Past Articles from Sandy McDaniel's column found every Sunday in the Accent section of the
Orange County Register


For more help, visit Sandy's ParentingSOS.com web site

PARENTING SOLUTIONS #31
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

LET CHILDREN BE CHILDREN
LET CHILDREN BE CHILDREN! When I give parenting talks, I too often hear, "My children are in so many activities that there is no television, computer or play time during week days. There is no time for fun; I have nothing to take fifteen minutes off of for the Minute Drill."

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: I used to watch Dr. T. Berry Brazeltonís television show. His unending message is that children learn through unstructured play. Children learn essential social skills through unstructured play:

Their small and large motor development is enhanced. They use, and therefore stimulate, the part of their brain that allows creativity. The brain has time to "download" the data it has accumulated. Children need play time.

Parents today seem driven to provide their children with every possible opportunity to learn. Children need to be. They need relief from the pressure of accomplishing something and from competition. Playtime is more constructive than it seems. Playtime enhances a childís over-all physical/emotional development.

What to do? School is the childís primary daily commitment. Beyond school, one extra activity is enough: school and Scouts, school and soccer, school and dance lessons, school and karate, etc. One commitment on the weekend is enough! The rest of the weekend, the child needs to feel free to just be. Yes, it is appropriate to have chores on the weekend. Yes, I understand some children have homework over the weekend. Iím talking about over-scheduling a child.

A mother told me she thought it was appropriate that her son did not complete his homework during the week because he had two sport commitments, three days a week. She said it was her job to keep him physically fit. It is my opinion, that the childís first job is school and getting physically fit is second.

If you think your child has too much homework, you need to get together with other parents and get the teacher/school to change their policy. Up until that is accomplished, completing daily homework is the childís responsibility.

Being a child is a once-around passage through time. Are we letting our children be children? I donít think soóand what will be the result of that choice?

PARENT FEELS GUILTY. Too often I hear, "I donít like being the Ďbad guy' and I feel guilty when I am angry all the time."

Use the Penalty Box and Minute Drill and you will not be angry or feel guilty all the time.

Your job is to raise a human being who does not misuse power, who is kind, compassionate, considerate and loving. Creating boundaries and calmly serving consequences teaches your child to be respectful, reliable and resilient.

Is being the "bad guy" for ten minutes or even for a whole day, worth your childís emotional stability? And is there really a need to feel guilty for loving your child enough to teach him/her how to function successfully in the world?

Remove anger and guilt from your parenting bag. They are no longer necessary!

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #32
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

THE POWER OF AN IDEA
Every week, I write a Sunday column. It is a mysterious job in a way as I send my thoughts out into the world with little if any feedback as to how they are received or if they are even read. Once in awhile someone challenges something I say, but it is mostly a one-way channel Ė with an occasional exception:

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: In case you missed it, here is a part of my column about Halloween: "What to do? Maybe it would work to put a limit on the intake of candy. The children can get candy at five peopleís homes. After the first five homes, your children GIVE THEM something. Your children could color several pieces of paper using crayons or paint. A typed message like, ĎThe McDaniel family wishes you peace,í would be your gift.

Corny? Maybe, but Iím feeling a little corny lately. I want us to love each other; to care about each other and feel we are all united in our determination to be greater than any small thought about ourselves. It seems to me that the place to begin is with our childrenó as we teach them to give as a vital part of learning to receive. "

I opened the front door to find a group of children. "Happy Halloween!" they shouted in unison. I gave them their treats and watched as they turned to leave. Three young children remained. They handed me a piece of paper. It was decorated and had "The McNeal family wish you a joyous Halloween," written on it.

I thanked the little elves for their gift and yelled to the parents, "What a great idea! I didnít expect to get something on Halloween!" A voice loomed out of the darkness; "We got the idea in the newspaper. People are so surprised when the kids give them a gift instead of wanting something from them." Another voice shouted, "My kids want to do it next year!"

"Cool!" I stated, holding the colored paper in my hand. Smiling, I turned and walked inside my home. "Being a columnist is a very cool job," I thought as I closed the door.

TEACHING MANNERS. You teach most by what you model. If you ask your child to do something with the words, "please" and "thank you" wrapped around the request, your children will do the same.

A woman was ahead of me in the market. Her seven-year-old son demanded, "Give me some money for a candy bar!" There was no "please" attached to his words. His mother begrudgingly gave him the money.

Children who demand something from an adult and get it are misusing power. There is a way to ask for something, and asking is a request, not a demand. A demand is to be denied. Behavior that is rewarded continues, behavior that is not rewarded stops.

Do not buy candy or toys at the market, ever! Then your response is, "We donít buy candy or toys at the market." Hold the line.

Manners are about graciousness and kindness. Could we use more of these two commodities in the world? Like a desert needs rain. Kindness and graciousness are taught in our homes.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #33
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

MORE ON OVER-PROGRAMMING CHILDREN
"Our problem isnít the individual childís
schedule, but the over-all family schedule. Two days a week, we all go to one childís soccer practice. Two other days a week, we all go to the other childís practice. Then there are two games a week that we all attend. Fortunately, I have one child who is too young for soccer, but it WILL get crazier!"

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: I stand on my original opinion that all children need "down" time to play and just to be. This idea is so important to the development of the child that I suggest you get together with other parents and create a carpool to take children to practices. A child does not need you to watch them practice a lesson or a sport. Stay at home (or go to a park) with the other children and let them play.

Maybe both parents donít attend every game. Maybe one parent goes to a game and the other parent stays home with the children to give them time to play. Maybe your child will feel less pressured when both parents are not at the game.

Would you like to go to work each day and watch your spouse do his/her job? No? Why? Because it is boring. It is boring for small children to watch bigger children play a sport or take a lesson. Re-arrange your priorities. Be sure your children have time to play. (See the previous column for my total view on over-programming children.)

COUNTDOWN TO THE HOLIDAYS! Here we go! Once you start, it is hard to stop! Stop what? Spending money buying stuff for everyone in your family, for friends and sometimes, for people you hardly know.

Remember that children can take in two or three gifts, no more. If you have a large family, the number of gifts given to one child can stagger the imagination. You can buy a $25 savings bond for $12.50. How about each family member putting ten dollars into a savings account for a child. I bought my first car with cash; part of the money came from the ten dollars my grandmother Spurgeon gave me for each birthday and every Christmas. I earned the balance due, babysitting and working during summers.

If you have more than ten dollars that you are able to give to each child, how about donating the rest of the possible money to a family that will not have a holiday celebration without help? How about giving the extra turkey you will get with a normal weekís marketing purchase, to a family in need? Your local schools have lists of families in need.

I talked to my own children about giving money to a charity or specific place of need, instead of giving each other gifts. It was unanimous; we are giving one gift to each other this year. (I can watch my mind looking for a way to "cheat"!)

Many people choose not to stop the holiday gift-giving frenzy. We have been raised to believe that we love each other through things. A gift, however thoughtful, is not the basis of love between two people. Are you secure enough in your love for each other to have time together be your gift? Ask my children, my favorite gift of all is to have time with them. We live in the same area, and time with them is always my favorite gift.

My children and boyfriends/girlfriends will have dinner together. I will cook because I love to cook for my children. We will hang out and talk. We will play board games. We will have a quiet moment when we talk about how our pool of money was spent. And we will share a moment when we send our love and prayers to all families, everywhere.

Iím thinking this is going to be one of my favorite holiday seasons, ever.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #35
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

YOU TEACH WHAT YOU MODEL:
A woman was ahead of me in line at the market. She was smoking a cigarette.

The checker asked her to put it out, so she ground it out on the floor. She

couldnít find her checkbook, so she cursed at her purse. Before the checker

could weigh some cashew nuts, she popped a hand-full of them into her mouth.

Sitting in a shopping cart, her four-year-old daughter was watching every

move her mother made.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

You teach most by what you model. It is easy to underestimate how consistently your children are watching and copying you. Each minute of every day, you are modeling how to walk in the world, for your child.

If you talk behind a friendís back, your child is listening. If you turn every difficult situation into a soap opera drama, your child is watching. If you call each other names and have temper tantrums instead of communicating with each other, your child is listening. If you drink alcohol to calm down, your child is watching. If you lie, your child is listening. If you speak endless angry words, your child is listening.

If you are kind to all people, your child is watching. If you walk in the world with integrity, your child is watching. If you take care of yourself along with everyone else, your child is watching. When you cry, your child is listening. When you laugh, your child is listening. When you are loving, your child is watching.

Think about what you are modeling; your child is watching and listening.

ANOTHER USE OF THE MINUTE DRILL: In columns #10 and #15 (see www.parentingSOS.com, Orange County Register columns), I introduced use of the Minute Drill. This simple technique is turning chaotic, angry houses into peaceful loving homes. Recently, I found another use for this technique:

My eighty four-year-old mother is here for Thanksgiving. We were getting along perfectly until I opted to drive her to pick up her new glasses. She and I go to the same optometrist, so I assured her I knew the way. It was obvious that she didnít believe me as she began coaching me as we left our driveway; "Why arenít you turning here? Where are you going? Youíre not going the right way!"

Iím a very patient person, and Iíd had enough. "Ok, you are on the Minute Drill. You have one minute to stop telling me how to get to the doctorís office." She was quiet for a moment, then asked in her four-year-old voice, "What will my consequence be if I donít stop?" I smiled and answered, "You will lose fifteen minutes off of your rented movie tonight." She was quiet again. "Iím being quiet before my minute is up." I laughed and ended our conversation with, "Thank you."

The next day, Mom and I went to the market. She was asking too many questions, so I send her to get one artichoke. I gathered all my groceries and went looking for her. She was standing by the artichoke bin, two gigantic artichokes in hand. I waved so she yelled, "Which one do you want?" I shrugged indicating either one. She looked at them and repeated her question.

Again, I indicated either one was fine with me. She started to ask me which one I wanted again, so I glared at her. She got a little frantic muttering, "Oh, dear, Iím on the Minute Drill again!" and threw her rejected artichoke back into the bin.

Iím writing a book on the Minute Drill. Maybe Iíll add a category: For Parents, Grandparents, Teachers and (now) Mothers and Fathers. (I heard you say, "husbands. " I think the Minute Drill is great, but not THAT great! Just kidding!)

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #36
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

RECEIVING GIFTS:
My children are grown, so Iíve probably had more experience in this arena than most of you; the unmistakable moment when one of your child opens a gift from you, looks at it, says, "Oh, thanks, Mom." You are drowning in an ocean filled with their disappointment and yours. He/she didnít like the gift.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

I can successfully buy a sweatshirt or maybe even a sweater for my kids, but I never attempt to buy total outfits or shoes for them.

My now-thirty-one-year-old daughter, Kathleen, just completed her Masters Program. She is an English teacher in seventh grade. Teaching seventh grade English is a full-time job, and for the past year, she has gone to school to get her Masters Degree as well.

Kathleenís new dog recently chewed up her boots. It was obvious to me that the perfect celebration gift would be to replace the destroyed boots. She had thrown the chewed ones away, so I had no model to duplicate. It dawned on me that I havenít looked at Kathleenís shoes for at least thirteen years!

So I went to a big department store and picked out the least likely pair of boots that Kathleen would choose. All my friends agreed, they were "ugly boots". I gift wrapped them and gave them to her.

True to her heart, she was gracious; "You got me new boots!" Kathleen rolled the black, four- inch heeled, silver studded boots around in her hands. She looked at me. Maybe it was the fact I was covering my face with a pillow, that caused her to stare at me, "This is a joke, isnít it?"

I explained that it was my attempt to save both of us from being disappointed in my choice. She could return the boots and pick ones she loves. Kathleen was relieved that she didnít ever have to wear the ugly boots, so I was forgiven for my little joke.

RECEIVING GIFTS is difficult for most of us. It has to do with taking in love and accepting that we are worthy of that love. 

I remember when a friend of mine shopped all over town to get her father a special gift. He opened it, looked at it and all he said was, "I already have one of these!" She was crushed and angry. She vowed never to spend time shopping for him again.

What can you say when you receive a duplicate gift or a present you do not like?

"I can feel the love you put into this gift, thank you."

"You made this for me. It is special because you put your love inside of it."

The Aboriginal people believe that a person can do anything he/she wants with a gift without any negative feelings from the giver. The receiver can keep the gift, give it away, throw it away and there are no angry or hurt feelings involved. How can they do that?

The gift is not important; the love that is inside and wrapped all around the gift, is what matters. When you open a gift, remember to feel, notice, value and accept the love with which it is given. This is especially true when your child gives you something you have never wanted-- a ceramic, jeweled hand, for example!

I could have a little fun buying Kathleen some ugly boots without harming her self-esteem or our relationship because she realizes it is the love inside of the gift that is valuable. Your children will learn to feel the love inside of each gift when you model that for them.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #37
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

The end of December, I made a list of parental resolutions for you to consider. In the next few weeks, I will be commenting on those resolutions.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

I choose to allow my child to learn from his/her own mistakes. I will not rescue him/her from the consequences of his/her own choices. As a former classroom teacher, I can tell you how easy it is to spot a child who has been taught to fear making a mistake.

Doing anything in life has a certain degree of risk involved. If a child is raised by parents who treat as catastrophic, every mistake, that child quickly learns to take the safest way in each choice.

A child is checking out power. "What is power?" is an endless question. "Is this how I use power?" is the only question in the childís mind when he/she challenges a boundary. The answer to the childís question is a quiet "Yes," or "No." There is no need for anger. Bribing and threatening have no long-term value, and let the child know that you have less power than he/she does in that moment.

In his/her search for how to live in this world, the child will inevitably make mistakes. Think of a blind person trying to walk through your home. Would you snarl and snap each time that person bumps into something or goes the wrong way? No, of course not.

Your child isnít blind. He/she has an empty computer database. The child needs guidance. Even when your input is met with resistance, your child is asking you to lovingly teach him/her how to find his/her way.

If you teach a child HOW to do something, the child will make less mistakes as he/she tries to figure out how to get along with you. Be certain the child knows how to clean the bathroom; do it with the child the first time. Teach a child how to function successfully in the world.

You teach most by what you model. What do you do when you make a mistake? Do you swear? Do you call yourself an idiot? Do you rant and throw things? Your child is following y-o-u!

Do you have an internal calculator that never allows someone to forget a mistake that has been made? Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, was reminded of an atrocity done to her. She replied, "I distinctly remember forgetting that." Give the people in your life the right to be imperfect. If that right was not given to you, be the person who breaks the negative family cycle. Let yourself be imperfect, too.

When I began a teaching year, the same three children were quick to raise their hands, offering input. The rest of the students were praying I would not call on them. Over a period of time, I worked very hard to create a classroom where mistakes were acceptable, even invited as a necessary process of learning. When I would say, "Who wants toÖ" the majority of children were jumping up and down in their seats, wanting to participate in something unidentified. It didnít matter because it was safe to be wrong.

Have a rule in your home that you are all kind to each other. It is not kind to put someone down for an opinion or for giving incorrect information. Send the offender to the Penalty Box (see earlier columns for use of the Penalty Box). Kindness will live in your home when being mean is not acceptable. When it's safe to share, your children will talk to you and to other members of the familyówell, thatís true until they become teenagers. Then they can only talk if a phone is glued to one ear!

Wasnít it Thomas Edison who made over a thousand mistakes on his way to inventing the light bulb? Look at your own fears about being perfect, making mistakes, and choose not to put your "stuff" on your beloved children.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #38
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

In late December, my column contained eighteen resolutions for parents. In the next few columns, I will use one or more of those resolutions as my weekly topic.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

"I choose to spend more time doing something WITH my child than FOR my child." It takes more time to invite a child figure something out, rather than jumping in and doing it for him/her.

We live in a throw-away society. A piece of clothing is thrown away when it gets torn. Something doesnít work right, so a new one is purchased. There is no room in our hectic existence to fix something; there is no tenacious energy spent repairing something.

A child can tie his/her shoe, but wants you to do it. If you take time to sit down with the child and encourage that child to do it for him/herself, the child learns a new skill.

A parent who does a homework problem for a child, or does the lionís share of building a home project robs the child of learning to have his/her own accomplishments. The grade for the project is valued more than the lesson that might have been learned; or the breach of integrity in pretending something is your own doing, when it isnít.

A child is asked to make his/her bed. The child does a sloppy job. The parent groans and re-does the bed. The child smiles inside, knowing he/she has a live-in maid, and all it costs is a smidge of disapproval.

If, during the process of learning how to do something, the parent has unreasonable expectations or treats mistakes as catastrophic events, the child becomes afraid to try. An immobilized child is doomed for failure. Mistakes are the way we learn. If it is safe to make a mistake, a child is free to learn how to take care of him/herself.

The goal of a parent is teach a child to be inner-dependent. That means the child can think and do for him/herself.

Letís say the child asks to do something that you deem as foolish. If you rant and rave at the child, the youngster goes to the inside place where he/she canít hear the words that are being screamed. All the sound information you are giving is wrapped around judgment, so the child resents the message that was never heard. The child only knows that you said no to something.

My father would get a piece of paper. He drew a line down the center of the paper from top to bottom. On one column he put a plus, on the top of the other column he put a minus. We would discuss the benefits and liabilities of my request. At the end of the process, I could still make a plea for my idea, and he had the final vote. I learned not to bring every hair-brained idea I had to him because the process of writing it all down was boring. More important, I learned to look at both sides of an idea before making a decision.

If youíve read this column or get my weekly email article, you know that my endless theme is, "Spend time with your child now; it is all over much sooner than you can imagine."

How much of what you think you have to do today can you put aside and still keep your "home-ship" afloat? Read with your children. Play games with your children. Go for a walk or throw a ball with your children. Go to the beach or a park and play! (Play: To relax and have no concerns about the future. To relax. To rest. To be. To enjoy this moment.) Iím sixty years young, and I promise you, all the stuff you have to do will wait for you. Actually, you will do the must-do part of your life better when you learn to play.

My beloved son, Scott, got married over Christmas. My cherished daughter, Kathleen, became engaged this last week. (The wedding is this summer!) I dearly love Scottís wife, Katie and Kathleenís fiancť, Travis. It is easy to let both of my children go because I cherished every single minute I had with each of them. There are no re-runs in life; spend time with your children, now.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #45
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Every week, I send a "Sandy Thought" to my parent files. This week, I choose the title, "Winning isnít everything."

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

I told a true story about a little boy named Timmy, a first grade boy who lives every moment of his life in awe and joy. Timmyís large motor skills are still developing, so he is not a sports jock. I went to one of Timmyís baseball games. Imagine my surprise and delight, when Timmy ran after a "fly" ball which hit his mitt and fell to the ground; Timmy beamed and yelled, "I touched it, Mom, I touched it!" His mother yelled enthusiastically, "Atta boy!"

There was more to my story, all of which had the same theme: Timmy tried his best, was happy despite his lack of skill, and his mother (who still plays baseball at the age of forty-one), encouraged him. She knew that to correct him in front of his friends would embarrass him, so she didnít do that.

Following my story, I made some very strong statements about my concern that we are putting way too much pressure on children to excel in sports. I asked what would need to happen, (other than one father killing another father over a childís hockey game), to have us realize how unreasonable our priorities have become. I expressed my sadness that some children perform in sports to get love from his/her parents.

So I sent my little commentary out to my parenting email group. When the first email arrived from an angry parent, I carefully read the manís objections. His comments are in quotes, mine follow:

(1) "Winning is not everything is a good point but to reward failure is just as bad as overemphasizing winning." My writing clearly stated that the boy is a first grader. Missing a fly ball in first grade is not failure. Some children develop more quickly than others do, some have better perception than others, and some are more athletic than others are. If a child drops a ball in baseball, drops a pass in football, misses a basket in basketball, and doesnít kick a soccer ball into the goal, is that child failing? Remember that a child is taught in school that an "f" (F for fail), is as low a grade as one can earn. Is trying or doing your best a failure?

(2) "By continuing to praise him, rather than encouraging him to strive for improvement is setting him up for failure in the real world one day." The mother in my story knew that to correct her son in front of others would embarrass him. When a child is embarrassed, the child becomes afraid. Fear cuts off oneís ability to think and reason. The child cannot hear the advice being given, and the child feels like a failure because he/she cannot do better than his/her best.

(3) "The example of the father killing another father is an extreme case." Several television programs in the last year have illustrated that parental pressure (never-mind abuse) is so prevalent that some areas of the country no longer allow parents to watch their children play sports. I would be amazed if a childrenís sporting event existed where some parent or group of parents did not demonstrate irrational bursts of temper because a child didnít perform. This problem is immense, and our childrenís emotional stability is at stake.

(4) "The world is a competitive place and the lessons we learn from sport will help us to deal with lifeís competitions. Some day that child who missed the ball and learned it was ok to fail will not find his boss so understanding." Some day the child who is humiliated for missing a ball may become the angry boss nobody can tolerate. As a child is growing and developing physically, he/she is also growing emotionally. It is my passionate belief that a child who is encouraged while he/she is taught to perfect skills learns to trust him/herself. A child who responds to life based on self-trust is able to withstand the innumerable pressures of childhood and adulthood

Letís let our children play in sports for fun, again. How? Get off their backs. Let them make mistakes. Donít care if they "mess up." Teach them to do their best and to let that best be good enough. And, love them whether they win or lose a game. Love them every single minute that they are alive. Let your children be children.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #46
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

My black catís name is Ebony. When Ebony decides it is time to pet the cat (like right now when Iím trying to type this message), he is very persistent. Wherever my hands go, his head goes. He is currently leaning over my keyboard, following the movement of my hand. I have retyped a couple of words because he nudges my hand at just the right moment. I can drop him onto the floor ten times and he will come back. Why? Because he wants me to pet him.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Do you have a parent who, instead of asking for something, sighs or snorts or gets angry? The game is that you are to notice he/she is distressed, and ask about it. The problem is that the answer may be, "Oh, nothing!" The words are said through a sigh. Now the game is to figure out what is wrong and fix it.

If you were modeled the above type of behavior, chances are you do it also. We teach most by what we model, we learned most from what was modeled for us. Thatís a scary message, isnít it? I think the words, "I teach most by what I model" need to be on a poster in each parentís home.

If your child whines or grunts to get something from you Ėand you get itówhy would that child want to learn how to communicate in words? Donít give service to a grunt or whine. Invite the child to use words. If words arenít formed yet, invite the child to let you know without the drama. How? Donít give the child what he/she wants until the child gives you a clear message. Parents constantly tell me that their child whines and that whining drives them crazy.

Behavior that is rewarded continues, behavior that is not rewarded stops. If you continue trying to talk the child out of whining, you are fueling the childís power. After all, it is pretty powerful to be four feet tall and watch a five feet plus adult turn into frothing maniac, and over what? A sound!

Use the Penalty Box or Minute Drill (see parentingSOS.com, Orange County Register columns) with children age 1 through teens. If you want to use boredom, do so by following these steps: (1) Lean down and say to the whining child, "I want to hear what you have to say. My ears can not hear you when you whine. When you want to talk to me, come and find me." Walk across the room, not down the hall. The child will follow. Repeat what you said before, exactly, and remember to be "oatmeal", which means to be bland and boring in your speech. About the third time, the child will stop the behavior because it is too boring to follow an adult back and forth and hear the same diatribe.

The techniques described for whining also work when a pre-adolescent or teenager talks to you like you are something the cat dragged in. In this case, you ask the child to repeat what was said until the snippy tone of voice is removed. It becomes boring to be forced to repeat something (with the Minute Drill as their consequence), so the youngster will stop that behavior. Children are rude to adults if they are allowed to be rude.

If you want your children to have manners when he/she asks for something, model manners. "Pick up your toys now, please." When the job is accomplished, "Thank you for doing that so fast." If the child does not pick up the toys when asked, put him/her on the Minute Drill.

If a small child says, "I want some milk!" tell the child, "Whatís the magic word?" The magic word is please. With an older child ask, "And what do you want from me?" This invites the child to say please and more important to be clear in what he/she wants. "Would you please get me a glass of milk?" is clear, concise and polite.

A child says, "My shoe is untied!" Ask the child, "And what do you want from me?" The child will learn to use more words to communicate, and will therefore become a person who is clear, articulate and kind. I want to live in a world where people talk to each other, donít you? It wonít happen unless we teach our children to communicate their feelings and what they want.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #47
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

I was at a sporting event with a friend. In front of me sat a mother, father and their three children, one girl and two boys.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

The eldest boy was jabbing, pulling and generally teasing his younger sister. Every now and then, he extended his frustration to his younger brother as well. I watched for awhile. After all, it was none of my business that the parents periodically screamed at the boy but did nothing to stop his behavior. Separating the older boy from his brother and sister would have been a simple solution to an escalating problem.

As it turned out, fate was on my side. The troublesome boy took a backhanded swing at his brother with his jacket. He missed his brother and hit me, "You know," I said in my firm-but-oatmeal voice, "Iíve been watching you being mean to your brother and sister for almost an hour. They may not be tired of it, but I am."

As I released his jacket back to him, the father who was obviously embarrassed, jumped up, grabbed the boy and dragged him out of the stands. The boyís mother looked at me and said, "Boys will be boys!"

I raised two very obstreperous sons. It was obvious to me that boys have a certain "gladiator mentality." I have seen it in many boys during my 41 years, working with children. In fact, I recently visited a friend who has two boys, age 3 and 5. She, who is a non-violent person, allowing her children very little television time, was embarrassed that the two boys were ramming their garage door to "kill the cat."

Indeed, boys will be boys! Rough housing, active sports and other non-harmful ways of working out what seem to be instinctual aggressive tendencies, are important in helping our boys to become balanced adults. I think it is imperative that a firm line is drawn, distinguishing between being rowdy and being unkind to someone else.

Have a rule that you are kind to each other in your home. Clearly define the difference between play and being too rough, mean or unkind. Separate children who are not getting along well together.

Have another rule: "If you hit, you sit!" Put any child who hits another child in the Penalty Box for as many minutes as that child is old; (a five-year-old sits for five minutes.) Make it clear that hitting each other is not acceptable in your home.

Indeed, boys will be boys, God love em! If however, we want our men to be kinder, more sensitive souls, it is important we teach our sons the difference between intentional harm and being kind.

ENCOURAGING CHILDREN TO STOP ENDLESS BICKERING AND FIGHTING:
If you have two or more children who are constantly bickering, fighting and not getting along, I suggest you use my PRS method. Have each child sit down with a piece of paper that has "Problem, Rule, Solution" written on it, appropriately spaced so the child can write a paragraph after each word. On the bottom of the paper, have a place for the child to sign and put the date.

The child writes down what the problem is, but cannot blame another child. He/she must start with the word "I," (I hit Jon.) What the other person did is not relevant. You canít determine what someone else is going to do, but you are always at choice as to how you respond. The rule is what family standard was broken. (We use our words, not our fists to solve problems.) The solution is what that child could do differently if the same problem occurred again; (I could talk to him about the problem.) What you are asking the child is, "How were you a part of this problem, what is the rule in our home, and what could you do differently next time?"

You can put the signed, dated forms in an envelope. When the child says that he/she has not created this problem before, show the signed papers to the child. This is an effective method for classroom teachers to use as well.

Writing PRS papers is boring. Children hate to be bored. A lot of the frivolous fighting will stop because the children donít want the consequence.

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