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Parenting K-6 Kids/second try about activity levels


QUESTION: Hello, this is the second time I have sent this question to all experst but the first person said they couldn't answer it. please give it a whirl... I noticed your specialty is different from the other experts' so I just want to begin by saying my question isn't a discipline problem, issue. I hope that's OK. My 4 yo is a great kid and has always been great at listening and following rules, and isn't a tantrum thrower or a violent kid. But she's inherently inactive. Here's my question:

I feel like something is not working with my oldest daughter regarding her activity level.  This is sort of complicated to fully explain but I'll try to make it clear to follow.

In a nutshell the problem is that my child is NOT active.  She is very intelligent and is/was very mature for her age (at 6 months old she was basically at the maturity level of a 2 year old or older...was fully-house trained...such as she knew all the rules and actually followed them at such a young age)and we didn't even work at it with her. She was just a really smart baby. but her large motor skills did not develop properly at ALL!  She was the kid who couldn't understand the concept or "hanging on" - she'd fall off. She couldn't make the ride-on cars move. she couldn't push a toy cart or steer it.  She's 4 now and can't blow bubbles through a bubble hoop because she can't figure it out. She can't ride a balance bike, or a trike, or a scooter. all the kids her age are on them!  She's never been able to help me cook because she can't even come close to maneuvering anything I ask her to do. Yet she had 2000 words when she hit her 2nd birthday and spoke in full normal sentences - it surprised the heck of our her doctors.  as a result of her lack of physical skills (she has great small motor control)she orients herself towards mind games.  She "pretends" everything and can make up stories like nobody's business, play dolls, beat anyone in games like Go Fish, etc. but she hates the physical side of things. the doctors tell me to just her her active and it will come. The problem? HOW to get her active HATES being active. I have a 2 year old as well, normal kid - still does baby talk but can hop, stand on one leg and climb, lift, hang and run like a pro, and her and I want to spend more time playing actively outdoors. But I can't entice my older kid to join us, which also means not being able to do much because I have to keep an eye on her as well.  We start games of soccer or games with balls and she will do a few kicks and bow out of the game. we stick her on her bikes and she gets off immediately. we try to climb tress, to hang, to march to race and run and she refuses to.  I think it comes from being smart...some kids are like little drones...not much going on in their heads so they follow Mom's lead. but My kiddo has never been a follower. They always say that when mom cooks hand the kid pots and a spoon. I did that but she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Mom. I have better thing to do that are WAY more fun." and went into the playroom to play dolls. I told her to sort socks when I did laundry so I could be with her and she said, "that's boring. I'm going to go draw." and I offer her all sorts of similar chances to be with me and she refuses them all unless they're HER own idea.  Or unless I tell her she HAS to do it, as in a rule or a punishment.  But I don't want to do that with outdoor activity because it will suck any possibility of it being fun right out the window if I turn it into a chore or a rule.  Just like offering her the pot and spoon I try to entice her to play actively with us but she just tells me she doesn't find it fun and goes off to dig in the sand or to draw with chalk or some other non-active game.  I see all the kids in the neighborhood zooming around on wheels, running and leaping and playing tag and giggling and I feel so awful and sad about my own daughter. I know that sounds bad but they all lok so happy and free and I want to see her like that. Not to mention I want to be able to have family bike rides one day and climb trees with my kids, etc. Not to mentioned I want to make sure she stays healthy.  She's rail thin, so there is no weight issue yet, but one day there may be if she doesn't get used to being active now.  Part of me feels like, "what did I do wrong?!" when I look at all the other kids I wonder what those parents did to make them just Go For It and play. were they funner parents? were they more forceful parents?  Maybe they were less concerned parents...maybe they were the type to just do whatever THEY wanted in life and the kids were expected to tag along or they got no other attention...maybe they learned to love it out of necessity. Maybe I failed by catering so much to her when she was young. I viewed playtime as HER time. So I dedicated hours and hours to letting her choose her desired activity. That isn't to say I didn't give her the opportunity to choose active games - I provided her with balls and push toys and took her outside to playgrounds like three times a day every day since she was only months old...(except in winter of course)and I climbed and leaped and ran and suggested games to her that were active...but she refused them and I was never one to just declare, "WE ARE DOING THIS NOW" unless it was a mist like shopping or cleaning or bath time. But recently I have been declaring more often that I am going to play ball 9with or without her) or that I am going to ride my bike 9with or without her) but it still does no good. she still won't join me for more than a minute or two.  It's so bad that she asks why I ignore her when we go to the playground...why I only spend time with her sister and not her. I tell her I'm not ignoring her, it's just that we're sliding and running and playing soccer...and that setting up a doll house in the sand is not what i go the playground to do...but she's starting to hate going to the playground even more because it represents in her mind a time when MOm doesn't give her any attention.  I am at a loss how to make being active fun. I sing and dance and laugh and smile and suggest and coach and lead but she politely joins for a minute or two and then excuses herself for what she calls, "more fun".  Where did I go wrong, why did it come so naturally to all the other parents and kids and WHAT can I do to fix this besides turning outdoor time into a MUST...a chore...a rule...

Children develop at different levels and each come with strengths and weaknesses.  It sounds like your daughter has good intellect and grasps complex concepts.  Eventually, these things will balance out and she will grasp the coordination skills you speak of.  Don't worry too much, she is happy and is learning all the time.  You're doing the right things to get her attention to  some activity each day.  She's only 4-years-old and because she is the first child perhaps hasn't taken an interest in the physical activities you speak of because she has learned to play quiet games.  The younger child will help get her involved in more physical things if you give her some responsibility of taking care and playing with her.  For instance you could have them play dress up and then get the magic pot and spoon (wand)out along with rattles and whistles.  Turn on the music and let them play follow the leader, marching, twirling and laughing together.  Let her help you cook macaroni and cheese by stirring the cheese or grating up fresh cheese in a cute butterfly apron.  Let her dish up the food on cute plates.  Or help make a picnic lunch and get a few things to take on the picnic to put in the wagon as you walk to the park together.  Have a scavenger hunt as you all take a walk around the block looking for ants, squirrels, different color flowers, smelling them and putting them behind your ears.  Collect leaves of different sizes and shapes and put them in a cute bucket to take home.  Have a race to see how high each of the girls can jump over a crack as you walk or balance on the lines. Sign up for a soccer league for 4 year olds or swimming lessons.  These things will take a commitment and involve uniforms or special clothes that she will want to wear. All these things can be easily accomplished as a fun activity.  
Your daughter would love the happy face token system too. Children ages 3 1/2 to 14 love to collect things that are shiny and pretty.  She can collect plastic tokens for doing anything that promotes good health, or happy family attitudes.  She can then use them to purchase special things like extra play time with her doll, or NOT to pick up her toys.  Anything that motivates her and that she loves to do.  It is a simple MOM FRIENDLY program that helps you teach anything you want.  The child is easily motivated to do difficult things just to earn a token or two.  In fact you will find that she will choose to do things you couldn't get her to do earlier because she gets to do something on the reward list.  I will give you some websites to look at for a good idea of the program.  I guarantee it for 30 days and it is on sale right now.  I also sell it digitally with access to all the information on the survival kit CD via the web.  Good luck! (digital download here.)

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QUESTION: Thank you so much for this first answer. I love the idea of the token system, but no offense, I can make my own rather than buy them, lol. I know what will motivate her to want to earn them: not cleaning up her toys. She HATES cleaning, lol.

But the essence of my question still remains:
you say to collect leaves, scavenger hunt, music and marching, help plate food, and stir, etc. That's my POINT...I DO and HAVE tried all those suggestions. But she refuses to do them. so HOW do I get her to "play" those games without FORCING her and making it seem like a punishment.
I'll give an example fresh in my mind:
I took a bucket and went to the park and told each girl to collect some pretty leaves and said we'd laminate them and put them in a book or make a pretty picture with the ones they love. I started going around picking up leaves and laughing and commenting on them and the two girls just stood there gawking at me.  "Collect your leaves!" I encouraged. "First one to fill the bucket gets a piggy back ride to the swings!" My oldest daughter picked up one leave, said, "this is OK but I don't want to do this. And I don't care if I get a piggy back ride. Do I HAAAAVE to do this???" and my little one just cried and said, "NO!" and shoved my hand away when I showed her my pretty leaves.  In that case neither one wanted to join me and I had NO IDEA how else to entice them.

Get my drift here? HOW do I get them to want to? I ask my daughter to cook and she usually comes over, stirs for about 30 seconds and asks to please go play instead. am I just supposed to force her? to tell her it's a chore and she has to?  Or the marching and music. I put on music daily and get out pots and spoons, etc. and my little one play along but my older one won't even garb an instrument and if she marches with us she walks slowly and hangs her head and complains that she "hates this game". People always suggest things to do as if that's the problem, but ti's not lack of idea I have, it's lack of knowledge how to get the kids to JOIN me that I have. HELP!

ANSWER: use the happy face tokens as incentive.  I.E.  Whoever collects the most leaves will get 1 happy face for each whole leaf collected.  This way they have to collect good, complete leaves and will have to look for them.  Broken and crushed leaves don't count, though they may be pretty.  Then let them use the tokens to purchase their reward.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: what if they don't want to earn a token for a particular activity?  And in your opinion is getting them to play games they hate good for them?  I'm not trying to be difficult...I am just curious if making them do stuff they hate (not including chores and "must-do's like brushing teeth) to earn stuff is a good use of their the end of an hour it still boils down to them greatly not enjoying the activity and not fostering a good relationship with it, and once their adults and/or old enough that token are no longer in play they won't have any more incentive to do the hated activities.  am I wrong?  I guess what I'm saying is that I need to reword my question one more time:
Q: how do I foster a LOVE for activity and active play?
(not how to I entice it to happen , not what other ways I can I get them to be active, but simply how can I make activity and active play something my daughter enjoys doing?)

Please, though I think "tokens" have their place, I'm not keen on using them here for the reasons I mentioned. Do you have another suggestion? Being the expert on this site I would assume you must have a few different solutions to any given problem as most scenarios typically do have multiple ways of being handled depending on what the question is and what works best for the temperament and needs of the parent and child in question. Excuse me for saying but if you didn't have any other advice besides repeating about the tokens I'd say this is starting to sound more like a plug for an invention/product than actual advice, and I need advice that addresses my worries here. I hope you can provide it. Like I say token sound great to use on things like, "clean your room!" or "set the table", but I'm not sure they'll foster the love for an activity the way I'm hoping to do with my kids and physical movement.

Like the saying says, If at first you don't succeed try, try, again!  Fostering love of anything demands that there be an effort to learn and do.  No one loves exercise, but they usually love the results.  Children can only learn self-control and self-reliance when they are taught by repetition and reward.  The world is full of repetition and reward otherwise, we wouldn't have a world of work/paycheck!  That's what makes the world go round.  Tokens can be used for all sorts of things, the key is using a chart that has things the children like to cash them in for.  Good luck

Parenting K-6 Kids

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Debbie Preece


As a frustrated mom with high-strung and strong-willed children, I began feeling the extraordinary pressure of raising children. I had lost the joy in Motherhood. I realized I didn't have the coping skills or the tools necessary to be a happy mommy, but rather felt I was in the Combat Zone with missiles of sarcasm and anti-mom protests falling all around me! I was ready to call it quits when out of frustrated desperation, I knelt in prayer to ask for help one last time. What resulted was a life-changing experience that brought happy faces to all in the family. I began feeling success in raising my children and joy in Motherhood. Within two weeks, they began calling me: The best Mom in the whole world! After all the children were raised, I wrote From Combat Zone to Love at Home: The Happy Face Token System. This is a Kid-Tested, Mom-Approved discipline, self-motivation, and character development family program that has helped frustrated parents worldwide for 25 years. I call it the ultimate parenting survival manual for frustrated parents and it comes with a parenting survival kit CD with print ready charts as well as a parenting class that discusses the book and program.


As I made beds and fixed meals for the most wonderful family in the whole world, I honestly expected the "golden rule" to work. I fully expected the children to say, thanks for making my bed, what can I do for you?! Instead, it seemed to create a combat zone of thoughtless, selfish and demanding children. Who were these insurgents infiltrating my happy mother domicile? What was I doing wrong? I wanted to find my foxhole and hide. After heavenly intervention, The Happy Face Token System resulted in 1983. It was a new battle plan that virtually guaranteed my survival and that of my family. This simple, but counterintuitive family plan seemed to work as I needed it to, according to my moods, while providing a built-in consistency factor. Within two weeks,a truce had been accepted as the children gave willing, first-time compliance with this most remarkable interactive parenting tool. Happy children responded with; "What can I do for you Mommy? May I set the table? You’re the BEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD!"

Cub Scouts, church groups, community service, has served as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader.

Publications review: "When I read in the book that Debbie's children would say things like, "You're the best Mommy in the whole world!" I, quite frankly, did not believe that would EVER happen for me. Well, I was definitely wrong. It has happened many times already and I look forward to many more!I'm more relaxed in my roles and duty as Mama and have begun to truly love being a Mom! I'm a homeschooling Mama, too... and I no longer desire time alone as I used to. I would prefer to be among my children than anywhere else I can think of! This is probably not completely a result of the book, but the book and the principles I have applied from it with my children are certainly helping me make quantum leaps in my own development and in teaching/character training of my children! Tori F 5.0 out of 5 stars Risk Free Way to Peace, September 19, 2011 By WomanNShoe - See all my reviews This review is from: From Combat Zone to Love At Home: The Happy Face Token System (Paperback) We really loved using the token system and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm the mom of 7 with 6 children still living at home. This system has been a huge blessing in curbing arguments and slothfulness. The earning of tokens help children work towards a goal and feel a sense of accomplishment by achievement. We used poker chips with each color representing a different value. There is a list posted on our family bulletin board with some of the redemption rewards and their token values. Now for Easter egg hunts, the children ask if we can hunt for tokens instead of candy. It's also very helpful in our homeschooling memorization. Tokens are earned for certain goals reached. With a risk-free guarantee, I don't know why anybody wouldn't try it. Consistency is the key. Thanks so much for helping keep peace in our home!! :)

REVIEW: If we are to take the Lord God as our model in raising children, then the implication is that we should also provide appropriate rewards. I have never wanted to "bribe" our children into compliance, so I found the following excerpt from Debbie Preece's book very interesting: She notes that: ". . . according to Webster's Dictionary a bribe is: 'Anything especially money-given or promised to induce a person to do something illegal or wrong.' . . . Webster's defines a blessing as, 'The gift of divine favor. Anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune.' This book is packed with fun ideas like "The Slothful Servant Quarantine," as well as practical charts and ideas. Altogether a very valuable resource to aid you in child training and setting up and enforcing chores. Lorrie Flem, Editor of TEACH Magazine. author's note: The SLOTHFUL SERVANT ROOM QUARANTINE is designed for ages 8-18. This provides a simple and effective way to get children to clean their rooms to your specifics. They can't use the room until the QUARANTINE is taken down by you. Psychologists refer to this type of reward system as "A Token Economy" or tokenomics as I like to say. It provides a positive, happy experience for compliance and a negative experience, that of losing tokens, when ignored. I like to call it raising children with the "Economy of Heaven!"

Awards and Honors
HAPPY PARENT AWARD EDUCATIONAL CLEARING HOUSE "With From Combat Zone To Love At Home, the weight is off of your shoulders, because the program sets the rules of the game in place." OUTSTANDING PRODUCT FOR OUTSTANDING RESULTS."For very little out of the pocket expense, you can gain some order and peace in your home. All of the charts, tokens etc. are all included in the book... Full instructions are included on the tape, she walks you thru it, in its entirety." Lorrie Flem, Editor of TEACH Magazine:Chore and Behavior Systems-SUPERIOR PRODUCT RATING "I have long been engrossed in trying to find the perfect chore and behavior system for my family to use. This illusive system must be easy to implement, inexpensive, appealing to mother and children, and of course, effective. FROM COMBAT ZONE TO LOVE AT HOME is one of my favorites."

Past/Present Clients
I am LOVING From Combat Zone to Love at Home! We have begun to implement it & are awe-struck by the results we're already receiving. My almost-9-year-old son is motivated toward goals (of wii time, in particular) like never before, and we love the idea of blessing our kids rather than always "being on them." Where Accountable Kids failed us, though, this fills in the gap. Where Celebrate Calm gave us the guilt about our yelling voices, you gave us the solution to move from that to blessings. Sheesh, I cannot say enough about the system's effect on our family. Lisa REVIEW:We really loved using the token system and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm the mom of 7 with 6 children still living at home. This system has been a huge blessing in curbing arguments and slothfulness. With a risk-free guarantee, I don't know why anybody wouldn't try it. Try using plastic gold or multi-colored coins for tokens. They are fun and sold at her store. REVIEW: I've just begun listening to your seminar and also reading your book about your Wonderful system. My spirit quickened when you talked about the analogy of the Garden of Eden. I'm excited to think that perhaps I've found system that might actually work! I too have tried everything I can think of to achieve the results you talk about. JM,OK REVIEW:At first I wasn't sure I needed this book, but it turns out this book teaches me to mimic the Economy of Heaven in dealing with my children and, by so doing, enjoy consistently good behavior in my children whose behavior will spring from happy hearts! This book IS and has been a heaven-sent gift to me. It has blessed me in my Motherhood... and my life!!! I'm so very thankful!!! VF-FL

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