Archive for October, 2010

Hallowe’en 2010!

October 29, 2010

Halloween – 2010!  In just two days we’ll celebrate Halloween in this country and many children will engage in the old process known today as ‘Trick or Treat’!  What began as poor people offering to pray for someone in exchange for food from the wealthier people, has now evolved into children collecting treats – mostly candy – from neighborhoods.  In some rural areas kids are transported from house to house to ‘collect’ this bounty of sweets which will certainly not meet the best standards of a proper diet.  I think we must all recognize that this ‘hallowed evening’ can be a chance to teach our children some valuable lessons.

First:  We can teach some very essential manners by encouraging that children not misbehave and that they are polite to all who will contribute a treat to them!  ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, or any other proper expressions of appreciation can be a big part of this transaction!

Secondly: Here is a perfect opportunity to teach your children about moderation!  Most kids will collect enough candy to last until Halloween 2011!  How much candy should your children consume?  Very little, if you’re concerned about the child’s teeth, or problems associated with obesity, or potential medical conditions which need attention to the consumption of sugar.  Children can learn self-control and self-regulation (this is known as ‘discipline’) as you chat with the child and provide an example of taking everything in moderation!

Third: Immediately after a child eats some of the candy received in this activity, teach your children to brush their teeth.  When my children had their braces put in place a very wise dentist addressed the topic of soft drinks (sugar water) with them!  He said in terms they could easily understand:  ‘If you are going to drink soda, drink it down – do not sip and prolong the exposure of your teeth to this potential destroyer of good teeth.  And, after you have finished the soda, brush your teeth.’  That’s really good advice, I think, and I would encourage everyone who has influence over a child to heed it!  Brush right after eating candy, and then no more candy until tomorrow!!

So, here’s your chance to strengthen your relationship with your child, to teach what we commonly call ‘self-discipline’, to teach proper receiving behavior, and to learn about moderation.  Those are winning strategies for all of our kids!! Enjoy this Hallowe’ed Evening – Halloween!



Hungry children!

October 26, 2010

Have you ever said or thought something like this:  “My child seems to be hungry all the time?”  Have you ever worried about your child’s eating habits?  Do you sometimes feel the need to talk with your kids about eating wisely?  Let’s take a quick look at some things you might want to consider.

What are mealtimes like in your family?  A relaxing time where no one is hurried and everyone participates in all aspects of the meal – preparation, the mechanics of the meal (setting the table, cleaning up after the meal, choosing special foods), the family atmosphere at mealtime!  While my children were growing up, we had no automatic dishwasher so the dishes needed to be washed, dried, and put away by the people – a ‘hands-on’ activity.  The kids took turns doing each of the necessary parts of this process, and we parents noted that when one child or another needed to talk about something, they chose to work with one of their parents to discuss whatever was on their mind.  While it didn’t happen often, I do remember times when my children asked to do a particular chore which brought them into the company of one of their parents.  “Mom’s washing the dishes, I’d like to dry them!”

Is your child overweight?  Heavy children sometimes develop eating habits which send messages to their body that they are hungry so the kids feel hungry even though they don’t need food for energy.  Helping your child to develop proper eating habits early on can prevent later childhood obesity which can be a difficult problem to overcome.

Growing children frequently require a snack in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Wise parents have healthy snacks available for kids so they don’t get into a habit of eating junk food when they could be enjoying fruit or vegetables!  A trip to the grocery store will reveal that these fruits and veggies are expensive, and we must find ways to help children know that these are better than the junk food often consumed during these critical times.  Also, discourage children from watching television or playing video games while snacking – this snack time is a perfect time for updating a child’s progress (listening to your child!) in school or in the neighborhood.

Be aware that sometimes a child cannot discriminate between being ‘thirsty’ and being ‘hungry’!  Help them with that by offering water or fruit drinks (not sodas!) when they indicate that they are hungry!

Finally, children occasionally learn that consuming food will satisfy an ‘empty’ feeling in another area.  For example, a child who is lonely or bored may use food to fill that ‘empty space’ and develop an unhealthy attitude about the relationship between a cookie and a hug!  With one simple question a parent can assist the child in this differentiation.  When your child says, “I’m hungry.” we might ask them directly, “Hungry for a cookie or a hug?” thus planting in the child’s mind that a cookie might be appropriate for a mid-afternoon snack, but a hug might start a conversation which could result in parents being aware of some emotional need which needs attention.

So, good luck!  Remember that whatever you do today will influence in a dramatic way what the child will ‘live’ in the tomorrows of his/her life!!


Play = Exercise!

October 18, 2010

We want our children to grow up with healthy habits and here’s one way to ensure that your child will grow up believing that exercise is enjoyable!  When many of us were children, we spent our free time outside playing all kinds of games – remember?  -hopscotch, -2, 3, 4, person basketball, -work-up softball or baseball, -kick ball, -jumping rope, -riding bikes, -kick the can, -hide and go seek, -Red Rover, -Captain May I?, -four-square!  Do you recognize any of these?  Many times our parents would have to scold us because we didn’t come in at meal time!  And, after we’d played hard at these activities, we were tired and often hungry!  Because we had all of that ‘play’ (exercise), the food was necessary to supply our bodies with the nourishment necessary to resume these activites tomorrow.

And, now think with me about the use of free time by today’s children.  Is it possible that the running, climbing and playing of our youth has been replaced by watching television, by video games, by surfing the net, and other sedentary activities? Is it possible that after many weeks of sitting around doing these things the child will not ‘feel like’ playing hard at some physical activity?  We all know that exercise is an important part of keeping our bodies fit and for children, this physical exercise paves the way for enjoying physical activities in adulthood.  A child who sees running and jumping and climbing as play will develop an attitude that physical activity is fun, not work, and as an adult this child will want to continue this physical activity!  Every one of us can name someone who, as an adult, just really enjoys playing strenuous sports – basketball, handball, racquetball, baseball, and sometimes just jogging.  I’m going to believe that these adults saw the value of hard physical play in childhood and this ‘habit’ just carries over!

Have you thought of ways that you can encourage your children – or manipulate them – into playing strenuously so that they become tired, hungry and anxious to repeat the playing for the rest of their lives?  The seeds you plant in your child in this area will repay dividends in later years and produce a healthier adult!!

As the Nike people advise:  Just do it!!!


Caring for our kids!

October 15, 2010

Over the years I’ve worked to collect simple phrases or sentences which would help parents and all who work with our kids to learn and grow and I’ve stumbled onto quite a few!  But, none of them reach the level of being a ‘just right’ statement better than this:  “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”  So, on this Friday in the fall let’s think together about that!

As a learner yourself you have had times when someone helped you to master something important and with that lesson, more than likely, came a bunch of caring.  Think about the last thing you learned or mastered!  Was there a helping hand, a kind word, an encouraging thought along with the information?  I remember being at a conference in Atlanta where a highly respected school superintendent revealed that just recently his father had passed away and with his voice cracking he told the audience, “The thing I’ll miss the most is something he did in my childhood and throughout my entire life.  I wanted to try everything as I grew up and even when my desire to master something surpassed my ability level, he always encouraged me with ‘Give it your best shot!  I’ll bet you can do it!’”  And, let’s suppose he fell short of his intended goal, it’s better to have worked to reach that goal and fail than never to have tried at all.  Zig Ziglar told the world:  “It’s better to aim for the stars and miss, than aim for some old manure pile and hit it!”

We can hear the caring in the father’s words and I’m quite sure that caring served as an example for this successful man as he went about being a teacher, a parent, a school administrator!  Will you be able to say to your children as they grow up:  “I’ll bet you can do it!”?

Put it into your daily interaction with kids today: “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”


Positive approach to discipline!

October 12, 2010

So often in today’s society, people use the word ‘discipline’ to refer to some form of punishment delivered to the child in response to some disappointing or unacceptable behavior!  So, we continue to have arguments over the value of spanking, time out, removing privileges, scolding and on and on!  Is it possible that we could take a  more positive look at this business of discipline and actually help our children more in gaining control of themselves and helping them to live successfully in civilized society?  Let’s look together at one possibility.

Consider this definition of the word ‘discipline’:  “. . discipline is the set of rules, rewards and punishments administered to teach self-control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors in children.”  Within this definition we might look at ‘discipline’ as a set of instructions given to a would be ‘disciple’.  Within this definition we would be deliberately working to establish in the child habits that will assist him or her to choose sound judgments and a desirable moral code so that the child will maintain self-control throughout the rest of his or her life – so that our kids can live easily independent of our presence in their lives.  Is it possible that when we administer physical punishments to our children, we will be teaching them that it’s acceptable to deliver pain and embarrassment to people who do not agree with us or behave according to our desires?

So, I challenge you now to consider changing your approach to ‘discipline’!  From now on when we become angry with our children’s behavior we’ll take a deep breath, and then ask:  ‘What can I do to correct this behavior and replace it with a more positive behavior?’  or ‘What will I do to help my child control his own behavior?’ or ‘Will my approach lead my child to surviving within the expectations of society with a minimum of discomfort?’ or, (last but not least) ‘What would I want someone to do with/for me if I had misbehaved in this way?’

‘Discipline’ used to mean simply ‘punishment’; but from this moment on it will mean ‘guiding a child into more a more successful life’!  Give it a try! (You may enjoy life with your children a bit more without their rebellion in the face of continuing punishment!)


A Blank Day!

October 5, 2010

Yesterday, to the people on my mailing list (and you can be there too, if you’d like – just ask!), I sent this cute little thought from Betty Mahalik:

“In the game of Scrabble when you draw the blank tile you can use it for any letter you want.  It’s the ultimate wild card.  Consider today your “blank tile” day.  Use it for whatever you want or nothing, if that suits you better.  If we can’t learn to embrace the blanks in life, we can’t fully embrace the activity, the creativity, the momentum either.

“The next three months will fly by:  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, a new year.  The busy-ness of the season will soon consume us.  Why not savor a few minutes now and then just enjoying the blanks when they come along.  I guarantee the world will not stop turning on its axis because you chose to embrace the blanks that show up in your life.  And taking the time to step back may be the very thing your mind, body or spirit needs today or this week to burst forth in a whole new season of creativity, contribution and productivity.”

So, the next time you’re drawing a blank, know that it’s time with which you can do as you please – or just do nothing and enjoy the rest!!

And, in response, my good friend from Georgia sent this:  “Jim, I am using my “blank” today.  My daughter is a school secretary here in Rome and she, her seven year old, Jane and I are headed to the Northwest Georgia Mountains for a day in the apple orchards and pumpkin patches.  There are lots of things I should be doing but elect to “just” do this.

You have a nice day.

Lynn Brandon”

Are you ready to spend a ‘blank’ day with your kiddos??