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51Episodes
Kids & Family

A Daily Parenting Advice Podcast. Non-Pretentious. In less than 3min a day!

Episodes

February 17, 2019

S5-Ep52 - Body First

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 New Year New Me!  I mean, I sort of jumped on this bandwagon. Sure it was mid December when I started to Podcast. It was technically last October when I started doing running again. But overall I’m happy that I’ve created, and stuck with some good habits. It has enabled other things in my life.

-Detour here – Good habits are more than just motivation, so if you get to the end of this episode and feel like you have that final push to take care of your body, don’t. Get your habits built up that can sustain this first.

-Back on the path here. So now I want to transition into Mr. Money Mustache and why he’s important to the next part of this.

The quick story on Mr. Money Mustache is that he’s one of the original FIRE movement guys. If you don’t know what FIRE stands for, Google and we’ll see you tomorrow after you’re done with that rabbit hole.  Otherwise, he is a parent, he’s in his mid-thirties, but he’s technically retired. Which means he still works, but on what he wants to.  

So why do I bring him up? 

  Because he’s really an expert on happiness, and taking care of yourself and your time when you have a lot of life to go, and a lot of time to spend how you want.

He says, “Physical health first”. And this is important because plenty of rich people with no need to work have gone off the deep end of drugs, alcohol, and mental problems. Here’s a guy explaining how not to do that.

He says, “Your brain, and the rest of your body is just a system of meat and tubes.” “The whole system will only perform well if you place its wellbeing first. Before anything else. Salads and barbells every day.” (pause)

Now my analogy: I liken it to a car. Even if the engine is strong; if the suspension is weak, there’s a good chance it breaks down while taking you somewhere. 

And finally, on parenting. This is why we need to keep our kids active and building healthy physical habits. Sure, we can make them play outside all the time, and they’d be happy to do it. But teach a man to fish you know – keep in mind that it’s important to teach them that healthy activities enable them to do other things, like focus in school, and sleep well at night. I’m going to tell my kids that today; I’d recommend you do the same.

Ok, we’ll cover MMM’s habits that follow physical health – tomorrow.

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Yesterday we talked the craziness that is kids’ birthday parties; whether it’s at bowling alleys, or jump centers, or a local restaurant. Add in cake, and one older kid into the mix and you have a recipe for some yelling, jumping, and a whole lot of running.

For my kid, getting this kind of stimulation is important. He has a brother, and they get plenty crazy, but our house isn’t so crazy. It’s got a fairly low energy.  

 But how do kids learn to come down from this over stimulation?

 And I think the answer is practice.

Now I bet that the ‘pre-kid’ you would have had a lot of answers to “What will you practice with your boy or girl when you have one?”. Catching a baseball, some gymnastics or sommersaults. Tying shoes. But no one ever thinks they’ll practice coming down off of friend fueled sugar highs.

But I think they need to. I think that we, as parents, need to schedule coming home afterwards, and “letting them figure it out for themselves” They need to remind themselves how to entertain themselves after that.

Because life will be full of stimulation as adults. TV Commercials. Stressful work days. Beers with friends and riveting conversations. And we have to keep ourselves in check as adults, and the best way is to have done it. So I say have a blast at your next birthday party, but when it’s over, head home; keep the tv off, send them to their room, or just tell them to have fun and play. And see what happens next.

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I was at a birthday party over the weekend, and it was at a bowling alley. It was a small bowling alley, 6 lanes wide, so probably not the mega one you might be thinking of. And it has space for a few tables behind the lanes, and a side area where there are arcades, as well as your typical bar. The place is pretty popular with birthday parties, and this day there were 2 going on side by side.

  So when we stepped away from our lanes to eat cake and snacks, I noticed two kids, probably 6 and 4 which had taken up bowling on one of the two lanes that we were on.

But I am pretty good about putting myself in other people’s shoes over the years, and I naturally thought to myself; What would I be doing if those were my kids? Would I let my kids just walk over to another person’s lane and play?

 And the answer is a clear no. Never in a million years would I want to use something that other people are paying for. So I thought, well the parents must not be watching, they’ll notice soon. And sure enough, the father (I never did see the mother), did notice … and he came over and promptly decided to bowl with his kids.

And he continued to do this even as me and my kids walked up and bowled on the lane beside him.

So I don’t know. Case of mistaken birthday party – I don’t think so.

And it just went crazier from there.  Over the hours it just got louder and louder and by the end the kids were just running everywhere. No regard for adults or chairs in their way.

All of these things are over my line in the sand – when my kid makes adults walking by dodge the kids – then I’ve had enough. And when they were jumping on the booth seats, that’s also tearing up the bowling alley’s stuff. So I understand that kids with birthday cake are kids, but come on people – don’t let your kids rule the bowling alleys!

Where’s your line in the sand when out in public?

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Now I’m not quite taking a victory lap here on this one, because its’ the fool who gets struck down immediately after bragging about themselves. But I was feeling pretty good about one aspect of my parenting over the weekend. And that was that I pulled my kid aside and said, I don’t appreciate the taking of your brother’s toys, but I still love you, and I think you can control yourself better the next time you get the urge to snatch something from him.

   And there is no followup on whether he was better or not, that’s not the point. The point is actually about me. I felt like I handled it well. I felt like I conquered one of my foes for a minute. I felt good about parenting. And that’s why it’s not bragging, it’s just that feeling of a job well done. It can feel good to parent properly.

And what it comes down to – that foe that I felt like I conquered. Is anger. Every damn one of us has gotten angry at a child for taking his brother, daughters, or a friends toys. This episode is one way to help deal with that real anger.

 So sometimes we have to say the same thing but differently. Because every one of us will have a different phrase or story that straight up resonates in us like the liberty bell. My hope is that this helps someone – but maybe not everyone.
And the phrase is “attack the behavior and assure the person”. I’m not sure of the source. I doubt I wrote that down as I thought of it, but for type A and similarly driven people the word attack is a great starting point. If we, as parents, are in attack mode – be it for use of curse words, hitting, or simply not listening to us, we have a tendency to attack the tiny person performing these actions. But assuring the person after our scolding can help us teach ourselves what that middle ground is in parenting that we’re all in search of. Those magical, non-existent words which immediately stop the behavior, but don’t make our children whimper and pull away in anger.

The next time you go to solve a parenting problem, think of this phrase and take that next step to assure the person, to believe in them, and to remind them that you’ll always love them.

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I always like to try to help with actionable advice.

And today I want to offer up 3 things that you can do with your Child today. Now I don’t know what motivation you need: A giggling child. A sense of accomplishment at the end of task or before bedtime, or rewarding yourself with some Netflix should you get these done – pick what works for you, but tell yourself that you can do it; tell yourself to stay engaged with however long these take – and not check your phone in the middle. And if they take 20 minutes – great, give yourself some time afterward. But you may just get really into it and find yourself heading to bed not realizing where the time went.

  • Play the matching game. The most simple is to get a pack of cards and line them up in a pattern. This is actually teaching and you didn’t even know it. Start by having them line up 3 wide and 3 tall. Then count them. Then count the bottom 3, then the middle 3. 3+3=6. Then 6 plus three = 9. And then just end with the statement that 3 rows of 3 is 9; the number we just added to. And leave it at that. You’re not here to teach multiplication, but one of these days, should you keep doing things like this, it will click.

    1. Ok, now build on the pattern. 4x4 (no need to work on adding or math here), just get the cards to about 7x7 and the rest wherever.
    2. And try to get matches. If you don’t get a match then turn them back over and it’s the next person’s turn.
  • Ask these questions. How did you help somebody today? How did somebody help you today?
    1. These important because a lot of people get focused on serving others. Most of the time they think this is the way to becoming a better person. To be selfless is a virtue – so we’ve been told. But being able to accept help is a learned trait too. And you may not be accepting help from the person you gave help to – but this teaches the circle of life (sorry that sounds so cliché), but it really is it. We are social creatures who help some, and get helped, and life comes full circle.
  • Tickle time.
    1. This physical contact is pure love. Kids who get too many kisses or hugs, and pull back because it’s “too much” physically feel this, and they don’t forget it.
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I hope this is a recurring feature. And the feature is a Parent of a Parent – someone who has already done this. someone who has been in the trenches …. And totally forgotten what they are like. That being in the trenches and forgetting that parts of parenting suck. (Sorry, that’s how I feel some time). But the parents who have come before us remember THE important parts. Parts that are important and that we should learn from.

First guest – my father. So it will be my voice, but my fathers words. He wrote it, I’m just reading it.

He writes:

There may not be 5 a.m. calls to milk cows or eggs to gather but it’s as important as ever to offer a child an age appropriate responsibility that makes a connection between the individual and the greater benefits of being inside a family.

It’s a natural development by mid-teens for them to assert some independence toward becoming the person who they will be. I’ve been there. I’ve raised 3 kids through these teenage years. It’s coming. Just know that. And what you do early on, 100% affects those sometimes tougher years. As parents you need to encourage steps toward self-discovery. Imagine you’re teenager is an astronaut; free floating in space, but of course you have built that tether (over the past 15 years) which is their lifesaver. That tether provides so much security to move away from the mother ship when they know without a doubt that at the slightest danger they can reel themselves back in – or be pulled back if needed.

We all feel more loved, more important when we are valued. And to have something of value to offer is the key to feeling loved.

This is the family unit that’s so bluntly called out in heath class. But it’s undeniably important. That phrase or understanding, “You are part of our family and that doesn’t come free.” I want to offer these ideas on how you do that.

 

A four year-old can be taught to fold some clothing and help organize a drawer. The parent can drop the clean laundry on the bed and emphasize that it is the child’s contribution to the family.

Find time during your busy weeks to have as many meals together as possible. First, it’s a primal bonding ritual where to gather for a meal. There’s that. Secondly and more practically, meal prep offers many opportunities to contribute. The old standard is setting the table. It becomes very visual that no one can eat until they have a plate and cutlery. In other words, thank you Susie for setting the table. If you hadn’t done it, we’d be eating from the placemats.

Children need to experience added value as a contributor to the mission of family rather than being treated as ornaments hung on the family tree. Ornamental kids often tarnish and fall off in their teen years.

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February 11, 2019

S5-Ep46 - ‘Toxic’ Advice

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I want to summarize yesterday’s podcast for anyone who wasn’t able to catch it. It’s a good one, so I’d recommend going back and listening to all 3 minutes of it, but it was that there’s a body of evidence for piling you plate with fruits and vegetables, (and I’ll throw in whole grains and nuts in there too). Just pile the plates high with them. There’s a whole body of scientific reasoning out there that supports this, no matter what McDonald’s says.

But today I wanted to cover a list of other dos and don’ts, some of which are food related, but all will fall into the household related.

These are easy things, the low hanging fruit, which could help reduce your child’s environmental exposure to toxins. Again, just a list if you were looking for ways to improve. I’m not judging you on what you do or don’t. Just keep an open mind:

  • (FOOD) Buy fresh produce in season. Organic if possible. There’s a dirty dozen list. I’d recommend checking our show notes for it, or googling it on your own. For example, I don’t buy organic banannas or Most anything with a shell that I peel off and don’t eat. It isn’t worth it for the toxins. For the environment – maybe but we’re talking toxins today.
  • Wash produce well – kind of obvious but did you know that a lot of the germs washed away in hand washing aren’t from the soap, but from the act of running water over rubbed together hands?
  • Avoid microwaving in plastic containers. Something has to be happening when you burn this stuff in the micro.
  • Barbeque in moderation. Charring food isn't good. And probably worse for smaller humans.
  • (HOME) Minimuze pesticide use.
  • Wash insect repellent off after kids come inside.
  • Test for radon. This is something we did recently. And now we are working on a fix for it, but knowledge is power.

 

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I thought we’d continue on the ‘food train’ and since this is a self limited podcast, I try not to babble on and on about all the nuances of which plastics are bpa friendly and which yogurts are the least processed. I do try to condense all the information I have down into a really reasonable level.

Why believe me on nutrition?

First, I’ve read a lot. I’ve tried to find scientific research on various ‘health topics’, and science based studies on foods. Second, I try to give a weight of about 1% to any study I read. This means you need 100 studies before you can really see a 100% view of a picture on health or nutrition, or exercise, or medicine. And that’s good, because you start to develop a “body of work”. In the nutrition and the medicine sciences, there’s never been a study that has proved without a shadow of a doubt that cigarettes will kill you. Isn’t that amazing. Never has a study proven this. This isn’t physics, where a ball thrown in the air comes down. But there’s a body of evidence which says you’re more likely to die of lung cancer when you smoke than non-smokers. And we believe this because there have been so many studies which say it’s “likely” to be true.

So a body of evidence is multiple people, and likely multiple generations of work, and that’s really powerful to me. And the body of evidence that I see: I can boil it down for you in two words: Fruits and Vegetables.

Yes, this was a long way to lead you to try to get some more vegetables on your kid’s plate. But that’s all it is a lot of times. It’s the offering of foods (and the no thank you bites) we talked about in step one (Episode 43) and the preparation we all need to have (Ep 44), and the simple science revealed here; it’s getting more fruits and veggies on our plates because people are getting fooled every day, and the answer is incredibly, incredibly simple.

There is a consensus on food. (Despite what you’ve heard)

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February 9, 2019

S5-Ep44 - Food Prep

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Today’s episode is a continuation of yesterday. Yesterday we started into food, just a little bit, and shared a trick that has worked for us. The no thank you bite.
And since our kids are fairly good eaters, we don’t judge others if they’re not, but we’ve been working on this for years at this point. Starting no thank you bites at age 3 had its challenges. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I pushed myself to let go of the control freak in me and let it be for a night.

So let’s take the possible outcomes again and keep going.

One option is they like the food. And they eat it. Cool. Everyone is happy. Podcasts are amazing.

Option two is your kid says he doesn’t like it and immediately asks for her go to end of meal cookie request. You’re being played.

Option 3 is they really don’t like it. Well that’s great that you’re able to interpret your child’s communication and suss this out, but now you have to come up with something. 

And I think you can go into a few directions, but it’s all prep work. So before implementing it, let’s go through a new routine you may have implement.

The hardest thing about cooking is preparing for these scenarios, so the simplest way is to start with half a plate of food they like and add on some “experimental” foods. Some bok choy, or sprouts. Then you can fall back on the “liked” food if they need more.

Option two, if your new main meal is pretty much the whole meal, and this happens a lot in my house, where it’s pretty much the only option. Maybe there’s bread or a side veggie. The answer is to have something in your fridge that’s healthy. In our house it’s carrots and a bit of ranch. If the kids would rather eat carrots than the dinner. Cool with me. They’re allowed to eat unlimited amounts of vegetables. So keep carrots, hummus, green peppers, whole grain toast in the house. And on nights where you’ve poured your heart into a new meal, you don’t have to sweat the backup.

And if they don’t need that backup – send some carrots and peppers in their lunch tomorrow – school age kids have an amazing ability to decide if they’re hungry – they’ll eat it at school. Without other options, and without you there, they take care of their hunger.

Ok, so many good tips. We hope they helped!

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February 8, 2019

S5-Ep43 - No Thank You Bites

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Yesterday we tried to help by giving tips on calming kids down. While I’m hoping you remember just yesterday’s episode, you may have been up since 4am this morning or something, parent-ish. But the point was NOT the essential oils that we mentioned. That was a dry joke, the point was the 1 thing. 1 thing you can see, touch, taste, smell, feel. That engages kids externally in their time of need.

Today I just wanted to share some more. Share some things that work for us. I don’t know if they’ll work for you, but as we have said before. Just try, See if it works for you. Modify if you need, or stop. That’s mindfulness. Trying, adjusting, and repeating.

 One area where we hear a lot of parents struggling is in the food department. It’s a tough thing. And all honesty here: we barely struggle with it. We have good eaters, by a lot of definitions, but that has it’s own issues too.

If you’re struggling with getting your kid to eat more or eat better, here’s the trick that we use.

No thank you bites. So if you set a pile of asparagus in front of your child and he looks at it with disgust. Not a problem. We ask our children to take two no thank you bites and then we can talk about something else for dinner.

Now there’s some nuance here.
First, How do I know my kid isn’t just playing me for a fool and holding out for mac and cheese? The answer is parenting. You have to decide. You know your kid best. You have to make the call whether or not their face scrunched up or remained deadpan. And some nights I’ve said ‘I’ll make you something else’ and some nights I said, “I just think you’re hungry for something else.”

And the second point is

Trying – just the act of trying – is often enough to get kids over the hump. They’ve told themselves they won’t like it, but they have no idea. And children are fairly honest and open. Let’s say it a different way: Kids don’t lie very often. If they like it. They’ll tell you and if they don’t they’ll tell you.

I want to take a minute and say, If we’ve helped you out in any way, please share with you bestie or your bro. We’d really appreciate it!

And because food is such a big topic amongst parents, I think we’ll just get back in here  … tomorrow.

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February 7, 2019

S5-Ep42 - Calming Kids Down

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Our 5 year old can get worked up at times. I’m not always around a lot of other kids, in their natural environment, their homes, so I don’t know about yours, but I think it’s pretty common for parents to be like “Ok, are you over this yet?” “When can we move on?” And our 5 year old now says, “I can’t calm down”, and I’m not sure if it’s an excuse for continuing or what, but I think we all need some help in assisting our kids through their emotional times.

So here are 3 things. One of which is the main point. One of which is the one thing you can do to calm your child. (at least it’s our one thing).

Now here me out, I don’t always use these. I’ve been known to do some tough love at times too where I just send my kid to a separate area to cry, but if you need to get ahold of one of these moments. Here’s what happens in our house.

First idea: “Essential Oils. Frankincense and lavender is the new time-out.” HA! False.  (There is a real website that I got this phrase from!)  We do not do this. We don’t think oils can solve polio, and we do think that they can be a nice upper class nicety to make your house smell a little fresher. I’m not sure what you think, I don’t tell you what to think, but me, I just can’t buy it. 

Idea 2: When our children were younger, singing to them worked wonders. Since we still have a 3 y/o this is still in our repertoire. Even if you singing voice isn’t good, do it. Small children love the sound of your voice. My wife has soothed a few car trips with this. It’s sweet.

Idea 3: This is it. This is ours. Credit to my wife for finding this. When our kid is mid meldtown over a piece of toast we ask him 1 thing you can see/ 1 thing you can hear/1 thing you can touch/smell/taste. Go through these with your kid and they have no option but to engage and move their mind from internal to external. That’s the value here. Internal to external. Take it try it out, and we’ll try to help more, tomorrow.

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This is basically the episode that I didn’t want to write. And a good rule in life is often, “If you are having trouble getting started on it, and are actively delaying it”, then it’s probably important for you to do. It’s likely important because you’re holding yourself back, not because it’s hard.
In fact, saying the words, “I’m sorry” are often the hardest to say. And I’m at the top of that list of people who have difficulty. And when I try to count the times I’ve modelled this “I’m sorry” behavior, I come up pretty short.

But today, I’m going to take my son aside and tell him I messed up. Back in Episode 38, I told a story about losing my temper when he growled at me. I know, sounds silly, but I’m sure I’m not the only one to lose my shit over something small.

And I want to note that I’m not doing this because I want to. Yes, I have a desire and am trying to raise productive citizens who reach their full potential, and modelling the behavior of apologies and admitting when we’re wrong is the correct way to do this. I understand all that. But in this case, my own selfishness gets in the way of a goal I know is better. I only apologize because I had some notes in my episode log that Fessing up when you blow it is the best way to show your child how and when they should apologize. And I’ve made my kids apologize a lot of times.

But sometimes that’s the way it works – We expect to listen to some podcasts, read some articles and then we will happily follow all advice given, as if we’re transformed by an article or two.

Not the case.

Sometimes we just have to do it, and maybe eventually we’ll start to be better at it. It’s very much like exercise. No one wants to go out in the cold for a run, even though we all know it would be good for us. But if we step outside our comfort zone and do something that’s hard, we stand a better chance at success. What’s hard for you guys and gals out there? Ok – now work on that, if you can.

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February 5, 2019

S5-Ep40 - Fearlessness

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The third lesson on failing is that they will find out what they love to do.

How did you end up where you’re at today? Without being able to hear the answer, I’m going to say that a majority of us, have meandered, wandered. Tried a few things out over the years. Personally, I’ve worked plenty of restaurant shifts, valet’d cars, but I’ve also had internships at some neat companies making auto parts, bulldozers, and software. And the ability to try out different things has helped me figure out that I didn’t want to be that steel worker out in the cold, pounding cold bolts into a newly formed building. Much respect to those people, but I wanted a desk job.

So trying things out is key. And the millennials (a group I put myself in), have come up with a fair share of fear. Fear of failure really.

But Lots of people suck at lots of things. But whoever they are – they’re probably good at something.

So I say go fail at a lot of things and figure out and continue do the things that you love. And for our kids: Let them try. And let them fail if they aren’t good at it. And support them when they do fail. Tell them that you’re proud of them trying, and ask them how they felt about it. Sometimes they may surprise you. Older kids may say, I know I came in last in that race, but I sure enjoyed it! And you can pivot them into racing RC cars instead of using their legs to race. And you can always tell them that you look up to them for their fearlessness. That fearlessness is what’s missing in a lot of people. Most of us, me especially, spend so much time protecting against failure that in the end we lose out on a key life trait.

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Yesterday, we talked about losing a battle. In our household, I got growled at, something that set me off for some reason (I’m sure there’s something deeper there), but in that podast I said, “In fact I need to be over the top, maybe obsessed with losing”

Why would I say this? What did I mean? And what are some examples?

So Why would I say this: Well, I said it because it applies to so many areas of our kids lives.

Let’s start out small. Holding a spoon. I think most of us spend about 10 seconds trying to help our kids hold a spoon and then, in my case, I have to spend the next 6 months holding myself back from cleaning up all the messes. In this case, we can’t teach them to use a spoon by hand feeding them. You have to let them do it. And in those instances, it seems natural (minus the messes). It something our kids want to learn, and we want them to learn it. But the water muddies come kindergarten when his lunchboxes don’t come home for days, and your getting tired of sending the backups. A lot of parents are worried about what it would look like if their kid came to school with a variety of plastic baggies instead of a nice tidy box. But now is the time to do it. Now is the time to fail. There is no better time to fail then today. Because the price of failure tomorrow is always higher. Tomorrow (and I’m talking 5 years not tomorrow) tomorrow it might be forgetting his sports bag every day and you have to leave work and drive it to him. Or 10 years it might be forgetting the car registration, and getting pulled over and his car impounded. These things grow, only because they weren’t allowed to fail earlier in life. And this ties back to helicopter and bulldozer parenting – all are areas where we as parents tried too hard to help. And not letting them lose today has higher costs tomorrow. So next time your child leaves his lunchbox at school. Tell him it’s no problem, but you aren’t going to send a sack, he can use his backpack, until the other one comes back home. 

 

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The other day, my 5 year old was putting some action figures in jail. Unfortunately for him, a few of those belonged to his little brother. As you can guess, an argument ensued. Of course this doesn’t happen in a vaccum, and in this case we were already 3 arguments or so deep. The best response would probably have been to ‘not react’ and take away the figures from the 5y/o. But perfection doesn’t happen in this house. Hell, most of the time there is disdain in my voice and I often raise my voice to boot (and that’s not what I’m trying to get across here). Anyway, I kept it reasonable until he growled at me. Then it was on.

So I lost this one. I lost the battle and the war. The battle was his growling, and the war is when our kids are all grown up.
And when I get to write about it here, I realize I should be fine with the losing. In fact I need to be over the top, maybe obsessed with losing.

So what would I want to lose? And why?

Well, losing, in this case, is a test. My 5 y/o has been testing us a bit more lately, and this is a good thing. Because him testing, and more importantly our reactions, is the precursor for everything that happens as a teenager to. So if I react over the top to these things now, my son will be very clear on what’s going to happen should he gain a rebellious streak when he’s 14. He will literally have the button to my anger and be able to push it at any point. Some might say that’s not a bad thing – he knows what he’s not to do. But we’re in this to win the war not the battles. And we might win a few with fear based tactics, but let’s flip the script for a minute. If we’re calm. And in this case I simply tell him that I’m adding time to his time-out due to the aggression, and walk away – well there’s no point in yelling back. In fact, he may try out bargaining, or pleading, or god forbid – even learning a time or two in that time out chair.

So I have some work to do. Maybe you’re like us, and have some too. Hit subscribe in your favorite app or rate us on Apple Podcasts – that would be awesome! And we’ll talk, tomorrow.

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