Have you ever formulated a plan, that at the time seemed incredibly wise but ended up being an idea that you are sure had to have been influenced by a lack of sleep or a brief moment of insanity?
Well that was me when recently I scheduled back to back sinus surgeries for myself and my daughter. Even more ridiculous is that I KNEW what I was getting in to – it was my second go at the surgery. I’ve decided however that much like your brain works with pregnancy, over time you forget about the pain and only remember the joyous outcome. I forgot about my brain on pain meds, the anesthesia that takes days to wear off and the restricted activity that would keep me down…until the time drew near.
You would think based upon the above scenario that I would have willingly accepted the offers from friends and families to support us during this crazy time, but I didn’t. Here is what I’ve come to realize: In my quest to be self-reliant and independent (two badges of honor I wear), I have robbed my daughter of the opportunities to learn the importance of giving and receiving kindness. In pursuit of fortifying two values I deemed important, I all but wiped out the chance of learning about kindness.
Kindness is a trait that all of us will need to be able to freely give and receive at one point or another in our lifetime, but if we shut ourselves off from allowing others to give to us, how will our children ever learn this trait that has no doubt carried many of us through tremendously difficult times.
In those moments, I denied my daughter the opportunity to see the joy that comes from giving to others, the burdens lifted from a $5.00 hamburger or an errand run. She wasn’t able to sit down next to me as we wrote notes of thanks and talked about how awesome it was to have so many people in our lives that really cared. My choices kept her from being inspired to pay that kindness forward to others also struggling.
So where do you fall on the kindness scale? Do you purposefully identify ways to extend kindness to others? Do you allow people to show kindness to you or do you politely thank them but decline their offers. We need a more kind community and it doesn’t happen by accident.
I challenge each of us to be more open to receiving kindness – it is one of the greatest ways to teach our children its importance. A new app called Zingity starts in a few weeks and is designed to help kids develop good character by just being kids. It’s available for free from LeapSpring, inc., the same company that introduced us to MyJobChart.com.
December 19th, 2013 - Category: Kids and Reading
Building a child’s reading confidence can be quite challenging, since they’re more exposed to modern technology. However, reading is an important skill that children should learn and it helps build self-esteem. Now, to help parents develop their kids’ confidence in reading, here are eight tips for them:
1. Use Reading Apps
Books are still the best resource to teach a child how to read, but mobile applications offer interactive benefits to help reinforce healthy reading habits. A PBS 2013 study revealed that apps can help kids learn new vocabulary in just two weeks. Verizon’s Andrea Meyer said that parents can help their children practice reading through reading apps. In a feature she wrote, Meyer recommends Dr. Seuss’ e-books which includes stories like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” Also, familiarizing them with mobile technology will prepare them for the digital future ahead.
2. Always Read Aloud
Readingaloud helps boost a child’s imagination and creativity. This develops their basic language skills, comprehension, and vocabulary. Aside from these, it also teaches them different emotions like joy, anger, fear, and sadness. Since children yearn for attention from their parents, reading aloud makes them feel wanted and safe. Once they’ve memorized those stories by heart, they would eventually become storytellers themselves.
3. Let Them Read to You
Sometimes, children can be overcome with shyness especially when reading in front of the class. To help them overcome their “stage fright,” they should be encouraged to read to their siblings or parents. This develops their confidence to face an audience and read without fear. Since reading is all about practice, parents can also set it as their kid’s personal goal. Using the My Job Chart app will help motivate them to accomplish their reading goal and earn reward points in the end.
4. Build a Library at Home
In an article published on Science Daily, it revealed that by having books can increase a child’s education level. It’s recommended that a common household should have at least 20 books for children to read. They’re also inexpensive investments which will help them better readers and writers. As Neil Gaiman said in his lecture at the Reading Agency: “we need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy.”
5. Books are Good for Bonding
Bonding over books is one of the best ways to build a child’s reading confidence. It would be nice if parents would share their favorite story or fairy tale with their kids. Tell them that these stories were also read to them by their parents or grandparents. They can also encourage them to share their favorite stories and discuss it with them. What lessons can they get from it? Was the villain really that bad?
6. Explore New Words with Them
Sometimes, a new book can intimidate kids especially if it has new words or phrases. They may feel that their parents are pushing them too hard. This shouldn’t be the case and the best way to do it is to explore it with them. Parents should let them feel that they’re there to learn with them. Become a team of word explorers and discover the magic behind them. Just make sure to do it slowly, otherwise it may turn them off.
7. Make Reading a Pleasurable Experience
Instead of letting them watch television or use their mobile devices to surf the Internet, encourage them to read.Readingshould bring them pleasure and excitement. It shouldn’t be a chore or an assignment. Show them that through reading, they can unlock new worlds, discover interesting characters, and learn new words. Make it interesting for them by making voices, acting lines out, and being funny. Once they’ve associated reading as a pleasurable experience, they’ll eventually fall in love with reading.
8. Let Them Choose the Books They Want to Read
Don’t limit their imagination to stories they’ve already read; let them choose their own stories instead. Ask them what interests them when visiting the local bookstore. If they’re interested in reading comic books, let them be. Whatever they want to read—as long as it’s age-appropriate—let them read it. It’s a good sign that they becoming intelligent and confident readers.
A home is the perfect place to help shape children into better people. By introducing books and reading with them, we are helping create innovative and worthwhile citizens.Readingleads to literacy and literacy leads to hope.
About the Author
Zoe Allen is an avid reader and free lance writer. Her favorite books include Neil Gaiman’s “M is for Magic” and Richard Adam’s “Watership Down.” Since Zoe’s also into technology, she often visits Verizon for the latest news. Follow her on Twitter.
December 5th, 2013 - Category: Kids and Reading
Reading is an important skill that will help your child succeed in school and throughout life. But how and when do you start teaching your child to read?
Learning to read starts younger than you think. Very young in fact, because learning to speak is actually the foundation for learning to read. Children develop important language skills from birth – and early language abilities are directly related to later reading abilities. The connections in the brain that develop when a child learns to talk are the same connectors that will help them learn to read.
Did you know… At 4 -5 months old, a child can start to recognize their name. At 8 months old a child can start to distinguish word patterns. At 3 years old a child can start to repeat simple rhymes. At 5 years old, a child can start to match sounds with letters.
So, to begin with, an easy way to help your child learn to read is to help them develop their language skills.
Here are a few ideas to help build your child’s language proficiency and boost their reading abilities as well.
1. Talk with your child. Encourage them to answer and ask questions. Instead of listening to the radio on the way to the store, turn it off and talk to them about their day, their favorites, their friends, etc.
2. Point out and identify new objects around them. Let them feel, taste, and smell the objects when appropriate for multiple sensory identification.
3. Sing with your child. Many times a small child can repeat a long line of words in the form of song before they can speak a full sentence. Sing them your favorite nursery rhymes or lullabies as they fall asleep.
4. Make up rhymes with your child. Be silly while teaching them how to rhyme. They will love it!
5. Tell them stories. Ask them questions or make predictions about how the story will end.
6. Read them books. Have them retell the story to you at another time. Discuss story elements, cause and effect, orders found in the book, main ideas, characters, and details.
7. If a child is interested in a certain book, read it over and over to them. Point out words in the book as you read them.
Speaking and listening are the building blocks of early literacy. Children whose parents read to them, tell them stories, talk and sing songs with them – develop larger vocabularies, become better readers, and do better in school. So speak your way to reading with your child today.
November 28th, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
Research is continually finding that expressing thanks can lead to a healthier, happier, and less-stressful life. That sounds good to me, so let see what we can do to become more grateful and improve our overall lives.
Here are 7 habits can help cultivate gratitude on a daily basis.
1. Keep a journal. It’s no secret that our brain naturally focuses on the negative in life. Writing in a journal can help reinforce the positive things that happen. Take a minute everyday to record the things that you are thankful for and how they have affected your life in a positive way. Chance are, it will be hard at first. And it may take some time to be able to pick out the good things that happened in your day, but as time goes on, it will become easier and you’ll start to notice the good things more and more throughout the day.
2. Embrace setbacks. Grateful people can always look back at the hard times in life and see how they have grown because of them. Learn from the bad times and accept them as part of the overall journey. Instead of getting stuck in a rut because of some hard turns, accept it and figure out how to get to higher ground.
3. Keep good company. Spending time with those you love will strengthen those relationships. And strong relationships can help you deal with stress. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people that can encourage you and try to do the same for them.
4. Use social media positively. You can criticize social media because it creates a society that is less connected, but if used correctly, it can be a positive boost in your life and the lives of those you love. Have you ever noticed that positive comments spread faster than negative ones? Use that theory to someone’s advantage today and post a positive comment.
5. Stop and smell the roses. Notice the value of the little things in life. Little acts of kindness, simple compliments, gifting “just because”, and expressing uncomplicated gratitude can all be monumental to someone who’s day could benefit from just a smile. Don’t take for granted the little things you do, or the little things others do for you.
6. Volunteer. Volunteering can result in lower feelings of depression and increased overall well-being. Help some out today and lose yourself in their problems. Suddenly your life won’t look so bad.
7. Exercise. You may not think that exercising and gratitude have anything in common, but exercise has been proven to clear the mind and reduce stress, creating a healthier mind and body. Get moving and become healthier all around.
November 13th, 2013 - Category: Kids and Reading
Helping you child put their best foot forward at school is a priority of every parent. Do you know what book your child is reading in class, or when their science project is due?
Here are a couple pointers to help ensure their success at school.
1. Be involved. Talk to your child about their assignments, what’s going on in class, and how things are going with their friends. Communicate with teachers as well to make sure assignments are getting done and behavior in class is appropriate. Many schools have grades, attendance, and even behavior logs in the internet now. Good communication is always the first step toward improvement.
2. Make a homework spot. Designate a place in the house for each child where they can do their homework. It should be free of distractions and noise. But make sure it’s a place close enough to where you will be so they can ask you for assistance if necessary.
3. Uplift them. When it comes to a child’s self-esteem, it takes 10 positive comments to make-up for just one negative one. So instead of adding to the cruel comments that they may hear at school, give them uplifting, positive comments instead.
4. Eat healthy. Make sure everyone starts the day off with breakfast. If possible, opt for something that is high in protein instead of a sugary, carb-loaded cereal or toaster pastry. It will help satisfy them for longer and eliminate that mid-morning “blah” feeling. Offer healthy options for lunch and dinner as well, and drink more water!
5. Get moving. Being more active will help not only their bodies but also their minds grow and develop. It will also give them an opportunity to let off some steam and balance their bodies energy.
6. Get a good nights sleep. Recent studies show that most kids ages 2 – 18 need 10 hours of sleep a night. I know what you’re thinking…impossible! Right? With busy schedules, getting just 8 hours is hard enough as it is. Maybe your goal can be to simply increase it, even if just a little. Turning off electronic devices earlier in the evening can help kids wind down faster. Try reading a book as an alternative.
7. Read a book. Reading is the key to all learning. Read to your children often and have them read to you. Encourage them to always have a book that they are reading on the side. Take them to the library and attend reading hours or book tours if possible. You can even swap books with friends. Use the books that you are reading to come up with places to visit or things to see or learn more about. Make books fun.
October 22nd, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
Although stress is a fact of life for most us, here are a few things you can do to live a longer, happier, healthier, and less stressful life.
1. Make time for yourself. Do more of the things that you enjoy and less of the things that drain your energy. Read a book or exercise. Take a stress management class or practice some relaxation techniques. Take time to take care for yourself and your health. Make it a priority to relax or even take a nap.
2. Find some support. Confide in your spouse or a good friend. Find a good listener and ask them for help getting through tough times.
3. Know your limits. Learn to say no. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to do more than you can. Do fewer things and do them better.
4. Plan ahead. Plan your day, week, and month ahead of time and be sure to include breaks. Especially during or after stressful times or events.
5. Make goals. Have something that you can work toward. Make goals that are challenging but realistic.
6. Avoid stressful situations. If you know that a certain situation always gets your blood boiling, try to avoid it. And if you can’t, decide ahead of time how you are going to handle it.
7. Express your feelings. It’s ok to cry when you are sad or upset. We all have bad days. But try to laugh a little every day. If you have a hard time expressing your feelings verbally, try writing them in a journal.
8. Be positive. Have you ever heard the quote, “Fake it till you make it!”? Try it with your outlook on life. Smile more often. Laugh and spend time with upbeat people. Adjust your view of the stress in your life. Try to see the good in all things.
9. Be grateful. Instead of complaining about things that you have no control over, count the many blessing that you do have…and tell them you love them right now.
July 16th, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
Chances are, every person in your family has a different temperament and personality. Is achievement linked to personality? And can negative personality traits automatically set your children up for failure?
First lets look at several different characteristics of personalities. Steven Pinker, who writes about mental capacity and personalities, says that personalities differ in at least five major ways:
1. Sociable (extroverted) or Retiring (introverted)
2. Constantly Worried (neurotic) or Calm and Self-satisfied (stable)
3. Courteous and Trusting (agreeable) or Rude and Suspicious (antagonistic)
4. Careful (conscientious) or Carless (undirected)
5. Daring (open) or Conforming (non-open)
You can probably look at the above personalities and claim several of them for yourself and pin several more on your children.
Moderation may be the key when it comes to having a “likeable” personality. I can think of several people that I’ve known over the years that have extreme mannerisms and it always seems harder to get along with them.
Maybe it’s not so much about which personality your child has that makes them hard to get along with, as it is more about if they are willing or able to conform and be flexible when necessary.
Stephen Pinker, believes that achievement is not dependent upon personality. He believes that it is possible for your children to change or moderate the tendencies that they were born with and adapt them to achieve success. As parent’s, it’s our job to help them with this obstacle.
To do this you must concentrate on what they can do instead of their limitations. I once read this statement by a wise person: “Remember, your only handicap is your opinion of yourself. If you think you are weak or stupid or maimed or downtrodden, you are.”
If you want your children to exceed your expectations, then encourage them to do their best no matter what personality they have. They may just surprise you and become the best.
July 2nd, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
Children compete with each other for multiple things, and a parents attention and approval is no different. In fact, this is totally normal. Even as adults this can still happen.
Your job as a parent is to model good behavior and give each child positive attention.
Here are some ways you can cut down on the sibling rivalry in your home.
1. Encourage better problem solving skills. Instead of deciding who is right and who is wrong, when a conflict comes up, concentrate on getting along. If someone tattles, encourage them to go back and solve the problem. Help them develop skills of compromise, fairness, and taking turns. Maybe you can institute house rules for what to do in certain situations. For example, a timer can be set when the need arises to take turns.
2. Don’t label your kids. Beware of labeling your kids “good kid” or “bad kid”. No child is all good or all bad. This will lead to attacks out of jealousy. It is likely that when a conflict occurs, everyone involved shares some responsibility. A danger in labeling a child as the “bad kid” is that they will give up trying to do anything right because they always get in trouble anyway.
3. Make everyone accountable for their own actions. Sometimes you may wonder if the “bad child” is teaching a younger sibling how to misbehave. You may blame and even discipline the “bad kid” for the behavior of a younger sibling. Teach everyone that they are all responsible for their own actions.
4. Role model good problem solving. As parents, be an example of how to resolve problems and disagreements in respectful and non-aggressive ways. In your dealings with other adults and in your dealings with your kids always find a way to solve the problem peaceably.
5. Give each child positive attention. Treat each child as a wonderful individual. Reduce the competition between siblings by treating each of them as a unique individual and giving each of them positive attention and affection. Maybe a monthly “date” between each child and each parent would be a good time to accomplish this.
Remember, the best way to combat sibling rivalry is to tell each of your children that you love and value them. Tell them that they are special to you and be specific about what qualities you love about them.
Read this related article. Tips on Teaching Your Kids to Be Nice
April 2nd, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
How many times have you heard the words “They did it, not me!” as your child points toward their sibling? If you have a 5-10 year old, probably often.
Most parents don’t like it when their kids are constantly telling on each other. Instead, we would prefer them to learn problem solving skills when it comes to sibling rivalry. We also want them to take responsibility for their own actions and deal with the consequences.
Tattling and finger pointing waste time. It hurts the whole family and causes an atmosphere of defensiveness. And in the end, it makes the problem that much more difficult to solve.
Understanding why children tattle, can help us diffuse the situation better next time. Maria Montessori found that children tattle because they are trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong. The result is, they have to question everything.
Between first and second grade is a prime time for this stage of development.
When children tattle, they are looking for a confirmation that the thing they are tattling about is wrong. They don’t need to see a punishment imposed on the offender, they just need to know if their anger toward the other person for the wrongdoing is justified.
Helping our children understand the differences between “Tattling” and “Reporting” can help them in the thought process of whether or not they should come to you to tell.
You can use the following lists when discussing this with your child.
It’s purpose is to keep people safe
They need help from an adult to solve the problem
It is about something important
It could be a harmful, dangerous, or threatening situation
The bad behavior is purposeful
It’s purpose is to try to get someone in trouble
They usually can handle the situation by themselves
It’s not really important
It is a harmless situation
The behavior is accidental
If we can understand why our kids are tattling and help them understand when the situation deserves your attention, hopefully, we’ll have less tattling and more time to give them the good attention they deserve.
March 26th, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
Many characteristics of your gifted child may be causing difficulty at home and at school. Do any of these instances sound familiar?
They are bored with routine tasks, and refuse to do their homework because it’s boring.
They have difficulty moving into another topic because they get so involved in what they are doing.
They are self-critical and are impatient with their failures.
They are also critical of others, even you, their parent, and their teachers.
They often disagree vocally with others including adults.
They make jokes at inappropriate times.
They show intense emotional sensitivity.
They may overreact, get angry easily, or be quick to cry if things go wrong.
They may seem not to be interested in the little details of things.
They don’t like to get their hands messy.
They refuse to accept authority, are nonconforming and stubborn.
They tend to dominate others.
As you can see, sometimes a gifted child is thinking so far above and beyond the mundane that they miss the mark when it comes to common courtesy. Many times they suffer from plain old boredom. Your bright child may be exhibiting these traits if they are bored.
They may have a poor attention span.
They may daydream frequently.
They may have a tendency to begin many activities but the inability to follow them through to completion.
Their judgmental development may lag behind their intellectual growth level.
They have an intensity that may lead to power struggles with authorities.
They have a high activity level; they may seem to need less sleep.
They have difficulty restraining their desire to talk and they may be disruptive.
They seem to question rules, customs, routines, and traditions.
They lose their work or forget to do their work because of disorganization.
They may seem to be careless.
They have a high sensitivity to criticism.
Keeping your gifted child “entertained” with appropriate activities will help them focus and use their abilities for good rather than disruptive or difficult attitudes or behaviors.
Service is a great way to encourage your gifted child to “look outside the box” and help someone besides themselves.
Having them help you out with chores and jobs around the house will also give them a purpose and a sense of accomplishment. Be sure to make sure that the chores don’t become “boring” by switching them up often, or adding something a little different.
Click here to read a related article: Your Children Crave Responsibility – Give It to Them
Gifted children can bring challenges into your life, but if you look for the good and steer them in the right direction, you’ll find that the rewards far outweigh the tough times.
February 5th, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
If you could have one wish what would it be? Toward the top of the list I’m sure we could find world peace. A grand idea, but it all has to start somewhere. How about in our homes?
Sometimes we may think that our efforts of teaching our children to be nice are futile, but the other day my daughter’s teacher pulled me aside and told me a story that brought me hope.
The teacher had brought signs for the kids to hold that were attached to popsicle sticks. Problem was, she happened to be 1 short, so everyone was able to hold one, except for the last little girl. The teacher told this girl that she would be able to help by holding up a different picture, but this little girl was upset that she didn’t get one with a popsicle stick. The teacher had greatly underestimated the worth of that popsicle stick to a 5 year old girl. The girl started crying as the teacher tried to calm her. Then my daughter stepped forward and offered the girl her sign on a stick. How pleased I was that she would do such a nice thing.
Now don’t get me wrong. That same evening she was antagonizing her little sister by taking her favorite bear away from her. But having her teacher comment on the difference my daughter had made to her day seemed to dampen my reaction to the later offense.
Teaching our children to be nice is something that takes time and patience. The biggest thing for them to realize is that kindness has value. It’s easy to think that the world isn’t fair, or they are being cheated out of something better by being nice, but in reality, everyone benefits when someone is nice. Here are some ideas to help your children be nicer.
Be nice to your kids.
Treat your children with respect and encourage them to do the same. There should still be discipline, but use words instead of force.
Pay attention to your kids.
Spend quality time with them. Let them know that you love them. A person is more likely to be nice if they feel good about themselves.
Model good behavior.
Let your children see you being nice. Volunteer, help your neighbors, and treat others with dignity and respect.
Use kind language.
Don’t treat someone nicely and then come home and talk bad behind their back. Everyone has a different idea of “good” words and “bad” words. I would suggest that any words that are not nice, are also “bad” words.
Reinforce good behavior.
When you see your child being nice, make a big deal out of it. Sometimes you may have to look long and hard to find something, but when you do, praise them heavily for it, multiple times.
Give your children chores.
There was a study from the University of Minnesota that showed children that did housework had better feelings of responsibility and self worth in their later years. Who would have guessed that chores could make your children nicer? MyJobChart.com couldn’t prove it till now, but we’ve known it all along.
Read about being kind.
We all know the importance of reading to our children. Add some books about kindness to your reading schedule and then discuss them.
Encourage them to make friends.
When you have a friend you tend to do things for them out of kindness. You also tend to sacrifice more for them than a stranger.
Get a pet.
A pet can make everyone happy. Except for maybe cleaning up after it, and then it will reinforce how to care for something that doesn’t always reciprocate it.