I need resources on how to be more organized and how to stay on schedule.
Time management and organization are two skills that many people struggle with, so we're happy to see you are reaching out for help with this. These skills can definitely make life a lot easier and less stressful if used effectively. Here are a few basic time management tips:
Tip #1 – Take time to write things down and use a planner to schedule your events and appointments.
Tip #2 – Make lists of things you need to remember or tasks you need to complete. Then assign a date or time when you would like to have those tasks completed. Check this list every day to remind yourself of upcoming tasks.
Tip #3 – If you struggle with time management and following a daily routine, create a schedule and allow yourself a certain amount of time for each task you need to complete. For example: 5 minutes to brush your teeth, 10 minutes to get dressed, etc. Then set a timer in the morning for each task to help you stay on schedule.
My 5-year-old niece is struggling in school. She's defiant, pitches fits and has been told by her teachers that she will need to wait another year before starting kindergarten. She acts up at home as well. How can my sister improve her daughter's behavior?
Teaching our children social skills is one of the earliest and most important jobs we have as parents. Social skills can be taught at home differently from how they’re taught at school. Consistency is the key. Your sister should teach her daughter the behavior she wants her to display and practice that behavior every day. Games like “Mother May I” and “Simon Says” are fun for young children to play and help them learn social skills like “Asking Permission” and “Following Instructions.”
For example, your sister can use “Simon Says” to teach your niece the skill of “Following Instructions” by telling her there are three rules:
- Look – Stop what you are doing and look at the person who’s talking
- Say – Say “Okay” so the person knows you are listening
- Do – Do what you are asked immediately and in the best way you can
As adults, we have to show the child what we want her to do so she understands what is expected of her and sees that she can do it. This means prompting her throughout the game to do what is being practiced.
Your sister can incorporate play throughout the day to reinforce the skill she is teaching. For example, before telling the child to come to the table, she can hold up three fingers and prompt the child to review the three steps required for the skill of “Following Instructions” (Look, Say, Do). Your sister also can give praise like high-fives, claps and encouraging words to reinforce positive behavior when the child does what she is asked to do. If your sister is consistent with her teaching and expectations, she should see positive results.
What are some age-appropriate chores for a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old?
Chores are a great way to help children learn a variety of skills. Kids can learn and practice skills such as responsibility, following instructions and accepting feedback by regularly completing chores. Chores give children skills that they will use throughout their lives. When assigning chores, make sure you focus on completion rather than substance; it’s more important that your child completes a task than what the specific task is. Also, let children be part of choosing chores by asking them to help you come up with helpful tasks they can complete.
Sit down together and have a "Family Meeting" to discuss some possible chores for everyone. Make it fun and create a "Job Jar." Have your 6-year-old write his chores on a piece of purple paper and have your 10-year-old write his chores on a green piece of paper. Then put all the chore slips in the Job Jar. Each morning (or night), have your children pull their jobs for the day out of the jar.
There are probably a million tasks around your house that sometimes don’t get done because of your busy schedule! Here are a few ideas for your Job Jar to get you started:
- Wipe off all door knobs in the house.
- Wipe off all baseboards in (list specific room of house).
- Vacuum couch.
- Wipe out inside of trash cans.
- Collect trash on trash day.
- Make beds.
- Sweep porch or garage floor.
- Shake out rugs.
- Empty out one kitchen cupboard and wipe down the inside.
- Go through personal toys and pick out one that isn’t played with much. Give the toy to Goodwill so another child can enjoy it.
You’re the best judge of what will work in your home. Just remember that your focus should be on teaching your children to follow instructions and complete the chores. Try to be creative and make it fun!
I have a difficult time getting my 5-year-old son’s attention. He has a lot of energy and sometimes it seems like he can't hear me. But I've had his ears checked, so I know he can. How can I get him to listen to me?
Young boys are easily distracted by things around them and when they are focused on an activity that interests them, it’s difficult to get their attention. Removing distractions, getting on his level, being eye-to-eye and using a normal voice tone are the most basic things you can do to help your son develop listening skills.
We encourage parents to teach their children good listening skills by practicing these simple steps:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Look at the person who is talking.
- Ask questions if you don't understand.
Along with listening, teach your son to follow instructions by:
- Look at the person who is talking.
- Say, "Okay."
- Do what is asked immediately.
Teach these skills at a neutral time and give good reasons for why your son should use them the way you have described. Then practice often, keeping practices brief and fun with instructions like “Go get each of us a popsicle.”
Be consistent with your expectations and praise him when he listens and follows instructions.
I have been a divorced, single mother for three years, and I am concerned that I lack the necessary skills to effectively parent my two girls, ages 11 and 6. I was adopted and raised by my mother and brother. My mom was unavailable to me; she worked and kept her distance emotionally. My older brother was my adult figure, and I was exposed to adult situations when I was far too young. I essentially raised myself and spent a good deal of time with my peers.
Up until now, I thought I was doing an adequate job of parenting my girls. But I am stressed out daily and resort to yelling to be heard. I can ask my girls to do something, and they won’t comply unless I yell. In essence, I have relinquished my role as the authority to them. They are the bosses in the family.
I would like to regain their respect, and I need some concrete tips on how to communicate with them. I feel that if I can reestablish myself as the parent in my older daughter’s eyes, the younger one will follow suit.
I am fearful that my daughters will travel down the same path that I did. Their father is a good provider, but he is not involved in their lives and lacks parenting skills. I do not want them to make the same mistakes that I did by hanging out with the wrong crowd on the streets and picking men who make poor husbands.
One of the most basic skills we encourage parents to focus on is the skill of following instructions. You need to teach your children this skill. First, explain the skill to them so that you are all on the same page regarding what you will be expecting in the future. Convey that you agree that yelling is not acceptable, and that part of the solution for this pattern of behavior on your part is the development of the skill on their part.
Break the skill down into steps. Say “When you are asked to do something, you should …”
- Look at the person so he or she knows you’re paying attention.
- Say “OK” so they know you understand.
- Do the task right away.
- Check back to let the person know you have completed the task.
This is a new expectation. Your girls will need practice and consistency, so follow the above steps each time you ask them to do something. Tell them that each time they do not follow instructions, there will be a consequence such as an additional chore or the removal of a privilege. When they do follow instructions, they will receive a positive consequence.
If the instructions are not followed the first time you ask, issue a negative consequence, reteach the skill, practice it and then ask them to follow the original instruction once again. By following this pattern, you decrease your frustration and thus, your tendency to yell.
Children like visuals. It is helpful to make a chore chart of each of your daughters’ daily expectations. That way there is no room for misunderstanding or “forgetting” on their part. They know exactly what they must do to retain privileges such as cell phones, computer games, etc.
As parents we are teachers. We teach our children the skills that they need to lead happy, productive lives. We also teach them what healthy relationships are. Healthy relationships involve time spent together bonding.
Schedule a family night once a week that is NOT OPTIONAL. Take turns planning activities. This could be a game night, bike ride, picnic in the park, doing make-overs, etc. The activity should allow for conversation and be something that all family members can do.
Boys Town offers Common Sense Parenting classes that you might find helpful. You can also learn more about the book “Common Sense Parenting” at our website boystownpress.org. If you ever need to talk, many states have family help lines to assist parents with parenting concerns. You can also call the Boys Town hotline at 800-448-3000 24/7 to talk to a counselor for support.
How do I teach my 4-year-old son that he can’t win all the time?
You will need to teach good sportsmanship. At your son’s age, he will find himself in competitive situations. Tell him when he is the winner. The other person could say “Congratulations!” and “Nice job!” and give him a high-five. When the other person is the winner, it is your son’s turn to say “Congratulations!” and give the high-five. This is an example of being a good sport.
Keep the teaching simple. Give him a “kid reason” why being a good sport is important. For instance, others will want to play with him if he is a good sport. They won’t if he is not. If he is on a sports team, the coach will want him to play more often if your son is a good sport. Bad sports sit on the bench more often.
Then have him practice his new skill using pretend situations in which your son can demonstrate how he can be a good sport. If you play a game of cards and win, your son needs to say, “Good game. Congratulations!” If he scores a goal while playing soccer with you in the backyard, tell him, “Nice shot!” Have him do the same when you score a goal. The more you practice, the more likely he will implement his new skill with his peers.
My 11-year-old daughter started cutting her arms in response to children making fun of her at school. Though she said she would not do it again because she didn’t like it, I am concerned that she will repeat the behavior. I am addressing the unkindness of her classmates with the school’s staff.
Unfortunately, there is no statistical data on whether children who say they stop cutting themselves actually do stop. Every child is different. Keep an eye on her, certainly. But instead of focusing on the cutting itself, focus on why she was cutting herself.
Many kids who cut are more emotionally sensitive than other kids. They truly feel their emotions much faster and become overwhelmed with those feelings. Desperate to find relief, they cut themselves. It is not clear why this brings relief, but cutting seems to help some people handle their emotional distress. But this is only temporary. The bullying at your daughter’s school is the powder keg that has ignited feelings that she is unable to manage.
So your goal right now is to teach your daughter how to cope with her feelings in a healthy way. Positive and negative coping mechanisms exist. Cutting is negative. Ask her how she copes with her emotions now that she does not cut. Offer some suggestions as well.
Seeking help from a therapist who can teach your daughter better ways to manage her feelings is another option. If your daughter is really emotional, therapy can help with emotional outbursts, cutting and feeling bad in general.
My 18-year-old daughter has “checked out” of life. She quit school in the tenth grade and is continuing her schooling via online courses. She does not have friends and shows no interest in making any. She sleeps most of the day and stays up late reading Internet blogs.
Her father and I were divorced 10 years ago, and she blames most everything on the divorce. I am remarried and have a second child who is 5 years old. My older daughter will have nothing to do with her half-sister and is rude to her.
I have suggested counseling, but she has declined. I have tried to help her get a job, make friends and sign up for more schooling. She lacks social skills and refuses to help around the house. I am afraid for her future.
Your daughter’s online schooling is an unnatural social setting for a teen. Without interaction with her peers, she is missing out on the discussions that teens share about preparing for their future and transitioning into the next phase of life.
At 18, your daughter would typically have a job, be making plans for college, maybe considering entering the military or receiving training to enter the workforce.
She needs responsibilities and chores around the house. Put her in charge of preparing the family’s evening meal once a week. Make the Internet and other electronic communication off-limits for the entire family at a certain time of the day. Help her become more adapted to normal work and school schedules. Have her explore viable job options. Insist that she get this vital experience while you are still supporting her. She cannot wait until she is out on her own and financially responsible for herself.
Your daughter can decline counseling if she can prove that she does not need it. So, let her know what she is required to do to prove her normalcy and if she does not comply, ensure that she attend counseling sessions. This is not optional.
My boyfriend’s 11-year-old daughter called him because an antihistamine that she had taken was making her shaky. He talked about it with her for a while, and he told her that its effects would fade when she went to sleep.
She called a few hours later, saying that she couldn’t sleep and was afraid to go to her mother, who locks her door and does not like to be disturbed. So my boyfriend drove 20 miles to see his daughter and help her out. There must be a better way to handle this situation.
Your boyfriend did the right thing by talking to his daughter and giving her advice on how to handle the situation. Perhaps he could also talk to her mother to let her know what was happening if she did not already know.
When the health and welfare of a child are at risk, both parents should focus on the issue at hand. If he continues to drive over there and “rescue” her in her eyes, the distress calls will most likely continue if not increase.
He should develop a plan on how to respond in the future and present this plan to both his daughter and her mother. Then he needs to stick to it. He should also have a way to reach the mother whenever there is a medical or emotional issue that needs attending to.
For issues that are not as serious, he should help his daughter develop problem-solving skills. Written plans such as the SODAS plan are helpful. “S” stands for situation. “O” is for options; she should always try to find at least three. Then look for the disadvantages and advantages of each option before choosing a solution.
Dad will not always be there to rescue her, but if he gives her the tools to solve her own problems he will be helping her for years to come.
Our two children, ages 7 and 9, are very defiant. They bicker all the time and refuse to listen to my wife and me. Consequently, I feel like we are fighting with them daily. We do everything for our children and feel like they are ungrateful. How can we instill respect in them?
When we discipline them it is usually in the form of removing a privilege, such as taking away their cell phones or video games.
My daughter (age 7) even took money out of my wife’s purse. I calmly but sternly told her why this is wrong, but think this is yet another way to lash out at us. Please help.
Our main role as parents is to teach our children the necessary skills to become successful adults. Most of these skills are socially related and pertain to such skills as following instructions, accepting consequences and respecting others. Typically, telling your children what to do will not be enough. Children learn best through consequences and repetition.
You would like your children to accept your decisions without argument, so break down this skill into simple steps. Be specific so they understand exactly what you expect. Tell them that this has been a problem behavior for them, so you want them to use this skill when they are listening to decisions that have been made or instructions from you. They will then have more time to do the things they enjoy because they will not be spending the time arguing with you.
When you give them an instruction or decision, they must:
- Look at you so you know they are listening.
- Say “OK” so you know that they understand.
- Don’t argue and go do the task immediately.
Now that they know your expectations, have them practice. This can consist of role-playing or playing games that require them to follow instructions and accept decisions. "Simon Says" and "Mother May I" are two examples.
Then let them know what the consequences will be if they do not use this skill. Also tell them what the positive consequences are if they DO use the skill appropriately.
The value of respect is essential, and it is important that parents remember the difference between a need and a privilege. When parents overindulge their children, they deprive them of a fair chance to learn value and respect. Things like computers, cell phones and video games are privileges, not rights. They should only be given to children who have attained the maturity and responsibility to use them wisely.
If the atmosphere of your home is tense due to fighting, it might be time for you and your wife to “clean the slate” and start over in order to have your children earn the privileges of playing video games or using a cell phone. They can do this by demonstrating respect and compliance to you and your wife.
Also, consider what is age-appropriate for your children. It is a mistake to give your children too much at too young of an age. You run the risk of having nothing left to give them or remove from them when they are older and consequences are needed.