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February 26, 2017

Good Luck on the “Top Ten Parenting Ideas” and on Planning for Next Year

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We have appreciated all of the favorable comments on the “Top Ten Parenting Ideas” and hope the ones you have tried are working for you. You can review them here and continue to try new ones as you feel the need for “something new” as (all parents often do). Don’t try to do them all at once, just pick the ones most relevant to your family right now.

As we move toward Spring, it is a popular time to start your kids on the Alexander’s Amazing Adventures series to teach and reinforce values. It continues to amaze us how much kids love these audio adventures, and you can try the first part of the first one (on Honesty) for free to be sure that it resonates with your children.

Also, if you have preschoolers, it is not too early to begin planning for this coming school year and to start organizing a Joy School group. Browse through the Joy School menu and begin getting ready for a fantastic experience in learning the various “joys” yourself as you teach them to your child!

Lots of love from our house to yours,
Linda and Richard Eyre and family

January 4, 2017

Summary of the Top Ten Parenting Ideas

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During the last few months, we have been blogging about what we consider to be the 10 Best Parenting Ideas we have come across during our three decades of writing to and speaking with parents worldwide.

So as the new year begins, we thought we would send you a quick access to these 10 ideas by listing their links. They are in no particular order, and you would probably be well advised not to try all of them at once. Read or skim through them and pick the ones that you need right now and that you feel would resonate with your own and unique family.

Idea #1: The Repenting Bench
Idea #2: The Ancestor Story Book
Idea #3: The “Decisions in Advance” List
Idea #4: The Family Bank (and Family Economy)
Idea #5: Refined Family Traditions
Idea #6: The Family Vision Statement
Idea #7: The “Five-Facet Review”
Idea #8: Mommy Dates and Daddy Dates
Idea #9: The Family Value of the Month
Idea #10: A Secret Code for Better Family Communication

Enjoy the ones you choose to try! Happy New Year from our house to yours!

Love and Blessings,

Linda and Richard

December 27, 2016

10 Best Parenting Ideas: 7. The “Five Facet Review”

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Editor’s note: We missed number 7 in the sequence of the 10 Best Parenting Ideas so we are posting it here to complete the full series as our Christmas and New Year’s present to all of the fellow parents on ValuesParenting.com. You are welcome to read through all 10 ideas here.

This is the seventh idea in a series of 10 where the Eyres are sharing the ten best and most practical and useable parenting ideas they have come across during their three decades of writing to and speaking with parents worldwide. The ideas are not in any particular order, but each represents a simple, practical “best practice” that can be implemented in any family. Most of them center on a “prop” or physical object that symbolizes the idea and makes it real and memorable.

There is one method we suggest to parents almost every time we speak. It is a mental method actually — a method for marshaling other methods, a method that is a direct manifestation of specific concerns for each individual child — a parenting method that also strengthens marriages – a method that has placed itself at the center of our marriage and our family for decades.

We call it a “5 Facet Review” and it works like this: Once a month (it’s best if there is a set day, like the first Tuesday or the second Friday) go on a “date” with your spouse if you are a two-parent family or with someone else who really knows and loves your children if you are a single parent. Go to dinner in a relatively quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed, and have only one item on your agenda — your children.

Structure your discussion around the five facets of each of your children, one at a time: How is Josh doing physically? How is he doing mentally? How is he doing socially? How is he doing emotionally? How is he doing spiritually?

As you ask each other these questions, they will lead to a powerfully proactive discussion. Probe and dig deep. On the physical question, think through everything from his health to his physical gifts or abilities. On the mental question, discuss not only how he is doing in school but how his brain works, how he processes information, what he is good at and what he is not. On the social question, get into friends, shyness, social aptitude and politeness. On the emotional question talk about moods, signs of depression, temper, and so on. And on the spiritual question discuss where his heart is and how secure he is in his beliefs.

Look for potential problems, but also for aptitudes and gifts and talents that need to be developed.

Brainstorm! As you get into this kind of discussion, something one of you says will spark a further thought in the other, and you will really be able to develop fresh and valuable insights about each of your children.

As you brainstorm, take notes. When you recognize a challenge or a need (or an opportunity), decide how to deal with it and who will handle it. It works best to have a special notebook or journal that you bring with you each time you have your monthly 5-facet review. As you start each session, read back through your notes from last month and check whether you followed through and decide which things from your notes still need your attention.

You will finish your review each month with a clearer picture of each child and a more specific commitment to him and a more sharply focused love for him or her. This exercise, rigorously followed, will yield more insight and more behavioral effect than anything you could read in a parenting book. Each child is unique and you, the parents, are the only ones that can become an expert on that particular child. Answers and ideas will come in this time dedicated to analyzing and thinking about these children you love.

And the bonus will be a strengthening of your marriage. Nothing is better for a relationship than working together on a project or an objective that you both value and love. Teaming up mentally in this kind of a 5-facet review of your children will draw you closer to each other and create a certain emotional synergy that is good for any marriage.

Thanks for reading, and anytime you wish you can review all of the parenting ideas that made this top 10 list. Thanks for joining us in our common quest for better, more effective, more loving parenting.

December 10, 2016

10 Best Parenting Ideas: 10. A Secret Code for Better Family Communication

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All parents know how important communication and discipline are within their family, but few seem to manage the clear, calm effectiveness they desire. In most families there is too much arguing, too much lecturing, too many power struggles, too much sibling rivalry, too much bickering, and too much defiance and disobedience.

A few years ago, we were asked by our publisher at the time, McGraw Hill, to come up with a book idea on something that would simplify family communication and motivation and get parents out of the pattern of yelling, lecturing, and repeating themselves over and over to their kids.

After talking it over with other parents we respected, we decided that what was needed was some kind of secret code where certain words or symbols represented various forms of desired good behavior. The theory was that when correction or behavior modification was needed, parents would be able to say the right secret word and kids, knowing the desirable behavior the word symbolized, would correct themselves without the dreaded lecture or power struggle.

We chose animals for the secret code symbols because we were able to find a particular animal who exemplified each desired behavior we needed a secret code for—and we knew that kids love animals enough that they would be instantly interested.

For example, humpback whales symbolized politeness. They don’t yell or argue or even interrupt. They communicate with whistling “songs” and one whale gets to finish his song before another begins. Humpbacks live together in families or “pods” and they eat together by swimming down to the ocean floor in a coordinated spiral, their blow-hole bubbles forming a “bubble net” that entraps small fish and plankton as they swim back up eating their dinner, singing and communicating all the while without interruption or any form of rudeness.

Children, of course, are interested in Whales and fascinated by their behavior, so parents can establish the secret code word “Whale” which all family members understand means to stop any un-whale-like behavior and be as polite as the Humpback Whales. When a child is yelling or interrupting or talking-back, the parent can just get his attention and say “whale.” It is a lot more effective than a lecture.

Another example is the symbol of crabs for the principle of “praise don’t criticize.”
Crabs have an instinct to pull each other back. If you are catching crabs at the beach and you throw one into a bucket, he will just climb out, but if you throw two or more into the bucket, none will get out, because as soon as one begins to climb up, another crab will pull him back down. Explain that, in our family, we want to boost people up, not pull them down. We want to praise and encourage each other, not criticize or put down.

Once the code word is explained and established, parents can simply get eye contact with a child who is criticizing or making fun of another child and simply say “crab.”

In all, there are 9 of these secret code symbols in our book The Book of Nurturing: The seven others are a Turtle for consistency, Canadian Geese for family loyalty, an Elephant’s trunk for combining strength with flexibility, a Bear for accepting responsibility, a Frog for recognizing when the water is heating up around you, a Flea for finding potential, and a Redwood Tree for accepting family unity. You can sample these symbols and the drawings of each animal symbol or you can find your own pictures of each animal symbol you decide to use.

As with many of the preceding “Top Ten Parenting Ideas,” this one works best when it is practiced and rehearsed in advance. Use your family meetings or councils to learn the animal symbols and practice what you will do when someone says “Whale” or “Crab.”

Editor’s note: This is the tenth and final article in this series where the Eyres are sharing the ten best parenting ideas they have come across during their three decades of writing to and speaking with parents worldwide. Each of the “top ten ideas” is coupled with the key parenting challenge that it helps to solve. The ideas are not in any particular order, but each represents a simple, practical “best practice for parents” that can be implemented in any family. Most of the ideas center on a “prop” or physical object that symbolizes the idea and makes it real and memorable.

November 12, 2016

10 Best Parenting Ideas: 9. The Family Value of the Month

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Our best Parenting Idea number 9 of 10 has to do with having a plan for developing character in children. We feel that the trouble with so much of what we call “parenting” is that it’s a defense rather than an offense. The “experts” all seem to be saying, “If you have this problem, try this solution,” or “If Johnny does this, you try that.” The old adage of the best defense being a good offense isn’t applied very much. Most parents really don’t have a plan!

If you ask a business manager or owner what his goals and plans are, he or she will hand you his vision statements, sales targets, pro forma financials, and show you his offense. But ask a parent about his family goals and plans and the answer is likely to be much more general, “To raise my kids,” “To keep them out of trouble,” “To have a happy family.” How impressed would you be if the business person answered his question that generally, “To have a nice company,” . . . “To avoid going bankrupt.”

Parents, today more than ever, need clear and specific goals and plans for their families. We need an offense good enough that we’re not forced to constantly react and to rely always on our defense. We decided that the best plan was an organized and deliberate way to teach children the values that would protect them and maximize their chance for happiness. In researching and writing our New York Times #1 Bestseller Teaching Your Children Values we sought twelve values, one for each month of the year, that were truly universal, that virtually every parent everywhere would desire for their child and that, together, would create the kind of character in a child that would maximize his chance for a happy and productive life. We surveyed and questioned parents and came up with this list:

January: Honesty
February: Courage
March: Peaceability
April: Self-reliance and Potential
May: Self-discipline and Moderation
June: Fidelity and Chastity
July: Loyalty and Dependability
August: Respect
September: Love
October: Unselfishness and Sensitivity
November: Kindness and Friendliness
December: Justice and Mercy

Once the book was done, as you ValuesParenting members know, we rearranged the list a bit and developed the Alexander’s Amazing Adventures program for total focus on one value per month. This special program of twelve monthly audio sets makes it easy. Each set (one for each value) contains a parents segment of methods, stories, games, and other ideas to teach that value to different age children and a child’s segment where kids learn the value vicariously via an imaginative and musical adventure story.

As we were developing the book and the program, we realized that there are all kinds of simple and effective methods, techniques, stories, games, and other ideas to teach each of these values to kids, but the most important and overriding method is simply to focus and concentrate on one single value each month . . . to make it the “value of the month” in your family and to look for opportunities (in everything from the media you watch to the everyday situations you find yourself in) to talk about it and to point it out to your child. Assign one value to each month and when the year ends, start over. (your eight-year-old is now nine and will learn each value on a new level).

Properly approached, this “values offense” is not some burden of “one more thing to worry about.” Quite the contrary, it’s a simplifier. It gives a parent one clear subject to concentrate on for the month rather than worrying about everything at once. It’s not a panacea, and it’s not something that has to be worked on every moment, but when you get an opportunity, when you find yourself with a child in the car or in the kitchen, you mention the value, you work on it with them. You comment on your own need for the value, and on how much it means to you, and the effect is cumulative — a little better each month — a little better each year, building a base of shared and understood values that become a lifetime defense against the false values that threaten to swallow up our children and our families.

The bottom line is that children do not learn values or develop character by osmosis; they do so through the deliberate efforts and example of their parents.

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