Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Love droppings and other s...tuff!

"Love dropping" is a phrase that needs defining.  It is not a 70's   expression of  free love. It is not the time you wasted on an ex boyfriend or girlfriend. It is the choice you make to see the trail of messes left by your child in a more positive light.  It is your alternative to ranting about the piles of clothing, toys, hair bands, glitter, books, or instruments that your child has strewn behind them.

If you can adjust your attitude from thinking about the piles of .... stuff(?) your children have left to considering the love droppings your children have left, then you may be calm enough to do an intervention. The most successful intervention I have found is the "doesn't belong box".  The doesn't belong box is a tub or box that is placed in a central location. Stuff(s), I mean love droppings, are placed in the box to keep from walking all over them.  At least once a day, when the time is convenient for you (like when your child wants to watch TV or go to a friends house) the child needs to empty the box. I didn't invent this idea. It comes from  the book "Playful Parenting" by Weston and Weston.(  Weston and Weston suggest auctioning off (in exchange for work jobs) items not cleaned out of the doesn't belong box.  I haven't tried that element much but I'm told it works well.

So, if you are tired of tripping through your house and want to clear a path, this is the tip for you.  Decorate a box with your kids and pile their s...tuff in it.  You know the song: "Love will make a way, where there seems to be no way?"   Take it literally!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No giving the Teacher no dirty looks!

School started here recently.  I'm sure all of your kid's school schedules are already on your refrigerator calender.  They probably have all their books bought, physicals signed, and you have paid for all their hot lunches. I'm sure you have attended all their band and music parent meetings as well as all the football, cross country meetings and signed up to volunteer for fundraisers and organizing all their activities.  You have probably volunteered to sit in as treasurer or secretary for the Pto as well as volunteering in the classrooms and chaperoning field trips. Is anyone feeling anxious yet?

Just a few notes today.
  •  I don't know anything about "Synaptol."  So if you see it as an advertisement here, use it at your own risk. 
  • Remember to watch out for School Buses now that School is back in session.  I still see kids standing in the street waiting for the bus... what did you expect they are kids!
  • Most schools now have web portals that allow you to check your children's grades and attendance. This is not just for elementary kids, most teenagers need to know that you are checking up on them now and again. 
  • Most teachers are pretty good at  keeping  the scores updated on the web portal.  
  • Congratulations to Mr. Phomvisay and the Teachers at MHS. An improvement in average ACT scores to 22.1. This shows we are going the right direction. 
  • One thing I never expected to hear a high school teacher repeatedly say to her class; "Don't ask Questions!"  I can think of a  response to that:  "And you call yourself a Teacher?" Really, I'm a big fan of teachers. It is easy to take things teens say out of context so I don't buy into every complaint I hear from them. However, to tell your class not to ask not teaching. 
  • Not many people added to the Free and Fun list this summer.  I will take that to mean that I have  a pretty good list. Please keep next  year in mind and if you think of a good activity this winter scroll down and add it to the list.  I will publish it again next year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Parents often want to know what is the best reward system to use with children to get them to start a new behavior.  I have already said in previous blogs that I prefer to use time and attention rewards over money rewards.  Whatever you use for rewards it is important that you use an effective pattern and a desirable reward. The exercise below may help make my point. 

Can You Read This?


If  you just skipped down here to read this, then the reinforcement reward that was used above just wasn't rewarding enough.  It is important to keep this lesson in mind when using rewards with children.  'Intermittent" (an irregular pattern) reinforcement is the best kind of reinforcement pattern to train someone in a new behavior.  However, the reinforcement pattern needs to be frequent at first and the reward must be a desired reward or it will be ineffective. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hours, Minutes & It's ADHD...Mercy!

Hours and minutes are handy little devices. They allow us to share beginnings of work days and school days, set meetings and appointments, they even allow us to schedule fun!  However, there are occasions when time is a hindrance and even a trap.

Anyone can be ensnared by time traps. Waiting in line  is a common trap. For most of us, it is not usually a big deal to wait.  However,  when time pulls you in two directions at one time, that can be an issue. For instance, when you are school shopping with items in your cart and in line for the cash register and suddenly you realize you have forgotten something, now you are caught.  In the meantime, you know you have to pick up your child up from daycare soon.  Do you leave the line, retrieve the item and know you are going to be late to pick up your child? Do you stay in line and resign yourself to another trip to the store?  That is a pretty common trap.  You can handle that though. You can make the choice. The best part is that you recognize the trap and that you have a decision to make.

The person with no conscious doesn't struggle with these decisions.  They just run roughshod over everyone else in their way.  The ADHD person, however, doesn't even recognize the situation for a trap.  They impulsively push into line, or out of it, without recognizing their inconsideration of others.  They are making decisions based on  their last or most pressing thought.  The ADHD individual and the person without conscience will often act the same, in certain situations.  They are very different. The ADHD adult will likely have remorse when they recognize that their behavior was hurtful to others.  The ADHD child may not slow down enough to recognize they have harmed someone. This trap occurs in lots of situations and over and over again, throughout an ADHD child's life. Waiting is extremely difficult for the ADHD child. Just think of all the situations that are time traps for them....


The more hyperactive the child is, the greater the likelihood that they have been treated like they are evil little demons.  The people dealing with these ADHD children have to deal with judgement traps.  They need to recognize the behavior of the child, but take care to consider the child's intention, not just rush to judgment. They must ask themselves the question; "is this child being oppositional or antisocial or impulsive?" The impulsive behaviors need to be redirected.  The oppositional behaviors may need a more serious consequence. The antisocial person is a whole other ballgame.

As a parent, you may have mastered the patience to deal with time traps.  Can you master dealing with your ADHD child's time traps? Can you master dealing with your ADHD spouse's time traps? Can you  master the calmness to deal with all the judgement traps also? ...


Monday, August 6, 2012

Do you know what time it is?

What time is it? Some times are more important than others.  You have taught your children this.  You have!  You have taught them that certain times mean a meal is going to start.  A certain time is for curfew and another for sleeping.  Christmas Day and Easter have events that have particular meaning.  What time do you open presents? What time is Easter egg hunting? My children have learned, that sometimes, when I ask them if they know what time it is, I may just be asking if they are aware of what is coming next. "No it's not 10 am, it's time to clean your room."

 Do you know what time it is? This answer isn't on the clock.  You might recognize it from the calender.  I will give you another clue.  In Marshalltown, last weekend was the tax free holiday. The tax free holiday is a lawmaker gift to parents, to do back to school shopping.   That means a lot of things.  It means it is time to start getting the kids back to bed at a reasonable hour.  It takes about a week to reset your sleep cycle.  So look on your calender and find the first day of school.  You need to start resetting bedtimes a week before school starts.  So if you are the type to give in to your kids " but it's our last day of summer" complaints, then you need to set their expectations so you aren't fighting it the weekend before school starts.  Just like Sunday Night is a school night, the week before school needs to be about preparation not vacation.  So get out the calender, schedule  some  fun for the rest of the summer and prepare your kids for the day they have to start going to bed early.

Do you know what time it is? Time to get ready  to be the parents that do the hard thing again.  Summer is nearly over.  When it is, you get to be the parents that say no!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Parenting and House Odds!

Gambling is not really a great metaphor for parenting. I don't much like gambling. I would rather have a sure thing, than throw my money away on long odds.  Most of us would like our parenting to be a sure thing.  We want to know, that the things we do as parents will work.  We don't want to think that there is risk for our kids.  Naturally, life is full of risks. Nothing I tell you can eliminate that risk. Fortunately, I can tell you that you don't have to play the gamblers odds.  "You Are the House," you get to play the house odds. You get to set the rules in your favor.  The trick is setting the rules so that you win most, but not all, of the time

 The odds  represent hope.  The problem with casinos is that they provide false hope.  People become addicted to the thrill of that hope. Hope is a powerful force. As parents, you get to provide real hope.  As parents, every day is not a trap of lights and bells and whistles to draw in your children.  You do however get to reward your children.  I'm not talking about money or buying stuff.   I'm talking about stuff that really matters.  Time and your attention are the best rewards.   Every kid will be drawn in by gifts and money.  The best reinforcement comes, when the child gets to pick an activity, to do with the parent.  They get to pick the game or even the vacation that the family spends.  They have to know what the options are ahead of time. It is good to make a list and put it on a big board, just like the casino's do.  Unlike the casino, we don't rate the odds. We just pay out.

After all, the only real gamble here is on Love! I like those odds.