Those First Steps

I watched my granddaughter get up for the twentieth time. In her pursuit to learn to walk she was determined. She would take a few steps and then fall. If she was daunted by the task, I couldn’t tell from her grin. Each time she got up, she grinned wider, even squealing with delight when she toddled for more than five steps.

So you know what is coming next, that’s right, a question. What happens? When do children stop having fun learning new things? When do our children’s little falls become, great stumbling blocks on their road to life?

Many children keep their enthusiasm for trying new things, however too many of our children are burnt out on learning new things, trying new foods, even sometimes going to new places by the time they are in the sixth grade. What happens between birth and eleven years old, that many children are just unmotivated? Imagine if eleven year olds had to learn to walk. Some children will jump in with glee. They would take in stride the bruises they get in the process of learning.

However, too  many children will languish on the ground until their parents come and pick them up. Unfortunately,  parents will have to move their children’s legs, to get them to walk.  This (moving their legs) can go on for quite sometime, that is, until the child realizes that not  walking is  more unbearable than learning to walk. It can take children years to learn this lesson.

What about us adults, what are we modeling for them? Maybe it’s our example, maybe our children are watching us? They see that our lives are an ongoing rut. So why should they invite challenges into their lives, when we are afraid to look a challenge in the face, and grin? The more I think about it, our children’s lack of interest in learning, is probably a direct reflection of our disinterest in learning.

Let’s show our children something different. Maybe we can start a new hobby, or read the thickest book ever… with our children. Maybe we can take up a new dance class, or go on a hike… with our children. Let’s put more life into our lives, and into their lives.

Smile, while you learn please, children are watching!

 

 

Easter Again!!!

Is it just me, or is time passing way to fast. Didn’t we just start April?

Time is careening past, and with it our lives. I can hardly get my breath, before something else happens. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s still happening too fast. So you know where I’m going with this, SLOW DOWN!!! Leave something for tomorrow. In other words, everything doesn’t have to be done today. Our families need to see us, touch us, and know us.

It seems that we have all the time in the world to catch up on relationships. The truth is we only have today. Why is it that we put off the most important things for another day? The best things, the fun things, lay to the side while we wrestle and fight with seen and unseen monsters.

One day we realize, when we have slain one monster, a new one rose to take it’s place. Or perhaps, we realize, most of the monsters we wrestled with were just monsters in our minds. They never materialized at all. Nonetheless we may have wasted years of our precious time wrestling with the monsters, that never materialized. Only to realize too late, that life and all of it’s beauty, has gone on past us.

This is a gentle reminder, that life is precious, and fleeting. Take advantage of the beauty of life while you can. Smile more, love more, and focus on just experiencing life. We only have this moment to enjoy.

Independence: A Lost Goal

I remember a time when parents’ only goal for their child was that the child  would grow up and get out!  It’s not so today.

Today, childhood is extended to the late twenties, and beyond. Children stay home. They refuse to move out. Reasons cited for this phenomenon are: they can’t find jobs in their “chosen” careers or they have too much debt. Some precious darlings, skip the leaving home part, get married and bring  their spouses to their parents’ home.

Adults living with parents, is not all bad. However, some of these grown “children” refuse to help with chores, won’t pay their way, and don’t want to be confined to household rules. Helicopter parenting has turned against us. We  clung to them first, now our grown children cling to us. We are truly taking care of grownup “children”!

I thought about this phenomenon after, I read a story about a four-year old girl in Siberia. She walked for six hours, in -29 degree weather, to tell the nearest neighbor that her grandmother had died. Her blind grandfather was at home with his wife’s body. I marveled at God’s loving protective hands over her as she travelled, and I marveled at her bravery, stick-to-it-ness, and her resolve.

No, I don’t think we should send four-year olds on six-hour journeys, in below freezing weather. I do feel, and always have felt, that our children (here in the USA) are coddled too much. We go to great lengths to prevent children from experiencing any kind of pain. So much so, that many of our children are environmentally disabled. Nothing is wrong with them, but their overly indulgent environment is crippling them.

Let’s  see if our children can do more, do better. Let’s raise the bar. If we expect more, we will probably get more! God watched over the four-year old in Siberia as she tackled the six-hour walk, in-29 degree weather. We can expect God to protect our children as they tackle their student loans, get jobs, rent their own apartments, etc…   What do you think?

 

My New Role

I am now a grandmother (glam-mother)!!

My granddaughter, is only twelve days old!! She is definitely the cutest baby ever!! There is nothing like a new baby to bring true joy to your heart. They will just accept you as you are, with no judgements whatsoever. My granddaughter’s only concern is nursing, being the center of attention BRIEFLY, and sleeping. Such a simple life.

I immersed myself in the joy of just holding the baby. We ought to have a “just hold the baby” day. I was rejuvenated, after I spent time with just holding the baby.  I felt happier, more content and satisfied. This reminded me of something I once read about parenting. (I’m paraphrasing) “When you play with your children, let go of being an adult. Fully enter their world, and become as they are. See the world through their eyes.” This needs to be done regularly, for your sanity, and for your child’s (grandchild’s) self esteem.

Avoid lecturing, complaining, and parenting. By all means laugh, giggle, and enjoy the time you spend with your children. I am keenly aware that these moments are few and precious. The time I spent with my child was fleeting, and I believe that the time with my grandchild will pass even more swiftly.

I can guarantee you that work will always be around, chores will not end, but childhood is like a vapor. If you don’t intentionally set aside “playtime” and actually enjoy the play, you will miss out on their first childhood, and your second, maybe even third childhood.

What do you like to play? Share your favorite game or toy with your child. What do they like to play? Enter their world, and share their favorite toy with them.

When all is said and done, we will only have memories of these moments with our children and grandchildren. So what are you going to play, with your children today?

 

 

The Power of Physical Touch

When was the last time you were hugged?

Recently, a young mother to be, remarked that she wasn’t going to hold her baby because she didn’t want to “spoil” her child. I objected to her decision, but I realized I was on thin ice. She has every right to parent as she chooses.

I felt sad for her, because as far as I can see it, the best part of having an infant, is that you hold them. It’s nothing but pure love, coming from infants. I remember holding my child even when she was sleep. I’m glad I did too, because that was the only child I had. I picked her up when she wasn’t crying. I let her sit in my lap to comb her hair. I sat in the same chair with her at the library until she was five or six years old. I enjoyed every moment of it too. I never had any problems at all with my child crying to be held, unless she was sick

Children grow up so fast, that before we know it, they don’t want us to “touch” them let alone hold them. Before this young mother realizes it, she will have to ask, no beg, for a hug from her child. The greatest joys for me comes from everyday life. It’s not the great cocktail party, nor the great gala that I’m sharing with thousands of people that gives me great joy.  But rather,  my greatest joy comes from the long loving stare in the eyes of an infant. The infant doesn’t know or care that I don’t have on makeup, or that funny, messy looking stuff on the top of my head is hair. Infants give no judgements.

Holding children is not just good for us, it is necessary for children, and especially infants. Those long stares are bonding experiences. Physically touching infants and children helps develop them neurologically, emotionally and physically. Children are wired to be touched, and we are wired to touch them. So lets hold our babies, and small children. Lets skip washing the dishes, mopping floors, and washing clothes.

After all the work will still be  there, when our children leave for college.

 

When Shall We Start Training Children

Parents are indeed first teachers, and education is more than just academics. As parents, teaching is a huge part of our job. We have to teach our children social skills, etiquette, work ethics, instill values in them, and build their character. Parenting is a huge job. Most of what we teach our children is by example. That’s a scary thought. Often without knowing it, we say one thing,  but our behavior may be quite the opposite.

From the time children are born they are like little sponges. they take in both spoken and unspoken messages. Our children  are constant observers, watching our every move. What they don’t say, doesn’t mean they don’t know. Our behavior and our motives are constantly under scrutiny by our children. Our lives are an open book to our children.  Their character is being formed and developed by observing us.

What we value they learn, not just  by what we say, but by what we don’t say. The way we say what we say, and when we say it. They learn our values not just by what we do,  but what we don’t do. The way  we do what we do, and how we do it. So therefore,  we are directly responsible for the character our children develop. If we are greedy and grasping, our children will most likely pick up those character traits. If we are generous and helpful, our children will most likely pick up those character traits.

It is true that as our children interact with others, those values will begin to be tested. It is very likely that our children will discard some of our  values. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t attempt to teach values to our children. We are teaching our children values rather we realize it or not, so we may as become intentional and  aware of what we are teaching our children.

Many people cite,  television, music, reading materials, peer pressure,  and  social media as having a deleterious effect on our children’s character and values. Indeed there are many  entities that effect our children’s values and character. However, the example we put before our children is the most effective in character building. For example, if we tell “little lies” we can’t  be surprised when our children become all out liars. What are our children learning when  we smile and greet our friends warmly, and as soon as they are out of earshot, we say derogatory things about them? There are many ways  that our example can undo the great work  of character building. That includes what we are watching on television, and how we use the internet and  social media.

Indeed we are our children’s first teachers. They are learning from our nonverbal behavior, from the first day after birth. It’s not what we say that speaks the loudest, but most of the time, it’s what we do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harness the Power of Repetition

I looked at my baby girl, and had not a clue of how to help her get from where she was, one day old, to where she was going, eighteen years old and beyond. I thought about all that would happen from one day old to eighteen years old, and it was positively scary. I didn’t know what to say to her, but I knew I was supposed to say something. So I started to tell her what her life would be like.

I told her about kindergarten,  elementary school, high school…all the way through her PhD program, marriage, and children. I was upbeat and happy whenever I talked to her about her future. The more I told her about her future, something was transforming within myself. My anxiety for her future decreased significantly.

By the age of five, she was telling me, what she was going to do. To my surprise she was planning the same things I was planning for her. She did exactly what we (she and I) were saying she would do, in the order that we said it was going to happen.

All too  often our children grow up, and what they become is a lucky, or unlucky draw of the straw. We often feel that we have little input or influence in their futures. This is not true. Our children become who they become, in spite of us, or because of us. While it isn’t a guaranteed outcome, giving our children a life script increases their chances of being successful. Consider what God counsels us to do to teach children His laws:

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 19:11 NKIV

God is teaching us a very true, but simple principle, repetition is powerful. We may not realize it, but we are repetitive. We may not adhere to a strict schedule, but pretty much, we are creatures of habit. What happens in our children’s futures will be a draw of the straw, If we don’t pay attention to what we are communicating to them about their futures. Rather we realize it or not, we are giving our children a life script.  If the life script isn’t intentional, more than likely we are giving them a  negative life script

So if we follow the counsel of, One who cannot fail, we can’t go wrong. If we teach our children everyday, what to expect in life, this will make our lives and their lives much easier.

A positive life script, will go something like this:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Lets say the child states that they want to be a doctor. So you will carry the conversation on in this manner. That will be really a very fun thing to do. You will  finish grade school, and then you will,  go to high school. You will probably be the valedictorian. Then you will go to college. College will be so fun. Then you will go to medical school, and you will learn so much.  But don’t stop there. Go on to tell them, then you will get married, and have children. How many children do you want?

That conversation is very different from the conversations  that  most parents have with their children. The child will say, “I want to be a doctor”. and most parents, and adults in general,  will tell the child.  “Oh you will have soooo many years of school. It will be soooo hard. It’s hard to get into medical school. You can’t make all of those C’s you get in school. You have to be a straight A student to get into medical school. You aren’t really a good reader, and you  probably will have to read a whole lot in medical school. Do you like science? Because you know if you’re not good at science, you may as well not try to be a doctor.” Unfortunately, if the child dare repeats his high and lofty goal,  this conversation will go on and on day after day, until the child quits saying “I want to be a doctor.”

I hate to say it, most of us talk our children out of greatness before they complete kindergarten. We parents, and adults in general, can be very persistent about how children can’t do, and won’t do. We applaud ourselves when they don’t become the doctor they once wanted to become. We pat ourselves on the back and give ourselves credit for having the “gift” of discernment. What we actually did, was let repetition work against us, by consistently giving our children a negative life script.

Instead of letting repetition work against us, why not put it to work for us by giving our children a positive life script?

We don’t mean to discourage our children. But little messages given on a regular basis will either inspire children to do their best, to reach high and lofty goals, or demotivate, intimidate and scare them away from their high and lofty goals. So again, rather than mindlessly allowing repetition to work against us, why not harness the power of repetition to work for us?

Let’s just say, it’s true,  your child doesn’t read well. That means we have to provide FUN ways to encourage reading, and put more reading in their life (the power of repetition at work again). If they aren’t doing well in science,  we help strengthen that skill, by providing FUN scientific experiences for them (repetition). In other words, don’t allow your young child’s academic weakness determine the height of his lifetime achievement. Provide experiences that will strengthen the areas of weakness (Harness the power of repetition , for their success).

By now, you’re recognizing the very important role repetition has on our children’s lives. To harness the power of repetition we start as soon as possible, and it is never too late. Consistently talk to your child about their future. Provide non threatening experiences to strengthen academic weaknesses they may have. Always be positive, avoid being rigid, and controlling.

If we follow the counsel of, One who cannot fail, we can’t go wrong. We are not able to fully explain this concept in this short blog. Soon “The Power of Repetition” will be available, in booklet form.

Are you already using the power of repetition for your child’s future? Start  today giving your child a life script and periodically check back in and let me know how it’s working for you.

 

 

 

Those Pesky Homework Assignments

Those Pesky homework assignments are the bane of every household with school aged children. If parents don’t establish and maintain the sanctity of getting homework completed, homework can become the central theme of ongoing power struggles. These battles have a negative effect on parents’ relationship with their children.

I don’t remember doing homework, ever. However someone did a study, somewhere, at sometime, and decided that it is necessary for all children to do homework. It is now a fact, (at least for the moment), that if children are going to be academically successful, they will have to do homework.  Now the responsibility has been passed down to  parents to oversee that their children complete homework.

The battle is on. (I don’t know how I learned to read, write and do math without all of those homework assignments.)

I have noticed that parents work directly against themselves when it comes to getting homework completed. Parents attempt to be merciful, and allow the child to have some fun before they start homework. This is a big mistake. It is difficult enough for children to transition from one mundane activity to another. If you think that your child will sweetly, and lovingly, say yes mommy/daddy I will stop playing my game (an exciting fun activity) to write my alphabets twenty eight times, (some consider this a mundane activity)  you are completely wrong. You will set yourself up for a huge  power struggle every time.

Your child will learn more ways to avoid homework (and let’s throw chores in here as well). They will become masters at procrastination, “okay I will do it” after dinner you will discover that nothing has been done. “I don’t have any due until Thursday” you think they mean next Thursday, when actually, they mean tomorrow. You must scrutinize dates. We wouldn’t dare forget the aged old, “I don’t have any homework.”

Here are a few helpful suggestions:

  1. Set aside a space for children to complete their homework. Preferably in your presence. For example, while you cook they sit at the table and complete their homework.
  2.  Make sure homework “time” is at the same time daily. No televisions, no games, and no other competing interests should be allowed to encroach on this time. Make sure, as much as possible, that homework time is the same daily.
  3. Let them do the assignment, you check it after they have completed the assignment. Children will have you doing the work while they gaze off into space until it is completed.
  4. Dinner and everything else comes after their homework is completed.

You’ll know that you have achieved your goal, of developing a routine, when children come home with their homework, take care of their primary needs and sit down to do their homework, without a battle. The more closely you stick to this routine, the fewer struggles you will have. Then you can enjoy the rest of the evening.

If there are any strategies that you have found to be helpful, please feel free to share your ideas. Enjoy your homework assignments this week.

 

 

Slow But Steady, Wins the Race

I was watching the lazy snow flakes drift down to the ground. Now the ground was blanketed with a thin layer of snow. It occurred to me that here was a naked truth standing before me. Slow but steady often wins the race.

Each tiny snowflake contributes to the new white landscape. If only one snowflake came down, or one every now and then, there wouldn’t have been a change. However, persistent, nonstop little snowflakes eventually changed the look of the houses, and streets.

So it is with parenting. Everyday, consistent efforts, (the effort doesn’t have to be big), can bring about the changes we would like to see in our children. It may seem that the change isn’t happening, and our efforts are futile, but keep putting the efforts in daily, bit by bit.

Periodically check your progress and look for changes. These little, imperceptible changes are your encouragements. This is especially true when working with your child to gain a new academic skill.

For example, if you are attempting to increase your child’s vocabulary. You can sit your child down with a dictionary and a list of words, and tell them to look up the words, and memorize the meaning of the words. The child may do it, but their focus may be to finish the assignment, not learn the words.

What if you chose at least one word weekly to introduce to your child? You use the word often in your conversation, after you say the word in conversation, say to the child “that word means…” Eventually you will change your child’s vocabulary landscape. This strategy works well with all different ages.

This works well with changing children’s behaviors as well. You have to be consistent with your efforts. Whenever possible, set up situations where your child have to use the new skill you are attempting to develop. The more times your child uses the skill, the faster the new skill will become a behavioral pattern, that means behavioral habit.

Get started today, because slow and steady wins the race.

Developing the Scientific Mind

By nature children are curious. They want to experiment with everything. We can harness this natural curiosity and build. It doesn’t require a lot of time, and preparation.  If we weave scientific activities into our children’s daily lives we can help them learn to love science.

Parents don’t realize the damage they do when they say things like, “I don’t like science,” or “science is too hard.” Your child is learning from you. It is very natural for them to take on your attitude. If you want them to love science, you have to demonstrate at least “a like” for science.

Use these simple methods to enhance your child’s love for science.

  1. Make science “classes” short and interesting. For example, for small children a quick talk on why leaves change colors, and ending the “class” with a walk around the neighborhood to find colorful leaves. Could be your “science” class.
  2. Make science class tasty. Talk about how things go from a liquid state to a solid state. This can be demonstrated by making juice ice cubes, or by baking a dish.
  3. Make science real easy. Be a true scientist. Let the experiment do it’s thing. Be amazed at how the experiment turns out.
  4. Laugh and giggle, and help clean up the mess.
  5. Use appropriate terms during the experiment. For example, use words like, hypothesis, outcome, trial etc…
  6. Make the experience FUN. If you can find a scientist white coat, and goggles, let them dress out the part.

Here are some parenting don’ts:

  1. No fussing during the experiment.
  2. Don’t look for a “right” answer. If it doesn’t turn out correctly, reexamine what was done, to find what went wrong, or laugh at the outcome.
  3. Make experiments as simple as possible, and as fun as possible. Going to the zoo could be called a scientific field trip.
  4. Avoid overwhelming your child with too many words, directions, instructions, and materials. This is especially true for young children.
  5. When writing is involved. Children may find it to be tedious to follow instructions,  write, and do the experiment. Whenever possible, you write, and give instructions, and let the child carry out the experiment.

Remember the goal is to “teach your children to learn to love learning.” We aren’t looking for “right” answers. Aside from teaching our children to learn to love learning. Teaching them in this manner, builds relationships, builds our children’s confidence, builds their vocabulary, and increases their curiosity.

Enjoy your children. Teach them to enjoy learning. You can use these principles to instill within your child a love for any subject.

You have more control over your child’s future than you believe.