December 24, 2009

Cherish the Time You Have

It is Christmas Eve, and I have a few reflections to share.  The holidays are a good time for reflecting.  If you haven't done so, find a few moments of quiet to think of your life, your choices, your family.

My thoughts this evening are about focusing in on what's important.  What is important?  In my world: love, family, friends, peace, clarity, communication, forgiveness.  What isn't important?  Bickering, anger, grudges, jealousy, hatred.  Tonight, let something go that's been bothering you.  Forgive yourself for something that never should have mattered, but made you feel guilty just the same.  Tell someone how you feel.

December 15, 2009

Lessons From a Stranger

One thing that everyone who works with kids ought to remember is that they have a lot to teach you.  Teachers and parents sometimes become so wrapped up in everything their students or children are supposed to know that they aren't awake in the moment when their child has something to contribute.  Or they are too entrenched in their own position and too proud to back down.

Sometimes children give us simple gifts in their innocent sweetness or humor, reminders of what is really important.  They can show us the spirit we should have with us every day.

December 13, 2009

Making the Holidays Memorable Part Two: Charity

A huge part of giving the holidays meaning for your children is giving to those less fortunate.  Most people manage to give to charity around the holidays, either a little or a lot.  But there's a difference between casual giving at your convenience and having a real commitment in your life to giving to charity.

Giving your kids a passion for charity can be hard, especially if this wasn't a part of your life growing up.  Here are some tips for focusing in and making the experience memorable.

December 8, 2009

Making the Holidays Memorable

This is a wonderful time of year.  It is a time to realize how much we have and be thankful.  It is a time to renew old traditions and perhaps begin new ones.  It is a time to acknowledge those who are important to us with gifts and cards, visits and well-wishes.  It is a time for rest, family and friends, and a new beginning with a new year.

It is also a time of stress, social awkwardness (I didn't think she would send me a card!), unbelievable crowds when shopping, and dangerous weather when travelling.  With the gifts of the season come challenges; but the real challenge is how to pass some meaning on to your children with the pile of presents you give them, and how to keep the season as "merry and bright" as the songs.  

December 6, 2009

Don't Make Your Kids Behave: Help Them Behave

This great article by John Hoffman restates an obvious, but often overlooked, truth in dealing with children: telling them to behave isn't nearly as effective as helping them behave.  Every teacher and every parent has found themself in the position of sounding like a broken record when dealing with the kids in their care.  Telling a young child to wait, clean up or sit still is a enormous, sometimes impossible, request.  But, especially under the pressure of being in public, parents and teachers seem to expect their charges to develop these abilities unassisted.

The next time you're in the checkout line at the grocery store and your little ones start to misbehave, distract them with a game.  Reach out and take their hand.  Talk about the things you see around you, or what you'll do once you leave the store.  Let's face it: the checkout line is boring.  A bored child is going to find a way to entertain himself, and not necessarily in a way you'll like.

December 5, 2009

The Number One Way to Get Kids (and grown-ups!) to Eat Their Veggies

The blog "It's Not About Nutrition" posted a great article, stating that new research suggests that the reason we don't eat more fruits and veggies is because we don't think of them.  Most people only buy from a relatively short list of possibilities, such as apples, bananas, carrots and oranges, failing to broaden their horizons to the many great options available.

The solution she suggests is to use this vegetable list on the US Department of Agriculture's site and make a game of it with your kids.  See how many veggies you can try.  I really like this idea, but it has one huge pitfall: what if you don't know a thing about mesclun or couldn't make something edible out of a hubbard squash to save your life?

You see, trying new vegetables isn't going to do you or your kids any good if they are poorly prepared.  And that's where my tip comes in: watch a cooking show.