Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Teaching Your Children to Genuinely Apologize

To “apologize” can be viewed as a sign of weakness.  Often, a child will say “Me apologize! No way!”  Children from a young age think that they can do no wrong and will refuse to admit a mistake.  That’s where our parenting skills come in handy.  We should consider helping our children to understand what an apology is and how to be truly sorry for a wrong.  This is an important part their development and maturity.

In talking to your children about apologizing, please do not yell at them or make them feel embarrassed, fearful or ashamed.  It takes calm heads to address what has happened and that calm head should come from you as a parent.  Experts suggest that a parent wait until the child has calmed down and then talk to them about what has happened.

Talking it out is critical.  Ask questions as to why your child acted in a certain way.  Did he feel jealous?  Did he feel left out or excluded?  As you are trying to find out why your child acted as he did, your child is also thinking about his actions. 

An important part of the discussion should be the other child’s feelings and what could have been done differently.  Ask your child how she would feel if the other child did the same thing to her.   What could she have done to avoid the situation or to prevent the situation from escalating?

Once these topics have been discussed, then you can move on to the apology.   Experts agree that a genuine apology includes understanding that the other person’s feelings should be accepted over your own and that remorse should be shown.  In an online article on the website Today’s Parent entitled Here’s What Works Way Better Than Forcing Your Kid To Say Sorry, a former elementary school teacher states that she focuses on three parts of the apology to guide students: “I’m sorry for this … this is wrong because … and in the future I will ….”   I think this is wonderful advice because it covers all aspects of an apology. 

To read the entire article, please visit the website by clicking here.

Have Your Children Participate in Holiday Planning

Three major holidays are soon approaching – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Typically, parents plan all the activities and children enjoy the fun, including days off from school and eating lots of sweets.  This year, have your children actively participate in the planning of each day’s activities to help them build organizational skills and appreciate what needs to be done.

For gifts, get suggestions from your children on what should be purchased or handmade.  Family members usually enjoy receiving personal, handmade items from children.  If your children are artistic, encourage them to think of presents that they can make.  There are many websites as well as stores that have ideas for projects.  The key is to plan ahead and make sure that you and your children have  time to make each gift.

If you decide on buying some gifts, encourage your children to come with you to select the gifts.  You can build fond memories looking for the perfect item for a grandparent, for example.  The gift recipient can be told that the child helped to select the item.  Oftentimes, that makes the gift extra-special.

Each holiday will need a special menu for meals prepared.  Ask your children to participate in building the menus and then grocery shopping and cooking with you.    They will learn about selecting meals and obtain hands-on- knowledge of ingredients as well as learn your cooking secrets.

Decorating the house for each holiday should be a planning activity too.  Many families have already accumulated decorations over the years that are kept in storage until the time to put them out.  Consider adding some new, special touches to this year’s decorations – some that your children select.  For example, one of my nieces wanted specific Christmas decorations in their front yard one year.  She and her parents discussed the decorations, arrived at an agreement on what could be purchased, and then went shopping for them.  Everyone assisted in putting them up.  The new decorations turned out to be an extra-special touch for their yard.   

Children love to be included in planning activities – it shows them that they are truly appreciated.  They can learn so much by doing so too! 

Talking to your Children About Drugs and Alcohol

Have you spoken with your children about drugs and alcohol?  Many parents hesitate about broaching these subjects with their children, but you must.  Schools are supposed to provide drug and alcohol education as well, but as a parent, I always believed it was better for my children to hear about those subjects from me and my husband rather than someone else as we were also teaching about our Christian beliefs and values in the process.

Focus on the Family has an excellent series of articles online about talking with your children about drugs and alcohol.  It starts with a parent taking opportunities to talk whenever you can, as you cannot wait for the perfect moment.  Look for teachable moments when your children are with you, undistracted.  Remember that it is never too early to start talking about these issues.  Of course, if your children are young, you will want to taper what you say to their age range.  Ask questions.  Inquire as to what they already have heard about the subjects. 

Never tell your children a lie.  The author of the online series of articles mentions a girl in his class who said that her mother told her that if she smoked marijuana, her hair would fall out.  The girl knew other students who smoked but still had hair. Of course, she now did not believe her mother.   Would she believe her mother on other subjects?  That is a very good question.

There is a lot of misinformation out there, so it is up to you to know the subjects and be ready to give good counseling.  Ask your children’s teachers and school nurse for recommendations as to how you can prepare yourself and what literature there is to support what you say.   Your children will more likely listen to you if what you are saying to them comports with what they can find out online or at their school.  Give them literature so they can read for themselves as well.

To read the full series of articles, click here.

Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

Helping Your Children Not To Be Their Own Harshest Critics

Sometimes our children are harder on themselves than others are with them.  It is important to listen to what your children say about themselves and be able to help them stop their self-criticism as soon as possible.   Encourage them to build self-esteem.

In her online article on Focus on the Family’s website, author Shana Schutte writes that there are basic ABCs to building self-esteem in children. Start with the letter “A” which represents “acceptance”.   Children must feel accepted unconditionally by their parents!  If they don’t, they will withdraw and become self-critical. 

The letter “B” represents “belonging”.  Children must feel as if they belong in their family and are a critical, appreciated part of their family.  When peer pressure takes place, a child who feels a deep sense of belonging to her family, will find it easier to resist doing an act that she knows is not right.

The letter “C” represents “competence”.  Your children also need to feel as if they are competent and able to do what they would like to do.  Be there for them and encourage them, but do not be an overprotective parent. 

I also believe it is very important that children learn Bible verses that describe how much God loves them and how God sees them.   Search for Bible verses that your children can memorize and then use these verses to refute any negative feelings your children may have about themselves.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

What is Wisdom?

Just what is wisdom?  Many people think that wisdom and knowledge mean the same and can be used interchangeably.  But that is not accurate.

Wisdom begins when we fear the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10 states "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."   The word fear in this scripture does not mean that we are to be afraid of God – for example, if we do something that is wrong, it does not mean then He will strike us with lightning. 

It means instead that we are to love, honor and respect God.   In order to have wisdom, we must love, honor and respect God.  When we do, we walk in obedience to what God says we should do and say.

Proverbs 2:6 states that “the Lord gives wisdom & out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”  When the Lord speaks, there is knowledge given to us.  And, this has knowledge been written down in the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word.    As a result, reading the Bible - learning what the Lord has said - will give us knowledge.

Knowledge is also gained by learning and studying.  When we go to school, if we want to earn good grades, we read and study.  In other words, we gain knowledge, whether that knowledge is in geography, science or math for example.  So all our knowledge is in our heads – facts & information that we have collected over many, many years.

But how do we get wisdom?  As I mentioned, Proverbs 2:6 states that God gives us wisdom.  In other words, as we study the Bible and gain knowledge, God gives us the inside explanation of what His Word really means.  He gives us the inside ability and direction to figure things out – not using our natural minds, but being led by Him. 

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once wrote:

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.  To know is not to be wise.  Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it.  There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

A person can have a lot of knowledge but not have the wisdom of God.   James 3:17 states: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

How then do we get wisdom? It comes from heaven or God.  According to James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”   You might say to yourself – Is it that simple to get wisdom? Just ask God?  Yes, but of course you have to believe that God will give it to you.  You must have faith!

When Was the Last Time Your Family Had A Game Night?

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Children love spending time with their parents, especially fun time.  What better way than to have a family game night to enjoy the time together and help your children to learn and develop new skills?

Games teach children many different, yet important things.  From colors to shape recognition to new words to social interaction, there are so many benefits.  Some games such as chess teach logic and strategic planning.  Children also learn that there are basic rules that must be followed in order to play and win. 

To start off, select one night a month that fits into everyone’s schedules.  Once the date is selected, stick with it and do not make excuses to cancel it.  Plan for the night as a family so that each person has input.  Will there be food? What game will be played? How long will the game(s) last?  It is easy to search the internet to find games that will be suitable for your family.  Consider both board games and physical games such as Twister (which was one of our family’s favorites). 

Be sure not to give up if the first family night is not as successful as you hoped.  The key is to plan and keep everyone involved.  It will become one of your and your children’s fondest memories.

Helping Your Children Become Entrepreneurs

We should encourage entrepreneurship spirit in our children beginning at a young age.  Children are very creative and having a dream to establish a business and be self-sufficient and successful are very positive goals.

My parents were small business owners.  I saw how they struggled to make ends meet when their business was established and then the benefits they reaped as the business grew.  After I graduated from law school and returned home to practice law, the seeds they had planted in me for entrepreneurship began to grow and I established my own private law practice.  My parents always encouraged me and my sisters to be self-sufficient and follow our dreams.

Later, as a mother with two sons, I hired them to work in my office to do general office tasks after school and on the weekends.  By working with me in that business environment, they were able to experience hands on training about what it is like to own your business and the dedication and hard work it takes to be successful.

Many children do not have the opportunities that I and my children had but parents can still open their children’s minds to the possible business opportunities that are available.   Children frequently ask for money so why not think about ways to help them earn money rather than just giving it to them.  If your children’s school has classes that teach entrepreneurship, encourage your children to take them.  If there are after-school activities and clubs centered on business ownership and development, again, encourage your children to participate.  

Of course, the typical business idea for children is the ubiquitous lemonade stand.  However, there are many websites that have ideas for children’s businesses.  At the end of my blog, I will give you a website with some very creative suggestions.

The key component is the parents’ involvement to help start and run the business, as children cannot possibly do it themselves.  Please do not start a business and then give up because you allow other tasks or activities to take precedence.   Many factors must be considered before starting a business with your children, including the time commitment involved, the availability of financing, and the general logistics of where and how it will be operated.  As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.  

Please visit this website for some business ideas for children: click here

Helping Your Children Find Hobbies and Sticking with Them

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Do your children have any hobbies?  A hobby is something that is done during their free time for fun and pleasure.  I hope that you did not answer that question with “Yes-they play video games”!  The absolutely last thing we should want our children to be doing during their free time is sitting and playing video games for hours on end.  

According to child development experts, hobbies are important for children for many reasons.  Hobbies help your children to develop creativity.  Is your child artistic?  Then, encourage him to draw and paint.  Several brand stores have huge sections devoted to art supplies.  Does your child enjoy taking photos with your cell phone?  Encourage her to continue to take photos and learn more about that art form.  There are many books that teach about how to take photos and to be very creative in doing so.  If her interest continues, consider purchasing a camera for her.  You can even show some of her photographs to her teacher and ask for suggestions of a club that she can join with like-minded persons.

Hobbies also can help develop skills that may lead to lucrative careers in the future.  If your child enjoys writing stories, help her to learn more about being an author and structuring her work.  It may be that you have a budding Pulitzer prize winner on your hands!

Hobbies further help children with developing intelligence.  For example, by sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, your child will learn how to associate shapes with images as well as patience.  If your child enjoys reading, books will provide challenges to learn new words.  When your child encounters a new word, encourage him to write it down, find its meaning, and then use it in a sentence.  Review the word again with him each day for a few days to make sure that he continues to remember it. 

Lastly, hobbies give children a sense of accomplishment.  They have undertaken a fun task, stayed with it, and completed it.  Do all you can to have your children complete a hobby that they started.  The results can truly be amazing for them and you!

There are so many hobbies to consider.  One of the growing categories is rocketry.  Think about all the science involved with propelling a rocket.  Your children will be learning as well as having a fun time.

Please do not overburden your children with hobbies though. As I have written in prior blogs, your children need to spend time with you and other family members.  Adding too many activities to their schedule, especially during the school year can cause unnecessary pressures on them.

The list of hobbies is almost endless.  Don’t allow your children to waste their free time.  Hobbies will definitely allow them to continue growing and learning.

The Importance of the Extended Family in Your Children’s Lives

With very busy lives, parents often think about spending time with their children rather than incorporating the extended family into leisure time too.  However, extended families have tremendous impact on children’s well-being. 

In an online article for the American College of Pediatricians, the many positive benefits of the extended family on children are extolled. Here a few:

1.    Children learn life stories and lessons from older family members.

2.    Parents and children have extra support when the time comes, because the time will indeed come.

3.    Exposing children to different beliefs and ideas from others will help them expand their understanding and knowledge and not just rely on their parents.

4.    Family health history is known and shared.  

The article ends with this statement which I believe is so important:

When kids can go with members of their extended family and be loved and cherished, and then come home to more people who love them, they are more connected to the love and goodness in humanity and better able to live positive and productive lives. 

So this weekend, set out some extra chairs for members of the extended family and have them to your home for special times.  Your children will grow to love and appreciate these times.

To read the entire article, click here.

Make Certain That Your Children Receive Proper Oral Health Care From an Early Age

According to an online article written by Dr. Anthony Mendicino, DDS and Laurie Turner Finger, RDH in February, 2018, forty percent of children may have tooth decay before they enter kindergarten.  That’s a very surprising statistic. The article goes on to say: “Tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the single most common chronic childhood disease affecting children today in the US. Tooth decay can compromise the health, development and quality of life in children both short and long term.”

In fact, tooth decay can cause many problems such as depression and dental infections and abscesses. The critical issue is to start teaching your children early about preventing tooth decay.   The authors suggest the following:

1.    Have your children visit a dentist early so that the dentist can begin monitoring tooth development.

2.    Do not allow your baby to fall asleep sucking on a bottle with milk or any sugary liquid.   Sugar coats the teeth and causes tooth decay.

3.    Be sure to begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as one emerges.  Do not wait until they have many teeth to brush them and be sure to teach your children how to brush them too.

4.    Investigate whether your drinking water has fluoride.  If not, consider some type of supplements.  Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay. 

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

The Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Young Children

The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years.   Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.

These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them.  They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants.   What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise?  Why does it make a noise?  Sensory  play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.

Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:

1.    Frozen shaving cream

2.    Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)

3.    Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)

4.    Homemade, edible finger paints

5.    Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)

Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort.  Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.

There are many internet sites with sensory activities.  Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE

Fighting Childhood Obesity One Bite at a Time

Healthy eating and exercise should be an important part of your children’s everyday lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected with obesity has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that 1 in 5 school age children and young people between the ages of 6 to 19 are obese in the United States.  These are shocking statistics! 

Experts agree that obesity begins when there is excessive daily caloric intake in relation to daily caloric expenditure.  Poor food choices are at the root of this excessive intake, as usually choices involve fast food rather than healthy food.  For example, children love to eat pizza, but what type of pizza do they consume?  Typically, it is the pizza with double or triple extra cheese.  And, what about the types of drinks that are consumed with a meal?  Again, these are typically carbonated sodas with considerable sugar and calories. 

The key then is for a parent to introduce healthy food and drinks into their children’s diet.  Have food and snacks available that are nutritious and low in processed sugar.   Encourage them to drink more water as it is recommended that children drink 5 to 10 glasses of water a day, depending on their age.  As options for fast food or food and drink high in sugar and calories are diminished, your children will slowly be weaned from them and toward more healthy eating habits.  Please understand that this process will not be easy.  Sugar is an addiction and your children will be craving it.  However, offering them fruits with natural sugar as an alternative is very helpful.

In addition to changing what your children eat and drink, parents must encourage them to exercise.  Experts lament over the fact that children have become very inactive, opting to sit and play video games or watch tv for hours rather than go outside and play.   It is estimated that children now spend four hours a day watching tv. 

Instead of telling your children to exercise more, try joining them and encouraging them to exercise.  Take some time out of your day to exercise with them, if even for 15 minutes. Jog around the block, play a sport, or even join a dance class! The opportunities are endless and choosing an activity that your children will enjoy is the best way to ensure that they will keep up with it.

What our children eat every day fuels their bodies and ultimately their lives.  Choose to provide good, nutritious food and drinks for them to help them build lifelong good habits.

Raising Your Children to be Problem Solvers

Among the skills parents should teach their children, problem solving is often overlooked.  A person’s ability to solve problems quickly and effectively plays a huge part in the way he handles challenges, and ultimately, the path of his life.  Providing children with the tools and experiences to be proficient problem solvers prepares them for the problems that will inevitably show up in their personal and professional lives.

In her online article for the PBS website, “I Figured it Out!”: Helping Kids Become Tenacious Problem Solvers”, author Deborah Farmer Kris gives some expert advice in nurturing our children’s imagination and creativity.   First and foremost, we must encourage our children’s curiosity.  When they are young, children constantly are asking the question “Why?”   Instead of reacting to this question as a burden, parents should enthusiastically respond “Let’s find out!”  By responding in this manner, we show that their question is to be respected and that there are ways to find out answers. 

Second, Ms. Kris recommends that we do not give answers to a problem to our children right away or step in too quickly to resolve it.  We should help them reframe or clarify the problem and search for answers.  Ask such questions as “Have you tried this already?” or “Tell me more about the situation.”  Help them to think about the challenge and come up with their own solutions.  I’m a lawyer and law schools use the Socratic method to train students to think critically.  A law professor always asks questions of the students, forcing them to think critically and search for the right arguments.

Third, honor their “tenacity”, the ability to continue trying to find solutions for a problem rather than giving up easily.  You can say, for example, “That was a challenging puzzle, but you stayed with it.”

Fourth, help your children to be good observers.  Encourage them to look for clues or search around for material needed for a project.  Spending time in nature is a good way to develop good observation skills as they can use their five senses. 

To read the full article, click here.

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.

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.