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Saturday, January 3, 2015

7 Things Parents Should Tell Their Kids Every Day

Super useful~ as an alternative to 'I love you'

Here is the summary:

  1. I believe in you
  2. Never give up
  3. Practice is how we learn
  4. Every expert started out as a beginner - just like you
  5. Failure / Fullure is not an option
  6. You gotta learn from every oopsie and ouchie
  7. You are saved and love
Thanks mindbodygreen!


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One of the most common refrains parents tell me is something along the lines of "I don't want my child to feel X." You can fill in the blank. I don't want my child to feel: left out, rejected, like a  Read 
There are many ways to say “I love you” to your children, without actually uttering those three small-but-mighty words. Below are my seven favorite alternatives, which also double-duty as “Empowering Life Philosophies” for raising kids who feel resilient — kids who feel deep inside themselves that they have what it takes to bounce back from life’s assorted (and sordid!) challenges.
After all, let’s face it. No matter how hard we all try to travel a bump-free path tohappiness, life will always present its share of surprise potholes.
I don't literally mean to literally say each one of these 7 things every single day. Switch 'em up. Sprinkle them into your day.
1. “I believe in you.”
I've told my 3-year-old son, Ari, “I believe in you” so frequently, that he’s started to boomerang these words right back at me.
Funny example: The other day I was ransacking our apartment for my keys. I collapsed on the sofa, frustrated because I couldn’t find them. Suddenly I felt a tug, tug, tug on my yoga pants. It was Ari.
“Mommy,” he says, “I know you can find your keys. I believe in you.”
His words were just the booster shot of adrenaline I needed to stand up and try pulling the sofa away from the wall for a quick peek behind it. Eureka! I found my lost keys!
Yep! I greatly believe in the propulsion power of “I believe in you!”
2. “Never give up.”
Actually, when I say these words to my son, I say them three times in a row, in a silly, exaggerated, Winston-Churchill-type voice: “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!”
This makes Ari giggle. And laughter is a great stress reliever, which continues to move him forward.
Recently, however, I realized these words need an important addendum. My son and I were putting together a Spiderman puzzle. Ari kept trying to squeeze the wrong puzzle piece into an empty puzzle space — while repeating: “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!”
I corrected him by saying: “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up! Unless of course you’re doing something which might be wrong — then you need to stop, think and come up with a new strategy!”
“A new strategy?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. If nothing changes, nothing changes. So … you need to look for a new way of doing it, a new strategy, to get new results.”
Ari now recognizes the importance of never giving up, while also being open to seeking new strategies.
3. “Practice is how we learn.”
This phrase reminds Ari not to be upset at himself for slip-ups and downfalls. I like to say this not only during a challenging activity, but also before, as a warmly worded warm up.
4. "Every expert started out as a beginner — just like you."
I feel it’s essential to remind Ari that people who are awesome at something didn’t start off awesome.
I want my son to grow up knowing that it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to fail. It’s OK to struggle. What’s not OK is to think that mistakes, failure and struggle are permanent states of being! They’re simply a bridge you need to keep traveling across to get yourself to “The Land of Awesome.” I want my son to grow up knowing that persistence, patience and effort are all far more important than perfection.
5. “Failure is not an option.
”I received this mantra via one of Ari’s talking ninja toys. When I first heard the toy utter this phrase, I said: “OOOooooooh I love this toy! Failure is not an option! That’s a good one!”
Ari and I then talked a bit about what this phrase means, things like: keep on trying, learn from everything, don't view it as "failure" but as "fullure"  "full" of lessons and insights to learn so you can try again with a new strategy and lots. So failure is never an option. One’s options are: learning, growing, letting it go, loving oneself for trying, and trying again!
Now whenever Ari is having trouble doing something, he’ll Ninja-Up and announce: “Failure is not an option!” Thanks to this phrase, Ari has become better and better at learning to read books!
6. “You gotta learn from every oopsy and ouchie.”
Each time Ari spills something, breaks something, drops something, kicks something, hurts something — I repeat for him this same little verbal ditty: “You gotta learn from every oopsy and ouchie.” I then ask him to specifically tell me what he learned from whatever the oopsy or ouchie might be — and we talk it through.
I let him know we all make oopsies and ouchies. We just have to try not to make the same oopsy or ouchie more than once.
7. “You are safe and loved.”
I recently added this phrase into my “Resiliency Words Tool Kit” after doing a hypnosis session with my friend. She was trying to put me into a relaxed emotional state. Her strategy? She asked me to remember a time in my childhood when I felt safe and loved. Hoo boy! As soon as she requested this, I tensed up instead of calming down! I couldn’t remember a clear, definitive time in my childhood where I felt safe and loved.
Afterward I thought about how important it is to raise kids to feel safe and loved. It bolsters their self-esteem and encourages courage.
I’ve now added the words “You are safe and loved!” into my goodnight ritual for my son. I whisper these words softly in his ear before he drifts off to sleep. “You are safe and loved.” I truly hope this quiet whisper creates a loud, infinite echo which lasts him long into adulthood.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Friday, January 2, 2015

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind

Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, and the Making Caring Common Project have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. (The Washington Post)


Earlier this year, I wrote about teaching empathy, and whether you are a parent who does so. The idea behind it is from Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs theMaking Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind.
I know, you’d think they are or that parents are teaching that themselves, right? Not so, according to a new study released by the group. (Chat with Weissbourd here.)
About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”
Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.
“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.
The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:
1. Make caring for others a priority
Why? Parents tend to prioritize their children’s happiness and achievements over their children’s concern for others. But children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or deciding to stand up for friend who is being bullied.
How? Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority. A big part of that is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, even if it makes them unhappy. For example, before kids quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, we should ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend and encourage them to work out problems before quitting.
Try this
• Instead of saying to your kids: “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”
• Make sure that your older children always address others respectfully, even when they’re tired, distracted, or angry.
• Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers whether your children are good community members at school.
2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude
Why? It’s never too late to become a good person, but it won’t happen on its own. Children need to practice caring for others and expressing gratitude for those who care for them and contribute to others’ lives. Studies show that people who are in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.
How? Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition—whether it’s a helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, or having a classroom job—make caring second nature and develop and hone youth’s caregiving capacities. Learning gratitude similarly involves regularly practicing it.
Try this
• Don’t reward your child for every act of helpfulness, such as clearing the dinner table. We should expect our kids to help around the house, with siblings, and with neighbors and only reward uncommon acts of kindness.
• Talk to your child about caring and uncaring acts they see on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news.
• Make gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Express thanks for those who contribute to us and others in large and small ways.
3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.
Why? Almost all children care about a small circle of their families and friends. Our challenge is help our children learn to care about someone outside that circle, such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.
How? Children need to learn to zoom in, by listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, by taking in the big picture and considering the many perspectives of the people they interact with daily, including those who are vulnerable. They also need to consider how their
decisions, such as quitting a sports team or a band, can ripple out and harm various members of their communities. Especially in our more global world, children need to develop concern for people who live in very different cultures and communities than their own.
Try this
• Make sure your children are friendly and grateful with all the people in their daily lives, such as a bus driver or a waitress.
• Encourage children to care for those who are vulnerable. Give children some simple ideas for stepping into the “caring and courage zone,” like comforting a classmate who was teased.
• Use a newspaper or TV story to encourage your child to think about hardships faced by children in another country.
4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor.
Why? Children learn ethical values by watching the actions of adults they respect. They also learn values by thinking through ethical dilemmas with adults, e.g. “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”
How? Being a moral role model and mentor means that we need to practice honesty, fairness, and caring ourselves. But it doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. For our children to respect and trust us, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws. We also need to respect children’s thinking and listen
to their perspectives, demonstrating to them how we want them to engage others.
Try this:
• Model caring for others by doing community service at least once a month. Even better, do this service with your child.
• Give your child an ethical dilemma at dinner or ask your child about dilemmas they’ve faced.
5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings
Why? Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.
How? We need to teach children that all feelings are okay, but some ways of dealing with them are not helpful. Children need our help learning to cope with these feelings in productive ways.
Try this
Here’s a simple way to teach your kids to calm down: ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them with her. After a while she’ll start to do it on her own so that she can express her feelings in a helpful and appropriate way.