Monday, December 31, 2007

Set Goals Not Resolutions

Well, it is hard to believe but it is that time again. Time to look at what we have accomplished in the last year and time to decide what we want to accomplish this year. This process is called setting New Year's Resolutions but Cassie and I prefer to call it goal setting. The dictionary definition of resolution means that you resolve to do something or decided that a course of action is needed. Now that you have decided to set your resolution(s)for 2008, it is now time to set some goals.

A lot of people say things like I want to try and lose weight this year. First of all trying is not succeeding and it doesn't give your subconscious mind very clear instructions and secondly "lose weight" is not very a good term either because what you lose you can surely find again and we don't want that do we? Thirdly try and rephrase what you want to accomplish by making it sound like you have already accomplished it or are in the process of accomplishing it; such as, my body is manifesting symmetry or I am now at a healthy weight for my size which is ___ pounds.

Choose positive clear statements and write them down. Then you can break them down into smaller goals to accomplish your bigger goal.For instance in order to reach your ideal weight you say I exercise 3-5 times a week or I choose healthy foods that give me energy rather than empty calorie foods.

Change your wording to a more positive tone and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. See yourself at your idea weight, how does it make you feel, emotions play a huge part in whether you will succeed with your goal. Imagine how wonderful it will be when you receive compliments from friends about how fantastic you look!! Your subconscious mind is a powerful tool that you can use to accomplish most anything so use this to your advantage. Remember "Believing is seeing"!!

Sit down with your children and see what kind of goals they would like to accomplish in 2008 and check out our website for great articles on goal setting with your children.

Happy New Year to you all and Happy Goal setting!!

Cassie and Monicka

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Positive Reinforcement


The reasons we as parents use punishment in the first place are to reinforce the good behavior of our children and eliminate his/her bad behavior. The problem with this is that we sometimes forget to praise a child when their behavior is pleasing to us, but we are quick to react when their behaviour displeases us. If the only attention a child receives is when he/she behaves badly what incentive is there for him/her to behave well?

For ideas on using positive reinforcement as an alternative to punishment to encourage good behavior, check out KidsGoal

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Teenagers, Communication and Depression


During teenagerhood, our kids are susceptible to depression. Modern life with its stress  can take a toll through school, work, and relationship difficulties. Your teenager has an excellent command of language but may need help in using it to communicate, especially if he or she shows signs of withdrawal.

It is very important during the teenage years to make sure that you have sufficient calm, one-on-one time to provide lots of opportunities for your teen to talk with you.

Sometimes doing an undemanding activity together - sweeping the yard, going for a drive, or walking the dog - will allow your teen to feel more comfortable talking, when you are side by side and engaged in an activity so that he or she can talk without feeling too exposed.

If you suspect your teenager may be displaying signs of depression, you may wish to read Monicka's article on Depression and Teenagers, and be sure to seek professional advice if your concerns continue.

Happy parenting with your teen,

Cassie

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Goal Setting with Kids

When goal setting with kids, it is so important to make it good fun. Children naturally gravitate towards things that make them feel good and it is easy for you to make them feel good by your own attitude.

When you do goal setting activities with your kids, do so with excitement and make it fun - and stop before YOU or your child get bored or tired. It is better to do little bits of goal setting rather than turn it into a chore!

Happy goal setting with your kids,

Cassie

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Helping Children Appreciate Diversity

My two nephews have been living in Dubai for the past few years, where their Dad owns a business. They attend an English-speaking school, but they have friends from all different backgrounds, and are exposed to a variety of languages and cultures in their day to day life. Helping children to appreciate diversity is a wonderful gift that will serve them well through out their lives, and what better time to think about this and talk about it as a family than during the holiday season? Here is an article on Helping Children Appreciate Diversity that may give you some ideas! Happy Holidays to all, Cassie

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Gifts and Kids

Merry Christmas to all our readers! We hope you are having a lovely time with your kids.

Have you noticed how sometimes the simplest gifts are the ones that bring the most pleasure?

It's not necessary to spend a fortune on your children to give them the important gifts of happiness and love.

Read the article, The Greatest Gift of All for some wonderful gift ideas that you can present to your children throughout the year!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Make time for your children

Christmas is a special time for families and a time for all of us to appreciate all the wonderful things in our lives. Not the material things but more the things that you cannot find in a store. This is the first year in a long time that I get to share
Christmas with my eldest daughter and that is the best Christmas present anyone could have ever given me.

Our children grow up so fast and I look at my almost 24 year old daughter and remember her as a little baby and now she is a grown adult who will one day have children of her own. My youngest will be eleven in a few days and I know that he too will one day become an adult, so I am going to treasure every day that he is still my little boy. Think of this the next time your child comes to you and wants you to spend time with him and you are busy doing something and tell him you will play with him later. Put everything else aside and make time for him. Nothing else will ever be as important as those special moments that you share with your child.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Children and independence


We've talked a lot about helping children become good problem-solvers in recent blogs, and this is just one aspect of growing up and gradually becoming independent.

Part of a parent's job in the early years is to provide the framework in which independence has a chance to grow safely.

When your child is very young he is dependent on you for all of his basic needs. As he grows, you can start to provide him with opportunities to start to make choices and perform tasks for himself, while still ensuring that his needs are met. For a toddler, for example, you need to ensure he is dressed warmly in cold weather. But that doesn't stop you from allowing him to make a choice: "It's cold outside, so would you like to wear your blue jumper, or the red one?"

Happy holidays to all you parents and kids!

Cassie

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cooking With Your Kids

Christmas is a special holiday for families to spend quality time together, and making Christmas goodies can be a good excuse to get the kids away from the computer and video games, and a chance for you and your children to bond. Let your older kids create this beautiful Christmas Wreath that is totally edible that requires hardly any work and the results are soooooooo yummy!! You even let your toddlers in on the fun by having them help to decorate the wreath with cherries.

FUDGE WREATH
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. walnuts, chopped
Red and Green Maraschino cherry halves (for decorating wreath)
Walnut halves to form a circle on plate

In double boiler,or heavy saucepan combine chocolate chips and milk. Stir over low-medium heat until melted and thick do not bring to a boil. Take off heat; add chopped walnuts and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and stir. Cover with tin foil and set in refrigerator for 1 hour. Place walnuts halves in circle on plate. Spoon fudge on plate to form a wreath. Fudge should not be smooth. Add cherries around wreath in threes to form berries.

To make in a microwave oven, use glass microwave safe bowl with microwave on high for 1 1/2=2 minutes minutes, stir, microwave 30 seconds longer if needed, then follow directions for stove top method.

Enjoy!!!
Happy Holidays,

Monicka

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finding goals everywhere

Part of goal setting with your kids can be finding goals in places you would least expect it.

It's useful for children to learn that the human brain is naturally goal-driven. Accomplishment, "finishing" something is in essence a reward in itself.

Even something as tedious as knitting. I've been knitting a jumper for a friend's baby over the past few days and wondering why it is so satisfying a past time, when on the face of it, it's slow, boring and time-consuming.

Then I realised that knitting, like many things, has its own inbuilt rewards. I'm constantly striving to finish a row, finish a section, finish a sleeve and so on. The finishing of it is a reward in itself.

Why not have fun with your kids, looking for goals in unexpected places and activities!

For more ideas on Goal Setting for Children drop by KidsGoals   :))

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nurturing a Love of Writing in Kids

I had a lovely, albeit short vacation. It was very much needed and I feel so much more relaxed and able to take on whatever life throws at me. We all need time to recharge the batteries from time to time,even if you are unable to get away,  half an hour a day to meditate, take a leisurely walk, a bubble bath, or just take a few deep breaths, can be very therapeutic. I used some of my time away to start a journal and found writing down my thoughts and doing a bit of navel gazing, helped me to get back on track with my life. 

Writing in a journal or diary is also a good way for your kids to express themselves or work out a problem they may be having, so you can encourage them to start a journal of their own and ALWAYS respect their privacy, if they don't want to share their thoughts.

Writing is of course the flip side of reading, and getting your kids to love writing is a fantastic way to help them do well at school.

The key thing to remember is to never make writing a chore, by telling your children they have to write. It’s much more effective to encourage writing during play and as a fun thing to do. Praise your child’s creativity when he writes, introduce writing during play, and make sure there is always plenty of paper and writing tools easily accessible.

For more ideas on how to introduce your kids to the joy of writing check out Make Writing Fun For Your Kids!

Happy Parenting,
Monicka :))




Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nurturing a love of reading in your kids


Nurturing a love of reading

Literacy is of course a key success indicator for our kids. And the best way for your to enhance your children’s literacy is to nurture their love of reading.

You can start at the earliest age when you read to your baby. Even a tiny baby will learn to love the experience of being read to, the physical closeness and your voice. When he can look at the book, and later hold it, he will link those lovely feelings to the experience of reading.


Happy parenting,

Cassie

Friday, December 14, 2007

You will survive!!!

I saw a sign the other day that really gave me a chuckle, It said Raising Teenagers is Like Nailing Jello to the Wall" The reason I thought it was so funny is because it is true. Raising teens can be a frustrating experience. I know because I have raised two into adulthood, one who is now 16 and one on the way, my son who is almost 12. There were times when I wanted to pull my hair out and run screaming from the room.

There are times when nothing can make them happy no matter how hard you try, so don't waste your energy. Let your teens know you love him while they are in this alien form and you are there if they need you, but let them have their space. Teens spend a lot of time on the phone and in the bathroom and they are notorious for saying they will do something like clean their room and no matter how mad you get and how many punishments you give them they will laugh in your face.

Yes bringing up a teen can be just as frustrating as the sign said, but I am happy to tell you, that this too shall pass. That alien that suddenly seems to possess your child's mind will one day leave and you will be left with a lovely, pleasant adult that you can actually have a conversation with So treasure the childhood years because once your kids get to their teens you will need all the pleasant memories of the past so you can go to your happy place and keep your sanity.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A friend in need is a friend indeed

I know that when I have any kind of dilemma in my life, the first person I turn to is not my husband, although I love him dearly, it is Cassie. She knows me so well and we are so in sync that I know if I cannot come up with a solution all on my own she will more than likely know what to do. Now here I am with a dilemma and no Cassie, as she is away in Scotland for a few days.

My friend Cassie means the world to me. She motivates me and supports me and I try to do likewise for her. Our children also need friendships. Sometimes there are things they just cannot discuss with their parents as much as we would like them to. A friend can be a sounding board and a support system for your child to turn to when things are not going as planned. Sadly, there are children that do not naturally develop the social skills needed to make friends and sometimes a child may be shy or lacks self esteem, and it is more difficult for them to bond with their peers.

If you notice that your child is friendless, sit them down and have a talk with them. Rather than say that they look like they are lonely and would like a friend, ask them if they are happy with their friendships? In this way the child will be much more likely to confide that no, he is not happy with the way his friendships are going. You can then ask them why they think it is that way? By letting your child open up to you about his struggles in social areas rather than coming out and saying I noticed you have no friends, you are telling your child that you are not feeling sorry for him, which could hurt his self confidence. He will be thinking gee, if my Mom or Dad noticed that I have no Friends, I must really be a loser. By asking if he is happy with his friendships you are opening the door for him to tell you about his friendship problems. Once your child opens up to you, you can ask if he would like help and then offer suggestions on what could be done. This all goes back to what Cassie said about helping our children to solve their own problems.Rather than saying you have a problem, you are asking if there are any problems? Just a little bit of rewording of a question can make a huge difference in how your child perceives himself. Now I am going to email Cassie with my problem.


Happy Parenting
Monicka

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Children and Problem Solving

I don't know about you but I loved reading Monicka's blog yesterday about helping her son with his homework.

It's often easy to solve children's' problems FOR THEM instead of helping them to learn to solve problems (and boosting their self esteem into the bargain).

An amusing way to think of this is an image that I got from a self-help business book. It was to do with how some managers tend to get busier and busier as their staff get less and less busy. The book called a problem a "monkey" and the image that really got to me was of me walking down the corridor at work and bumping into a colleague who had a big hairy monkey clinging onto his back. The colleague says to me "We've got a problem... xyz, what should we do??" and I say "Hmm, I'll have to have a think about that and get back to you." Immediately I say that, the monkey jumps onto MY back and my colleague waltzes off happily and free of monkeys!

Instead, I have learned to handle this situation better at work. Now I might say something like "That's tricky, why don't YOU have a think about some possible solutions we could consider and then come back to me to tell me about them and we can talk them over." Then I'm the one that walks off monkey free, and my colleague OWNS his problem and learns to be more self-sufficient in the process - while still getting my support and assistance.

How could you use this idea to help your KIDS learn problem solving, while still giving them the love, attention and support that all children need?

Happy parenting

Cassie

Monday, December 10, 2007

Make a memory

My son tends to get croup as soon as the weather starts to get cold and damp. As a consequence he sometimes misses a bit of school. Last week he was sick and he missed some school, so when he returned three days later he had a bit of catching up to do. His teacher gave him quite a bit of homework to do over the weekend and I was very proud of him when he completed at least half of his assignments on Friday night. Saturday he took the day off with my blessing and then worked on his homework most of Sunday afternoon and evening. At around 10 PM he said he was finished and he got his pajamas on and got ready for bed.

At around 11:00 he came into the living room looking very upset and told me that he had forgotten to do something and it was due on Monday. Now I could have become very upset and gave him a lecture about not leaving things till the last minute but instead I told him to go get my laptop and we both cuddled on the couch and started doing some research on Ecuador as his assigment was to write a report on how the people of this country celebrated Christmas, as well as provide other interesting facts about the country.

I have to tell you we spent about an hour working on his project and it turned out to be a really nice experience for the both of us. Mother and son spent some quality time bonding, not to mention we both learned a lot about another culture. When he had finally finished his report he gave me a huge hug and a kiss on my cheek and thanked me for helping him to complete his work.

Our children grow up so quickly and as much as we want them to know there are consequences when we they don't do the things they are supposed to, there are also times when it is OK to bend a little. I could have sent my son to bed and made him get up early to finish his report, but then we never would have had such a lovely time together.

Try and spend quality time with your children as much as possible, the greatest gift you can ever give them is your time.

Happy Parenting

Monicka

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Kids, Goals and Confidence

Kids, Goals and Confidence

The most successful adults that I know are not necessarily those that try hardest with goal-setting, or that read the most motivational books. They are the ones that have an inner CONFIDENCE that they will get what they want.

Every baby is born with his or her own personality, and you can’t MAKE your child be self-confident. But the interactions that you have with your child at a very young age do have a significant impact on his confidence.

From the earliest age possible, try to:

1) Take a genuine interest in the events in your child’s life – ask what happened at school or nursery, and then really listen. This shows your child that he has worth because he feels worthy of your attention.

2) Offer plenty of praise and encouragement.

3) Praise effort, skills and attributes as well as successes.

4) Show your child that you have confidence in his ability to do for himself by allowing him to perform age-appropriate tasks for himself without you “helping”.

5) Allow your child to make age-appropriate decisions, and then respect them. (See Monicka's recent blogs about how she has been helping her daughter Savannah make some important decisions!)

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kids and decisions, continued from Wednesday's Blog

Just a quick update from Wednesday's blog about helping your kids to make decisions. I had a chat with my daughter Savannah about making a decision one way or the other if she was going to continue with her singing lessons or if she was going to quit. I told her once she made the decision she would have to stand by it and I wanted it written down and signed.

Lo and behold she made a final decision Thursday night and I have every faith in her that she is going to stand by it. She wrote it out in her own words and the gist of it was she was going to continue with her lesson and would show up every Friday unless she lost her voice or was really sick. She also said she would not miss any recitals and she signed and dated it.

I think when we give kids a chance to make an decision and give them a few days to think about it and also a deadline on when they have to decide. This gives them time to think about the pros and cons and then to make an informed decision knowing full well the consequences if there are any. Giving my daughter time had the outcome I had hoped. She thought it through and realized how much she would be missing if she gave up on her singing. Not to mention, people would not get to see for themselves what an incredible voice she has.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Goal Setting and Math for Kids

Goal Setting and Math

Basic arithmetic and math is a vital life skill and it is definitely worth checking that your child is developing these skills effectively.

I was surprised when my step daughter Sam and I talked about percentages the other day and we were talking about how to figure out 20% of 60. I explained that 10% of 60 is easy - 6 - so just double that and Bob's your uncle (as we say here in England :) ... Sam was quite excited about that shortcut and it made me wonder whether her math teacher at school had been pressing ahead with the "curriculum" without checking that the kids were practicing and understanding the basics first.

There's an article by our friend Susan on the website, that you might enjoy, about Goal Setting for Math

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Helping your kids to make decisions.

My husband, God love him, has a terrible time making decisions. If there are more than two choices of toothpaste at the store, he will spend at least half an hour reading labels to find the one that does the job. Going shoe shopping with him is a nightmare and I will no longer accompany him on those kinds of shopping trips. I know that his parents made all his decisions for him when he was a child and so now he really does not have the tools needed to make quick decisions.

Because I know how important it is for my kids to learn decision making skills I have always allowed my children to make their own choices. If they make a choice on their own and it is something I do not agree with, I will say so and suggest something similar but much more appropriate. They still get to make the initial decision but sometimes they need a little help. Case in point, my daughter, who has Asperger's, has to decide if she is going to continue with her singing lessons. I know that she is very talented and I would really like her to continue, but the last few times she has been a little ambivelant on whether she will turn up for her lessons. If she has a bad day or is a bit tired she will refuse to go and no amount of cajoling or threatening on my part will change her mind. So I have decided to let her choose and as long as she knows the consequences if she chooses not to continue, I will support her decision. If however she chooses to go she is going to have to put a lot more time into her practices and she will have to go to every lesson and recital unless she is ill of course. When she makes the decision she is going to have to sign a contract with herself and stand by it. While this may sound a little harsh, with my daughter, it is the only way.

I think kids need to also know that their decisions may affect other people. When my daughter doesn't show for her lesson it is a waste of time for her teacher who has to drive quite a distance and this time of year the roads are not the best. She also has to understand that I paid for the lesson in advance and the money is non-refundable, so that is pretty much money out the window.

If you make your kids understand that the decisions they make may affect other people and may have consequences you are giving them the facts that they may need to make an informed decision. While having your children choose what they would like for lunch or what colour socks will match their outfit may seem a bit trivial to you and sometimes it is just easier to choose for them, you need to know that these small choices will increase your child's confidence and self-esteem, while helping to hone their decision making skills, so they will be able to make better decisions when it really counts.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kids, shyness and social skills

Kids and Learning Social Skills

There seems to be quite a trend towards homeschooling these days. While I applaud parents who wish to provide the best, most enriching educational experiences they can for their kids, I worry about these children missing out on what, to me, is the most important and valuable thing about school - the development of social skills that our children NEED to learn while they are young.

My mom kept me out of school when I was little and to this day I struggle immensely in social situations.

Learning social skills really needs to be done at a young age and nursery, preschool and school are critical in this regard.

Some children are naturally more sociable than others, and as long as they are given the right environment they will sail through the learning cycle of making friendships. Other children have more innate shyness and may struggle even if they are lucky enough to be going to school.

If you have a shy child, you may wish to read Monicka's article with tips on how to tackle Childhood Shyness.


Happy parenting,

Cassie

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let your kids work it out.

I have blogged many times about my daughter,Savannah, who has Asperger's. She is a typical 16- year- old who just wants to make friends and fit in with everyone else, but because of this disorder social interactions are quite difficult for her. With the help of her speech language pathologist, she was introduced to a girl who was also having problems making friends, and they really hit it off. They had arranged a sleepover on Saturday and seemed to be getting along pretty well until late evening when the girl announced that she didn't want to stay any longer and wanted to go home. We tried to get a hold of her Mother to no avail and my husband even drove her home but she didn't have a key so he brought her back to our house. I felt really bad for her because I could tell she was quite anxious and I did not have a clue what happened to cause this problem. My daughter didn't want to talk about it and so I was totally in the dark. Finally I suggested that they talk about it and try and sort things out, but the girl said when she got upset she tended to stutter and so I recommended that one them use my laptop and the other one use the family computer, and chat on msn. They agreed to try that and I decided to leave them to it and go to bed. About an hour later I heard them laughing and they seemed to be having a great time. The girl's Mother came to pick her up after all, but she left in good spirits and the girls even made plans to play badminton together this Tuesday.

Sometimes we need to let our kids work things out on their own. I tried my best to get my daughter and her friend to talk about things, but that was pretty much all I could do. They both refused to talk to me and so my hands were basically tied. By leaving them alone and giving them some privacy they were able to actually work it out, first on msn through instant messaging and then a bit later, they actually spoke to each other and talked about the conflict they were having. I am still not sure what the problem was as neither one would tell me anything but the bottom line is they worked it out and without my intervention. I have learned a great lesson from this and know that when problems crop up in the future I am going to give my kids a bit of time to sort it out for themselves.

We love our kids and hate to see them hurt, so it is only natural that we want to solve their problems for them. In doing this our children do not learn to develop problem solving skills. If we give our kids the time and space to work it out on their own, more times than not they will come up with a solution. If the problem is so serious that they cannot handle it on their own, they know that they can come to us for love and support. Now isn't that what positive parenting is all about? : -)

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Helping your child be a successful problem-solver


Helping your child be a successful problem-solver

Life is full of ups and downs! How can we help our children deal with these successfully? As parents, we are responsible for all the major decisions that affect our children's health and welfare throughout their childhood.

However, there are many areas where we can let our children learn to make their own decisions, and practice problem-solving in a safe environment.

DO:

* Allow your child to make age-appropriate decisions
* Talk through with your child how you make decisions that affect him, and show that you value his input even if you have to choose an option he doesn't like
* Brainstorm with your child solutions to his every day problems rather than just telling him what to do - see if you can steer him to thinking up solutions himself.

DON'T

* Let your child make choices that might endanger him
* Overreact when your child makes a mistake or a poor choice. This is part of the learning process after all!

With your guidance, your child can learn the valuable skill of problem solving while he is still in the safe haven of your home - and will be better prepared for life's bigger problems after he has flown the nest!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Parenting and fathering


Fathering

When I met my husband about 16 years ago, he was what is painfully known as a "non-custodial parent" or worse "absent father". Over the years I struggled alongside him to try to keep contact with his daughter, Sam, in spite of his ex-wife's best efforts (which were sadly very successful while Sam was small) to alienate his child from him.

So when Sam came to live with us earlier this year, aged 17, it was a dream come true. Now I watch father and daughter spending time together, see how much love they now share in spite of all the difficult years, and am so thankful that the two of them are so close and loving together. I can die happy now!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Friday, November 30, 2007

Be open to everything and closed to nothing

I made an interesting observation today when I met with my daughter Savannah's singing teacher for the first time. She was a lovely lady and seemed genuinely pleased with how well my daughter was doing with her lessons. She also pointed out to me that Savannah was very talented and could easily become a very good opera singer. To my daughter that was not a compliment and I could see her wrinkle her nose in disgust at the thought. On the other hand I know that opera singers have amazing voices and train like athletes. They can sing without the need of synthesizers or any other kind of gadgets to make them sound like they are really talented. To have her say that my daughter could do well in this genre of music to me was the ultimate compliment. I tried to explain that to my daughter, but being a teenager and very set in her ways and her likes in music, she just didn't get it.

I think it is so important for parents to introduce a wide variety of music and arts to their children. Aquaint your children with Mozart as well as the Beatles, show them all kinds of art from Monet to Picasso, they will learn an appreciation for art for the sake of art and not because it is the in thing at the time.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Your Baby and Child Care / DayCare

Your Baby and Child Care / DayCare / Babysitters

If you have to go back to work while your baby is small, and he has to go to a child care place, it can be very distressing for you - and it's so important that you send your baby the right reassuring messages to let him know that this is OK!

Some ideas to help you and your baby as you get into your new routine:

1) It's a good idea to have your baby spend a few sessions with the new carer BEFORE you go back to work. That way you can stay with him until she is properly settled, and are on hand to go straight back if anything doesn't go well.

2) If you work close to your babycare center, or if your employer provides a creche at the office, it's lovely to be able to pop in for a quick visit with your baby. However, if your baby gets very distressed when you leave (this is common around 6 months old) then it may be kinder to skip the visit so that you only have one "goodbye" during the day rather than two.

3) Don't prolong goodbyes too much. A big kiss and hug followed by a cheerful bye bye and a firm exit - these are the ingredients for a kind departure! Gradually your baby will learn that you always come back for him! And this will help build his positive feelings of security and his ability to depend on you.

Happy parenting!

Cassie

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Helping Your Kids Deal With Failure and Disappointment

We as parents and caregivers always want the best for our children. We try to protect them from the hurts of life, both physically as well as emotionally. Unfortunately we can not protect them 24/7 and sooner or later they are going to have to learn how to deal with failure and disappointment. The most important thing that you can do is be honest with your children. It is not a good idea to say they are the best at something if they are not, because sooner or later someone else is going set them straight,and not in a nice way. You may think that you are helping your children to build their self esteem by stretching the truth but it is only going to hurt them in the long run.

A better way is to teach your kids how to handle failure and disappointment. Lead by example, show your children that you have times when you sometimes fail, and you also get discouraged when things do not always work out as you had planned, but you don't make a huge deal about it. It is much better to to say it is too bad that didn't work out but, if I can honestly say I did my best, then that is all I can expect from myself, no more, no less.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kids and Homework

Kids and Homework

If you ever have issues with your child avoiding doing homework, here are some ideas that might help deal with the situation!

If your child isn't getting his homework done regularly and to schedule, you might be hearing excuses like:

"The teacher never said there was homework!" (Probably the teacher did say, but the child forgot to listen!)

"I can't do the assignment because I forgot the textbook in my desk at school."

"I don't understand the question / assignment!"

This are all symptoms of the child not taking responsibility. Encourage your child to understand that he is responsible for finding out what homework is due when, and ensuring he remembers the material he needs to complete it, and seeks help in a timely way if he is having difficulty.

To help him make this transition of mindset from "casual about homework at best" to "always responsible for own homework achievements", you can

1) Reward your child in an age appropriate way for any actions that indicate an improvement in his attitude to homework. Reward charts are great for the younger children.

2) Link privileges to completion of homework, e.g. TV can only be turned on when homework is complete

3) For real hard cases (in older children only) you could tell your child that he must bring home a signed note from his teacher every Friday that confirms that all his homework is up to date, or lists outstanding assignments. Then ALL homework must be completed before any weekend leisure activities may be commenced!

Happy homework!

Cassie

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kids and Responsibility continued...

My first thought when my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of thirteen was, that she would be dependent on me to take care of her for the rest of her life. I was scared that if anything happened to me and her Father she would end up in an institution or something worse. How wrong I was! Once I started doing research on Autism Spectrum Disorders I realized that the majority of these children can learn with the proper teaching to be very independent and some even get married and raise families of their own. How wonderful to find out that my daughter's future was not going to be as dismal as I first thought.

I have found that with my daughter she has the ability to learn how to do many things and although some things are more of a struggle than others, she can be taught. She has become quite a little cook and her recipe repertoire is quite extensive. While she still has to be supervised for her own safety, I know that in the very near future she will be very capable of preparing meals all on her own. I noticed straight away that my confidence in her abilities and my encouraging her to try new and challenging things only added to her self esteem and her own realization that she was actually a very capable young lady. By allowing her to make mistakes without too much intervention she was becoming more and more independent and I had to do less and less for her. Had I not allowed her to make mistakes, she never would have realized her potential. Now if I could just get her to keep her room clean. :- ) Oh well I guess we can't have it all.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chores and PreTeens

At pre-teen age, chores and other responsibilities can play a powerful role in helping children to develop age-appropriate independence.

Some ideas to encourage the learning of responsibility and independence for 10-14 year olds:

* Have a list of family chores and have each member of the family responsible for certain chores. Rotate them to keep it interesting and to help your child develop new skills.

* Some things that your child should be learning to do for himself during this period: shower and other grooming tasks without being reminded or monitored; sort and choose school clothes; make his own school lunch; get ready for bed at the appropriate time without reminders.

* Encourage your child to be responsible for managing homework assignments and projects without your supervision. It's a good idea for privileges to be linked to responsible self-management of homework.

* Have very clear rules about when your child is expected to be home, and teach him that he is responsible for ensuring that you know where he is at all times.

* Allow your child to manage his own spending - i.e. his allowance, and for older children perhaps some other responsibilities like clothing budget.

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kids and Learning

Isn't it odd how, from the age of 0 through to 5 or 6, we learn such a massive amount about the world around us and how to interact with it - just by doing it and by interacting with others - and then suddenly we are told to sit down and spend the next decade or so learning purely by being taught! LOL!

The truth is that learning in a classroom environment is only a tiny part of learning - throughout our childhoods we learn from all of our experiences both inside and out of school.

Helping your child develop the skill of using his imagination and stimulating his brain by doing visual learning diagrams (sometimes called mindmapping) is a helpful idea and doesn't need to be limited to homework. Why not use this technique to help your child set goals and learn things for his sports and hobbies?

For more information, check out this article: MIND MAPPING (Visual learning diagrams)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Goal setting for kids

Lots of people, myself included, have a very strong nurturing side. We want to take care of others! And caring parents very naturally want to do lots of things for their children - quite rightly.

When our children are very small, we need to do EVERYTHING for them. Babies absolutely need you to take care of their every need in order to grow healthily - both physically and emotionally.

But as our children grow, one of our big responsibilities is to help them to learn to become independent. From tying their own shoelaces as pre-schoolers through to managing their own finances as teenagers, our childhood years are full of learning to do things for ourselves.

Here's a great idea for a goal that will help you have a more relaxed morning on schooldays, teach your child about good nutrition, and help him to be independent.

You can teach your child to make his own lunch ready for school the night before. The goal should be that the lunch is to be healthy and tasty, and should be made by 7pm at night, or whatever time is appropriate in your household such that it will not impact homework, playtime or bedtime.

Make sure the whole experience is fun and enjoyable. Your child will enjoy choosing the items for his lunch, and will be proud of the independence it gives him!

Happy goal setting with your kids,

Cassie

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Goal Setting with Kids by Example

A great way to encourage very young children with goal setting is to do it WITH them.

Take brushing teeth for example. What if you set a goal with your toddler to brush your teeth every night?

You could each have a little chart or calendar in the bathroom, one with "Mom" or "Dad" on it and one with your child's name.

Each evening, show your little one how you brush your teeth and then you get a star sticker to put on your chart. Show your child some excitment. And he too will look forward to brushing his teeth and completing his chart with a star!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Goal Setting with your Kids

December is fast approaching, and soon the children will be unavoidably thinking about and looking forward to the Christmas holidays, with all the Christmas lights and Christmas shopping promotions and advertising that is inevitable at the end of the year.

Why not use the opportunity to teach your child some goal setting skills? Here are some ideas you could use:

* Set a goal to make hand made personalized Christmas cards for all your friends rather than just buying them.

* Set a goal to teach your child some age-appropriate cooking skills so he can help in the kitchen on Christmas day.

* Set a goal (for an older child) to learn some financial skills by having a Christmas shopping budget and shopping around in order to stick to the budget.

I'm sure you have plenty of great ideas for goal setting with your kids this Christmas!

Cassie

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A laptop for Christmas?

If you're thinking of buying a laptop for the child in your life, you might be interested in this special "give one get one" promotion from the "One Laptop Per Child" charity project.

This project donates specially-designed laptops to children in developing countries. But it is NOT a computer project, it is an EDUCATIONAL project.

Check out the link for more information! http://laptopgiving.org/en/index.php

Monday, November 19, 2007

Parenting and Teaching

I read a fascinating article today about a man who took his 10 year old daughter out of school to homeschool her for a few years.

While I'm instinctively against that kind of thing, because I didn't get sent to school myself and know the downsides intimately, this father was clearly very different to my family and was acting with his child's best interests at heart.

He was fortunate enough to be able to afford to take some time out from working and concentrate full time on giving his daughter some wonderful educational experiences. He talks about taking her on trips to France and other countries for language, history and culture lessons, and clearly has provided great enrichment for her from that point of view.

The child's view? "I like being homeschooled, but I miss my friends." ... we must never lose sight of the importance of social interaction for our children. I agree that schools sometimes fall short of the mark, but they do provide kids the opportunity to interact with a society of people of their own age.

And, there's no reason we can't enrich our child's education at the weekends, is there?

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kids Crafts, Creativity and the Finished Artwork!

When you do crafts with your kids, remember that it is the artistic process, not the finished "product" that is the main goal of the exercise.

Let your kids' imagination run wild. When making something specific, it's a good idea to NOT show them an example or picture of what the item "SHOULD" look like when it's finished.

Kids crafts and imagination go hand in hand so giving them as much scope as possible to express their own creativity through art is a good thing!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kids Crafts and Creativity

Making simple kids crafts is a wonderful experience for children to develop their creativity.

You can encourage your child and enrich the experience for him by talking with him about his creations. As a bonus, this will also expand his language skills and his confidence in expressing himself.

Rather than simply reacting with an automatic "That's very good," when your child shows you a drawing or a piece or art, try to engage your child in more meaningful conversation. Artist expression is a form of EMOTIONAL expression, and your child may want to talk about how he feels about his creation. Sometimes art can be an expression of frustration or anger, and this is a good and appropriate way to express difficult emotions, so if you give your child the opportunity to talk about his feelings in relation to his art, you will be cementing his confidence and your own relationship with him.

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kids Crafts and Self Esteem

Kids Crafts and Self Esteem

Craft activities can be a great way to entertain your kids - cheaply and easily! Even the youngest child can enjoy art and craft activities, and the satisfaction of creating something unique is great for your kids' self-esteem.

When your child shows you something he has made or drawn, resist the temptation to ask "what is it?" - try instead "Tell me about this" - it will enable your child to talk very freely about his creation rather than just giving you a closed answer, and will also remove the pressure of feeling like he "must create something recognizable" - which isn't necessarily the point of art, as many grown up abstract artists will confirm!

Happy Craft making with your kids,

Cassie

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Confident Parenting, and Kids Emotions

Confident Parenting, and Kids Emotions

How do you feel if your child gets angry with you? That can be a tough one! A whole range of emotions might come to a parent naturally - You might feel angry in turn - feeling your child has no right to be angry with you. You might feel guilty, or confused, or even unloved.

Parenting is a tough job, and it's important to remember that you are doing your best and also that your child is his own person, and that he needs to be encouraged to learn that all emotions are OK.

Maybe he is in the wrong about whatever issue it is that he is angry about, but the key thing for YOU, as the parent, to remember, is that THE EMOTION IS NOT "WRONG" - the emotion is just WHAT HE'S FEELING.

Your child needs to learn that it is OK to feel whatever emotion he is feeling. That doesn't mean that it is OK to lash out and hit someone, but it is OK to acknowledge his feelings and talk about them, and he should be able to do that without fear of punishment.

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Goal Setting for Kids - Step by Step Goals

If your child sets a GREAT BIG HUGE GOAL, and you are worried that it is too ambitious, there is no need to rubbish his idea or "bring him back to earth" by telling him some home truths.

Instead, why not say, "That's GREAT - now let's think about what steps to take to achieve that goal."

Simply helping your child break a big huge goal down into little steps will give him manageable mini-goals to focus on, that will be more achievable and won't overwhelm him or put him off goal setting because it seems "too hard".

Happy goal setting with your kids,

Cassie

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goal Setting for Kids - Powerful Visualization

Goal Setting for Kids - Powerful Visualization

A crucial skill that you can encourage in your child is to use his imagination to visualize his goals.

Remind him to do this as often as possible, and encourage him, most importantly of all, to ENJOY it.

Powerful visualization is not about going through the motions, dutifully, of bringing a picture of each of your goals to mind, one by one. Powerful visualization is living and breathing your goal inside your mind, so realistically that you can almost reach out and touch it. This can seem impossible to adults if they have had their imagination stifled for years, but for children it comes naturally, so try to encourage that natural talent and teach your child how important it is for goal setting!

Cassie

Monday, November 12, 2007

Goal Setting for Kids - Practice makes perfect

Goal Setting for Kids - Practice makes perfect

If your child has a sports-related or skill-related goal, a great lesson is to teach him the value of disciplined practice.

If he has set goals that he is truly passionate about, then he will enjoy the practicing part! He won't mind getting up before dawn to go on a sports fishing practice trip, or practising his soccer skills even when it's cold and rainy.

If your child has set a sports or skill goal and then seems reluctant to put in the necessary time and effort to get good at it, maybe you should consider encouraging him to set some new goals - perhaps ones that can really bring out his passion.

Happy goal setting with your kids,

Cassie

Goal Setting for Kids - Believing in your child

What should you do if you are encouraging your child to set goals and he comes back to you excitedly with something like "My goal is to be the best basketball player in the world!"

You and I both know that the chances of your child achieving this goal are slim. But you don't want to dash his hopes, and damage his self-esteem, by telling him "You'll never do that!"

No, your job is to believe in him. If you can't believe he'll achieve his goal, at least believe that he will...

1. Do his best!
2. Learn the value of practice and discipline.
3. Learn the value of working towards a goal.
4. Achieve something worthwhile.

... and eventually most of our kids will figure out for themselves that they aren't destined to be the top world champion in their sport - and they'll realize that their real goal is something else. In the meantime, give your kid the support and belief in himself that he is looking up at you for!

Happy goal setting with your kids,

Cassie

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Raising Resilient Children

Raising Resilient Children

Resilience comes in many forms. As a child, I was emotionally traumatised, bereaved at a young age when my father died, and from age 7 lived rough on the streets on and off for years, often with nowhere to stay and only eating thanks to the generosity of strangers.

Those experiences taught me to be very resilient in some ways, BUT that obviously is a bad way to learn resilience.

How can we, in a safe, loving and nurturing environment, gently teach children to be resilient? Research into optimism indicates that having an optimistic outlook on life tends to protect children from depression both during the critical and difficult teenage years and later in life - not to mention during childhood - childhood depression is becoming alarmingly common.

The basic way to help kids to be optimistic and resilient:

* Encourage children to appreciate and value their talents, abilities and achievements. Rather than putting good things that happen down to just "luck", emphasize how your child's efforts contribute to a successful outcome, whether at school or in a hobby or sport.

* When your child experiences a setback, encourage him to see this as temporary and NOT reflecting a lack of ability in himself. In other words, the child should be learning to take credit for his successes but NOT to blame himself for setbacks or "bad" things.

This attitude to life may sound a little pollyanna or unrealistic, but research does show that this is the belief system of people who successfully bounce back from life's problems.

Happy parenting

Cassie

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some days you just can't win!!!

I am sure anyone who is blessed with a teenager knows exactly what I am talking about. It is not an easy time for them and they also can make our life a little challenging at times, but I am here to tell you that if you can just get through the next few years without losing your mind, your teen will transform like a butterfly and you will fall in love with them all over again.

I have a sixteen-year-old daughter who has really put me through the ringer lately. She will lose her cool at the drop of a hat and seems to get angry at me at the least little thing. Case in point, I was studying and had on my headphones because I like to listen to my favourite music while I work on my course. I was totally immersed in text book,trying to prepare for a test, when all of a sudden my daughter started screaming. That got my attention big time. I turned to look at her and she was fuming. I took off my headset and asked her what the problem was, and she said, "I never listen to her"! Funny, how many times have I asked her to do something and she will nod and say she will, but it never gets done. I have asked her to clean her room umpteen dozen times and nada!!!

I asked her how it felt not to be heard and she just turned and stomped her feet, went into her bedroom and rudely slammed the door. I could have reacted and made a big fuss, but I figured what would that really accomplish? They scream, we scream and nothing gets solved. It is a catch 22 because you don't want them to think that they can treat you like dirt and get away with it but by the same token what do you gain by getting angry??

My take on this is that teens need to go through the nasty years and drive us round the bend or we would never let them leave. Can you imagine how hard it would be if they stayed the same sweet angels until adulthood, you would never let them go. So think about this as if it were a transitional period to prepare Moms and Dads for the empty nest. It is nature's way, just like the Mother bird who tries to get her babies to leave the safety of the nest and go off on their own. After she shows them what to and they don't follow, she will just get fed up and push them out.

Once your child goes through the nasty years and becomes a human again, I am here to tell you that you will have a much better relationship with them and heck they don't even care and will be proud to be seen with you. Unlike the teen who stays five feet behind you in the mall for fear that someone will actually think that you are her Mother.

Happy Parenting

Monicka

Friday, November 09, 2007

Kids, Goalsetting and Motivation

Kids,Goalsetting and Motivation

I was tickled to learn what motivates a friend's 18 month old baby. Everyone was sitting round the table after dinner and someone asked the adults at the table, "Who would like some icecream?" Little Rianna's eyes lit up and she shouted "ME!" with great enthusiasm. :)

When helping your kids learn to set goals, find out what motivates them and teach them how goal setting, effort and achievement all deserve good rewards!

For more ideas on goalsetting with kids, check out Monicka's article "Goal Setting 101 for Kids".

Happy goal setting with your kids!

Cassie

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Exercise for kids

Exercise for kids

The issue of ensuring our children get sufficient exercise is becoming more and more important.

I was shocked to learn that, for the first time in U.S. history, children's life expectancy is lower than that of the previous generation. Worse, many of today’s kids are not expected to outlive their parents - mainly because of childhood obesity. (Source: Prentice A, Jebb S.,2006)

Kids should be getting a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day. Some at least should be aerobic enough to get them out of breath.

Click here for suggestions to get your kids exercising.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Exercise for Kids

Do kids exercise enough in this day and age? Whenever I'm in town I see dozens of children with trainers that have wheels in them. (I'm sure they have a special name, but I'm guessing you know what I'm talking about?!) These devices look like great fun, but it makes me wonder when these kids are getting the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day if even an outing to town involves considerably less walking than ever before...

For suggestions on getting your kids exercising:

Kids Exercise Article

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cooking with your child

The benefits of cooking with your child include:

Provides quality bonding time with our children
Builds positive self image
Encourages self-discipline
Rewards hard work and diligence
Promotes eye-hand coordination
Cultivates a love of learning
Fosters cooperation with others
Encourages their imagination

Check out KidsGoals' Cooking with your Child page for easy recipes to cook with your child!

Parent Newsletters

Sometimes we all need a little inspiration. Parenting is a tough, many faceted job - and the most IMPORTANT job in the world! What could be more important than nurturing, raising and educating the next generation?

The KidsGoals Parent Newsletters are a great way to get regular parenting ideas for activities, recipes and more. Why not give it a try?

Just visit www.kidsgoals.com/parent-newsletters.shtml

Happy Parenting,

Cassie

Monday, November 05, 2007

Children and optimism

Children are naturally optimistic, which is a great protection mechanism against depression and other mental disorders. Sadly, our children's natural optimism tends to get dented or sometimes smashed by the nasty outside world!

What can we do to help preserve our children's optimism, while equipping them with the tools and skills that they will need to deal with the inevitable setbacks and calamities that life throws at everyone?

* Encourage children to take credit for their successes, building their self esteem with a genuine appreciation of their skills and attributes.

* When setbacks occur, suggest to your child that their next effort might be rewarded with success. In other words, encourage them to see setbacks as temporary.

These are two simple lessons that you can instill in your child over and over again just as you go about your daily activities.

Happy Parenting

Cassie

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Child self esteem and courage - the teenage years

Building your child's self esteem by teaching him courage: As a Teenager

Sometimes, the bravest thing a teenager can do is ASK FOR HELP. At this stage of development, your child is learning to be self-reliant... and this can be overwhelming at times.

As with the earlier years, teach your child that there are no bad emotions, that it is OK to express his emotions openly in the safety of his relationship with his parents, and that you are there to support and encourage him, and believe in him, as he takes his first tentative steps into the adult world.

Build your teenager's self esteem and confidence by encouraging him to talk to you about his problems and concerns, and then reacting in a calm and reassuring way.

Happy parenting with your teenager!

Cassie

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Child self esteem and courage - preteens

Building your child's self esteem by teaching him courage: The Pre-Teen Years

As your child approaches the teenage years, it is important for him to learn that courage sometimes means asking for help.

Help your child to understand that difficult conversations can be important. React calmly to any "bad" things your child admits. It is important to keep the lines of communication open during this crucial time. The trust you build here will pay dividends when you ... soon ... have a teenager on your hands!!!

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Friday, November 02, 2007

Child self esteem and courage - at school

Building your child's self esteem by teaching him courage: At School

When your child is at school, he will encounter many opportunities to practice courage.

* Standing up to read in front of the class
* Taking part in a school play
* Having to admit to a mistake, and apologise to another pupil
* Going on a school trip

... any of these experiences have the potential to be frightening, and you can help your child to be courageous, and build his self esteem, by:

* Always show your child by your words and action that you have lots of confidence that he will do well
* Encourage your child to talk about his emotions, including fear
* Allow your child to cry when he needs to, and provide calm reassurance
* Help your child to find ways to make frightening things seem more manageable

Happy parenting!

Cassie

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Child self esteem and courage - at preschool

Building your child's self esteem by teaching him courage: At Preschool

When your child is old enough to enjoy fairy stories, he will encounter the virtue of courage in stories for the first time.

This is a good opportunity to talk about what being brave means. That being brave can mean doing the right thing even though it's hard. That it is OK to be scared, and a courageous person can take action when they are scared - being brave doesn't mean they don't feel scared!

Encourage your child to be free to express all of his emotions, including fear and anxiety, in the safe environment of your presence. Your reaction to mishaps, and to his fears as well as your own, will teach him a lot about courage and will affect his self esteem for the rest of his life.

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Child self esteem and courage - toddlers

Building your child's self esteem by teaching him courage: The Toddler Years

When your baby starts to walk, this is a key stage in learning courage. He will inevitably take a few tumbles, and your reaction can play a big part in what he learns about dealing with mishaps, fear, bravery and risk taking.

It's all about finding a balance. Any extreme is dangerous. For instance, if your toddler falls and hurts himself, and you immediately rush to him in a panic, he will learn to react badly to setbacks.

On the other hand, if you don't react at all when he hurts himself, he learns that his cries for help are ignored and becomese insecure.

The best balance is to react with calm reassurance to any mishaps. When he takes a tumble, pause for a moment rather than reacting instantaneously. If he's not really hurt and looks to you for reassurance, you can simply say cheerfully, "oops! Try again!" On the other hand if he becomes very upset, it's important to react and give him as much comfort as he needs - but in a calm way. Let him cry for a while if he needs to, don't hush him, just be there to let him express his upset in the safe environment of your arms!

Happy self esteem building with your child!

Cassie

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Child self esteem and courage

Building a child's self esteem by teaching him courage starts early on. For little babies, courage is, and should be, a foreign concept. At this vulnerable stage, they need to be taken care of by their parents in every way.

But do bear in mind that small babies pick up on YOUR feelings. Practice being brave around your baby. When you visit the doctor, for example, and your baby has to be weighed on cold scales, or has to have an uncomfortable injection, react in a calm, reassuring way to any anxiety the baby expresses.

When you baby cries, it can be an instinctive reaction to try to make him stop as quickly as possible. You need to build up a bit of resistance to this. It is OK for your baby to cry - don't overreact or he will pick up on your feelings of anxiety or panic. Instead, just stay calm and reassuring at all times!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Courage and Self Esteem for kids

Building your kids' self esteem is a really important part of being a parent. Courage is an integral part of self esteem - the ability to push through obstacles and anxiety, to take action EVEN when you're scared.

It's easy to mislead kids about what exactly courage is. The danger is that in trying to teach our child to be courageous, they think that there is something "WRONG" in feeling scared, or expressing fear.

It's a good idea to encourage your kids to say when they are scared, and reassure them that it is OK to tell you that, and find ways to help them take action on their goals and tasks in spite of the fear.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Children, manners and respect

Do we, as a society, respect children in the manner they deserve? I don't think we do. The way children are treated, even (or rather ESPECIALLY) by their carers is downright rude compared to the way adults are treated.

I know there will be plenty of exceptions to this rule, but as a general theme it is very prominent, certainly in the families I observe here in England (supposedly the home of good manners!)

At a dog event I visited the other day, which was extremely crowded, this was very noticable. People were crabby, not surprisingly, as it was absolutely packed. And all around, I could hear adults speaking to children in raised voices, angry or rude, "Stand back!" "Be careful!" "I'm sick and tired of you!" and more and more.

I noticed that there weren't any adults speaking to other adults like that. How odd....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Something has got to give.

Cassie and i have co-edited and sent out the kidsgoals newsletter to our subscribers on a bi-weekly basis since January but due to time constraints and a much more hectic lifestyle we are only going to be able to send it once a month until further notice. We want to give our readers the best newsletter that we can and with my starting a full time job and Cassie pretty much working two jobs we feel that we can no longer give our readers what they have come to expect. With this in mind you will now be receiving the newsletter on the fifteenth of every month. By only sending out the newsletter once a month Cassie and I hope to give our readers what they deserve, an informative and well-written ezine offering our readers parenting advice and ways to help their children develop goal -setting skills. we would however still like you to email us with any parenting questions as we want to help with any of your concerns and either Cassie or myself will get back to you as soon as we can with an answer.

Happy Parnting,

Monicka

Friday, October 26, 2007

Don't start the day without it.

Of course I am talking about breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Experts say that if your kids leave the house without eating breakfast they will have problems concentrating in school and lack the energy needed to sustain them throughout the day. But even if a child does eat breakfast, what he eats for breakfast may also dictate how well he does in school. For example in a recent U.K study school children were randomly given one of four breakfasts in a four day period. Their cognitive abilities were then tested throughout the day. The breakfasts the children were given were either a wheat cereal and milk, whole grain cereal such as oatmeal and milk, a sugary beverage or no breakfast at all. The study showed that the kids that were given the grain based breakfasts scored much higher than the kids who had either the sugary beverage or no breakfast at all. This study and many others have proven unequivocally how important it is to start your kids out right.

Keep in mind that your kids don't actually have to eat oatmeal every morning in order to have what is considered a nutritious breakfast. A fruit sweetened, whole grain muffin with nut butter and milk or scrambled egg in a whole grain tortilla are two quick and easy breakfasts that will keep your kids focused on school and don't we want to do what is best for our kids.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Keeping your kids positive

Did you know that a UCLA study showed that the average one- year -old child hears the word no over 400 times a day. As a parent we tend to ask for what we don't want and since scientists that study the brain have discovered that our brains our unable to process a negative command, If you tell your kids not to do something in order for them to process what they are not supposed to do that have to first think about doing what they are not supposed to do before they can understand how not to do it. I am sure there is an easier way to explain that statement , but I am sure you get the gist of it... Ask for what you do want not what you don't want.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"You've Got to Walk the Talk!

I can remember the first time. I tried to hide the fact that I was smoking from my Mother by putting the cigarette on my stomach and placing a hard cover book that I was reading at the time on top of it, thinking albeit stupidly, that the weight of the book would eventually put the cigarette out. Consequently I burned my stomach quite bad and I still have the scar to this day. My Mother sat there giving me a lecture on smoking and why it was so bad for me when she herself smoked. I accused my Mother of being a hippocrate but she never saw that side of it and grounded me for a month.

Luckily I gave up that discusting habit in my twenties and not one of my four children ended up being a smoker as of yet......

Remember as a parent you have the biggest influence on whether your kids decide to try smoking. Talk to your kids about smoking at a time when you are both comfortable and relaxed such as during a television program or on the ride to soccer practice. Your kids are going to be pressured by their peers to smoke and sometimes it can be a little tempting to try it if the so called "cool kids" are doing it. Remember kids learn best by example and if you tell them that you disapprove of smoking while you are are still smoking, you will be giving them mixed messages. It is also important to keep in mind that kids who feel good about themselves have a better chance of not becoming a smoker especially if they are involved in activities that require cardiovascular fitness like sports or other physical activities.

You can also help your kids to develop their self esteem by letting them know when they do something that pleases you as opposed to when they do something you disagree with. Positive reinforcement is a parenting tecnique that works really well in helping your children develop more self confidence so the next time they are asked to try smoking by the so called cool kids, they can say NO and really mean it!!!

Happy Parenting

Monicka

Monday, October 22, 2007

Follow your Passion

A very wise woman once told me that every step that we take will lead us closer to where we are meant to be. Think about your life and how you view yourself and where you ended up. You may be a stay at home Mom or Dad or a high powered business person or a even an airline pilot in Bahrain (Hi Richard). Whatever it is that you do there were many steps that led you there. My friend Richard always knew he wanted to be a pilot. From the time he was a wee lad he had a love for airplanes and flying. Some of us were not that lucky and it took awhile to find our true passion or maybe we haven't even figured out what it is yet.

It really doesn't matter what it is, when you find it you will know it!!! I can attest to that big time. I have worn a lot of different hats,from a stay at home Mom to a business owner and many menial jobs in between. I have now found the one thing that really makes me happy and was lucky enough to discover my passion when a friend (the same very wise woman I referred to in the first paragraph of this blog)mentioned to my now employer that she should hire me because I would be a perfect fit for her business. My friend than called me and told me to get my resume and cover letter together and get my buns down to my now place of employment because she put in a good word for me. At first I was not interested and thought it would just be another job but when the lady met with me and actually agreed to hire me I soon realized that I was very mistaken. From the first day I felt like I was in my "Happy Place". It made me want to take courses so I could be the very best at my newly found profession. I know with every fibre of my being that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life and with this discovery realized that I am also very good at what I do. It actually comes naturally to me.

When you talk to your teens about what they would like to do for a career be open to whatever they tell you, even if it is working a minimum wage job serving customers in a restaurant, it really doesn't matter. Accept what it is that your child wants to do and realize that if they love what they do they will probably excel at it and that job as a server could turn into being that owner of the very restaurant that they used to work at. Even if that doesn't happen, if they are happy doing what they do you should support them and tell them how proud you are. There are many Dr's and Lawyers who hate what they do for a living and would rather be baking cakes or working on a lobster boat but they were pushed into these professions because they were pushed to follow in their parent's footsteps. Would you rather have a physician who had a passion for healing or one that was in it for the money, or God forbid because they were pushed into it because they wanted to please their parents?

Happy Parenting

Monicka

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A message in the lyrics.

Music is something I could never live without. There are times when a song will play and I am transported to another time and place. Music has the power to make us sad or happy or a myriad of other emotions. Think about your first break up and the song that you played over and over again driving your family and friends crazy. For me it was "Love Hurts" by Nazareth because the words discribed the way I was feeling better than I could myself.

Lately a song by Natashia Beddingfield has been getting a lot of airplay. The song is called "Unwritten" and the words make you want to leave your fears and worries behind and be happy to just be you. With this in mind I copied some of the lyrics for anyone who has never had the pleasure of hearing this powerful song. Google Unwritten lyrics or better yet listen to the song the next time it plays and think about YOU, and how you are special and no one in the world will ever be just like you. Play the song for your kids and let them get the message the singer is trying to get you to hear. Heck, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Happy Listening.
Monicka
Unwritten
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Natashia Beddingfield

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Helping your kids find their niche.

Well it has been quite awhile since I have blogged. Work has been crazy with a move to a new location and all the stresses that are part and parcel of moving a business. Now I finally have a day off and lots of catching up with one of the joys of my life that I have sorely been neglecting lately, my writing.

If you follow the kidsgoals blogs you are familiar with my now sixteen-year-old daughter Savannah and that she has a neurological disorder, Asperger's. If you are familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorders than you realize how hard it is for the children on the spectrum to develop meaningful relationships with their peers. Savannah went through a really bad week feeling very depressed about the fact that her Asperger's will never be cured like the flu or the common cold and the fact that she would have to accept this. While her fellow classmates were dating getting part time jobs and planning their futures, her future remained a question mark. Her thoughts were about if she would ever have a career, marriage, live on her own and all the other things that come with becoming an adult?

My daughter struggles with a lot of the things that we take for granted and nothing has ever come easy for her other than the fact she is a very talented artist and also an incredible ear for music, perfect pitch and an amazing singing voice. With this in mind I have always tried to get her to take voice lessons in order to reach her potential. Until just recently she showed no interest in doing this but I persevered and even found a woman who is a very gifted voice coach. Savannah was a bit nervous but was willing to follow through with it and when she first returned from her first lesson she seemed a little happier and was looking forward to her next lesson. When she returned from the second lesson she had a grin on her face and with a little bit of coaxing she asked me to guess what the teacher said to her? My first guess was that the teacher liked her singing voice, and she said yes, but a bit more than that. My daughter is a bit shy when it comes to positive comments about herself and I urged her to just tell me what the coach had said. She looked at me with a huge grin on her face and said, "She said that my voice blew her away!!!" I still get goosebumps when I think of that night because my daughter finally realized that she was given a god given talent and no matter how many times her Father or siblings or even I told her that, she never really believed it until now. She now goes to singing lessons every Friday night and practices her voice training and breathing lessons diligently. Her confidence has increased ten-fold and she is starting to reach out to her fellow students. Her attitude is that she is going to say hi and smile to everyone and if they smile and say hi back that is great and if they don't, so what. Having my daughter come to the realization that she can sing really well has given her a new lease on life. She is a much happier girl and willing to try new things and even tale a few chances..

Every child on the planet has a God given talent, and that is without exception. It may be singing or drawing like my daughter, or may be just the gift of gab, or maybe you are looking at a poet and you don't even know it. :- ) Whatever your child's niche is you need to help them bring it to its full potential. The best way to find your child's talent is to observe them while they are playing. When kids are doing something that they really have a passion for they will get lost in it and it is like they zone out for awhile. With my daughter I noticed she would sing in her room with her headphones on listening to her favourite songs. We would call her for dinner and her little brother would pound on her door when she didn't come to the table. It was like she was in her happy place and the rest of the world didn't exist. Help your child find his or her happy place.

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Friday, October 19, 2007

Travel with your child, and security

When you travel with your child you may simply think that you are expanding his horizons and giving him the opportunity to see and experience new things.

But a word of warning. Security, predictability and familiarity are of vital importance to young children. Be careful not to allow "holidays" to be a source of stress for your toddler.



Happy parenting,



Cassie

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cooking with your children

Learning to bake cakes and cook dinner with my Grandmother when I was a child was a real self-esteem booster. Kids love to learn practical skills, so why not spend some quality time with them in the kitchen on an evening or weekend, rather than in front of the TV? They love to help and can genuinely take a load off your plate once they have learned a few basic cooking skills!

Check out our Child Friendly Cooking Ideas

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Your Child's Imagination

The child’s imagination – what a powerful force!

A child’s imagination is untamed. Parenting should not tame it but encourage it. Your child can use his imagination for play, for goal setting and much more.

Here are some parenting tips for encouraging imagination and imaginative play in your child: Child Imagination Parenting Article

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cookies to die for (not literally)

My son advised me that he has to bring something for his class Halloween party and they must be homeade and somewhat healthy. The recipe called for peanut butter but because some of the kids in his class have peanut allergies we came up with this version with almond butter and it is AWESOME!!! I am sure that when he brings these goodies to class for the party next week they will be a sure fire winner. Bonus, your kids can help you make them.

Happy Baking

Monicka

Bestest Oatmeal Nut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies Ever!!!!!

1 cup flour
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (*1 cup if you omit the nut butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butters I use Almond butter (*optional if you choose to omit nut butter add an extra 1/2 cup softened butter to the recipe
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
6 squares Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, coarsely chopped

PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter, sugars and nut butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Slowly add flour mixture, mixing until well blended after each addition. Stir in chocolate.

DROP heaping tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned. Cool 1 min.; remove from baking sheets to wire racks. Cool completely.

Enjoy!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Friendship 101

While having a session with my daughter's speech language pathologist, Nora, the subject of friendship came up and my daughter Savannah asked her if her two twin boys who also attend the same high school say hi to my daughter when they see her because they feel sorry for her because of her Aspergers? She wanted to know if Nora told her sons to go out of their way to say hi to Savannah because Nora told them to? Nora assured my daughter that she does not discuss Savannah with her boys and if they said hi to her it was because they wanted to and all on their own accord. It seems that my daughter got it into her head that anyone who paid any attention to her did so because they felt sorry for her.

I was completely unaware that this was happening and having her share her thought processes really helped Nora and me understand why my daughter may be having so many problems connecting with her peers. If people were reaching out to her and she thought it was because they pitied her she was more than likely not reciprocating and closing off from anyone who was trying to make contact. I told her that if she wanted to have friends she would have to do some of the work too. No one was going to come up to her and say "Savannah will you be my friend?" It was a process that may start with a hi in the hallway and she needed to show that she was interested by saying hi back and a smile wouldn't hurt either. I asked her if she would like to be friends with someone who always looked sad? I suddenly saw this light bulb go off in her head when she said, You are right Mom, the perky people have lots of friends and they are always smiling. "I thought they were smiling because they had lots of friends" Out of the mouths of babes!!!

Suddenly my daughter understood that she played a big part in making friends and if anyone said hi to her she was going to return the salutation and with a smile to boot, even if it felt uncomfortable. It will be interesting to see if our little talk has any impact on how people respond to my daughter? I am positive that her peers are reaching out to her and because of her incorrect assumptions they are getting the idea that she wants nothing to do with them, when that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Happy Friendships

Monicka

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Is your child a victim of cyber bullying?

I was actually surprised to hear that even with all the publicity that bullying has received the statistics show that it is still on the rise. How can this be?? The schools are more aware of the problem and students are encouraged to report any bullying incidents, there is even a website, bullying.org, where their slogan is "You are not alone."

Recently it seems that the bullies have found a new platform for their intimidation and that is the computer. With most kids using email and msn to chat with their friends the bullies are using the Internet to continue their victimization while remaining totally anonymous. This type of bullying is called cyber bullying and research has shown that most kids are very reluctant to let their parents know it is happening.

If your child seems to be sad, depressed, withdrawn or showing signs of aggression to his younger siblings he may be he victim of a cyber bully. He may also suddenly lose interest in any social events and complain about headaches, and stomach aches so he can stay home from school. Any disruption in your child's normal eating and sleeping habits could also be a red flag and parents should be aware of any changes.

Encourage your kids to come to you with any problems they may be having concerning the internet. Talk with them about cyber bullying and always reassure them that they can come to you if they are being bullied without repercussions. Assure them that you are there to help and most importantly take their concerns seriously. Never tell your child to ignore the problem.

Happy Parenting

Monicka

Saturday, October 13, 2007

When Momma ain't happy.........

I started a new job just over a month ago and it has been quite demanding and by the end of the day I am bagged. I was hoping that after a few weeks I would have built up a bit of stamina which would still leave me with a smidgen of energy after a long work day for all the things I need to do, such as spending time with family, working on my courses. blogging, the kidsgoals newsletter and other projects, not to mention household chores. So far work has been very taxing and by the end of the day it is, "stick a fork in me... I am done."

I have been feeling really bad because I have left all the blogging and the kidsgoals website to my best friend and co-editor, Cassie. She has been so awesome about covering my blogging days and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. I was thinking the other day that I have to find a way to find the time and energy to get everything done without having to stay up till the wee hours in the morning. Cassie told me to start putting off the unimportant things and start delegating the chores as much as possible. It all sounds good, but there is a part of me that thinks I need to do it all without asking for help from anyone. Why is that so common in the female species ? Many working Mothers believe that they have to be Super Woman . I know I can't do it all but somehow I have this inane belief that I should be able to. That is when your best friend steps in, smacks you upside the head (not literally) and brings you back to reality.

So NO dear ladies, we can't do it all and why should we have to? My plan is to heed my dear friends advice and sit down with my family very soon, and explain in as loving a way as possible, that Mommy needs a little help. If we all work together everything will get done, no one will have to do more than their fair share and bonus Mommy will be so happy. After all as the saying goes..."When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Thank you soooooooo much for all your help Cassie my dearest friend, I owe you big time!!!!

Happy Parenting,

Monicka

Friday, October 12, 2007


A family pet is a great way to teach children responsibility and to bring a lot of joy into your family.


Our dog Eddie has brought so much joy to us that I would say to anyone considering a family pet that in spite of the extra work and trouble, it is well worth it.


Check out this article for more info one choosing a family pet


Happy parenting,


Cassie

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Parenting Stress?

I read a letter in a magazine this morning by a mother suffering from severe parenting stress. Her toddler had only recently been weaned (from breast feeding) and she had just given birth to her fourth child. Her husband had a well paid job so they were not short of money, but she felt stressed and overwhelmed by looking after all the children and the house and garden, as well as exhausted from just having given birth.

I suspect that even the most organized and energized of us feel overwhelmed at times, and having small children reliant on you is a massive responsibility. If you're fortunate enough to be a stay at home parent it would be nice to think that you could enjoy your children rather than being stressed by parenting, but that is easier said than done!

Monicka's tips for managing parenting stress may help you.

Happy parenting,

Cassie

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kids and emotions

What do kids learn about emotions from their parents?

Yesterday my friend, who is a student in a counselling class, told me of an interesting conversation he had with his fellow students.

The question being discussed was, "If you were a counsellor and you had two scenarios, a)A client who was very distressed and crying or b)A client who was angry with you the counsellor, which would be more difficult for you to deal with.

I assumed that everyone would answer (b) but in fact it seems that the split was around 50/50. My friend was an example of someone who would not be fazed at all if his client was angry, but would find it challenging to handle someone very distressed.

What does this have to do with kids and emotions? Well these reactions to emotions are learned at a very early age. It is worth thinking about what you might be teaching your child about emotions rather than just automatically passing on your own reactions to, for instance, anger or sadness.

Anger and sadness may both seem like "bad" emotions but this is not true. Anger is a useful and powerful resource that helps us stand up for ourselves when necessary. It can be a driving force to take us to new levels of success and achievement.

Sadness is the natural "other side" of happiness. If we were never ever sad, we could never fully appreciate happiness. And learning to express sadness appropriately and to ride it out in a healthy way rather than trying to suppress it is a very important lesson.

While it may seem like a good idea to try and squash anger or sadness in our children, it is better to teach them that all emotions are OK, and help them learn to be resourceful in dealing with whatever they are feeling.

Happy parenting.

Cassie

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How to Teach Your Child to Concentrate

Hopefully all the kids are settled back into a good school time routine now - and sleeping normal hours!

To help your children get ahead with their academic endeavors, it is a good idea to focus on helping them learn soft skills that aren't usually taught at school, but can help them to be successful and productive in all their subjects.

Concentration is a very important soft skill, if you would like some tips, check out our article on How to teach your child to concentrate.


Happy parenting,

Cassie

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