Tag Archives: parenting

To Be Or Not To Be

do-not-want

Just a quick thought today… in the form of a question:

Are you a great spouse & parent, or are you just not a bad one?

In other words…

Are you the spouse and/or parent you were created to be… or are you just the product of a list of things you have committed never to be?

There is a difference.

I realized a while back that though it was a good thing to have a list of things I never wanted to do or be with my wife and kids… basing my goals exclusively on what I want NOT to do was limiting my potential as a husband and father.

How can you become all you were meant to be if you’re focused more on what you don’t want to be rather than what you could be?

I don’t want the best I can be to just be a good version of someone else from my past. I want my best to be all that God wants for me to be.

Confused much? Holler at me in the comments if you get me.

Creating a Weekly Schedule for Pre-Schoolers

schedule_clipart 450x300

Recently my wife and I did an episode of Geek Loves Nerd focused on creating a schedule to keep our two pre-school aged kids busy during the week. I started working on the schedule the day after it recorded. Little did I know at the time that Jenn and I would be switching places and the schedule I was creating would become my new bible so to speak.

I thought I would share a little bit of how I came up with the schedule (which is still in the works and has yet to be tested properly). Subscribe to the RSS Feed to get more on this topic as it comes available.

1. I started with the events that were set in stone.

The kids get up at 7:30am every morning. Preschool is Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Staff meeting is always on Tuesday mornings and Lunch comes around every day along with dinner and church is at the same time every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Once I dropped those set events in my schedule…

2. I started thinking about necessary things we need to do during the week.

There are things that need to be taken care of weekly that aren’t tied down to a set time or day. I’m talking about baths, naps, snacks, chores, grocery shopping and housework. This step is the one I figure will require the most amount of tweaking as I try out the schedule. Once I have these events filled in…

3. The remaining time can be filled with play, activities, free time or other constructive activities.

You’ll notice in my sample schedule below… I haven’t quite filled in all of the Open Time blocks yet. That’s because I’m still trying to find enough to do to keep us busy. My goal is to have something different every day of the week during the same times. So if the morning open time is for inside play… I’m going to have five to six different toys or games that I keep and only bring out on that day to play with them. So maybe Monday is lego day and there is this huge collection of Legos they can only use on Mondays. Tuesdays is Playdoh day… and so on. If I keep the toys during the week, they stay fresh and special. If I play along with them, the toys not only last longer… the time is better spent and constructive.

I want to do the same with outdoor play and outside events. I want to have at least 6-10 outdoor activities I can do with the kids… in warm and cold weather. I also need to come up with places we can go that are cheap/free during the week.

As you can see, this is still a work in progress. I welcome any input or tips in the comments. Stay tuned for the continuing saga that is Geek Loves Nerd!

Sample Weekly Schedule

Monday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime

Tuesday

7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Leave for Staff Meeting
9:30am Staff Meeting
(If No Staff)
8:30am Outside activity
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Wednesday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Open Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
6:00pm Dinner
6:30pm Leave for Church
7:30pm Church
9:30pm Bedtime
Thursday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
8:30am Outside activity
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Friday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime
Saturday
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Sunday
7:30am Leave for Church
9:00am Church
2:00pm Lunch
2:30pm Nap Time
4:00pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime

Playing Play-Doh With The Kids

playdoh

I remember when it was just play-doh… and that was it. Now they’ve got so many gadgets that I’ve noticed that we don’t ever just shape things ourselves. I challenged Jenna to make a dog without any tools. She did great… but obviously wasn’t pleased with the outcome. She started clumping bits and pieces of doh around his body then said laughing, “He’s stuck in a bush!”

In a small way it’s inspiring. Though she wasn’t happy with the outcome, she didn’t get frustrated, she turned it into something she could enjoy and share with others. That took creativity, positivity and humor.

All from playing play-doh.

Remember To Enjoy Your Children

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Sometimes parenting can feel like more of a chore than a blessing. Especially with young kids. Keeping them out of trouble and busy can easily become a chore than takes up your entire day. If we’re not careful we run the risk of herding them and caring for them but secretly resenting them for taking up all of our time.

I’m finding that one of the keys to successful parenting is to be selfless. I find that when I decide a the beginning of the day that I’m going to put every one else’s needs first, then I’m not surprised by the demands of my preschoolers. I’m not disappointed by how much work it is.

Children are not chores to be done. Neither are they tasks to be completed. They are little humans who need our care and our love. As an added bonus they’re cute and funny. Make a choice today to find enjoyment in your children. What makes each one special and unique? Revel in that today. Our children are gifts from God. Yeah they can be a pain… but they’re capable of bringing joy as well.

5 Simple Ways To Make Your Kids Feel Special

5. Draw them a picture

Think of all the times they’ve drawn pictures for you. It’s how they show you they love you. Drawing you and them standing hand-in-hand with your house in the background… maybe put the dog in there. It’s a great way to let your youngun know how you feel about them. If you really don’t want to bother, let me draw you a picture for them!

4. Take them on a date

If you have a ton of kids, take them two at a time… but if you only have a few, set up a time where it’s just you and them out on the town. Take them out to eat, get dessert, then a movie or just go shopping. It’s a great way to bond and it makes them the center of your world with none of the distractions of home around to bother you.

3. Talk about them to others

There is nothing I loved more as a child than to overhear my mom talking me up to her friends. It only happened a few times that I remember… but I remember each one to this day. She’d talk about how I was bringing my grades up. How I was such a good artist for my age. She’d brag on my improving behavior. Not only will you kids’ heart soar… they will want to impress you even further!

2. Let them help you

If you’re still lucky enough to have kids that want to help you around the house… let them! Yes it’s more difficult and will take a lot more time… but they want to help! That’s priceless! Not only are you teaching them the benefits of work by making it fun… it’s develops a part of your relationship that nothing else can. It makes you a team. Your child feels they are side-by-side with you, for just that moment… it makes them feel big. It gives them a preview of adulthood… and a good one at that. They’ll learn from you and they’ll want to grow up just like you.

1. Tell them you love them

I casually tell my kids I love them all the time. But once in a while I literally hold my girl’s head in my hands and stare deep into her eyes and say, “Girl, I love you so much.” She’s 4 and a half… and she tears up almost every time.

I grew up without most of the things on this list. Chances are you missed out too. I strive to raise my kids the way I wanted to be raised. They’re so much like me already. It’s going to be awesome seeing them become more than I ever could because they’re getting what they need now. Let’s all commit to giving what we didn’t receive.

Attention Geek Husbands: The key to unlimited playtime revealed.

The key to getting to do whatever you want is to outwork your wife… or at least try.

Clean the house, bathe the kids, do the dishes and the floors… then go play video games and see if she says anything. I have discovered this great power recently and I want to share it with you. It’s not easy to do because it actually feels at first like you’ll never get another free moment again in your life… but I believe that very feeling is what most of our wives feel every moment. Once they know we feel it too we become unified. The goal isn’t to equalize the work… but to be willing to do even more. So quit keeping score… and you will find that there is more time for the things you love to do than you ever thought possible. Guilt-free time… which is precious and rare.

Do you like bullet lists? I do:

  • Become completely selfless.
  • Set a goal to outwork your spouse.
  • Commit at least three days to this goal before cashing in.
  • Make it a part of your daily schedule… not just a one time thing.
  • Game on!

You’ll also find other benefits… like a cleaner home, a calmer wife, happier kids, more enjoyment of your free time. The list goes on. Try it today!

Husbands and Dads… what kind of things do you do around the house to bless your wife and kids? Share in the comments!

Expected & Rewardable Behavior: When to reward a child’s good behavior and when not to.

Natural Rewards & Consequences

Children, at their core, are simple creatures. They’re not so different from us. Behavior that has benefits to them is repeated. Behavior that has negative consequences are not. Two simple categories right? Yes… but they both apply in two ways. Let me break it down like this:

  • Good behaviors that have naturally occurring benefits will be repeated.
  • Good behaviors that have naturally occurring (seemingly) negative consequences will not be repeated.
  • Bad behaviors that have a naturally occurring benefit will be repeated.
  • Bad behaviors that have a naturally occurring negative consequences will not be repeated.

Basically I’m trying to point out that some good behaviors are their own reward… other good behaviors are not. Some, like cleaning a room, have built-in benefits. Others, like telling the truth, can seem to have consequences rather than rewards for our kids. Our goal as proper disciplinarians is to exaggerate the benefits of good behavior and the consequences of the bad. This becomes especially important when life seems to reward the bad and punish the good. Parents are wise when they provide incentives for children to choose the right over the wrong in spite of naturally occurring consequences.

Rewardable Behavior & Expected Behavior

If you’ve read any of my other articles on Proper Discipline then you know that I believe in setting Minimum Standards for your Child. Minimum standards help you to be consistent when discouraging unwanted behavior. On the other end of the spectrum is what I would call Expectations. Expectations is a fair and achievable set of goals we set for our children’s behavior.

Have a look at the diagram below:

ExpectedRewardableBehavior

Anything between your Minimum Requirements and your Expectations is Expected or Good Behavior. Note that even the color of the background has a purpose. Expected behavior is not Perfect Behavior. Children are still allowed to have moods, bad hair days and etc… as long as they don’t drop below our Minimum Requirements. Anything above our Expectations is Rewardable Behavior… and anything that drops blow our Minimum Requirements is punishable. I keep this diagram as a mental image in my mind when dealing with my children. Placing a mental pin on based on their current behavior helps me know what my reaction should be.

Practical Application Time

Enough theory… let’s put this into practice. There was a time that my daughter got a Skittle every time she went potty. Back in the day going potty was an action that rose above her expected behavior at the time since she was still wearing diapers. Once that behavior became standard and expected, the reward was removed. I’m not going to be giving her Skittles for the rest of her life! That girl goes so much she’d be bigger than me by now!

I also don’t reward her for keeping her room clean. It’s expected behavior and it has it’s own reward. She loves her room once it’s clean. She’s learning to put things away faster so she can enjoy it once she’s done. Currently there are rewards for eating or at least trying certain foods. My girl is a very picky eater… and though we don’t make her eat things she outright doesn’t like… we insist that she tries one bite each time we have it. Our Minimum Requirement is that she eat at least one bite. Our Expectation (or Goal) is that she will develop a taste eventually and eat it all. She is praised verbally when she tries the food, and she has gotten better at it, but we save dessert for when she eats a fair bit or all. Recently she finally decided she liked mashed potatoes (told you she was picky) and she was rewarded.

Conclusion

  • Some behaviors have their own rewards and consequences.
  • Parents need to make sure good behaviors are rewarding and bad behaviors have consequences especially when life rewards bad behavior or punishes good.
  • Expected behavior is appreciated but not rewarded.
  • Rewardable behavior is that which exceeds your expectations at the time.
  • Today’s Rewardable Behavior is tomorrow’s Expected Behavior.

If this made any sense at all… or if you have questions… please post them in the comments. If there are ever any more specific questions I can answer concerning discipline, please email me at geeklovesnerd@gmail.com

Set Minimum Behavior Standards For Your Child

Every parent has goals for their children. Not just goals for the future… but what we want from them now. Most of us have a mental picture of what we expect from our children. A list of unwritten rules and expectations that we constantly refer to and use to help judge their behavior by.

The problem with this ‘picture’ is that it typically changes depending on our mood, our location or situation. When we’re short tempered we can be too nit-picky and when we’re happy, it’s sometimes easier to let things slide that we shouldn’t. If you’re a person who’s prone to being hot-tempered, like most men I know, we sometimes won’t discipline because we can’t trust ourselves to be good judges of behavior because we’re over reactors.

One way to overcome all of these issues is to set minimum requirements for your child’s behavior.  Minimum requirements are the least amount of behavior that you will stand for in any situation.  When you set minimum requirements it doesn’t matter what your mood is.  Whether you’re in a good or bad mood, if your child steps below those minimum requirements you know you have to step in and correct the behavior.  This is especially good for those who don’t trust themselves to be consistent in discipline.

For example, my expectations for bedtime for my four year old daughter is for her to brush her teeth, brush out her hair, no whining, no complaining, and 9:00 PM bedtime.  Anything less than this behavior needs to be corrected.  This is the case whether I’m in a good or bad mood.  My minimum requirements for dinner are different.  She eats the same thing we’re having, she doesn’t have to eat it all but she must taste everything at least once.  She can’t take forever to eat and no complaining.  Any behavior less than those requirements gets corrected.

Of course my standards are higher.  My expectations for are much higher.  I expect more than the minimum but anything above the minimum doesn’t mean to be corrected.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be rewarded either…  But we’ll talk about rewards another time.

So setting minimum requirements for church, home, extracurricular activities, school, chores and whatever else can be a great guide for parents.  They help us know when to step in and help kids to change inappropriate behavior before it becomes bad behavior.  Think of it like a pain of a candle flame that causes you to pull your hand back from the pain that keeps you from burning your hand off.  It’s uncomfortable, but better than the alternative.

In future posts will talk about rewardable behavior and expected behavior.  Battle of the teacher comments and feedback on setting minimum behavior standards or any other discipline topic in the comments below.

What Is Proper Discipline?

Discipline

Discipline used to be a dirty word to me. It still has a sting to it. I had a hardcore ex-military step-father who loved to throw it around while he rampaged around the house demanding perfect order. His demands on us changed moment by moment based on his moods. A good mood meant we could be ourselves, even careless and carefree with our behavior. A bad mood meant we wished we didn’t even exist enough to leave a footprint in the carpet. This wasn’t proper discipline.

When it was time to have my own children, I was outright scared. I was terrified that I wouldn’t know how to bring up my children properly. Don’t we learn from the example? Don’t the statistics say we tend to repeat the bad traits of our own parents? I didn’t want to… but was I doomed to put my children through the same tortures I endured? That was when learning proper discipline became very important to me.

Discipline is more than “getting onto” kids, correcting them, spankings and time-outs. Discipline done right is just another word for Discipling, literally making your child into a follower of your example… a disciple. Therefore…

Proper discipline is achieved when we provide a relationship of love and consistency where children are shown the consequences of sin and the benefits of obedience.

Proper discipline starts with love.

We all love our kids… but love isn’t all hugs and kisses. Love holds a child down while they get their shots… because it’s good for them. Love exposes a child to food they don’t originally like. Love forces a child to focus on things they don’t have much interest in like homework or cleaning their room. Love is also patient and kind. It is not rude, self-centered or easily angered. Proper discipline starts with proper love.

Proper discipline is consistent and predictable.

When children think about crossing the line… they need to know even before they do it what is coming. Your response shouldn’t be based on mood or circumstance. We achieve consistency by having a vision for who we want our child to be, being patient and selfless, and having a set of expectations and basic rules established ahead of time. When children experience the same discomfort when they make mistakes and the same encouragement when they make good choices… they will move away from one and toward the other. This is greatly enhanced when they see the principals you set for them lived out in your own life.

Proper Discipline has consequences for bad choices.

When a child steps over the line, it needs to be uncomfortable for them. The consequences of the transgression need to outweigh the benefits. A child may want to loose their temper because it feels good to get so angry… but if the consequences of the behavior are severe enough, they will choose good behavior because it’s not worth it. What are those consequences? That’s where knowing your own child comes into play. Some parents use time-outs, some spank, some use isolation or loss of benefits. It’s all about what works best with the smallest effort from you… and doing it consistently.

Proper Discipline has benefits and encouragement for good choices.

This is the part most old school disciplinarians don’t get. It’s not enough to discourage bad behavior, you’ve got to encourage good behavior. Focusing only on the bad only teaches a child to not get caught. Focusing only on the good creates a child who believes they are entitled and can do no wrong. It’s only in the balance of both do we see the results we want. I don’t believe you have to reward every bit of good behavior… but encouragement is free and should be given liberally. It’s easy to catch a child being bad… we almost look for badness by default. I try to catch my daughter being good too. If I see her share her snack with her brother… I’m going to brag on her to her mom so she can hear. They like hearing you talk about them a lot more anyway. 🙂

More on consequences and rewards in future posts.

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Why Parents Don’t Discipline

screaming-child

It only takes one trip to Walmart to realize something… folks don’t discipline their children very well anymore. You can hardly find a child you’d want to spend any amount of time around while strolling through the isles. Restaurants are even worse. Kids shouting out, squirming, crying or complaining. It’s not just the young ones either… often times the older the child is the more out of control they are.

I think the lack of discipline in the home is the leading contributor to the degrading quality of our neighborhoods, our schools, escalation of chemical imbalances and rising crime rates, drug use and gang activity. It’s a big deal.

So why aren’t we doing it? Why are kids getting away with so much? Why are we pacifying and distracting rather than directing and correcting?

1. Discipline is a dirty word to most of us.

So many adults today were abused or otherwise mistreated under the banner of “discipline”. Proper discipline is not abuse or an overbearing parent… it is a relationship that allows a parent to direct a child into becoming the man or woman God has for them to be.

2. Complicated family situations.

When a family splits up… things get complicated. When money is tight… the urgent will often push the important to the back burner. We love our children… but proper discipline is hard work and so quick fixes become the order of the day. If the child spends time between two households, the rules are different every other weekend. Parents tend to parent out of guilt or as a competition with the former spouse. Since there is almost no consistency parents switch into survival for the moment mode and situations are handled, but not the behavior.

3. Vices

If a parent has problems with smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, late nights, dating or any other self-destructive behavior it makes it almost impossible for them to be a good parent. If a parent is a liar how can they correct a lying child? If mom has a boyfriend over for the night and the child acts out in school the next day, the parent is defensive against the teachers because she is to blame. Meanwhile the child is left thinking he can do no wrong and will continue to take out his frustrations on every available adult outside of his home. 99% of parenting is leading by example. They will only do what we say for so long… then they’ll do what we do. We must become the people we want our children to be.

4. Simply don’t know how!

There are a ton of parents who would love to have a well behaved child… but they simply don’t know how to do it. They’re trying… but nothing seems to work. I know of several parents who have 3 or more kids… then the 4th one comes along and nothing that worked with the older ones work with him. They have to learn all over again how to get the behavior they need. If you have never seen a model of proper discipline, it’s difficult to know what to do. My hope is that the articles I’ll be writing over the next few days will be of service to you.

Proper discipline is one of the hardest jobs in parenting… but it’s the most rewarding. It’s an investment in your own future… and because of the fruits of your labor… it’s not only the best thing you can do for your kid, it’s the best thing you can do for your own sanity. Children not only need structure, they crave it. Like grass that grows better when it’s cut regularly, children flourish when they are given proper boundaries. They make better choices and avoid common mistakes. They’ll become a blessing to you rather than a drain on you. Check back for more.