Archive for the 'Communication' Category

Help Your Child Become A Happy Reader

Why a happy reader? Many children learn to read; not all of them have a good time doing it though. A reader who enjoys the process is more likely to make reading a life-long pursuit rather than just read when she has to.

Here are some ideas that can help your child become a reader who loves to read.

JGS_Reading 200x300.jpgTalk and listen to your baby: Current research shows that babies absorb much more from simply listening to your words than was previously thought. When you talk often and clearly with your child (that includes listening to her thoughts as well) you’re giving her an early start towards a love of words and sounds.

Read together: This one’s a given. But with time demands; work, chores, meals, and more, family reading time can often be compromised for other tasks. I’ve run out of time in the day and not been able to sit down with my son and read — maybe you’ve done this too.

Parents aren’t always perfect, still, each day try to spend at least 30 minutes reading with your child. The dishes can wait — really, they’re not going to walk off (no matter how hard we wish).

Make book hunting an adventure: The smell of old books and hunting for 25 cent books can be so much fun. Take your child book hunting often. Try the library, new and used bookstores, garage sales. Make it a big deal when you find a great book. Your child will grab onto your excitement.

Read aloud: This isn’t the same as reading with, or to, a younger child. As your child masters reading skills let her read to you. My mom worked all day when I was young. She was pretty busy. Something good I remember about those busy days is that each night while she cooked dinner, I’d read to her; first Pippie Longstocking, and then other, tougher books.

The part I remember most is that she seemed actively engaged in the story — which may be the key to this tip. When your child reads to you, laugh, ask questions, let her know you’re listening and benefiting from her reading to you. And don’t make this time about correcting her skills — just let her read and have fun.

Other ideas: Draw pictures with letters, write words, make your own books, get some books in various languages, and listen to books on tape.
Tips adapted, in part, from The U.S Department of Education.

Posted in Parenting, Communication, School and Learning | 3 Comments »

Setting Fire To The Apron Strings…

My visit with my mom was, well, nice.  But, I find myself, this Monday morning, looking up article after article about mending the strains between mothers and daughters that seem, in the most cliched way ever, inevitable within our culture. 

It is hard for some of the elder women of the tribe to see younger women change the course of things, I guess.  For every ounce of effort that I put toward balancing my life with the life of my children and husband, she gains fifty more ounces of confusion about it.  In general, I think that most women my age struggle with either a mother that holds very true to a more modest and self sacrificing style of living for her family OR a mother who is a stringent feminist and isn’s supportive of anything to do with family or “settling” down.  Mine would be the former.  Either is dangerous and it leaves us girls who are starting our real lives (the lives that we will be in for the next fifty years - you know, as opposed to those early 20’s when we were making decisions for today rather than for tomorrow..) are left out in the cold because there is no one there to say “damn. You’re doing well. You have a passion that isn’t at all about your family AND a family that you are passionate about.  WELL done!!”.  Sure, our husbands and our friends are there as support systems but when it comes down to it, we just want our mommy to look at us and be proud and, more than that, UNDERSTAND what our lives are about. 

My mother and I are far from estranged.  I am happy to say that we have a lovely relationship, for the most part.  But I hold back.  A lot.  and I see the confusion in her eyes when she comes to visit.  My need to write.  My urge, and subsequent decision to hold back, to show her the art studio that my husband and I share and the paintings that I have started and finished.  The girlfriends I have made who are all, themselves, quite talented artists and musicians and scientists - some who have kids and some who don’t.  All of these things do nothing but challenge her upbringing and her idea, I guess, of how my life was supposed to be.  I feel like she is wondering the entire time “where’s the Tupperware party?  There is no Tupperware party.  There never will be.  I just wonder when my idea of success will match up with hers.  I guess that has been the question for thousands of years between mothers and daughters.  Funny how it never seems to get answered.

Posted in Parenting, Building and Maintaining, Communication | No Comments »

Yes is the New No

My husband and I are trying a little experiment.  First, let me tell you how we came about this decision:

We have become pretty crochety and cranky, my husband and I… Not so much with each other - mainly with the kids.  I think what started as us feeling like we had to set some ground rules with our son (which was, at the time, very important) kind of grew into this monster of us being nay-sayers to any fun that might be had.  I found myself walking around with a sneer most of the day and, when I would catch glimpses of myself in the mirror I felt as if I was looking at Bette Davis in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Pale, crazy, hair all mussed - I just didn’t wear grouchy well.  It was putting us all in quite a nasty little funk.  The kids weren’t having any fun and we certainly weren’t having any fun.  So, this past weekend and yesterday we just made a very pointed decision to freakin’ relax.  We had gotten so caught up in being disciplinarians that we forgot that we loved having fun with each other.  It took saying yes at times when we would habitually say “no” - you know, those unimportant things like “can I play in the hose outback?” or “can I stay up a little longer?”…  I don’t mean instigating a free-for-all.. We are just picking our battles and chilling out a significant amount and everyone, from the kids to the pets to the parents, are much happier for it.

Posted in Behavior Issues, Communication, Healthy Living | No Comments »

How To Tell The Little Ones

My kids were close to our friend Will, who died this past weekend.  He was young and interesting - he made art that my son found fascinating.  My son and Will both shared a renaissance sort of mind - the kind where you think about art, beauty and science simulteanously.  It is fair to say that my son looked up to him a great deal.  So, my husband and I weren’t sure how to deal with this.  How do we tell a six year old that someone who is not old or sick has died?  We both, initially, thought that we shouldn’t tell him at all.  Of course, he could tell something was wrong with the both of us - we have been walking around either in a zombie like state or sobbing our eyes out for the last three days.  And, aside from him noticing our emotions, it wouldn’t be fair for him to be left in the dark and thinking that he would see this wonderful man agian one day (when we would go to art openings, my son would seek Will out).  So what to do:

Your child’s capacity to understand death - and your approach to discussing it - will vary according to your child’s age. Each child is unique, but here are some rough guidelines to keep in mind.

Until kids are about 5 or 6 years old, their view of the world is very literal. So it’s a good idea to explain the death in terms that are basic and concrete. If the person was ill or elderly, for example, you might explain that the person’s body wasn’t working anymore and the doctors couldn’t fix it. If the person dies suddenly, like in an accident, you might explain what happened - that because of this very sad event, the person’s body stopped working. You may have to explain that “dying” or “dead” means that the body stopped working.

Kids this young often have a hard time understanding that all people and living things eventually die, and that once a person dies, it’s final and that person isn’t coming back. So even after you’ve gone through this explanation, your child may continue to ask where the person is or when the person is returning. As frustrating as this may be for you, continue to calmly reiterate, in concrete terms, that the person has died and can’t come back, and that your child won’t be seeing him or her again.

This article has offered us alot of insight as to how my son might be interpreting all of this.

Posted in Communication, Grief and Loss | 3 Comments »

Business is Business

I have learned a hard lesson. I have always wondered why people are hard nosed (and mean) when it comes to business. I never understood why - I always thought “well, geez, lighten up”. Now that I am dealing with sloppy ex-tenants/careless landlords and the contractors that we are paying to clean up their mess, I completely understand. If you don’t find a way to get the message across that you are not going to tolerate being taken advantage of, people will unfortunately walk all over you. I have been fighting this admission my whole life, but I am coming to find that it is (90% of the time) an accurate statement.

A few years ago, my very best friend adopted quite a tough minded mean streak. Through our teen years she was always the one sticking fun-yuns up her nose and doing cartwheels down the hall. She was as light of a personality as you could find. Then in her mid-twenties, she became very edgy and dealt with any money exchange manners in a way that I felt was, at the least, very counter to her personality. She was just downright mean - a ballbuster to the ‘enth degree. She came right out and said that it was because she was tired of being taken advantage of because she was nice. “Oh” I thought, “that is so horrible… You can still be nice and expect to be taken seriously”. What I am finding out is that what I was interpreting as her being a hardass was, indeed, just her being very clear and direct about what it was that she needed and what she expected and what she felt she deserved. It doesn, entirely, come across as difficult - but I am finding that it is necessary in this world to make sure that you aren’t getting steamrolled.

So, I am trying on my stern hat and (after the housecleaner left the house unmopped after I wrote her a check for $150 to scour the place from top to bottom) I am going to have to handle this move with utter directness. The days of me acting like a kid who doesn’t deserve to be given the same quality as a rich middle aged businessman are over. My money is as good as theirs and, quite frankly, is much more difficult to come by. Hopefully, though, I will find a way to marry my inherent consideration for others with my necessity for quality assurance. I have a feeling it will come off as smoothly as Goldie Hawn playing the role of an intelligent woman though - not very convincing. Wish me luck!

Posted in Communication, Communication, Daily Living | No Comments »

Communicating with your child..

I have a friend, her name is Joy, who is always a wonderful person to bounce parenting problems and solutions off of. She is very concientious about her methodology and her tactics when it comes to disciplining her two daughters (one of which my son has been madly in love with for the last two years). She has been reading a book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” - it is a kit to engage parents in a relationship that their children will understand and in a relationship that they can be themselves in.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is an excellent communication tool kit based on a series of workshops developed by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Faber and Mazlish (coauthors of Siblings Without Rivalry) provide a step-by-step approach to improving relationships in your house. The “Reminder” pages, helpful cartoon illustrations, and excellent exercises will improve your ability as a parent to talk and problem-solve with your children. The book can be used alone or in parenting groups, and the solid tools provided are appropriate for kids of all ages. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Los Angeles Times
“Designed to bring adults to the level of children, and children to the level of adults, so that this happy meeting ground can truly make for harmony in the home.”

If your children are anything like mine and Joy’s and they thrive on decision making and being the leader of the house then it sounds like this book will help bring a sense of balance.

Posted in Parenting, Behavior Issues, Communication, Parent Education | No Comments »