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More About Autism and How You Can Help

June 3rd, 2014 - Category: General Parenting, Uncategorized

Autism

 

It is reported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Studies also show that ASD is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

Autism Speaks, the newest charity that can be found at MyJobChart.com, is in the forefront when it comes to increasing autism awareness and funding research.

ASD and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world.

Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means.

Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.

Some of the many resources you can find at Autismspeaks.org:

Apps that have been found helpful

Local and national events

Up to date advocacy news

Many online and other resources

The latest research and initiatives

New and ongoing clinical programs

Useful tool kits

Family services galore

And even an online screening for your child.

 

Research shows that early diagnosis and intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.  Autism Speaks is making sure that families develop and use critical advocacy skills in order to achieve this.

Sign up to MyJobChart.com today and share with Autismspeaks.org or make a donation today .

 

 

 

Living a More Simple Life

September 18th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

There’s a recent trend to live simpler and easier lives.

A little curious about how others do it, I did a little research on my own and ran across several stories.  One was about a woman that only possessed 1 pair of jeans and 2 shirts.  Another woman was in the process of making changes in her families places of work, school, and markets in an attempt to get rid of their only car.  And have you ever heard about having a buy-nothing Christmas?  There’s a thought, or should I say, a rebellion?

Dave Bruno, author and advocate for simple living has an idea as well.  It’s called “The 100 Thing Challenge”.

Bruno wanted to live a simpler, more meaningful life.  His solution was to narrow his personal belonging down to, yep, you guessed it, just 100 things.

What followed was a worldwide movement of people taking on the challenge to pick out just 100 things to live with – and give the rest of their possessions away.

Bruno says it wasn’t about the numbers though.  It was about becoming a person that could shake off the constraints of consumerism.  A person that was free to follow a satisfied life.

Comments showed that people believed that the challenge made them live more fully… giving them more time and space to do the things that were most important to them.  And that the challenge was inspirational and helped them improve their lives.

I have to be honest.  I don’t know if I’m up for “The 100 Thing Challenge”, but I am all about figuring out how to simplify life.

I’m convinced that we do not need stuff to be happy.  And although I’m not quite ready to reduce to the extreme that Bruno did, I’m looking forward to reducing to an extent.

If for no other reason than to change my attitude toward “stuff”.

How do you feel about simplifying your life and to what extreme are you willing to go?

 

 

Is Your Family Green?

August 6th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

  

We all want to protect our environment.  Every day people affect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on.  How do we affect it?  By our choices.  Our choices determine how much trash and pollution we make.

What can we do to make sure that the world we live in stays beautiful?  A whole lot, actually.

1.  Reduce – Try to reduce the amount of resources that you use and throw away.  Take shorter showers, turn off the lights, and unplug items when not in use.  A big resource that we can try to safe more of, gasoline.  Try driving less.  Ride your bike or walk to the corner store or to school.

2.  Reuse – I’m sure you’ve heard the term “throwaway society”.  We are generally too fast to throw something away and buy something new to replace it.  Instead we can reuse grocery bags, donate unwanted items so others can benefit from them, use both sides of the paper etc.  Reusing items just makes sense.  It means one less thing that needs to be produced, packaged, and shipped to the store.  It also means less for you to buy at the store.  Did you know that during 2006, the city of San Francisco spent $500,000 on pre-packaged water bottles?  Crazy!  Lets all do our part by reusing our resources instead of throwing them away.

3.  Recycle – Recycling has never been easier.  Today, most of us can sit back in our lazy chairs while a truck picks up our recycling in front of our house.  By recycling bottles, cans, boxes, and more, you’re reducing the amount of trash that goes into a landfill.  Recycled goods go to a center where they can be broken down and later used for new bottles, cans, and paper.  Did you know that even water can be recycled?  Some communities take used water and clean it until it is safe and can be used for things like  watering lawns.

4.  Now Enjoy It! – The earth is a beautiful place.  Go out into nature and enjoy it!  Climb a mountain, watch the sunset, or just stop to smell the flowers on the side of the road.  The other day I came to a screeching halt on the side of the road.  The kids all asked me what was wrong.  I jumped out and told them to follow.  They thought I was crazy as we watched a centipede cross the road.  Don’t think you have to go far either.  Before you travel for hours to see different sights, take a look in your own backyard.  While you’re at it, plant a tree or a garden and enjoy yourself.

I’m sure if you examine your days, you’ll be able to notice several areas where you can be more diligent about being green.  Remember, even a little can help tons. 

 

 

The Number One Health Concern for Kids

June 11th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

 

Among parents in the United States, what’s the number one health concern for their children?  Hint, it’s not drug abuse or smoking.  It’s obesity.

Obesity among children is causing a broad range of health problems, that in the past, weren’t seen until adulthood.  These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, elevated blood cholesterol levels, negative body image, depression, and low self-esteem.

The former Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, stated the severity when he said, “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

Here are the facts:

  • Obesity rates among preschoolers ages 2 to 5 have doubled in the past four decades.
  • One in five children are overweight or obese by the time they reach their 6th birthday.
  • Over half of obese children first become overweight at or before age two.
  • Only 25% of children ages 2 to 11 years old consume three servings of vegetables a day, and less than 50% consume two daily servings of fruit.  (the recommended daily intake)

 

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am shocked at those numbers.

How, as a society, did we become so leisure about our health?

I suggest we make a goal this summer to become more active, eat healthier, and live longer.

So, what can we do about it?

1.  More Physical Activity – Encourage 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.  And exercise with your children if possible.

2.  Less Screen Time – For children age two and older, the amount of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 1-2 hours per day and for children under 2 they suggest no screen time at all.

3.  Eat Healthy – Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal.  Eat more green foods and limit fried foods.

4.  Limit Sugary Drinks – Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day.

 

Other free tools and resources can be found at www.HealthyKidsHealthyFuture.org.

Let’s all get up off the couch, get healthy, and be happy!

7 Ways to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth

May 15th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

Another trip to the dentist and two more cavities to fill.  As a parent you probably feel frustrated.  After all, you are doing your part.  You take them to their 6 month cleanings and check-ups, you try to watch the sweets, and you nag them every morning and evening to brush.  Only to have more dentist bills to pay at the next check-up.

 

If only they wanted to brush, maybe it would be an easier fight.

 

Don’t despair.  My friend, Dr. Brandon Cluff, has some suggestions on how to get your kids to be more willing to take care of their teeth (and lower your dentist bills).

 

1.  Make their toothbrush a toy.  When kids are young, start them out by just playing with their toothbrush.  Let them chew and suck on it and become comfortable with it in their mouth.

 

2.  Let them pick out their own brush and character toothpaste.  They may not have a choice on whether or not to brush, but by giving them a choice of what flavor of toothpaste and color of brush to use, they still have some say in the process.

 

3.  Make it fun.  Play silly games or sing songs while brushing.  How about a game of “Get the Sugar Bugs!”?

 

4.  Brush at the same time.  Kids love to copy you.  Brush your teeth at the same time and show them how to get all the sides and angles by turning your brush or your hand.

 

5.  Compliment them.  Become the “Tooth Inspector” and tell them what a good job they are doing, how well they brushed their tongue, or how minty their breath smells.

 

6.  Give them rewards for brushing their teeth.  (But not candy! That kind of defeats the purpose.)  Fill up a sticker chart or make it part of their daily chores and reward them accordingly.

 

Read a related article here:  Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Their Fruits and Veggies

 

7.  Educate them.  Sometimes you’ll have better luck getting through to them if the direction doesn’t come from you.  Read books, watch videos, and have others (like grandpa who can take out his dentures in front of them) encourage them to take better care of their teeth.

 

Do you struggle to get your kids to brush their teeth?  Or maybe you’ve found something that works for you?  Share your comments below and let us know.

How to Raise a Boy

April 30th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

Boys in general are loud, active, physical, and competitive.  We tend to try and prevent this behavior, fearing that it will get out of hand.  But active behavior is not necessarily aggressive behavior.  Many times we punish a boy, just for being a boy.  If supervised and taught properly, their roughhouse play can be wholesome and even a positive outlet for their energy.

 

Provide a Positive Role Model

The best way to raise a great son is for that boy to have a great father.  “Men are extremely important in giving boys messages about being a man.”  Says Geoffrey and Michael Thompson, in “The Search for Masculinity: Growing Up Masculine”.  If there is no father in the home, maybe a grandfather, or an uncle, or even a teacher can be a positive role model for him.

 

Stop Bad Behavior Immediately

If their play is hurting someone, stop it immediately.  Set limits.  There is no reason or excuse to hit, bite, or push.  And “stop” means stop.  Help them find better alternatives to express themselves.  Encourage verbal expressions of their feelings.  Always follow through with consequences.  And punish without being abusive.

 

Give them Physical Outlets

Let them work.  Give them chores to complete.  It will build their character and their self-esteem (and release some extra energy).  Trust them and give them responsibility and then praise them when they follow through.  Help them grow by giving them a job that is a little bit bigger than they think they can handle.

 

Encourage Education

Many problems can be averted by reading and writing.  Find areas that they are interested in and encourage them to study them.  Support them at school and motivate them to further their education past high school.

 

Be Positive

Say “yes” more than you say “no”.  Give them the space that they need and encourage them to grow.  Catch them being good and praise them as often as possible.  But most of all, relax, have fun, love him, and show him that you love him!

 

Read a related article:  How to Raise a Girl

How to Raise a Girl

April 23rd, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

We want our daughters to grow into happy, healthy, beautiful, contributing, women.  We want them to walk tall and stand for something.  We want them to be smart and self-sufficient.  We want them to be better than us.  So what can we teach them as young girls that will mold them into strong and capable women?

 

Show her that you love her…just the way she is.

First and foremost, tell and show your daughter that you love and appreciate her.  Praise her not only for what she does but who she is.  Let her know that she is a good person.  If she feels loved and supported she will have a more positive self image.  Do things with her that she likes to do.  And expect great things from her.

Click here to read a related article:  Discipline vs. Love, 3 Words to Remember 

 

Shape her Character

Teach her that she is strong and capable and she can do whatever she wants to do and be whomever she wants to be.  Teach her to respect herself.  Girls that don’t respect themselves have a harder time withstanding peer pressure and standing up for themselves.  Help her become involved in doing good by serving.  Abraham Lincoln said, “When I do good, I feel good.”

Click here to read a related article:  Critical Lessons to Teach Your Children 

 

Help her be Self-Sufficient

Teach her to cook and clean and take care of herself and her surroundings.  Teach her the value of hard work.  Teach her the value of money.  Teach her how to run a household.

 

Emphasize Education

You’ve heard, “When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.”  Teach your daughter to read and write and spell as well as possible.  Help her to develop good study habits and a yearning for knowledge.  Encourage her to be creative.

 

De-Emphasize Appearance

Counter negative media with honest messages about her body.   Help her establish healthy eating and exercise routines.  Don’t compare her to anyone else.  Teach her good grooming skills and good manners.  Help her confidence grow by accentuating her best features.  And everyone looks better with a smile on their face.  Be more beautiful by being happy.

 

Teach her to be Emotionally Stable

Girls are often more emotional than boys.  This can be good because it helps them be more expressive, but it can lead to negative “drama”.  Help them to have a positive but realistic approach to life.  Help them learn to reason and use their common sense.  Help them learn discipline and self control, especially when it comes to mood swings.

 

 

In Honor of Financial Literacy Month, Stop Overlooking Your Biggest Investment (Hint: It’s not your House or Car)

April 18th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

 

You often hear that the biggest investment you will ever make is buying a home. That’s because it’s an emotional experience and involves very critical eyes. Hours of looking on the internet or driving around to see different neighborhoods takes a lot of time and energy and it should because it’s a big decision. In fact, in 2010 the median home price in the U.S was $222,000. That’s a lot of dough to plunk down at once. This is a long-term investment to provide shelter for your family and comes with an expectation if you care for it and improve it you will see appreciation in its value.

 

Then comes the second largest purchase – your car. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is about $30,000; the average used car is $11,850. Once again, hours searching on the internet, test-drives and time at the dealership quickly adds up. Buying a car is a spendy proposition, but it’s not anywhere near your biggest investment, none the less you have expectations for it to provide your family with reliable transportation for years to come and be worth something when it’s time to replace it.

 

Most people overlook their biggest investment. It’s one that is larger and more important than either of the previous two investments and it doesn’t come with granite countertops or leather seats.

 

Your Biggest Investment

Your biggest investment is  your KIDS! According to a 2011 USDA report, it costs $295,000 to raise a kid from birth to age 17. And that’s per kid! The sad news is that doesn’t even cover the cost of college. For an in-state 4-year program you can tack on another $68,524 or $154,356 for a private college. Where you live, your income level and the educational institution of choice can all make those numbers even bigger.

 

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have kids. It simply means that we need to put these costs into perspective and start treating the price of kids with more attention to detail and a sharper eye on expectation for return.

 

So, what expectations do you have for the BIGGEST investment you will ever make?

 

As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) I have spent my entire career counseling people on how to carefully select investments, pay close attention to them and make sure their portfolios are tweaked for maximum return. My clients have come to expect this type of attention to detail.

 

If you are like most Americans you don’t have a plan for the investment of your kids because it’s not a one-off transaction. Instead the cost is stretched over a 17-year period, and THAT’S THE PROBLEM. It’s money slipping slowly through our fingers over time. Buying a new pair of pants or another trip to get a haircut – it all slowly adds up.

 

So now that we know kids are the biggest investment you’ll make, how do you take charge to get the most out of your investment?

1. Make your kids aware

2. Make a conscious effort to share on big ticket financial items

3. Help them enjoy work and money

4. Don’t cultivate entitlement, tie work to reward

5. Consistency counts

 

Make your kids aware

The days of keeping hush-hush when it comes to finances are over. Ninety-five percent of parents feel it is their responsibility to teach their kids about money, but only 26 percent feel comfortable doing it. To reverse this trend, start with some small steps. Let the kids know how much the electric bill is next month. I did this last summer when our electric bill was over $700. Yes, we live in Arizona and the A/C seems to never turn off in August! However, by letting them know how much it costs, they were more mindful about not leaving the doors open and how they can do their small part to save.

 

Also, let them know how much it costs to fill the gas tank of the family car. In April of 2011, the average amount American households spent on gas was $368.09. That’s just one month. All that running around from soccer practice to school adds up. There’s a good chance you will get some raised eyebrows when you expose those figures. Kids are smart.

 

Share on big-ticket items

Make a conscious effort to discuss big-ticket financial items. Don’t be afraid to discuss your home’s value and mortgage with your kids. They can look it up on Zillow anyways, so forget the “50’s” mentality of “we don’t share family money matters with our children”. Start sharing this financial information with them and empower your kids. Don’t leave them in the dark. Kids can feel when there is stress in the home about money, so have a sit-down meeting and discuss openly the issues and work as a family on how to get through the hard times. Maybe it’s sacrificing the skiing trip or skipping dinner out on the weekends.

 

Once their eyes are opened to the costs of running a family and what it looks like to budget you’ll be surprised at how quickly they start learning how to make better money decisions. You’ll also start hearing things like, “Dad, that is a total rip off! Let’s not buy it here when we can get it cheaper somewhere else!”. These skills will last a lifetime. Get your kids to participate.

 

 

Help your kids enjoy work and money

Getting through college takes a lot of hard work, but studies show it pays off.  Median income for someone with a bachelor’s degree is $54,756. Compare that to $33,176 for a high school diploma. If you do the math on this over a 35 year career that’s an additional $740,000. For a master’s degree you can add another $400,000 over a career. That’s a pretty good return on some hard work if learned early. If kids are held to a high standard when it comes to helping around the house, being diligent in their studies or staying on top of their piano lessons they will learn to enjoy work. Will you hear some complaining along the way? Definitely, but it will be worth it.

 

Don’t cultivate entitlement, tie work to reward

When it comes to paying kids for their work, there is plenty of debate. The bottom line is that you can call it what you want: allowance, commission, work-pay, whatever… but it needs to be tied to family contribution and it needs to teach your kids something about work ethic. Giving allowance not tied to contribution only encourages the entitlement mentality. We do not need any more of that! Adults work to earn money  so  kids should learn this expectation as well. Have you ever been on a job interview where the employer offers you a salary and then never expects you to show up to work? It’s not reality and your kids should learn that early.

 

Don’t feel like you have to pay your kids for every little thing they do around the house. Of course some things are expected, but if it is above the call of duty make it worth it. As they work and you pay them for it, it will create meaningful conversations about contribution, hard work and how to make good financial decisions with their money, such as how much they should save, spend or share. Give your kids some jobs around the house where they not only earn a little money, but they can develop a good work ethic. Don’t let your kids sit around and plays video games all day and never learn how to contribute and become responsible. It’s a life lesson and one parents are responsible for teaching. Get them off the couch and let their potential blossom!  If you let them sit on the couch don’t be surprised if they’re still there when their 30! There is no better place to teach good money management lessons then in your own home.

 

Consistency counts

Don’t be hard-core one day and the next let everything slide. Stay strong and don’t give in. Once your kids learn your new resolve they begin accepting it as part of the routine where accountability and responsibly become a normal expectation. Repetition is the key to learning. Start them early with chores and family activities around the house that will help them learn how to be smart with money from a young age. This will pay big dividends down the road for them personally and for society as a whole.

 

Your kids truly are the BIGGEST investment you’ll ever make. The return on that investment won’t be seen immediately, but you’ll see glimmers of it as they grow. They’ll gain personal accountability, confidence and financial freedom. When kids leave home and know how to live within their means and not get suckered into bad financial products like high fee bank accounts and credit cards with hidden charges, when they know how to budget and talk about finances you’ll know without a doubt your investment paid off. We must pay more attention to our kids and inspire them to reach their potential. Raising your kids has a big price tag, but it’s worth every dime, especially when you start to see your return on investment and the responsible citizen they’ve become.

 

Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Their Fruits and Veggies

April 16th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

Is dessert the fun food in your house?  Do your kids skim over their meal just to get to dessert?  Or, maybe they just shove everything around (or feed some to the dog) to make you think that they have eaten enough of the “healthy stuff” so you’ll agree that it’s time for dessert?  What can you do to shift the scale and have happy vegetable eaters at your table?

It is recommended that half of your child’s plate be filled with fruits and vegetables.  Studies show that 22% of kids ages 2-5 meet these requirements, 16% of 6-11 year olds, and only 11% of kids ages 12-18 eat their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables a day.

 

Here are some ideas of ways to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables.

 

Make it Fun – Prepare fruits and vegetables in a fun way.  Cut them into shapes with cookie cutters or make pictures out of them.  Give your produce silly names like “mini trees” for broccoli. And anything mini, is always fun to eat.  Here are a couple of sites that I thought had some neat and fun ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables.

http://pinterest.com/clpage13/veggie-fruit-tray-display-ideas/

http://www.livinglocurto.com/2011/09/vegetable-trays/

 

Let Them Help – Kids love to go shopping.  Let them pick out the firmest cucumbers or the best smelling cantaloupe.  And when you get home, let them pick out what’s for dinner and help prepare it as well.  They may have more satisfaction eating it when they put some work into preparing it.

 

Explain What Healthy Is – Give them the details of the food you are eating.  I bet you’ll be surprised exactly what they are able to understand as far as calories, fat, and sugar content.   Make it clear why we try to eat more healthy and what happens to your body when you don’t.

 

Make it a Game -  Have a goal to introduce one new food every week.  Prepare it in different ways and see what everyone likes the best.

 

Make Healthy an Easy Option – Single serving packages of chips and cookies are usually the first to disappear from my pantry because they are easy to grab and go.  Instead prepare bags of cut vegetables, applesauce, or fruit cups that can easily be grabbed and they are more likely to be eaten as well.

 

Eat Healthy Yourself – Kids tend to mimic their parents.  If they see you eating healthy, it probably won’t be long until they are trying…and liking what you eat.

 

And if all else fails.

Hide Them! – Be creative with the addition of hidden fruits and vegetables in your meals.

 

 

Discipline vs. Love, 3 Words to Remember

February 26th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

All parents know that discipline is important.  And at the same time, we’ve all seen our children rebel because of our over protectiveness.  I can look back at life, especially as a teenager, and remember how restrictive I thought my parents were.  Now I find myself, imposing the same rules on my children and I can see them push back just like I did.  Is there a balance to be found between correction and love, and if so how do you find it?

Experts say that for every time you correct a child you should show them at least five expressions of love, warmth, and affection to counteract the discipline.  That means that every child needs five times as much love, support, appreciation, and encouragement as strictness, regulation, control, and punishment.

I don’t know about you, but I’d have to say that the show of love in my house is lacking according to that ratio.  How are you doing when it comes to telling your kids that you love them?  Here are three words to remember when it comes to love:

 

Appreciation:  Tell and show your children how much you appreciate them and the things they do.  Be specific, and look for things that you can do for them to show your appreciation.  Leave a note in their lunchbox or on the bathroom mirror.  Give them a reward in the form of a treat or a special outing.

 

Approval:  Tell and show your children that you approve and like what they do, and that you are proud of the things they accomplish.  Sometimes this may be difficult if your child is going through a difficult stage.  Try and find something, even if it is small, and mention that thing several times a day until you can find more things to show your approval of.

 

Affirmation:  Tell and show your children that you love them no matter what they do or don’t do.  Affirm to them that they are of enormous worth and value to you.  Let them know that no matter what choices they make, that your love is constant.  Let them count on that.

 

These three ways of showing love may seem similar, and in some ways they are.  But if you seek to separate the three and give your children appreciation, approval, and affirmation, they will be sure of your love.  And the plus is, they will likely respond better when you do have to discipline them.

 

New Year Resolutions for Everyone

January 3rd, 2013 - Category: General Parenting

 

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of many things.  Many people like to reflect on the previous year (or years) and see what has happened and where you are now in your life.  Many people make New Year Resolutions.  A resolution is a decision to do or not do something in order to accomplish a personal goal or break a habit.

What resolutions have you made?  What resolutions have your children made?  With the rise of discipline and behavior problems, childhood obesity, and drug abuse among our children the American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with 20 New Year Resolutions that you can encourage your child to make this new year.

Preschoolers

I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.

I won’t tease dogs or other pets – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

 

Kids, 5- to 12-years-old

I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only on special occasions.

I will apply sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.

I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!

I will always wear a helmet when bicycling.

I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.

I’ll be nice to other kids. I’ll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school.

I’ll never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parent’s permission.

 

Kids, 13-years-old and up

I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day, and I will drink sodas only on special occasions.

I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.

I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.

I will help out in my community – through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.

When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find constructive ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.

When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.

When I notice my friends are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.

I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence. I will expect the same good behavior in return.

I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco, drugs or alcohol.

I agree not to use a cellphone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

We hope that one of your New Year Resolutions is to have a happier, healthier, more organized home along with financial savvy kids.  Join MyJobChart.com today and we can help you stick to your resolution, and see results when you look back next year.

 

Leverage: Incentives and Consequences

December 4th, 2012 - Category: General Parenting

Believe it or not, even with all of your good intentions, your child’s chores won’t get done, unless you have a willing child.  Sometimes getting things done takes leverage.  If you can find what your child values, you can use it as an incentive or a consequence (also know as bribes or threats, but we won’t call them that today) to get the results you want.

Incentives:  Encourage your children to finish their chores by linking an incentive to it.  Linking the completion of chores to something real and desirable to your child is the key.  Where possible you should choose incentives that are appropriate to the chore.  It’s amazing what a child can do when they know what the prize is in the end.

Consequences:  Just like giving them an incentive to get the job done, you can also create a consequence for a job done poorly, not on time, or not done at all.  But be careful, if you state a consequence you have to follow through.  Sometimes it is best to have your child help you when coming up with consequences.  The beauty of having a predetermined consequence is that: 1. You don’t have to come up with something on the fly, and 2. There is less arguing.  When a consequence is warranted, the child knows what it will be, even before the offense happens.

Now to determine what your child will work for.  Here are some ideas of things you may be able to use as leverage for your child.

  • Things – You can give or take away things that they enjoy.  Some examples may be electronics, toys, clothing, or books.
  • Privileges – You can give or take away activities like dance class or karate lessons.  You can give or take away time.  Time with friends, time with a favorite family member, time on the computer or TV, or an adjusted bedtime.  Other privileges may include using the car or going out on Friday night, for older kids.  Or, for younger kids, maybe going to the park or their favorite dinner.
  • Food – Speaking of dinner.  We can use food as a leverage starting at a very early age.  Just this morning I told my 18 month old, “Eat your banana, and then you can go play outside.”   Food can be used as a motivator when you don’t get to eat dinner until your homework or your chores are done.
  • Money – Besides the obvious allowance, or getting paid for finished chores, find different ways to use money.  Have them pay you if you have to go into their room to find something they may have lost.  Moms x-ray vision can pay off!  Have them pay you for chores not done.  Or have them pay to get items out of “jail” that you have picked up.

Tailoring incentives and consequences around what is important to your child can take some time.  If you notify your child of an incentive or a consequence and nothing happens, you picked the wrong item to leverage with.  Keep trying until you find something that works.  And then let us here at MyJobChart.com know what works for you.  We are always anxious to hear what parenting strategies work in your home.

Compromise – It’s a Two Way Street

September 18th, 2012 - Category: General Parenting

Sometimes, in the realm of parenthood, the word compromise is thought of as a “bad” word.   The notion of relenting power to your child gives parents the idea of surrender and defeat.  Compromise doesn’t have to be all bad.  In fact, the very definition of compromise, is that everyone gets a little of what they want, not so everyone is upset, but so everyone is happy.

Children require our protection and guidance.  We can’t always come up with a perfect solution, but we can usually come up with a better solution, when we compromise.  When you are picking your battles here are some ideas to think about.

Offer them acceptable choices.  If your child’s idea of getting dressed is galoshes and a hero cape over last week’s pajamas, try having several acceptable choices set out that they can choose from.  Then they  have some control over what they are wearing, but it is still acceptable to you.  Depending on the events of the day, “Super PJ Man” may be suitable, but if not, giving them choices should alleviate some arguing.

Wait till later.  Sometimes you don’t have to say “no”, you just have to say “later”.  Their request to play video games doesn’t have to be turned down, just put off until after they finish their chores.

Not the whole thing.  You want them to eat their peas, but maybe a bite for every year of their age, or separating out a smaller amount for them to eat, would be more tolerable.

Specifics set beforehand.  Whether they can only have sleepovers on Fridays, or only eat the snacks in the yellow bin after school, or no friends until homework and chores are done, setting specifics beforehand helps to alleviate confrontations.  If something comes up and you need to compromise, then they have to be willing to give something up as well.  Setting chores up on MyJobChart.com is one way to set up your chores and not have to argue about them again.

Half and half.  They want to go to the skate park and you need to go shopping.  If you can’t divide and conquer, then spending half the day doing both may work for you.

It’s a family tradition.  There are some things that even you can’t change.  Let them know that it is just the way it is.  There is no need to complain, or whine, or try to get out of it, because it won’t make a difference.  Blame it on tradition if you need a scapegoat.

Some other strategies may include, reverse psychology, or just talking it over and trying to get them to understand your point of view and you trying to understand their point of view.  Every kid is different and every situation is different.  Compromise is an opportunity to give and take.  Remember if you want them to give, it helps if you give a little too.

Clean my room? Sure. But only if you pay me.

June 26th, 2012 - Category: General Parenting

There was a great article that was written by Armin Brott, a nationally recognized parenting expert, known worldwide as Mr. Dad. He is the leading author of books on fatherhood, which have sold millions of copies worldwide. Armin writes the nationally syndicated column, “Ask Mr. Dad,” and hosts the “Positive Parenting” radio show.

It starts off with a Dad stating that he and his wife have different opinions about bribing their children.

Mr. Dad gave some great insight into the difference between bribes and Rewards and what the differences are.

Bribes are a short term fix to usually stop a bad behavior.  Rewards on the other hand are something parents can use to help their kids learn good, positive behaviors.

He ends by emphasizing that creating a system is a good idea.  That’s were we come in :-)

Critical Lessons to Teach Your Children

November 24th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was the cashier of a buffet-style school cafeteria. The children who came to the cafeteria had to pay just thirty cents for their meal. Now, in the dream, most the children didn’t have the money. They would approach me with a dime they had found in the streets or three pennies they had been saving.

I woke up before I learned whether or not I admitted the hungry children to pass. But the dream got me thinking. Then, on a television show later in the day, I learned that 1 in 4 children in America don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.

As a parent, I’m grateful for the ability to provide for my children. I’m grateful my children have never gone to bed hungry or cold. I hope I can be a safe resource for them no matter how old they get. But I also hope my children learn to care for themselves and their own families. I don’t want my grandchildren to ever experience hunger. And I think, if I teach them the right lessons now, my children will be able to live comfortably with their own families.

Remember, I’m just a parent like you, but here are the lessons I believe parents should teach their children:

 

To work. This should be a given…that we teach our children how to work. But more and more I see teenagers who were never expected to clean their bedrooms or make a meal. You can bet they’ve never found their name on a chore chart.

Now, in most cases, the parents of these kids are able to provide their kids with every needed comfort. But what if they couldn’t? And do they plan on supporting their children forever? Teaching a child how to work, giving them a list of chores to do, is important for helping them learn how to succeed.

To be grateful. Doesn’t work (and for your children, chores) seem to go a lot easier when you are a grateful individual. Rather than lament about the things we don’t have, teach your children to be grateful, to take care of their possessions, and to contribute to your family.

Feeling grateful instead of having feelings of entitlement will help your children to be more responsible with money, buy things they can afford, and be happy whether they are driving around in a used car or new car. Help your children learn gratitude by reinforcing how fortunate they are and frequently expressing gratitude for the things you have.

To be charitable. The bottom line is…children are going to bed hungry at night. As a society, we have an obligation to help when we can. Especially because you never know when you or your children may need the charity of someone else.

With MyJobChart.com, children can choose charities to donate to. Each of the charities we have listed is there because we believed in their cause. The more we do for others, the more that comes back to ourselves.

The holidays are coming and it’s an easy time to ignore chores or to dismiss your children from completing them. But these three lessons need to be reinforced as often as possible. Plus, the holidays are a great time to help your children with gratitude and reinforce the value of work.

My children are going to make their own decisions about where they end up in life. But what I can do for them is prepare them for the future. Give them the comforts of life now and make sure they have all the skills they need to take care of their own future.

What To Do With All That Halloween Candy

November 1st, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Pillowcases. Your children have brought home pillowcases of candy. And now you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. As a good parent you don’t want them eating whatever they want when they want. On the other hand, they’ve worked hard to get that candy and Halloween only comes around once a year.

So how do you find the middle ground between letting them make their own choices and helping them retain self-control?

“Tricks” to Try…

Sometimes parents have to be tricky about the way they handle things. You don’t want to get into power-struggles or arguments with your kids. That doesn’t mean you have to give in to what they want. Simply avoid the situation altogether. Here’s how:

-Encourage the sorting of candy. Think back to when you were out trick or treating. You loaded up your bag and then hurried home to sort the good candy from the not-so-good candy. If you encourage this behavior in your child, it stops them from immediately digging into that huge lot of sugar.

-Load them up on their favorite dinner. Somehow, you’ve got to combat the sugar your kids will be eating. Why not prepare their favorite meal on Halloween night – before they head out for empty calories? Hopefully they’ll load up on good food and eat only a minimal amount of junk.

-Ask them to share. With an entire bag of candy, your child is not likely to turn you down if you ask for a sample. Ask as often as you think about it and slowly you’ll help diminish that pile. Whether you eat what you take or not is up to you.

Talk About It…

-Suggest your child make it last. You’ve been teaching your children responsibility with chores and money. Why not share the same techniques with treats. Encourage your child to eat only a few pieces each day. That way they have something sweet every day for several weeks instead of just a few days.

-Control the distribution. You’re not a bad parent if you confiscate the candy. If you have smaller kids, this is not the time to just give them what they want. Sure, they earned the candy. And you don’t have to be a candy warden. Just tell your kids they have to ask if they want a piece. Give it to them when they want it, but chances are they’re going to forget its there.

Is candy something to argue about? Even one day a year? Absolutely. If you’ve worked hard to help your child develop good habits, you don’t want those broken just because it’s a holiday. And too much sugar can have some serious affects on your child – even if they only eat too much on occasion.

Whatever you do, find a way to make the Halloween holiday an enjoyable one for sugar-hungry children and yourself.

Cooking Safely with Kids

October 5th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

As you’re well aware, being a parent includes a lot of responsibility. This blog is intended to cover all aspects of parenthood. We’ve been delighted by the interest the MyJobChart.com blog has received. And we’re even more delighted to share an article from a guest blogger and avid reader of this site…

 

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, Primrose has helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and preschool education.

Young children are often enthralled with the goings on in ‘mom’s’ kitchen. The act of cooking or preparing a meal can stimulate all five senses, which makes the kitchen an exciting place to be. Many parents are afraid to let their children in the kitchen while they are cooking due to the potential hazards but this needn’t be the case. Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of education for Primrose Schools says kitchen time can be a great way for families to regain some lost, but valuable, family time.

Throughout the nation, kitchens are a gathering place for families. Stories of the day are shared, jokes are told, lessons are learned and quality time is spent. What many parents don’t take into account is that children often learn a sense of responsibility when they are asked to participate in small, daily chores.

By following these simple tips, parents can ensure that the kitchen is a safe, fun, learning place to be for children of all ages:

1. Give your child tasks to complete. Young children can easily tear lettuce for a salad or snap peas for a side dish. Sprinkle salt or pepper into your child’s hand and let them add it to the pot. Allowing your young children to help in a meaningful way will give them a sense of accomplishment. If you have toddlers, let them ‘cook’ along with you on their own play oven or give them a bowl and spoon and let them bang away. Not only will your toddler be occupied but you’ll know exactly where they are while you’re cooking.

2. Establish rules. Make sure that children understand that the stove top and oven are hot and shouldn’t be touched without permission. Hands should be washed before and after touching any food stuffs and place child safe covers over any gas knobs. Make a habit out of facing pot handles inward so that they aren’t inadvertently hit and knocked over, spilling hot liquids, sauces or food onto little fingers and toes.

3. Teach new skills. Once your child has mastered easy tasks like tearing lettuce, help them build upon their skills. For example, teach your child how to handle a knife by allowing them to cut through a soft stick of butter. Children who are able to read can help you follow recipes by reading them aloud to you and, when older, by using those recipes themselves.

4. Relax! Before you allow your child into the kitchen, particularly to help you, take a moment, remind yourself that there are bound to be spills and mistakes and then go for it. Time in the kitchen should be fun and mistakes are easily corrected. Your child’s time with you in the kitchen can easily be ruined if you are too hard on them.

5. Don’t forget to clean up! This is a good way to instill the importance of engaging in daily chores. If your child sees first hand what it is like cleaning up the kitchen alone, they will better understand that it will make everyone’s lives easier if they share in the tasks. Sweeping, doing dishes, and cleaning counter tops are all daily activities that need to be done, as well as after cooking or baking. Other activities, like taking out the trash, are important for a child to learn and take part in doing.

When your time preparing the meal, snack or dessert in the kitchen is complete, make sure to compliment your children for doing such a good job and watch them swell with pride. Before you know it, you’re child is going to be offering ideas on what you can make together next; encourage their creativity and help foster a love of cooking that they can carry with them into adulthood.

How to Help Kids Maintain Good Grades Without Bribing Them

August 3rd, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

For many of you, summer is still going strong. But here in the great state of Arizona, our children have already returned to school. And naturally, with a new school year, parents are gearing up, hoping this year they don’t have to battle with their children over maintaining good grades.

As a kid, I was always jealous of the students who got money based on how good their grades were. I thought my parents should adopt the same system. As a parent of six children, who all managed to bring home decent grades, that idea didn’t sound appealing anymore. I couldn’t stand the thought of forking out money for the number of A’s and B’s my children brought home.

So today, we want to give you a few ideas for encouraging good grades without bribing your kids.

First, encourage your students to join sports teams. At most middle and high schools, students have to maintain a C average in order to participate in sports. If your children have a genuine interest in participating, they’ll do what it takes to keep their grades up and still enjoy the benefits of being on a team.

Furthermore, many of your children’s teachers will notify you if your children are at risk for losing sports privileges. Sometimes, when your students are failing, you hear nothing about it until it’s too late (or nearly too late) to do anything about it.

Second, add reading and other school projects to your child’s chore chart. For many kids, organization is their biggest challenge in school. Not remembering to complete book reports or research papers could seriously affect their grades. But it’s not uncommon for many of these assignments to slip your child’s mind. If it’s on the chore chart, they won’t forget…and neither will you.

You may want to add reading to your child’s chore chart as well. Research has shown that the more a child reads, the better they do in school overall. But not every child is going to choose to pick up a book. If one of their chores includes reading for twenty minutes a day, you are helping them gain valuable skills and knowledge.

Third, start a college fund and frequently talk to your children about the value of their education. For many kids, a few words of encouragement are all they need to try their best. Your children want to know that you’re proud of them and you have high expectations of them and their future. By creating a college fund, your child is more likely to see a reason for performing well in school.

Nagging rarely works, but if you take the time to talk to your kids about their education, you may be surprised at how readily they respond. And spend part of your time together discussing what they learn. They may find school much more interesting if they have someone to share their new knowledge with.

I’m not saying that you can’t bribe your students with good grades. If that works in your family, by all means, do it. Education is important no matter what you devices you have to employ. But if you can get away without losing all your cash, that may be a better route to go.

Helping Children Pay for Mistakes

July 19th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

A friend of mine is disabled and so uses a specially modified car to get around. The car includes a hydraulic system that opens the passenger side door and lowers a ramp. That way, this man can easily get in and out of the car in his wheelchair.

The other day, a passenger in the car decided to “test” the ramp. He wanted to see if the ramp would hold his weight as it went up. So he pressed the automated button that lifts the ramp and jumped on. Not only did the ramp break, but the hydraulic system was destroyed as well.

Here’s the thing…the passenger was an adult. An adult who ought to have known better. But in a moment of stupidity, this man did $215 worth of damage. Damage he’ll have to pay for.

Now, as you know, your children are also going to make mistakes. They are going to break things, lose things, and create messes. And sometimes, when those accidents happen, it’s not going to be at your house.

Well, unless you’re a ridiculously generous parent, you’re children won’t have $215 lying around to pay for their mistakes. So how do you help your kids pay for their mistakes when they are financially unable to do so?

Our suggestion is that you do what you can to have them work off the damage. This does not mean that you start putting their allowance toward the mistake. It does not mean that you give extra money for the chores you’re child is already responsible for completing. It means that you give them chores or work above and beyond what they typically complete.

Determine the value of the extra chores you assign your child. And try to find chores that you and your family don’t typically do. Otherwise, you’re going to have cross over between the “work it off” chores and standard chores.

You could…have your son or daughter wash the windows. It’s something most of us only do once or twice a year. Or hire someone else to do. So tally up how much you would pay a professional window washer, and put that amount toward paying off the mistake.

Another idea might include pruning the trees in the yard. Instead of hiring a landscaper or spending your whole weekend working on trees, give that responsibility to your child. Decide what it would have cost you to pay a landscaper and put that money toward the mistake.

If the damage your child has done far exceeds what they would typically do in extra chores, you may consider giving your child a small amount of money for each job they do and then putting the rest toward repairing the damage.

Hopefully, your children never destroy anything. And the only chores they do are the chores they are assigned on a regular basis. But, if adults can make bad choices or make mistakes, you can bet your children will as well.

Don’t mess up your existing chore chart and don’t let your child off the hook. Give them the chance to take responsibility for their own actions.

Use Chore Time to Reinforce Positive Traits in Your Children

April 5th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

As a parent, there are certain traits you’d certainly like your children to develop. But between school, extra-curricular activities, homework, and friends, how much time do you actually have to observe and reinforce positive traits in your children? Probably not a lot.

So you’ve got to seize the opportunity whenever it occurs. And chores are one of the consistencies that you actually have the chance to observe. So why not use chore time as a time to build your child’s character?

For example:

Your child’s chore is to vacuum the house. One day you notice the child has moved the furniture so they can vacuum under it. After they complete their job, be sure to mention it. You could say something like, “Thanks for getting under the furniture. It shows me you’re committed to doing your work well.”

Your child may roll their eyes, but they’ll be glad you noticed their extra effort. And they’ll be more willing to do it again in the future.

 

You notice a child, whose chore it is to wash the dishes. Throughout the day, they encourage family members to put their dishes in the dishwasher. Then, when it comes time to complete their chore, only a few dishes are sitting in the sink. Think about the benefit of this behavior and mention it to your child.

Let your child learn that work done now pay off in the long run and maybe you can combat the natural instinct to procrastinate.

 

After coming home from school, your child takes the time to relax. But then, they receive a phone call and find themselves rushing from one activity to the next. It’s late when they get home, but they still complete their chores before heading off to bed. Now, maybe you wanted the chores done earlier in the day. But your child just displayed some real character.

Use this example with their chores to praise your child for their sense of responsibility.

 

One child experiences a particularly difficult day. To help them out, a brother or sister completes their chore for them and asks for nothing in return. If you let that one slip, you’re really doing your child a disservice.

Be sure you praise your child for jobs well done and any charitable acts they might complete.

 

On a day to day basis, your children are not going to do a perfect job. They may do the bare minimum just to get done. But on occasion, your children will surprise you. And that’s the time to say something.

It takes extra effort on your part, but watching the effort your children put into their chores will afford you the chance to help them develop their character.

Ways to Help Kids Build Character While On School Breaks

March 15th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Most children wait for weeks for that next school break to come. Christmas. President’s Day. Spring Break. But for many families it only takes a day or two of freedom before parents start hearing that common complaint: I’m bored.

Parents are put to the test looking for things to do. In the meantime, children revert to playing video games, watching t.v., or even just sitting around.

Here are some great ideas for keeping your children busy and helping them build character while on their school breaks:

Find a place for your kids to volunteer. Granted, your child may not want to participate. They may kick and they may scream, but at the end of the day, you might be surprised how willing they are to do it again. Even young children can help out and learn some great lessons by volunteering at a soup kitchen or collecting trash at a state park.

Explain to your children who is being helped and why your service is so needed. Volunteer work gives children a chance to see how lucky they are and it teaches them compassion. Even as adults, we don’t often choice to volunteer. But don’t you always feel rewarded after doing something good for those in need?

Give them a project to complete. As adults, we have lists a mile long that never get done. Why not pass one of your own to-do’s on to your children? For example, if your son has been begging you to build a skate ramp, help him find some resources online, take him to the hardware store, and give him the chance to tackle this project.

If you’ve been thinking about a garden, invite your children to take a crack at it first. No, your rows may not be straight, and the seeds might not be deep enough. But your child will feel a sense of accomplishment, and you can cross the garden off your list…finally.

For children who need a little extra persuading, you could add these projects as bonus items on their chore charts and reward them the same way you would their regular jobs. MyJobChart gives you all kinds of options for how to reward your children.

Help them plan a fun activity. Who does most the work when you have a party or plan a trip? The parents, right? But during a school break, there’s no reason your children can’t plan and execute an activity they would enjoy. Let them pick something: a picnic, a fishing trip, a pool party, or a sleep over. Give them the responsibility of planning, preparing, executing, and cleaning up after their activity.

If the activity requires a lot of work, you can help your children divide up the tasks and use their chore chart to make sure everything gets done and everyone does their fair share. Letting your children take charge of their own amusement will give them something to do, and perhaps they’ll learn that even fun events take time and effort.

If you find yourself dreading the next school break, it might be because you are trying to do too much for your children. Let them take matters into their own hands. There is always plenty to do and you can find ways of helping your children build character while enjoying their school break with them.

Children – The World’s Most Valuable Resource

March 8th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Today’s blog post is going to be just a little bit different than most. Because recently, we came upon a quote that really struck a chord, so rather than give you parenting tips, we hope you won’t mind a few random thoughts about the quote.

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
-
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In what context this quote was spoken, we don’t know. But after reading it, here are a few of the thoughts we had:

1- Kids are great! As parents, our joy and our pleasure will come from watching our children mature and find their own place in the world. In someone’s home right now, there is a future president, a future astronaut, a scientist who will discover the cure for horrific diseases, a teacher, a nurse, or an entertainer.

2. Our responsibility to our children is one of the greatest we will ever experience. Most of us will never have the chance to make a big impact on the world. But in one way, we all affect the future by molding and shaping the lives of our children. What a challenge – to teach them how to reach their full potential and become contributing members of society.

3. We have to start now. We cannot expect our children to magically become strong, ambitious, influential people if we fail to teach them important skills at an early age. Our children will be our greatest contribution to the world…but only if we, as parents, can guide them and teach them.

If you are not using MyJobChart, we want to strongly encourage you to try it out. It was designed to help parents teach their children invaluable skills such as organization, responsibility, money-management, charity, self-motivation, and dedication.

A child’s potential cannot be measured. But you can give them a great start in achieving that potential by offering them the skills and tools they need to learn and grow.

If you are using MyJobChart, we invite you to share some of the things your kids have learned or some of the successes you’ve achieved through using MyJobChart. And if you want to brag about your kids a little bit, well, that would be great too!

2011 Parenting Resolutions

December 16th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Every year people make vows to change at the start of the new year. It is the nature of a new beginning. This year why not think about ways to improve your parenting? Perhaps in past years you have made a resolution to be a “better parent,” but what does that consist of? You need to set yourself some measurable goals.

  • Tell your kids you love them. Maybe you do this already, but try to take more time to do so. Let them know each day so there isn’t any doubt.
  • Try to laugh more. As a parent we tend to lose our ability to find the silly in situations that might cause our children to giggle. Try to not always be concerned with what is coming next and take the time to stop and laugh.
  • Remember time isn’t always on our side. We get bogged down as parents with lots of busy schedules – ours and theirs. We can’t however slow down how quickly our children are growing. This year my 5 year old son is so into decorating for the holidays that it is making my husband crazy. His enthusiasm for the preparation is intense. We need to appreciate the phase he is at because in a few short years he may not even be interested in participating in the process.
  • Listen to your gut. There is a plethora of parenting advice in this world of technology we live in. We can read about what is the best way to get our kids to learn to sleep, or to eat healthy foods, or to hang out with the right crowd. However, at some point you need to just relax and go with what your gut tells you for that particular child. Remember that your instincts are usually pretty good. Trust yourself.
  • Purge some of the old stuff to make room for the new. This always makes everyone feel better in the long run, even though most likely your children will grumble and complain as you go through the process. Explain that now that they have new gifts they need to weed out some of the old things they no longer use. They can sell things at a yard sale if you want to turn it into a budgeting experience, or they can give things to charity. Either way it is a good lesson to experience. Do this with your own things as well.
  • Make time for you and your spouse. It isn’t healthy to put all your time into your kids whether you are married or single. You need to carve out some time for YOU! Set it into your calendar. It will make the whole family happier.
  • Remember that your children are blessings not chores. Ever hear the expression “Life is how you look at it”? The same is true of parenting. There are plenty of people who view parenting as work rather than joy. It is both no doubt, but try to concentrate on the rewards. There is no greater love than parenting.

Advice For Us “Always In A Hurry” People

July 9th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

No matter how light my load is for the day I feel like I’m always in a hurry to “get it done.” At this point, many of you are probably singing the popular country song by Alabama. If not, you most definitely will be after I throw out some of the lyrics. The song’s chorus says:

“I’m in a hurry to get things done.
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die,
but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”

I think the message here might have a familiar ring to many of us. I know it sparks a recognizable cord in my mind and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. Why do we always feel like we’re in a rush? Just the other day I caught myself over-analyzing my average driving speed because I knew for certain that my innate ability to catch red lights was a direct result of my average rate of speed (OCD I know)! I tried to determine whether I should slow down or speed up another 3-4 miles per hour.

Being in a hurry is a trait of many people in today’s world and whether we realize it or not, it is a huge problem. Rushing through the dishes, laundry, shopping, getting the kids ready for school, and even our projects at work decreases not only the quality of our actions but our overall enjoyment for the things we do each day.

So what is to be done? How can we relieve ourselves of the feeling of being in a hurry and still be able to get everything done in a day that we need to? Over the past little while I’ve been trying to implement some ideas that I’ve had about it and they seem to be working for the most part so I will share some of them here. Keep in mind that many of these are not simply my own concoctions, but rather are an accumulation of ideas from myself and suggestions from friends.

Focus On Importance Not “Speed”

I think that a lot of times we are simply trying to get things done as fast as we can so that we can move on to the next task. When we do this, we often miss the whole point of why we’re doing something and our quality decreases as well as our fulfillment in completing it.

When mowing the lawn, put your mind into mowing the lawn and doing a good job. When you get up in the morning and need to put on makeup, take a few deep breathes and go through it with care and precision. This way you work efficiently taking as little time as possible but still are doing a good job because your mind is not flying away thinking about the next 4 things that need to get done. This enables us to enjoy the work we are currently engaged in. Once we’re finished, then move to the next task (making breakfast, waking up the kids, morning reading…etc) and enjoy the process of accomplishing it.

Set Aside Daily Relaxation Time

Most people who feel like they are always in a hurry, myself included, rarely set apart a time in each day to simply do “nothing.” Wait a minute, did he just say that doing “nothing” will help me be in less of a hurry? Yes, I did! :) It doesn’t have to be long. Five to 10 minutes will even suffice. This is time where you practice disconnecting and let your mind rest. Ponder on your feelings and let your muscles and limbs be still. This does wonders to making us feel less stressed.

It’s OK If Something Doesn’t Get Done!

I think a lot of times I get down on myself thinking about all the things that I could/should have done that day rather than focusing on what WAS accomplished. It’s really easy to fall into this trap and it’s an important habit to break. It’s one of the leading reasons why we insist on being in a hurry because we want to avoid those feelings at the end of the day.

Coming to a realization that there is just no way to get everything done that we need to is vital. When we start off and end the day with that mindset, then it’s easier to focus on all the good things that happened that day and all that we were able to accomplish. We go to bed content and wake up refreshed and ready to start anew.

Don’t Over Commit And Try Cutting Back Appointments

This is the final suggestion that I’ve been working on. Too many appointments really drains our time in a day especially if the appointments take place in different locations. Try to schedule appointments around the same location and keep them to a minimum. Don’t just have a meeting to HAVE a meeting. Only schedule them when they are absolutely necessary. If you can have a conference call or video chat from home instead then make it work. This eliminates unnecessary travel time and will ultimately allow for more time to accomplish other more important tasks.

I hope you find some benefit to these suggestions. I know life can be hectic and rushed at times but I really feel like we can make a difference and try to enjoy the daily events more when we truly try to focus on changing our mindset and implementing a few easy ideas like  these.

8 Ways Parenting Can Help You Survive A Plane Crash

June 14th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Since Y2k, there have been 147 reported plane crashes. Of the crashes resulting in fatalities, 24% of the passengers were able to somehow survive.

The causes of these plane crashes are wide in variety and range from bird-engine encounters (bird strike) to pilot incapacitation. Despite the plethora of ways a plane can end up going down, there is always a common theme amongst many of the survivors.

It is proven that “parents” are able to forge the disparities of plane crashes at a much higher rate than the average passenger. Why is this? Many are rightly asking themselves what it is about these relentless caregivers that empowers them to fight through the flames and come out on top despite such difficult odds.

We were wondering the same thing and decided to ask the experts. We talked to  the My Job Chart Board members and were able to come up with 8 ways that parenting can help you survive a plane crash. They are as follows.

1. You’re so broke the only “plain” ride you can afford to go on is the Merry-Go-Round.

2. Before the flight you see that the plane isn’t Boeing and say to the pilot,”You’re not going out in THAT are you?”

3. Parenting wears you out to the point that you’re too busy crashing out on the reclined economy class seat to even notice the real crash.

4. Your kid’s behavior (and your budget) forces you to always choose the very back row of the plane which is known to be the safest place during a crash.

5. You will always choose an aisle seat (also a safe place to sit during a crash) to keep your kids securely locked between you and the the wall of the plane.

6. You’ve practiced long and hard on your kids, now in the heat of the moment, you can yell at the pilot from your seat and guide him to a safe field landing.

7. Because you’re constantly getting up and down to take the kids to the bathroom, you never have your tray down which can inhibit your swift exit after a crash landing.

8. You deal with tragedies every day (ie. kids stealing each others toys, 8 dirty diapers in one day, little Tyler broke his right arm AND got his big toe caught in the chain all at the same time… etc) What’s a little plane crash?

Finally, one more for all you “Lost” fans…

9. As long as you have your child “before” you take flight, you should be safe on any strange island you happen to land on.

And there you have it parents. 8 (+1) great ways that being a parent can help you survive a plane crash.

My Job Chart. A free online chore chart for your family. Fun for kids. Easy for parents.

(The 8 ways parenting can help you survive a plan crash are solely opinions and do not rely on factual evidence. They are by no means true, and the opinions are in no way affiliated with My Job Chart and/or it’s team members.)

10 Things You Never Liked Until You Became a Parent

May 31st, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Parents, this one’s just for fun. I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of things that parents really like now that maybe would have not been so appealing 10 or 15 years ago in our teenage years or even later. Of course this list is not ALL INCLUSIVE so let’s hear some of your ideas :). Don’t forget to forward this on to your friends who are parents.

And now… the TOP TEN things you never liked until you became a parent.

1. Going to Bed at 8:30PM

If there’s one thing that kids hate it’s having a curfew. Going to bed early just isn’t cool when you’re 16 I don’t care who you are. However, things change a little when you’re grown and living under the same roof as your spouse with children that wear you out all day. Early bedtime is something all parents long for.

2. Reading Parenting Tip Blogs :)

I mean really, did you even think there was such a thing before you became a parent? Most things come as a product of necessity and likewise, you wouldn’t go looking for tips on parenting if you weren’t a parent.

3. Following Mommy Bloggers

Along with parenting tips blogs, the market of mommy bloggers is increasing dramatically everyday as new mothers and fathers look to promote their ideas to other parents via the internet. The name “mommy blogger” just straight up sounds silly to anyone who has never heard of the term before. It’s just something you don’t really understand until you get into it and this usually isn’t until you’re a stay at home mom with a little more time on your hands while the kids are at school.

4. Being a Kid

We usually want what we don’t have. When we’re kids we want to be grown up and do grown up things because we can’t do them yet. When we’re grown up and can’t do things like we could when we were kids it is just as frustrating.

5. Asking Mom for Advice

Mom never knew what she was talking about back then. Now she’s the number one “go to” person for advice on everything and anything.

6. Having a Routine

When I was young I didn’t want to do things in any particular order. I hated people telling me what to do and when to do it. Having a routine was boring and not cool. Now, without a routine, I’m lost!

7. Baby Wipes (You can use them for anything!)

This little moist towelettes were “icky” when I saw my mom use them on my little sister. Now I find they are useful for just about anything. I could make a list a mile long of all the things you can clean with these babies.

8. Mini-Vans (Can’t Beat Chrystler’s “stow-n-go” Feature on the 2010 Model)

As a kid, the mini-van was as embarrassing as all get up. We’d pull up to school and the kids would all pile out. You knew everyone in the whole school was watching and laughing. Oh the pain. Oh the agony and shame.

Muumuu9. Naps

We all wish we could have one right now… enough said.

and finally…
10. Muumuus!!

From wikipedia, “Muumuu are also popular as maternity gowns… because they do not restrict the waist.” Once you have your baby you just never want to let the muumuu go. Soooo comfy!

Being a Parent | What It Takes and Why It’s Worth It

May 12th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

What does it take to be a parent? A lot of young people do not fully realize the great responsibility of being a parent. It’s easy to say to kids that they, “just don’t understand” or, “when you grow up you’ll finally realize what I had to go  through for you.” It’s true that children may not at first appreciate all that goes into raising a family.

In this same light, it stands to reason that parents need to really know what it takes to be a parent. Whether you are preparing to be the guardian of your first born or you are a mother of 7, it’s important to review some of the key traits of good parents. I’ve asked our facebook and twitter fans what they feel it takes to be a parent and have received some great responses. I’ve summarized all of them into just three categories Love, Encouragement, and Patience.

What it takes to be a parentLove

It’s easy to love your kids when they are young, cute, and innocent. What about when they don’t always do what you would like them to do? What if they consistently rebel and don’t want anything to do with the advice you offer?

Unconditional love means you love your kids regardless of what they do. It’s important to keep this in mind when times are hard to help you see the big picture. Remembering past experiences and times when your child made you happy/proud can really help you love them during times when you are not so pleased with them.

Encouragement

I think sometimes we mistake encouragement for telling or trying to force kids to do certain things. This is not the type of encouragement I’m talking about. The type of encouragement that it takes to be a parent is the type that empowers and instills self-assurance in kids.

Kids need to be told they are good in order to develop self-worth. You really need to find something to praise your kids for everyday. It needs to be done individually and sincerely. “Kelly, way to go on your grades girl!” “Mike, your such a good son. I love you. Thanks for taking out the trash today.” Just some ideas ;)

Patience

After the 1 millionth diaper change you might start to get a glimpse of what being patient really means. Patience really is a virtue and it takes patience to be a parent regardless of how obedient/disobedient your children are.

Being a parent means being patient with the growing/learning process of you kids. You can’t expect them to read at age 2 just like you can’t expect your secretary to be able to change the exhaust manifold on your car. It’s not yet in their repertoire. Usain Bolt didn’t step onto the track for the first time and run a 9.58 second 100 meter dash. These things take time and patience.

Being patient with your children will help you love and praise them easier and they will, in turn, develop faster (ironic?).

Why It’s Worth It To Be A Parent

1.Rediscovering the world through your child’s eyes.

2. The feeling of your little child falling asleep in your arms at night.

3. You get to watch a life grow and blossom

4. The sense of accomplishment when you see your child succeed at something he/she loves

5. You hear the words, “I love you mom.”

6. Your kids make you feel like a kid again

7. They eventually go to sleep at night

8. _____________ (left blank intentionally… feel in your favorite reason and tell your son/daughter that you love them)

My Job Chart is a FREE online chore chart that teaches kids to work in a fun and productive way. Try My Job Chart Today and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more parenting articles.

Keeping Children Safe at Home

April 29th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Kids can get into the most precarious places and do the most outrageous things. Cabinets you never thought could be climbed even by Sir Edmund Hillary himself (first person to climb Mt. Everst ;), somehow get surmounted by your 2 year old. It boggles your mind as a parent, but it is very real and if you have a toddler you know what I’m talking about.

Because of this perplexing ability of younger children, it is super important to make sure that your house is well equipped with safety features and  what I like to call “pain preventatives.” These are things like baby outlet covers, high door handles, and child-safety cabinets. These are basically the essentials for any home with younger kids. Listed below, however, are some ways of keeping your children safe at home that you may not have thought of before but are definitely important.

1. Planned Emergency Escape Routes

Some may think this is silly but having a predetermined escape route that the whole family clearly and completely understands can reduce chaos and confusion during emergency situations. You should always have 2 escape routes in case one is blocked. Also remember to have properly working smoke detectors. These should be checked once per month and the batteries should be swapped out every year.

2. Locks on the Medicine Cabinet

I can’t stress enough the importance of this. A friend of mine was in a situation where she almost lost her daughter because her Father-in-law had left a bottle of digoxin (decreases heart rate) on what he THOUGHT was a high shelf. Her daughter was able to climb on top of the shelf that was close to 10 feet tall and had stuffed the whole bottle in her mouth before anyone had noticed. It is only a matter of prayer and faith that she is still alive today. Don’t ever think your kids can’t get somewhere. Make sure all medications are securely locked in a cabinet.

3. Prevent Burns from Hot Water

If your water heater is set too high, a baby could accidentally turn on the hot water valve on the faucet and end up scalding his sensitive skin. Check your water heater and make sure it is set to no more than 120°F.

4. Take Proper Precautions Around Water

If you have a pool, most cities require that you have a fence and gate that meets certain guidelines in order to prevent younger children from entering the pool area unattended.  If you have a pool and children, you should always have this regardless of city requirements. In 2009 there were over 600 pool drownings. Let’s bring that number down this year and make sure we are not a victim of that statistic.

5. Check the Width of Your Crib Bars and Bannister Posts

I just bought a home. Of course, we had a home inspector go through the house before purchasing. He brought to my attention that the posts supporting the railing along the stairs were too far apart. I was confused and then he told me that the reason is because if you have a small child, he may be able to fit his head between the posts. If they happen to fall or stumble and get their head caught between the bars… well you get the idea. I was taken back but nodded in agreement. Home safety guidelines say that bars should be less than 4 inches apart. If yours are further apart than this you can purchase banister guards to solve the problem (much cheaper than putting in new railing).

So there you go. A few tips on keeping children safe at home. Hopefully these were helpful. Of course there are many more things you can do to keep your home safe for children. Please feel free to share your comments and suggestion below. Happy parenting! Also, if you owe your kids a reward for completing their chore chart… pay up!!

The Blessings of Parenthood

March 14th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Kids screaming, the house is in shambles, you haven’t had a night out with the spouse in a month, and you couldn’t be happier. Right?!

Sometimes it is easy to overlook the joy, love, and hundreds of other blessings that come from being a parent. With so much going on, it is easy to get stressed and overwhelmed with the tasks of day to day parenting. Take heart, today we want to remind ourselves of all the GOOD things that come from being a parent. Remembering some of these key reasons to be happy as a parent may help to lift our spirits and get us through another day of laundry overload and money “underload.”

  • the first time you held her in your arms
  • the first time you saw him smile
  • she said “momma” before “dadda”
  • when she had a rough first day of school, you were the person she came to for comfort
  • you have lower blood pressure (if you don’t believe me, read the article)
  • you live for someone other than yourself
  • you cried when she told you that you were her best friend
  • you get to cheer louder than anyone else in the stands at his football games
  • you’re not alone on “take your daughter to work” day
  • next month, your taxable income is reduced by $3,650 per child (kind of a joke… kind of not)

and finally… you love them :)

Of course we could extend this list forever if we really were to sit down and think of all the good things that come from having kids. It is a good idea to do this every once in a while, especially if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the struggles that also come from being a parent. So let us take the next few minutes and think about our own blessings of parenthood. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

Ten Useful Supernanny Tips for Parents

March 4th, 2010 - Category: General Parenting

Being a  parent is becoming harder and harder in a world that is constantly changing and where morals and high standards continue to diminish. As a parent, you want the best for your children. You want them to succeed in an increasingly competitive world and you want them to make good decisions. The most important factor in determining the success of children in the real world is how they are brought up in the home.

We all want to be the best parent we possibly can be. We want to teach our kids the necessary skills they will need in times of trial and big decisions. With this in mind, as well as the previous statement that everything starts in the home, we’re offering some useful supernanny tips for parents in establishing a productive household with obedient and happy children. The list is not meant to be in order of priority and it is not meant to be an “all inclusive” sure fire method to success. However, taking ideas from this list and implementing them in your own creative way can ensure that you are taking steps in the right direction for your family. The first three come from the supernanny herself, Jo Frost.

1. Determine Your Family Values (What Type of Parent do You Want to Be?)

When you were in grade school your teacher would ask you, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At first it may have seemed like a silly questions seeing that it felt like forever until “growing up” would actually occur. Looking back now, it didn’t take long to figure out that time flies. Having an idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up gave you focus and direction. The same holds true for parenting. It is important to decide now, whether you’re a first year mother of 1 or an experienced father/mother of 10 wonderful children, what type of parent you want to be.

Determining what type of parent you want to be requires formulating the values you want to uphold in your family. By teaching your kids these values when they are young, you start to develop strong bonds with them as the family unit will have a clear direction and purpose. “As a potter molds clay to form a beautiful creation, so does the strong bond of family and good values.” The article this quote was taken from is worth a read.

2. Lead by Example

Once you have established these core principles and values in your home, make sure that you are really trying your best to follow them. It is absurd to expect your child who is younger and less experienced than you to live up to standards that you yourself aren’t even staying true to. Children learn by imitating their parents. If you want your children to not tell you lies, prove to them that you never lie to them and be sincere in all of your efforts.

3. Spend Time With Your Children

It is a well known fact that spending quality time with your children is immensely important. In fact, it may be THE most important thing in regards to a child’s self-esteem and overall success in life.

Not only does spending time with your child help him/her feel loved and cared for, studies also show that it can help them become more intelligent. Children who spend large amounts of  time with their fathers are said to have higher IQs and are more prone to experiencing better future career prospects.

So, whether it’s nightly story-time with your daughter, a daily game of catch with your son, or simply a nightly meal with the entire family, quality time is essential in establishing a good family environment.

4. Choose the Right Rules for YOUR Family

Each families situation is different. Depending on where you live, how you were raised in your own family, and what goals you want to accomplish with your kids, the rules you set for your children will most likely differ from other families experiencing different circumstances.

Regardless of the rules you set for your family, it is important to remain consistent. Make sure that when a rule is set, a predetermined punishment is fixed, and that you stick to those guidelines. This way, a child is completely aware of the consequences of breaking the rule and knows that he/she will not be able to persuade you out of punishment or compensation, which brings us to our next point.

5. Reward Children for Good Behavior and Work

There is nothing that can replace the value of teaching your children the importance of hard work. Learning to work helps kids know the value of a dollar and teaches them that they can accomplish great things through effort and determination.

Equally important is the importance of rewarding your children for good work. When a child finishes a chore that you set up, he/she should be rewarded for accomplishing the task. This can be easily managed by setting up a free, customizable chore chart through myjobchart.com. You can set up rewards for your children when they finish chores and earn points towards those rewards. When a child knows he/she will be compensated for working, it is easier for them to justify spending the time to do it. You wouldn’t go to work everyday if you didn’t know at the end of the week you would be getting a pay check. Children are no different. They should be rewarded for good behavior and for hard work.

6. Control Video and Computer Game Time

Today, many children are glued to the TV or computer screen as online games and video games continue to increase in popularity. It is easy for these activities to become habit forming and addicting if proper action and rules are not put in place from the beginning. Thus, it is important to, if possible, address the problem before it becomes a problem.

Allocating a maximum “per day” usage of the internet and gaming consoles will go a long way in ensuring that your child’s time is not eaten up by gaming or surfing the net.

7. Keep a Clean Home

A cluttered house promotes stress and irritation. If you’re implementing all the above steps, you may be finding that it is hard to find the time to keep the house as clean as you would want. Though it is time intensive, having a clean house is worth the work and will make your home a pleasant place to be both for you, your kids, their friends, and your friends. Their friends will want to come over and spend time at your house. This makes it easier for you to keep track of their activities and you are more able to be involved in their life.

Here’s some quick hints on keeping a tidy house when time is hard to come by.

  • Hire a maid
  • Do a little at a  time (don’t overload by thinking you have to clean the whole house in one shot)
  • set apart a half hour each day to clean house
  • don’t stress over small messes (keep things in perspective)

8. Determine and Keep a Family Routine

A daily routine keeps kids from getting into trouble. The less leisure time they have, the less time they have to try and come up with things to do. It is when kids have nothing to do that they start to get into mischief. They are trying to satisfy a void.

Encouraging children to participate in extra-curricular sports and activities will help fill this void and fill up their day with constructive activities. They will increase their abilities and will increase their confidence. Your kids having a routine will help mold your own daily routine as you will have to plan your day around their activities as well (taking and picking up from school, practice, club meetings…etc). This helps everyone in the family feel accomplished and offers more opportunities for you to praise and show love to your children.

9. Share Your Love

Knowing that they are loved does more than anything to boost the confidence and success of a child. When they know that you are proud of them they want to do more to make you proud. They desire that you are pleased with them and the accomplishments they make.

We all know that this is important but sometimes as parents, it is difficult to know in which ways we can show our love for our children. Here are some suggestions on how you can truly show your child that you care.

  • Give them your attention (When they ask you to look at something… LOOK!)
  • Listen to them (Try to refrain from always talking and telling. Instead, listen and learn)
  • Encourage them (When they do something new, tell them how cool they are. Let them know that no matter what, you still think they are the best in the world.)
  • Share With Them (Don’t just share your money and house with them, share with them your thoughts, emotions, ideas, and activities. Make them feel like they are a part of your life)

10. Recognize Your Limitations and Start Fresh

Finally, you are never going to be a perfect parent. The sooner you realize this the better. By understanding that you are not the perfect parent, you open yourself up to new ideas and learning. It is important to be able to adjust to different circumstances and change. Not everything that worked with your first child will work for your second or third child. Each person is different and we all react differently to different ways of being taught. Be willing to learn and grow and change as you start finding out things that work and don’t work for you.

We all have grown up under unique individual circumstances and a lot of the ideas we have about parenting we developed from our parents and how they reared us. If you were raised in an overly strict family, perhaps you want to be on the opposite end and have a very “un-strict” way of parenting. Regardless of this, figure out what your motives are and pinpoint your style. Then, accept that certain things have influenced the way you parent and the reason you do what you do. Finally, understand that you are NOT your parents and you can choose to learn from what they did and not be chained down by it.

Take the good that you’ve learned from them or any other parental figure in your life and utilize those techniques. Discover the bad ones that you may have been exposed to and come up with a reasonable way of changing it.

Are there any other tips that you have on parenting? Please feel free to comment on these and share some of your own.