Monday, March 21, 2016

Pharrell Williams - International Day of Happiness

Friday, March 18, 2016


When most people think of kid's and creativity what comes to mind is construction paper and glue, art supplies, craft supplies, building toys, etc. This is all good stuff, but that's not exactly what this post is about.

Teach Children to Think Creatively

Life is an act of creation. Everyday we think, we feel and we make choices and take action. This process is what creates our life, it's what sends us in one direction or another. 

You can teach your children to just follow what everyone else is doing, or you can teach them to think for themselves and take control of their own life. To get along with others it is necessary to have a degree of compliance, but to be truly happy we have to become the creators of our own life.

In the beginning children are meant to follow, learn the rules, develop compassion for others, and experience a sense of their value as an individual who is an important part of a family and a community. Gradually, as the child grows they will encounter situations that confront their sense of security and challenge their understanding. This is where creativity can be learned.

Real Creativity is Unselfish

When I speak of creativity I don't mean the ability to cleverly figure out how to get what you want. Children don't usually need help in that area. What I'm talking about is helping children learn to think things through, to look at their thoughts and emotions objectively and consider all the circumstances and people before they make rash decisions or jump to conclusions. This will take time and practice.

It's important to gradually help children see that there are many choices in life and our choices produce a certain result. It's also important to help them realize that sometimes we don't know all the answers, and sometimes we can invent new answers. Encourage thinking "outside the box".

Real Creativity Unleashes Ones Inherent Goodness

Creative thinking gives a child the ability to explore their own mind, to come to know themselves and feel their purpose in life. Children are naturally creative, as all human beings are, and our job as a parent is to guide their creativity in positive directions without squashing it. 

When we see life as a creative process of our own unfolding, we come to truly understand our own value and the goodness we have to offer in relation to others and the world. Teach children that the only real thing they have control over are their own actions, and those actions create a result. 

We can learn how to control our actions by examining our thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally but still measuring them with our value system. Rules and values are important because they give a child the framework and structure to understand relationships and responsibilities. They also help a child become self-disciplines. But within that framework it's important for children to learn that there is an incredible potential for them to creatively develop their own life. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Time Out!

Okay, let's stop right here and calm down, so we can move on in a more positive direction. That is the purpose of Time Out, isn't it? Sometimes parents have trouble implementing this discipline method and I think it is because it is too often used as a punishment, which in turn incites rebellious behavior.

Parental discipline means helping our children learn to control themselves. Time Out is a very useful tool for creating space and time to calm down and change a behavior. Changing a behavior takes a little thought process, even for a child. In order to think clearly and be open to change, the child has to calm down and reflect.

"Oh, you must be kidding", you're thinking. "My child becomes more angry and cries louder when I put him in Time Out." Yes, that can happen, until the child learns to accept and use Time Out for their own benefit. I know you think I'm crazy now.

Actually, even though Time Out is a very popular method of controlling behavior problems, you don't have to use it at all. To me, it's a little unnatural and I didn't use it until it fit naturally into the process. When was that? When my daughter was about 6 I remember saying very sternly, "Go to your room now!" because she had done something really mean to her brother. After that, whenever she saw me with that face & tone of voice she ran to her room before I even told her to. Later I would go and have a calm talk with her.

With my youngest, I used to put myself in Time Out so I could calm down enough to deal with him. He was 3 at the time and the type that would have screamed and cried and kept fighting me if I had tried to put him in Time Out. So, I put myself there instead and that used to make him really mad. He would kick and pound at the door to my bedroom while crying, and I would say I'm not coming out until you stop and tell me you're sorry. He had to calm down if he wanted me to come out, and he had to think about what he had done, because he knew I would ask him to tell me what he had done that upset me.

He learned from modeled behavior that when we feel angry or upset the best thing to do is separate ourselves from others so we can calm down. He also learned to think about how his behavior was affecting someone else. That's what I wanted him to learn anyway, and when I came out of time out he always said "sorry Mommy". Children sometimes understand a lot more than we think they do.

Personally I would not use Time Out as my only method of discipline. It is best used to deal with an incident when a child is starting to get upset or angry, or to interrupt a fight. As a parent it's best to keep your cool and just say, "Stop right now, Johnny you sit there, Bobby you sit there (maybe in different rooms) for 5 minutes until you calm down."

The rule is 1 minute per year of the child's age, however I really wouldn't use this before 3 years old. After the Time Out just restate the behavior you expect like, "The rule is no hitting, if you get angry you can leave the room, or come tell Mommy what's wrong." With kids over 6 you can have a little more discussion when necessary. Issues and feelings can get a little more complicated as kids get older, and you want your older children to feel that they can share their problems with you. If you've used Time Out well from 3 to 6 or 7 years old the child should start to use it themselves, naturally seeking a place to calm down and think about things instead of acting out.

Of course that's not the end of the story, there will be other issues and circumstances and you will need other methods to help your children learn how to behave. I hope this has been helpful, please feel free to leave your comments. Next week's topic is Implementing Logical Consequences.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

An Update from Blogger about Google Friend Connect

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Does This Always Happen At The Wrong Time?

Discipline Barriers
Sometimes it's really hard to get the kids moving in the morning, but you have to drop them off at daycare and get to work on time. What can you do to make them move faster? It can seem that the more you push, the more they slow down. Don't cave, and please don't bribe.

Sometimes we have to slow down as parents and look at things from a different perspective. Of course you have a schedule to keep, but getting upset in the moment can cause discipline to degrade into desperation. So plan ahead for these moments, because they will happen. Having a discipline plan can help avoid the many barriers to effective discipline.

What are the barriers?
They are our emotions. For example, what happens when the kid's aren't cooperating? We usually get frustrated, then angry. If you lose your cool and blow up at the kids, then you're likely to feel guilty later. If it happens often, you may even become afraid of the situations that cause squabbles with your kids, and this hinders you even more from using effective discipline. All these emotions make it difficult to implement discipline that works well. But we can't help having emotions can we?

That's Why We Need A Plan
The first step of a good plan is to stay positive, believing your kid's are capable of cooperating. Next is to tell them your expectations ahead of time, and allow them one reminder. For example, the night before a work week explain to your child, " Mommy needs to be at work on time tomorrow, so you need to be ready when Mommy needs to leave. If I don't get to work on time I may lose my job, then we can't pay for toys & clothes & food. Do you understand?" (nod) "Will you get ready when mommy tells you to and no dawdling?" (Another nod) "I will remind you in the morning. If you dawdle and make mommy late there will be no TV time tonight", (or whatever consequence works for this child).

In the morning just remind them of your little talk, and follow your usual routine. By anticipating situations and helping your child understand your expectations, and the consequences, in a calm way you give them a chance to please you. Be sure to say thank you when they're ready on time, this will reinforce the good behavior. And if they are still dawdling make sure you implement the consequence.

Other Discipline Obstacles
Sometimes as parents with all our responsibilities and concerns we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, worried or possibly even depressed. These thoughts and feelings will consume your mental and emotional space making it difficult to have more positive thoughts and feelings, or to think clearly when little problems with the kid's come up. Your troubles may prevent you from investing more positive time and energy into your relationships, and may cause your kids to feel "unloved".

Children are sensitive to the emotions in their environment, but they don't have the ability to analyze and comprehend these feelings without clear information. If you are in this negative space over a long period of time your children may end up feeling confused, guilty, angry, fearful and hopeless themselves, without really knowing why. This can certainly cause them to misbehave more, and cause you to feel more frustrated and hopeless.

It's a good idea to let them know when you're feeling troubled about something and apologize for not being your usual self. At the same time reassure them that it's not their fault and that you will find a solution. This helps them understand that parents have concerns & worries that children aren't aware of, and that sometimes people need a little time to work things out. Having told them this, it would be good to put your troubles aside for a moment and do a little fun or comforting activity together. This reinforces the feeling that everything will be okay.

One practice that's very helpful for parents who work is to take 5 or 10 minutes before coming home to decompress from the days issues. Breathe deeply, meditate or pray, or use visual imagery to put your troubles away. You are not being paid to worry at home about work. Imagine yourself putting your work concerns into a box, closing the lid, and putting it on a shelf labeled "Tomorrow". You and your family need to be able to relax and enjoy your time at home together.

One More Problem
You've had a busy day running here and there trying to get things done and take care of everyone. Maybe you've had a busier week than usual, or this month you've run yourself ragged. It happens, we get tired. Being over-tired tends to make us cranky and snappy. Being overly tired tends to make us not want to deal with "one more problem" situation or activity. This is another circumstance that will happen, so we need to be prepared and teach our kids well.

The first step is to recognize your tiredness before it gets the best of you. Then decide on a recovery plan like taking a nap, having a cup of tea, or relaxing in the recliner for 20 minutes. Explain to your children that you're tired and need a break. "Let me have a cup of coffee and then I'll help you with your homework", "Let mommy relax a few minutes and then we'll make dinner together".

By doing this you are modeling "good behavior" for your children. Children get overtired too, and the usual result is that they get cranky and uncooperative because they don't know how to deal with being overtired. So you are showing them that when we get tired the only real solution is to rest, and it's important to let people know so they will give you time to rest.

When dealing with any of these barriers to discipline, if your children are under 3 explaining won't do much good. You can label feelings and model good behavior, but don't expect them to completely understand or give you the space you need. You may want to get some help. Having a friend, sister, mother or babysitter take care of the kids for a little while while you sort things out or get some rest will pay off in the long run. The way we behave, communicate, and handle our emotions is the first education our children receive, so let's teach them well.