Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Military Dads Article

Hello fellow domestic overseers!  I have discovered a great organization through a program called watchdogs, which is a program designed to get fathers more involved in their children’s school.  The organization is called fathers.com The National Center for Fathering Programs.  I recommend all domestic overseers’ check out their website at www.fathers.com especially fathers, but I also think it is a good idea for any loving guardians to explore this site.

I was honored when a representative contacted me and asked if I would write an article for them about military fathers; as this is an ever growing category of parent that faces very unique challenges.  I will let all of my followers know when the article is posted on the site. 

Have a wonderful week everyone!  Take care of each other.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Obviously there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  We do our best to teach children what is right and wrong.  I taught my son starting very early that there is nothing more important than family and that there is nothing thicker than blood.  As I have mentioned before children take things very literally.  My son found himself in the middle of; let’s call it a disagreement, between his cousin and one of my sons close friends.  My son immediately defended his cousin’s position and stood against his friend…It was the wrong stand to take.  I do not want to go into the details, but my son chose the wrong side of that disagreement.  It was my fault.  What I should have taught my son is that there is one thing thicker than blood, and more important than loyalty.  That thing is personal honor.  Fortunately I recognized this quickly and was able to help my son salvage both his relationship with his friend and his cousin, but I owed all three of them an apology never the less.  I fixed my mistake by telling my son that his integrity comes from his compassion for others.  I told him that no one that loves him (friend or family) should ever ask him to betray his own honor, integrity, or sense of right and wrong.  It is important for us parents to own up to our mistakes quickly, take accountably for them, and try to fix them as fast as we recognize them.  One of the hardest things to do for any proud person is to apologize, to say I’m sorry, and to admit to being wrong.  This is something we have to teach our children only by example.

“Far better it is to have a stout heart always and suffer one's share of evils, than to be ever fearing what may happen.” --Herodotus

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I just watch a video from A&E which really got me thinking, about a lot of things.  The video showed Middle Eastern children between the ages of 6 and 9 in military fatigues, and combat rifles.  Some of the children could barely even hold the weapon let alone aim it correctly, but none the less there they were running, popping in magazines, and yes even firing the weapons. They were being trained in the ways of war either by their parents, or just other adults; who were going on an on about Jihad. 

My 9 year old walked out of his room to make him self something for lunch; he was still wearing his hockey uniform, and holding his hockey stick.  The irony struck me; I dare say that it even almost panicked me.  I looked at my son in his uniform, and then at the 7 year old on TV in his uniform.  Both children, so young, both with the potential to change the world for the better, but one being quickly corrupted as if his life was already over.  He was being trained to end my son’s life.

“Dad are all Muslims bad?”  What should I say here?  I didn’t see my son come into this world, because I was fighting the Muslims after September 11th during operation Enduring Freedom, and now my son was getting his first glimpse of someone his own age being trained to kill him.  I’d be lying if I said what I saw wasn’t making me angry, but how can I let my son fill himself with fear and hate, because of something on TV?  How can I let my innocent child feel that kind of animosity towards an entire race of people?  I sat silently and just looked at him for a couple minutes, I new he needed an answer, I also knew if I told him what I felt it would be wrong.  I kind of stepped out of my body for a second and said something that honestly kind of surprised me.

“Son I don’t rightly know.”  “Everyman has to make decisions in their life.”  “So if you’re asking me if every one who worships Allah or Mohamed is bad, the answer is I don’t know.”  What I will tell you, is this, if you judge people based on their race you’re a peewit.  You have to take men and women one at a time.  The one thing people do have total control over is the choice to be good or evil.  We can pray for that boy on TV and hope that he fills his heart with enough peace and love in his life, that he won’t have enough room in his heart to hate us…And I thought about my own feelings and I looked at him and said, I love you very much, but could you do me a favor…?  “What Dad?”  Say the same prayer for me to.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Young children have short memories.  It is important to keep discipline from day to day consistent.  I do not believe in spanking personally, I think it is a very temporary fix to a potentially very long term problem.  I also don’t believe in simple time outs, for the same reason.  I think it is important for a child to be pro-active in his/her discipline.  I guess I believe in discipline and not punishment.  Here is an example of what I mean.  When one of my kids do something wrong, I make them stand straight as possible (don’t let them lock their knees if your going to try this) and hold a pen with their index fingers arms straight out in front of them.  I explain what they did wrong, and why it is wrong, and then I ask them for feed back.  This way I keep their mind occupied; while their bodies are getting physically strong (a pen can feel like 200 pounds after a time in this position) I only recommend 5 minutes to start.  If they do it again, I will use this method twice as long as the last time.  I’ve only had to enforce it more than once, one time, when my oldest was having a difficult time not interrupting people while they were talking.  Then I realized that the reason he did it a second time, was because my wife had accidently caught the living room carpet, and fireplace mantle on fire, so I had to apologize to him for this, as he was interrupting me because of an emergency.  I did decide to make him hold the pen anyway so that he remembered to say FIRE when he saw an emergency of that nature.  The point is, so far in 10 years neither of my children has made the same mistake twice, and my oldest generally disciplines himself.  I really think I owe this to consistency.

“Pardon one offence and you encourage the commission of many.”
--Publilius Syrus

Friday, May 27, 2011

Traditional Family Dinner

In the story of Camelot, The first action Arthur took as king was to build a round table.  The table was to be a perfect circle.  Arthur explained the reason for this very clearly.  He wanted a circle to ensure that no one was at the head of the table.  He thought himself a knight before a king.  He called himself, and his knights, “The Knights of the Round Table.  At the table meals were always pleasant.  It was not a table for resolving problems; it was a table for conversation, story telling and bonding.  All those who sat at the table were equal, no knight spoke louder than another, no knight had a higher place of authority than any other at the table.
Have you ever sat down with your children and had to drag simple yes and no answers out of them?  Why is that?  It can be hard not to act like a parent at all times, but just as king Arthur realized that time as a knight was as important as time as a king, we as fathers and mothers must recognize that time as a family member is just as important as being the head of a household.  As heads of household when we ask a question we want a definitive and straight forward answer.  Often I can see myself through the eyes of my child as a secret police officer grilling a suspect who is much smaller than me under the light hanging over the table.

Try candle light diners with your family; let your children guide the conversation.  Let your children ask you questions, let them tell a story, let them ask you for a story.  You have a lot of experience, and a lot of interesting stories of things you did in your life, things that happened to you.  Your kids want to know that kind of stuff.  It will encourage them to tell you their own stories, they will want to try to make them more interesting than yours, but they will hope that you can relate to the experience they had.  They will want to know how you would deal with the situation. 

Don’t try to solve your children’s problems at the diner table, listen to them, show interest, but save the parental advice and correction until after diner.  While your all at the table, their should be no judgment, and no authority.

Above all; MAKE TIME FOR FAMILY MEAL TIME!  Children who have family meal times are less likely to do drugs, suffer from depression, or have social troubles.  They are more likely to do well in school, be socially well rounded, and have a longer attention span.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Impact of a Role Model

Our struggles in this country have left us desperate for a hero; and that’s just the adults, imagine how the kids feel.

In my sophomore year of high school I decided to join the high school football team.  At 99 pounds I was the smallest guy on the team, which was a problem because I was part of a very strong and experienced team; practices were tough.  I will be the first to admit it, I was scared to hit, and be hit by most of these guys, and it showed.  I was picked on and bullied often because of this.  I was a tough case I think for my parents and my teachers.  In a time when teenage suicide was on the rise because of bullying, I was probably one of the most likely to become a statistic.  Despite the desecration and mistreatment from some of the other players, I still loved being part of something that was bigger than me, but there were times when I almost quit…Thank God for my coach.  I went to him one day in the locker room after being bullied and told him about my intentions to quit.  He turned quickly and pulled me into the film room so the other guys wouldn’t see my tears and hear my grievance.  He convinced me to be mentally tough and not to quit, not letting them win, I might get bullied, and I might get hurt, but at least I would have my heart.  I was not a star player, I barely played at all.  I was surprised by my coach’s quick reaction.  He really seemed surprised, and disappointed that the thought of quitting had crossed my mind.  He saw something in me that I was not mature enough yet to see myself.  If he had let me walk out of that locker room a quitter there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been bullied more and in the end become a very morbid statistic.  He really saved my life that day of my junior year.

During the week of the state championship, I was hospitalized with dehydration pneumonia and a 106 degree temperature.  The morning of the state championship I was released from the hospital.  I still had a 104 degree fever, but I felt somewhat recharged.  I listened intently on the radio and reacted very emotionally when the other team had recovered its own kickoff and ran in it into our end zone uncontested.  “DANG NABBIT!!!”  “Mom, Dad if we leave now we can make it there by half time!!”  “No way Michael!!” They replied in unison.  “You still have a dangerous fever and I am considering taking you back to the hospital!”  I reacted as a typical emotional teenager, and got up and started doing jumping jacks.  “I’m fine Mom. I’ve got to get up there, it’s the state championship!”  “It’s my body, I’ll take the risk!”  I yelled.  “Well, we won’t!” she replied.  “Now, stop it, lay down or I’m turning off the radio!”  My mom started to cry; I couldn’t stand seeing her cry so fists clenched, and frustrated I sat down.  This was it; I saw now what coach saw in me; an emotional desire to do the right thing, to not let people down, a sense of family and camaraderie, a passion and enthusiasm about the people and things I cared about.  I was the guy that screamed and yelled and cheered, jumping up and down the sidelines keeping up excitement and emotion.  It probably annoyed coach when he called out the plays, but he tolerated it anyway.  A lot of my teammates told me the game had a much different feel, and lack of something because I wasn’t there, some of them believed that was why the state championship was our first loss that year.  I don’t believe that, because, as I said, I didn’t get to actually play unless we were ahead by 3 touchdowns, but belief can be a powerful thing.

I had a hero, a coach that never gave up on me; I wasn’t going to disappoint him again.  I used the off season to gain weight, get fast, and get strong.  My senior year there were still guys that didn’t like me because of my weakness and fear before, but now they respected me.  I still didn’t play much, but I made practice count.  I loved my team and what it stood for.  I made it my mission to work hard and make my teammates better.  I was proud of myself for who I had become, and I owe that to my coach who showed he cared about my decisions, who loved all his players regardless of their talent as his own sons.  At the end of my senior year coach gave me a huge trophy that read “Most Improved Senior”; only 6 guys on the team got individual trophies like that.

After I graduated, I joined the Navy. On September 11th 2001 bullies killed about 3000 of my countrymen.  Some of the bravest men I will ever know looked to me for leadership and courage.  I went to war, and came back alive.   I deal with some PTSD and anxiety disorders. I have a lot of military medals and commendations collected over the years.  Those are collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, but that trophy coach gave me sits right here on my desk. Beside it is a picture of my buddies from the navy to remind me of who I am and what I want to continue being when I have an anxiety attack, nightmare, or guilt.

Try hard to see the potential in your kids.  No matter how much they may disappoint you, or how much fear they have in their heart, never give up on them.  You will save their life, just by listening to them and loving them.  Make sure anger and frustration with thier mistakes, bring out your compassion for them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guiding your Childs Maturity

The different ideas of what maturity really is can be very different, conflicting, and biased.  When I was a young boy in school; I got so sick of hearing about how much more mature girls are as compared to boys our age.  Instead of voicing that, I just decided to believe that people only said that because on average girls have better hand writing than boys; therefore, they could communicate their ideas better to adults, because adults would take the time to read what they wrote, I also decided that all teachers and parents were sexist and prejudiced at this point, I think I had just turned 6 years old when I decided that.  Thanks to a conversation I over heard between two teachers, I knew exactly what both the words sexist and prejudiced meant.

It didn’t matter anyway, because by high school, everyone was extremely immature.  Boy or girl, they were immature, scared, and excited.  Everyone had very little idea of who they were, who they were going to be, and even who they wanted to be.  Which I believe is the definition of maturity.

I think maturity is, knowing exactly who you are, being happy with what you have become, and accepting your limitations, but always trying to surpass them.

One tool I use to help my children mature is I do a lot of “Think on your feet questions with them.”  For example; I’ll ask: “Son how would you tell your best friend that he has bad breath?” or “How would you explain the theory of gravity to a 3 year old?” or “If you were going to be marooned on a deserted Island and you were only allowed to bring one thing, what would it be?”  Exercises like this can really help your child take an active part in his/her own development.  He/she will know how to evaluate him/her self on his/her own objectively and be able to determine if his answers represent what kind of person he wants to strive to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Colors of Children

Small children are very black and white.  There are no gray areas through the eyes and ears of small children.  When your child asks a question that requires more than just a yes or no answer, it is important to really take the time to explain the answer very literally, and very directly.  Say only what you mean and what you really believe.  You should encourage them to ask more questions as well so that you can be sure they understand what you are saying.  Questions about life, faith, or difficult issues should spawn an open and honest discussion between you and your child.  Praise them for asking questions of that nature.  The earlier they know they can talk to you about anything, the better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Magic in Parenting

Trust is the most important value between a parent and child; and truth is the most important value for a man or woman.  Fortunately for us as parents, trust is given to us blindly by our children.  Unfortunately it is easy to betray that trust unintentionally.
I have seen many parents talk to their children about Santa Clause, without believing in Santa Clause themselves.  For many of those parents learning that Santa didn’t exist when they were children was one of the worst experiences of their lives.  That awful moment made them pessimistic about everything faith based for the rest of their lives.  Yet they still teach their own children the same thing, and put them through the same experience because it is what their parents did.  I can’t imagine believing in magic, and then having that belief ripped from your heart by the people I blindly and whole heartedly trust.

I thank God that I believe in Santa Clause at the age of 31.  I thank God for allowing me to understand it so that when I speak to my children I am speaking the truth.  I tell them that Santa Clause is the face of the spirit of Christmas, generosity, and compassion.  He is the gift that St. Nick left for this world long after he physically left it. 

In this day and age of technology and science, we believe more and more that we know so much about everything.  We understand how things work.  Well, just because we understand how something works doesn’t make it any less magical.  Certain people were created for the soul purpose of putting satellites in space, and making communication possible through out the world that seems like magic to me.

I for one am so glad that magic is so easy to find.  Have you ever seen the immaculate reception from Franco Harris in the AFC divisional playoffs against the Oakland Raiders?  That bit of self taught magic was the turning point for The Pittsburgh Steelers who in 4 decades had never won a playoff game.  Those few magical seconds lead the Steelers to win 4 Super bowls before the end of the decade.  A polluted steal town became known as the city of champions.  The city as a whole completely cleaned itself up after that.  It knew what pride felt like.  That was no doubt a gift from above.  Franco Harris being in that time in that place with that talent was a gift.

Do not betray your kids, and teach them what you believe.  Don’t lie to them.  You want your kids to come to you with problems; they need you to be on their side even when they are wrong.  They need to be able to come to you when they know they made a mistake.  They need you to show them how to work magic.

“Truth is the sum of honor and courage; lies are the product of fear, the substance of evil.”

--From the chronicles of Michael Richard Packer, Ethan Michael Prime Packer, and Ryan Michael Maximus Packer

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Truth about Time

If you had just one day to live as an adult what would you do with it?  Would you find love?  Would you go skydiving?  Would you see as many places as you could?  Would you rob a bank?  Would you speak to as many people as you could?  What would you say?  What would you leave behind? 
Now if you had 32850 days to live, would you squander 5000 of them, or 20,000 of them, or would your list of things to do just keep getting longer from day 1?  Who did you want to be before you died?  Who do your children want to be?  Who could they be?

Almost from birth we are told that we can be anything we want when we grow up.  As if growing up is something that happens in some undetermined future reality, like we are supposed to wait for it, and there is an undetermined amount of time before that happens.  Growing up caught up with me quick, I wish I wouldn’t have been patient about so many things.  I wish I was told that if I wanted to be a pilot, I had to start being a pilot from my first day of elementary school.  I wish I was told that if I wanted to be a detective, or a doctor; that I had to start being a detective and a doctor from my first day of school. 

As soon as I knew I had 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 eyes, 2 ears, and one intelligent, logical, brain I wish someone had explained that I had to start being what I wanted to be because those were all the tools I was going to get.  A doctor must get straight A’s in school.  A doctor must strive to get accepted to medical school.  A detective must get straight A’s in school; a detective must get accepted into a great school with a great criminal justice program.  A Lawyer must have a good grasp of history, know how to find information for research, and touch people’s hearts and minds.  I wish someone had told me I had to start learning all of that from my first day of kindergarten, or even a little before.  I wish I had known a long time ago that space and time are our own perceptions, our own illusions; that space and time are only the existence of a reality that we share, but all perceive differently; that what matters is what we fill the space and time with.  Do we fill them with learning, and doing or only with waiting and dreaming?  For the sake of your children’s fulfillment; tell them that the time is now.  If they want to be a soldier they have to start being the best soldier they can be now.  If they want to be a medical student and a doctor, they have to start being a medical student and a doctor now.  That means doing great in school, volunteering for as many programs as they can learning to be a good follower, learning to be a good leader now, not later, later is exactly that… too late.  Your child can be anything he/she wants when he/she grows up, as long as they start growing up now, which they are going to do anyway, whether you and they are ready or not.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Value of Parental Affection

My son and I just barely arrived on time for his hockey game a couple of weeks ago.  It was rush, rush, rush to get there and get him on the ice.  There was no time to talk I just had to get him dressed out and push him out onto the ice.  All the while his little brother is saying we need to go to the concession stand because he didn’t get any lunch.  Rush, rush, rush.

The game started, and my son on the ice was still trying to figure out where he was; because we had gotten ready so fast.  Things were not going well, he was out of position, and he didn’t look like he knew where he was supposed to be.  He was trying so hard though, skating as fast as he could when he would realize that he was in the wrong place, to late though.  All I could do was stand helplessly from the glass around the ice and watch my son get more and more frustrated. 

Buzzer sounds “Thank you God I say to myself.”   I had been able to get my son some Gatorade to drink before the start of the second period.  I held the bottle in the air to signal him over to me.  I met him at the bench.  “Hey son, in all the commotion I didn’t get the chance to give you a hug this morning.”  As tears of frustration welled up he wrapped his arms around my neck.  “I know you’re out of position a lot, but you’re trying to skate back quick.”  “Calm down, control your emotions, gather yourself up.”  “Okay?”  My son nodded his head in response.  “Hey look at me.”  “I’m proud of you.”  “Now, give me a good squeeze and fight back.”   “Good man, now go get it back.”  My son scored his first two goals and acquired his 3rd assist in the second period.  He also never let the other team’s offense come across the neutral zone on his side of the ice.

I thought it only fair to share the inspiration for today’s blog with you. 

Jerry’s Speech from Boston Legal

Six years ago isolation had brought me to the point; I had considered taking my life.  I picked up the phone and punched out 411, so desperate was I to hear the sound of another person’s voice.  I got some automated recording that said “what city and state please.” And I wept.  We are living in such an increasingly isolated world, your honor.  We I.M. and text message, and have virtual relationships online, it gets lonelier and lonelier, while teenage and adult depression continues to rise.  There are perhaps many things we can do about it.  Banning the hug can’t be one of them.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

“Shooting Straight and Speaking the Truth”

I do not want to make today’s blog political in anyway.  What I will be discussing can be a sensitive issue.  Every individual has their own set of morals and ethics which tend to influence their beliefs. 

I took my son to the local indoor shooting range the other day.  He was slightly vertically challenged; although, he shot very well.  Last Christmas Santa brought him a single shot 22cal. rifle called the cricket.  It is designed for a young child with a length of only about 20 inches or so.  It holds one round at a time, so it is perfect for teaching gun safety and accuracy. 

Now I know that many parents may question the reasoning behind letting an 8 year old shoot a gun, let alone own his very own.  I normally keep this discussion very private in the circle of my family, but for today’s purposes I will share some of my reasoning with you.
First off I firmly believe in a father taking his son out hunting and showing him the secrets of nature and of the hunt.  Many children’s best memories are going out on the long hikes with purpose.  There is also a great feeling of pride and accomplishment when the child gets the animal and can take credit for contributing to putting food on the table of his/her family.  The accomplishment shows him/her that he/she is a contributing member of the family and has value despite how small he/she may physically be.  Not only does it show the child that he/she has value, but that everything has purpose and value.  This makes it easy to teach respect for life, nature, and property.  In my experience law abiding hunters are the ultimate conservationist.  The hunt teaches patience, and self discipline.  Secondly I spent time in the military, and before that I grew up in a Western Pennsylvania town.  The culture there is guns, hunting, and football, not necessarily in that order.   When my son goes over to a friends house, and that friends father has guns, and does something irresponsible like leaves them out; I don’t have to worry about my son picking one up, and I can count on him to either stop his friend from picking one up, or getting out of there if his friend does.  My son looks at them as a chore not a novelty like a curious child who has never seen one except being wielded in the movies by his favorite hero. Kids tend to mimic their heroes.  My son knows that anytime we go to the range and shoot, or anytime we open up the gun cabinet, we have to break down all the rifles and clean them, (he hates cleaning).  Let me be clear, I am not any kind of lobbyist, and if you did not grow up around guns, I DO NOT recommend going out and buying a rifle and teaching gun safety to your child.  What I might suggest is taking your child to a gun range, perhaps one that your local law enforcement uses and let them hear the noise, and see the damage the guns can do.  Let them develop a little respect and fear in that experience.  If you’re comfortable ask an officer to break one down for him/her and show them how it works.  Educate him/her about it so that the curiosity is satisfied in the safety of your presence.

Guns are more abundant in this country than cars, and just as dangerous, but they do exist, so the one thing you can be sure of is that your child will one day have an experience with a gun.  Its one of the things I can guarantee.  I recommend making that experience a controlled and educational one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Treating Your Children Like The Adults They Are

Do you remember this when you were a kid?  “Stop treating me, like a child!”  “Well, then stop acting like one!”  With that reply your subconscious may have brought up the memories of your parents hand feeding you, making your meals, telling you to do your homework, to brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, cut the grass, get ready for school.  Up to a point your parents probably told you what to do and exactly when to do it.  Did this benefit you?  Well, of course it did, up to a point, but when did you begin to learn self reliance?  When you got your drivers license?  When you graduated high school?  When you got your first job?  When you went to college?  When you started keeping secrets from your parents?  The latter is probably true.  That’s discouraging now that you are a parent yourself.  You do have the power; however, to keep this age old tort and retort out of your relationship with your child.

Don’t think of your children as children.  Don’t think of them as irrational beings that make decisions and attack their problems strictly on emotion.  Yes, they are more prone to act on impulse than you or I…probably, but from birth they have the gift of logic and intelligence, just like you.  Treat your child in accordance with his/her potential, not the current age that they seem to act.  Listen to him/her as you would a co-worker that you have profound respect for, and give advice of the sort you would give to a CEO when you were trying to impress.

One of the reasons the Roman Empire lasted so long socially, is because children were thought of as adults, citizens with the same duties to their family and to Rome as everyone else.  

Your children are the representatives of you and your families honor and heritage.
Teach them to make good decisions; don’t make the decisions for them.  Teach them that they can talk to you as a more experienced equal.  Teach your children to criticize their own choices; don’t just criticize your children.  Teach them self reliance, teach them self discipline.  Teach them to trust you, teach them to trust themselves.  Teach them that the world doesn’t have time to wait for them to become adults.  They have to do that from the time they can breathe.  They have to decide to learn to walk, and to talk.  Those were good decisions.  They will make more.  Just protect them when they make the bad ones.  Help them to turn bad decisions into good outcomes.

“Few men are born brave; many become so through training and force of discipline.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The secret power snack

My son loves to eat cereal for breakfast before school.  I never let him eat sugary cereals on school days.  Generally I allow Raisin Bran, Cheerios, or something of that nature, because if he has something like cocoa puffs he has a difficult time concentrating.  I think that is pretty common among third graders, but even enforcing that rule, I still found that my son was having concentration problems in school.  His teacher, the school nurse, and my wife all thought he may be showing the signs of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
I was diagnosed with ADD as a child, and I didn’t really buy it myself.  I did some researching, and found that protein is the most important part of a breakfast, especially for a growing child.  After a lot of experimenting, I found the best solution was to let my son continue eating cereal at breakfast, but he takes a Power Bar to school now for morning snack.  He has received straight A’s and never has any focus problems in school since he started taking this high protein snack to school.  Thank goodness for the oatmeal raisin Power Bar.  It has no chocolate and no caffeine so it’s a good quick source of protein that is easy to carry and quick to eat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Teaching Self Control

In my short experience as a parent, I have found that the most difficult character trait to teach is self control.  In my observations the reason this is so hard to teach, is because when it is needed most the parent often doesn’t have it either. 

We’ve all had those times I think.  We came off of a 12 hour shift only got four hours of sleep, and had to begin the weekend routine of shopping, and cleaning with kids who just want to play on the weekend.  The day grows hot heat is coming from the blacktop of the parking lot at the grocery store the 4 year old gets tired, and bonks his head trying to get himself in the car because he’s at that age of independence.  He breaks down, cries and screams while you’re struggling with the keys, groceries, and cart and now you have to make sure your child is okay which you’re sure he is, but he wants the nurturing attention. 

You’ve checked him out he seems fine and he notices that you think he seems fine, and screams louder.  Is he crying because his head really hurts?  Is he crying because he’s tired?  Is he crying because he’s missed you all week from working those 12 hour shifts and today on your day off you were more concerned with your grocery list, the laundry, the bills, and all the plans with family and friends you are trying to accomplish this weekend than you were with his immediate and demanding needs.  By this time your frustrated and the screaming is becoming an annoyance, and then it can grow into something more. 

It is now that it is time to teach self control.  His buttons have been pushed and now yours have to.  This is not something to fear.  This is a rare instance when you and your child feel the exact same way and can relate to each other immediately as long as you can control your emotions.  Now controlling your emotions doesn’t just mean resisting the urge to smack him, or scream at him and walk away to calm yourself down,  in this case, controlling your emotions means using this situation to teach the child self control by exhibiting it yourself. 

The child is screaming and crying, but even this is happening it does not mean that he won’t recognize attention in the form of love and discipline.  Here some tips on what to say to him, or her.  Position your self directly in front of him/her come down to their level and look them in the eye as you would any adult.  Say his/her name firmly, but do not yell.  Do not make fear an emotion that they have to feel on top of everything else.  Place your hands on their shoulders, or in any place that you know your child feels comforting or soothing, and tell them exactly what you want them to do, and why.  “Control your emotions.”  “I know it hurts.”  “Take 5 deep breaths.”  If they start to do what you are saying, then great.  If he/she is not, repeat everything again and finish with “We can’t go anywhere safely until you calm down.”  If this does not work you can get a little firmer make, your child stand straight and put their arms down at their sides.  This actually will cause the child to breath deeper and easier.  No matter how stubborn your child is, for his/her own comfort he/she will take the breaths and stop crying even if he/she doesn’t want to.  Now you can explain to the child why it is important to control his/her emotions.  This simple instruction could save their life one day.  It will also instill trust in your child for you and he/she will be more likely to openly talk to you about their feelings and their thoughts. 

You and your child have now both exhibited self control, and courage.  Emotions feed off of each other the same is true for self control.

“Self control is the chief element in self respect, and self respect is the chief element in courage.”  ---Thucydides