Monday, September 14, 2015

Cooking Without an Oven

I just published a new Hub on HubPages called How to Cook Without an Oven for people like me who have small kitchens and no oven or stove.  I learned that I can cook all kinds of easy meals in my electric skillet and crock pot. I make chili, pizza, cornbread, stir-fry, ramen noodles and more. I have added a hot plate burner, toaster oven, waffle iron and microwave but still use these two tools most often for meals.

I found that baking in the toaster oven doesn't work too well.  I tried making some cupcakes in a muffin tin that just didn't cook all the way through. I prefer to do my baking in the electric skillet because it cooks more evenly. Biscuits and cornbread cooks well in it without leaving raw spots. I can even bake a cake in it if I line the bottom with foil first, this makes getting it out of the pan a lot easier.

I will be posting more easy cooking without an oven recipes in the future. I think that most parents would like something that's easy to make and doesn't take a long time to cook. For casseroles and meat, if you put them in the slow cooker and set it on low it will cook while you are at work and be done by the time you come home. It makes a better alternative to take-out meals, it's inexpensive and can be prepped the night before. Then in the morning just set it and forget it.

YouTube has a lot of instructional videos listed under Crock Pot Recipes if you don't cook much in yours but would like to. Stay tuned for more recipes and parenting/lifestyle posts.

Leave me a comment  below, I'd love to hear from you. You can share recipes or suggestions.

Implementing Positive Discipline Methods

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline is a set of guidelines and techniques to use as an alternative to spanking and punitive punishments.When your little one starts misbehaving or acting out, you can use one of these tools instead of spanking them. If you're used to giving multiple warnings, counting 1-2-3 or nagging them until they comply, this may be a little tough to follow at first.

Positive Discipline is one of the 8 Tenents of Attachment Parenting. Disciplining or teaching your child what you expect from them through house rules, responsibility by letting them help you with chores and tasks, fostering independence, respectfulness through modeling proper behavior and social skills through play and family bonding. Instead of constantly telling them, "don't do this-don't do that", you're teaching them what you want them to do by example.

When I first read about attachment parenting on Dr. William Sear's website "Ask Dr. Sears," I though, "wow, this really makes a lot of sense." Dr. Sears promotes extended breastfeeding, safe co-sleeping and wearing your baby in a sling. All of this appealed to me as I was getting ready to deliver my son. I liked the idea of continuing breastfeeding  and had planned to until the age of 2 yrs, which is what the World Health Organization now recommends. Unfortunately, I couldn't continue because my son decided to self-wean at a year old.

To be good at positive discipline, you need to understand a little about child behavior and development. Why your child is behaving in an undesirable manner. As parents, we forget that our kids have only been on this earth for 2-3-or 4 yrs and aren't miniature adults. They are not born knowing how to behave in social situations and when they bite another child, or throw a tantrum in the grocery store, you may be tempted to never take them out in public again.

The biggest factor here in child behavior is imitation. Children imitate what they see and hear. Don't believe it? Listen to them sometimes and you'll be shocked to hear your words coming out of their mouths. If you think your kids don't listen you're wrong. They listen but choose to ignore. If your child has started yelling and being loud, being disrespectful, not sharing toys or fighting with playmates and this was previously not an issue- take a look at your own behavior over the past few weeks or months. Have you started yelling at them because they don't listen? Get angry driving in traffic and make references to the other drivers with your kids in the car?  Is it really misbehavior, or are they modeling your own behavior back to you? This is a good question.

From your previous discipline attempts, is it easier to get your kids compliance by asking them to help you instead of insisting they do this or that? The old saying, "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar" is still true. If you ask someone politely to do something, it is usually more effective than yelling. I have found it's easier to get my son to pick up his toys if I start and ask him for his help picking up the toys. He'll say, "Sure" and starts picking up his toys. If I had sais, "Aiden I need you to pick up your toys and put them away" and then left the room or shouted it from the kitchen, I would most likely be ignored.

I have made the decision not to spank my son anymore. Even though I only did it for a short time, I can see that it did not help him to behave better.  It just made him more defiant and disrespectful towards me. I now have to undo the damage I have done  and try to repair our parent-child bond. It means I will have to get a little creative sometimes when he doesn't want to do something I ask him. We have already started by using house rules, giving him responsibility with chores, giving choices when possible and stating expectations and limits ahead of time. This article I read on suggests that spanking may affect kid's brains and their ability to develop self-control later on.

I got this book from amazon that I have started reading called Positive Discipline A-Z 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems by Jane Nelson. I had seen her in an interview on a talk show and, at first, though it was all a bunch of baloney. I couldn't see how you could raise kids without punishing them in some way.  She talked about not saying "no" and that time-outs were negative consequences and she disagreed with punishments. After I starting reading the book and discovered that a lot of what she says makes sense. When your child misbehaves, instead of getting mad and doling out consequences, try and find out what is the driving force behind the behavior. If you eliminate the cause, often the behavior will go away on its own. Children seldom do things for no reason at all, although it may seem like it sometimes. If they bite or hit another child during play dates, what was going on just before the incident? Were they fighting over a toy or object? Maybe they just weren't getting along. Sometimes kids just don't want to share favorite toys and that's OK. Tell them you'll put up their favorite things when company comes over. they can pick and choose which toys to share and which ones to keep out.

Establish a Routine and House Rules

Our routine is pretty simple. Aiden attends preschool during the week from 8 am to 11 am. We live with two of his older nephews (Aiden has 3 adult siblings with children) who are 5 and 9 who also go to school with him. So mornings go pretty easy. The troubles come after school. We implemented the house rules to keep from nagging the kids about jumping on the furniture, fighting over toys and taking others property without asking. We have consequences for breaking the rules, but try to find solutions first and use consequences as a last resort. Although I like the idea of not having to use punishments, I reserve them for those times when he decides to test the boundaries. If he is going to be defiant and say, "No, I won't" and explaining the reason doesn't work, then I have to back it up with something.

Set Clear Expectations
It is a theory that if you expect your children to obey in certain circumstances that they will. It is not always true, but if you set boundaries and tell them what is expected early on, you may have better success. One thing I have found works pretty well is to explain what you want them to do just before an outing. If we are going to the store, I'll tell Aiden that I expect him to stay in the cart, use his indoor voice, and help me find items that we need. If he is successful and we get through our shopping without problems, he can pick out a snack for everyone when we are done. Engaging them in the process helps a lot too. Ask them to help you find the apples, or other item. This is another form of re-direction, it moves their train of thought to something else. Aiden loves to help, so this is a good tactic for him. If he doesn't meet expectations such as throwing a tantrum, screaming or won't stay in the cart then I can choose to leave the store and tell him that we can try again tomorrow.

Give Choices 

Giving choices is helpful with child behavior problems because it empowers kids when everything else around them is out of their control. I have seen this work with my son who constantly begs me for treats or more juice, soda or ? I gave him a snack, as is our morning routine around 10 am. He wanted more graham crackers and decided to throw a tantrum when I said no. He would throw himself on the floor and start kicking his legs on the floor or on the furniture. As I sat there trying to think of a consequence, I decided to let him choose. I told him he could have a boiled egg or a pickle slice but no more graham crackers because we needed them for snack time after school. He didn't like that idea and said no. I told him, "Okay, you can have another handful of graham crackers now, but that means later when the other kids are having their snack, he won't get a snack. His response was, " I want the pickle." I explained why and gave him a limited choice and it worked. Otherwise, it would have turned into a power struggle and ended with him in his room for time-out and lectures about his behavior.

This is all still new to me and I am learning as I go. I will try to use more techniques from the book and see how they work. I am happy with my decision not to spank anymore, I do still use consequences but will try to use them less or only when necessary.

I will do a follow up with the book when I have finished it and write a review and post it. If you'd like to read the book, check it out, it's available on Amazon for around $12 I think.

I would like to know what other parents think and how you discipline your kids. What works for you and what doesn't. Please leave a comment and tell me how you have had success in your parenting journey.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Disciplining Your Preschooler: What Method is Best?

What Method of Child Discipline Should You Use with a Preschooler?

What method of child discipline do you use in your home? As parents, we want to teach our children to be respectful, charitable and responsible members of society. How do you teach your children the proper way to behave and interact with others? I have been thinking about this issue a lot lately as Aiden has gotten older and his behavior has changed from the sweet little boy he was when he was two. It has made me re-evaluate my own ideas on parenting and how I am going to raise him to be a responsible, respectful adult.

To Spank, or not....

Child discipline is a topic that a lot of people are very opinionated about. Some spank, some some don't and others are unsure what to do. Many of us came from parents who spanked us, and we turned out okay, right? Yes, but in this day and age, it may not be the best way to discipline children. We have seen a lot of evidence that child abuse is a very real issue and teaching children that violence is not the answer when we smack their behinds it's a contradiction, don't you think?  How can you say to your child, "I'm going to spank you to teach you not to hit your little sister." What are they going to learn from that? How much of a child's behavior is naughtiness, and how much is simply his developmental stages?

The Old Ways

We spanked our other children we they were little, but I always hated it and felt like a failure as a parent. When Aiden came along, I decided I would do things differently with him. I breastfed him for almost a year ( something I wasn't able to do with his siblings) , wore him in a sling and we co-sleep even now.

He has been with me since he was a tiny baby. I would say my parental bond with him is pretty strong, but I think that mistakes I've made through thoughtlessness have weakened that bond a little. I have to admit that at times I have yelled at him and spanked him when frustrated with his unruly behavior. Which is common for parents, we hit that wall where you just can't take it anymore and they have pushed the limits as far as they can go.

I recently read a post by a father about why he stopped spanking his son, and I can identify with him completely. If you'd like to read the post, it is on the Intoxicated on Life blog and is very educational for those who might be interested. What hit home with me was, the fact that when we "lose it" with our kids, we become someone that even we don't like. An angry, yelling, red-faced person who tells them they're bad for doing this and swats them for every small infraction because that's what we think we're supposed to do to have well-behaved children.

Trade places with that child for a moment and imagine someone you love ( your parent or a spouse even) behaving that way towards you. How would you react? Would you love and respect that person and understand that they're trying to teach you to behave better, or would you just obey out of fear of what might happen next? I don't want to be feared as a parent. I want my child to obey because he knows it is the right thing to do because I took the time to teach him proper behavior.

Choosing Not to Spank

Choosing not to spank your child is not the same thing as being permissive. Not spanking does not mean no discipline at all. The word discipline means "to teach" so in promoting discipline in a positive way, you're teaching your child better behavior by modeling good behavior yourself. When you make the choice not to spank you will have all kinds of people telling you you're going to spoil them and have a little brat. But there is evidence to support the fact that when you treat children with respect and spend time with them creating that family bond, that as a result you will get respect back and better behavior because your child is happy.

Positive Discipline Methods

I used positive discipline techniques with my son when he was little and it worked like a charm. Until he was about 3 yrs. old and his behavior became more challenging. I was told by other people to just spank his butt and be done with it. I did spank him a few times but it didn't change his behavior, in fact, it made the problem worse. When he turned 4 he started yelling all the time, repeating me and others, and had a hard time listening or paying attention when I talked to him. He even fought me on time-outs, I would have to chase him and hold him in the chair for him to stay put. Now he bites other kids, hits and says mean things like " I hate you, you're stupid."

It was somewhat easy for me to look at positive discipline techniques like time-outs, natural &logical consequences and rewards charts as good alternatives to spanking kids. But was this the best method? This is already a long post, so I will continue this in the next post.