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’

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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)

Daddy Performs For the Neighbors; Yardwork; Happiness

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I Am The Sun

It’s Springtime, and there are all kinds of projects to be done (or more likely half-done) in our yard.  One such project involved the use of bricks as landscaping material.  As this particular project was in the “half-done” column, there were still a few bricks strewn about the yard.  My son, Stegosaurus (2.5 years old) had moved these bricks into a line, and was cautiously standing on the first brick, one foot on the brick, and one foot raised slightly above the ground.  We made eye contact, and the look on his face told me that some brilliant idea had just popped into his toddler brain.

He hopped down and said, “You stand on the brick.” I quickly obliged (This being my fourth two year old, I knew I really didn’t have much of a choice) and stood as he had, on the brick.
“Now sing.” he ordered.
“Sing?” I asked, “Okay…what would you like me to sing?”
The Planet Song.”

Stegosaurus settled in on the porch.  I cleared my throat and began.  Just as I belted out, “I am the Sun,” I noticed my neighbor walking by.  I was not too far from the sidewalk, and in plain view.  Stegosaurus (still on the porch) was obscured by a wicker rocking chair, and was also the only other person outside at the moment.  So there I was.  Balanced on a brick and singing (apparently) to myself.  I couldn’t bring myself to finish the song until the neighbor was out of sight.

What Is That!?

While we were outside, I took some time to clear off the bit of sidewalk that goes from the porch to the road.  When I had nearly finished, Little T-Rex (7) walked out and exclaimed, with both shock and excitement in his voice, “What is that!?” Pterodactyl (5) followed closely behind him and shouted, “It looks like…a walkway!”  I guess I had neglected the yard work for a little longer than I thought.

Setting An Example

I had a friend, who has recently passed, that I spent a good deal talking to about..well..everything.  I had once told him that I wanted my kids to be happy (Isn’t that what we all want?), and without missing a beat he asked me, “Well, are you setting a good example?” I had never thought of it that way.  But, just like anything else, if we want our children to be happy we need to model happiness.  We need to take care of ourselves, and we need to be aware of our emotions, habits, and thoughts, and their effect on our overall well-being.  The best way to have happy kids is to be happy ourselves.

Coercion is unnecessary (and counterproductive)

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I want to share something with you all, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  I am not trying to impress you.  I am not trying to increase my chances of being awarded ‘Parent of the Year’.  My only goal is to share something that has helped me along my parenting journey, which is this:  Coercion is unnecessary (and counterproductive)

My 2 year old son (Stegosaurus) says thank you.  When he is given something to eat, when a toy is shared with him, whenever he is feeling grateful.  Now, I have not once said to him, “Say thank you,” or, “What do you say?” So now, if you are wondering how such a small creature learns to do this without being told, I will not keep you in suspense.  Tri-Sarah-tops and I thank him when he does something for us.  We thank other people when they do something for him (unless he beats us to it) and we thank each other.  Bam.  Presto.  It really is that easy.  And the best part is that when he says it, he is not saying it because he was told to, but because he knows those words are used to express gratitude.

Ok, how about another example for the remaining skeptics.  Water.  My kids drink water when they’re thirsty.  I have actually had other parents ask me, “Hey, how do you get those kids to drink water?”  Well, when they were younger and said they were thirsty I gave them water.  Tri-Sarah-tops and I drink water when we are thirsty.  We take water with us when we go out, and lastly, we don’t push the issue.  If they ask for juice or milk we give them juice or milk.  Shazam.  No coercion needed.

Now this all may seem like small potatoes, but there are many people out there who are locked in power struggles with their kids over issues as simple and seemingly insignificant as these.  And here is the biggest problem.  Not only are coercion and force unnecessary, they are extremely damaging to any relationship, and can drive a wedge between you and your child.

Thanks for reading,

~Dadosaurus Rex

http://www.fb.com/thedadosaur

Choose Your Words Wisely

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Your children will have plenty of people in their lives telling them that they are wrong.  They will have no shortage of voices saying “You can’t,” “You’re not good enough,” “You’ll never make it.”  There will be enough people telling them to sit down, to shut up, and to give up.  To be someone they are not.  There will be no lack of negative opinions about their choices.

But if you never say, “I believe in you,” they may never hear it.
If you never say, “I’ll always love you,” they may never believe it.
If you never say, “Keep trying, I know you can do it,” they might just give up.

You can always count on someone else to break your child down, but there may never be anyone else to build them up.

The words you say to your child become the voice that they hear inside themselves for the rest of their lives.  Choose your words wisely.

Shifting My Focus Away From Perfect Parenting

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I’m call myself an unschooler.  A gentle and peaceful parent.  An empathetic parent.  And most of the time, I am.  But sometimes my actions don’t quite line up with my declared parenting style.  Honestly, there are times when my actions are diametrically opposed to my declared parenting style.  I’m selfish.  I put my own needs before the needs of my children.  I yell.  I get agitated by things that don’t matter.  I fail to see things from my child’s perspective.  My fear of imaginary things that might happen causes me to harm the relationship I have with my children.  Sometimes I worry that by the time I figure out how to be a decent parent, my children will be grown.

Since achieving parental perfection seems to be out of the question, my focus is now on three main areas.

Admitting and Apologizing

What I did was wrong.  I shouldn’t have behaved so poorly.  I’m sorry.  No reason to try to cover it up, justify it, or ignore it.  We all make mistakes, and my children appreciate my willingness to be open, genuine, and vulnerable.

Learning and Improving

I am committed to constant improvement as a parent, and nothing helps more than making mistakes and learning from them.  Its hard to feel down about being a bad dad when I look at how far I have come in such a short amount of time.

Remembering and Empathizing

My imperfections remind me that we are all human.  Remembering this helps me to be more understanding when others exhibit imperfect behavior, and to respond appropriately.

So, I can’t teach my children how to be perfect, but I can set an example in repairing relationships, using failure as a stepping stone to success, and showing empathy and compassion to broken, hurting, imperfect people.  And I think that is just as good.

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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.

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“The Elements” Coloring Pages

(UPDATE:  More element coloring pages can be found here by clicking here)

I am so excited about this!  When I was a kid I loved learning about the elements.  There’s a sort of mystery to it.  A magical world populated by strange and fantastic creatures, too small to see even with a microscope, AND THEY ARE ALL AROUND US!  So, I am really enjoying watching my own children discover the elements, atoms, and everything that goes along with them.  To aid in this process, I decided to prowl the web for element themed coloring pages.  But my search proved to be unfruitful.  Disappointed but determined, I decided to make my own.  One page for each element, and here are the first three:  Hydrogen, Helium, and Lithium.

(Along with the coloring pages, we are also reading an incredibly awesome and beautifully illustrated book called The Elements (By Theodore Gray), and putting four elements a day (one for each kid) on our giant periodic table.)

Enjoy!

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Hydrogoen Coloring PageHelium Coloring Page  Lithium Coloring Page