelet, ring, and/or necklace will compliment most outfits.  Girls might want to sport a cute pair of earrings, a fashionable headband or a pretty bow to accentuate their hairstyle while boys might choose to accessorize with a baseball cap.  A nice pair of shades can boost anyone’s level of “coolness.”
  7. Maintain good oral hygiene. Take good care of your teeth.  Brush and floss them regularly and be sure to visit your dentist every six months or so for a good professional cleaning.  You may not be too concerned about your teeth as a pre-teen but as you get older you will be glad you established healthy habits with regards to your teeth.
  8. Smile often. Nothing shows confidence better than a nice smile.  People notice smiles and they enjoy being around people who display them frequently.

11 Annoying Behaviors That Drive Parents Crazy!

annoyed parents

As parents, I’m sure we’ve dealt with some (if not all) of the following annoying behaviors from our children.  Though none of them necessarily indicate a need for treatment or therapy…they sure do drive us crazy!

  1. Whining. This has to be the number one most annoying child behavior ever known in the history of ever!  I’d rather listen to fingernails down a chalkboard.
  2. Messiness. There’s nothing more annoying than kids that leave their messes all over the place…okay, whining is more annoying…but messiness is definitely high on the list!
  3. Dawdling. Kids that “take their time doing things” are making it tough for those of us that want to “get moving!”  This is the ultimate in passive-aggressive behavior.
  4. Complaining. If I hear “That’s not fair!” one more time, then I’m probably going to do something that really isn’t fair!
  5. Impulsiveness. This is when kids fail to think before they act.  These kids can snatch, grab, hit, and pinch (and so on) when they are upset or frustrated.
  6. Tattling. There’s no reason for kids to do this unless there’s a safety issue at hand…and 9 times out of 10 there is not.
  7. Having a sense of entitlement. For these kids nothing is ever good enough for them.  You can offer five different things for dinner – and they will always want a sixth option (most of the time these kids aren’t very appreciative of the things that they DO get because they actually expect it).
  8. Bickering. Without siblings this would not be a problem.
  9. Picky Eating. Enough said!
  10. Annoying Habits. You know, like nose-picking, nail-biting, constant humming, hair-twirling, picking at scabs, or simply bouncing all over the place!
  11. Ignoring (aka, Selective Listening). Little Johnny is only three feet from you, but he still can’t seem to hear you when you ask him to take the trash out.  Mumble something about snack time and he’s there in a flash.