Tara Kennedy-Kline
Recently, my family and I were hanging out with a group of friends and their kids. The children were playing nicely (ok, they were going nuts...but that's what kids should do outside, so we call that "playing nicely") and then one of the kids came to the group of parents and stated that one child was "being a bully".

At first, the parents all went into embarrassed, defensive mode and told the child to stop tattling on their friend...but then I asked the child "what did this kid do that felt like bullying?" Turns out, when we actually listened, we realized that the boy was right...the other kids was acting like a bully!

What happened next was kind of disturbing in that the dad of the kid proceeded to flip on his child and call him names and threaten unreasonable punishment...but I knew that was out of embarrassment so a few of us Moms politely stepped in and escorted the boy back up to the playroom where we spoke to all the children respectfully but sternly about being good to your friends.

The whole thing calmed down and was forgotten rather quickly, but it got me thinking about the things we do and the "seeds we plant" as parents to raise our children to react to or even become bullies.

I believe our children are a result of their environment. As parents, we are the models of the behaviors we eventually realize in our kids.

Something as simple as telling a little white lie on the phone in front of our children is telling them that our integrity is not as important as our comfort or our reputation… That plants a seed.

• When we correct our children by yelling at them, belittling them and calling them names, we are showing them that it's okay to humiliate & hurt people and make them feel small when we are angry …And that plants a seed.

• When we discipline behind closed doors, or haul our children away to correct them, we are showing them that we are not proud of how we are handling that situation, so we must hide it. And that plants a seed.

• When parent A gets angry and flips out over an issue that parent B has already established is not worthy of losing it over, but does nothing to stand up for the child, that sends the message that the child is not worth standing up for. And that plants a seed.

• When we start a conversation within earshot of our kids that begins with: "You won't believe what so-and-so did" or "I promised not to say anything, but..." we are teaching our child that not only is it ok to gossip, but it's also ok to break promises and trust. And that plants a seed.

• When we tell our children to "be quiet" or "don't talk back" when someone offends them or someone they care about, we are teaching them to be apathetic and submissive. And that plants a seed.

• When we retreat from or ignore a person who needs help, we show them that we shouldn't inconvenience ourselves to stand up for others. And that plants a seed.

• When we contradict ourselves or our values for the sake of avoiding conflict, we show our children weakness and helplessness. And that plants a seed.

• When we've had a bad day or are PMS-ing and snap at our kids for things we know shouldn't bother us, we are showing them it's acceptable to legitimize or allow our bad behavior based on our mood. And we plant a seed.

• And when we take the time to listen to our children, to get to know them, to find out what they love and what brings them joy. When we take the time to discover each others passions, beliefs and Unique Brilliance, and we stand up for them and honor what they care about...then we empower our children to love themselves and honor themselves too. And THAT plants a seed.

• When we stand up for our children, others and what is "right" in their presence. THAT plants a seed.

• When we hold our children accountable for their actions and their words, THAT plants a seed.

• When we keep the promises we make to our children, others and most importantly ourselves. THAT plants a seed.

• When we apologize for hurting someone's feelings, breaking an agreement, or not being truthful and then we commit to not making the same mistake again. THAT plants a seed.

So I suppose that is what brings me to my Mom Reality Bytes #15:

Bringing up children is all about planting seeds. Before I sow seeds, I should consider what lesson my child will reap from them...and what kind of person I am "raising up" as a result.

Tara Kennedy-Kline
This was a sucky morning!

A Cold, dreary, Monday, can’t get my car out of it’s snow/ice prison, kid#1 forgot his saxophone, husband didn’t dig out my car, kid#2 won’t get out of bed, pants don’t fit, burnt the toast, put your coat on over your pajamas, missed the bus, slipped down the hill on the ice, hate my hair, screw this day, where the hell is my coffee? Cancel all my appointments I’m going back to bed! kind of morning!!!

It was the kind of morning that makes loving happy moms turn into screaming, crying nut balls who lash out irrationally.

I tried to be calm…I tried to be all the things and use all the techniques that I as a coach tell my clients to follow…but today, I lost it. I had a BAD morning!

Should I be thankful I woke up this morning? Yes, yes I should
Should I be thankful for everything around me? Sure.
Should I take into consideration how blessed I am? Of course.
Should I understand that it was not my family’s intention to piss me off? WHAT ever!

But today, all that stuff just wasn’t working for me! What I needed to do was throw a fit!
What I needed to do was all that crap that I tell my sons to do when they are mad and need to get out their anger without hurting someone!!!
I needed to punch pillows!
I needed to scream into my blankets!
I needed to throw snowballs at my car!
I needed to kick empty boxes until they smashed!!!
I needed to write big bold curse words on my dry erase board IN CAPITAL LETTERS!
…and then, I needed a time out.

So I did all of it! And now, I am calm.
Now I am relaxed and ready to take a look at what really happened this morning that made our day so crazy…and I what we need to do as a family to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

And you know what else happened? My kids got to see me lose my temper. They got to see me flip out and lose “it” without losing control. They got to see me handle my crap exactly the way I tell them too. They got to see that just because we had a bad morning, that doesn’t have to mean we must have a bad day, or week, or month, it just means we have something to evaluate and correct for. They got to see that although Mom is a “coach” Mom is also human, but being “human” doesn’t permit me to be stupid and break stuff or hurt others...that is how animals attack.

So today I realized that I CAN have a bad day! I can Lose my temper & allow my anger as long as I bring it back & learn from it. 'Cuz That’s what it looks like “When Coaches Attack!”
Tara Kennedy-Kline
As I sat at the table during my son's IEP team meeting...I realized something.
(Shocking, I know!)
Hearing my son constantly referred to as "Special Needs" really just kind of irritates me!

They kept saying things like "Well I know that behavior is a result of his "special needs." and "That teacher is better suited to him because she is trained in working with kids with "special needs" and "We understand that tests and homework may have to be handled differently because he has "special needs"...

But all I kept hearing in my head was..."Don't we ALL have "special needs"?"

I know I do! And I know my husband does. And I know my best friend does, and her husband does, and the neighbor’s kids do...and my oldest son does...But not in an IEP way or autism support way or even a medicate able way. Just in our own "unique" way.

For example: One of my "special needs" is; I have to be asked if I have the time in my schedule before I will be willing to do a "favor" for someone.

I also have a "special need" to be told when people are leaving or retiring for the night...if you leave me without telling me, I will flip out. (So what! It's MY special need!)

My husband's "special need" is he wants us to have chores done by the time he gets home and/or without him having to ask. He also has a "special need" that we talk to him before loaning out anything (even if it's someone else's to loan out...like MY car or Max's airsoft equipment) He "needs" to be in control of our family’s belongings and whereabouts.

These things may seem trivial and even a bit odd...but they are the "special needs" which are unique to us. And when these “special needs” are met, it just makes our lives easier and happier. It's about knowing and understanding the people around us in order to keep peace and harmony more than it is about diagnosing and labeling a person based on the number or severity of the needs they have.

Personally, I think ALL kids should be treated as though they have "special needs"! All kids should go through an "evaluation" process with their teachers to find out what will help them to have a happier, easier more successful experience in school (and at home too for that matter)! What the heck? Why not? Isn't it our goal to raise happy, successful children?

So if all it will take is a bit of communicating, a bit of listening, a bit of understanding and then a bit of specializing or customizing to make every child a happy, successful student and every family a happy, healthy, successful team...then I say label every one of us "Special Needs" or just scrap that term completely and just call us all “Unique”!!!
Tara Kennedy-Kline
I love this concept as it ties directly to "Self forgiveness" which is paramount in teaching self love/respect. This is exactly why I include "do overs' in my journaling for families.

One of the questions we ask of each other is "What did I experience or create today that I would do over if I could?" and Then we ask: "What could I do differently next time to be happy about it?" from these questions, we open the door to talk about "what did I learn from it?"

Having these types of conversations with our kids not only shows them that "mistakes happen", but by going first as the adult, we let them see that mom and dad (and their teachers and their coaches) make mistakes too. It's important to model for children that we do not need to beat ourselves up over those mistakes...instead, we should look at them as an opportunity to learn, grow, and plan for the "do overs", even if they are only in our head.

The concept of visualizing corrective actions teaches our children to forgive, prepare and problem solve which are invaluable life skills to carry them through and over the obstacles life will throw in their path as teens and adults.
Tara Kennedy-Kline
I am rather active on many blog sites, parenting sites and magazines...and the topics are pretty much the same no matter where you go. Spanking, Piercing, Discipline, Homework, Feelings, Feedings, Manners, Who's really in charge and who does it the best...

But what I realized today is that nearly all the people who most actively participate in those conversations are either degreed or self proclaimed "experts" who are basically doing little more than telling each other their philosophies and what makes THEIR opinion (or research or diagnoses or program) right! I'm starting to wonder who is really benefiting from all these studies and research and parenting programs...I very rarely hear from a real world parent...and almost never hear from one who is ASKING for help!

I'm starting to believe that the only people who give a crap about how parents are raising their kids are the "experts" who think they know how everyone should be raising their kids! Because while all of those experts are spending their time battling beliefs and studying research & statistics to get their "parenting PhD"...the rest of us are spending our time parenting our kids.
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