Here's a copy of Julietta's handout!
Topic A Discussion points: Opinionated or big personality kids.
Topic A Solutions: Opinionated or big personality kids.
Topic B Discussion Points: The Introverted Kid
Topic B Solutions: The Introverted Kid
For both types of kids and everyone in between: to inspire your kid to talk about his/her day, try new routines that encourage space for sharing (example: a walk). Check in with her/her teacher. Learn the lexicon they’ll be using in the classroom (example: Kelso’s Choices).
• When someone wants to be involved in a group or be liked, and goes along with what the group is doing.
• Can be positive and negative
• Our kids are growing into who they are. They experiment and try different things they see/hear. Do we allow it? Do we talk with them about our observations?
• As parents we can talk with kids about group pressures and bullying peer pressure. Both can occur on the playground.
• Boys vs. girls, who's playing what on the playground.
• Pressure can lead to exclusion.
• Pressures of family members vs. friends can be different.
• Where does the motivation to copy other kids come from?
• Using the tools taught in the classroom to help deal with pressures.
• Talking to your kids about the day. Example tactics: "Aliens come to earth, who from your class would they take today?" or 2 truths and a lie.
• [Faculty comment by Katie Kryan-Leary] Kindergarten has recess monitored by someone from their class, teacher or assistant, who speaks the "language" used in class to solve social issues.
• Reach out to parents of kids involved.
• Role play with your kids.
• Practice Waiting
Summary for 4-27-16
We actually tackled 2 different topics with our group.
The first was how to handle it when your child is mirroring or imitating behaviors they see their friends do, kind of trying on new behaviors; and on a related note the issue of self-esteem in groups.
The second topic was parenting your kids when they play frequently in a close-at-hand community of friends, like your neighbors, where the values and the parenting are very different from your own.
We talked at length about seeing our kids “try on” behaviors and words that we know don’t think are really theirs. The question was: why are they doing this and what should I be doing about it as a parent?
A parent shared that her second grade daughter seemed to be making herself try to cry, imitating behavior of a friend. Her preschooler was using more aggressive, violent language that she’d never heard him use before but suspected he was picking up from his ipad game or show. It’s disturbing as a parent and makes us think hard about what’s the right response.
There was some discussion about why this bothers us as parents; one parent discussed how, when she sees her child behave in a way like forced crying, it seems like a caricature of femininity, maybe the child’s shorthand version of what they think they ought to be acting like. It’s disturbing as a parent because we want them to use their words, be authentic, and say what they are feeling. We don’t want them to take shortcuts like pretend crying when it comes to saying what they feel.
One parent shared what a preschool teacher she’d observed did when a child was crying more for show, and it was preventing problem-solving: in a kind and nonjudgmental voice she would tell kids, “When you turn off your tears we can talk about it.” It seemed to help kids calm down and talk about it. Another helpful phrase one parent shared was, “That doesn’t sound like my (Betsy)” when the child is using a voice or language that isn’t authentically theirs, like being mean or snarky. Someone noted that that’s part of the “Connect before you correct” philosophy that QAE follows.
Sometimes kids point to other kids behavior and ask why they don’t get to act that way, and we have to remind them that different kids need different things to be successful.
One parent noted it was helpful in their family when she told a story about how she behaved badly as a kid, rather than tell them how not to behave. It gives them something of value and keeps them off the defensive.
One mom noted that her daughter was “trying on” being sad, to mimic a friend who is sad a lot. She was concerned her daughter might pretend to be sad and end up really feeling sad, and it “seems like she’s reaching ahead beyond her years.” When she asked her daughter why she did this, her daughter said she was trying to understand the friend. The discussion moved forward to talking about how to reflect to the child that she’s being caring and empathetic, but then discuss how to support and lift up someone who’s feeling down. People piped up to say the book “Mattie’s Fridge” was right on point here.
Suggested resources: book “Collecting Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld, “Mattie’s Fridge”
We transitioned into talking about what to do when our kids spend a lot of time playing independently with neighbor kids who have different family values and rules. We talked about having our kids exposed to kid behavior and parenting that is not ideal from our own point of view, and how to handle various situations. Some parents recalled parenting they observed as kids outside their own home, and how memorable that was. It was suggested that our kids who observe really poor parenting when they’re over at a friend’s house will know it’s wrong; they’re more likely to emulate the kids’ behavior than the parents. If your house is the “safe” house the kids are likely to gravitate to it. Having ongoing dialogue with your kids is a huge way to keep them grounded in your own values. Be connected, find time for conversations, talk to them and hear what they have to say; your own family values will prevail if you are making time for this connection with your kids.
We had a related discussion about how to give your kids individual attention when there are 2 or 3 of them competing for mom/dad’s time. Sometimes we feel like we spend all our time just managing “the herd” and getting them from point A to point B, and keeping on schedule, and not enough time is left over for quality one-to-one interactions. They need and want some alone time with a parent, but it can be hard to find the time. Especially with more kids in the family. Some ideas: give each kid 10 minutes alone time with their chosen game or toy and you, or make up a game together as a family with each kid contribute a rule of the game.
We talked about being “fair” versus being “equal” with kids. They keep score a lot and as parents it seems we have to face the charge of “not being fair” and “not being equal” a good deal. It’s ok to tell kids fair is not the same as equal, and mom and dad need time to themselves too; kids aren’t entitled to equality at all times…sometimes they get a little more than another child, sometimes less, but it all shakes out to be fair in the end. Each kid gets what they need.
We talked about the value of having family meetings in helping kids feel like they are a valuable part of the family. One idea was to let each kid take a turn leading the family meetings. Also, doing “appreciations” where each person in the family says what they appreciate about each other person. Another idea was doing a Friendship book like the kids do in their Kindergarten class, where each family member gets a turn being spotlighted and the others make them a book with a page from each person noting something special about them.
Suggested resources: The 5 Love Languages, and “71 Toes Blog”
Feb 9 Meeting TOPIC 3: When you’re child is literally screaming at you a lot of the time and the volume hurts your ears. And she knows this is a button-pusher.
We talked about whether it was really the loud volume that was so disconcerting to the parent, or the behavior behind it. Why is the child screaming? What does he/she need…what is the behavior all about? Ask yourself if your child needs more attention.
After some discussion there was consideration of whether the child feels left out of the family dynamic sometimes; as a girl spending time with her stay-at-home dad and brother, gender difference might be an issue; her communication style may be different from theirs; she may feel she is not being heard/seen.
Positive discipline says “a misbehaving child is a frustrated child.”
It was suggested to look for a pattern of when the child starts screaming and see if you can anticipate the behavior and divert it, by paying positive attention to the child or meeting a need that’s going unmet. Maybe having a game ready to play together, or a snack, or just giving undivided attention.
Try the “Parent Helping Parent” exercise, where you role play being your child and another parent roleplays you. This can be very helpful for seeing what’s really going on and how you each play a role. It builds empathy and might lead to some ideas of what to do differently.
Another idea was to “Date your children.” Go on a “date” with just that child, once in a while, so they have special time with you, apart from other family members. With multiple kids in a household, this can make a big difference.
Reading resource: The Explosive Child.
There was interest in knowing more about family meetings. Tips offered by experienced Family Meeting folks:
Feb 9 Meeting TOPIC 1: “Social Engineering” – What’s right and wrong when it comes to guiding children’s friendships
To what extent should we be “social engineers” in arranging playdates, choosing what parties they can attend, etc.? What is “social engineering” and is it OK?
We talked about what it feels like to see our children being part of friendships or a larger group that we aren’t especially happy about. Seeing them with kids who are misbehaving, even if they themselves aren’t misbehaving. It brings up fears they’ll head down a wrong road, make bad choices.
What’s the balance of protecting our kids v. letting them make their own choices, or letting their personality shine through and dictate what they do and who they spend time with?
We discussed that it can help to talk with our kids about the difference between being empathetic towards difficult friends vs. being responsible for helping them, or being their only friend.
We talked about the idea of coaching kids on the feelings they have when they see their friends misbehaving. Advice was given to “coach the kid, not the friendship” and not to leave the kid out of the discussion. Meaning, don’t make the friendship decisions for them without their input or knowledge, because that leaves them out of the choice-making. Instead, coach them on how to handle difficult situations. Ask reflective questions.
You can’t control t heir friendships entirely but you can influence how they act in those friendships. It’s ok to tell friends, “I’m not in” or “That’s not my style” if their friends are doing things they don’t like.
Our faculty liaison offered the advice that if there is a friendship difficulty at school, parents can bring it up to the teachers. “We do social engineering all day long.” Teachers give thought to where kids sit in the classroom or who they do projects with in order to avoid bad matches and promote the best learning environment.
Ask the kid questions like: “What do you need? Are you getting it? Are you safe?” Get them to problem solve in their own friendships. If they don’t feel safe, that’s definitely a time to step in.
These are the notes from a combined K-2 group that met on April 1, 2015.
Topic: Fostering independence and confidence to allow for appropriate freedom.
Sub topics included:
One example discussed revolved around a family getting a young child a razor scooter, and the child giving up on the toy right away.
When encouraging kids to try new things/sports/activities:
How to provide age appropriate freedom for your child:
One example included a young girl wanting to walk around the block by herself.
Two books that were referenced and noted as a useful read by a few in the group were:
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
Another item mentioned were kid safe knives similar to these:
An interesting article relevant to the conversation:
This group was specifically interested in discussing ways to handle the sometimes challenging after-school transition time. We often encounter difficult behavior and/or meltdowns as kids transition from school to playtime to dinner, with siblings fighting once they are "reunited" after school.
· Bring food to pickup; a snack can really help.
· Form an instant "connection" by giving 100% focus to the child coming out of school.
· Genuinely listen to your child and "hear the need" even if you can't/ won't meet their specific request.
· Prepare ahead for the end of day as much as possible (i.e., have dinner menu planned)
· Just know it's going to be a challenging time and take comfort in knowing other parents are going through the same thing.
· Use "the zones" language from school.
· Wait a bit and have a conversation with your child(ren) at a calmer time about how the after-school period is going and how it can be improved for everyone.
· Be flexible.
· Try using a repetitive physical action as relaxation (sweeping, wiping table); remember, this too shall pass!
· Kids' intensity of emotion can be a challenge
· Some parents are worried about their children's days and the reports they get back about sad or hard days. (Input from faculty liaison: It's likely not that bad and blows over. It's so impactful to parents because we are so tapped into their emotions.)
· Frustration at the emotions but remembering that at this age our kids are very egocentric.
· Sometimes we tend to want to know everything about the problem, but maybe they don't want to talk about it.
· Validate their emotions and let them know it's ok to feel that way.
· Help them accept that they're disappointed. Model it.
· Let them discuss some workable solutions to problems.
· Wait a day and revisit the topic/problem to work out new solutions.
· Don't get so wrapped up in their emotions; it’s ok to let them feel those emotions.
· Remind your children of their "zones." (from the Zones of Regulation). "It looks like you're in the red zone. What do you need to get back into green?" or "That [reaction] is so unexpected." Make it their responsibility to find their way back from disappointment.
· Try the exercise "Rose and Thorn" at the end of the day to help kids accept that every day has its ups and downs. (Some people share “good news and bad news” – another version of the same thing). The idea is for the kids to share their good and bad moments from the day.
· Pay attention and make eye contact during correction. Keep it short. Say, "Can you tell me what I said?" instead of "What did I just say to you?"
· Remember that you can only help them so much. "Tomorrow is a new day."
The heart of ParentNet meetings are the small-group discussions.
Topics are chosen by parents in attendance. Brief summaries of the small-group discussions at QAE are posted in this area.
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