It is that time of year—when shopping can have additional challenges with all the holiday items on display, crowds of people to contend with and lists that are longer than usual. You might be tempted to do anything possible to leave your children at home or with a friend or a sitter. After all, what can little kids learn when they are shopping with their parents in the store?
As it turns out, they can learn a great deal. To begin with, they learn about how to find the items in the store, what lives on each isle. They can learn about quantity, quality and what’s the best value. They can learn about how much you love hanging out with them in the store and how helpful they are to you. They can learn about not getting what they want right now--delayed gratification, self-control and how to entertain themselves when bored.
They can learn all this and more as long as they aren’t watching a video on a phone or a tablet. Many parents of young children allow that. It’s understandable. It makes it easier in the short term. However, I believe that what happens when they are young lays the foundation for what happens in your relationship with your child later in life. I believe in paying now… rather than paying much bigger later on.
So… the next time you’re in the store, would it be healthier for the child to be helping you shop? How can you make that happen?
• Before you go, your child can help you draw pictures of a few of the items you need to find. Another option is to print images of these items off the web or have your child circle items in the weekly grocery store flyer. If your child can read and write, s/he can write down a list that you dictate or copy the one from the frig. Now the child has something to hold in their hand as they help you on your mission.
• When they find something you need, they can feel great accomplished. If they spot something that’s not right, you can say, “Oh, that’s really close! That’s almost what we want. Let’s look over here. Oh, look at that. It looks just like our picture. Look, it says ‘Beans.’ The letter ‘B’ stands for beans.”
• You can ask questions: “Are we going to get the small one for this price or the bigger one? I think we should get the bigger one. It’s a better value. That means the price is just a little bigger, but the quantity is a lot bigger. ‘Quantity’ is just a fancy word for how much you get.”
• If you have a child in middle school or high school, get their input on a new recipe to try out for dinner. Have them shop with you to get the ingredients and put the groceries away afterwards. Help them develop a specialty dish that they prepare (with your help as needed) for dinner. Consider having this be a weekly chore or contribution to the family.
These things make shopping so much more fun and think about the lessons learned with respect to vocabulary, math, and other essential life skills. Of course, they are not always going to be happy about this approach, particularly if they have become accustomed to watching videos or playing games while you are shopping.
That’s okay because it is most important to give our children small opportunities to become unhappy or bored. Think about it--do these feelings still come our way as adults? The healthiest people are those who learned early in life that these feelings are temporary and that they can cope and get through them.
Adapted from a blog by Sharon Eganby
In just a few days, we will be sitting down to enjoy Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. Dinner conversations in homes across the country will begin with the ritual of going around the table to share what each is thankful for and why.
This is a wonderful and meaningful ritual to have, but how many of us limit this ritual to this one special day when we are gathered around a turkey dinner with all the trimmings? Giving thanks and showing appreciation is an art and one that needs to be worked on daily. It is a habit that we need to develop and practice and then, pay forward the art of gratitude to those around us.
Many parents say: “I tell my kids to appreciate what they have-that there are a lot of other children in this world that don’t have what they have. But they don’t seem to get it AND they take everything I do for them and what I give to them for granted!”
So, this November, let’s start a new tradition to be grateful and appreciative for what we have. Pay it forward by incorporating the FIVE tips below into your daily living and see what develops in your family
1- Express, share and model your own gratitude. Express gratitude for what we often take for granted--having a roof over our head at night or food on the table—when your children are present. Doing this allows us to become mindful of life’s daily blessings and to shift our focus to the blessings instead of complaints. The more we share our gratitude for life’s simple pleasures each day, the more our children will naturally discover their own reasons to be grateful and learn to express their gratitude, too!
2- Appreciate your children. Here are some ways you can express gratitude to your children beginning today!
Showing and expressing our appreciation to our children is a gift that will keep on giving. Imagine the sheer joy of your children feeling appreciated and then imagine and savor in how much more cooperative your children will be. Now that is something, we can all be grateful for!
3- Give your children chores. Chores are contributions to the family and make the family work better. We all need to be needed, especially our children. Through helping out, not only will your children learn that the family runs more effortlessly and efficiently but they will learn to understand that hard work and effort is required to accomplish tasks (clean dishes do not miraculously appear on the table each night) and that their effort is greatly appreciated. The more your children feel appreciated, the more they will be willing to help.
An important note is that children should not be paid for these regular contributions. Otherwise, they are hired help. Of course, you can have a list of additional chores that you are willing to pay them to complete
4- Teach the value of patience and hard work. There was a time that children would dream and brainstorm how they could earn the newest pair of sneakers or the latest hi-tech gadget. Today, a common complaint is that children have an increased sense of entitlement. It is important to keep in mind that their seemingly lack of appreciation is being fueled by parents and others catering to their every desire without sacrifice of any kind. And then we become resentful that our children do not show appreciation and act like “ungrateful little brats”.
We have robbed our children of the excitement of dreaming and of the understanding of what it means to wait and to even work for something that is out of their immediate reach. Brainstorm with your children on ways they can earn what they want.
Helping our children learn to work and to wait for life’s treasures by focusing on needs vs. wants will cultivate a stronger sense of internal gratitude and increased feelings of happiness. Being patient while waiting and working towards a goal helps to create a sense of appreciation for what we have and don’t have.
5-Give back to others. Look for opportunities to help others as a family and talk about ways to help others in daily life. Talk about the saying, “to give is better than to receive” and ask your children what they think it means. Have a challenge for a week to see how many people each person can help and talk about it over dinner. To give to others is powerful but we must provide our children with opportunities to be selfless and to give back to others. What opportunities will you give your children this holiday season to give back? What ways does your community offer to get involved?
Love and Logic Parenting, By Jedd Hafer, www.loveandlogic.com
Miriam was at a loss about her son, Michael. For two straight weeks, she attacked his homework folder as soon as he walked in the door, diving into it like it contained all the answers to the universe. To her chagrin, she found Michael was slacking and leaving many assignments undone or sitting in limbo.
She tried lectures but even her best ones seemed to fall upon closed ears. She threatened to remove all the stuff he liked but that strained their relationship. Finally fed up, she turned to her wise friend, Linda, for advice.
“He doesn’t seem to care,” Miriam lamented, “I don’t know what to do. When do I step in and when do I step back?”
Linda shared some general ideas she had learned as a Love and Logic teacher:
• Hug your son before you hug his homework folder. You want him to know his worth has nothing to do with school performance. Tell him you love him and you’re glad to see him. Don’t even bring up schoolwork when he comes in.
• If you do help, do so only when you’re both in a relatively good mood. Help when he asks nicely — as long as the pencil stays in his hand. Let him experience some real results of not getting work done. In general, you want him to own his grades. If you step in too much, you rob ownership from him.
Linda noted that there is always some judgment involved in deciding when to step in: Factors might include a child’s age, grade level, developmental level, personality type, and how often these problems occur.
Miriam decided to be more careful about stepping in and to intentionally communicate that she believed in Michael. She stopped asking about homework and allowed Michael to bring up the subject. She decided to be supportive by providing a distraction-free work area and a time in the evening (after chores) for everyone in the family to “study” and/or have a quiet time.
To her surprise, as her observable anxiety over Michael’s assignments lessened, Michael’s concern over his own academic performance seemed to increase. In other words, when the adult is doing all of the worrying regarding homework, the child doesn’t need to be concerned. But when the parent steps back, the responsibility lands on the child, and more times than not, they will take on the responsibility.
Give your kids the gift of owning their homework assignments.
From the stories of King Arthur and his knights comes the one about Sir Gawain. In the tale, Sir Gawain agrees to marry Ragnell, a grotesquely ugly woman, in exchange for information that will spare the life of King Arthur. On their wedding day, a great sense of mourning hung in the air because King Arthur’s handsome and gallant knight was being married to a monstrous hag.
On his wedding night, Sir Gawain waited in bed while is bride prepared herself for their first night together. When Ragnell laid down beside him, she said, “You have kept your promise and much more. You have never shown me pity nor revulsion. All I will ask of you is one kiss.”
Closing his eyes, Gawain leaned over and kissed his bride. When he opened his eyes, he was startled to see a beautiful woman lying next to him. Leaping from the bed, he exclaimed, “Who are you? Where is my wife and is this sorcery?”
Calming, Ragnell said, “I am your wife and I will tell you my story.” She told of how her stepbrother, Sir Gromer, hated her because of her beauty and the fact that she didn’t succumb to his fear tactics and commands. His jealousy and resentment lead him to convince his mother—an evil sorceress—to turn her into one of the ugliest women ever.
Ragnell then told Sir Gawain that there was a second part of the curse. She said,
“Since you have treated me with love and compassion, I am allowed to give you a choice. I can be a beautiful woman by day, so that all may admire me and consider you a lucky man, but I would become the ugly Ragnell by night. Or I can be the ugly Ragnell by day, only to become the beautiful woman you see before you at night. Which would you prefer?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Gawain replied, “This should not be my choice but yours. You must choose for yourself. I will accept either decision as long as it is your will.” And with that response, the curse was lifted and Ragnell was the beautiful woman she was meant to be day and night.
This story captures the essence of true, unconditional love which is meant to be the basis of all relationships. Sir Gawain wasn’t focused only on his own needs but saw beyond them and was concerned about his wife’s happiness and well-being. His desire to empower her is what healed each of them and could bring them both real joy.
As partners and parents, we often lose sight of this way of viewing love and believe that love doesn’t dwell within but is separate/outside of us. In his book “Mindful Loving—10 Practices for Creating Dee per Connections,” Dr. Henry Grayson says, “Thinking of love and God/the Divine as separate from us, we create a never-ceasing need to seek love outside of ourselves…And by shifting the responsibility for change from ourselves to the other person, we unwittingly reinforce an insidious cycle of blame that prevents true healing.”
There are many books and practices on how to heal our relationships with our spouses, children, parents, siblings and more. But the essential point that is often missed is that all change begins with me and my daily choices. The more I delve into relationship work, I am discovering that the central purpose of all relationships is to help us uncover our essential Divine Nature, and to help others do the same.
If you would like support on your own healing journey, please check out what I offer and Contact Me.
Did you know that your child’s emotional health can be largely impacted by the way you guide them in key moments throughout their day? Affective Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp explains that “Positive emotional systems…capture cognitive spaces, leading to their broadening, cultivation and development….As a general principle, the larger the sphere of influence of the positive emotions, the more likely is the child to become a productive and happy member of society.”
So, how do you create a healthy emotional system for your child to develop in?
Here are the 9 Most Important Minutes of Your Child’s Day:
So, instead of pulling the covers off and rushing, could you spend 3 minutes waking up together? Or running downstairs to sit and start breakfast together? Maybe when your child gets home from school, instead of running to the TV or homework, walk to get the mail together. Find a way that works with you to spend these 9 tiny minutes together!
Because all children experience so much throughout the course of a given day, a great way to promote emotional health and processing is to capture your child’s attention and make an emotional investment at these key times.
Optimize the time:
--For your young child who cannot speak yet, spend time looking at books, singing, talking softly, or cuddling.
--Ask open-ended questions and, as your child responds, guide them to use “feeling” words to describe their experiences.
--When you go to check the mail and notice the falling leaves or new buds along the way.
--How about a back-scratch or a shoulder massage for your preteen?
It’s important to remember that a great parent makes the most of the little moments. I challenge you to try this for one month and see what nine minutes a day can do!
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Theresa