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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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!


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.

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.

Happy Holidays,


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,


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,


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


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


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


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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.


* 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.


* 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,


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Parenting and 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,