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Infants » Discipline and Guidance

Establishing Family Rules

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Why modern child-rearing savvy rules will make your house a home and create a life-long approach to discipline that promotes healthy and gifted kids!

                                    Your modern family needs basic savvy rules

                  Modern media makes good parenting seem glamorous, but it is not easy when today’s moms and dads feel entitled to have their own life in addition to a family life. That adult way of life means less time away from being a parent and less daily family time. The most frustrating part of current lifestylesis that parents know that kids, being kids, crave attention, in fact, kids live for attention!  The math looks like this:  Parents out of home(+) kids at home (+)work/play activities(-)guidance= avoidance, refusals,  exaggerated, inappropriate behavior, tantrumming.


                  Modern Savvy Rule #1: Be reachable and available. 

If you are you an easy-going parent who stays out of school / family issues, and who probably is not sure of their kids’ friendships, crises, or daily attitudes, it is time to change and get involved! 

                  The reason is common sense: to set an example and a tone of authority, I propose you consider one and only one family rule, called “a family meeting” that allows each family member to speak her (his) mind and listen to other family members respectfully. A family meeting takes place anywhere the family gathers!  Once a week at the least, get together and share, feelings, issues, personal grievances irritations and more! Say what is important to you. Family meetings are safe places to speak up, happy or sad, and share respectful feelings.  You can have family meetings in a car, a bus, in front of TV, anywhere your family feels comfortable and needs to work out a problem. Families may want to use family meetings as part of reviewing weekly calendars, news and games, homework assignments, to laugh and tell a few jokes and to sharetheir love for each other without iphone, cells, and other devices.

Modern Savvy Rule #2:

Give compliments before criticism, and make it a rule that when family members are together, remember, be respectful, realizing that arguments can be good, and healthy. Say something nice first!


Savvy rule #3:  Communicate, Communicate


As parents, practice what you preach and communicate to your children that rules must be followed, but allow for exceptions and mistakes!  Many parents (and their kids) set family rules at the beginning of the school year, but fail to obey or enforce them!  Do the personalities in your family dictate how family rules are communicated at your house?  Who is the rule-breaker in your house?  Does one person yell or dominate?   I suggest that you use a normal tone of voice and put reminders or notes on the blackboard to communicate! 


Kids whose parents do communicate understand that parents are in charge!  Parents have the last word!  Parents are the authority when friends visit, homework is due, media use and online communication with friends (only people you know.) 


Savvy Rule #4: Forgive and Forget


The best motivator for kids of all ages is self-assurance and confidence that when there are mistakes, they are forgiven and no shame or doubt is associated with it!  Kids who are successful, learn from their parents, coaches, and teachers that they are free to say “I’m sorry” make amends and move on. Forgiveness is part of growing up!  Forgive and forget is a sign of maturity; if kids feel angry and unable to do this, have a family meeting!  Forgive and forget is the way to go! 


Savvy Rule #5Parents are in charge PERIOD.


If kids are lucky, the rule is that their parents are in charge, but parents make every effort to be good listeners, fair-minded, and usually available to help solve a problem!  Lucky kids know that friends are all different and some will be more acceptable to parents than others!  Kids who have a variety of friends are bound to make mistakes and parents need to be open and honest, but fair!   Use gentle but firm communication!  Allow each person the chance to vent frustration and anger without being punished.  Families who have day rules and evening rules in their household, make a habit of arrive home and engaging kids in family projects on a daily basis, listening to music, taking a shower or cooking.   Do household activities together as much as you are able!   


Savvy Rule #6: Spend free time with your kids


                 What influences children’s free time?  Sports, faith, school performance even personal habits do it!    “After school time” does it!  Kids use  touch phones, game boy and video games that keep them planted in front of screens.   Free time includes gathering for dinner, homework, sports, talking on the phone, privacy, as well as parental insistence on homework.  Bedtimes are early except on weekends.  Parents need to keep daily routines simple, allowing for conversations, free time and sleep.


                  Interestingly, watching TV is not considered by 80% of kids as  “free time. ”   Researchers asked:  “How much of free time is good and how much is just being alone and bored?”  The youth and children who answered that felt their idea of free time is doing something fun and meaningful together with friends and family, not alone!  


Savvy Rule #7:  Pay attention to your family’s heritage, ask questions, do online searches!


                  Smart parents stay connected to relatives and show an interest in the family lineage over several generations!  Kids learn from this exercise that knowing many relatives gives them “roots.” The idea of tracing ethnic traditions reduces the possibility of environmental, mental and physical risk factors!  All parents need to know their genetic history!   


Savvy Rule #8: Know your child’s temperament, personality and be always on top of childhood “personal health.” 


                  A day care study found that babies who spend at least half of their 24 clock hours at home in a clean, healthy setting rarely get sick if at all or recover quickly. High quality infant day care centers know this, and strenuously recommend a home atmosphere during the hours the infant is not at childcare.


Savvy Rule #9:  Children’s bodies and brains are geared to learning to be their own “selves”, a person with uniqueness.


Teachers and parents who are skilled need to be alert to diagnosing each child’s unique temperament and  personality, in order to insure a good fit in the community, at school and family life! Infants and preschoolers need frequent “rest stops” where they can develop a sense of self and discover their own appearance, thoughts and attitudes, and who they are. 


                  “The child’s mind,” according to Indian lore, “takes in all that is said to it, and believes it to be true.” Some families who are on the fast track have no trouble remembering to praise and thank their children, to give them compliments, to keep criticism to a minimum, but it requires effort and the cost to parents is the time it takes to do these things.


                  Think of your children’s minds (brains) as many galaxies, roaming the universe, never staying in place, dull or bright, light or dark.  Minds are always roaming in some orbit, designed to be active, never at complete fulfilled rest. Your children’s personalities are unique but analogous to flying on different airplanes with no wheels down!  Ever!  Each one is unique and their characteristics are all different, but…they all shine in their own time.


                  Two examples of the effects of personality on the developing minds of very young children may help to convince families to find ways to spend more time at home and wean themselves from overly orchestrated “busy” nests.  A four-month old girl is taken to a sitter at 6 a.m. five days a week, but happens to be an infant who sleeps a lot and is a low energy person.  The infant can’t seem to rev up when aroused so early, falls apart, shakes with irritability and does a lot of moaning, since she isn’t by nature a crier. The infant, Shelley, is rushed and fussed over, in order to soothe her; the pediatrician, who uses the same day care center, calls her “colicky.”  The developmental outcome is that it is not colic.  It is that her personality traits have been established, and her needs as a person for early day rest have not been met. Her chest and heart rate fluctuate, making her feel uncomfortable and “low.”  She doesn’t get interested in her environment much all day and only livens up when she gets home.


                  Another example of the effects of personality on the developing mind is a three year old person named Joey, who is the is the original “energizer bunny.”  His high energy level and pleasant mood make him an enthusiastic child, but when he runs all over the house, pretending to be Superman, adults yell at him: “stop that, get over here, watch TV; sit down.”  Joey, whose personality traits also include a long attention span, and high interest in everything he touches, obeys, being the good Superman that he is!  Joey’s body stops briefly, but his mind can’t and doesn’t.  Joey’s mind is still creating ideas about his personal version of Superman.  So, you guessed it, he leaps away to take the lion hiding under his bed and throw it into the forest.  His thoughts and actions provoke adult attention.  Joey’s personality gets him in trouble. 


Joey’s personality, not bad behavior, is the cause of his troubles, but he gets punished anyway.  Joey’s personality traits are the force behind his “mind at work.”  He has consistently high energy levels, an enthusiastic, long attention span and appropriate behavior for his type of personality. Luckily,  Joey has parents who understand that each child is unique and that all children cannot be taken care of the same way! Personality and temperament are vial traits to consider all through the lifetime of children.





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