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 #60
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Change is Always Stressful
For parents who have children in traditional schools, big change is coming. Summer! Whether change is desirable or not, change is always stressful.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Some parents keep their children so structured during the school year that their children never have any free time. Even parents who have their children on a reasonable schedule do not give their children as much unstructured time as summer brings.

At the risk of being absurdly redundant, it is important that children have time to be children. It is important children have time to play. It is important that children spend some time each day without the input of computers, television, video games or the radio.

In silence you can find peace. In silence you hear your intuitive thoughts. In silence, you can commune with God. Children need to have some quiet time each day.

When you move a child from extreme structure to less structure, that child may become bored. The child needs to learn how to motivate him/herself past boredom. It is not the parent's job to be a continual tour director for each child.

Have a family meeting. Make a list of all possible things one could do with free time. Put that list on the refrigerator. Next to the list the family made, put your own list of extra chores that could be done around your home. When the child comes to you with, "I'm bored," invite that child to choose something from the family list - or - your list on the refrigerator. The child will learn to think for him/herself.

There are lots of fun things for children to do during summer. Be moderate in how many special activities you create for each child. Take your children to a park, to the beach, to the mountains, or just let them play. Some of the most important lessons a child can learn come from unstructured play.

One more thing: enjoy your children while they are children. Just around the corner, you will be going to weddings and mostly seeing your children on holidays. This time with them is more precious than you can imagine.

CHORES and ALLOWANCE: I did not put allowance and chores together. I gave my children an allowance so they could learn to manage money. There were extra chores they could do if they wanted to earn extra money.

Everywhere I go, I hear children begging for money or for their parent to buy them something. Teach children that (yes, I'm actually going to say it!) money doesn't grow on trees, and that it needs to be budgeted. When a child wants a toy, say to that child, "You have X dollars coming to you for your allowance this week. If you save your allowance for three weeks, you can buy that toy." Teach children the lesson that too many adults were not taught -they can't spend money they don't have.

Chores are done for the right to live in your home. Giving children chores is essential to the child's development and general comprehension of what it takes to run a home. Every boy and girl needs to know how to: (1) wash/dry/fold their own clothes (begin at age 10), (2) iron, (3) wash dishes or load and empty a dishwasher, (4) clean a bathroom, (5) set a table, (6) cook a meal, (7) take out trash, (8) dust, (9) vacuum a house, and (10) take care of a pet.

If you live in a reality where these chores are done by hired help, what kind of problems will your child have when he/she goes off to college or to live alone? When your child is an adult, you might be saying, "Oh, Fred is such a great boy, but he is lazy and his home is a pigpen." Where did Fred learn to take care of himself? Where did Fred (or Alice) learn that daily life is not a free ride; it requires effort and some sort of motivation? Teach your children basic survival techniques -or plan to have a very long life with an extremely dependent child.

If you have topics that you would like to have me cover in my column, please email me at: sandy@parentingsos.com. No names will be used, all information is confidential.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #61
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Violence in Movies
I wish I had done it sooner, gone to see "Spiderman", the movie. If your children have somehow missed seeing that movie, please read this first.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Taking into account the fact that I am sixty, so I grew up on "Father Knows Best," --and the violence in movies was Roy Rogers chasing some bad guys, all of them on horses -I am very worried about the degree of violence to which children are being exposed in films.

I've written before about the effects of violence on television. It is clear that the media including the movie industry, is continually escalating the amount of violence in movies. More things are blown to bits, more people violently destroyed than ever before.

Children are numb to seeing someone killed. They could care less if a living creature is destroyed in the process of killing human life.

Drugs and alcohol are glamorized, and sexual scenes leave nothing to one's imagination. Where will it go? How can it stop? Will the people involved in making a movie like "Spiderman" get any messages whatsoever about taking violence too far, about the potential harm to children through their supernatural display of evil? With record sales that are occurring because everyone is going to see the movie (Yes, I was one of them-and I am sixty years old!), will the creators of "Spiderman" attempt to increase the degree of violence in the first film when they make Spiderman 2?

I was recovering recently from surgery. Renting movies was an incentive for me to stay quiet. I rented "Star Wars, 1". In Star Wars, there is good vs. evil. Most of whatever is killed is a robot or the death is devoid of gore. Throughout the movie, there are life lesson messages: "The force is with you!" or "Live in the Moment," or "Listen inside and trust yourself."

In Spiderman, the idea is presented that a human being is transformed into something out of his control. A boy becomes a spider. A man becomes someone evil. I did not like the way this villain was depicted, and slid down in my chair when I saw the scene where the evil force was talking to the man via a mask. The whole concept that you are always responsible for your choices went up in flames.

Is it necessary to kill so many innocent people? Is it necessary to have a gory death of the villain?

We've got to stop taking our children to movies with this kind of violence. We need to say to the film makers, "Enough!" When compassion, kindness and caring dissolve in a society, that society is doomed. Is it too late? The choice is ours.

DON'T RIDICULE OR CRITICIZE YOUR CHILD IN FRONT OF OTHERS: My father was an incredible teacher. He used to say, "Praise from the rooftops, reprimand behind the barn."

Children spend 100% of their time trying not to be embarrassed. If you ridicule or criticize your child in front of another child, that child will react rather than respond to what you are saying. The child will flail at your comment, not embrace it.

Instead, ask the child to meet you in another room. Talk to the child. Tell the child what behavior needs to stop and the consequence should the child choose not stop. Do not scream. The child cannot hear you when you scream. Do not call the child unfriendly names. The child needs information as to what behavior is not acceptable and to know that you will enforce your decision.

Each child is trying to figure out how to walk in the world and not be trampled, devalued or to be thought of as less than wonderful. A child needs information and direction. A child also needs fair consequences delivered without anger. Such a child has the opportunity to learn from mistakes and to do so without emotional damage.

Remember: Praise from the rooftops, reprimand behind the barn.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #62
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Parents Need to Work Together
Parents often email me with their problems. A common concern is that the mother and father are NOT working together towards the goal of successfully teaching their children how to appropriately use power.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Power. That's what all the fuss is about; children want to know how to use power. When a child misbehaves, the question behind the action is, "Is this how I use power?" The answer to this question is a calm, "yes" or "no".

Children are very smart (That has probably become obvious to you by now!). While they are checking out power, they see that they can divide and conquer you as parents. One parent says, "No, you may not have a cookie!" The other parent gives the child a cookie.

A second scenario is when one parent is rational, calm and serves consequences without any need for anger. The other parent resembles "Darth Vader" (the villain from the original "Star Wars" movie,) and stomps around the house.

Powerful children learn that they can get attention from a parent in a lot of ways. One way is to drive a parent to fuming anger. That doesn't sound like a very wise strategy does it? It is very powerful to disrupt adults' calmness with a refusal to behave. "Yes, I'm in big trouble, and I upset your day!"

The most powerful way for a child to have his/her way is to have two parents who do not agree on how to discipline children. Chaos is the result. The children will set off the "Darth Vader" parent to upset the calm parent. They will continuously play one parent off of the other.

Think of a business meeting with two bosses who have equal power. Each boss has a different idea of how to run the meeting, how to run the business. The employees will have a difficult time figuring out what to do, dependent upon which person has the most power at any given moment. What is guaranteed is that the employees will start creating problems that would not exist were the two people in charge on the same page.

Two parents with one type of discipline strategy (I recommend the Penalty Box and the Minute Drill. See www.parentingSOS.com), will teach children what is and is not acceptable behavior. They will do so without emotional or physical harm to their children.

Value the children's long-term well being over your own ego. United you stand; divided, the children will conquer you. For the sake of your children, find a common ground on which to raise them.

TEACH CHILDREN TO THINK! Instead of constantly becoming the Wizard of Oz with all the answers, remember to reflect a question back to a child. When asked, "How long will our family be on the Minute Drill?" I answered, "How long do you think your family will be on the Minute Drill?" The answer given to me by a ten- year- old boy was, "As long as our behavior requires it." If I talked for a month, I could not get a better answer into the boy's head. Having thought it up and spoken the words himself, the desired information is already in his data base.

A child asks, "Why do boats float?" Instead of answering (this also covers a topic in which you have no clue as to the answer), ask, "Why do you think they float?" Maybe the next trip is to the library to find out more about boats. Teach children to think.

As an adult, if someone asks you a question and you need more time to think, respond to the question with another question, "Why do you always answer a question with a question?" The other person responds, "Why shouldn't I?"

Come on down! July 10th, 7:00-9:00 PM, at the Orange County Register on Grand Ave. in Santa Ana, CA; Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel will be presenting a NEW parenting seminar on communicating clearly and anger management. No fee. Limited seating. Reservations guarantee a spot for you: call 949 642 3605. Please leave your name, phone number and how many in your party. Email your reservation to sandy@parentingsos.com -label it "Register Class." Look for upcoming ads in the Register and on the Register website.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #63
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Parent-Child Interaction
It was an end of the year celebration for a pre-school. I hadn't been to one in many years, so I was watching the parent-child interaction with great interest.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Children get excited at any group activity. A child gets more and more energized by the group. Fed some sugar, that same child might become retroactive! Put eighty retroactive children together in one space (with their parents) and the activity resembles the gibbon cage at the zoo!

Parents try to relax and talk to other parents. Children have a keen instinct about whether a parent is really paying attention or not. The results are predictable.

One little boy, trying to grab some candy that had been thrown into a crowd of anxious children, grabbed a little girl's hair instead. He was tripped by another little girl who had joined the candy-grabbing frenzy. The boys' parent, turned and only saw the part where her precious son grabbed a darling little girl by the hair and threw her to the ground. Needless to say, parental martial law was immediately invoked! The boy was dragged out of the crowd, slammed on a towel and rendered defenseless as the parent screamed her embarrassment.

"Her embarrassment," that's what all the anger is about isn't it? Ego. What other people think of your child and thus you is the primary motivation for outbursts of parental anger in public.

Otherwise, the parent would go to the accident and ask, "What just happened here?" Even if the boy had thrown the girl to the ground on purpose, anger isn't necessary. "Harming other people is not acceptable. You are in the Penalty Box right now." Sent to a specific spot to sit quietly is enough of a consequence to remind the child that there are rules in your home, and they are enforced whether you are in your home or not.

One way to find out what happened in a scuffle is to ask each participant, separate from each other, "Tell me your version of what just happened." If two different versions are stated, separate the two children from the activity and from each other for fifteen minutes. It is best the two children calm down, and when there is no way to get to the truth, separation is the best antidote.

Give your child a quiet time each day. We're into summer. I know that to be true because my next door neighbor, Heather, has the frazzled look that comes with summer.

It is important that children reinforce some of their school skills in summer. It is also important that a child has a quiet time every day. I recommend creating a required hour called, "Quiet time."

Get a notebook for each child. Every day, the child is to write at least three paragraphs in his/her journal. The journal can be a diary about things the child did, or it can be a storybook where the child creates imaginary visions. It can be both. The point is to get children to write and to think, and to do so on a regular basis.

Children can write a note to a grandparent and each note is mailed in a separate envelope. Small children can draw a picture instead of writing words.

The rest of the quiet time is for reading. Children don't read any more. The pace of a book is slow compared to the television. But a book invites a child to visualize and be creative; these two skills are now lost to most children and many adults.

Quiet time. A mother might use this time to catch up on laundry, clean house, or do other chores. Once in awhile, she might give herself (or himself if a father) quiet time, too. (Quiet: Silence. No sound. No activity. A place to rest.) It is possible!

Sandy's parenting seminar sponsored by the Orange County Register on July 10th, is now filled.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #64
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Blame Me for Your Child's Misery
I was in the local shopping center when a young woman stopped me. She wanted me to know she loves my column. Two children, approximate ages 5 and 7, were introduced to me. I was billed as , "The lady who invented the Minute Drill."

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

The older child, who had been looking down, made eye contact and gave me a very clear "unwanted" message. I chatted for a minute and then went about my business.

Today, I received the following message in an email, "My son had a spoiled kid, attitude problem. I read your column and came to one of your seminars. He told me that you have ruined his life. Better you than us! At least once a day, he says, 'Ever since you went to see that lady my life has changed and I am not happy!'"

The woman explained that she now gives her children one hour a day of television or media games. Each child is given two thirty- minute cards in the morning. When those cards are spent there is no more television, computer or Nintendo time. The parents agree that there are better ways for their children to spend their time each day.

In the future, I can imagine being shunned by thousands of children-turned-adults who were persecuted by my parenting concepts during their childhood. What I know to be true is that the majority of them will thank their parents for their choices, and that they will use the same parenting techniques with their children.

The strange thing about children is that they fight boundaries with every ounce of their power -and-it is those boundaries that a child respects. I have seen it a million times working with at-risk students; a child does not respect a parents who lets him/her run wild.

With children who are challenged, (Aspberger Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, CI, etc.) I see that consistent fair boundaries help that child to be grounded enough to deal with their specific challenges in daily life.

Feel free to blame me for you child's expressed misery. I can live with it! Stop the madness of children misusing power by using the materials I, or some other parenting teacher, share with you. The emotional safety of your child is at stake.

Capture the memories! There are so many memory gadgets these days, from digital cameras to regular ol' video cameras. Photographs are still fashionable. You think you will remember the way they walked, how funny and darling they were when they talked, how tall and gangly he was, how "girlie" and feminine she was. You don't.

I worked diligently to create darling scrapbooks for each child. Some of the photographs never got into books so the children and I cut out the extra parts of the pictures and glued them into a scrapbook. We didn't worry about chronological ages, neatness or perfection. Guess which scrapbooks they like the best as adults?

Capture the memories for your children. Capture them for you. Like a whirlwind that blows into town and makes a shambles of everything, childhood passes. You'll be glad to have the memories to help you bridge the time between parenting and whatever is next.

Sandy's presenting a SECOND parenting seminar on AUGUST 7TH ! The parenting seminar scheduled for July 10th filled up before the Register could run the ad for it. On AUGUST 7th , from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, the Orange County Register is sponsoring a SECOND Sandy McDaniel parenting seminar on communication skills and anger management. It will be at the Register, 625 N Grand Ave, Santa Ana.

Gather your friends, come together, take a break in the middle of summer and learn how to work with children more effectively. For reservations call: 949 642 3605 or email: sandy@parentingsos.com. Remember to leave your phone number. You will only get a return-call if the class is filled.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #65
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

Change Starts in Your House
I went to Catalina Island for the 4th of July. My mother lives in Avalon so I went to see her and about ten thousand other people-many of whom were parents.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A very small boy was entertaining himself turning the water faucet on and off, on and off, letting water flow into the basin. A local resident jumped off the bench where she was sitting, grabbed the little boy's arm and walked him to his father, "We have a severe water shortage on the island," she snapped. The father took the boy saying, 'I know."

Two teenage boys ran across the crowded beach kicking sand all over an older woman who was peacefully reading her book. "Hey!" she yelled, brushing the sand off her book. One of the boys turned and swore at her.

A mother looked up as her two sons returned to the beach with a purchased meal for everyone. She had been very clear about what the boys were to buy and was not happy because additional choices had been made. The boys shrugged when she asked where her change was, and began eating nachos.

I am concerned about the lack of respect, compassion and integrity in many of today's children. I look forward into our future and see a world being created that is not loving or safe. This can change, and it must be changed in our homes.

We are killing our planet. Does no one get this? We have an energy crisis that includes electricity and water. Sit down as a family and decide how you can conserve these precious resources in your home. Make a commitment to be a part of the solution not a part of the problem.

Respect for elders needs to be taught at home. Had I been witness to the sand kicking incident, the children would have apologized and been put into the Penalty Box. The boy who swore would be sitting on the beach writing twenty respectful things he could have chosen to say to the woman. My grown children would quickly tell you that being unkind or disrespectful is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

The children who bought food off the list, thus had no change for the mother would have a consequence for that choice. The other children (or total strangers on the beach) would have eaten the extra food. The children would be given chores (for openers, fold all the towels and beach chairs and carry them home), to pay for the extra food. Taking something that does not belong to you is stealing. Stealing is not acceptable behavior for which there is a consequence.

Children do not know how to be loving, kind and make choices that are integrity based. They learn these lessons from the people around them. If you as a parent are not teaching these lessons, they will learn them from the television or from others.

Remember, you teach most by what you model. I hear people say, "Well nobody else is doing it!" or "No body else cares!" That's why the Titanic went down. If there was ever a time for us to care and to do something with our caring, it is NOW. A forest fire starts with a tiny spark; be the spark that says, "It isn't hopeless until everyone loses hope." Be a part of the solution not the problem.

Sandy's presenting a SECOND parenting seminar on AUGUST 7TH ! The Orange County Register is sponsoring a SECOND Sandy McDaniel parenting seminar on communication skills and anger management. It will be at the Register, 625 N Grand Ave, Santa Ana, on August 7th, 7 to 9 PM.

Gather your friends, come together, take a break in the middle of summer and learn how to work with children more effectively. For reservations call: 949 642 3605 or email: sandy@parentingsos.com. Remember to leave your phone number. You will only get a return-call if the class is filled.

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