Monday, January 31, 2011

A Discipline Chart that Works

Last week I taught a parenting class about discipline--inspired by an amazing program Saren teaches at Retreats called Family Systems. 

Several people who weren't able to make it to the class asked if I'd send them some of the information we covered, so I thought I'd post it here on the blog for easy access.  

There are two main reasons I want to discipline my children well.

(1) I want them to turn out as competent, capable, happy, disciplined adults, and if I let them do whatever they want while they're young, they're not just going to make a transformation once they turn 18.  Positive discipline is helpful to children--it gives them confidence in their parents and a good sense that they are loved.

(2) I don't like yelling and spanking and feeling out of control.  When I'm not on top of things, all of us get a little grumpy with each other, and then our home isn't anywhere close to being a heaven.  I love my family, and I want to create a home where all of us want to be. 

In our Family Systems program, we talk about ways to

(1) Create a positive, loving home environment

(2) Deal with negative behavior in a positive way, and

(3) Help children to do things that we need them (and want them) to do

(I'll just go through the basics of these ideas, and if you want to hear more, we'd love for you to join us at one of our Retreats.)

(1) Create a positive, loving home environment

Discipline isn't just about "time outs."  It's about helping our children want to be good.  There are so many ways to create great relationships in the home
  • give our children plenty of praise
  • get down on their level and speak to them eye-to-eye
  • give lots of hugs and kisses
  • REALLY listen when they're telling you all about their Lego guy
  • give them lots of choices (do you want to open the car door or shall I?)
  • don't belittle them or call them names
These things might seem like "no-brainers," but when I took the discipline pre-test that Saren issued at the last retreat, I didn't do so well.  When I'm stressed and frustrated, I don't feel like being a patient, loving, kind mom, but that's exactly when it's the most important.


(2) Deal with negative behavior in a positive way

Getting angry never helps anyone.  Neither does making threats that won't be followed through ("If you don't stop yelling, we're going home!" or "You're going to be grounded for two months.")  I kept taking screen time away from one of my children until that child was going to spend about 19 months without any TV or computer games (and that's really hard to enforce . . . and won't necessarily change the behavior).

The Eyre's Values Parenting site has some INCREDIBLE resources.  Click here to see their 5 simple family rules.  

Our family liked them so much that we made them into our Perry Family Rules, and we created a chart to keep track.  Many times, we can use the natural consequences outlined by the Eyres, but sometimes we've found that it works better to have our children "move their clips" like they do at school.

Here's a photo of the chart we keep on the side of the refrigerator:


Each time a rule is broken, the clip is moved down the chart.  Those within the Start/Warning region still get dessert that night (if we have it . . . I don't tell them if it's a dessert night or not in advance).

Then those who had 5, 20, or 30 minutes of disciplined time don't get dessert.  My children are the ones who put this chart together, and they're all really good about following through with the consequences.  I love it because there's no emotion attached to misbehavior anymore.  I just say, "Move your clip, please."

We also added a little bonus: if you go a whole week without moving your clip, you get to be the King or Queen for a Day.  You pick the meals, you don't have to do any other cleaning jobs, and you get to be in charge of our activities.  That has been WONDERFUL for us. 

(3) Help children to do things that we need them (and want them) to do

There's a ton of information that could be shared here, but basically, we want to have incentives in place to inspire children to behave well.

Pamela Palmer wrote a great article for our website called "Responsibility Lids" which I think of all the time.  I just need to get around to making the lids.

We do have a little chart that lists each child's responsibilities, but Pamela's idea is much better.

Spencer is yelling for me, so I need to run, but I'll list one more thing that's helped us.  It's called "Seeing Need Points."  Our children get points for seeing a need and filling that need.  Alia and Grace helped me make a podcast on it a couple of months ago.

To find out more about our "Seeing Need" podcast, click here.

Each family needs to adjust their discipline plan in a way that works for them, but these three main ideas of creating a positive environment, dealing with negative behavior in a positive way, and putting incentives in place to help our children want to do good things have really helped me.

I don't feel the need to yell or nag or "do everything myself" anymore because we are all working together to create a peaceful, ordered home that has truly become my heaven on earth (about 85% of the time).

If any of you have any other thoughts or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  I am ALWAYS up for new ideas, and I would appreciate you sharing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why I Love EFY

My friend Chelsea asked me to send her some photos from our time at EFY last summer, and since the photos wouldn't email, for some reason, I told her I would post them on my blog so she could download them.

And since I'm posting them here, I'm going to take a quick walk down memory lane and tell you why I love Expecially for Youth.  (I kind of feel like I'm writing a parallel story to "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.")

For those who aren't familiar with EFY, it's a program organized by Brigham Young University to help youth strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.  They bring in teachers for two of the five days, and I've had the chance to teach there for the past three years (but I'm taking this summer off because The Power of Moms has been growing so quickly, and I can't keep up :)).

Here's a photo from opening night (last August).  We all had a Family Home Evening Lesson from our Session Director, and then we headed out to the lawn (at BYU in Provo, Utah) for games that teach.  I got to interact with several of the teenagers here, and I was very impressed.  One girl, Dakota, saves up her money all year to pay for her airfare and the cost of the conference.  Are these mountains not beautiful?  Eric and I met at BYU, and we fell in love right about here.


Our classes began the following morning.  This session had three teachers, and we each taught four classes per day, with class sizes between 100 and 200 students.  Here are Brother and Sister McBride (the Session Directors) and their little twins.  In the middle are the Bennions--such a darling couple.  And then there's my cute friend Chelsea and me on the right.


These sweet ladies are the ones who make EFY happen (along with J.D. Hucks and a whole team of incredible people).  This is DeeAura and Jenny, and, among many other things, they help coordinate more than 300 teachers and thousands of participants who travel around the globe to participate in EFY.  


And here's DeeAura Thompson and J.D. Hucks: 



This was my first class (I couldn't get everyone in the same shot).  I try to pretend I'm not nervous, but my heart was pounding like crazy before every single class.  (It really turned out to be fine--I just always get nervous about public speaking.)

Seeing all their faces again makes me miss them.  Even though we only spent a few hours together, you really get to know people when you're discussing ideas that matter.

And here's a photo of Chelsea's husband who came and joined us for lunch one day. 


In one of my classes, I was trying to teach how important it is to know the Savior's voice.  I asked a volunteer (the girl in the center) to pick 10 guys out of the audience whom she'd never met before.  Then she left the room while I explained that one of them was going to say "Come unto me." into the microphone (while her back was turned), and then she had to guess who it was. 


Because she didn't recognize the voice, she didn't know who had said the words, so she just picked a random guy.  Then we discussed the parallel.  If we don't recognize the Lord's voice, we won't know whose voice to follow.  We'll get caught up following the media--or whoever is the most popular at school--or whoever has the most followers on Twitter. 

Two years ago, I found a brother-sister pair in the group, and while the sister had her back turned, I brought her brother up from the audience, and he said, "Come Unto Me."  When she turned around, she knew immediately whose voice she'd heard.

Likewise, Jesus Christ is our Brother, and when His voice is familiar to us, we won't have any question about who to follow.

Oh, I miss EFY.

Here's one final picture from the dance I attended there.  I have never felt so "old" before.  Everyone was dancing to music I didn't even recognize.  After about 15 minutes, I felt so silly trying to be hip that I went on a little walk and called my husband.  At least I tried.


So that's my EFY report.  I do have one more little post I'll put up someday about the Friendship class, which was one of my very favorite experiences.  These youth are just wonderful to be with.  They want to be good.  They want to make the right choices.  They want to be strong.  I hope they're all doing well right now, and I hope they know how much the Lord loves them.  If I get the chance to teach in 2012, I am going to jump at the opportunity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Have HOW Many Emails in My Inbox?

I don't know why organizing emails is one of my passions, but I really, really like the feel of an empty inbox, and I love helping busy moms create order in their minds and in their families. 

Yesterday I got the chance to guest post on 5 Minutes for Mom--a great community I've been a part of for the past few years.  You can see my email post for their "Tackle it Tuesday" column here.


Or you can click here to see it on our Deseret News Blog:


Okay, but now onto the REAL thoughts that are keeping me up at night.
I just found out the other day that one of our authors on The Power of Moms, Amanda Wilkinson, lost her 20-month old son on Saturday.  He passed away in the night, and they found him at 8:30 a.m. in his crib.  

I've never met Amanda, but my heart goes out to her and all the other mothers who lose their little babies.  My heart also goes out to those who get so caught up in work, TV, shopping, worrying, etc. that they don't enjoy the moments with the children they DO have (I can often be included in this group).

I stayed up late Monday night thinking, planning, praying, and trying to figure out how to best spend my 168 hours each week.  I love writing, blogging, building my website, and presenting at Retreats, but any project or activity I take on has to be VERY important because it uses up time that could have been spent with my children and husband.  
Today Spencer and Ethan wore roller skates more often than not, so I have little boys wheeling all over the kitchen.  The problem is that we only have one pair of skates, so they keep fighting over who gets them.  

Grace passed her 7s in multiplication, and she was SO excited to tell me all about it.  She also made dinner all by herself tonight as part of her "Faith in God" project at church.  The smile on her face as she punched the bread dough into the counter was priceless (too bad the camera memory card was full).

Alia and I worked for several hours on her science project Friday night, and while we printed, cut, and glued her poster together, we talked all about growing up, goal-setting, and fun family stories.  I can't believe she's 11.

So I'm going to finish organizing my emails tonight, finish listening to the State of the Union address I missed last night, and then I'm going to do some more "hard thinking" and figure out what I can do to live a life with no regrets.

Any advice?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do you have a "Picture Story"?

This photo has been part of our slideshow on The Power of Moms for the past year or so (it was a finalist in our photo contest).  Every time I see it, my heart leaps and hurts at the same time.  It's because I know the story behind the photo.


This is clearly a precious shot.  I love seeing that cute little boy kissing his mommy's tummy.   However, what makes me tear up is knowing the little baby inside has a terminal disease.  He only lived for an hour and a half, and they knew for most of the pregnancy that he might not even live at all after birth.   

Here's what Jennifer (the mom) had to say about this picture:

To me it epitomizes motherhood, as I tried very hard to celebrate the fact that my youngest son was alive and kicking inside of me, even though I knew he would not live long.  In the past few years I have learned there is a power in celebrating and remembering.

You can see her inspiring blog here.


This image makes me cry even now.  I have two little boys who get to enjoy being brothers every day.  They roll balls and play hide-and-seek while my girls and I shop for dresses.  They read together at night.  They sit at the counter together for every meal and get mad at each other at least once every ten minutes.   When I see this little boy in the photo, I see him kissing his brother whom he won't really get the chance to know until after this life.

I've never met Jennifer, but I truly admire her, and because she was willing to share this photo with us, I cherish my children just a little more each day.

Do any of you have a picture that tells a special story? 

Rachelle Price, our Picture Stories Manager, sent me an email the other day that said this:

I am hoping to add to www.powerofmoms.com some interesting short essays and (hopefully) photos that show the many joys and hardships of mothers.   I would love to hear their first-hand experiences
  • What have they learned?
  • What hardships have taught them something others can learn from?
  • What do they love about motherhood?
  • How do they make the mundane meaningful? 
  • How did they get through infertility? 
  • What did they learn from adopting? 
  • What do they hope to become?  
If they have a photo of them with their children (either casual or posed, we'll take it . . . seriously photographs with the Mom in them are hard to come by!) we can put it with their article.  

Would you please help me find some of these women we would love to include on our site?  These mothers will hopefully feel honored that you asked them and excited to be a part of The Power of Moms.  And what's great is when their own story is up on the site they may share it on their blogs or with their co-workers, family, and friends.  Powerofmoms.com's goodness can continue to spread!


If you, or someone you know, has a great picture story to share with The Power of Moms, please email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com.

Thanks so much!




A Little Update

My task list is WAY too long today, but I am having such beautiful experiences that I can't help but feel happy and optimistic about life.  

I spent the morning with my friend Elizabeth.  She's 66, she had an extremely difficult childhood, she's worked long and hard her whole life, and she is now raising four beautiful children she adopted a few years ago, plus a little boy who is staying with her as a foster child.  (When the agency is having a hard time placing a child, they call Elizabeth because they know she'll take good care of any child who needs a good home.)

Speaking with Elizabeth (also making a video I'll try to post at another time) and helping out with her three-year-old foster child was an absolute privilege.  Spencer was in heaven with a little boy around, and I couldn't help but feel so grateful for mothers out there who are providing safe, loving homes for their children--or other people's children.  The value of a mother just can't be measured.

I'm also feeling excited because Saren and I spoke on the phone for a couple of hours yesterday, and we have finally selected the main essayists/editors for our upcoming book.  We're in the process of contacting them, and then we'll announce their names on the website by this Friday (if all goes well).  We'll also announce the full list of contest winners in a couple of weeks--once the main essayists/editors help us create drafts of our 12 chapters.  The book is coming together!  

Saren and I also decided on our new tag line for The Power of Moms.  Up to this point, it's been "Growing Ourselves, Building Each Other, Shaping the Future," which is good, but too long.  Our new logo and header will read:  dun-duh-duh-DUN - 


The Power of Moms
A gathering place for deliberate mothers

I love the word "deliberate."  We're not "perfect" mothers.  We're not "fashion-model, immaculate-house" mothers.  We're deliberate.  Our families are our top priorities, and we're trying to grow ourselves in the process of caring for the ones we love most.  

In the past 24 hours, I haven't "accomplished" much.  My laundry isn't folded or put away, the kitchen floors need a good mopping, and I have about 40 emails to return and 4 articles to write today.  However, I mended a soccer sock my daughter wanted to wear to her soccer practice, I wrote a note in one child's lunch (someday I'll have the wherewithal to write a note in EACH child's lunch), I helped a child with a science fair project, I made the family's favorite dinner, I gave back tickles and sang "Baby Mine," had several important conversations with my children and husband, and tried to savor every moment.  We still have plenty of squabbles and tantrums, but I am doing all I can to be deliberate. It feels great. 

For those who are interested in the website--we're getting a new logo and colors for The Power of Moms.  Here's a sneak peek at what Rebecca from Persnickety Graphics is working on:


We're also changing our entire admin site to a new system and reorganizing the whole website around the 12 Powers.  It's been a lot of work, but goodness, I can't even explain how exciting this work is to me.  

Our Trainers are holding Retreats around the country (with more being organized every month), and I can hardly wait to see the affect this will have on moms in every community. 

Spencer is "helping" me type now, so I think it's time to close up, but one final reason I'm feeling happy is because I've been able to spend quite a bit of time with my parents and siblings lately, and I just love them.  I'm the 7th of 8 children, and growing up in a home with people who really care about you (and building a home where people really care about you) is as close to heaven as I can imagine.  
If anyone wants to leave a comment and let me know what YOU'RE happy about today, that would be fun to read :)

Love,
April

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Five Free Ways to Love Your Family

Tomorrow my children will go back to school after three weeks of winter vacation.  To be perfectly honest, we're all a little stir-crazy.  I feel like I've been running in circles with all the housework, answering to "MOM!" every 30 seconds, and trying desperately to come up with creative activities to keep my children away from "screens" as much as possible (though my husband got to be home for two of those weeks, and he was a big help).  

Today I realized that this time with my children has helped me to love them even more.  I've gotten to know more about their personalities, we have about 100 new inside jokes, and we have had lots and lots of chances to just "talk."  I love that.  

(Alia just poked her head in from the garage and said, "Granny Peach strikes again!"  and then all the children ran out to run in circles while she pretends she's a crazy old lady.  Where do they come up with these things?)

The noise level right now is deafening, and I've got to get going with our evening activities, but I wanted to quickly record five ways I've learned to show love to my family.  These methods are absolutely free,  they make a huge difference in our family, and they can be replicated in almost every situation. 

#1:  Write little messages on the mirrors with dry-erase markers.  We keep a set of markers in our bathroom for the family to use, and they think it's such a novelty.  Here's Alia's latest note to Ethan (he had a high fever this past week):


(It says: "Dear E-buddy, Sorry you're sick!  Get well soon!  Love, Alia, Mom, Dad, Spencer, and Grace.")

#2: Save a little energy for bedtime.  Sometimes I'm so tired at the end of the day, and I have so many things to do before MY bedtime that I rush the children off to bed.  I've noticed that if I save about 30 minutes of energy, our bedtime routine becomes the source of our most treasured memories.   I had to capture this picture of Eric reading "Going on a Bear Hunt" to Spencer last night in the crib.


#3: Take time to play--even for just five minutes.  When I was growing up, my mom and dad always said yes when we asked them to play with us.  Sometimes we had to wait a bit, and sometimes we didn't play for long, but they never turned us down.  My dad would say, "Someday you won't be around to ask me to play, and I don't want to pass up these opportunities."  I've been playing board games, dancing in the living room, making snowflakes, coloring, shooting hoops, roller skating, and swinging on swings at the park lately.  It is fabulous.   (Spencer doesn't ask ME to throw him in the air.  I can only get him up about two inches.)


#4: Don't get mad about messes.  We had spaghetti tonight, and our floor looked like this:


       







The child responsible for this mess (who shall remain nameless) felt terrible and started to cry.  We decided long ago not to get mad about the spills inherent with raising a family (well, at least we don't SHOW that we're mad).  We cleaned up the mess, soothed the child, and had a great meal.  Getting mad just never helps anything.

#5: Hang love notes on the walls.  Eric's mom is so good at this.  She always makes "a wall" for her children on their birthdays.  We tried making one for Alia this week:


We also made a little card for Grace.  She was feeling a little unloved because it wasn't her birthday, and she wasn't sick, and she's not little like Spencer, so she wasn't getting as much attention as everyone else.  Grace LOVES pandas, and she was so excited to see this in the morning when she woke up.  She wanted to keep it posted all week so she can see it whenever she walks by.


All right, typing this blog entry took WAY longer than I anticipated (I know I should wait to do these kinds of things after my children are in bed, but sometimes it's easier to just type in between the questions and kisses and snacks). 

I hope these ideas are helpful.  It is so much fun to be a mom, but it is also really, really hard to stay patient through the noise and chaos.  I'm learning more and more each day, but my hope is that someday my children will look back and know how much they were loved.
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