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Mom’s Summer Toolkit

June 24, 2015

Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne PA 


If I had to sum up my parenting philosophy in one sentence it would be this: focus on what you want to see more of, ignore or dismiss what you don’t want to promote. Clearly, there are exceptions but overall I think that if nothing else, our children want us. And whatever attention they are getting (good or bad) is attention. And even though I fundamentally know this to be true, and work at it, I can still fall back into patterns of focusing on what they are doing wrong vs what they are doing right.

And lately the sibling conflict and rivalry thing has been getting to me. I know it is natural. And if they didn’t fight it would mean they probably weren’t spending that much time together. Which wouldn’t be a good thing. And I do think there is some lesson here around learning to resolve differences. And I know this is normal and age appropriate. And my three are close in age, 1 year, and 2 years apart, 3 years between all 3 of them. They play together frequently which leads to inherent conflicts. And I have to remind myself of these reasons because I have a sensitivity to bickering, to fighting. Some can brush it of. Me? It grates on me, it’s how I am hard wired (it’s me, not you). So I have been pondering how do I applause and focus on promoting peace (being proactive) vs responding to conflicts which have escalated to the point of intervention (reactive). And here was my idea, Family Peace Award:

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I introduced it this evening and not even kidding, saw immediate results!! Amazing!! I gave out 2 awards already and can see the motivation is there! I have a stack of these and plan to dole them out as much as possible. Amazing what a little positive reinforcement can do. And I quickly realized that there will be moments that may not warrant an award but deserve recognition so we are having “peace-maker high fives.” And when small gestures are made – you get a peacemaker high 5. (It was the best I could do in the moment, and, it works)




We have the summer workbooks and got started on them tonight. And next in my toolbox to keep up with summer reading is the following:


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My son loves to measure things, they all love rewards, and yes I am bribing.

When I reviewed it this evening with my three little readers it occurred to me I may have set the bar too high. So, I am going to offer another incentive at 75 pages to keep the momentum going – maybe we go out for ice cream, or they pick a movie to watch on demand. I have found when setting goals such as potty training or whatever it was, having smaller goals / rewards, and big markers kept the momentum going. If I started at 100 pages it probably would have died on the vine. Hitting a 2o page markers feels good. I told them this evening that during reading time they can have any beverage they choose – vanilla milk, lemonade, Izze, or San Pelligrino. My son is already cashing in. Associations – positive experiences – whatever it takes to keep us humming along.

Any other summer toolkit ideas out there? Please share, and Peace Moms!

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