Tips to Be a Good Friend and Help Stop Bullying

Today we hosted a Bullying Prevention Seminar for a group of Girl Scout Troops. I love teaching these seminars because it gives kids practical tips they can use right now to help end bullying behavior in their schools. The challenge, however, is how do you remember and apply everything you just learned in the two hour seminar.

For today’s seminar I compiled a list of tips and ideas that parents can talk about with their kids (since it was a seminar for girl scouts, I wanted it to be specifically applicable to girl’s, but I think the tips would work for everyone), and I thought that it might be helpful for others, so I’m sharing it here, too!

Tips to Be a Good Friend and Help Prevent and Stop Bullying
Adapted from Stand Up to Bullying by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick and Girl’s Handbook to Friendship by Fiona Foden

Parents and teachers need to help support kids who are bullied and make it clear to kids who engage in bullying behavior that it is unacceptable and needs to stop. But, kids are the best equipped to intervene on other’s behalf. They can interrupt patterns of bullying, include others who may be left out and report bullying to adults.

  1. Treat others the way you want to be treated
    Before you join in on any teasing or name calling, stop and think – how would I feel if someone said this to or about me? If you think it might hurt your feelings, chances are – it’s hurting them, and you should stop. On the other hand, think about how you would feel if someone was teasing you and another friend came and stood up for/with you. Wouldn’t that be great? You can be that friend!
  2. Say nice things to others

You may not feel confident enough (yet!) to stand up and say something when you see bullying or teasing happening. But you can send a supportive message or note to them later to let them know you think the bullying is wrong. You can also report the bullying to an adult or support the person who was teased in speaking up for themselves or getting help from an adult.

  1. Wipe the slate clean

If you see mean things written about someone on a wall at school – tell a teacher right away, so it can get cleaned up! It may be tempting to write something back or retaliate, but that would just be bullying back. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

  1. Don’t pass the trash

If you hear a rumor about someone – don’t spread it. Often rumors are made up, or exaggerated to make them more interesting. If a friend tells you a secret or something personal, you should keep it to yourself. Remember the golden rule – how would you feel if someone said those things about you? If you hear other people gossiping you could say, “That might really hurt their feelings, you should stop saying it.”

  1. Include others

Not everyone has to be your best friend, but at school and anywhere you go it is kind and respectful to notice if a kid is being left out of a game, conversation, or seat at the lunch table. If someone is new in school or sitting by themselves, for example, you can invite them to sit with you at lunch. If they seem left out of a conversation, you can ask them a question to bring them in. Some people like having some time to themselves, but others are too shy to ask to join in, or may be afraid that people won’t like them. You can help!

  1. If you make a mistake, admit it and apologize.

Lots of friends tease and joke with each other. It can be fun to laugh at our mistakes or silly actions. But sometimes, even you or your friends can get carried away and hurt someone’s feelings. If you realize you made a mistake, sometimes you may want to hide it or pretend it didn’t happen. The best thing you can do is be honest with the person. If you were teased by your friends you can let them know by saying something like, “Hey, I know that you were just trying to have fun, but some of the things you said really hurt my feelings.” Or if you were teasing a friend you could say, “Hey, we were having fun and being silly, but I realized that you probably felt like we were laughing at you instead of with you. I’m sorry and I won’t do that again.” Good friends admit their mistakes and try to learn and grow from them.

  1. Celebrate other’s success

Sometimes, you may feel a little jealous if something cool or exciting happens to a friend. You may be tempted to downplay their success or say something mean to “bring them down to earth.” Instead, try to celebrate your friend’s success and focus on how you can support them and be happy for them! You’ll both feel better this way!

  1. Stick up for others

When kids stand up for other against bullying, the bullying stops. You can tell the person doing the teasing that you think it’s wrong and they should stop. The sooner you say something, the better

  1. Don’t give up

If a bullying or teasing situation has gone on for a long time, it may not stop immediately. That doesn’t mean that you should give up or think it’s hopeless. You should get help! Tell your parents, teachers or other adults you trust what’s happening and get their help in making it stop. You can also ask other friends to help you stand up against the bullying. You’re stronger when you stick together!

Additional Resources
Ongoing training is available at Master Yourself Martial Arts. Martial Arts training can help kids build the confidence to stand up to bullying and stand up for others. See one of our staff members at the end of today’s seminar for information about our ongoing training opportunities.

Books on Friendship and Preventing Bullying that you can read with your kids (these books review a lot of the information covered in today’s seminar and include ideas you can practice with your kids to help them defend themselves and others against bullying behavior). These are all written for ages 8-13.

Stand Up to Bullying by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick (Free Spirit Publishing)

Speak Up and Get Along by Scott Cooper (Free Spirit Publishing)

Girl’s Handbook to Friendship by Fiona Foden (Scholastic Children’s Books)

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 15

Welcome to my final Parenting Resolution for 2015:

Resolution 15: Don’t get so caught up in “Parenting” that you forget to be a parent.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times here that I have this wonderful gift as a parent. I get to take my daughter to work with me and include her in my daily life and routine. The downside or challenge for me about this is that my work involves a lot of other kids and parents who get to see my parenting in action every day.

Karate Baby at workI have been overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity and help I’ve received from the families in our taekwondo academy since little Naomi came into the world. Parents have shared gently used clothes and toys, ideas, played with her during class, clapped for her, held her, loved her, let her play with their kids – it has been a wonderful blessing for my family.

That doesn’t change the fact that in my mind (and I’m pretty sure this is all in my mind), I’m in a position where a lot of people that I like and respect get to see me muddle through the trial and error you go through when you’re learning how to be a parent.

Sometimes, I put pressure on myself to “look” like I’m doing the right thing as a Parent.

I’ll share some examples, not just from my parenting, but also things I’ve seen/experienced from other parents as well.

1) Your child isn’t doing well in school
Obviously, my daughter isn’t in school yet, so a lot of this comes from my experience with other parents. But, I have noticed with younger kids the “doing well in school” stress starts early, “Is my child walking soon enough?” “Do they have enough teeth?” “Have they gained enough weight?”

taking-away-privilegesTo “Do the Right thing as a Parent” some parents feel like they have to DO something. So, they get a bad report card home and so they cut out all their child’s play time, activities, and anything that’s not school.

The hard thing about this is that it may not be addressing why your child isn’t doing well in school. Maybe they have to much energy to focus, so what they really need is two or three hours of exercise every day and by taking away their activities, you’re just going to make the problem worse. Maybe they sit next to their best friend (or worst enemy) in the whole world and they find it hard to focus in class. Maybe they need some help practicing organizing their work every day, so they know where to find it when it’s time to turn it in to the teacher.

It may be better to spend some time figuring out WHY your not getting the results you want before you start deciding how to solve the problem.

2) Your child is behaving badly in a public place
This is the absolute WORST and totally happened to me this weekend. We were in a store. It was nap time. I just had one more thing to get and then we could go to the car. My daughter was SO tired, and was standing next to me waiting as patiently as a two year old can – then, she starts pulling things off the shelf and making a big mess. Ughh.

If she’d been well-rested, in a good mood, etc. I would have made her put everything back herself. But she was so tired. So, I starting putting it back, then she was so sad that I was destroying her handiwork that now she’s having a tantrum in the middle of the store and I feel like there’s a building full of parents who know exactly what I should do with that screaming two year old.

Do I punish my daughter for making a mess and having a tantrum in the middle of the store so I can look like “I’m laying down the law” to the other people in the store? No.

But I don’t really care what the people in the store think…but in front of family…

I could do this FOREVER!

I could do this FOREVER!

It also happened about two weeks ago in a restaurant. My daughter’s grandparents came to visit from out of town. It was wonderful to see them. We had a great time going to paint pottery and then we went out to lunch, but once again – it was nap time and Naomi had gotten to ride on a carousel and only wanted to ride the “horsey” for the rest of time.

So, we’re at the table, she’s fussy, she won’t sit still, she’s climbing over me to get out of the booth, running out of the restaurant and down the hall at the mall to find “her horsey.”

As a parent, I don’t want my in-laws to think I just tolerate this kind of behavior. But, on the other hand, I know that the excitement of having them visit has disrupted her sleep cycle, she’s been too excited to nap, she’s in a new environment and that horsey was just about as much fun as a swing!

So, I let my in-laws think I just tolerate this kind of behavior. Because, in the end, it’s more important to me to appreciate where my daughter is coming from. That doesn’t mean that all of her behavior is okay and she can do whatever she wants. But I don’t have to spank her, yell at her or embarrass her in public to make me feel like I’m being a good parent.

3) You’re visiting your family

For me this is one of the hardest places to follow my instincts, because you must fight the tide of love and wisdom that comes crashing at you from the people you most love in the world. For me, this doesn’t come up much because I live in Florida and my entire family and my husbands entire family lives somewhere else – mostly Atlanta. The great thing about this is that they don’t get to put their nose in my business (Mom, I know you’d never do that, but I’m just saying…). The major bummer thing about this is that it’s been a long slow road for Naomi to get to know, like and trust her aunts, uncles and grandparents (much to their dismay).

Picture with Grandma and Grandpa? No! Back to Mommy!

Picture with Grandma and Grandpa? No! Back to Mommy!

What’s worse is that since they all live in the same place, and since we’re not able to visit very often – trips to see family mean a long road trip, major disruption in routine, a crap ton of people who all want to catch up on 6 months worth of snuggles and hugs – and one REALLY freaked out toddler.

I have thought about this a lot and feel that there are a couple of ways I could handle this. I could insist that Naomi accept unlimited hugs from her baby-hug deprived aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and grandparents. But I, for one, take a little while to warm up to people. I’ve always been shy and preferred to feel people out before I relax.

So, I prefer to accept that there may be some frustrated aunts uncles, cousins, friends and grandparents in my daughters life who feel like I’m overprotective of my daughter when we come for a family visit in favor of giving her space to become familiar with this large and wonderful family that she has. I know that it will take a while to get the hugs and love that I know our family would like to bestow on her, but I think that when she’s comfortable with it, it will be more fun for everyone. Even if that means that for now, I have to endure the real or imagined judgement of well-meaning relatives.

The thing I’ve really found is that for the most part people – your family, your friends, the waitress at the restaurant, the people in the store – are remarkably understanding. Many of them have been in my shoes before, and if they haven’t, they’re not nearly as tired of hearing my daughter ask to ride the carousel as I am and still think it’s kind of sweet. So, for my last resolution for 2015 – I’m going to endeavor to ignore the voice of the Parent in my mind and try to respond to my daughter in the present moment however will be best for her.

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 14

Resolution #14: Don’t complain about anything I’m not willing to do something about

This is another resolution I’ve been working at already for a few months, and I think that it’s a good one!

I’ll give a couple of examples of things I sometimes feel compelled to complain about around my house.

1. The Laundry

laundry basketsWhen I do laundry, it’s important to me that the white clothes be separated from the colored clothes. It’s also important to me that certain articles of clothing don’t go into the dryer because I believe that by air drying them, they will stay in good condition for longer and not shrink. For my wonderful husband, on the other hand, it is important that we have clean clothes that do not smell bad. He is willing to do a certain amount of sorting because it seems to make me happy, but he is not passionate about it the way I am. So, instead of complaining – I typically take care of our laundry.

2. The Dishes

perfect dishwasherWhen it comes to dishes, I have certain “guidelines” that I adhere to when I wash dishes. I like for plastic things to go in the top of the dishwasher, so they don’t melt. I like to put the forks in with the fork part down so you don’t jab yourself when you’re emptying the dishwasher. I like to line up the plates so that the small ones are together and the big ones are together because it appeals to my sense of order.

BUT, I am not willing to wash all of the dishes. It is, in this case, more important to me that they get washed than how they get washed, so however my dear sweet husband (and occasionally, my dear sweet daughter) put them in is just fine with me.

I feel like everyone has things that they like done “just so.” And while it would be great if everything in the universe conformed to my preferences, I have found that this is unlikely to occur (especially with a toddler around). So, I have decided to only complain, if I’m willing to do something to make it the way I would like.

Another example:

Working at tournamentsWe go to a lot of ATA Taekwondo Tournaments. This is a complicated event to organize. If you’re the host, you can only guess how many people will be attending your event right up until it happens. You are counting on black belts from around the region to volunteer to judge throughout the day and make sure that everything is done according to a complicated set of rules. Everyone needs to be registered, use the correct gear, wear the right uniform, some people are late, some people mess up….there is lots of room for things to go wrong.

Amazingly, these events typically have between 400 and 800 competitors plus spectators and parents and only last all day. Or – they last ALL DAY LONG! Believe it or not, there are people who complain about this. And, I hate to admit it, I was once one of them.

Here’s what I’ve realized: I have decided that I’m willing to go, cheer on my students, let my husband be an awesome judge, and (when Naomi is a little bigger) pitch in and help where I’m able. But, I don’t have the time and inclination to come up with a better way to do it, and I’d like to continue attending these events. So, I’m not going to complain when they last until 4:00. I’m just going to bring my snacks and my black belt attitude and have a great day!

I feel like this, more than most, of my resolutions only applies to my parenting in the sense that it improves my attitude and makes me more pleasant to be around, and therefore I think it makes me a better parent.

I’ve also found, after trying this out for a few months, that when I realize that something that is frustrating me is something I can and am willing to do something about – I stop complaining and I start doing. And as awesome as complaining feels (admit it: picking apart how something could have been done better FEELS really good), I have found that doing something about it, feels even better.

Not only that, but taking a moment – that moment when there’s a complaint at the tip of your tongue – and realizing that whatever it is is a really big project and the person that is handling it has done the best job that they could with the resources they had replaces that smug feeling of superiority with appreciation and gratitude – and those emotions are way better for your parenting and your life.

So, I’ll end this post with my inspiration for this resolution, a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

tronthestump2post

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”-Teddy Roosevelt (The Man in the Arena)

Tomorrow, I’ll share my last Parenting Resolution for 2015: Don’t get so caught up in “Parenting” that you forget to be a parent.

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 13

#13: If something is stressing you out, check and see if it’s worth being stressed over

For a few month’s now, I’ve been working on teaching my daughter to use the potty. We read little books about the potty. She gets to wear “big girl underpants” when she successfully uses the potty – she got to pick them out at the store and everything. And for the most part she gets the idea, but December was a busy month. During the day, when we were at home, she was pretty good about “doing her business” on the potty, and I could pay attention and be aware of when she needed to go and suggest we go to the potty before she had an accident. But in the evening, during our taekwondo classes I found that I either couldn’t focus on class because I was trying to make sure we made it to the potty in time, or I was cleaning up “accidents” because I missed her cues that it was time to go.

I'm happy to wear my diaper during class!

I’m happy to wear my diaper during class!

Finally (and don’t ask me why this was a complicated solution), I realized that it was really okay for her to wear a diaper during class and undies during the rest of the day. And that was totally okay because if I was super stressed out about her going to the potty, she might get the idea that going to the potty is a really big deal (and, while it is an important biological function that we need to take care of in order to have a healthy body – it’s also not something to stress over). She just doesn’t quite have the combination of awareness and bladder control necessary to wear her undies all the time yet.

Simple Solution AND lots of needless fretting avoided! Parenting win!

The great news (I think) is when I stopped being quite so stressed about whether or not she was going to have an accident, my daughter got a lot better about communicating when she had to go to the potty.

I find that I do this in other areas of my life, too. I make something so important in my mind that I lose perspective or miss an easy solution to a problem that could make my life a lot easier.

For example, I had a busy day on Sunday. We had family visiting from out of town; we were getting ready for a new week; I had a meeting with someone in the afternoon. And I didn’t get to my resolution blog post! Ahhh! Failure! Fiasco! Terror!

A lot of times your going to miss when you aim for a target. That doesn't mean you quit shooting!

A lot of times your going to miss when you aim for a target. That doesn’t mean you quit shooting!

No. I just did a two part blog on Monday and moved on with my life.

I’ve noticed, now that we’re about two weeks into the New Year and my New Resolutions, that 15 Resolutions is a lot to keep up with. Typically, experts recommend that you only try to change one habit at a time. So, to be working on 15 separate resolutions all the time doesn’t mean I’m setting myself up for failure, it just means that I’m not going to be perfect today.

For example, It’s Tuesday, and I haven’t made a meal plan (resolution #3) and gone grocery shopping for this week yet (Sunday was busy!). I’ve sort of coasted through my meals yesterday and today, but fortunately, I can make a plan now and go grocery shopping tomorrow and get back on my band wagon.

It also helps me to remember that my goal is not perfection. I prefer to think of these resolutions as principles I want to practice on purpose (resolution 1 coming back again!) this year until they become more automatic.

I hope you’re enjoying your 2015 so far and that you’ll join me for my 14th Resolution for 2015: Don’t complain about anything I’m not willing to do something about.

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Parts 11 and 12

Did you miss me yesterday?

Well, today I’m back for an epic two resolution post!

Resolution #11: Ask for Help

Resolution #12: Do things for myself

I felt like it was appropriate to put these two resolutions together.

On the one hand, I find it very difficult to ask for help. Especially when it comes to my daughter. I think that this is because she’s my first child, and (I’m pretty sure all parents are like this) I find it difficult to believe that anyone in the universe could possibly provide the love, care and attention for my daughter that I can offer her. There I admitted it – which (I believe) is the first step to overcoming the problem. And if something were to go wrong, I really prefer to blame it on myself than on a well-meaning friend of relative.

I also don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Small children are a lot of work, and I volunteered to bring my into the universe, and while she is normally a delightful and fun little person, she can occasionally be quite cranky. I hate to ask someone else to deal with that.

But, when I looked at my other resolutions, and realistically tried to plan out a day where I get all the things done that I want to do, I realized that it is also totally unreasonable for me to expect to get the things I need to do in the 30 minutes to an hour each day that my daughter can entertain herself plus whatever time she *may* nap in the afternoon.

That means, in order to have the things I want in my life, I am probably going to have to find a way to ask for help.

Part II: Do things for myself

On the other hand, there are also times, when I need to just do things for myself.

Since you have all stuck with my through 11 New Years Resolutions, I’m going to assume that you are either my mom or that you know and like me at least a little bit, so I feel pretty comfortable taking this moment on my blog to publicly brag about my awesome husband.

Super DadHe has been a great dad and partner – always – but particularly since our daughter was born. He helps with diapers and cleaning the house and takes care of things at the taekwondo school when Naomi is cranky or having a bad day. He did double duty while I recovered from having the baby. And he does great things like make coffee for me every morning. And he does the dishes. And he’ll make breakfast. And he’ll make sure the dog goes out and get some exercise.

I have realized that I sometimes take his wonderful help and care for our family for granted. So, sometimes, I need to make the coffee. Or I need to wash the dishes. Or I need take the dog out and give him time and space to do things that he would probably rather be doing.

So, that’s resolutions 11 and 12. Just three more left! Tomorrow is #13: If something is stressing you out, check and see if it’s worth being stressed over

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 10

Resolution #10: Give myself time to pursue a goal or project

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of like a kid sitting on Santa’s knee when I think about all the things I want from my life. I want to be a great Martial Artist, I want to play with my daughter, I want to spend quality time with my husband, I want to be a great teacher for my students, I want all of the “business” side of my work to be caught up and organized, I want to hike, I want to learn to play the piano, I want to speak a new language, I want to write regularly, I want to spend time with my friends, I want to read more, I want to get 8 hours of sleep every night….the list goes on.

Having-it-allRealistically, I may not have time for ALL the things I want. However, I do think it’s fair to have at least SOME of the things I want – even while my daughter is small.

I think this is important for all areas of my life. I meet a lot of parents in my job. And, I see a lot of parents who give give give to their kids, but never take the time to give to themselves. And in my experience (both my own and from observing other people) if you never take time to refuel your own tank, you have less to give to the people you love.

While it’s tempting to constantly set my projects or goals to the side whenever my daughter needs something, I plan to use the time when she’s playing independently (Resolution #8) or to find ways to include her in the things that are important to me. I mentioned in one of my other Resolution posts that my daughter participated (mostly) in our family workout last week. This week, I’ve tried to sneak in some training by taking some of the taekwondo classes at our academy with her. Sure, her attention span may not last the whole class, and sure she may not be coordinated enough to do all the parts of class, but she CAN do a surprising amount. And I get to be present with her (Resolution #9) and have fun and pursue my interests at the same time.

I’ve also found my husband to be a real ally in finding time for me to have “me time.” Which I’ll expand on a little in tomorrow’s Resolution #11: Ask for Help.

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 9

Today’s Resolution #9: Be Present when I’m Playing goes along with yesterday’s resolution to Encourage Independent Play.

One of the most rare and valuable things to receive from someone is their undivided attention. And there are so many things tugging at a parent’s attention – job, bills, family, other cars on the road, eating well, making sure everyone’s getting enough exercise, homework – and then there are things that aren’t necessarily priorities but take your time and attention – things like, my totally awesome blog (I know you’re there, Mom, and I’m glad you’re still reading with me!).

It can be really tempting, the kind of phone it in the 18,000th time you read Green Eggs and Ham…today. Or to be disengaged from stacking up a pile of blocks and knocking them over, and stacking them up and knocking them over, and stacking them up and knocking them over. These things are not new for me. But they are fun for me when I am engaged with my daughter and appreciating that it is new for her.

Two beings in my life who truly know how to be present

Two beings in my life who truly know how to be present

For me, those moments when we’re playing together and she’s learning, remembering and enjoying my company – that’s what I wanted in my life when my daughter was just a dream in my future. It can be easy to lose sight of that after a couple of years of diapers, interrupted sleep and 10 pounds of baby weight that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.

Again, I’m pretty certain that I won’t be able to do this perfectly every day. But, my goal isn’t to be a perfect parent. I just don’t want to wake up when my daughter is 12 or 13 and doesn’t want to spend time with me anymore and feel like I missed her because there was so much else going on.

I’ll see you for tomorrow’s 10th Resolution for 2015: Give myself time to pursue a goal or project

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 8

Resolution #8: Encourage Independent Play

As a parent, I have this wonderful gift in that I get to bring my daughter to work with me every day. However, this also means that she is accustomed to me always being available to help her out if she’s bored, lonely, sad, etc. Since we own a Martial Arts Academy and have a large group of age appropriate playmates built into our lives, she has had the gift from a young age to be socialized with other kids and learn to play with them (albeit, I get the feeling that her play involves a little bit more punching and kicking than average – fortunately, she usually keeps her kicks to the air and appropriate targets).

IMG_2532I have found that sometimes, when she is playing alone I am tempted to jump in and “help” and just join in. Lately, I’ve decided to step back and let her enjoy her game and playing by her own rules.

One of my intentions for this year, is to give her the time and space to learn to entertain herself.

As a parent, that requires that I remember that my job is not to be 24 hour entertainment and that the worst thing that could possibly happen to her is not that she will be bored for a few minutes.

I think as far as valuable life long skills go, being able to happily fill the time and space you have when you’re alone is one that everyone needs. This goes along with  my desire to unplug some of the electronic devices, because it’s tempting to fill every quiet moment with a text message, a phone call, or checking your Facebook or email account.

I also think that sometimes, we feel like if we fill every moment of our day with activity, we’ll finally be able to get everything done. Or if we’re not constantly “doing” that we’re wasting valuable time.  I find that I’m happier and more productive when I give myself time to just “be.” That is something that I want for my daughter, too.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow with my 9th Parenting Resolution for 2015: Be present while I’m playing.

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 7

Resolution #7: Limit Screen Time

This is a really difficult resolution for me. Because on the one hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you avoid screens for children under the age of 3. But on the other hand, I use my phone, computer, ipad, watch tv, swipe my credit card on a digital screen at the grocery store, get flight information at the airport from a screen, there are tv screens in my pediatricians waiting room…need I go on? Basically, screens are everywhere. And it’s hard to avoid them, especially when the things on the screens are so tantalizing, and having a few minutes to myself when my daughter is entertained and not in danger of injuring herself are very precious to me!

My daughter particularly likes looking at digital pictures on my phone. I’m also kind of fond of a couple of coloring apps I downloaded on my ipad when my daughter thought coloring on the walls was fun. I have rationalized that it’s kind of engaging in the real world to relive our fun adventures by watching our home videos and pictures of things that are fun.

screen kidsBut, I also find that she’s a little less interesting when she’s zoned into the computer. She doesn’t like to run around or try new things. She isn’t interested in stories. She doesn’t sleep well. She doesn’t eat as well. So, over the last month I’ve tried to unplug a little bit.

The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on the media and children are available here.

My new guidelines are here:

1) If we watch something on television, we’ll watch it together. 

That way, it’s a family experience, we can talk about the story – what we like and don’t like about it, and I know that she’s not going to watch any more children’s programming than I’m willing to watch with her.

2) If she’s going to watch something on my phone, I get to hold the phone

My iphone is remarkably intuitive and so is my two year old. They’re like a match made in heaven. My daughter likes talking to Siri. She likes looking at pictures and listening to her songs that I’ve downloaded. She has also turned off alarms and deleted apps and photos that I wanted! So, now, I get to hold the phone.

3) Any ‘electronic’ babysitting needs to be used as an absolute last resort 

I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t say that sometimes, I need my daughter to be entertained. I’d prefer to have a babysitter, a friend to play with, an activity she’s engaged with, or for her to be able to do what I’m doing. But sometimes, your plans don’t work out the way you wanted, your back up plan falls through and your toddler didn’t take a nap today and you have something you really have to be doing for the next 30 minutes. Those are the times when she can have the special treat of coloring on the ipad.

Over the last few weeks of less screen time, I’ve noticed that my daughter is less interested in them. Yes, she’ll color on the ipad when I let her. But after a few minutes, she’ll put it down in favor of something else. I’ve found that I kind of like that a lot better than having her constantly asking to play on the ipad or play with my phone all day long.

This new normal requires a little more from me in terms of making sure she has an outlet for her energy and interesting things to play with and explore in the real world. It also means a little less screen time for me – if I’m not checking out stuff on my phone, then she doesn’t ask if she can “watch Gonzo” on it.

I’m sure that finding a balance in this area of her life is going to be a challenge as she grows up and we have to face the world of video games, social networks, cell phones and more technology that is being developed every day.

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for my 8th Parenting Resolution for 2015: Encourage Independent Play

15 Parenting Resolutions for 2015: Part 6

Resolution #6: Stick to a routine

This is one of several of my resolutions that are definitely a two-way street. Trying new things requires flexibility and spontaneity, but having a consistently productive life and happy child require a routine. For me that means having a pretty set bed time and waking up at the same time every day, having meal times and snack times at the same time every day. Obviously, things will come up that interrupt the routine and this can be fun and diverting (you may have just noticed the Christmas Holidays are one of those times), but it can be reassuring to have a routine.

MorningRoutineI also feel like as my toddler gets more opinions about what happens in our days, it can be helpful for her to that she can expect to do the things she likes to do (let’s say Wednesday morning is play at the park day) and the things that she doesn’t always like to do (we’re going to have lunch at 12:30 and then lay down for a nap at 1:00).

The other person a routine is good for is me. If I’m remembering resolution #1 and Parenting on Purpose, and I include the things I want and need to happen in my routine, I think I will spend less time “putting out fires” and scrambling to get things finished up or taken care of at the last minute.

Stephen Covey talks about “putting first things first,” and that is what I want from my routine. This video describes how important it is to put the important things into your life first, but if you do the little things first, it’s hard to cram in the important things in your life.

I’m sure you want to have more time for the things that are important to you too.

For me, I’ve noticed with all of this resolution setting that I need to have a time or day that I usually go to the grocery store. I need a time when I work out. I need to make sure I have time every week when I can try new things – whether that’s going somewhere new, learning something new or trying a new food or recipe. Just like the big rocks in the video, if I don’t make time for the things that are important to me, the little things that come up on a day to day basis will take over and I won’t have time to fit my priorities in.

Like some of my other resolutions, I think I’ll revisit this a little later in my blog and let you know which strategies are working for me and hopefully, you can share what works for you, too!

In the mean time, I’ll be back tomorrow with my 7th Parenting Resolution of 2015: Limit Screen Time