Did you know that it’s Teacher Appreciation week?
If you are anything like me, you feel like the school year just started! How can it already be Teacher Appreciation Week? Teachers do so much for our kids! The least we can do is take some of our time to thank them and let them know how much they mean to us.
If you haven't picked up a gift for your child's teacher yet, I have a few last minute gift ideas for you. There are many thoughtful gift ideas that show any teacher that he or she is appreciated. Teachers are happy to accept your appreciation in any way that you want to offer it. It's been said over and over, but it really is true that it's the thought that counts. Here are a few ideas for items that any teacher is sure to enjoy.
Kids love any opportunity to get out the crafting supplies! Ask them to make their teacher a thank you card, and parents can do one too! This only takes a few minutes and everyone always appreciates a personal thank you from another person.
Many of us have flowers in our yard that can be cut and put in a small jar. If you have reservations about sending glass to school, simply wrap a wet paper towel around the flower stems and place them in a Ziploc baggie.
Very few people don’t love homemade goodies! Teachers usually have a favorite so ask your kids what their teacher likes.
As parents, this is another opportunity to lead our kids by example. We can demonstrate good character by showing our thankfulness to their teacher. Chances are, your child's teacher has gone above and beyond for your student. Teachers are always quick to let our kids know when they do a great job, so let's take a moment to return the favor.
Thank you to all of the teachers who work so hard to educate our kids!
Happy spring! When I think of spring, I imagine beautiful flowers and butterflies everywhere. I think of Easter and cherry blossoms. I also think of allergies, but I’m not going to let that put a damper on things! I might be a little spoiled living in Southern California since my idea of winter is weather below 70 degrees. Crazy, I know, but living in SoCal can really make you lose perspective on how drastic weather can be and so, as a result, the changing of seasons really doesn’t mean much. Nevertheless, I’m excited to say hello to spring.
If you’re anything like me, then you are more than ready to welcome longer days. I love that my kids actually get to play outside throughout spring. During the winter the sun goes down early, and often it’s too hot during the summer. I find that Mother Nature presents us with just the right weather every spring. I love to open the windows and listen to the sound of the other kids in the neighborhood playing outside. I can hear them laughing and screaming joyfully as they run around their yards and ride their bikes up and down the street. It’s delightful to see children engaging in an old-fashioned game of catch with their parents, rather than glued to a screen. When I look out in my own backyard, I regularly see my daughter and a friend tracing each other with chalk while the dog lays watching them, taking in the warmth of the sun. I take pleasure in letting my kids be carefree whenever possible, since so often days tend to be on the hectic side. Here are a few other pastimes that I look forward to during spring.
1. You can enjoy your garden.
I know it sounds like a chore, but believe it or not, pulling weeds is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening in the yard. I don’t have a green thumb, but I always get a little pleasure from making a pile of weeds. My daughter helps me collect little beach size buckets full of whatever happens to be growing, and then, she uses the so-called “leaves” to create her own culinary masterpieces. I like to call it the modern day (and not as messy) mud pie. She uses our dog’s Frisbee as a plate and whips up all sorts of food. She makes cupcakes and cookies and spaghetti to name a few. I love to see her use her imagination. I usually end up doing most of the pulling while she plays but it’s something that she looks forward to, and I would choose to pull weeds over crafting any day of the week!
2. You can play outside with the kids.
Parents are not meant to be excluded from this activity! Nothing reminds me of how out of shape I am more than playing outside with the kids. My boys and I compete to see who can ride a scooter around the block the fastest. We make a mark and get a stopwatch to make it official. It’s definitely a family activity! My boys used to race each other all the time and one day, just for fun, I thought I would give it a try. My legs were sore the next day, but it was totally worth it! I love to try and see things the way my children do. Experiences from their perspective are always more exciting. They also like to run around the block to see who is faster, but that is where I draw the line! I need to make sure that I can walk the next day.
3. You can blow bubbles whenever you want!
This activity is intended to be fun for the kids, but if you have ever blown bubbles in front of your dog, then you already know how fun it can be. I have no idea why, but our dog will do anything to catch a bubble. Eating bubbles doesn’t sound particularly appetizing to me but to each his own. My kids and I laugh and laugh, while we simultaneously blow as many bubbles as fast as we can from opposite ends of the yard to see how fast the dog can catch them. I can only imagine what the neighbors think during the evening when they see a flood of bubbles coming from our backyard.
4. You can really enjoy the view.
There are so many spectacular flowers blooming during spring that it would be impossible not to notice them. Every time I see a cluster of something beautiful, I make sure to point it out as I marvel at it. My kids usually aren’t paying any attention, but I still make it a point to say something. A few of my favorites here in California are the poppies and the ice plant. I can’t help but admire the bright bundles of color. There is beauty everywhere and there is no better time than spring to appreciate simple things.
5. You can give the car a rest.
Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, you can make the most of spring by walking wherever you need to go. It’s not always easy to purposely slow down and do things the long way. When time permits, I like to leave the car at home and walk, rather than drive, to the store. There is a little plaza near our house with a grocery store, a drug store, and a few restaurants. It’s no more than a 10-minute walk. The fresh air and exercise are great for the family. My kids and I love to watch the bunnies running from bush to bush. Nature can be so therapeutic!
Have you ever been to a PTO Today Expo? This one day event brings Parent Groups and Booster Clubs together with fundraising companies, discount programs, school assemblies and more. We love the PTO Expos! They’re perfect for busy moms. We call it vendor/mom speed dating. If you register for one of these events, make sure you wear comfy shoes. The doors fly open at 9 AM and everything is done by 2. Some Expos have almost 100 exhibitors! It’s amazing how much info you can gather in 5 hours!
On March 15, our Lucky Kat World fundraising team exhibited at the PTO Expo in Pasadena, CA. We got a chance to speak with PTO and PTA members from all over Southern California as well as a few from Arizona and Nevada.The Pasadena Convention Center was buzzing as NBC was filming the TV show “America’s Got Talent” right next door. If only I could have spotted Howie Mandel, my day would have been complete!
While this was our 3rd time exhibiting at the Pasadena Expo, it was our first opportunity to introduce moms to our new Good Character Tree. See what you think!
Here’s how the new GC Tree works …
Kids are encouraged to click the red GC button at the beginning of each game to find out which character trait will help them in their game play. Lucky, Lexie and the GC Crew give the definition of the character trait and use it a sentence in relationship to the game content or the game action. Players are awarded a green GC apple when they click the GC button to learn more. After they play the game, they get to take the GC Challenge to see what they learned. If they successfully pass the challenge, their green apple will turn red and now they can pick it! Each red GC apple will deliver a cool reward to help a player build their own Pirate themed water park in Good Character Cove! They won’t be able to purchase any of these exclusive items in the Katco Mall. The only way they can build their pirate world is by growing their good character!
To kick off the launch of our GC Tree, moms at the PTO Expo were able to sign up to receive a freeLucky Kat Club Membership for every single student at their school! You can check out our new Good Character tree by visiting the Lucky Kat World homepage. If you email me by March 25th, I’ll extend the same offer to you and your school! firstname.lastname@example.org
Edison, NJ – 3/31
Baltimore, MD – 4/4
Anaheim, CA – 4/6
Dallas, TX – 4/11
Chicago, IL – 4/20
Philadelphia, PA – 4/25
I love to eat. Ask anybody I know and they will tell you I’m as food motivated as any canine friend. Vacations are like food adventures to me and I see holidays as food challenges. The thing I love most about food, though, is the good conversation, the bonding, and the laughter I experience eating dinner with my family.
I spent my early childhood years in a home with many people living under one roof. There was a strong tradition of eating dinner together, especially on Sundays. Some of my best memories growing up were those large Sunday family days. We would stay at the table to talk long after we finished eating because we liked each other’s company and cared about the meaningful events in each other’s lives.
Nowadays, I find myself eating meals not at the dinner table but in front of the television with my wife. It’s been just the two of us for a while. No big deal, right? Well, things are changing. We have a baby boy on the way, which has me re-evaluating a lot of my habits and routines, especially my eating habits. When I consider the effect of eating meals in front of the television instead of at the dinner table, I start to wonder what effect that would have on my son as he grows up. I consider my own past and how my household handled dinnertime for clues and I realize that eating dinner as a family wasn’t just a time for bonding and family time. It was when I learned almost everything I know about etiquette and proper manners. For instance, at dinner is when I learned to say please and thank you. It’s when I learned patience, such as waiting my turn before speaking, waiting my turn before serving myself food, and staying at the dinner table until everyone was finished. I also learned about being grateful for what I have by saying grace before every meal, and meaning it. Above all, at dinnertime is when I felt like I belonged and was loved.
My habit of eating in front of the television all started when my Mom moved my sister and I out of the family house and far away. Only special occasions and holidays brought us all back together. My mom worked nights so I took care of my sister in the evenings quite a lot. I discovered that if I popped a Disney movie in at mealtime my picky eater sister would forget all about her food preferences and mindlessly eat whatever I put in front of her, allowing me to eat my food uninterruptedly. Thus began a new precedent. Gone were those nice family dinners and in their place were T.V. dinners, so to speak. My whole relationship with food had changed, at least in the home. It was no longer a social experience but simply a means to an end; I’m hungry, so I eat, and watch something on television while doing it.
Realizing the impact of not having that family bonding where manners and etiquette are reinforced would have had on me, I asked myself what, then, would be the cost of not providing my son with the same dinnertime experience I had? What would I be depriving him of? How would it affect his self-esteem and his social skills? The answer, it turns out, is I’m not willing to find out.
When I was in elementary school, I remember the room mom coming in occasionally when there was a party. She was the one who brought in a jug of punch and cupcakes. That certainly is not the case any longer. These days, the room mom comes in to help with parties, but she also comes in to help the teacher with projects and the students with work. I should say “we” come in to help. I always end up being the room mom. On the first day of school when my kids bring home all of the forms to fill out, I immediately check all the boxes. I want to help with classwork. I want to help with parties. I want to help in any way I can. I have this weird compulsion to raise my hand every time someone asks for help or needs a volunteer. “I’ll do it! I can help!” I literally have to talk myself out of offering to help. I’ve been the room mom and the team mom more times than I can even count.
This year I am really pleased with my daughter’s teacher. I don’t know what her previous years were like, but this year she is very fortunate to have a parent helper come in for about 90 minutes every day of the week. As far as room mom duties go, 4 of us parents share the title. We are “room parents.” When the school year started, we met at Starbucks one morning, and got to know each other. We all take turns helping and we all come together when there is a holiday coming up so we can help the teacher with any activities or festivities she has planned. We all get along and work very well together.
I don’t think I’ve ever done the same thing each time I’ve gone in to help. I guess I could say some of the parent helpers are similar to a teacher’s aide. At the beginning of the year, we help with a lot of prep work. We tear out the pages of workbooks and other similar tasks. As we get into the year a little more and get to know the students, we begin to work with them more and more. Every year I learn all of their names and I know all of their personalities. Some students need extra help, and some don’t need any help at all. Some of the students are very shy, and some of them are quite clever. Once in a while I really have to try not to laugh as someone will blurt something out that is not necessarily inappropriate, but let’s just say I’m pretty sure mom and dad would rather certain things not be shared. Kids say some hilarious things!
I’m sure that every school has its own set of safety rules, and at our current school the rules is that anyone who is at the school for more than 1 hour a month must be fingerprinted. It’s pretty much a background check. I practically lived on the school campus when my older kids were in elementary school and I was never required to be printed. Last year I knew that I would be helping a lot at this new school, so I went to the district office and got printed. I know some parents don’t volunteer because they don’t want to go through the hassle of being printed, but it really only took about 30 minutes. Since I spend a significant amount of time with students, it seems only fitting that the school be assured I am a safe person to be around. It’s reassuring to know, for the safety of my own child, that the other adults walking around the campus are also safe.
Volunteering at my child’s school is a privilege. There are times when I feel like not going in because I am too lazy to make myself look presentable. Sometimes I’m just too busy and I legitimately have other things to do. Although a busy schedule sometimes gets in the way, I always make time to help in my child’s class. I’m not talking about PTA/PTO. That is an entirely different topic, and a serious time commitment I might add. In this case, I’m talking about giving up an hour or two each week to help inside of the classroom.
If you have the opportunity to volunteer at your child’s school, I really suggest that you make it happen. I know that sometimes circumstances make it impossible for us to get there. People have to work and often there are siblings to think about. Whatever the case may be, you might not be able to help out every year and that’s okay.
There are so many benefits to being in the classroom and seeing firsthand what goes on during the day. I know what the structure is like. I get to see how my child behaves, and how she gets along with her peers. I get to know the teacher so I can understand what she expects of her students.
If you are unable to get to the school during the day, you can still benefit from a building relationship with the teacher. Communicate with him or her often. There are so many ways to communicate nowadays. I love being able to text or email my child’s teacher whenever I have a question. The teacher also uses the Remind app to send messages to all of the parents at once or chat individually. She sends pictures whenever she can so parents get a firsthand look at what their child did at school that day.
I genuinely feel privileged to be able to contribute anything at all. It’s a great feeling to walk into the classroom and see all the little kids smile. Some of the students are so sweet and like to give hugs. It’s a treat to watch them grow and make progress.
They grow up so fast. I know I’ll blink and I will be done with elementary school and my daughter will want me to steer clear. For now though, she wants me around, so I’m going to be there, right by her side, for as long as I can.
Does your family have an elf, as in The Elf on the Shelf? Thanks to Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, I’ve seen adorable little elves making themselves comfortable in some very interesting ways around your homes. I’ve also heard from kids who say that they have an elf at their house. It’s quite a popular Christmas tradition. This year we welcomed an elf into our family. His name is Jack, and he quickly made himself right at home.
I learned a few things about Jack’s background that I thought were pretty interesting. We picked up a cute book and we’ve already read it a few times. I read it to a classroom full of first graders last week and they were mesmerized. After the story, many of them raised their hand to tell me the name of their family elf. I think most of them were just throwing out names for no reason, but it made me happy to see them genuinely interested in the story. Kids can be so brutally honest, and it’s easy to tell when they’ve checked out.
The Elf on the Shelf is a cute story so I’ll provide a quick summary for those of you who have never heard it. When an elf arrives at your house, you can adopt it and give it a name. Sometimes an elf will simply appear in a family home, but my daughter is very quick to point out that we got ours at Target. Your elf will watch your children’s behavior, and each night he will report back to Santa at the North Pole and tell him if you were good or bad. That’s one of the ways Santa knows who goes on the nice list and who will end up on the naughty list. The elf will quickly return home and rest in a different place than he was the night before. Elves have been found in some very interesting places, and those are likely the pictures you will see people share.
The one rule is that the elf cannot be touched. If anyone touches him, his magic will disappear. We can talk to him all we want, since he is always listening and watching. In our home, the sight of the elf has been a good reminder for everyone in our family to be on our best behavior. We wouldn’t want the elf to go to the North Pole and tell Santa that we were naughty! The biggest problem in our home is that sometimes our little Jack gets lazy and forgets to fly home at night, as we quickly see the next morning when we find him in the very same spot that he was in the night before!
On Christmas, our little elf will go back to the North Pole, and we won’t see him again until next year. He will find his way back to our family sometime after Thanksgiving, when we will again welcome him into our home.
This morning we found our little elf resting comfortably in Barbie’s kitchen. He seems to gravitate toward the Dreamhouse. Maybe he likes the company. He also likes to sit near the TV, probably because he knows that is where he’s sure to cross paths with the people in our family most often.
Hopefully, you’ll have the chance to have an elf in your own home one day. It has surely been a delightful tradition for us so far. Besides, if having a little elf around the house prompts anyone in my house to behave, then I’m all for it!
Is it just me or are we speeding right through Thanksgiving and heading right toward Christmas? What happened to Thanksgiving? Yesterday it was Halloween. Everywhere I turn, I see Christmas advertisements. Black Friday deals are flooding my inbox. It seems like I haven’t even had time to enjoy the fun of Thanksgiving.
As I stopped to think about plans for this Thanksgiving, I tried to pick out one thing that I am thankful for this year that really stands out. Of course I’m thankful for the usual stuff (that I can sometimes take for granted): food, shelter, friends, and family. The fact that I couldn’t pin point something right away spoke volumes. I guess some years are just better than others. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that no matter how bad I think things are, they could always be worse.
After thinking for a while, I finally realized what I was thankful for. Time. Not time that I had, but time that I would make. I’m thankful that I’m able to carve out some time to spend time with my daughter. When my boys were younger, I was a stay at home mom, and my whole day revolved around their schedule. They had their share of quality time when they actually wanted it. Now that they are older they are much more independent and I’m actually really good with that. Unfortunately my daughter hasn’t had the same experience. Since she started school, I have been a working mom. I wouldn’t say that one way is better than the other (most days), but they are both completely different. Lately, time just isn’t on my side. I’m thankful that I have to power to make the choice to change that.
Carving out time for my little one isn’t that complicated. I know exactly what she likes. She may only be six years old, but make no mistake, she knows what she likes and she knows what she wants. Sometimes that kind of certainty can make a situation challenging, but fortunately she’s always a happy girl.
As I was walking through the store recently, I noticed a book that I had seen a Facebook ad for. It was a coloring book for adults that claimed to calm and destress. A light bulb went on in my head. Coloring! My little one loves to color and that is something that we can do together. After looking through a few coloring books, I realized that we pretty much had already accumulated every book that the store sold. I did however, pick up a nice, big new box of crayons. There is something I love about sharp crayons. Maybe it’s the smell. It seems like they color so much more evenly than the old crayons that aren’t sharp anymore. I love a new box of crayons!
When I came home from the store with a box of new crayons my daughter’s eyes lit up. Her smile was priceless. I told her we were going to color together, so naturally she wanted to color right away. That’s where the whole event peaked. We colored for a few minutes and then she eventually got distracted and began doing something else. I kept right on coloring though, with her right next to me watching while she played with her toys.
It was a good hour before my hand started to hurt and I decided I had had enough. The funny thing is, she had had enough as well. If I had colored with her for 30 minutes, it would have been enough. She is so used to me saying not right now every time she asks me to play with her. We have to do this, we have to do that. We have to go here and there. Our life is so fast paced that there really isn’t much time to sit and have quality time. I myself am used to it, but for a 6 year old I can understand how it can be tough.
I know for certain now, this year I am thankful for time. If I had to choose one thing to point out, it would be time. All it took was a few minutes. All it will take in the future is a few minutes, but I’m thankful for time with my kids. Maybe next year I will be thankful for carving out time for myself! A girl can dream.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect, and you don’t necessarily have to pick something that you already have. You can be thankful for what you are going to do and what you have the power to do. Happy Thanksgiving, and here’s to hoping everyone is thankful for food, shelter, friends, and family. If you have more than that to be thankful for, well, then you are very fortunate.
Unity Day is October 21st. Join your family, friends and neighbors and stand united against bullying. Wear orange this Wednesday to show your support.
You may remember a day last October when you noticed numerous people were wearing orange. It’s possible that it was for Halloween and people were simply being festive. Another possible reason for all the orange is Unity Day. Pacer started Unity Day back in 2011 with the hope that everyone would stand united against bullying. In fact, the whole month of October is Bullying Prevention Month. Unity Day is on October 21, so if you want to stand united with others to prevent bullying, you can wear orange and show your support for the cause.
In 2006, Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center founded the National Bullying Prevention campaign. Since then the movement has expanded from one week to the entire month of October and is recognized all across the United States. In 2011, Pacer began to sponsor Unity Day as part of the month long campaign and encouraged people everywhere to get involved. According to Pacer, the main objective of Unity Day is to send a “message of support, hope, and unity to show that we are united against bullying and united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.”
Good character is at the heart of our mission at Lucky Kat World. There is a direct correlation between good character and bullying prevention. Certain character traits that are considered to be part of a character education curriculum directly relate to behaviors that are relevant to bullying prevention. Tolerance, compassion, empathy, and kindness are just a few.
If your child has been bullied then you’ll agree that this is a problem that needs to stop. As much as we might love to, we can’t be with our kids 24 hours a day. Whether a child is a bully, a victim, or simply a bystander, we can’t assume that they will all know the difference between which behaviors are appropriate and which are not. It’s unfortunate, but some kids still haven’t received the proper education about good character, including messages about anti-bullying. This is a problem that we can change. What we can do as parents and adults is encourage and model the behavior that we want them to exhibit.
If your child’s school has activities planned, encourage them to participate. Communicate with them and discuss bullying so they know how to handle the situation if it should ever present itself. If you are a volunteer at your school, wear orange. Inform others and remind them to wear any article of orange. It could be a pair of socks, a bracelet, a hat, or a hair bow. Post reminders on your Facebook wall and Twitter page. Post pictures of your activities using #unityday2015.
For great games and activities that promote good character and support bullying prevention, check out Lucky Kat World. Use PROMO CODE: UNITY to receive a FREE One Month Lucky Kat Club Membership when you sign up for a new account or upgrade your child’s free account on October 21st.
For help in teaching your children how to recognize and stand up to bullying, you can purchase Lucky Kat World’s “Stand Up To Bullying” app in iTunes or buy the 7 minute interactive DVD in the Lucky Kat World Store or on Amazon.
For more information on Unity Day or National Bullying Prevention Month check out the Pacer website.
If you’re like me, I was walking around in a bit of daze yesterday as the news started to trickle in. It’s hard to hear about another school shooting. It doesn’t matter where you live or how old your kids are, it makes your heart race and you just want to hold them.
I think what bothered me the most is that I immediately said out loud to a co-worker … “There is no safe place in this world anymore.” The movie theater … the school … the mall … is there anywhere that’s 100% safe? The answer of course is no, but it’s the world we live in, so we have to find a way to feel as safe as we can.
As a member of the Lucky Kat World team, we visit a lot of schools. There’s no particular pattern to the security we see. I live in a large suburb of Los Angeles and I can walk into my neighborhood elementary school by simply opening the door. The last time I was there, I could have wandered anywhere in the school that I wanted. I didn’t feel unsafe at all.
When I was visiting my hometown in Kansas, the school doors were locked and there was no way to get inside without an individual from the school personally opening the door for me. I had a meeting scheduled with the principal, but I still had to buzz the intercom and wait for an escort. I was accompanied to the office and did not feel I could have wandered the halls on my own. My first thought was …. Why the lock down in a small town? Perhaps yesterday’s shooting shows that there’s no rhyme or reason to how and when something can happen.
I know this feeling will last until the news story fades and we all get back to our busy schedules. But while this feeling of helplessness, frustration and even anger at the idea it will happen again, I have to ask how do we ever feel safe in our communities?
For me, it’s my faith. I remember as a child, my dad would sit at the breakfast table and read devotions every morning before school. He would pray for each one of us every day. I never thought much about it at the time because it was just part of our morning routine. As an adult, it’s easy to see that my parents’ faith for our safety laid in a higher power. Now I can’t say it would have ever occurred to them to pray for our physical safety at school from a gunman, but even then, they knew they couldn’t control everything in our lives.
Our focus at Lucky Kat World is teaching kids good character and encouraging positive attitudes and positive behaviors. So it’s not unusual for us to hear stories about elementary school children being bullied, harassed, shoved or the complete opposite, totally ignored. We talk to parents that feel helpless, frustrated and even angry that they can’t protect their children. Shootings or bullying, anything that hurts our children is devastating. And sometimes, if feels like no one is able to help.
If your child is hurting, yesterday is a reminder that you can’t give up until you find someone that will listen. If the teacher isn’t finding a way to protect your child, go to the school counselor. Still not getting results? Go to the principal. If they can’t help, go the Superintendent, then the school board … keep going until you find someone who is able to step in and make a difference. Going over someone’s head doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you or they haven’t tried their best to protect your child. But if they aren’t able to resolve the problem, keep moving it up the chain. It’s not always an easy path but eventually you’ll find someone that will listen and find a way to intervene. By persevering, you child will see your tenacity and that you won’t give up until they’re safe. And if your faith is important to you, take time to pray with them each morning before they leave for school. Remind them that God can change a bully’s heart. Your faith will give them as much comfort as your words.
If you could give your children a quality that would enhance their chances for leading successful, meaningful and fulfilling lives, what would it be? Though answers may seem endless, many experts say one of the greatest gifts would be instilling a “Can Do Attitude.”
The fact is, the caliber of our children’s productivity, inner strength, contentment, interpersonal relationships, and competencies is largely impacted by the strength of their self-beliefs. The best news is there are endless simple parenting moments to nurture positive attitudes in our children.
Here are eight tips from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions that help your child recognize his or her achievements and unique strengths and cultivate a “Can Do Attitude” and authentic self-esteem.
Real self-esteem is a combination of a feeling of worthiness: “I am likeable, loved and worthwhile” and a feeling of competence: “I have the skills to handle life.” [Based on work of Nathaniel Branden]
Focusing on only worthiness – or making your child feel more special than others – is a detriment to a child’s character and relationships with others.
Always rescuing (or “helicoptering”) and solving your child’s problems doesn’t nurture a sense of competence.
Aim to strike a balance in your parenting of building your child’s feelings of worthiness and competence.
I love James Dobson’s analogy: “Think of a pilot landing a plane at night – he needs those lights to be on both sides of the runway for a smooth landing. So too does your child.”
Secret 1. Discover Unique Strengths
There are so many fabulous opportunities to help our children discover their special talents and strengths. My Girl Scout leader from years ago was a master. Mrs. Woolley made us feel great by pointing out what we were good at. I always marveled at how she remembered our personal competencies. Then one day I discovered her secret when I found her notebook opened to a page filled with notes: “Meghan is interested in acrylics, Kelly’s soccer game, Joanne’s music recital.” It was her way of making sure no girl’s talent was ever overlooked.
Years later I still admire (and use!) Mrs. Woolley’s simple but powerful way of helping kids discover their strengths! It’s a secret we parents should be using far more. The more our children recognize their unique strengths, the stronger their self-beliefs will be. So help your child become aware of his or her own special qualities and talents. (And halt those comparisons to other siblings!)
Secret 2. Celebrate Special Achievements and Efforts
Nothing builds positive beliefs more than succeeding, and those achievements deserve celebrating. One way is having your child start his own Victory Log in a small notebook or journal. Each time your child achieves a special goal–such as finally learning to ride a bike, learning those math facts, or surviving her first sleepover–encourage your child to describe and date the success on a page.
The book can become a priceless keepsake of a child’s accomplishments that he can continue for years. For a non-reading child, consider taking a photo of the moment and pasting it into the log. This activity also helps your child learn to track his own successes and develop internal praise motivation instead of waiting for us to praise or reward those accomplishments.
Secret 3. Focus on Actions Not Appearance
Recent studies show that too many of our kids – especially girls – base their self-esteem on how they look instead of what they can do. The effect on self-confidence is disastrous. So help your daughter focus more on her actions and less on appearance. Gently turn conversations about looks, dates, and dress sizes into topics about plans and goals. Also, be a role model by discussing your goals and share your pride over any new accomplishments. By talking more about personal achievements and less about appearance, you will help your child develop personal beliefs formed on her accomplishments. In the process she will feel better about herself.
Secret 4. Use Specific, Earned Praise to Cultivate Positive Beliefs
Everyone loves praise, and kids are no exception. But keep in mind that not every little accolade you say will boost self-esteem. And you don’t want your child to become a praise-a-holic, expecting every little action to be praised (which does not help self esteem).
Praise that builds “Can Do” beliefs has three characteristics: It is deserved, specific, and repeated.
Here’s how to use those secrets to help a child recognize a special ability. The simple tip actually helps the child develop a new and positive image about himself.
Start by tuning into your child. Look for a special talent, trait, skill or passion in your child that deserves acknowledgment. Maybe you notice your child displays an artistic skill.
Next, find a moment when he really demonstrates the talent. This is when you can acknowledge the skill.
Word your message so your child knows exactly what he did to deserve your praise: “Kevin, you are so artistic because you use such wonderful colors and details in your drawings.” And always use the same word to describe the talent (”artistic” or “musical” or “kind-hearted.”)
Using the word “because” in your comment instantly makes your praise more specific.
Then, praise the same skill or talent several more times over the next few weeks. That way your child will be more likely to believe the message, and adopt it to form a new belief about himself. Make sure the praise is earned. Quick, little sincere reminders is the best approach. Halt the rewards and keep your money in your wallet. The right words are the best way to boost behavior.
Keep in mind that new behavior habits take a minimum of 21 days of repetition. The lower the self-esteem of the child, the more frequently you’ll have to repeat the praise.
You might also take a photo of your child that displays his talent (such as his best painting) or the moment he is engaged in doing his talent (he’s at the table drawing.) Then display the photo somewhere so your child can be reminded of the talent.
The moment your child verbalizes the strength and acknowledges his talent or strength is when you know he has internalized it. You can then help him develop another belief.
Secret 5. Accentuate the Positive to Eliminate the Negative
A powerful way to help a child develop firmer self-beliefs is to teach positive self-talk. One of the easiest teaching strategies is to model the strategy. Just be on the alert for some positive action you are proud of and then deliberately acknowledge your deed out loud so your child overhears. “I love how my recipe turned out.” Or: “I’m really glad I stuck to my exercise program. I lost five pounds!” At first you might feel a bit strange, but when you notice your child praising his own strengths a little more, you’ll quickly overcome any hesitancy.
Secret 6. Develop a “Can Do” Family Slogan
Negativity can quickly become a habit that is deadly for developing “Can Do” attitudes. So squelch any Stinkin’ Thinkin’ before it starts to breed in your kids!
A mother told me she stopped put-down comments with a slogan. Whenever any of her kids said, “I can’t,” other family members learned to say, “Success comes in cans, not in cannots.” It was a simple but effective way of encouraging her kids to think more positively about themselves.
Is there a slogan you might want to start up in your home? Tune into your own statements as well. Your child is listening and internalizes those comments.
Secret 7. Don’t Be a Safety Net
No parent wants his child to suffer disappointments, and often our first adult instinct is to try and solve their dilemmas for them. But watch out: doing so robs kids of the opportunity to find their own solutions. Problem solving is exactly the skill kids need when they’re on their own.
Avoid temptation to rescue your kid and solve his problems. Instead, step in only when really needed. Children need to build self-beliefs that say, “I can figure things out for myself.” Then do let your child know you believe he can.
Secret 8. Help Your Child Learn from Mistakes
I watched a teacher give a small wrapped present to each student on the first day of school. The children were amazed to find small erasers inside the boxes. The teacher said, “You’ll be needing these this year, because you’ll be making lots of mistakes. That’s how you learn.” Her simple gift helped “erase” the idea that mistakes mean failure, and can be a chance to start again. And it’s an essential lesson for developing “Can Do” attitudes.
When your child makes a mistake, stay nonjudgmental and help her focus on what she’s trying to achieve. You might ask, “How did you want this to turn out?” or calmly say, “What will you do differently next time?” Above all, help her believe she can succeed in her efforts: “I know you can do it. Hang in there.”
As a parent, you have countless opportunities to reinforce your child’s self-beliefs. Your expectations, your reactions and your words can give your children votes of confidence or chip away at their attitudes about themselves. Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask yourself at the end of each day is this: “If my child’s self-beliefs were based only on my words and actions today, what would she believe about herself?” Your answer should guide how you interact with your child each time you are together.
Visit www.micheleborba.com for more resources & follow her on Twitter at @micheleborba
There are only two C’s in “character,” but one can find many words that begin with C in describing good, positive character traits and behaviors. I’ve compiled a few C words that show the attributes of character.
1. Caring: Two important synonyms are “compassion” and “empathy.” Robert Krzaric wrote in The Greater Good’s e-newsletter that caring-empathy is one’s “ability to step into another person’s shoes, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.” Most importantly, he notes that new research suggests that caring-empathy is “a habit we can cultivate.”
2. Choice: Living a life of good character doesn’t happen by chance, nor does it happen by circumstance. It happens by choice. One of my favorite character education authors, Hal Urban, reminds us that no matter what the circumstances — “people, places, times, things, conditions” — your choices determine your actions and behaviors, not the circumstances. Somewhere in this C word, I sense virtues like respect, responsibility, perseverance.
3. Citizenship: Two social studies specialists once wrote that the purpose of schooling is not to help people be better off, but to be better scholars, citizens and workers. They noted that a multicultural society needs roots. These roots, they said, are described in our founding documents, in our symbols and slogans, and in our personal and public civic virtues. Our schools, therefore, are called to educate the young to uphold (and sometimes challenge) core virtues such as trustworthiness, fairness, patriotism, justice, courage, responsibility, respect and honesty.
4. Common sense: “Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his four stepbrothers I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, I Am a Victim.” (CS Obituary printed in the London Times, date and author unknown)
5. Company: “Character is how you behave in response to the company (peer groups, friends, family) you keep, seen and unseen,” according to psychologist Robert Coles in “The Call of Stories.” Who are the virtuous, the responsible agents, the moral teachers, and the positive role models that keep company with our young people? Is it their peer group, the entertainment industry, the Internet, Facebook, YouTube?
6. Conscience: From the B.C. comic strip Pearls of Wisdom: “A conscience is what hurts when everything else feels great.” No need for further comment.
7. Consequences: The penalty we pay or the internal-external rewards we receive from the choices we make. Behaviors have consequences — some positive, some negative. People make mistakes, including people of good character. But these people have what might be called “character strengths.” They hold themselves accountable, take responsibility, pay the consequences, learn from their mistakes and do not repeat them.
8. Courage: As adults, we know our courage is tested daily. The young can be taught to meet the personal and social challenges to do the right thing; to stand up for their own and other’s rights; to make difficult decisions particularly when such decisions may not be easy or popular; and to have the courage to say “no” when invited to cheat, bully, harass or be unfair, impolite or disrespectful to others. As Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Ed DeRoche is the recipient of Character.org’s 2015 Sanford N. McDonnell Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a former teacher, administrator, school board member, and dean. Currently he is the director of the Character Development Center at the University of San Diego and teaches in-class and online courses on instructional strategies, curriculum and programs, and character-based classroom management.
Isn't it crazy how we are constantly changing? I am 19 and the oldest of three girls. Growing up with two sisters was quite the experience. Each one of us has a very different and unique personality. As you can imagine, as with any siblings, we had our arguments, but we also share a very special relationship.
I recently moved away from home and started building a life of my own. Not being there for my sisters has been extremely hard for me. Talking to them on the phone is often the highlight of my day.
Just last week, my youngest sister mentioned something about starting her freshman year and expressed her worries about the new school. I realized how fast time was flying because it seems like just yesterday when she was starting kindergarten. I saw the days when she dressed herself in princess clothes and mismatching socks. Now it takes her forever to get ready because every hair has to be in place. I was there when she learned to ride a bike, developed her sense of style, and had her first crush. I held her when we found out that my dad had cancer and she cried for days.
While both my parents were working, I assumed the mother role; taking my sisters to school, cleaning, making dinner, helping with homework and projects, giving advice for everything from clothes to boys. I remember watching both of my sisters grow into the beautiful young ladies they are today. It's hard to believe in just a few short years; even my youngest sister will be my age, starting a life of her own. I am so proud of both of them and their achievements.
I’ve had a lot of fun working on LK’s fundraising team this past summer. Talking to moms and playing the games myself, I was quickly reminded that our character can be seen in everything we do. I had two little sisters watching every move I made, so it was imperative that I made good choices. When you’re growing up, you don’t always think about your choices being part of your character. As the oldest child, I didn’t necessarily realize how much influence my actions had on my siblings. I think it's great that Lucky Kat is here to help instill good character in kids and even remind us “older kids” that our character, good or bad, will impact our siblings.
So as this school year starts and we all go back to our busy fall schedules, remember that we are influencing everyone around us and Good Character is key!
Have a blessed day!
It’s that time of year again! Your kids have only been in school for a week and you’re already receiving fundraising notices!
As you thumb through the latest fundraising catalog, you try to figure out what you can possibly use this time around … a new recipe holder … wrapping paper … cookie dough … a picture frame … perhaps a new apron.
What if you could help support your school and help yourself and your kids at the same time? Be your school’s hero! Take a moment to watch this short video and see how a Lucky Kat World fundraiser can raise money for your school; give your children something they will love to play and give you peace of mind to know their screen time will actually help improve their character!
Do your kids play video games? Online or mobile, LKW offers fun video games and activities that will benefit your school!
You’re not on the PTA board? You don’t have any say in what fundraisers your school selects? You’re all on the same team. Your school needs money and they need to engage parents. Share this email link with your PTA/PTO and your fellow parents. It’s so easy, even the busiest families can participate! Anyone can sign your school up for a fundraising account. You just share your fundraising link with your fellow parents and every time a family buys a membership, your school will earn up to 50%!
If you have 300 students in your school and each parent sold one 6 month or 12 month membership, your school would earn $3,600 - $6,900! There are 1 and 3 month memberships available as well. Imagine this … a fundraising campaign by text! Text your fundraising link and watch your fundraising dollars grow overnight! Funding is immediate!
It’s back to school time … and this family is ready!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, kids really do need structure. Keeping them on a schedule is good for all of us and makes planning so much easier because I know exactly who will be where and when.
This past year, we had one child in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school. Believe me when I say that mornings and afternoons were really chaotic. By last May, I couldn’t wait for the school year to end. Between the awards assemblies and the class parties at the end of the year, all I could think about was how much I was going to appreciate the unstructured days of summer.
At first, mornings without making lunches and finding matching clean socks were an absolute delight. But eventually the novelty of summer wore off. It didn’t take long before I started hearing “I’m hungry” or “What are we going to do today”. Then there’s “What’s for lunch?” or “Can we go somewhere?” At some point, I think we’re all ready for school to start again. They’re bored and I’m worn out from trying to keep them busy.
I actually enjoy the “back to school” process and stockpiling school supplies. There were great “back to school” deals throughout the summer. A lot of stores had BOGO deals and door busters with low prices I couldn’t pass up. When I saw something that I knew was cheap, I bought it. When I saw clothes that I knew my kids would like, I picked them up. I don’t typically look for “back to school” deals. Instead, I make it a point to pick up something up whenever I ‘m out. It’s very much like Christmas shopping for me!
This year will be a lot easier with my two boys at the same school. I won’t miss tackling morning traffic at three different schools! They’ve already been to orientation and received their schools I.D.’s, books, and other supplies. My eldest took his younger brother under his wing and helped him get familiar with the campus. They’re at that age where neither of them really wanted to do the buddy system for a day, but when I explained that it was either walk around campus with each other or walk around with mom, they both jumped at the chance! They win their fair share of battles so it’s nice to know that I can still be persuasive when I want to be. I played cool about the transition into high school, but I was really worried about my “baby” getting lost on campus or not being able to find one of his classes. I can still remember holding his hand and walking him to his new class each year on the first day of school. There’s an 8 year gap between he and my daughter so he was my “baby” for a very long time and it’s harder for me to let go of him.
My daughter is in the first grade so I’m still able to hold her hand at school … at least some of the time. We visited her school a few days ago to find out who her teacher is going to be, but I’m still going to walk her to class on the first day and a few days after that. They let parents walk on campus the first week and then we’ll have to say good bye at the gate.
My last step before school starts is to tackle the grocery list. Well – I should start by making an actual list. Anyone who has ever had teenage boys will tell you they eat A LOT. It gives a whole new meaning to “eating you out of house and home”. It’s almost impossible to keep food in the house. They literally go through my grocery bags and start eating before I even get a chance to put anything away. My daughter is six so she’s still pretty easy. My biggest concern with her is that she’ll give all her food away because she likes to share.
School starts this week and I feel quite prepared. It’s a nice feeling that I don’t always experience. It seems like I’m usually rushing around at the last minute for everything while all of the other parents are organized and ready for whatever task is at hand. If I’m lucky, my new found preparedness will be a good indicator of how my family will function during the whole school year. One thing I’m certain of – when I do the last drop off for the morning I’m going to get in my car, smile a really big smile, and exhale.