How to Drastically Improve Your Child’s Behavior In Public

Are you 100% satisfied with the way your child behaves in public?  Awesome.  Stop reading and go enjoy a latte.  If not, keep reading (you might still want to get that latte)

We’ve all been there.  The shame.  The embarrassment.  The Anxiety.  You just wanted to go pick up a few things at the grocery store.  In and out.  It was supposed to be simple.  But these beasts you’ve brought along with you.  They’re…They’re…What are they doing?  Why are they on the floor?  Why are they touching that?  Get back over here!  God, now they’re screaming.  STOP SCREAMING!  No we’re not getting ice cream.  No were not getting fruit snacks.  We have fruit snacks at home.  I know they’re not dinosaur fruit snacks.

It can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.  There was a time when I dreaded taking my kids anywhere in public.  I just couldn’t deal with the judgmental looks, and the shame of feeling like a bad parent.  But I have since learned a secret that has revolutionized our trips into the wide world.

It was my anxiety, tension, fear, and dread that was feeding their undesirable behavior.  We were caught in a vicious cycle.  I would be stressed before they even had a chance to do anything wrong.  They would pick up on that negative energy, get restless and irritable, and then start doing things that bothered me.  I would over-react (since I had already been stewing in my head over it) and then the problem would get even worse.  The only way to stop this cycle is to relax.

It almost sounds too simple, but it works.  And the more you do it, the easier it gets.  It can be as simple as remembering to breathe, giving yourself a pep talk before going out (and probably a few times while you are out.  and over and over in the car on the way there and back.  Positive self talk can be extremely helpful)  It also helps to be prepared, and to prepare the children.  Let them know where you are going, what will happen, what your expectations are for them, and what positive thing they can expect to get from the whole experience (Maybe some dinosaur gummy snacks?  Snacks are super important.  Next to a tense parent, low blood sugar is probably the top tantrum causer)

The kids will be far from perfect, especially the first few times.  But it will get better.  Be patient with yourself, and with the kids.  Smile, breathe, and relax.  (and when you have some time for a little self discovery, maybe you can sit down and ask yourself what about their behavior really bothers you anyway, and why)

~Dadosaurus Rex

http://www.facebook.com/thedadosaur

 

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‘Don’t Try to be Their Friend’

the-worstest

Friends care about each other.
Friends help each other
Friends hold each other accountable.
Friends respect each other.
Friends confide in each other.
Friends have fun together.
Be a friend to your children.

Blurring The Lines

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(www.facebook.com/thedadosaur)

Our society has a bizarre way of handling children.  Kids spend the bulk of their time preparing to enter this mysterious “Real World” which they are (more often than not) not allowed to participate in.  They are stuffed with facts in a vacuum, sorted by age, neat and still.

Even at home the “Adult World” and the “Children’s World” seldom meet.  Instead of learning how to cook, or learning how to fix, young children are given toys to play with.  They are told to “Go outside” or “Get out of my hair” or “Give me space.”  They are in the way.  They are an annoyance.  A hindrance.  A bother.

Humans are not meant to live this way.  They are meant to live in families that spend time together.  That work together.  That solve their problems and accomplish goals together.  Children learn from working side by side with an adult.  Someone they respect.  Someone they trust.

You want to change the world?  You want to make it a better place?  You want to solve our societies problems?  Blur the lines.  Our society will never change until we change the way we treat children.  Involve them in your work.  Involve them in your hobbies and passions.  Welcome them.  Understand that they are still growing and learning, and are going to screw things up occasionally.  That’s how they learn.  That’s how we all learn.  And don’t just bring them into your world.  Take an interest in their interests.  Learn about their passions.  Listen to them.  REALLY listen.  You might learn something.

~Dadosaurus Rex

(www.facebook.com/thedadosaur)

There’s More Than One Way To Draw A Person

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A recent piece of artwork from Pterodactyl (4)

On my first day of art class in elementary school, I died a little inside.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal in retrospect, but at the time it was soul-crushing.

I was sitting at the long wooden table with my classmates, filled with excitement.  I already enjoyed drawing, coloring, and creating, so I figured this would be my favorite class.  Our first assignment was to fold a sheet of paper in half and draw a person on it.  No other directives or instructions, just draw a person.  Great.  I got this.  I took my time, paying attention to every detail.  Face.  Clothing.  Appendages.  Hair.  Yes!  What a work of art.  I sat in awe of my creation.

For the next half of the assignment, we were told to flip our papers over, and the teacher would now show us the correct way to draw a person.  Circles.  Rectangles.  Ovals.  Measuring.  Erasing.  Re-drawing.  Erasing.  Erasing.  (for some reason I could never get those blasted erasers to work, they just left gray smudges all over my paper).  We then opened up the paper, so we could see both drawings at the same time, and the teacher explained to us why and how our first drawing was rubbish, and the second drawing was phenomenal.

What would possess a person to make a career out of crushing children’s creativity?  And how boring would this planet be if we took these people seriously?  All four of my children love drawing, and each have their own unique style (and yes their own way of drawing a person!).  They also enjoy exploring new techniques, and learning different methods.  But I couldn’t imagine telling them that there is a right and wrong way of creatively expressing themselves.

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My Kids Are Better Teachers Than I Could Ever Hope To Be

10257268_768654803153707_6684229888910505074_oChildren.  Kids.  The next generation.  Progeny.  Offspring.  The genetic mashup of you and your partner.  The little people who completely change your life, who completely change you.  Children.

I am in absolute awe of my children.  For as long as I have known them, they have been teaching me, and helping me grow as a person.  I owe them a debt that I can never repay, and I am deeply grateful to them.

As they were growing inside of their mother, locked away where I couldn’t see, they taught me that there are some things I cannot control.  When they decided to break free, and join us on the outside, they helped me to see what an amazing person my wife is; and what it is like to care for someone who offered you nothing in return.  As I changed diaper, after diaper, after diaper, after diaper, My intestinal fortitude increased dramatically, and as the urine splashed me, an unsuspecting new father, I learned to change those diapers with lighting ninja speed.  When I was waiting anxiously for the next milestone, they taught me to be patient, that life is not a contest, and that everyone learns at their own pace.

Soon they began walking, and talking.  they taught me to watch, and they taught me to listen.  I learned that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure.  I learned the number for poison control.  I learned to follow my instincts, and ignore the critics, to do what is best for my family.

And as they grew older, they showed me how to play, sing, dance, and laugh without being ashamed.  They modeled creativity, and originality.  They taught me that its okay to make a mess, and that most things come out in the wash.  I learned to love what they loved, only because they loved it.  They taught me sacrifice, and over and over they taught me unconditional love.  They showed me that I have something to live for, that I matter, and that I am needed.

Every time I hear those little voices saying, “Will you play with me,” or “Can you get me a glass of water.”  When I find a sandwich in the couch.  When I am at my wits end, I try to remember how much they have taught me, and how much they have given me, and what my life would be without them.

Oh, and they taught me to play Minecraft.

Looking back at the person I used to be, I can’t believe I have made it this far.  There is no way I could have done it without them.  Thank you kids.  Thank you.  I love you.

Want more Dadosaurus Rex? Check out my facebook page www.fb.com/thedadosaur

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Replacing Your Unfounded Parenting Fears With Empathy for Your Child

If I had to sum up what is wrong with our society in one sentence it would be this:  “Too much fear, and not enough empathy.”  This is especially true in our dealings with children.  I struggled for far to long (and still do at times) with the misguided and unfounded fears of parenting.

What if someone yells at my child?
What if he turns out to be ungrateful?
What if people think I am a bad parent?

All these concerns are not centered around the well being of my child, but my own personal fears, prejudices, and desire for comfort.

I strive now to replace these with more important questions.

What is best for my child?
How must my child be feeling in this situation?
What might she be thinking?
How would I feel if it was me?

Being empathetic toward your children not only allows you to care for and protect our societies most vulnerable individuals, but also shows your child the importance of being compassionate.  It empowers them, and helps them to realize that it is okay to have feelings and emotions, and they are not something to be afraid of, hidden, bottled up, or dismissed.  It creates a healthy environment where burdens are shared collectively, and conflicts are resolved respectfully.

Conversely, hitting, time-outs, yelling, control, bribery and artificial rewards (which in my experience are almost always rooted in fear) let children know that their feelings are unimportant and insignificant.  Children learn to keep their emotions, desires, and thoughts to themselves.  Either out of fear of being labeled a whiner (or worse), or simply because they don’t think anyone cares.

Daddy, Why Aren’t You Helping Me?

When I was a new father my wife and I lived quite far from our families.  We made a trip to our home town when our first child was about a year old.  Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were excited to see her.  So when someone reached to take her, I gave her up right away.  She grabbed onto my shirt and started to cry, but was pulled away into the arms of someone who to her was a stranger.  She looked at me, confused at first, then her eyes filled with terror as she continued to cry and reach out to me.  My family assured me that this is just what kids do, and you have to let them cry sometimes.  But she wasn’t “just crying,” She was telling me something.  She was trying to communicate.  “I’m scared, daddy,”  “I don’t know what’s going on,” “I’m not sure who these people are,” “Daddy, why aren’t you helping me?”  But her pleas fell on deaf ears.  I did not want to make waves or upset my family.  What would they think of me or say about me if I wouldn’t allow them to hold my child?  I figured it wouldn’t do much harm, so I did my best to ignore her crying.  My wife, however, did not share this sentiment.  She put our daughters needs before her own fears, and refused to ignore her desperate cries.

The Result?  I severely damaged the relationship I had been building with my daughter, and she learned that she couldn’t trust me.  She didn’t feel safe with me anymore.  For some time after if I was holding her, and something made her feel uncomfortable, she would seek out my wife, someone she knew would listen and understand.  Someone she could trust.

Even though a lot has changed since then, we still don’t live in a perfect house where it’s all daisy chains and unicorns.  We are haunted by the ghosts and scars of fear and control.  But every day we increase the love, the compassion, the respect, and the empathy, and every day we grow a little closer.

Want more Dadosaurus Rex? Check out my facebook page www.fb.com/thedadosaur

My Kids Are Better Teachers Than I Could Ever Hope To Be

10257268_768654803153707_6684229888910505074_oChildren.  Kids.  The next generation.  Progeny.  Offspring.  The genetic mashup of you and your partner.  The little people who completely change your life, who completely change you.  Children.

I am in absolute awe of my children.  For as long as I have known them, they have been teaching me, and helping me grow as a person.  I owe them a debt that I can never repay, and I am deeply grateful to them.

As they were growing inside of their mother, locked away where I couldn’t see, they taught me that there are some things I cannot control.  When they decided to break free, and join us on the outside, they helped me to see what an amazing person my wife is; and what it is like to care for someone who offered you nothing in return.  As I changed diaper, after diaper, after diaper, after diaper, My intestinal fortitude increased dramatically, and as the urine splashed me, an unsuspecting new father, I learned to change those diapers with lighting ninja speed.  When I was waiting anxiously for the next milestone, they taught me to be patient, that life is not a contest, and that everyone learns at their own pace.

Soon they began walking, and talking.  they taught me to watch, and they taught me to listen.  I learned that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure.  I learned the number for poison control.  I learned to follow my instincts, and ignore the critics, to do what is best for my family.

And as they grew older, they showed me how to play, sing, dance, and laugh without being ashamed.  They modeled creativity, and originality.  They taught me that its okay to make a mess, and that most things come out in the wash.  I learned to love what they loved, only because they loved it.  They taught me sacrifice, and over and over they taught me unconditional love.  They showed me that I have something to live for, that I matter, and that I am needed.

Every time I hear those little voices saying, “Will you play with me,” or “Can you get me a glass of water.”  When I find a sandwich in the couch.  When I am at my wits end, I try to remember how much they have taught me, and how much they have given me, and what my life would be without them.

Oh, and they taught me to play Minecraft.

Looking back at the person I used to be, I can’t believe I have made it this far.  There is no way I could have done it without them.  Thank you kids.  Thank you.  I love you.

My 4 Year Old’s Bucket List

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Here is one from the archives (March of last year).  Made me smile.

My children and I were sitting at home, looking at a raised relief map of Colorado.  My son, who is 4, asked, “Are those the Andes Mountains?” I explained to him that they were called the Rocky Mountains, and showed him on the globe where the Andes Mountains were.  “Can we Climb the Rocky Mountains?”

“Yes!  Of course we can,” I replied, “But it might be a while before we do.”

Later, we were putting together a jumbo United States puzzle.  Each state was a piece of the puzzle, and many of the states had pictures on them, showing what might be found in that state.  It was then my son informed me that he would like to go canoeing in Oregon, hug a cactus in Arizona, and visit some hay in Montana.

At 4 years old, my son is a little young to have a “Bucket List,” but I guess he is getting an early start.  It is such a pleasure to see his sense of adventure, and his eagerness to explore the world.  And who knows, maybe our next vacation will be to Arizona, and we can all hug a cactus.

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Dadosaurus Rex Facebook Page!

Ruining Socialization For The Rest Of Us

If you have homeschooled for more than a few minutes, someone has confronted you about the “Socialization” issue.  I will not bother re-hashing the same debate, because you can’t walk ten paces on the internet without running into it.

I would, however, like to point out that the more society relies on school to socialize children, the more scarce social opportunities become even for those of us who don’t.  As an unschooler, I am worried that my children may not have enough positive social experiences.  But that is not because they aren’t in school, its because so many others are.

  • Many of the young children (who would just make excellent playmates for our little ones) are locked up for the majority of the day
  • When the children are released, they are hesitant to make bonds with “outsiders” and are more comfortable playing with those who they already know.
  • Many adults are shocked (and even offended) at the sight of children during school hours.  So, instead of acknowledging our children, greeting them, and interacting with them, they recoil in fear and gasp “what the hell was that?” under their breath.
  • Adults who our children manage to get close to are not used to having wee ones taking an interest in whatever “adult task” they may be performing.  Instead of offering to show them how that tool works, they give a firm “Don’t play with that, its not a toy” and offer to turn on the television.

So, in a sense, all those people who want to know how you will socialize your kids have a legitimate concern (albeit misguided).  In a culture where the majority of the population is institutionalized from a very young age, there are not nearly so many social opportunities available.  Maybe if everyone homeschooled (or unschooled) their children, we could get back to socializing again, just like humanity did before public school arrived on the scene.

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Checkmate Dad! (Putting an end to my bias toward “Educational” activites)

Chess

There was a time when I had a clear distinction in my mind between “Educational” and “Mindless” activities.  I even had a mental scale, or rating system that I used to determined which activities would be more or less educational.

When my children would chose an educational activity (Studying the globe for example) I would be filled with joy and satisfaction, knowing that they would soon be silencing my critics with their display of awesome knowledge.  When they chose a less educational activity (watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for example)  I would be filled with anxiety, fear, and disappointment.

One place where this mental dichotomy would manifest itself is our local library.  We would walk into the children’s department, and the first thing my children would see:  The computers.  “Why?”  I would think, “Why can’t they look at books?  That is what we are here for, maybe they would actually LEARN something!  Must they spend the entire trip on the computer EVERY time we come here?”

On one of these trips my son (aged 5 at the time) stumbled upon a chess game on the library computer.  He fell in love.  For the next 3 weeks everything was chess.  He watched instructional videos to learn the names of the pieces and how they move, he played chess on the kindle and on the computer at home, and EVERY time we went to the library.  He was chess obsessed, and he was getting pretty good at it.

Had I insisted that he stay off of the Library computer, and go pick out books, he never would have had the joy of finding something that he loved.   By steering our kids toward activities we believe to be more “educational” we may just be robbing them of an opportunity to find something they are passionate about.

At any rate, our beliefs about what is “educational” are made up prejudices, and we should do everything in our power to make sure our children participate in any activity they desire, without regard to our biased opinion.

Hey!  Check out the new Dadosaurus Rex Facebook page!