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Renee Martinez
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Guest post by Renee Martinez My just-turned 4 year-old wants so badly to be a big boy. He does everything (or at least wants to) that his three older brothers can do. When he interacts with his friends he seems older and can even get a little snippy with his mouth, giving me (or his friends) an attitude that an older child might display. Likewise, his interests seem a little older. He skimmed through the baby shows like Max and Ruby into Spongebob. I tried to limit what he watched but it’s hard when there’s older siblings! He loves music and for the longest time kept asking to hear Fireburning by Sean Kingston (my older boys influence) or Rock the Casbah by The Clash (my influence). Sometimes it almost seems like he had hit the ground running just so he could keep up! He is already learning how to assert himself and piping up to voice his opinions amongst a bunch of older boys, something a boy without any older siblings might never need to worry about at this age. But at the same time, he adores his older brothers. They are his instant play mates, guardians, and cuddles. So I suppose raising one son and raising many sons both pose their unique challenges - neither is easier than the other. Having four children, I always wonder about birth order. Are we satisfying their emotional needs? Would my boys be different people if they were in a different order? If they were only-child’s? I guess I worry that kids seem to know more or be exposed to more at a young age than we did (or it just seems that way?)- and if you have more than 1 child, the younger ones are likely to do more or know more than your older kids did when they were young. I’m not sure how much if this you can really prevent. Maybe just being aware of it and attempting to preserve the littleness will help. Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2011 at Lip-Sticking
Guest Post by Renee Martinez Sometimes I grow tired of my children’s commands. “Get me some water!” (or replace “water” with whatever - food, play dates, superhero powers). It kind of makes me feel unappreciated, and quite frankly, like some kind of a minion. How about when they tell you, "I'm bored!" after you just spent time playing with them? I realize they’re little and don’t understand how what they say affects me (or anyone else), but still, it’s frustrating! I could choose to ignore their tone and respond like a robot to their whims just to keep the peace, but what would that teach them and how would it make me feel? Instead, I choose to teach them respect. To respect others feelings, to respect their bodies, their families, the earth, and their dreams. Oftentimes parents seem to let things go, “they’re little, they don’t understand.” It’s never to early to teach respect. As a woman, I expect my boys to respect women - starting with me. I demonstrate how healthy relationships should be via my relationship with my husband and my kids. If we never teach them, how will they learn? I don’t think it’s too much to expect respect from your kids. I want them to understand people communicate in many ways. Even little gestures have meanings, and saying things like “please” and “thank you”, and looking at the person in the eye when you’re speaking to them does make a difference. I want them to learn that you should be appreciative and to know how to express that through daily interactions. And when I say “please” and “thank you” to them, I want them to know that these are the little gestures I use to show my respect for them in return. I expect my children will rescpet their peers and not bully. The next time your son insists, “get me an apple!” you can ask him to ask the right way. Tell him you would like him to speak nice to you like you speak to him. The correct way to ask starts with the word can and ends with the word please. I’ve been doing this with my kids since they could speak. It works. And I’m always proud of my boys when they interact with other people. Furthermore, whenever they ask me to get something that they could easily get on their own, I nicely remind them that they are perfectly capable of getting that napkin or spoon that they so desire. So go for it and help your dear old mom out a little! They almost always agree and get it on their own. These lessons not only teach your son respect, but they help build his confidence too as he learns what makes people respond positively. Of course, it also makes the parent feel less taken for granted, which is always a marvelous thing. Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2011 at Lip-Sticking
Guest Post by Renee Martinez Part of being a parent, (possibly one of the hardest parts), is knowing when to let go and letting your child make their own mistakes and asserting their own independence. Striking that perfect balance of providing guidance while stepping back so he can confidently learn how to make good choices can be so difficult - no matter how old my child is (especially if he's a little shy). The term “helicopter parent” makes me cringe but I do understand the slippery slope. So how do I say “no” to that slippery slope? Repeat after me: We all have to let go some time. Here are the top ten things I do to help my (school-age) sons develop their independence (and to keep myself in check): 10) Don’t just say “no”, explain why plainly, and simply. Don’t lecture him. Speak to him as an adult and communicate why you said “no” so he understands the reasons behind this decision. There is nothing more annoying than being given a “no”, and then being talked to/treated like a baby. Yes, he may still moan and whine “it’s not fair~” but he will know that the reasons why it was a no-go. In addition, when he needs to make a decision of his own, he can use this thought process to help weigh out his options. 9) Take him grocery shopping. If he can read, give him a list of things and let him lead the way (but feel free to help, if needed, because I know you want to get out of that store eventually). If he can’t yet read, helping you find items can be a great reading exercise. A trip to a grocery store can be a cooperative treasure-hunting adventure. 8) Chores! (Parents, please contain your excitement). Set up a chore chart. Don’t punish them when they don’t do their chores, but don’t reward them either. Set up a system where they receive a token (stickers, buttons, etc) for each chore they do, and at the end of the day, see how many tokens they have earned and if they get a privilege. For example, if they do their chores that day, they may stay up a little later and watch an extra 15 minutes of T.V. If they don’t do their chores, then they miss out on that privilege. Another fun thing to do is to set short-term goals AND long-term goals – e.g. if they collect 15 tokens, they may earn doing a special activity with a parent, say going bowling or a movie or a small toy. The key is to make it a little bit challenging so the rewards are still special, but also achievable so they don’t lose interest (note: for a long-term goal, maybe something they would be able to achieve at the end of the week, if they did their chores everyday). Another key is to encourage them to make the ‘right decision’ and try not to pressure or chastize them for not doing these chores – the point of the chart is that they get to make the decisions, not you. The way to get your kid excited about this system, is to involve them in the process of deciding what chores go on the chart, and what privileges/rewards can be earned. Modify this system to better suit your family and your son’s personality, just don’t forget the key points and, very importantly, stick to it. Doing this with a wishy-washy attitude will only result in a system without credibility – and therefore, a failed system. 7) If your son asks for a pet (and if you are o.k. with having one), let him earn this privilege. Tell him he needs to prove himself to be responsible and capable of taking care of another living thing. For example, if he can do all his chores for a span of time (e.g. 1 month) without being reminded all the time, and with a good attitude, then he can prove that he will feed/clean his new pet. Another idea is, if you already have a pet, for him to feed/care for that pet for a while. 6) Let him have a space of his own. This can be his bedroom, a crafts room, a corner of a room, any space that is his, and his only. He can decorate it any way he likes, and would be responsible for keeping it clean. Encourage him to use this space for whatever he wishes. Amidst school, after-school activities, play-dates, sports, lessons, siblings etc. he might enjoy a space where he can wind down and enjoy some alone time. 5) Encourage him to explore hobbies that might interest him. What kind of books does he like? Maybe he can start a collection? Does he like crafts such as painting or building? Does he like to write? The possibilities are endless – boys are sometimes boxed only into activities related to sports and competition, so it can be fun to explore some less competitive hobbies. And although it is important for you to show your interest and support, don’t forget that it is his hobby, e.g. if he would like to add something to his collection, try to let him earn it. 4) Pocket money should be earned, and spent on whatever he chooses (with some ground rules, of course). With younger children, you can always limit their purchase options to a store (or a few stores) – for example: “You may spend your money on anything in this hobbies/sports cards/toys/etc. store” 3) Help your son do charity work or community service. Do some research with your son to find a charity that he is interested in and learn how he can help. My oldest loves hockey for example, so we’ve looked at volunteering for an organization that teaches hockey to underprivileged kids. This can be as simple as doing research and making a poster for the cause, to raising money, or actively participating.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2011 at Lip-Sticking
Guest Post by Renee Martinez Traveling with my four boys, ranging between the ages of 4 to 10, require some coordination. I take family trips because I want the entire family to have fun and to have an opportunity to really enjoy each other’s company, so it’s important to me we’re not bogged down by stress (which can really creep up on you). In order to make a family trip go smoothly it’s essential for me to plan ahead and take some necessary steps to organize. There are a few things I always do. They are not hard to do, yet they certainly make my life easier and my travels less stressful. 1. Get the boys involved with helping out. Have them create a pile of items they wish to bring for entertainment such as books, music or movies. You might want to limit each child a certain number of items, so you don’t end up hauling an entire toy store with you. Limiting the number of items will also get your child to really think about whether they would actually play with it, and if there is another item that they know they would enjoy for a longer time. 2. Assign a travel bag for each child (that they can be responsible for). For my family, children age 3 and up can help with at least a small bag. 3. I pack in advance enough, but not too much for the days we will be away. One bag per child helps me to stay in control and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Also, don't forget to pack in a way that's easy to put away when we return. I use a lot of little bags that I can easily use for laundry when I get home or dirty shoes when we return. 4. Always inquire about laundry services. If readily available, plan to take advantage. This also helps me stay in control becausee I don’t have to over-pack. Also, I always wash everything prior to returning home so when I walk in my door, I have one less thing to do. My only chore is to put things away, which frankly is enough for me. Nothing says “welcome home” like a clean (and empty) laundry room! 5. Food. I always pack food and more importantly, plan what food will travel well, yet still be healthy. That’s a tall order as convenience foods are high in sugar (which are not only bad, but will get the kids rowdy) but on a trip with kids, carrots aren’t that much fun. It might not be a bad idea to pack a cooler filled with yummy dips like hummus and peanut butter to jazz up the carrots and apple slices. Fruit is also nature’s to-go food. I normally go for less messy foods like apples, pears, bananas, or fruit you can pop in your mouth - like grapes, blueberries, etc. Low blood sugar makes people cranky, and so does being bloated from processed foods and sugars - so keeping them well-fed is a great way to fend off extra stress. So what does your family do to ensure smooth traveling during family vacations? Do you ever go on vacations with one parent and one child or is it always the entire family? Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to business phone service providers. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including voip business phones to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading Business Directory, (Photo Credit: Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2011 at Lip-Sticking
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Feb 21, 2011