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I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Expensive gifts don’t equal love

giving giftsSome people believe that if they go out and spend lots of money on gifts that it shows their love.  Wrong!   Money and gifts do not necessarily show love.   Some people do give gifts out of love but too often we buy gifts because it has become an expected habit and there is not much love that goes with the gift.  Some people also need to receive gifts because it makes them feel valued, but this is wrong because they are placing their value in possessions and not in themselves.

During our lifetime, most of us receive many gifts, some large, some small, some expensive, some inexpensive.   Do you remember what gifts meant the most to you?  Was it the large toys you received for Christmas when you were a child?  Was it the beautiful clothing that you received as a teen?  Was it the diamond earrings or tool set you received from a spouse?  Was it the kitchen appliance or electronic device that you received from a friend?  Personally, I can’t remember most of the toys, the clothing, the jewelry or the appliances that I’ve received over the years.  It was great fun getting those things at the time and they were enjoyed for a while, but most of the things we get are soon forgotten.

The only gifts that have made a lasting impression are those that were given from the heart.  From my childhood, I kept a stuffed horse on wheels, that I spend many hours riding.   My children have given me some special gifts that I will treasure forever;  a painted picture, a decorated heart, a hand-sewn mouse.   My husband gave me a couple of really special romantic cards that I take out of my dresser drawer and look at once in a while.  None of these gifts cost much but they are more important to me than anything else.

Time is the best gift we can give each other.  It is more valuable than anything else and it will last forever, etched in our hearts.   Give a hug, a kiss, tell someone you love them, sit and talk for a while, go for a walk.  Do something that really shows your love.   Gifts are nice, but they don’t leave a lasting impression like your love does.

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Parent watching

girl with mag glassHave you ever participated in people watching?  This can be a great way to observe how people act and learn something about their behaviour.  People watching should be done inconspicuously in a crowded mall, park or other area when you can observe people acting naturally without knowing someone is watching them.

A few days ago, I was parent watching which is my version of checking out the way parents behave with their children.   Since doing research and writing a book on parenting, I’ve become a super spy when it comes to parents and I am continually testing my theories and making personal conclusions.

This particular evening, I was sitting in the food court of a mall, drinking coffee and waiting for a colleague.  A father brought his 2 children about ages 10 and 12? (I’m not really a great age guesser) to the next table and told them to sit down while he bought some food.  The little girl put her feet up on the bench and her father told her to sit properly and behave.  I thought, “Well, he seems to be pretty strict”.  A few minutes later he brought food back to the table and sat down.  They started eating and then the father laughed and said to his son, “That hamburger is pretty messy, isn’t it.  You’re going to have to learn how to eat it properly.  But you’re doing a great job.  I’m proud of you.”  Then they talked about when the dad was working over Christmas and what days they would be able to spend together.  When they were finished eating, the father and his daughter got up to throw away their garbage.  On their way back to the table, the dad put his arm around the girl and she put her arm around her dad.  Then she said, “Daddy, I love you”.  The father responded, “I love you too, sweetheart”.  As the three walked away, I could feel the amazing love this family had for each other.

It shows when families know how to love and care for each other.  They don’t fight and argue in public.  They don’t complain or criticize each other.   Their relationship is warm and loving and they don’t seem stressed or uncomfortable.   It is important that we learn as parents how to provide a loving atmosphere so we can raise our children to feel accepted, validated and supported.  Many of us haven’t been raised in a positive environment, so we need to make some positive changes and work hard to become a better parent.   Check out some bookstores or visit your local library and pick up some books on parenting.   It is well worth the effort and the results will be a happier, closer family.  Here are some of the books I have read and would highly recommend:

 

 

 

 

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Where did the idea of Santa originate?

Our modern day Santa did not originate from a round and jovial figure with a long white beard, dressed in a red suit.  Instead this idea was influenced by a simple Christian bishop who loved God and loved people.  His name was Bishop Nicholas who later became a saint and was referred to as St. Nicholas.

The story began in Lycia, which is now a province of Turkey.  A merchant, who had 3 daughters, had lost his fortune and was unable to pay for their dowry, so they were unable to marry.  In those days, unmarried and penniless women were often forced into slavery or prostitution in order to survive.  (Just a side note – sadly, many women are in this same situation today).  The father prayed for a miracle and he got one.  Bishop Nicholas was a wealthy man and he found out about the merchant’s situation.

In the middle of the night, the bishop secretly brought a bag of gold to the merchant’s house and put it through a window, which allowed the oldest daughter to get married.  Later, another bag of gold appeared at the merchant’s house and the middle daughter got married.  The  merchant wanted to discover who was bringing the gold, so he watched every night until the third bag of gold was dropped through the window.  Then he followed the man and caught him going down the road.

The merchant recognized the bishop and wanted to thank him, but the bishop made him promise that he would not tell anyone until after his death.  He believed that good deeds should be done in secret and he didn’t want to receive any praise.  After he died, the world discovered how many people Bishop Nicholas had helped throughout his lifetime.  It is due to his generosity, that the tradition of giving gifts began.  In Europe, people began leaving nuts, fruit and sweets on windowsills, the hearth or even in shoes.  This custom gained popularity over the years and many changes have taken place.

The kindness and generosity that was displayed by Bishop Nicholas has been replaced by greed.  Doing an act of kindness for those in need has changed into seeing how much stuff we can acquire for ourselves.  Finding simple, inexpensive gifts is now a competition to see how much money we can spend and how many possessions we can accumulate.    The sweet, loving bishop has turned into a silly, laughing man in a red and white suit.

You can probably tell that I’m not a fan of Santa.   When my children were small, I did the Santa thing.  We went to the mall, took pictures and I always left presents under the tree from Santa.  Now I’m not so sure this is a good thing.  Imagination is good for a child, but what are we teaching them?  Do they even know what Christmas is all about?

Commercialism and consumerism has destroyed Christmas.  It is no longer fun.  I see people spending so much money on stuff they don’t need and they teach their kids to ask Santa for things like computers and TV’s.  Kids don’t need a lot of presents at Christmas.  They need our love and our attention.  We need to stop spending more money and start spending more time with them.

Christmas is a time for peace and joy but many people are stressed and unhappy.  Take time to stop and think about why we celebrate Christmas.  We received the best gift over 2000 years ago and it still brings hope and love into our hearts if we just take the time to remember.

 

 

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Are you a pressure cooker?

pressure cookerWhen I was a child, my mother had a pressure cooker.  You know that pot that cooks food quickly with the pressure of steam.  It has that little metal thing that rocks back and forth making noise which regulates the pressure in the pot.  I was always a little scared about the cooking pot because my mom told me never to touch it because it might explode.  It never occurred to me that I would have my own pressure cooker someday.

Years ago I used to make soup the old-fashioned way, taking hours to simmer the meat and adding the other ingredients at various times so they would add flavour and everything would be ready at the same time.  It was a tedious procedure and you had to stay close to the kitchen.  One day I got brave and decided to buy a pressure cooker.  I was a little nervous but I read all the instructions and gave it a try.  It was wonderful and now I use it all the time to make soup or cook meat in a hurry.   Instead of hours in the kitchen, I can make a hearty soup in just over an hour.

A pressure cooker can be a good thing when used properly.  You have to be careful to allow the pressure to build and then turn it down while it cooks, then allow it to cool down before you take the lid off.  If you are not patient enough and remove the lid too quickly, it can explode and cause a huge mess, create damage or even hurt you physically.

Our lives can be like a pressure cooker.   We keep adding all sorts of emotions, mix them up and every day we add pressure.  If we aren’t patient enough and take care of the pressure little by little, it will build up until it is ready to explode.  Then when something small or unimportant happens, the top blows of our pressure cooker, hurting everyone in the way, including ourselves.

Is your life like a pressure cooker?

Are you building up anger, resentment or bitterness?

Do you explode when little things happen?

Try to deal with issues when they happen instead of allowing them to build up pressure.

  • stop and take a deep breath
  • try to remain calm
  • think about why you are angry
  • does your anger make any sense
  • release your emotions in a positive way – do some kind of physical activity like running or a mental activity like writing

 

 

 

 

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De-stress your life

Cmas mouse and candy caneChristmas can be a stressful time of year.  People rush everywhere trying to get things done and by the time Christmas Day comes, they are so exhausted and stressed out that they don’t even enjoy the holiday.

Stress is a normal part of life and can affect us in a positive or negative way.  When stress motivates you in a positive way, it can fill you with positive energy.  However, when stress motivates you in a negative way, it can literally suck the life right out of you.

Since it isn’t possible to eliminate stress from life, it is important that we learn how to control it.   It is important to determine what causes the stress in your life and learn ways to minimize or eliminate it.  When you are stressed, try the following STRESS method:

  • S top what you are doing.
  • T ake note of the situation in your journal or notebook.  Outline what is causing stress in your life.
  • R eview your notes.  Do this later on in the day when you are not so emotional or you won’t see the situation clearly.
  • E valuate your reaction.  Was it proper, logical, realistic?
  • S ituation – can it be changed, minimized or eliminated.  Yes  No  How?
  • S et-up a plan of action for the next time this situation comes up.  Write it down to help you remember it.

Every day, write down your stressful situations in your journal or notebook.  Use the above STRESS method as a guideline.   Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What situation causes the most stress in your life?
  2. How do you react in this situation?
  3. Is it possible to change, minimize or eliminate this situation?     Yes      No    How?
  4. Could you change your reaction to the situation?         Yes      No     How?

Try to figure out what causes you the most stress during the holiday season and make some positive changes.

  • check your to-do list and cross out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary
  • spend less money on presents and spend more time with your family and friends
  • get help putting up decorations
  • share in meal preparation and cleanup
  • get rid of any grudges that you have about anyone
  • lower your expectations about a perfect Christmas
  • show love to everyone you meet
  • relax and enjoy yourself during the holiday season

 

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Think power thoughts

thinking happy facePositive thinking can be very powerful.  When you have positive thoughts, it is like planting seeds that will continue to grow if you give them continuous care.  

Every day, you need to think powerful, positive thoughts on purpose so they will overpower any negative thoughts.

Everyone has the ability to control their thoughts and can choose to think positively or negatively.   It can be difficult in a negative world, but it can be done with work and patience.

Here are some power thoughts to get you started:

  • I have so much to be thankful for
  • I am glad to be alive
  • I love my family and my home
  • I choose to feel good about myself
  • I am always open to new challenges
  • Today is a wonderful day
  • I have peace in my mind and heart
  • I look and feel great
  • I am a unique person with great abilities
  • I am loveable and loving
  • I try to find the best in everyone
  • I always do the best I can

Create more of your own power thoughts and start building a more confident you!

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Children learn what they live

pic man and 2 childrenDorothy Law Nolte was an American writer and family counsellor who was born in 1924 and died in 2005.  She wrote a column in a newspaper about raising children and during this time she wrote a poem that has been distributed around the world.  I’ve shared this poem before, but I really think we need to be reminded constantly that………Children Learn What They Live  (By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.)

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

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Where does self-esteem come from?

4 kidsSelf-esteem is not something that we are born with, it is something that we learn.   As children grow and interact with people and things around them, they learn new information and develop a self-awareness of who they are.

The environment we live in is very important in building our esteem.  Children that grow up in a mainly positive environment will feel loved, appreciated and wanted. Children who grow up in a mainly negative environment will feel unloved, unappreciated and unwanted.

Esteem is hard to build but easy to destroy.  A child can grow up in a loving, supportive environment that helps them build strong esteem, then go through some extremely difficult situations in life that tears down their esteem.  Some of these things can be:

  • serious personal illness or injury
  • death of a loved one
  • broken relationship
  • abusive relationship
  • financial crisis
  • loss of a job

It is so important that we interact with our children in a positive way and communicate with them effectively so they will develop strong esteem and grow up to be responsible adults.  It is also important that we interact with other adults in a positive way so we can be a good influence on them.  Everyone benefits from positive interaction.

Since many adults struggle with low esteem themselves, we need to do a self-evaluation and become more aware of who we really are.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I feel confident when talking to other people?
  2. Do I know what my positive qualities are?
  3. Do I deserve love and respect?
  4. Do I expect to have a good life?
  5. Have I set goals and work hard to achieve them?
  6. Am I a unique and valuable person?
  7. Do I accept myself for who I am?
  8. Can I accept criticism without feeling bad?
  9. Am I able to admit when I make a mistake?
  10. Am I willing to try new things without being afraid of failure?
  11. Do I stand up for what I know is right?
  12. Do I like myself?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all or most of these questions, your esteem is good.  If you answered ‘no’ to all or most of them, your esteem could seriously use some strengthening.

Check my website www.imconfident.com for information and ideas on building self-esteem.  Visit my bookstore where you can order my Caterpillar to Butterfly Self-Esteem Workbook.  book thumbnail

Start building your esteem today!  It doesn’t matter how old you are or how difficult your life has been until now.  You can develop strong esteem at any age.  So, what are you waiting for??

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Do you listen to your children?

mom and daughter talkingWhen your children are talking to you, do you listen to what they are saying?   Do you hear the emotion behind their words?  Do you understand what they are saying?  Do you even care?

Often we become so busy with life that we tend to ignore what our children are saying.  Small children can be especially annoying when you are talking on the phone, doing some work or trying to read.  They can start chattering away and interrupt your thoughts.  Older children or teens might make a comment that seems unimportant or ridiculous and we dismiss them with a quick unfeeling reply.

When children are speaking, it is important that we acknowledge their feelings and try to understand what message they are conveying.  If we don’t tune in to their feelings and let them know we are listening, we will lose their trust and they won’t share their problems with us.  Children want to communicate with their parents and if they are unable to connect, they will find someone else to talk to.  Parents need to listen to their words and try to understand their feelings without being judgmental.   Parents may not always agree with what their children are saying or even totally understand, but they have to be willing to listen anyway.  This will promote good communication between parent and child and pave the way for a closer relationship.

If your child is trying to communicate with you:

  • STOP AND LISTEN!
  • Pay attention to what they are saying.
  • Read their body language.
  • What emotions are they showing? Are they happy or upset, excited or worried, nervous or afraid?
  • Look directly into their eyes and encourage them to talk.
  • Ask questions and make sure you understand how they feel and try to determine what they need.
  • Be supportive, try not to argue or force your opinion and don’t discount their feelings.

Remember back when you were a young child or teenager.  Your ideas about life were totally different than they are now.  You won’t always see eye to eye with your child but they need your love and support.  If they think that you are listening to them with an open mind, they will feel that their thoughts and feelings are important.  This will help them build good esteem and  become a confident, responsible adult.

Do you listen to your children?

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Remind yourself

remindersIn this busy world it is easy to forget things.  Our minds have so much information flowing through each day, that we often end up with information overload at the end of the day.  Then we go to bed and fall asleep quickly from exhaustion or we lie in bed thinking about everything that has happened that day and all the things we need to do.

Every day I have to write things down or I would miss a meeting, be late for an appointment, forget to pick up something or omit an important task.  I keep track of everything I need to remember on a calendar in my computer and also duplicate the information on my cell phone calendar.   This gives me an automatic reminder of what needs to be done.  If it is an urgent reminder, I write a sticky note and put it on my computer screen so I can’t miss seeing it.  For tasks that are not as important, I write these on a list that I keep beside my computer so I can do them as I have time and then I cross them off the list when they are done.

Writing things down is the best way to keep focused on what you are supposed to do, help you remember important tasks and keep you more organized.   Write down what you need to remember and review it nightly so you will be prepared first thing in the morning.

You also need to remind yourself daily what an awesome person you are.  Before you go to bed, get a pen and a notepad, journal or even a piece of paper, then sit down for a few minutes of quiet time to reflect.  Think about something that you are good at, something that you like to do, a talent, a skill, an ability, then write down your thoughts and ideas.  Place the notepad or journal beside your bed and when you wait up in the morning, read it to yourself.  This will put you in a positive mindset to start off the day.

What do you need to remind yourself about?

Night time is really the best time to work.  All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.  ~Catherine O’Hara

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