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

Life as a Relay

iStock_000000698569SmallI’ve been reading Hard Choices the new Hillary Rodham Clinton memoir, and I am struck by a paragraph in chapter 2… she says and I quote:

“America’s leadership in the world resembles a relay race.  A Secretary, a President, a generation are all handed the baton and asked to run a leg of the race as well as we can, and then we hand off the baton to our successors.”

When I read that, I immediately thought about it’s application to parenting.  We parents are charged with what is arguably the most important job on the planet and I genuinely believe that all parents begin the journey (or race!) wanting to be the best parents we can be.  We strive to impart as much wisdom as we are capable, and instill all the important character traits in our children that we know to be right and true.  Hopefully, somewhere along the way, these character traits were modeled for us… by either a parent, caregiver, teacher, mentor or coach.

This is a vivid reminder that life is a marathon and not a sprint and that it is truly never too late to join the race and become part of a successful “relay”.  One in which we eventually pass the baton to our kids in hopes of someday seeing them as successful, responsible citizens and parents themselves.

As I prepare my summer reading lists for both kids and parents (coming next week), I will certainly be including Hard Choices.  Regardless of your political beliefs or alignments, reading the recently released memoir of the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State should not be a hard choice at all!

Happy Summer!

Much love,
Renee

Intent vs. Impact – Part 2

iStock_000019965393SmallThis week we continue to focus on Intent vs. Impact.  This concept is so important and can’t be stressed enough when it comes to good, effective communication… with our children, our family members, our friends, even strangers!

When our words are heard to mean something other than what we’ve intended that is a problem.  When we’ve hurt someone, whether we meant to or not, what matters is how we repair the situation. Last week we identified some steps that can be taken towards accepting responsibility for the impact of our words to make things right.

Now, let’s think about getting to the point where we think about impact first.  At what point does the “intent” conversation stop mattering?  After all, what does the intent of our actions really matter if our actions have an impact other than what was intended?

Please share your thoughts so we can continue the conversation.  Let us know how you’ve been able to communicate more effectively and avoid misunderstandings by focusing on the impact of your words.

“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.”
~ Pablo Picasso ~

For fun, check out our Pinterest board ~ intentionally put together for your pleasure!! :)

Happy Friday!

In Gratitude,
Renee

Intent vs. Impact – Part 1

iStock_000019965393SmallLast week I said that I would begin talking about the concept of “Intent vs. Impact” .  I believe this will prove to be a great guide in helping our children (and ourselves!)understand that sometimes what we say and intend are different than what is heard, and how the impact of our words can end up being hurtful, mean, or confusing when that isn’t the intent at all.

Have you ever had an unexpected impact on a person to whom you were communicating and had no understanding as to why?  It happens!  Even to those of us that consider ourselves to be excellent communicators!  Having said that, you can imagine how easily children and adolescences fall into this trap without ever being aware of it.  So what are some ways that we can get our kids to realize the importance of thinking before they act/speak.  How can we help them communicate effectively, in-turn assisting them in making better, kinder choices when it comes to their words?

I was recently at a talk at my kids’ school and a parent mentioned being upset that their child said “he was acting so gay… it was annoying” as he was referring to the behavior of a friend.  The parent didn’t know what to say about the sons choice of words so admittedly said nothing.

Lets break this down:
1.  Did the boy intend to say he thinks his friend is gay?
2.  Does he think the boy would be upset if he heard him use the word “gay” when referring to his behavior?
3.  What is gay behavior in the eyes of a Junior High School student?
4.  What if there was somebody within earshot who is struggling with their identity… how would it make that person feel?
5. How would it make the boy feel if one of his friends said that about him?

Clearly the above example is something that will likely happen in Junior High and beyond, but no matter the age of your child(ren), I’m sure you can plug-in your own scenario and end up with a similar set of issues.  So given that, what can be done if we realize that there is a mismatch between our intent and our impact on a colleague, friend, or someone at home?  Here are some questions we might ask ourselves:

1.  What just happened?
2.  How is the outcome different from what I intended/expected?
3.  Where can I take responsibility?
4.  How do I make this right?

In striving to make things right, you can take the following steps:

1.  Act quickly to address the situation… don’t let the “bad” linger
2.  Be honest about your intention.  Talk with the other person about what they heard and how it made them feel.
3.  How might you communication more effectively or differently in the future?
4.  Take responsibility for your words and actions.

My failures have been errors in judgment, not of intent.
~ Ulysses S. Grant ~

This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic, so you can expect on-going dialogue for a few weeks.  Check back and see what others are saying and further, share your own scenarios and solutions with us.  We love hearing from you!

Until next time…

In gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 7: Be Trustworthy

My World PledgeAs we continue to navigate our way through the My World Friends Pledge, today we focus on being Trustworthy.

As parents I can’t think of many qualities that we want to develop more in our children.  Knowing that your child is telling you the truth gives great comfort, especially as they get older and are given a longer leash and increasing levels of independence.  We can talk about the importance of being trustworthy endlessly as parents, and sadly, we probably all have plenty of examples where we can site a lack of trustworthiness in a friend, classmate, teammate or even a family member, and easily recall the negative impact it had on our lives.  But, what do your kids think about the importance of being trustworthy?

We’ve talked in the past about ways to start conversations with your kids on tough topics and the importance of talking to them openly and regularly about everyday life situations and events.  Here are a few questions you can ask to get the conversation on trust started:

  • What does being trustworthy means to you?
  • What does the word integrity mean to you?
  • Do you think you are a loyal person?
  • Are you good at keeping secrets?  Would your friends say you’re good at keeping secrets?
  • How do you know when you can trust someone?
  • If trust is broken, what are some ways you think it might be earned back?
  • What does being trustworthy have to do with the quality of your character?
  • Do you think you’ve ever been lied to by a friend or family member?  If so, how did it make you feel?
  • What are the benefits of being a trustworthy person? How do you benefit from the trustworthiness of others?

Our kids never want to disappoint us, although clearly sometimes they do.  I believe that if you talk to your kids about the importance of trust and why it’s essential that they are perceived to be a trustworthy person, they will think twice about being dishonest or putting themselves in a position of distrust. And remember, holding kids accountable for bad, dishonest choices is the most important part of the process… if they don’t feel like there will be consequences for bad choices, what will be their motivation to stop making them?

I can’t wait to hear how your “trust talks” go. Please share!

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 4: Being Good

My World PledgeIn general, the word “good” is used in a positive way. In fact, it’s definition contains the word “positive”.

Good: adjective. Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor.

For the purposes of continuing to break-down and discuss The Pledge, this week we are focused specifically on being “a good child, a good sibling and a good friend”. Think about the concept of “being good” in a broad sense and identify some ways that you can guide your kids towards consistently “good” behavior and making consistently “good” choices.

Here some things that my 9 year old daughter came up with when we talked about being good, and specifically being a good child, a good sibling and a good friend:

A Good Child is:
A good listener
Respectful
Honest
Trustworthy
Kind
Caring to friends and family members

A Good Sibling is:
Helpful
Patient
Loving
Sets a good example

A Good Friend is:
Loyal
Honest
Supportive
Inclusive
Kind
Caring
Someone who works at creating a friendly environment

So sit down with your kids and make your own lists!  Get them thinking about ways to be a better sibling and friend.  You never know, along the way you may learn some things about yourself and ways you can be better, too!   It’s never too late to begin being a better person.  We always have room for improvement in this area :)

Have a GOOD weekend!

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 2: Treat Everyone Equal and with Respect

My World PledgeLast week, we began the process of breaking down “The Pledge” line by line, to examine it’s key words and how we can use them to guide our children towards a lifetime of living the pledge:)

This week, we’re focusing on the word Equal. The Pledge uses the word in its noun form. The definition is simple and one that your kids can easily understand:

Equal (noun) a person or thing considered to be the same as another
in status and/or quality.

For discussion purposes, this is also a great time to introduce the concept of equality. The definition of equality is very similar to the above definition of equal, with the addition of “equal in rights and opportunity.”

I truly believe that kids see each other as equal. It’s seemingly the adults that aren’t always of this mindset.  However, I believe the topic of treating everyone equal and the idea of equality is important to talk with your kids about.  Here are some questions to assist in starting the conversation:

  • What do you think treating everyone equal means?
  • Have you ever felt like someone didn’t treat you equal?
  • Have you ever seen somebody else not being treated equally, and if so, how did it make you feel?
  • Why do you think it’s important to treat everyone equal?
  • Do you think that the way a person looks or how they dress changes their status or their rights?

If we have ongoing dialogue with our kids about everyday life issues, as well as select topics of importance, they’ll feel quite natural talking to you about other, concerning issues that they may face.  As long as you’re not reactive or judgmental when your kids share things with you, you’ll find they want to share more and more…

Next up, treating others with respect!

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