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Posts Tagged ‘Advice’

Portrait of schoolgirl passing red apple to classmate during lesson

Ways to help your children develop empathy, kindness and a sense of responsibility toward others.

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By Jane Meredith Adams

While rummaging through an old box, my daughter, Claire, came across the stuffed bear I’d had when I was her age, a deeply loved creature named Teddy. “How come Teddy has no fur?” she asked. “Why doesn’t she have eyes?” I explained that my cousin’s dog had chewed up Teddy when I was a kid. She was aghast.

Gravely, she kissed Teddy’s empty eye sockets. Somberly, she reported to her twin brother, Drew, what had happened. “We’ve got to fix her,” she said.

As it turns out, children have an inborn capacity for compassion. Small in stature themselves, they naturally identify with stuffed animals, other kids, pets, and underdogs. The tricky part is that their empathy must compete with other developmental forces, including limited impulse control—which makes them pull the cat’s tail—and their belief that their needs absolutely must come first—which makes it hard for them to let their cousin push the cool fire truck.

But with so much hatred and turmoil in the world today, it seems more important than ever to raise kids who can understand and be kind to other people. Teaching this doesn’t mean lectures or visits to soup kitchens. It’s part of day-to-day life: how you answer your child’s questions, how you solve conflict at the park, how you nudge his or her growing capacity to understand and think about other people. Temperament of course plays a role—some kids are naturally more tuned in to other people’s feelings and difficulties, while others are a bit oblivious. Either way, you have influence in fostering your child’s ability to empathize. Age by age, here’s how to do so in small, daily doses:

Promote sweetness

Teaching your child ways to treat things with care helps him develop the understanding that actions have consequences.

Show how to be gentle. Your child wants to be friendly but ends up grabbing the baby roughly? Demonstrate another way. “I say, ‘We use our hands to give love,'” says Kimberly Mazone of Dresden, Maine, mother of 4-year-old Sienna and 3-month-old Lucca. “‘You’re being a little bit rough. Let’s be gentle. Let’s show our love with our hands.'” You can actually take his hand and show him physically what a gentle touch is.

Speak softly. Your kindness will be a role model for how to treat others. When your child’s in pain, be warm and caring. “It’s all about the tone in your voice,” says Emily Mihalchik, a mom of 2-year-old Sam and director of the Johnnie Appleseed Preschool, in Lawrence, Kansas. If a child’s friend is crying, “I say, ‘Maybe a hug would be nice,'” says Mihalchik. Young toddlers don’t have a very consistent long-term memory, so you’ll have to repeat your lessons more times than you thought possible.

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Reject rudeness. “I see fifteen-month-olds who do things like spit into their parents’ faces, and the parents laugh,” says Susan Jensen, a mom of two and director of Children’s Nook preschool, in North Charleston, South Carolina. This will not do. Compassion requires that your child respect others, including you. Gently but firmly, say “No, you may not spit!” In the same loving but no-nonsense manner, remove his little feet from the table and unlock his fist from your hair.

Say “I’m sorry.” If you’ve been short-tempered with your child, apologize to him. All parents make mistakes. It’s how you address them afterward that makes the difference. He’ll learn that everyone, even Mom, admits it when she’s wrong.

Enforce rules

Consistent limits help your toddler see that her behavior (and misbehavior!) affects others.

Provide structure. It might seem that if you want to raise a compassionate, caring child, you just have to be a compassionate, caring parent. But that’s not enough. Even the most nurturing, loving parenting requires firm limits on behavior, or you’ll get very self-centered children, says Janice Cohn, Ph.D., author of Raising Compassionate, Courageous Children in a Violent World. Make unacceptable behavior, like hitting, always unacceptable—even if it’s her birthday. If something is wrong it has to be wrong all the time.

Expect her to help. When their neighbors are away, Karen Semple’s four kids in Montana City, Montana, take care of the left-behind cats, dogs, and horses. Everyone’s included in helping, and when the youngest was 2, she scooped cat food out of a bag. Rain, snow, and cold weather don’t stop them. For Semple, it’s all about teaching the Golden Rule. “You need to love your neighbor as yourself, even if you don’t particularly feel like it,” she says.

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Use manners to connect. With the exciting (and noisy!) arrival of the garbage truck, talk about how we’re all connected: The farmer grows the food, we throw out the peels or waste, and the trash collector picks it up. If your child’s out watching the trash collector, she can say “thank you.” Good manners, which keep us coexisting harmoniously, are one way to show compassion. As much as you can with a squirmy toddler, make good manners part of her daily routine.

“Habits like this can help form character,” says the Reverend Dr. Julia Gatta, an Episcopal priest and associate professor of pastoral theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. “There’s another person at the other end of the relationship who has feelings and deserves respect.”

Guide friendship

Stay tuned in during playtime so you can help your child figure out how to be a friend.

Outlaw name-calling. Compassion starts with what’s acceptable and what’s not. “A little guy called someone a ‘poo-poo head,'” says Jensen. “Immediately, he had to go to time-out or come up to see me. I told him, ‘I know you know that word is unacceptable.'” Explain to her—often—that being kind to others is the rule. You can tell her when she gets into a tiff, “You don’t have to like that person, but everyone has to be nice.”

Give consequences. If the be-nice rule is broken, stick with simple, concrete consequences such as a brief time-out or losing a special toy for a day. A 3-year-old’s abstract thinking is weak, so she’s too young to understand that being nice is morally the right thing to do; your efforts, therefore, should be directed at helping her resist impulses so she won’t get in trouble.

Label kindness. When you catch your child offering a shovel to a friend in the sandbox, label her actions by saying “What a good friend you are,” or “You’re very thoughtful.” Over time, she’ll understand that being a helpful friend, sister, neighbor, and human being is something you value.

Be considerate yourself. While it’s tempting to hand out birthday-party invitations at the park instead of going to the trouble of mailing them, explain to your child that kids who see other children getting invitations but don’t receive one themselves may feel hurt. And all through the year, get her in the habit of sending cards to friends and relatives who could use a kind word: thank-you notes, sympathy cards, get-well wishes. For a child not yet up to writing a message, even a drawing is great.

Portrait of schoolgirl passing red apple to classmate during lesson

Don’t trash talk. Kids, as we know, are always listening. How we talk on a daily basis about our own siblings, parents, and relatives tells them a lot. If children hear us saying something really negative about Grandma, they learn that it’s okay to talk that way, says Suzanne Coyle, Ph.D., a mom and director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. So keep meanness in check: “Show them you have a spirit of kindness and generosity.”

Encourage helping

With their increasing awareness and independence, preschoolers are ready to participate, if you show them how.

Give pennies. Kids want to feel they can make a difference, so bring charity down to their level. “Every week the children bring in pennies and count them,” says Nancy Manewith, director of the Board of Jewish Education Early Childhood Centers of Metropolitan Chicago. “It’s just part of our pre-math program.” Then the pennies go to charity or to buy mittens and scarves for poor children, which opens the door to conversations about war and poverty.

When talking to your own child about such things, be honest, but don’t feel you have to include every scary detail. Keep explanations simple, and ask simple questions, like “How can we help them?” If his al-lowance is five dimes, ask him how many dimes he’d like to set aside to give to a food bank or drop in a collection jar. Giving him the choice will make him more excited about the idea.

Assign chores. The habit of helping others starts with chores at home. Children love to feel capable, so assign a manageable task like setting the table or feeding the cat. Make a schedule and put it on the fridge so your child can keep track of what he needs to do. When her kids ask why they have to do chores, Anna Notation-Rhoades of Sewanee, Tennessee, a mom of five, tells them “we’re all part of the family, so by helping the family we’re helping ourselves.”

Use stories. Reading books together can be a natural way to help your child start to understand that children aren’t all the same. Books like Faith the Cow, by Susan Bame Hoover, about how the gift of a cow can change the life of a poor family, or Houses and Homes, by Ann Morris, which has photos of houses around the world, can show that kids in other countries want the same things: to feel safe, to be liked, to learn things, to have fun, and to be with their families.

Point out heroes. The siren of a fire truck, not to mention a newspaper photograph of a bomb attack, can make a 4-year-old worry. Shield him from disturbing images as much as possible, but when he hears or sees something frightening, focus the conversation on the firefighters, rescue workers, doctors, or volunteers who are there to help us.

Build on their smarts

Your child’s made cognitive and emotional leaps—help him understand others’ feelings.

Explore feelings. With an increasing vocabulary, a 6-year-old is able to communicate more about emotions. Talking about book characters is a good way to help. “We’d read Snow White and I’d ask, ‘Why do you think the witch was jealous of Snow White?'” says Rev. Gatta, who’s also a mom of a 12-year-old. “Later, maybe in the car, we’d talk about characters’ motives and feelings.”

Monitor media. If the characters on television are hitting each other or calling each other names, shut off the TV or, at least, talk about what’s going on. Children don’t just watch TV, they internalize it, and they don’t get irony, so be careful of what they’re memorizing.

Expect more. When it comes to your child’s responsibility to be caring and compassionate, set your standards high. Don’t let teasing or bullying go unaddressed. At 7 and 8, kids are starting to be able to see the world from another person’s perspective. In a complicated and troubled world, it’s easy to feel that nothing we do will make a difference. This can lead to compassion burnout—for us and for our kids. The key is to start small.

As for my battered Teddy, it was a very small problem in search of a solution. So we repaired her. Claire chose blue felt for her eyes and pink for her nose. She cut out the shapes, which made them interesting to behold. Teddy’s not her old furry self, but she’s much improved. Now, years later, every time Claire hugs my old bear, she knows she made a difference.

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How To Raise Truly Thankful Children:
By Jeannie Cunnion

When our kids were itty-bitty we were told to teach them a few basic words in sign language, as this helps eliminate frustration and whining in kids who desire to communicate their needs but haven’t developed the language skills to do so.

The four words that were recommended to us were “Please, thank you, all-done and more.”

And I can assuredly say, we found those four signs to be very helpful in the early days.

Looking back however, I do find it comical that “more” was one of the first four words we taught our kids…… because then we spend the rest of our days trying to teach our kids to be thankful for what they have rather than always wanting “more more more.”

Our children are learning what it looks like to live a life of thankfulness, or a lack thereof, through us.

In a world of so much selfishness and entitlement, I long to raise thankful children, ones who live in awareness of the basics they take for granted, the wonderful opportunities they are given, and the experiences they enjoy.

But even more than that, I want to raise children who recognize that everything they are and everything they have is a gift from God.  Because, it is this kind of thankfulness that breeds humility, generosity, and happiness.

God exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances, not because He needs to hear thank you, but because He knows that thankfulness changes the trajectory of our hearts.

However, the human tendency is to look at everything we don’t have and demand “more” to be happy.  When, ironically, happiness is not found in acquiring “more” but in being more thankful for what we’ve already been given.

For example, I recall an afternoon when my husband and I were driving our three boys to the beach and we were passing by beautiful homes that sit right on the water’s edge with glorious views of the sound.

Without realizing it, I found myself thinking out loud, “Look at that one, honey.  Could you imagine how amazing it would be to wake up to that view every day? That is my dream house.”

And immediately, my eight year old chimed in.  “Yeah, why can’t we live there, Daddy?  That one is so much bigger and better than ours!”

Ouch. I knew what I’d just done and conviction hit me to the core.

“Hey boys,” I replied. “Mommy needs to apologize.  I’m lacking thankfulness right now. God has given us a beautiful home. We are unimaginably blessed. But I just allowed myself to believe that what we have isn’t enough and that happiness can be found in having more. Please forgive me.”

I don’t believe it’s wrong to dream or admire.  However, there is a fine line between admiring and worshipping.

And I don’t believe it’s wrong to have an abundance, especially when we live in gratitude for and in generosity with that abundance.

But let us not forget, as demonstrated by my eight-year-old son, that our children are learning what it looks like to live a life of thankfulness, or a lack thereof, through us.

Therefore, if our goal is to raise kids who are truly thankful, we have to ask ourselves:

1. Do our kids see us worshiping the gifts or the Giver of the gifts?

2. Do they see us being greedy or generous with our gifts?

3. Do we lead our kids in living out grateful and generous lives?

Because beating ingratitude in our kids begins with them seeing tangible gratitude in us.  And fostering gratitude in our kids only happens when we lead them in experiencing- actually living out- in word and deed, a life of giving thanks and giving back.

Jeannie Cunnion is the author of “Parenting the Wholehearted Child,” and a blogger at www.jeanniecunnion.com. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues. Jeannie and her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of three wild and awesome boys.

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Exploring Sports With Your Children:
By Randy Clark
Everyone knows that children benefit physically from sports, but one of the
over-looked benefits of playing sports is the life lessons. Team-based and
individual sports can help kids develop a sense of confidence and improve their
self-esteem. And you can help. We set the tone for their experiences. Consider the
following when exploring sports with your children.


Be a role model and coach:

Parents and coaches can make or break a kid’s love of sports. Kids observe how we
demonstrate sportsmanship. Showing respect for the other team and officials,
focusing on how well the team played rather than wins or losses, and shaking hands
with the other team after the game are ways we can all help create a positive
environment. While it is a big responsibility, it is the ultimate opportunity to
bond with our kids.  But remember, these are kids.  The negative, yelling and
screaming coaching style will not prove effective with these young people.

Ask them which activities they’d like to try:

When you’re trying to find sports and activities for your kids, think about their
personalities and what they enjoy doing. Some may enjoy team sports like soccer,
while others prefer individual sports, like swimming.  Not every child will want to
play little league baseball or hockey, but with a bit of investigating and a lot of
patience, you can explore several options your kids may enjoy.

Enroll with a friend:

Then, they can look forward to participating together, and mom and dad can benefit
from ride-sharing, too.

Set some ground rules:

When you try a new sport, explain that it will be for the whole season. Ask them to
try their best and remind them at the end of the season, they don’t have to commit
to doing it again. Often, kids will really grow and even reluctant young athletes
can gain confidence as the season progresses.

Celebrate the successes:

As a life-long coach, my goal is simple, I always try to celebrate the successes, no
matter how little.  At a young age, it’s less about winning the game and more about
trying our best and being good sports out on the field. And, to help make sure all
kids feel a part of the team we always had a team cheer – win or lose – to
celebrate.

Explore other ways to be active together:

If organized sports aren’t for your child, remember family physical activities are
also a great opportunity. Going for walks together, taking a hike or a bike ride,
just going and spending time together is important.  It can be a great family
bonding opportunity.  The key is helping to create a sense of enjoyment and making
sure that being active is not something they feel like they “have” to do, but
instead want to do.
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Ease up on the overparenting and teach your children these basic skills so they’ll be prepared for life outside the nest.

By Ellen Sturm Niz

 

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As parents, we love our kids so much we want to protect them, help them, and cultivate them into perfect, happy humans. Unfortunately, this overparenting has the opposite effect, leaving our kids unready for the world and life as adults.

“We parents, we’re doing too much,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.” “We have the very best of intentions, but when we over-help, we deprive them of the chance to learn these really important things that it turns out they need to learn to be prepared to be out in the world of work, to get an apartment, to make their way through an unfamiliar town, to interact with adults who aren’t motivated by love.”

Now the mom of two high schoolers, Lythcott-Haims’ a-ha moment came in 2009 after telling parents at Stanford’s freshman orientation to let their kids go and then coming home for dinner and cutting her then 10-year-old son’s meat.

“That’s when I got the connection,” she says. “When do you stop cutting their meat? When do you stop looking both ways for them as they cross the street? These are all things that we’re doing to be helpful, protective and so on, but if you’ve sheltered your 18-year-old all the way up to 18 by doing all of those things, then they end up bewildered out in the world. I realized this was why the Stanford freshman I was working with, however accomplished in the G.P.A. and childhood resume sense, were reliant upon mom or dad to kind of do the ‘work’ of life.”

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., his wife Janna, and children Charlie, sitting next to Janna, Sam, and Liza look over the menu before ordering breakfast at Josie's restaurant, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Are you ready to stop helicopter parenting and prepare your kid for life as a young adult? Lythcott-Haims shares 12 basic life skills every kid should know by high school:

  1. Make a meal

“By the time your kid is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care, if they had to,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I’m not saying stop making dinner for your kids, but I am saying you ought to have confidence that they could make a breakfast for themselves, that they could make a lunch.”

While most days you are going to be preparing their meals, you want them to be able to feed themselves if necessary. “When something happens, grandma gets sick and one parent’s got to rush across town to look after her and the other parent’s off at work, you want to know your freshman in high school has what it takes to pack their own lunch, make his own dinner, you know? The more they age, the more they should feel that, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this.’ There’s a competence, and there’s a confidence that comes when we build competence.”

  1. Wake themselves up on time

“By the time your kid is entering high school, you ought to have confidence they can wake themselves up and get themselves washed and dressed in clothing that’s clean,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I underscore this because too many of us are letting kids off. We’re their alarm clock and then what happens? They’re late for breakfast; they’re late to school; and we drive them. All that teaches them is, ‘I’ll always be there to wake you up and drive you,’ which is not true.”

Lythcott-Haims recently heard from a colleague at a major university that a parent had installed a webcam in the dorm room of a freshman to wake the kid up. “That’s a parenting fail,” she says. “We’ve gotten ourselves worked up into a frothy frenzy about grades and scores in high school, and further into college, and we sort of treat our kids’ childhood as if every day, every quiz, every afternoon is a make or break moment for their future,” she continues. “We feel the stakes are high, and therefore we must help, but the stakes are low in childhood compared to what they will be in college, and what they’ll really be in the world beyond.”

  1. Do laundryimage2

When teaching teens basic chores like laundry, we have to be careful not to be snippy and make them feel bad about not knowing how to do it yet. “If they haven’t learned, it’s because we haven’t taught them,” she says, “so parents need to acknowledge [to their kids] that they’ve been over-helping.” Instead, show them the ropes, watch them do it themselves once to make sure they’ve got it, and then let them handle it on their own.

  1. Pump gas

“When they learn to drive, they better know how to pump gas, okay?” Lythcott-Haims says. “I know of college students who have always had their parents fill their tank, whether at home in high school or even in college. The parents just top off the tank whenever they come visit her. Well, one day a 20-year-old student is out driving around, and her tank is near empty. And she says, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get gas. I’ve never done that. But I’m smart, I can figure it out.'” Long story short: She accidentally puts diesel in the car because no one ever taught her what to do. That’s an expensive and unnecessary lesson.

  1. Pitch in

“Employers these days are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what is it with these 20-somethings, they just want to be told exactly what to do, kind of step-by-step, and they want to be applauded for doing it,'” Lythcott-Haims says. “If we’ve just served them, if parents have just said their academics and activities are all that matter and we’ll take care of everything else, no chores and no helping out around the house, then they get out into the workplace and they don’t have that pitch-in mindset.”

“Kids need to learn how to contribute for the betterment of the whole,” she says. “Maybe they have siblings and one is stressed out about something, and the other says, ‘I’ll do your chore for you. Because I see you’re stressed out and you need some help.’ That’s building a sense of it’s not just about me. I can do for others.”

  1. Advocate for themselves

Most of us have heard the stories of the parents who are calling college professors to complain about their kids’ grades, right? News flash: This needs to stop in high school, too. “If you’re the one throughout high school who’s always got to be emailing the teacher, you basically are teaching your kid, ‘You’re not competent, and I’m going to have to do it for you,’ which is terribly harming,” Lythcott-Haims says.

Instead, teach your child how to have a conversation with an authority figure and advocate for themselves. “So I’d say, ‘Look honey, I know you’re frustrated about this grade or you’re upset about that happening on the soccer team, or you don’t understand this information. You need to be the one to go talk to your teacher respectfully and advocate for yourself.'” she says. “And if they look at you in horror, say, ‘You can do it; I know you can do it. Do you want to practice with me?’ The only way to teach them is to get out of their way and make them do it.”

Also, prepare them to listen well to what the other person is saying and understand it might not go their way. “Many times they won’t get the outcome they desire, and it’s ‘Well, ‘I tried.’ And they come home and they learn to cope with it, because not everything in life will go your way.”

  1. Pack their own bag

“We’re always putting their stuff in their backpacks,” Lythcott-Haims says. “‘Oh, don’t want you to forget your homework!’ And then that backpack becomes a bag or a briefcase one day in the workplace, and they haven’t learned that skill of being responsible for remembering their own stuff, doing that inventory every morning, ‘What do I need? Wallet, keys, lunch, work, laptop.'”

  1. Order at restaurants

While this skill should be taught sooner than high school, if that’s where parents find themselves, it’s not too late. If they’ve never ordered for themselves, say, “Hey, guys, it’s time you started ordering for yourselves. I realize it’s not for me to decide what you’re going to eat, or me to assume you’re going to have your usual order, or for me to order for the whole family,'” she says.

Remind them to look the server in the eye, be polite, communicate their request, and say, “thank you.” “One day before long, they’re going to be out with friends or out with a girlfriend or boyfriend, and they’re going to want to have that skill to not only order food, but to do so respectfully—and not look like a jerk who’s an entitled kid with a credit card, who can pay for it, but can’t really treat the server respectfully,” Lythcott-Haims says.

  1. Talk to strangers

“Their life will be full of strangers, if we think about it, but we have this blanket rule, ‘Don’t talk to strangers,’ which isn’t the right rule,” Lythcott-Haims says. “The right rule would be, ‘Let me teach you how to discern the very few, creepy strangers from the vast, vast majority of normal strangers.’ That’s a skill.”

Then, send your children out in the world to talk to strangers—safe ones. Lythcott-Haims taught her own kids this skill by sending them to a store within walking distance of their suburban home to run a small errand and ask the sales clerk for help. She handed them a $20 bill and off they went. “They come back with a spring in their step,” she says.

  1. Go grocery shopping

Has your child ever even noticed that the grocery store aisles are nicely labeled with signs hanging from the ceiling? They should know how to navigate a supermarket on their own, Lythcott-Haims says. “Send them off on their own with one of those little hand-held baskets to go get five or six things,” she says. “If you’ve got a 13-year-old, and you’ve never let him or her out of your sight in a grocery store, you’re going to be freaking out; but 13-year-olds don’t get abducted from grocery stores.”

  1. Plan an outing

“Whenever the peer group is old enough and ready to plan an outing, let them do it,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I’m the parent who’s very comfortable with my 12-year-old girl going to a matinee movie with friends where she arranged it—you know, one parent’s going to do the drop-off, one’s doing the pickup, but the girls are getting the tickets, bringing money for snacks.”

While you should ask them to walk you through the plan so you know they are not setting off willy-nilly, don’t let your fears for them make them fearful of the world. “Making their way out into the world’ to go to the movie, or to go to a mall, or to go walk up and down the big street in town and then get some food somewhere, whatever it is—they want that,” Lythcott-Haims says. “This is them trying to spread their wings.”

  1. Take public transportation

When I travel around the country, people say, ‘Oh, my gosh. I wouldn’t let my 17-year-old daughter ride the metro alone,'” Lythcott-Haims says. “And I’m like, ‘What’s your long-term plan here? Would you let your 25-year-old daughter? Is it even up to you when she’s 25?'”

“Of course, [17 is] old enough! People join the Marines and the Army and the Air Force and the Navy at 18,” Lythcott-Haims points out. “This is just a lovely example of how far we’ve strayed, because no one is yet saying at 18 they’re too young to sign up to go fight for our country. So, we’re fine when [kids choose the military], but the kids who choose a four-year college? Oh, no, no. They need their mom or dad there all the time. It’s a reminder of how absurd it is.”

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Qualities Of A Great Father

Fathers come in all shapes, colors, and sizes: step-fathers, adoptive fathers, and uncles, siblings or friends that may play a fatherly role. Though all fathers are different, the qualities that make a great dad are not.  Being a great father is being present, supportive, and loving; it’s being a respected role model, playing the role of a superhero who takes care of  his kids first and, if time allows, saves the world second.

Being Present

A good father makes time to spend with his kids; a great father makes time and actually shares the time with his kids.  Its easy to pull out your calendar and mark a few hours of daddy time, but to be present during daddy time is a different story.  I’ve seen it before, daddy-time consisting of big Papa watching a football game while his little guy stares silently into space.  A great dad shuts off the television and shows his son how to throw a football. A great father asks his son, “What would you like to do?” and plays an imaginary game of alien invaders, while hiding out in the closet. It’s tuning out your email, text messages, and television and allowing yourself to absorb every minute and every moment that makes a difference.

Knowing How To Listen

Kids can go on and on about incoherent things and as little as we care about their adventures in the nether nether world, its our job to listen.  I’ve caught myself nodding and saying “Oh.. Yeah.. Wow.. Uh huh..” a few times in my short parenthood, without the slightest idea of what my little one was talking about.  Kids catch on, they’re much smarter than we assume.  Make it a challenge to respond to your kids’ ramblings by responding with a portion of their message: “Oh yeah, Luke held your hand?” or even better ask for more detail: “So this Luke character, you think he likes you?”

Patience, Patience, Patience

Sometimes, or often times, our kids transform a joyous convo into a disastrous spat. During these stressful times is when we practice our patience. Patience is key to keeping a little spat from transforming into an all out battle for loudest person in the room.  With patience you can make it to school on time before your daughter’s shoe tantrum holds you back for another 10 minutes. It’s hard to believe but a child’s temper tantrum can be cut shorter if you remain calm and collected.

Being Open Minded

Part of being patient is being open minded.  Our kids will disagree with us more than we like, but we have to allow them to have their own opinion. Even if we feel they’re wrong and refuse to listen, they’ll find out sooner or later, so let ignorance take its course.  Unfortunately, sometimes we’ll find that their new found thoughts and beliefs are justifiable and/or correct.  So hold your tongue when appropriate, you don’t want to look like an ass.

Allowing Kids To Make Mistakes

Sure we can try to prepare our kids for everything, but the best lessons are those learned from experience. Allow your kids some flexibility and let them date a scum ball, dip their feet in cold water, and taste their experimental chocolate-tuna-skittle recipe. There’s nothing like actually living it, to teach them unforgettable life lessons.

Practicing Discipline

You’re open minded and allowing your kids to run about freely making mistake after plunder, at some point you have to lay down the law. Although you know your child is acting wrongly,  you have to set your foot down and show him some discipline.  Kids cannot do whatever they wish, we have to set boundaries and if crossed punish them accordingly.  We DO NOT agree with physical punishment or any type of abusive punishment; instead try taking away privileges, adding responsibilities, and/or problem solving (calmly talking over how the child should have done/behaved/reacted). Discipline is educational, look it up: DISCIPLINE; its an opportunity for you to teach them how to obey the rules.

Attending Important Events

They remember; our kids may not remember everything, but they clearly remember some events from their childhood, lest it not be an important event you missed.  It’s important to attend every major milestone in your child’s life, be it her first soccer game, receiving a ribbon of accomplishment, or graduation.  A good father will show up for these events; a great father will be present, attentive and supportive. No matter what happens, say if the girl has the worst game of her life, a great father will support her every misstep of the way.

Always Loving And Respecting Mommy

Here is your opportunity to show them what true love really looks like.  Random hugs, kisses, flirtatious gestures, and sweet compliments, everything you did and do to show your woman you love her, do it and multiply that by 10 (assuming your not the overbearing type). And let’s be honest, love is not always sunshine and rainbows, we often argue with our spouses, its part of marriage, its part of having a healthy relationship and our kids see it, hear it, and even feel it. Physical and verbal abuse is of course out of the question, that should be common sense to you, its the behind the back disrespect that mother may not see that the kids experience.  So treat Mommy with respect and show her lots of affection, your kids will learn from your actions and expect the same from their relationship when they come of age.

Leading By Example

You are the role model: the man your boys hope to become or the man your girls hope to one day marry. A few years back a Supervisor told me, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  I didn’t enjoy hearing those words and thus quit working for him sometime thereafter.  We may want our kids to do as we say but ultimately, they will follow our lead, consciously or unconsciously.  So remember:

  • SHOW them what love looks, sounds, and feels like
  • SHOW them how to take responsibility
  • SHOW them how to behave
  • SHOW them how to work hard
  • SHOW them how to achieve a goal and make something out of themselves.
  • “Do as I do, not as I say.”
advice-sharing

Children, especially preschoolers, tend to be very possessive of their belongings, even to the extent of being possessive about the people around them. Teaching them the art of sharing is a big, yet basic step in parenting. This article will aid you with activities to enhance your child’s ability to share.
Old Fashioned Mom Advice - Teach Sharing
Ever tried taking a toy from a child? What follows next is howling, screaming and crying. What does this have to do with teaching the art of sharing? Well, to answer that, let’s take a look at the psychology of a child. Psychologists all over the world have observed, that children aged 2-6 years, are generally over possessive about their surroundings. Though they inhibit these traits later in life and learn to be sensitive to others feelings, teaching a child the skill of living in harmony is the sole responsibility of the child’s parent, that’s you and your family. Children are good learners and the best part is that children can be molded to behave in a particular manner, especially if they are trained in the formative years of their growth. So to say, your job as a parent is not only to take care of the needs of the child, but also to teach them to adapt to the world at large. After all, teaching how to share is a smaller part of inculcating values that show them how to care for others that includes you as well.

Preschool Sharing Activities

Teaching a child how to share can be an intimidating task, but as a parent, it is your assumed duty to teach them nevertheless. The best way to go about teaching them to share is not through mere preaching but through deeds. Lest you forget, it is beneficial to allow your child to interact with others of his/her age. Apart from teaching your child at a personal level, your child will learn to live in a symbiotic existence with others even at a playschool/nursery. Given below are activities that will help your child learn sharing at the home front as well as at a group level.

Charity Begins at Home

Mirror Image

Old Fashioned Mom Magazine

Yeah, you got this right! Whether you like it or not, the fact remains that children are your mirror image and blindly ape your actions. If your child observes you sharing things with others at home, he/she is likely to follow suit. Make it a habit to share food items and other things with your child. Remind your child time and again that by giving something from what is your share hasn’t taken away anything from you. In return, you can ask your child to share a biscuit or a piece of chocolate with you and remember to thank them. It helps to know that children pick up things very easily and this act of sharing something with them will ensure, they remember to share things with others too. Basically, you will have to explain the concept of sharing and how it helps strengthen bonds, and do not forget to support it with your actions.

Some Things are Better Shared

advice-sharing

Well, I intend to say, rope in your older children, and treat the kids equally. Teaching one to share and be tolerant is equivalent to teaching all. Healthy interactions between siblings is vital for the child to learn tolerance and sharing. You would have to make your kids understand that the toys belong equally to each of them and by sharing, they are merely increasing the beauty of playing. For a child, his/her possessions are his/her world, it is best to instill in them the habit of asking permission from the other sibling when taking their things, and to return them with gratitude. Sharing toys, color pencils, books, food and other things will help your kids understand each other better. To enforce the habit of sharing, you might have to be ready to shower your kids with a lot of positive reinforcement.

Playmates

Teach Your Children to Share - Old Fashioned Mom Magazine

Isn’t it fun when you can learn while you play? Playtime is equivalent to interaction time, which means time for learning. The amount of time your child spends interacting with siblings, cousins and other children around him/her, is an indicative of how accommodating your child will be in the future. As parents, it is but natural for you to be possessive of your child, but hey, being over possessive will only harm your child. It is best to allow them to interact more with their age group, thus enhancing their adjustment and sharing ability. Rarely will you find children who have spent their childhood in the company of siblings to be possessive of their belongings. Needless to say, you won’t have to put in much effort to make your child comfortable in the company of others as your child will automatically gel with other children.

Family Time Activities

Teach Your Children to Share - Old Fashioned Mom Magazine

Board Games: Games like ludo, chutes and ladders (snakes and ladders), pick-up sticks, etc., teach children the importance of turn taking.
Solve a Puzzle: Perfect game for two or more, shuffle the puzzle pieces and distribute equally among the children. Let them solve it piece by piece.
Building Bridges through Blocks: What better way to keep your kids engaged than to give them building blocks and asking them to make something creative.
Color Me Right: Isn’t it unfair to give color pencils to one and color pens to another? Problem is solved when you ask them to exchange them between each other.
Help Me Alright: Ask your child to help you out with odd chores, it could be painting easter eggs or shopping. After all, isn’t helping out with chores, sharing too?

Come Let’s Learn

Teach Your Children to Share - Old Fashioned Mom Magazine

Enroll your child at a playschool to boost interaction and the ability to share. Your home environment obviously acts as a base foundation for your child, but the playschool will work in multiple ways, where your kid will learn as well as adjust. Playschools come equipped with a lot of learning material, which promote healthy interactions between your child and other children. You should remember that a child learns as much from doing as he/she does from imitating. A playschool will allow your child to do both, imitate the teacher as well as initiate the action. A playschool in the right sense is a “home away from home.”

A Little Helping, A Little Giving

Teach Your Children to Share - Old Fashioned Mom Magazine

Have you heard the story of the Stone Soup? Well, what makes this story outstanding is the act of sharing which makes everyone happy in the end. There’s a hymn that aptly fits in here, “A little loving, a little giving, to build a dream for the world we live in….” Children at school learn a lot through stories, rhymes, songs, and most importantly, playtimes. Schools conduct games and activities which boost not only the morale of the child, but also stress on team work. One thing is for sure, the most unexpected things happen and your child whom you feared to be selfish would have now changed, miracles do happen!

One for All – All for One

Old Fashioned Mom Advice

Mosaic Color: Again the same rule applies, give the supplies to the children and ask them to share and the resultant picture, will be a work of art.
Potluck: What fun to share lunch with everyone else! So many things to eat, all in a day.
Blocks Too Many: Distribute blocks of different shapes and ask the children to solve a puzzle by sharing blocks with each other.
Opposite Poles: Create a stack of positive and negative signs, shuffle and distribute among children, ask them to change cards with the opposite pole and simultaneously share candy with the one who has a negative card.

Children with all their innocence will tend to be over possessive, and at times, it is beneficial for them as well. However, teaching them to share and adjust to people around them is not a daunting task, if you know how to play your cards well. Teaching children to make good choices in life is your responsibility, live wisely and choose well and finally remember to share as well, for every action of yours is being closely monitored by your child.

By Cheryl Mascarenhas at Buzzle >>

happyfamilyhabit4

Children love to be silly and laugh….and quite honestly I do too. Jump on the bed, play hide and seek, have a water balloon fight. We try so hard to be perfect parents most of the time, once and a while its good to let that go and get a little rambunctious. We actually have a game we like to play called the “laughing game” the person who is “it” has to make the other people laugh….nothing is off limits and it gets somewhat crazy at times….but we laugh hysterically, and it is fun!!!

Create your own games…your children will love this.

easter-girls-with-bunny

Celebrate Traditions

Carving pumpkins at Halloween and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July are part of our national culture. Holding neighborhood barbecues and New Year’s Day pot lucks provide us opportunities to meet and get to know our neighbors. Baking special birthday cakes and setting the table with a birthday tablecloth create a sense of belonging in families.

These are all traditions. Traditions are rituals that help us build support, connection and caring in our families, neighborhoods, schools and communities. Celebration of traditions creates a common bond and builds community. Often we celebrate traditions without realizing how they started or why they are important. Think about the traditions in your life. What are they? Why do you celebrate them?

Traditions can be created by intentional words or deeds to value a person or event in our life. If you want to learn more about older traditions, consult with elders to find out about the traditions of their childhood. Ask older members of your family or neighbors what they used to do. Think of what they say. Would it be fun to start a new-older tradition? Consider dropping May Day baskets on May 1 or eating black eye peas on New Year’s Day. Reviving something old will link older generations to today’s youth.

Celebration of traditions gives us a positive sense of self. Traditions that are based in our cultural heritage give us a sense of who we are and where our ancestors came from. Weaving cultural heritage activities throughout our daily lives roots us with a sense of purpose and promotes family togetherness. Working together with grandchildren, children, and parents to cook special foods, to sing songs, to dance ceremonial dances, and to hear family stories connects family members and preserves their heritage for future generations.

To preserve your traditions or to start new ones, follow these guidelines:
• Keep your traditions simple.
• They should be fun, inexpensive and not time consuming.
• Provide opportunities for all to be involved, from the youngest to the oldest.
• Look at your interests as a group and create an activity based in this interest.

Discuss your thoughts with all family members including the children. Ask for their suggestions on what to do or how to improve something you are already doing. Rituals don’t need to be complex to be meaningful. Finally, you may also want to start a traditions journal with your family to record the current traditions you celebrate all year long. In your journal, write all about it. Include recipes, pictures, and a brief description of your activities. Future generations will maintain and continue the tradition if there is a written record. Families with a strong sense of traditions and special celebrations are more likely to raise kids who have a strong sense of identity, are healthy, have close ties to family members, and succeed in school.

This is a great time of year to focus on traditions, either experiencing them through the holidays or including them in a New Years’ resolution. May your holidays be filled with your best traditions!

advice-listen-to-your-children-feat

“Make time each day to listen to your children without distractions. Pay attention when your child speaks, respect their feelings and watch your tone of voice.”

See the book “Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids” by Paul Axtell

Advice - Listen to Your Child

Quote from Catherine M. Wallace

The basics

Like so many other things, talking and listening can be done badly, just OK, or really well. And like any other skills, you get better with practice.

Good communication with children is about:

  • encouraging them to talk to you – and listening so they can tell you how they feel
  • being able to really listen and responding in a sensitive way to all kinds of things – not just nice things or good news, but also anger, embarrassment, sadness or fear
  • focusing on body language and actions as well as words, and interpreting nonverbal forms of communication.

Some children need a lot of encouragement and positive feedback to get talking. Others will be desperate to talk to you when you’re busy doing something else. This might mean stopping what you’re doing and listening.

Top tips for talking and listening

  • Set aside time for talking and listening to each other.
  • Listen to your children when they want to talk, have strong feelings or have a problem.
  • Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry, though. Learning the difference is an important step for a child learning to communicate.
  • When talking to your child, try to remember how it was when you were a child and how you were generally attracted to those people who really listened to you. After all, children think differently from grown-ups. There are a lot of things they don’t know and a lot of things they don’t have the words to talk about.
  • Let your child finish talking and then respond. When listening, try not to jump in, cut your child off, or put words in your child’s mouth – even when your child says something ridiculous or wrong or is having trouble finding the words. Children appreciate this as much as grown-ups!
  • Use language that your children will understand. Sometimes we forget that children don’t ‘get’ everything.
  • Watch your child’s facial expression and body language. Listening isn’t just about hearing words, but also trying to understand what’s behind those words.
  • To let your child know you’re listening, and make sure you’ve really understood, repeat back what your child has said and make lots of eye contact.
  • Show your interest by saying such things as, ‘Tell me more about …’, ‘Really!’ and ‘Go on …’. Ask children what they feel about the things they’re telling you about.
  • Avoid criticism and blame. If you’re angry about something your children done, try and explain why you want them not to do it again. Appeal to their sense of empathy.
  • Work together to solve problems and conflicts.
  • Be honest with each other.
heinemanns-winter-tubing2

“There is nothing that I enjoy more than spending time as a family….I love listening to what my children have to say and seeing their milestones as they grow. They make me laugh and teach me so much. I am a better person because of them and I cherish their individuality. Spend time as a family…the memories you are creating will last a lifetime and be forever remembered in your child’s mind.”

Heinemann Family Winter Tubing

Spending time as a family is a wise investment. Children in families that participate in religious activities together are more likely to report having parents who show affection, and those with involved parents tend to fare better in school and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

  • Spending time in everyday family leisure activities is associated with greater emotional bonding within the family. A family’s “core” leisure activities (those that are typically everyday, low-cost, home-based activities such as playing board games, playing in the yard, gardening and watching television together) were related to the family’s cohesion (“the emotional bonding that family members have toward one another”). Both a family’s “core” activities and their “balance” activities (those that are novel experiences and require a greater investment of time, effort, planning and money–such as vacations, special events, and sports activities) were related to the family’s ability to adapt.1
  • Children in families that participate in religious activities together are more likely to report seeing expressions of love and affection between their parents. Two dimensions of family religious involvement–family participation in religious activities at least once per week and parental prayer more than once per day—were associated with greater expression of love or affection between the parents, as reported by their children.2
  • Parents of families in which both the parents and children attend religious services are more likely to know their children’s social networks.  They are more likely to know their children’s friends, those friends’ parents, and their children’s teachers, than parents of families in which only the parents or only the children, or neither, participated in religious activities.3
  • Children’s academic success is associated with having mothers who frequently communicated with them. This entailed talking with the children, listening to them, and answering their questions.4
  • Children whose fathers spend time with them doing activities tend to have better academic performance. Preteens whose fathers spent leisure time away from the home (picnics, movies, sports, etc.) with them, shared meals with them, helped with homework or reading, and engaged in other home activities with them earned better grades in school, on average, than peers whose fathers spent less time with them. Similarly, teens whose fathers engaged in activities in the home and outdoors, spent leisure time, and talked with them earned better grades, on average, than teens whose fathers spent less time with them.5
  • Adolescents whose parents are involved in their lives tend to exhibit fewer behavioral problems. Parent involvement was assessed by how often the parent or parental figure asked about their children’s lives, encouraged their interests, gave good advice, and spent free time with them in school activities.6
  • Youths who communicate, do activities and have close relationships with their parents are less likely to engage in violence. Family integration through bonds with a parent (in particular, with a mother who was living in the home) was associated with a decrease in the likelihood that an adolescent will commit an act of violence. (Parent-child bonds were measured by adolescents’ reports of feeling close to their parents, being involved in family activities, and communicating with their parents.) Youths in twoparent families whose bond with their resident mothers was just one standard deviation higher than the mean level were 18 percent less likely to commit an act of violence than peers with average maternal bonds. Among youths living in single parent families, a bond with that parent that was one standard deviation above the mean was associated with a 17 percent decrease in violence, while a one-unit increase in bonding with a nonresident parent was associated with a 5 percent decrease in violent behavior.7
  • Teens who frequently have dinner with their families are at a lower risk for substance abuse. Compared with teens who frequently had dinner five times or more per week with their families, those who had dinner with their families only two nights per week or less were twice as likely to be involved in substance abuse. They were 2.5 times as likely to smoke cigarettes, more than 1.5 times as likely to drink alcohol, and nearly three times as likely to try marijuana.8
  • Teens whose parents are home with them after school and in the evening are less likely to experience emotional distress. Other parental factors included having parents who engaged in activities with the teens and parents who had high expectations regarding teens’ academic performance.9

Footnotes

  1. Ramon B. Zabriskie, and Bryan P. McCormick, “The Influences of Family Leisure Patterns on Perceptions of Family Functioning,” Family Relations 50, No. 3 (July 2001): 281-289.
  2. Christian Smith and Phillip Kim, “Family Religious Involvement and the Quality of Parental Relationships for Families with Early Adolescents,” Research Report of the National Study of Youth and Religion 5 (2003): 1-23.
  3. Christian Smith, “Religious Participation and Network Closure Among American Adolescents,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42, No. 2 (2003): 259-267.
  4. Tom Luster et al., “Family Advocates’ Perspectives on the Early Academic Success of Children Born to Low-Income Adolescent Mothers,” Family Relations 53, No. 1 (January 2004): 68-77.
  5. Elizabeth C. Cooksey and Michelle M. Fondell, “Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers’ and Children’s Lives,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (August 1996): 693-707.
  6. Michelle J. Pearce, “The Protective Effects of Religiousness and Parent Involvement on the Development of Conduct Problems Among Youth Exposed to Violence,” Child Development 74, No. 6 (November/December 2003): 1682-1696.
  7. Chris Knoester and Dana L. Haynie, “Community Context, Social Integration Into Family, and Youth Violence,” Journal of Marriage and Family 67, No. 3 (August 2005): 767-780.
  8. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “The Importance of Family Dinners II,” (September 2005), http://www.casacolumbia.org/download.aspx?path=/UploadedFiles/cvq5rn5t.pdf.
  9. Michael D. Resnick et al., “Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings From the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health,” Journal of the American Medical Association 278, No. 10 (1997): 823-832.