OurBreakThroughs

About Jennifer Smit

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So far Jennifer Smit has created 44 blog entries.
Change is inevitable...

Modifying your morning behaviors

By | August 9th, 2016|

How?  How do you get your child to clean their room?  Eat their greens? Do their homework? The answer is you become an expert in your child’s motivators.  Clean your room or you can’t go to the movies.  Eat your greens or you can’t have dessert.  Do your homework or you can’t play.  Sound familiar?

What if we were to take the word “can’t” out of the parenting model? Suddenly you have given control to the child.  I’m not keeping you from the movies, dessert or playtime.  You can earn the reward. 

Families report difficulty getting their child out of bed and putting on their clothes let alone putting some cereal in a bowl and preparing for the day ahead.  Parents pick up the pieces by  preparing the meals, rushing behind the lagging child push push…hurry hurry.  But wait…we just established that parents can become experts at what motivates their kids.  This is a classic case where expectations are not clearly laid out and motivators are not being used as the can be.

Putting expectations and rewards together is the key to this classic dilemma. Provide a list of things you expect from your children on a day to day basis.  This isn’t rocket science for your kiddos.  This is get out of bed and make it.  Addresses organizational skills.  Brush your hair and teeth.  Addresses personal hygiene and health.  Make your breakfast and prepare your lunch for school.  Addresses responsibility and health.  Show respect to those around you.  Addresses basic social skills.  Be ready for school on time.  Addresses time management.  Help someone who is struggling to keep up.  Addresses maintaining healthy relationships and compassion.  This is just six of the responsibilities to accomplish in the morning. 

Looking back at my morning getting the boys ready for school I remember a chaotic environment.  Keenan had great difficulty staying on task.  Jayden would get ready right away so that he could relax before school…but that never worked out.  He just got bored and into trouble.  Kiel would get ready but it was like watching a snail in slow motion.  I couldn’t say he was off task…but it was painful to watch. 

The direction and incentive that Vlinder gave them in the morning was magical.  Re-direction for Keenan became easier.  All I had to do was remind him that he wasn’t earning his stamp.  He became playful in nature as he re-directed himself.  Jayden started making breakfast for his brothers and caring for the dog.  His main question was how many bonus stamps he could earn.  Kiel hated the fact that he wasn’t shining in a game.  The competitive one was challenged and he thrived. 

I was worried about adding more responsibility in an already chaotic environment.  It ended up being exactly what we needed.   My stress and workload was easily cut in half.  I’ve turned into a support rather then “the boss”.  Now I can use my time to network and learn more of these amazing ideas that are out there!  Very cool!

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Changes in Childhood

By | August 7th, 2016|

When I was a little girl I would put on my blue jeans and t-shirt, call my friend Rochelle, and ride the neighbor’s ponies from morning to night. We got in plenty of trouble riding on school lawns, moving barricades on private property, and galloping on city streets. When we weren’t getting into trouble we were sitting in the sun eating our sack lunch next to, what we called, “The Lake”. It was a care free childhood.

Sports cost next to nothing in hand me down uniforms. School friends lived within blocks. Phones were attached to a wall. Things were different when I was a kid.

All I have to say is thank God I have three boys that generally enjoy each others company. Keenan and Jayden are going to be in 3rd grade and Kiel in 4th and I still have to plan their “playdates”. They call their friends and ask for more but in this crazy day it is rare to have an impromptu time to hang out. Why is that?

The need for multiple income families means time is limited. Organized sports have turned all consuming. Hundred dollar uniforms, full weekend tournaments, longer seasons. School friends are spread across the town because of how parents pick their schools. It is no longer dependent on geography. Socially speaking there is a higher expectation that you know where your child is at all times. Unaccompanied minor brings on a label of poor parenting. Whether it is for safety or to adhere to social pressures…you no longer wave to your kids at the door and tell them to be home before dark.

I, the ever-loving devils advocate, can argue for any of these things being the culprit. Time is limited and I want my child to have pro-social, culturally enriching, fun experiences. Parenting has thus turned into, financial backer, taxi service, event coordinator extraordinaire.

I loved my carefree childhood. I was blessed. I also love being involved in my kids lives. Maybe that means I’m the culprit! All of these factors are external influences and I allow them to affect how I parent.

Hmmm. So I suppose, at this end of this thought I find, once again I am blessed. I have three great kids who like each other. They play multiple sports. They have friends in every sector of the city. They have wonder and lust for life. I find once again…I am blessed.

I’m feeling grateful as I finish this post. Thank you to all who have touched my life and gotten in trouble with me as a kid or helped to cheer on my kids. I am better for knowing you.

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Getting Vlinder out before school starts.

By | August 6th, 2016|

I’m officially starting my first back to school special!  I’m enjoying all of the “firsts” that i’m experiencing with Vlinder!

When I started creating Vlinder it was because I realized that my three boys needed more responsibility before getting ready for school.  I couldn’t imagine how I was going to make it fly.  They were already acting out and difficult to direct to eat breakfast, let alone make it themselves.  Believe it or not, it worked the first day.  I had typed up my first Task Sheet and explained the rules of the game the night before.  When they woke up in the morning I gave them each a copy and challenged them to earn all of their stamps.  There were a few questions but more surprisingly there was a lot of action and requests for reinforcement.  There was such pride in accomplishing a task.

When they got home from school they immediately went to the huge milk can that I turned into a Reward Bin.  They wanted their stamps and wanted to play the game.  It was fun to watch each kid get excited about dipping their hand into the jar.  There was some concern about bummer cards…it was hysterical.  I’m not sure what worked better the actual reward or the action of playing the game.  I do know from that day forward the kids were making intentional choices about their behavior.  One morning Jayden told me he wasn’t going to go for his stamps that morning.  So I supported him with his responsibilities and he was so bummed when he didn’t get to play Vlinder after school.  Especially after watching his brothers earn their Reward Cards.  I love natural consequence.  He never told me he didn’t want to play again.

I am excited to hear feedback how Vlinder helps others as they prepare for their school day.  I’ve lowered the price for the month of August.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Reward vs. Ultimatum

By | August 2nd, 2016|

My first blog!  The process of creating Vlinder has been challenging and rewarding.  To me this is the signs of a good project.

My favorite part has been brainstorming and creating different rewards for families.  I’ve enjoyed speaking with parents about what has worked for them.  Now I want to know more.  Having three boys myself, who are 9, and twins that are 7, I have experienced how different each child is.  What motivates one to succeed is not the recipe for success for them all.  Keenan is constantly wanting to play more electronics so he digs and digs in the reward bin in hopes for the 30 minutes of playtime.  Jayden wants to get a piece of candy and play with the dog.  Kiel loves his 30 minute breaks from homework.  All three are motivated to dig into the weekly reward bin for the bigger rewards.

I’m curious what motivates others.  What works in your home?  I used to say, “pick up your room or you don’t get to play electronics” or “stop yelling at your brother or you are going on a timeout”.  Now I say, “you aren’t earning your stamp.”  Because the motivation is set up and they know that without the stamps they aren’t earning their turn in the reward bin. It is an automatic head turner.  They stop, listen and make their decision.  It isn’t always the right one…but change takes time!  One of my happy moments was when one of the kids stopped their yelling, without a redirection from me, and reminded their brother that they both would not be earning their Respect Stamp.  Well they both didn’t earn their stamp that day…but what success!!!

So I’m curious what others think.  If you take a motivation and turn it into a reward, rather then an ultimatum, do you believe that you will see a change in your child’s behavior?

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