Archive for the ‘Behavior Advice’ Category

Importance of Family Dinners



We love sitting down together as a family for meals but it seems as the kids have gotten older and schedules have become crazier, this has become a challenge. We love it because it is often the only uninterrupted time in our day to connect with them, learn what’s going on and share our lives. It has always been meaningful to us but a recent article recently reminded me of just how important this time is.

Did you know:

  • The #1 shaper of vocabulary in younger children (more than any other family activity) is dinner.
  • One of the best ways to promote healthy habits and avoid obesity is eating together as a family.
  • One of the biggest predictors in academic success for elementary age kids is frequent family meals around the table.
  • Critical to raising emotionally healthy teens, free of alcohol and substance abuse is sharing a meal.

Seems oversimplified that 30 minutes around the table can have such a profound impact but all the research is pointing to exactly that. It allows you to emotionally connect as a family, free from distractions (did I mention NO TECHNOLOGY at the table?). It allows you to hear about their day, give them guidance in working through conflicts and other issues (you will be surprised how much you learn when you stop and really listen). Although they may not always act like it, when kids were surveyed, eating as a family ranked at the top of their list in terms of importance.

So how do you get started, especially if you don’t have a lot of time?

  1. Remove all technology distractions including TVs.
  2. Give everyone an opportunity to talk about their day with open ended questions like what was the best thing that happened today or what stressed you out more than anything else today. Simply asking how their day was will be a very short question.
  3. Talk about current events and ask your kids their opinions and really listen.

Eating together doesn’t require a three-course meal. It can be a can of soup and a 30-minute conversation. Challenge yourself to two nights a week. I promise you will find yourself wanting to do it even more.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Our Family is Growing

We have exciting news for the My Job Chart family!  Our new website Zingity has officially launched.  Woo!

Activities for kids and families

Zingity is a community of families, adults, kids, teachers, and experts building character through step-by-step activities in a wide variety of interests and character traits.  We’re so excited to finally share this tool with you and your family!
Many of you have your own activities, DIYs, or recipes just waiting to be shared!  For you we’ve created a great guide that will help you get started publishing your first activity to Zingity here.

diy, activities,and promotion

Your profile shows your activities, bio, and a link to your website!

For those of you who run your own blogs, we are happy to announce that we’ve created profiles that will allow your fans to find your website.  This way they can continue reading all your great content and you can find new readers!

But Zingity is not just for our builders!

 It’s also for those of you looking for great quality activities that are geared specifically towards increasing different character traits or interests!  

View by interest or explore by character traits!

View Zingity by our many different interest categories, or explore by character traits!

Join the rest of the community today, and let us know what you think.  We are very excited about this new chapter and hope you are too.  Let’s see what we can build together.

Key To Teaching Wise Decision Making

It is never too early to begin preparing your kids to become successful adults.  While most parents wait until their kids have reached double digits, it is so much easier if you begin early.  Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Is he/she prepared to make the tough decisions without me bearing down on him/her with consequences?
  2. Has he/she developed the critical thinking skills to make wise decisions absent of my counsel or other adults, especially when they go against the popular thought?

Based upon how I’ve had to answer these questions with my own teenager, here are a few things I wished I had done differently – bits of advice I wish I had known about (or listened to in many cases).

#adulting is hard

  • When they come to you with a question, NEVER respond with the answer despite how easy or obvious it is.  Yes, it is easier (and quite frankly less time consuming) to just give them the answer however this isn’t helping them learn how to make decisions and actually is messaging to them that they aren’t capable of coming to the right conclusion on their own.  Instead of giving them the answer, return with the question, what do you think?  Follow that up with why; this allows them to walk through the critical thinking and come to the resolution on their own (with a little help along the way).
  • If they don’t have an answer or an opinion, send them away to think about it and ask them to return when they have some input.  This forces them to seek out the information from other resources.  This skill will help them immensely when you aren’t there to answer them from hundreds of miles away.

parenting tips and advice

In our busy lives, it is so much easier to give them the answer (I’ve done it more times than I wish to count) but teaches them one thing only – rely on me for all the answers.  If we want to raise successful adults, we must start early and start by teaching them to think for themselves.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Effects of Overprotective Parents

Overprotective Parent

Being an overprotective or “helicopter” parent can have many different effects on our children when they’re growing up.  I’ve often joked about my desire to have a GPS tracker installed under my child’s skin in my fatal attempt to keep her safe and I suspect at one time or another I may have been mildly serious about this – albeit a bit exaggerated.  In reality however, in our attempt to “keep our kids safe”, we have in many cases, stifled them in developing courage and a sense of adventure, replacing it instead with fear and caution.  So what impact does this overprotective nature really have on our kids?

Delayed Decision Making Skills

If we are always at our kids’ sides, they will always look to us to drive decision making rather than doing so on their own.  Fearful of making the wrong decision and having never been able to experience the elation of making their own right decisions, they will cling to us.  While this might feel sweet and loving at the age of 10, it isn’t quite that way at the age of 22.  Kids have to given age-appropriate ways to exert independence in an environment that is safe and allows them to fail.  I don’t know about you but some of the best lessons I learned as a kid were as a result of making the wrong the decision.

bad decision making

When your 20 year old is coming to you for every decision they need to make, it’s a problem.

Lack of Self-Confidence 

By not allowing yourLack of Confidence with my kid children to ride their bikes to the park, play outside without you or simply walk to a friend’s house, you are telling them they aren’t capable of making decisions, that you don’t trust them to make good choices in stressful situations. This will make them believe this and their confidence will continue to go down. This style of parenting may put our kids in a scary place of mistrust in their choices or even a flip of complete rebellion.  

As scary as it may be, we must allow our kids to explore the great outdoors, ride their bikes or climb a tree.  Not only are they building their imagination and creativity but they are building the fundamental skills that will make them successful adults.  Will they have some bumps and bruises along the way?  You bet they will but the pain from those will be far less than the life-long impact of not giving them the freedoms. Where can you start?  Maybe it’s letting them play in the driveway while you are inside or maybe you are ready to let them walk to a friend’s house at the end of the block.  The excitement on their faces when they accomplish it on their own will be well worth the temporary stress we feel!


Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Character Lessons My Kids Learned From Watching the Super Bowl

Learning moments I’ve found, often come at the most unexpected times.  It is our job as parents to be aware of these moments and use them as teaching moments with our kids.  Here is what we learned from this year’s athletes.

  1. It takes a team to win even when you are superstars.  You can’t get that forced interception or tackle if your teammates aren’t doing their part. Celebrate your accomplishments while recognizing the role your team played in that success.  Von Miller, this year’s Super Bowl MVP recognized his teammates first and foremost before answering any questions about his own success.   In fact, he even recognized the role the offense played in his defensive success.  People won’t remember what he said, but they will remember the spirit in which he delivered his comments.

    teach your kids

    And the full team had plenty of spirit.

  2. Losing stinks.  It is painful, disheartening and just feels awful.  Anyone can lose but not everyone can lose and still win.  So much about a person’s character will be revealed by how they react to losing. Did they run and hide, throw a temper tantrum or did they own the part they played while recognizing the talent of the winning team?  Sadly, the video of Cam Newton storming off the stage at the after-game press conference will get more play time than all his successes.  He missed a great opportunity to be an example for the millions of people (and especially young children) on HOW to lose with dignity.

    teaching your kids how to lose

    Losing with grace.

  3. Hard work doesn’t guarantee a win but it will guarantee success if you work hard long enough.  It isn’t enough to clock in and clock out doing the minimal amount required.  Champions sacrifice. They are up early and stay up late.  They work when others are resting and they never stop trying to get better.  Showing up will get you a paycheck and that is it.  Hard work however, will bring you gratitude, camaraderie and great wins.  

Talent and skill will fade over time, even for the greatest athletes.  The lessons they’ve learned along the way however can have a lasting impact…positive or negative.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Teaching Your Kids The Importance of Commitment

It always seems that the phrases you dreaded the most from your parents as a small child seem to be the ones you find yourself saying to your own kids.  As you speak the words yourself, you can hear your parents in your head.

parenting tips

For a moment you think, “Oh no, this is what I’ve become,” but then you realize the wisdom they had and move on.

For me, this phrase was, “No, you can’t quit, you made a commitment.”  Commitment, it seems to be less and less prominent in our society today.  In a world of disposability, we seem to have lost the art of commitment.  It’s a hard trait to learn and even harder to maintain but it is one that is so important to ensuring our children grow up to be successful adults.

commitment and children
When your kid tells you they don’t want to continue doing the activity you paid $$$ for.

I have a child involved in theater and without a doubt there comes a time in the rehearsal schedule that she comes to me begging to either skip rehearsal.  These moments typically occur when it’s a crazy week, she is exhausted, school homework is insane and rehearsals are scheduled to run long.   All of which make for very legitimate reasons to let her stay home, but I don’t allow it because I can’t.  I can’t because I want her to learn the importance of staying true to her word.  I want her to learn determination – that characteristic that you must call upon when you are just flat spent.  I want her to feel the joy that comes from pushing through and supporting her team members that also are struggling with exhaustion.  I want her boss to see her as someone that is reliable and dependable, even when deadlines are tight and the nights run long.  And so I repeat to her the phrase my own mom shared with me and know that in the long run I am teaching her the importance of commitment in a world that seems to have forgotten its importance.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Study Says That Our Kids Don’t Care For Others!

What kind of adults are we raising in America?  A recent study by Harvard’s School of Education mentioned in a New York Times article asked 10,000 middle and high school kids which was most important to them:  academic achievement, being happy, or caring for others.  As you would expect only 22% said caring for others was most important. 

Parenting tips

What if everyone was like this?

Here is why it is alarming and why we must do better for our kids.  If achievement is most important then when these students (my kids) are faced with a conflicting situation – do right or win, win will be selected each and every time and in most circumstances someone will be left in the dust.

There has to be a better way – we owe it to our kids (and society) to raise kind and compassionate children who want to pursue academic achievement together in harmony.  But, like academic achievement, kindness must be taught (and it takes more than just one or two tries to get it right).  

academic success

Here are 2 parenting tips you can use to help reverse this trend and begin teaching your kids about kindness.

  1. Model the behavior you want to see in your kids. From a very young age our kids are watching our actions and discerning how to act based largely NOT on what we say to them but rather how we behave ourselves.  Show them what kindness is.  Shovel the snow from the neighbor’s driveway, open the door for a stranger, and let someone go in front of you in the line at the grocery store.  
  1.  Give them opportunities to treat others with kindness.  Have them babysit for the single mom for free or mow the lawn of the neighbor who just had a new child.  Encourage them to sit next to the new kid in the cafeteria or invite them to the basketball game.  At first they will resist, not because they don’t care but because it is new and a little awkward.  Encourage and celebrate and it will become easier.

We must become as diligent in teaching character as we are in achievement if we want to raise kids with character.  Let’s start today!

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Preparing Your Kids For College

College tours are in full swing for many of our families as they help their children prepare for this next phase in life.  More than once I’ve heard the story of the stunned teenager as they realize that mom will no longer be on laundry duty…and so the story begins.

Have you prepared your children to launch into this world of ours?  Have you spent as much time teaching them how to be a successful adult as you have being their friend and confidant?  If so, it is never too late.  Here are a few parenting tips you can implement now to ensure your teen or pre-teen child is prepared to survive their first semester away.

  1. Have them do their own laundry.  If you are a freak like me, this is a hard one.  I promise you that the world won’t end if they shrink something or turn it red.  Start by teaching them the basics and watching them actually do the work, then let them loose to do it on their own.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how good they are at it.Student taking care of laundry
  2. Make them set their own alarms to get up for school and DO NOT do it for them.  Unless you are prepared to drive to their dorm rooms five days a week, they need to be able to get up on their own.  This seems simple but it will be the difference in a good semester and a failed semester.  Oh and when they oversleep (and they will) let them suffer the natural consequences of the unexcused absence.  DO NOT cover for them unless you are prepared to do the same for them in College.  College Waking Up
  3. Have them fix their own breakfast (and lunch for that matter).  Unless you want your child to be sustained on pop tarts, Cheetos, and fast food, they must know how to cook a meal.  The habits they are developing now are the habits they will take with them into adulthood.  Again, start slow.  Help them identify variety and things they might like and show them how to prepare.  As they become more confident, gradually back away.

Prepare you teen for college

In today’s world, it is very easy to do things for our kids out of love but be mindful that your “love” isn’t crippling them or you may have to love, aka take care of them longer than you expected.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

It’s Ok For Kids To Do Chores & Have Fun!

This seems obvious to most, but clearly not everyone.  In an article recently posted on Facebook, a mom stated that if your kids are old enough to use a cell phone, they are old enough to run a washing machine (The Better Mom – Facebook).  It goes on to talk about how, as moms we often do too much for our kids and in the process, only inhibiting their ability to become successful adults.  Something I believed was common sense… apparently not.   

children and chores

One reader replied that kids have the rest of their adult life to do chores as adults and we should just let them be kids.  My first thought was, I hope they love their kids because it is highly likely they will be living in their basement for a VERY long time, but instead I took the opportunity to reflect.  

What would make a mom react in this very emotional way?   Changes in curriculum standards, the never-ending testing environment of our schools has in many instances almost fully eliminated age-appropriate play in many schools so I can understand this mom’s desire to just let a kid be a kid.

I propose however that “letting a kid be a kid” should include both play AND responsibility.  I don’t think anyone is proposing that your six year old should be mowing the lawn and trimming the trees, but all kids (even before they are school age) should begin understanding the value of responsibility doing chores.  

Children and Responsibility

Responsibility, like so many others values, isn’t innate … IT MUST TAUGHT!  If you don’t teach it when the stakes are low, they will have to learn the lesson the hard way when they are older.  I’m certain you don’t want your adult child living in filth with a two-week’s supply of dirty dishes in the sink because they were never required to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or even worse, having their utilities turned off because they bought some cool new technology “toy” rather than paying the electric bill.  

Our goal as parents is to raise healthy, functioning adults.  It is MUCH easier to begin teaching this at an early age than trying to play catch-up at 17.  Let’s re-define what “being a kid” means and start teaching them the fundamentals of responsibility through chores.


Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

How to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

time spend on electronics

There is a constant debate among parents about how much screen time is too much for your children.  A recent NPR article gave a startling fact, “Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

What can you do to better the way or reduce the time your kids are spending on electronic devices?

Be a Role-Model

Your kids are constantly watching and taking after you, especially when you’re not at your best.  They will remember if you pull out your phone at dinner, and if you try to reprimand them for doing the same thing, you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle.

tweens screen time parenting and screen time

Have Conversations About the “Real World”

Talk to your kids about the activities they do that don’t involve electronics. Having conversations about the sports they’re playing, the books they’re reading and other activities can draw their interest into these interests. This parenting tip is even more important for younger children as they are actively seeking out your attention.  So, if your kid notices that you talk more about their soccer game than their high score on a video game, they may be more inclined to work in soccer or outdoor activities more.

Involve your kids in rule making

If you can get your kids to come to an agreeance around appropriate electronic usage, they’ll be more understanding when they inevitably break the rule.  Plus, this opens up a great opportunity for you to have a discussion with your kids about how they’re using their electronics and what safe usage looks like.

parenting tips for amount of screen time parenting
We’d love to hear from you about this topic; do you limit your children’s screen time, and if so how does your family go about it?

Getting Back to the Basics of Parenting


Raising children is hard to manage.  Our family just downloaded a calendar app to try and keep everyone’s schedules straight.  My biggest fear, as a Mom, is that I will at some point forget a kid somewhere, then who would I to be giving parenting tips!  I’m hoping this calendar will allow me to avoid this embarrassing and scary situation.  As I began to reflect on how much we struggle managing the schedules of two girls who are only allowed to participate in one activity at a time (here is where you sigh at how this decision might be holding my child back from entrance into the most prestigious universities….) It dawned on me that maybe just maybe in our pursuit of success, happiness or the multitude of other reasons we overcommit our calendars, we are no longer driving our lives but our lives are driving us.  And, as a result, the family has taken the brunt of the impact.

It’s time to stop the madness and get back to the basics… strengthening our families NOT the fullness of our calendars.  

What if, instead of having them rush home from school to complete their homework before hockey, karate or piano lessons, we forced them to go outside, climb trees, ride their bikes and use their imagination…that thing that kept us all busy outside for hours when we were kid.

Healthy eating as a family

What if, instead of sustaining ourselves on drive-through meals due to everyone’s competing schedules, we committed to two (sigh, gasp in shock) nights a week where as a family we all sat around the table together and shared the day’s experiences?  What would change in terms of family dynamics?

What if, during dinner, everyone was required to check out from their technology (even us parents) and check in to the family?  Make it a house rule to have no phones out at the table.  How much more would we know about the struggles, the wins and the celebrations in our kids’ lives?   

House Rule

What if, this year you decided to get away from the madness and back to the basics?  What would your family, your relationship with your spouse and kids look like in 12 months?   I suspect you might not even recognize it… and that would be a good thing!


Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Keeping Your Kids Thankful


This season of giving is upon us and amidst the ringing of bells and purchasing of food and toys for those who have very little, it seems a struggle in many cases to keep ourselves and our kids in the spirit of gratitude.  
I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I purposefully choose not to have “those kids” under my roof.

Have you ever noticed the power of the words “thank you” in your life?  

Thank You

Even more important, have you noticed it in the lives of your children and their friends?  Don’t you just love it when on carpool duty when another person’s child gets out of the car while yelling thank you to you?   

So, how do we instill a sense of gratitude in our kids, and why is it so important?  In the absence of gratitude, the quality of being appreciative for what you have and what others give you, comes entitlement and entitlement is the never ending pit of never enough.  

Here are a few tips over this next month you can use — I’ve used these myself and they have really supported our efforts.

  • Model gratitude for them.  Our kids learn much more from our actions than our words so model gratitude.  Say thank you to others, be appreciative during lean times and thank them for doing the simple things.  Soon you’ll find your kids mirroring your behavior. 
  • Learn to say no!  Just because you can afford it, they want it and you have the means to buy it, doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything they ask for.  Raising your children this way makes those “I got it” occasions all the more sweet.  
  • Learn to say noMake them do something for others in place of a time that would normally have been all about them.  Rather than opening up gifts on Christmas day, volunteer at a shelter or pass out blankets in areas where they are needed.  Seeing others who have nothing puts life into perspective… even for young children.    You may even see them asking if they can share their new items with those in need.  

Gratitude must be both taught and modeled, but the rewards are so worth it as nothing beats the sound of “thank yous” filled with smiles on their faces.


Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Don’t Let Moments To Teach Kindness Slip By You


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


8 Tips To Raise A Confident Reader


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.



Speaking to Read




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.


7 Habits of Grateful People




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.



7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Child’s Grades


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.




9 Ideas for a Stress Free Outlook

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.

Does Personality Determine Success?


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.



Show the Love to Stop Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is normal in families with multiple children.  But are you tired of being the referee for all of their fights?

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




Stop the Tattling



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.

My Gifted Child is a Challenge


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.

Tips On Teaching Your Kids to Be Nice


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? 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.