How to Discipline: An Interview
Discipline, or what we find out here is gentle guidance and communication is the difference between a loving relationship with your child, and a relationship fraught with struggle. We've come to the expert, Ari, a mother of two and owner and teacher of preschool. Listen in on her interview to see exactly what's on the agenda for helpful gentle guidance and communication. To read a highlight of Ari's basic points, read the
article on discipline
and enjoy a briefer version of the interview.
Ashley: Tell me Ari, I know you have children of your own and have had a daycare for a long time.
Ari: My children, my daughter is Brooke and she’s 13 1/2.
Ashley: That’s my middle name!
Ari: Well, guess what her middle name is… Ashley!
Ashley: Oh my god! How amazing…
Ari: So, she’ll be 14 in January. Then my son Grant is 9, he turned 9 in August. So I have a lot of experience with parenting and my gentle guidance technique with them. And I created it pretty much around them.
Ashley: Now was this influenced by how you were raised or something that you had read?
Ari: Both. Definitely by how I was raised, because I was raised by a single mom environment and she was kind of forced to go into the work place and have us be home alone, me and my sister. We had a lot of responsibilities and a lot of, you know we had to make our own lunches, do our own homework, which was very stressful. And her approach was not gentle. And I love my mom, we’re best friends, I call her 5-6 times a day. It’s not like I had this horrible upbringing and now we’re totally apart. No, she’s my business partner, president of my board, love her! But because of the way she raised me, I believe that we set up rockets of desires when we are in a situation that we are not necessarily wanting. And so what we do as children and as adults is this doesn’t quite feel right, I’m not wanting this… this (XX) is what I want. And it kind of goes out there in the ethers, of what you really want. So, when I was pregnant with my first child I knew what I wanted, I wanted to raise them gently and have a different approach to my parenting. First of all it was very important that I was with them. Not necessarily a stay at home mom, which I did quite a few years of, but with them. So, first my daughter came to school with me. My first preschool job, I had taught at preschool prior but when she got to the age when she could come with (me). I went and applied at another job and she came with me. And so she was at preschools with me.
Ashley: And was that with you teaching her or at the school together?
Ari: At the school together. And so that was interesting. Fabulous and challenging at the same time because I had to release and watch and allow the other teachers to discipline my child. Which in a day we weren’t together that often, because she had her classroom and I had mine, but I remember one time where a child actually pushed her on the monkey bars and she fell face-first into the ground and I felt the teacher’s arm just kind of push me back because I was going to get up. I wasn’t going to do anything to the child that pushed her, but I wanted to go take care of my baby. You know? And so that was interesting to have to sit back and allow other people to guide my child while I’m watching. And then I became, actually I taught there and two other schools that I taught at prior they were actually abusing children. Physically, mentally, verbally abusing the children and the very first preschool I taught at before I became a parent, they were abusing them. I didn’t get it. I was wondering, is this just how it is? Is this how to guide? Their discipline is through fear and yelling and ridicule and making them feel less than. Standing above them, pointing at them. Ugh! You know, why am I in college for this? You know I’m taking classes on child development. The classes I took for my degree were pretty amazing classes, I learned a lot as far as… why I was such a good mom was because of my degree.
Ashley: What classes were you taking?
Ari: Well as child development it was early childhood units. So, it’s the core classes that you take, it’s philosophy, it’s learning through play, observation, but in that I learned a lot of different techniques that I took into my classroom and into my children. Because of my degree I feel like I’m the mom that I am.
Ashley: That’s great.
Ari: It’s important to me and I think it’s important for parents to take some sort of a parenting class, something to get them geared up for it. Because parents are just cold-turkey becoming parents and for me I have a degree in it, so it enabled me to be a much better mom. And so, the schools were abusive and I’m talking extremely abusive and one abused my own daughter and I called licensing and turned them in and they had to go through the whole process that required firing six teachers. Children would have potty accidents and they would scream at them about how gross they were. And the parents would come and turn to me and say “I don’t understand, why is my child crying when I drop them off and crying when I pick them up.” And I started watching my own daughter who was 2 1/2 at the time, maybe less than that and she was acting bizarre and not wanting to come and screaming… And I’m like what’s going on? And so I started observing. I poked through the window and saw her physically being abused, I left and went to the last school I worked at and they truly taught me that children come first in the school frame. It was the first time that it was geared around them, and not numbers. So, wow this feels good! And I finished my degree there. I was able to do my practicum in my classroom, which was unheard of. It was fabulous and the director was my core teacher, and it just never works that way! I was pregnant with my son and I said, now what? I’m not going to leave this preschool that I found and I can’t take him there. I’m not going to go to a corporate school and take a beautiful baby to a corporate school. And I’d stayed 2 years home with my daughter before I’d even took her with me. So, someone asked me what about home childcare? And I said, I’d never heard of it, never even thought of it. You do preschool out of your home and you can care for your own child at the same time. So, I thought “cool”. So, when I graduated college I actually received an advocate award because of my, because of what I did towards the other school. And it was the very first advocate award to be awarded from the college that I went to. In honor of me, and my practicum teacher actually told me prior to the graduation ceremony because I was pregnant and she was like “I want you to know this, because I don’t want you to go into labor! Because the whole evening is actually based around you.” And I’m like, oh my god. I was crying! He was born in August, and graduation was in June, so I was pretty close to time to deliver and so I couldn’t even talk at the graduation, I just cried the whole time. I should have prepared a speech and have somebody read it, but I said nothing. I just sat there and sobbed. So as I graduated from college, I also went through the courses to have the home preschool. The amazing thing was, it was actually a grant that offered people who were interested to take classes. You can go get in-home preschool license without any classes.
Ashley: Oh goodness.
Ari: You don’t even need to know what you are doing. If you decide right now that you want to open a preschool in your home, give it about 2-3 months and you can do it. You don’t have to have any background, any degrees or anything. So, I took classes and they taught me the different things on how run your in-home business. Which was very beautiful, very important. So, I opened my first in-home preschool and had it licensed for 6, so it was my son, daughter and 4 other children, which is too many. Too many children, they really need to change the licensing, but in order to make a profit you have to have a certain amount of children. But, I personally don’t think that, well, it’s a little too many. And then, I wanted more. I wanted to open up a center, but my children were still there, my daughter just started kindergarten, and so I said let’s move and get a bigger house and start to do large. Which is licensed for 12 kids. So, we did. We sold the house and went and bought another home and licensed that for large. And I was the very first ever accredited in-home for large in Orange County! Which was huge! And it was another grant that they offered for in-home providers, which asked if you wanted to have your in-home accredited. Well, the preschool I worked at prior they were accredited. I understood what a big deal it was. So, I got to go through this whole grant process again, completely free and I became accredited.
Ashley: That’s great.
Ari: Right, and so people came in and observed and they wanted to see how I did things. And waiting lists. It was really a fabulous place. So, my technique, it actually has changed. In the beginning it was gentle guidance, and I would speak to children very gentle, get down on their level, talk to them positively. Just really nurtured them. Now, my approach is still gentle guidance, but it’s gentle guidance with neurolinguistics. What I do is, I try, there are sometimes that the words come out and they are already out, but to do it with only positive. So, if they’re running, I say, “Walking Feet”. Or if they’re hitting, I say “Gentle Hands”. Or if they’re screaming, I’ll say “Calm Voice”. I don’t say, “STOP YELLING” or “stop running”, because with the neurolinguistics, the way the brain works, the last word they hear is “running”, so it takes them a while to process that what I want you to do is stop! So the children hear running… so they’ll keep running. And you’ll be shouting, “I said stop running!” and they’re running. And you have to finally take them and say “did you not hear me, I said stop running!” So, what I realized is if you say, walking feet, or slow down, gentle hands… their mind is able to wrap around that and they will stop doing the behavior that, they might get hurt by. You know they’re hitting a friend and I approach them and I say “nice hands” and they’ll immediately stop. I have 1 1/2 year olds that will reach for something and I’ll say “hands off”, because I want their hands to be off of whatever it is they are reaching to touch. Instead of “don’t touch”, the last thing they hear is touch, so they look at you and they touch it anyways. Their touching and looking at you, and so what I realized is when I say “hands off” a child at one years old! I had a child at one years old and immediately when I taught him, by modeling what that meant. I would go up to him and take it off of what I wanted him to take his hand off, it’s always kind and gentle, “hands off”. So, he learned what that meant and when he’s about to touch something and say “hands off”, he takes his hand off. So, my gentle guidance is based on the mind and the brain and how it wraps around in children. And I’ll even use it with my employees. You know if you want to have them come in on Tuesday, and I say “don’t forget I need you in here at 7:30!” The last thing they are hearing is “forget”. And so they forget! “Don’t forget the milk when you go to the store!” And they come home with everything, but where’s the milk? They forgot! So, “remember, I need you to be here at 7:30!” and “remember the milk”! And another part of my discipline with my own children is that I’ve noticed, it was about 5-6 years ago now I was having problems with ulcer-colitis, and it changed my life. I looked at my life completely different. And the way that I was disciplining them was always gentle but I noticed there were times I would react to their behavior, maybe in a negative way, I might yell, be disappointed and this is prior to the illness. I was actually more calm with my preschool children than I was with my own children. I would react to them and the way they were behaving. When I became ill, it made me really look at my life. You start looking at your life. And what I started doing was, disciplining them in a more loving way, for an example, when, and I don’t like to use this as an example because it sounds a little harsh, but there are parents out there that every minute are loosing their children, with disease, car accident, abduction, whatever the reason they’ve lost their child. So, when I would walk into my children’s dirty room, I would react immediately! “uhg, your room is such a mess! You guys get in here now, I told you guys I needed this cleaned up! Blah, blah, blah!” So, it would become a battle, it would become stressful, tears. So, I changed my approach to things, so that when I would walk into their room, just for a minute because I didn’t want to hold onto that thought, because it’s a traumatic thought “losing your child”. But I’d walk in and I’d say a parent that’s recently lost a child would do anything to open up this door and see this mess! They would do anything to have their baby back. So, what I do is remind myself of the gift that my kids aren’t messing up their room to be little brats. They’re messing up their room because they are playing and they are enjoying themselves. They’ve taken out every stuffed animal, every blanket. They’ve created this tent, they’ve used all this stuff. But to me as an adult, whose stuck in adult-world, will walk in and go “This room is a disaster!” But I started looking at my whole life in a different approach. An approach of a parent that is walking into a room and that they’re grateful their child is there! So, what I’d say is “wow, you look like you had a really good time playing, so tell me about what you’ve done?” and the child will say, we did this and this and this, and then I’ll say “that’s a lot of fun, playing that wasn’t it?”. And they’ll say, “Absolutely I had a blast!” And so, then I’ll say, “part of playing, part of our responsibility is to clean it up, so I think you can have as much fun cleaning as you did playing. What do you think? How can we clean that would be just as much fun? Should I set the timer? Should I count? What should I do?” And so, it started being fun. Life started to become fun, and not stressful!
Ashley: That’s beautiful.
Ari: And then, and example of recent, because that was a while ago; is I still do that, when I open up the door and see a mess I still take a step back and say, I am so happy that they made this mess. But my daughter was having a teenager moment and she screamed at me and yelled. And she was just beside herself and I was just like, you know you have to take a step back and you have to breath because, another thing that I’ve been fine-tuning is life is about ourselves. So, what I mean by that is, what I see in the world, I’m upset because I think it is about me. When my daughter yells it’s about how I feel, we were created to be self-centered… and it’s normal. It’s okay. It’s all about us! So, when a child misbehaves in a grocery store it’s not that they’re misbehaving in a grocery store, it’s how I feel: I’m embarrassed by their behavior…
Ashley: Yeah, everyone’s looking at me! I’m trying my best, and this is not working!
Ari: Exactly, it’s a reflection of me. So, anytime there’s behavior going around I say to myself, okay, what’s going on here, how is this making me feel? Why am I reacting to my teenager who’s throwing a fit? There’s something that’s causing her to react, we have to figure out what the underlying reason is that they’re reacting. Instead of yelling at her and for screaming at me, I have to realize that it’s her life is based on her. She’s focused on her. And her life experience is on what is making her feel good and if she’s not feeling good she’s going to react and that’s the way we are. So what I even do too, even with a teenager is I’ll feel myself getting angry. And with my son for example, I’ll feel myself getting angry and bubbling up, “I’ll say, if you don’t stop that, my head is going to pop off and roll down the street!” Because that stops is immediately in his tracks. “if you don’t stop it…” (uh, oh here I go) So if I don’t react to his behavior, because he’s making it so I don’t feel good, So, I say “if you don’t stop it…” and his eyes go all big and then I continue…”my head’s going to pop off and roll down the street!” And he’s like “would it really do that?” And I go, “I don’t know but keep it up and you’ll find out”. So, I bring humor into the things. So, when my teenager is just having a day, she’s dealing with her own stuff at school, so how does she feel based on her reaction to me. If she’s happy and having a fabulous day, she’s going to be different towards me. And how I’m feeling, I’m going to react differently to her. So, if she’s in a place where she’s stressed and screaming and I’m not, now I’ll be able to handle her better because I’m not so concerned with how it’s making me feel. I’m already filled up, I’m okay. If we’re both in that empty place, if she’s reacting, and I’m reacting to her reaction because it’s making me feel bad, and then my reaction to her is making her feel bad…
Ashley: So, it’s just feed off each other.
Ari: So, I run into her and I’m upset because how dare she yell at me! What’s your problem, you’re making me feel bad.
Ashley: And I’m the mother!
Ari: And that’s what it is, “I’m the mother! All of you need to always behave, your rooms need to always be clean. You need to have your homework done and you need to have… because it’s about me feeling good. It’s about us feeling good. And so, she’s screaming at me and I said, and she’s 13 1/2 and this still works for her. I said, “If you don’t stop… I’m going to hang you buy your toes, drip honey all over you and let the bears lick you!” And she just sat there, she looked at me and she starts laughing. And at the moment, you know I just wanted to do bad things to her. I have my own stuff going on with adults, she’s doing it during preschool hours, I was fearful a parent could show up and she’s there having a hissy fit! So, my fear was I felt she was affecting me. You know, how dare you behave this way! You’re going through all this stress, and how dare you yell and think it’s okay to yell. So, when I was ready to loose it, and we all get to that point, and I said, I’ll cover you in honey and let the bears lick you. I almost said the bees get you, but she’s scared of bees and I didn’t want to torture her. So I said the bears, and she just stopped. I sat down and I said, talk to me, what’s wrong? What’s making it so you don’t feel good? That’s what this is all about! We want a new car, because it’s going to make us feel good. We want to get married, because it’s going to make us feel good. We want to go on vacation, because it’s going to make us feel good. Bottom line, all we want is to feel good. And so based on how we discipline and how we handle life is how I feel. So, what’s going on? Something’s feels not right, you seem disconnected, what’s wrong? “Oh mom, it was awful, there’s this boy and he bugs me and he likes me and he won’t leave me alone!” That’s why she was screaming. So, her reaction to everything going on was her not feeling good. And so, if we take the time as parents and be with our children, “how do you feel?” You know we do something I call our routine. When it’s time for bed we crawl in bed together. I’ve done it since Brooke, well, all this has come up since I’ve divorced and a lot of this stuff that’s come up due to the divorce I have to do things differently. But I was doing a lot this stuff prior, I was in the relationship a lot of years, so it’s not like the father was absent, we do a routine and I would check in with them and at night we would cuddle up. And parents don’t think they have a lot of time, but 15 minutes, that’s it. Our routine is 15 minutes, check in how their day was, how do they feel about there day, and what’s going on. And not be strangers, not connect to our kids. And to me that’s very important.
Ashley: Now there’re older, so they have their separate…
Ari: They don’t
Ashley: So, you do it together?
Ari: Together, when they were young and they had their own bedrooms we would all come into one bed, into my room and we would all come together and it teaches them respect for others, respect being, “it’s Brooke’s turn”. Even at 3 years old, my son was able to wait, not too long, but “it’s Brooke’s turn”, “it’s sissy’s turn, let’s let her finish”, “okay, Grant tell me!” So, it was learning how to take turns, respecting each other, to this day, they really don’t talk over each other. They’ll stop and say, “Oh, go ahead” because they know. Another thing with my discipline with children that’s really important. And this is really geared from me as parent and not as daycare, is setting it up in the beginning as to how you want things. One day at the school I asked for a garlic press. I wanted them to be able to make hair from play dough. And she brings me these garlic presses, in a bag and she said I’d like to observe your classroom. She observed all the time, so instead of having the children sit down for play dough, I had them sit down on the rug. And she’s like, looking at me wondering what I’m doing. So, they all came to the floor and I had my bag and I shook it around and I said, “Mrs. Gaiden brought us a surprise! What do you think is in here?!” I made this big to-do, and you can do this at home, make them think that it’s fun! So, I stuck my hand in the bag and said, “hmm, this feels kind of strange”, then I let them put there hand in and felt inside. So, this big huge to-do, brought it out and so I showed them what we could do, we could make hair or spaghetti or what have you. Then I put it down on the ground and they were all in a half-circle, and I said, okay these were 2 1/2 year olds) I said, “How many garlic presses do we have? Lets count them. One, two, three. Okay. How many friends do we have? One, two, three, four, five, six…all the way to twelve. And I said, “hmm, we have 3 garlic presses and we have 12 friends, what’s our plan?” And my director is like, they’re 2 1/2, how are they going to come up with a plan? Well, I started my classroom together that way, we work together as a team. We work together and we decide to problem-solve together, what’s the plan. They came up with their plan. Are they plans that would probably work, not necessarily, one was like, “we could go to Disney Land!” and I was like, “oh, okay” They come up with strange, bizarre stuff, but you model and you help them pull out ideas. Come up with a plan and then they sat down at the table and the garlic presses ended up being a 45-minute activity, then they sit down work with the play dough. And I don’t remember what the plan was, but we followed through with the solution and it was heaven! Peace. And there was probably one or two that forgot our plan and grabbed at it. But they would learn to say, when you’re done with it, can I use it? And so, my director would come into my classroom purposefully when she was doing a tour because she knew that no matter where we were in the day, we would be at peace, because that was my goal. To teach them self-responsibility, problem-solving, using their words at young ages and they would take that into the home as well.
Ashley: So you did that mainly by using gentle voice, at their level, and getting them to help solve whatever comes up.
Ari: Instead when you see two children fighting, a teacher would probably, let’s say they are fighting over a bucket, a teacher or a parent is going to talk up, especially with siblings, you’ve got sibling-rivalry, which is a really big one, and it’s starting in the very beginning with how you want things to be done. So, you have two children fighting over the bucket a teacher or parent is going to come up and rip the bucket out of their hands and say, “STOP”, why? Because their conflict is not feeling good to the teacher/parent. It’s causing them stress, what if other people are listening, what if a parent is listening? Or if they are at the beach, then all the people around them are going to think their rotten kids. So, you react, you rip the bucket out of their hands and you yell at them, “Nobody’s going to get the bucket! Blah, blah, blah.” But what I would do is every conflict, and I don’t even call it a conflict, but every disagreement was a learning opportunity for my classroom. So, if they are fighting over a bucket, I’m like “Yeah!” I get down on their level, I take their hands away gently and I put my hand on the bucket and say “hands off”. I say, “We’ve got a disagreement going on here. You want the bucket, and you want the bucket but there’s only one bucket.” So instead of me ripping the bucket out they figure out how to solve the problem. They will come up with their ideas, I’ll model it and bring in my own ideas to help them. Their ideas are never wrong: if they tell me the elephants pink, and it’s blue, they’re not wrong. Good answer, wow, you’ve got a great imagination. I never say “No, it’s not pink!” So, making sure that they don’t feel, if they feel like I’m telling them they are wrong, then they are not going to take risk and they aren’t going to be involved with the problem-solving. If they feel like they are listened too and heard, always validate what they have to say, no matter how random it is. Then I teach them: what should we do? Who had it first? How do you think we can share this bucket? It’s the same thing with your own children at home. From the very beginning when I started taking my children to the grocery store I had a plan. You have to have a plan. My plan was when you are old enough to understand, about 1 1/2 I would say, “Today is a toy day! When we are at the store, you get to pick a toy out!” “I do?” my daughter would say all excited! So, she picks out her toy, gets to hold it, and then the next time we go to the store “Today is not a toy day. Today we’re going to go to the store and we’re going to buy our groceries and it’s not in the plan, the plan is there is no toy. Now if you cry and you say you want a toy after we’ve had our discussion, and we understand it’s not toy day today, then you’re going to loose toy day the next time.” And she’s like, “oh, okay”. And it didn’t take very long for her to understand… and she’d check in, “Is today a toy day?” And I’d say, did you get a toy last time? And she’d think about it and I’d go, “I don’t think you did! Yep, today is toy day!” So, she’d already know what her behavior needs to be so we’re not going down the aisle and she’s screaming and I’m yelling at her, “No toy, I told you XXX”. And then you see this family, I watch families, and you’ll see the same family that a few minutes ago you saw having this argument about the toy and there is the child with the toy in her hand. The very toy the parent told her she couldn’t have. It’s because it made the parent feel bad because she felt embarrassed and she felt inadequate and not a good parent. She gave up that and gave the toy to the child. So, now the child knows that if I throw that kind of fit, then I get the toy! So, I’m gonna do it. And guess what, the next time it’ll take a little longer because mom wasn’t going to let me have that toy, but I stuck with it, and I got it anyways! So, all they really have to do is throw a really big fit, make mom feel bad and embarrassed. So, if you set it up in the very beginning, this is how it’s going to be, just like with the garlic presses, this is our plan, problem solve, what are we going to do?
Ashley: It sounds like you’ve been getting them into the creative process of helping the plan along or what they want to include in the problem solving area, it’s really empowering.
Ari: It’s huge for children because children feel like they are not heard, that they’re talked over. I question why people have children because they’re not loved and embraced and encouraged. They’re yelled at, they’re a nuisance, they’re loud, and they’re irritating. And I just feel like, if you’d just take the time, especially with siblings, it’s huge. When I was pregnant with my second child, before he was even born I came up with my plan. You have to have a plan. When you go to the grocery store as a single person and you see those people screaming down the aisles and you say, “That’s not going to be me!” Then it ends up being you because you don’t have a plan. And so when I was pregnant with my son, I though, I’ve seen sibling rivalry, I had it with my sister, we were alone raising each other but it wasn’t that sweet. I love her now, beautiful sister of mine, but we had conflict! So, I was like, what’s my plan. So, you come up with a plan and it’s gentle guidance, it’s talking nicely, it’s making sure he’s heard and she’s heard. And that she feels very, very important when he comes. And that you’re talking, not over them, but explaining to them. He’s coming, this is what it’s going to be like, you’re going to be a big helper. And what do you think you can do to help me here? How can we do this? Having her be involved with her coming. So, when he comes it’s not this thing that’s taking up all her attention that she had. We took him as a newborn and had him join our routine. We’d lay him on the pillow and the dad was never involved with our routine, he always distanced himself, but we would lay down and have our routine with him.
Ashley: That’s beautiful.
Ari: And my children are extremely close. It’s beautiful to watch them, but they have their moments. But when they are having conflict, it’s making me feel back because it’s reflecting on me. So, how am I reacting to their conflict. When they have the conflict, which is normal, because they are children. And how it’s going to be is based on how I react. “It looks like we’re not agreeing, what’s the plan.” Right now, the biggest conflict they have is on taking the dog out. He has to go out when they get out from school. So, I’m at the point now where I open the door and I say, remember, Prince needs to go out! And I hear “both of them disagreeing”, and I go, okay, “I hear that there’s conflict going on here, I’m shutting the door and leaving, but I’d like the two of you to figure it out, because your dog is sitting there staring at you and he needs to go to the bathroom. So, whatever the plan is, it’s your deal. I’ve got to go. Come up with it quickly, because your dog needs to go to the bathroom!” And I’ll shut the door and Grant will come tracing out and I’ll say, “Oh, you’re taking him out?” And he’ll say, “Yeah, we talked about it and she took him out yesterday, so she said, she’ll take him out tonight…” And I’m like, “Okay! Great, thank you!” So, does it work like that all the time, no, you’re going to have moments, even as adults where you feel not connected and you feel like it’s not quite working. And that’s normal too. If they need a little bit more extra help, you know if I would have shut the door and went on my way and I heard them in there continuing to scream at each other, then I’ll come back in that, and I give them choices. I forgot to tell you about my choices. With my preschool students, I will always give them choices. So, we’re outside and it’s time to come in and one doesn’t want to come in. They’re kicking and screaming because their agenda is to play outside, while the agenda of the school is unfortunately we have to come in. So, I explain to them, I don’t talk too much because they don’t want to listen to you… there’s a certain amount of sentences per child’s age. I could say more to my 9 year old than I would to a three year old. So, I’m not going to sit there and ramble on. I tell him, we’re going in and it’s not safe for you to be out here alone and so the plan is to go in. “Aghhh” the kid making a fit. “So you have two choices, you can walk in like a big boy or I’ll carry you. But guess what, you get to pick!” Either way, I win. So, if he chooses to walk in like a big boy, he’s inside. If he chooses carry me, then I’ll carry him in. And if they make no choice, then I say, “I’m going to make the choice for you, so, walk in like a big boy, I don’t see that happening, so, I’m gonna carry you.” Woohoo! Here we go! And so the next time it happens, I’m going to give you a choice…”okay, I’ll walk!” And now he’s walking like a big boy because he didn’t want you to carry him in, he wanted to stay outside! So, I don’t scream, I don’t yell, I don’t do timeout, never. I redirect or I make the choice for them.
Ashley: So, it sounds like sticking to the words that you say, or the plan is really important.
Ari: Well, what’s really important to parents is to be consistent with your discipline because, for example the rule no jumping on the couch: that’s my rule, family-law, you don’t jump on the couch. When mom’s on the phone and she’s talking to Aunt Sally about this fabulous, whatever, really involved and she feels good talking to Aunt Sally, which is perfect, then Johnny gets on the couch and starts jumping and she turns and looks at him and rolls her eyes and “phh” and keeps talking, because right now, she wants to be on the phone with Aunt Sally. Then, when the phone call is over, he’s been jumping for the last 20 minutes on the couch, hangs up the phone and screams at him. It’s not consistent. So, the rule is, no jumping on the couch, and you don’t even say no jumping on the couch because the last thing they’re going to hear is jumping on the couch. So, feet off the couch, bottoms on the couch. Feet are not supposed to be on the couch. Bottoms on the couch. Jumping is for trampolines. Whatever your rule is, but if your rule is you can jump on the bed, let that be the rule! If you’re allowed to jump on the couch, fine that’s the rule, keep it consistent. Don’t have it be one day you can jump on the couch and the next day because you are in a bad mood – get off the couch! You have to be very consistent and you have to have a plan. What’s your plan? House rules, write them down. Feet stay on the floor, bottoms on the couch. What’s the rule when mom’s on the phone? Okay, I’m on the phone, so that means I need to give my 100% attention to whoever is on the phone. So, you set it up before there is even a conflict. When I’m on the phone, so, if you need me and be sure and do this when there is no phone call! Family meeting, or family time, “So, when I’m on the phone and you really, really, really need me, what should you do?” And then they’ll sit there and go, “Well, I could…” And it might not even be a very good answer, it might not work, but I’ll say, “well, that’s good, let’s keep brainstorming, lets keep working with that. I’m glad that you came up with that.” It’s never wrong. If I said, “Well, that’s stupid!” That’s not going to work. If you tell a kid that, then he’s not going to participate and not going to try. But if you make him feel validated and listened too. And his answer is valid, then you come up with family rules. “I could…” And you really have to check in with yourself, because in my case they were writing me notes, and I’m trying to read the note and I’m on the phone, and realize, this isn’t working! So, what can we do? Come up with, I can come up and put my hand on you and stand there quietly and wait for you to be done. And I’m going to respect that and if I can at that moment I will actually tell the person that I’m talking to too hold on a minute. But that depends on who I’m talking to, in a business call, I can’t and I won’t. I work out of my home, I have to do the business call. And I have to continue that. If it is a call that I can say hold on a minute, then I will respect that you gently put your hand on me. If you choose a different way that’s annoying me in trying to get my attention, then you’re going to make it so I don’t want to talk to you and find out what you want. And we don’t want that. The second you get on the phone they want to start talking, and it’s the same with animals. So, it’s so funny the second you get on the phone, they start barking. It’s so interesting with children, they understand that when the phone is connected to your ear, you don’t have any time or attention for them. So, that’s when they start misbehaving.
Ari: So, like with the garlic presses, you need to come up with your plan. So, when I’m on the phone, this is the plan, these are our house rules. This is what we’re going to do. Your life will be peaceful, you will want to be with your kids. And spend time with them if you plan it in the very beginning what the plan is! Road trips! What’s the plan? What’s your solution, we have a two-hour drive, we’re going to maybe start once. And the older they get the more they can contribute, but the younger ones, you model to them and you help them. Even with discipline at the preschool when they’re two, you say, say somebody hurts another child. Let them know that hurt, the two-year old may not have those words, so I say to the two-year old, “would you like me to tell Johnny that that hurt you?” “Yes” “Johnny, that really hurt Tyler, we use gentle hands at preschool.” My preschool students, they are gentle with each other. I had a neighbor just recently say, you know I don’t have any kids, but I’ve been watching your kids, and they all get along! What do you do? I said to him, social skills are the most important aspect of my environment. What I’m creating is an environment where they can learn social skills, where they can learn resolving their own conflicts. Now, with in-home daycare, like with four siblings, who are one year apart, you’ve got the different stages, the ones who can handle conflict resolution at age five and then you have a two-year old in the mix, you need to figure out how to guide it and wrap it around each age.
Ashley: That’s interesting, I didn’t really think of it as being social skills, but really that’s what it is. Enabling them to express themselves and understand what someone else is going through as well.
Ari: Express themselves in a safe environment, to where they feel safe to express. Safe to say, “I don’t like that! That hurts me when I do that.” Or “Can I play with you?” Because when you go into kindergarten, people are so into academics, and they need to know their ABCs and all that kind of stuff, but what happens is I say to parents, when they go into kindergarten and they don’t know their social skills, and they sit down and the teacher puts them in a group of like six kids and they are coming from all different directions. One might have never been in preschool, ever, staying home with mom the whole time. The other could have been in one since birth, and could have been in a really bad preschool and were never taught social skills. The other that was home with mom is terrified to be there, so they’re all coming from all different walks of life. And then you’ve got the one that doesn’t understand sharing and rips the scissors out of your hands when you’re using it. I want my child to be able to handle that and say, “I was using those, could I have them back please.” Model to them a really neat way to handle the conflict instead of crying, running to the teacher and telling. When a child comes to me and tells on another child, I say to them, “have you talked to them?” “No” “Okay, I’d like you to go talk to them first, see if you could work out an agreement or a plan”, because they both want the same bike. He took the bike, and I didn’t hear you say one word to him. He took your bike and you ran and told me, I don’t want the bike. So, go talk to them. But I would never send them off without the skills. At this point they already have the skills to go over there and say I was using that. And then if I feel like it’s necessary, I’ll walk over there. And I’ll stand there and kind of watch what’s going on…teaching them how to handle their argument at a very young age. I have a two year old, who’s turning three, when he came, he just screamed and yelled, which can be a challenge and opportunity too because you can have everyone on the path of resolving their own conflict and you are able to sit back and watch them interact with these gorgeous… you know when you have a new child start it changes the whole dynamic. And so we have this two year old screaming. And so, I go, “okay friends, we need to teach our new friend how we talk to each other in school and how we have gentle hands.” If a child falls in my preschool I encourage them to help each other up, instead of seeing another child fall and they think immediately, depending on their age, I think immediately it’s their fault. But instead I say, “you weren’t anywhere near him, our friend is down, so let’s help him get up!” Brush off their pants, ask them if they’re okay… or if our friend is crying, “can you run in and get a tissue?” They’ll respond, “I didn’t make them cry! It’s not my fault!” And I respond, “oh, no, no, no. I know you didn’t do it, you were all the way over there, but our friend is crying so we need to sure our friend is okay, and I thought you’d really like to be the one to go and get the tissue!” Then they go, “oh, okay!” And so they run in and get tissue and they help wipe the tears, because they are feeling like they are part of the group, part of making this harmonious team and family. I use the word respect, and two year olds will say it, “we respect each other!” Then the parents start using the words because the children are using them at home. I’ve had some parents ask for my words, and I’ll write them down. But I’ll start to hear the parents using the words when they come to pick up the children, because the children are using them at home. And the parents are even telling me that they’re learning from their children; because they’ll be at home and they’ll be like where did you learn that?
Ashley: So, tell me for a new mother she’s got a brand new baby, how can she already start to interact with her new baby so that when she does get to the point where they need to do the disciplining, or gentle guidance, they are already there and not having to catch up?
Ari: It’s really important when you have a new baby to have that bond and that connection of communication. I tell parents all the time, and people thought I was so crazy, but I had one incident where I went to the park with my baby and my grandma, she was probably 10 months old. My grandma wanted to buy her a hat and I turned to my daughter and I said, “oh Brooke, which color would you like? Blue? Pink or Purple?” My grandma yelled at me and said, “that is so mean of you to do that to her! She can’t answer you, why would you even do that?” And I said to her because I’m opening up my communication to my daughter now. No she can’t answer me, but I’m talking to her, and not over her. I’m not going to say she wants the pink hat, without even addressing to her, “grandma wants to buy you a hat, which color should it be?!” Then I said, “I think you’d look good in purple, and she’s giving me a cute smile and happiness.” My grandmother thought I was crazy. Another example, in the grocery store, I’m going down the aisle, “hmm, what do you think we should have for dinner tonight Brooke?” Six-month-old baby, sitting in the cart, making eye contact with her and communicating to her. I’m not stressing out on what I’m going to buying at the grocery store, worried about getting out of there before she cries. If I have my focus on her and I’m talking to her, then she feels a part of… even at a very young age you start your bond, and your communication at a very young age, so that you have that.
Ashley: Especially if you’re doing all this worrying and putting all this stress on getting out the door before there’s a fit, then you’re bringing all the stress and she’s actually going to respond to all the stress and start having a fit.
Ari: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Ashley: So, you’re setting a different energy for the whole outing.
Ari: It’s all about energy. It really is. How you are feeling. If you are going to the grocery store feeling stressed, feeling like you don’t even want to be there. You’re upset because you have to be there with her, you know why couldn’t he have just kept her at home? You’re going to the grocery store with her; she’s probably going to cry! You’re setting yourself up. If you go, “I am so excited! Look at you, (to your little baby in the car seat) I am so excited to go to the store with you! This is going to be a really fun time for us, let’s go and let’s have fun!” Then you go down the aisles and you show her the different things, “Wow, we can have this. Or "What do you think daddy wants for dinner? You think he wants spaghetti or…” Teaching them choices, teaching them communication skills. Some parents come up to me and ask, how can I teach my child to talk, they’re so delayed? Talk to them, there is a difference between talking between adults over your child and having a conversation with your child. My daughter at 18 months was saying hippopotamus, rhinoceros. We went to the zoo, and she’s like, “bye hippopotamus!” Bye rhinoceros!” She was this little thing and everyone is in awe and laughing asking “how old is she?” She could say calculator, because I spoke to her, not over her. And I wasn’t having conversations with other adults thinking I am communicating with her. My children were always a part of what was going on, part of the plan, no matter how old they were. Another thing that’s really important is reading to your child. At six months old, again people thought I was crazy, but I would read children’s book, not my novel, but a child’s book. I started reading to my daughter when she was in-womb. I sang her songs, I communicated with her via the womb, so then when she came out and she was with me, I continued the communication. Yesterday somebody was asking me how old my children were, and I said my daughter is 13 1/2. And the woman said, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” And I said, “sorry, why?” And she said, “because you have a teenager, that must be horrible.” I said, “Actually no, it’s not horrible. My daughter and I have an amazing relationship and we communicate with each other. We check in with each other. How are you doing? And I explain to her what’s going on and I talk to her like I did when she was a baby. No, I don’t tell her all the adult things, because that’s not necessary. But I do keep a very open communication with her so she feel like she’s in the loop and she doesn’t feel like things are happening around her and she has no control. Teenagers react how they react because they feel they have lost control. They start rebelling and they start doing things, she was going to a concert and her friends invited her. And she said, “The only way I can go is if my mom goes.” And they were like, “what?! You’re going to have your mom go, can she sit a couple of aisles back?” And she said, “no! I would rather go to this concert with my mom.” And so she came home and she said that they want to go this concert, and I said, well, I have to go. And she said, “I know, I already told them!” But because we communicate, because we have such an amazing relationship, I’m not the cool mom that I’m gonna have the teenagers come over and they’ll be drinking. But I’m a cool mom because of my discipline and how I’m very gentle with her and very fair, and yet very disciplined with her at the same time. I expect this and that, but I am also very fair and loving. So, she wanted me there, when the other children didn’t want anything to do with their mothers. It’s normal and it’s healthy for them to break away from their moms as well, you know, I’m not holding onto my daughter and smothering her because I don’t want her to leave me, and I’m terrified she’s going to grow up and I’m going to be alone… No, none of that. It’s a very healthy relationship that I’m giving her her space and I’m allowing her to do what she needs to do, but also being very connected with her still, and communicating with her still, like I did when she was little.
Ashley: So, at any age the communication of how they are feeling, of what’s really going on and how they can help get themselves out of a situation, or navigate life…
Ari: And taking the time. I was reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Women’s Guide, which I recommend, there’s Chicken Soup for the New Mother’s Soul, etc. They have stories in there that uplift you. And this woman was getting ready to go to a meeting and she’s in her suit and she had her 2,3 & 4-year old children with someone who was going to be babysitting. And this very important executive meeting that she’s going to, she’s on her way to leave, her focus was she had to go. And the kids were acting up, and they were rambunctious and misbehaving. And she just stopped, she turned around, she went back into the room, and she picked up each one, twirled them around, tickled them, gave them kisses and told them how much she was going to miss them and how much she loved them. She asked them to make her a pretty picture while she was gone, and then she left. And they were calm, and they were excited to make a pretty picture. But we get so hurried, and so stressed that her focus, prior to this meeting was completely off of the children. She’s an adult, she had to get to the meeting, she had adult-things, it was a huge meeting for her and she had to go… But she stopped and she said, when she did that, she realized that, they just wanted love and her attention. And if you give that to the, it will do away with the conflict. And the stress and the fighting and the arguing. People want babies so badly and then the siblings all they do is fight, and beat each other up to get attention. My daughter has a friend who’s misbehaving and the siblings are always at it and she jumped with her brother jumped and she broke his femur bone with her knee. Because they are very aggressive and violent with each other. They don’t love each other. I’ve taught my children from a very young age to embrace, hug, kiss, love each other. And to be kind to each other and to love each other.
Ashley: It sounds like from when you started your routine, bring your boy into the routine with Brooke, so that they’re doing it together and not changing everything, but just adding more, adding more love, adding more beings to it.
Ari: And it’s key when you’re bringing in a new baby to have a plan: what’s our plan in bringing in a new baby. Instead of putting the negative energy around, “oh no, when you bring in a new baby, the other one gets angry and jealous.” I didn’t think that. I knew I was going to do things differently, because I had a plan. I knew when he came, she bought him a gift and he bought her a gift. So the day she came to the hospital to meet her for the first time, she had her gift in-hand. And then he had his gift. So, she opened it up and he got her a belt for her jeans. “Ahh, he got me a belt!” But the funniest thing was I have a picture of her with her arms cross and her face pouting. My mom and I were changing him, getting him ready to go home and she’s in the background and she’s angry. That is the first initial feeling, resentment over all the fuss made over him. I remember looking at the picture and I thought wow, she’s quite angry! But if you address it right from the beginning and make sure she feels a part of it, and loved.
Ashley: And still fun for her!
Ari: Absolutely. And we still had special moments when it was nap time, or mommy-time, make it so she still feels like she’s loved and appreciated….I have a little baby at my preschool and she’s colicky, and she’s upset, and Laurie, our beautiful Laurie, came over and put some oils on me because of my toothache, and the baby was crying and Laurie said, “do you mind?” she wanted to hold the baby, and I said, “no, please!” She picked her up and she stopped. Children and babies sense our energy. If we are uptight and stressed out, they feel it, and they become uptight and stressed out! So, it’s just being at peace. You know when Laurie walked into the environment, I was stressed out, my tooth, my neck, my shoulders. I wasn’t my normal, peaceful self. Brooke was trying to soothe the baby while Laurie was doing her thing, Brooke was doing a good job, but she wasn’t in the space that Laurie was in. So Laurie picked her up, and she stopped. So wherever we are at, it helps the children, or not. So, with my kids, when they would go spend time with their dad and his girlfriend, I would go in and really focus on how I was going to behave when they got home. When they came home, they were going to be excited about their weekend, for what they did… how was I going to react. Because the mom who has been left, could react negatively. “Oh, why did you do that! Or, that must have been fun, how much did that cost!?” I could have reacted to them, so I set it up in my mind how I’m going to react to them, I’m going to be positive, I’m going to be very open to hearing what they have to say. They wanted to complain about her and what was going on and they needed a soundboard. And I felt so wounded, how was I going to sit there and… I don’t want my kids to be messed up from a divorce, I want them to be solid and grounded, so when they walked in the door, my energy was uplifted and they felt that instead of it being empty and crying all weekend, then they would feel guilty for having fun with dad – and I didn’t want that. So, we can really tap into how we are feeling, our energy about ourselves. I was at Starbucks the other day and a mom was getting her coffee. The child was just kind of walking around, 2 1/2 and it knocked over a glass…just shattered everywhere. And I was just observing, I wanted to see how that mom’s reaction to that child. And she was busy ordering the coffee and talking to the person and every once in a while she’d yell “don’t touch!” And so she’s doing all this and then the box shatters and scared her baby. She was mortified, embarrassed, humiliated. You know, I’m a bad parent, She grabbed the child by the arm, dragged it into the cart, told it how horrible it was and how dare you! Look at the mess. The child is screaming, and it was all about how it made the mom feel. If you would have sat there and seen like I did, a 2 1/2 year old wondering around glass, you know you can’t expect a dog to be in here and behave, and not pee and poo on the floor, or bark. It’s a dog. And if you let your 2 1/2 year old wonder…
Ashley: But people do all the time. It’s like they don’t realize it’s a dog. It’s trying to speak, it’s trying to communicate, and you’re just yelling “Shut up!” You know,
Ari: Exactly. That’s my point, it’s a dog. And with this child, it’s the same. Just stop, and take a breath. And say, I need clean up. That must have scared you when the glass broke, and that’s not for us, hands off. I’m not angry, I’m sad that broke, and let’s not do that again.” Then the child is peaceful and the mother is peaceful. And we can handle it. There she was talking to the teller and talking very friendly to the person, “yes, I need to deposit this into my checking account and I need this amount back.” And the child is underfoot. Went and got lotion, or something off of the shelf, because it’s right there by the pharmacy, opened it up and proceeded to try and squirt it everywhere. And the mom’s talking to the teller and she turns to the child and starts screaming at the child, yelling at the child, and then she turns back to the teller and goes, “is there anything else you needed from me?” All friendly. And I’m sitting there going, okay, we are going to talk to a complete stranger with respect and a kind voice.
Ashley: What is the discrepancy there?
Ari: Exactly. We’re not being taught that that’s not okay. If you want a good relationship with your child, respect that child. And maybe you need to figure a different way to get your banking done, so you’re not bringing your child and having them underfoot. Maybe you need to come up with a plan when they are too young to handle the situation. Maybe come up with a plan that you have an activity for them and you bring your cart right up to the teller, and you give them a toy or a distraction, the coloring, or you give them a deposit slip… children love a deposit slip and a pen.
Ashley: Go to town!
Ari: But instead, nobody has a plan, they don’t have an idea of what the plan is until they get angry and yell.
Ashley: I think it can really start in the womb. I was talking with a woman who was pregnant and asked her, are you talking to your baby? And she’s like, umm sometimes. And I’m like, she’s going to come out and she’s going to have no idea of what’s going on, you can tell her what’s going to happen and explain you’ll be doing this together. And you’re telling her whatever’s in your mind. And how grateful the baby must be when something starts happening and she knows, “oh mommy said something about this, I didn’t understand everything, but she made is seem like it was going to be okay.” You know, I really think we can start in the womb.
Ari: Yeah, start really young and also when, it’s amazing when they’re babies the eye contact is so important. To make sure you’re really focusing on them and I think parents do that quite a bit when they are infants, but when they start getting into the toddler age and the older age, that’s when we’re not continuing to do that. Not giving them that full attention. Have a rule that at dinner time, no phones. So many times a phone will ring and the parent will answer the phone and you’re not showing them that they’re important. What I say to my preschool kids and my own kids all the time is, I never say, “please wait, I’m talking to another adult.” I say, “please wait I’m talking to a person, or I’m talking to somebody.” Because adults are not more important. What that adult is saying to me is not more important than what you want to share with me. So, people always say be respectful to adults, stop talking, I’m talking to an adult. No, we all need to respect everybody and I’m talking to someone. Whoever it is, please wait. And then “excuse me, I need to find out what this person is wanting.” To show the adult that what this child has to say is just as important as what you have to say. And it’s not about adult or child.
Ashley: So, some of the words you use, hands-free…give me some more.
Ari: Walking-feet. Nice words, gentle hands, nice voice. Kind words, just whatever comes to me in the moment, whatever they’re doing that I want them to do different.
Ashley: So you focus on what it is you actually want…
Ari: What I want in a very positive way. Not shut up, not stop it! I had a little kid and the dog would start barking and he’d yell “Shut up!” And I said, “Those may be the words we use at home, but at school that’s actually a word that we aren’t choosing. We can use be quiet, or shhh. But that’s a dog and did you know that he’s actually protecting us? Do you know that when someone walks in front of the school she barks because she wants to make sure we’re safe.” And the child goes, “Ahh, really?” “Yeah,” I said, “so that bark is actually what she’s supposed to be doing! So, the word that you chose to use would probably hurt her feelings. So if you feel like she’s hurting your ears, you could say “shhh.”
Ari: I forgot I didn’t say this, but what’s really important is positive guidance, so if you do a negative, you say something in a negative approach, you need to do 2-3 positives to counteract the negative. So, if you’re saying, stop it! Get down! You’re bugging me! You’re so loud! You’re horrible! Every time you say that one negative thing, you have to have 3 positives to counteract it in order for the child to rebalance. I tell parents all the time, make sure that yeah, I may say something that is negative, and of course I catch myself, and go oops. But I praise my children so I see my son, and praise on how they put their toothbrush away or how when they come home from school how quiet he is. I praise so much, if people were with me 24/7 they’d probably think I was insane! He walks in and I whisper, “I didn’t even hear you when you walked in! Thanks!” or I’ll say, how did you come up with that idea, you’re amazing! I tell them how amazing they are, how special they are, how brilliant they are! And…
Ashley: What’s beautiful about that is as a child, or even as an adult, we’re drawn to people who think we are great so if you are, as a parent, think your children are great and telling them that, then they’re going to be drawn to that. They are always going to want to be near you.
Ari: And guess what they want to do, they want to do more great things! They’re going to want to behave. They’re going to want to do what is right because mom praises me, instead of if I misbehave, I’m at least going to get a shut up or ugh, you bug me. It’s amazing what parents will say to their child: you disgust me, you’re dumb, you’re an idiot, look what you’ve done. My daughter got an F one time. She comes to me and tells me, “I have something to show you.” She puts it down and I go, “you got an F.” She goes, “you’re going to ground me, it’s horrible…” in this crying voice. And I don’t ground my kids, I didn’t even know where that came from. I said, “it’s a learning opportunity, it shows you that you need to either get help after school, ask the teacher for help, ask a friend for help. I’m not mad, I’m not angry at all. You got an F.” Now, if she’d had straight Fs, okay, we have to figure out a solution and work it out. But I talk to her about her grades, I’m very open about her grades. Since the fifth grade, I haven’t had to check one assignment. You know you can go online and the parents can check the progress of their children, and I haven’t had to look since the 5th grade. Because I’ve shown her that I trust her, I respect her. I think she’s amazing. She started struggling in math in 4th grade. Just didn’t get it. And so what I’ve done with the neurolinguistics, I didn’t sit there and say, well, “math’s hard, I didn’t even get math! Don’t worry about math, you won’t use it when you’re an adult!” I didn’t say that. I said, “I see you’re having a little bit of a challenge with math, I know how amazing you are and I know how smart you are. And I know this is very simple, and we’re going to figure this out together! We’re going to get it, because math’s fun!” And she’s like, okay! So, we went to a tutor and we spent so much money an hour, which was a lot of money, the tutor was not that good, but you want to know what the tutor sold her. She said, “Math is weird. You can’t really understand it sometimes and sometimes you have to just, it doesn’t make sense but you have to figure out the equation. It’s weird!” And so some little light bulb clicked in her head and she thought, “it’s not me, it’s the math! Math’s weird.” So, it was okay that she wasn’t getting it, it was the math, math’s weird. Straight As ever since that day. It’s the neurolinguistics. Math is weird. Oh, it’s not me! So, now, I have permission to get it. It wasn’t just me, that I wasn’t getting it. Math’s weird. So, she came home the other day for the first time with a math problem and I don’t know eighth grade math. And she started to get upset. Her reaction was upsetting me, I’m reacting to her reaction. And I said, “we’ve always figured it out, we’ll figure it out!” And she’s like, “well, how are we going to figure it out?” And I said, “take it with us. Just have it with you, hold it with you, focus on it.” So, she’s holding it, I said, “We’re going to the dentist. Let’s give it to the receptionist, she looks smart.” And we do, and we say, “Can you help us?” And she didn’t get it. She was twenty and she was like, “this is hard!” And I told Brooke, “it’s okay, we’re going to get it.” And we were going to open house that night and I said, “lets take it to the teacher.” She was mortified, but I was like, we’re a team, we’re going to figure it out, so I said, “you go, I’ll ask.” So I did. She left and I asked and the teacher was showing me how to do it. But we worked it out. It wasn’t like I blamed her, like “you’re not getting this, you’re stupid!” Which some parents say to their children. “I can’t do this, do the math, how do you expect me to help you?” They do that to make up from the fact that they feel inadequate and dumb. You know, I didn’t get it, I didn’t feel stupid or dumb, so it made her feel confident and okay that whole process. And it made her feel like, we can do this. We’ve got a problem, we’ll figure it out. What’s really important is to model, you know they say do as I say, not as I do. But how do you expect your child to make a different decision from what you show them. For me, there’s no alcohol in my home because it’s important to me to teach them that there’s no need to drink alcohol to have a good time. So if I have alcohol in my home and at night, every night, I have a glass of wine with dinner, then I turn to them and say drinking’s bad, it’s not good for you. Drinking and driving: don’t do it! Then I’m not modeling the behavior that I want for them. If I say don’t cuss, cussing is against the rules, and then I every time I turn around I am saying it to them or to friends or to my ex, then I’m not living my life as an example to them. Honesty, integrity and respecting people around me. I am their model and how I behave is how I want them to behave. So we can’t smoke and say, “no don’t do this, it’s really bad for you.” We’re not being a good model to our children. So, when we are getting ready to have children we need to look at our lifestyle and see, do I want my child to drink, smoke, cuss be out of integrity and lie? No? So, that means that I need to choose to have those things gone out of my life to be in a good example for my child. It’s huge. One of the biggest.
Ashley: So, give me Ari’s top 10 list, or top 5 list of things, ways to approach parenting, you wouldn’t live without.
Ari: Top 5 1. Respect. Respect for everybody in your life: person on the phone, person in the grocery store, showing integrity and really respecting others and showing your children that is huge. 2. Communicating to your child. Speaking to them, not over them. Having them be part of the plan. 3. Making time for your child. We have busy lifestyles, especially in this day in age, so making sure that you set the time aside to make them really understand how important they are. You had them for a reason, most of us, we weren’t all surprises, to remind them of how important they are to us. Setting a block of time just for them to where they really feel how important they are to you. That they are the priority and being the parent is the top priority. Work is there, but being a mother or father is my top priority. Being with you and loving you is the biggest joy of my life. And the most important thing is you. 4. To approach a situation with fun! Like with the dirty room, and to remind yourself, without being morbid, remind yourself that you are blessed to have those children that they could have died. I had a little girl in Brooke’s kindergarten class, they’d just started school and two weeks into school she ended up with a brain tumor. And they would still take roll with her name and sent homework home. It got to a point to where she couldn’t do homework, she came to visit and her head was all huge, she had no hair, just a hard thing to see. And the day before the last day died, and when I sat down on that first day of school that parent was so excited for kindergarten! And then two weeks later her daughter was diagnosed. So, if you were to talk into my kids room, and see the disaster… thank god! That my kids made such a mess! When they spill the drink in the car, before you react, think about it. If it was you who did it, you’d want them to treat you kindly and go “oops, maybe we shouldn’t be driving while having a soda!” Treat you with respect, treat your children like you want to be treated. So, when you walk into that room, be grateful they have the room, they have the toys, you’re not homeless, they are there. And just approach it a different way. Love them and obviously you had fun, so lets have fun cleaning up. Keep the fun going and get it clean. 5. Live your life by an example. We have reading time where we don’t have a TV, we do rent movies occasionally, but we don’t have cable by choice. We read. We go to the library together, come home and all sit quietly and read. I’ve read from day one. If you want to live by example and you say read, but then you’re not reading. I’ll curl up and read a book and then they’ll see me reading and it’s important to them. My kids are amazing, straight A students because I live my life by example. I read to them, and I read in my free time. To be the best parent you can possibly be, choose good choices. Live in integrity. Show them that you push the shopping cart back. You know, my kids will look for things that are misplaced in the grocery store aisles and put it back where it’s supposed to go. And if it’s meat, yuck! We’ll take it to the checkout, we don’t want anyone taking it back to the meat counter, gross! So, they’re constantly looking for ways they can help out. They like to give money to the people who are looking for money. I’m teaching them by example a way to be good people.
Ashley: If you were to recommend anything to read, anything that comes to mind?
Ari: Good question. It depends the path they are on, but there’s a lot of really good spiritual books that I read that connect to parenting.
Ashley: Tell me.
Ari: Abraham-Hicks. Have you heard of them?
Ari: The new one, it’s more on prosperity and stuff, but for parenting. I think I’d like to write a parenting book on gentle guidance. There hasn’t been anything I’ve read on parenting itself. I graduated college a long time ago, and there’s textbooks, but nothing that I can place.
Ashley: Well, when you write the book we’ll link it to the website! Thank you Ari!