Feelings · Leadership

Children and Gratitude, is that possible?

Hello everyone!

With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday in the United States, now is a good time to talk about gratitude and giving thanks!

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation or thanks. (Source: Webster’s dictionary.)

The question we face as adults is, how do we develop the feeling of gratitude with our kids so that it becomes a habit?

Feelings are at the core of gratitude and being thankful. The question is: what is the key to open up these feelings? One of the answers is within the leadership role of the parents. They should help kids recognize the value of the things they have received or have already achieved. To reach to the inner core of the child is to ask them and open a conversation with him or her. Ask your child how he/she felt when someone did something nice for them. Help him/her express his/her feelings. An important way to develop learning is by using examples. You can give your child an example and ask them how they feel about that situation. “I made you pancakes for breakfast today and you really liked them, right? Did that make you feel happy, good, or excited?” In response to that feeling, let your child know that it’s nice that they respond to that situation by expressing their thanks.

We should teach kids being thankful shouldn’t only be in exciting situations. For example, Uncle John visited us and brought you a gift, what do you tell Uncle John after you received the gift? The child should learn to respond with: “Thank you Uncle John for the gift,” regardless if he/she liked the gift or not. You need to explain to your child that we thank Uncle John because he thought about us ahead of time and invested some time and money in buying the gift.

You might teach your children that it’s good to be specific about what they are saying thank you for, or what they liked or appreciated.

Examples- “I love pancakes, I’m so glad you made them for breakfast today!”

“Thanks for the snack, I was hungry.” “Thanks for the hug, it makes me feel happy!”

It might not be trendy these days, but another way kids can show they are thankful is to respond by writing a thank you card. Whenever your children receive a gift, make sure they make a thank you card for the person that gave them the gift. The youngest kids might not be able to write words yet, but they could draw a picture and dictate to you what they want it to say. Even toddlers can draw a few lines or scribbles with crayons. If you have some finger paint, having them make their hand print would be a fun way to say thanks too. As they get older, they can write in more detail what they liked about their gift. The gift giver and your child will both feel good. Writing the card can create a tangible connection between the sender and the receiver.

Remember not to give in to your child on everything. It’s ok to say no. It really is! This is important! If you give your children every single thing they want, it leaves them little to no room to appreciate anything. They will come to expect everything will be handed to them. Children need to understand that when their parents say no, there’s a good reason for it. This will help them at school also. (Yes, teachers will have to tell your kids no on occasion!)  When you are able to say yes to an extra treat or toy they will be much more excited and appreciative. Let your kids earn those special things they want through doing chores. This is what my father had my brother and I do. At the time I thought this wasn’t fair because all my friends had what they wanted, and they didn’t have to earn it themselves in most cases. But now as an adult, I really appreciate the responsibility my Dad taught us. (Thanks Dad!)

Helping kids to realize the value of the things they own ( received as gift or bought for them ) is an important factor that will last with them towards adulthood.

Have them give to others. Your children will feel good by helping others in need. Have them go through their closet to find clothes that they don’t wear or that don’t fit them anymore. They could find a few toys they don’t use anymore as well. Donate them to a local charity, such as the Salvation Army. Talk to them about people less fortunate than them.  This will help them to see how fortunate they are to have the things that they have.

Before I end this post, I want to emphasize on the things that have no monetary value to the kids directly ( even though it might have value to the parents ) such as the home, furniture, clothes, the family, school, good health, and the value of life itself. We can’t put a price tag on the value of family. These things that some take for granted in life, others might wish they had. We should appreciate having these things in front of the kids. This will be a major factor in shaping their personality when they move towards being independent adults. As I have mentioned in one of my preivious posts, our kids are watching us! (Click here to read more.) We need to be role models for our children. So it’s important to make sure you are doing some of the above mentioned things to show your gratitude too.

I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

And until next time, remember, our words really do matter!!

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How to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

Before you know it, Cold and flu season will be upon us…not fun right? Maybe we can enjoy more fun this winter and less discomfort!

For those of us that are around young children frequently, it feels almost impossible to avoid getting sick at times. But I have some good news! In my experience working with kids for many years now, I found out that this shouldn’t be the norm. I have some tips to help you stay healthy. I hope they will come in handy and be of great help to you. So let’s be healthy…

Several years ago I started going to my Allergy/Asthma doctor at a major hospital system in the nation. Yep, we have one in my “small town” of Rochester, MN!

He taught me a very specific way to blow my nose and gave me some other great tips to help stay healthy.

Believe me, they work! I rarely ever get sick. I had only 2 or 3 colds last school year. I can’t even remember the last time I had the flu- over ten years ago for sure.

During the school year, children can get an average of  “8 to 12 colds or cases of the flu” according to a CNN report*. That puts us educators and parents especially at a higher risk since we deal with multiple children at once. We have to think of our families and the kids’ families too.

The following tips are from my Doctor.

  1. Do not use the first tissue hanging out of the tissue box, it has been exposed to the air and potentially has germs on it. Take the first one out, throw it away and use the next one.
  2. Only hold the edges of the tissue. Do not touch the middle part where you are going to be putting your nose.
  3. Only blow your nose into a tissue 1 time. Do not fold it over and use it again. You already touched that part. If you need to blow more, get another tissue.
  4. Always use a fresh tissue from the box. Don’t put tissues in your pocket or up your sleeve for later. The tissue in your pocket or up your sleeve will become contaminated.
  5. Keep your hands off your nose and eyes as much as possible. These are 2 entry points for germs.
  6. Do not use a handkerchief. Too many germs.
  7. Wash your hands often.
  8. Get a flu shot every year.

The tips below are from me. Some may seem like common sense, but, how many times have we done some of these things without giving them a second thought because it was easier or faster?

A. Allow children to blow their own noses as much as possible.  They can do it. I teach 3 year olds and they wipe their own noses just fine. The may need help now and then, but for the most part they do the whole process on their own. They just need to be reminded when to wipe their nose. If your kids try to refuse doing it themselves, try handing them a tissue and that may help. Even older 2 year olds can do it. After some practice, they will get better at it. If you must help a child, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after you are done helping them. Better yet- if you have access to latex gloves, put some on before you help. Again, wash your hands when you’re done.

B. Teach your children when they cough or sneeze, to do so into the crook of their arm. If a child near you coughs or sneezes, turn your head away as fast as you can to avoid being “sprayed” on.

C. Don’t pick your child’s nose or wipe it with your fingers…get a tissue if they need help.

D. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is an important part of staying healthy. Eat healthy, drink healthy beverages, and move more. This will help your body fight this winter.

E. Children that are sick should stay home. Consider letting them stay at home till the contingency period is over. Check about that with your health care provider too.

F. First thing when you get home from anywhere, wash your hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and warm water. Make sure your kids do too. In my classroom, we also have the children wash hands upon arrival.

G. Teach children not to stick their mouth to the water fountain, let some water run before taking a sip from the stream flow of the water. Parents should consider sending a water bottle with their children.

H. We love to teach our kids to share things right? Well that’s a partial yes, but we need to teach them not to share their drinking cups, water bottles, food, or tissues, etc… Personal items should mean personal even for the young ones. I know it’s easier said than done, but we can keep on trying.

I. Clean the door knobs, desk surfaces, key boards more often with sanitizing wipes.
I hope these simple tips help you stay healthier this year! If you have any additional tips to share, please write to me in the comments section!


Always remember our words and actions matter, even in winter time!



Our Kids Are Watching

We’ve all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words.” How true!!

Parents, teachers, and care givers- we need to remember this. The kids are watching. They are very observant and pick up on what we’re saying by our body language, our actions, and our words. It’s important for us to set a good example in what we say, and what we do.

Our words are important, but our actions are just as important in communicating a message.

What message are we communicating today?

Here are some points to think about.

1) Hand gestures and facial expressions communicate a message. Make sure your face and gestures match the message you are trying to send out.

2) The the things we do in front of our kids are essential. Set a good example for them. Be kind to people. Show them it’s good to help others when you’re out in public. Show them how to be kind. For example, hold the door for someone on their way into a store, or pick up something for a person when they drop something.

3) Say what you mean, and mean what you say, and then do it. For example, if we tell kids it’s bad to smoke, but then smoke in front of them, what message are we sending them? You guessed it, you’re saying it’s ok to smoke, even though you verbally said it wasn’t. If you must smoke, do it away from the kids in privacy. Do you want your kids to spend less time on electronics? Then put your phone or tablet away too.

They’re watching you!

4) It’s good to show affection for your significant other in front of the kids. Hold hands, give hugs, and give the occasional kiss with the kids around. This will help them to understand that Mom and Dad love each other, and that this is a positive way to send a reinforced message of love and stability in the home.

Kids are very perceptive and will remember what they see adults doing. We have to remeber to set the standard high and lead the way. Have you ever heard “do as I say but not as I do?” This is wrong thinking. If it’s not ok for the kids to do something, then the adults should not be doing those very things in front of them! That’s sending a mixed message. We need to build their critical thinking skills with a striaght message and not mix them up with confusing messages!

If you think my post above gave you some good ideas, please let know in the comments section.

Until next time, remember- Our words and actions really do matter!

Photo credit: Designed by Freepik


Communicating Effectively with Children

We are back now to my leadership series, and one of the important characteristics of leadership is communication. That leads us to today’s post… How to communicate with your child effectively.

Communication is a two way street. Yes, even with young children. Many times adults speak to children and forget to let the child reply. They need “wait time” in order to respond. Wait time is when the adult pauses to allow for a response. It takes a little time for children to form their thought and react.

Below you’ll find a few tips that I hope you find useful to facilitate the communication with your kids.

Deliver your message clearly.

Get down to the child’s level and look them in the eyes as you speak to him/her. After you say what you want to say, give the child time to respond.

Make sure when you’re talking that you are in the proximity of your child. Shouting across the room does not work very well. A child may be focusing their attention on something and won’t hear you.

Watch the child’s facial expression after you speak to him or her. This will give you some indication on what they are thinking or feeling.

Acknowledge their feelings. Children need reassurance that we care. They might need to hear it 5 times before it sinks in, especially with very young children. It may feel strange to keep repeating yourself (repeating yourself in other areas of communications should be taken from the same principle and don’t be mad when you have to say it again and again), but this will help them to see that you noticed how they are feeling.  Here’s an example of what you might say when you see that your child is sad. “You look sad, look at that frown, I see that you are sad, yeah that really made you upset.”

Explain why you said yes or no to their requests. If they want to go play outside but supper is in 2 minutes, tell them that. When they want that toy in the store but you don’t want to buy anything extra or you don’t have the money for it, say so. Make sure you explain what you buy them has value and the family doesn’t have unlimited resources. That will sink in and should help them in their future.

It really is ok to say no! Children need to learn boundaries. Remember that you are their authority, not the other way around. They need to learn that no means no and yes means yes. Offer them alternatives to what they were hoping for. For example, you might say, “It won’t work for you to go play at your friend’s house tonight because you have school in the morning. But instead we could play a board game together, or we could play in the backyard.” Try here to remind them of the schedule or the family plan. Before they make a plan, they should check with the family.

Create “I Love You Rituals” with your children. There is a wonderful curriculum called “Conscious Discipline” that goes into detail on these rituals. The main focus is giving your child eye contact, a physical connection and some love through singing together. (Visit their website for more details. https://consciousdiscipline.com )

Take interest in what your child is interested in. Ask them questions about what they love and care about. This will show them how much you really do care.

Remain positive whenever possible. Frame commands in the positive often. Instead of saying don’t run, say walk. When we say “don’t” or “no”, this makes them do the opposite of what we want.

End each day with a hug or positive word of encouragement. Your child will see that even though you might have said no earlier or had to discipline them, you still love them very much and want the best for them.

I hope these easy tips help you communicate more effectively with your child!

Until next time, remember, our words really do matter!

Photo credit: http://www.freepik.com/free-photo


Making Your Weekends Count

Ah, the weekend. Everyone loves a little relaxation time after a long week of school or work. Downtime is great after a busy week, and much needed. But have any of you heard this yet today?

Mom (or Dad)….I’m bored!

Mom…my sister won’t give me the remote!

Mom…I’m hungry, can I have a snack?

Mom…there’s nothing to do around here.

It’s important for everyone in the family to rest and recharge. But after a little rest and free time, it’s best to keep your kids in a routine. They need structure; yes even on the weekends.

Below you will see some useful tips on how to have some meaningful family time on the wekends. I hope these ideas help you create some lasting memories with your family, and strengthen your bond too!

  1. Read together.

Do you have kids working on their reading skills? You could take turns reading a book aloud together. Help them with those long and hard to pronounce words. If they don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up online or in a dictionary. Or, if your family reads the Bible, have a short Bible study and prayer time together.

  1. Play outside together.

Get out and enjoy the day! Play in the yard or go to a park for a couple of hours. Go to a nature center in your area. This would be a fun way to learn something new. Or, you could go check out a local apple orchard. Most orchards allow you to pick your own apples right from the tree! This could be a fun learning opportunity too!

  1. Make a craft together.

Making a craft is fun and a wonderful stress reliever. There are tons of websites with easy to make craft ideas. Your local dollar store should have plenty of low cost materials, or you can use common household items such as toilet paper rolls or empty plastic bottles. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to crafts!

  1. Cook together.

Most kids love helping in the kitchen! Maybe you could try out a new recipe with them. Let your kids measure out the ingredients. Measuring could be a hidden math lesson! Bonus! Even your smallest kiddos can hold a wooden spoon and stir. They will love it!

  1. Visit family or friends together.

The weekend is the perfect time for a surprise visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house! They will love to see you and the kids and hear all about how the first week of school went. If the grandparents don’t live nearby, you could Skype with them or talk with them on the phone. Another option would be to visit close friends for a “play date.” The kids can go play downstairs or outside while the adults catch up on what’s going on in their lives.

  1. Watch an interesting documentary together.

Find an age appropriate documentary that you and your children can enjoy together. There are many fun documentaries about animals. Find out what your child’s favorite animal is and find a video about it. Or perhaps your children love cars or trains. If you ask your kids what they’re interested in, you might be surprised to see how much they enjoy learning more about these topics. Let their love of learning flourish!

  1. Finish school work.

It’s tempting to leave homework for Sunday night, isn’t it? But the sooner your kids get it done, the sooner you can all breathe a sigh of relief that it’s taken care of. Allow your kids some fun and free time, but by early Saturday evening, check in with them to see if their homework is done. Don’t let them leave it until the last minute. If you do, the quality of their work may not be as good because they may rush through it. Make sure you look over their work and give them help as needed.

  1. Take a nap!

As I mentioned earlier, everyone needs some downtime. You’ve been working hard all week. Take a break! After lunch is the perfect time for this. Have everyone go to their room for a nap or rest for 1-2 hours. When I worked at a summer camp, we called this “Me Time.”

  1. Work on chores together.

As they say, “many hands make light work.” If everyone in the family helps with the weekend to do list, it will get done so much faster. Make chores fun!  Turn them into a game on the weekend. Whoever cleans their room the best and the fastest gets the cleanest kid award!  Toss dirty clothes into the washing machine from a couple feet away for a game of laundry basket ball! Sweep and dance with some lively music! See, chores can be fun too!

I hope this list helps you have meaningful weekend time with your family! Let me know what your favorite weekend family activities are in the comments section!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Please leave me your comments and share this post with others! Thanks in advance!

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Your child just arrived home from a long day of school. Now what?

I decided to take a short break from my Leadership series to address a subject that is a gray area for school age kids. What do you and your children do with your time after they arrive home from school? Do you have a routine?  I think it’s important that families have the freedom to do what they like with this time, but I also think it’s important to invest this time in the life of the child and the family in general.

Can you believe it’s already that time of year again?! Schools across the country are beginning their first day of school! And all the parents said, “Yahoo!!!”

I’ve seen some cute first day of school photos on social media in recent days. I’ve even seen some “before” first day of school and “after” first day of school photos! The after school photos are quite different than the morning ones! Most of the kids look absolutely drained!

Parents, now is the time to get a handle on what your child’s evening will look like once they are home from school. They are going to need a break once they get home, but that shouldn’t mean they sit in front of the T.V. or computer the rest of the evening.

By being too lazy or by over doing it, your child will be drained of all their energy. This will affect their health and education in the long run. Also, not all activities should cost your family an arm and a leg. You shouldn’t have to put yourself in debt in order to keep your child occupied.

It will be best and easier if you have a set routine for each night. Everyone will feel more relaxed and less stressed, because they will know what to expect each evening.

So let’s do a little brain storming here, as a team, and think about what your child’s routine will look for the next 9 months or so for after school home/family quality time.

  • When your child arrives home, allow him/her relax for 30-60 minutes either playing outside, watching T.V./computer, or nap. This would also be a good time for a light snack and plenty of drinks of water too. (I have had so many parents tell me that their kids arrive home really thirsty!)
  • A parent should help the child do their homework for 30-45 minutes, depending on how much help he/she needs. The other parent could be preparing dinner during this time. Parents can take turns with homework and meal prep. Or, if one parent feels strong in one area, maybe that’s what they focus on while the other parent focuses on the other area constantly.
  • Dinner together at the table as a family. It’s important to have family reconnect time. It gives the child assurance of the unity at home. If you pray at your house, this could be a time of short prayer and reflection. If the child wants to say something, listen. If the child doesn’t like some of the food you serve, children’s preferences will not always be the same as the parents’ preferences. But you can explain to them why you prepared this food and why you think it’s important they eat it. Don’t let the kitchen become a “restaurant.” Children need to learn that it’s up to the parents to decide certain things, and we want to make sure our kids get all the nutrients they need. Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese will not meet their dietary needs in the long run. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love both of those, but they are high in fat and full of carbs! We need a little more balance in our meals.)
  • Let’s build a team work spirit within our children! Everyone should help clean up together after dinner. Someone can clear and wipe the table, load dishwasher or wash dishes. Sweep floor if needed. This is also a good time to build some responsibility with your child. Let your child(ren) know that if we let the dishes sit dirty in the sink, or leave the table unclean, nothing will be done by itself. Then tomorrow we would have double the work of today. So let’s stay on top of it today!
  • Don’t forget to keep an eye on the homework, help your child finish it if needed, but don’t let him/her depend on you. At work we have to finish our work ourselves! So our kids need to do the same with their work!

(Side note: As I’m sure you know, kids sometimes forget to tell their parents when they have homework, so it would be a good idea to double check back packs to see what they brought home if they fail to tell or show you themselves. I recommend this for PK-5 students. Hopefully by Middle School and High school you can just verbally ask them if they have it done every night without going through their stuff.)

  • Take some time out and relax! Even if only for a few minutes! You did a lot so far.
  • It’s good to emphasize the importance of proper hygiene to your child, by bathing and wearing clean clothes. Brushing their teeth before and after bed. Hopefully this will stick with them for a lifetime.
  • When your child gets ready for bed, lay out clothes for the next day.
  • Reading time. Depending on the age of your child, use reading time to empower your child’s knowledge on various subjects.
  • Place all electronic devices in the kitchen for the night. I know this is easier said than done, but teach the kids to disconnect by showing them that you are disconnecting your own electronics and have more face to face time.
  • Child’s bed time. Give hugs and tell your kids how much you love them.
  • Parents, after your child is in bed for the night, now is the time to reconnect together as a couple and enjoy your time or do some other work that needs to be done!  (You guys can figure that out.)
  • Parents try to go to bed around the same time each night. We adults need our sleep just as much as our kiddos!

If something unplanned comes up, then see how you can fit it in, and adjust accordingly. Be flexible parents! The examples we set for the kids are the inputs the kids will process and from them they will give back their output.

Let me know about your after school routine in the comments section!
I hope my ideas gave you some thoughts on how to plan things for after school time for your kids. I realize some of your kids might be in sports or other after school activities, so do what works best for you and your family.

Till next time, I hope you all have will have some great quality time after school !


Disclaimer: I’m an educator. If your child has special needs that don’t fit with the above ideas, please check with your health care provider for the best advice.

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Rewarding and disciplining kids- where’s the balance?

I’m excited to be back after a much needed summer break! I hope you all had a nice time with your kids this summer.

I’m continuing on with my series about leadership and positivity with children. My previous posts were about reinforcement and consequences. If you haven’t read those posts yet, I urge you to do so before getting into today’s post.

In this post, I’d like to talk about the balance between rewarding and disciplining children. This is a tricky subject for all who work with children, but so necessary!

If all we do is reward children non-stop, they become spoiled and come to expect something for every little thing they do. We might also run into the harm of creating a fragile personality that can’t accept any negative remarks.

On the other hand, if we discipline them too much, they will begin to feel unloved or feel like they can’t do anything right. We adults don’t like being constantly told what we did wrong, and neither do kids. But it is necessary to correct children.

Children, like adults, need consistency. Being consistent with children helps them to realize they won’t be getting away with inappropriate behaviors or actions. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our words really do matter!

We can either build up our kids or tear them down in the way we talk with them.

Giving kids verbal praises is a good way to reward them, they need that assurance. Sometimes that’s all they need.  Kids don’t need a lot of “stuff.” Save the “stuff” for special times. This way they will come to appreciate the things you give them. While that is good, remember, doing the right thing might not need more than “thank you for doing it correct”, or maybe just “thank you.”

So… where’s the balance?

The list below will help to give you an idea with this subject.

  1. Be consistent- Kids are smart and figure out when adults mean business, and when they’re bluffing. If they do something inappropriate, they need to know. Give a consequence when needed. If a simple verbal correction is enough to stop the behavior, that’s fine too. But don’t let them get away with things unnoticed- this will just hurt you and them in the long run. As the parent, you are the leader of your household. Teach them about rules and respect in the home. That will set them up for success everyday!
  1. Spend quality time together. Your children need your time. Find a book to read together, play a game, go to the park, or have a meaningful conversation. Try to spend at least 15-20 mins per day of one-on-one time with each of your children. They want to please you and will feel like you really care when you take the time to be with them. This will help them to behave better too.
  1. Give your children responsibilities at home. When children have responsibility, it helps them develop their sense of ownership. This is important as they grow up also. We want our children to become active and responsible adults in their professional and personal lives. For very young children, give them small jobs. It might be something as simple as making sure they put all their dirty clothes in the hamper each night, or making sure their toys are put away. Older kids can take on more. Perhaps they can help load or unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, or take out the trash. (But please make sure you teach them about proper hygiene of dealing with trash, with simple steps of washing their hands immediately afterwards.)  You could give them a small allowance each week for a job well done- or use some kind of token system. But if they miss doing one of their chores, make sure they know what the consequence is and stick to it. If you decide to give a cash allowance, you will need to pay attention to how this money is being used by your kids. Another option would be to add the money to a savings account in the child’s name and show them that the amount is increasing.

4.  Have a chart that shows what they are working towards. This could be a sticker chart or a clear jar and they put some kind of object in it. These are token systems. If they do all their chores for the day, they get to put a sticker on their chart or an object into the jar. (The objects for the jar could be poker chips, or old milk caps.) After they get “X” number of stickers, they get their reward. Or when the jar is full, they get the reward. They worked hard for this, they deserve some recognition. But you decide how often they get rewarded and how big of a reward it is, depending on their age and how much work they’ve done.

5. Remember to show them how much you love them! End each day on a positive note. Talk about the day’s events and what went right, and what went wrong. There’s always a lesson to be learned from each day.

Always keep the rewards and consequences balanced with the level of actions your child has done. Discipline your child with love, and not provocation.

Until my next post, remember….

Our words really do matter!

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