Bedside Manner

Bedside Manner

The other day I picked up my son and put him in the shower. I was frustrated, he was taking forever - and it seemed like the easiest way to get him where I wanted him to go at the time. I was surprised, however, by his screaming and protest. He was really, really mad at me.

The whole dignity dressdown for the both of us was a good reminder that I need to slow down and explain my actions to my kids - even if they can’t respond with words yet.

Long ago in another life I was an EMT for a short stint. One of the most important things I learned in that mini career was the concept of bedside manner. Bedside manner means you need to talk through everything you are doing with a patient - in as caring a way as you can. You can’t just walk up to a patient and shove a needle in their arm. Likewise, you should not just walk up to your protesting son and throw him in the shower. You can give an I.V. - or get the shower going at the same rate - while making the patient aware of what you are doing.

Talk through every step of your action. For example with the needle: You are hurt, you need to receive fluids and medication, but the fastest way for us to do that is with an I.V. I’m going to clean this part of your arm and insert the needle there. This will hurt a little bit, and there will be some blood.

Now with the shower: Ok buddy, it is time to go to bed and before that you need to get clean. I know that you don’t want to do this right now and it looks like you need some help. I’m going to pick you up, and then put you under the water. The water is warm.

The basic principle for an EMT is if you would not be comfortable taking these actions on your own grandmother, you should be doing things differently.

The same standard for communication should be held with our children, and it really helps them know what is going on and why.

There is a three-step process for communicating my actions:

  1. Stop and breath

  2. Make an observation

  3. Intentionally communicate with love.

This simple tool becomes a power tool when you actually voice what you are doing. You say to your child, “I’m going to stop and breath.” You say, “I’m going to make an observation.” - and then make it! You say, “I’m going to intentionally communicate with love.” - and you communicate the action you are taking.

Not only that, talking your communication through like this will help you be more accountable. It will make you live the three steps, and give you a few seconds to figure out what you are actually going to do! Because let’s face it, most of this parenting thing is done extremely in the moment.

What about good manners?

Teach them manners with manners. Teach them respect with respect.

 What about good manners?

I agree. Everybody has their own way to teach their children. Parents are doing their best to teach their children about life. But some situations just make me crazy! Poor kids are feel awful because their parents put them in really uncomfortable situations.  Today I’m writing and advocating for those children.

 Here is the story. There is somebody greeting people at a school event. They are just saying, “Hi” to the families and children coming in. The greater says, “Good afternoon I hope you have a great time.”

 The little boy, Thomas, looks at the greeter and puts his head down. Now comes Mom … “Tomas, say hello, she was talking to you…. Hey… Say hello! Look at her eyes…Respond, somebody is talking to you… Come here, say hello she was telling you something… Say hi or we will go back home.

 Cue the Meltdown followed by… tears, screaming … and some people just staring at them like they don't know how to be out with other people.

 Wouldn’t it be great if children were born with manners? If they were, we wouldn’t have to worry about these moments right? We wouldn’t have to practice this. Don't you remember when you were a kid? Think back to how many times your parents had to tell you… “Say hello… Say hi… Remember when we are going to a new place remember to say good morning.” How old were we when our parents finally stopped repeating that? 12? 15? Even 22???

 Today I want you to have a little more compassion for your own children. Teach them manners with manners. Teach them respect with respect.

 If we want our children to be nice, try to explain nicely how the world works sometimes.

 Put yourself in their shoes:  You are a giant to your children, and so are other adults. When children see a stranger, they see a giant with a weird face that they have never seen before. Just imagine that unknown giant trying to smile at you, or even kiss you, or giving you a big hug that hurts your body. Because remember, you haven't seen that giant before. Then comes Mom, “RESPOND TO THE GIANT!!! SAY HELLO BACK NOW!”

 Scary chain of events isn’t? OK so if you don't want your kids to be scared, just don't scare them.

 How can we help? I am not saying that is ok to let them just walk by and be fine with that. It takes time to create a habit.

 Just model. Always say hello to people when you see them or when you get to a new place. Talk to your children before you get to a new place too. On the way to the place you can talk to them on your walk or in the car. Say, “We are almost there guys, what is the first thing we say when we get there? (Hello)” Explain to them why we say hello and why is important to be respectful. You can also say, “It is very nice that ____ are inviting us to their house (party or event). ____ worked very hard to make this event happen and they are sharing this special moment with us. Isn’t that nice? (make them aware of the situation)” Give feedback. Talk to your children after you go somewhere and review their manners. And when they use their manners, make an observation and say, “I noticed how you say Good morning to Grandma. That was very polite” or “I noticed how you said thank you for having us, that shows that you really appreciate the time you shared with them.”

If your children don't say “Hi” at first, you don't need to give a lecture. Don't worry, they won’t do it at the first time, or the second or the third. This takes time. Just be patient and model, model, model.  You children will get there. Other parents will understand. If people don’t understand, you know that you are doing your best to teach your children with love and respect. That is the only thing that matters.


Positive Time Out is Game On! 

We have all heard a lot about putting our children in Time Out. Things like “Just send them to a quite space and let them think.” Time Out  got lost in translation. Below I will give you the real Time Out. I love finding tools to calm ourselves down, and especially teaching this habit at young age.

 Wouldn't it be amazing if you where taught from an early age to be calm under pressure? Begin with: It is OK to feel pressure. I am all about Time Out because yes, we need to reset our brains to think clear and make good choices. Time Outs work for everybody. Today I will give some suggestions of Time Outs that will actually work for your children.

Our job as a parents is to teach. Children at a young age are learning how to control themselves and need solutions that work to calm down and clear the haze of frustration. How can parents help?

My first suggestion: Be proactive. Talk to your children when they are calm. Ask them which activities around the house make them happy or relaxed. Examples: Art, jumping on the bed, reading a book,  legos . . . (If your children are very young and can't talk yet create a special space. For example: a corner with pillows, a table with play-dough, art supplies, a corner with stuffed animals, a little trampoline, or soft balls.)

Again, pro-actively talk to them to create this space. Say something like: I notice it is hard for you to calm down. When you are upset, what would make a special place for help calming down? Even if your children are too small to answer, you should talk to them about this. They will understand. 

Time Out does not have to be ugly. Children are learning how to control their feelings. It is OK to be frustrated. We don't want children to feel guilty for that. We need to find solutions to help them learn how to control themselves.

 Why don't we find a special nice place to calm down and feel better instead of “Go to your room?” To do this, sometimes you have to take it to the next level.

 Some children are very sensitive and they have a very hard time calming down by themselves. In this case Parents should go to the special Time Out place with their children. Before a crisis, when your children are calm you should ask:  "Would you like to go calm down by yourself or do you want me to go with you?" If children want you to be with them, it probably means they need your support. That is a good thing. Your children want to be with you. They want to know that you are there for them, no matter what. Time Out should build a foundation of a good relationship with your children in the future.

Remember to plan Time Out in advance. Children like to be part of the process. If they suggest the special place, they will think about their Time Out place under pressure. It is hard to think straight in the heat of the moment. If you have a plan and follow through, Time Out will be easier to execute.

Make that special place nice and beautiful (so children want to go). Observe and ask. Say, "I can see you are getting frustrated. Do you need to go to your special place now? Do you want to go by yourself or do you want me to take you? Do you want me to stay with you or do you want to stay by yourself?" At the beginning you will have to work hard. You will have to help them get there and be there until they calm down and engage with the place. Over time your children may be able to go by themselves and enjoy some alone time. 

What do you think? Positive Time Out!, or you can change the name as you like. Teaching our children to control themselves and give them tools to learn how to calm down validating their feelings it is very important for their future. 

I am excited for you to try this out. You know your child, so I am sure you will come up with great ideas, share in the comments if you tried this and what your special place looks like for “Time Out”. Thanks for reading.

Morning Chaos?

Having a hard time getting out the door in the morning?

Life can be very chaotic sometimes, especially on a week day, when it is morning time and you have 1, 2, 3 or more children getting ready for school. You have to get out the door to get to work on time and get them on time to school with clothes on, homework done and lunches ready.

Well, let's solve this problem. Here are some live saver phases that we can use with our children to get ready in the morning with more peace, using this time as a teachable moment instead of screaming and yelling which leads to starting our mornings stressed out and feeling bad about loosing our cool. 

These phrases will work if you really want to put the time and effort into changing your morning routine, so I recommend following these steps before you start:

1. Talk to your children about your plan, days before you start. You can gather the family together and say: 

Example: You know, I am having a very hard time in the morning. It is very stressful for me to get out of the door when we are not all ready to go. I get frustrated to have to repeat myself many times and I don't see a result. I don't like to yell, or be upset. We are a family. We need to treat each other with respect. If we all help to get ready on time we will have a peaceful morning and we will all start our days happy. What do you guys think about this? Should we all work together to make this important part of our day better?

Ask your children about suggestions: They will have some ideas that may help. But also ask what will happen if their ideas don't work. Children like to find solutions, and this will put them in charge of the situation. They like to be in control and that is ok. 

 Important: Follow up. If the family agrees with ideas the children have and everyone is  willing to cooperate and do it then follow up with the idea. But also follow up with the consequences that the children proposed. You can come up with ideas too and see if your children agree. 

Question Ideas: Do you need to get up earlier in the morning so you have more time? Should we get the clothes ready the night before? Should we go to sleep earlier, so we can get up earlier and have more time? Should we pre-cook easy breakfast? Do you want me to give you choices for breakfast the night before, so you know what to expect and eat it better? Should we put a timer to eat breakfast, so we know how much time is left before we get in the car? Do you want to have 10 minutes to play or reed a book together before we go if we are ready on time?

 The bottom line: If you agree on something with your kids follow up and follow through.

2. The first week or two, be prepared to spend more time than usual with them, going through the steps of the morning so they get used to the change and know the routine. For example: Stay in their room while they get dressed, not to do get them dressed, but just to be there so they know they have to complete the task. Sit and have breakfast with them so they eat their food and don't get distracted with something else. Be there in the process to get their shoes, jackets on and get in the car. You may have to get ready before them for this to happen, but if you invest in these 2 weeks … your children will have a routine and may start do in it by themselves better.

3. Take a lot of deep breaths, don't let the situation control your emotions, try to talk to them calmly. Tap their shoulder and go to their level if you feel they are not paying attention. Talk about how this was an agreement. And yes, sometimes you will have to say: I can see you are having a hard time getting ready, so I am going to pick you up and put you in the car without shoes! 

Remember: Give a lot of positive feed back if they cooperate. Point out how helpful they are being for the family and follow up with that too.

Getting out the door phrases:

  1. I can see you are having a hard time getting to the door. Is there any way I can help you?

  2. Do you want to finish getting dressed here or at school? (talk to your teachers about that before, some preschools are very supportive and be fine helping you with this)

  3. I see you are dressed, you ate breakfast, what is next?

  4. What is the first thing you are going to do when you get to school today?

  5. It will be very helpful for the family if we are all ready at the same time. How Can we make that happen?

  6. What do you need in case it is cold at the playground today? Do you want to wear it or carry it ?

  7. Are you going to eat your breakfast now, so you have energy for the day? or are you waiting until is time for a snack at school?

  8. (If is an option) Do you want to finish breakfast here or at school? 

  9. It looks like you are getting very distracted with your toys today. Do you need any help to get ready?

  10. Let's see who will get in the car first today.

  11. (If its possible) If we are all ready on time, we will have time to spend 10 minutes at the swing at school before I leave to work.

  12. What kind of music do you want to listen to in the car on the way to school today?

  13. (Get some audio books from the library) I have some stories we can listen to in the car on the way to school, hurry up, I can't wait to hear them…

I hope these tips help you to have a smoother morning with your children and start your day more calm. If you have any questions, suggestions or need help with this situation go to the comment section and share your experience!

Have a wonderful day!

Teach or punish?

Punishment punishes, It does NOT teach.


  • If we don't punish the children, they don't learn

  • If we don't punish them, they don't think about their mistakes

  • If we don't punish we lose authority as parents.

Some of us grew up with the Myth that if we don't pay for what we did wrong, we won't  learn.

There is a price for good behavior, but in the early years it is paid by the parents, not the children. Why should children have to feel bad about their mistakes? Who said that our roll as a parents is to suppress instead of teach? 

Children are growing and learning how things work in their environment. We have to give them opportunities to make mistakes. Mistakes help them to learn, and think about solutions. In the chaos of the screaming and the crying and spaghetti sauce on the wall, we must model how to do it better next time, and then show our children we are there to support them.

 If a child makes a mistake she probably wasn’t paying attention.  

The solution is not to make them feel even worse. Isn’t it enough just to feel bad for our own mistake?

When we make a mistake we need to find solutions - not feel guilty about it. Children are the same. Children are very smart and the consequences of their mistakes are enough to teach them.

When people make us feel bad for our mistakes we feel shame and insecurity. We start to feel guilty, reproach ourselves  and focus on the bad instead of the positive.

These are behaviors that grow with us and start to form as habits in later years.

I don't think that is the pattern we want for our children. We want resilient adults who think about solutions  - not dwell on problems. We want adults who see mistakes as opportunities to learn instead of creating low self-esteem and feeling guilty for what they did wrong. 

Punishment can work in the moment, but to what long-term effect? All our children are big leaders, persistent and intelligent. They are going to find a way to do what they want with or without our consent. 

So, what is what we want for their future? Do we want teenagers who hide their actions from us? Who make decisions from a place of fear? Do we want teenagers who are making mistakes and feeling guilt with no compass or adviser? 

Or do we want teenage leaders with good self-esteem and guided by people that love them and respect them no matter what?

As adults our responsibility with the children is to guide, and teach, not reproach and punish and push down.

By punishing, we are teaching a behavior. 

Instead of punishing, take time to communicate and teach a different behavior.