Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

How do you make them stay at the table?

I get that question a lot. While many families no longer force their children to eat (hooray!), they might require them to stay at the table until everyone is done. Except they fail at actually getting them to stay.

Do you demand attendance at the table until the end of the meal? If you’ve ever found yourself yelling, “This is family time, damn it, and we are all going to sit here and love one another even if it kills us! Now get your butt back on your chair!” – read on!

I love the idea of family meal time, and I think it’s important to “break bread” together. But forcing children to stay at the table will not achieve that happy family time you aspire to create. Instead, you’ll get whining, moaning and other misbehavior that sabotages your efforts. We don’t want to invite power struggles.

Instead of making attendance mandatory, I suggest you excuse anyone who wants to leave, and then work to create a fabulous family dinner atmosphere that attracts your children to come back or to stay. Stop harping on about what they are eating and the crap that happened at school. Instead, “socialize.” It’s a dinner party!

Can you stop the parenting long enough to just enjoy the company of your children? That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Here are some ideas for questions that you can use to get the conversation rolling. I promise you’ll draw a crowd with these:

1. What is your all-time favorite movie and why does it have special meaning for you?
2. What is your favorite book? What in it has personal meaning for you?
3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
4. What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
5. What is something you hate to do? What do you hate about it?
6. If you could be a super hero or fictional hero/heroine, who would you be? Why?
7. Do you like your name? If not, what would pick instead?
8. How do you feel about nicknames? Know any good ones? What would you pick for yourself? Why?

These are just a few ideas to replace the old, “Do you have homework tonight?” or, “When are you going to write that thank-you card to Grandma for your birthday present?” Gee, I’d be running from you, too!

If you already have a good dinner table vibe going, share with others what makes it happen for you.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com. – See more at: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/#sthash.XCCr1HJO.dpuf

Allowance Basics

I am often asked: 

• When should children get allowance?

• How much should they get?

• Should it be tied to chores?

Here is my reply:

1.  When Do I Start Allowance?

As soon as they start demanding and tantruming for you to buy them something.  One solution to that candy bar melt down at the grocery store it to say “It looks to me like you would like to start buying things for yourself.  Would you like to have your own money to do that?”   Now you have started an allowance!  The first things your child will begin to learn are simple money lessons:

  • Learning to remember to bring your money along  – “Yes, I see you want a chocolate bar – do you have your money with you? Oh, that’s too bad, next time!”
  • Learning about giving money and getting change and a receipt from the cashier.
  • Learning money denominations:  Four quarters is the same as one dollar. Two dimes and a nickel is NOT more than one quarter, even if you have three coins instead of one.
  • Learning money is finite: If you leave the money in your pocket it gets lost in the laundry and now it is gone (don’t even THINKING about replacing this parents!!! – what DO you want them to learn about money anyway?)
  • Learning how expensive things are – “that costs 6 allowances, this one only costs 3 allowances”
  • Learning what’s worth buying – “I wish I had not bought that McDonald’s Toy – I only played with it once.” or  mom saying “Yes! you can have that, you can buy it with your allowance” only to hear back “Nay – never mind then….  ”

2. How Much Allowance?

I think the old adage “one dollar for every year” is totally random and silly.  How much you give your child should be based on a budget and that means it takes into consideration your families socio-economic abilities and those purchases your child is becoming responsible for.  The more you move responsibility for consumerism over to your children, the more money they will be managing.  You should not be “out of pocket” putting your child on an allowance.  Think of it as transferring responsibility.  As they get better with managing money you can move more responsibility over to them progressively.

The idea is to help them learn about money management little steps at a time, making mistakes and learning along the way so that they are developing life long skills in this important area of life.

3. Should Allowance Be Tied To Chores?

NO.

Okay – that was a bit too brief of a reply.  Here is my rationale.  Parenting is about preparing children for life.  They need to learn about money and spending and savings and all that good money management stuff.  It is a life-skill.  So – kids get money just the same as you give them food, clothing and shelter.

Now let’s look at chores. We all need to do chores because as a family member everyone is expected to pitch in and help with the running of the shared household. It is an expectation that is part of the give and take of family life.  The life lesson with chores is not only how to learn how to be competent at doing laundry and cooking, but also to teach about living communally:  that If we all support the family, our needs will be met.  We all pitch in to our ability, and we all take out what we need to get by. The whole supports the parts.

When you start putting a dollar figure on every little thing you are inviting a troubling mindset to form.  It is a “what’s in it for me” instead of a “we” mindset. “If I get a dollar for taking out the garbage then what are you gonna pay me for clearing off the table or for hanging up my coat?” That is a petty and sad mentality to be nurturing in our children. We want them to learn that they do these tasks simply because it needs to be done!  Its not related to money at ALL!

What will you do when Junior gets a job at the mall or starts babysitting and they decide that they don’t want to help around the house now because they have their own way to earn money?

Too often we use our children’s allowance as a way to manipulate them and control them.  If you give allowance and then pull strings and threaten to not give it as a form of punishment you are missing the point of this exercise.   “If you don’t do the dishes you loose money” seems to be the only way parents know how to solve the issue of the child who won’t help out.  It’s a short-sighted solution. You don’t need to go there!

My work is dedicated to providing ways to parent that represents a paradigm shift away from the external control methods of the past and towards winning co-operation instead. Giving children allowance is part of the positive empowerment process. We need to give children appropriate power, to let them have some say in those things that affect them. This is all a part of the foundational building blocks that, in an additive fashion, will help you grow a harmonious democratic family.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

 

Strategies for Kids Who Refuse to Keep Their Sun Hats On

The weather is getting warmer and many parents are heading out into the sunshine with their fair skinned tots.  Wise parents know it’s sun smart to wear a hat when outside. Unfortunately, most kids simply think sun hats make good Frisbees! It’s infuriating trying to get a wee one to keep their hands off their hats!

Here is an alternative solution to nagging our children about keeping their hats on during the next stroller ride.  No tape required!

Natural Consequences

While lessons taught by Mother Nature (the “natural laws of living”) are the best teachers, they are not suitable if the consequence:

• Is too severe –> like heat stroke

• Is too distant –> like skin cancer

• Involves many others –> like an entire day camp having to leave the park because one child is unprepared for the sun.

So, while I love natural consequences as a tool for teaching very young children, they can’t be applied for sun hats.  In such cases we must instead turn to the next best parenting tool: logical consequences.

Logical Consequences

Logical consequences help children understand that there are also “social laws of living”. They teach children that their personal freedoms also include taking responsibility.  In order for a logical consequence to be effective it must meet the criteria of each of the “4 R’s”.  A consequence must be:

• Related

• Respectful

• Reasonable

• Revealed in advance

A simply stated logical consequence for sun hats would be: “You need to wear a hat to be in the sun. If the hat comes off, you need to come inside.” Meaning, if you would like the freedom of going out in the sun, you must show me you can also assume the responsibility of wearing a hat which is required.

Remember that consequences must be logical to the child’s thinking. And the child learns from experiencing the consequence; not from the threat of the consequence, so lectures are not needed. Action is.  I know what you are thinking… Won’t it be too inconvenient to come inside whenever hats come off? Sure, initially you may have to haul them in repeatedly, however if you plan for this step (training the child by having them experience the consequence repeatedly) you’ll come to see it as ” teaching time” and not an inconvenience.  A trained child does not need constant correction.  You will spend more time correcting a child than taking time for training them in the first place!

Here is how it will look in real language and actions:

When you are getting ready to play in the sun say: “We need our hats on. If hats are off, we need to come in.”  Proceed to play in the back yard with your child.

When the hat comes off, take them by the hand and state: “Your hat is off. I guess you’ve chosen to be inside.” Extend your hand to lead them inside.

If they do not take your hand, offer a choice: “Can you come in on your own or do you need my help?”

If they resist you can lead them by the hand, stating calmly: “I see you need some help getting inside.”  If they refuse to walk, carry them in.

If they repent and ask to stay outside with their hat on, continue inside saying: “The time for deciding has come and gone – you hat off tells me you already picked going inside.  No worries, you can decide again when we come out to play later.” You must follow through on going inside or the consequence is lost.

Mistakes are Opportunities for Learning!

The child now realizes they don’t like their decision.  They feel they have made a mistake because they are inside and would prefer to be outside in the sun. But, it’s okay to make mistakes. They are just opportunities to learn. Keep the situation positive by telling them they’ll manage and can try again later.  Stay positive. Don’t rub their noses in it.  It’s hard, but imperative that you drop your desire to lecture and remind. These moves hurt the learning process by putting attention on the parent’s words instead of the child connecting the dots between their choices and the outcomes they produce.

Give them lots of opportunities to try again.

After coming inside, find a brief activity (even as short as 5 minutes) and then try going out again. You want to give your child lots of opportunities for trying out the consequences of their own choices.   Hat on, stay out.  Hat off, go inside.   Period.

After experiencing both of these outcomes repeatedly, cause and effect will be learned and your children will decide for themselves that it is better to keep their hats on, without nagging and scotch tape.

Try it – let me know how you do!

Alyson

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

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