Parenting never comes with a definitive manual; one that tells you exactly how to raise a child the supposed right way. We all have different family values although many experts agree good families share many of the same values. How is it that we can be the most loving, wonderful parents in the world and still end up with a misguided, defiant teenager that makes us rip our hair out of our head wondering where we went wrong?
It happens all too often. You see a pair of excellent parents who have done just about everything right for their children and by all indications, have raised their children well. One of their kids has already graduated from college and is on his or her way to sustaining a great career. The other one just started college with an eye on studying medicine. The third child, one who grew up in the same loving, happy household is stuck in 9th grade with no way out because he is hooked on marijuana, skips class all the time, shows no interest in school, and is generally defiant towards everyone. This kid is very intelligent but is on a blazing path to nowhere. We’re talking about a child who went from straight A’s in school to D’s and F’s.
How does this happen?
Chances are, as parents, we should have seen it coming.
I believe as parents, we need to enter our responsibilities with extreme vigilance once a child is born so we can help steer them in a positive direction, all the time! I’m talking about never letting your guard down when it comes to your child. Oftentimes, parents choose to ignore the warning signs of their kids in distress because they have other things to worry about such as finances. Although it’s understandable, there is no excuse not to place your children as number one on the priority list of dealing with difficult situations in life. You need to deal with it immediately! Imagine how many of our children could have been saved from the perils of crime, drugs, and suicide if some of the parents would have been more deliberate in taking action!
Your child can be the best kid on the block and in an instant, if you are not careful, he or she can turn rotten in a matter of weeks if you child starts hanging out with the wrong crowd. Your so-called “baby” can start committing crimes and doing drugs from one day to the next and embark on a path of ruining his or her life easier than you think. There are many miserable kids out there looking for other children to go down the same path and be as miserable as them. These misguided kids can infect your child and ruin young lives with ease.
Your child can also suffer from bullying while at school causing him or her to get sent into a tailspin of confusion, hurt, anger, and depression. Still, many parents know there is something wrong but they fail to get down to the bottom of it for a variety of reasons which don’t put the child on top of the list of priorities. This can be deadly.
So, how can we as parents place ourselves in the best position to avoid something like this from happening?
Aside from being vigilant and taking action, here are three surefire ways to place your kids in the best possible position to grow up drug and crime-free and to have a chance to face any obstacles during their teenage years and beyond:
- Don’t be afraid to put your kid in his or her place whenever necessary, but do so in a respectful and caring manner. Children start testing you from a young age. The last thing you want is for your kids to grow up and have one of those “whatever” attitudes where this becomes their normal response to your instructions or suggestions. Teenagers especially develop this “whatever” attitude sometime in their early teens when they are starting to become more independent. Many of them think they know everything. It is your job as a parent to remind them in a stern but loving way how inexperienced they are in life and how you, without a doubt, know much more than they do which is why you are telling them to do a certain thing a certain way. If you start losing control of your child by allowing disrespect, the risk of losing your child to drugs and illicit activity increases tenfold! You can ward off this danger by teaching them at an early age the importance of a family working together as one, the importance of respecting one another, and how they need to obey you for their own good. You have to teach them there are consequences for their negative actions and you have to be consistent in praising them for their accomplishments as well as punishing them when necessary.
- Bond with your kids. Most thugs and drug users have one thing in common; they came from a broken home with little love or structure in the household. Many were also abused by their parents or other family members and friends of the family. You may be a single parent. Don’t use that as a crutch to say, “I’m doing the best I can,” when your 14 year old is out smoking weed and writing graffiti all over the downtown walls, doing as he or she pleases. From the moment your child is born, if you don’t establish that bond (and it has to come from you), you can probably forget about raising a good kid. Kids who grow up without any love or guidance end up fending for themselves with a “what’s in it for me” mentality while saying, “Screw everybody else, I need to get what’s mine.” They usually end up as selfish people who find it extremely difficult to function in society. On the flip side, if your child has a special bond with you from an early age, it is highly unlikely he or she will do drugs or commit crimes out of fear of breaking that trusted bond. They grow up with a conscience and they try to make good choices because you have taught them how to do so. You will have also taught them how great life can be without resorting to crime and drugs by leading an exemplary life. When was the last time you told your child, “You know, I am so lucky to be your parent. You are so important to me and without you, my life would not be complete.” Ask every single death row inmate in the world if any of their parents ever said anything like this to them and guarantee maybe only 1% actually did hear sincere words like these from a parent. Children grow into rotten adults for many reasons but the biggest reason is usually due to horrible parenting!
- Love and nurture your kids. Show me a 15 year old child who has already committed a few robberies and has been arrested a few times and I’ll show you a kid who was constantly left on the floor crying throughout his infant years in an environment without any love. Kids who grow up without love and nurturing from caring parents usually turn out the same way as them. They have trouble forming relationships with others and have low self-esteem and barely any confidence in themselves. Kids who don’t receive affection have no clue how to show affection in a healthy manner as they get older. Kids who get yelled at all the time grow up afraid to make a mistake because they cannot gain confidence in their own actions for fear of doing the wrong thing. These will be kids who won’t ever be able to take risks in life to come out ahead because it’s how they were raised. They will end up feeling sorry for themselves and will probably exhibit selfish traits to an extreme in their relationships as they continuously struggle with their low self-esteem.
We can literally go on and on about the obvious mistakes parents continually make. Hey, I was never a perfect parent. There is no such thing. However, one of the first things I did when I became a mother was to research many books from experts on how to raise a happy and healthy child. I guarantee you only 10% of the human population ever conducts research on this topic as they get thrust into parenthood. This is a mistake. You can’t just wing it anymore when it comes to parenting because times are much more complicated. A kid growing up today is exposed to so much more information regarding sex, crimes, and drugs than kids raised in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s , and 90’s.
I urge all of you new parents as well as experienced ones to educate yourselves on parenting through the many expert articles on the Internet without having to pay for anything! Read the information and use what works for you. Everything you read will not be the gospel truth but by gathering as much information as you can and filtering the positive stuff into your arsenal of knowledge, you can become a much better parent and the likelihood of losing your child to drugs, crimes, or suicide will drop dramatically.
Many parents, fathers especially, dream of watching their kid growing up playing baseball and being in the major leagues someday. Others figure there’s a possibility that they might someday earn a scholarship through baseball and pay their own way through college. Still, most parents get their kids into sports, particularly baseball, so they can participate in team sports and learn important values, to keep them healthy and active, and to lessen the likelihood that they turn to drugs, commit crimes, or suffer from substance-abuse later on in their teen years and beyond. Whatever the motivation or reason to teach a child to play baseball, it is well worth the effort and it can create the most beautiful and lasting childhood memories for a child.
My motivation a few years ago came from the fact that my son walked up to me and said,”Daddy I want to learn how to play baseball.” I remember being thrilled and so happy for my kid to want to learn a team sport and get off the computer that he was so firmly attached to. I had always tried my best to encourage him throughout his young life to play baseball, basketball, or football and he never showed interest in sports.
As a former professional baseball player and Little League coach, I know a thing or two when it comes to teaching kids the fundamentals. Even if you don’t have any experience or are not particularly coordinated, you can teach your kid how to play baseball by teaching them the basics. After that, they are either going to love it or not! It’s up to them to take it as far as they want to go.
Before we dive into this quick course that anyone can use, here are the basic items you will need; A glove, at least five baseballs, a batting tee, a batting helmet, and a metal bat.
There are three basic areas where anyone without experience can teach their kids how to play baseball:
1. Teach kids how to catch the ball. This one takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice, especially for kids in the 4 to 10 year old range. You can start by buying them a glove using this size chart to make sure their glove is the right size. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a new glove. As a matter of fact you may be able to borrow a good glove or find a used one on Craigslist or the classifieds.
Start by tossing them a soft rubber ball to their glove hand side, away from their face and body, from just a few short feet away. At first, you want your child to catch the ball with his glove in front and to the side of his or her body with the glove turned palm up. Teach your child how to move the glove under the ball, then teach your kid how to close the glove as the ball strikes it in the pocket. Once your child masters this after a few days, you can teach them to reach above their head with their glove and you can toss the ball above their head. Next, you want to try some advanced techniques such as tossing the ball to one side for a while, then the other side, above their head, and at their feet so they have to stretch down to catch it.
Praise your kids for making catches and continue encouraging them. The worst thing you can do when you are trying to teach a child something is to criticize them for not doing what you told them to do. For example, you shouldn’t say something like, “Johnny, why are you turning the glove this way if I just got through telling you to turn it the other way?” Instead, use positive reinforcement by saying, “Wow, Janet, great catch, here’s another one. Aw, nice try, turn your glove this way when you are trying to catch it.”
2. Teach your kid how to throw a baseball. Instead of having them stand up and throw the ball, you will have them get on their knee and place their lead foot forward. So, for example, a right-hander will put his or her right knee down and his left leg bent forward towards the intended target and a lefthander will have the left knee down and the right leg bent forward. See the example image.
From this position, you can tell your youngster to start with the ball in the glove, then to put his or her arm back, and finally, to throw the ball forward. To make this exercise easier, call out the positions as such; glove, back, throw! As an alternative that also works well, you can say, “glove, back, up, and throw.” This adds an extra step where you child can bring the ball back directly behind him or her before putting the arm up and throwing. Also, to make this easy, you can place a bucket of baseballs right next to your child so he or she can reach in and practice their throw over and over.
The reason this works so well to teach not only proper form but arm strength as well is because your kid will be locked in and not worried about foot placement just yet. Once he or she has mastered this throwing form, it’s time to have them stand up so they can learn how to throw by stepping forward with their free foot. For righties, they will step with their left foot as they throw and vice versa. Pay attention to their form as they throw the ball. Are they cocking their arm back before they throw it or are they keeping their arm too close to their torso? Ideally, you want your child to throw the ball with as much natural power as possible. If you imitate the image used above, you should have no problem drastically improving in a relatively short amount of time.
3. Teach your kid how to hit a baseball. I left the one kids have the most fun with for last, intentionally! You see, for some kids, all they want to do is practice batting and they can easily tire out and lose interest in learning how to catch and throw.
A batting tee is essential if you want to teach your child proper batting form. Even Major League ballplayers sometimes use batting tees when they are working on proper swing form!
You can get a fairly good and inexpensive batting tee at Toys R Us for under $15.00 and it is well worth it and probably the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your child.
Have your kid stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The feet should be facing the batting tee as seen in the image below. The front foot should be parallel to the tube with the baseball on top of it.
Your child should grip the bat as shown above with no separation between hands. When he or she is ready to take a swing, the bat should be cocked back and loaded and as the swing begins, the front foot should make a small step (2 to 6 inches) as the arms extend with the barrel of the bat striking the baseball as the wrists turn over. The idea is to keep the eyes on the ball and strike the ball just as the wrists are breaking and following through. There will also be a natural shift in the legs. When the bat is cocked back, the weight will shift slightly to the rear leg and body, and when the swing starts, there will be a torque action in the body as the hips slightly rotate when the hitter steps forward.
There are many different ways Major League baseball players take swings due to many different factors having to do with different theories and natural abilities. However, by using the above basics, you will allow your child to develop or strengthen his or her natural swing. See you in the Big Leagues!
I look around at my co-workers and can’t help but notice how many of them absolutely adore their children but they readily admit how they continue to sacrifice time spent with them for the chance at making a little more money while at work. I feel like I have a responsibility to tell them how this approach has worked out for me over the last few years and how I have changed this approach to make my life as well as my children’s lives much more fulfilling than ever.
My first daughter, who is now 29 years old, was the product of a failed marriage that lasted two years. As an every-other-weekend father, I barely had enough time to bond with my child during her formative years. To make matters worse, her mother moved two thousand miles away with her with my consent so she could pursue her dream career in the armed forces. It was contingent on the promise of her returning within 4 years and I gave her my full blessing, trying not to interfere with her chance to make something of herself after the divorce so she could provide for my child. Even though she returned four years later as promised, this is where the trouble started!
I never gave myself a chance to really bond with my first child because I hardly ever saw her for a few years and during the times we did get together, it was over in a flash. My first child has since grown and she did so without a father heavily influencing her life. I must say, it shows!
Back then, I didn’t know how bonding with your child could prove to be the biggest advantage when it came to helping a child grow up to be everything they could be. My daughter carries much resentment for my absence as a father to this day. Worse yet, as the product of a broken home, I have no problem saying the truth; she didn’t turn out to be the person I hoped she would be for her own sake. Yes, she’s a loving and beautiful person! however, she is also the laziest person I know and she has landed in county jail twice for felonious offenses, one of which she is still facing.
How did this happen? Why does this occur to so many families? A parent’s usual worst fear is that their child will either die or turn out rotten. My 29 year old daughter is neither. But something went wrong along the way and unlike most scenarios, I can definitely put my finger on this one. I know exactly what happened and I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
I take full responsibility for the decisions I made which had a direct impact on my daughter’s life. What if I would have fought for her to stay in my state all those years ago? What if I had been more successful at my career so that I could take more frequent trips to see her? So many questions still run through my head to this day and it’s easy to see how our family could have had a much better chance at avoiding this type of situation with my daughter altogether, if I had done things differently. We all live and learn, I guess. But at what expense?
I believe I have the answer if you want to have the best chance at raising a child who can flourish and always stay close to you. Bonding with your children is the way to go!
Bond With Your Child and Watch Them Flourish
Here’s how to avoid the majority of behavioral problems children face today; be a parent who is unafraid to provide structure in the household and bond with your children. It’s as simple as that!
There is no parenting manual that can teach you step by step but folks, it really is an easy process. If you are there consistently there for your children and you actually take the time to participate with them in daily activities, they will bond and become close to you in mind and spirit. When you come home from work every day, instead of focusing on how tired you are and thinking only about yourself and your favorite TV show as you plop yourself down on the couch, go hang out with your kids. Ask them how their day was and give them a daily hug and kiss while telling them how much you love them.
Include them in most everything you do, even if it means asking them if they want to come with you while you pick up a few extra groceries. Heck, occasionally treat them to a little ice cream at Cold Stone or TCBY or buy them a toy at Toys R Us without going so far as to spoil them completely.
Pass up the chance to work overtime if you really don’t need it to make your rent payment or to pay your electric bill! How much more money are you going to really make and why is it that the more money we make, the more we spend, anyway? What is more important to you?
Take a look….no, I mean really look into your children’s eyes tonight before they go to bed and ask yourself if you want those kids to have a fulfilling life and to love and respect you forever, the way you love and cherish them. Bonding with your children will become natural when you place everything in perspective.
For those of us who have children or are planning to have children in the future, it’s so important to have a clue about good parenting techniques so we can teach our kids the right morals and values. After all, nobody wants to raise spoiled kids who become rude and out of control to the point where their parents can’t get a handle on them.
For those of you who have gone through it already, I don’t have to tell many of you how frustrating and stressful it can be to raise a child. Good parenting skills are something you can easily learn and the best way is to start by avoiding the most common mistakes that can sabotage your efforts to avoid raising a “Little Johnny” or a “Little Pepito!”
Here are the 5 most common things you shouldn’t do while disciplining your child:
1. Not practicing what you preach. How in the world do you expect your children to obey you when you are not following the rules you set forth in your household? For example, if you tell your kids they need to keep their room clean and your room is an absolute mess, it opens the door for them to question and disrespect you in the long run. Another example can be something as simple as casually telling little white lies to get out of certain situations while in their presence. As an adult, you can substantiate why you would tell a white lie such as not wanting to hurt someone but a child doesn’t usually have the capacity to understand your motive and consequentially learns how to lie to get out of difficult situations, from you!
2. Threatening or warning them and not following through. “Johnny, you better clean your room within the next hour or I’m not going to take you to Disney World next month.” C’mon, do you really think your child is going to believe this? By the time they are 5 or 6, most kids know an empty threat when they hear it. Worse yet, what if you don’t follow through and they challenge you? You will lose control a month later when your child boards your vehicle and pushes back the seat to sleep on the way to see Mickey Mouse, and he or she hasn’t cleaned their room lately! After a while, your threats will become meaningless. A much better approach is to offer realistic punishment and stick to your words because if you don’t, they will start to learn how many times they can challenge you before you cave in to their resistance.
3. Losing control of yourself. If you let your children see how their misbehavior is adversely affecting you, they will learn exactly what buttons they need to push to set you off into a tailspin. Effective parenting starts with self-composure, no matter how stressed or irritated you are. You don’t want your child to learn how to deal with difficult situations by “flying off the handle.” If you stay in control, your children will learn how to act in trying situations and they will take you seriously when you discipline them.
4. Bribing them with toys or treats. This sends them the wrong message for positive or negative behavior. Experts agree it’s better to highlight their good behavior and even tell them how proud you are of them regularly. At the same time, it’s important to admonish them for bad behavior as well; this teaches them to have a conscience!
5. Waiting far too long to follow through with discipline. This one is all too common and most parents are guilty of allowing their children to follow a certain rule on their own time instead of when they specify. This teaches kids a lack of discipline and it threatens to haunt us later in the form of resistance when we need to punish our children for something serious.
Parenting and discipline go hand in hand and most parents learn as they go because there is no definitive manual. However, it’s a mistake to not prepare yourself as a parent with as much information as possible to give yourself a head start in figuring out the best child discipline techniques to fit your family. You can do so easily with the many free tips scattered all over the Internet, much of which is highly useful as a starting point.
Grandparents usually get a good laugh when you tell them you are having trouble dealing with your child’s temper tantrums because they’ve already been there and done that, and they are also thinking it’s now your turn to deal with the same type of anguish you caused them years ago!
In order to learn how to deal with temper tantrums you must first understand why they occur in the first place; most toddlers don’t have the coping mechanism most of us have as adults in trying to voice displeasure and anger. That is, they can’t explain it the way they want to, so instead, they express themselves the only way they know how; by kicking, screaming, and carrying on.
Luckily, as a parent, you have many resources available in helping you deal with these episodes which are, to put it quite frankly, perfectly normal for little boys and girls.
Here’s how to handle temper tantrums and regain the control you once thought you had before they started:
- Be preventative. Start teaching your children how you want them to act when they are frustrated or angry. You can tell them when they start feeling frustrated or angry to say, “Will you please help me,” or to get your attention by calling out your name so you can attend to their needs right away. This one works wonders after a while because it can become an automatic response mechanism built into their little minds to replace their inability to communicate with words effectively. Once they get your attention, make sure you appear sincere in taking them seriously.
- Know what triggers the tantrums. Does your child freak out when he or she is hungry? Make certain you always carry your child’s favorite snacks. Does your kid hate it when you go on long road trips? Take an occasional break at a rest stop and offer comfort. If you know what sets them off, you stand a better chance of avoiding most temper tantrums through your diligence. A word of caution; don’t allow them to get their way if it’s the wrong thing to do, just to stop a tantrum.
- Use distraction techniques. For example, if your child refuses to get off the swing you can say something like, “Wow, look at what your sister (or brother) is doing over there on the slide. Let’s go see them and maybe we’ll go home and play with your (name a favorite) toy right after.”
- Remain calm and don’t let them see you are affected. Sometimes, children throw fits because they have already learned how to push your buttons. Resist the temptation to yell or spank, and instead, calmly reassure them you are there to help them with their frustration and their actions will not make the situation any better.
- Give them choices. When you start seeing them become upset you can issue a stern warning in a calm voice by saying something to the effect of, “Jenny, I see you are starting to get angry. If you are going to continue to behave this way, go up to your room right now until you have calmed down.” This way, your child has a choice and if he or she chooses to remain calm, reinforce their positive actions with a compliment on how well they have handled themselves.
What Do You Do If Nothing Works as Expected?
If your child is not responding at all and appears to be having the “king” of all tantrums, make sure he or she is not placed in a situation where they can hurt themselves or others and simply say you will be glad to help and talk about whatever is at issue after your child calms down. If you have to hold your child down to prevent injury, do so with as little force as necessary without showing any aggression. You may also want to consider removing your child from an area with other people so they don’t get hurt.
When Should I Consult With a Professional Regarding My Child’s Temper Tantrums?
If you suspect your child has some sort of developmental difficulty and is still having temper tantrums past the age of four, you may want to consult with a physician to consider your options. Additionally, if your child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability you should immediately consult with your physician and let him or her know exactly what your child is experiencing, regardless of their age.
It is a well-known fact amongst physicians that even perfectly normal adolescent children and adults may throw a fit of anger every now and then; this is not normal behavior and should be addressed and is usually caused by their inability to communicate and express their thoughts and needs effectively.
Imagine what it would feel like microwaving a nice bowl of Quaker oatmeal and instead of pouring a few sprinkles of cinnamon, placing one tablespoon of it right down your pie hole without anything to wash it down. Yuck!! Will it go down? Actually, it doesn’t taste so bad but it is rather dangerous as many people have ended up in the emergency room after trying to gulp down spoonfuls of cinnamon in one gulp without the help of any liquids in what’s now commonly known as the “cinnamon challenge.”
While no one has yet died from this prank, this ridiculous game causes people to choke and cough like crazy, it’s caused folks to experience trouble breathing, and it’s even collapsed some lungs along the way! Poison control centers are even aware of this regular call that comes in on a fairly regular basis.
Experts predict it’s only a matter of time when a teen or adult with asthma or other respiratory problem takes the challenge and chokes to death and as a result, alerts have been placed on the American Association of Poison Control Centers website. What people don’t know is the inhalation of cinnamon powder can actually scar lung tissue because it is composed of cellulose fibers which don’t break down easily in the body.
Experts are also suggesting parents warn their kids about this dangerous game and to be extra vigilant concerning what they are looking at while online.
A 16 year-old teen from Michigan started her own website called NoCinnamonChallenge.com as a means to discourage kids swallowing cinnamon after she suffered a collapsed lung and almost died before being found by her father who drove her to a hospital emergency room.
Dejah Reed says she was participating in the cinnamon challenge with her friend and after the fourth challenge, she inhaled a nice clump of cinnamon causing her to lose her breath. Luckily, her father arrived shortly after to find her daughter dying right there in front of his eyes, evidenced by her pale bluish color. She now has developed a terrible case of asthma and carries an inhaler thanks to her idiotic prank.
I’m glad Reed is alive and I must say I’ve seen much stupidity in my life but this one ranks there with some of the worst! She gets my nod for the biggest knucklehead of 2013.