Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parenting Tip #41 Quarreling Siblings

Click here to see a comic from Baby Blues:
How do you deal with fighting in your family? It's natural for siblings to disagree with each other but how far do we, as parents, let that disagreement go? Arguing, shouting, hitting? Is that acceptable and normal?
My brother, parent to 6 children, has this to say about the problem,"the most important tip I can give is to not let siblings quarrel, pick on each other or annoy each other. If parents let that happen, then resentment is created that can last a lifetime. Stop the quarrel and make it a hard fast rule in the house. Send quarreling kids to separate corners, bedrooms or whatever it takes. This is what Mom and Dad did while we were growing up and it is a major reason why we siblings like each other as adults. If you can't stop children from quarreling, then you aren't in control."

The scriptures say, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another if any man (insert the word "child")have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Colossians 3:13 And in Mosiah 4:14 And ye will not suffer your children...[to]fight and quarrel one with another...but ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another."

Easier said than done. So how do you keep your children from fighting?
1.Keep them busy. If your children are fighting, they must be bored, so give a chore to each child then quickly think of a fun game or activity they can do when finished.
2.Talk to your children separately and LISTEN to them. Many times I had to explain to one of my children that the very thing that their sibling was doing that annoyed them, was exactly what they were doing a few years ago that annoyed their older brother. Help them to see and understand age group characteristics so they can better understand their brother or sister's behavior.
3. Don't do a lot of talking and lecturing. Separate the children. Give a time out. Then regroup and focus on a new activity.
4. Make your children SING their disagreements. This usually ends up in a laughing session instead of a fighting session.
5. Distract your children with a story from your childhood. Let them know you understand they have angry feelings, but that hitting and name calling is not the solution.
6. Give your children the gift of words. Ask them to explain WHAT the behavior is that they don't like. HOW that makes them feel. Let them offer some solutions.
7. Be a peacemaker. Work together as a family. Don't make it a power struggle with you, the parent, now becoming the shouting or hitting person.
8. Teach your children to serve each other.
9. Encourage children and family members to express love for one another. Talk about family love and how team work helps everyone.
10. Don't compare your children or label them. Accept them and teach them.

Remember, there is no quick fix in life. But if you ignore fighting in your family, it will escalate and get worse. Be proactive! Teach your children to love each other. And work on it every day--because that's what it takes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Music Tip #40 Song for baby bounce

Looking for a song to sing to your baby? Here’s a cute song my son sings to his infant baby boy. It has a cute bounce to it and will grow with the baby. For infants, just a gentle jiggle is fun. For toddlers you can bounce high and sway back and forth during the middle section.

Parenting Tip #40 Listen

I listened to a journalist tell about his experiences as he reported on the disasters of Haiti. He was there the day after the earthquake happened and saw the devastation that happened from buildings falling down. He helped in the relief effort to find victims hidden under the debris. He and his crew took their microphone and dangled it down amid broken cement slabs, then hushed the crowd so they could listen for cries from any survivors lying below. The first day they heard people crying and yelling from under the crushed stones, but they were helpless to save them. The walls were heavy and impossible to move. There were no heavy equipment machines to move the cement walls.

Each day as they lowered their microphone down the cracks, they would listen for the cries from the people. Each day the cries got fainter and fainter until one day there were no more cries for help. Those standing above the rubble felt helpless and frustrated that they could not save their loved ones.

There are people around us crying for help every day. Do we listen? As parents, our children cry for our love and attention. Do we listen? Babies cry when they are hungry or tired. Children cry when they are scared or hurt. Teenagers cry when they are disappointed or abused. Do we listen?

Do we hush the crowd of noisy voices vying for our attention so we can really listen? Do we stop our busyness with often mundane things so we can listen? Do we look our children in the eye and listen?

We can save our children! We can hear their pleas when they misbehave, when they make messes and when they disobey. We can look beyond the mere words and listen for the true meaning of what they say and do. We can listen for the fear they can't express, the wounds we are unaware of and the anger of their limitations.
We are the parents. Let us listen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Music Tip #39 The Musicale

I had a really fun experience a couple of days ago. I was in Texas with my daughter who got her master's degree in cello performance. We were visiting with my brother who also lives in Texas. He and his wife had been invited to a little musical get-together at someone's "home" (it was really a MANSION). A friend of my brother who is the music department chairman at a local university had invited several of the faculty members to come and play their instruments. Wow!

First I'll describe the room in the "home". It contained a large pipe organ and two grand pianos and they didn't even take up 1/10 of the room. We sat in comfortable padded chairs and listened as the sound vibrated throughout the high raftered ceiling.

There was a variety of instruments featured (flute, clarinet, tuba, saxophone, trombone, violin, piano, and of course, organ)and serious music as well as jazz and humor (the organist was the organist for the Texas Astros--he played well known classical melodies interrupted by strains from "Take me out to the ballgame"). After the concert there was delicious finger food served in another large and beautiful room.

It was so fun and enjoyable. Now I want to put on a musical concert and invite friends, children and family. I want a variety of instruments. I want fun songs. I want good food afterwards. I want to encourage young people to love music. I want to motivate my students to practice. I want music to be an integral part of life.

All I need to find is a mansion.

Parenting Tip #39 All 7 are college graduates!

Ok, I’m going to brag just a little bit. My youngest daughter graduated from ASU last week. Art History. One of my sons received his master’s degree last week in Engineering. Another daughter received her master’s degree last week in cello performance. I have 7 children—all 7 are ASU graduates, 4 also have their master’s degrees and one is working on his doctorate in history. All 7 paid for their own education either by receiving grants, scholarships, working part time and/or having student loans. Yes, I am very proud of them and their accomplishments and hard work.

How do you make sure your children get a good education? Well, there are the standard answers--provide a place for them to do their homework, turn off the TV, be interested in their school work, make homework a priority, etc. Those are all great and valid answers. But there are also some things you can do that are just as important and valid--like teaching them to set goals.

My granddaughter has a goal to sleep dry through the night. Her younger brother doesn’t wet the bed anymore, so she doesn’t want to either. Her mother made her a chart, breaking the goal down into steps. She gets a sticker for going to the bathroom before bed, a sticker for not drinking water before bed and a sticker when her mom takes her to the bathroom before mom goes to bed. She’s been dry for 4 nights! Hurray! Will this step by step goal approach help her when she has a 10 page paper to write someday. Yes!

One of my sons had school phobia. Everyday in first grade he would throw a fit before going to school. When I walked him to school he would throw his lunch pail in the neighbors' yards. Some days he would runaway and I would look high and low for him (finding him in the bedroom closet). What did I do? Talked with him and tried to listen. Talked to the teacher and principal. Cried with him. Prayed with him. Used positive reinforcement with him. Eventually he overcame his problem (he’s the one working on his doctorate degree—oh, if I had only known it would all work out well). What did my son learn? Stick with it—ex. yes calculus is hard. Talk to the teacher, pray, work and eventually you’ll pass the class.

Teach your children to respect their teachers-even if they’re wrong. One year my daughter made the cheerleading team. Suddenly two of her teachers (a private music teacher and a school teacher) made life difficult for her by their belittling attitude toward her and their cutting comments. The other day I mentioned how mean one of these teachers had been to her. My daughter was shocked. “Why didn’t you let me know you felt that way years ago?” she asked. I replied that I wanted her to learn that sometimes injustices take place, but you still need to respect your elders and learn to take “it”. I don’t know if I was right or wrong, but children need to learn that life is sometimes unjust, and you have to be the better person and deal with it with grace and learn from the experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Parenting Tip #38 Teach Your Children

What is a parent? A parent is a teacher. Who does a parent teach? Their child, of course! Here are some ideas from my daughter-in-law Katie, and my brother Paul and his wife Cheryl Ann:
Teach kids to be assertive. Give them choices within the bounds you have set. Example: they need to get dressed, you set that bound. BUT they can pick which shirt they want. You are still being the standard, but letting them have power in the choices they are making. This will help them trust their own judgment and be able to stand up for themselves when they need to. Being assertive teaches them they have a voice and can, and should be respected for it.
Teach children what you expect of them. If you want your children to sit still, teach them what it means to sit still. If they don’t understand what their body is supposed to do when you say sit still, then how are they ever going to know how to sit still?
Teach your children to do chores. If you invite your children to do chores beside you, they are happy to and you actually get more done.
Teach girls what it means to be a girl. How to act like a girl and how a boy should treat them. Some people don’t get respected because they don’t demand respect. Girls need to learn what it means to be a lady so they will never put up with someone who doesn’t treat them that way.
Teach boys what it means to be a boy and how to treat girls. Such things as holding open a door for a girl or not hitting a girl; pretty basic, but needed.

One of the biggest problems in today’s world is parents who are too passive. Children need good parents--not good friends. Be the parent, run the home, be in charge. Parents think their children will just know things. Our duty is to teach them. That’s the job God gave us. Children need someone to rely on and to teach them. Teach with love and enjoy your child!

Music Tip #38 The Dumb Song

For all you piano players out there…or piano teachers or piano parents who are looking for a fun song to GRAB your interest, student or child, here’s a fun one I was introduced to by one of my students at school the other day. It’s called “The Dumb Song” by Jon Schmidt (just the title alone will grab preteen/teenage students). You can listen to it here: and buy it here:

I've been trying to find fun music that will catch my piano students' interest. I've simplified some of the them, or found them simplified in various places. Here's some that most students like: Addams Family, Axel F, Baby Elephant Walk,The Entertainer, Ghostbusters, In the Hall of the Mountain King,Indiana Jones, It's a Small World,Linus and Lucy,Mission Impossible, Pink Panther,Somewhere over the Rainbow, Star Wars, and We Will Rock You.
Here's a link that has free downloads of simplified music:
Please share piano songs that you know of that are a hit with your child or students.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Music Tip #37 Pots and Pans Jam Session

My ASU Baby Signing class is over now. Boo hoo. What fun it was to see these little toddlers grow and blossom over the semester. If you don’t have an opportunity to enroll you and your child in a music class, you can always have your own at home. Just get out the pots and pans, put on some music and have an instrument jam session. A fun song to jam along with is “Pots and Pans” from the book and CD entitled Dog Train.

I bought this book/cd for $5 as one of Kohl’s Cares for Kids merchandise.

Parenting Tip #37 "See #5 below"

I asked my brother, John, for some parenting ideas. He and his wife have 6 wonderful, responsible children, age 20-32--but they used to be little kids, just like yours. Here is his advice:
1.Children are not just short adults. Don’t put them in “adult”situations that they will have no way to understand (like taking them to a nice restaurant, or a reception) and then being angry with them for not having good manners or sitting quietly with nothing to do for an hour. See #5 below.
2 For the same reason, don’t act as if children understand everything the way an adult does. Children's brains cannot comprehend many things yet-they don’t have the cognitive skills to understand some concepts until they are much older. For example, the concept of “good” is hard for children to understand. When they are young, “good” is equal to “what I want”. A child thinks “it is good for me to have the toy you are playing with because I want it. If I have to hit or bite you to get it, then that is good”. It takes time to create the idea that some things are good even though you don’t want them or won’t see the benefit for a long time. Heck, lots of adults haven’t got that figured out yet. See #5 below
3. Because of #2 above, it helped me as a parent to not get exasperated and say (in a loud or angry voice) or think “I’ve told you that a hundred times”. I realize that on an average, a child may need to hear that message 10,000 times before they will have the experience and ability to “get it”. So I just tell them kindly the concept for the 100th time without expecting them to really “get it”, but with confidence that they will eventually get it if I keep telling or explaining it to them kindly and lovingly. See #5 below.
4. One of the very best things I learned is that “distraction “ is a pro-active skill for parents. It is helpful in a million ways. If an argument is underway or starting (between parent and child, child and child, etc), say “Let’s go for a walk”, “Can I read you a book”, “Let’s see what I have in my purse (pocket), etc. Often fights or arguments are over petty things that won’t matter in half an hour. Rather than continuing or escalating the problem, just let the argument lie on the floor and die because it can’t compete with a distraction that is more interesting. See #5 below.
5.A child’s testimony [of God ]begins with the very elementary thought and feeling that they “like” church. Getting mad at them to “hurry or we’ll be late” falls in the concept of #2 above. From a kid’s mind, what does “being late” mean” ? Why is it bad to “be late”. You can’t explain it to them now, so just set their clothes out on Saturday night, go to bed early and get up early enough that the family isn’t running around getting upset. During Church (incorporating #4) bring quiet, age appropriate distractions to help engage them in the meeting. If they are restless and noisy, take them kindly to the foyer. In that more relaxed environment, you can begin teaching reverence, knowing (because of #3) that they aren’t going to “get it” that Sunday, but that they will eventually “get it”. Walk quietly around the church with them telling them gospel stories, getting a drink, etc. All these can help create the feeling in a child that they like to go to church. It always bothers me to see parents yank their kids angrily out of a church meeting and then insist they sit quietly on their lap in the foyer, spanking their leg if they wiggle. When I see that, I think, “there is a teenager-in-the-making who won’t like church”. Of course, that is judgmental of me, but Cathy didn’t ask anything about being judgmental!
Thanks, John, your children turned out "good" and they have proven your points! (see #2)


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