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Discipline

How Can Parents Survive the Pandemic and Beyond? Routines, Routines, Routines

 

How Can Parents Survive the Pandemic and Beyond?

Routines, Routines, Routines

By

James L. Casale 

Introduction:

The current state of affairs has plunged ordinary households into an abyss of chaos, confusion, bewilderment, curiosity, and panic, aka “What the hell do we do now?” Parents didn’t sign up for this “school stuff.” We pay taxes, and some of us pay both taxes and tuition to have professionals teach our kids away from home. 

It’s no longer: “I’d rather be fishing.” It’s: “I’d rather be at work, mowing the lawn, or food shopping rather than staying home with these insatiable, selfish, grumpy, attention-seeking, irresponsible, and always-hungry munchkins.”

Goal:

Equip parents now and forever on how to maintain some semblance of sanity and civility while avoiding the necessity of hiring a mental health professional. Provide at least one strategy that will ease the parenting journey through this pandemic, the next pandemic, and beyond if a private school in Switzerland is not an option.

Four Promises:

  • I promise not to weep when someone suggests that you must “stay positive.”
  • I promise not to wince or run away when you are told, “You are in charge.”
  • I promise not to hire a tutor or any other professional even if they dress in radioactive gear.
  • I promise not to call Dr. Fauci for advice or my parents for babysitting.

Routines, Routines, Routines

If your home is devoid of structure, expectations, and routines, expect chaos, confusion, and constipation. You are trying to row your boat without oars, to fly without wings. A sign in Mr. Dawson’s mechanical drawing class at Harrison High School in Harrison, NY read, “Plan your work; work your plan.” You are required to have a plan that all house members embrace. That plan is based on routines such as: we all routinely speak kindly and respectfully to each other. We routinely care about each other and accept our responsibilities as family members.

If the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location, then the three most important words for your family school are routines, routines, routines. Hold on to routines like a life raft. While maintaining high expectations, accept even the smallest improvement as a win.

James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits, reminds us that small improvements have meaning and “the difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.” For example, telling a child to clean up her room has many components: make the bed, pick up your clothes from the floor and deliver them to the laundry room, vacuum the floor, dust, etc. But if a child starts with making the bed (my personal favorite) that is an improvement. By the way, that does not mean you are expected to pick up those dirty crusty clothes off the floor. Don’t do it.

Routines make sure that things get done. Thus, the home environment is more relaxed and less stressful. A sense of accomplishment ensues for both parents and kids. These accomplishments are part of the effective parenting paradigm.

 

 

Good News/Bad News

The good news-I hope- is that you already have household routines. The bad news, for some or most parents, is that your new pandemic duties -if your children are home-require you to be the Board of Education, superintendent of schools, principal, assistant principal, teacher, mentor, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, curriculum director, nurse, aide, secretary, aka administrative assistant, bus driver, and maintenance supervisor. This may be a tad overwhelming.

 

 

Routines in Place

Routines in your household already exist. They vary based on the age of your children. Infants and toddlers require more of your time and energy. Or maybe not. If none of the following are familiar, you may have to seek counseling and pay for it. Or abandon your family completely and move to Costa Rica.

  • Going to bed/napping (not you). Be consistent here.
  • Waking up/getting out of bed. This is a requirement for all healthy parents.
  • Brushing teeth, showering, combing hair, etc. (Hair and nail salons may not be open. If they are, expect Black Friday crowds.)
  • Making beds (ha-ha). If not, teach them.
  • Tidying up their quarters and helping around the house and yard.
  • It’s an excellent academic exercise: language arts/math/science. And they can use it when they grow up.
  • All items for the washer and dryer must be brought to the laundry room by their owner.
  • Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner (no booze until all kids are tucked away).
  • Ordering take-out. You need a break, but not every night
  • Walking the dog. Includes picking up his poop.
  • Playing outside.
  • Playing inside. No fighting or throwing things.
  • Watching TV or using entertainment electronics (but not in their rooms).
  • Not watching TV and not using any entertainment electronics.
  • Family discussions.
  • Family disagreements.
  • Homework from those online courses
  • Praying some more that your house of worship opens soon.
  • If you have any other useful/normal family routines, please send them to me at jamescasalephd77@gmail.com.

PS: If none of these exist in your household, I suggest you move your family off the grid, seek advice from the Alaskan Bush People, and start all over by building a shelter and locating food sources. The necessary routines will easily present themselves.

 

New Routines

If your household boasts even a modicum of the routines, you already have a blueprint for survival. Keep the ones you have if you are satisfied with them and haven’t yet called for the men in white coats and lose the ones that are causing you angst as well as upsetting the dog.

Yes, you are the leader. Please don’t wince.  Stephen R. Covey points out in his stellar book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that the human interaction in your home can be a win/win that “seeks mutual benefit”. And that’s how routines work.

While schools remain closed and distance learning rules, the work schedules and routines dictated by the school may continue. My high school grandchildren attend to their distance learning at specific times. That’s called a routine. My college grandchildren have more freedom and choices and sometimes choose the times they will sit in front of a computer and learn stuff, unless it was a Zoom class, which has a specific time slot.

If parents build their family culture on a variety of routines and schedules and sprinkle in major doses of love, kindness, common sense, high expectations, responsibility, accurate information, modeling, leadership, and nutritional food, positive outcomes will follow. Oh, prayers help, too.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr.Casale is a state and national award-winning educator. In 1974, he was selected as the Florida Teacher of the Year, the first male teacher to receive this recognition. While serving as principal of Purchase School in Harrison, New York, in 1988, his school was selected by the United States Department of Education as a National School of Excellence. He is the author of three parenting books. www.theparentsolutions.com

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Kids

Is Your Child Safe at School: What Did Parents Learn from the Parkland Massacre?

Is Your Child Safe at School: What Did Parents Learn from the Parkland Massacre?

Is Your Child Safe at School: What Did Parents Learn from the Parkland Massacre? 

By

James L. Casale

The recent interview in the Wall Street Journal with Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, who was murdered by a psychopath at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day in 2018, is must reading for every parent who has a child in any type of school, from pre-school to college.*

The facts surrounding the horrific event that killed 17 people, 14 students and three adults, reveals the ignorance, negligence, incompetence, stupidity, and cowardice of those we entrust with the safety of our children. In this case, it was the police officers who would not enter the building, the sheriff’s deputies who were well acquainted with the killer, and the school district officials who, for want of federal dollars, bought into the Obama administration’s foolhardy program called Promise (Preventing Recidivism through Mentoring, Interventions, Support, and Education), a politically correct attempt to protect all types of miscreants and lawbreakers on school campuses and spare them a police record. When the federal government waves dollars in front of school districts, the districts usually take the money without scrutinizing the details and/or repercussions.

If parents don’t wake up, smell the gunfire, and accept their sacred responsibility to protect their children and hold accountable those they think have their children’s best interests at heart, this will surely happen again. Parents must be proactive and should not rely on others.

Three Strategies

First, obtain accurate information, starting with copies of all the safety and security policies and protocols of the institution your child is attending. If you have concerns, don’t limit yourself to the principal’s office or whoever is in charge of the campus. The BOE, via the superintendent, determines school policies. They are more culpable than the principal if updated policies are not in place. There is an enormous amount of solid information on the internet. Start with NCES (National Center for Education Statistics).

Second, as an individual or with a group of like-minded parents, do your homework and compare what is going on in your school to the “best practices” statewide and nationally. Keep written records and official documents of your search and prepare questions ahead of time before any meetings are scheduled.

Third, collaborate with those who work for you and are paid with your tax dollars. Meet with school staff and local police and fire departments to make sure the school district protocols and procedures reflect the best practices.  If possible, join safety committees and make your voice heard.

There are no guarantees that anyone is ever safe from a deranged psychopath, bully, thief, or predator, but you do have control over what is in place to best protect your child.

Flashback to the Mid-Eighties

When I became the principal of Purchase School in Harrison, New York, in 1984, I was immediately besieged by faculty and staff about the number of strangers wandering the halls of our school looking for the main office and seeking directions for local addresses. Our school’s large parking lot on the corner of two busy streets was easily accessed by anyone, including the drivers of large commercial trucks, to stop and ask for directions. I was determined to put an end to our school’s AAA service.

Though school shootings like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland were still yet to come and school violence in a quiet suburb in 1984 was unthinkable, protecting students and staff was always the top priority.

My first response was to secure all entry points after the children entered the building and maintain only one during the school day. Signs were installed to direct visitors to the only point of entry. My next step was to install a system that required visitors to buzz in and state their name and business before they were allowed to enter and report to the main office. I also wanted a camera installed for visual identification, but this was denied by the superintendent. If you were merely looking for directions, no entry was provided, and we tried to accommodate the person through the intercom.

This system might have been groundbreaking at the time. All the schools in our district soon followed suit, but by today’s standards, it was only a baby step in the right direction. According to a recent study, more people have died in mass school shootings in the United States in the past 18 years than during the entire 20th century.

Current Safety Examples

 In early January, 2019, I visited four local high schools to deliver college scholarship applications courtesy of the Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge in Tequesta, Florida. At one school, I had to pass through an attended gate and show my ID, which the attendant made a copy of. Then I was allowed to park and enter the campus. At the second school, I was met by a security guard in a golf cart. He asked me about the purpose of my visit before allowing me to park and enter the campus at the main office. The last two schools had similar precautions. I was able to park my vehicle and approach the main office without being accosted. Both campuses had tall chain-link fences at the entrance preventing anyone from entering the student section without passing through the main office. In all four locations, not being acquainted with the layout, I would not have been able to tell if other access points were secure. Which of these examples appears safest to you?

Parent Report Card

How much responsibility do parents inherit in order to keep their kids safe and secure? The only environment parents can fully control is their own home. When students have access to other places such as outdoor areas in the neighborhood, other kids’ homes, parks, malls, recreation centers, shopping areas, and schools, parents must remain diligent by learning about and assessing the risks of each venue. Have you noticed those street signs, with accompanying graphics, posted in local neighborhoods that warn drivers to “Drive like your kids live here” or “Slow Down”? These parents have concerns and have taken action.

Parents must always be alert to potential danger wherever their children roam. But that is not sufficient. Get smart. Become proactive. Work cooperatively with likeminded people and local authorities. Don’t be shy. Nothing trumps the health, safety, and security of your child. Never let the schools or any organization that assumes responsibility for your child off the hook. You are accountable, and so are they.

*You can read the full interview here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-parkland-fathers-quest-for-accountability-11547249451

Dr. Casale is both a state and national award-winning educator, speaker, and the author of two highly praised parenting books. The third book in his Common Sense Parenting trilogy will be released later this year. His website is www.commonsenseparenthood.com.

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Raising Kids

Are Parents Too Soft on Their Kids?

Are Parents Too Soft on their Kids?

By

James L Casale, Ph.D.

 

Part 1-Three True Stories

Part 2-What to Do? What to Do? (coming soon)

 

Part 1- Three True Stories

 

Story # 1

While dining in one of our favorite restaurants in Juno Beach, Florida, my wife and I observed the following episode:

A mom, accompanied by her toddler son, the boy’s grandmother, and the child’s humungous toy fire engine, were seated at a table near us. The boy placed the fire engine directly on top of the table, leaving little room for anything else.

The server arrived to take their order. The server may have assumed that the toy truck would no longer be on top of the table when she returned with the food. WRONG, the toy remained on the table and the server had to figure out where to place the food other than on top of the heads of mom and grandma.

Where are the adults in this situation? Who is teaching whom? What is this kid learning?

  1. Casale’s Rule # 17-No toys, games, or electronics are allowed at any table anywhere when food and family conversation are being served.

True Story #2

A kindergartner was in the principal’s office with his parents listening attentively to the principal and the teacher. These two professional educators were calmly explaining the reasons why this child should not be taking things from other kids’ desks and claiming them as his own. When the conference concluded and the participants were leaving, the mother was overheard saying to her child, “It’s no big deal.”

What is this boy learning? What goes on in this home? Dr. Casale’s Rule # 2-No stealing.

 

True Story #3

A young man in his early twenties decided that it would be nothing more than a prank to throw a live alligator through the drive-in window at a local Wendy’s. He easily qualifies as a moron, even though, when being interviewed by a local TV organization outside the police station, he appeared to be sane as well as remorseful.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and theft. When his mother heard the charges, she thought them to be extreme and said. “Well, I mean, how could you not think that something like that was a prank.” 

This young man lives with his parents and has never heard of Dr. Casale’s Rule # 7; Don’t be stupid even if your parents will defend you at the gates of hell.

 

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator, author, and national speaker. His popular podcast, COMMON SENSE PARENTING, airs each Thursday at 2:00 PM on w4wn.com (The Women for Women network). All shows are available on iHeartRadio.His website is www.commonsenseparenthood.com. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

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Parenting

Profiles in Attitude: Effective Parenting Begins Here

Profiles in Attitude: Effective Parenting Begins Here

By

James L. Casale

 

If you think parenting is a struggle, and mostly an uphill one, you are correct. However, you may need an attitude adjustment. There’s a reason that Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking sold five million copies. He was onto something so basic that all of us can identify with it: attitude not only matters; it’s the building block for the experiences that follow. Without it, parents have no starting point for their parenting journey. Hopefully, the following vignettes will inspire and encourage parents with the “I can do it” mindset.

You Must Believe in Yourself and Your Abilities

On September 11, 2014, a baseball thrown by Mike Fiers crashed into the left side of the batter’s face at 88 miles per hour, resulting in broken bones, smashed teeth, and unimaginable pain. How did the batter survive the physical and mental trauma, return to baseball the next season, and, in 2017, become the MVP and hit 59 home runs?

Other men hit by errant baseballs above the neck never returned to the “bigs,” and if they did, they were not the same players. But Giancarlo Stanton overcame his physical and mental injuries with exceptional resolve, courage, determination, and grit, all based on a foundation of believing in himself and his abilities. He had and still has attitude. He did make a minor adjustment to his batting helmet, which indicates lesson learned and good judgment.

Alvin Hall is probably unknown to you as one of the many thousands of thalidomide babies born with physical deformities. He was born without arms. This handicap did not deter him, because he still had a fully functioning brain and an ample supply of attitude. He did not grow up feeling sorry for himself. He charged ahead with the same determination and resolve that Giancarlo demonstrated and taught himself to play the drums and piano with his feet. He also became a motivational speaker.

Tom Dempsey, despite his physical handicaps, made history and was admired for what he had to overcome: a deformed right foot with no toes and a right hand with no fingers. He not only played in the NFL but was a star. On November 8, 1970, his 63-yard field goal as time expired won the game 19–17 for the New Orleans Saints over the Detroit Lions.

Have you ever heard about the Major League pitcher with no right hand? In 1986, he was presented with the United States Sports Academy’s Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Award for his courage in overcoming adversity to excel in sports. A year later, he won the Golden Spikes Award for being the best amateur player in the United States. In 1992, he was presented with the Tony Conigliaro Award, given annually by the Boston Red Sox to a Major League player who has overcome obstacles and adversity through spirit, determination, and courage. I will unabashedly substitute the word “attitude” for the word “spirit.” Oh, by the way, James Anthony Abbot also pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Yes, he was a good fielder too. He believed in himself and his abilities. He exuded attitude.

Have you seen the movie The Darkest Hour? Have you read the book? Winston Churchill was a rock of self-confidence, determination, commitment, and courage in the face of possibly being destroyed by the Nazis. He listened to advice and his critics but didn’t waver from his position of not giving in to Hitler’s demands. He would not capitulate, and later, during WWII, his famous words would resound around the world: “Never, never, never, never give up” He didn’t. He won. Hitler lost.

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected 140 times. You know the rest of the story. Taylor Swift had her mom drive her around to every country radio station in the English-speaking world so she could give the disc jockeys a copy of her homemade CD. You know the rest of that story too.

 

Effective parenting is not brain surgery; it’s harder. But you are not alone. Accurate information is available in a variety of forms: books, magazines, research studies, podcasts, experts, websites, and sometimes grandma and grandpa. You chose to have children; your children didn’t choose you. Raising lifelong learners and men and women of character and virtue within a family culture that emphasizes kindness, respect, self-control, responsibility, and humility is your sacred duty. And it requires a positive attitude.

 

 

 

Raising Kids

Was It the Gorilla’s Fault the Kid Fell into the Zoo Enclosure?

 

Commentary:  (May 2016) A three-year-old at the Cincinnati Zoo fell into a gorilla’s zoo enclosure. This incident or lack of judgment made national headlines. The police were considering charging the parents with negligence. They didn’t. The boy was unharmed but the rare gorilla was executed.

An article in the Palm Beach Post by a clueless author prompted my response which was also published in Palm Beach Post on 13 June 2016. A local police chief sent a lengthy email to me supporting my position.

Was It the Gorilla’s Fault the Kid Fell into the Zoo Enclosure?

A recent article in a local newspaper titled, The Shame of Parent Shaming, reveals a total lack of understanding about a parent’s first mission; the safety and security of your child. The author’s dismissive and flippant remark; “If it hasn’t happened to you, your parental helicopter must be low enough to clip the tops of trees.” proves the point.

The author continues to shield the parents of the three- year- old that fell into the Gorilla’s enclosure by recounting her own horrific experience. Her 14- month- old child, standing next to mom, slipped through the railings of a bridge and landed in the creek below. The good news regarding both incidents is that both children were rescued unharmed and returned safely to the arms of their parents. The bad news is that these incidents happen too often with tragic endings.

Losing track of your child near a potentially perilous situation is not to be taken lightly. In fact, if you are one of those parents who lost sight of your toddler in a supermarket or big box store, the potential for danger is real if the child wanders out into the parking lot. Speaking of parking lots, I have witnessed- on numerous occasions- the “la dee da” body language of parents who are not properly connected to their toddlers while strolling through parking lots.

A critical component of watching out for your child is the parent’s ability to assess possible harmful situations. Pools, parking lots, amusement parks, beaches, playgrounds, and zoos are examples of the locations where helicoptering is appropriate. Remember that the toddler’s world of suspecting and assessing danger does not exist. Parents are the first teachers and role models who are charged with protecting their children as well as teaching them about harmful situations.

Bad things happen when parents are not paying attention to their number one responsibility. Witness the number of children who are left to suffocate in cars because of the ignoramuses that are in charge. These stories and others tell the tale of neglect and abuse. Some outcomes are happy and some are tragic. But let’s not give these parents a pass because, as the author quotes one of her sources that, “Children are attracted to the forbidden and are the consummate escape artists.”  Even gorillas and mama bears know better than that.

Discipline

Three Bozos in China

 

Three Bozos in China: Where’s the Parenting?

By

James L. Casale, Ph.D.

Actually, I would be insulting Bozo the clown by calling the three shoplifting UCLA basketball players, Bozos. Clowns are always trying to act funny or foolish as a means of entertainment. They aren’t criminals.

There is nothing entertaining about the actions of these three embarrassments to their country, their university, their team, their coach, their league (PAC 12) and of course, their parents.

They deserve the ridicule they are receiving for demonstrating to the world that they have learned nothing about virtue and are being judged on the “content of their character.” They are now part of those other pillars of the amateur sports society, the Olympic swimmers arrested in Brazil in 2016.

In this incident, the light shines brightly on the role of their parents and their upbringing. Mr. Ball, the father of one of the shoplifting culprits, LiAngelo Ball, has become a mini-celebrity for guiding his son, Lonzo, to the NBA. He is even asked for autographs by the ignoramuses that think basketball is important. Mr. Ball may have a talent for coaching but,

based on his recent public comments, it appears that he is limited to basketball and knows nothing about effective parenting.

 

The lesson here, especially for parents, is as clear Gabrielle’s horn. The smallest school in America is the family. That’s where real life lessons-character, morals, virtue- are taught. While there are no guarantees, parents are required to be their child’s first teachers and role models. But unfortunately, as Bill Bennett reminds us, “Parents are their child’s first teachers for better or worse.”

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and guide your child to succeed in school and life. It is available at bookstores and online. His second parenting book, “Family Pledge; Raising life-long learners and good citizens” has also received five-star reviews. He is available as a speaker.

Website – www.jamescasalephd.com

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.