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.

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.

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.

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.

Celebrate National Women’s Equality Day on August 26

There has been a long history in this country of women fighting inequality, whether it be the start of the feminist movement in the mid-1800s or the women of today demanding equal treatment in the workplace and in politics.  Even with the strides that women have made since the banding together of the Suffragettes, there is still more work to be done.  Importantly, however, we must acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of many outstanding women, including the following:

1.    Ida B. Wells. This courageous woman played one of the most integral parts in the feminist and civil rights movements. As an African American woman born in 1862 Mississippi, she knew first-hand about discrimination. Her struggles inspired her to create an all-black publication titled The Free Speech, which exposed the inequalities and mistreatment that came with being black in the South. When given the choice to stop her publication or be killed, she did neither.  She moved to the North, and she never stopped production of The Free Speech.

Not only was she disliked by white men at the time, but also some women. When she marched in the 1913 suffrage parade, she was shunned by many of the women involved - some even refusing to march alongside her because she was a woman of color. Through it all, she stayed headstrong and continued to focus on issues that plagued the African American community.  She never gave up the fight. She truly was an exemplary woman and is still a role model for many today!

2.    Patsy Mink. Born in Hawaii in 1927, Patsy grew up to become a lawyer and then became the first Asian American elected to Congress. She was actually the first woman of color to serve in that position. In her time there, she co-authored Title IX, a federal law that prohibits any educational facility from discriminating against a person because of his/her gender.  

3.    Sylvia Mendez.  Sylvia’s father was a Mexican immigrant and her mother was from Puerto Rico.  In the 1940s, when she was a child, schools in California were segregated into “Whites only”, which had better books and curriculum, and “Hispanics”.  To fight this racism, her parents attempted to enroll her and her siblings in a “Whites only” school, but were denied.  They took the matter to court and eventually won.  As a result, the governor of California was forced to desegregate all schools and public places.  Her lawsuit paved the way and was a reference for similar cases, such as the famous Brown v. Board of Education, which brought desegregation to all schools. She is one of the primary reasons that we have integrated classrooms today.

4.    Wilma Mankiller.  Wilma gained notoriety after her very memorable protest at Alcatraz Island alongside other Native Americans who were reclaiming the land in 1969 since the federal government was not using the prison anymore.  She later began working for the Cherokee Nation government as a director of community development and was eventually able to climb up the political ladder and become the first female principle chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985.

5.    Molly Dewson.  College educated, Molly began her foray into politics in her home state of Massachusetts, where she worked for an organization promoting women’s education, the rights of women in the workplace, and the social advancement of women.  Later, she joined Eleanor Roosevelt to motivate women to vote in the 1932 presidential election for Franklin D. Roosevelt. After his victory, she was instrumental in getting women to be appointed to high government positions, including Secretary of Labor.  

What women inspire you?  Talk with your children about those referred to in my blog and other famous women.

To find out more information about these and other phenomenal women, visit THIS PAGE or CLICK HERE.

Have the Entire Family Commemorate Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  It is a day that has been set aside for us to honor those who have died in the fight to serve and protect our wonderful country. While it is always fun to dust off the grill and invite friends and family over for one of the first barbeques of the season, let us not forget the important sacrifices behind this holiday.

Teach your children about why Memorial Day is celebrated. If explaining the holiday in a child-friendly manner seems difficult for you, there are several articles online that you can use for assistance.  Also, libraries and bookstores have many age appropriate books.  Once your children understand the reasons behind the holiday, participating in activities will be more memorable and heartfelt.

Here are a few examples of activities that the whole family can participate in before or even after you fire up that grill:

  1. Children love crafts. Encourage them to make letters or cards for veterans and families of fallen soldiers.  They can then deliver them to the people whom you know, to veterans’ hospitals or Veterans Affairs offices. Feel free to join in on the fun. Crafting can be a great bonding opportunity and give parents the time to address any unanswered questions about the day and any other activities that are planned. 
     
  2. Visit monuments of fallen soldiers. Some of the most famous in the country are found in Washington D.C.  However, if visiting the nation’s capital is not an option, you can always find graveyards and memorials in or around your town to visit.
     
  3. Carry flowers to honor the fallen.  One of the most appropriate flowers used to pay homage are poppies. In the poem In Flanders’ Fields, poet John McCrae venerated the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in service during the First World War.  He wrote about poppies being in the fields.  The flower has been associated with war and remembering the fallen.  Explain to your children the history behind the flower and take some to a veterans’ graveyard, memorial, or even to a veteran.
     
  4. Go see a Memorial Day Parade.  Parades can be such fun to watch.  They are not only an excuse to get out of the house, but also a wonderfulopportunity for the entire family to experience a town, city or county coming together to honor and commemorate truly extraordinary people, people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
     
  5. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Since December, 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been set to begin at 3 p.m. wherever you are in the country. This is a time to for you to stop whatever you are doing and pay your respects.

There are countless other activities that can be done today.  What is important is that you participate in them together as a family and give honor to those who first honored us.

Former President Obama is a Wonderful Role Model for Many Things, Including Being a Reader Who Enjoys Books

Former President Barrack Obama is a true role model.  He is a loving husband and father.  He enjoys continuing to learn and grow.  And, he especially loves to read.  During his presidency, he often promoted the importance of reading to students, and would actually take some of his precious time to read to them.

In an interview with the New York Times just days before he stepped down from office, President Obama made it clear that “books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.”  He especially found enlightening and helpful books by such great men as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  In fact, he told the reporter that he would often leave his office so that he could read.

Not only is he a reader, but he is also a well-known author.  His love of books led him to write in order to encourage others.  I truly hope that he continues to promote literacy, especially among our African American and Hispanic young men.  If President Obama loves to read, it should be cool for young men to read too.  What an impactful message he sends!

To read the entire article, please CLICK HERE.

Raising Thankful Children

I came across this quote and was taken aback by how simple yet forthright and impactful it was.  Saying “thank you” is such an important part of our relationship with God, our Father, yet how often do we truly do it during our busy days?  How are we teaching our children to be thankful for all that He has given us?  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in every circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s the day after Christmas and I’m certain that we all had a lot of gifts to open and indulge in as well as scrumptious meals to enjoy.  We should be thankful for all that He has given us, not just for these physical, worldly gifts, but most importantly, for the intangible ones - our lives, our health, our family, etc., etc.  I could go on and on naming what we can be thankful for each and every second of each and every day.  

Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children.  If we are not verbally expressing our thanks and showing thankfulness through our actions, the likelihood is that our children will not either.  To raise thankful children, we must first be thankful as parents.  Try expressing thanks out loud each day as part of the family routine, such as when you are driving them to school.  Make it fun and playful.  Point out how they can thank each other for simple acts of kindness.  As a parent, you can thank your children for things that they do, and they should be thanking you as well.  Nurture a thankful spirit within your children and they will be kinder and more loving to you and others. 

Reading Bedtime Stories with Your Older Children

    When was the last time that you read a bedtime story with your older children?  When they were young, you took the time to read and cuddle before going to bed.  But, now that they are older and can read by themselves, you should not stop reading with them bedtime stories.

    According to Scholastic.com, there are many benefits to reading bedtime stories with your older children.  Here are a few:

1.  Your children are spending precious time with you and you with your children.   You are doing something together, which builds memories. 
2. You get to know their opinions.  When reading, ask questions.  Since they are older, they can give their opinions on subjects.  Have them think outside the box, rather than just giving rote answers.  This will give you important insight into what and how they are thinking. And, remember – no question is a dumb question.  
3. Children are learning good writing skills and sentence structure when they listen to well written books.  Then, when they are in school, they will be able to remember these skills and replicate them.  This is much different than with their younger siblings who are not at that stage of development yet.  

    Be sure to select a time that is convenient for you and your children.  Don’t rush through a book just to say that you read with them.  Plan and take the time that both you and they need to make this an enjoyable occasion.

    For more information, read the online article by CLICKING HERE.

Throw a Fun Book Swap Party for Your Children and Friends

    Book swap parties have become popular events for children and promote reading at the same time.  They are simple to organize and fun to participate in.  And, they are a wonderful way to add new books to your children’s collection without having to pay the cost.

    If you’ve never been to a book swap party, here’s how they usually go.  Pick a date that will work for you, your children, and others.  Have your children select the books that they have already read and would like to swap with other children.  Be sure to explain to them that once the book is swapped, it no longer belongs to them but to the other child.  That way they understand that the book will have a new home. 

    Encourage your children to write a couple of sentences on an index card or post-it note as to why they liked those books.  This will encourage other children to read the books too.

    The children who are invited should also bring their books to swap.  Plan refreshments and snacks, just as with a regular party.  During the party, the children look at all the books and swap for the ones they want.  For those books that are left over, donate them to your children’s school’s library or the public library.

August is Kids Eat Right Month – Celebrate it with Your Family

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has declared August, 2016 to be Kids Eat Right Month as part of its initiative to promote healthy eating habits among children.  If good, healthy eating habits are established when children are young, studies show that these habits will continue into adulthood. 

Here are some of the tips that are given:

1.  Teach your children about nutrition.  Here is where reading comes into play.  Find websites and articles that teach your children about the nutritional values of different foods.  Read and discuss these with your children.  This will help them develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for nutrition.  When you’re not around, they will be able to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

2. Take your children grocery shopping and read the ingredients of products off of the packages.  Search the internet for healthy recipes and have them participate in preparing meals. 

3. Help your children plan breakfasts and lunches.  During those busy weekdays, we tend to grab whatever is quick and convenient.  Stop … take time to plan differently.  Fruits and vegetables should be staples of meals.  Additionally, experts say that children love colorful meals.  Have them write down different menus with a variety of items, and then assist them with the follow-through. 

4. Have healthy snacks around the house.  We all know how children love to snack.  Be wise and plan for a variety of healthy snacks rather than just chips, sodas, and cookies.  Here is where different fruit and vegetables with dips can be introduced.    

5. Make sure to include activities for them too.  Kids love to run and play.  Developing an active lifestyle first requires a healthy meal.

For more information, visit the website by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Your Children Good Manners

“In everything, treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

    The subject of good manners is not discussed as much as it should be.  As Christians, this Bible verse establishes the basis for good manners.  Essentially, good manners are built on the foundation that you treat others the same way as you would want to be treated and are an expression of love from the heart.  According to Proverbs 22:6, parents have a Biblical duty to teach and train their children: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

    As a parent, what can you do to help your children learn good manners.  First, children need good role models to emulate.  Do you as the parent exhibit good manners?  You can’t demand that your children say “thank you” and “please” if you don’t. 

    Second, in teaching good manners, start with a few basics such as “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me” and “sorry”.  Don’t make it complicated.  Notice when your children are using good manners, and praise them for it.  Once these basics are mastered, move on to other words and actions.  Before you know it, you and your children are on the way to becoming the best mannered people in your neighborhood.

Teachers Play a Critical Role in Advancing Literacy

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

― Henry Adams

My blog centers around promoting literacy.  Most of my writing is geared toward what parents, grandparents and other adults can do in the home.  What about outside the home?  Teachers are the ones who spend approximately 7 hours a day, Monday through Friday, with our children.  They not only teach, but also are role models and motivators and as such, they are vital to our children’s ability to read and development of the love of reading.

When did you last speak to your children’s teachers about the importance of reading?  When was the last time that you visited your children’s classrooms? What type of books are in the classroom?  How often do the children visit the library?  What can you do to help these teachers to promote reading more?
    
Teachers often are overworked and have many different lessons to cover during a school day.  However, they understand the importance literacy plays in a child’s education and overall life.  Try volunteering at the school to assist.    Donate books to the classroom, especially books that your children have already read.  Then, they can be the ones to tell their friends about the books.  Helping your children’s teacher to be better teachers benefits your children and others. 

Using Toys to Promote Reading

Using Toys to Promote Reading

I’m certain that your children have a lot of different toys around the house.  Try incorporating those toys during their reading time to make the stories come to life and to further develop their creativity. My two sons loved to read about dinosaurs, and we must have had every type of dinosaur toy in our home...

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Make Reading Fun By Adding Hand Puppets

Make Reading Fun By Adding Hand Puppets

I know what you may be thinking after reading this heading for my blog today.  “Why should I add hand puppets to reading time?”  “Hand puppets – where do I buy those?”  “Help!! Can you give me some ideas?” If there is one thing that I know well about children- it is that they love to laugh...

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Did You Know That Singing Helps Young Children Develop Reading Skills?

Did You Know That Singing Helps Young Children Develop Reading Skills?

Singing can be such fun!  When was the last time that you sang in the shower?  Or with your children? Did you know that singing is a wonderful way to help your younger children develop good reading skills?

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Getting Our Boys to Read More

MY son, James, with his first book.

Many parents talk about the difficulties they have in getting their sons to read more.  They complain about the fact that reading is seen as being nerdy and it’s challenging to find books that boys like.  In classrooms, teachers often seem at a loss as to how to encourage the boys to read more.  Many just don’t know about the plethora of subjects that boys like to read about and what books are available.  

 I’m a mother of two sons and understand those sentiments.  However, I profoundly believe that parents should be determined and assertive in fostering the good habit of reading in their children.  My late husband and I were good role models for our sons because we read a lot, individually and as a family.  I often would go to my sons’ schools to speak to teachers if I believed reading wasn’t being encouraged enough and suggested good books for the students.  We even purchased books for a school’s library to encourage reading.  

 Now with the internet, there is so much information available and even websites dedicated to boys reading such as www.guysread.com so there is no excuse.  Don’t just sit back and expect your children, especially boys, to develop the love of reading.  Find out what subjects they are interested in and then go and look for books on those subjects.  If your son is interested in robots for example, actively search for books on robots.  I found that my sons loved reading books about intergalactic wars and soon found that many came in wonderful series.  We visited bookstores and libraries to get as many books in various series as we could.  

I would love to hear what you have done to encourage your children to read, especially your sons.  Please let me know.