Don’t Shrink the Kids
Susie Caron © 2/27/16
Did you know , you are actively engaged in growing or shrinking your kids? There are lots of ways that we grow or shrink people we know and love, as well as friends, coworkers and everyone we meet. We are mostly unaware of this, but we need to make it more conscious if we want to grow kids, and not shrink them.
There are several ways you can do this.
One way is by the messages you send through your eyes.
Kids are hugely changed by what they see in your eyes. The way you look at your child may be nurturing or harsh, accepting, or rejecting. However, it’s not the occasional ‘correction’ that shrinks them. It’s the way you look at them ‘the most often’, that shrinks or grows them. That's because, Kids form their idea of who they are, from what they read in your eyes.
If you think they are irritating, problems, rude, messy, etc. they believe that’s who they are.
If you think they are fun, gifts, great kids, love, accepted, and enjoyed, they believe that’s who they are.
Can you see how important your eye contact can be for your kid’s healthy development? However, what’s shows in your eyes, comes from what you’re thinking.
Maybe my story will help illustrate how your thoughts can grow or shrink your kids.
As a child, I received a lot of criticism for being oversensitive. I admit I operated out of my feelings, first through last. But back then, what I saw in my parent’s eyes, was negativity, disappointment, and judgment. They were trying to bring me up the best way they knew how, and meant well. (I forgive and love them.) However, because I believed what I had seen about me in their eyes, I grew up a broken, hurting soul.
As a young adult, I continued to doubt my thoughts, feelings and actions, so I frequently sought the opinions of others. It wasn’t until my 50’s that I learned how a person’s eyes communicate their thoughts.
That year, I enrolled in graduate school and a course for play therapy. The instructor was amazing and I will always remember her eyes. In class, when anyone shared, she rarely spoke a word, but her eyes and body language said these:
“Yes! Oh wow! Absolutely! Wonderful! Amen! Way to Go! How True! Phenomenal!”
(And other similar affirmations.)
She didn’t comment, criticize or judge our words or what we were doing in our internship placements. Instead it felt like she watered us - Encouraged us - Supported us! Can you imagine what that did? We felt accepted and believed in.
She knew how to ‘grow people’, using her eyes. But, I realized that the messages she sent through those eyes was a decision she’d made before coming to class. I know, now, that she accepted each of us fully, and believed in us, not because of our ‘successes’ but because she decided to do so, knowing that we needed it to be confident and grow.
Can you imagine the effect this would have on you? To have someone believe in you, accept you, fully and without holding back? How would that make you feel?
She certainly had a positive effect on me. I felt accepted just as I was, and began to believe in myself. I was so reenergized that at 52 years of age, I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Psychology. I rented an office and treated children and parents in private practice, until I fully retired, 12 years later.
How can you grow your kids?
You already use your eyes to correct your kids when you glare at them. You also smile right through your eyes when they do or say things that make you proud. You can continue to do those. However, I am suggesting that you decide today, to plan ahead to think more positive thoughts about your kids the rest of the time. Let me show you what I mean.
Instead of thinking these:
What do you want now?
Oh, dear, here we go again.
How come you’re always late?
Where have you been?
Why can’t you be more careful?
You could actively think these:
Hi! Welcome home!
Oh! There you are!
You are special to me!
I’m so glad you told me.
Here I am, and there you are!
What you are thinking shows in your eyes, and body language. So why not choose to think good thoughts about your kids (and spouse) as often as you can. Write down a few and practice saying them out loud to yourself. (You don’t actually need to say them out loud to your kids, although that’s okay too.) However, it is very powerful to think and believe positive thoughts when you are with your kids.
This is how you grow your kids.
When you think good thoughts about them, look at them with acceptance, and believe in them they learn to trust themselves, their feeling thoughts and actions. The longer you believe in them, the more they believe in themselves and grow in beautiful ways.
There’s a bonus too! Using your eyes more often in this way helps you connect with your kids and builds the parent-child relationship to last. Isn’t that something you want?
Twee’ means you and me
Thinking Good Thoughts to Grow your Kids.
PS The eyes are the windows of the soul. That’s why my character Twee’ has big, wide eyes. Kids and adults love her because her heart shows through them. Buy one or all three picture books on Amazon for your kids today. Just click HERE.
How to Raise Unique Children
Susie Caron (c) 2/19/16
A friend shared this with me:
Question: “How do you catch a unique rabbit?”
Answer: “U ‘neek’ up on it.”
Question: “How do you catch a tame rabbit?”
Answer: “ ‘Tame ‘ way.”
That’s basically how you raise ‘unique children’. But there’s more to this than just 'catching' and 'taming'.
You have to be tough.
Do you find it really easy to understand one of your children, and not so easy to understand another? This is common in families with more than one child. It worries parents and makes treating your kids ‘fairly’ perplexing because you want to love and treat your kids the same. You don’t want them crying, “That’s not fair” frequently because it makes you feel guilty and you wonder why they can’t see that your trying.
To solve this, it’s important to understand and accept that each child is different, special, unique. That means that each one requires different kinds of care and special ‘handling’. This is true whether they are all the same gender, close in age, and like the same things. Kids are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. However, parenting decisions and discipline are complex because kids vary widely in gender, ages, strengths, and weaknesses. For example: You may have One child who loves the challenge of homework, while another abhors it and fights you tooth and nail to get out of it.
How can you possibly navigate all these differences and help the kids understand that they love each and every one of them?
You need to be a little bit tough.
That’s right. Put your Teflon Armor on, stand up straight, look them in their wide beautiful eyes and be tough on them, at least a little bit.
I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, so I encourage you to take a lesson from a character, named Ursula. She is the Sea Witch in the Disney movie, The Little Mermaid.
I don’t agree with the messages in this movie, but Ursula said a few things that good parents can adopt as best practice, because they make sense.
Here’ the best one:
“Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it.?”
How many times could you use that one to help your child realize that sometimes they must choose between two things they either want, or don’t want to do. When you say, "Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it?", you help your child to understand that this choice is their responsibility and not yours and that you understand that it may be difficult to choose. So, be tough and don’t make the choice for your child.
While I don’t believe the sea witch said this one, I think she could have.
“Life isn’t fair - get over it.”
Kids really want us to tell them life is fair all the time. But it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. (Ask them if they really want you to be fair and give them exactly identical birthday presents. They will see what you mean.
Kids also want you to demonstrate that you love each of them exactly the same.
So when you hear, “You love ____ more than me.” You can respond with something I liked to tell them:
“ I love you each the equally and differently.”
When you're a bit ‘tough’ on them, you are doing your kids a favor. The world is not an easy place and they will get knocked around by it. So be ‘matter of fact’ about choices and fairness and loving them equally but differently. By being tough you’ll help them learn how the world really works. By being tough you raise them, better prepared to succeed and even lead the next generation.
Twee’ Means You and Me
to Raise Unique & Capable Kids
PS. Picture book I Am Twee' helps kids recognize that being different is a good, because it means they're special with unique gifts to share. But it from Amazon today and read it and talk with your kids (ages 3-9). Click HERE.
Why Do Siblings Fight?
Susie Caron © 2/13/16
Sibling rivalry is as old as time and will continue as long as human families exist. It can be the source of stress for parents and for the children. If this is a problem in your home, do you wonder if there is anything you can do to reduce fighting, and help siblings work together and enjoy family life? This article explains one, little known reason, for sibling rivalry and what you can do to keep it from getting out of hand.
There is a good reason that children fight around their parents. Every child living with one or more siblings, operates under the unconscious influence of survival of the fittest. This means each child works hard to get the most attention. The one who ‘wins’ (no matter how), instinctively feels they have obtained ‘favorite child status.’
‘Favorite child status’ is gained not necessarily by being good. It can also be won by being very naughty. Individual children may work on this by being nice and kind and helpful, or at the other extreme, by being rude and nasty, and bullying others. It’s something that a child ‘wins’ by getting a ‘Giant Share’ of your attention.
I’m not blaming the kids, or saying that they are aware of this. It’s just that each child wants to feel close to you. Every child wants to feel like he or she is the one you’d rescue first!
This drive is actually a survival skill, and in their DNA. It’s looks a lot like what you’d see in some pets. Watch kittens or puppies as they nurse, they scrabble and push each other away. The strongest gets first choice, the next gets second and so on. They naturally ‘fight’ to be the one closest to the mother’s face and that win’s most of her attention. It’s the same for children, they are trying to figure out how to get to be the closest to you (or in your face) the most.
As a result, your kids will struggle to get your attention any way that works. Each one will choose a different way. One may hang with you, being helpful and fun, another may fight with you or with siblings to get your attention the most often. Either way, the one who 'feels' like they get most of your attention wins.
Like most parents I’m sure that you really want your kids to love you, and each other and to get along. You’ve probably tried to tell them you love them all the same, equally, and perfectly. However, that rarely helps to reduce their fights with each other.
I know you get tired of their fighting, but if you want to stop it, you must stop noticing and getting involved. The key to reducing sibling rivalry, is to not interfere every time a struggle erupts. When you interfere, and try to get to the reasons, or solve their problems, you actually put gas on the fire, metaphorically speaking. In other words, by giving attention to their fighting, you actually encourage more fighting. I know you don’t want that.
If you really want most of the fighting to stop, you’ll want to do these three things:
If you’ve been getting involved and trying to sort out sibling arguments for a long time, changing this pattern could take a while and your due diligence and determination. However, when you stop interfering and choosing sides, and focus more on good behaviors, especially any time a sibling is kind or helpful to another, then you’ll see your children getting along more often. They’ll still have squabbles, that okay because people don’t always agree. That’s part of being human, and special and different and learning how to get along with each other.
In fact most siblings enjoy a bit of good hearted arguing and joshing, even into adulthood. You'll help them get there when you practice these skills.
If you liked this article you may also enjoy my podcast for parents. I release one knew episode each week.
Here’s a LINK for you to subscribe and listen to episodes of
Building Parents & Good Kids.
Thanks for reading. Remember to leave your thoughts about this in comments below.
Twee’ means you and me
Helping Siblings to Get Along
Best Parent Practices for When Kids Get Upset
Susie Caron © 2/6/16
Parents’ want to figure out ‘what’s going on” when their little-ones tantrum, or when bigger kids scream irrationally at them about their issues, but parents ask the wrong question: parents ask kids, “Why?”
If you have asked 'why', you probably recognized two things.
First, your Kids don’t seem to be able to give you any clear reason for their outbursts.
Second, if you get angry and punish your kids without understanding, they behave more badly.
Have you wondered “What am I doing wrong?” or perhaps “What else can I do?”
I suggest a much better way to handle kids when they seem agitated, and before they become overwhelmed and get worse.
Distract & Redirect Little Ones.
With little ones you’ll want to distract and redirect them because they probably don’t know or cannot tell you ‘why’ they feel overwhelmed.
You can try to ask:
Where do you want me to sit and watch?
How are your feet?
Who’s making that noise?
The idea is to try to distract and redirect them and teach them how to self-soothe.
If attempts to distract and redirect doesn’t stop the tantrum, it’s necessary to provide some calming time. To do this you could get a book and hold your child while you point out pictures until he or she forgets to tantrum. Alternatively, put your child in a nice warm bath. Stay with your child and watch him/her play. Your child may go into the water, yelling, kicking and screaming, but as the water cools he/she will also calm down. Then maybe a nice nap, for you both will help. As they grow a little older you can use the following ideas.
Calm then Engage School Aged Kids
School aged kids sometimes become so overwhelmed by issues and the business of life that they act out by yelling, screaming, and using language you don’t want. Often what they yell about doesn’t make any sense to the adult ear. Punishment may get your child out of your hair and reduce everyone’s anxiety after the fact. However, it doesn’t teach your children how to handle big emotions, especially when they cannot really identify the reason(s).
To help school aged kids stop yelling and get to the bottom of their issues, use this approach.
First, Take everything out of your hands, turn your body and eyes toward your child and stand within 6-8 feet.
“I see you are upset and I’d like to listen. I can hear you better when you to lower your voice and speak respectfully to me.”
Wait and repeat that you want to listen and you can’t as easily hear when he/she is so loud.
Say, “Please lower your voice and speak to me respectfully and I will listen.”
If your child cannot do this, send him/her to time out until ready to do so.
This is an important skill everyone must learn:
“When too upset to be somewhat reasonable, go to your own space and calm yourself. Then we’ll talk.”
When your child has calmed enough, do not ask, “WHY?”
“Why were you so upset?”
This question, beginning with the word “Why?” just sets kids off again on another round of screaming.
Because the word “Why” implies that their answers will be judged.
Think about how you felt when family members and friends have asked you questions like these:
“Why do you let your kids stay up so late?”
“Why are you having more children?”
“Why do you work outside your home when your spouse makes so much money?”
“Why don’t you send your children to MY preschool?”
Do you see how these questions feel? Questions that begin with “why” make you worry that you and your answer, will be judged.
Kids feel the same way.
They don’t want you to judge them. They want you to listen and to offer validation for their overwhelming feelings. They count on you to help them learn to calm down, navigate life and handle their issues. In addition, they often don’t really have any clear answer for “why” so they may just grab any answer that seems like the reason. Then they get more upset and you do too.
After they calm, ask useful questions.
So make life easier on yourself and your kids. After you focus on softening the behavior (which teaches your kids that they can calm themselves enough to talk about issues) then ask questions like these, and be careful to not judge while you listen and validate their feelings.
What happened that made you upset?
How did you feel when that happened?
What would you like to do about it?
Who do you want to talk with next?
Is there something you want me to do?
How do you feel now?
Validate their feelings
With each question your child answers, name and validate the feelings, even if they weren’t expressed. This teaches your child to identify the feelings and how to hook them to things that happened.
So you say things like:
“Wow, I’ll bet you felt really angry about that.”
“Oh, so you really wanted to hit her? It must have been hard to hold back.”
“You’re afraid your teacher won’t listen? What makes you worried about that?”
Here are some more feeling words you might need. (Want more, Google Feeling Words.)
Jealous courageous suspicious irritated
Sad uncertain unsafe afraid
Frustrated helpless discouraged resentful
Worried discouraged uncomfortable leery
What do you think?
Did you find this article helpful, interesting? Please leave a comment and I’ll reply.
Don’t forget to sign up HERE for your free gift “How To Get the Respect You Deserve.”
Twee’ Means You and Me
Working Together to Raise Good Kids.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!