Letting Go of Tweens

 

Kaori’s eight year-old daughter, Rin, answered the door one day and found her little grade three friend asking her to go play at the park down the block. The little friend was alone. Kaori replied that they would love to go to the park and will meet her there in 15 minutes. The friend had a puzzled look on her face when she realized that not just Rin was coming, but the mom too. Kaori wondered whether she was too protective or she should let her daughter skip off to the park alone with her friend. How do we balance our parental need to protect and keep our children safe from harm, but trust our children to grow in independence and make decisions for themselves?

It seems that children are always ready for the next step of independence long before we are. They ask us to take the bus alone for the first time, or walk to the mall, or go the park alone with a friend. From the moment they are born, they move away from us (literally) in small baby steps, until they are 18 and move to a university on the other side of the country. We wonder, did we cover everything?  Did we teach them all they need to know about safety, health, and good home and money management? Parenting is one continual job of letting go and letting children learn. But when is the right time? Do we do it all at once or in baby steps?

Society is making it harder for parents to let go. Even if parents are comfortable allowing their child independence, because they know their child best, society casts judgement on them. News outlets, other parents, and strangers foist their child-rearing opinions on the rest of us, and call the child protection agencies or at the very least, make snarky comments on social media about our “bad parenting.” The world is statistically safer for children today, yet, our society is more paranoid than ever. There are not many children at the park today without a cellphone as their lifeline to parents, instead of being allowed the opportunity to problem-solve their issues from bullying to stranger danger, without a parent’s advice.

The problem is that children need us to let go. Privacy laws are putting a deadline on parenting. When our children reach the age of 18, the world expects them to handle all of their medical, educational, financial, and logistical aspects of their life, all by themselves. Parents are no longer consulted and are often considered the major force that institutions must shield children’s information from. Thus, children must be prepared for an adult life of personal assertiveness and advocacy, long before 18. So when does this happen?

Parentalauthority

Fig.1 Excerpted with Permission from Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery

If you look at the P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) model of control and influence, created by Dr. Thomas Gordon, you will see that by the age of 9, children are halfway to adulthood. Age 12 is the two-thirds mark. By age 12, children are beginning to grow their abstract thinking skills and that is the time parents should start grooming their children to think about consequences, and allow the child decision-making and independence, offering coaching and guiding if the child consents. Of course, in order to do this, parents need children to listen to their influence. Children will listen to parents during the teen years, if a solidly respectful relationship has been built. That means no punishment (not even “consequences” or withholding electronics), lots of active listening and many, many practices of parent-child problem-solving. Punishing children does not build parental influence. At age 12, the child is in the last one-third of parenting and it’s time to start treating them as the grown-ups they are becoming.

Will the children make mistakes during those last six years?  Yes!  However, mistakes during these years are great fodder for learning and 99% of those mistakes do not have lifelong consequences, unlike mistakes made in the adult years. Children still have parents close by to help problem-solve and be the supportive pillow for children to fall into after a mistake.

And when children go off to university across the country at 18, they will have the confidence, experience and skills to figure out for themselves the logistics of living a safe, healthy and rewarding life. They will be practiced in facing problems and figuring them out. Even though parents are not controlling their children’s lives, they will enjoy the huge influence they will have on their adult children. I love the times my sons’ emails, texts or phones to ask my advice. That is the power of influence!

The key is trust.  Kaori ‘s parents trusted her to be okay when she moved to North America from Japan at age 18. She wants to give her daughter the same gift of trust. Kaori still went to the park with her daughter, but considered that between age 8 and 12, she would let her go on her own. She knew her child best and would decide when that magic number would be.

 

The Last Day of Parenting (After 29 Busy Years)

Today, is the last day that I’m on active parenting duty.  It began on a sunny, hot, cloudless day on June 29, 1991 when my first son came into our lives. The other book-end, my baby, my youngest of 5 children, turns 18 tomorrow, the first day of his adulthood.  We often count the firsts in parenting – first smile, first step, first time they sleep through the night, but we often don’t celebrate the lasts – the last time we co-slept, the last time we cuddled up to read a bedtime story – the last time he held my hand while out walking – because we don’t know when they are. We have to cherish those moments as they come because they are so sweet and fleeting. Today, I celebrate a job, a passion, a career and a calling – parenthood – as well done. It was hands down the best experience of my life, and so worth the gray hair, empty bank account and wrecked furniture! I have 5 beautiful, caring adult children who I am so proud of and are my best friends. My heart is bursting with pride and happiness at the wonderful people you have become and your individual gifts and qualities. You will go forward and make this world a better place than it was before you came. Happy Birthday my dearest youngest child and welcome to adulthood! And happy Last Day of Parenting to me and my loving partner in this most wonderful adventure!

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Clever Comebacks for Bullying

Clever Comebacks for Bullying Behaviour

 

by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM

As we are heading into back to school from Spring break season, children may encounter bullying situations. Often, children are at a loss of what words to use. Here is a quick guide of come-backs. Use them to write some more and you can practice with your child.

Think “self-talk”

“This kid has a real problem and I’m not going to let it be my problem.”
“I’m a good kid and I am not letting her win.”

Instead of being defensive, agree. It takes the wind out of the bully’s sails

“Yup! I’m the freckle queen!’
“Too many to count.”
“Yep, my glasses are geeky and they rock!”

Point out the obvious

“Why do you want to pick on a shrimp when that won’t prove anything about your strength?”
“I must be really important for you to give me this much attention!”
“Do you have anything better to do?”
“Guess it’s time to pick on me again. No one else smaller around?”
“Yep, if you can’t push yourself up, you want to pull me down, eh?”

Sometimes short and simple can deflate the emotional power of bully’s comments

“Brilliant”
“That’s creative.”
“You’re right.”
“Get a life”
“Whatever”

Try the direct approach

“That’s just mean.” And walk away
“That’s just lame.” And walk away
“Get a grip.” And walk away

Self-deprecating humour is a trick that stand-up comics (the victim) use against hecklers (the bully) and win over the audience members (the bystanders). It shows that you don’t take things seriously. This really deflates the bully’s power of control, because control has transferred to the victim.

“Big feet, big understanding!”

The bully says, “Are you ugly or just plain stupid?”
You can say:

• “Actually, both!”
• “Stupid is as stupid does”
• “Yep. So what?”
• “Yep, I’m so ugly that when I was born, they put tinted windows in my incubator!”

One of the best lessons they can learn this school year is how to say “no” to their peers, or even adults that don’t always have their best interests in mind. Here are some quick come-backs that parents can role-play with their kids in order to say “no” to actions they don’t want to do.

10 Ways kids can say ‘No!’ to peers wanting to bully

Ask questions – “What if such and such happens?”
Give it a name – “That’s bullying! No way.”
Refer to the parent – “Nope. My Mom won’t let me.”
Get an ally – “No, Jason and I are going to Switchbox instead.”
Suggest an alternative – “Why don’t we play Xbox at my house?”
State consequences – “I want a career in law enforcement and don’t need bullying on my record.”
Stall – “Hmmmmm…maybe later.”
Offer an excuse – “I have to go and meet someone.”
Say “No” another way – “I can’t.” “I don’t feel like it today.” No explanation needed.
Make a joke – “Yeah, wouldn’t that look great on YouTube!”
If all else fails – ignore, act busy, or just walk away.

More Video Help for Bullying:

Screen Time Research – Who to Believe?

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Many parents worry about screen time, especially after reading the latest study that involves children their children’s ages. However, how does one sort through the myths from the facts? It is becoming increasingly difficult.

Screen time addiction was not listed in the DSM-V (the main diagnosis manual for the medical community) because the health community can’t determine what amount of screen time or type of screen time constitutes addiction or harm. The evidence is not yet conclusive and until we have long term good meta-analysis evidence, no one can state how much is harmful. Opinions are all over the place because they are based on random studies, many of which are poorly done. What is a parent to do?  Until we have good evidence, moderation is the best practice.

What we do know, is that children in stable families, with low ACE scores (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are less likely to be susceptible to any the 10 addictions, including screen time, no matter how much screen time they have.  Families should aim for a balance of screen and real-time interaction with the priority on face-to-face relationships. For more information, this website is based on the research of 49 neuroscientists across North America.

The Brain Core Story Training

Here is a graphic I presented in one of my parenting groups recently. Addiction is at greater propensity when children experience toxic stress during childhood.  Toxic stress stems from the 10 ACES listed in orange. Research can’t provide good evidence yet which genes are activated by toxic stress, especially those children with addictions that run in the family. Screen time is deemed to be closest to the characteristics in a gambling addiction, but it still has unique qualities.

Best practices for parents?  Build close relationships with your children. Avoid toxic stress in the family.  Enjoy screen time in moderation.

tech science

How To Get Kids To Do Chores and At What Age?

Parenting expert, Judy Arnall, discusses the democratic, non-punitive way to get kids (and partners!) to help around the house!

What Chores When?

2-3 years old (done with adult)

Empty small wastebaskets

Put on pj’s

Pick up trash in yard

Wash face

Brush teeth

Comb hair

Help set table

Clear table

Help load dishwasher

Help put laundry in dryer or on drying rack

Pick up toys

Put dirty clothes in hamper

 

4-5 years old (done with adult)

Get dressed

Make Bed with Duvet

Pick up room

Dust their room

Hang wet laundry on clothes rack

Clean TV screen

Help in the yard

Get ready for bed (brush teeth, put on pj’s, etc)

Lay out clothes for next day

 

6-7 year olds (done with adult)

Brush teeth (with adult)

Set breakfast table

Help with dishes

Change sheets (help from mom)

Feed dog or cat

Vacuum room

Take out trash

Dust room

Sweep porch

Clean inside of car

Help with dinner

Sweep porches and walks

Help with dinner clean up

Dust baseboards

Fold laundry

Carry in groceries

Empty backpack lunch containers by the sink

Make sure backpack and school papers are by the door and ready to go

 

8-9 years old

Start ironing easy items

Clean sliding door glass

Clean fingerprints from doors

Dust other rooms

Wash car

 

10 years old and up

They can do all that the other ages do plus:

Change their sheets by themselves

Clean the bathroom

Clean up kitchen

Help with cooking meals and baking

Scrub floors

Water plants

Straighten bookcases

Wipe down washer and dryer

Sew and mend

Put away groceries

 

12 years old and up

Clean entire bathroom

Clean kitchen alone

Vacuum entire house

Do grocery shopping

Sew and mend

Repair jobs

Clean range

Help with heavy spring cleaning

Paint

Straighten closets and drawers

Get groceries

13 Years and Up

Everything an adult can do, a teenager can do!

Let them at it!

The Science of Attachment Parenting

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What is the scientific purpose of attachment parenting? In short, attachment parenting provides the child stress relief. Every child experiences stress and it impacts the body by triggering a stress response. Emotions such as fear, loneliness, sadness, frustration and unhappiness are present in children as young as babyhood. Children’s response to those emotions is usually crying in babies and “acting out”, crying or screaming in toddlers. Young children do not have the executive functioning to “self-sooth” or regulate their own stress response because of the immaturity of the brain’s pre-frontal cortex. They need external “scaffolding” help from an adult. When a caring adult responds to the situation promptly and with warmth, the stress is soothed and the calmness of the child resumes. Eventually, children grow to an age, usually in the teen years, where their self-regulation skills are developed enough so they can help themselves to “self-sooth,” and the scaffolding may be removed although comfort and parenting is nice to have all through childhood.

There are three kinds of stress; positive, tolerable and toxic. Positive stress is good and everyone needs some of this kind.Positive life challenges in the form or people, events or places, create positive stress. When the child faces the stress and overcomes it, often with caregiver support, (and as they get older, with peer support in addition to adult support); the child builds resilience to adversity and it creates a feeling of accomplishment for them. It encourages the child to meet even greater challenges as they grow because it builds their self-esteem and confidence. When a school child makes a class presentation, or a baby is left with a new loving, supportive caregiver, or a toddler faces new playmates at a new daycare, their accomplishment of managing the positive stress builds their resiliency.

Men On Scaffolding Working on a Brain

Tolerable stress is caused by negative events in a child’s life.  A parent’s divorce, an unwanted move, or the loss of a childhood friend are examples of tolerable stress because they are temporary, and supported by a caring, loving, warm attachment adult who can help steer the child through the stressful time.  The adult responds to the child with active listening, lots of hugs, immediate problem-solving and being available for continual help. Even when the child “acts out” their stress by exhibiting bad behaviour, a caring, warm response from an adult will help the child regulate his emotions, return to a calmer state and eventually resolve the problem.

Toxic stress is also caused by negative events although these events tend to be on-going and the one pervasive factor that moves tolerable stress into toxic stress is the lack of a supportive caregiver or attachment parent. On-going, unaddressed bullying at school, or a baby being left to cry it out most nights, or a toddler that is spanked every day for touching items, are examples of toxic stress. In the first example, the bullying is on-going and pervasive. In the last two examples, the adult caregiver no longer is the supportive, caring person, and instead, becomes the source of the toxic stress as in the spanking and leaving to “cry it out” example. When the child has no other adult support resources, they are left to manage the adverse experience on their own.

Of the 8 principles of attachment parenting, the principles of responding with sensitivity (and not anger), practicing respectful sleep habits (not leaving children to cry-it-out alone) and using positive discipline (non-punitive guidance) are the most important attachment parenting principles to ensure toxic stress does not occur.

Children do not need toxic stress. Ever. The full onslaught of toxic stress stimulates the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn is good in short doses to motivate the body into flight, freeze or fight mode, but bad for the body when it is produced in large ongoing doses. The constant production of these hormones can damage developing brain architecture in children and may produce lifelong consequences later in life in the form of eventual physical and emotional health problems and propensity to addictions.

No one lives a stress-free life, but adults who practice attachment parenting principles can buffer the negative effects of toxic stress in order to turn the stress into tolerable stress and grow healthy, happy children. Loving, caring support is never spoiling a child. It is crucial for a child’s healthy emotional, physical and social development.

http://www.professionalparenting.ca

http://www.attachmentparenting.ca

http://www.judyarnall.com

Childhood Assault Must Be Made Illegal

It is an election year, and Prime Minister Trudeau promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommendations.  One of those recommendation’s is to remove the legality of children being assaulted.  Ask the MP candidates what they are doing in this area to protect children who have very little self-control (normal young childhood executive function) and risk being hit because of adult’s poor understanding of normal brain development. “He should know better!” is a common statement from parents and caregivers that is created from years of myth, bias, and lack of brain capability knowledge that has been passed on from previous generations. As you can see from the above chart, by the time children are old enough to understand “consequences”, about age 6, they are old enough to problem-solve situations without being hit. They have enough self-control to not “do the deed” and really do begin to “know better.” No one would assault a child in a wheelchair for not being able to ascend a staircase, yet, we do it all the time for young children incapable of self-control.

For more help on the difference between punishment and discipline/gentle guidance, read “Discipline Without Distress.” It was written with 5 kids (3 spirited ones) in mind!

https://amzn.to/2Nv0oIJ

For more help, on handling parent anger, and child/teen anger read “Parenting With Patience.”

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For more help on day-to-day non-punitive handling of all parenting challenges, consult “Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens.” 

https://amzn.to/2YstucV

All the above books have up-to-date charts on child capabilities and brain development.

Check out the video help at http://professionalparenting.ca/press-media.php

Here is some information of Repeal 43, written by my friend and passionate advocate of non-spanking discipline, Kathy Lynn.

Why Repeal 43? 

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances. R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4

This is the wording in the criminal code but

The constitutionality of Section 43 was challenged in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice: then by way of appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. The Section appears verbatim as it did prior to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. However, the Court narrowed the scope of defense to assault under section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada and to set out a series of judicial limitations to assist in the interpretation of the justifiable or so-called “reasonable” limits of corporal punishment. The  judicial limitations (which again don’t appear in the Criminal Code of Canada) are as follows:

1)    Only parents may use reasonable force solely for purposes of correction;

2)    Teachers may use reasonable force only to “remove a child from a classroom or secure compliance with instructions, but not merely as corporal punishment”;

3)    Corporal punishment cannot be administered to “children under two or teenagers”;

4)    The use of force on children of any age “incapable of learning from [it] because of disability or some other contextual factor” is not protected;

5)    “Discipline by the use of objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable”;

6)    “Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected”, including conduct that “raises a reasonable prospect of harm”;

7)    Only “minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” may be used;

8)    The physical punishment must be “corrective, which rules out conduct stemming from the caregiver’s frustration, loss of temper or abusive personality”;

9)    “The gravity of the precipitating event is not relevant”; and

10) The question of what is “reasonable under the circumstances” requires an “objective” test and “must be considered in context and in light of all the circumstances of the case.”

 Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.

Decades ago, it wasn’t a criminal assault to physically beat

slaves,

servants,

apprentices,

prisoners,

dogs,

wives and

children.

In today’s Canada, only children are still on that list.

That’s just wrong.  And it’s not who Canadians are.

This is not a child discipline issue. It’s a human rights issue.  All Canadians, whatever their age, deserve the protection of law against violence in any form.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Government has promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.

Call to action #6 calls for the Repeal of S43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Of the many calls to action this is one that is simple to implement and will protect all of Canada’s children.

Research

Research demonstrates that hitting children can lead to impaired parent-child relationships, poorer child mental health, child aggression and weaker internalization of moral standards and delinquency, often carrying on into adulthood.

United Nations on the Rights of the Child

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The focus for this initiative has been on foreign policy.

But there is another issue that the Liberal Government could easily address.

On December 13, 1991, Canada formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention, which is a comprehensive statement on children’ rights, covers every aspect of a child’s life.

The presence of S43 in our Criminal Code is in direct conflict with the UN Convention. It seems to us, at Corinne’s Quest that our government should repeal S43 and come into compliance with the United Nations.

Bottom Line

All that being said, it is 2019 and the culture in Canada is that of non-violence. Bullying is not acceptable in any cases and we say that domestic violence is also not accepted. However, children are not covered when we talk about domestic violence and they can, under certain circumstances, be legally assaulted.

To have a section (S43) of our criminal code which accepts, and in some cases, encourages physical punishment of children is appalling.

It is a question human (children’s) rights and when the simple act of Repeal can protect children from this violence and its unintended risks it should be done.

-Kathy Lynn