You Don’t Have to Be Like Your Parents

How to Change Your Parenting Style

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by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE

Do you come from a “dysfunctional family?”  Is your ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score so high that you worry about doing the same to your kids? Can parenting habits change in one generation? Yes, you can change your child’s destiny! Many parents with ACE scores as high as 7 has raised children with 1 or less. You can too!

If you were raised by less than stellar parents, here are some changes you can make to become the parent you wished you had, for the next generation that you are raising. You do not have to repeat negative parenting habits with your own children. You can change your parenting style from over permissive or authoritarian, to a collaborative/democratic positive parenting style.

  • Fake it until you make it. Act like the parents you admire. Copy what they do.
  • Start with yourself. Learn to love you. Change self-talk into positive, loving thoughts about how you look, and what you do, and who you are.
  • Learn the language of respectful communication. Take a course through colleges, universities, churches, parent centers or community centers. Learn how to use I-statements, active listening and problem-solving.
  • Learn child development through courses, or books, to help you know what to expect from children at different ages. Only 23% of parents know child development past the infant stage, and it’s essential for parenting.
  • If you were excessively criticized as a child, consciously make the effort to encourage your own children and hold back the negative.
  • If you were not hugged or touched as a child, make a concerted effort to hug, cuddle and hold your own children, even if it feels alien to you.
  • If you were hurt, upset or sick and were told to “buck up, suck it up, or shut up”, give your child comfort by saying “It’s okay to feel what you do.”  And hug, caress and pat your child with non-sexual touch.
  • If you were ignored as a child, respond right away to your own children.  Give focused attention when they need it and even when they don’t. It’s ok to have fun with your children.
  • If your parents never played with you as a child, read, talk with and play with your own children.
  • When you are angry, take a time out. Your time-out. Not your child’s. What need of yours is not getting met?  How can you meet it? Work on your anger first and you will make better parenting decisions when you are calm.
  • Forgive your parents. They probably did the best they knew how at the time, with the resources they had.
  • Know what your triggers and hot buttons are. We all have sensitive areas in parenting, no matter what our background was, and our awareness of them helps us to come up with alternative behaviours and coping strategies.
  • Start looking at your life through the lens of gratitude. Being grateful enriches life.

Parenting, for the most part, is a learned pattern. We can change parenting patterns and develop new ones. When we become aware of our shortfalls and make a conscious effort to change how we behave, we become really good at parenting after lots of  practice. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Rome was not built in a day. Even with new learned behaviours, in times of stress, we tend to fall back on our old habits. Apologize and vow to do better next time. With renewed commitment, we get better at changing old habits with time, practice, information and continuance. You can change family dynamics in one generation and give your child the healthy gift of less ACES in their childhood.  It all starts with you!

How to Raise A Respectful Teen

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There have been a lot of opinions published online lately regarding public shaming of children on the internet and social media, in order to teach kids a lesson and acquire good behaviour. Public shaming is emotionally damaging to children, erodes their self-esteem and shuts down communication. Good parenting involves mutual respect in a loving relationship. Mutual respect is treating another human being as no less and no more than one would like to be treated. If we don’t want to be publicly shamed, we shouldn’t do it to our children. Respect transcends age, race, religion, culture and social status in importance in starting and keeping relationships and that is also the case with child discipline. There is no room for punishment in a respectful parent-child relationship. So what to do instead?

Here are some “don’ts” and “dos” that I have learned over my 24 years of parenting that really work to gain cooperation and increase communication.

• Don’t call your child names or put down her ideas.
• Don’t talk about him disapprovingly in front of other people.
• Don’t make faces at your children, roll your eyes, and mimic them or use words dripping with sarcasm.
You are their leader and model for respectful behavior. As the adult, you must rise above immature responses.
• Don’t use your child’s possessions, break them or give them away without your child’s permission.
• Don’t go into your child’s room, computers, drawers, closets, and snoop. Don’t allow their siblings and others to snoop either.
• Don’t use sarcasm when addressing your child’s behaviour such as “I’m not your slave. Make your own lunch!”
• Don’t punish your child which includes everything from grounding, time-out, withdrawal of privileges, to hitting, fines, and confiscating treasures and electronics.
• Don’t yell, threaten, criticize, belittle shame or punish your children in public, or online, especially in front of their peers.
• Don’t tell them to “Suck it up,” or “Be a big boy,” if they display any kind of feelings that you don’t like.
• Don’t call in the forces and go in full frontal war mode when your child is disrespectful to you. Don’t engage in full power struggle and fight (punish) anyway you can until you win. You may win the argument but lose your connection, communication, sharing and collaboration in the relationship.
• Don’t turn away and let it go when your children are disrespectful. Call them on it by clearly explaining your expectations that everyone is treated with respect (and be sure you are modeling the same). Insist on restitution, apology, fixing the situation to make it better, or any steps you both think might help toward mending that relationship. Do request an expectation from your child that they will work toward change, when both of you are calmer. Set a time to talk.
• Don’t ignore other people’s children when they are disrespectful to you and others in public. It takes a village to raise a child. Confront the child, and later, their parent if there is no change, and insist on civility and politeness.
• Do stay calm as much as you are able to. You need a calm frame of mind to deal with your child. Tell your child, you are very angry, and are going to take a short break, if you need a few minutes to calm down.
• Do confront with your I-statement (“I feel unappreciated when I upgrade your computer and you don’t express thanks for my time and cost.”)
• Do listen carefully to the response, and be truly open to what your child is feeling. Listening and validating her feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. (“You seem to feel upset about the amount of chores you have to do around the house?”)
• Do problem-solve the situation. (“Let’s go for a ‘walk and talk’ and see if we can find a solution that meets both our needs.”)
• Do say, “Please,” “Thank you,” or “I-appreciate…” to your child.
• Do apologize when you make a parenting blunder.
• Do look at backtalk as an opportunity to teach your child assertiveness with appropriate language skills.
• Do treat others, especially people in service roles, with politeness and kindness when your children are watching.
• Do treat your parenting partner with the same respect that you want. Don’t use name-calling, shaming, put-downs, and sarcasm in your words. Do treat their treasures and accomplishments as items that are as valuable and cherished as yours.

In other words, promote respect, be a model of kindness and politeness, and address learning situations respectfully with your children by problem-solving and that old standby, listening. Enjoy the communication that will flow when you practice respectful parenting!

How to Handle a Bad Report Card

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The exam results are in!

Your child brings home a bad report card. Your first instinct may be to punish him in order to make him raise his marks. However, will that really solve the problem? We know from research in the workplace, that punishment never solves motivation or performance problems, so why would it work for children?  What can do you do to encourage him instead?  It’s good to keep in mind that a report card is only one “view” of your child. It’s a picture to report to parents what the child is like in school. However, he is a multifaceted learner with strengths and room for improvement in all areas of his life, just as anybody is.  Think of your child’s performance like a three legged stool.  All three legs are required for the stool to function and all perspectives can give an accurate assessment of the child as a learner.

One leg of the stool is from the teacher who is gives an academic skills report. This report should include information on how the child is doing learning subject matter in the four cores of math, language arts, science, social studies, and options. Schools like to report on character and other things that are not academic, but they only see the child participating in an institutional setting with many peers. The teacher does not see the child at home, or “outside of school” social situations.

The other leg is the parent who also gives a report card on two of the most important learning’s: life skills and people skills. The parent can present the report card to the child at any given time. Life skills include chores, money management, organization skills, problem-solving, initiative, responsibilities, health and wellbeing maintenance, and volunteer commitment.  In other words – all the skills that parents witness at home. People skills include sharing, sibling conflict resolution, attitude, listening, assertiveness, and politeness, emotional intelligence at home and out in social situations. Most people with academic and technical brilliance lose their jobs not because of inefficiency in that area, but because of lack of people and life skills.  These are the some of the most important skills to develop.  These skills can be learned and practiced by all children.  Not all children can get an “A” in math, but all children can learn to be polite and organized.

The final leg of the three legged stool is the child. He can self-evaluate and give himself a report card on all three components – Academic skills, life skills and people skills.  This is the most important evaluation and parents and teachers can ask how they can support growth and success for the child in all these areas.

Finally, the parent, teacher and child should discuss where the strengths are and room-for-improvement and come to an agreement on how to go about setting improvement in place.

Education is a journey, and is not a race. The letter or number grade does not indicate learning or self- awareness.  In fact, when children only chase a grade, they can be more prone to cheating and learn nothing.  We learn the best when we fail or make mistakes which over insight and reflection, give us ideas for change. When children make mistakes, ask them “what did you learn from this?”  The ability to self-evaluate, and find motivation to start again is the real learning and the upmost key to success. The Winklevoss twins learned more about life and resilience in their court battle with Facebook, than all those academic years at Harvard.

Parents, de-emphasize the numbers. As a society, we tend to treasure what we measure, but learning can’t be denigrated to a number.  Most of what we do in life that really counts; love, help, volunteering, life learning, and kindness can’t be evaluated by a number, but can be observed, noticed and appreciated.

No one is perfect and we all have room for improvement. Your job as parents is to figure out with your child, how can you pick him up, dust him off and support him moving forward?

Judy Arnall is a non-punitive parenting and education expert.  jarnall@shaw.ca

http://www.professionalparenting.ca

 

Is It a Discipline Issue or a Development Issue? Part 1 Young Children

Most toddler behaviour is perfectly normal and just a stage
Most toddler behaviour is perfectly normal and just a stage

Is It a Discipline Issue or a Development Issue?

Part 1 Young Children

Effective discipline of young children requires knowledge about the development of children. Normal toddler behaviour is often viewed as “misbehaviour” by parents who do not understand the physical, cognitive, social and emotional capabilities and limitations of toddlers. Research shows that children under age five comply (“listen”) to parent requests about 40% of the time.  This is normal child behaviour for that age, and does not require “teaching”, “discipline” or “punishment”.  This normal behavior will change as the child matures.

Children will develop self-control naturally with age. Until then, parents can child-proof the local environment to make it safer and enjoyable, and can redirect the child.  Children need adult help to calm down, as they have yet to learn self-soothing, which is a learned skill that comes with age and practice.

Toddlers have poor understanding of rules until they reach about age three. Even the word “no” is counterproductive, in that directing the child NOT to do something tends to inspire the child to actually do it!

Toddlers also have poor impulse control. This is a factor of executive function. Even though they understand the rule, they don’t have the self-control to hold back until about age five. They are going through a necessary developmental stage to explore their surroundings with all their senses, and want to taste, touch, and smell everything. Toddlers may seem to be ignoring or deliberately disobeying you, but in reality they are just doing their normal job of exploring, which stimulates development of their brains.

In summary, normal characteristics include:

Toddlers do not possess abstract thinking skills.

    • Rules are abstract, and a “don’t” rule is a double abstract which draws a toddler’s attention to the very action that you are attempting to forbid.
  • Toddlers are in the here-and-now.
    • Memories of rules known yesterday have been displaced.
  • Toddlers cannot multitask.
    • They can only hold a few thoughts in their heads at once.
  • Toddlers are driven to explore.
    • Everything in their being says “touch, taste, smell, look, hear!”
  • Toddlers have almost no impulse control.
    • Their immature brains do not allow them to restrain themselves.
  • Toddlers do not understand cause and effect.
    • They can’t relate their action to Mom’s anger. Reflection skills do not develop until age seven.

The best discipline tool for young children is understanding development and redirecting their behaviour. Child-proofing helps too because when a desired item is out of sight for a young child, it is also out of mind.

 TEMPER TANTRUMS

Temper tantrums occur when your child is overwhelmed and over-stimulated. The child feels frustrated and angry, and expresses those feelings through body language instead of words. Tantrums are part of normal behavior for a child between age 10 months to age 4 years, decreasing in frequency with age.

Prevent tantrums: Provide rest, sleep, food or stimulation as needed. Don’t go shopping with a tired, cranky, hungry child. Watch for and prevent triggers. Change the activity.  If your child is getting tired, hungry, or cranky, offer a juice-box (to raise blood sugar) and a protein snack. Try cuddling on your lap with a good book – a great way to calm down, gain literacy skills and enjoy some connecting quiet time together. Try to meet needs as soon as possible. Sometimes, boredom can’t be alleviated. Get creative and invent ways for children to pass the time.

Handle the tantrum:  It often helps to just ignore the tantrum, and carry on with your activity as if nothing is happening. If you have denied the child some item, this not the time to hand it over! Other methods are to just hold the child, and move to a safe, quiet place. Encourage feelings and expression of feelings. Say: “You’re angry. I’ll stay with you while you calm down. It’s okay to be angry. I know you are feeling frustrated.” Use a gentle but firm voice. Encourage deep breaths.

After the tantrum:  Label your child’s emotions and provide words to develop a vocabulary of feelings. Ask: “Were you angry when you couldn’t have that cookie? How can we express our anger?  Here is something to do.” The toddler usually understands the intent of the question and feels understood, and will later learn to use the words of feelings instead of the body language of a tantrum.

 In any situation that involves discipline of a child, remember three steps:

 Step 1.  Calm yourself – Take deep breaths, drop everything, dress your child, take the stroller and go for a walk, or put on a video, to distract you or your child;

Step 2. Calm the child – Redirect to another activity, or sit and breathe deeply together, or hold the child;

Step 3. Solve the problem: childproof, redirect, substitute, distract, comfort, talk, prevent, and model.

You will make much better parenting decisions when you and your children are calm.

Next week: Stay tuned for Part 2 – Problem Solving

Most toddler behaviour is perfectly normal and just a stage
Most toddler behaviour is perfectly normal and just a stage

For more information on Judy Arnall’s suggestions for effective discipline, click Webinars at http://www.professionalparenting.ca to register.

Best Parenting Tips from the Trenches

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By Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE-Certified Canadian Family Life Educator

 

Sleep cures all:  Half of all discipline issues could be prevented if parents could secure a full eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour day. Make sleep a priority.  The meals, laundry, and clutter will always be there, but a rested, contented parent is the biggest asset for patience, calmness and joy in parenting.

 

I’m not the mom:  When your children are out in public with you and misbehaving badly, pretend that you are the Aunt taking the kids for the day.  Say loudly, “Just wait until your Mother hears about this!” and go about your usual routine.

 

Bad days:  In the midst of chaos, centre yourself first, before you calm down any screaming, or crying children. Make sure everyone is safe. Lie in the middle of the living room floor, put on your ipod, close your eyes and deep breathe.  Get calm and centered.  Then get up and decide what everyone needs in order to turn the day around: food, nap, walk, outing, or hugs.

 

Your relationship, not obedience, is where it’s at:  Rather than focus on your child’s obedience as a gauge of how well you parent, focus on the quality of your relationship.  Is your child still communicating with you, sharing feelings, opinions and values?  If so, you are a success.

 

Stop punishing your children:  Respect never includes punishment in a love relationship, no matter what the ages of the people involved.  And parenting is a love relationship.  Instead of looking at issues of discipline as behavior to be corrected, look at it as conflicts to be resolved.

 

ABC’s of loving parenting:  “A” is for Acknowledging the feelings of your child. Feelings have no limits.  They are as real and normal as skin.  “B” is for Behavior communication.  What is your child trying to tell you?  Look at their needs and feelings that drive the behavior.  “C” is for Calming down.  Get yourself calm, then get your child calm, then mutually problem-solve the issue.

Build your parent-child relationship first, and their resume second: Unconditional love is support, encouragement and help in discovering who your child is and what they are capable of.  When you love them unconditionally, they learn to love themselves, unconditionally and will grow into the wonderful people they are meant to be.

 

Peace in the world begins in the home:  The family is the training ground for all future relationships in love, work, politics, religion and friendship.  If we treat our babies with love, safety and respect, as we would want to be treated, we will raise the next generation equipped to change the world a child at a time.

 

Separate your anger from your discipline:  When we are angry, we lose our self-control and issue punishments that we have no intention of carrying out when we are calm.  Because the purpose of discipline is to teach self-control  of behavior and self-regulation of emotions in our children, we need to demonstrate the same in ourselves. When we are calm, we make much better decisions and most always can focus on solving the problem with clarity of thinking. We don’t have to hurt children to teach them. In fact, they learn much better when not under stress.

 

It takes a village, to cherish a parent, to nurture a child: Parents are the very first relationship builders.  We can’t control our children, but we have tremendous influence.  Parents need support, encouragement and practical help, not judgment.  Hug, smile at, high five, give an A-OK, a kind word, encouragement, or give a pat on the back, to a parent you know who needs support.  Sometimes they don’t need a problem-solver ; sometimes they just need a listening ear, and re-assurance that they are an awesome parent.

 

Hugs; The best discipline tool ever!  The child that needs our attention the most, is usually the one that “deserves” it the least.  If you ever are in the position of not knowing what to do in any parenting situation, (as most parents routinely are) then default to a hug.  If learning follows, you will be coming from a place of acceptance and caring and the message will stick much more with your child.

 

Use your kindest words at home with those you love the most: Too often, we are the nicest, politest, kindest people to strangers.  The store clerk, the plumber and the teacher all get our best behaviour, when we should be giving it to those we love – our family.

 

Expressions of all feelings is absolutely necessary for health: Feelings are as common to our body as our big toe. The most respectful way to express feelings is to talk about them. Saying “I feel…” can be very therapeutic for children trying to sort out their feelings.

We need to help our children deal with their frustrations, not to help your children avoid them: Our job as parents is to help our children sort out their unhappy feelings, by acknowledging that they exist and validating them.  It doesn’t mean that we agree with them or understand them.  It just means that we accept them.

 

Time-outs are for parents, time-in is for the child: Parents need to take a minute to get themselves calmed-down.  They teach children how time-out works, not by forcing the child into time-out, but by taking a time-out themselves.  My fear is that we are raising an entire generation adverse to taking a time-out, because they have only experienced it as a punishment.  Time-out is a wonderful life skill.  Let’s demonstrate that by our actions. Giving a child time-in means to stay with him in a calming environment to help him gain self-control again.  It’s not meant to be isolating and may include items to help him calm-down in his learning style.

 

Children learn better by discovery than by being told: There are many lessons in parenting that parents cannot teach.  Life will teach them if we let it unfold.

 

Instead of punishment, problem-solve the issue: It’s not you against me.  Instead, it’s both of us working together against the problem. With two or more brains working in synergy, we can come up with solutions acceptable to both of us.

 

Modeling is discipline taught 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: In fact, if we provided no other interference in our children’s actions, other than modeling correct behavior, within the context of  building a great relationship with our children, we would raise responsible, caring, respectful citizens.

 

We underestimate our children’s ability to solve problems: Even a baby knows how to alleviate hunger.  In childhood, negotiation is treated as an 11 letter swear word, yet, it is very needed in every love relationship. Often, our child’s first experience of negotiation is when their employer gives them training courses as adults. It’s a life skill that needs practice in a safe environment, such as the home, and with safe  people such as parents, who will ensure safe consequences, while children are still young.

 

Children crave teaching, direction and advice: Like adults, they want to know how to do the right thing, but not be forced to do it.

 

The biggest technological advances in the past twenty years have been in communications, yet, our biggest hurdle in our relationships have been in interpersonal communications: Amid cell phones, internet, computers, video games, GPS, ipods, Blackberries and DVDs, there is one thing that every parent can provide their children that no advancement of technology will replace.  Human non-sexual touch…hugs, pats, snuggles, and love.

 

Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE, currently teaches parenting at The University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Families Matter, and Alberta Health Services for the past 13 years. Judy is the author of the International bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the newly released Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.  WWW.PROFESSIONALPARENTING.CA Jarnall@shaw.ca 403-714-6766, Join our list for monthly notifications of free parenting webinars 

 

 

Worried about Summer Learning Loss? Isn’t Minecraft Educational?

by Judy Arnall

Your ten-year old daughter is wasting another beautiful summer day inside the house, playing Minecraft. You fear that her brain is becoming atrophied for lack of academic stimulation. You worry about education company warnings that children can lose a month of their school year learning during the summer. Will summer fun and a “break from formal learning” cause kids to fall behind academically in the Fall? Is there another way to keep up with academic learning other than by text books and lectures? Could video games support education? Hey, isn’t Minecraft educational? Yes, of course it is! Any type of toy or game is educational, in that it teaches children knowledge, life skills and the competencies outlined by Alberta Education in the new curriculum redesign.

Often, parents are critically conscious of the time spent on computer games, and assume that video games and toys are a frivolous waste of time. They think that if the game doesn’t directly teach math or language skills, time is wasted. However, indirect teaching of communication and math skills may be the best feature of gaming, along with enjoyment of plot, graphics, music and gameplay. A game can develop academic learning and competencies, even though not marketed as an “educational game”.

As a parent of five gamers (both genders), I learned early that my children hated the “educational games” that have primitive graphics, poor logic, clumsy interface, are non-multiplayer and just plain lame. “Educational games” seem to be marketed to parents that aim for functional use of time, rather than fun. When my kids immersed themselves in games like World of Warcraft, Nox, Spore, Gizmos and Gadgets, Age of Empires, Graal, Runescape and League of Legends, they learned not only reading, writing and math skills, but also knowledge of social studies, mythology, history and science. They learned valuable social skills such as cooperation and conflict resolution with other players in the same game, and with buddies outside the game playing with them in the same room. They learned personal skills, such as resilience during adversity, perseverance and commitment to continue and finish for the team despite discouragement. They learned how to deal with problems, team members and competitors under time pressure. They learned how to win gracefully, and how to face losing with dignity and without throwing a keyboard across the room.

Indirectly, games and toys teach some academic concepts in a way that is compelling to children, aided by the focus that is essential for game success. Parents who don’t play the game may not realise how their children have learned these competencies. Here is a brief overview of how toys and games teach children within the framework of the new curriculum redesign by Alberta Education.
Of course, children still need exercise, fresh air, and breaks from screens, which are also great life skills, but if your daughter chooses to spend her quiet time playing Minecraft, relax! She is counteracting summer learning loss in a fun, educational and engaging way.
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*Competencies retrieved from Ministerial Order on Student Learning (#001/2013), Alberta Education and adapted for this article. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/department/policy/standards/goals.aspx on April 29, 2014
Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE is a professional certified parenting and teacher conference speaker, and trainer, mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, To University from Unschooling, to be published Fall 2014 http://www.professionalparenting.ca, jarnall@shaw.ca, 403-714-6766 Sign up for notifications of free monthly parenting webinars. Copyright permission granted for “reproduction without permission” of this article in whole or part, if the above credit is included in its entirety. Sections may be deleted for space constraints.

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Parenting in Public – Etiquette 101

Drop-In-4-1-220x170Part of the parenting job is to teach children proper socialization and to be considerate of others in public places. These skills will help children get along harmoniously with their future teachers, friends, co-workers, bosses and in-laws. Learning the etiquette of parenting takes practice and noticing what are the norms in North American society. If you are not a parent, it might be helpful to learn a bit about child development which explains why kids do what they do. Here is a quick guide to the nitty gritty of polite public parenting for parents and non-parents.

Babies 0-1 years

• If your baby is crying for more than five minutes in a restaurant, party, or public venue, leave the room and try to calm the baby somewhere privately, so others can still enjoy their activity in the room.
• You can breastfeed your baby anywhere you wish and do not need to wear a “boob burka”
• If the invite says “adult only” please don’t bring your children. Decline with thanks or find a sitter. It’s rude to the hosts and unfair to the other guests who have paid for a sitter to bring along children to their child-free event.
• Never change your child’s diaper in any room other than a bathroom. You need to wash surfaces that come into contact with your child’s diaper and you need to wash your hands after with soap and water and that can only be done in a bathroom.

If you are not a parent, you should know that babies are developmentally programmed to cry when they are little. Older babies can shriek which makes your ears hurt, but parents can’t stop either response. They are normal behaviours and help the child grow and thrive. Wear earplugs and smile.

If you don’t want children at your social event, be very clear about expectations. Say, “Dinner is at eight. Do you need help finding a sitter?”

Be aware that parenting is an endeavor close to the heart and soul of people. Friendships and relationships can be severed over parenting related issues. When friends become parents, changes have to occur, and you must decide if the friendship is worth continuing. They can still blossom with patience, flexibility, and humour from both parties.

Toddlers 1-3 years

• If your child is making a fuss in an adult venue, leave after the 2nd Shhhhhh or take them to a quieter place to change the situation. This is not a misbehavior issue, because adult venues are not appropriate for the needs of children. Children get bored, tired and don’t understand content. This is about development – the venue is not set up for children’s enjoyment. You will have plenty of time to enrich their lives with theatre, concerts, dining, and travel later on when they are school-aged and have more patience and attention.
• Your child makes a mess in a store or public place. You should clean it up. You are modeling to your child problem-solving and responsibility.
• When your child is misbehaving, intervene immediately. Apologize to any affected children or their parents and offer to fix things. Deal with your own child later in private. Onlookers expect you to address the situation and the worst thing you can do is ignore it. If your child doesn’t volunteer an apology, you do it for him. It teaches him the necessary social skills required for the situation, by watching you model it.
• Don’t discipline your own child in public. Take them to a private area to talk to them and help them calm down. This is essential in the case of temper tantrums. Never spank, hit or time-out your child in public. (You shouldn’t do it in private either! Teach and repeat.)
• Talk to your child during meals and waiting times. You are teaching them rudeness when you are on your screens and they are bored. Talking to them builds their brain and language skills. If you want discussions with your later teens, start the conversation habit now with your toddler.

If you are not a parent, you should know that toddlerhood is one of the most challenging stages for their parents. Toddlers are fast, ego-centric, emotional and have very little self-control and knowledge of manners or safety. Caregivers need to act fast, and scoop them out of danger, rather than speak commands and hope the child “listens.” Toddler tantrums are a normal developmental behaviour and is a good sign of the emotional development of the brain. It is not a sign of bad parenting.

Offer help and empathy for the struggling parent, not judgment. It can be as simple as offering to help steer their grocery cart to their car while they carry their child. Remember that our society is not set up to be child friendly. Children are expected to wait quietly long before they are developmentally ready. We wouldn’t punish a person in a wheelchair for not climbing stairs, so why would we punish a two- year-old for exploding while in an endlessly long line-up?

Preschoolers 3-5 years

• Your child accidentally breaks something in a store or makes it unsalable. Offer to pay for it.
• Your child is rude to someone. Offer apologies from you or your child if he is ready.
• Teach your child to not explore other people’s fridge, cupboards, closets, or any other rooms than the bathroom, living-room, playroom or other rooms designated by the host parent. Teach your child not to take anything either.
• Teach your child not to open packages in stores or use the store’s display models inappropriately.
• Don’t threaten to leave your child there if they don’t listen to your commands to come. It destroys trust and security. Scoop them up and carry them with you.
• Teach your children to be responsible for their own garbage. Teach them to clean up their fast food garbage in restaurants, to pick up their wrappings in other people’s cars and clean up their lunch leftovers at school.

If you are not the parent, and the child is doing something that wrecks your property, your house, your child, or is going to hurt themselves, speak directly to the child, if the parent is ignoring the situation. Be polite, respectful, kind and firm. Use your I-Statement by saying, “I’m worried that my white leather sofa might be damaged by your bag of cheese puffs. Let’s eat them at the table.” If the child still doesn’t listen, address their parent. If the parent doesn’t listen, rethink future invites.

Never criticize the parent if they are addressing their child in a parenting style that you think is inappropriate. Only offer the parent help and empathy, not advice. Offer the child a hug, smile or kind word.

Power struggles, constant questions, interruptions and whining are normal developmental behaviours for this stage. All kids do it to some degree.

School-Aged 6-13

• Teach your child not to let their friends jump the queue in front of others in line-ups. “Holding the place for a friend,” is budging in and not polite.
• Don’t take “parent” parking spots unless you are expecting or have a child seat in your car.
• Teach your child that if they eat treats in public, to offer one around the group or share the lot. Otherwise, eat in private.
• Children aged six and over should not run around naked on public beaches, streets, or other venues.
• Children this age should also be using gender assigned change rooms and bathrooms. If you or they are not comfortable, use the family rooms.
• Teach your child to say “Please” and “Thank you” at other peoples’ houses and venues, especially during the car pool run, playdates, sleepovers and birthday parties.
• Teach your child not to boast about what they can do, what they own and where they are going. Teach them to ask questions about the friend and really listen to the answers.
• It’s okay to ask if the playdate could be at the other person’s house as long as the hosting is reciprocated shortly.
• Teach your child that it’s okay to say that they are hungry, sick or need to use the bathroom or phone at playdates. Introduce them to the adult in charge so they know who to access for help.
• Parents are responsible for both the drop-off and pick-up at the host playdate’s house.
• Parents are responsible for damage caused by their child, wherever it may be: school, playdates, and public venues.
• Teach your child to be respectful of rules in public places. Obey them yourself when you are out with children.
• Teach your child about expectations of their behavior in public without parents – no swearing, bullying, stealing, or vandalism is allowed.
• Teach your child not to talk, eat or use their cellphones in theatres, and other quiet places of public performances. Your children are watching you so model this.
• Teach your child to be respectful and polite to adults, but to assert their needs with “I-statements.” EG “I need to use your phone please.”
• Make logistic arrangements with your child’s friend’s parent, as well as your child. Cellphones allow you to hammer out details with your child, but the hosting parent is clueless to what has been arranged. Let the kids work out the original arrangements but because the social plans still involve an adult to drive and supervise, adults need to be consulted. Teens who can drive can arrange their own plans without parent consultation.
• Bring your own bedding for sleepovers unless the parent says not to.
• Children should not be left home alone until age 10
• Children should not babysit other children, including siblings, until age 12.
• Teach your children to cancel activities and relationships over the phone, not in a text or email. Sure, it is a tough thing to do, but future employers will value it.
• Teach your children to be responsible by modeling commitment. If you say that you are going to be somewhere, do your very best to be there. Insist on them keeping agreements also.

If you are not the parent, by all means, step in and speak up to the child if something is bothering you. Say, “I’m thinking that swear words might offend people. Could you please tone it down while my young son is here?” Be respectful, kind and aware that children and their parents have feelings, but may simply not know the expectations. Children this age can handle and understand different ways of doing things.

Teenagers 13-20

By now you should be done teaching and teenagers should have a pretty good idea of the norms of society and what is expected of adult behavior. However, they may need reminding every now and then by parents and everyone else. It takes a village to raise a child.

Judy Arnall teaches parenting at The University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Family Matters, and Alberta Health Services. Judy is the author of the international print bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the newly released DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the Digital Generation for Health, Safety and Love and the new parenting “un-advice” book, The Last Word on Parenting Advice. WWW.PROFESSIONALPARENTING.CA Jarnall@shaw.ca 403-714-6766 Sign up for monthly free parenting webinars