Childrem

What makes a great mom?

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Happy Mother’s Day

What is a great mother? People have different definitions of a great mom. My definition changed when I became a mother. Some moms make everything pretty for their kids. Some are amazing PTA moms and are always the class mom or maybe you see yourself as an average mom. I can assure you, there is no such thing. There are shitty moms but never average. In fact, if you are reading this, you are definitely not an average mom. How do I know that? Because you wouldn’t be reading about moms if you were average.
So I will tell you my version of an exceptional Mommy. The person that always puts their children before themselves. A person who even when it doesn’t feel good to do the right thing, does it. No need for accolades (although if we get some, that is much appreciated) because they do it when no one is looking. They fight tirelessly and fearlessly for their children and know when to let go and teach their babies how to fight for themselves. So if you make birthday presents beautiful or are the PTA mom that’s just the cherry on top. Unconditional love is the gift of the mother. Although we are not perfect and may not always do the exact right thing, we are Mother’s. We are warriors for our babies. So this Mother’s Day let me salute all of you for your amazing work for your kids. Thank you for putting in the time and energy even when it feels like your kiddies don’t deserve it. Enjoy being taken care of on this honorary day.


Happy parenting.
 Elise

Where does the time go with our kids?

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My baby turns 18 this month! Is that possible? I checked his birth certificate to be sure and as I suspected he is turning 18.

It wasn’t always easy with Spencer. He was diagnosed with autism days before he turned 2. His behaviors were challenging to put it mildly. We went through many therapies, traveled all over the country and spoke to countless doctors to try and help Spencer with the numerous deficiencies autism brings. When I reflect back, I remember the tantrums and the difficult times but somehow, they seem to fade. Now instead of deficiencies I see gifts. Instead of tantrums I see a young man that sticks to his word. Each new therapist I hired I remember thinking, “This will be the magic bullet.” Spencer has taught me so many valuable lessons, too many to list, but slow and steady like the turtle may just be the best one. Because there is NO one magic bullet that is going to make your child listen, go to bed easily, eat every food on the planet or not throw temper tantrums. Parenting is like the story of the turtle and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. It was not one particular therapy that changed Spencer into the unbelievable well adjusted, social person he is today. It was the combination of everything. That along with boundless love and adoration and his willingness to let me mold him into the young man he is today.

To all the parents that want a quick fix to a problem, trust me, it’s not out there. I’ve looked everywhere. You can’t trick good old-fashioned parenting. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take your time and enjoy the distance because in an instant it flies by.

To my son, happy 18th birthday. I love you with all this mother’s heart can hold. Thank you for the many gifts you have given me and the world. Your autism never really needed to be fixed, just shaped. I love you to the moon and back.
 
Love Mommy

 

Happy Parenting
Elise 

Can your child play alone?

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This afternoon Payton and I got home from her gymnastics class (no she is not an over scheduled child) and she turned on the tv. I took all of her hand held electronics away about a month ago. So she’s been watching all of her favorite animal shows on tv. Seems fairly innocuous. There was just something about the way she walked in and immediately went straight to the tv. It bothered me. The tv seemed to have the same hold on her as the tablet, phone and computer.  Gut instincts kicked in and I said: “Turn it off”. Suddenly I was frightened that my daughter, child of a parenting coach, doesn’t know how to play alone. My fear worsened when she looked at me and said: “What are we doing?” I said: “I’m working.”  Fear running through my veins. I’m thinking to myself please let this child take that answer and begin playing alone. Well the universe must have heard me because she said: “Ok,” walked away and did her own thing.

What’s my point? I have two:

  1. Why was I scared? I’m the mother, I’m in charge. That’s right everybody, I am just like you. I am sometimes scared of my kids! Not often and I never let them know.

  2. I have been doing the right thing. My daughter and I are pretty glued together. Sometimes I have to remind myself to step away from her and allow her time to be alone, figure out life and be bored.

Now I’m sitting here writing this and she is upstairs playing in her room. So the next time your child seems like they are having too much screen time, do my little test. Tell them to turn it off and go play by themselves. If it’s easy for them, keep up the great work. If it’s a bit more difficult, time to pull back on the electronics and let your child learn how to play alone. They may need some assistance if they haven’t been taught how. Encourage reading a book, coloring, playing outside if old enough or making a fort. Anything.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

If only I were the "perfect" parent.

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.Don’t strive for perfection, strive for greatness.

I used to compare myself to those mothers whose desserts and nutritious dinners were Pinterest worthy. I don’t enjoy cooking. It is definitely a chore for me to put a balanced meal on the table for my kids. But what is perfect anyway? It’s a very fair yet debated question. I asked this question on my Facebook page. I received different and amazing responses. I find this question interesting because everyone used to tell me I am such an amazing parent because of everything I did for my son as a child as it related to his autism. Yes I agree, I am finally able to accept praises concerning that part of parenting. But I feel I could have done better and more.

What’s the parenting coach's idea of the “perfect” parent? My experience and age have taught me there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but rather an amazing parent. This is the parent that is present when they are with their kids. They are not on their phones. This is the parent that teaches their child by modeling the behavior that they want their children to have. This is the parent that is forgiving, warm and accepting of who their children are and not who they want them to be. This is the parent the advocates for their child when the child can’t. This is the parent that punishes because they know the lesson is important to teach. I try to be all these things all the time but sometimes I fail and that’s ok. None of us are perfect. We just have to always be the best we can be and that may change minute to minute depending on our circumstances.

Be kind to yourself. You are doing awesome.
Happy parenting!

Elise 

Spend money on an experience

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The trend today is for young adults to spend their money on experiences such as travel rather than on possessions. I took a page out of their book and decided to go with my kids to the local theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando. We had a blast. It wasn’t spring break or any other holiday. We went just to get away. Although my aging neck and back prevented me from riding the fun roller coasters that I usually do, seeing my kids happy was enough. I was glad to take on the role of sunglasse holder as the kids went on the rides. Both were so relaxed and happy to get a break from school work. Payton was actually skipping from ride to ride.  I realized all the time I spent making sure they got along and respected one another paid off as I saw them holding hands walking onto the rides together.

Of course I couldn’t help but get in another teachable parenting moment. We were leaving and Spencer said: “Uggh, I don’t want to go back to work and school.” My response: “This is why it’s so important to do well in school so you can go away for fun little trips to reset yourself.” He ignored me, but I had to say it.

We shared so many laughs and made memories. The next time you have a choice between a gift for yourself or an experience, go for the experience. Memories last a lifetime.




Happy parenting!

Elise 

Easy, inexpensive Valentines Day presents for your kids.

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Each year I give my kids little gifts of love that reflect them. This year I thought it would be cool to do something that fulfills all of the 5 love languages (The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, great book, a must read). That way I am sure they will know the depth of my love. After all, if they don’t interpret love by receiving gifts, I have to make sure they know just how loved they really are. Here are my ideas to show each love language:
 

  1. Words of affirmation - Make a banner and list all the reasons we love our kids.

  2. Quality time - Carve out time where you can be one on one with each child. It doesn’t have to be hours. Maybe just a date to go get ice cream. Whatever it is, it will be your time together to connect.

  3. Receiving gifts - We think every child would like gifts, but that is not always the case. The key to great gift giving is something that shows thought. Maybe they have mentioned wanting something in particular. Or you recognize something that they need. When you do this, it shows much more thought than just a gift card.

  4. Acts of service - Lend a helping hand. People want validation that they work hard at whatever they do and kids are no exception. So, give them a little help with a chore or homework that would normally be done alone.

  5. Physical touch - Some people don’t need a hug while others crave the physical connection. Recently, my daughter has been really craving this and it is just fine by me. We actually set aside time just to cuddle on the couch. Again, a great time just to reset ourselves.

 
Valentine’s Day is a great way to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. I hope this will inspire you to show your kiddies just how much they mean to you. 


Happy parenting!

Elise 

Are your kids stressed out or anxious? Maybe it is time for an electronic diet.

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Are your children stressed or depressed? It may be time to go on an electronic diet.

It seems like kids with iPads are getting younger and younger these days. I’ve even seen babies with them. My almost 18 year old son didn’t receive his first phone until he was 12 and it was only to motivate him to be come more social. He is autistic. The only thing it accomplished was that it gave him new ways to obsess and be inappropriate. There are no shortcuts. My 10 year old still doesn’t have a phone. However, we all know not having a phone doesn’t stop our kids from engaging in all types of inappropriate screen time antics. Most of us have computers and tablets at home to which our kids have access. So Stampylongnose will find his way into your homes somehow.

Other than becoming a zombie and not listening, what are the real concerns for our kids? According to research it affects focus, sleep and even our body composition. Parents complain that our children are addicted to electronics. Gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. How scary is that? Would you give your children cocaine? I don’t think so. Getting our kids on an electronic diet might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.

Here a couple of steps to get our kids off of electronics?Let them know that the whole family is going on an electronic diet. We are all in. Remember that our kids are always watching us. So set an example of what you want them to do.Understand your children are going to need more input from you about how to have fun without a screen. Be ready and prepared for some suggestions. Bowling, ice skating, roller skating or playing outside to name a few.Sit back and watch the beautiful changes in your children.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

Stop trying so hard!

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I went on a walk with my 17 1/2 year old son last night, and the coolest thing happened. He talked to me about really important stuff;  college, friends, work, money, life values. Holy shit- if I had paid him a million dollars, I wouldn’t have gotten as much information out of him. Parents are always asking tons of questions to their kids, and it is usually followed by very short answers. I have recently learned to stop talking so much and start listening. But it gets tough to listen when they won’t talk. So below are a few suggestions/ideas to get even the most tight lipped teenager to talk.

1.  Do something THEY want (or enjoy) doing. Spencer was going for an evening walk last night, and he asked me if I wanted to join. Not really something I wanted to do at 8pm, but private one on one time with him is so infrequent that I hopped at the chance. Carpe Diem..

2.    Don’t ask too many questions when you are doing their preferred activity.  This is when their defenses are down, because of this, you will get a more authentic child without their guard up.  This is when they will start talking without you even asking. Its a beautiful thing, they will come to you.

3.  Be sure to get to know some facts about their hobbies, likes and dislikes,  (or fears) so you have some common ground to talk about down the road. 

4. Finally, don’t push, let the magic happen all on its own. 

Happy parenting!

Elise

The Importance of balance.

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Balance, It’s a funny thing. We try to gain it as we take our first steps as a baby. Once we are up on 2 feet we work hard to improve our balance. Children need it for agility in football, soccer, ballet and gymnastics. When we age we seem to lose the coveted balance that we work a lifetime to get and maintain.

Just like in ballet, if a ballerina is up on her toes and goes too far left or right she falls. To a gymnast on the balance beam a one millimeter misstep is the difference between landing or falling off. 

So then the question is, how does balance affect my family?

It may not seem like a big deal when you tell your children they can Never have electronics. While it would be a beautiful world filled with rainbows and unicorns if that existed, it’s not realistic. So how do we get our children to not stay glued to their electronics? Balance. If you take the electronics away completely at a young age, your child will not know how to balance playing with screen time. It is our job as parents to teach our children this important skill. Whether it is for junk food, electronics or time with friends.

Remember the next time you want to completely restrict something In your young children think of the ballerina. Too far left and she falls.

Life is like a ballet, the perfect balance will make you light and beautiful on your feet.


Happy parenting!

Elise

Parent or protector?

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As parents, we're programmed to protect our kids. But what happens when we want to continue protecting them as they get older? When is it appropriate to stop protecting and start teaching? I've broken this down to three stages.

Preschoolers: They need protection from a difficult teacher, bullying, or a dangerous situation. While you step in to help, take the opportunity to teach your child how to handle it. At this stage, they may not be able to generalize and take the lesson your are trying to teach and apply it across the board to other scenarios.  So, while they are young you will still need to be the protector but  you begin planting seeds so they develop the skills on their own.

In elementary and middle school: You want to make sure that when you are protecting your child, you are ALWAYS using the situations as a teaching opportunity because their language and ability to generalize information has improved. For example, if my daughter is having a problem with school work, I will ask if she can handle it herself with the teacher. If she is not comfortable doing that, I will take care of it. However, she needs to participate in the email or discussion with the teacher so that she can eventually handle these situations on her own.

In high school: Now the parent is the teacher first and the protector second. By now, your child probably has the skills necessary to take care of themselves in school, work and social situations. For example, if your child is having difficulty in a subject and refuses to see the teacher or guidance for help, they must suffer the consequences. This is when your child will learn many life lessons while still under your care.

Our parental instinct is to always be the protector. However, we must remember that as parents it is our obligation to give our children the skills necessary to handle life on their own.

Happy parenting!

Elise

When your child misbehaves

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Have you ever been yelled at, screamed at, punched, or kicked by a child? I have! Have you gotten the awful  “I hate you” while they're kicking you? It's exhausting, infuriating and sometimes even painful. So as a parent, how do you find any empathy with a child who acts that way? It's quite simple. 


Understand that this is the only way your child knows how to communicate. Think about it: as adults, we have had years of training to be able to articulate our feelings in a calm manner even if we're upset (and many of us still aren't there yet). I'm sure many of us have acted in ways we wouldn't want our own children to act. Yet, we expect our little people to be perfect at clearly communicating their needs. Cmon...when you say it out loud it sounds ridiculous, right? There is no way you can expect a tiny person with only a few years of life behind them to do it better than adults. 

So the next time your little one screams hideous things at you, remember he's just tying to explain his feelings. Give him the tools to explain and identify what he is feeling. Even better, next time you are mad as hell at them, model exactly the way you would want to be treated. Don't yell or scream. That just reiterates that this is effective communication. And don't take it so personally, they don't really know how to say in a calm voice: "Mommy, you hurt my feelings. I wasn't finished at my play date. Making me leave made me feel insignificant!" Yeah right, call me when your child says that and you can start hosting some of my webinars :) 

Be kind to the little ones, they are just trying to figure out what works, just like we are. 

Till next time, 

Elise