Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dear Lilah: Twelve Months

Dear Lilah,
This has been such an amazing month. We have loved watching you learn, grow, and discover everything around you. You have started walking independently and everywhere, you take laps around the house all day long. You learned to give high fives and blow kissses. You point and touch mommy's finger when I point at you. You can bounce when told, catch and throw ball, you know all done and more in baby sign language. You LOVE to be tickled!!! You love to go up and down stairs! You can get off the couch by yourself, and you try to climb up the couch but still need a boost. You read books all day long! You love your baby doll and give kisses to baby doll. You also love to give baby (you) kisses in mirror and you give kisses when asked (but you can be stingy with those wet kisses). You started stacking rings and taking rings off! You get so excited when you accomplish new things! You started screaming at top of your lungs and started throwing tantrums (mostly when getting diaper/clothes changed). We also got you a straw sippy cup and you like to drink out of that versus the regular sippy cup. We are trying to get you to eat more food! All you eat is blueberries! You have 4 teeth. You are 16lbs 15oz (10%) 27.25in (3%) and your melon is 17.75in (50%). We had your birthday party the Saturday before your birthday in Champaign with most of our family! You got so many fun toys and clothes! You are so loved by everyone around you!! You are so funny, amazing, and easy-going! I love being your mommy and I cannot believe a whole year has past since you came into this world and we became parents!
Love you,

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Positive Parenting

Lilah and I joined MOPS at South Park Church in Park Ridge about 4 months ago. Today was probably the best session. Dr. Brad Olson came and talked to us about how to be "successful parents". As parents we have a lot of influence but we really don't have any true control. Our main goal of parenting is to grow a kid; not teach them to obey. When you get in the mundane battles with your kids day in and day out, stop and think about principles... what are you trying to accomplish long term for their life and character. We need to create relationships with our kids and create resilient kids who can bounce back from whatever life throws at them. We know that life never goes as planned and we need to have the ability to change and adapt- this is the definition of mental health. Olson called this positive bounce.
In order to create positive bounce, there are 6 principles we need to incorporate into our parenting.
~Positive Thoughts~ Remember your voice becomes their inner voice. Some negatives to watch out for are ruination, perfectionism, obedience, self-blame, malicious intent, and approval.
~Positive Words~ Watch out for: NO, Why (just inviting a lie by asking this question), Should (shame), Have to, Need (comes across as manipulative), "Lecture" (should be said in 10 words or less)
~Positive Touch~ We are not a touchy culture and our kids need to be touched! Some cultures touch friends 180x an hour. We need to make sure we connect with our kids through positive touch!
~Positive Rewards~ We learn through rewards and experience, so we need to create a safe environment where kids can learn through experience and earn rewards- after all we are just "mice in a maze". The system Olson went into would be called a "bribe system" by most, but it makes a lot of sense. As adults we don't do anything without a reward. The difference between adults and kids is the intrinsic rewards system. Kids wont fully discover this until adulthood; So until then we supply tangible rewards. Try not to make the rewards things bought like toys/candy/etc.. instead try to keep a list of the things the child asks to do and make those rewards: Watch TV, have a sleep over, have a friend over, pick the movie on movie night, go for ice cream, etc.
~Positive Time~ Special playtime- one on one time where parent does what child wants to do and DOES NOT PARENT, usually around 30 mins a day per kid. Just having the "Be With" attitude. Special playtime works best for ages 3-11yr. After that you need to adapt to the childs new interests. Maybe do breakfast once a week- just spend time together alone! (**This is the most important for a child with ADHD or a child acting out**)
~Positive Feedback~ Find things your child is good at and emphasize it! Let the child live on their own "island of competence"!  Also remember the "Pygmalion effect"- the child will only do as well as you tell them they will. Make sure you point out good behaviors and not just negative behaviors!

Book Recommendations:
How People Grow by Henry Cloud
Raising Resilient Children by Robert Brooks
Your Defiant Child by Russell A. Barkley
1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan
Love and War by John and Stasi Eldridge

*This was written from memory and may not be exactly what he said- but the points are similar and I wrote this for me so I can try and be a positive parent in the future!


Here are his lecture notes:

STARTING POINT- Positive Bounce-Back/Resilience:

Q: What is “Mental Health”?
A: The Ability to Adapt to Change- Resilience

Q: What is your “job” as a parent?  Prevent bad things from happening? Make sure he/she behaves?
A: Provide a “safe place” (love, security, structure, consistency, instruction, etc.) for your child to grow
A: Help your child bounce back from life-knocks… not prevent them from happening (Resilience)
-          See “Raising Resilient Children” by Robert Brooks

Q: Do you possess a mindset that fosters resilience in your children?
A: Resilience Mindset Quiz

Q: How much power or influence do you have on your child’s choices or behaviors?
A: A lot… but not total- get over yourself- you don’t have that much power over your child’s choices
A: Good parents have kids who make bad choices- Bad parents have kids who make good choices

1.       Positive Thoughts: fear your child will make big mistakes in life, you will speak to your child out of that fear; fear your child will not achieve in life, you will speak to your child out of that fear…
a.       What are your greatest fears for your children? It is our fears that form our thoughts- that form our words
b.      Without information, we make up stories in our head- mostly negative
c.       It is not the event itself that freaks me out- it is the story I make up in my head that freaks me out
d.      What Parents Think- Misguided Assumptions and Problem Beliefs::
1. Ruination: if parents give too much freedom, the child will make  mistakes or misbehave in ways which will ruin their future lives
2. Perfectionism: children should instinctively know how to behave properly all the time without any parental intervention, and it is terrible upsetting if they do not always behave perfectly
3. Obedience: children should always do what their parents say without questioning their parent’s judgment
4. Self-blame: parents are at fault for child’s mistakes or misbehavior
5. Malicious Intent: children misbehave on purpose to hurt their parents
6. Approval: it is terribly upsetting if children do not approve of parent’s rules, regulations, and decisions
e.      What Children Think- Misguided Assumptions and Problem Beliefs:
1. Ruination: if parents put too many restrictions on children, this will ruin the child’s life
2. Fairness: parent’s rules are terribly unfair and unjust
3. Autonomy: child should have as much freedom as they desire
4. Approval: it is catastrophic for child if parents do not approve of the child’s actions


2.       Positive Words: Do you want to be RIGHT or in RELATIONSHIP with your child?
a.       Words that foster insecurity and conflict (words that often invite a fight or just feel “bad” on the receiving end):
1. No- The average toddler hears the word "no" an astonishing 400 times a day, according to experts. That's not only tiresome for you but it can also be harmful to your child: According to studies, kids who hear "no" too much have poorer language skills than children whose parents offer more positive feedback. "Plus, saying no can become ineffective when it's overused — a little like crying wolf," says Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources at Zero to Three, a nonprofit that studies infants and toddlers. Some kids simply start to ignore the word; others slip into a red-faced rage the minute that dreaded syllable crosses your lips.
-          Alternatives: “food is for eating, not flinging”; “I know you like ice cream, but too much ice cream is not good for us”; "Yes, you can have candy after dinner. Let's go look for an apple for now."
2. Why did you do that… Why can’t you… “Why”
-           invites defense and lies- Encourages deception or sneakiness
3. You should be nice…
-          “should” breeds shame and guilt
4. You have to
-          Actually… no, I don’t…
5. I need you to…
-          Again, no I don’t-and no, you don’t
-          Feels manipulative- and leaves the child with no personal choice to do it
6. Too many words (lecture)… again – close to nagging
-          Nagging breeds resentfulness, defensiveness
-          Makes child feel inadequate, criticized, personally attacked
b.      Words that foster resilience and relationship:
1. I’m sorry- reflects a relationship – because rules without relationship are meaningless
2. Noticing the good- unexpectedly
3. Understanding before being understood
4. Mottos rather than lectures:
-          say it in 10 words or less- or you are reducing listening next time- say the same thing over again- hearing by repetition
-          “You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important.”

3.       Positive & Meaningful Touch:

a.       A study from the 1960s by pioneering psychologist Sidney Jourard, who studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world as they sat in a café together. He observed these conversations for the same amount of time in each of the different countries. What did he find? In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, in bursts of enthusiasm, we touched each other twice. But in France, the number shot up to 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, those friends touched each other 180 times!
b.      The Touch Research Institute is dedicated to studying the effects of touch therapy. The TRIs have researched the effects of massage therapy at all stages of life, from newborns to senior citizens. In these studies the TRIs have shown that touch therapy has many positive effects. For example, massage therapy:
·         Facilitates weight gain in preterm infants
·         Enhances attentiveness
·         Alleviates depressive symptoms
·         Reduces pain
·         Reduces stress hormones
·         Improves immune function

c.       Touch influences truth: Coin in phone booth/Librarian/Therapist-Client
d.      We also know that touch builds up cooperative relationships—it reinforces reciprocity between our primate relatives, who use grooming to build up cooperative alliances. There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response
e.      Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, has said "(w)e need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs for maintenance.  We need twelves hugs a day for growth." And, research in a Korea orphanage demonstrated a significant boost in the health and growth of infant orphans who received an extra 15 minutes a day of physical touching. There is a magic in hugging.  This simple form of affection boosts a young child's mental and physical development.  Hugging aids in the development of life skills.
f.        Sadly, research shows that female infants receive almost five times as much hugging and touching as males.  And the Univ. of Pittsburgh reports that when it comes to soothing, holding or playing, American children receive significantly less contact than those of other cultures.  As our children grow older we tend to forget the importance of hugging.  Yet, it may be as vital for teenagers to be hugged and affirmed as it is for young children.
g.       Meaningful Touch… Especially from Dad – which does not have to be marathon hug-a-thons – it can be brief and simple touch:
1.  in the August issue of Social Psychology of Education, French psychologist Nicolas Guéguen instructed the professor of a 120-person statistics class to give the same verbal encouragement to any student who volunteered to solve a problem at the front of his classroom. But to a randomly selected group of students within the class, the professor also gave a slight tap on the upper arm when speaking to them. Guéguen compared the volunteer rate of those who were touched to those who were not, and found that students who were touched were significantly more likely to volunteer again. In fact, roughly 28 percent of those who were touched volunteered again, compared with about nine percent of those who were not. Drawing on previous research in the field, Guéguen speculates that a touch to the arm may have infused participants with a feeling of self-confidence that motivated their positive behavior. “It is possible that touching, coming from a high-status person, is perceived as a sign of distinction,” he writes. “The effect would have been to overcome the inhibition of correcting the exercise in front of his/her classmates.”

4.       Positive Rewards:
a.       Is it the parent’s job to make sure the child learns?  NO- learning happens whether with or without parents- so lighten up…
b.      Parent’s job is to provide the safety, security, opportunity, stability, and permission to experience learning and growth- providing the Ingredients of learning & growth: GRACE-TRUTH-TIME

c.       How do we learn? By hearing a lecture? By being led? By role-modeling? By experience?
1.  We learn by Living
2.  Like mice in a maze… we are shaped by rewards – based on “Premack Principle”
3.  Use B-Mod Plan- in some form- ALWAYS-
-          Positive more than negative/ rewards more than consequences
-          Immediate rewards more than delayed
-          Frequent rewards more than sparse
-          Unexpected rewards included
-          Rewards that are meaningful to the child- not the parent
-          Tangible rewards work better- poker chips
-          Simple list of targeted behaviors
-          Menu of rewards to cash in for
-          Removes arguments, lectures, nagging
-          Resembles adult life- job and paycheck for work
4. Resistance to behavioral modification plan:
-          Isn’t it “bribing” my child?
-          Shouldn’t they learn to do things because it’s right or they should?
-          We tried it- but it didn’t work

(see, see “Your Defiant Child” by Russell Barkley)

5.       Positive Time:  “Rules Without Relationship is Meaningless” & “LOVE = TIME”
a.       Create an environment of safety and relationship
1.  Being genuine & congruent
2.  Unconditional love and acceptance- even if not approving of all behavior
3.  Empathic understanding- warm understanding of child’s world
b.      Provide “Special Play Time”
1.  20 minutes per day from each parent
2.  No lectures- no teaching- no disciplining- no instilling of values- no judgments- no requirements
3.  Enter the child’s world- play what the child plays- let the child direct the time
4.  Notice the behaviors- comment positively only
c.       “Be With” Attitudes:  Your intent in your actions, presence, and your responses are most important and should convey to your child:  “I am here—I hear/see you—I understand—I care.”

6.       Positive Feedback (from the world) Builds Resilience:
a.       I become who I am told- “Pygmalion Effect”
-          The "Pygmalion Phenomenon" is the self-fulfilling prophecy embedded in teachers' expectations. Simply put, when teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectation performance and growth are not as encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a number of ways. Research suggests that our expectations strongly influence the performance of those around us from the members of our football team to the students in our classes.
b.      Resilience comes from knowing and experiencing my gifts or strengths- I get positive strokes from that

c.       Unfortunately, the world does not always give the positive feedback to children that helps them grow in competence and  resilience- it is the job of parents to find the “Islands of Competence” for the child – make a way for him/her to live there… often

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dear Lilah: Eleven Months

Dear Lilah,
Mommy is late this month... We were in San Francisco for your Daddy's 27th birthday and your eleven month "birthday". When we got back, we found out you had an ear infection. So you have not felt good and have been needing mommy much more than you normally do!
You got 2 teeth (upper teeth) this month! So now you have 4 teeth! You moved into 6-9 month clothing!! You weigh 16lbs 6oz and are 27in tall.
We went to San Francisco with Granddaddy and Nonni. You did fantastic on both flights! You didn't cry once!! We found out your favorite movie is Mulan, so we watched that on the tablet G-daddy got you for Christmas. You were absolutely fantastic on the whole trip- you are a born traveler! It was a piece of cake travelling with you and so much fun! You are such a happy, fun loving kid!
You started to point at objects and people; its been pretty helpful in deciphering your language. You sit on your knees and you do the "toddler squat". I find these things so adorable. You are becoming a little toddler for sure. You no longer look like a chubby little baby, not that you were ever chubby, but you are getting thin and lanky! Everyday is more fun! You are amazing and I love watching you grow and blossom into a little girl!