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Pearls from the Mother

by Lyn Overholt, my beautiful aunt

Routine is a mother’s best friend.
Never say “I won’t love you if….”Remember that discipline means guidance, not punishment.When praising a child, begin by saying “You must be proud of yourself.  You have worked hard at whatever it is……” THEN say, “I’m proud of you, too. “ The reason: we want to teach children to reinforce their own work, not work only for other’s approval.  I will explain what I mean.When looking at children’s art work, ask them to tell you about their picture instead of saying “What is that?”Say what you mean and mean what you say.Model the behavior you want your children to exhibit.Listen more than you speak. You don’t always have to “fix it.”Good question to ask: what do you think should be done?Tell your children that they can call you from wherever at any time of day or night and you will come and get them no questions asked… (…..until later.)You can ask me anything about anything and we will deal with it together.Sex:  a beautiful god-given thing between two equally committed adults.(Not to be treated casually.)Males NEVER hit females.Define your family values in words – and deeds.Do the right thing… and then explain why you did it.Be as polite to your children and husband as you are to strangers.Use anatomically correct names for body parts.State everything positively. Don’t EVER use racial or gender based slurs.Stay tuned to all aspects of your child: physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and intellectualRemember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher.Mothering is not something that is automatic.  We tend to parent as we were parented.  If you liked your upbringing that is great.  If not, you are able to change your approach.  Learn all you can about what is developmentally appropriate for your child at his/hr age.  Study! Help your child become a good decision maker from a very early age:  just be sure the choices are both okay with you.  Examples given. Let your child choose as practice: menu, clothes, activities.Catch your child being good. ..  and give honest praise.Remember that negative attention is better than none, so give lots of attention to the positive behavior of your child.  Sometimes ignoring bad behavior is a good thing.  Laughing at inappropriate behavior is a no-no.  Laughter is quite a reinforcer.  (even if it is funny!)Don’t compare your child – to anyone or anything.Keep your sense of humor.Admit it when you are wrong and apologize.The rules are the same for everyone… but age appropriate.Tell the truth.Teach your child skills as you go along:  sort the laundry, put up toys, etc.Let your children take the consequences for breaking the rules.Tone of voice is everything.Teach your children that you trust them.Role play: “what would happen if…..” Jigsaw puzzles, carpooling, teaching children to drive are wonderful opportunities to listen and learn.Tell family stories…especially about how much you wanted them and  how much they have added to the family.  Focus on positive things, not negative ones.Spend lots of time, not money on your children. Some of the most fun family times are free.Boys and girls are different from the get-go. Remember you are the role model for femininity and your husband is the role model for masculinity. This is an awesome responsibility.Individual differences are inevitable ….and fascinating.Remember, by the time we learn our jobs, they are over.  Grandparenting is grand.When you make a rule, enforce it.  If it’s not working, change it.Remember that you are in charge.Remember, everyone else ISN’T doing it.  Check with other parents for facts.Remember that dealing with a two year old is excellent practice for dealing with teenagers:  the issues are the same:  autonomy, independence, trust and “I can do it myself.”Never use derogatory labels for any child: you are stupid, ugly, fat, lazy, bad, etc., etc., etc.  Children believe what you say.Start family traditions early.  Example:  bible verses at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Try to keep holiday times as low key as possible.  Sometimes the emphasis on perfection seems to be the highest at these times.  We need to talk about our expectations so that no one is disappointed that X didn’t happen when no one knew what they expected.Don’t make a big deal over things that are really not important, like hair.  Some of these are just testing and are not fatal.Help your child set standards for himself……friends, behavior, drinking, smoking, sex.  What would Jesus do is a wonderful standard.We want to encourage independent thinking.  (so they won’t be so dependent on others (peers) when making decisions for themselves.)Using expressions like “good decision, good thinking,  sounds like a good plan,” are encouraging words to  someone learning to think independently.Parents should always reinforce each other.  If they disagree, they need to discuss it away from the children and present a united front.When a child needs correcting, separate the child from the group.  Do not embarrass him/her in front of their friends. Teach your children to handle money responsibly.  Money is not free or automatic.  Work and money are directly related.When your child comes home from school, give him/her your undivided attention for five minutes. This will save lots of time later.When your child talks to you, look at him/her.Deal with disciplinary tasks when and where they occur.  Don’t threaten your children with “Wait  until your daddy gets home.  Not only will they be scared of daddy, but they won’t want him to come home.Encourage your child to be able to pretend and to be creative.  This will be helpful in teaching them to think for themselves later.Be consistent!

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