Babywise Week: An Attitude of Adventure

We’re finishing Babywise Week with a post from Claire at My Devising. Claire’s son is only 2.5 so she hasn’t quite gotten into the years when we really deal with attitude, but she has some great advice. One thing I gather from her situation is that it’s important to think about potential parenting issues before you run into them. It’s always best to have a plan, a roadmap of sorts, to guide us in our parenting and help us aim for a goal. So it’s great that Claire has had thoughts about attitude. When her son starts displaying problems with attitude, she’ll be ready to deal with it.

Here’s an example of how Claire is thinking about attitude in parenting: “I want to create little humans that look at hardships and hurt as a challenge, an adventure, and an opportunity.”

It’s so true that attitude makes all the difference. When our kids face difficulties in life, we can help prepare them by teaching them how to face them with grace. I know of some people who face hardships by pointing fingers. It’s always the other person’s fault. It takes real character to point to ourselves and see hardships as an opportunity for self improvement.

Head on over to Claire’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out everyone’s posts on attitude from this week. It’s a real treasure-trove of parenting advice!

Babywise Week: Teaching Appreciation in an Entitled World

It’s Babywise Week. Today, we hear from Emily at Journey of Parenthood. This week, we’re talking about attitude, and Emily offers tips on how we can teach our kids to be appreciative in our entitled world. Entitlement seems to be running rampant in kids these days. Whether it’s from excessive (and unwarranted) praise or the “every child gets a trophy” philosophy, kids are being taught that they deserve everything their little hearts desire.

As Emily says, “Our kids are constantly made to feel so special, so perfect, and are so accustomed to the our worlds revolving around them that they no longer appreciate any of it. They expect praise. They expect rewards. They expect to have us catering to their every whim.”

Emily offers specific tips on how to ensure our kids don’t grow up to be entitled. They include:

  • Remain the parent
  • Don’t always give what they want
  • You get what you get (and you don’t get upset)
  • Let them lose
  • Praise when appropriate
  • Limit rewards
  • Don’t be fair
  • Have honest talks about reality
  • Model appreciation
  • Keep the focus above

Emily does a great job explaining what each of these means. Head on over to Emily’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And be sure to follow us all week:

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Aiming for Excellence Not Perfection

Excellence vs perfectionBy Rachel Norman, A Mother Far from Home 

I think many of us mothers are doers. If something needs to be done then we do it. If a decision needs to be made then we make it. Often Type A Babywise mothers (not all Babywise mothers are Type A, of course) are driven to achievement and are quite goal-oriented. While I think this is an excellent quality – it is very hard to drum this up if you don’t already have it – it can also be a risk factor in raising perfectionists.

According to the Birth Order Book, firstborn children tend towards perfectionism. Their first and primary role models are adults who do things perfectly to their inexperienced eye. Parents are often a lot harder and more demanding of a first child as well, and this contributes.

I think it’s important and our duty as parents to teach our children to strive for excellence, however, we want to be sure we aren’t expecting perfection or helping them to become perfectionists which will cause them difficulties later on in life.

1.    They are accepted based on their position not their performance.

I talk about this in my “How to keep your kids out of counseling” series, but children need to know they are loved simply because they belong to you. Whether or not they color in the lines perfectly or know their numbers in Spanish has nothing to do with how you treat them. If they are unsure of your unwavering love then they will feel the need to perform well to earn it, and this will lead them to becoming fearful perfectionists.

2.    Require completion not perfection.

I don’t know about you, but with small children I find it hard to get them to finish a task completely, much less do it perfectly. When aiming to instil the value of hard work and excellence in children we need to make sure we are teaching them to be starter finishers, but not requiring them to do it perfectly. My husband struggles with perfectionism, and can feel paralyzed by fears, worries and apprehensions on an issue before he even gets off the starting block. He absolutely doesn’t want to pass this on to our children so we encourage them to start – just start – the matter at hand, and then to finish it.

3.    Don’t redo things for them.

I used to think I’d want to go behind my children and redo their work so that it’d be up to my “standard.” Now, with 3 children 2 years and under, I am just so grateful they do things to help me that I’d never dream of it. I’m sure the temptation will return later, but I am going to work on it. My daughter’s daily chore is folding towels and sheets. After only watching me a few times she really picked up the basics well, but of course they are a bit untidy and don’t stack well. I leave them as is and put them away. When at all possible, I don’t redo their work or add unnecessarily to it. As they get older they will take this as a sign that you think their effort wasn’t enough. At best this will make them not want to contribute, at worst they’ll feel they aren’t up to snuff. Note: this is not to be confused with purposefully doing shoddy work.

4.    Evaluate your own personality.

If you are like me (and life will be so much easier for you if you aren’t) then you are ambitious, driven and slightly neurotic. I know this and therefore assume I probably require a little too much of my children. If you are easy-going, carefree and more go with the flow, you probably require too little. This is a generalization, but one I think generally true. Those who aren’t required to push through and complete often get paralyzed before beginning or mid way through a project because they’ve never learned the joy of completion. If you’re carefree you’ll need to make sure you don’t err on this side. Those who are pushed through to a standard of unattainable excellence will become driven to prove they are worthy. Mothers who are pushers need to avoid this extreme.

We want our children to work hard, do their best, and enjoy the feeling of success. However, we don’t want to push them in a way that makes them feel they need to earn our love and approval by how perfect their performance is. If your children are old enough, ask them if you are guilty of this. If they are still young, be careful to help them complete tasks with care, but don’t require perfection.

My boss is a career mentor and is very fond of saying that, most of the time, 80% is good enough. Not all the time, no. But most of the time, yes. Now I’m not encouraging us to tell our children to aim for 80%, but when they reach it, let’s let that be okay most of the time.

Rachel blogs at A Mother Far from Home where she seeks to help other mothers raise wise children of strong character without losing their minds in the process.

Expect Excellence, Not Perfection


I came across an interesting idea in my reading the other day. It’s the idea that we should expect excellence, yet not perfection, from our children.

We struggle with perfectionism in my house. I have always been a perfectionist, to the point that it stops me from doing things because I know I can’t be perfect. And without recognizing this weakness in myself, I seem to have passed it on to my child. (Only William is plagued by perfectionism.)

So when I read about this idea of excellence, I thought it was great. Excellence speaks to effort. When we strive for excellence, we put in hard work. It encourages us to strive for perfection but to be okay if we don’t achieve it. It enables all the good aspects of perfectionism without the bad.

I recognize that I do this with my kids already. If they do a half-hearted job at cleaning up the playroom and don’t put toys in the appropriate bins, I will simply pull those toys out and throw them back on the floor. I don’t harp on them. I don’t remind them where the toys go. I simply throw them on the floor with the expectation that they will put them where they belong. This also teaches the idea that if we don’t take the time to do a job right the first time, we’ll have to do it all over again.

Do I expect 100% neatness with all the bins lined up and even spaces between each? The perfectionist in me would love this. But I simply want my boys to strive for excellence and to work hard to achieve it.

This applies well to our schoolwork. Perfectionism can certainly get in the way when we’re learning. William is a smart kid, and he often learns quickly and easily. So he gets frustrated when he can’t perfectly grasp an idea.

It’s my job as his teacher to make sure that I don’t require perfection. And I’ll be honest, it’s not easy. As I’m watching him write, I want his letters to be the same size. I want the spaces between words to be the same. I want him to pay attention to margins. But that’s the perfectionist in me. I often have to stop myself, realize that I’m being overly critical and that in doing so, I’m only feeding the perfectionist in him. That, or I drive him to exasperation because, well, he’s only 8!

I know of other homeschoolers, on the other hand, who don’t strive for perfection or excellence. They accept mediocre work. Of course, the perfectionist in me finds this unacceptable, but I do realize that we all have our own failings.

This idea applies to everything from schoolwork/homework to cleanliness. And we can even start instilling the need for excellence when they’re little. If a toddler is putting his cars away, and one drops outside the bin on the floor, have him go back and put it fully in the bin.

And always remember that you can expect great effort, even excellence, but not perfection.

Lucas Got a Medal!

Lucas with flag football medalLucas got a medal today for his great work in flag football today! Last week, I posted about the “every child gets a trophy” generation that our kids are apparently a part of. Both of my boys are playing flag football. At the beginning of the season, William’s coach told us that he has medals for every player on the team but that he’s decided to hold on to them until the last day of the season when he can hand out one to every child on the team. Lucas’s coach, on the other hand, is handing out medals to the best player (or two) from that day’s game.

Well, today, Lucas was one of two kids who got a medal. We are all so proud of him. We know he played hard and earned recognition from his coach. And the best part about receiving a medal this way is that it actually means something. When every kid gets a medal, it doesn’t mean a thing. And the kids know this. Lucas knew that his medal meant something, and he was so proud of himself.

After today’s events, I can now say I firmly believe that not every child should get a medal, at least not all at once. I like the way Lucas’s coach is handling the medals. Last week, I was a little unsure. In theory, I believe that kids should work for the appreciation they receive. But the mama bear in me is a little protective and wants to keep my kids’ feelings from being hurt if they don’t receive a medal. Last week was Lucas’s first game, and another kid got a medal. Lucas played really hard and ran really fast, but he didn’t get one. Did he care? Not in the least.

Did he care about getting it today? Absolutely! When he came home with it, he had a huge smile on his face. And I was able to give a heartfelt “good job!” and a high five. I was excited for him because I knew that it was special. He worked hard, and he earned the appreciation. He also knew it meant something. I asked the boys if they wanted to join me on a trip to the grocery store, and Lucas jumped up. He wanted to show off his medal. Luckily, we ran into a former neighbor who was impressed. He also got a few smiles from strangers in the store.

Honestly, though, if either child’s coach decided to hand out medals all at once at the end of the season, I’m glad it’s William’s coach. William is not the sportiest kid. Truth be told, he’s a little bored by the whole thing. He’d rather be reading a book or playing with Legos. He even told his coach today that he wanted to go home. Granted, it’s the hottest day of the year (81 is hot for us), but even so, sports just don’t interest him. Lucas, on the other hand, wants to be a professional football player when he grows up. He’s a super sporty kid and is really competitive.

So even though handing out medals to every kid at the end of the season could protect William’s self-esteem, I’m not sure he would care. If another kid walked off the field with a medal around his neck, I don’t think his ego would be bruised in any way. I think he knows it’s not his thing. If he really wanted to earn a medal, he would try hard. I think that’s what Lucas set out to do when he started playing today. And he was rewarded for his determination.


Life Is Not a Blog


By Charisa Falcione

If you’re reading this blog then chances are you’re a “blog reader” (insightful, right?). Now being a blog reader is very helpful most of the time. I’m a blog reader. My feed is full of informative posts, updates from other friend’s family blogs, home organization blogs, home decorating blogs, food blogs, spiritual and religious blogs, and of course child-rearing blogs. All sorts of information is readily available to me. It’s wonderful!

Here I am, a simple lady raising two little girls, and I grab a cup of coffee and sit down to read a little something. Then, wham, bam, what hits me in the face? Pictures of beautiful kids, pristine, with bows in their hair. Kitchens perfectly organized, paint colors perfectly coordinated, home-sewn slipcovers, wall art made from someone else’s trash bits and then the ubiquitous picture of the gorgeous and fit mom with perfect make-up and styled hair wearing a fashion-forward outfit. UGH! I’m still in my PJs and my kids are wearing mismatched jammies, and probably one of them has a shirt on backwards or inside out! But which one is reality?! My life or that blog?

I’m hoping that my life is still considered reality. I think it is. I think reality is not necessarily what is on the blogs. Blogs are just a glimpse into what a perfect world could be. I find it helpful to remember that a blog is a resource and not really a measure of my life. If my life were a blog, it would look more like sticky fingerprints on the table, dust art on the tv, and toys-mageddon! You see, when I compare myself to what I see on the blogs or even when I speak to some of my friends, I can easily be discouraged, overwhelmed, or even mislead into thinking I’m a failure.

Here’s my advice on the issue of blogs in particular. Please enjoy them! Enjoy reading them, but never sit down and then insert your life into what you are reading! I like to sit and mentally file away one small tidbit or bit of advice for something I’d like to try. I also remind myself that those ladies who are looking so beautiful in the picture probably were in their over-sized bathrobes when they sat down to type their post, and their kids were probably yelling in the background too. And maybe a little hand or two reached up and started to push the keys on the laptop and so she had to delete two lines of nonsensical letters, and just maybe there was something foreign and sticky on the ‘x’ key that she had to clean off. You know, something like what just happened to me while typing this post.

While I can relate to many of the blogs I read, I find that when the “rubber meets the road” not everything can fit perfectly into my life. Let me use a dinner recipe as a metaphor. Let’s say I read a recipe and it sounds delicious. I will often tweak it though to fit my family’s tastes. No mushrooms. No walnuts. More chicken. More garlic. Then comes the pictures of the finished dish. I personally don’t usually perfectly place a sprig of parsley on every dish I make. Recipes can still be comforting, uplifting and delicious even if it’s all thrown willy-nilly into a bowl. Just like life!

Remember to Cherish


This beautiful post is written by my friend Charisa. A mom to two young girls, Charisa is great at balancing training and obedience with love and fun. This post is about stopping to smell the roses, even when we’re mired in kid world.

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and my coffee is already wearing off. It’s too late to brew another cup, but I’m questioning what will hold me until bedtime. I start to ask myself why I didn’t set bedtime for 6:00 instead of 8:00 when they were littler. If I had then I would be two hours closer to putting these little bundles of energy to bed.

It’s now 4:00 and only one hour after I last checked the clock. How is it that I’m still so far away from bedtime and peace and quiet? It’s now 5:00 and finally I can start preparing for dinner. This will fill the time! Now we’ve finally hit 7:30, and it’s time for the bedtime routine. Rush, rush, rush, and get them into bed. Finally, it’s 8:00 and all’s well. The kids are in bed, and now I can have some peace and quiet.

If you’re like me, this can sometimes characterize your day. I so easily want to rush through those hard times in order to get to the easier times. But what gain is there in that? We have heard it said many times that the hard times make for sweeter good times. That is true of many things. For example, think of all that labor you went through. Those contractions, those moans and groans, and the waiting. Now remember that moment you saw that sweet little squished face for the first time. All legs, arms, fingers, and head squirming and screaming on your chest. The pain was worth it.

Now, fast forward with me to today. Your toddler is literally sitting on your foot all day. Arms and legs are wrapped around yours, and she won’t get off. Your preschooler is asking you a hundred questions or simply narrating your day. Your infant is in a growth spurt and wants to eat every hour. Pain? Well, maybe not pain, but definitely hard. Wiping spit, wiping bottoms, wiping noses, wiping counters, wiping slobber marks off the window…that is what my day can look like. When 3:00 or 4:00 rolls around, I’m beat.

I sincerely try to train my kids to be good adults. That’s my aim and goal. Sometimes in the work of training I forget to cherish. To be honest, sometimes in the midst of the work I even forget to train! I know it is important to teach my girls to obey right away. It’s so important to teach them that the way to play with the pink pen is to simply ask and not to do a half-nelson-choke-hold. These are all lessons that must happen. They often are addressed in the middle of life. “Momming” is hard. I know it is. I can check out sometimes or start looking at the clock (which immediately stops working) waiting for bedtime. My point is that there are many distractions from the joys of being a parent. The joy I have in being a mom can easily be smothered by the chaos of life.

A friend has shared with me many times “the days are long, but the years are short.” I share that with you, too. Kiss those sweet heads again, cherish those little bottoms on your feet, and listen to those flowing words from the mouth of your dear one.

Remember it is a privilege to be a part of those special little lives. Your work is hard. It is exhausting, but it does not last forever. The years fly by and we will be left with nothing but memories. No little girls begging for tickles. No little boys ready to tackle you. No little tea parties or games of Candyland.

I look at my youngest daughter’s face and I’m blown away. She has grown so much in these last 3 years. My (almost) 5-year-old is getting more mature and more complex every day. I miss how she used to say “watabellabella” instead of “watermelon.”  She is half my size now and I can barely carry her anymore. She fills my lap to overflowing.

Sometimes in order to cherish the time with my girls, I need to strategize. I make a point to write down all the cute things they say. I’m on the lookout for sayings. I find that if I make a goal of writing down one or two things a day, I hear more of them. As I hear more of them, I relish them. I become more in-tune with them. I also make a point to hug and kiss them every time I’m next to them. It’s just what I do. Another thing I like to do is jump in and play with them throughout the day for bits of time. I’ll turn up the radio and dance with them in the living room, or I’ll sit on the floor next to them and ask questions. Just little things, but they all help me to take time and enjoy my girls. What sorts of things do you do to help you to stop and smell the stinky feet?

The training is important. Dinner on the table is important, and so is clean laundry. But of utmost importance are those children! They will not keep. They will grow even if you don’t remember that they will. They are a one-way busy street that can never be traveled again.

So kiss those sweet heads. Give extra hugs. Play one last game. Remember to cherish them.

Teach Gratitude


How grateful are your children? Do you actively teach them to appreciate the things they have in their lives? With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, gratitude is the name of the game. Of course, gratitude is important every day of the year, not just this one day. And gratitude is an important quality in everyone, kids and adults alike.

Many of my friends on Facebook are expressing gratitude the entire month of November. It’s an interesting exercise to decide what I’m most thankful for every day of the month. Admittedly, I’ve had days where I can’t come up with anything. But I’ve also had days where I list two or three things that I’m grateful for. It really changes my attitude. It forces me to see all that I truly do have and appreciate every bit of it. Sadly, I’m very much a glass-half-empty kind of person, so this exercise really changes my thinking.

When it comes to our kids, training them to be grateful is all about teaching them to think of all that they have. They don’t have the perspective to understand that they have much more than many other kids in this world. But gratitude doesn’t require us to compare. We can simply be grateful for what we have because we have it, not because somebody else doesn’t have it.

So take the time to walk through your house and marvel at all that you have. Do this with your child. Examine every little toy, piece of furniture, and item of clothing. Find your child’s favorite toy, and say, “Aren’t we so lucky to have great things to play with?” Find your softest blanket, and say, “Isn’t this blanket so soft and warm?” After your spouse has read a book to the kids, stop and say, “Aren’t you so lucky to have a daddy who is so good at reading stories?”

Now, don’t turn it into a blame game. Don’t force gratitude on them by saying there are starving children in China. This has no meaning to them. Their gratitude will be wrapped up in whatever it is that they are thankful for.

Make this a daily exercise and your children will begin to act and think with gratitude.

Turn sibling squabbles into hugs


You may have noticed that I haven’t posted much about sibling rivalry. The simple explanation is that I don’t have much experience with it! My boys just love each other so much. And any squabbles were usually squelched by Lucas, my peacekeeper. For some reason, he saw it as his mission in life to appease his brother.

But all good things must come to an end. Lucas has decided that he’s done with keeping the peace. He’s decided to speak up for himself. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a few squabbles.

Well, I came across a fantastic way to stop sibling fighting the minute it starts. The consequence for any fighting is that they must hold hands. They cannot hold just one hand. They have to face each other holding both hands. And they must stay that way until they’re ready to hug.

I’ve tried this twice in the past two days, and it works beautifully! It ends the fighting in mere seconds! They see each other’s faces and almost immediately hug. At first, William wanted to hold just one hand and still look away from his brother. But as soon as I required them to hold both hands, they hugged.

It’s so simple and so sweet to see!


Virtues not vices


When you see a wrong behavior or poor moral choice, do you focus on the vice? Or do you focus on the opposite virtue?

We are told to always speak with positive language (e.g., “tell the truth,” not “don’t lie”) but this also applies to bigger moral issues. The Ezzos teach us:

“Children of all ages are better served by substitution than suppression,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 118).

Say you see one of the following vices: lying, cheating, stealing, hoarding, jealousy, tattling, anger, etc. Stop, identify the vice and then work on the opposite virtue.

“Suppression of wrong behavior is often achieved by encouraging the opposite virtue. If you want to suppress jealousy, give equal time to elevating the opposite virtue: contentment,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 118).

Here’s a list of vices and their opposite virtues:

  • Envy: Charity
  • Anger: Self-control
  • Revenge: Forgiveness
  • Lying: Honesty
  • Hoarding: Sharing
  • Tattling: Speaking kindly of others

Think of it as redirection. When our toddlers keep touching the TV after we’ve told them not to 136 times, we redirect their behavior by giving them something else to focus on. So if your child is lying, focus on honesty, teaching him various forms of honesty throughout the day. If you see a child envious of a friend, redirect his vice by focusing on charity.