Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Boys at Play

Killian closes his bedroom door and plays for long stretches of time alone. When it gets too quiet, it's a good idea to check in.

His face...

Why you should check on your child if they've been playing quietly in their room for too long.

(His bedroom furniture was not arranged like that previously.)

This morning I found a simliar scene in the playroom after both boys had been playing quietly in the playroom for a few minutes:

Part 2 of why you check on them when they're quiet. K rearranged furniture and Mick's having a playdough party.

I had stored some paperwork in the top shelf of an Expedit in Killian's closet for "safekeeping." One day recently, I found Killian had pulled up a chair to the top shelf and gotten all of the paperwork down and spread it around his "office."  He said he was working on his paperwork!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Unconditional Parenting: Notes for Book Discussion

(Posting my notes for our book discussion this weekend here for easy distribution and access.)

Unconditional Parenting by Alphie Kohn
(page numbers noted are based on 2005 paperback)

~Positive Discipline saying~
"Get rid of the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first you have to make them feel worse." 

The book discusses:

  • expressing unconditional love
  • giving children chances to make decisions
  • imagining how things look from the child's point of view

It's harder to make children feel loved unconditionally than it is to just love them. It's hard to respond to them in all their complexity than it is to focus just on their behaviors. (p.118)

Guiding Principles (p.119):
  1. Be reflective
  2. Reconsider your requests
  3. Keep your eye on your long-term goals
  4. Put the relationship first
  5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
    • Take children seriously. Children's thoughts should never be dismissed out of hand. (p. 119)
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Talk less, ask more.
    • Toddlers: "They're wrestling with the attractions of freedom and independence, the power of being able to do new things, while simultaneously trying to cope with unwelcome limitations on the exercise of their will." (p. 127)
  9. Keep their ages in mind.
  10. Attribute to the child the best positive motive consistent with the facts.
  11. Don't stick to your no's unnecessarily. 
    • People don't get better at coping with unhappiness because they were deliberately made unhappy when they were young. (p. .135)
  12. Don't be rigid.
  13. Don't be in a hurry.

Why Punishment Fails (p.67)

  1. It makes people mad.
  2. It models the user of power.
  3. It eventual loses its effectiveness.
  4. It erodes our relationship with kids.
  5. It distracts from important issues. (Do they reflect on why they hit their brother while they are in their room stewing?)
  6. It makes kids more self-centered.
    • The more we rely on punitive consequence, including time-outs - or rewards, including praise - the less likely children are to consider how their actions affect other people.
    • What sort of adult out there in the real world is dissuaded from unethical behavior only when he himself will pay the price (if he's caught). Our answer would have to be: the sort of adult most of us hope our children won't become. 

Love without Strings Attached
  • Limit the number and scope of criticisms. (p. 143)
  • Our goal should not be to make them feel bad, nor to stamp out a particular behavior out of existence. Rather, what we want is to influence the way they think and feel, to help them become the kind of people who wouldn't want to act cruelly. (p. 145)
  • We need to display our affection without demanding that they behave or perform in certain ways in return. It's not that we don't want and expect certain behaviors; we do. But our concern or affection doesn't depend on it." (p. 148)
  • Easier to maintain this stance, even with kids who are frequently insulting or aggressive, by keeping in mind why they're acting that way. The idea is for the teacher to think about what these students need (emotionally speaking) and probably haven't received. (p. 148)
  • Teacher to student: "You know what? I really, really like you. You can keep doing these things and it won't change my mind. It seems to me that you are trying to get me to dislike you, but it's not going to work. I'm not ever going to do that."
How Love Withdrawal Harms (silent treatment, etc)
  • It's as if we're obliterating the child's very existence for as long as he displeases us. (p. 151)

Praise (the default "Good Job! response)
  • On occasions when we feel it would be appropriate to say something, we can simply point out what we've seen and allow the child to decide how to feel about (rather than telling her how). example: litte boy showed his drawing to Alfie. Instead of exclaiming "good drawing!" he asked how the boy felt about it. The boy discussed why he wasn't happy with it and how he could do something differently next time.
  • They tend to stop thinking and talking about what they've done as soon as we've passed judgement on it.
  • Praise can have the opposite effect of drawing away attention from the task and toward your reaction. (p. 156)
  • If your child does something caring and generous, you might draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person. This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is how you feel about his sharing.
  • Chart on p. 157. Are you giving a patronizing pat on the head for having lived up to your standards and your expectations?  Invite reflection. Ask, rather judge.
  • Celebrating their accomplishments with them vs. imposing our evaluations on them or manipulating. p.159

How to Raise Moral Kids
  • We want them to ask "how will doing x make that other kid feel?" Not "Am I allowed to do x?" "Will I get in trouble for doing x?" p.191
  1. Care about them.
  2. Show them how a moral person lives. (Take them "backstage" and show them how you think.)
  3. Let them practice.
  4. Talk with them. Involve in decision making. Research shows kids who are encouraged to become actively involved in the decision making process tend to exhibit higher level reasoning. p.196
Choices for Children
  • Invite the child to propose some ways of dealing with the issue  (p. 167)
  • The way kids learn to make good decisions, is by making decisions, not following directions. p. 169
  • They'll be more likely to work for positive changes in our society rather than just accepting power-based arrangements as they are - or believing those arrangements are inevitable. p. 170
  • Kids really respond when they are treated with respect, involved in problem solving, and assumed to be well intentioned. 
Sibling Rivalry and Fighting
  • Many parents jump in pre-maturely and then make matters worse by siding with one child against the other, or unfairly condemning them both, or struggling to find out who's to blame. In so doing, they short-circuit the process by which kids learn to negotiate on their own. 
  • Caveat: Not blanket advice to let them work it out by themselves. A child who feels she has a legitimate grievance may get the idea that you don't care enough to get involved or are indifferent to her complaints. Also, a hands-off approach may leave the weaker child to the mercies of the stronger or cleverer.
That effort to step outside oneself is what we should try to cultivate in our kids. ("I wonder why that person was in a bad mood today. I wonder if something bad happened to that person that morning.") p.202

Don't get trapped in your own perspective. p.207

Other Fears

Fear of Permissiveness
In public places you can even feel the judgement radiating from strangers - typically for being too lenient, rarely for beng too controlling. p.96

Deep Psychological Roots

Many people continue to pass on the cruel deeds and attitudes to which they were subjected as children, so that they can continue to idealize their parents. ... We have a powerful, unconscious need to believe that everything our parents did to us was really for our own good and was done out of love.  p. 106 

Is it possible that what I just did with them had more to do with my needs, my fears, and with my own  upbringing than with what's really in their best interests? (p. 115)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

They've got the jazz

"What does...'got the jazz' mean?"

If you've spent any time with Killian lately, you might have noticed it's a little harder to provide on-the-spot definitions for words than you thought. I find myself wanting to use the word itself in the definition. Oops. Then when you define the word, it leads to more questions and definitions.

By the way, Urban Dictionary does not have an entry for "got the jazz," but listening to A Tribe Called Quest would probably help clarify.

I'm not sure how exactly to define it... but these boys have the jazz.

If they hear the words "guacamole," both boys will be scooting a kitchen chair across the kitchen, so they can participate in the guacamole making process.

Squeezing the lime

If you say "tomato," Mick is on his way to the garden to pick some.

What a Mick Papou might look like some day.

If you say any word  Killian is not familiar with, he asks what it means. His teacher tells us he asks about words like no other child she has known in her 20 years of teaching. She said he dissects everything he hears and wants to understand it all. "What does of mean?"

Killian saw Beth studying for a test, and then later that night, he asked for a test too. I tested him on shapes, and then that lead to a spelling lesson... The next night, Killian asked for another lesson. I think he has also discovered a new way to stay up late - just ask for a lesson! His dad (who also has the jazz) will happily comply and before you know it, you're 30 minutes into a geometry lesson.


Killian has discovered a new way to stay up late: ask for a lesson. "this one is acute!"

Me Too!

Do you remember the Mercer Mayer book "Me Too?"

I'm reminded of this book daily watching Killian and Mick interact.

I finally figured out how to do the white background! #whitagram



Seriously just picked over hundred JalapeƱos from our backyard. Unbelievable!

Waiting for daddy to come home @fansipans


The boys still mostly engage in "parallel play," and Mick always wants to do what Big Brother is doing. Sometimes this really annoys Killian. This past week I reminded Killian, "It's just like that book Me Too! Mick wants to be just like you."

Killian replied, "Mick should just be like Mick."

Wow. Deep, Killian. And fair enough.

They are starting to have more moments of interaction together. When Killian gives his attention to Mick (even if it is sitting on him!), it is pure bliss for Mick.


Just like in the "Me Too!" story, Mick is eager to say, "Yes, you too!" and share with his Big Brother, frequently saying "Here you go!," happily handing over Killian's favorite toys and Baby Kangaroo.

They are both very attached to the Mama Kangaroo and Baby set; Killian is attached to "Baby" and Mick is attached to "Mama." When Killian is with baby, he refers to himself as "the Mama Kangaroo."

The boys and their kangaroos

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

Halloween this year was rad, as Mike says.  And it was the boys' first time trick or treating! They both loved it.

Mike and Beth pulled off an excellent disembodied panda or Human Panda Panda Human  or (bi) sexual harassment panda (South Park reference).

(Bi) sexual harrassment panda

For about a month, Killian had talked about being Maleficient, the evil witch from the Sleeping Beauty story, but once he saw the Cinderella costume at Target, he was sold. He probably put the costume at home on every other day leading up to Halloween. I think it's very sweet his favorite characters at the moment are all females.


So I decided to be his princess friend. All week he liked calling me "Snow White." We are princess buddies.

Pretty princess part 1... Part 2 is still sleeping...

Cinderella being trailed by the doggie.

Cinderella and the doggie

Mick was such a sweetie trick or treating. He said hank you! a few times. Killian said "Trick or Treat!" enthusiastically at just about every house, unless their decorations were really spooky and then he was speechless! I had talked to Mick about trick or treating earlier in the day, and he got a big smile on his face. When we go for walks, he always wants to go on other people's porches, so I think he was really excited to be able to walk up to so many different porches.

Mick was such a sweetie trick or treating.

I had a proud moment later that night Killian was looking through his candy. "What's this? What's this? What's an OR-E-O?" He had no idea what anything was and didn't eat any of it. Instead we made popcorn when we got home from trick or treating. He was interested in a bag of Oreo cookies, but when he opened it up, he looked at it quizzically. I said, "yeah, it's not real chocolate," and he set it down. Ha.

I got to sneak out after bedtime last time with Tina and Beth. OOOO scary good sushi at Soul Gastrolounge!

Scary good sushi on Halloween night

It was a good Halloween.

It was a good Halloween.