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 #48
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

What Message are You Constantly Giving Your Child?
A lot of people come to me with their parenting concerns. I teach seminars, answer a huge amount of email, and coach parents privately. Inevitably, there are certain themes that I consistently address, one of which is, "What message are you constantly giving your child?"

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A mother came to me, broken-hearted because her five-year-old son had just been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. I am empathetic with her sense of overwhelm at having a child who will take a lot of time and energy, much more than the average child.

My concern was that by constantly crying, bursting into fits of anger, and asking her husband to take their three children for the weekends, she is giving her challenged child a negative message: "You are not who I want you to be." The child canít change this part of himself, so it is time to accept him as he is. "I donít love you!" Every child needs to feel loved by a parent every single minute that child is alive. "You are driving me crazy!" No one drives you crazy, you choose to go crazy.

Having worked with my friend Lynneís child who has Asperger Syndrome, I see how challenging the boy can be. What I also see is the enormity of brilliance in this child. He is far more intuitive than I am, far more astute, and his memory is a hundred times better than mine.

Ask a parent who wants to conceive a child and cannot, or is waiting to adopt a child, how precious every child truly is. I can understand being overwhelmed at the news that a child is less than perfect Ėand then the job is to find a way to parent that child the best way possible. A gift of life has been given. I believe there is a reason for everything, however difficult to see Ėand some good can come from every negative happening.

Bottom line, if a child is given the constant message that he/she is not loved and valued as he/she is, that child will have enormous difficulty developing any self-esteemóself trust.

What message are you giving your child when you take your love away because you are angry about something the child did? What message are you giving when you favor one child over another? What message are you giving when you throw your baseball cap on the ground and wonít talk to your child because he/she struck out in a baseball game? What message are you giving when your child brings home a "B" on a report card and your first comment is, "Why didnít you get an ĎAí ?" What message are you giving your child when you are angry with that child most of the time? (Donít you know about the Penalty Box and Minute Drill? See www.parentingSOS.com, Sandyís Orange County Register columns.)

Think of yourself as a telegraph machine. You are constantly sending a message to your child. What are you saying? What is the child inferring from w hat you are saying? What is the child deciding about him/herself based on what you are saying?

You are the architect of a human beingís life. You are responsible for the emotional as well as the physical safety and development of a child. It is an awesome job! Watch yourself without judgment for a few days; what message are you giving to your precious, beloved child?

TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM: My daughter Kathleen was at a school function. She was eight years old. The children were on the ground, parents sitting in a half-circle in chairs. Up popped Kathleen, looking for mom. When she saw me, she put her finger next to her eye, pointed to her heart, pointed at me and then put her two forefingers up on the top of her forehead like goal posts.

When she got home from school I said, "I get the I LOVE YOU message, but what does this (putting my fingers up like goal posts) mean?" She gave me the look you give to a stupid adult saying, "Dearly, silly!" For all the years between that moment and now, we have exchanged the "I love you dearly" sign a bazillion times. It is Kathleenís gift to you to use in your home. (Footnote: Boys put two whole, opened hands up at the top of their forehead instead of two single fingers.) I love you dearly is a message to be given to your child as often as possible. It is the keel on their sailboat, keeping them upright until they can sail on their own.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #49
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

A Child Can Not Answer the Question "WHY?"
The longer I work with adults and children, the more convinced I am that many (if not the majority) of problems between people stem from a lack of communication skills.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Adults were taught by their parents, teachers and other adults to be defensive. "What were you thinking when you put the cat in the barrel?" is screamed at a child who is too afraid to think of the answer.

"Why did you hit your brother?" The answer to "why?" is "because," every child knows that. The word "why?" has tons of anger wrapped around it, so the child becomes fearful. Fear cuts off a childís ability to think and reason. A fearful child cannot access the information to answer that question.

Because we are not teaching our children to use their words instead of their fists, a child hits another child in a reactive manner. The answer to "Why did you hit your brother?" is "I donít know!" That answer is another form of "because."

Instead: Ask the child, "What was happing for you (going on for you) when you chose to hit your brother?" Donít ask this question in the heat of battle; ask it later in the morning or afternoon. Remember what you are hearing is one side of the battle.

If you have the "If you hit you sit!" rule in your home, the person doing the hitting is sent to the Penalty Box for as many minutes as he/she is old. No questions. No blaming or shaming. "You broke the rule, so you are in the Penalty Box."

A first grade teacher named Mrs. Cote taught me a wonderful communication/defusing anger technique. Two children get into a slugfest. Have the two children stand facing each other; far enough away to be out of strike range.

"OK, Jon, I want you to tell me everything you want to say about what happened between you and your brother. Michael, you cannot say a word until Jon is finished. Even if he lies, even if you are angry, you need to wait for your turn. OK, Jon, letís hear what you have to say." Jon talks until he runs out of words to say. Michael is pretty angry because he has had to be quiet . Let Michael talk until he doesnít want to say any more. Next it is Jonís turn. Now it is Michaelís turn. Go back and forth between the two boys until neither one of them have anything else to say.

Having defused their anger, it is now appropriate to send the two children to the Penalty Box. Do so for as many minutes as each child is old (a six-year-old goes to the Penalty Box for six minutes). If one child needs to sit longer than the other child because of an age difference, that is the rule! "At ten years old, you are able to make a better choice than your brother who is six years old."

Children who are required to use the Cote method, followed by time in the Penalty Box will think twice before hitting another child. Wouldnít it be wonderful to live in a world where individuals used their words instead of their fists?

AN ADULT WAY of responding to something someone says to which you feel defensive is, "What I just heard you say was that you think it was irresponsible of me to let Trish drive home after the football game; is that what you are saying?" When you give a person the information as to exactly what message you just received, it gives the other person a chance to be more clear, to amend what was originally said and therefore to build a bridge where a wall would have been built.

Supposition is 90% of the reason people get angry when there is a communication problem. As I said before, we have been taught to be defensive.

It is difficult to listen astutely when you are feeling defensive. When the other person is given feedback as to what was heard, that person is able to choose whether to start a battle or build a bridge.

Clear communication is the key to successful relationships. Clear communication void of anger helps a child to make wise choices based on experience rather than fear.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #50
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

It is Important to Say NO to Children
I needed to do some busy work one day, so I stopped by the movie rental store. Iím amazed at how few decent movies there were to rent, especially since I hadnít been to the rental store in several months. I reminded myself mention in a talk somewhere that were we all to stop going to and renting lousy movies, the film-makers would need to enhance the quality of their films.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Anyway, a young boy about seven years old was following his mother around begging her to rent the two movies he had in his hand. She very clearly told him that they were only renting two movies total, and that he could choose one video to take home.

The boy persisted. The mother held her ground. Finally, the boy began to whine and fuss. The mother told him to "Hush!" but he kept fussing. After several minutes, the mother said, "OK, Ok, calm down. You can rent both movies."

Behavior that is rewarded continues, behavior that is not rewarded stops. When the mother gave in to the boy who was fussing, she gave him a resounding message that the only thing he needs to do to get his way (especially in public) is to melt-down. So the boy learns to control and manipulate people with his negative behavior.

No must mean no. In the case of the boy who began fussing, the mother needed to say, "You will not create a scene in this or any other store. You are at choice right now; choose one of those two movies. One! Or you will be renting no movies today." If he continued to argue or fuss, put him on the Minute Drill; "Ok, you are not renting a movie today. This was your choice. You are now on the Minute Drill. You have one minute to stop fussing about the movie.

For every minute you continue fussing, you will lose fifteen minutes off of your total television time today. Your first minute starts right now." (That day, take fifteen minutes off of his TV time for each minute he continued to melt-down when you were in the store.)

Two children got into the van after baseball practice. The mother offered the first child the choice of one of two drinks. One drink was strawberry the other was orange. The child chose strawberry, but the minute the other child began to drink the orange one, changed his mind. "Too late!" the mother coached, "You need to drink the one you chose. The child started to melt-down. "You are on the Minute Drill. If you continue to get angry over something that will not change, you will lose fifteen minutes off of your computer time today." The boy calmed down immediately, so the mother continued, "When you are calm you can think. How could you get the orange drink that you now want?" The boy said, "I could wait until we get home." The mother enthusiastically yelled, "Bingo! We will be home in five minutes." On the way home, the boy said, "I really want the strawberry drink." The mother shook her head, amused that the item worthy of a melt-down was now being cheerfully consumed.

If you donít say no to your children they learn to miss-use power. Power mongers have serious social problems and are seldom given leadership roles. Teach your child to accept that there are limitations in life, and that no means no.

ANOTHER WAY TO GET CHILDREN TO COMMUNICATE TO DEFUSE ANGER is to get children who are angry to draw a picture or put lots of color on a page. When my now-twenty-nine year old son, Scott, was eight, he was too angry to talk to me about something. I gave him a piece of paper, crayons and left him alone to draw a picture about his feelings.

When I reentered the room, I saw he had drawn tanks shooting at one person. Bombs were being dropped on one person. Army men were shooting at one person. As I walked past him I said, "Wow! That person is in big trouble, Iím glad it isnít me!" He came out of his chair yelling, "It IS you!" I turned and just looked at him with no judgment or hurt. Soon he said, "Iím just angry, Mom, I wouldnít hurt you." I sat down and we were able to talk about his feelings.

Allowing a child to vent feeling by drawing or painting is a wonderful way to teach the child how to get feelings out that could become volcanic if left inside.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #51
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Melt-Down is a Way that Children Misuse Power
 

As you know, I teach parenting seminars, write this column, send out a weekly message to some 50,000 parents and as a result, I get a lot of email. Continuously, I get questions revolving around children melting down as a way of controlling their parents.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

You may be sick of hearing this, but some people are not getting it: BEHAVIOR THAT IS REWARDED CONTINUES, BEHAVIOR THAT IS NOT REWARDED STOPS. This is not something I made up, it is a child development truth.

A child is constantly asking, "Is this how I use power?" It is, given the fact that a child has no idea what power is or how to use power, a reasonable question. Whenever a child is pushing your boundaries or misbehaving, the bottom-line question is, "Is this how I use power?"

When you say no to a child, the child is not happy with that choice. The child wants his/her own way. Again it is about power. So, the child looks for ways to get you to give up your own power. One child may dissolve into tears saying, "You donít love me!"

Another child may move into an accelerated explosion of anger. It is so annoying when a child doesnít mind! What is he/she thinking? I can hit the child, I can destroy the child with angry words, I can punish the child. And those are the things a parent might resort to when the child is defiant. None of those tactics work. Yes, one of them might stop a behavior, but it will not CHANGE a behavior.

I was joking the other night during a talk, that todayís children mustíve gone to a class before they were born where they learned how to melt -down as a way to get their way.

What is melt-down really about?

A powerful child does not respect a non-powerful adult. The child will continuously defy a parent who allows negative behavior. It is extremely powerful to be able to do something that a parent cannot stop. The child, who is frustrated in the first place, discovers that his/her parent freaks out if he/she melts-down. Melt-down becomes the weapon of choice of a powerful child who is asking, "Is this how I use power?"

While it is important that a child has a place to express feelings, to feel angry and sad and disappointed, melt-down as a response to every choice a parent makes, is not acceptable.

If the child is age 1-through the teen years, put the child in THE PENALTY BOX. The child is put in a specific place that is always the same place (a chair, a carpet square, the childís bed, a hula-hoop, etc.). "This is the Penalty Box. You will here for (as many minutes as the child is old) X minutes. If you get out of the Penalty Box, your time starts over. As long as you are screaming, your time starts over. You will be in the Penalty Box for X minutes when you are quiet and when you stay there."

A woman wrote about her four-year-old melt-down artist who would dissolve when ever she didnít want to be in a store. After talking to me, the mother warned the child that she would be put into the Penalty Box if she screamed in the store. The child wanting to know if the mother meant what she said, began screaming. The mother took the child, put her into her car-seat in the van; she took out a beach chair and magazine and sat beside the van. When the child stopped screaming (forty minutes later), the mother had her serve her four minutes of quiet time. Then they went back into the store with no further screaming from the child. It never happened again.

Behavior that is rewarded continues, behavior that is rewarded stops. Donít teach your child to become a power-monger; you will be living with him/her for a very long time.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #52
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Vacations
Every time a vacation period rolls around, I feel like I say the same thing. Perhaps some words bear repeating.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Children do not move from structured time to non-structured time without some frustration. Boredom can become an instant problem, "Mom, thereís nothing to do!", which is an amusing thought in todayís buy-the-kid-ten-thousand-toys mentality.

Have the whole family sit down and make a list of all possible activities that could fill free time. Put the list on the refrigerator. When a child fusses because he/she is bored, refer to the list. If the child says everything on the list is boring, have the child look at the new list you put next to the family list; it is a list of extra chores that could be done.

"Choose from one of the two lists," you will say, trying not to reveal your smile for having out-foxed the fox!

When children donít play well together, separate them for an hour. All you need to say is, "When you play together nicely, you get to be together." If children have homework over vacation (which they should not!), have them do it at the first of the vacation before "couldnít-care-less-itis" sets in.

One more time, donít vary the childrenís bed times more than an hour at night. It is easier for the child to return to the school routine after Spring vacation if you havenít upset their internal clocks.

Vacation time is for children to learn to play and enjoy their lives without stress. Invite them to play. Have an allotted amount of time they can watch television, work on the computer, play video games a day. Invite them to play board games.

Once a month, my grown children and their friends have a "game night." There are tables set up with different board games. As they come in the door, each person draws a table name and number. They play that game first, then move to another game. Where did they learn to enjoy playing board games? Thatís right, as children in our home.

Finally, enjoy your children while they are home. I have seen my children once (each) in the whole last month. They are adults and busy in their lives, as I am busy in mine. Donít take for granted that being with them will last forever. It doesnít.

A PET IS A MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY. I receive email about children being mean to pets. Being mean to a pet is not acceptable! Use the Penalty Box to stop a child from hurting a family pet. Donít let the child play with the pet unless the child is kind to the animal.

One of the great teaching arenas for teaching kindness, being gentle and teaching love is through a family pet. Teach a child how to pet a dog or cat.

Do not let the curious child poke the eyes of an animal or pull its tail. And have the child become involved in the care of a pet. Feeding a dog, walking the dog, bathing a dog (or whatever is required for the care of an animal), are a part of owning that animal.

I wasnít much of a cat person until my daughter left me with two cats when she went off to college. Now, ten years or more later, I have two fluffy best friends who keep me amused and who ardently participate in an exchange of love.

Remember, a pet is a member of your family. Pets are included in the rule, "We are kind to each other in our family."

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #53
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!
I was at a signal in Santa Ana; my mother and I had been shopping. Behind me, a woman was waving frantically out of her car. I opened my door yelling, "Whatís up?" She asked, "Are you Sandy McDaniel?" which I acknowledged favorably. "I love your column!" she screamed and began blowing me kisses.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Time flies when you are having fun! Today marks my one-year anniversary for writing this column. It is a mysterious job, where words on paper are electronically sent to an editor and then magically appear in Sundayís newspaper. I get some feedback, like the story above, (or when someone disagrees with me,) but it is mostly a lighthouse job.

As you have discovered, I have my own writing style. Up until the Register hired me as a columnist, the messages I received (in school and from a large number of rejections from publishers) was that my writing was not good enough. Iím not a formal school person, so there are not mega -credentials behind my nameóand I have had an incredible education in the arenas of life skills and child behavior.

I am grateful beyond words to the Register and to you, the readers, for allowing me to use the wisdom and knowledge I have been gathering for so many years, to assist such a large assortment of people.

I do not believe that wars will change the world. I believe that the only way to make changes is in our homes. Teaching children to live in love instead of anger will change everything. Loving parents create loving children. For over twenty years, I have focused on ways to assist parents with their incredibly difficult job.

I cannot teach parenting in a column, a book or a seminar. Parenting is about building a relationship with a child that begins with birth and never ends. What I have seen is that when a parent is in a constant adversarial role with a child, there is no room to build that essential relationship. So, I begin by teaching parents how to get children to mind and then build on that foundation with lessons about understanding them.

I have a favor to ask of you. I want to get my column syndicated so I can extend my weekly outreach. Having tangible numbers on how many people read my column will assist with that. So, Iíve developed a little "customer appreciation" idea. The winner will receive a package of my parenting books and tapes. If you already have my products, you can donate them to a library, In addition, there is a free two-hour consultation session with me. (If you donít want to talk about parenting, and you live local to me, we can go to dinner and get acquainted.)

Hereís what you do: (1) Get an envelope, stamp and piece of paper. (2) Write on the paper, one reason you read my column or what benefit you receive from doing so. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number so I can contact you.
(3) Mail to: Sandy McDaniel, PO Box 15458, Newport Beach, CA 92659.
There will be a drawing in two weeks, on April 21st. I promise I will read every entry. (Email or phone calls will not be eligible for the drawing.) In addition: if you want to receive "Sandyís Email Newsletter" (different from this column) and be on my email list, register to do so at: www.parentingsos.com

After September 11th, Oprah said, "I donít think the job is to get back to life as normal; I think the message is that we need to change how we have been living." I agree. It is time we make our most precious resource, our children, our number one priority. It doesnít take a rocket scientist to determine that the quality of life for everyone depends upon how we raise our children today.

Thank you for gracing my life with your love. Thank you for caring about your children and all children. God bless all parents and their children; God bless us one and all.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #54
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Stop a Problem Before It Begins
I just returned from a few days with my mother on Catalina Island. On the boat ride to and from the island I witnessed parents having problems with children that could have been prevented.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

The word I want you to consider is, "pro-active." What that word means in parenting terms is to stop something before it happens. Children are excited to be on a boat. They bounce, run, touch everything and donít have any interest in sitting down and being quiet. Once a child realizes there is a snack bar on the boat, begging and whining begins. A proactive parent takes snacks and drinks on the boat. If you do not take snacks on the boat give each child X dollars (Iím thinking $2 or $3), and t hat is all the money each child gets while you are on the boat.

At the risk of setting off the few people who do not believe sugar makes children hyperactive, I wonder at the sanity of pouring sugar into a child with whom you are spending an outing-day.

Before the boat leaves the dock (or before you get onto the boat), be certain the children know the rules: No running, no screaming; do not go by the rail without an adult, etc. Enforce the rules with the Penalty Box. A child who needs to sit quietly for as many minutes as he/she is old will get the message that rules will be enforced.

Last week, I went to Universal Studios with a friend and her three children. We stated the rules before we entered the mayhem of the park, (1) They needed to stay within seven feet of one of the adults, (2) Anything a child asked to buy was an automatic "no, "(3) Anyone who failed to mind on one ride would be sitting out the next ride, (4) The length of time we would spend at the park would be determined based on the quality of their behavior.

On one exhibit I saw the word "intense" on the sign. The children and I talked about what choices they could make if something became too scary or too hot.

If you could cut in half the angry exchanges between you and your child, wouldnít you choose to do so? Becoming proactive is an essential parenting strategy. Anticipate problems before they exist. Doing so requires that you watch, pay attention and think.

Last week was my first year anniversary of writing this column. As stated in that column, I am seeking tangible numbers of how many people read my column. I want to get the column syndicated, and the syndicators think parenting is too soft a marketó meaning people wonít read it.

So, Iíve created a customer appreciation drawing. The drawing will be next Sunday. You have one week left to write me a note telling me one reason you value reading my column. Send your note to Sandy McDaniel, PO Box 15458, Newport Beach, CA 92659. Email or phone calls are not eligible for the drawing; the prize is a full set of my parenting products and a two-hour consultation with me. I want so much to help parents everywhere; thank you for assisting me in doing so.

For the record, I do not do the headline on my column. So misspelled words, a column title that is not something I would say is out of my control.

A Sandy Thought: Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed emotionally, it is usually because I have rushed ahead of myself worrying about something that is not a reality. Today is the only day you get. This moment is your only reality. While it is appropriate to plan for the future, it is not in your best interest to live there. Bury the "what ifs" in your mental burial ground. When your mind brings up a thought that isnít true for this moment, bless the thought and let it go. Stay in the moment; that is where your true power exists.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #55
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Information is Useless Unless You Use It!
Often, when I work on an individual basis with a parent, the bottom-line issue is about personal power. Will you risk your child being angry with you to teach your child how to successfully live in the world? Will you take charge? Will you create clear boundaries for your child? Will you serve consequences?

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A child has no concept of the scope or limitations of personal power. Therefore, the child is constantly asking, "Is this how I use power?" The child makes many decisions about power based upon the feedback that child receives from the people around him/her.

If you let a child run your home, you are giving that child mixed messages about power. The child will become a power-monger. Do you want to be with someone who wields his/her power all the time?

Neither will other children. Do you want to fight your way through your child's life, constantly dealing with his/her anger? If no, don't create a child who misuses power.

The irony of children is that they require boundaries and consequences in order to feel safe -and they will fight every limitation you try to create. Again, it is about power.

When you train a dog, you give it specific signals and consequences in order to teach it follow the rules that you choose for that animal. While I don't recommend a leash or choke chain for children, I have seen how important it is to have a clear set of discipline techniques so your child receives consistent messages. What is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior is the job of each parent to teach every child.

The use of boredom makes anger unnecessary. Instead of screaming and yelling at children who are misbehaving in a car, pull over to the side of the road. Turn off the radio and ignition. Look out the window for your next car. When a child asks why you have stopped say, "It is not safe for me to drive while children are fighting." When the children promise to behave, drive the car again. If the children start misbehaving again, repeat the same process. Children can not sit in a car with a quite parent because it is boring to do so.

Use the Penalty Box to stop behavior immediately. "We have a rule in our home that we are kind to each other. Teasing your sister is not kind. You are in the Penalty Box."

The child stays quietly in the Penalty Box for as many minutes as the child is old. The clear message to that child is, "That behavior is not acceptable."

Use the Minute Drill to immediately stop negative behavior in children from three years through the teens. "You have one minute to stop yelling and screaming about my decision. For each minute you go over the first minute, I will take fifteen minutes off of your TV time tonight." Children quickly figure out that continuing a specific behavior is not in their best interest as the consequence escalates until the child complies.

The use of boredom, the Penalty Box and the Minute Drill are techniques I have developed to get children to mind. They are fair, powerful and loving teachers; they give a child clear definition as to what is and is not acceptable behavior.

Great tools are useless unless they are used, and used as they were intended. It takes time and energy to set limits and serve consequences. There are days when every parent wants to take a nap and not deal with an energetic, powerful child. It is my belief that when each child is conceived, the parents who did so have a responsibility to that child; parents need to teach their child how to be a loving, respectful, reliable human being who is successful as a human being. The child needs to be their primary focus. Take a nap later, your child needs you right now.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #56
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Teach Your Child Not to Lie or Steal
A young child and his mother were ahead of me in line at the market. All of a sudden, the mother turned like a cobra and grabbed her son. "Did you steal a candy?" she screamed to the boy who adamantly shook his head back and forth as candy dribbled out of his mouth.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

What children fear most is ridicule and criticism. Pre-teens and teenagers spend 100% of their time trying not to be embarrassed. The mother saw chocolate on the boy's face. She needed to kneel down and quietly say, "You have chocolate on your face. I don't remember giving you a candy bar.

Where is the rest of the candy?" When the child produces the stolen object say, "I need to pay for this and we will talk about it in the car."

Many children lie because it is not safe to do otherwise. Would you say, "Sure, I stole a candy bar!" to Darth Vader, the villain in Star Wars? When a parent is angry, he/she and Darth Vader may have a lot in common in the eyes of a child.

In the car, skip the "I was so embarrassed/ashamed/mortified speech that you probably heard from your parents. This is a teaching moment. To a small child say, "It is not acceptable to steal. Stealing hurts another person. You may not steal." To an older child, put it into a perspective the child can hear, "What if your father owned that store and he bought all the things that people come to the store to buy. Let's say six people a day take something from that store. How could that be a problem for him and for his family?" The answer is that the father would not bring in the money necessary to take care of his family.

The point to make is this: stealing is a conscious attempt to hurt another person. That is not an acceptable choice. The child will do specific chores to pay for the stolen candy bar. The child will also lose thirty minutes off of something he/she likes to do that day. The first offense needs no other intimidation or consequence.

Nearly every child will steal something at some time in that child's life. Adults steal. The government steals. Movies glorify stealing. Stealing is being modeled everywhere. It is up to each parent to set a standard for honesty, enforce it with rational consequences and most important to model honesty.

As for making it safe for your child to tell the truth, remember a simple fact: If you scare the snot out of your child that child will probably not tell you the truth. Back to square one, the child is asking, "Is this how I use power?" and your answer is a quiet, "yes" or "no". Always, no matter what the child did, that child is asking for direction. A child cannot hear your lesson when he/she is afraid.

And, just so I continue to endlessly make one point, are you modeling the truth for your children? If no, why are you so angry that he/she is also compromising on the truth? You teach most by what you model.

AND THE WINNER IS: With all of my heart, thank you to those of you who took time to write an appreciation letter for my column. I read every single one, and my heart remains overwhelmingly full. Lin Aldrich of Costa Mesa won the products and consultation time with me. Congratulations Lin!

You may email me with a confirmation that you read my column; your message will be counted in my quest for syndication. If you have specific concerns or topics you would like me to cover in my column please write or email me with them. I will not include names or any information that reveals the identity of the person with the problem or request. Sandy@parentingsos.com

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #57
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

At the Supermarket...
Sunday I went to the market. I know better, I just forgot. Several dozen harried mothers and their children were zooming up and down the aisles. The sound and activity resembled an experience I once had, watching the gibbons at the San Diego Zoo!

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

One mother was following her two children (probably ages six and eight), who each had a small shopping cart. The boy took off running so the girl followed. Her small cart took a swerve and smashed into a woman's cart. The "victim" of the crash was yelling at her two children, so she didn't even notice the bump.

The young girl pushing the cart looked embarrassed. That look intensified as her mother grabbed her arm and yelled, "Aren't you old enough to know better than to do that?"

WHISTLE! Whoa! Hold it! Foul! First of all, it is not appropriate to give two small children their own carts when the store is filled with people. There is no way to control both of the children and your own cart as well. Second, what children fear most is ridicule and criticism.

Being screamed at in the market frightens a child. Fear cuts off his/her ability to think and reason. Therefore, whatever is screamed at the child is useless because the child cannot hear what is being said. Additionally, the child cannot make a better choice or even think what to do next because (yes, I'm going to say it again) fear has cut off the child's ability to think and reason.

In another aisle, a small child was into stage two of a major melt-down. She wanted something from the shelf and the mother had said no. The child was getting more and more upset. They did a little dance called; child takes it from the shelf-mother replaces it on the shelf, until the child decided to come totally un-glued. Finally, the mother gave in letting the little girl have her item.

WHISTLE! Stop the action! The store has more things of interest to a child than Disneyland! To think the child won't want to touch, feel, move and buy a lot of items is foolish. The best way to market is to swap your kids with a friend who has kids; I go to the market alone, then you go to the market by yourself.

If it is necessary to take a child/children to the market have some rules: (1) We never buy toys or candy at the market, (2) We only buy what is on our list. (A child can't read so this opens the door to picking up a couple of things your forgot to put on the list.) (3) You may choose one and only one item. If you pick up something in aisle one and then want something in aisle two, you must choose one over the other. This rule will take some time as you may be running items back to their place of origin, and it will end the drama over buying something in each aisle.

Remember to use the Minute Drill in the market. "OK, you are at choice right now. You are on the Minute Drill. You have ten seconds (yes, you can cut the free minute down to whatever suits you) to stop screaming. For each minute over the ten seconds, you will lose fifteen minutes off your TV time when we get home. Your choice!"

Children need direction and teachers who don't use blame, shame and guilt to get the child to mind. Yes, I understand how crazy life can be with so much to do and so many children. Do you understand that you are the architect of a human beings' life? The child is asking you how to be in world; love is your greatest ally and most profound teacher. Please choose love over anger.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #58
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

"I Feel Guilty When I Punish My Child"
Often a parent comes up to chat with me after I present a parenting seminar. I've been hearing more and more parents say, "I feel guilty when I punish my child!"

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

First of all, let's eliminate the word "punish" from your parenting vocabulary. Punishing to me is getting even with a child for misbehaving. A consequence however, is the natural result of making a choice; some consequences are positive and some are negative.

The point of discipline is to give the child consistent guidelines as to what behavior is and is not acceptable. The long-term goal is to teach a child how to live successfully in the world.

Remember, the child is constantly asking, "Is this how I use power?"

A reasonable consequence tells the child, "No, that is not how you appropriately use power." The child learns to behave in a manner that is acceptable.

Because the child is checking out how much power he/she has, that child will wield power to try to stop you from holding the line. The child may refuse to mind, or continue screaming until you give in; the child may cry and act as if his/her feelings are being damaged forever. All of these choices are about power; the child is trying to disassemble your power structure. If the child wins (the parent gives in and let him/her have his/her way), the child has more power than the parent does in that minute. Then the child learns is to misuse power in order to have his/her way.

I was at a friend's home recently when her parents were visiting. The mother quietly asked the grandmother to stop badgering her son into getting dressed for sports. The grandmother threw her coffee cup down, stormed out of the room and slammed the door. She would not discuss the matter, nor would she come out of her bedroom.

You get the point, right? The grandmother had never been taught to communicate clearly. Instead, she used her anger as a way to manipulate the family into letting her do whatever she wants to do.

The grandmother is misusing her power.

Children need rules and boundaries in order to feel safe. Yes, they will fight them -because they are trying to see how much power they have-and they will only learn to misuse power if you allow it.

There is too much anger in our world. There is too much violence. Do your part to create a more loving place in which each of us can live by teaching your children how to use power appropriately.

IS THE TELEVISION YOUR BABYSITTER? If you've heard me speak, you know I have a very deep concern that children are watching too much television and way too much TV that is neither monitored nor regulated. I've said it before and I'll say it again, children should NOT be exposed to violence, to soap operas, most sitcoms, to the news and to movies that are not rated as being age appropriate.

If you want your children to watch (for example) no more than an hour and a half of TV a day, give each child six colored squares. Those squares are worth fifteen minutes each. When the child has spent his/her squares for that day, there is no more TV until tomorrow.

Pay attention to what your children are watching on television. Regulate how much TV they watch. Teach your child to find a solution to boredom that does not include watching endless television. There is more at stake in this choice than you can imagine!

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #59
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Excessive Television Harms Children's Lives
Parents are forever asking me about whether television harms children. I have a response to that question which has deepened as a result of watching an "Oprah" show.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A Stanford University professor, Jim Steyer, has written a book (which I have not read) called THE OTHER PARENT. It is a research project on the effects of TV on children. Jim was Oprah's guest last Monday.

Jim says that parents are spending forty percent less time with their children, as little as seventeen hours a week. Some children average forty hours of television a week. He says that television shapes the reality, defines values and behavior for our children.

How did television programming get so out of control? Twenty years ago, television was deregulated. The censorship of every television channel ceased. Parents have not paid attention to what is on television and rules that are being broken have not been enforced.

Jim told the audience that it is important to realize that the negative effects of TV are not attributed to one show or one type of program. The problem is the constant bombardment of ideas that may not be age appropriate, and their cumulative effect.

What is television modeling? Three fourths of teenagers say that sex on TV influences how they relate to sex. 84% of the sitcoms have sexual innuendoes as a part of their regular script.

The violence in wrestling teaches children many things: (1) that violence is safe and fun, (2) that it is ok to be aggressive and hurt another person, (3) that anger needs to be expressed in the form of violence. Too many children have killed another child, imitating a wrestling technique. There is too much violence on television!

Another expert on the Opera show stated these reasons for excessive television being harmful: (1) TV is passive, not interactive, therefore it inspires being lethargic, (2) Because of the rapidity of frame changes, school and other arenas of learning become boring, (3) It interferes with the creative nature and abilities of a child, (4) A child does not develop social skills while locked into the TV, and (5) Important language skills are not learned.

In terms of a national problem with children being overweight, the television is an immense contributor. Because of commercials, children desire fast foods and junk food, both of which are high in calories. Children believe what they hear in a commercial. Giving a free toy with a particular fast food item, lures the child to the food which is not in his/her best interest to eat.

Opera had a film clip of a family whose five-year-old son watches over sixty hours of television a week. The parents didn't want to deal with the boy's rage when they tried to turn off the TV, so they indulged his voracious appetite for media input. They were told to take the TV (one of four televisions in their home) out of the boy's bedroom.

Here is how I would advise any parent to limit the amount of TV a child watches: Give the child squares of paper, each representing fifteen minutes, that add up to no more than two hours a day. When the child spends the squares, there is no more TV for that child, that day. Parents may purchase products that make their television unusable for children.

Bottom line, watching too much television is destructive and inappropriate for your child. Be careful what you are watching while your children are awake. Soap operas, news and sitcoms are not appropriate for children, especially small children.

Monitor what your children watch and how much television they watch. The research is clear that excessive television watching can damage your child's life. Invest time in your children's lives. Play board games. Read together. Go on adventures together.

As for the television -- turn the darn thing off! Your child's life could be at stake!

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Copyright (C) Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel, 2002