Wednesday, June 2, 2021

On-Fleek Slang a bit too Woke for Momma


 QUESTIONS:

I have a 14 year old boy that talks nonsense incessantly. He is a good-natured kid, and I don’t think he speaks out of malice. He picks on his sister and me almost constantly. For example, I will say something..it could be anything.and he will reply, “Liar!” And then tell me I just got “epic owned.” He told me that he means no harm, and I do believe him. He and his friends banter that way. Only, I am not his friend; I am his mother. It gets wearisome, and borders at times on disrespect. I am a home educator. I am wondering if our being together most of the time has created a case of familiarity breeding contempt. Or is this natural to living with a teenaged boy? Should I just let it go as something that will pass with maturity? 


ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS:

Let me answer your last question first: NO.....Using slang phrases directed toward a parent such as "epic owned", "liar", "dude" "freak", etc., is a way to disrespect and tear down the authority of a parent. As a teacher and coach of teens , as well as a parent, for most of my life, I was able to connect well with that age group, and truly enjoyed that quirky stage of life. But I never accepted a student going too slang on me and calling me "dude" and the like. You need to tell your son that he and his "posse" can be as "slang woke" as they wanna be--with each other, but not you. 

There is some truth in the idea that "familiarity breeds contempt" but that really has no bearing as to whether you should accept his behavior as only a stage of immaturity. It is disrespectful. Feel free to "cancel that culture." 

Contact me if you need follow-up.


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

937-925-6136

smartmike59@gmail.com


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Setting Self Aside--A Teen's Family Obligation



QUESTION:

My husband works out of town every other week. He is out of town for the Easter holiday. He does not have a relationship with my older son, who is living at home during this college semester. He has a strained relationship with my seventeen year old son. He has asked my youngest son and I to drive five hours and visit him for the weekend holiday.  My son does not want to go. How do I parent this situation?


ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS:

It looks like none of the parenting coaches picked up your question in time for the full holiday weekend. I'm sorry about that. Therefore, my response is coming too late.  But for future use, and for others viewing this, here goes: 

     The adjective "youngEST" that you used indicates there is a third son. Is there a third son? "YoungER" would be the comparative, indictating that there are just two sons; Am I to infer that you have three or more sons-or only two sons--the 17-year old being the younger? I'm going to assume that the 17-year old is the son that "does not want to go"; and that you  have the just the two boys. The age of the child can be a factor.

       Receiving input from an older teen is wise--so feel free to truly hear him out; however, the final say is up to YOU. Your final decision should be based on what's best for the Family--any positive or negative emotional reactions on his part should have no bearing on your decision. Without knowing any of the details or the family dynamics, I would recommend that you and your son make the trip . Teaching that Family Obligations supercedes Personal Desires and Feelings is a lesson that needs to be taught our children.  Sacrificing what one want's or doesn't want to do is essential obligation for a healthy Family. Concern and caring for other family members over one's own desires is a lesson that must be learned, but is rarely even taught nowadays. This is a great opportunity to teach your son this precept. Your husband reached out to you and your son. Regardless of the husband's motivation, my initial response is for you two to make the five-hour trip. Avoiding conflict by avoiding contact and communication leads to short-term comfort, but long-term pain. It is good for him to go see his dad. There really is no other option when it comes to the Family. Relay that to your son as you pack your car.


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

smartmike59@gmail.com


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Meltdowns, Scratches, and Wrestling Matches: Dealing With the Brothers 3



QUESTION: 

Over the past year, we have spent more time together as a family at home. While some of this has been good, we have also seen conflict between our oldest boys, ages 4 and 6, increase.  Sometimes conflict is caused by the youngest boy, age 2, destroying a fort or a Lego creation. 

We have worked to let them solve problems by themselves, but this generally leads to a meltdown by one child, a verbal insult leading to hurt feelings, or a child getting physically hurt (like scratches and punches).  We know these conflicts are two sided, but are finding these conflicts harder to ignore.  In theory, we want to let the boys solve conflict on their own.  In reality, leaving them to themselves seems to lead to more chaos.  

We would love any suggestions on managing sibling conflict.  


ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS:

Do understand something: chaos ensues when there is a household involving three boys within two years of each other. It will be impossible for the parents to prevent the boys from getting hurt emotionally, and physically. And that's ok. Lighthearted wrestling matches will invariably happen, almost always ending with someone getting hurt. And that's ok, too. Allowance for some chaos is a great thing for boys. But let's at least organize the chaos a bit.      

Here is one strategy that has been successful in dealing with brotherly combat, with the aim being to help your boys learn conflict resolution. This is a takeoff from a John Rosemond strategy.    

First, post an index card on the refrigerator with these three sibling conflict rules and explain them to your children:

1. Don't disturb other family members with your conflicts. Keep them to yourselves.

2. NEVER ever get physical with one other. 

3. Do not complain/tattle to Mom or Dad about each other.  

And as far as you are concerned, Mom, try to avoid being the judge or referee in all conflicts between siblings. Let them figure it out. I do understand that there are occasions when things get extreme; or maybe ridiculously one-sided. But make your interventions rare. 

Second, create a Peace-Keeping Place.  Whenever there is a violation of any of the three sibling conflict rules, each child will want to rush to you and explain his/her side of the story, so each offender can claim Victimhood.  Do not listen, and instead send them to a Peace-Keeping Place. Just calmly say "we can discuss this later" and walk away, as they head to their special place.  This Peace-Keeping Place should be a small utility closet or laundry room, etc., devoid of any items that could cause physically harm if used improperly. Anything of entertainment value should be removed as well. A mostly barren room is a good PKP. Have them set an alarm clock for 10-30 minutes--or whatever amount you think is appropriate. During this time, they need to resolve the conflict. They must stay in the room until the alarm sounds, regardless of whether they have resolved the issue or not. If they still have not resolved the issue(which is highly unlikely) add another ten  minutes or so.  When their time is up, you could possibly assign 1 or more of them  an extra chore or an additional consequence as well, depending upon the level of offense--be creative.  Maybe have each write an apology letter to the other. Or have them all do the dishes together and sweep the floor, etc--which might prove interesting; yet very beneficial for you in the long run. Or maybe no additional consequence is needed.

A few addenda: You can even put just 1 or 2 in the PKP, depending on the situation. Also, If you sense one of the children is more guilty than the other(s), maybe a longer sentence for that individual alone in the PKP would work.  Also, if one of them leave the PKP to go to the restroom, get a drink, etc., the clock stops and doesn't resume until he is back in the room. In addition,  when they are initially told to go to the PKP, kids like to be a bit defiant, and dilly-dally. Give them 60 seconds to get to the room. If they don't get there in time, you can add a few minutes to their sentence. But always remain relaxed and calm; and make a vow to yourself to no longer micromanage conflicts.     

Additional option: Tell the boys that certain rooms in the house are rooms of quiet. Wrestling, loud talking or screen noises,etc., are not allowed in those designated Rooms of Quiet. This is designed to help you keep your sanity!   

Another option: THE GREAT OUTDOORS..... If your backyard allows the boys to go outdoors, throw the boys outside and lock the door behind them!(make sure they hit the lavatory first-ha!)...There is a lot more room to play outside, typically, as compared to inside. Early on they may try to come back in for this reason or that. Ignore and let them go enjoy the Great Outdoors! Call it a Nature Playdate. Weather should not matter unless there is thunder and lightning. Great way to wear down boys and let them be creative and burn off energy. An hour or two is not too long. Best of all, you get some peace!

When these ideas/strategies are employed and modified to fit your household, they work well. But these are strategies, designed to work for different stages in your boys' lives. The key is YOU: Do you respond to their nagging and complaining and tantrums? Do you cave because you are worried about their self-esteem? Are you constantly fretting about crushing their spirit? Or are you a firm, loving parent with solid boundaries for you children?

Prayer is another good resource, by the way :)

For further details regarding sibling conflict strategies, see the "Well-Behaved Child" by John Rosemond, or contact me at 

Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

smartmike59@gmail.com

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Creating a Gratitude Attitude



Photo by Alex Green from Pexels


 QUESTION:

My son is generally a good eater and has got out of bad behavior when it comes to the food he is given because he doesn’t have to eat if he doesn’t want to, but he is not allowed to give his opinion (if negative), but he knows he will not be allowed to eat anything else until he has eaten the prepared meal. 

However, the manners are still lacking when it comes to thanking me for cooking and I have to remind him to thank me. We do not eat out regularly but I would like this habit instilled so that when we do, he can thank the person who cooked if we are at somebody’s home or waitress at the restaurant without being prompted. 

I am a single parent so I don’t have another adult to role play with or set an example with as easily. 


ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS:

I LOVE the emphasis on manners that you are keen on establishing in your home. That's an emphasis that has gradually waned in most homes that last several decades. You also seem right on target as far as guidelines for your son  eating the prepared meal. 

    You are right: at some point, your son should be able to learn to say " thank you" to you for cooking and preparing the food for his meals WITHOUT having to be prompted. My guess is that you have to remind him most every meal. There are several ways to tackle this--here's one: Have a few of his favorite desserts on hand and tell your son that you will have dessert after each evening meal this week--but towards the end of each meal, he must thank you for preparing and cooking the food that day. When dessert is served, serve yourself first, and if he hasn't thanked you yet, then sit down and eat. At that point it is too late for his thank you, even if he realizes his omission and chirps a quick "thank you."  Just say to him with a relaxed smile, "Sorry, Son, too late--let's try again tomorrow. I'm sure you will remember to be thankful then. Boy, this Cookies N Cream ice cream is tasty! "

 There are several other strategies that may be equally effective, but the point is this: Whatever strategy you use, It's gotta hurt a bit. Nagging and prompting and reminding doesn't "hurt" at all.  One other thing to remember: Make sure as you interact with your son and with other friends and strangers that YOU set the example and model good manners as well. He will definitely notice, eventually. Role-modeling good verbal manners is probably the most effective tool, anyway.  


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

smartmike59@gmail.com

Friday, January 1, 2021

Eight-year old Eccentricities

 

Image by Susanne Westpahl from Pixabay


QUESTION:

My 8 year old daughter periodically does strange and destructive things (for example she has chewed on her dresser, etched her initials into her bathroom faucet, drew on the wall). I’ve always chalked it up to boredom or curiosity and disciplined as it happened. We just found out she has been pooping in the shower. She said it was because she had to go badly and didn’t want to get out wet and go to the toilet. She has no bowel or medical issues, and she owned up to it when confronted. She is otherwise pleasant and non-defiant. She’s been diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD, but we do not medicate and she does not have behavior problems at school. It almost seems like she doesn’t think through things like this and why she shouldn’t do them. I have no idea how to address this or discipline her for this other than to make her clean the bathtub herself. Please help!


ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS:

One thing is for sure: at some point in his/her young life, every child will lay claim to some behavioral peculiarities. The vast majority of these oddities should be no cause for concern for parents because the child outgrows these singular traits over time. The best practice would be to ignore much of those minor quirks.  But when it involves property or personal destruction---you cannot ignore those things. 

      When I  hear of a young child with anxiety issues, I immediately look at the parent. So my question to you is: Do YOU calamitize and overdramatize small issues? Do YOU become overly concerned and anxious yourself about things of somewhat lesser import? Or do you model a calm, poised, content demeanor? Your daughter's behaviors may continue if you make a big deal out of them. So next time your daughter chews on a piece of furniture or does her business again in the shower----without any detailed explanations or discussion, and in as few a words as possible, tell her to clean up her mess, and to come see you when she is done. Then walk away. Then when she comes to see you, levy a punishment that she won't soon forget. It must be a memorable one that causes her to NOT repeat the offense. Then refrain from discussing it  anymore.  Memorable offenses could include loss of screen privileges for 3 weeks; early bedtime for two or three weeks; not being with friends for two weeks, etc..........

       The fact that she is typically "pleasant and non-defiant" with no behavior problems at school should be comforting to you. Those things are bigger issues than her periodic behavioral quirks. This makes me think that you have nothing to worry about; that she will grow out of this stage sooner rather than later. It also makes me believe that her anxiety and ADHD diagnoses are of minimal concern--as long as YOU forgo modeling overly-distressed behaviors. Kudos for not medicating her, by the way.

Keep me updated.


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

smartmike59@gmail.com


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Mealtime Mania

 


QUESTION: 

Our youngest daughter is ten years old. She will not sit at the dinner table without scowling, covering her ears or slamming her hand on the table because she thinks her father chews too loudly. This behavior started about 3 months ago when we began eating meals together at home three times daily because of covid. We still eat dinner together now and occasionally breakfast. We have tried every form of punishment-taking away her food, sending her to her room, —and she can’t seem to sit peacefully and enjoy dinner. Would love to hear what Mr. Rosemond would recommend. 


ADVICE/ SUGGESTIONS:

One of the reasons your daughter makes a big deal out of the mealtime--is it possibly because YOU give too much credence to her negative attention-getting behavior?  The Family Meal should be a peaceful place with no complaining/scowling/other antics, with edifying conversation, and with the eating of food; a Family Connection time. Because your daughter disrupts the Family Connection, she needs to not be a part of it for the time being. Next mealtime, and thereafter until you see fit, give her her meal alone--maybe fifteen minutes or so before the Family Meal. Put a little spoonful or two of everything you made on her plate, tell her it's time to eat, plop her plate down in front of her and leave the  room; come back in ten minutes and if she has eaten everything, give her seconds of anything that was served. If she throws a tantrum or a fit of sorts that can't be ignored during her alone mealtime, she will be dismissed and sent to her room, with an earlier bedtime, and  with no snacks the rest of the day. If she is not done eating when you come back after ten minutes to check on her, give her another five minutes. Whatever you do, don't allow her to finish eating during the Family Mealtime.  Don't get upset;  be poised, smile, and ignore any mild misbehaviors, if possible. The more credence you give to her mealtime antics, the more she will continue to do them. When there is no audience for her tantrums, etc., and when hunger sets in---she will get the picture, good behavior will return, and she will be able to join the Family Meal again. But she needs to prove to you that she can behave consistently well during her early alone mealtimes, before she rejoins the rest of the family. My suggestion: seven-to-ten A+ behavior early alone mealtimes in a row--before she rejoins. Note: Missing a meal or two--or going without snacks can be a good thing. Hunger is a great motivator for good behavior. Discussing her behaviors in a thoughtful civil way is fine, but do it only when the Iron is Cold, say at bedtime.  (Thanks to John and Sarah for some helpful insights). 


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"  

smartmike59@gmail.com

Sunday, October 18, 2020

3D Snapshot of the Mien of a Tween: not a Pretty Picture

 


QUESTION:

My 12 year old son is stealing money out of my purse. He has a long history of defiance, sneakiness, and lying. He is also disrespectful, and disobedient. 

We suspect he's been stealing money for many months, although we've just now confirmed that he definitely is. We don't know what to do. He is currently already in trouble for defiance, and he has no door on his room, and he spends the majority of time in his room as a form of discipline. We are at the end of our ropes. 


ADVICE/ SUGGESTION:

 In addition to the BIG 3 D's (Defiance, Disobedience, and Disrespect), as well as sneakiness, lying ,and stealing--your preteen son sounds like he is fully expressing his sinful nature with which he was born. It sounds like any discipline strategy being employed is not working, and that this has been an ongoing issue. The fact that he has had a "long history" of several of these behavioral matters, AND the fact that he is on the precipice of entering the tumultuous teen years indicates that these difficulties may get worse before they get better . You need someone to walk you through effective strategies, leadership techniques, an efficacious, loving, discipline philosophy--basically, an organized simple plan that transfers the burden of his misbehavior to the offender(your son) and not to the parents. You have too many issues for me to deal with in this Q and A forum.  So here is my answer: HIRE A PARENTING COACH, asap!.....I will be glad to help you if you would like to get in touch with me; and there are many other capable coaches on this website as well. For you to enjoy your son's teenage years; and to ensure a more calmer, serene home environment, an investment of a few hundred dollars is ever so worth it. Please consider it. 


Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

937-925-6136 or smartmike59@gmail.com

On-Fleek Slang a bit too Woke for Momma

 QUESTIONS: I have a 14 year old boy that talks nonsense incessantly. He is a good-natured kid, and I don’t think he speaks out of malice. H...