5 Tips to Help Children Handle Tragic News

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

20 Little Christmas Angels from Newtown, CT Were Welcomed into Heaven

If you are looking for a place to be alone with your sorrow, Williamsburg Angel Park welcomes you (tucked behind the Williamsburg Grange off of Route 9). It is a central place that can be use to gather with a small group or to spend time alone. There are benches and a flat stone wall for sitting too. Thank you to Donna Baldwin for this suggestion. – To find out about other gathering opportunities for parents/adults to share in this loss, check out this post on Hilltown Families Facebook Page for announcements. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tragedy happens all around us, but when it involves innocent children there are few words that can express the pain any caring person feels. This week, a shooter took the lives of 20 innocent school children including several teachers and staff members at a small town school in Connecticut. That means Heaven accepted 20 new little angels this morning. If your own children haven’t heard about it, they most likely will. Here are some tips on how to help your children handle the news of this unthinkable tragedy.

  1. First and foremost it’s important that you settle any fears your children may have. They are torn between the worlds of fantasy and reality, so it may be very difficult for them to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t. Make every effort to listen to them carefully and with 100% of your attention. It is important that you help them feel safe and calm. Sometimes they may fear that what happened to the children at this school will happen to them.
  2. Minimize (if not eliminate) any news coverage or discussion about the tragedy. The less they hear about it the better it will be for them. Refrain from having the news on when they are present at home or in the car while you’re driving. Too much exposure will overwhelm them and generate more fearful feelings that it could come to their school.
  3. Allow yourself to grieve privately. Your children look to you and your feelings as a guide on how they should feel. If you are feeling sad about this event and they notice, your children will feel sadder. Allow yourself to grieve in private, away from your children. Allow a friend or family member to stay with your children while you find the time to be alone to let your feelings out about this tragedy. Avoid keeping it all bottled up inside.
  4. Take measures to pull your family closer together over the next few days. Cancel less important activities and create family time to help your child feel more loved. Take measures to feel gratitude that this did not happen to your family and hold and love your children a little more than usual. It will help to further settle your child’s fears and help you deal with the sadness we are all feeling about this tragic event.
  5. Finally, use this occurrence to be sure that you are taking all possible measures to ensure your child’s safety where ever she goes. It is doubtful that the families who lost children in this massacre could have done anything different to avoid what happened. But tragedies come in all forms so take a closer look at all possible risks that could affect your child’s safety and well being.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

8 Tips for Happier Holidays with Your Kids

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

8 Tips for Happier Holidays with Your kids

Remind yourself about the true meaning of the holidays; it’s not about having the perfect family. A big mistake parents make is remembering the holidays from their childhood and trying to recreate them today.

It’s time once again to begin preparing for the holidays and gearing up for family, fun and festivals. The kids will be getting excited and be at home for school vacation. Here are eight tips for ensuring a happier holiday season.

TIP No. 1: Good Behavior in Someone Else’s Home

At some point prior to arriving at someone else’s home for a holiday party, get to your child’s eye level and go over the rules for being at the party. You may even ask them to explain the rules to you and don’t be surprised if they already know. Throughout the event, acknowledge them every time you witness the behavior you want. If their behavior has been a problem in the past, tell them there will be a consequence to bad behavior and that consequence will be leaving the party. If you choose this option, be ready to implement it immediately, and don’t punish them. The punishment is the departure itself and your complete silence on the drive home.

TIP No. 2: Reduce the Toys and Gifts

A few weeks before the holiday season arrives, allow your child to lead an activity to thin out the usable toys and clothes they already have and then donate them to a local charity. Let your child have as much participation in the process, especially the delivery to the donation center. Commit to buying your children less toys. Too many can create visual chaos and excess stimulation, and certainly do not teach crucial lessons of moderation and limits.

TIP No. 3: Take Care of Yourself

When you become stressed over the holidays, your appearance of being frantic and frazzled will be felt by the children and they too will begin to simulate it in their own way. Take time out for yourself to recharge your batteries. You need extra rest, exercise, and healthy eating, ingredients for greater self-control and patience.

TIP No. 4: Teach Children Gratitude

Make it a priority to get your family involved in a giving exercise this holiday season. Donate your time to volunteer for a charitable organization by wrapping gifts for a gift collection agency, delivering a meal to a homebound elder, or serving the hungry at a soup kitchen.   This act of compassion will remain with your children for a very long time. During the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I would prepare and deliver a meal to an elderly person living alone. I’ll never forget the year we delivered our dinner to an elderly lady who was so grateful for our gift, she cried as we left. My son was silent as we drove away and he had tears welling in his eyes.

TIP No. 5: Don’t Over Schedule

During the holidays we automatically think about wanting to connect and be with family and friends. But if past holidays have not been fond memories because of over scheduling, reconsider your plans for this year and commit to simplifying the family calendar or take a vacation away from home. This move may require having to say no to some invitations or changing routines. One family we connect with often makes it a point to avoid the holiday rush. They plan plenty of get-togethers throughout the year and then travel during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.

TIP No. 6: Set Realistic Expectations for the Kids

Let’s face it; November and December are exciting times for the kids and stressful or busy times for you. This guarantees that your children are going to behave differently and it will be a challenge getting them to cooperate and remain calm. Clarify your boundaries and rules and be patient when their excitement gets in the way. Remind yourself about the true meaning of the holidays; it’s not about having the perfect family. A big mistake parents make is remembering the holidays from their childhood and trying to recreate them today.

TIP No. 7: Create the Reverence of New Traditions

Participating in family traditions that were passed down can be fun and exciting, but it can also add to the stress of the holidays when it means having to recreate complex meals, trips, and events that originally belonged to someone else. Take bold steps to create new traditions for your immediate family that will leave lasting impressions, regardless of how simple they might be. When my children were young, we started a new tradition of allowing the kids to open one gift on Christmas Eve. We intentionally gave them new pajamas in this one special gift and they would be the pajamas they would wear to bed that night. Each year after that, I came up with fun and creative ways of disguising the gift to keep them guessing, because they knew what they would find in the packages. Creating new and fun traditions and faithfully celebrating them each year with consistency will teach your children how to do it themselves when they have families of their own.

TIP No. 8: Be the Person You Want Your Children to Be

Finally, there is no better way to teach your children how to enjoy the holidays than to demonstrate being the person you want them to be. The most powerful training your children will ever have is the observations they make of your behavior on a daily basis. Work hard to remain calm and loving throughout the holidays. When you find yourself on the threshold of an emotional reaction to someone else’s behavior, ask yourself if what you’re about to say or do will bring your family closer together, or create more distance. Being close of course, is what the holidays are all about!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Teaching Peace in the Berkshires

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Students in the Berkshires Celebrate International Day of Peace

On International Day of Peace, the United Nations invites all nations and people to honor the day thorough education and public awareness on issues related to peace. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The General Assembly of the United Nations declared September 21st as the International Day of Peace. Since the first year of celebration, many schools around the country have used that commemoration to influence children on the importance of world peace. So this past September 21st, I took a film crew with me to an amazing Montessori school, deep in the Berkshires of Western MA to see what they were doing.

Everything I teach in my parenting program and all that I feature on my television show is dedicated to increasing the peacefulness in families and classrooms. If we hope to have less war and conflict in the future, and more love and compassion for one another, then it’s up to us to cultivate that in our children who will be responsible for carrying out the plan.

The director of Montessori School of the Berkshires, Meagan Ledendecker, asked each of the classes to create a project that would represent their own celebration of world peace. Upon hearing about this challenge, it became my goal to capture on film, many of the class projects that would eventually be put on display for all the parents to see. The clip below is an excerpt from the most recent episode of my television show, featuring some of the activities at the school on this day.

The school featured in the clip above is making a major contribution to bringing about more peace in the world. And parents can be make a difference with their children as well. In the clip below from the same show, I offered parents 10 tips for raising a more peaceful child. See if you’re doing any of these with your family.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Solving Power Struggles

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Solving the Power Struggle Problem at the Boston Aquarium

“My goal was to provide him with the power he was craving in hopes of gaining his cooperation…”

Whether you like it or not, children about 18 months and up need power. Which means that parents must be careful that the boundaries and limits they set up for their children are not so tight and controlling that they cause them to crave more power. If they do, it could cause the children to fight harder to obtain their own sense of power in other more destructive ways. The best thing you can do is to give them appropriate power. Look for examples of ways to do this and they will be less likely to take that power on their own terms when you need their cooperation most.

Let me relate an example to you. My daughter brought home a flyer that her class was looking for chaperones for their class trip to the Boston Aquarium. I signed up and showed up that morning on the day of the trip. I was the only dad in a group of about 5 other Mom’s. The teacher took me aside right away and said, “Listen, I’ve broken up the children into groups of 3. You have your daughter and two boys.” It’s important to note here that the teacher had no idea I was developing my business as a parent educator. She explained that she had put her worst behavior problem in my group because she was thinking since I was a man; perhaps he would listen to me and behave on the day trip. She said that if it didn’t work out and he didn’t behave for me, she would take him back into her group. On the two hour bus trip to the aquarium, I carefully watched this boy to see what I was in for. Instantly I noticed that he was totally out of control, jumping from one seat to another, pulling girls hair, throwing things, punching kids., etc. It was my best guess that he craved power and had found ineffective ways of getting that need met. It was possible that his parents were controlling him too much at home, or there were few or no boundaries for him at home.

The bus finally arrived at our destination and all the kids quickly exited the bus, running off to the main entrance. I held my little group back and got down to their eye-level. I said with excitement, “Ok guys, I need a boss. I need someone who can be in charge of the order we see exhibits in, while we’re in the aquarium.” Even though all three raised their hands, I strategically picked this mischievous boy (let’s call him Bobby). My goal was to provide him with the power he was craving in hopes of gaining his cooperation while we were in the aquarium. Bobby excitedly accepted his role and attempted to run toward the main entrance. I stopped him in his tracks and humbly asked all three for help in coming up with the rules of being the boss. All three of the children began to offer ideas on what the boss should and should not do. They had basically developed the job description with things like “make sure we walk in single file,” and “make sure we talk with our inside voices.”

When the group appeared to be fresh out of ideas, Bobby stepped out in front and declared, “O.K everyone, follow me!” The other two children fell in behind him and I brought up the rear. It was so humorous for me to see Bobby marching and leading our little parade right into the main entrance of the aquarium. Once inside the main hall, he directed us all to stop. You could just see the excitement and power he felt at his new “job.” He carefully selected which exhibit we would go to first and led us there. While the other boy, my daughter and I were all examining the beautiful fish swimming in the huge cylinder tank, Bobby was scoping out the other exhibits to determine where we would be headed next.

For the rest of the morning, we marched from one exhibit to next, led by our leader Bobby. The boy was so absorbed into his responsibility and power as the leader. He was completely engrossed in it to the point of shear excitement. The funniest thing happened about midday. Our little marching parade crossed paths with the teacher who stopped in shock at the sight. Her mouth literally dropped open and she froze in place. She caught my eye and she mouthed the words, “What did you do??!” And what DID I do? I gave a little boy appropriate power in a way that would help me get MY needs met. Was it fair to my daughter and the other boy that I selected Bobby as the boss? Absolutely not, but who says life is fair. I had to harness his desire to be powerful. I hope this example inspires you to be creative in situations with your own children who may be exhibiting a need for greater power, value, and importance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

4 Ways Parents Unknowingly Encourage their Children to Lie

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Four Ways Adults Encourage Children to Lie

A parent told me that she had been using praise as a means of motivating her 3 year old daughter to stay dry through the night. If the little girl awoke each morning with a dry diaper, her mom would praise her. On one particular morning the child had apparently taken her diaper off and brought it to her mom to show her the great results and to receive her praise. But later that morning, mom found the REAL diaper that was worn that night, hidden in the child’s bedroom and wet!

1.) We teach them to lie to get our approval

In the case I wrote about above, the little girl loved the praise she was getting for her dry diaper in the morning and had learned to hide the wet diaper to please her mother. Even though this example was about a young child, our children of all ages learn quickly about getting our approval at all costs. The caregiver’s approval feels good and a child will do whatever he can to get it.

2.) Children lie to protect themselves

My parents obtained their parenting tools from their parents. The penalty received for the C’s, D’s, and F’s my siblings and I brought home on school papers was whippings from a belt. Because my parents used fear to motivate us to perform, fear is what I felt as a child. To protect myself from what I feared most, I learned quickly how to change grades on papers, hide or destroy the papers, or lie about the grades I received on assignments. I often think about where I might be today academically if my parents had responded differently.

3.) Parents force their children to be nice to others

Have you ever demanded that your child be nice to a playmate or forced him to say he’s sorry for something? What about forcing your child to kiss or hug an elderly relative she doesn’t want to go near. The process of developing social skills takes time and patience. Forcing a child to suppress his or her feelings about another person teaches them to hide their true self and be, do, or say something for someone else’s benefit and not their own.

4.) Children learn from the example adults set

Your child runs to answer the ringing telephone as you shout, “If it’s grandma, tell her that I’m not home.” You tell the ticket taker at the admission gate of the amusement park that your child is an age just under the price break so that you can save a few dollars. By natural design our children have a drive for honesty, but through modeling, training, and getting their needs met, they learn to lie. If we handle our child’s lying without a trace of punishment or anger and instead, demonstrate acceptance and unconditional love, our child will have less motivation to continue it and her internal compass of integrity will develop naturally as it should.

Related Video: Why Children Lie


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Teens Require a Balance of Unconditional Love & Firmness

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

The Northampton Bike Path and Stubborn Teens

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 52,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2010 and a huge percentage of that number reflects those who were not wearing helmets. Taking this into consideration, we decided we were not willing to accept the risk of injury to our teen.

You might be thinking, “What the heck does the path and teens have in common?” It might be a stretch, but bear with me. You see, it all started when I took my grandkids on a walk on the Northampton Bike Path one day. I love that walk and if you’ve never been, the next time you’re in Northampton, go check it out. Using the trail, one can get from downtown Northampton to Look Park, Leeds Village and even all the way out to Station Road in South Amherst, using the Norwottuck Extension Trail and the Norwottuck Rail Trail. There are even future plans to extend it out to Williamsburg someday.

While I was on my walk that one day, I noticed a group of teenage boys riding their bikes. They were all dressed in a way that their peers would consider them to look cool, except for one thing; they all had bike helmets on. The boys appeared to be around the same age as our 14-year-old who has been trying to avoid wear a bike helmet this summer. This lead to a conversation my wife and I had recently, about how we were going to reintroduce this matter to our teen, now that she has taken a new interest in riding her bicycle to her friend’s house. She’s one of those stubborn types who focuses excessively on her appearance, especially if she’s leaving the house. We remember her going through the tween years, refusing to wear a coat when it was cold or rainy because it wouldn’t look cool (glad that one is over). Now we’re going to have to tell her that she’ll have to wear a helmet when she rides her bike. We know that one’s not going to go over well!

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 52,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2010 and a huge percentage of that number reflects those who were not wearing helmets. Taking this into consideration, we decided we were not willing to accept the risk of injury to our teen.  When we arrived home, we announced to her that a helmet would be necessary for all future rides. She of course threw a fit as we expected, and announced she would not be wearing a helmet. We allowed her to express her opinion and then went about our day. We know that our lack of arguing with her may lead her to think that we’ll cave, but we won’t. In a few days, I’ll offer to take her to the store so she can pick out a better fitting helmet and again, I’ll be ready for her to object and refuse to go.

The next time our 14-year-old wants to ride her bike to her friend’s house, we’ll gently remind her of the new rule and she’ll most likely respond by throwing a fit over it. That’s what many teens do. My wife and I will remain calm and stand our ground, that’s what effective parents do. Based on past experiences with her, she will probably refuse to ride to her friend’s house all together before retreating to her room. A few hours will pass and then she’ll reemerge from her room, reluctantly asking that we take her to the store to buy a helmet. She’ll be grouchy for most of the day and we’ll read texts from her to her friends about how horrible and over protective we are (yes, we monitor her texts with her knowledge).

Creating rules and limits effectively requires a balance of unconditional love AND firmness, with plenty of room for our kids to object. We should also allow their objections to occasionally change our minds if appropriate. In each situation we should allow them to disagree, state their case, and then take their points into consideration before both parents emerge as a team to deliver the final verdict.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Anita Hart]

Supporting a Child’s Wonder of Nature

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Do we keep it in a jar or let it go – Then Get to The Lupa Zoo

Instead of letting your child just keep a creature in a jar or demanding that they let it go right away, use it as a wonderful opportunity to examine the world around your child and help them begin to construct their opinions and feelings about nature. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

A parent wrote to me about an incident in which her preschool daughters caught a lizard in the backyard and her husband told them they could keep it in a jar. She told them it was nature and they had to let it go. The girls threw a tantrum and a meltdown ensued. Mom wanted to know who was right; she or her husband.

Aside from the fact that they were not setting a good example for the children of working as a team in supporting each other, they were also too focused on the lizard as an object. Instead, they could have used the capture of this lizard as an opportunity to teach the girls a little bit about our respect for nature, our partnership with the world around us, and an appreciation for different forms of life.

Instead of letting your child just keep a creature in a jar or demanding that they let it go right away, use it as a wonderful opportunity to examine the world around your child and help them begin to construct their opinions and feelings about nature. With summer now here, there is so much to show and teach your children about this incredible world in which we live. Match it with the powerful wonder going on in your child’s mind and you’ll allow them to get away from the computer, the television, and the DVDs long enough to learn more. You might actually have some incredible together-time moments that will build your relationship with your child.

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

To the mom asking this question, I suggest she allow them to keep it temporarily and then let it go. While holding it in a glass jar to be examined, take some digital pictures of it and allow the children to decide which ones are their favorites to keep. I had a brush with nature last year when a raccoon showed up at my backdoor one evening. I ran into this overly friendly little guy while bringing cat food out to feed a lonely stray cat and he didn’t seem to want to leave. I grabbed my digital camera and snapped a few pictures that became keepsakes to share with my grandchildren over and over.

Take the kids to the local library and research just exactly what it is they temporarily captured. Teach them how to learn about what it eats and the most favorable conditions for its habitat. Allow the children to decide where they’ll let the little creature go and allow them to participate in the release as much as possible. Once the little creature is released it doesn’t mean he’s gone and the experience is over, but instead, the creativity can now begin. Go back to those digital photos you saved and pull them into an art or photo computer program to modify. You can blow them up, print them out, or modify them with special effects to create some wonderful art projects. There are special programs for children that will allow for importing photos so the kids can color them or decorate them. If you don’t have software that will allow you to do that, pull the pictures up on the screen and allow your children to draw and color their own free-hand versions of pictures of the creature to name and share with family.

Having an incident like this might spark an interest in nature with your children. I suggest you check out the Lupa Zoo in Ludlow, MA. They have popular exhibits for kids and a family farm where children can get close up to different animals. I know that Henry and Joan Lupa would love to see your family over at 545 West Street. You can call them at 413-589-9883 or visit their Web site at www.lupazoo.org.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Helping Older Siblings Adjust to New Baby Sister/Brother

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Helping Big Brother/Sister Adjust

I was in one of those party supply stores the other day and I noticed these special buttons that can be worn by young children who are getting a new baby sister or brother. The buttons read, “I’m The Big Brother (or Sister).” I love these and recommend them often to parents who will be adding a new addition to the family. It’s so easy for adults to get lost in the commotion of the new baby and it’s easy for the older sibling to get lost in the new child’s shadow. To avoid having the first-born feeling replaced and resentful, do what the button says and help them feel special with the baby. Ask her to help you give the baby a bath, sing a song to sooth the infant, or allow him to help dress his new baby brother.

A child is constantly searching for their place in the family and when a new addition comes home, they can easily feel as if they’ve been dethroned and begin acting out in very challenging ways. Some parents have seen their older child reverting back to being a baby to try and regain her lost seat by suddenly acting helpless, crying more often, or wetting her pants. When parents take the time to help the child gain a newer position in the family, less challenging behaviors will follow. It’s also important to create “dates” with the older child away from the baby.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsHilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events offer some great tips for those dates to reconnect with your first born or older child.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Normal (Annoying) Kid Behaviors at the General Store

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

Annoying Normal Behaviors at Checkers General Store

When we learn to recognize normal behaviors in our children and are prepared to deal with them when they occur, our lives can be less stressful. A child behaves because she has needs. Once we learn to recognize those needs when they appear and we know how to help her get her needs met on our terms, life is better. (Photo credit: Bill Corbet)

I stopped off at Checker’s General Store in Belchertown on Route 202 one afternoon, a place I love to drop in to grab last minute necessities my wife asks me to pick up on my way home. I love the atmosphere of this small town store and usually find something unique to bring home or to munch on as I drive home. But on this one particular recent late afternoon, I got to witness an annoying normal behavior in a child. I stood behind a young mom who had her preteen daughter with her and a little boy who appeared to be about two years of age. He was eye level with a wall full of candy boxes and kept picking up pieces packaged in the shiniest wrappers. Each time he picked one up he just wanted to touch it and look at it sparkling and crinkling with his touch. And each time his mom would turn around from her transaction at the register and snap at him not to touch. She took the candy from his hand and put it back and then snapped the word “No!” at him. In response, he whimpered and then picked up another piece of candy from a different box and the same routine would play out; mom would yell at him and take it from his hand. She finally lost her cool, picked him up to her eye level and shouted at him, “No! We do not touch!” As she put him back down on the floor he started to cry and immediately went to another display just out of her reach and picked something else up from the shelf. She looked at me briefly in embarrassment. I spoke up and with a smile, said to her, “They just want to touch everything, don’t they? I’ve found that if you give them something to hold that you’re ok with, they’re easier to manage in a store with so many things to touch.” She smiled back and reached into her purse, pulling out a handful of keys and key chains all connected together and handed it to him. His whimpering stopped as he suddenly became fascinated with the keys, mumbling to himself in sort of a satisfied way. She thanked me and scurried out of the store with her arms full of groceries, ushering her two children in front of her. On the way out the door the little boy was still mesmerized with the pile of shiny metal in his little hands.

This classic scenario is one of the many behaviors I call normal and yet difficult to deal with. Whether we like it or not, our children are wired to touch, poke, and play with everything around them. That’s how they learn and develop, through exploration and discovery. And how frustrated I feel for the adult and the child when I see the parent snapping, yelling, and sometimes worse, spanking a child to punish him for what he is harmlessly motivated to do.

Let’s not blame the parent in my scenario so quickly. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 4pm when I saw her in the general store and she probably had a lot on her mind. Dinner may have been late, she was out for items she needed for the meal, she was probably tired and short on patience, and it appeared that her preteen daughter may have been talking her ear off while standing in line at the register. And why did she snap at her little son and eventually shout at him? Perhaps she was feeling a combination of feelings; frustrated that her son was not standing cooperatively by her side, overwhelmed with all that was on her mind, annoyed that her son was getting into things, and embarrassed that she may have appeared as a bad parent to others waiting line behind us.

Hind sight is 20/20 as they say and it was easy for me to point out my suggestion to her to  help, but when we learn to recognize normal behaviors in our children and are prepared to deal with them when they occur, our lives can be less stressful. A child behaves because she has needs. Once we learn to recognize those needs when they appear and we know how to help her get her needs met on our terms, life is better.

As in the scenario I related above, the little boy’s need was to touch and explore. Had his mother been prepared to recognize this and ready to provide him with something he could touch and play with, the harsh encounter she had with him may not have occurred. We all feel bad when we yell at our children or spank them. It tarnishes the unconditional love we want them to feel from us and causes us to feel guilt for our actions and our words. We do it because we don’t know what else to do at that moment to stop the behavior. I urge you to see your child’s behavior as an expression of a need; to touch and explore, to be powerful, to feel valuable, to gain attention, or to just be seen and heard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Magic Wings and ADHD

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

An ADHD Child Visits Magic Wings

Bill Corbett Photo: Magic Wings

I watched Aurora totally engaged in the experience, enthralled with every lizard that conservatory employees placed around her neck, and every butterfly that came within inches of landing in her hair... Every once in a while, she would stop and notice a beautiful butterfly or a larva just out of her reach that fascinated her. She would look at the creature with intensity, then look down at her toes on the edge of the concrete walk, and then look at me to see if I was watching... (Photo credit: Bill Corbett)

Have you ever wondered why children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) don’t seem to listen and cooperative well? On some occasions they get easily distracted, see “something shiny,” and ignore the adult’s instruction. Although experts still don’t know exactly what causes this disorder, they are beginning to understand more about the child’s thinking process. To put one type of challenging behavior (of which there are many) into somewhat simple terms; the child is fully aware of a parent’s or teachers rules and seems to deliberately violate those rules. What researchers have discovered is the existence of a sort of neurological battle going on. One region of the brain that controls executive functions gives the child the ability to regulate his or her own behavior, thinking through a caregiver’s instructions, and then planning how he or she will respond. Then there is another region of the brain that seems to “light up brighter” and craves stimulation. What some researchers have found is that this “other” region of the brain overpowers the executive functioning region of the brain. The result is that the need for stimulation trumps obeying an adult’s rules. Let me share a real-life example where I witnessed this first hand.

I took my young granddaughter Aurora to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield, MA. It is located at 281 Greenfield Road (Route 5) and if you’ve not yet visited this amazing place, make a date and take your kids. If you don’t live in New England, this type of conservatory exists in many other states so find the one closest to you. When we walked into the reception area to buy tickets, I noticed a hard-to-miss list of rules posted on the wall by the entrance. One of the rules specified that all visitors must remain on the concrete walk that winds through the conservatory to preserve the wildlife. Now, without going into a whole lot of detail, my granddaughter was visiting us from out of state and she had arrived on the plane with a shortage of her ADHD medication. That might be another blog post about parents of ADHD children planning ahead appropriately, so I’ll save those details for another time. Knowing that she was not on medication this particular day, I was concerned that I was making a mistake by bringing her to this place. How would she do with not being distracted by “shiny things” and break the rule by leaving the walkway. So I used one of the top parenting techniques for children with some disorders like ADHD; having the child read or restate the rules. I used an almost defeated tone of voice as if it was out of our hands and that we HAD to comply with these rules on the poster. I asked her if she would be able to follow them and after a moment of thought, she responded with a hearty “Yes.”

Another good parenting tip to use some of the time with children of all types, especially with those who have behavior disorders, is to have the child help you come up with a consequence if a rule gets broken. In this situation, I asked Aurora, “What should Grandpa do if you break one of the rules.” Her initial response to me was, “Grandpa should buy me an ice cream,” and she laughed. I acknowledged her offer with a light-hearted, “Silly Aurora,” and then told her that if a rule gets broken, we will have to leave immediately and go directly home. She agreed to the consequence and we entered the conservatory.

For the next 45 minutes, I watched Aurora totally engaged in the experience, enthralled with every lizard that conservatory employees placed around her neck, and every butterfly that came within inches of landing in her hair. At several points of our walk through the place, I was convinced she might explode with excitement. Every once in a while, she would stop and notice a beautiful butterfly or a larva just out of her reach that fascinated her. She would look at the creature with intensity, then look down at her toes on the edge of the concrete walk, and then look at me to see if I was watching. I could see the battle going on in her little brain as the region needing stimulation tempted her to step off the walk and touch the creature. And each time she fought off the drive and walked on.

Then suddenly that battle came to a head. She stopped in front of me and turned to face me. The fake painfully sad expression on her face and the equally fake whiny tone in her voice were all too familiar to me. In response to my concerned question of, “What’s wrong honey?” she replied in a dreadful and excruciating tone, “Grandpa… we have to go home!!!” Totally confused, I said, “Why do we have to go home sweetie?” Suddenly emotionally recovered and with a mischievous gleam in her eye, she quickly replied with, “Because I’m going to step off of the walk!” And that she did, heading right over to a huge blue butterfly resting on a leaf. Read the rest of this entry »

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