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Embrace your child AS SHE IS

Last week, I was talking to one of my coaching clients and she seemed very unhappy with the way her daughter had turned out to be. I tried to understand what she meant by that and why she felt that way. Her daugher, who is eleven, is a straight-A student, well-behaved. She loves reading, she speaks three languages. She is well-adjusted and friendly, loves volunteering at her local church, playing piano and playing tennis. Finally, she is a very caring and inspiring older sister to her little brother.

Although the mom was proud of all the things her daughter had accomplished at such a young age, her daughter had missed the mark on something that my client considered extremelly important “lacrosse.” The mom had played lacrosse when she was a child until her undergraduate years, and had dreamed about having a daughter who followed her steps on that sport. Her daughter gave it a try, but wasn’t interested at all, she didn’t find it enjoyable, and she didn’t want to miss tennis or piano to go to lacrosse.

The mom was having a hard time letting go of the dream of what her ‘ideal daughter’ would be; and embracing the amazing daughter she had. Of course, the daughter was feeling unloved and unwanted by her mother, despite all the good things she was doing; and didn’t really understand what was going on. Obviously there’s something causing the mom to put so much importance on this particular sport, something that was ingrained in her thoughts and believes when she was growing up.

This story compelled me to invite you to let your children grow as the unique individuals they already are. Allow them to discover themselves, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. Your children are not you, and they should be able to have their own dreams and aspirations, and more often than not, those will be different from your own dreams and aspirations.

Appreciate the individuality of each child a blessing and pursue ways to expand on that. Be open minded, and don’t push your child into pursuits that they are not interested in. When you find yourself trying to impose your own agenda on your child, look inside yourself, think about what’s pushing you to make that decision, what part of your upbringing is creating this behavior. Believe in and love your kids for who they are. Allow them to be their true self and embrace them as they are.

“The best parents are the ones who let their kids know: ‘I believe in you,’ and don’t add the caveat, ‘but I’d like you to be thinner, smarter, etc.”

Lenore Skenazy

Let’s make sure our children know how much we love them, no conditions, no changes required!

~ Diana Blanco

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Diana Blanco, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; Positive Discipline Educator; Child Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting, a gentle parenting and positive discipline advocacy, education and coaching center for parents, childcare providers and educators.

Smooth Parenting provides private parent coaching as well as online and live parenting education; helping parents around the world develop gentle positive connections with their childrens, solve their discipline and power struggles, get a good night sleep and live a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to parenting, discipline and child sleep education is gentle, individualized and effective. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, healthy child sleep, positive discipline and loving guidance, teleseminars, webinars and events, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ’7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

now also in Spanish http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParentingEnEspanol 

My child doesn’t listen!

Do you repeat the same thing over and over again without response? Are you frustrated because your child doesn’t listen to you?

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone! Those are some of the most common complaints I hear from parents during my private consultations; and whenever I hear that, two questions always come to my mind:

1. What do we really mean by ‘listening’?

Is it a synonym of ‘obeying’? More often than not, when parents complain about their children not listening, what they really mean is that their children do not drop whatever it is they’re doing, right the second the parent asks them to do something.

Therefore, the issue is not so much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘compliance and obedience.’ I believe in parenting with love and respect, and ‘obedience’ does not fit into this definition. The same way I wouldn’t expect my spouse or any other adult to blindly obey what I say, I don’t expect that from my daughters either. Obedience, in my book, is NOT the epitome of good parenting.

As Alphie Kohn points out in his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ that when parents are asked what their long term goals for their children are, they say they want their kids to be ethical, compassionate, independent, happy, accomplished, self-confident, etc. No parent says they want their children to grow up into obedient adults. I certainly do not want my daughters to grow up to be compliant women, I want them to question authority, to have their own opinions, to make their own decisions (and their own mistakes), to be creative… and to not mindlessly obey anybody (not even me!).

Most of what we see as disobedience in our children is either natural, curious, discovering, learning, developmentally appropriate behavior; a way of letting you know that one of their needs is not being met; or a reaction to a situation in which they do not feel comfortable or safe with, or have no control over.

Child not listening

The need for children’s obedience that many parents have is usually associated with parents’ fear that…

  • the child will grow up to be a rebellious, sociopath, anarchist monster. This terrible view of humane nature is not based on any empirical evidence.
  • they will be misunderstood by their peers and by family. After all, most people still believe a good child is an obedient child.
  • their child will have trouble at school with her teachers. Many teachers are still not open to the idea of having their students questioning their lessons.

Forcing children into blind obedience has terrible consequences. Children might not learn to think for themselves and will always value their parents’ (or other authoritative figure’s) voice over their own. They might not learn how to make their own decisions. They might be pushed around and manipulated by their peers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating permissive parenting, I am not arguing that children can be disrespectful and have no limits, I am not suggesting that children can do as they please whenever they want. I am proposing a way of parenting that is based on mutual respect, love and cooperation; and that will eliminate the power struggles between the parent and the child and will allow the child to turn into an independent, confident and mindful adult.

 

2. How well do we listen to our children?

As with many other issues in parenting, the way our children do something tends to be a direct reflection of how we do that same thing. What does this mean? It means that in order to get your child to listen, you first have to listen to her. If they feel listened to, they will be more inclined to listen to you. It is that simple and that complicated!

We are giving our children the best example of what listening is all about. We are modeling a certain way of listening and communicating for them. How do you listen when your child talks to you? How do you usually respond when your child talks to you or asks you to do something for her (read a book, tell a story, play on the floor, go see a bug…)? Is your common response any of these…?

  • Delay request (i.e. ‘Just a minute,’ ‘I can’t right now, I doing something else’)
  • Casual nod, but no eye-to-eye connection (i.e. ‘Umm’)
  • Uninterested response while you’re still looking at your cellphone (i.e. ‘I see’)
  • No response, just ignore and go on with what you’re doing
  • Repeated (and not very uplifting) lecture (i.e. ‘I told you many times not to…,’ ‘That happened because you….’)
  • Constant interruptions
  • Frequent commands
  • Response before they are done talking

Ignoring

As parents we often create communication problems with our children, because we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Whenever we don’t listen to our children, they notice. Not listening does not only mean that we are not hearing what they are saying, it also means that we are not plugged in with what they are trying to tell us. We make assumptions about what they are trying to say, we draw conclusions without making sure we understood the message. We talk too much or launch into lectures.

The best way I know to get children to listen is to listening to them first. Listening intently, listening with interest, listening making sure we ‘get’ what they are saying, listening making sure we understand what’s not being said, and listening making sure our children know they are loved, always and that we are listening.

Mom_Talk_vs_Baby_Talk_636x424_0

Parenting is a journey in which we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, about our children and about human nature. Parenting is the best journey towards self-understanding, personal improvement, mindfulness and consciousness.

Let’s love the ride!

~ Diana Blanco

******************************

Diana Blanco, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; Positive Discipline Educator; Child Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting, a gentle parenting and positive discipline advocacy, education and coaching center for parents, childcare providers and educators.

Smooth Parenting provides private parent coaching as well as online and live parenting education; helping parents around the world develop gentle positive connections with their childrens, solve their discipline and power struggles, get a good night sleep and live a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to parenting, discipline and child sleep education is gentle, individualized and effective. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, healthy child sleep, positive discipline and loving guidance, teleseminars, webinars and events, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ’7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

now also in Spanish http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParentingEnEspanol 

4 Great & Green Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day!

Craft Ideas for kids

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up {March 17} and is one of the most magical holidays for children! Leprechauns, lots of green and shamrocks are popular each and every year and add something special to the upcoming spring season. I’ve come up with four great and green ideas for you to try with your children this year. Enjoy!

1 Leprechaun Lad

Have the kids make a cute, small leprechaun to play with by cutting out bit of green, dark blue and flesh colored paper. A small piece of orange pipe cleaner makes a great beard, and stickers from the dollar store add a special touch as well! Glue your leprechaun on a Popsicle stick to turn him into a puppet for play.

2 Shamrock Sticks

This adorable shamrock stick I made during a workshop last year, and use it as a decoration in my ivy plant. You can buy affordable plant sticks such as this one at your local florist, within the plant section in Shop Rite or make your own with a bamboo skewer and green paper. Add a shamrock stick in all your houseplants this March!

3 Magical Brew

Make a special treat for the kiddos by adding one drop of green food coloring to seltzer water! You can also add a drop of green to milk or a vanilla milk shake for a special and memorable treat.

4 Clover Prints

Perhaps the easiest thing you can do with your children… pour some green paint in a dish and let them use their fingers to make clovers and shamrocks on white paper. Use a green marker for the stems! This is a great idea for the kitchen or dining area. You can have the kids make ‘place mats’ or a ‘tablecloth’ for the table by using a large piece of white paper and decorating it all over with shamrocks.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Make a Real Flying Pig

I usually try to feature crafts that I have completed with my students, and this one was a favorite from last week. This small pig is almost magical as it flies in the air. Both boys and girls love making it and it looks great hanging in a child’s room!

You will need:

  • an empty toilet roll
  • pink paint and brushes
  • pink and white paper
  • string and a loose bead or button
  • a hole puncher
  • scissors, markers and strong glue {hot glue works best if an adult is present!}

1 Cut an empty toilet roll in half. This will be the pig’s body. Punch a hole in the top of the cylinder and the bottom and roughly the same place. This is where the string will hang later.

2 Paint the outside of the toilet roll pink and let dry. After it dries, you can snip two arms and legs on the bottom side with a scissor. {See first image above}

3 Cut a circle for the back of the pig and a face for the front. Use markers to add details:

4 Cut some wings out and use scissors to snip along the edges to create a ‘feather look’:

5 Cut a piece of string about two feet long and tie a bead to one end. String through your pink pig body so that it can ‘fly’.

6 To finish your flying pig, glue the head, back circle and wings to the pink cylinder. Make sure your sting is in place first! Hot glue works best of this {with an adults help} and enables children to play with or hang their pig instantly!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Love Message Bouquet

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Since we have a few more days until the holiday is here, I wanted to post one last idea for you to try out with the little ones! This is a beautiful craft to make together and is also a great activity to practice spelling and handwriting.

For this craft you will need:

  • assorted colors of card stock or construction paper
  • patterned paper {optional}
  • bamboo skewers
  • green paint
  • green pipe cleaners
  • thin black marker or pen
  • glue, scissors, tape

1 Cut heart shapes out of your paper that will be used as the ‘flowers’ in your bouquet

2 Using a glue stick, attach the hearts to patterned scrapbook paper. Cut around the heart shape so that one side is a solid color, and the other reveals the patterned paper. This step is optional, but makes the bouquet look more professional and polished when displayed in a vase!

3 Paint some bamboo skewers with green paint for your stems. Let dry. Tape one heart to the top of each skewer to make the flower and stem.

4 Cut some white pieces of paper for your ‘messages’. Use a glue stick to attach them to your hearts and write a message that will continue onto each heart. Example, I needed five heart flowers to create “Love is in the Air”.

5 Add a green pipe cleaner to each stem to create the leaves for your flowers. Optional: add some red or pink glitter to your hearts to make them extra festive!

6 Place your heart flowers in a vase or glass and enjoy!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Lucky Tree Craft for Chinese New Year


This fun and easy craft is a great way to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 10, 2013. Considering this is the year of the Snake, I wanted to create something a little cuter… so this Lucky Tree fits the bill! The fruits can be clementines or oranges… whatever you wish!

For this project you will need:

  • brown markers
  • colored dot sale stickers
  • yellow, white and red paper
  • gold glitter and glue
  • a thin, black marker
  • decorative stickers, like goldfish
  • a glue stick and regular glue
  • scissors

1. Using your glue stick, center a small white piece of paper on a larger red piece to create a nice ‘frame’. Prepare a vase shape by cutting it out of yellow paper. Gather some dot stickers {can be found in any dollar store} and cut the green ones in half to use as leaves later.

2. Glue your vase shape on the white paper and draw some branches with a brown marker like the ones below.

3. Now peel stickers off and attach to the branches for the fruits. Orange stickers work best… I used red because that’s a lucky color for Chinese New Year. This is definitely the funnest part for kids! Peel some green cut stickers and use them as leaves. Use your thin black marker to add some faces to the fruits if you wish!

4. For some final touches, add gold glitter around your picture. Lastly, add a sticker to the vase. A goldfish is perfect for the occasion!

Every year I try and attend the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. It is a fun and educational event for children with awesome confetti, fire crackers and great food. Here is a link to this year’s parade:http://betterchinatown.com/

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Fun and Easy Window Paintings for Kids

Moms, this is a great rainy day activity for you and your children! All you need are some acrylic paints which you can find in any arts and crafts store. {I know Jersey City doesn’t have many, so check the art supply isle of Shop Rite or even your local dollar store!} The most important thing is that the paint you buy should be non-toxic, water based paint, because it will be very easy to remove. Always test a small design first to make sure it wipes off of your desired surface easily!

For this project you will need:

  • acrylic paints {water based only!}
  • various small paint brushes
  • window cleaner for removal

1 Choose a design to paint on your window, or even your bathroom mirror! Snowmen are a great choice for January, or hearts for the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. Young children might want to practice drawing their design on paper before starting painting on the window.

2 Dip your brushes directly into the small bottles of acrylic paint and begin painting on your windows. Using too much paint will cause it to drip, so remember to wipe your brush on the side of the bottle before beginning. For multiple colors… let the first color dry first before adding other colors on top. For example, paint the snowman body first. Let that dry, then add black for buttons and a nose and eyes, etc, etc.

3 Let your beautiful creations dry and wipe away any mistakes with a wet paper towel.

4 Remove your drawings any time you wish by spraying with window cleaner, then wiping with a wet rag.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Who’s The Boss; You or Your Child?

Many parents feel as though they shouldn’t “push” their child to do things, and this could not be farther from the truth. For example, if your child doesn’t like soccer or baseball, but you want your child to do either of these things, this could present suppressed emotions and resentment years later. Research on power assertion, emotional involvement, and child adjustment show that “pushing” our child to do something he/she doesn’t want to do could create negative inner-atmospheres in early and middle adulthood. This is ONE type of parent.

Another type of parent relies solely on their child’s approval to perform daily tasks such as putting their toys away, completing simple chores, taking a bath, and eating healthy foods. As a result, parents will forego initiating obligations and responsibilities early on in order to please their children and gain approval. This is the OTHER type of parent.

Who is the boss here?

One confused and frustrated parent asked my advice on this over dinner, and explained that her daughter was defiant towards her decision not to go to bed when she was told to. This parent allowed her child to stay up late on school nights in order to avoid further conflict. I replied, “You’ve created your worst nightmare; a 4-year-old who is telling YOU what to do!”. Another parent required approval from her son in regards to “bath time”. She stated, “Well, if he doesn’t want to take a bath, should I make him? Why fight it out?”. I replied, “Because you are the parent, that’s why. And taking a bath is 99.9% your responsibility. That small percentage left is HIS responsibility to dip his legs in and get washed.”

Kids can be dominant, but as parents, when necessary, we are required to assert ourselves so that our children develop appropriately; clean, fed, healthy, etc.

Isn’t it a good thing when a child seeks to become the one in charge?  Shouldn’t such independence be commended and encouraged?  While it might look cute when a 2 year old tries to run the family, it can become a parent’s worse nightmare when a 4-or-5-year old tries to do it.  It is developmentally unhealthy for any child to be the one in charge.  Let’s explain why.

 

When a child doesn’t recognize that their parents know what is best, or refuses to take directions, they become very difficult and exhausting to parent.  It leads to a battle of wills where you feel like your child is playing for the opposing sports team; for one to win the other has to lose – but no one likes losing.  It’s a real struggle to gain a sense of parent satisfaction when your child is constantly challenging you. By challenging the parent over and over, respect and authority becomes lost and further experiences will increase in difficulty.

 

Wanting to be boss isn’t genetically wired into a child.  Any child has the potential to become an alpha.  Let’s make sense of this child.  Hardwired into every child’s DNA is the need for closeness – someone is there to take care of me.  It’s called attachment.  When a child is safely attached to their parent they feel protected and comforted.  This gives them a sense of security and rest, “someone is there to take care of me so I am safe.”  But if the child perceives rightly, or wrongly, that their parent isn’t there to take care of them they will try to assume the role themselves.  Every child knows that to be safe someone must be in control . . . and if no one is there they will try to do it themselves.

 

The way the alpha child outwardly behaves (dominating, leading, being in charge) is the very opposite to how they feel on the inside.  Alpha children are alarmed children; behind the bravo image is a scared child.  It’s highly alarming when you are 3 or 4 year old and you think you have to take care of yourself.  There are many reasons why a child might feel their parent isn’t there to take care of them and they are described below for your convenience. Are you enabling your bossy child?

To change the alpha child parents have to become the alpha in the relationship.  Attachment is always hierarchical: someone has to be in charge before they can take care of another.  While alpha is defined as being dominant in the relationship, it in no way implies being domineering.  Alpha parents don’t bully or intimidate their children!  That’s not an alpha.  The alpha in a wolf pack is the one who protects the pack.  If danger or threat appears the alpha wolf is first on the scene to take care of the rest of the pack.  Alpha is a protecting and comforting role.  The rest of the wolf pack feel safe because they have an alpha who they trust will defend them against any attack.

For a child to feel secure and safe they must see you as their alpha.  If they don’t they will assume the role themselves: “Help!  I’m only 4 and my dad and mom aren’t in control.  Someone has to be boss around here if I’m to be taken care of . . . if it’s not dad and mom, I’ll have to do it myself!”  That’s a scary place for any pre-schooler and doesn’t make for healthy development.  The alpha child has to learn to be taken care of.  As Dr. Cooper of the Circle of Security (2011) suggests, parent should always be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind.  When you are all of these qualities for your child they can rest knowing they will be protected, comforted and a source of delight.  When children find rest they’re a lot easier to parent.

So what contributes to a child who is the boss of you?

Our egalitarian society.  Democratic parenting that gives the child equal rights with their parents.  The person who takes care of a child can never been an equal – for a child to feel safe the parent/teacher must always be the alpha.

Parenting on demand.  As parents we are so busy these days.  When we get home there are so many demands (dinner prep, housework, washing, bathing, etc.) that we can find we are only responding to our child’s demands.  When this happens it puts our child in charge of closeness.

Parent needing the child.  Sometimes because of our own life history we can look to our child for comfort, love, security and joy.  This again makes the child feel they are responsible for taking care of us.  Adults are meant to be alphas to each other, not their child being alphas for them.

Encouraging pre-mature independence.  There is too much pressure on children these days to grow up quickly.  Becoming independent too young has many pitfalls.  These children are more likely to become peer attached and parents find they have lost their influence when their child is in primary school, let alone high school when a teenager needs parental guidance.

Hesitant parenting.  Today parents are so afraid that they might damage their child they become hesitant to do what should come intuitively to them.  When a child senses hesitancy they feel unsafe, so take on the alpha role.

Alpha by defense.  For children who have experienced emotional wounding (abuse) they defend against their feelings of hurt by putting on a tough exterior.

It may be too late to turn your child around, but this can be avoided! By instilling (proactively) the principles necessary to maintain YOUR role as mother or father you will be better able to maintain your role as “the boss”. Being proactive isn’t deserving of rewards per se, but the reward is a child who respects and perceives your role as his/her nurturer and authority.