Friday, September 28, 2012

Watermelon: Don't Break the Ice Game

As a parent, you probably know that when your kids have friends over, the friends will likely be fascinated by some toy or video game that your child has and they don't. Your child will probably be bored playing with the game they have become accustomed to using everyday.  You might have to coach your child to play the same old game with their friends a few times, even though your child really doesn't want to do that. Teaching your child to delay gratification and take turns is good parenting.  You might have to step in if the friend becomes fixated with a particular toy even after an appropriate amount of time has passed by. You might set a time limit or number of times they play one game. Another suggestion is breaking for a snack and then redirecting them to play outside for awhile.

Here is a fun food activity for a  party or group of kids.  It is based on the  "Don't Break the Ice" game  made by Hasbro.

1) Using a watermelon, slice it in half the long way down its axis.

2) Now continue making 2 to 3 inch slices down the long axis of each half.
 The rhine of each slice will be continuous AND UNCUT with one side more narrow than the other.

3) Place the narrow side face down on a cutting board.
 Keeping your knife point toward the center of the watermelon slice, carefully cut the interior of each section into 2-3 inch blocks.  The blocks always need to be more narrow at the bottom then the top so they don't fall out prematurely.

4) Set the watermelon slices carefully up on 4 short plastic cups located around the perimeter of the watermelon and on top of a flat baking tray  to catch the mess when the "watermelon ice" gets broken.

5) Each child may now take a turn with a fork, trying to pluck out a watermelon block without crashing the rest of the watermelon into the baking tray.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Games People Play

"Oh the things people say, Lord!
Every night and every day, Lord!
Never meaning what they say, Lord!
Never saying what they mean. "

Great bit of lyrics that! Sunday, Pastor Gregg reminded the children (and all the adults, don't tell anyone the children sermon is good for them too, shhhh!) that words are hurtful.  Even though we teach them things like;"Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me."  Words can hurt.  Words can make things worse.   We teach them to say a lot of things that aren't really true. We teach them to say things like; "every time you point a finger at me you have 4 pointing back at you,"  and "it takes one to know one."    Giving them something to say instead of feeling defeated when someone calls them a name helps, sort of. We call it externalizing defenses.  It would be better if we lived in a world where we didn't have to learn to externalize defenses.  It is part of growing up.

It's true that we need to teach them not to point.  We also need to teach them not to call names.  Lets face it, sometimes the world is not nice place for children. So we try to make the world a better place. We teach social skills to help our kids handle these difficulties. We try to teach them to distract the friend that is being mean, into going and playing a game.  That's hard to do.  If someone is mean to you, do you feel like inviting them to go do something...together? It sounds like this; "I don't feel like arguing, that's you want to go play 4 square?" Sounds crazy but it usually works.  We even teach them that the mean kid calling them names is to be called "friend?" Yep, we really do! Mostly, we teach kids that words can defuse situations and make friends out of enemies.

 It is the right thing to do!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What do you think?

If your child seems to have his or her mouth set to automatic arguing and the safety is off, you're probably feeling pretty annoyed.  There is a distinctive sound that the automatic arguer makes that is clearly identifiable and lets you know, you are under fire. It is highly repetitive and staccato sounding.

But, but, but..., 

You may want to wait for the clip to run out before attempting a counter attack, or... you could change your tactic.  If  using "No if's, and's or but's," hasn't worked, you might try asking them to pick which of the arguments they just presented actually made sense. You might go back to doing time outs for arguing. You might try thanking them for their opinion but that you have already made up your mind.  You could remind them that not every argument is a good one.  You could even suggest that if the next word out of their mouth is a "but," you will ground them from electronic toys for a week until they learn a respectful way to disagree. You might start limiting them to 3 arguments a day. Put an empty tennis ball container on the kitchen counter. and give them the three balls that go in it.  Tell them they have to give you a ball if they are going to argue.  Once the jar is full, then they can review which of their arguments they want to take back.  Conversely, they can take the tennis balls and go argue with a wall. Maybe they will get good at tennis and can argue with the umpire, who knows?

The most important thing you can do is catch them making a good argument. Tell them, "okay, that was a good argument."  Ask them their opinion about something and then value it. That is to say, make their opinion a valued thing when it is requested.  

Those are some ideas..., what do you think?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Words aren't Magical...Whatever!

Last week I spoke about common magic words.  Words are indeed powerful forces and need to be used respectfully.  "Whatever" is a word you will hear teenagers say with great disrespect.  Before you go eliminating it from Daniel Webster's dictionary, you may want to teach your child or teenager when to use it. When they use "whatever" with authority figures, they are clearly attempting to dismiss the importance of what has been told them.  Not a good idea if your child wants to stay out of detention.

 The right place to use "whatever" is as a dismissive device to defuse a provoked attack by a peers.  For instance if you child is called "stupid" by someone, you may want them to defend themselves.  However, getting into an argument over whether or not you are stupid doesn't really work well. It may be better to ignore the comment by the provoker or defuse it by using the dismissive "whatever."  This indicates that the provokers comments are not important enough to argue with. That is taking power with words.

Most social skills are like this.  There is a right and a wrong place to use them.  If you can figure out the right place to use the skill you can teach your kids not to use the wrong place.

Not everyone will be able to hear this advice. Some won't like it.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Some Truly Magical Words!

You can use "abracadabra" and "wingardium leviosa" as much as you want. Neither is half as magical as good ol' fashioned  please and  thank you! We learned to say these magic words when we were very young.  We also learned to use the phrase "you're welcome."  I hardly ever hear that one anymore.  My Grandma Florence always said "thank you ever so much" and seemed to always make it mean so much more than a mere thank you.

Another magic word that is important to teach your child is "okay."  It is so magical the way that word ends arguments.  As a parent, you want that word to be magical.  So you give it power.  What power should I give it, you may ask?  When you hear your child say "okay,' immediately stop the lecture.  It doesn't matter if you think they don't understand.  Stop lecturing immediately!  If they don't get the point it will show up in their behavior so you don't have to keep talking, just stop.  Pick up the lecture again the next day and the next day after that. You want to reinforce their behavior of being agreeable and not arguing!  I could go on but I will assume you just said okay and stop. :)