Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Importance of Family Dinners

 

Mealtime

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?

Spring Time Chores

cleaning with kids

Spring time is a one of the best times of the year to reinforce the habit of doing chores. Even kids can be energized for spring cleaning, and if a chore chart is already being implemented in your household this is the perfect time of year to change it up and add some deep cleaning to your list.

Remember when giving out chores to kids at younger ages to be very specific and have realistic expectations.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have them go through their toy bins and pick the toys they no longer play with to donate to charity. Give them some sort of visual representation of how many toys they need to get rid of. Tell them that they’re toy bin cannot be overflowing, that (if it has one) the lid must be able to shut all the way.  
  • Follow our guide for emptying out their closets in the funnest way possible one of our last postings.
  • Working along side of your children, especially the younger ones is a great way to model behavior and keep the day fun for both of you.

Now that you have them working be sure to, reward them in new, exciting ways relating to spring!

  • Take up gardening with them as your aid! Make it a tradition to tend the garden after all the chores are done in the house.
  • Expand your family’s taste buds by cooking with your little one a few nights a week after everything’s picked up. Let them pick out dishes to try online or just ask them for a few ideas for dinner.
  • Reward them with a craft of their choice! Teach them the joys of finishing an activity, have them pick one from Zingity and work together to finish it!

Bad Emoji Use Can Get Your Kid Arrested?!

emoji and parentingBusiness Insider has recently reported about a 12-year-old from Fairfax, VA., that has been charged with threatening her school after police said she posted a message on Instagram in December laden with gun, bomb and knife emojis. It read in part:

Killing 🔫

“meet me in the library Tuesday”

🔫 🔪 💣

The girl’s mom argued that the girl had posted the message in response to being bullied at school. “She’s a good kid. She’s never been in trouble before,” the woman said. “I don’t think it’s a case where there should have been charges.”

While the choice of emoji is not ideal, should using these emojis be reason enough to get the kid arrested?  Recently a grand jury in New York City had decided whether 👮 🔫 represented a true threat to police officers.  Since these images are becoming more and more a part of our day-to-days lives judges are being asked to interpret the meaning of a face with a tongue sticking out: :P.

“I think something is definitely lost in translation,” Pratt said of the police interpreting the teens’ emoji use. “These kids are not threatening cops, they are just trying to say, ‘I’m tough.’ It’s posturing.”

Ultimately, what everyone is wondering is what is the actually meaning behind these emojis and should they even be considered for evidence?

This may be a interesting discussion to have with your kids tonight as they are texting away on their phones. See who’s side in this debate they fall on and ask them if they would consider the post on Instagram a threat to their school or if they think the kid was just posting a normal post.

 

The Dangers Hidden On Your Kid’s Phone

 

Our family loves technology.  I love how technology allows us to connect with our daughter living in Germany and how I can at a moment’s notice find something new to fix for dinner when another night of tacos just won’t do!  Technology is a beautiful thing!

Unfortunately, if not managed and monitored properly, it ultimately can downright dangerous – especially for our kids.  As much as we liked our privacy as teenagers, privacy in today’s day and age – especially as it relates to technology, can set your kids up for consequences that can literally change their lives in a moment.   

As a parent, it is critical that you monitor their devices and know what each app REALLY is.  It is critical that you talk to your kids about the dangers and even more critical that you are comfortable hitting the DELETE button when an app appears that just isn’t safe.  Here are a few of the apps that cause me alarm and won’t be on our girls’ phones.  

apps to look for

  1.  Best Secret Folder – It is designed to allow you to hide your most private videos and photos.  I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I don’t want this on my teen’s phone.  Even better, it has an alarm that activates to let your kids know if you are trying to look. Apps on your kid's phone
  1. Periscope – This app allows you to capture live streaming videos that open your kids up to cyber bullying, predators and poor choices that can’t be “taken back” (and it has a feature that allows you to publicize your exact location).  You have no idea who is watching on the other end and if they are who they say they are.  This app might be better saved for after their brain is fully developed.
  1. Parenting Tips Paltalk – This app allows you to join public chat rooms where you can video chat with complete strangers.  Do I really need to go any further?

These are just three of the many apps that, in the blink of an eye can change your kid’s life forever.  Do the research.  Filters are great and conversation is beneficial but NOTHING can protect your children like you can by simply being an involved parent and…. well, parenting even when it’s not popular.

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?

Watch This And Then Take a Break From Your Phone

This video will make you want to put down your phone, or shut down your computer.  Really makes you wonder how our kids perceive us when they see us in front of screens so much.

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?

Getting Back to the Basics of Parenting

busyCalendar2

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?

3 Ways to Not Lose Touch This Holiday

Family during Christmas

I LOVE this time of year!  From decorations to celebrating with friends, this season brings me so much joy.  Unfortunately it also brings families a tremendous amount of stress as schedules become crazy, homework becomes more intense and final grades are looming just over the horizon.  As a result, many families, without even realizing lose touch one with one another as the hustle and bustle of life takes over.

So, how can you avoid losing touch with your children during this time?  How can you remain engaged in their lives when their exhaustion and stress leave them entirely uninterested in communicating with you?

Here are a few simple steps:

  1. QUIT asking Yes/NO or closed ended questions.  I promise you that asking
    Talking

    They will talk to you.

    your child “how was your day?” or “did you have a good day?” will elicit very little in return.  Instead, ask them “what was the most awesome thing and the most awful thing that happened to you today?”  This question alone in my house often turns into a 20-minute conversation if you are willing to listen.

  2. Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights WITHOUT cell phones.  After all the distractions of TVs, phones and chores are gone, you are able to focus on engaging with your kids.  Talk about your day, celebrate your wins, talk about which house on the block did the best at decorating.  The topic isn’t nearly as important as simply engaging with your kids.  End the evening by grabbing some hot chocolate and voting on the winners.  You are not only staying connected but building lifelong memories together as well.
  3. As a family, DO SOMETHING for someone else.  Adopt a family, purchase food for the local food bank or volunteer to serve at the Ronald McDonald house.  You will be surprised what you learn about your kids, their stresses and their friends as you are bagging onions at the local food bank.  Not only will this bring you closer together with your kids, but also it allows you to put life and what really matters into perspective.

December is full of craziness and energy and doesn’t have to result in frazzled and disconnected families.  Use this time to draw your family closer and build memories that cost very little to absolutely nothing.

Family Time

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?

Why Is Monitoring Social Media Important as a Parent?

A recent article on app.com eluded to the fact that spying on your child’s online “social” activity breaks down trust and encourages them to hide information from you. As a mom that closely monitors her teen’s activity, I couldn’t agree more. Spying, snooping or otherwise secretly investigating will break down trust. This is why it as never been a secret in our household that social media will be monitored and has always been a prerequisite to having access to social media.

Staying Informed

When I was young and met a new friend, my mom was able to talk to the other soccer moms, PTA parents, or neighborhood friends to ensure my new friend was someone in the right crowd and not the local troublemaker. They met their parents and the kid together the first time they dropped me off to hang out, and said hello when they came back to pick me up. Translation: they met and knew my friends.

But that wasn’t enough. They listened to our conversations as we laughed in the den or family room and picked up on just enough info that they were able to keep the pulse on our lives, relationships and drama. In today’s world, much of the socialization and “hanging out” occurs online. Hanging out at someone’s house has been replaced with group texting and Snapchat – each person in their own homes. The conversations have moved from the living room to the mobile world, and as parents we can’t allow that change to disconnect us from their lives. I believe that monitoring her social media is simply a way to get to know her friends, not unlike what my mother did for me many years ago.

What social networks are your kids on?

Engaging with Purpose

Let me be clear that none of this is done in secret. When I see something that gives me pause, I ask her about it. More often than not, these conversations move beyond the picture or comment and become a discussion about why the choices this person made in their post weren’t in their best interest, and what the potential negative outcomes might be. I use these incidents as pathways to engage with her. Ironically, now she will often say to me (before I even get a chance to ask) something along the lines of, “Hey mom did you see what he/she posted? – Wow.. that wasn’t a good idea.”

Your kids and social media

Understanding the Risks

The second reason I monitor her social media is because the stakes are high, much higher than when I was a teen. No longer are your social messes easy to clean up. In a matter of seconds, one bad decision can go viral, be seen and sent to thousands, and utterly devastate a young person’s life. I don’t feel I really have to defend the relevancy of this statement as we see its evidence in our news more often than we would hope. The kid bullied on social media, the college student with a bright future devastated by a drunk post, or the innocent picture of a young woman at the beach lifted from a public site and used for very different purposes. And once it’s out there, no PR professional or social media expert can ever wipe it away.

To me, this issue is no different than so many others impacting parents today. Success or failure often lies in when and how expectations for our children are set. The later you start and the more ambiguous you are, along with the transparency you show, will very likely impact your success. At the end of the day, however, remember that your job is not only to prepare them for the real world but to keep them safe in the interim. It’s one of the most difficult yet rewarding jobs you will ever accept.

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?

What Are Your Children Doing After School?

home-alone[1]

 

According to studies, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex.

With that in mind, do you sense a concern when you know that 15 million kids return to an empty home after school?

That being said, sometimes circumstances can’t be helped and there may be times when your kids will be the ones left alone until you can return home. Have you prepared them for when that time comes?

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few tips to consider for your kids until you return.

 

1. SET Expectations, Goals, Rewards & Penalties … No matter the age of your children or what you are trying to do with them, it’s important to have them understand what you expect. You must also set real goals, rewards for a job well done, and penalties if something goes wrong.

 

2. DETERMINE the “Trust Factor” … On a scale of 1-5, how much do you trust your child to be home unattended? If the number is 1, you will need to keep your child busy, and possibly, set some high penalties if something goes wrong. If the number is 5, give your child enough tasks to remain productive and grow your trust.

 

3. TALK to Your Children Regularly … There is no such thing as over-communication when it comes to parents and kids. Have conversations with the entire family together and use dinner or breakfast as the time to catch up or discuss what’s going on or coming up.

 

4. FILL The Time … Set a schedule for your children so that each day is different and the projects fit their ages. Make sure there is enough for your child to do during the time he/she is left unattended at home. Also build in time for a short break so your children have time to unwind from a tough day at school. Again, depending on the age and “trust factor”, the amount of time that needs to be filled can vary.

 

5.  FOLLOW Through … No matter whether your children do a great job or a poor one, you must follow through with the rewards or penalties. Kids are smart enough to know whether a parent will stand by their word or not and whether there is any bite behind that bark. This is about teaching your children work ethic, responsibility and accountability, so praise and reward them for a job well done and remain strongly committed to the penalty you set for failing to meet the expectations.