Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Silent Messages We Send to Children



Actions speak louder than words.  Seeing is believing.  What you see is what you get.  We have many idioms to remind us that what we do is far more powerful than what we say.  We are constantly being observed but no one watches us more closely than our own children.  Our children take on our mannerisms.  They follow our example.  We tell our children that we want them to be confident, independent thinkers but do we model that behavior?  Sometimes it is easy.  We say “please” and “thank you” to model good manners.  We avoid smoking and we eat healthy food to show our children how to care for their bodies.  There are, however, behaviors that many parents and caregivers participate in that send messages contrary to what we hope for our children.  Do you find yourself…

  • Wishing your children were more open to new experiences?
  • Admonishing your children for gossiping and not keeping confidences?
  • Telling your children to be less dramatic?
  • Wondering why your children follow rather than lead?

Having two very different children of my own, I believe that their personalities are a combination of nature and nurture.  Some children are simply more daring, more vocal or more sensitive.  Many parents can tell stories about their personalities being evident from the time they were infants.  One of my children was always more easy going and the other was more reactive.  They have the same parents but have individual likes and talents.   

As parents, we need to understand that our children will be who they are by nature while watching how we conduct ourselves.  It is our job to model how we would like them to walk through this world.  We can’t just talk about how to live, we have to be it.  If I want my children to embrace all cultures and to be open to new experiences, I have to demonstrate that for them.  If I want them to keep confidences and avoid gossip, I have to be an example of a good family member and friend.  I have to handle tough situations and discipline without being overly emotional to show my children that problems can be solved calmly.  Children need to see us both lead and follow when appropriate.  We have to be the good sports and the adventurers.  Sometimes they will follow our lead and sometimes they will not.  Sometimes we will succeed at being a good role model and other times we will falter because we are human.  The important thing is that they had the good example more often than not. 

As children and teens, they often want to be the opposite of what they see but when they mature, some of your example will stay with them.  Do you hear your parents’ voices when you speak or do something and think, “My dad would have gotten a kick out of this”?  That is the little piece of them that stayed with you.  We need to consciously consider what we want our children to take from us as they find their way.  When I look at my children, I see a reflection of my husband and myself.  They have my eyes and his nose.  They have some of our fears but also our belief that we can make a difference in the world.  They are secure in their culture but can enjoy others.  Think about what you see of yourself in your children and what lessons you can still impart by being who you dream they will become.

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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lessons Our Children Should Learn But We Don’t Always Teach Them



We work hard to teach our children lessons as they grow.  We want them to learn how to succeed socially, emotionally and cognitively.   We have a veritable checklist of things that we know we need to teach them.  They need to have manners, wait their turn, share and care.  We want them to do their homework, study and avoid peer pressure.  Often, we believe that if we have imparted the basics, the rest will come.  I think we need to include a few more lessons than we do.  I think we need to make a conscious effort to teach our children that: 

  • You should give credit where credit is due.  Young children are usually taught to congratulate each other.  In preschool classes, we literally applaud our classmates for singing a great song, building a huge tower and even success in the potty.  At some point, that changes and our sense of competition combined with insecurities can impede our ability to point out someone else’s contribution to our world.  We need to tell our children that they cannot think of everything and the person who did should be credited.  People respect those who give credit where credit is due.  Our children need to grow up knowing that they will garner more respect for applauding others than protecting their own ego. 
  • Other people are not required to like you and that’s okay.  From the time children are very young, we misuse the word “friend” and feed the belief that everyone should be friends and like each other.  It is important to teach our children to be kind.  Not everyone has to be friends.  Not everyone will like them and that is okay.  We are all different with different perceptions and tastes.  The secret to social success is seeking out those like us, not seeking adoration from everyone.  We need to teach our children that not everyone will like us but some people will.  Find those people and don’t worry about the others.
  • You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses – Develop your own goals.  Many a teen ulcer has started over comparing themselves to their friends.  They compare how many honors courses they have and which college said what to them.  They care more about what others will think of their choices than what they really want.  Children can be taught to have a desire to succeed by focusing on their own goals rather than a comparison to other people.  Our children naturally want to be accepted and so the competition begins.  We need to consistently remind them that happiness comes from self-satisfaction.  No one is the same.  They don’t have to take the same path as everyone else.  They are only required to find their own happiness.
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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rethinking School Spirit Days



It is important to bring students together as a community and create a school atmosphere infused with enthusiasm & pride.  When I was in high school, we had pep rallies.  In recent years, these pep rallies have been extended to days and weeks of activities.  Students go to school with crazy hair, wear their clothes backward and find a friend to dress as “twins.”  One friend recently told me that her 9 year old daughter’s school told the students to bring their favorite stuffed animal to spend the day with them.  She asked me a good question – What does this have to do with school spirit or community?

We can involve our students with their school and with each other for a greater purpose than searching their closets for their favorite mismatched clothes.  Let’s create school spirit by having the students work together to contribute to their communities.  In a world filled with an ever increasing amount of violence, let’s purposefully bring our youth together to do good deeds.  Community service shouldn’t always be optional.  It shouldn’t only be for members of clubs.  It shouldn’t only be a response to an emergency.  Community service should take place at time when we do it for its own sake and not as a temporary reaction to a hurricane or a shooting.   It should be a part of our curriculum and a means to bond together. 

Students can take pride in their school as they all spend a week focusing on feeding the hungry, preserving our environment or making things for sick children.  Imagine the school pride when they collect a gym full of canned goods and welcome people from the local food bank to present what they’ve amassed.  There can be activities to appeal to everyone – creating things, collecting things and participating in fundraising walkathons or sports activities.  The students will learn what it is to have a greater purpose.  They will have had a chance to give to the world as an entire group.  They will have had fun while accomplishing.  And when all of the community based, outreach activities are done, the student body can come together for that pep rally.  


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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Raising Children Amid Violent Acts



Images of the tragic bomb blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon fill our television screens.  It feels like we are constantly barraged with frightening incidents.  In less than one year, we mourned the death of so many children in Connecticut, moviegoers in Colorado and now we pray for the innocent runners & spectators in Massachusetts.  Every time we are faced with the violence in our society, parents are faced with decisions.  Should we speak to our children about the incident or try to shield them?  How do we make them feel safe in an increasingly chaotic world?

Discussions about news that jolts us should start at home.  We are kidding ourselves if we think we can send our children to school and not have them hear about it.  While school districts may or may not open the discussion, they cannot guarantee that other children won’t mention it.  We are our children’s safe place.  It is far more frightening for them to hear scary and confusing news from others.  At an age appropriate level, we can tell our children that a very sad thing has happened.  They can see that we are upset.  We set a good example when we tell them that it is sad and we hope for the best for the people involved.  They will also see that we are well.  We are here with them doing everything we can to keep them safe.

It is important to point out to children that in every story, no matter how upsetting or tragic, we can look for the good and uplifting.  The good Samaritans who run toward the injured and the first responders who risk their lives every day should be their heroes.  They are the people that our children should admire.  We can teach our children to pray for the injured and be grateful for the brave.

We are the keepers of truth for our children.  The truth is that bad things happen and we can talk about them.  The truth is that life is a constant intermingling of happiness and sadness, tragedy and courage.  We suffer and then we pick ourselves up and heal.
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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

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