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Parenting Plans – Cultivating Morals & Character in Your Child

PARENTING PLANS…

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… help you to create a vision that guides your decisions and behavior as you raise your child. This is essential to a healthy parent-child relationship. Have you taken the time to think about the values you want to cultivate and the family experiences you want to create? In this article, I’ll ask you to look deep into your heart and think about what it really means to be a parent, what your child needs from you and how you can provide it. I’ll also ask you to consider your own needs, as a parent and as an individual who seeks meaning and purpose in his or her life. By reading this and following my recommendations, you’ll be ready to create your own parenting plan and learn what it really takes to raise a child to maturity and what a delightful journey it is.

First, let’s explore the components of a healthy family

In a healthy family, parenting is a top priority. Discipline is fair, consistent and designed to teach, rather than blame, punish or humiliate. Parents establish firm limits, but allow children freedom of expression within boundaries that are in place not to keep children down, but to keep them safe. Expression of feelings is encouraged. Even negative emotions are okay. The family is a safe haven where the child can relax and be himself.

Parenting plans must respect each person’s individuality

Although each person is a member of this tribe which is your family, individual needs must be encouraged and respected. We’ll also explore what makes up a good parenting plan in this article.

Parents acknowledge that while togetherness is important, everyone has the need for solitude. Time for self-care is also essentially, especially for hard-working parents. Parents need to take time for themselves, so they can fill the cup that gives them the energy to take care of others.

Good parenting plans focus on togetherness and shared experiences, but also allow time for solitude and self-care.

Parents create rituals that make sense within the family and create deep and lasting bonds.

Focus on personal growth

Even as parents are raising their children to become mature adults, they realize that they need to work on their weaknesses and tendencies that are detrimental to a healthy, loving family (such as a tendency to overreact, to lash out when stressed, to drink to relieve tension, to avoid intimacy through workaholism, etc.)

Parenting Plans

Spend quality time with your children each day, but never be fooled into thinking that participating in an occasional fun activity is enough. You must also be there for the daily struggles and problems. This is what I refer to as quantity time.

Do activities together: preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen, riding bikes, walking the dog. Make your drive time to and from school, one-on-one time for sharing feelings, dreams and struggles.

Use what’s happening in the moment to teach self-discipline and cultivate awareness, compassion and a sense of diplomacy.

Create family rituals that have a sense of meaning and foster deep bonds. Don’t just blindly follow traditions. Use them to create your own.

Use the parenting plans on this page as a starting point for your own vision. If you have ideas to contribute, please use the box below. Be part of a caring community of parents around the world who weave their own thread into the tapestry of humanity by consciously raising their children.

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Parenting Tips: Giving Your Children the Gift of Time

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Today’s parents talk quite a bit about spending quality time with their children. Some parents believe that if they’ve spent an hour of “quality” time with their children, they’ve done enough. This hour is usually focused on an enjoyable activity: watching t.v., going out to eat, going to the movies, etc.

Although today’s world turns at a frenetic pace and parents are often overwhelmed by all they have to do, our parenting tips will highlight the importance of spending both quality and what I call quantity time with your kids.

To illustrate the difference between the two, let me share a brief story.

The other day at the supermarket, I ran into an acquaintance. In order to protect his identity, we’ll call him Joe. After we exchanged greetings, I asked about his nine year old son, Sam. Joe is divorced and has custody of Sam every other weekend. He told me: “Let me give you a parenting tip. Every time I do something with Sam, I make sure it’s something fun. Last weekend, I took him to Disneyland. I’m spending quality time with him all right … yeah, that’s what I’m doing.” When I asked how Sam was doing in school, Joe stammered for a moment, then waved me off, “That kid’s got the world by the tail.”

Let’s begin by recognizing Joe’s efforts to spend time with his son. Given his situation, time constraints and his understanding of what Sam needs from him, he’s trying to be a decent father. It seems, though, that his need to make sure that Sam is always entertained might stem from feelings of guilt over spending little time with him. It’s a modus operandi that I refer to as “guilty parenting.” Here’s the first of my parenting tips: when you feel bad about your inability to do something for your child and try to make up for it through some compensatory action, you can create an ill affect.

Instead of being honest, we overcompensate and act like peers, rather than parents. It’s important to note that this phenomenon isn’t unique to men, even though traditionally they have had less time to spend with children. Suffice it to say that guilty parenting overcompensates and causes children to view themselves as victims. This happens because children model our behavior and point their fingers at the parent who points the finger at himself.

That said, let’s talk about the concept of time. From my bag of parenting tips comes this quote: “Time is the most precious thing you own.” Because our lives are so full of hurry, worry and activity, we often stress the importance of spending “quality time” with our children. But this may stem from the guilt of knowing that we often push our kids to the bottom of the list. Yes, we assure them, I’ll spend some time with you, but only after I finish this and that. Spending time with our kids becomes another item on our laundry list, as if they were a “thing to do.”

Some years back, I saw an interview with actor, Paul Sorvino, who talked about how proud he was that his daughter, Mira, had recently won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. He remarked that he had been a hands-on father who had always been there for his children. He ended by saying that there’s no such thing as “quality time.”

Parenting tips: The quantity of time that you spend with your children matters just as much as the quality of that time.

While I understood what he meant, I think that we shouldn’t alienate parents who have less time because of jobs or circumstances beyond their control.

The point is that quantity time matters just as much, if not more, than quality time.

While it’s okay to take your kids to Disneyland, it isn’t a substitute for good parenting.

Parents need to be there–they need to be a witness to their children’s lives. That means creating good times, but more importantly, it means being there when things are tough. It means being an active participant in your child’s everyday struggles.

For example: working with a child who is dyslexic to help him sort out his letters, helping a child who gives up much too easily to learn to try again, teaching a child who is quick to anger how to channel his intensity into something positive. Helping a troubled kid or troubled teen learn how to correct maladaptive behaviors. This, of course, requires time, patience and a willingness to participate in a long-term process. This is quantity time. Quantity time requires that we be there. Quality time ends once the weekend trip is over and Sunday evening rolls around.

We speak in terms of quality time because we live in a society where money and things have come to rule our lives. The solution to this is simple: make a decision that family matters. Once you’ve made family your priority, it’s fairly easy to weed out the activities that take up too much time and create parenting plans that serve the interests of the entire family. Maybe when you were single and had no children, you could do it all, but having a family has changed all that. As parents, we have to make hard choices. This means saying “no” more often to the people and activities that aren’t central to our lives. As always, it’s a balancing act, but the more we choose, the clearer our priorities become.

In our fast-paced society, we often forget that relationships take care and time. Spending time with your children shouldn’t be seen as “doing time”—it shouldn’t feel like a prison sentence. (If it does, then playing with your child will be your greatest medicine because it will teach you to relax.)

Parenting tips for creating more time with your children:

  • Parenting Tips 1:

Rethink your life: one day each week, squeeze your schedule into your family life, rather than your family into your schedule. Find things that you can do together as a family. Make sure that you give each child individualized attention. Talk to your child; find out how he’s doing. Make yourself responsible for having a finger on his pulse. Be accessible, even when you’re busy.

  • Parenting Tips 2:

Spending time doesn’t mean you have to do anything special. All it means is that you give your interest and attention. If you’re overwhelmed with chores, ask your kids to help. There’s something about engaging with others in rote activity that invites conversation and connection. Above all, check yourself before you use candy, money, toys or trips to make up for being unavailable. Remind yourself that this is often a clever defense to assuage a sense of guilt.

  •  Parenting Tips 3:

Unscheduled time–time spent spontaneously and given freely— is a great healer of relationship. Learn to make time for the people in your life. Have days or at least moments when you freely give your time. Don’t worry that the laundry isn’t folded or that you have a million things to do. Put all that aside and give your children time. By doing so, you’ll be giving them the most valuable thing you own.

If you found this article informative, please share it with your friends. 

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How Parenting Child Development Helps Make You Closer to Your Kids

Parenting is important to you because your children matter more than anyone in the world. As a caring adult, you want to give your kids the best. So you strive to understand child development and child discipline and become a better parent. You work hard for your family and give them more than you had as a child. You read magazines, books, parenting sites to improve yourself. But have you ever asked yourself what you want from this relationship? And have you asked yourself what your children really NEED aside from physical comfort and security?

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In your heart of hearts, if you imagined the best possible outcome for yourself and your family, what would you foresee?

Would you feel fulfilled if your children grew up to honor, cherish and respect you?

Every parents would.

But how do you create this, especially if you don’t enjoy a healthy relationship with your mom and dad?

And how do you change your parenting style, if you’re flying blind and making it up as you go along?

Where did you learn how to raise kids anyway? Did you go to school and get a masters in child development?

Probably not. (Don’t worry … you don’t need one.)

If you’re like most of us, you learned child discipline from your folks, who learned from theirs.

While there’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you had wise and loving role models, times have changed. Parenting strategies have evolved and our understanding of child development, child behavior and child discipline has led us to become more insightful and humane.

Have your beliefs changed with new findings and understandings or are you still operating from old assumptions?

Are you “parenting in the present” or using child discipline strategies that were passed on to you by your folks and are at least a quarter of a century old?

Much of what you know about raising children you have probably learned unconsciously by watching your mom and dad. For example, while most parents claim they do not buy into their grandparent’s children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard ethic, they have no idea how to communicate with their kids.

If you don’t know how to talk with your children, how can you create a close relationship? 

You can’t. 

But don’t worry. There’s a reason you’ve found this web site.

Within these pages, you will discover compelling insights on child parenting, child development, child behavior, child discipline and more that will help you understand where to start and how to create and maintain a lifetime closeness with your kids that is based on love and mutual respect.

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Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Suhailah Attamimi and that’s a photo of my 9 year old boy and I above. I am the author of this web site and a parenting ebook, How to Rise A Healthy & Positive Child. If the words on this page have touched you, then I can help. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing more fulfilling than creating a close relationship with your kids and raising them to be people of integrity who make good choices on their own.

I walk my talk and share what has worked for me in my relationship with my child. In addition, I have been involve in child education and development for more than 13 years and has a specialized MathsExCEL Center to back me up. I won’t use my knowledge to lecture you, but to gently lead you to insights of your own.

Please accompany me on this journey to learn what your kids really need from you and how to become a parent you can be proud of. Sign up for my periodic newsletter, MathsExCEL (the subscription box appears below), so you’ll know as soon as I post a new article on my site.

Since the newsletters costs nothing, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sign up for MathsExCEL! Newsletters today because your child matters! more than anything in the world.

To subscribe to MathsExCEL!, type in your full name, email address and contact number below. Please note: You must enter your first and last name in the subscription box in order to be added to our list. Your email address will be kept private and confidential.

Subscribe to MathsExCEL!

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Bright ideas from our readers: Homework help

GreatSchools’ readers share their ideas for avoiding battles on the homefront over homework.

Is homework a struggle at your house? You’re not alone. Many parents have been there and wrote to share their advice about what helped end the homework battles with their kids.

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Establish a Routine

Many parents say setting a regular time and routine for homework is crucial.

Making homework a habit:

One parent of a fifth-grader writes: “We pick up our son from school and immediately sit down at the kitchen island to open the backpack, eat a snack and immediately start the homework.

“Our son has been doing this routine since he was in the first grade. As such, on rare occasion when a friend comes home with us after school, the friend has said, ‘Bobby, what do you want to do?’ My son responds, ‘Well, we can do anything but not until we get our homework done.’ If ever a routine has established a pattern, this is it.

“One day we were talking about colleges and we said that sometimes you can choose which days to attend classes in college, like Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and when you want to take class, like in the morning or afternoon, or evening. His comment was, ‘If I did my homework right after class, then I am free to do whatever I want?’

“Let’s hope this thinking pattern for homework is for a lifetime.”

Five simple rules:

“Consistency is the key. Stick with a homework routine,” another parent writes in sharing rules that worked for her:

  1. Establish a daily routine.
  2. Structure after-school activities to allow for homework at a set time every day.
  3. Stick to the routine so your child will know what is expected.
  4. Stay organized and keep homework area free from clutter, noise and distractions, such as television, games and radio.
  5. Praise your child when the homework is complete and allow free time after homework time is over.

Vary the Scene

Other parents said changing the scene helped their children focus, particularly as kids get older.

Study in a cafe:

An Illinois mother of a sixth-grade boy and eighth-grade girl writes: “When homework becomes a dreaded chore, I find new places to go and do homework, for instance, Starbucks, the library, a cafe. It’s interesting to find that when you offer up a new place to study, homework appears where they said there was none.”

Make the library your home base:

“One thing I have done is to take them to the library to do their homework,” writes a Colorado mother of three boys, 12, 16 and 20. “There are no distractions from home, and they can focus just on the task at hand. Plus, there are all the available resources we need there. It is especially helpful to get a study room when we can. That way, we can talk and study things without disturbing anyone. The library we go to has white boards in the study rooms, which we have used occasionally just for something different (doing spelling words on it instead of writing them on paper, for example). This seemed to also break up the monotony of the homework ordeal. An added bonus is that our library has a coffee shop inside with Italian sodas, etc. This can be used as an incentive!”

HELP WITH TIME MANAGEMENT

Break projects into manageable chunks:

“If there is a project due, we separate it into how much time we have and then do a little each day,” one mom writes. “We do the same for a book report. I count the number of pages and divide it by the number of days they have to read it and give them two days to write it. We do a ‘sloppy copy’ and we do a final draft. …”

Build in breaks:

A California mom of a kindergartner writes: “Have short time frames planned out. Kids get restless without breaks. Maybe 15 minutes of work, then a three-minute break.

“Remove any distraction – TV, snacks, cell calls, don’t let them think they are missing out on anything by doing homework.

“Reward them if they are focused on any given day.

“Talk about homework as if it is a natural part of your schedule. “Don’t say, ‘You have to do homework first.’ It becomes too much of a task. Say, ‘OK, it’s homework time. Let’s get started.’ Always start (at the) same time every day. In that way, they feel it’s just what you do, there are no options!”

HELP YOUR CHILD IDENTIFY WHAT WORKS 

A trick to stay focused:

“I let my 7-year old daughter chew gum while she does her homework,” says a Washington, D.C., mom. “She says it keeps her ‘focused.'”

REWARD A JOB WELL DONE 

Star system:

“I have a 10-year-old that sits right down the minute she gets home and does all her homework. Unfortunately, the same is not true of our 7-year-old,” a mom writes. “We tried nagging, taking away privileges to no avail. Homework was a chore and stressful for all of us. Until we devised the star system. He has 30 minutes to finish his homework (they are given about 10-15 minutes worth of homework). Neatness and correct spelling count. If he beats the clock, he gets a star. He must get all five stars that week for the reward to take place. Once he has five stars he can pick anything he wants to do, and the whole family has to come along. Our weekends are now occupied with bowling, mountain biking, eating at his favorite hamburger place and the homework woes are behind us.”

Use healthy activity as a reward:

“Homework has been a breeze with one of mine but with the other it has been an unbelievable uphill battle, especially this year,” writes a single mother of three daughters, two of them school age.

“Our town just built an indoor pool and since it is winter in Vermont, swimming at this time of year is considered ‘awesome’ by all three of the kids. So, we set up a reward program: Every night that they can show me that they have completed their homework while at the after-school program or did as much as the people there could help them with, then we will grab a quick sandwich at home and swim for about two hours before the pool closes. Either one whose homework was not done due to lack of genuine effort has to come and just sit on the pool deck to do their homework while the sisters and I swim. This has worked like a charm!

“Find a good, wholesome activity that your kid really likes and that you know you can commit to every night if your kid lives up to their end of the bargain, then make it contingent upon their completion of homework (or for older kids, hard work on it for a set amount of time). If they can’t do the activity because they did not do their part, they have no one to blame but themselves, right?”

TURN WORK INTO A GAME 

Beat the clock:

Our son has yet to get real homework, but he does math and reading practice work,” an Oregon mother of a six-year-old writes. “There are many times that he tries to complain and get out of it. A good tool is using stop watches for math. Boys like being challenged and to beat their previous time. …

“We also try to divide some of the homework (on weekends), half in the morning, the other half at night (reading is good at night and for 30 minutes). It also helps if mom/dad or sibling is sitting too, doing their homework or busy work at the same time to show that he/she is not the only one who has to do something.”

Be Available

Many readers emphasized the importance of being available to help, even though it can be a challenge for a busy parent to carve out time every day to do so.

Make the kitchen table a homework center:

A Connecticut mother of two, ages 9 and 13, says talking to her children about homework is valuable for them – and for her. “I give my kids a snack with a drink while doing their homework. Also I sit at the table, discuss it with them. They like to share their homework with me and I also have learned from them …When they have a test coming up in school we play a game out of their studying to make sure they know the material for the test…”

Do your own “homework” at the same time:

“I find that it is helpful to let my daughter have her snack after school, watch a little television and unwind from the long day before I have her start her homework,” writes a single Arizona mom of a 7-year-old. “I also take time from my busy schedule to sit with her and either read or do my bills so that she understands it is quiet time. She doesn’t feel so bad if she’s not the only one concentrating on something. Believe me, not all days are so easy!”

Helping a child with ADD:

“My tips are certainly not new, but they have been very instrumental in helping my son with ADD do his homework,” writes a mother who describes herself as a “military mom on the move.” “We have learned that giving short breaks help along with allowing the child to pick what subject they want to tackle first. Giving your child options lets them feel more in control of their surroundings, which in turn creates a better work environment. This would be great for all kids, not just children who have a hard time focusing. I also recommend setting time aside for your child, in case they need help. I make sure I sit in the same room with my child and can get to him quickly when he gets frustrated or needs help.

“I also have a child who needs no help with homework. Don’t take this for granted. Always ask what they are doing, if it is difficult and if they like a certain subject or not. This may help eliminate surprises when it is time for progress reports/ reports cards to be sent home.”

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Motivating Your Child to Do Homework and Study

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  • Is your child motivated to do homework and study or do you need to ‘strongly encourage’ your child to do the work?
  • Has homework time become a battleground?

I understand how difficult this can be for you once things get out of hand but DO NOT DESPAIR.  In my last article  Teaching Young Children To Study, I explained the importance of teaching even young children how to study so they can become independent learners at school. A key component of being an independent learner is motivation.

Here is the brief version:

STEP 1: FIND OUT WHAT THE BLOCKAGE IS

For you to be able to help your child overcome homework problems you first need to become a detective like Sherlock Holmes. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no point forcing your child to do work that he/she is not able to do. All that will happen is that you will both get more emotional and will not be able to think clearly or work with each other effectively. There could be a variety of reasons why your child won’t get on with homework such as:

  • doesn’t understand the work
  • hasn’t or can’t read the instructions properly
  • doesn’t know where to start
  • lacks the basic skills to do the work
  • hasn’t got the materials needed to complete the task

STEP 2: Break the work that needs to be done into a series of SIMPLE STEPS

Thus get your child to DO ONE STEP A TIME.

STEP 3: HAVE PATIENCE

Rome was n0t built in a day. Your goal should be to help your child get a few more skills and a bit more confidence every day. Research shows that the best way to build up good habits is to take small but regular steps. Just do as much in a sitting as you can both manage without getting tense. In the early stages it is often much more effective to do three 10-minute sessions than one 30-minute session.

Remember, if your child is not doing her/his homework effectively at the moment, then small positive changes on a regular basis is far better than no change at all.