Contact Elisabeth

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Screenshot 2016-07-28 11.32.27.png

Joyful Musings--a weekly blog

Joyful Parenting Coaching is focused on clarity, consistency, connection, being an effective parent, finding balance as a parent, and above all being a confident and joyous parent. Topics include communication, having difficult conversations, having constructive conversations, chores, routines, family meetings,  I teach parent education and parenting classes because parenting is a skill—not something we are born knowing. Get the parenting skills you need today!

Filtering by Tag: values

Parenting Powerfully by Parenting From Your Core Values

Elisabeth Stitt

Powerful Parenting Comes From Being Grounded in Your Core Values.

With every parent I work with, I start by having parents identify what it is they care most deeply about. What is their world view? Whom do they want their child to become? It is not enough, today, to look to our neighbor for answers on how to parent our child. Instead it is essential to get clear on your own values and beliefs and to prioritize them.

Read More

I Just Want My Husband and Me to Be on the Same Page

Elisabeth Stitt

“I adore my husband, but I hate parenting with him. I feel like I can handle the kids alone, but he comes in and mixes it all up."  Seriously, when parents contact me, conflict with one's spouse about how he or she parents is always some part of what is keeping their household from being as fully calm and harmonious as they want it to be.  That means that one of my biggest roles as a parenting coach is to help parents get on the same page.  Here are the 4 steps I teach to becoming a united parenting team.  

Read More

Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Elisabeth Stitt

A recent Quora question was how do we teach our children priorities.  The answer is simple.  Every time you make a choice, you are teaching your child your priorities.

You are in the middle of cooking dinner, and your child demands that you stop what you are doing and come see this marvelous bug that he is looking at.

If you turn off the stove and go look, you are prioritizing curiosity, discovery, enthusiasm and in-the-moment excitement.

Read More

Your Success Rate As a Parent Is Greater Than You Think

Elisabeth Stitt

(In addition to being an author on parenting, Hogan is putting together an awesome in-person conference for parents in August 2017.  Called the United We Parent Conference, it will take place in Southern California and will include great speakers (like me!) and breakout groups for parents to share their insights and issues.)

Read More

8 Terrific Tips for Taming the Tangle of Toys

Elisabeth Stitt

by Elisabeth Stitt

KEEPING YOUR KIDS’ TOYS ORGANIZED

Tip 1.  Help your kids identify their value behind why a particular toy is important to them.  Then help them prioritize their values.

            By prioritizing what is important to your kids and having them articulate that to you, it will help you decide how much space to devote to a particular kind of toy.  Let’s say, for example, that your child is nuts about dinosaurs.  It just makes sense that he’d want a wide variety of dinosaurs represented, doesn’t it?  On the other hand, a kid who loves dolls might be convinced that it is more important to lavish love and care on a limited number of dolls—and that the rest could find good homes elsewhere.  That child might need more space for doll accessories, like a crib, but can make do with 2 or 3 especially beloved dolls.  

Tip 2.  Have as much shelve/bin/drawer space for your child as you can spare, so that they can stay organized.  

     Help kids learn to categorize toys by the shelves or bins.  This will allow your child to see visually how much she has of one kind of thing—and in turn help her decide how much she needs of one thing.  Often it is not until all of one kind of toy has been gathered into one place, for example, that a child realizes she has as much as she does.  Seeing it all together helps her realize one good set of colored pencils and/or crayons, for example, makes boxes and boxes of duplicate colors superfluous and therefore a waste of space.  

Tip 3.  Be creative about ways to store toys when you have limited space.  

     It can be really worth it to find storage or display cases for the size toy you have.  My sister, for example, was a big collector of porcelain animal figurines.  No one was bigger than around 4” by 4” so my dad built her a grid of shallow shelves that was about a foot wide and went all the way to the ceiling.  With less than a foot of floor space, she was able to safely display more than 100 figurines.  Deep but narrowly spaced shelves for things like boardgames and puzzles allow kids to store long flat things on shelves that resemble big CD holders.   This kind of shelving can often be found in teachers’ supply catalogues.  Rather than duplicating that kind of storage for each child, have a central location for similarly shaped toys.  Soft things—like stuffed animals and costumes, can be hung from a series of hooks suspended from the ceiling (provide a foot stool, so children can reach up).  Shelves that slide out on rollers allow you to place toys 2-3 deep, and kids can still be able to find them (especially if you think in categories, like dump trucks one behind the other, etc).  

The best way to organize kids’ toys is to limit the number of toys they have to the toys they actually play with and use.  Tips 4-8 address how to do that!

Tip 4.  As toys and arts and craft projects and science kits  and the like come into the house, write a date on them with permanent marker.

     Has your child given a birthday party where all 20 of his classmates bring him a gift?  She opens them all, but in reality only four or five things actually get used?  By putting a date on presents as they come in, you can show a child concretely how long it has been that he has not touched the toy.  That can make it easier for a child to let a toy go out the door.  If a child is still reluctant to let go of a toy, give a date a month out by which the child needs to use the toy.  Tell him that if he doesn’t use the toy in that time that, you will be donating the toy to a local charity.  The key to this tip?  Do NOT remind him that the month is close to being up and do not rub it in his face that you will be giving the toy away.  Simply get rid of the toy, and if your child remembers about the toy AFTER the give-away date, comfort him and assure him that next time you are sure he will not let the give-away date come and go.  

Tip 5.  Help kids let go of toys by identifying the “best of” in the category.  

     Let’s say that your child loves doing arts and crafts, and your shelves are filled with the remnants of half used kits.  Have your child identify which of the projects provided the most fun and satisfaction and offer to get refills for that project.  Let’s say, for example, that your kid really loved the weaving kit she got for her birthday and she did all the projects listed in the manual, but then she ran out of supplies.  The tissue paper and pipe cleaner flower kit, on the other hand, engaged her for an hour or so and hasn’t been touched since.  Knowing that you are going to buy more weaving supplies, might make it easy for her to say good-bye to the flower making kit (and if not, go back to the Tip #3 plan and put it in place for the flowers).  

Tip 6.  Put away toys that your child is not ready for or isn’t likely to ever play with.

     Go back to the 20 presents from a birthday party.  It is very likely that you are a good judge of what your child is actually going to play with.  In the chaos of the party, it is easy to “put things away” for safe keeping.  If you put a bunch of the toys away, likely the out-of-sight-out-of-mind principle will apply and your child will completely forget they even got that toy.  If a couple of months go by, and the child doesn’t ask about it, quietly send that toy away with the next Good Will bag.  Along the same lines, if your child gets a toy which looks like it will someday interest your child but is too sophisticated for him or her at the moment, put it away in a closet—and assuming that your child doesn’t ask you for it in the meantime—YOU can gift it to your child when your child is old enough for it.  OR you can later make it available for your child to give to one of his friends!

Tip 7.  Use natural transitions, like the start of a new school year, to mark a Big Clean Out.  

     If tips 1-4 have not helped clear out the accumulation of clutter, apply a 10% tithe.  Let your kids know that they are going to have to donate 10% of their toys to charity.  They might balk at first, but this is another excellent way to get kids to prioritize and decide which, for example, of their books they absolutely must have.  It will help them recognize that they still have books on their shelves that they read 2-3 years ago when they were much younger.  Similarly, unless you have massive amounts of free space for enormous Lego projects, my guess is most kids will not register a 10% reduction of their Lego blocks (They simply don’t have the space to build something that would actually use all their blocks).  If your kids greatly resist the idea of donating some of their toys, I highly recommend checking out the laugh-out-loud-funny Too Many Toys, a delightful picture book by David Shannon.  

Tip 8.  Help keep toys organized by making some clear guidelines about how many gifts can come into the house.  

     Share your value with your kids that they not equate stuff with happiness or security.  Help them see the value of fewer treasured objects by encouraging more thoughtful gift giving.  Let relatives know that less is more—or perhaps ask relatives if they would like to go in on a gift together.  Some toys, like a fancy model kit, for example a) can be quite pricey and b) actually requires extra supplies—like glue, additional paint, a big board the project can be done on so that as it is being worked on it can be slid in and out from under a bed.  Relatives who think of the big picture could go in on all the pieces together.   That way one gift comes into the house instead of 6-7.  

     You can also enlist help from close family friends and relatives by asking that they provide your child experiences rather than toys that will add to the clutter.  Perhaps your daughter's best friend's family will invite her to go to the zoo with them the next time they go.  Perhaps your son's uncle will take him to a hockey game.  These gifts work on so many levels:  They say to your child I am valued, People like having me around.  They give your child time with another caring adult, so you are creating that larger safety net.  The activity itself is often memorable--especially if it is in the child's honor.  Again, these are great opportunities for families to go in together on an outing that might be more expensive:  Grandpa can pay for the ticket, Uncle can actually get the child to the game, Aunt-who-lives-far-away can provide a gift certificate for cotton candy or a souvenir.  

4 THINGS TO SAY NO TO AND 3 THINGS TO SAY YES TO THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Elisabeth Stitt

by Elisabeth Stitt

www.elisabethstitt.com

The Christmas season is full of wonderful hope and possibility but even at its best, the holiday season demands a lot of us.  Navigating your way through so that you experience the most joy and the least strife takes some planning.  Here’s my take on what to say no to and what to say yes to so that your Christmas will be merry and bright.  

1. SAY NO TO TOO MUCH

Sure, you may have the money to get everything on your child's wish list, but will you be increasing their happiness and enjoyment of what they get? Pretty assuredly not. Getting a mountain of presents all at once makes it almost possible to process.  Kids rip into present after present with no time to appreciate what they have gotten.  Furthermore, some parents go for quantity rather than quality:  Instead of working from a thoughtful list of presents their kids have been expressing an interest in for some time, parents walk into a story, buy three or four presents and call their shopping done.  On Christmas morning those presents may just feel like a lot of extra calories--yummy at first sight but not adding any substance.  Think back to your childhood.  What are the presents that made an impact, that you really remember?  I remember the Christmas my parents made my sister and me a dollhouse.  Even though I was pretty young, I was aware of how much work they had put in to it, of how excited they were.  That was part of what made it special.  We spent many, many hours playing with that dollhouse.  Another Christmas they bought me a boom box.  It was fire engine red and oh, so cool.  I listened to the boom box every night going to bed for years.  If I got other presents that Christmas, I don't remember them and I'm sure I could have done without.  Don't measure present giving by number.  Give your kids the chance to really savor what they do get.  

2. SAY NO FOR THE SAKE OF SAYING NO

Think how many times between now and New Years you are likely to think, well, it's the holidays, so yes. And that's true. That's part of what holidays were traditionally for. People's lives were so hard that a holiday was a real bright spot. But let's face it. Our lives are not so bleak. Our level of indulgence is pretty high already. That makes it harder for the special times to stand out as especially sweet. It will help your children appreciate the "once-a-year" quality of the season if you are particularly consistent with your other no's.  Knowing that you will be going to extra parties which mean late nights and too much sugar, say no to staying up 10 minutes later on a school night or to buying their favorite kids' cereal.  In fact, you might even lean the other direction:  Start bedtime ten minutes earlier and provide extra servings of spinach and broccoli.  Find times when you say no for no other reason than giving your child the chance to fight you.  Holidays are stressful.  All the events get kids off their sleep and eating schedules.  That builds up stress in kids' bodies.  By saying no to one more story or to cookies for after school snack, that may push your child over the emotional edge.  Hold your limit and allow the tantrum to come:  That will give your kid the chance to blow off steam in a big way. It will be hard to stay with her during the tantrum, but she will be much more pleasant and cooperative when you go the the Christmas party Friday night.   

3.  SAY NO TO "SHOULD" 

Christmas is very often a long list of things you have to do. It is not that some of the things on the list aren't very nice, but there is so much stress around them that they aren't fun anymore. Believe me. There is very little that MUST be done for Christmas to happen, and the cost of experiencing the season as a SHOULD is very high. So, what's the solution? You've guessed it. Go stand in the Land of Want to, the Land of Get to and consider which part of the Christmas season matters most to you. You can't do it all. No way. So there is no use just transferring your "should" list to your "get to" list. Really narrow it down. You should go to your neighbor's party, but do you want to?  You should make Christmas cookies for the cookie exchange, but do you want to?  You should go see the Nutcracker.  It's a tradition and the kids love it!  All these things sound nice, but to what on the list are you saying, "I can't wait!" Take that "I Can't Wait" item, and put it in your I want to list.  Now plan for it. Make space for it. Make sure you are really going to enjoy it by anticipating what is going to pull you off course--traffic? no parking? your partner's cooperation?--and see what you can do to plan for it and smooth the way.

4.  SAY NO TO CHRISTMAS FALLING ON MOM'S SHOULDERS ENTIRELY

I have had many conversations with women over the last month about the burden of Christmas. But how much of the burden is our own fault? When as parents we set out to create this magical time, then that is what it feels like to our children (and sometimes our spouses)--magic! But it is not magic. It's a lot of work!  And what is the point if it makes us witchier and witchier? However, now that the pattern has been set, if you have taken on too much for Christmas, it may fall to you to retrain your family. How about a family meeting tonight? First step, go back to sorting your list into HAVE TO and GET TO. Remember, Christmas will come and go whether you do anything or not: There really are few have to's here. So talk as a family as to what is the essence of Christmas for your family. What do people value the most? How do you create that? And what part will EVERY person in the house contribute? Even a toddler can be given a helper job. If saying, "No," seems too harsh to you, think less.  Think this year we are going to decorate less:  We are going to just have a wreath on the door and say no to garlands of evergreens on the stairs.  We are going to decorate the tree with two boxes of ornaments not four.  We are going to make one kind of cookie, not three.  

1.  SAY YES TO ENGAGING KIDS IN THE PLANNING

 Good for you.  You have clarified what is on your "should" list and your "I can't wait" list.  Now it is time to do the same exercise with your kids. Ask each child to write down the five activities/events that are important to him.  Work with your child to make sure there are five ideas that are actually doable.  Now promise to make at least ONE happen. By asking for five and only promising one, you make that event extra special. If you are lucky, there will be overlap among the kids--and maybe even with your list.  Family Want-to's! Imagine how much happier the kids will be feeling it is their special request being honored!  If you have a lot of children, you may have to put tighter parameters around the requests they can make.  Perhaps each child gets to request a favorite meal sometime during the season.  Maybe Grandma is insisting on ham for Christmas dinner and your oldest really wants you to make your famous beef stew.  Good to know that you can honor the meal choice if not the day.  For group activities that are going to pull at the family budget, you can work together to choose one.  List out all the family events your kids want to do:  going to a holiday show, going ice skating, getting your picture taken with Santa, etc.  Have each child rank their lists from most desired to least desired.  Look at the lists to see if there is a pattern:  Can you give everyone her top first or second choice?  This process may take a couple of sessions, but imagine at the end of it that every family member has felt heard.  You have asked, "What is important about that to you?  Why is that your favorite?  Why else?"  Really take the time to listen to their thinking.  You might be able to get some of the needs met in other ways.  

2.  SAY YES TO GETTING A BABYSITTER OR EXTRA CLEANING HELP

Yes, of course you need a babysitter for the company holiday party. Lining that up is on your to do list. But what about just those extra date nights that are going to help you get through the holidays? Tell the kids you are holiday shopping and then skeedaddle out of there for a couple of hours in a coffee shop or an extended dinner. If you can't get your shopping done on line, at least make life easier by getting a sitter for a weekday night early in the season when the mall won't be such a zoo. Is a babysitter too expensive? Offer to take another family's kids for the evening if they will take yours another night. If you are NOT the parent who usually arranges babysitting, lining a babysitter up may be the most enormous, appreciated gift you can give.  Perhaps your family would most benefit from spending money on extra cleaning.  Does it stress you out that your in-laws are coming and you want the house beautifully clean for them?  I would certainly give up a package under the tree for that kind of peace of mind.  Your children will benefit from you being less stressed.  Given the choice between more presents and parents who are hanging by a thread, most kids will choose to parents who are in a good mood, ready to be loving and present.  

3.  SAY YES TO YOU   

Underneath all the things you are and will do this season--underneath all the love you give and help you offer and empathy you share, underneath all the thankless and Herculean feats you pull off every single day of every year for the family that you love so dearly — underneath it all, there’s a YOU.  And YOU matter. You matter so much that your whole family couldn’t be and do what it wants and needs to do without you. You matter so much that your kids couldn’t survive or succeed or live happy lives making the world a better place if you didn’t do what you do. You even matter so much that people like me dedicate our lives to support you. And you do so much for others, for your family, that it matters how well you take care of YOU, too. So, say yes to self care.  Say yes to enough sleep, to eating healthy food, to putting your feet up for ten minutes in the middle of the week.  If you apply regular self care, you will have the energy and good will that will make the rest of the season fun.  

4.  SAY YES TO AWE

These days--whether Christians or not--most Americans participate in aspects of the Holiday season.  If yours is not a family that worships regularly, you might have to work extra hard to find meaning in all the frenzied activity.  Don't worry about the specifics of the spirituality but do look for the sense of awe.  Look for beauty--in decorations, in colored lights, in the nighttime sky, in a candle flickering in the window.  Look for examples of people's kindness. Maybe people only do things in the spirit of Christmas when they should be helping year round, but I'm just glad that they are reaching out for whatever reason.  Over my years in the classroom, I have seen students touched by the season who are really moved by being ask to reach outside themselves and their own pleasure.  I think they are looking for that awe, the respect you feel when you are aware of how strong people have to be--of their challenges and burdens, of the stunning examples of how they push on despite life being hard.  Hearing those stories has a profound effect on me and my students, causing us to focus on being grateful for each other and for all we have.  Finding moments to let that awe fill you is the best thing of all to say yes to.  

I sincerely hope you consider this list and look for ways to make this season merry and bright.  

Here's to you and yours!

Elisabeth

As always, if you are feeling overwhelmed, that is a time to engage with a coach.  I love working with my clients on becoming clear, confident, focused and sane--especially in this most wonderful--but let's face it--most crazy time of year.  Sign up today for your complimentary session HERE.  

www.elisabethstitt.com  •  Joyful Parenting Coaching  • 650.248.8916

How Do You Keep the Balls in the Air? 5 Tips for Juggling Your Life

Elisabeth Stitt

Let's face it.  In the old battle between Quality Time vs. Quantity Time, ask any kid and he will say that he wants both.   But where does that leave us today?  More families than ever have two parents being paid for work that takes them away from the family resulting in outsiders spending as many or more hours with the child than the parent.  How is a parent to be the parent he wants to be in this situation?  There is no easy answer, but below are some parenting choices that can help:

1.  Take the time to be on the same parenting page as your partner.  When families are stressed and there is very little flexibility, it is more important than ever that parents have taken the time to articulate their key values and priorities.  Clearly, with less available time, something is going to have to be left out.  It will help if parents are at least confident that they are fostering the lessons they think are most essential.

2. Let clear routines move your time together along smoothly.  Parents who feel they are not getting enough time with their kids are sometimes over indulgent to make up for it.  As a short cut to establishing closeness, they let the child make all the decisions about what the family is going to eat, watch, when they'll go to bed, etc.  That might buy short-term good will, but it never works in the long run.  Inevitably parents' patience runs out and there are meltdowns when the parents now tries to insist the child go a certain direction.  With clear routines--including routines for fun-, silly- and down-time--children know what to expect.  They don't get to the edge of feeling out of control and they don't feel the need to fight their parent.  Life unfolds in a regular rhythm.  

3. Be deliberate in creating traditions or habits that will bring you together as a family.  I know a family with four boys that has a routine before they go out the door.  Mom or Dad stands at the door and does roll call!  Each boy shouts HERE energetically.  Then the parent goes down the list of what is needed for that outing (Gone potty? homework? lunch?) and after each inquiry each boy replies in best military fashion CHECK!  I have seen this rountine in action, and the boys love it.  It makes them feel like a troupe ready to go on a mission all without feeling nagged and without the drama of showing up at school without your homework, your lunch, etc.

4. Figure out what are the key pieces you need in your day/week to keep your sanity.  I used to race from my classroom at my school to my daughter's after school care. I was going on the theory that it was better to have me nearby--say, while correcting papers at the kitchen table--than it was to give her my undivided attention.  This didn't work.  I was harried and distracted when I first got to her and once we got home that stack of papers was always pulling me away from her.  She finally had the wisdom to tell me to do my correcting at school and then LEAVE the papers there.  When I went to pick her up--even if it was a couple hours later than I would have before--I was 100% hers. 

5. Be willing to reevaluate your work/life balance every six months or so.  Here's my final tip.    Most children would be happy with you standing at the ready 24/7:  Most jobs could easily fill our every waking moment.  Therefore, balance is something we reach for:  It is not something we get and then keep with no attention to it. The key is to remain open to change.  The sitter who was right for your infant, might not have the energy to keep up with your toddler.  You might choose to work fewer hours for a while so that you can join the co-op preschool down the street.  The school-aged child who has been sailing along might get the teacher from hell this year requiring you to go into work at dawn so you can be there to pick her up at the end of the day.  Maybe you have been a stay-at-home parent and that has felt pretty good, but over time your longing for meaningful work in your field is making you short tempered and impatient.  In that case, it might be healthier for your children to see less of you but to have a thriving, full-filled parent when you get home.  Only you can know what is best for you and your family.  There is no magic formula other than to keep checking in with yourself and what is really most important to you.  Working with a coach will help get you that clarity.

Building the Consistency Muscle: Tip 3: Pick Your Battles

Elisabeth Stitt

 

So far, in building the skills to become a more consistent parent, you have 1) noticed your kids being good and 2) taught them to trust your word by following through when you promised to do something with them.  You'll notice that so far I haven't asked you to hold a firm limit with your child where you will have to give out a consequence if your child doesn't do what you ask him to.  And it is still not time for that.  

The consequence of not following through on your word--whether that is a treat or a negative consequence--is to bring you back to step one with trust you have been working so hard to build.  For that reason, don’t move to following through on “no meaning no” until you are really ready for it.  (If your no already means no every time, chances are your consistency muscle is already really strong).  Before taking action, it is a good idea to think through your strategy.  You and your partner need to sit down together and take some time to prioritize your values. Knowing your values behind what drives you crazy and what you really care about will help you to be strong in defending the rules you create.  And most importantly, you need to pick your battles. 

Below are some steps that will help you decide where you are going to put your disciplining energies:  

1.  Individually, create a list of 25+ values that you care about.


Note that by values I am not implying right or wrong.  What is important for one person may not be important for another person—may even seem wrong.  For example, I have a value of messy.  To me, messy means creativity, a chance to explore, not having to get things right the first time.  My husband has a value of order.  For him, seeing a clean, neat space allows him to breathe, to think, a blank slate on which to create.  I walk into a clean house and I feel stifled, like I’m in a straight jacket and cannot move.  You can imagine we’ve had to do some major compromising around this.  The “rule” comes down to I get to be messy while creating, but I am also really conscientious about cleaning up after myself quickly and thoroughly.


2.  Circle your top five values.


Kids are not your carbon copies.  They are not going to value all the things you do.  Still, it is your house and you get to order things in a way that works for you to a great extent.  That being said, children cannot focus on that many things at once.  You are going to want to be really clear about your priorities, about which battles you want to fight because you are fighting to win.
 

3.  Rank the top five values you circled.


If you only get to drive home one message to your children, what would it be?  What is the creed you live by?  What is it you most want your child to be?  Being able to answer this question clearly is what will give you muscle behind your “No.”  And your “yes,” too, for that matter.  It is easy for us to be strong about what is really important to us.


4.  Compare your list to your partner’s list.


If you are lucky, you and your partner will share some values in that top five.  In any case, it is worth really having discussion around those values.  Why they are important to you.  What it looks like when they are being honored.  Sometimes people get hung up on a particular word, but when they hear a vision, a picture of the value in play, it is actually something they can relate to.


5.  From whatever common ground you have, choose one small expectation you could create around that value.


If you are new to the enforcing rules game, it is best to start small and be as concrete as possible.  Perhaps you and your partner have “teamwork” as a common value, and you decide to ask each child to be responsible for clearing her plate and putting it in the dishwasher.  You might need to work around some issues—the two year old might have to hand someone his plate for scraping and might need a hand on his plate while he is putting it in the dishwasher—but the expectation is so clear, you could take a picture of your child doing it and post the picture as a reminder.

Was this a struggle?  Feel free to contact me directly for a BREAK THROUGH SESSION.