Back to School Series, Part 1 – Addressing Differences

Back to schoolIt’s hard to believe the beginning of the school year is right around the corner.  With that in mind, I hope to get you thinking about ways you can better prepare your kids for the transition back to life in the classroom.

One of my personal goals Continue reading

A Checklist of Summer Fun

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Now that we’re about half way through summer, you may be starting to hear “I’m bored!”… does that ring a bell?  Good heavens, what are we, our kids’ personal social planners? I was recently chatting with a friend about our kids, and how for some reason they think we are responsible for setting them up to do something “amazing and fun” with friends everyday!  What happened to playing outside with the kids on the street, riding your bike or skateboarding to the park, or just simply jumping in the pool?

In search of ideas, I found this “Fun Summer Activities Checklist” on the Real Simple website. http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/summer-activities-00100000082747/index.html

I love it!  I actually pasted it into Word and added a few select activities of my own, then  allowed each of my kids to make a checklist of their own, using this one as a guide.  Of course I had to set some boundaries or my son would have added a Travel category and expected a 4 day weekend in Rome!  All joking aside, I’ve found that my children tend to keep it simple when they feel empowered to be adventurous and “in control” of their time. Along the way, inject some lessons of gratitude… for summer, free-time, ladybugs and butterflies, a sense of adventure, popsicles, whatever!  There’s no shortage of things for our children to be grateful for, but as you know, sometimes they need to be reminded:)

Give your kids a chance to be their own social planner and see what they come up with… you may be surprised!

Have fun!

The Pledge – Part 8: Love and Compassion

My World PledgeWow!  It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the last verse of the My World Friends Pledge!  When broken down line by line, you can easily see that the collective impact of small gestures and behaviors can be quite powerful.

Today we’re looking at “Living with Love and Compassion in our Hearts.”  I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one’s own. In this sense, the various forms of the Golden Rule are clearly based on the concept of compassion. As adults we can quickly give everyday examples of what compassion might look like, but the ideas and examples that inspire kids are often much simpler.

Here are some great examples you can use to assist your kids in identifying ways that they can naturally show love and compassion:

  • Sending your friend a get well card – Compassion
  • Helping a classmate clean-up a work area that they’re responsible for so that they still have time to participate in recess – Compassion
  • Sharing your ice cream with a friend because they dropped theirs on the ground – Compassion
  • Offering to walk an elderly neighbors dog – Compassion
  • Picking out a special treat for your sibling at the grocery store because you know it will make their day – Love
  • Creating a special, homemade banner or card to welcome a family member back into your home – Love
  • Praying for a friend or family member when they’re injured, sick or just simply feeling down – Love

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama ~

I can’t wait to hear about all the ways that you and your kids have been living “The Pledge”.  I strongly believe that small steps in this direction can change our world!  If you are Living with Love and Compassion in your Heart please share with us how it’s impacted your life and the lives of others.

Next week I’ll begin talking about the concept of “intent versus impact” .  This will prove to be a great tool in guiding our kids to think before they act/speak and therefore, assist them in making better, kinder choices.

In gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 6: Taking Care of our Planet

My World PledgeAs we continue to navigate the My World Friends Pledge, today we focus on ways that Kids can “Help Take Care of our Planet.”

Are you raising eco-savvy children?  Caring for our planet has been a much talked about topic in recent years and one that your child should be familiar with.  From composting to conservation there are many ways for your child to contribute to the longevity of our planet.

Here are some behaviors you can model and promote that will set them on their way:

  • Recycle everything possible!
  • Turn the water off when brushing teeth – constantly look for ways to conserve water.
  • Composting – not only does this help take care of our planet but it’s a great way to promote responsibility.
  • Turn off & unplug! Computers, small kitchen appliances and chargers are great places to start.
  • Minimize the use of disposable items. Plastic water bottles (use refillable containers), paper plates and paper towels; use eco-friendly grocery bags.
  • Ride your bike if your destination is close and casual.
  • Carpool when possible.
  • Set a good example within your community and spread the word!

Check out this link to an article on eartheasy.com that highlights fun and appropriate environmental websites for kids.  Eartheasy is a site I love that promotes solutions for sustainable living.

And mark your calendars… April 22nd is Earth Day!  Be proactive and plan an activity for your family or identify a local event to participate in.  The more our children learn about taking care of our planet, the more sustainable we’ll become.

Enjoy Earth.  Enjoy your environment.  Enjoy each other!

In gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 5: Be Kind to Animals

My World PledgeAs we continue to break down the My World Friends Pledge, today we look at being kind to animals.

While this may strike some as oddly specific, when it comes to children their treatment of and expression towards animals is very indicative of their overall attitude and behavior towards mankind.

While not every household can accommodate a pet, we should all try to expose our kids to animals on a regular basis… pet stores, shelters and zoos are all wonderful options.  Pet ownership is generally one of the first ways your child will be given the opportunity to be the “caregiver” and learn the importance of kind, nurturing behavior.  Here are some reasons that animals and pets are great for kids:

  • Caring for a pet/animal will foster kind and gentle behavior.
  • Animals are easy to show affection towards.
  • Pets promote a healthier and more active lifestyle within children.
  • Pets encourage time outdoors enjoying nature.
  • Pet-related chores promote responsibility and accountability.
  • Caring for an animal nurtures empathy in a child.
  • Pets calm anxious children and help quiet children come out of their shells.

So, are you a pet paw-sitive family?  If not, now might be a good time to reevaluate!  Shelters are a great place to find a family pet… after all, rescuing an animal is a teachable opportunity for kids.  And you never know, you may be the one being rescued!

Be kind to one another… and the animals!

In gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 3: Treat Everyone with Respect

My World PledgeIn our 3rd week of examining and breaking down The Pledge we’re focusing on “Respect”.  As we guide our children towards “living the pledge”, respect is clearly our foundation.  In fact, as one of the 5 pillars of character, if respect is consistently demonstrated, most, if not all, of the undesirable behaviors we’re striving to avoid/eliminate  simply never happen.

Here are some questions to assist in starting a conversation with your child(ren) about respect:

  • What does the word respect mean to you?
  • Have you ever felt like someone didn’t respect you, themselves, or others?
  • Have you ever seen somebody else not being treated respectfully, and if so, how did it make you feel?
  • Why do you think it’s important to treat everyone with respect?
  • Do you feel respected by all of your family members, care givers, and teachers?

Do you recall our previous dialogue on learned behavior? It really comes into play here… if you speak to your children with respect and treat them with respect, it is likely that that’s how they’ll treat and speak to you and others. If we have ongoing, open and respectful conversations with our children, they will openly and respectfully share more with us. It’s a two-way street!

Next up, “Good”. Specifically, being a good child, a good sibling, and a good friend.

Until then…

In Gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 1: Celebrating Differences

My World PledgeI introduced you to the “My World Friends Pledge” last month.  This is a great way for your kids to start off the New Year.  You can find the Pledge at myworldmedia.net.  Imagine how different our world would be if everyone lived by the Pledge!  Over the coming weeks, we’ll be breaking down the pledge line-by-line and talking about ways to weave these topics into conversation with your children.

On that note, let’s start at the top with “I will Celebrate Differences”. That’s another way of saying “I will be tolerant and kind to those that are different than me”.  What a great thing to talk to your kids about!  Here are a few questions that you might ask your kids:

  • What does Celebrating Differences mean to you?
  • Do you have friends that are different than you?
  • In what ways are some of your friends different than you?
  • Do you think that it’s good when people are different?
  • What are the differences in your friends or classmates that you notice the most (ie. glasses, braces, skin color, eye color, etc.)?
  • What are some reasons you’re happy that we’re not all exactly the same?

It’s simple to weave this topic into conversation about everyday life, and when you have regular, on-going and open dialogue with your children they will know that the door is always open for a chat.  If something is bothering them, something is going on at school, peer-pressure or a dispute with a friend, or they recognize behavior in a friend that is not appropriate, they will feel like it’s natural to talk you about these things.  How important is that?!  As parents we all want our kids to know that we’re here for them and we will listen and help when help is required.  Sometimes just being a good listener is really all they need. When your children confide in you and trust that you will listen without judgment or reaction, it will change the level of your conversations with them.

So, talk-it-out! And then share how your conversation of Celebrating Differences went.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

In Gratitude,
Renee

Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart – Even if it’s for an Ugly Christmas Sweater!

iStock_000022008724XSmallWe’ve been talking a lot about gratitude this month and I’ve been so pleased to receive likeminded comments and tweets from so many others on the same topic!  It really is an amazing way to live and begin each day… with a grateful heart!  But isn’t it funny how sometimes we find ourselves grateful for things that we once abhorred?… like the Ugly Christmas Sweater! Continue reading