The Circle of Moms site will be discontinued on March 1st, 2020. Head to POPSUGAR Family's Facebook page for more community discussions.

Let's Go >>

Respect4Kids

http://www.respect4kids.com

Tips, hints, advice and relating to children in a respectful manner.

What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to a new mom (or mom-to-be)?

Sean Eckenrod

It’s funny, but when I got the request to offer my top 3 pieces of advice to new moms, I thought it would be easy. Once I started to write, I found otherwise because 3 is a very small number. That said, there are number of ideas which I think can offer a framework for peace, love and happiness. Here goes…. 1.) Consider your child’s point of view The first piece of advice would be to try to see things from a child’s point of view. This may sound easy, but when your child is testing gravity with a bowl of spaghetti or simply decorating your wall with a Sharpie, it is not. I think it is also important to assume the best. While you may feel (and be told, and have heard, and think) that kids are ‘testing you’, I do not think that is true. You are not their project. They are their project, and assuming the best intentions can go a long way toward heading off antagonism between you and them. In addition, consider you requests. Is your request realistic with regard to their age, your motivation, or the situation at hand? For instance, is it realistic to expect a child of two to sit still and be quiet for an hour? What is their point of view? 2.) Language is your tool of communication with your child Talk less and ask more. We parents have a habit of doing monologues which are great for epic poems, but terrible for communicating with children. Kids are not stupid. When you need to correct, which is far less than your tongue may think, keep it short and to the point. I think it is also important to use language precisely. For instance, don’t say ‘you need to stop writing on the wall’. That is not true. They already wrote on the wall because they needed to. Say ‘I don’t want you to write on the wall because….’ Starting sentences with ‘I’ versus ‘you’ is a simple method to start explanations on the right foot. Say yes or find a ‘yes’ as often as possible. Believe me, from child’s point of view, life can appear to be one giant NO. Don’t’ touch, don’t eat that, don’t do that, stop it…. When they want ice cream right before dinner, instead of saying ‘no’, say ‘we are not eating ice cream now, but yes, we can have some after dinner’. Find a ‘yes’. 3.) Put the relationship first and love unconditionally In the long term, being right moment to moment is far less important than your connection to your child. You do not need to prove to them you are always right, nor showboat about that fact if you are proven so. In addition, admit when you are wrong. We all have plenty of opportunities.  It is important in this respect to be authentic and not project. When you are having a bad day, remember that when their cry seems louder than normal or when it seems they are ‘testing you’ today. They are not. At some point, other people and maybe family members will judge you deficient as a parent. It is important for your child to know they do not embarrass you, and that you support them. If you want them to tell grandma about their art project, but they will not speak, the appropriate response is ‘he doesn’t want to talk right now...maybe later’ not ‘come on, what is wrong with you?’ And lastly, there is little doubt you will love your child unconditionally, but they need experience the love that way. Love and affection should not have to be earned, and love withdrawal should not be used as a weapon of behavior modification. Praise may sound positive, but children know it cuts both ways so offer it with care and connection. Time outs are widely used, but they are huge connection breakers, and I would say, highly ineffective and probably destructive. My daughters are now 9 and 6. It has been 5 years since I used any punishment (timeouts or otherwise), or blackmail (if you are good, we can). We have no refrigerator list of do and donts, and focus on thinking versus rules. It is possible, and immensely more peaceful. In summary, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all trying our best.
View All Answers

What's the best parenting advice your mom gave you?

Sean Eckenrod

I would say the best advice I received was to offer choices. If anyone is told exactly what to do, they will push back so give options and you get less 'no!'. That said, I would say that sometimes having the fortitude to NOT take parental advice can be just as powerful. At some point, especially when under pressure, you will probably hear yourself sound like your parents. It is a natural reaction. That does not mean we should parent like them with no thought to whether it is the right thing to do. We can love our parents and not agree with them. We can respect them and still parent in a way which they disagree with...
View All Answers

Under what circumstances, if any, is spanking acceptable to you?

Sean Eckenrod

Never. Period. Of course, we don't even punish. No timeouts, no blackmail (do this or else I'll take that away), no threats (if you don't!), and no punishments. Physical intimidation and 'punishment' is never for anyone's own good.
View All Answers

What is your definition of an overscheduled child?

Sean Eckenrod

It depends on age. The Pythagorean answer is if 20 minus their age is less than the amount of free time in hours they have per week. In other words, I like an amount of free time which would probably require your child to NOT be a professional 'something'. Of course, if the child loves what they are doing, then can they be overscheduled? Seriously though, this is a tough one to state as a rule. I do think think that free, undersupervised, disorganized, unstructured time is what teaches people to not get bored and encourages dynamic creativity.
View All Answers

How do you get a fidgety or unfocused child to sit and do homework?

Sean Eckenrod

Is the question the right question? Or could the question be whether the homework is interesting or meaningful? Put another way, does your request make sense or does your homework make sense? If most parents are honest about it, they find that a lot of school work is just not very good. It is why the 'smarter than a 5th grader' is funny. By 5th grade, kids have been forced to learn a lot of stuff they will never use and will forget. Can you make that meaningful so doing it does not make one fidgety and unfocused? Any human forced to do a task they find pointless will be such.
View All Answers