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!!

Photo Credit:Designed by Freepik

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Leadership

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

Leadership

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

Leadership

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!

Photo credit:Designed by Freepik

Leadership

Our words really do matter! Post #2: Using Natural and logical consequences with Children

Welcome back, I hope you gained some new knowledge from the first post in this series! If you missed it, I talked about leadership and using positivity with children. Scroll down to read post #1!

Ok, onto the subject at hand. Kids have some challenging behaviors!! They need consequences for their actions. They need to learn right from wrong. But they still need to know that they are loved too, despite their bad choices. In each situation you will need to weigh out how big of a deal you think the behavior was. Don’t sweat the small stuff! When your child starts misbehaving, you need to make sure they know it’s their behavior that you didn’t like! Reaffirm your love for them!  

Depending on the severity of the bad choice that your child made, it is right to provide a logical or natural consequence. Let’s dive into what each type of consequence is. A natural consequence is when a child chooses a bad behavior, the outcome happens naturally. For example, a child breaks a toy. What’s the natural consequence? The child can no longer play with the toy. Make sure your child sees you throw it away, or have them help. You might say, “That’s really sad that you chose to break your toy. Now it’s not safe to play with anymore, so we will have to throw it away. I love you and I want you to stay safe. I hope you make a better choice next time.” That’s it! Simple as that. They did something wrong, they got a consequence for their behavior. Now this is important: do not, I repeat, DO NOT run out and buy the child the same exact toy! That would defeat the whole purpose of the consequence! By not buying a new toy, this also teaches your child responsibility. He/She will learn that they need to take care of their belongings, because if they break something, that’s it. There won’t be a shiny new replacement. 

A logical consequence is one that helps repair or make right what was done. For example- a child draws on the wall. What is the logical consequence in this scenario? The child must now help clean the wall! But– also I’d like to add- remember that young children are still learning what is acceptable and what is not. (0-5 year olds). If they’re over 5 years old, they probably should have known better. They may have drawn something amazing on that wall! If so, snap a photo and save it for them to see someday!  I know in the heat of the moment you may be quite annoyed and mad that they chose to draw on the wall. However, if you feel anger rising in you, take a moment to look away from the child and the situation. Take a deep breath and think about the love you have for your child. When you feel more calm, you might say, “I’m really glad you enjoy drawing so much. However, the rule in our house (school or center) is that we draw on paper. Walls are not for drawing on. Now we must clean the wall. Then we can get you some paper to draw on.”

Have you tried giving your children natural or logical consequences? How did it go? Leave me a comment and let me know! In my next post I will be discussing the need for balance between disciplining and rewarding children. 

Thanks for reading my blog! Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested! Thanks in advance! Check back soon for post # 3!

Until then, remember…

Our words really do matter!

 

Photo credit: Designed by Freepik

Leadership

Our words really do matter! Post #1

I’m starting a series about using positivity when working with children. Children need to hear positive praise. This will reinforce their good behaviors. We need to avoid using negative and belittling words with children. Doing this makes them feel bad and worthless. This could send them down the wrong path in life. The more positive reinforcement children are given, the more they will display the behaviors we want to see. They will succeed in school and at home, (and hopefully in their lives too!) Think before you speak. “Will what I’m about to say help or hinder the child?” Adults need to help children build up their self-esteem. One important way we can do this is by staying positive as possible with what we say to them, and in their presence. Kids are listening more often than we think or realize! Let’s dive in here to my first post in this series.

 Positive reinforcement…

Our words really do matter! 

Today I’d like to talk about positive reinforcement, as I believe it plays an important role in a child’s development, future character, and self-esteem. What we say really does matter. Once we speak something negative, it’s hard to take back what was said. So we need to use our words carefully. This is true for what we say to anyone, but especially to young children. They internalize what they hear adults and their peers say to them. If a boy is told everyday that he is bad, it won’t be long until he believes it, and will start to act out. His “bad” behaviors were reinforced with negative input. He may start to feel bad about himself and will have a hard time socially with other children. This child could be headed down the wrong path in life, all because of the words spoken to him on a daily basis. He might have done some bad things, but that doesn’t make him “bad”. He made some bad choices. Let’s work on helping kids make good choices and praising them when they do! Kids are like an empty white canvas- the brush and color we paint them with will define the outcome of their behavior.

Let me explain what positive reinforcement is. Positive reinforcement is when you give praise for a desired behavior. For example, if your child picks up his/her toys, you might say: “Wow you picked up all your toys after you were done playing, I’m so proud of you!” Next time your child plays, he/she may think back to your words and will want to do the right thing and pick up again because he/she has associated picking up toys as a positive experience. 

It takes 5 positive comments to erase 1 negative comment.

We want to focus on the positive. It might feel weird or kind of silly to keep giving a child so much praise everyday, but it really does work and it is the right thing to do. It helps children develop good self-esteem and self-worth. It will also help them to interact more positively with their peers and the adults in their lives. How many times have you been told something negative, and it remains in your mind all day? It’s the same for children. I know sometimes it’s difficult when we are caught up in the moment. Kids can do some challenging things! Our first instinct might be to shout and use some words we will later regret. Parents and teachers, we’ve all been there, am I right? But how we respond is so important. If your child or student spills some milk, it might be tempting to say, “Now look at this mess you made! That was so stupid!” What do you think that child took away from the input you just gave? “I’m messy and stupid.” Is that what we want our children to think about themselves? Of course not! In a situation like this, first take a deep breath, so you’re feeling more calm, and say something like, “Let’s get a paper towel and you can help clean this up. I know you didn’t mean to make a mess.” Now of course, if you think that your child did it on purpose to get a rise out of you, you could provide a consequence. In that situation, you might say, “I see that you spilled your milk on purpose. I’m sad that you made a bad choice. After dinner you will not be able to watch TV. I hope you make a better choice next time.” Then you must stick with the consequence! Follow through is vital! If you give in and let the child watch TV anyway, he/she will not take your consequences seriously. Staying calm is vital too. When children see adults out of control, it may make them feel scared and out of control as well. They may respond by making another bad choice if the adult starts losing control. (More on this in my next post, stay tuned!)   

It’s important to be specific about the behavior that the child did that pleased you. “Good job” or “You’re smart” aren’t always enough. They need to know the reason for the good job or why you think they’re smart. When we are less specific, they forget why we gave them praise. That might make it more difficult for them to really value what you’re saying to them. Kids are very observant- they might not always be able to express themselves, but we should always communicate with them the “why”. Slowly they will start to get it.

Here’s a few examples of specific praise:

“You wrote your name correctly all by yourself! Good job!”

“Wow you know a lot of words that begin with the letter S! You’ve been paying attention!”  

“That was so kind of you to share your toy with your sister!”

“I like the way you ate all of your breakfast, that will help your body and your brain become more strong!” 

“You put that whole puzzle together, you worked so hard on that, way to go!”

“Thank you for cleaning your room, you are so responsible!”

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my post!

I hope you gained some new insight into this topic!

Until my next post, remember…

Our words really do matter! 

Note: If you know anyone that you think may find this post useful, please feel free to share it with them! Thanks in advance! 

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