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Back to School Shopping!

If you’re like me you’ve waited till the last minute to do your back to school shopping. For a bit I thought Summer wouldn’t end, and then all of a sudden school is here before I have anything together. I felt guilty for about a minute and then came to peace with the face that this my life and I was going to make the most of it and have fun with my boys.

So we headed to Westfield Oakridge when the boys were treated to a little shopping spree. People always look at me like I’m crazy when I go shopping with my two boys but what can I say? They love it!  It must be a genetic thing ;)

Westfield Oakridge is one of their favorite places to shop. We get to hit up H&M, The Disney Store, Old Navy, Macy’s, Journey’s and so much more in one trip! And sometimes we end the trip with some ice cream and a movie.

Here are some their favorite looks and items from our shopping spree!

Please note: Shopping, styling, and modeling was coordinated by a 4 and a 6 year old…

Tops: Crazy 8 (SO fun!)

Tops: Crazy 8 (SO fun!)

Shirt: H&M. Shorts: Old Navy

Shirt: H&M. Shorts: Old Navy

Shirt: Old Navy. Backpack: Disney Store. Jeans: H&M

Shirt: Old Navy. Backpack: Disney Store. Jeans: H&M

Shirt: Old Navy. Backpack: Disney Store. Jeans: H&M

Shirt: Old Navy. Backpack: Disney Store. Jeans: H&M

Sweater & Jeans: H&M (Stretch Skinny jeans! SCORE!)

Sweater & Jeans: H&M (Stretch Skinny jeans! SCORE!)

Tops:  Disney Store (They loved these shirts! And they were Organic #Happy Mom) Black Slim fit jeans: Old Navy ($10)

Tops: Disney Store (They loved these shirts! And they were Organic #Happy Mom) Black Slim fit jeans: Old Navy ($10)

Sweater & Jeans: H&M (Stretch Skinny jeans! SCORE!) Back to school art kit: Disney Store

Sweater & Jeans: H&M (Stretch Skinny jeans! SCORE!) Back to school art kit: Disney Store

Shirt: H&M (Did you see $4.95? KABOOOOM!)

Shirt: H&M (Did you see $4.95? KABOOOOM!)

Sweater: H&M ($9.95...I know!)

Sweater: H&M ($9.95…I know!)

Hoodie: H&M (SO soft and easy to wear)

Hoodie: H&M (SO soft and easy to wear)

Shirt: Crazy 8. Jacket: H&M. Jeans: H&M

Shirt: Crazy 8. Jacket: H&M. Jeans: H&M

Parenting: Kind Is Not Always Nice

Editors Note:  To find out more about “Positive Discipline” make sure to check out Dr. Jane Nelson @ for more tips and resources!

A foundation of Positive Discipline is to be kind and firm at the same time. Some parents are kind, but not firm. Others are firm, but not kind. Many parents vacillate between the two—being too kind until they can’t stand their kids (who develop an entitlement attitude) and then being too firm until they can’t stand themselves (feeling like tyrants).

Opposites Attract: When One Parent Is Kind And The Other Is Firm

It is interesting to note how often two people with opposing philosophies about kindness and firmness get married. One has a tendency to be just a little too lenient. The other has a tendency to be just a little too strict. Then the lenient parent thinks he or she needs to be more lenient to make up for the mean old strict parent. The strict parent thinks he or she needs to be more strict to make up for the wishy-washy lenient parent—so they get further and further apart and fight about who is right and who is wrong. In truth they are both wrong. The trick is to be kind and firm and the same time.

Putting kind and firm together can be a challenge for parents who have a habit of going to one extreme or the other.

The Importance of “And” In Kind and Firm

One of my favorite examples of kind and firm at the same time is, “I love you, and the answer is NO.”

Other examples:

I know you don’t want to stop playing (validate feelings), AND it is time for _____

I know you would rather watch TV than do your homework (show understanding), AND homework needs to be done first.

You don’t want to brush your teeth, AND we’ll do it together. Want to race? (Redirection.)

I know you don’t want to mow the lawn, AND what was our agreement? (Kindly and quietly wait for the answer—assuming you decided together on an agreement in advance.)

You don’t want to go to bed, AND it is bedtime. Do you want one story or two stories as soon as your jammies are on? (Provide a choice?)

I know you want to keep play video games, AND your time is up. You can turn it off now, or it will be put in my closet. (A choice and then follow through by deciding what you will do.)

Upping the Amps

Sometime the energy of firmness needs to be a little stronger. It can still be respectful. Remember that kids know when you mean it and when you don’t. Notice that there is not any “piggy backing” (adding lectures of blame and shame) on these statements.

That (whining, demanding, coaxing) does not work with me. (Then leave.)

Come find me when you are ready to be respectful. (Then leave.)

Keep your mouth shut and give a “you’ve got to be kidding look.”

That behavior is unacceptable. Stop now.

Don’t bite the bait. When kids do provocative behavior, think of a hook dangling in your face. Be smart enough to avoid biting and swim in a different direction.  Or, just be still and wait for the hook to go away.

Some people think these firm statements are not positive—not nice.

Kind Is Not Always Nice

The mother bird knows instinctively when it is time to push her baby bird from the nest so it will learn to fly. If we didn’t know better we might think this is not very nice of the mother bird. If the baby bird could talk, it might be saying, “No. I don’t want to leave the nest. Don’t be so mean. That’s not fair.” However, we know the baby bird would not learn to fly if the mother bird did not provide that important push.

Kind is not always nice. It would be very unkind to allow her baby to be handicapped for life by pampering—an unkindness practiced by many parents today.

I think we all know the mistakes made in the name of firmness without kindness. In a word, it is punishment. However, many do not know the mistakes made in the name of kindness such as:

  • Pleasing
  • Rescuing
  • Over-protecting
  • Pampering—providing all “wants”
  • Micromanaging in the name of love
  • Giving too many choices
  • Making sure children never suffer

All of theses parenting methods create weakness.

You may be surprised to see, “making sure children never suffer,” as a mistake in the name of kindness. The following story of the little boy and the butterfly may help you understand how rescuing children from all suffering creates weakness.

A little boy felt sorry for a butterfly struggling to emerge from its chrysalis. He decided to help so he could save the butterfly from the struggle. So he peeled the chrysalis open for the butterfly. The little boy was so excited to watch the butterfly spread its wings and fly off into the sky. Then he was horrified as he watched the butterfly drift to the ground and die because it did not have the muscle strength to keep flying.

Like the little boy, parents too often (in the name of love) want to protect their children from struggle. They don’t realize that their children need to struggle, to deal with disappointment, to solve their own problems, so they can develop their emotional muscles and develop the skills necessary for the even bigger struggles they will encounter throughout their lives.

It is important that parents do not make children suffer, but sometimes it is most helpful to “allow” them to suffer with support.

For example, suppose a child “suffers” because she can’t have the toy she wants. Allowing her to suffer through this experience can help her develop her resiliency muscles. She learns that she can survive the ups and downs of life—leading to a sense of capability and competency. The support part is that you validate her feelings, but avoid rescuing or lecturing.

It isn’t helpful when parents engage in “piggy backing”—adding lectures, blame and shame to what the child is experiencing. “Stop crying and acting like a spoiled brat. You can’t always have what you want. Do you think I’m made of money? And besides, all I got in my Christmas stocking was nuts and an orange.”

Instead, parents can offer loving support. “I can see this is very upsetting to you. It can be very disappointing when we don’t get what we want.” Period. I say, “period,” because some parents even overdo validating feelings—going on and on in the hopes that validating feelings will take away the suffering.

Validate a child’s feelings and then allow her to recover from those feelings. “I can see you are very disappointed that you didn’t get a better grade.” Then comes the tough part—no rescuing and no lectures. Simply allow her to discover that she can get over her disappointment and figure out what might increase her chances of getting what she wants in the future.

Kindness Without Firmness Is Permissiveness

Many people who are drawn to Positive Discipline err on the side of kindness. They are against punishment, but don’t realize that firmness is necessary to avoid permissiveness. Permissiveness is not healthy for children because they are likely to decide, “Love means getting others to take care of me and give me everything I want.”

Have faith in your children that they can learn and grow from suffering—especially in a supportive environment. Understand that kind is not always nice, short term. True kindness and firmness together provide an environment where children can develop the “wings” they need to soar through life.

Attention Parents! Do you know what a “natural consequence” is?

Editors Note:  To find out more about “Positive Discipline” make sure to check out Dr. Jane Nelson @ for more tips and resources!

Click here to see the full card!

A natural consequence is anything that happens naturally, with no adult interference. When you stand in the rain, you get wet. When you don’t eat, you get hungry. When you forget your coat, you get cold. No piggy backing allowed. Adults piggy back when they lecture, scold, say, “I told you so,” or do anything that adds more blame, shame, or pain than the child might experience naturally from the experience.

Children usually feel bad or guilty when they make a mistake. Piggy backing lessens the learning that can occur from experiencing a natural consequence because the child stops processing the experience and focuses on absorbing or defending against the blame, shame, and pain. Instead of piggy backing, show empathy and understanding for what the child is experiencing: “I’ll bet it was hard to go hungry (get wet, get that bad grade, lose your bicycle).” When it seems appropriate, you could add, “I love you and have faith in you to handle this.” It can be difficult for parents to be supportive without rescuing or overprotecting, but it is one of the most encouraging things you can do to help your children develop a sense of capability. Let’s look at an example of how natural consequences work.

Billy, a first grader, forgot his lunch every day. Mother would interrupt her busy schedule to drive to school with his lunch. After learning about natural consequences, she decided that Billy might learn to remember his lunch if he experienced the natural consequence of forgetting. She first discussed this with Billy, letting him know she was confident that he could be responsible for remembering his lunch. She also told him she would no longer bring his lunch to school if he forgot it. It is very important and respectful to discuss, in advance, when you plan to change your behavior.

Her intentions were sabotaged for a while because Billy’s teacher took over and loaned him money for lunch when he forgot. It was not until Mother and Billy’s teacher got together on a plan to allow Billy to learn from the natural consequences of his choices that his behavior changed.

Billy tested the plan. The next time he forgot his lunch, he asked his teacher if he could borrow some lunch money. She said, “I’m sorry, Billy, but we agreed that you could handle your lunch problem by yourself.” Billy then phoned his mother and demanded that she bring his lunch. Mom also kindly but firmly reminded him that he could handle the problem. Billy pouted for a while, even though one of his friends gave him half a sandwich.

After that, Billy seldom forgot his lunch. When he did forget it, he managed to find someone who would share some food with him. By the time Billy reached the second grade, he added the responsibility of making his own lunch, as well as remembering to take it.

Many adults don’t have much tolerance for the whining, pouting and disappointment. Billy’s mother did not find it easy to listen to her child be demanding, and it was difficult for her to allow him to experience being upset. She noticed some guilty feelings because he was hungry, but reminded herself that forgetting his lunch was really just a small mistake, one of many Billy would make in his lifetime. If she did not follow through on her plan, he would not be learning the life skill of getting a little more organized in the morning, and the good feelings of handling a problem himself. Instead he would be learning that whenever things didn’t work out for him, he could whine or complain and get someone else to take care of his problems. Looking at it that way, Mother was able to stay calmer.

Even though natural consequences often help children learn responsibility, there are times when natural consequences are not practical:

1. When a child is in danger. Adults cannot allow a child to experience the natural consequences of playing in the street, for example.

2. When natural consequences interfere with the rights of others. Adults cannot allow the natural con- sequences of allowing a child to throw rocks at another person, for example. This is one reason why supervision is especially important with children under the age of four. The only way you can prevent potential dangerous situations for children this age is to supervise so you can rush in and prevent a dangerous occurrence.

3. When the results of children’s behavior do not seem like a problem to them and the natural consequences will adversely affect their health and well being. For example, it does not seem like a problem to some children if they don’t take a bath, don’t brush their teeth, don’t do their homework, or eat tons of junk food.

Is TV bad for Kids?

Editors Note:  To find out more about “Positive Discipline” make sure to check out Dr. Jane Nelson @ for more tips and resources!
Would it surprise you to know that two to five-year-olds watch more than 32 hours of TV a week? Six to eleven-year-olds spend more hours in school, so they watch a little less TV—about 28 hour a week. (Nielsen)

What does this mean? Is it good or bad? The debate goes on.

Of course children are learning some skills their parents never had, but they are also missing out on some skills that could be very important to them—such as personal relationship skills, delayed gratification skills, and planning for solutions that may take more than 3 minutes or even three days to accomplish.

Then there is brain research that demonstrates how the brain develops differently with excessive screen time. You can learn more about this by reading any of the many books being published on this subject. You might want to do your own research on this topic.

My guess is that you know from your own wisdom and intuition that your children may be watching too much TV, but you aren’t sure what to do about it. Or, do you avoid doing something about it for any of the followingreasons:

You don’t like to admit that it is nice to have your children so easily entertained so you can have some time to yourself.

  1. It involves such a power struggle to get the kids to stop watching TV or playing video games and get them to do something else. It is easier to just let it go.
  2. You don’t realize that screen-time is addictive.
  3. You tell yourself all the benefits of TV watching and video game playing—“Look at all the skills my child is learning.”

There was a program on Oprah where families where challenged to give up many things for a week, including TV. It was interesting to watch how difficult it was for parents, as well as their children, to give up TV. One scene was particularly difficult to watch. A five-year-old boy could hardly stand it to give up playing video games. His temper tantrums were quite dramatic. His mother shared that she was embarrassed when she realized he had been playing video games for five-hours a day and was seriously addicted. The good news was that after the whole family went through “withdrawal” symptoms, they learned to replace all the screen time with family activities that increased their family closeness and enjoyment.

If you are convinced that it would be a good idea to limit screen time, how do you start?

  1. Have a family meeting.
  2. Start with compliments—each member of the family sharing what they appreciate about every other member of the family.
  3. Using very few words, admit that you have made a mistake in allowing so much screen time.
  4. Allow all family members a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about this mistake.
  5. Remain kind and firm while insisting that screen time must be reduced.
  6. Get the whole family involved in a plan for reducing screen time. Part of the solutions should include things to do in place of screen time. It is more difficult to give something up when you don’t have plans for what else to do.
  7. Don’t expect it to be easy. If there is too much conflict during the first family meeting, table the item and try again the next day when everyone has had time calm down and think about solutions.
  8. If your kids are old enough, ask them to do research on the internet on the effects of too much screen time.

The best example I have ever seen for regulating screen time was a family that included Mom, Dad, and five boys. These wise parents knew that screen time could interfere with family time, chore time, school time, and outdoor time. They set up a system of allowing only one computer in the family room of the house. Family members had to negotiate for time on the computer. Since it was in the family room, everyone knew what was being done on the computer. When I visited their home, I was amazed by the positive atmosphere and abundant energy. It was clear that limiting screen time had given this family the opportunity to enjoy other pleasures and learning opportunities and also brought them closer together.