Tips from the Pros

The other day I was caught off guard by a message I had received on Facebook: Jennifer–I’m needing advice on discipline with the kids… what tactics do you use with yours? The message went on to detail specific situations with which this particular mom was struggling.

My initial thought to this request was disbelief.  Why in the world would anyone ask me for advice on discipline?  Clearly this person hadn’t read my blog detailing my many failings!

I was also surprised because we haven’t seen each other in years as we’re in different states. In fact, I’ve never met this mom’s children, but we know each other from a brief time in a small group that Matt and I led.  We don’t have the depth of friendship that I would need before I could ask someone for help and admit I’m struggling.

Even if I had that depth of friendship with another mom, I still might not ask for advice.  I carry parenting so close to my heart.  It is the one area of my life where I feel most vulnerable, carry the weight of my failings most days, yet want to succeed more than anything.  After receiving this message, I found it curious that pride and shame at my shortcomings kept me from doing the one thing that could help me succeed with my children–talking to those currently in the trenches.

Sure, I pray every day for wisdom; I talk to my mom, but rarely do I open up and admit to another mom that I don’t know how to handle a certain problem with my children.  I’m afraid of judgment, afraid that even though I am friends with someone, the thought will enter her mind that I must not have control of my children.  I’m afraid that my children’s antics will become the topic of dinner conversation between my friend and her spouse that night.

And I’m afraid that this rationale is rather silly.  Chances are that if I opened up, so would my friend.  She would probably admit that she struggles, too, perhaps not with the same issue but in another area of parenting.  Instead of carrying our burdens alone, we could help each other with the load.  But first we need to share.

I was inspired by this mom’s openness, and as I wrote a response to her, I decided that I, too, would ask for help from the experts–moms, dads, grandparents, aunts or uncles–because there is no shame in it.  In fact, if there is one person whom I don’t trust, it is the person who conveys the idea that he or she doesn’t struggle.  I have to wonder what that person is hiding….

…so today I challenge you to come out of hiding.  In the comments below, ask the experts!  What’s one area of parenting where you need a tip?  And since you’re also an expert, what’s one tip that you can offer other parents or caregivers of kids?  Let’s help each other today and admit that none of us has it all together. And while we know that statement to be true, we also know that each of us has a lot to offer!

I’ll start:  For parents with children that outnumber your own arms, how do make sure that one of them doesn’t pull away from you in a store or any other public place?

My one tip is to make sure you are dressed and ready before your kids wake up.  The days when I accomplish this little task go so much smoother than days that start off with kiddos getting into mischief because I wasn’t fully ready to supervise.

24 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros

  1. Jennifer, I have to say first and foremost that we try not to shop any place that doesn't have carts. It's hard sometimes, but that is my rule for now. I always put Charlotte in the cart and the older two know the 'hand on cart' rule at all times. We've worked with them on that since they were little. It works pretty well…most of the time. Because children like to touch everything I try to give them time to do so. We'll spend a few minutes in the toy or art section of a store just so they can fiddle and get it out of their systems.

    My question: My 5 year old son is incredibly sensitive and tends to cry at the drop of a hat. How do others deal with similar situations?

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    1. I too have a 5-yr old son, he's my oldest, and he is sensitive as well. Though his sensitivity may not come through in tears, it does in other ways. For me, when I notice he is wearing his emotions/feelings on his young sleeve, I step back and think if I've had some closeness, one-on-one time with him…he shares his mommy with a 2 yr old sister who is quite vocal, so it is easy for me to focus on the "squeaky wheel"!

      So I then make it a priority to fill his mommy love tank. While little sister is napping, instead of putting him in front of Thomas so I can have some white-space, we put a puzzle together, share a snack, or read books. But honestly the best thing, for both he and I, is dinner out or a run to Brewsters while baby sister hangs with her Daddy, which of course is beyond beneficial for her. It really is a win-win for all.

      I hope this helps! Oh, and one more thought. It's so funny to me how he really never acts this way with his Daddy. Something about all that wrestling around in the playroom night after night gets the Daddy love tank brimming to overflowing. But not with me, he really needs the softness of his Mom.

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    2. Good idea about taking them to the toy section first. I think I'm too uptight sometimes and need to let them "get it out of their systems," as you put it. My daughter cries a lot, but more as an attempt to get her way. I tend to ignore that kind of crying–any ideas for neena's question?

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    3. Good idea about taking them to the toy section first. I think I'm too uptight sometimes and need to let them “get it out of their systems,” as you put it. My daughter cries a lot, but more as an attempt to get her way. I tend to ignore that kind of crying–any ideas for neena's question?

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  2. Jennifer, great post. I think we do this not only with parenting but with life in general. We don't want to ask for help because that means admitting we have struggles. God made us with different strengths to help each other out, so reaching out is actually allowing the Body of Christ to serve its purpose.

    My advice is to never give "yes" or "no" choices or commands like "put your pajamas." Instead I ask two-choice questions, with both choices making me happy like: "do you want to put your pajamas first, or brush your teeth first?" Either way, two needed things get done, but there is no chance for the child to say "no." If they don't choose or take too long I make the choice. It works well with my two.

    My question is: I am an only child so my children's constant fighting is uncharted and frustrating territory to me, even though everyone says it's normal. What do other people do about sibling squabbles? My kids are 3 and 4.

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    1. Great suggestion! I've heard the idea of giving choices instead of commands, but I tend to revert back to 'boss' mode. I'll have to remember this one for bedtime tonight.

      Good question! And yes, squabbles are a part of the deal. I'm interested to hear others' opinions.

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    2. Great suggestion! I've heard the idea of giving choices instead of commands, but I tend to revert back to 'boss' mode. I'll have to remember this one for bedtime tonight. Good question! And yes, squabbles are a part of the deal. I'm interested to hear others' opinions.

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  3. With only a 2 year old I feel like I have no advice! Plus I'm not going to give out advice to people not asking. I have been asked a few things though: "Are you supposed to let your baby see you naked after you get out of the shower?" Um….sure, he's a baby, he doesn't care. "Do you have to touch your baby's penis when you change a diaper?" Um….yeah, it doesn't clean itself. Awesome, eh?

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    1. That diaper-changing question surprises me! I wonder what that person was thinking….

      I bet you know more tips than you think!

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  4. Wonderful post Jennifer.

    Okay, I have a very hard time with meal time. The kiddos (5 and 2 yrs) tend to think this is a time to act a little goofy while I would like meal time to be calm and goofy-free. Am I just being too rigid (a VERY strong possibility, I admit). They are mannerly, but oh so silly…

    Y'all shoot straight with me!

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    1. I guess I'd have to see what you mean by 'silly.' If you feel they are getting out of control, you could try what neena suggested earlier for the store–let them get it out of their systems. Perhaps you all could dance and shake the sillies out of your bodies before you sat down to dinner. What do you think?

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      1. I do like shakin' out the sillies! Plus after posting my comment I admitted to myself that basically anytime after 5pm is no good…I'm not at the end of my rope, I lost my rope. So, with that being said, and as I've gained some "wisdom" (ha ha), a lot of this is my setting the relaxed tone, not the, not- so-relaxed tone!

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    2. I guess I'd have to see what you mean by 'silly.' If you feel they are getting out of control, you could try what neena suggested earlier for the store–let them get it out of their systems. Perhaps you all could dance and shake the sillies out of your bodies before you sat down to dinner. What do you think?

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  5. Great Post Jennifer. I know from experience that you are never the only one going through a situation and it always helps to have friends to ask advice. I got a lot of help listening To Focus on the Family, here is a link for this very subject:
    Focus on the Family Did you know Focus on the Family has a forum just for parents? Some of the recent topics: Sibling rivalry, help, my teen came home drunk, discipline questions and so much more! It's a safe place for the tough questions. Connect directly with our support team and counselors to get your questions answered. Have you visited our forums?
    Focus on the Family Community: Community: Parenting http://www.focusonlinecommunities.com

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  6. I have three little ones aged 5, 2 and 1. I have just started letting the 2 year old out of the cart and he is loving it. He knows that he needs to either hold his sister's hand or the cart at all times and if he takes anything off a shelf without asking first he goes back into the cart!

    I always have a list to keep the shopping trip quick and have crackers, cereal or some other snack in my purse to keep them occupied while waiting in line to pay.

    I have to avoid the toy aisle or there is a lot of whining about not brining something home….unless it's a toy store or something similar. In that case I very carefullly and slowly talk about what we are buying and why and that we are not getting anything else.

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    1. Great tips, especially the clear expectation that if your child takes anything off the shelf, he goes back in the cart. And I agree–having snacks does seem to make any outing a little bit easier!

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    2. Great tips, especially the clear expectation that if your child takes anything off the shelf, he goes back in the cart. And I agree–having snacks does seem to make any outing a little bit easier!

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  7. Getting dressed before your children is a great tip! I was just thinking I need to do that this morning (when we were late for enrichment classes b/c I was late getting dressed after making lunches and breakfast and getting my little one ready). Ugh!

    My tip, which I discovered this morning, is make lunches the night before! (I'm a late bloomer)

    My struggle is with being tired all the time lately… I have no energy to do anything with my boys or house and I don't know why. Seems like it all started when I lowered my Coke intake. Makes me feel like an inattentive parent. 😦

    Sorry, but I'm too tired to go back and read struggles to give tips… hopefully that will all change soon! (maybe vitamins would help) Thanks for listening! 🙂

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    1. I can totally relate! We all know that making lunches at night is something that would make life easier the next day, but you're right–if I even sit down at night, I instantly want to go to sleep! Similarly, I know I need to go to bed early, but I feel like I am so behind and don't know how to fit everything in. I'm already waking up early and not watching TV at night–what to do?! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog; I hope you catch up on your rest this weekend!

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    2. I can totally relate! We all know that making lunches at night is something that would make life easier the next day, but you're right–if I even sit down at night, I instantly want to go to sleep! Similarly, I know I need to go to bed early, but I feel like I am so behind and don't know how to fit everything in. I'm already waking up early and not watching TV at night–what to do?! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog; I hope you catch up on your rest this weekend!

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  8. Wow! you got quite a bit of reaction to this one. So maybe I better not tell you to always have a good pair of running shoes on when you go grocery shoipping. My solutions to these problems are simple. Just catch the child who has run from you, load him or her into the grocery cart and stack your groceries on the child.
    You might just finish your shopping before they can get out. If this doesn't work, ask your mother or sister to watch them for you.

    Love, as always
    Dad

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