Sunday, December 13, 2015

Parent Tips: Establish a positive attitude about helping at home

Like most parents, you are probably well-practiced at asking your children to do things that may or may not get completed. And you are familiar with the frustrations that arise when trying to motivate others to get tasks done. Part of the problem may be related to a child's age and maturity level. And much of the problem arises from the competition for your teen's time. For example, in today's high tech and social cultures, there are opportunities that offer fun for teens and their younger peers, and that lead to distraction from essential responsibilities. And we didn’t even mention the phone and television.

Getting your family to pull together begins with building the right family attitude. And building the right attitude involves developing healthy thinking patterns and behaviors. I'm sure you have already had these common discussions with your family. See if any of these examples sound familiar: "I need your help;" "You need to get your homework done;" "Your room's a mess;" "Where are your clean shirts?" "You didn't tell me you had to be at practice tonight;" and "Help your brother with his homework." All of the above are standard frustrations for most parents.

Restart this process with a basic family attitude change. For example: "Our family is a team and for our household to function, we all help to pull together. I need your help to do this. Everyone has chores and we'll change these around to be fair, etc." Using whatever words best fit your family’s age and personality, the general themes are taking responsibility, cooperating, sharing, and working as a team.

Plan to repeat your ideas when needed; echoing the same thoughts and needs. Anticipate complaints and criticism. Accept exceptions and manipulations on occasion. Then repeat your stance and keep going.

Second, model the expected behavior for your kids and help them when necessary. You are probably already doing the majority of household tasks. Use those efforts as patterns for them to follow. For example: “Let me show you how I do the wash; then I want you to take over washing your clothes;” “Here’s a quick way to clean your room.”

Third, be a supportive coach.  Coaching is another essential tool to help guide your child through various learning steps, and it shows interest in both your children and their efforts. When conducted in the right manner, coaching makes it much easier for you to correct and shape behavior in positive ways. This is especially true when it gives you the chance to reward your children for genuine effort. For example: “I see how well you are organizing things in your room. Let me share a couple of ideas that may help you keep things in place.” Follow these efforts with ongoing supervision. Plan for frustration at times, and repetition.

Fourth, supervise constructively. Supervision shows your children that you are monitoring their progress and that you care about results. This helps build your children's confidence about their efforts and reinforces the importance of doing a task well.

It is helpful to be aware of your tone of voice and manner when making corrections. Be assertive, express concern, set limits, but avoid destructive criticism which almost always results in anger and frustration. Remember to be consistent when discussing the behaviors you expect (goals), or when defining limits. Try to structure instructions in ways that your children understand and that you can review later. Write directions down if needed.

Make sure to reward small steps of improvement. Create an atmosphere of appreciation for efforts, even if not perfectly done. For example, I cannot tell you how much it means to have the table cleaned and the dishes put in the dishwasher. Thank you so much. Helping your little brother means so much to me.

Set limits and consequences and be consistent with them. You likely have made demands and threatened punishment in the past. That's pretty standard for most parents. Set the consequences up ahead of time and make sure your child understands them. 

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Parent Tips: Build teamwork to help your family run smoothly

Like many of today's parents, you may find that keeping your household running while trying to raise your children can be challenging. At the end of most days, you likely have discovered that your leftover energy for household tasks is limited. And if you end up doing most of the family chores yourself, with little support from your children, you may find yourself hoping just to make it through the day. your children develop as a team that works together will reduce family stress and help boost individual performance. The home is the ideal place to start this learning process. The idea is to teach new life skills while building teamwork and bonding as a family. Whether you are a single parent or part of a couple, encouraging useful family activities allows your children to share responsibility for helping with daily tasks, practice new skills, and increase fellowship within the family. Working together and sharing duties is part of the plan, along with fun and satisfaction. Practicing these tactics will help your children adjust their expectations to match those found in work and school settings.

This process begins with establishing the right mindset and attitude for your children. Next, a few time management tactics and planning tools are added to the program. This includes learning to establish priorities and to address important tasks before doing less relevant activities. Study time, chores, and other obligations are part of the planning schedule, along with time for fun and fellowship. It should be noted that regardless of age, each child is involved in some aspect of the household efforts required to help everyone meet their daily goals. Youngsters and infants are excused, but you will find that they will want to join in and will model the actions of older children.

I should acknowledge that the skills highlighted in these blogs reflect certain values and character traits. From the authors' perspective, it is important for parents to help their children develop a strong sense of personal worth, respect for others, responsibility for their actions, and self-discipline. All of these goals lead to the maturity that comes from better managing one's time, energy, and resources.

This journey begins with helping your child develop those healthy thinking tactics that lead to a positive attitude and productive habits.

Parenting tips, blogs, books, and ebooks are available at our website

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Parent Tips: Time management tools for your family

Teaching your children to better manage their time is a skill that will serve them in all areas of their lives. And it's an essential tool in helping your family function effectively. This process begins with helping your children understand that time is a valuable resource that requires their attention.!/Time-Management-Strategies-to-Boost-Success-in-School-and-Life/p/51455941/category=0The first step in this process is identifying and labeling family priorities. This includes daily home, school, and social expectations. It may be helpful to let your children label priorities with you; or, it may not. Typically, your teen may have different ideas than you about what is important and what's not. So it may be safer and less difficult to not make this a democratic process at first.

Once you make a list of daily needs and "to-do's," the next step involves ranking the tasks in order of importance. A helpful tactic is to use the ABC method to label tasks. A's stand for tasks that are "must do's;" B's represent tasks that are "should do's;" and C's signify activities that are "would be nice to do's." As suggested, the "A" tasks are priorities that require attention before B's and C's, and so on. For example, study time might be an A task while talking on the phone to friends might be a C level task.

The obvious goal is to practice putting first things first.

The typical parental mission is to survive the initial frustration of getting this practice into a consistent pattern. There will be exceptions, of course, but imagine what it would be like to have help before and after meals and with keeping the house neat most of the time. Supervision is mandatory, especially at first.

Teaching your children to structure their time requires learning how to say no to trivial activities and fun at times, including socializing with friends. The goal is to simply redirect such activities to times after essential responsibilities have been completed. Such fun activities can then serve as rewards for completed tasks, and do not interfere with more important obligations.

Remember, perfection is out of the question, but successful steps towards a helpful routine are reachable and practical most of the time.

Also, remember to reinforce small steps of progress as you go and coach when needed. Having a day off as a reward can be helpful; for example, Sunday's and holidays.

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Parent Tips: Help everyone get organized

Another way to save time and be more effective is to help your children get organized and keep their things together.  Forget perfectionism. But strive to establish a pattern of keeping everything in its place. Use schoolwork as a helpful starting point. After setting a time and a place for study time, organize all of the needed study materials so they are within reach. This might include a laptop, calculator, dictionary, pencils, pens, and so on. Such items could also be organized in a backpack that could be used at school as well. Secondly, as part of the organizational process, remove all distractions to the extent possible to create a quiet environment. And remember that study time is set in stone for most days. are experienced at attempting to keep up with your children’s clothes and hearing the refrain: "I don't have anything to wear." It is enormously helpful to establish the habit of organizing your dress attire 12 hours in advance. Morning routines are greatly shortened when there is not a crisis of decision-making and searching for clothes in advance. This rule also fits well with washing and ironing your clothes in advance. Consider that as part of your time management priorities.

Keeping your space relatively neat is part of the organizational strategy. Simple tactics work best. For example, establish a daily "cleanup and put-up" time in which every family member takes ten minutes to straighten up their space and stuff. This pattern generates less conflict when done as a daily routine instead of a raging conflict once a week. Part of cleaning up includes gathering clothes that need attention, as well as getting rid of trash. Trash is defined as anything that has no further use, as in an empty bottle of water.

You may be interested in a current best selling book that is focused on the positive changes that accompany "tidying up" your life. The author is a well-known consultant who focuses on the steps to simplify and organize your life. She provides various tactics and ideas to help achieve this.

You probably have battle scars from attempting to get your children to get rid of some of their possessions to help with neatness. That's a touchy, tough area for which psychological expertise has yet to master a solution. Later in life, individuals will embrace settings such as the military and jobs that dictate functioning with limited resources and your children will no doubt embrace the learning tools necessary at that time.

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Parent Tips: Make study time a priority

We discussed the importance of practicing time management in previous blogs. Establishing priorities and better planning your time are the essential components of that process. Making study times a top priority and setting up a daily routine to help manage this is a helpful tactic. As usual, you will have to be present to get this started in the right way.!/Studying-Your-Way-to-Success/p/51455942/category=0
To make study periods effective, establish a few rules. They are simple and obvious.
  • First, study time requires a quiet and helpful environment. 
  • Second, distractions of all types should be removed. 
  • Third, needed supplies and aids should be readily available. 
  • And fourth, there should be an established minimum amount of time set aside for studying. For example, if no homework is due, consider using the time to study ahead for a test, read the next chapter in a book, or study a topic related to your coursework. 
The goal is to generate a productive level of attention for a given time period.

Study time should include all members of the family. Younger siblings should maintain quiet and focus on age-related books, puzzles, and games. To the extent possible, it is helpful for adults to also be part of study periods. For example, this time could be used to pay bills, read, or do similar things. Finally, to the extent possible, identify ways you can help your children study. Examples include calling out spelling words, test questions, or helping with math problems.

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Parent Tips: Daily clean-up routines

In previous blogs, we discussed organizing things and having a set time daily for tidying-up. Consider participating in this routine, alternating your time with different kids and various tasks. The goal is threefold. First, help your kids get involved in maintaining their stuff. Secondly,  getting them to tidy up things daily (putting everything in its place). And third, choosing what needs to be prepared ahead of time; for example, what clothes need to be ironed for tomorrow?

This approach gives you a chance to model and demonstrate for the family the importance of household teamwork and helping each other out. All adults have to participate. All children have to participate. You may find that the younger kids jump in and imitate older siblings and parents. If feasible, the youngest can help the oldest with simple tasks.!/Parent%E2%80%99s-Companion-Guide-to-the-Make-the-Most-of-Yourself-series/p/51455944/category=0

As a parent, try to maintain a positive attitude (to the extent possible) as you walk through your children's rooms. Show them how to work fast and efficiently. It is not hard to arrange things if done on a daily basis. An example would be to carry a plastic bag with you to serve as a portable trash can. Another tactic would be placing hanging clothes in the closet by usage, color schemes, or other commonsense positions. Offer to help with some items; for example: “Would you like me to iron this for you?” You are providing examples of teamwork when you do this.  

When feasible, make sure that you use common tasks to teach your children how to do things. Washing the clothes is a good example. If your child has the maturity to do this, make it part of his or her routine. Even guys don't usually mess up washing their t-shirts, underwear, and socks. The same process applies to kitchen work, including cooking and cleaning.

There are no gender biases allowed. You participate in the meals and sharing the bounty; you also participate in the preparation and cleanup. I'm not recommending my grandfather's strict version of this theme: "You don't work, you don't eat. " But in past generations, work was a needed family mission, and gathering the eggs and crops was a necessity. We seem to be far removed from this reality. 

As with previously suggested activities, rewards for participation and consequences for the lack of cooperation are helpful. 

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Parent Tips: Use teamwork in the kitchen well-known Louisiana chef recently devoted his new cookbook to the tradition of families cooking together. Titled My Family Table, the book is dedicated to getting all family members participating in meal preparation. Regardless of age, each child is involved in some aspect of the meal. And as you know, there are plenty of tasks surrounding a meal from start to finish. Consider viewing this process as a family teamwork opportunity.

Assign members preparation and cleaning tasks that fit their level of skill. Rotate these daily or weekly to keep things even. The length of time that it takes to complete a task can help balance things out. Cleaning the table and the dishes and putting up leftovers is an activity that everyone can join and share at the same time. Make sure to involve younger kids in safe tasks. For example, helping you with handling certain foods or making sandwiches. 
As with most efforts of this type, plan to model, coach, and supervise at first. Likewise, plan to tolerate negative feedback at times. Setting criticism aside, keep the process going. For example, you might reply to critics with: "I'm sorry you feel that way, but let's keep going. " If a child has a legitimate conflict, offer to help them out as a way to model teamwork: "Let me do that for you tonight so you can get dressed." 
Helping each other establishes the right attitude for your family efforts. And it represents the crux of teamwork. Perhaps best of all, it's the opposite of conflict and arguments, frustration and anger, and pouting. 

Manipulation is lessened in such settings and everyone benefits. The right atmosphere can include chatter and laughter, as well as kidding each other. Fellowship and bonding can follow, as everyone shares in the work effort. You may be able to enlist your older children to help maintain this momentum in the younger family members.

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Parent Tips: Ideas on the family decision-making process

Helping your family grow in healthy ways is the goal of these blogs. Part of that process involves letting your children provide ideas and make decisions about the family. You will find at some point that your teens are able to manage on their own with less oversight from you. This often occurs after you get a few positive patterns going and your children are more in sync with the family's needs. 
Handing over responsibility for certain tasks conveys two important messages to your teen. 
    • First, you are competent.  
    • And secondly, I trust you to manage this on your own. 
Both are important insights for maturing kids. And candidly, most teens are able to do many tasks on their own. As most parents know, the culprit is typically their motivation to do so, along with conflicting interests.

When turning activities over to your teens, offer to provide help when needed: "I'm here if you need me." Secondly, provide learning tips that may help. For example, having a note on your door or a prompt on your phone to remind yourself about a task, or to alert you about times and dates.  You can be sure that this will not proceed with perfection at all times, but consider that normal.

Plan for imperfection and miscues. And decide ahead of time how you are going to react to such. Do not overreact.  After all, you have said to them: You're in charge." Consider being a resource rather than an angry boss: "I see you're having a bit of trouble getting that done before study time. Let's think of a quicker way to do this." Or, simply consider offering help: "Remember, I'm here to help out when you need me."

Here are a few other ideas. Remember to rotate responsibilities to keep tasks fairly distributed among the kids when feasible.  You may also apply this to other options: "Whose turn is it to choose where to eat?"

For further ideas, blogs, and tactics, check the information available at our website: