Working Parents: Have a Plan for Taking Time Off From Work When Your Children Need You

Whether your child has an illness or injury, or the babysitter could not make it, taking unexpected time off from work can be tricky.  When both parents work, this can cause unnecessary tension because of arguments about who is going to stay home and take care of the child.  To prevent this from happening, it is very important to develop a plan ahead of time with your spouse about unanticipated “at home” days.

One important consideration is who has the most flexible schedule on any given day.   It may be that an arrangement can be worked out where both parents  divide the caretaking day in half.  If one spouse has mostly morning meetings and the other spouse has them in the afternoon, you can both work around your schedules.  My late husband and I did this.  His schedule was generally more flexible than mine, since as a lawyer, my schedule could be extremely busy.  We worked it out though between us, always keeping our focus on what was best for our children.  Compromise is very important as it reduces the parents’ stress levels and aids in flexible decision making, which of course, leaves more time for you both to focus on your child who needs you.

Speak to your office manager or human services representative ahead of time about the protocol for working from home or having children in the workplace. Many companies allow a parent to work from home if he is unable to come to the office and some allow children to be in the office under special circumstances.

If you and your spouse are not able to do any of the above, research alternatives.  Often retired relatives or friends will assist for a short while.  What is critical is that you do not wait until you need assistance to find a solution.

Raising children can be filled with ups and downs.  Having a plan and being willing to compromise - those are the key elements to surviving a sudden at-home stay.  Life is always going to throw curveballs at you, but being proactive can make them a little easier to catch

Small Ways to Boost Your Children’s Self Esteem

I have written before about boosting your child’s self-esteem, but today I will be discussing a few additional points as this is such an important subject.  Self-esteem is simply how a child feels about himself.  It is vital that children feel good about themselves because it makes them better problem solvers, better learners, and more appreciative of themselves and the people around them.

Since self-esteem is so integral to a child’s development, here are a few things you can do to boost his confidence.

1.    Do not pile on the praise. This may seem counterintuitive to what you believe.  Simply praising your child for everything he does is not helpful.  And, research shows that it may backfire.  Concentrate on praising effort.   Your praise may appear fake if a child knows that he did not perform well so instead, acknowledge when your child is making mistakes and encourage him to keep trying!

2.    Let your child make mistakes.  When teaching a child something new, be patient and monitor what she does.  Then, let her do it on her own so that she can learn from her mistakes.  Too often, as parents, we do not want our child to perform mediocrely.  How can she learn if she does not keep trying to do better.  

3.    Encourage independence. Once your child knows the difference between right and wrong and understands the consequences that come with certain decisions, let her make some for herself.  Often, this can show how much you trust her and respect her choices.

4.    Do not give harsh criticism.  I often hear parents calling their children names such as “lazy”, “messy”, “disorganized”, etc. What we speak over our children will come to pass.  They will begin to think about themselves just as you described.  So, select descriptive words that are encouraging rather than discouraging and look for things that they do right, rather than what they have done wrong.

Though these steps may seem simple, following them will go a long way in building healthy self-esteem in your children.

Kids Health provides more information about the benefits of high self-esteem in children and what you can do.  Read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Be Vigilant This Summer to Ensure Your Children’s Outdoor Safety

School is out and our children are outside much more enjoying summer activities.  Their safety should always be of utmost concern for parents.

In a recent online article Summer Outdoor Safety Tips Offered for Child Care Facilities, reporter Eric Tegethoff of Public News Service writes about issues of concern for parents during the summer months especially.  The article is a refresher about information we may have heard in the past, but is updated and reminds us parents about how diligent we must be to protect our precious ones. 

Of course, the number one issue is keeping an eye on our children when they are in and around water.  As parents, we understand this but the tragedy is that even those parents who understand the dangers that lurk for children when playing in and around water, often believe that nothing would never happen to their children.  One of the first considerations is the surface around the water.  Typically, children play around water barefoot so your diligence requires your examination of the surfaces for any potential causes of injuries.  Are there any sharp or jagged surfaces?  Are there any protrusions? Can anything potentially dangerous be hidden underneath the surface, such as under sand at the beach?

Another consideration is keeping a vigilant eye on your children when they are in water.  The article quotes the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s findings that “for 77 percent of child drowning victims, the child has been missing from sight five minutes or less.” Never assume that another adult will be keeping an eye on your children unless you have specifically requested that he/she do so and trust that person. You must be focused and knowledgeable about where your children are all the time.

The article also refers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s  findings that 2 of the 10 drowning deaths that happen every day are to children 14 and younger. It recommends that there should be one adult for every infant in a pool.  As children get older, less monitoring is required:  four children for every adult at pre-school age and six per adult for school-age children.

Please do not forget to put sunscreen on your children before they go to play outside and be sure that they have sufficient hydration.  The sun provides important vitamin D for them but also can cause problems.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Helping Your Children Develop Social Maturity

When it comes to our children’s performance in school, as parents, we are almost always focused on their academic progress.  Although that of course is critical, it is also beneficial for us to ensure that they are getting the most out of their schooling, and that includes being socially proficient. Whether your children have issues with their social development or are just naturally shy, there are several ways that parents can teach social maturity.

It is best to start teaching your children social graces before they start school.  For example, you can take them to the park where they can interact with other children while you sit, observe, and possibly strike up a chat with their parents. You should be looking for a few things as your children mingle with others: are they sharing, actively involved, and laughing?  These are crucial in friendly interactions.  Use what you have observed to talk with your children about how they can improve their behavior during the next social event.

If your children are in school but still having challenges interacting with their peers, consider how to assist them.  Students are surrounded by the same people every day and having a familiar environment helps many children thrive socially.   A great way for your children to actively meet new people and socialize with friends, even in a new environment, is for them to join a club.  Clubs are smaller groups of people who have similar interests and who interact with each other based on these common interests.  My sons participated in many different clubs based on their interests, such as sports clubs, chess clubs, church clubs and music clubs.  And, they developed long lasting friendships that exist to this day from those clubs.

Another way for children to develop socially is working with others on homework.  Often, teachers assign projects to a small group of students.  The students in those small groups then get together and plan and prepare what to do for each project.  By helping each other, friendships are developed.  My nephew is in 9th grade and one of his teachers often assigns group projects.  He and his fellow students meet frequently and after they have dedicated time to their project, my sister takes the group out for a treat.  All during this time, social skills are being developed, as well as academic skills.

Parents have tremendous influences on their children’s lives.  When speaking with your friends, family members, or even strangers, be sure to display kindness, compassion, and confidence.  Children learn best from what they see and hear. Be the best example to your children that you can be!

A well-rounded child is not just one who excels academically.  Social growth and maturity are key to a child’s ultimate success in life as well. 

What to Do When Your Child says “I Hate You"

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7

Oh, how this week’s Bible verse comes in handy, especially when children try to test your patience, question your affection for them, or even make you question their love for you.  Parents often fear the day when their child screams “I hate you” in the heat of passion.  Unfortunately, it will happen to a lot of parents and I think it is important to be prepared for when it does.

Children are not able to articulate their thoughts and feelings into meaningful, temperate phrases.  They are very honest and tend to share their feelings without filter.  Often, they blurt out whatever is on their mind, without regard for anyone else.

When your children utter these three words, experts recommend that it is best to focus on your children’s anger and not take the remarks personally.  You should respond with loving and reassuring phrases such as “I understand you are angry.  I love you and I am here for you.”   Teach your children to express in words that they is angry.

Your children need to know that you are always there for them and will try your very best to understand them. However, they also need to know that hurtful words like “I hate you” are unacceptable.  When the situation has calmed down and everyone has had the opportunity to take a short break, have a talk with them about appropriate ways to express their feelings.  Using the word “hate” is extremely powerful and negative.  Don’t yell at them and threaten.  The more loving your response is, the more they will understand that their choice of words was wrong and they can do better in the future.

You may have to bear through a few more intense tantrums and go through these points several times before your children are truly able to grasp the concept of healthy expression.  Keep trying – don’t give up!  The more practice you have, the better it will sink into their minds and the more they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings. You do not have to wait for them to throw another tantrum to put those lessons to work, though.  Try discussing experiences that usually elicit an impulsive, negative response from your children and teach them how to respond kindly.

Hearing those three words can be so devastating to a parent, but by responding in love and using these moments as times to teach, parents are establishing a foundation of self-expression that will definitely benefit their children in the future.

Help your Children Plan and Prepare for their Exams this Exam Season

It is exam season and your children might either be freaking out about it or blissfully oblivious as their exam dates get closer with each passing day.  Regardless of their state of mind right now, exam season is always a stressful time.  Parents can play a significant role in relieving some of that stress by assisting their children to prepare for their exams.

Before beginning, parents must understand the type of learner their children are.  Of course, each child is different.  Is she a visual or hands-on learner?  Is he a mix of both? Does she work better alone or in a group? How long is his attention span? Talk with each of them about it and come up with methods for exam preparations that are the most conducive to his learning style(s), not yours.

Many parents, including me, assist their children before a test. Some use flashcards, others ask probing questions, while others make mock exams - the effectiveness of each technique is completely determined by each child’s learning style.

I have written some tips in a couple of articles on this blog about spending time with your children and being involved when they do their homework, that can be applied to helping your children study for exams.  The most important takeaways from these blogs should be scheduling, location and your overall involvement.  Studying in a clear - somewhat secluded- area helps your children focus on their tasks without distraction.  Planning a schedule to study for each class gives a sense of order during a time that may be chaotic for most students. Parents can assist by checking up on your children every once in a while to observe their progress or assist with a problem.  This shows them that you care about their academics and it gives them the chance to share what they have learned. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions on what they may not thoroughly understand yet.

That is not all! According to an article on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, one of the best things you can do for your children is to talk to them about their exams. Find out what subjects they are confident and not-so confident in. Speak with them about the areas they think they need to focus on. Speak with their teachers and present these inquiries to them, too.  Use your newfound data to help your children set up a study plan that strengthens their weaknesses and enhances their strengths.

Be sure to confirm with their teachers the correct exam dates and ensure that they start studying well in advance.  Children can get confused about dates, especially if they have not written them down.  Also, having a longer time span for them to go over the information for each subject, gives your children a better chance of actually learning and comprehending the information rather than just memorizing it.  Comprehension signifies that the information can be applied to many different situations; however, memorization makes it much harder to do so.

Parents know what exam season is like. We all have been through it. We can use our experiences, along with these tips, to ensure that our children handle studying and taking exams better than we did and are more successful.  You can find the U.S Department of Education’s article for more tips on how to help your children by clicking here.

The Best Way to Prepare Your Children Academically for Preschool is by Reading

From the day of their birth, children are learning languages, and the words that they are exposed to for the first few years of their lives influence their language development and academic performance for the years to come.  When preparing your children for preschool, it is critical that you take time out of each day to read to and with them.

For generations, parents have read stories to their young children and for good reason - the developmental benefits are endless. The transition from daycare to preschool will be much easier when reading has been a part of their daily routine.  

When you read a story, don’t just read it quickly as if it is a task that needs to be finished right away.  Take your time.  Talk about the meaning of a word if it is a new word.  Encourage your children to look at the pictures on each page.  As a children’s author, I know the importance that not only words have on each page in a book, but also the pictures.  I hired a children’s artist to design and paint the pictures, according to my direction and input.  Pictures convey a specific message so I wanted to ensure that each picture told the message that I wanted the child to know and learn. 

In addition to looking at the pictures and discussing them, a parent should make reading fun by changing the intonation of his voice.  Also, if it is a woman speaking, try to speak as a woman.  The same thing if it is a man.  Make a silly voice if the character is a funny character.  I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey. 

Try not to limit your reading times to bed time.  If there is a lull in the afternoon on a weekend, pull out a book to read to your children.   There should always be plenty of books in each room in the house.   Or, ask one of your children to find a book that you can read to them. 

We parents want our children to be prepared for preschool.  The foundation of literacy is the most important and lasting foundation that you can give them.

Getting Your Children Interested in STEM

STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and math - are commonly disliked subjects among children, especially girls.   However, that does not have to be so.  By introducing our children to real life applications, we parents can get them to be amazed at the wonders that come alive and have them asking for more. 

In her online blog titled How to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM (Without Forcing it on Them), writer Melanie Pinola gives some very good advice for some real life applications:

1.  Introduce food science while cooking, as children will love to eat the results.  In fact, there are many books that have edible science experiments for children. 

2. While shopping with your children or doing banking, encourage them to participate with numbers.  For example, you can compare the costs of similar store items and have them do simple calculations in their heads.  Also, talk to them about how interest works.  I assisted my sons with opening up their own savings accounts with their accumulated allowance money when they were very young and talked with them about how a bank will pay them interest on their money.   Have them calculate what the interest is every month.

3. Play STEM games with your children and buy them STEM toys.  One of the most favored STEM toys, especially with boys, are the Lego building blocks.  One of my nephews only wants gifts of these blocks and his bedroom is filled with all the different building projects he has completed. 

4. Watch STEM shows, especially those that cater to children. 

STEM subjects are critical to the development of our economy and will provide our children with good-paying, secure careers.  So, let’s start them at a young age learning and appreciating all that they can offer.

Read her entire blog by CLICKING HERE.

Do Not Be Worried about Your Children’s Futures

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34

As parents, we are often consumed by preparing our children for the future. Whether it be enrolling them in as many extracurricular activities as possible to round out their academic resume or teaching them to be self-sufficient for adulthood, we want them to be completely prepared for everything that the future has to bring.  All this focus on the future, though, can cause high levels of stress for both you and your children and make it very difficult to just bask in the here and now.   

God does not want us to be anxious about anything.  I like what the words on the image for this week’s blog say: “Pray more, worry less”.   No one truly knows what the future will bring, but, as a Christian, you should feel comfort in knowing that God has already established a plan for the lives of each of your children.  

Try doing the following:

  1. Understand that not every trait your child has now, will carry over into her future.  For example, if you notice that your child is forgetful or seems unmotivated at times, it is unlikely that her attitude will persist throughout her life because behaviors change. Of course, you should talk to her about her conduct to ensure that she is fine and motivate her to do better, but do this to help your child in the present, not necessarily for the future. She does not need to hear your theories about the detrimental affects her present behavior may have on her future. She needs her parents’ assistance in dealing with whatever is going on at the moment.
  2. Spend time with your children (uninterrupted by the distractions of technology). This could be a planned outing or an impromptu hangout session. Making time for your children shows them how much you love and value them.
  3. Stop yourself from worrying.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus taught His disciples about concentrating on what is happening today, and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow. 
  4. Pray.  Daily, ask God for guidance and comfort. 

Be Sure To Celebrate the Week of the Young Child: April 16-20, 2018

Every year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrates young children and learning, and this week April 16-20, 2018 is dedicated to just that.  According to the NAEYC, the reason that a week is set aside annually is “to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.”

Local communities throughout the United States hold events for the celebration.  Events vary from a fun hat day to an ice cream social, a parade in a school and even a trip to the mayor’s office.   Importantly, the focus is on young children learning.

In the U. S. Virgin Islands where I live, I always participate in some way.  This year, I will be visiting an elementary school.  I have been asked to read a local  story to children and join in a special hat parade. 

Where ever you reside, please consider volunteering your time and talents to make this a special time for children in your area.  Whenever I visit a classroom or school to participate in an activity, I find that the children are always excited to have a special visitor who thinks they are important.  I am certain that it will be a blessing for you too, as it is for me!

Raising Honest Children

"Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body."
Ephesians 4:25

We can all admit that we have told lies during our lives, some bigger than others, but it can be hard to handle when we observe our children doing it.  As Christian parents, we should be loving but intentional in stopping our children from developing a bad habit of deceitfulness.

There are several passages in the Bible that discourage deception and promote honesty.  The verse for today’s blog is one of my favorites - Ephesians 4:25.  As a Christian family, parents should stress that we are all a part of the body of Christ, and should work together for His sake, a task that cannot be accomplished when a member of that body is untruthful.  Another verse is Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.”  As I have recommended before, write these and other Bible verses down and help your children to memorize them.  Talk with them daily about what God expects of them – honesty and love.

When you catch your children telling a lie, do not justify it by calling it “cute” or “harmless”.  This can be very confusing to a child.  Where do you draw the line between a “harmless” lie and a lie that causes “harm”? All lies should be immediately addressed and discouraged.  

Since I love to promote reading, there are three stories about lying from which children can learn: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and Pinocchio.  Read them with your children and discuss what is happening in each story.  Ask them questions to generate their thinking processes about telling lies.  For example, what could the character in the story have done differently, instead of lying?  What would have happened then?

 Of particular concern is looking for opportunities to praise your children for telling the truth.  Too often, we parents focus on the negative.  What better way to instill honesty but by parents catching their children being truthful and immediately praising them for it.  Positive attention builds more and more positive habits and self-confidence while repeated negative attention erodes a child’s well-being and image of who he is in Christ.

As I have matured in my relationship with the Lord and in my years, I have come to appreciate honesty more and more.  Even though so-called small white lies can be explained away, I ask myself “why should I even do that?”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can tell certain lies but not others.  It’s all in the way we frame our words, with the goal of being true to the Word.

Helping a Child Who is Afraid of the Dark

One of the most common fears among children is what can happen to them alone in the dark.  Most of us parents have been awakened in our beds by our children in the middle of the night, especially after they have had a bad dream.  Darkness represents the unknown, and since our children have such vivid imaginations, they can come up with the craziest things they believe lurk within it.  

I always recommend talking with your children about their fears.  Find out where these fears are coming from.  For example, what did they watch on tv or as a video or at the movie theater that could have caused fear? Tv programs and movies nowadays are filled with violence and scary looking creatures.  All of these can easily scare a child, especially one who is sensitive. 

When I was about 9 years, I remember going to the movies with my sisters and some friends.  We watched a Dracula movie.   Needless to say, it was their idea, not mine!  I could not sleep that night.  There was a large window in my bedroom and I made sure to put garlic cloves all around the windowsill, as that was supposed to ward off Dracula.  My thoughts about that movie tormented me for a long time and I had many sleepless nights.  My sisters and friends just laughed about the movie, so I never said anything, as I certainly did not want to be laughed at. 

Once you know the source of the fear, you will be able to deal with it.  One of the best ways is to establish a bedtime routine for them. 

Help them learn scripture verses to renew their minds.  This week’s verse is a wonderful one to start with: Psalm 56:3 - “When I’m afraid, I will trust in you.”  Another important verse for these types of situations is 2 Timothy 1:7 - “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind.”  A fun creative task that you can do with your children is to write out some verses, and then have your children decorate them with glow in the dark paint and hang them all about their bedrooms.  When they begin to feel afraid, they will be able to see the verses and then speak them out loud to eradicate all fear. 

Additionally, some parents speak blessings over their children at night, before they go to sleep.  To read more about how you can bless your children too, visit this blog.

Be sure to let your children know that you will always be there, close by, and will check up on them during the night too.  This will encourage them to learn to fight their fears on their own and develop confidence in doing so.  But, if need be, you will be there too to help along the way.

Fear of the dark is quite common for children and it is important to help them to learn to stand against fear on their own.   Scripture verses for fighting fear can be used for every issue that arouses fear in a person.  The more your children have renewed their minds with Bible verses, the better they will be able to withstand the forces that come against them as they grow up.

Parents Must Have A United Front On How To Raise Their Children

We often hear or read about how parents can develop good parenting skills as children need a solid parenting foundation.  One critical aspect of that foundation involves parents uniting on the issue of how to raise their children.   Even though parents may disagree on certain aspects of parenting, it is important for parents to still show a united front with their children, especially as to how they should be disciplined.  As Matthew 12:25 states, a house divided against itself cannot stand, so parents who are divided on this issue will not be able to maintain a strong household.

In his online article The Importance of a United Front in Parenting – Especially When it Comes to Discipline, Dr. Laurence Steinberg discusses the issues of parents having a united front and supporting each other.  For children 6 years old and younger, he states that they can get confused by one parent telling them one thing and the other parent telling them another.  They see their worlds in black and white, and want clarity and precision.  At those ages, the united front is imperative.  Between the ages of 6 and 11, that need for clarity and precision diminishes in children, but he, nevertheless, recommends that parents continue to maintain a unified front.  

For teenagers, he argues that a united front is no longer necessary but that parents must still support each other in whatever decisions are made.  I believe these two points – a united front and supporting each other - go hand in hand and cannot be separated, so I disagree here with Dr. Steinberg but believe that what he has to say should still be considered.  He argues that older children know that people disagree on issues and the important point is for parents to try to resolve differences.   Parents can “agree to disagree” but still, there must be a further decision as to what is to be done.  In that event, I suggest that parents decide on what they will do, support each other, and then present a united front. 

Dr. Steinberg also gives a number of recommendations as to how parents can reconcile “hard-to-resolve disagreements”.   These are worthy of reading and incorporating into your parenting styles. 

As a judge, I saw the many negative results of parents not supporting each other and having a united front with their children.  Too often, especially during divorces, one parent undermines the other with the children.  The damage that results, sadly, is to the children, as they are the ones who suffer profoundly from feuding parents.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

What To Do When Your Children Are Acting Selfish

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

“Buy me that toy.” “Change the tv channel - my favorite show is on.” “Mommy - get off the computer- I’m bored.” Do any of these sound familiar? They are all statements we may have heard from our own children and brushed off as childish behavior. While interactions like these do happen, they should never become normal. Unchecked, your children can continue to develop these selfish qualities more and more.

Children usually do not make these statements out of malice for other people, but out of their understanding for their own needs and desires. The only thing that matters to them is what they want at that specific time. The key is to stop this behavior when it happens – right away.  Do not make excuses for and tolerate it.  

How many times have your children tugged at your clothing or verbally demanded your attention to tell you something while you were on the phone? The next time they do this tell them that you are having a conversation and that you will speak to them when it is over.  Be firm and polite.  And, be sure to actually speak with them about their inappropriate behavior and not go on to some other task.  When you do,  you can say something such as, “I was speaking with someone on the phone. Please do not interrupt me.  Save it until I am done. I would love to talk about it after I’m finished.” Let them know that their actions were selfish and why.  Catching them while they are doing the act is important to helping them stop it.  Talking with them about it helps them understand what they are doing wrong and why their behavior is wrong.

Children may not always comprehend why being “self-centered” is wrong. Today’s Bible verse is very helpful.  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Prioritizing the needs of those around us above our own is important because God says it is. It brings out our best character, shows the people we interact with  that we care for and respect them, and most of all, it is pleasing unto God. Being self-centered completely contradicts His Word.

Show your children that their thoughts and feelings should not be the only ones that are heard and respected.  How are other children reacting to their selfish behavior?  For example, if your son has a friend over to play, but he is refusing to share his toys, stop him, take him out of the room, and talk to him about it.  Explain to him how his behavior is affecting his friend and making his friend feel.  Ask him what he can do to make his friend’s visit more pleasant.  When the discussion has finished, have him return to the room and observe his behavior to make sure that he is actually following through on different, kinder behavior.

When you observe your children being considerate of others and not being selfish, let them know that out loud to reinforce their positive behavior.  This is one of the most important ways to stop selfish behavior.  Take your time to describe the selfless act that was done and make it clear that everyone benefits when they act that way.

As parents, we want to be there for our children and provide for their needs.  It’s their constant wants and demands that we need to control so that they do not control us. 

Keep Your Children Active as Activity Works Out the Body and the Brain

The benefits of physical activity on the body are plentiful and well known. The more you move your body, the healthier you will be and the risk of weight related health issues – such as diabetes and heart disease - diminishes. For children, physical activity promotes healthy growth, improves fitness levels, and boosts self-esteem. Did you also know all the benefits exercise can have on a child’s mind?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), students who are physically active actually had better grades, school performance, memories, and classroom behavior.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  recommends 60 minutes of physical exercise each day. Many parents mistakenly believe that if their children participate in physical activities, they will have less time for homework and other school assignments and be too tired to perform their best in school.  Importantly, however, the scientific research data does not support this way of thinking.

Physical activity has been a very helpful as well in improving the behavior of children with behavioral disorders.  In a study to determine whether an aerobic cybercycling  physical education curriculum could benefit children who had behavioral health disorders, the findings showed that this type of aerobic physical activity benefitted children significantly.   A cybercycle is a stationary bike - similar to the ones we see at the gym - with a screen to give the illusion of an outdoor environment.   Often children with these disorders are not encouraged to participate in exercising and thus, suffer greatly as a result.

There are so many benefits that come from living an active lifestyle.  Promoting healthy behaviors today guarantees a better life for your children in their future.

For more reading, CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE.

What to Do When Your Child Swears

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
— Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)

Children learn from what they see and hear around them, and while it can often be exciting to observe what they have learned, sometimes it can be frustrating or even embarrass and anger you.  Having said that, there is, unfortunately, going to be a day in your life as a parent when your child tells you about a new word he learned - a swear or curse word.  Or, you may hear your child use such a word when speaking with friends or siblings.  At first, you may be shocked to hear that word coming out of your child’s mouth (innocent as he or she may be). But, you must act quickly to counter this type of unacceptable speech.

First and foremost, be honest.  Did your child learn that curse word from you or your spouse?  Again, you cannot expect your children to do as they are told and totally ignore what their parents do.  Clean up your mouth before you enforce “no cursing” rules on your children.

It is critical that both parents agree that these types of words are not acceptable – period.  It will be very confusing for your child if you tell him that swearing is not acceptable speech but then your spouse laughs when he curses and things he’s cute by saying those type of words.   As with any other issue that involves raising children, parents must have a united front when dealing with cursing and decide together how violations of your parental rules will be dealt with.

It is imperative that, instead of getting upset with your child and yelling at him to not do it again, you speak to him about the meaning of the word and why he should avoid using it.  Let your child know that words like those are not pleasing to you or to God.  God wants us to use our voices to praise Him and uplift others, something we cannot do if it our mouths are cluttered with foul language.  Select and review with your child Bible verses such as Ephesians 4:29 that establish exactly what God wants to hear from us and why anything else is displeasing to Him.

It is also important to be willing to answer your child’s questions about curse words.  If your child feels that he can ask you anything without you getting angry and judging him, he will make you the first person he turns to when learning about something new, including words like these.

Assist your child to learn other words that are not curse words and to be able to select and use these words to best describe how he feels.  This will help him to develop word intelligence and self-control. For example, if your child is upset about what a sibling did, help your child to come up with words to express his feelings, rather than curse words.  Later on, when he is in the middle of an argument and angry, he should be able to tap into his extensive vocabulary to express himself without resorting to curse words.

Be prepared with a plan on how to deal with your child cursing.  It will happen one day, so it is better that you nip it in the bud right away rather than allow it to escalate into a difficult problem.

Teaching Biblical Financial Principles to Your Children

The concepts of handling money according to biblical principles are very important ones and parents often do not take the time to teach their children about them.  Proverbs 22:6 talks about training your child in the way he should go so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.  Training your child also involves teaching these financial principles so that he can be a wise steward.  But, of course, you must know and follow these principles yourselves as parents.

In his online article entitled 10 Financial Principles That Are Biblical, author George Fooshee addresses principles that Christians need to know to properly manage their financial resources. Too many Christians are mired in debt and have become slaves to their out of control spending habits.  Knowing and then obeying God’s Word in regard to money management are critical to financial freedom.

The 10 financial principles are:

1. Understand that God is your source.  Philippians 4:19,  Proverbs 8:20-21, and 2 Cor. 9:8 all refer to God being our source - financial and otherwise.  The Christian walk involves putting our trust in Him to provide for our needs.

2. Tithing should be a regular part of our giving.  As Christians, we all understand that we should tithe.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor God with our first fruits.  But, do we really do it or do we make excuses and believe that God will understand why we have not tithed regularly?  God’s Word should be alive and something that we adhere to every day not just when we want to.

3. Prepare and plan.   Handling our money wisely involves preparation and planning. 

4. Save.

5. Keep out of debt.

6. Do not co-sign.

7. Keep records and set a budget.  From young, children should be taught how to budget. When giving an allowance to your children, for example, enforce the categories of “save”, “spend”, and “tithe” so they learn and put these concepts into practice.

8. Be content with what you have.  For example, if you know that you cannot afford a new vehicle at this time, do not shop for one.  Be content with what you have until you are truly able to afford a new or different one.

9. Work hard.

10. Seek Godly counsel.

As I have said many times before in my blogs, your children are observing what you do and listening to what you say every day.  Training or raising  successful children first starts with you as parents.   

To read more of this article, click here.

Raising Happy Children

We have all seen those faces: a child with an angry look – his face turned away from you, his lips pursed, his eyes glaring.  Perhaps the child did not get what he wanted.  Or, perhaps he woke up grouchy from a nap and saw no reason to change his demeanor or behavior and decided to take things out on you.  Children can be taught from a young age how to become happy and not remain in a negative mood.  According to Proverbs 15:13, a happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Helping your children develop happy hearts depends first and foremost on you having a happy heart yourself.  It is critical that as Christians, adults memorize scripture so that we lean on what the Bible has to say about our circumstances rather than on what the world throws at us.  The Word of God can be an extremely positive force in our lives if we speak and apply it. 

Try selecting various Bible verses that are easy for your children to memorize and write them on index cards or type them and hang them up throughout your house.  There are many websites that have lists of simple Bible verses so you can select one verse each week on which to focus.  Make it fun to memorize a verse and incorporate it in your everyday discussions.  The more you make the verses a part of their everyday lives, the more these verses will become a part of their thinking and behavior.   A quick reading of a verse will not do it.  It takes time and energy to change thoughts and behavior – it is not a one time, quick fix.

Also, have your children look at themselves in a mirror when they are happy and then when they are angry.  Help them to connect their facial expressions and outward physical behavior to their feelings.   Smiling is an indication of happiness and actually makes a person more attractive.  More people are drawn to smiling, friendly persons and the opposite is true as well.  Remember that your children typically will copy your behaviors.  Have you smiled at your children lately or have they seen you smiling?  You cannot expect your children to smile if you are not smiling at or with them!

Laughter is very important in maintaining a happy heart.  Children love to laugh – it’s part of their nature.  My sons enjoyed all kinds of silly jokes and riddles from when they were both small.  I bought joke books and cartoon books for them to read, to encourage laughter.  (Of course, that also encouraged reading.) They both have a wonderful, positive sense of humor today! Another way to make them laugh is spending time with them doing fun activities.  When was the last time that you played with and tickled your child?

These are some practical suggestions to raising happy children.  I encourage you to take the time to implement some so that you see more cheerful faces around your home!

Teaching Conflict Resolution to Your Children

Conflicts between children in a family are common and  parents should be prepared to handle them and be models of resolution skills.  Three words are important in dealing with sibling conflicts: talk, listen, and resolve.

First, parents should encourage their children to calm down and then talk about their problem.  An emotionally charged child will not be able to reason and react properly.  Helping your child to calm down allows a child to manage his emotions and then be able to begin the process toward resolving the dispute.  A child can do several things to calm down: walk away and return a few minutes later; count to 10 (or any number), slowly; or write down his emotions.

Once your children are calm, you can begin the process of talking to each of them.  You may choose to talk to them together or apart.  You will have to decide which way would achieve the best results. Encourage each child to tell his side of the story and how he felt and be honest while doing so. For example, helping your child to talk about his feelings is important: “I felt embarrassed when he called me a name in front of my friend so I hit him.”

While your child is talking, actively do step 2 which is listening to what is being said.  Do not prejudge until you have heard both sides.  If you are not sure what your child is trying to convey, repeat or rephrase his statements until you have grasped a full understanding.  This will take time and patience, but believe me, it is well worth it. 

The last step is helping your children to reach a resolution.  Several experts suggest having each child genuinely apologize for his role in the conflict and then suggest a solution.  Remember, it is best that they try to work things out between themselves and coming up with their own solutions helps them participate in the process rather than a parent imposing a resolution upon them.  Whatever solution they agree to, make sure that you monitor them so that the resolution is enforced. 

By helping your children to resolve conflicts among themselves, you are modeling and teaching them skills that they will be able to use all their lives, not only with family members, but also with everyone they come in contact with.  Let’s face it- conflicts arise frequently, so assist your children to learn how to quickly resolve them.

Reading Fairytales from Around Our World Benefits Children in Many Ways

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."  Albert Einstein

Growing up, I loved reading fairy tales from countries all over the world.   Some were funny, others were serious.  They all had a moral or specific lesson to teach.  As an adult, I still love to read them.  They are much more than short stories about people who get into all sorts of predicaments.  Their teaching value is immeasurable.

In an internet article entitled “7 Reasons Why Fairy Tales are the Best Books for Kids”, the author describes the many benefits that children can reap from reading these tales:

1.    They teach that no situation is hopeless.

2.    They teach that hard work and practice are the foundations for success.

3.    They teach children to be willing to explore and be open to new things.

4.     They teach self-reliance.

5.    They teach children to be careful about whom they trust.  This is especially appropriate in today’s society.

6.    They teach critical thinking.

7.    They teach right from wrong.

There are many websites that provide readers with dozens of stories from around the world, such as fairytalesoftheworld.com and storynory.com.  Spend some time searching for the ones that you believe would be best for your children and enjoy reading them together.  Create special moments laughing and discussing the lesson in each tale. 

The entire article on the benefits of reading fairy tales can be found by clicking here.