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What Are Your Children Doing After School?

August 20th, 2014 - Category: Communication

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According to studies, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex.

With that in mind, do you sense a concern when you know that 15 million kids return to an empty home after school?

That being said, sometimes circumstances can’t be helped and there may be times when your kids will be the ones left alone until you can return home. Have you prepared them for when that time comes?

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few tips to consider for your kids until you return.

 

1. SET Expectations, Goals, Rewards & Penalties … No matter the age of your children or what you are trying to do with them, it’s important to have them understand what you expect. You must also set real goals, rewards for a job well done, and penalties if something goes wrong.

 

2. DETERMINE the “Trust Factor” … On a scale of 1-5, how much do you trust your child to be home unattended? If the number is 1, you will need to keep your child busy, and possibly, set some high penalties if something goes wrong. If the number is 5, give your child enough tasks to remain productive and grow your trust.

 

3. TALK to Your Children Regularly … There is no such thing as over-communication when it comes to parents and kids. Have conversations with the entire family together and use dinner or breakfast as the time to catch up or discuss what’s going on or coming up.

 

4. FILL The Time … Set a schedule for your children so that each day is different and the projects fit their ages. Make sure there is enough for your child to do during the time he/she is left unattended at home. Also build in time for a short break so your children have time to unwind from a tough day at school. Again, depending on the age and “trust factor”, the amount of time that needs to be filled can vary.

 

5.  FOLLOW Through … No matter whether your children do a great job or a poor one, you must follow through with the rewards or penalties. Kids are smart enough to know whether a parent will stand by their word or not and whether there is any bite behind that bark. This is about teaching your children work ethic, responsibility and accountability, so praise and reward them for a job well done and remain strongly committed to the penalty you set for failing to meet the expectations.

 

Becoming A Better Listener

November 13th, 2012 - Category: Communication

What was that?  Oh, you want to become a better listener?  Listening is an important skill that we use all the time.  Unfortunately, research suggests that we only remember 25-50% of what we hear, and that number can decrease by another 25% if the person we are listening to is a child.  Listening better will not only help us understand our children, but it will guide them to become better listeners themselves.  As parents, listening can take a conscious effort that is well worth it.  Here are some tips to remember the next time your children want to talk.

Remove Distractions

Life is all about multi-tasking, except when it comes to listening.  Stop what you are doing, turn toward your child, and give them your full attention to show them respect.

Be Present Mentally

Now that you have gotten rid of all of the external distractions, next get rid of the internal ones.  Clear your mind, focus, and pay attention to what’s being said.  Listen to what is being communicated now, instead of thinking ahead in the conversation or formulating counter arguments.

Let Them Finish

This can be especially hard with a little one that can’t speak well.  It is very tempting to finish their sentence for them.   Instead encourage them with a nod of your head to let them know you are listening and to continue.

Don’t Assume or Judge

Let them tell you their side of every story.  Have an open mind.  If you immediately criticize or judge, then they will stop talking.

Look Behind the Words

Pay attention to their facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and choice of words to get more out of the conversation.

Ask Questions

Instead of butting in with your comments, use questions to be able to better understand them.  Use questions to gather more information.  Paraphrase to make sure you are hearing what they are meaning to say.

Now, just how can listening relate to kids and chores?   Listening better can improve your ability to influence, persuade, and negotiate.  Listening better can help you avoid conflict and misunderstandings.  Listening better can help you have that extra edge when it comes to kids and chores.   Listen to them, and you may be surprised at what you were missing all along!

If you have any suggestions on how to listen to your children better, or how listening helped with your kids and chores, feel free to share them with us here at MyJobChart.com.  We’re all in this together, and we could all use some encouragement and insight on what works for your family.

Praise Kids

August 17th, 2012 - Category: Communication

Have you ever had one of those days when you look back and can’t remember if you said  thank you to your son for taking out the garbage or if you praised your daughter for getting an “A” on her report?

We all know that kids as well as adults like to be praised.  Praise can lift our spirits and encourage us to do more and do better.  It gives us an idea of what the other one expects and if we have met those expectations.

Kids want to please their parents.  If they feel like they are a failure or they can’t do anything right, they may shut down or stop trying.  As a parent, making sure our children know they are doing what is right, and that they are pleasing us keeps them on track and headed in the right direction.

Here are some easy ideas to help you increase the praise in your home.

Praise them verbally.  Tell them what a great job they did and be specific.

Give praise immediately if possible, but later is better than not at all.   They will still be aware that you noticed and you were impressed.

Say “thank you”. Even though chores are expected to be done, children like to know that what they do, is appreciated.

Point out when they have done something without being asked, or when they have gone above and beyond what was expected of them.

Put notes in their lunch.   Even something as easy as writing with a sharpie on their sandwich bag, means that you took the time to acknowledge them.

Use a window marker and leave notes on their bathroom mirror.  Leave it there for a couple of days so that others can see it too.

Praise them in front of others.

Text your child.  Older kids aren’t home as often, but even if they aren’t home and you realize they did a great job at something, let them know when you notice.

Leave a note on My Job ChartMy Job Chart has a place where parents and children can leave notes for each other.  Use the “Note From Parent” feature to praise and acknowledge what your child has done and what a good job they did.

And lastly, be sincere.  Even children can tell when you aren’t telling the truth.  It may take some thought, but there is always something that deserves praise.  Give it generously.

How to Share Parenting Responsibilities

May 7th, 2010 - Category: Communication

How do you decide who changes the next poopy diaper? How about who gets to wake up in the middle of the night and hold the baby or who gets to pick up the kids from school on Wednesday. I’m sure we can all remember times when these conversations have come up. Am I right?

So I guess the real question is, how do you share parenting responsibilities so that things are fair and that both you and your spouse equally participate in the rearing of your children? Here we discuss some of the keys to ensuring that the weight of parenting is shared equally by both Mother and Father.

Mothers Feeling Neglected

It’s easy to share the laughs, smiles and successes of your children. It’s a lot of fun to watch them grow and develop new skills together. But, what about when it comes to the harder stuff. It’s really easy, especially for new mothers, to feel like there is an unequal distribution of responsibility between you and your spouse. Mothers most often are home with the kids dealing with all that goes on throughout the day while the husband is out to work dealing with adults, and other “grown-up” decisions.

Because usually there is one parent who doesn’t spend as much time at home, it’s important for the one who does to not feel like they are getting the raw end of the deal. A better way to go about it is to determine what responsibilities are split during the time when you are BOTH at home.

Make Sure Everyone is in the Know

Communicate freely with your spouse about what specific jobs or responsibilities each of you will take on during those few short moments in the morning before work and the 4 or 5 hours after work before everyone is in bed. When each is in agreement, then  there is nothing left on the table and no one is left wondering or complaining about what is to be done.

Can My Job Chart Help Parents Share the Load?

It may even be appropriate to a chore chart for each other using My Job Chart. A few of our users have already done  this. You could set up a separate account where you can manage your own chores for each other. When you check off your chores you could  give each other points and reward yourselves by hiring a baby sitter and having a nice night on the town. The possibilities are endless.

However you decide to share the load, be sure that both you and your spouse are completely in agreement with what each of your responsibilities are before just “expecting” each other to do something. There will be times of frustration but by being in complete awareness of the specific tasks that each of you have you can work through the hard times with greater ease.

Thanks for reading. We appreciate everyone’s support of My Job Chart and we hope you’re all enjoying this great online  tool. We hope you’re enjoying the blog posts so far. Please let us know if there is anything you’d like to see. Also, let us know when you think we’re wrong. We know that it is YOU who are the real parents with real situations so keep us on our toes when something we say doesn’t line up with how you see it in real life :)

Happy parenting!

Parent Communication | Teen Parent Communication

April 6th, 2010 - Category: Communication

Good parent communication with teens continues to diminish. Oftentimes, one of the most difficult and stressful stages in life as a parent is during your child’s teen years. Hormones run wild, preference for spending time with friends over family is almost always the case, bad influences from peers are ever present, and a host of other realities make it difficult to establish a sound level of communication with your teen.

Let’s see if you can relate to this scenario. Your teenage boy walks in the house. He’s just getting home from school. You ask, “Hey Jeff, how was school today?” He replies, “fine.” Jeff, without pausing for a second, heads straight upstairs to his room and locks the door. Has this ever happened to you in any way shape or form? If it has, congratulations, your family may be normal!

What Can We Do?

Though communication between teens and their parents is not as effective as it should be in many homes throughout the world, this doesn’t mean there is not hope and it definitely does not mean that you should give up as a parent and simply say, “It’s normal. He’ll get over it. There’s nothing I can do.” In fact, there are a number of things you can do as a parent to more effectively communicate with your teen and, more importantly, it is essential that you continue to try. By establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your teen, you may be able to notice behaviors and receive information from him/her that will enable you to protect them from potentially dangerous situations that always present themselves during these critical years of important decisions.

Don’t Overreact

As a teenager, your child will inevitably want to become more independent. This is a normal stage of development and with it may come a decrease in the amount of information your child will want to share with you. You can help yourself during this stage by changing the way you think about your relationship with your child. Instead of being the “rule maker/enforcer” or “opposing force,” take a more friendly approach.

Show Genuine Interest

Make an effort to be sincerely interested in whatever your child wants to be involved in. Whether it by extracurricular activities, friends, homework, future career plans, or hobbies, make sure your teenager knows that you care about him and that your are ALSO interested in those things (even if you really aren’t). You ARE interested in your child so you, by default, need to be interested in what they are doing. For example, if Jeff likes to work on cars and loves mechanics, do some researching and find out about mechanics and cars so that when Jeff is ready to talk to you about what he’s doing, you’ll be able to respond and hold a meaningful conversation with him rather than just saying, “I wish you’d spend less time on that old clunker and more time on your homework.” This is not effective communication.

Avoid Power Struggles

If you are your teenagers friend, you will not engage in arguments where both sides are trying to gain control. Avoid these situations at all costs. Instead, talk to them as you would your best friend when you were their age.

Catch Your Teenager Doing Something Right

Instead of always looking for negative things that you can bug your teen about and tell him/her to get better at, look for things they are doing that are good and make sure they know that you notice it and are proud of them. Pessimism will never lead to good attitudes or happy lifestyles. By being optimistic and looking for the good in your child, you will help them increase their confidence and their likelihood of wanting to share their accomplishments with you in the future.

Look, Listen, and Don’t Talk Too Much

We’ve emphasized the importance of listening in previous posts regarding communication, and it is no different with teenagers. Listening is vital to establishing a relationship of trust between you and your teen. Look them in the eye, confirm that you understand what they are saying, and don’t respond with long drawn-out answers. Try not to solve all the problems. Sometimes just saying, “I’m sorry. That sounds horrible. I can see why that would make you upset.” is more effective than, “What!? Why were doing that in the first place.”

The bottom line is this: be their friend, don’t judge, make eye contact, don’t force, stay calm, and genuinely love your teenager. They are facing a tough world and are in an important time of transition in their life from childhood to adulthood. This can be a very exciting time and it can also be very scary. If you are their friend, you can enjoy the good times with them and help them through the hard times.

Please leave you thoughts on communicating with teenagers in the comment section below. I’d like to hear some success stories. Til next time… Happy parenting!

Parent Communication | Speaking With Your Toddler

April 3rd, 2010 - Category: Communication

We’ve discussed some basics about how to effectively communicate with our children in the previous post. Now, we would like to dive in a little deeper and look at how communication works between parent and children and different stages of life.

We communicate differently depending on the stage of life or current circumstances we’re placed under. Likewise, children of different age groups communicate differently. In order to understand how we as parents can effectively communicate with our children we need to understand how communication works at the different stages of life. In this post, we will talk about toddler-parent communication. How can we effectively talk with and listen to our 2-5 year old.

Read to Your Toddler

Whether or not your child has learned to speak, it is never a bad idea to take 10 minutes before bedtime to read with them. By reading to them, they get used to hearing spoken language in complete and grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. They are able to hear words and phrases repeatedly the way they are supposed to sound and in the right context. This will not only do wonders in helping your child learn to speak faster, but it will also create a relationship between you and your young child. He/she will become familiar with your voice and it will be of comfort to them. This can aid in helping the child be more comfortable speaking with you once he/she does finally learn to speak.

Talk With Your Toddler

From birth, it is essential that you talk to your child. Talk with them about everything. Share your day with them, tell them your plans for tomorrow and how they fit in to your plans. Tell them what they will be doing and where they will be going. Play games with them and have imaginary outings with them. Have a tea party or play house with them and tell them what their roles are. You can even speak for them when you ask them questions. This helps the child be engaged in two-way conversations early on and will aid them in effectively communicating with you vocally in the future.

Recognize Non-Verbal Signals

Before children can speak, they will try to communicate with you in order to get your attention about something they need or want. Their are a number of non-verbal signs or signals that you can look for when trying to understand what your child is trying to communicate to you. Some of these might include: crying, grimacing, somber or blank facial expressions, stiffening muscles, a tightfisted grasp that doesn’t release, an arched back that pulls away, averting eyes, and turning away. Some babies give clear signals that are easy to read. Others require a closer look. A subtle shift in facial expressions or turning away of the head may signal anxiety that will soon build to a cry.

It’s important for parents to pay attention to each of these expressions and what they mean to the child. In this way, you will know how to respond to them when the expression comes out again.

Encouraging and Correcting Your Toddler

Children usually begin to start saying words from ages 1.5 to 2 years old. However, most often, they will begin by saying words that might slightly resemble the word they are trying to say but couldn’t be made out by someone that wasn’t around them everyday. Words like “wa wa,” “da da” and “mum” may come out of your child’s mouth often. When you hear a word come out that is wrong but you understand what the toddler is trying to say, say, “yes, that’s right, WATER.” You encourage your child for trying to speak and then restate the correct way to say the word.

Make Eye Contact With Your Toddler

Just as eye contact is important with grown up conversations, it is equally important with parent-toddler communication. Look your child in the eye when you are speaking with them. This lets them know they have your undivided attention and they feel like they are of importance to you.

What are other ways in which you communicate with your toddler. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, if you have not, please subscribe to the Parenting Tips Blog for frequent articles on parenting.

Parent Communication | How to Effectively Communicate with Your Children

March 30th, 2010 - Category: Communication

Communication is so key in every type of human relationship. It is how we express ourselves and it is how we understand the expressions of others. To communicate is to effectively portray ones feelings to another. We want others to understand the way we feel so we have developed common signals (verbal or non-verbal) amongst ourselves in order to be able to share those feelings. I like this quote from the wikipedia communication page.

“Although there is such a thing as one-way communication, communication can be perceived better as a two-way process in which there is an exchange and progression of thoughts, feelings or ideas (energy) towards a mutually accepted goal or direction (information).”

Our children wish to express their feelings to us as parents. Sometimes, however, we limit ourselves in trying to recognize the types of symbols that our children use which can sometimes be vastly different than how grown ups communicate. Likewise, children are often confused at the way we strive to communicate with them. This is not because they are at a  ”lesser level” than us, but simply that our ways of communication are different from each other.

Communication and Age

It’s important to remember that your 3 year old toddler will require a different type of communication than your teenage boy. A series of future posts will discuss some of the specific ways in which we should communicate with our children at the varying different stages of their lives.

Be aware however, that the same basic principles of communication apply to nearly all age groups. I found this great article that discusses some of the basics of good parent/child communication. It lists some very key things to remember such as: not towering over your child when speaking to him, don’t ask “why” but rather ask “what happened,” turning off the television or putting down the newspaper when your child is speaking, don’t use put-down words like “dumb” or “stupid,” and many others that are essential in effectively communicating with your kids.

Listen and Learn From Your Kids

You would be surprised at some of the things you can learn from your kids, the stories they tell and the things they do and say. Listening is one of the most important components of effective communication. If the person that is sharing their feelings does not feel like the receiver is listening, they may feel like their ideas are not important to that person and they will be less likely to share their feelings with them in the future.

Getting Your Kids to Talk to You

You children need to know that you care. Many parents complain that they cannot get their kids to say a word to them. Though they try and try, the child never seems willing to share their thoughts with them. This is very common and usually stems from previous repeated occurrences of the parent(s) not showing interest in their children.

Please don’t be taken back by this if you are in this type of situation. Most parents REALLY DO want to know what their children are thinking and be involved in their lives, but many times we don’t know how to effectively communicate that to the child. Here are some helpful hints that may help bring out the emotions and feelings your child has to share.

  • ask open ended questions (what did you think about that? How did that make you feel?… avoid using “why?”)
  • Do not be judgmental. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes and ask them to explain the situation and how they felt when certain things happened.)
  • Re-state what you understand about their story so they know you are listening and to ensure you understand them correctly
  • Learn about the things your child is interested in. This helps you understand them better. By your being interested in the same things, you can become their friend and not just a parent and they will want to share things with you with less hesitation.
  • Be patient. Do not interrupt them and don’t prod them to speak more. Allow them to explain things at their own pace and in their own time.
  • Ask specific questions about specific topics. Instead of asking, “How was school today?’ you might consider asking, “what did you study today in history?”
  • Refrain from giving advice unless your child specifically asks for it.
  • Sympathize with your child. If they say they hate school, remember when you used to hate school too and express your sympathy for them. This will help them open up about more specifics as to why they stated that they hate school in the first place.

These are just a few of the many tips and topics of discussion that we could bring up regarding communication and getting your children to freely speak with you. Look for more posts on communication in the future and please share with us your ideas on parent communication and how to effectively communicate with your children.