Friday, March 20, 2009

Becoming Self Reliant

This topic has been on my mind for a while now. I wanted to post this about 3 weeks ago and haven't had the chance. This is a wonderful article by Elder M. Russell Ballard on becoming self-reliant. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this article:

“To become self-reliant, a person must work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. It is a basic source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity. Through work, people accomplish many good things in their lives. …

“As people become self-reliant, they are better prepared to endure adversities” and are “better able to care for others in need.”

He also talks about 5 principles that can help us prepare to become more self-reliant:
  1. Find Answers through the Spirit
  2. Appraise Our Lives and the Needs of Others
  3. Choose between Good and Evil
  4. Think Straight
  5. Seek the Lord’s Guidance
I really feel that this is such an important principle to be reminded about - right now especially with all the economic turmoil that we are experiencing. I'm interested in your feedback. What do you think about this topic?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Makeshift "Air" Hockey

Curious George came up with an activity this morning that was a lot of fun. I had gotten out some wide-mouth canning rings to show Jesse Bear how you can loop them over a bottle of water (which he loved). Curious George obviously wasn't as thrilled about that activity as J.B. so he came up with one of his own. He used one of the rings as a puck and started pushing the puck across the table with another ring. I played with him and we hit it back and forth. He loved it and I thought - who needs an air hockey set when you have a couple of canning rings? It worked great - the rings were just the right weight to fly across the table. Our table is pushed up against a wall and that helped to only have three sides where the puck could fly off. We had a great time! I'm going to have to remember this one on the next rainy day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reward System

We've found that effective discipline for children requires a lot of patience and self-control for parents. When we've been too harsh or expected too much of our kids, discipline (as a teaching tool) doesn't work - it just ends in a big battle. Other times we've focused too much on negative behavior and have forgotten to give enough encouragement and praise for the positive. During those times, discipline doesn't work either. Punishment gets overused instead of using it only for those times that it's really necessary. It’s hard to find a good balance. And since children are so different, what works for one doesn't always work for another. It's all about trial and error and finding out what works.

So with that in mind, I just want to tell you about one thing that we've discovered that has worked well for Curious George. C.G. thrives on praise, encouragement, and attention. He loves it when we point out things he's done right and he'll often do it for us if we've forgotten. He needs constant feedback and ongoing reassurances that he's doing a good job.

After reading books, talking to friends, and experiencing a lot of failed attempts, I designed a reward system that seems to be working for him. I made a chart for C.G. that has his schedule broken down into small segments - wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, jobs, activities, eat lunch, run errands, etc. I can change the schedule depending on what our plans are for that day.

C.G. is able to earn points for each block of time (they’re not equal blocks) during the day. The idea is to help him feel good about all the good things he does during the day. If he does an extra good job at something, then he gets two points or even more. If he misbehaves, he doesn’t earn any points for that segment, but we always reassure him that he can earn bonus points for other things he does throughout the day. One thing that is really important is to not take points away once they are earned. We use the points as a positive thing, not as a punishment thing.

We let C.G. spend his points on things like an extra movie, TV or computer time, a special family outing, an extra book at bedtime, an outing with Dad or Mom, etc. He knows that he can spend the points as long as he has done all his jobs for the day and his points aren’t on hold. We put his points on hold (and they can’t be used) when his misbehavior merits a time-out. After he does his time-out then the points get taken off hold again.

Sometimes he’s had some pattern misbehavior that is hard to correct with just the system I described above. For example, he was in the habit of throwing toys whenever he was angry. For that one, I decided to take away a toy whenever he threw a toy. He could earn it back with points. That way, I wasn’t taking away the points directly and that seemed to work for him. And it seemed to correct itself after only a few times of having to take away toys.

C.G. cares more about earning the points than he does about spending them. He might ask me once every couple of days what he can spend his points on, but he reminds me several times a day how good he is doing and that I need to reward his points. He loves to watch me figure out how many points he’s earned. It makes him feel so good to get a bonus point for something that I noticed that he tried hard to do. And I’ve tried harder to look for those things because I know he needs that encouragement so much.

Since we have put this system in place I feel like we notice so much more the good he is trying to do and we’ve tried to be in the habit of praising him for those good things. It obviously isn’t a perfect system and we still have our days (plenty of them). But I just wanted to share this idea in case there’s anyone else out there that’s struggling in a similar way. I’d love to hear any ideas you have to share also. Or any other reward systems you have found to work.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Toilet Box House

The boys needed some new entertainment options the other afternoon. They both had colds so I didn't want to take them outside while it was cold and windy. So in desperation we pulled out the toilet box that our new toilet came in from our bathroom remodel. With just a few cuts, we had created little windows and a little house. They loved it and enjoyed playing in it for a long time. It was an entertaining afternoon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cute Moments

Well, we all thought it was spring, but I guess we were all fooled because the snow has decided to come again. That's okay with me. I was enjoying the Spring weather, but we need the snow too. Our crocuses were just beginning to peak out and now today they are covered in snow. And we were going to plant our Winter garden tomorrow. It's probably a little early yet, but we were going to give it a try and see what happens. I guess we might have to wait another week or two.

The boys were so cute today. Curious George was helping me with the vacuuming. He loves to vacuum the house for me. Afterward he always comes and grabs my arm and says, "Look at your nice clean house, Mommy!" Then of course I have to ooh and aah at it. Really, it's not much cleaner than the way it was before he vacuumed it, but he likes to help so I let him. Today I looked up from washing the dishes and Jesse Bear was right next to his brother with one of those push-along luggage on wheels. He was pushing it just the way C was pushing the vacuum. It made me smile. Then later C went to get some blocks and J followed him and got another set. They both sat at the table with their individual sets of blocks playing together. What fun to have two little brothers that can play together!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why we Support Proposition 8

I appreciate the comments on the last post. The comments helped me understand even better that this is an issue that people feel strongly about on both sides because both sides feel like their rights are being infringed upon. Here are a few documents and links that I hope may be helpful in understanding why we believe in defending proposition 8:
  • The Family: A Proclamation to the World - this document defines what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe marriage is. It also talks about why we believe that families are so important and the God-given laws associated with marriage and families.
  • The Divine Institution of Marriage - This is a document produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to explain its reasons for defending marriage between a man and a woman as an issue of moral imperative.
  • Other Links - These links are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's Newsroom that explain the Church's position on Same-Sex Marriage and Proposition 8.