Hi, My Name is Consistency and I am Related to Success

ConsistencyIt’s no secret that anything done well is done consistently. If we want that beach-ready body we know we must consistently eat green things and go to that spinning class. If we want that A in a class we must consistently study and go above and beyond the norm. There is no shortcut to success.

Part of the reason students struggle in school is not because they aren’t working hard but because they aren’t working hard consistently

When students are young, teaching accountability falls on the parent. This is a challenging lesson, and one I find starts from the top down. Your children will not assign value to school unless you, as the parent, value it yourself

Children inherently want to meet their parent’s expectations. As we talked about in our recent post here, the best way to combat learned helplessness is by raising your expectations. For example, don’t be afraid to say no to hanging out with friends until homework is completed. Do this consistently and your kid will stop fighting you on finishing their homework. Yes, consistency even combats teenage attitude.

Putting systems and structure in place allows for consistency to take priority and ensures that everyone in the family is on the same page about school expectations, such as homework time. Check out some great, practical tips outlined in our previous discussion on how to “Eliminate the Homework Woes“.

You can still give your kids a beautiful childhood & teach them the value of hard work too

As an in-home service provider, parents often express concerns to me that it’s difficult to find a balance between teaching hard work while also trying to give their kids the best possible childhood. There is only a finite amount of time that we get to be carefree kids and the rest of life we must learn to be adults. My response: I agree, and that’s precisely why we should all be working together to instill the common underlying value of dedication to individual accomplishment during childhood, which stems from being consistent with our children. You can still give your kids a beautiful childhood and teach them the value of hard work at the same time.

As a culture, we need to slow down and enjoy the quiet moments more often. The days of over-scheduling are coming to an end.  The days of helicopter parenting should be on their way out the door too. We need to let kids learn first-hand the consequences of not putting their all into a project, a task, or a test. You wouldn’t prevent your child from learning how to walk by continuing to carry them around town until their 18th birthday, right? Of course not, that’s just absurd.

Sheltering them from the fear of “falling” is a disservice, and parents who prevent their child from experiencing the consequences of inaction are preventing them from experiencing the triumph of success.

So give your child the best possible chance in school and life by remaining consistent with your expectations. You’ll find that your child will rise to the occasion and even exceed the goals you set.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student by combining Academic, Behavior, and Advocacy support. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.


Sugar, Then Salt: Making Constructive Criticism Taste Better

No one likes to be criticized, especially when it comes to something as intimate as writing. Those of you who have had to endure such criticisms over and over again may at one time felt victimized by this harsh practice but are now thankful for the honesty because it made you a better–more complete–writer. I’m no stranger to these criticisms myself. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times my mom, the English teacher, would correct my phone etiquette: “Yes, this is she, NOT this is her”. (Mom, is that right?) As an adult, I’m grateful for these types of corrections. As a kid, I’d rather take an F in a class than have a teacher tell me I was wrong. So I know firsthand what it’s like to be in my students’ shoes. That’s why I’m extremely careful of how I approach this act of constructive suggestion, as is now the PC term of art. I always start with a compliment. Then a small correction. First, compliment. Then, complaint.

This “sugar, then salt” technique works in most situations where conflict is imminent and emotions run hot. Having a problem teaching your three-year old to put away his toys? Sugar: “Aaron, you are such a good helper!” Salt: “It makes me sad when you don’t put away your toys before nap time.” Having a problem in your relationship? Sugar: “It makes me feel special when you take the initiative and make plans for us in advance.” Salty Sugar: “I would like you to work on planning a date night for us so I can look forward to spending quality time with you.” Some would call this manipulation, but I think it’s just a way to sweeten the personal critique that no one wants to hear but needs to hear.

As a person who works with kids struggling in school due to a learning difference, behavior challenge, or social skills concern, I know that they need all the positive sugar they can get because their confidence is so depleted. Once the confidence is under control (like we talked about here) we can then work on correcting the grammar, formatting essays appropriately, organizing thought processes into a cohesive sentence, comprehension, inference, and the subtleties of writing for your audience. Behavior Support equals Academic Success.

As with anything, balance is important. Pouring on the sugar without any salt, however, is a slippery slope to mischaracterization of self, thinking that everything you do is the best. If you never have to practice grace under pressure (self-regulation), then you never get a chance to learn how to appropriately deal with disappointment– a required lesson in school and in life.

So Parents and Teachers: if you’re not already employing the “Sugar, Then Salt” method, give it a shot. You may find that it’s a successful way to teach your children and students the art of communication in a sticky situation.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Your Word is Your Everything

keep-calm-and-follow-throughWe can boil down the ability to follow-through to one word: Action.

In today’s day and age, where everyone is on the go and over-scheduled, following-through with commitments can be a tall order. As a parent, however, your ability to follow-through must be Priority #1 if you want your child to respect and trust you.

From a simple request such as, “Mom, can we get Jamba Juice after school?” to a complex one like, “Mom, can we go to Italy for my birthday?”, your answer should always be truthful and intentional. Why am I harping on this need to stay committed?

Three reasons:

1. Sometimes parents have a tough time saying no to the their child because they really do want to give them everything they can and more. I get it! It’s hard to look into those cute, little faces and hear their puppy dog whimper while explaining that what they want to do is just not gonna happen right now. (My little students use this tactic on me all the time. Sorry kids, but you still gotta do your homework; I’ll help you write the first paragraph though 🙂 ) By promising something that’s unrealistic, however, you’re giving your cute, little mini-you unrealistic expectations and creating unnecessary roller-coaster emotions. Little ones have not yet learned the highly developed reasoning skills of processing information in context and understanding the concept of time. Little kids are literal creatures and will take you at your word. So when you promise something, you better deliver. For example, if you promise that the family is going for ice cream after dinner with the condition that little Harper eats all of her broccoli, Harper is going to attempt to rise to your level of expectation and swallow all of those little trees. If Harper holds up her end of the bargain and you fail to do the same, Harper loses some trust in your word. If this happens frequently, she begins to doubt the value of your commitments in general.

2. By following-through with things promised, you are teaching your child to do the same. The value of your word– saying what you’re going to do and then actually doing it– is far more worthy than fancy trips or expensive toys. Children really don’t care about how much they have or don’t have– what they really want to earn is your approval. So make sure your word is a valued asset.

3. Same goes for a consequence. If Harper doesn’t eat her broccoli, there will be no ice cream for dessert no matter how much she whines or breaks down in tears. Stick to your commitment. By doing so, you are teaching Harper that you mean business and your word is truth. She’ll respect you and honor your approach once she realizes you have no intention of caving. And if you learn not to cave over the little things, you’ll be ready to make sure not to cave over the big things. That’s when it really matters.

Your child wants to trust and respect you and their actions often act-out their desire for these boundaries. So help your child learn to trust and respect you by simply sticking to your word. It’s the best gift you can give them.

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

The Reasonable Choices Method

choicesI have these friends who are really excellent parents. To observe them is to learn. One of the methods they use with their young children is what I like to call The Reasonable Choices Method, a simple idea but one that requires a lot of internal patience even when things are just pure chaos around you. As a prerequisite you must be on your way to mastering the 3C’s in a parenting crisis: Calm, Cool, and Collected.

Here’s how it’s done: Two-year-old Ben is playing with his toys in the playroom and you notice it’s now 7:00 pm, thirty-minutes before bedtime, and you still need to give him a bath to wash off the sand from all of his sandbox adventures today, his sidewalk chalk mishaps, and the milk that spilled when he attempted to grab the cup from the counter but sadly missed. You give Ben a heads up that it will be time to take a bath in 5 minutes and you set the timer for 5 minutes, making sure to show him (as evidence) on your phone, kitchen timer, or even those little sand timers found in a board game. When there’s one minute left of playtime you give him a courtesy warning. By giving him this courtesy warning you’re really allowing him to prepare himself to switch tasks. Remember that a toddler’s brain is developing the ability to process information at a faster rate and creating those memory synapses so he needs a little more time to prepare himself to do something else. Emotionally, he’s also learning to assert his independence and this is a good thing. However, it’s still important to rein it in, molding his ability to make decisions within the confines of safe parameter.

When the timer has gone off you announce again that it’s time to clean-up and take a bath. If Ben is like most two-year-olds he will resist, explaining that he needs more time because he’s not finished playing. If you really think about his argument it is easy to understand. We all run behind at times: finishing a paper at the last-minute, remembering a birthday card on the way to the party, not realizing that dinner will take a little longer tonight because we’re trying a new dish. Although his request for more time is understandable toddlers are notorious for saying one thing and doing another. Remember that this is not a negotiation, this is a teaching moment–an example of how you are helping him learn to sustain a commitment and begin to make the right decisions. An assertive yet loving response should outline the fact that you understand his wants but you have given him a specific set of tasks to complete for the next part of the evening: “I understand that you want more time to finish playing but the timer has gone off and it is now time to clean-up, go upstairs, and take a bath”. It is likely he will still resist and so at this moment, while you’re helping to clean-up, you say to him, “Ben you may walk upstairs yourself or I can carry you upstairs. Which do you prefer?” Here it is: a Reasonable Choice–one where each option is something you can live with, gets the next task going, but allows him a way to begin to assert his independence.

If he says, “I need more time” calmly explain that he already had 5 minutes to prepare himself to take a bath and that you will make the choice for him if he is unable to make it himself. Then, follow through! I cannot stress enough that this the step I coach families most on. No doubt it is the most difficult step and I feel for you because when your child is on the floor having a tantrum it is heart-wrenching and frustrating at the same time. Use those 3C’s and realize the psychology of what is happening here: Ben is wrestling to understand his own ability to make the right decision. Your job is to help him understand why it is important and assure him that by trusting you, his parent, it will bring about the best decision possible.

The key is to employ your 3C’s, be consistent, and follow-through. Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong the first few times. Just keep trying! You are helping your child build character and learn to make the right choice, a skill that he will use for the rest of his life.

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And don’t forget to head on over to TerryTutors.com or give us a call at 310.254.0909 for more info about our Private Tutoring & Family Coaching services in the Greater Los Angeles area

Take Me to Your Mother

TMTYM-ThumbI just came across this fantastic new show called “Take Me to Your Mother”, where Comedian Andrea — a new mom to toddler Odin– is chronicling her adventures through Mommyhood by tapping into one of NYC’s greatest resources: The Neighborhood Mothers. In this episode Andrea seeks out the advice of a group of West Indian Boss Moms in The Bronx and learns the real reason why you must learn to say No to your child.

8 Tips from The West Indian Boss Moms

Tip #1: Instill a Healthy Dose of Healthy Fear

Healthy Fear is a good thing. For Andrea that’s a hard thing to wrap her head around because the word fear implies something bad. In parenting, however, healthy fear lets the child know that you are the protector and your job is to make your child feel secure. This new world they’ve entered into is super scary and you are their guide on this journey.

Tip #2: Private Practice Makes Public Performance

If you let your child walk on the dining room table when there’s no one around, don’t be surprised when he does it during a dinner party. That’s what Andrea found out as little Odin screamed until he got to walk on the dinner table, during dinner. The Boss Moms said it best, “private practice makes public performance”. Everything you allow your child to do in private is a practice for how he or she will act when company comes a calling.

Tip #3: A Mommy’s Mantra: I Am The Boss

I AM THE BOSS. Period. What Mommy said is what goes. End of story. The Boss Moms say that you have to believe that mantra internally before your child will believe you. Instilling that confidence within yourself is key to a healthy parent/child relationship.

Tip #4: I have to Follow-Through

Follow-Through is the secret ingredient. Andrea learns that if she gives a warning to Odin and doesn’t follow-through, she’s teaching Odin that her words are just empty threats. But if she follows-through on those warnings, her words mean business.

Tip #5: Fix Your Face

Practice your mommy-said-no-and-she-means-it face in the mirror so you can see what your child sees. If you smile, like Andrea, after you give your demand all is lost and your baby has outsmarted you once again.

Tip #6: Once In Awhile, Just Act Crazy

To keep your kids in line, The Boss Moms suggest just letting your crazy overtake you for a second or two. No one wants to make mom mad. So make your point loud and clear.

Tip #7: Warning 1, Warning 2, Warning 3

Warnings are a good way to let your child have a chance to assess their own behavior and give them a warning to change it. One of The Boss Moms touted the success of this technique even with her teenagers. When she gets to Warning Two, her 16 and 17 year old have barricaded themselves in their rooms and don’t dare come out until she gives the all clear.

Tip #8: Talent Will Take You But Character Will Sustain You

Andrea learns that all these rules, techniques, and mantras are put in place for one reason only: to instill character in your child. The worst thing you can do is have a talented kid out there in the world with no “broughtupsy”, that’s having no upbringing, conduct, character, or manners for those of us like Andrea (and myself) who have never come across that expression. I cannot say enough good stuff about this funny show with real meaning.

Here are a few lasting quotes from The West Indian Boss Moms of The Bronx:

  • When you steward someone it’s not about being their friend, it’s about giving them the tools that they need.
  • If you do not train your child, the world will train your child. So true!

Check Out “Take Me to Your Mother: Andrea Takes Charge”
( http://www.hulu.com/watch/483740 )Andrea has trouble saying “no” to her 1 year old, so it’s off to meet some West Indian mothers who teach her how to take charge.

SUBSCRIBE for new posts every Family Friday!

Don’t forget to head on over to TerryTutors.com or give us a call at 310.254.0909 for more info about our Private Tutoring & Family Coaching services in the Greater Los Angeles area