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Free Parenting Resources–part two–online help

I often receive phone calls and emails from parents who want my services, but for a variety of reasons, can’t come in.  A mom wrote recently asking if I knew of a way she could receive parent coaching for free.  Unfortunately, my favorite parenting resource in Austin (Family Connections) has recently shut down, so I didn’t really have a referral for her.  Instead, I offered to create a list of books and other resources that offer information and guidance that I think is reliably good.

So, this is the second of a couple of posts that are intended to be a resource for anyone who would like to learn & focus on their parenting.  (Read #1 here.)  Future posts will include information on where/how to start if you are looking for help for/about your child’s behaviors–in any town.  Stay tuned!

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I read a few parenting blogs, some funny, some subjective, some informative.  Here are two of my favorites of the informative ones:

On Parenting: “Parenting may be an art, but there’s a lot of science behind raising healthy, thriving children. Contributing Editor Nancy Shute explores the latest discoveries and developments affecting children’s health and parenting.”

Mamas On Call: “A place where two professional mamas–one a pediatrician, one a family therapist–serve up timely, reliable parenting advice with humor and compassion.”

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Sites on special topics/needs:

A blog written by a therapist who specializes in adoption is here.

A website with TONS of information on sensory processing problems & solutions.

Kirk Martin writes a regular free parenting newsletter (and sells CDs and summer camp programs).  I really enjoy his newsletter, it’s often filled with helpful tips, and he’s a good writer who makes complex concepts easier to understand.  You can sign up for his newsletter here.

Two short videos I made (you have to pay, but they are only $2 each) are online: one on shy children, and one on talking with kids about sex.

I have a Pinterest board with a collection of (mostly my own) articles on SWParents.org.

Another Pinterest board with relevant research abstracts (parenting topics, of course.)

So how about you?  What are your favorites?

Update: The folks at this website suggested my readers might be interested in their information about grants for single mothers.

Free Parenting Resources, part One–BOOKS!

I often receive phone calls and emails from parents who want my services, but for a variety of reasons, can’t come in.  A mom wrote recently asking if I knew of a way she could receive parent coaching for free.  Unfortunately, my favorite parenting resource in Austin (Family Connections) has recently shut down, so I didn’t really have a referral for her.  Instead, I offered to create a list of books and other resources that offer information and guidance that I think is reliably good.  So, this is the first of a couple of posts that are intended to be a resource for anyone who would like to learn & focus on their parenting–and today’s can all be free, if you visit your local library.  Future posts will include information on where/how to start if you are looking for help for/about your child’s behaviors–in any town.  Stay tuned!

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If you want to learn for free, your local public library is the best place to start.  Parenting books are GREAT sources of information, you need only invest your time.  These links below will take you to the books on Amazon, but you can also search for them on your public libary’s online catalog.  Click here for the Austin Public Library Online Catalog.

So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books on parenting:

(Updated to include my now favorite parenting book:)  Dan Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson’s “The Whole Brain Child“.  This books is GREAT!  My first recommendation to any parent who wants to understand and better respond to unwanted behavior.

For improving relationships between siblings: Faber/Mazlish’s “Siblings without Rivalry.”

For improving your communication with your children: Faber/Mazlish’s “How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk

Alan Kazdin’s “Parenting the Defiant Child.”  My favorite part of this book is the first 65 pages–he dispels major myths about parenting, discipline, and behavior.  Plus, it’s easy to read and evidenced-based!  The second part of the book is about creating a behavior modification plan (ie, sticker chart.)  Sticker charts aren’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking about using one, this is the very best place to educate yourself on how to do one the right way!  I’ve written about this book before, click here to read.

For a general, positive, refreshing take on the overall parenting relationship: “Playful Parenting.”  We parents can’t use a playful response to every problem or challenge, but I often advise parents to start with playfulness.  It’s a great tool for keeping things positive, and for avoiding putting your own upset into the situation (which pretty much always makes a situation worse, you know?)

For detailed guidelines on determining whether your child’s behaviors are “normal” and age-appropriate, the Gesell Series–one for each age.  I really love these books–they are small and easy to read and very validating.  Sometimes things that look like problems to adults are just typical child development.  (“Oh, that’s just the way a 3 year old IS!.)

For classic, solid, reliable, nurturing and positive information about child development: anything by T. Berry Brazelton.  I especially like his “Touchpoints” series.

For guidance about childhood sexual development and how to talk to your kids about sex (make sure you visit my other blog on this topic, btw): I like Deborah Haffner’s book” “From Diapers to Dating.”

If you suspect that your child may have sensory integration issues: “The Out of Sync Child.”

For beginning conversations with your child about sexual development, I recommend these books.     (These recommendations are from my workshop called “Beyond Birds and Bees.” )

BTW, please share YOUR favorite parenting books with me in the comments!  It’s a great way for me to add to my list, too!

Stay tuned for the next posts, including online resources and information about finding/choosing & working with a therapist.

 

Note: the book links are affiliate links, which means that if you click & buy, I get a tiny little percentage of the purchase price, at no additional cost to you.  So, if you do, thanks!

Cigarette candy, oh no!

From Mamas on Call, a parenting blog I like to read:

RJ Reynolds has started test-marketing a nicotine product called “Orbs” that looks like & is packaged like Tic Tacs.

Orbs, pellets made of finely ground tobacco with mint or cinnamon flavoring, are packed with nicotine and can poison children and lure young people to start using tobacco. The pellets dissolve in the mouth, like breath mints. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and to make it look like a piece of candy is recklessly playing with the health of children,” the lead researcher,  Gregory N Connolly, a professor with the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an interview.”

The researchers also say that just 10 of those candies are enough to KILL an infant.

While this is a little off-topic from my usual, I found the product offensive enough to warrant a blog post.  Please follow this link to Mamas on Call for all the details.

Update: Another good blog post on this topic can be found here/”On Parenting.”  Apparently this one is going to make the rounds… as it should.

My Sock Drawer, circa 2001

We remodeled our kitchen (and then some) in 2001.  It was a big job, and like all remodeling projects, suffered from project creep.  There’s a great picture of me doing dishes at some point during the process.  You can see me standing at the kitchen sink with my back to the camera, washing.  It looks pretty normal, until you look above my head where the ceiling should be, and instead see the sky, and a tree, and clouds.  My kitchen had no roof.  No roof.  No.  Roof.   While that part of the project was pretty brief, all things considered, the refrigerator lived in the living room for a long time, as did our entire collection of dishes, pots, pans, etc.  Suffice to say, my house–my life–was a bit chaotic for a while.

So, you can imagine the context as I continue my story to tell you that one day during this chaos, I opened up my sock drawer and really looked at it for a moment.  It was clean.  It was organized.  It had dividers.  Things were lined up.  Perfectly.  Every sock had its mate.  It was color-coded.  Alphabetized, even.*  It would have made Martha Stewart cry jealous tears of joy.  It was the universal antithesis of chaos.

It was, one woman’s attempt to maintain some sense of control over some aspect of her (physical) home life.

Anyway, this is a story I tell sometimes to approximately illustrate the therapy concept called “displacement.”  As in: “I really wanted to have a normal home that had a roof and a fridge in the kitchen where it belonged, but since I couldn’t have that, I settled for the durn-best-organized sock drawer on the planet.”

Sometimes, we fight for control over little things, even when it’s not really what we want.  As parents, it’s good to remember this, and recognize it when we (or our kids) do it.

*  No, not really alphabetized.

**  Addendum: my kitchen did finally get finished, and my sock drawer soon went back to its normal–significantly lesser–level of organization.  Thanks for asking.  ;^)

Recommended Books about Death or Grief & Loss

Always & Forever, by Alan Durant, is reviewed in detail here. It is one of my favorite books about grief for kids. Highly recommended.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn isn’t about grief or loss, but it is a book about how hard it is to separate or say goodbye. That’s certainly a related theme when we are talking about grief with children. The main character is a raccoon who is about to start school. He’s sad and worried about leaving his mother–who teaches him a sweet, nurturing trick for self-soothing. I’ve known families that adopted the trick for themselves after reading the book. Very sweet.

The Bug Cemetery, by Frances Hill is about a group of entrepreneurial kids who stumble upon the ‘business’ of funerals.  The brother and sister pair offer “bug funerals,” complete with fake mourners, eulogies, and tombstones  for 10 cents.  But, when their friend’s pet cat is killed, they realize that “Funerals aren’t any fun when they’re for someone you love.”  The illustrator does a great job of conveying sadness, even anguish, in the children’s faces during the real funeral.

I like that this book illustrates that we can pretend to have a feeling, but that it isn’t the same as the real feeling at all.  Very young children often “pretend” to mourn a relative who died before they were born–and that’s normal–but I like having a tool to show the difference.  I also like the way the book shows kids ways that they can cope with death and loss–the children in the book honor their feelings and also honor the dead.

When Dinosaurs Die, by Laura Krasny Brown, is similar to their many other “When Dinosaurs…” books.  It is an informative, non-fiction book on a difficult topic, somewhat cartoonish in style, that explains facts & feelings to kids, and answers their typical questions.  The lack of a narrative makes it a little less interesting to children as a bedtime story, but perhaps makes it an even better choice for an older child who can read and would benefit from having a source of information under his control.

Of course there are many more, but consider this a beginning list.  Please make suggestions about other books to include in this list in the comments section.

Why did you do that?

Ever ask your kid why they did some (dumb, unwanted, whatever) thing?  Yeah, me too.  But!  When I’m running my parenting “A” game, I try not to–for at least 2 good reasons. 

The first reason is that an influential teacher early in my career always said that the only answer to “Why did you do that?”  was something along the lines of “…because I’m a jerk.”  (except when he said it, he usually used a more colorful word than jerk!)  Strong language aside, it’s a very good point–“Why did you do that?” is often a rhetorical question, because what a parent means to say is more along the lines of “I wish you hadn’t done that.”  Better to actually say what we really mean, you know?  It makes for better communication, more honesty, better relationships, etc…

I found a second reason not to say “Why…” a few months ago while listening to the Total Transformation CDs.  The TT folks sent me a review copy of their program, and though I haven’t finished listening to all of it, I have already found lots of good stuff.  One such item was the author (James Lehman) saying that when we ask our kids “Why” they did something, we are in effect teaching them to make excuses for their behavior.  His point is, we’re plainly saying that if they can just give us a good enough “why” answer, then we will understand/forgive/overlook their behavior.  So of course they are going to try to come up with a reason (ie, make an excuse) EVERY time they get in trouble–we taught them how!   I realize that every once in a while there really is a situation where the reasons justify the actions, but that’s much more rare than our questioning.  And certainly with younger children, who may not even have the cognitive development to understand the concept, much less answer it–what parents instead get is a series of guesses that the child intuitively hopes will satisfy the parent (NOT real explanations!)

So, experiment for a while–try to banish “Why” questions from your parenting vocabulary for a couple of weeks, and see what happens.  Let me know how it goes!

 

Turning off Comments for a While…

I hate to do it, because I LOVE hearing from real people (!) but the sp*m comments have gotten pretty overwhelming lately, so I’m going to turn off comments for the next few months.  When I have a little more time to sort through this stuff (and hopefully improve the sp*m filtering!) I’ll turn them back on. 

My apologies to any of my real, human readers, who might have liked to join in the conversation!