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June 9, 2021

Episode 1: The Biggest Mistake Most Parents Make

Episode 1: The Biggest Mistake Most Parents Make

In our inaugural episode, DJ shares a BIG secret! Are you ready for it? NO PARENT IS PERFECT! We can’t let society and cultural norms get in the way of really doing what is best for our own children. Trust your gut! She goes on to explain that it is as simple as setting goals (just like you would for any other milestone you want to reach in your life) and creating a plan of the core values you want to pass down to your child like kindness, integrity, valuing education, other people and family. The plan can be fine-tuned and course corrections will occur…  just having a direction to head in as well as appropriate expectations of yourself and your child(ren) will help you track progress and recognize where those adjustments can be made. 

DJ Stutz, is an Early Childhood Specialist with more than 20 years of teaching experience. She has an immense love for children with 5 of her own, 12 grandchildren and 70 nieces and nephews. She fully understands the challenges and concerns that come with parenting. She offers parenting coaching in group or one-on-one sessions to support parents in their most important job. On her podcast, DJ and her guests share their knowledge and experience through thoughtful episodes whose subject matter is designed to help you develop the confidence and peace to be a great parent and imperfect hero raising independent, productive, and happy children.

Do you have a plan? Have you set parenting goals for yourself? Share and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @littleheartsacademy! 

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DJ Stutz  0:14  
Welcome to Imperfect Heroes, episode one. I can't believe it's finally here. My name is DJ Stutz. And before we get started, I wanted to highlight my first listener of the week, Rachel Smith writes, a lot of what DJ talks about are things that are small and easy to apply, but are also new ideas that can produce great results. Thank you, Rachel, for your comments. And I'd love hearing from my listeners. So if you would like to leave a comment or review, I hope you'll leave a review, you can do that right away, you don't have to wait. So please write us a review and leave us a five star rating. So this helps other wonderful families like yours, find us more easily. And who knows, you might be my next listener of the week. 

So no parent is perfect. I know I wasn't, it's so easy to let society and cultural norms get in the way of really doing what is best for your child. Have you ever had that time when you feel like, Ah, I should be doing this or other people will think badly of me. But this doesn't feel like it's the right thing for my child. Trust your gut. And, and don't let people push you into teaching your kids or, or setting your kids up in a way that isn't right with you, and your beliefs. I remember my oldest boy, my second child, Shiloh was a big personality. And he had a lot of big emotions. And there were times I would just be so exhausted, and with dealing with him. So I had Candice who was two years older. And Shiloh was two years old. I'm pregnant with my third child, I'm working graveyard as a 911 dispatcher. And I was just beat and worn out. And sometimes I would just say, okay, timeout, you're going in your bedroom, and I would put him in his bedroom and that kid was tearing everything apart, every drawer would be out of the dresser and the mattress would be off the bed. If there was anything within his reach on the wall, it was down. And then he'd had to the closet and any clothes he could reach, he would pull down. And I would sometimes just sit outside of that room and just cry. I was too tired. I was too exhausted. And I didn't have a plan. Well, there are things that we can do to be better than we are right now. And so I want you to think of a big goal that you have achieved, whether it's getting a degree, or losing weight, or running a marathon, climbing a mountain, whatever it is, think of something that was big that you're really proud of that achievement. The reality is you had to work for it. And and you would never have made it without having a plan of how you were going to start what you were going to do to get you on your way, you realize that you couldn't climb Mount Everest that first day, but you could climb up the hill and work your way up. You had a plan. So my question is, have you made a plan? You might ask a plan for what? Honestly, a plan for everything. I know it sounds daunting, but it isn't as hard as you think the cost of not having a plan though, is having blow up after blow up. There's the screaming and the crying and you can't get out the door when you need to the unkind words that are spoken. And then there are the kids. Don't we mess up many times as adults as parents, because we don't have a plan. We're just running from the cuff with without a plan, we are just reacting. And that depends on just whatever mood we're in. We put our situations that they are not ready for without even thinking about how they are going to react. So let's start with the important ideals that you want to pass along to your kids. Let's think about some of them. Is kindness on that list? Would you like them to be hard working to value education? How about valuing other people?

valuing your family? We talk about family first, a lot. But do we really behave in a way that teaches that to our children? What about your faith? How about being honest? Integrity? And then there are some arts, not simple things, but important things like how do they manage money, right? That and that starts at a very young age. So number one, to begin, I want you to take a minute to sit down. And think about the important things you want your children to know, make a list, and then discuss that with your spouse or your partner. And it would be great if your partner did the same thing. But don't do it together at the beginning, do it apart from each other, write down the things that are important to each of you, you are going to be surprised at what things might be on your list that are not on your partner's list. And your partner's going to be surprised at some of the things that are on their list that are not on your list. It doesn't matter if you don't agree that's okay. But maybe, do you agree on the values that are important? And have a discussion with your partner? And why is this important to you? What will happen if we don't instill this value in our children? And then you can have that conversation about how you're going to prioritize these values? So, assess what you are currently doing. And what are the signs that you are succeeding? And what are the signs that you are failing? You might ask yourself, are your expectations age appropriate, get what people are telling you, that your children should be doing, you need to know what they are actually doing. We spent too much time worrying about what should be without considering what is. And that's just backwards. So now, it's time to make your plan. Once you have a good idea of where your child is, you are now going to be able to make plans for the next step in learning. And so you know, when I think about this, I think about classic movie that just, I thought was hysterically funny. called What About Bob, and Bob's this crazy guy who has phobias about everything. But he's trying to get better. And he hooks on to this psychologist and, and he talks about taking baby steps, you just take baby steps moving forward. And you could see Bob, you know, going through for him what is a scary situation, just repeating baby steps, I'm just taking baby steps, and sometimes feels like what you're doing as a parent, right? We're not going to make these great big changes overnight. But we're just taking those baby steps. And maybe you might be repeating that to yourself, as you're trying to give yourself encouragement. And just keep going just one more foot in front of the other, just one more step. So we want to set a goal. And we want to be sure that these goals that we're setting are very specific and measurable. So something that you can tell that you're making progress. So let's say if you have a child that is having five meltdowns a day, 20 meltdowns a day. You know, keep track, take some time, take a week, start writing down those key goals, and see what's happening. So if you have a child that is having 20 meltdowns a day, you're gonna mark 20 times you're gonna keep track of what is going on. And that's what's happening now. But how are you going to know if there are any progress if there is any progress? So that's going to be something like, Oh, I'm still keeping track and he only had 18 meltdowns? Well, that's improvement, and you should celebrate and feel good about yourself. And then think about what are you doing to make that happen? Okay,

so we know, where are they? What is happening now? What are they able to do now? And to a point, what are they willing to do now, as our kids get older, and I'm talking three, four or five years old, they are learning how to manipulate you. And it's not that they're trying to manipulate you, cognitively. They're just doing what works? How do they get their way the best. And if having a meltdown was a way to get what they wanted, then they're going to continue doing that, because that's a resource for them. That's something that works for them. It doesn't mean that they're bad kids, it means that they're smart kids, they have figured out what they need to do to get what they want. And so let's not put labels on them like, oh, he, he gets mad all the time. It's, the question is, why is he getting mad all the time? Because that is serving a purpose? What is he achieving? Through the anger? And how are we going to work that sometimes they're not willing to clean the room. Because past experience has taught them, if I do these certain behaviors, I don't have to clean my room. In the end. If I hold out long enough, if I cry harder, if I throw a tantrum, I start emptying the drawers, like by sweet Shiloh, who actually has grown up to be a fine young man, great father. He's a hospital administrator. So we were able to figure it out. But you know, I was a young mom, I was 22, when I had my first 24, when I had Shiloh 27 When I had my next child. And so you know, I'm a young mom, trying to manage all of this. And so you do need to determine what resources you have available to you to help you understand what is going on? What are some good next steps that I can take? And do I have the support of my spouse, my partner? Do I have the support of my child's teachers? Do I have the support of extended family, or important people in their lives, the families have their best friends, coaches, and so on, I'll tell you one great resource that you have this podcast, we're going to talk about all kinds of things that will be of help to you. So look and see what resources do I have to help me learn and understand what I need to do? And also, what resources do I have to support me, as I'm making changes in myself, and bringing about changes in my children that are positive? So you might ask, what are some ways that you're going to know that you are making progress? So are they cleaning their room a little better? are they arguing with each other a little less often? Are they getting better with their biting? Are they bet getting better with hitting or destroying things or breaking toys when they're angry? How are you going to know? And it's going to be different for every family. But you really need to set these goals? And then ask yourself, How will I know? Because if you're not able to mark progress, even if it's maybe small at first, you're gonna get discouraged. Nothing. He's still doing this. He's still doing that. Well, is he really doing it as often? I can tell you that I have worked with as a as a teacher of kindergarten and then special needs preschool. I have worked with assistants that have had kind of negative attitudes. Where if a child has a 10 minute blowout, where they're screaming, yelling, whatever, but the rest of their day was fine. That person might say, oh, so and so had a horrible day. Really?

I'm curious what made it horrible, because I saw lots of good products, you know, progress, and the things that they were able to accomplish. Oh, and they would talk about the one blow up and I'll remind And that was 10 minutes. Think about the rest of the day, how were they, the rest of the day, we don't want to define our entire day by one or two, or maybe even five or six incidents, we also want to say, but there was this great behavior, this kindness that was shown this tenderness that was there, this playing kindly and nicely, helping me maybe with dinner, or helping me push the vacuum around, think about the goodness that is happening, and then gauge your day more on that. How long were you experiencing wonderful, fun behavior, and see how that increases. So you're gonna have to keep track of it a little bit. And, you know, you might need a piece of paper or something to write it down. And to help you, okay, we just had 10 minutes of fun reading the story, we went outside and jumped on the tramp, or we rode bikes together or took a walk or whatever. But you, it's really important that you notice the good that's happening, when you have a lot of negative that is also going on. So how are you going to know you are making progress, you need to have a plan for that. And what activities will support you in making progress. So as we get going in the podcast, we will help you come up with different activities for different behaviors that you are trying to support, or increase, because I rather have us think of how to increase good behaviors, rather than so much decreasing negative, you're gonna have to do some of that. But when your focus is really on the positive, there's that old saying that you get more of what you pay the most attention to. And that is especially true with our little guys. And so if we are really focusing on the good, and promoting that, that's going to help. But stay tuned, we're going to have lots of great topics on specific behaviors that we are trying to address, as we have more podcast episodes. So and then you might want to look at maybe what are some motivations that will help my child clean their room. So I remember I was listening actually to another podcast on business. It wasn't even on raising kids. But this guy was talking about his son and how when his son was little, he would try to get help his son clean his room. And the motivation for his son at that point was all about Superman could clean this room in 10 minutes. Are you faster than Superman? And the kids would be like, Yeah, I'm faster than Superman. And so he would try and clean up his room. And, you know, they tried to get it done. He said, Now that my son's eight, that's not such a good motivation anymore. And that is so true. As they're young, they're going to be more simple, fun, fantasy based motivations, that will support your kids. As they get older, though, those simple things are not going to work as much anymore. And you're going to have to see what is interesting to your child at that point. What is the motivation that works for that child at that time, and I'm going to give you a word of warning right here, that if you have more than one child, so the Superman thing may have worked with Shiloh, you know, my oldest boy, but maybe it's not working for Christian, my younger boy, he might not have been interested in Superman. And so you're gonna have to figure out a different motivation. But sometimes it can be like a competition. So I'm the oldest of seven children. And there's a widespread I was 17 when the youngest was born. And so growing up of course, there were a lot of dishes and dinner was a big deal. And so my mom would always she cooked, she loved cooking. She never required me to help her. Hence, I am a terrible cook. But she did

say that the kids had to clean up because she cooked Fair enough. So with us, and for most of that time, it was just the four boys and my sister and myself. But we started with this competition thing going on with us, and our best time and getting the dishes done, and we knew what more Standard was, we knew what we had to accomplish in order to, for her to say job well done. And so we would split up the jobs in the assignments, so that one kid is sweeping another is wiping the table clean. Another one is rinsing the dishes and then getting the another one is helping with getting them into the dishwasher. And maybe someone else is packing up leftovers. Although I have to say with that many boys in the house, though generally weren't many leftovers. But we made it a competition and trying to beat our previous time. And as I remember, I think we got it down to about, I know it was under five minutes, that we got it down that we could from the time we started the clock until we were all done. And we met mom's expectations, we got it down to under five minutes. And that was pretty fun. So maybe it's a competition that will work, maybe it's you being there helping a lot of times kids are their room is just too messy for them to be able to process how to do it. And this will be with small kids. But it might also be for your older kids, even your teenagers at some point. And so maybe they just need you present, to help them to smile to encourage them. Maybe you're going to set a timer and say we are only working for five minutes. And when that timer goes off, we're done, we're taking a break, we're going to go outside and go for a walk or do something fun, have ice cream or whatever. And then you can come back and do another five minutes. That might be what you need to do to help them get through that process. But a lot of time, they just want time with you. Especially when they're young, not so much as they get older. But take advantage of that, when they are very young. They're always looking for more time to do something that they love. So you can say let's get this done. And then when it's finished, maybe we can I don't know, go to the park, take a walk, play some baseball, whatever it is that they're interested in. But make sure it's something that they want. And it may just be time with you. They love that. So what now, I want you to think are some common words that you will use. When you use familiar phrases the same phrase over and over and over again. The kids start learning to expect that and they know what those words mean, I'm begging you please, don't ever use the word good job. Because it's very unclear. So you want to say what makes a good job. So as you walk in, and you see a clean room, wow, all the toys are put away, I can see how hard you work. All the clothes are in the laundry bin, I'm so proud of you. That's something very different. And way more meaningful than simply good job. And so I'm begging you to not use those two words. So another tactic that you can use, and that we as teachers use a lot. And I've had a lot of families have great luck with this, as I've worked with them over the years, there's something called I do, we do, you do. And this happens when we are trying to teach a child a new skill. So the ID part is they are in the room. So I'm just going to take making the bed. It's just something easy to talk about. You may not care if the beds made, I did.

But it's just easy. So let's say they're making the bed, you're going to have them in the room with you while you're making the bed. And you're going to use a lot of self talk. So first, I pull up the sheets and I'm pulling up the sheets and I'm making sure that it's flat and there aren't any big wrinkles in it. And then I'm going to pull up the blanket and so the blanket is all nice and smooth. And then I'm going to pull up the comforter bedspread or whatever it is that you have. And then you talk about all the time. I mean, it doesn't go this fast. So every step you do, you're talking talking talking, I'm not moving around to the other side of the bed so I can make sure that it's all even whatever it is that you're doing. And then finally the pillows and whatever paraphernalia they put on the bed with their you know little stuffed animals or their blanket or whatever. But they see you doing it and they hear you Talking about every step that you're doing. So this could be loading the dishwasher, it could be sweeping the floor, it could be cleaning up the toy room, if you have a toy room, it could be putting away the bike, after wear out whatever it is, that you're wanting them to learn how to do, they're going to be in the room, they're going to see you, you could be talking to them while you're doing it all just men, and I'm pulling the sheet up and, and you but you want to be talking to them. And then as they can kind of you'll see, they might start explaining to you Oh, now you do the pillows, oh, now you do this. And then you know they're ready for the we do. So now you're going to do it together. And you could say as in the case of the bad, I'll take this side, and you take the other side. And let's do this together. So you're both pulling up the sheet, you're both pulling up the blanket, then the comforter, and then the pillows and whatever, and you're doing it together and you're laughing and you're telling your child, how much more fun it is when you are there to help me and how I loved having time with you. I love seeing you do big kid things. You know that encouraging talk, as you're doing it. And then as you've done that we do for a while now, then you can move on to Hey, Joey, I am in a big rush right now. And I don't have time to come in with making the bed. I think that you can do it by yourself. Let's give it a try today and see how you do realize that when you come back into check, that it may not be up to snuff for you. But if it's a good enough job, and they've made the effort, whoo, you did it right. And you're going to talk about the things that they did well in that job, and then just kind of leave the other things where they might need to improve along. But the first time they do that, that gives you a clue on what you need to do the next time, you're going to go back to a what you do. And you're going to really talk about the things that they needed to improve on. Again, this could be something like doing the laundry, it could be something like loading the dishwasher or wiping off a table, any of these tasks that you want them to be able to do. So you have to ask yourself, though, whatever the task is, whatever you're trying to get them to do. Is this something that you are willing to be consistent on? If the answer is no, and it may be you honestly just don't have the time to be consistent on it. So then give it up, put it aside. And we'll plan on doing this on another time when things are in a better place for you to be able to be consistent, and move on to something else that you can work on together with your child,

consistently. So that is one of the first things is if you if you are prioritizing what you want to work on with your child, then that's going to be one of the top things. So I've heard some parents complain that, oh, this takes so much time? And the answer is yes, it does. But then when you have a child, though, who is independent, and is able to accomplish things on their own, think about how much time that's going to save. So you're gonna load in some time early with your child to help them through that. But imagine how wonderful that is not just for you. But for that child, they feel accomplished. They feel like I can do things on my own. And and that leads them to succeed in other areas of their life. So just know that it does go faster as you get used to the process. And as the kids realize that, oh, this is a new thing I'm learning. And that means mom and dad are going to be consistent on this. I better learn it. So not only does it go faster for you, it goes faster for the kids as well as time progresses and everyone gets used to the process. But remember that communication and agreement between the parents is key. Right? If I'll go back to my bed making thing, if you really want that bed to be made, and the other parent is like that stupid bed, they're just gonna climb in it at night and mess it up again, right? Then you don't have that support, your child will learn very quickly, that it parent a says I have to make my bed, all I have to do is go to parent B, and give them my sob story. And they will get me out of it. And that does horrible things. First off, it lets your child pit you against each other, it teaches them that I don't have to listen to parent a. Because parent B will have my back. Think about the results of that. And think of what that does to your relationship with the other parent. Nothing good. I will tell you nothing good. So I do have a future episode coming up on divorce parenting. But let me just say this, that even if you are divorced and living in separate households, the more that you can agree on, the better it will be. Now kids are going to come to understand that there are rules for mommy's house rules for Daddy's house. And kids do fairly well, with different rules for different places. They understand that I behave differently in the classroom than I do on the playground. And yet different friends still in the library. Correct. They even learn that I behave this way with one friend. And I behave this way with another friend. Kids are capable of all of those things. But when you're talking about key values, that are really important, such as you know, honesty, integrity, being hard working, keeping a promise, following through on what you say you're going to do. Those are things that if you can team up with the other parent, and agree on a strategy that both of you are going to use, that is something that will benefit your child. But that's for another podcast, another episode. So once you have a plan, you've come up with a plan, you've put it in place, and you see how it goes, you need to give it some time. Because especially if this is something new, wait a minute, I'm throwing my temper tantrum and you're not giving me what I want. I'll just throw a bigger one author a longer one I'll throw the more often. So you may see things going on like that, because the kid is very upset that their manipulation isn't going to work for you.

What's worked before is not working now. So you need to give it some time, at least a month, at least a month, six weeks to two months, probably. So you want to realize that. But during that time, you want to watch for those milestones. So that when your child does come up and say, Mom, I want the Cheerios, I don't know. And you say, No, sweetie, we have that Cheerios, and you didn't eat them. Or maybe let's find another alternative that doesn't have as much sugar, whatever your thing is, and they don't lose it. Even if it's for like 10 seconds, you're gonna say, Wow, you handled that really well. And that shows me that you are truly growing up to be a fine, young man, young woman, whatever. And they will feel that pride because you noticed, you want to notice quickly. I like the way you handled that. And then you're going to start noticing, like I said earlier of the positive things that are coming on, and maybe instead of the 20, it's 18. And it took you three weeks to get those two down. But what a celebration inside that. Wait, we're down by two, that's that's an improvement. And so you want to make sure that you're watching for those milestones. Now you may need to make some other adjustments. As it goes, you might see that whoa, this, this really isn't working. I might need to readjust. Definitely have that conversation with your partner and make sure that you're both on the same page. Don't just make these adjustments without telling them That's not fair either. And so just see. So just realize that this is going to take some work to start. And that process is going to become easier. But the cool thing is that, eventually it's going to start becoming second nature, you're going to be that parent that sees things coming, that plans ahead and sets things up, so that your child is able to succeed. And when you get to that point, your home is a little piece of heaven. Right? You're able to get out the door on time, you don't have all the blow ups in the morning, you don't have the anger with fighting siblings or kids who are, you know, biting and hitting and doing what they do. So before long, you're going to be able to do those things in your home is just going to be great. And isn't that what we all want. So what I wanted, and so, you know, I can help you get there. So before I go, I want to ask you to do something for me, I want you to go down and give us a review. Give us a five star review is the best and I would really appreciate that. But also leave some comments on your thoughts and maybe your great takeaways with today's episode. And I want you to also I want to mention that this podcast is brought to you by So go ahead and give them a look and see, there's just so many great resources on their website. A lot of free ones, there are some coaching opportunities that are there. There's some group coaching, there's one on one coaching, there are some webinars. And I also do a Facebook live every tuesday at seven o'clock, on Little Hearts Academy USA on their page. And all of those are also downloaded onto the website. There's a tab that says Facebook Lives. And we've got probably 30 of those right now on a lot of different subjects. So if you want to get a head start, if you have some things that you're worried about, you can always go down, scroll down and see if any of these topics are interesting to you or might be of help to something that you're dealing with right now. And go for it on that is absolutely free. So you can always get me through Facebook and Instagram. I have pages on both Little Hearts Academy USA or you can just email me at So until our next episode, here's to happy parenting. Good night, everyone.

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