Today, we finish up our three-part series about the three best gifts you can give your children; we also finish out the year, so best wishes for 2016 to you and your family!
In December's Just You and Me episodes, we've been Stopping the Holiday Insanity by focusing on gifts we can give our children, one episode per gift.
Today's gift, though, does more than bring enjoyment and a smooth schedule.
Today's gift, Gratitude, could be the most elusive – but it could also be the most important one.
Starting in early January 2015, I write down (if I can't write that day because of tendon issues, I say out loud) five things I'm grateful for each night before I go to bed. It doesn't seem like much, I know, but it's one of the most important micro-changes I made this year; these tiny changes have made a huge positive impact on my health. It's as if focusing on what I'm grateful for shows me all the good things in my life! In fact in today's episode I read from a favorite book of mine, The Slight Edge, about a happiness researcher named Sean Achor and the impact of gratitude that Sean has found in his research (if you want to see a great Ted talk, here is Sean's… you'll laugh and learn all the same time.)
I want to share something I'm so grateful for, which is… You.
The joy of connecting with you, helping you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting, well, all that's helping me! 2015 has been a tumultuous year – the year in which I got to ski in Colorado, for the first time since spending the winter of 2011 unable to walk more than a few steps, and not only did I ski but I skied with my parents and my children. It was the year in which we adopted dogs, and five weeks later needed to give them up because I had a relapse in my tendon condition; the year in which I won the first story slam I ever entered; the year in which Ben helped me get this podcast off the ground (and the year in which I conceived of it in the first place.)
A year full of ups and downs. But one of the biggest ups is the way that this podcast was received; when you contact me by email, or instagram, or Facebook or twitter to ask a question or say thanks, that's when I feel the most gratitude.
Thank you SO much for listening, commenting, questioning – I look forward to lots more of all the above in the new year.
Here's to a great 2016!
Carey Andersen, Tuesday's guest in episode 45, had so many wonderful and inspiring things to say; we can learn a lot from her positive approach to balancing family and work – and the fact that she does it all with multiple sclerosis. Our chat this past Tuesday isn't a prerequisite to today's Your Child Explained episode, where we always get right into the minds of our children and see what makes them tick. But go back and give it a listen if you can; posted during one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us, the lead up to Christmas, my talk with Carey Andersen will have you remembering why we do everything that we do!
Today, I'm thinking about a story Carey told regarding the terrible lottery placement her five-year-old ended up with for his kindergarten year, and how the appeals board allowed him to move to a more suitable school based on his very simple declaration:
"I don't have enough time to play."
Carey and her husband heard that simple sentence and knew they needed to make a change for their son, and it got me thinking about what can happen when we really hear our children.
Even when they are pre-verbal, they might be trying to tell us a simple truth – and it's up to us to hear it.
In real time, this episode drops on Christmas eve, and if your life is full of Christmas crazy, and you still made the time to listen, I hope that today's episode gives you something that you really need. For my part, I want you to know how much I appreciate that you listened! I wish for you a peaceful and wonderful time as we start to say goodbye to 2015.
If you're listening to this the day this episode drops, it's three days before Christmas… in many parents' lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that's how you're feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.
I met today's guest during Hub Week, Boston's first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who's been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.
The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today's guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.
We talk about some really cool stuff! Here's a sampling:
1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying "I don't have enough time to play" – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade
2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn't look sick, they still might need help
3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small
My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.
In today's Just You and Me episode, we jump into the second of the three best gifts you can give your kids
In the previous Stop the Holiday Insanity episode, 41 (click here to listen), we talked about Time. Today in this second installment of Stop The Holiday Insanity we discuss the second of these three best gifts: Ritual.
Growing up, every year around December 1 my Mom got out wrapping paper, scissors, ribbons, and tape and we would make a chain that functioned as our Advent calendar. It's such a thrill to share that ritual now, with my boys. Even though they're 15 and 11 years old, they look forward to the day we make our Christmas chain.
There are other such rituals in our holiday celebrations – Christmas eve dinner, for example, which is always French onion soup and a delicious French-Canadian meat pie called tourtiere, with cookies for dessert. I think ritual is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.
In good times, rituals are what bring us together and help us feel as if were part of something bigger than ourselves.
Involving the kids in our holiday rituals from an early age has so many benefits for them! It exposes them to the traditional foods of our cultures, and as they grow it becomes something they can remember from times past and also look forward to in the future.
Plus, if there have been major changes since last holiday season (like a divorce or loss of a loved one) predictable and comfortable routines over time help kids get through the tough stuff.
Also, they can see their own growth and development. Something that was hard for them to do last year, and it easier to do this year, shows kids their own mastery or competence.
So in thinking about these first two gifts we can give our kids – Time and Ritual – what are some simple teens and rituals you can start this year? What are some that you can keep going from previous years?
Thanks for listening, I hope your holiday season is less insane than those of holiday seasons past! Next week we have a great guest, someone I can't wait for you to hear from, and then during the last week of December 3 great gift we can give our kids – the third and possibly best way to stop the holiday insanity – will air. Keep hanging in there!
Links Discussed in This Episode:
Here's episode 39, an E-rated conversation with cartoonist and author Emily Flake… Please enjoy it with headphones, so you don't upset children, coworkers, or relatives.
Click here to head to instagram, where you can be part of the giveaway to win Emily Flake's new book Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting. The drawing is on Christmas day, so you still have some time to enter! To do so, just scroll down in my instagram feed until you find the picture of Emily's book, leave me a comment under that picture, and tag a friend. Maybe you'll week on Christmas morning to find an extra present for you!
If you're enjoying the podcast and getting good value from my advice, but still feel like it's not enough, or that you need advice more tailored to your situation, check out my Parent Coaching page.… I'll help you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting.
Today's Your Child Explained episode – where we always try to get into the heads of our kids – is a little different. Usually, the Thursday YCE pertains to the previous Tuesday guest episode. This week, though, I wanted to share something a little different.
Last night my husband and I got to attend a live presentation with interest-led learning expert Blake Boles. His most recent book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, is geared toward helping teens and young adults figure out what they really want out of life, and how to get it.
In today's episode, I'm really thinking about that presentation, and specifically one question from an audience member. Find the show notes to this episode here, on my website.
It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don't finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.
When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation :-)
1) Robin's most favorite question she's ever been asked – and why
2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld
3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I'm heeding this advice and it's really helping me enjoy the season
I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!
Today, the first of the three-part series about stopping the Holiday Insanity by using the three best gifts you can ever give your children, we dive into: Time.
In each of the Just You and Me December episodes – today's, December 15, and December 29 – we talk about one of these three gifts.
Today's is time!
For the show notes to this episode, go to the We Turned Out Okay website by clicking this link.
Tuesday's guest – cartoonist and author Emily Flake – and I had a great conversation (although, full of swears and subject matter totally inappropriate for work or children – please take note :-) about modern parenting, but even with nearly an hour to talk we didn't cover everything I wanted to cover.
Which leads to today's Your Child Explained, episodes in which we are always looking right into the brains of our kids and figuring out what makes them tick. In her book, Mama Tried: Dispatches From The Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting, Emily shares that her older sister got pregnant and had a baby at age 17 – when Emily herself was just 13. The difference in how these two sisters were treated by the people around them while pregnant can't be understated; Emily's sister got a tremendously judgy and shaming vibe at 17, whereas Emily heard all about the "wonderful journey" that she and her husband were now on, while she was pregnant at age 34.
It really got me to thinking about what it means for our kids when we treat them too preciously – when we take care of their every need and want long after they're too small to take care of themselves. Kids treated as if they'll break at any moment come to believe that the world exists for their comfort and enjoyment only. This is dangerous, for the child and for our society.
The date this episode airs happens to be Thanksgiving Day of 2015, and it is in the spirit that I ask the question: what's the opposite of believing that the world exists for your comfort and enjoyment? I think the answer is believing that we exist to serve – that serving in some way creates a feedback loop that makes us happy and filled with gratitude…
It's a shift that paradoxically gives us the comfort and enjoyment we seek.
And it's our responsibility to start teaching our kids early to serve others – for their own comfort and enjoyment.
How do we do that when they're small? Well, letting them contribute to your family through housework and cooking, helping them understand that giving of themselves and their abilities is what will bring them the most comfort and enjoyment – that seems like a pretty good start to me.
Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you're having the kind of Thanksgiving that is just perfect for you and I hope you know how grateful I am that you are listening to me today!
WARNING: Today's show is full of expletives and stuff you do not want your child to know about yet… please make sure to use headphones or listen away from the kiddos! It's an awesome show, just there are pieces of it that are totally not suitable for children :-)
Today's guest is the wonderful and talented author and cartoonist/illustrator Emily Flake. She writes a weekly comic strip for grown-ups, Lulu Eightball (find it here) and her work regularly appears in The New Yorker, as well as appearing in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Onion, Forbes Magazine… In short she is a creative force! A creative force who, three years ago, had a baby, a beautiful little girl with the awesome nickname Tug. Last month Emily released her new book, Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting, a gritty, tender, superb analysis of parenthood today. Part memoir, part cartoon, this book had me laughing until tears were streaming down my face.
My conversation with Emily ranges all over the countryside, from the things we found in common that she and my husband share, and that her husband and I share, to what you learn about sex and babies when your older sister becomes a teenage mom, to Emily's wonderful advice for new parents or parents-to-be.
Want to win a signed copy of Mama Tried for yourself? I'm having an instagram giveaway! Go to@weturnedoutokay on instagram, find the picture of the book Mama Tried, leave a comment under that picture, and share the giveaway with a friend who might also like to enter by December 24, 2015. I'm choosing the winner on Christmas day, so some lucky mama will have an extra Christmas present this year!
Today's episode dives into the four best, most practical ninja tactics that I know and use every day to teach my boys right from wrong. Because, that's really what discipline is, isn't it? Teaching right from wrong – in my experience as a teacher and parent, positive discipline is not only the most user-friendly way to do this, but the most effective, too.
Listen to the episode for details, but here are the four ninja tactics of positive discipline:
1) stop using the timeout chair and timer for timeouts; let your child take a timeout him or herself, and most importantly let him or her decide how long it should be
2) use natural consequences as your disciplinary measures; often, the natural consequences of an action are all it takes to teach right from wrong
3) start early – like, immediately – in the development of empathy with your child
4) consider the power vacuum dynamics that come into play when you ignore a behavior you don't want to see; ignoring the behavior rather than engaging about it makes that behavior go away sooner
And, those are the four! I hope they help you every day, but whether they do or they don't, I hope you will click the contact tab on my website and tell me about your successes, failures, and questions. Especially questions.
Thanks for listening! If you listen all the way to the end, I share a project I've just started: helping parents individually, when you feel like your challenges as a parent are more than listening to the podcast can fix. Go here to find out more!
In episode 36 – which aired this past Tuesday in real time – nursery school owner and director Tanya Trainor shared about the changes she, her staff, and the children they serve made to their playground. The traditional slides, climbers, and other big (pricey) equipment typically seen on the playground are gone, and in their place are what Tanya calls "loose parts."
Tanya shares that loose parts on the playground have translated for them into more social engagement and less redirection/discipline, a result they never expected.
Today, in this Your Child Explained episode in which we always get into the mind of our kids and see what's going on in there, we discuss The Keys to the Kingdom and how to promote them so that our kids grow into creative, happy, socially engaged and above all successful adults.
I learned a lot about how loose parts bring out the best in children talking with Tanya and it's this concept of "the best" that I think of as The Keys to the Kingdom – in other words, the keys we must give our kids that will open up so many doors as they grow up. These keys are:
1) open-ended play, meaning play that doesn't have a goal, or a fixed ending point
2) intrinsic motivation, where the children do what they're doing because it's what they want to be doing, not because someone in authority, like a teacher or parent, is telling them to do it (or offering rewards for doing it, or punishments for not doing it)
3) social engagement, in which the children are playing and working together, part of the same team
Watching the kids play this way at Miss Tanya's Nursery School reminded me of this saying, by Brian Sutton-Smith: "the opposite of play is not work. It is depression." Kids need loose parts to tinker with, the ability to work without an adult telling them what to do, and people to engage with… Give them these Keys to the Kingdom – and watch them flourish!
Today's episode was super fun to record because I got out of my usual studio and hung out at what's easily the most amazing playground I've ever seen. All of the equipment we see on a typical playground – huge climber, big slide, jungle gym – was gone, and in its place were loose pieces. Bricks, cement pavers, wooden siding, bales of hay, an 8 foot long rowboat, tree stumps suitable for sitting on, or rolling around, a rain gutter with a hose near the top were some of the many things that replaced more typical playground equipment.
It's not a huge space, and today's guest, nursery school director and owner Tanya Trainor of Miss Tanya's Nursery School, knew that typical equipment would no longer work when, in spring of 2014, she found out that the fall zones around each piece of equipment were expanding. So, Tanya and her staff did an amazing thing: they asked the children, "when we get rid of the climber out on the playground, what should we replace it with?" Their answers created the wonderful results spread out before me.
Listen to hear more about:
1) the improvements in how the children relate to one another and play together in going from more conventional equipment to this new kind of playground
2) the dramatic drop in frequency of negative behaviors; Tanya reports far fewer incidents of conflict or need for redirection since moving to the new kind of playground
3) how engaged the children are in both the creation of this new outdoor play space and their use of it
If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: play with "loose parts," as this kind of outdoor play equipment is called, is a critical part of every child's development and fosters all the important things that children will need to take into adulthood (social skills, problem-solving skills, creativity and curiosity.) Has your son or daughter's preschool adopted the loose parts philosophy yet?
Today is the first of a two parter, because the subject of positive discipline – how we teach our kids right from wrong – is such a biggie.
In this first part, we talk about the mindset of positive discipline… Three things are required for us parents to get into this mindset:
1) a calm, quiet demeanor; yelling and screaming produces negativity, not to mention unhappy family members
2) making the punishment fit the crime; every situation is different, we can't have a set list of infractions and punishments
3) taking our children seriously; by this I mean let's start with the assumption that they are good kids, they want not to get in trouble, they're doing the best they possibly can
All we need for the positive discipline mindset. They sound simple, but they can be really difficult to implement! Today, I try to persuade you that the best thing you can do for your child – and you – is get into the positive discipline mindset.
Thanks for listening! If you listen all the way to the end, I share a project I've just started: helping parents individually, when you feel like your challenges as a parent are more than listening to the podcast can fix. Go here to find out more!
In the next Just You and Me episode, number 38, we will get into the ninja tactics of positive discipline!
Podcast Episode 034: Why Do Kids Need to Play? A Your Child Explained Episode
This past Tuesday, I had a great conversation with mom and licensed mental health counselor Janine Halloran of encourageplay.com. Janine specializes in facilitating play, and our conversation ranged from the benefits of play and how little is really required to encourage it, to how endangered open-ended play is in our society.
Today, I want to extend on that conversation, and look at what's really going on inside a child's head during play, why it's so important, and how we can bring more of it into our crazy-busy lives.
First off, kids process things completely differently from adults – and play is what helps them process the events going on around them. Play helps kids understand and make sense of their world, and it's up to us to remember that both to foster learning and to make our lives run more smoothly.
Secondly, if you want to grab a kid's attention, start a game! Games help kids clean up, remember routines, and just add some fun into an otherwise humdrum task.
Thirdly, kids learn with their whole bodies, and need all different kinds of play – alone and with others, indoors and out, self-directed and open-ended.
Finally, play helps kids learn to navigate their world and negotiate and resolve conflicts (nonviolently). Studies are showing that kids aren't learning the kind of negotiation skills that we need to get along in this world, and I share about a study done a few years ago showing just how little playtime kindergarten children get in school. Called The Crisis In The Kindergarten, I hope you'll read this paper, learn about the study, and work extra hard to get your child more playtime. It's truly our hope for the future.
I'd like to leave you with a question: how are you getting your child the kind of open-ended play time that every kid needs? Drop me a line and let me know, whether over at the contact page on weturnedoutokay.com or on instagram @weturnedoutokay.
From the moment I first read her article on The Many Perks Of Play in the October 2015 issue of baystateparent, I knew I was going to have to talk to Janine Halloran. She explains everything there is to know about play and how it can benefit kids, in a really well-written and entertaining way.
Janine graciously agreed to come on to the show, and our interview is really one of my favorites so far!
Today, Janine shares that play is:
1) critical to the well-being of every human, and even many animals – the skills learned through play are uncountable, our reasoning and thinking skills are honed through play, we even learn how to get along with other people through play
2) endangered in our culture; the average kid's time is way too structured, which crowds out the potential for open-ended play; since open-ended play is where so much of the magic happens, it's downright dangerous to have so little of it in a child's life
3) cheap, and/or free – think about how entertained your kids are just by the boxes that the stuff we buy comes in… we do not have to spend all kinds of crazy money to provide great playthings to our kids
If you take just one thing from today's episode, I hope it is this: a thriving family needs play, and lots of it. How are you playing with your kids today?
Connect with Janine at her website, encourageplay.com, where she has great advice about helping get more play into your child's life.
As a kid, I loved Halloween.… But as the mom of young children, it used to scare the heck out of me! There is so much to worry about: pressures to spend money on costumes and decorations, what to do about all the candy coming into the house, helping our kids deal with their emotional fears.
I decided to do an episode that's actually an audio kit to help you stop being scared by Halloween – because I can't be the only one who feels like this! So, here goes:
4 Ways to Stop Halloween from Scaring You
1) create a spending plan… decide beforehand what you feel comfortable spending on everything Halloween including candy, costumes, decorations, and parties to feel more in control and thus less frightened
2) get creative… lots of fun can be had when you decide to make something rather than buy it; I share about building a scarecrow from thrift-shop clothing and a carved pumpkin head, something the kids and I could do together that created great memories while limiting our spending – making the whole Halloween experience less parent-scary and more fun
3) figure out your approach to candy… for the first part of 3 I suggest that you listen out of earshot of your children, as I describe the wonderful phenomenon known as the Halloween Witch; for the second part I ask you to consider something that might seem extremely insane: giving your kids free reign over how and when they consume their candy… however you handle candy, make sure you know what you'll do going in to the Halloween insanity, because having a game plan makes things less scary
4) help your young children not be scared… I was caught completely by surprise at how nakedly frightened my boys were at ages three and four by Halloween; I share about a favorite book that saved our bacon every year for about six years, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
And that's the four ways to keep Halloween from scaring you! If they help, please let me know – go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, or shout out to me on twitter @StoneAgeTechie or on instagram (my favorite place in the social media universe) @weturnedoutokay. I can't wait to connect!
In today's Your Child Explained episode – where we always take a subject and look at it from within the mind of our kids – we figure out how to incorporate time for daydreaming into our kids' daily life.
If you remember, in episode 30 I spoke with dad and business owner Steve Mirando (give it a listen if you haven't yet, it's a great interview with lots of ideas for balancing work and life), and Steve told a really compelling story about his youngest attempting to "stop the wind." This four-year-old's idea for stopping the wind involved stopping a shrub from moving in the wind, and Steve recognized that moment as a really significant one… Because they're so curious and creative, children just naturally bring a lot of wonder into our lives.
Today, I extend on this idea of daydreaming and big ideas and wonder – and how easily we can trample those things without even meaning to in the daily rush.
Did you know that Einstein came up with the theory of relativity by daydreaming? He imagined sitting on a beam of light as it moves through space, and asked the question, what would that be like? Often, people feel their most creative when they're given the space and time to daydream. Adults really need that time – but kids need it even more, or at least more of it. The question is, how do we find the time for it in our daily lives?
Three things are necessary to create an environment that fosters big ideas and wonder:
1) an absence of screens
2) material for kids to keep their hands busy – a tray of sand (on a table covered with newspaper), some warm water and soap in the sink, play dough, or just some open-ended outside time
3) our willingness to engage in a conversation that is mostly us listening and observing our kids
What we're doing here is noticing our kids questions and thoughts… Even if they can't be lengthy, even if it's just for a little while a few times a week, something special happens in these moments. They help us know and appreciate our kids more, and helps them know themselves better in the long run. As they get into school, grow up and experience the pressures of daily life, knowing what gets them excited about learning is the key to happiness.
So really, fostering the sense of wonder when they're young translates to engaged, creative adults later on – and that's really what we want for them, isn't it?
Today's guest, along with his wife and children, have been special people in my family's life ever since we had the excellent luck of moving in across the street from them more than a decade ago.
We've watched Steve Mirando and his wife Sue support each other through a lot – having children, figuring out work-life challenges, Steve's going to full-time school for acupuncture and then hanging out his shingle as a practicing acupuncturist… many of these all happening at the same time!
Listen in to hear about:
1) Steve's past as part of an improv theater troupe, and how that's helped him cope with the surprises that life brings as a parent and business owner (check out Steve's website, theacuworks.com, here.)
2) how critical it is to surround yourself with people who want to help you achieve your dreams – and who you want to support as they achieve theirs
3) Steve and Sue's awesome ideas about family time, what it is and what it means to truly "spend time together"
If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: even in the really busy day-to-day that everyone with young children experiences, it is possible to connect with our spouses and children on a meaningful level every day. We can make a conscious choice to figure out how to make that happen! Steve and Sue Mirando, our across-the-street neighbors, are a great example of how to do that right.
Recently, I got to have an amazing conversation with a dear friend, granddad to a 1 1/2-year-old girl. Today's episode is a recounting of that conversation, because we can learn so much from it! Here are the three big ideas that my friend and I (who remains nameless, to protect the privacy of he and his family) spoke about:
1) The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law dynamic is very different – and can be far more antagonizing – then the mother/daughter dynamic.
2) What happens when we, this generation sandwiched in the middle who are raising young children while simultaneously engaging with our parents, want something different for our children than our parents want for them? I advise my friend, the caring and worried grandfather, to do all he can to help his son and daughter-in-law feel supported and competent… In a nutshell, this means backing off and waiting for his son and daughter-in-law to ask for help or advice.
3) The paradox of stuff: we all want stuff, we spend way too much money on it, and yet the having of so much stuff can paralyze us. This is noticeable in adults, but especially noticeable in children. With too many toys to choose from at a time, with too much background noise or overstimulating screen time, with too many food choices – kids literally can't choose. They can't make a choice! My friend the Grandpa and I put this in the context of giving gifts to grandchildren, talking especially about what gifts to give in a world where we all have too much stuff.
What is your relationship, dear listener, with your parents and your in-laws? I hope it's a good one, and if it needs some help, I hope that today's podcast starts you along the path to improving these relationships. Please drop me a line and let me know how it's going by commenting here or going to weturnedoutokay.com/contact!
I love shows like today's, when a listener has written in and I get to respond on the air!
Today, Melissa asks how to help give her young kids the support they need in the outside-of-school hours. Here's what I suggest: that Melissa and her husband give their children some control over what they do in their out-of-school time. Listen in for more details!
The other reason I love today's episode is that it is a Your Child Explained! This is where I get to do something I'm pretty good at, which is understanding what's going on inside your child's head and giving you tools to use in your quest to be a less-worried, more-happy Old-School Parent.
In this Your Child Explained we get into screen time; episode 27, which aired this past Tuesday in real time, featured the postmortem (finally!) with journalist and mom Heather Kempskie. Heather was on over the summer to share about her amazing family trip in an RV, and I went and blew it by accidentally deleting the second half of our interview about the trip… So this past Tuesday, Heather came back on – our first returning champion – to share about the ups and downs of RVing. A big part of our conversation centered on shutting off the Wi-Fi and how that felt for her kids during their trip, and it resonated so much with me that I wanted to talk more about what happens inside our kids' heads both during screen time, and after screen time.
"My editor, once in my early career when I lost a big story in my computer, told me this: everything is better the second time." Heather Kempskie shares this story to comfort me as I'm apologizing for losing our original post-RV trip in my quest for the sound of cicadas… Click here to listen to that episode… And the cool thing is that I think she's right! In this interview we talk about:
At least half this interview wasn't even in the original interview; for my part, I'm glad we got to do this redo. I hope you agree!
Did you know that, by the time we are five years old, we've heard "no" 40,000 times? And that in that same span of time, we've only heard "yes" 5000 times? (I learned that reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, a great book by the way.)
While it's true that "no" is important – for safety, if nothing else – this n-word can really bring us down… As Jeff puts it: "Eight times as many noes as yeses. Eight times the force holding you down, compared to the force lifting you up. Eight times the gravity against your desire to soar."
Today, I share with you the primo ninja parenting tactic of them all… Make no sound like yes! Here's how:
1) Actually say yes. When they ask "Mom, can I have an ice cream?" you respond "sure! Right after dinner." If it's "can we play play dough?" and if there isn't time at the moment, you respond "absolutely – as soon as we get home from the doctor." This works in so many situations, and have the added bonus of making us parents feel somehow lighter and happier… because no sucks and yes is nice.
2) Keep your cautions to yourself. If your mouth says "yes" but your body language, facial expression, and tone communicate fear and worry, your child won't hear the yes. Worse, if you say yes and then come up with 10 reasons why your child shouldn't climb that tree, or go barefoot, or eat the Halloween candy you just told him he could eat, are you really saying yes? Not really… This is where we need to be angels, not balloon poppers.
3) Use "yes, and…" A great turn-no-into-yes tactic for transitional times, try this one when your child wants to do one thing and you know that you need to do another… "Mom, can we play play dough?" "Yes, we can play now for a bit and will keep going with it when we get back from the doctor."
If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: our words matter. The more yeses we can squeeze into a child's day – more noes we can eliminate – the lighter and happier we will all be.
How are you changing "no" to "yes"? Please share! Either go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact or leave a comment right at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to hear your innovations!
Your Child Explained: where we talk about what is going on inside your kid's head! YCE episodes drop every other Thursday, always the same week as selected as last a guest interview episode. Sometimes a YCE episode will also be a Q&A, so if you're child is doing something that is driving you nuts, please ask me about it – just go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact – but most often the YCE will be on the same topic the previous Tuesday's guest episode.
Let's dive into your kid's head together!
Tuesday's guest, Wesley Chapman of A HUMAN Project, gave you and I lots of ways to help our young children feel loved, appreciated, and an integral part of our families. If you didn't get a chance to listen to our interview, I think you'll love it – it's Weturnedoutokay.com/024… The obstacles that Wes has overcome and the positive difference he's making and the lives of thousands of families will blow you away.
For today's Your Child Explained episode, we highlight the letter you in HUMAN: to Wes, U means Understanding. Today's show, as we look into our young kids' minds, we see a desperate need on their parts to be understood by the people they love most.
How do you communicate that you honor their ideas, that you "get" your child, no matter how young? Maybe it's as simple as saying "I understand" sometimes; maybe it's slightly tweaking your routine to honor your toddler's preferences.
The best thing is that putting the letter u in Understanding can have great consequences! They can help you know your child better, it can help you laugh together… It can help you have more fun.
Do you Understand your child? If so, please share! Go to the contact page at Weturnedoutokay.com, or comment right here in this post – it took me years to be able to Understand each of my boys, I'd love to know how you do it. And, thanks for listening!
Today's guest has had a lifetime of unplanned adventures… Abused and abandoned during his young childhood, simultaneously a troublemaker and a bullied kid all through school… Wesley Chapman developed an entrepreneurial spirit at age 8, when his grandmother became disabled and he started going door to door selling flowers from her garden.
The entrepreneurial spirit stuck with Wes, who found that his strength lay in being an entrepreneur, and then helping other entrepreneurs… And in more recent years helping thousands of children and teens through their own private battles.
We talk about all that in today's episode:
If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: our children deserve our time and our positive thinking. These two elements are what will cause them to thrive!
Today's episode is probably almost exactly the opposite of what you think of when you think of school rules. In fact, it feels a little subversive… The truth is, I think that schools are getting some important things wrong. These rules for you to follow can right some of these wrongs.
Let's jump in!
1) Get into the mindset that school exists to help your child. We often feel like, especially if our kid does not fit the mold, that we are somehow in trouble – that our son or daughter is to blame for holding up the class, or poor test scores. It's important to remember that, like the police who protect and serve, school teachers are there to nurture our children, to help our children achieve their dreams. It's not the other way around!
2) Formulate a goal for what you want your child to get out of his or her school year. I know that this sounds like a weird one – aren't goals for executive boardrooms, or job reviews, or at the very least high school? – but going into your child's preschool, kindergarten, or first grade with an idea of what you hope she'll learn will help her have a better year. It gives you a parameter, and if you don't feel like this goal is being met it gives you a way to speak up about it.
3) Don't worry about testing. Tests should be the absolute last thing on a parent of a young child's mind; when they are young, our job is to nurture their creativity, help them get along better with other kids, help them spend time doing the things they love… The best way to have kids (of this age) (eventually) do well on tests is to not worry about them yet! Leave the test prep to the teachers.
4) Subject matter matters! It is much easier to help a young child on the path to, say, learning to read if what they are reading about is really important to them. The best teachers help their students learn by having them learn about what they love. If, unfortunately, your child doesn't have one of these best teachers, it becomes even more crucial for you to help them learn about what they love. Luckily, this is fun for everybody; the best learning with kids this age result in a lot of laughter.
5) If you see something missing, ASK for it. Meaning, if you want something for your child that you don't see happening in the classroom, you must respectfully ask for it… And then expect results. Fortunately we have the four C's's – remaining calm, being confident and courageous, and following up with consistency – to aid in asking, because it can be pretty scary to ask for stuff!
I hope these five School Rules help you help your child have a great school year. I'll leave you with a fifth C – community – to add to the other four… Because if schools exist to serve our children, if we think of them and ourselves as existing in a community, then as part of that community we have the right to respectfully ask for change.
What kind of change would you like to see in your child's school? Please share! Either in the comments here, or you can fill in the contact form at Weturnedoutokay.com… I can't wait to hear from you!