Friday, November 11, 2011

Do You Know What Your Children are Listening To?

Fox News reporter Ted Daniel contact Parent411 recently to ask what parents should do if their children are listening to lyrics filled with profanity.  He wondered whether most parents even notice the lyrics or whether they should even concern themselves about this.  Parent411 trainer Candelaria Silva spoke to him and made the following points.*

  • Every generation is attracted to its own music, music that their parents often don’t relate to, don’t like, or find dreadful or disturbing. 
  • We tend to remain affectionate and attached to music from our teen years particularly throughout our lives.
  • Parents shouldn’t sanction musical content (or the content of games, TV programs, or websites) that we find disturbing).  Not sanctioning does not mean that we have total control.  As parents, we can only control our home environment.  We can heavily influence what our children do outside of our homes but, especially for adolescents, we can’t totally control.
  • We should be aware of what our children are listening to (and viewing).  Music on satellite radio (like Sirrius) is uncensored.  A tune that we would find catchy and acceptable on AM or FM radio is usually a version that has been cut (edited) for the general public. We can change the radio station when shuttling our children in the car. 
  • A big part of our job as parents is to instill values in our children.  If they are consuming lyrics and other media content that runs counter to our values, we have to let them know.  We should explain and discuss what we find disturbing, unacceptable, vile and/or dangerous.  Our children will come to understand and support our values…eventually. 
The teen years are the bridge from childhood to adulthood when children pull away from the adults around them as they figure out who they are.  They often rely on their peers for information.  As parents we have to give information and guidance even if teens resist or resent us for offering it.
Pattie, a parent of a 14 year old, says that when she asked her daughter about lyrics of a particular song that was filled with profanity, her daughter said, “I didn’t write the song.  I didn’t say it.”  She told her to change the station to one with music they could both listen to.  Another parent said that her daughter’s boyfriend claimed that when he listened to dance music, he didn’t pay attention to the lyrics at all.  She didn’t quite believe him.
It’s important to remember that teens take risks and many like being oppositional.  Younger children, on the other hand, don’t have the ability to analyze what they are consuming but messages/content is getting in.  We have to protect them.
A child who listens to crude, rude and/or violent music won’t become crude, rude and/or violent because of media content, usually.  We do have to be vigilant, however,  and notice whether adolescents are becoming withdrawn, sad, isolated, angry or antisocial.  We must know their close friends and pay attention to who they hang with and what they do. 
Adolescents are going through tremendous changes physically, intellectually and emotionally.  We have to be watchful and provide guidance.
Meanwhile, find some common ground on music you and your kids can enjoy together.
- Candelaria Silva for Parent411

*With input from Faina Smith, Founder of Parent411.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Family Communication Part I – Meal Time Conversation

How often do you communicate as a family?
Every day you say?
How much of that communication is planned?  How much of it is on the fly? How much of it is positive? 

One ongoing opportunity for positive communication in families presents itself every day – meal time. As parents, we have to decide that sitting down to a meal as a family is important and then make sure to do it most days of the week.

A time-tested way to get the conversation going  is to have everyone share something about their day during dinner time.  Be careful not to ask children questions that can be answered with a single word – like the infamous, “What did you do at school today?”  This is most often answered with a resounding, “Nothing.”

Try using statements instead of asking questions.  Some examples that have worked for me include:

·         Tell me something funny that happened at school today.
·         Tell me something that surprised you at school today.
·         Share a new word you heard or learned this week.
·         Share something interesting that happened after school.
·         Today at work, a lot of us had on blue shirts. Has this ever happened to you? What color   were most of the kids at school wearing today?

You can also start out by sharing something from your day.  This provides a good example for kids and will get them to thinking, talking and yes, interrupting.  You can decide how you want to handle the interruption.  (We'll talk about teaching children to wait their turn in another post.)

However your family meal conversations happen, it’s important to purposely plan eating together as a family without technological interference - no cellphones, computers or television. Conversation at family meals is an affirmation of family love and creates memories which will be treasured forever.

- Candelaria Silva-Collins

Note: This week is an important time of extended family meals because of Passover, which begins tonight, and Easter on Sunday. It is also school vacation week in Boston. We at Parent411 hope you and your family enjoy these holidays.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Parent411 presents The Language of Self-Esteem (at Watertown Mall )

The Language of Self Esteem is part of the Health Lecture Series sponsored by Watertown Mall.
The one-hour workshop starts at 10a.m. in the Old Country Buffet.*   It is free.

Candelaria Silva-Collins, a Parent411 trainer, has designed this presentation for parents and caregivers.  It will look at language – how the words we use every day can build or deflate a child’s sense of their self-worth. Words can encourage children to try new things, work through challenges, and recognize their value and place within our families and the world.
The language and actions that foster positive self-esteem have to be grounded in a child’s everyday environment.  This interactive presentation will discuss the language of self-esteem and give participants tools to use positively powerful language while parenting children.  It will be helpful to parents of children of all ages – infant to young adults.

Registration is not required.  For more info contact

*Free Blood Pressure Screenings will be available from 10am-12pm as well.
The Watertown Mall is locatd at 550 Arsental Street in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Go Slow to Go Fast

Do you give yourself and your children enough time to get out the door in the morning or get ready for their appointments?  Do you rush to prepare or serve dinner immediately upon entering the door in the evening?
Rushing can often lead to mishaps and meltdowns (parents and/or children).  One technique that helps in these situations is to “go slow to go fast.”  I first heard this phrase at a training workshop for facilitators.  It resonated with me immediately and I have used it in many areas of my life, including my parenting.
Going slow means focusing on the job at hand, doing things in precise movements, setting the routine so that you can later move quickly.  
• Waking a child up 15 minutes to ½ hour earlier gives them the meandering time many need in order to “get to getting” (ready).
• Using a timer to establish a limit for the meandering/free time makes it clear when it’s time to get on task with getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.  Some kids really respond to “beat the clock.”
• Giving a child 10-15 minutes of undivided attention upon entering your home after a long-day, will buy you undisturbed time to “change into your Mommy uniform” and get on with the evening routine.
Candelaria Silva-Collins for Parent411
Parent411 workshops are chock-full of tools, techniques, strategies, interaction and fun.  Visit our website to see our current workshops and to learn about our workshops for parents and professionals who work with parents (  Email us at to have us bring a workshop to you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Notice the Yes-ses – Candelaria Silva-Collins for Parent 411

One of the first and loudest words toddlers say is the word, NO!
I don’t think this is just because it’s easy to pronounce.  They grab that word because they hear it so much from parents and other adults in their world.
No! No! No!

It’s important for parent to learn to notice the yes-ses children do and to say the word YES more. 
Yes is a great tool for giving balance to our view of our children’s behaviors and to their view of the world.  Yes is an affirmation.  Yes is positive.

  • “Yes! You put your clothes in the hamper.”
  • “Yes, you drank all your juice.”
  • “Yes! You held open the door for Mommy. Thank you.”
It is powerful and affirming to tell a child what to do as opposed to what not to do.  This is positive discipline as opposed to negative discipline. 

The Parent411 workshop, Effective and Loving Discipline, shares positive discipline techniques.  It is offered as a single session overview and an in-depth 4-session series.  You can bring this workshop to your daycare, school or community group.  Contact us at:

Parent411 trainer, Candelaria Silva-Collins, will facilitate a presentation, The Language of Self-Esteem, on Friday, April 1, 2011 (10:00am) at Old Country Buffet in the Watertown Mall.  This presentation is free.  Call 617/926-4968 for more information.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Parenting Adult Children: Sometimes Silence is most effective

I have found silence to be an effective way to engender communication with my adult children.
I first stumbled upon this technique when my daughter, the eldest, was in college and was being rude when I called to check in on her.She would talk to me distractedly, act annoyed as though I was bothering her, hold side conversations with her roommates and visitors, etc.  It seemed that I was always interrupting something and catching her at the wrong time.

I tried to set up a regular time to check-in with her, hoping this would make her more receptive but this didn’t work, in part because of the spontaneity of dorm life and in part because she was trying to become her own woman and hadn’t yet realized she didn’t have to dis me to do so.

So one day, I stopped calling her and decided to wait for her to notice my silence, miss me and call me on her own.  It was an agonizing three weeks until she called me.When she did, I listened to her news and chatter and didn’t try to extend the conversation.  We had a better conversation than we’d had in a few months.  Eureka, I thought, I’ve got something here!

Even since then, whenever I sense that she’s “not feeling me” or working through something she’s not yet ready to share, or very busy in her life, I give her space, sending a brief “have a good day” or “hope you are well, love you” message via  text, email or voice mail. 

It works wonders.  She misses me.  She calls me in her own time, on her own terms.  The communication is richer because it is not forced.  Keeping in touch with adult children occurs frequently and naturally  for some families.  For others of us, the communication is less frequent and can be fraught with drama. There can also be noticeable differences in the frequency and type of communication with different children.  With both of my children, I've found silence to be a golden key that gives dividends in communication. 
- Candelaria Silva-Collins

Parent411 Note:

Faina and I have lots of experience dealing with children of all ages.  We like to share this in groups with parents and people who work with parents.  Contact us at to set up a workshop or facilitated conversation with your group.  Visit the website:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Parent411 Winter Workshops in Quincy and Jamaica Plain

Parent 411 workshop-discussions are interactive and facilitated by skilled and experienced facilitators who have successfully raised their children.

This winter, we are holding our workshop-discussions on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings in two convenient locations – Quincy and Jamaica Plain.  The Quincy workshops will be held at In Sync Center for the Arts.  The Jamaica Plain workshops will be held at The Children’s Music Center in The Brewery.
While not required, pre-registration is highly recommended. To register for these workshops, go to our website, 
Parent411 DAYTIME Topics– In Sync Center for the Arts, 550 Adams St., Quincy

Sleep Solutions – Faina Smith
(Thursday, February 10 – 10-11:30a.m.)                 $20.00
There is no magic to keeping children asleep through the night but that’s how it feels to sleep-deprived parents who finally get their long deserved rest.  As one mother said after attending this workshop, “I am amazed; it was the first time we slept in the last 4 months.”
This workshop helps very tired parents get some rest and keeps children sleeping through the night.

Yes You Can! Leave the House in the Morning Peacefully, Cheerfully and ON TIME! – Faina Smith
(Thursday, March 10– 10:00-11:30a.m.) $20.00
Morning is often the most stressful time of the day. This workshop helps busy parents
to identify recurring stress triggers and provides parents with simple and effective
solutions to reduce morning battles.

Parent411 EVENING Topics - In Sync Center for the Arts, 550 Adams St., Quincy
Communication in the Family Series – Faina Smith & Candelaria Silva-Collins
(Tuesdays, February 1, 8 & 15– 6:30-8:00p.m.)    $55.00
When children feel understood and supported, they are more likely to respond to others in a positive, supportive way.  Through good communication parents can learn not only how to develop a more positive style of relating with their children but also how to control, express and manage their own and their children’s anger.  Talking, listening, and creative problem-resolution are the skills that you will learn in this workshop.  These skills are very helpful in creating more harmonious relationships within families as well as in other life situations.

Effective & Loving Discipline Series– Candelaria Silva-Collins & Faina Smith
(Tuesdays, March 8, 15, 22, 29 – 6:30-8:00p.m.)   $75.00
Discipline is a core universal parenting issue.  It takes time, thoughtfulness and discipline to master.  This 4 workshop series provides parents with a forum to discuss ongoing challenges, introduces the skills necessary to accurately identify problems, explores reasons for the child’s misbehavior including tantrums, lying, disobedience and whining among others and teaches and practices the skills for effective, firm and loving discipline.

Parent411 - Thursday Morning Workshops/Discussions at The Children’s Music Center, The Brewery, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain

Effective and Loving Discipline (Candelaria Silva-Collins)
(Thursday, Feb. 3, 10-11:30a.m.)      $20
Discipline is a core parenting issue that takes time, thoughtfulness and discipline to master. In this single session, we will discuss why children do what they do and the tools and techniques to impart effective, firm and loving discipline.

The Joy and Challenge of Toddlers (Faina Smith)
(Thursday, March 3, 10-11:30a.m.)  $20
A day with a toddler can be full of joy, hugs and wonder or just the opposite.  In this workshop we
                - talk frankly about joys and challenges of parenting a toddler
                - cover the key developmental milestones of toddler years
                - provide facts about discipline: what works and what doesn't
                - discuss sleep, food, and other issues of toddlerhood.

For more information, email or call 617/721-8412 or 617/620-5557.