Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

When Your Child’s Coach or Teacher is the Bully – What Makes a Good Leader October 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjlacko @ 11:02 am

“Every year, we all hear stories and read headlines about overly intense, aggressive, and even abusive coaches,” points out Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In. “These men and women are so focused on winning at any cost that they bully, berate, embarrass, and insult their players, which can cause great damage to these young people’s self-esteem, confidence, and overall emotional well-being…on and off the field.”

Patkin urges parents to stay aware of how coaches interact with their children and what type of influence they’re having, and most importantly, to hold them accountable.

“I like winning as much as anyone, and I definitely think that one of a coach’s goals should be to help his or her team hone their skills and perform at as high a level as possible,” he says. “But parents and coaches alike should remember that what constitutes a great coach isn’t a winning season—it’s a leadership style that builds up, nurtures, and mentors young athletes in a way that makes them more  confident, motivated, and capable human beings.”

In our family’s case, the “coach” in question was the music teacher. My son was rehearsing afterschool and weekends for a school production of Cinderella. I was shocked to observe how the children were treated during these rehearsals. Both this tenured teacher and his aide made sarastic, shaming comments when children missed lines or cues, and berated those waiting impatiently for their scene. Yelling at the kids and name-calling carried on throughout every rehearsal. It was downright ugly. More surprising, I wasn’t the only parent attending the rehearsals. Several moms sat observing this but said nothing. Have we become complacent in our goal of a “winning” result?

Here, Patkin offers some tips for parents to use when evaluating their children’s coaches, as well as standards of behavior every coach should strive to meet:

Realize that harsh coaching methods do cause damage. There’s no question that harsh coaching methods, such as calling players out, getting in their faces, and “motivating” them through fear, do more harm than good. In the short term, these tactics cause anxiety, shame, and low self-esteem. Over time, a bullied athlete’s weakened confidence and sense of self-worth can eradicate motivation and love for the game. And worst of all, it can transfer to other areas of the young person’s life, making him or her less confident  socially and academically. After all, it’s a short step from believing I’m not good enough on the field to I don’t have what it takes to succeed at all.

“I believe that some coaches may think that their tactics are working if their teams are performing well or improving,” Patkin shares. “But what they don’t know is that their star player dreads practice and has a knot of anxiety in his stomach for days before a game. Remember, it’s your responsibility as a parent to make sure that your child’s coach is not negatively impacting her love for the game, and much more importantly, her overall self-esteem in all areas  of her life for years to come.”

Think about what a coach’s job really is. The coach’s goal is to teach and guide young people who are in the midst of their mental, emotional, and physical development. Ideally, what a coach teaches during practice will also help kids develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in many other areas for the rest of their lives. When you look at it that way, coaching is as much about growing children through positive motivation and attitude as it is about imparting the mechanics of swinging a bat or kicking a ball.

“I know from personal experience that success in any area of life is achieved mainly through encouragement and positive reinforcement,” Patkin explains. “It’s every bit as important for your child to feel valued as it is to make sure they’re learning the rules of the game.”

Watch a replay of the coach’s motivations. Is she in it for winning (and only winning), or does she want to make a difference in young people’s lives? While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win, make sure that your child’s coach does not use her position primarily to brag about her successful seasons and coaching record.

“To some extent, a coach’s goals should match the level of athletics in which your child is engaged,” Patkin adds. “For instance, if he is doing  coach-pitch baseball, his coach’s main motivation should definitely  be centered around having fun and helping kids. But if your son is a high school baseball player and his team has a legitimate chance to go all the way to the state championship, it’s okay for the coach to put more of an emphasis on winning vs. losing…as long as the players’ physical and psychological well-being are still a firm first priority.”

Has the coach done some emotional intelligence warm-ups? Everyone knows that a coach should have a broad knowledge of his or her sport. But were you aware that coaches should also strive to possess a high level of emotional intelligence? If you aren’t familiar with the term, emotional intelligence is a quality that enables you to be empathetic, an effective communicator, to navigate conflict, etc. If you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re better able to manage your own emotions, pick up on what others are feeling, and react constructively  to setbacks—all of which are qualities that coaches should strive to have.

“Remember, everyone, but especially the young, can be made or broken by others’ words,” points out Patkin. “A coach—who is also a leader and mentor—has the responsibility to make sure that he or she is setting kids up for present and future success, not filling them with self-doubt and hurting their self-esteem. If you come to believe that the coach’s words aren’t benefiting the players and may even be hurting them, don’t be afraid to act, whether you speak to the coach or even try to find a different team for your child.”

Does the coach score points through caring? It’s true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And in sports, it’s crucial that coaches care about athletes as people, not just as players. Watch to see if your child’s coach gets to know her on an individual basis and incorporates that knowledge into their regular interactions. It’s always a good sign if, for instance, a coach keeps tabs on your daughter’s academic achievements and compliments her for doing well on a test, or her abilities in other aspects of her life.

“Coaches should always show love, because most people simply don’t get enough of it!” Patkin asserts. “Showing genuine interest and caring is the greatest motivator I know of because people, kids included, will do anything to keep getting those things. And when players know that they mean more to their coaches than the numbers on their jerseys, they’ll naturally have a greater desire to excel.”

Does the coach strike out through criticism? Criticism: It has to happen in order for improvement to take place. But there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Many famous coaches in sports history have chosen the wrong way: berating players and shaming them in front of the team, insulting them for making mistakes, and delivering advice in anger. Unfortunately, these approaches tend to only alienate players and make coaches an object of fear rather than respect.

“Here are a few rules of thumb I suggest following to evaluate a coach when it comes to criticism,” shares Patkin. “First, he should criticize only in private, not in public. A coach should pull a player aside for a one-on-one discussion, not yell at him in front of the whole team. Also, a good coach should make sure the player knows he cares about more than just  the mistake. Ideally, he’ll try to accompany each criticism with a few compliments. Remember, we all tend to be our own worst critics—even kids. Many young athletes will tend to focus on what they’ve done wrong, not the many things they’ve done well. The ratio of compliments to criticism they receive from their coaches can shape their self-perception for a long time to come.”

Does the coach scout each practice for all-stars? It’s practically impossible for anyone to hear too many good things about themselves. On the sports field, compliments act as confidence—and thus performance—boosters, and they also improve motivation, team spirit, determination, and more. With that in mind, a good coach will always start each practice with the intention of catching as many players as possible doing well, then praise them in public and  in private whenever the opportunity arises.

“And if she wants to go the extra mile, a great coach might even send out a team newsletter that includes short write-ups of players who improve, who are team players, who give their all in practice, etc.,” Patkin adds. “Again, kids will work hard to keep getting recognized because it simply feels good. Who knows—they might remember a coach’s praise for the rest of their lives!”

“Here’s a great saying I’ve found to be true: People generally perform at the level that is expected of them,” reports Patkin. “So without putting negative pressure on the athletes, your child’s coach should let them know that she believes in their ability to accomplish great things.

“If you’re still not convinced, consider the well-known study conducted by Harvard’s Robert Rosenthal in the mid-sixties. Teachers were given a list of students in their classes who were supposedly on the cusp of an academic growth spurt—but in reality, the children on the list had been randomly selected. Now, here’s the interesting part: That school year, the children who had been identified as ‘special’ performed much better than their peers because the teachers had expected them to achieve and treated them accordingly. Look for a coach who expects the best from her players and you won’t be disappointed.”

If you are concerned  that a coach’s attitude or actions are harmful to your child, discuss the situation with your child before approaching the coach so that your child doesn’t feel blindsided or betrayed by your involvement. Ultimately, no sport or tournament or trophy is worth sacrificing your child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being.”

Has your child experienced bullying by a coach or teacher? What did you do?

Next week: Twelve Tips for Handling Conflict with a Coach

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Parents Guide to Helping Kids Study, Get Better Grades September 6, 2012

Filed under: motherhood,school — rjlacko @ 12:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

After completing a full day at school, commitment to after-school activities and sitting down to dinner, the inevitable must be procured from the backpack… homework.

Can we all agree on a few things here? Homework should not only complement the classroom work, but it should fulfill a specific function, from Day One/Grade One; homework should instill the classroom lessons in the memory of the child, effectively and efficiently as possible.

At home at the kitchen table or established study area, your child has the rare opportunity to review the presented materials using his or her own learning style–auditory, kinesthetic or reverse osmosis, however your unique little person operates. It’s up to us “post-scholars” to give our children something not every classroom has the luxury of providing–lessons on HOW to learn, HOW to study, HOW to get the information of the day to stay between the ears, at least until test time. But how?

Teacher and school administrator Gary Howard has been helping children get better grades for over 35 years.  What he’s proven to parents, students, and teachers, year after year, is that very little improvement is possible unless you can teach the children HOW TO LEARN in the first place.

His new book, Help Your Kids Get Better Grades is designed so that parents can simply, quickly and effectively mentor children and guide them to do the right things at home and at school, so that they learn how to study better, listen and take notes, and take tests with less stress.

“Parents can have a tremendous impact on how a child handles school and test-taking,” he says. “But it is the child who is taking the test.”

Howard’s book identifies what is needed for children to discover and grow the talents they are born with.  Education success however, is in the hands of the student who has to practice by studying.  Howard focuses on how to make studying fun.

Here are just some of Howard’s suggestions on how parents can help children improve their study habits and effectiveness:

Shop and let the student select the perfect pen. The right pen makes all the difference when taking notes or writing long essay answers on an exam.  Parents may be surprised, but printing is easier for many students than writing script cursive.

Schedule Study Time and Stick with It. Set up a weekly schedule for study time with two forty-minute study times each day with a 20 minute break between. Pick the times and stick to the times.

Buy Study Guides for Your Student.  For high school and college, these 5 to $9 guides of key subjects are the easiest and fastest way to get the bottom line necessary building blocks of information on a topic. In no way are they to be considered cheating. They are a wonderful way to get the outline and vital subjects identified.

Encourage Participation in Study Groups.  After school, join a group, discuss ideas, ask each other questions and research the answers together. But focus on work, this is not a social gathering.

Get a Tutor.  In sports you have a coach, at the health club there’s a trainer, so in classes, don’t hesitate, get a tutor.  Use the Internet and search. It’s not as expensive as you may imagine. The help over the tough spots can be invaluable – the difference between getting it, and losing it. (Note from Rebecca: I’ve had several parents tell me how hiring a tutor for a semester to help with a difficult subject significantly improved the student’s abilities and attitude for the remainder of high school. Awesome investment? I think so!)

Get a Good Backpack. The essential items include: notebooks, two favorite pens, two pencils, text books (for the day only), Kleenex, energy bars, medications, two dollars in change, and clothes for the weather. Parents – inspect weekly or anytime.  Write your name address and phone number in indelible ink on the pack in case it gets lost.

Have Reading Skills Tested. Make sure your child is at the appropriate level for his or her age and does not have eye problems.  See an eye doctor if you have any doubts or concerns.

Home Study Location, Chair and Lighting.  Sufficient lighting, comfortable desk and chair, with little or no distractions!  No TV, radio, music, or games during study time.

Getting Proper Note-Taking Down. Taking good notes is a learned skill. Use clean paper and favorite pens, three-ring binder with paper and separators, outline with notes and major points.  Re-reading good notes is where learning really takes place.  (Note from R: I wrote down everything my teachers said in college. Really! I would simply read my (albeit) cryptic shorthand every evening to solidify my memory of the lecture, then again at test time. Straight A’s, anyone? Yes, please!)

Develop Your Memory with Mnemonics. Using rhymes, telling stories or jokes, and memorizing four to five letter acronyms is a great way to remember lists of details or essential rules.  Writing these 20 times engraves them on your brain.

What are your tips for helping children to learn better study skills?

 

Batman The Dark Knight, and Helping Kids Achieving Goals

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjlacko @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

“They started so young,” thwarted competitors lament, when a young phenom bursts on the scene and quickly claims the highest rewards. We’ve all been awe-inspired by at least one, maybe a fresh-faced 17-year-old swimmer from Colorado earning a gold medal at the Olympiad, or a university student building a the world’s most popular social networking platform, perhaps.

Unsurprisingly, there is a nervous, hopeful energy among parents on the sidelines. Where I live in Southern California, there is, quite literally, no limit of opportunity. Should my child whisper a curiosity about culinary arts, ballet, soccer, rock climbing or outrigger canoeing, there are several programs in each discipline vying for my registeration form and tuition payment. Will animation become my child’s lifelong passion? Acting? Software design? Will he become a great gymnast, baseball player, taekwondo expert? Do we have the best coach for the job?
 
My boys are ages five and seven. They have run the gamut of activities–dabblers in much, experts in little. My husband and I are, paradoxically, on a frantic search to help them find their bliss–because we love them, and because we would deny them little outside our resources. This Summer my older boy was invited to join seasoned. pre-teen fencing competitors under the tutelage of a visiting Italian champion. I actively hid how much pride this brings me, while the ongoing spectacle of the 2012 Summer Games only spurred my secret satisfaction.
Who knows if he will continue his path in the sport of fencing? In the meantime, I am pondering the mysterious; I wonder whether high achievers are simply inevitable, merely realizing what they are “born” to become by inherent character, predisposition and good genes, regardless of the odds or obstacles. Or do we really have a hand in our child’s future?
 
Sometimes inspiration comes where we least expect it. When Michael Uslan (Originator and Executive Producer of the Batman franchise of motion pictures) was a boy during the 1950s and ‘60s, he was so obsessed with comic books that he collected thousands and didn’t hesitate to send corrections to editors when he spotted a mistake in a story line.

“My origin story – what formed my character – is entrenched in comic books,” he shares in The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir (www.theboywholovedbatman.com). “When I was 8 years old, I wanted to see if I could get my name in print, next to Bruce Wayne and the rest of Gotham’s characters.”It wasn’t luck, fortune or an accident that Uslan grew up to produce the most successful comic book-based movie franchise of all time, he says.

 
Now, his goal, like many parents, is to inspire kids and young adults to pursue their own dreams with focus and dedication, “because you can make them come true.” Here’s how:
 
• Know your passion: Uslan wasn’t the only kid on his block who loved comics – but most of the others probably never dared to dream that they could have a hand in influencing their favorite character, he says. It’s important to ask yourself, “What do I really, really care about?” The answer to this question will be the seed from which dreams sprout.
 
• Don’t be a passive bystander – participate: His passion for comics blossomed through several steps, including a general interest in reading and writing and active participation with the world’s first ComicCon in New York City in 1964, when he befriended comic writing legend Otto Binder. These days, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to be proactive, he says, citing blogs, websites and social networking. “A teen raised with today’s technology can create a video, for example, that rivals those created by professionals,” he says.
 
• Identify objectives that will take you to your goal: In high school, Uslan became essential to the yearbook staff, developing media skills that would benefit him later. In 1972, as a junior at Indiana University, he created and taught the first college level course on comic books. After graduating law school, he had the legal knowledge and Hollywood credentials necessary to purchase the film rights to Batman and start repairing the super hero’s image. He wanted to get away from the campy sitcom version of the crusader and reintroduce the Dark Knight to his roots for a movie-going audience.
 
“You don’t have to bend to the expectations of everyone else,” Michael Uslan says. “If you love something enough and are willing to create favorable circumstances, others will bend to you.”
 
• Learn from problems instead of allowing them to distract: Most people never realize their dreams because life gets in the way. Problems and new priorities arise and detract you from your course. The trick is to figure out how to respond to these in ways that help you reach your goal. For instance, learning how to negotiate, how to efficiently manage your time or how to become very self-disciplined are skills you can apply in pursuing your dream.In his 36 years in the film and television industry, Michael Uslan (www.theuslancompany.com) has been involved with such projects as “National Treasure,” “Constantine,” and countless animated projects. His projects have won Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmy Awards. He is the author of his autobiography, The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir.
What was YOUR childhood dream?
 

Is Time-Out a harmful method of discipline? November 24, 2010

Filed under: health,Lacko Family Chronicles,motherhood — rjlacko @ 10:53 am

We are not spankers. Certainly, there have been times when my boys have pushed me to the point where I’ve given it serious thought. But what does hitting teach? Only that hitting is OK. And it’s not, in my opinion. What’s more, a smack in the rear doesn’t resolve the initial conflict.

Over the last five and a half years of parenting, my husband and I have relied heavily on time-outs, using the age-to-minutes ratio often “recommended.” It has done precious little to alleviate undesirable behavior and offers more to us as parents in the form of a moment to clear our own heads (which should not go undervalued.)

Kimberley Clayton Blaine, , MA, MFT, is the executive producer of the online parenting show TheGoToMom and author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children, and The Internet Mommy, says too many time-outs may be ineffective at best, and downright harmful at worst. She suggests kids subjected to repeated time-outs may develop poor emotion control because they are left alone without support and validation when they need it most. “Empathy is truly the foundation for effective parenting, and it is also necessary in creating a stronger bond between parent and child,” she adds. “Time-outs are the antithesis of that.”

Blaine advocates an alternate method that takes into account a child’s developmental limitations and that serves as guidance rather than punishment. For children over two, she suggests using a “cool-down” or “thinking time” instead. Not only is this method gentle, it keeps the parent by the child’s side to help him learn to calm himself down and think through what happened. (Incidentally, for babies two and under, Blaine recommends distraction and redirection instead. At this age your baby is simply too young to understand the concept of a thinking time; instead, give him a new item of interest or move him to an exciting location.)

Here are Blaine’s steps teach you how to use a cool-down or thinking time successfully:

Get down at your child’s level. Be sure to maintain good eye contact; give a warning and ask if what she is doing is “okay” or “not okay.” If your child doesn’t calm down or stop the unacceptable behavior, then lead him to a “quiet area” or “thinking area.” Sit with him and offer assistance and love. Remember, this is not a punishment.

Be aware that time is not important—having your child calm down is. Disregard the “one minute times your child’s age” stance that most use as a guide. Don’t give a five-year-old “five minutes to think”; sometimes the older child needs only a minute or two to come up with a better solution. On the other hand, a younger child may need to cuddle or sit with you for ten minutes until she’s calm. As you’re sitting there, empathize, validate and reflect what you see. An understood child is less likely to be fraught. Once your child is calm, ask him to tell you “what’s wrong” or “what’s going on.” Restate the problem again more clearly if he has difficulty.

Ask your child, “What will you do differently next time?” Name the expected behavior if she doesn’t know. Thank your child for helping you come up with a solution. It’s important that he hears this positive reinforcement.

Set the expectation for the future by wrapping up with, “If you don’t listen next time, what will happen?” Inform your child that you will take actions to help and that you will not tolerate unacceptable behavior.

“Responding to your child in a reasonable, calm and patient manner is absolutely vital in building a connection,” says Blaine. “And, after all, connection is the key ingredient in helping guide our children. Punishment, on the other hand, forces a disconnection that undermines the goal of helping them someday become independent.”

On the surface, I really like this approach, but it might be unrealistic. Blaine seems to overlook that some behavior is not just inappropriate or undesirable but downright unacceptable.  I have to wonder if my child would mistake my “validation and positive reinforcement” for a direct signal that it’s OK to use bad behavior, because there really are no consequences. Mommy will be right there with a hug and a kiss when rules are broken, just like she is when good behavior occurs. So what’s the difference?  He is rewarded either way.

Perhaps it is only my short-coming, but I am driven to great sadness when my boys are unkind to one another. Hurtful deeds including punching, pushing or “you’re-not-my-friend-ing” make me so upset. My worst fear is that, as they grow in muscularity and power, they may one day do actual harm to one another. And on a deeper level, I want them as siblings to be close throughout their lives, to stand up for each other and hold one another in the highest esteem. We are family and we love and encourage one another, at all times. At least, that’s what I keep telling them! So, when this happens I separate them through time-out. From where I stand, you can’t continue to play with someone you are harming. When we’ve all had a moment to calm our heads, I do go and talk to the perpetrator and reinforce our loving, gentle treatment of one another and after they hug, say sorry, and accept the apology, they may continue playing together again…until the next infraction, that is.

Do you have an effective, loving method of discipline? Please comment below!

 

How – and Why – to Instill True Gratitude in Your Kids November 16, 2010

I’m not going to say my five-year-old is ungrateful–I’m not entirely certain he has a complete understanding of the concept, but I also know that he has searched his heart earnestly and decided he would rather live with us than be raised in the Jedi Temple among younglings and padawans. Trust me, I’m flattered by his choice.

Nonetheless, he wants one of every toy he lays eyes upon, and has kicked up quite a fuss in stores when he has not been awarded a toy he deems “rightfully” his.

Worse, he has adopted a habit of leaving a wonderful activity (such as a park outing or birthday party) only to hop in the car and demand to go immediately somewhere else equally as fun. Eerg! How about, “Thanks, mom! That was fun!”

Overall, it seems all parents  have thrown up their hands at some point in frustration, but husband-and-wife authors  David and Andrea Reiser say, “Yes, it is possible to refocus our children’s attention and values,” in their new book Letters from Home: A Wake-up Call For Success and Wealth (Wiley, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-4706379-2-0, $27.95, http://www.ReiserMedia.com).

“And at the center of the values we teach ought to be a profound sense of gratitude—for where we live, for the rights and privileges we have here, for family and friends—not to mention the many material blessings most kids have.”

Yes, teaching your kids to say “thank you” is important, but truly instilling a sense of gratitude in them is another matter entirely.  “Gratitude is an attitude of deep appreciation and thankfulness for the kindnesses and benefits you perceive yourself as receiving,” David explains.

Written in the form of letters to the authors’ four sons, the book explores 15 basic American virtues that built our country and that foster individual and familial success.   If you’re ready to start growing an attitude of gratitude in your own household, read on for additional reasons why gratitude is good, and for tips on how to establish it in your own family.

WHY INSTILL GRATITUDE? Gratitude is good for you! Believe it or not, gratitude is good for you on a very basic level. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, reveals that cultivating gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 percent, and can also cause individuals to live happier, more satisfied lives and enjoy increased levels of self-esteem, hope, empathy, and optimism.

Gratitude grants perspective—even in kids. When you take into account the sheer amount of opportunities, privileges, and material possessions most kids enjoy through no effort of their own, it’s easy to see why many of them feel entitled. After all, they’re used to getting a great deal without knowing or caring where it comes from. However, practicing gratitude underscores the fact that all of those toys and lessons and creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. “When your children specifically articulate that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, they’ll develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are on one another…and they’ll be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect,” explains Andrea.

Gratitude improves relationships. Who would you rather work with: a colleague who freely acknowledges and appreciates your contributions, or a colleague who takes your efforts for granted with—at most—a perfunctory grunt of thanks? It’s a simple principle: gratitude fosters stronger, more positive, and more genuine relationships.

Gratitude counteracts the “gimmes.” “Fundamentally, gratitude is all about being aware of who or what makes positive aspects of your life possible, and acknowledging that,” Andrea explains. “When your kids learn to think like that, they’ll be much less likely to make mindless, self-centered demands. Plus, they’ll appreciate what they have, and their happiness won’t be based as heavily on material things.”

HOW TO INSTILL GRATITUDE

Don’t just count your blessings—name them. Have a minute of thanks at the same time each day—you and your kids can each name a few things you’re thankful for. Whether the list includes a favorite toy, a good grade, or a hug from Grandma, this tradition will start the day off in a positive frame of mind.  David suggests, “If you have older kids, encourage them to keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things they were thankful for each day before going to bed.”

Be a grateful parent. As most parents know, the way you treat your kids affects their development much more than the rules you set. When it comes to gratitude, tell your kids why you’re grateful to have them….and do it often.  “It goes without saying that you love your kids, and that you’re thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs, and so much more,” David says. “When you tell them those things, their self-esteem will be boosted for the right reasons (not because they have the latest smartphone or because they’re dressed fashionably). Plus, your example will show them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.”

Don’t shower them with too much stuff. This dilutes the “gratitude” impulse. Remember, all things in moderation…including your kids’ stuff.  “If you buy your daughter whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, she won’t value or respect her belongings,” Andrea points out. “After all, there’s plenty more where everything else came from! And what’s more, she’ll grow up believing that getting what she wants is her due.”  When your child wants something, make him pitch in. (Don’t be the sole provider.) If your child receives an allowance (or, for older kids, has a job), think twice before letting him pocket every last penny. If he wants a new video game, bike, or even to go on a trip with friends, ask him to help save for those things himself.  “Depending on the amount of your child’s weekly allowance or how much he makes mowing lawns on the side, you may still end up footing a majority of the bill yourself,” David admits. “And that’s okay—after all, you are the parent. The point is, though, that your children will be active participants in working toward what they want. When they understand the real value of a dollar, they’ll be more likely to appreciate what you and others do for them.”

Keep a stack of thank-you cards on hand. Insist that your kids use them often. By and large, sending out thank-you notes is one of those arts that seems to be dying. Don’t let that be the case in your house. Send out regular thank-you notes—definitely when your child receives a gift, but also to teachers at the end of the school year, for example, and to Little League coaches and ballet teachers. “Make sure your child is the one composing and hand-writing the notes, not you,” Andrea clarifies. “However, realize that parents need to set the example by modeling writing formal thank-you notes on a variety of occasions.”

Set a good example. Say “thank you” sincerely and often. The values your children espouse as their lives proceed aren’t those that you nag them into learning, but the ones they see you living out. “Every day, there are numerous opportunities for you to model gratitude to your children,” David instructs. “For example, thank the waitress who delivers your food, the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store, and the teller at the bank who cashes your check. When your kids see you expressing thanks, they’ll do so too.”

Ask your kids to give back. The old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive” has stuck around for a reason. It really does feel great to help someone else out. Depending on their ages, encourage your kids to rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, say, or volunteer at a nursing home a few hours a week. “You might even make service a family activity,” Andrea suggests. “When your kids give their time and energy to help others, they’ll be less likely to take things like health, home, and family for granted—plus, selfless service tends to dilute selfishness in kids and adults alike.”

Insist on politeness and respect all around. When your kids treat other people with dignity and respect, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the ways in which those folks contribute to and improve their own lives. They’ll be less likely to take assistance and kindness for granted, and more likely to value it as much as it deserves.  “Specifically, it’s important for parents to model to their children the importance of treating all people with respect,” David clarifies.

Find the silver lining. We’re all tempted to see the glass half-empty from time to time…and kids are no exception. When you hear your child complaining or griping about something, try to find a response that looks on the bright side. It’s called an “attitude of gratitude” for a reason—it’s about perspective more than circumstance.  “Often, kids and adults alike are more unhappy than they need to be because they’re overlooking positives for which they should be grateful,” points out David.

Andrea concludes, “We truly are a nation built on gratitude—think about the scores of immigrants who have come here over the years, bursting with thankfulness for the chance to start a new, free life. “Your own children are probably being raised in vastly different circumstances, but it’s still important that they carry on a legacy of gratitude. Start taking steps to instill this important attitude in your family today, and we all just might wake up to a more pleasant tomorrow.”

David and Andrea Reiser are proud to contribute 100 percent of royalties and other income from the publication of the book by supporting three personally meaningful charities in the following proportion: 50 percent to Share Our Strength (www.strength.org), 40 percent to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (www.mskcc.org), and 10 percent to FORCE (www.facingourrisk.org). For more information, please visit http://www.ReiserMedia.com.

 

Creative Alternatives for Wasteful Wrapping Paper = A Greener Holiday! November 10, 2010

Filed under: Fun Family Weekend Ideas — rjlacko @ 11:45 am
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If visions of shredded wrapping paper are taking over the sugar plums that should be dancing in your head this time of year, it might be time to put down the wrapping paper and plastic bows in favor of greener options.

Harmful dyes, excess paper waste and plastic ribbons that animals eventually get a hold of are just a few of the holiday wrapping culprits. According to The Recycling Consortium, the U.K. alone uses 32 square miles of Christmas wrapping paper each year—enough to cover Manhattan and have 9 square miles to spare!

Green living expert Cara Smusiak, contributing writer on www.NaturallySavvy.com, has a great list of 5 quick and easy options for cutting down on wrapping paper this holiday season.

Box it up
Hat boxes, fabric-wrapped storage boxes and photo boxes are great for “wrapping” gifts for any occasion, but are great options for winter holidays. They can be used for storage later on and they stand up to a few flurries better than paper. Add some fabric ribbon tied in a bow and you have a lovely package.

Basket case
Pile a bunch of small items into a banana leaf or wicker basket, and finish off with fabric ribbon secured with an ornament or a broach picked up from a second-hand store.

Textile
Wrap gifts in fabric remnants. You can pick up remnants at most fabric stores, often at 50 to 66 percent off the regular price. Fold the fabric around the gift and secure with raffia or a fabric ribbon, or sew a simple sac to hold anything from an iPod to a bottle of wine.

The Old World
Use out-of-date maps to wrap gifts you’re giving to travel lovers. It’s a great way to reuse a paper item before it hits the recycling bin. Secure with raffia or butcher’s twine.

Jar head
Use a glass container or large mason jar for giving homemade treats. If you’re sharing your favorite recipe, layer the dry ingredients in the jar, and attach the recipe to the jar with a ribbon.

If you truly can’t resist the urge to tear away at a paper-wrapped gift, look for recycled wrapping paper. (Just say no to foils and sparkles.) And be sure to use every last scrap!

 

WIN a free Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVD set! October 4, 2010

Attention moms and dads (and TEACHERS!) of children aged 6 and older! I’m giving away a FREE set of Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVDs, volumes One and Two.

Rock ‘N Learn, Inc. began as an idea that would help children learn by putting educational material to music with a current sound-the kind of music that kids enjoy and find motivating.

Busy parents and teachers love the way Rock ‘N Learn Phonics captures kids’ attention. Cool songs and humorous characters take the struggle out of learning to read. Students control the pace, advancing as they master each new skill, so they can practice on their own and feel proud of their accomplishments; it’s fun with this highly-entertaining phonics DVD.

Children learn phonics rules through fun songs and word families. Next, they practice their skills by reading simple phrases using words that rhyme. When ready, they apply the skills they have learned to read complete sentences and stories. The read-along stories on this DVD are presented at a slow pace for beginning readers. As children practice, they also work on fluency by singing along with songs about the stories. A bonus section presents the stories at a normal pace to help kids learn to read fluently.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics Volume 2 DVD is a perfect follow-up once  they’ve mastered the material on Volume 1. With Phonics Volume 2, young children discover other ways besides “silent e” to make long vowels, such as: ai, ay, ee, and ie. They practice long vowel patterns and apply phonics rules by reading sentences with words that feature long vowel sounds.

Viewers also practice reading words and sentences with r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, the schwa sound, syllables, ending sounds, and more. Eventually, students read stories that proceed from simple to complex. By also singing along with songs about the stories, children build reading fluency and have lots of fun.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics is perfect for learning at home, regular education, special education, remedial classes, ESL, and even adult basic education. By covering a variety of skills at different levels, these phonics DVDs provide an effective tool for differentiated instruction in the classroom and at home. 

Rock ‘N Learn DVDs work great with any DVD player, computers with DVD players, projection screens, and interactive white boards.

Rock ‘N Learn has won numerous prestigious awards including such as Dr. Toy, Parents’ Choice, iParenting, National Parenting Publications, Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice, Early Childhood News, National Parenting Center, and Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media.

Win this free set!

Simply tell us about you in the comment box! Are you a parent? A caregiver?A teacher? Are you hoping to help your little one get a headstart on reading, or do your children  or students have special needs or need help with speaking and reading English? I’d love to learn more about you! One random winner will be selected on Monday, November 1, 2010. (approx. value $39.99)

Learn more about Rock ‘N Learn here.