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.

What kind of parent are you?

To Build (or Break) a Child's Spirit - by Rachel Macy StaffordThe way you parent your children mainly depends on what kind of environment you have been raised in.  Most parents will use the same methods of parenting used by their parents and grandparents even though they may have hated the way they were raised.  Every child wants to please their parents and they will try to model their behaviour.  They may even believe that this is the way normal parents behave if they  have never encountered a different approach.

There are basically 3 types of parents. The terms vary depending on what information you are reading, but I like to use the terms powerful, permissive and responsible.  Each one has a different impact on the child as to what kind of parent/child relationship they have and what type of parent they will become.  Think back to your own childhood and determine what kind of parent you were raised by.

  1. POWERFUL parents are those who make their children behave by controlling them with angry words or forceful actions and punishments.    They make most decisions for their child and allow them little freedom.  They use their size to intimidate their child and may ignore, harass or even physically abuse them.  Children of powerful parents behave out of fear rather than love and will eventually grow to resent their parents, often rebelling in some way.   They will grow up with insecurities and fears and will likely raise their children using anger and intimidation.
  2. PERMISSIVE parents are those who allow their children to do almost anything they want.  There are few or no rules and parenting is inconsistent.  They make things as easy as they can for the child, often doing things for them that the child could easily do themselves.  This robs the child of self-respect and self-esteem and invites rebellion.  Children of permissive parents often are confused and make poor choices because they have no guidelines to follow.
  3. RESPONSIBLE parents are those who convey love and show respect to their children and other people.  They provide their children with opportunities to make their own choices and hold them accountable.  They use consistent, loving discipline and lead by example.  They encourage, support and protect their child and help them develop good self-worth.  Children of responsible parents learn how become a responsible adult by watching and modelling the positive characteristics of their parent.

Powerful and Permissive parents have a negative affect on their children.  Most of these children will struggle in school, work and in their relationships.  They will likely become the same type of parent with their children or in some cases, they can go to the other extreme.  Children raised by powerful parents might become permissive parents because they don’t want their children to be controlled and will allow them complete freedom to do what they want, falsely believing this is showing love.  Children raised by permissive parents might become powerful parents because they believe that children need rules and may go way overboard in taking control, causing the parent/child relationship to suffer greatly.  Neither method works well.

The Responsible parent is the best method of parenting.   The parent works with the child to build a loving relationship.   Mistakes are made but lessons are learned and the child develops a positive perspective on life.

It is also extremely important that both parents use the same parenting method.  There needs to be continuous communication between the parents so they discuss and work out any problems.  When parents use different parenting methods or the parents are divided on any matter, parenting WILL fail.  Children are a lot smarter than we think they are.  They will divide and conquer every time.  Make sure you are working together as a team to raise your children in the best way possible.  And if you make a mistake?  Well, you are human and nobody is perfect.  Apologize, start over, do whatever it takes to keep those lines of communication open!

So what kind of parent are you?  And what kind of parent do you want your child to be?


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12 ways to teach your kids to be thankful

Teaching our children to have manners is important but teaching them to be thankful can benefit them in more ways than just saying ‘please and thank-you’.   Being thankful helps us live a better life because we are looking for the positives in life instead of the negatives.

Studies have shown that people who are thankful tend to be happier and more confident.  They are able to deal with difficult situations in a positive way and make better decisions.  They have better relationships and treat others with respect.  They are less likely to be depressed or anxious.

When children are taught to appreciate what they have and are able to understand that everything in life doesn’t come easily, they are less apt to be selfish, self-centered individuals.

So how can we teach our kids to be thankful?  Here are 10 suggestions:

  1. Be a thankful role model.  Children learn best from our example.  They are always watching us and will often imitate what they see.  Show them that you are thankful for all the wonderful things in your life.  Be polite to others people and show courtesy and respect.  “Thank-you for listening to me.”  “I’m so thankful for my nice warm bed.”  “Thanks for cleaning up your room.”
  2. Expect your children to show good manners.  Children should say please and thank-you.  They should sit at the table until everyone has finished their meal.  They should be quiet when an elderly family member is sleeping.   They should write thank-you letters when they receive a gift.  Gently remind your children when they forget to be polite.
  3. Have a special ‘thankful’ meal every week.  Start the meal with a simple grace and then ask everyone to share something that they are thankful for.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal.  Encourage your children to write down things they are thankful for and then  have a gratitude day where everyone can share their thoughts.
  5. Make a gratitude jar.  Write down things you are thankful for on slips of paper and put them in the jar.  Pick a special time to pull them out and read them.
  6. Play gratitude charades.  Have everyone think of something they are thankful for and act it out.  If you are thankful for having a puppy, walk on all fours.  If you are thankful for having good food to eat, pretend you are cooking.  Be creative.
  7. Tell your children how thankful you are that they are in your family.  Tell them how thankful you are for their smile, their hugs, their special way of doing (something).
  8. Refrain from giving your children too many material things and encourage them to save their allowance or get a job to pay for any special items they may want.  This teaches them to appreciate the value of money and hard work.
  9. Encourage them to donate their time or money to help a worthy cause.   Help them understand that many people are struggling and need someone to help them.  Allow them to feel the positive energy of helping others.
  10. Catch them complaining and try to help them find something to be grateful for.  If they are complaining about not getting a new toy or the latest technology, have them make a list about the great things they already have.
  11. Read stories and watch movies about gratitude.  This will reinforce what you are teaching them and help them see things from a different perspective.
  12. Bake cookies for your neighbours, your school or place of work and attach a note telling them how thankful you are for knowing them.


It doesn’t matter if your children are 2 years old or 42 years old, you can still help them become more thankful by being a positive role model.

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Paris attacks: How to explain the horror to children, by Sally Peck

Great article. Thoughtful ways to explain horrible actions to children.

The Forever Years


MANILA, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 16:  A young girl lights candles to honour victims of the Paris terror attacks at Alliance Francais Manila on November 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. 129 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday night.  (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** MANILA, PHILIPPINES – NOVEMBER 16: A young girl lights candles to honour victims of the Paris terror attacks at Alliance Francais Manila on November 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. 129 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

As parents, there is a constant temptation to shield our children from bad news. But sometimes, and in particular with acts of terrorism, bad news is unavoidable – it’s in on television, it’s on social media, and it’s on our minds.

Like most people, I’ve been carefully following the news from Paris. My family has close ties to France, and my children’s ears perked up when news of the attacks came on the radio.

How to talk to children

For guidance on how to talk to my children about the attacks in Paris…

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What kind of example do you present to your children?

Happy Family Laughing in BedDid you realize that your children are watching everything you do and listening to everything you say?   Whenever they are within hearing range, they hear our words and they watch our actions.  Children look up to their parents and want to be just like them.  They look up to their parents for instruction and believe that they are the example they should follow.   Their young minds are trying to digest tons of information while discovering what is going on in the world around them.

It is really important that parents are presenting a good example to their children.  If parents have bad habits, children will often pick them up.  If parents use negative self-talk, children will learn how to speak negatively about themselves and others.  If parents are easily angered, children will have little patience.   If parents obsess about their looks, children will become very self-conscious about their self-image and have little esteem.

When children have positive role models they will become responsible, caring adults.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect parents because there are no perfect parents.  We all make mistakes and we need to show our kids that it is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them and keep growing.  The key is to try our best to be the kind of parent that we want our kids to become.

  • If we want our kids to be responsible, we have to be an example of responsibility.
  • If we want our kids to be loving, we have to be an example of love.
  • If we want our kids to be kind, we have to be an example of kindness.
  • If we want our kids to be patient, we have to be an example of patience.
  • If we want our kids to be a person of integrity, we have to be an example of integrity.

What kind of example are you presenting to your children?

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The quiz that helps you find the right mate

It is really hard to find the right mate.  When we are first attracted to someone, we don’t always see their true character.  People are usually on their best behaviour when they are trying to impress someone, so there may be a lot of personal issues that are hidden from us.   This is why it is very important to get to know someone better before we commit to a lasting relationship.

As parents, we try to help our children make good choices when it comes to what they wear, how they act and what type of friends they should have.  We try to teach them how to distinguish between good and bad behaviour and how to set proper boundaries.

Whether you are a parent and trying to guide your children in the right direction or an adult who is trying to navigate through life yourself, there is actually a quiz that will help you determine if someone would really be a good mate.   The questions are found in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 and they can apply to anyone of any faith or belief.

To use this as a quiz, just replace the word ‘love’ with the name of the person you are checking out.  If the statement is true about that person for each of the statements, then they are the perfect person and certainly a ‘keeper’.  However, since nobody is perfect, you won’t find anyone who will fit all these statements.   To pass this test, the person should be trying to live up to these guidelines for love, so use your judgement and if they don’t pass many of them or any at all, you should probably keep looking.

Here is an example for the first statement.   Sara is thinking about dating a boy named Philip.  She writes down the first statement….Philip is patient and kind, showing kindness to others.  So she thinks about what she wrote.  Is Philip patient and kind?  Wow, she remembers what happened a couple of days ago.  Philip was saying mean things about a new kid at school, pointing at him and calling him a loser.  That certainly wasn’t very kind.  And he certainly isn’t patient.  He pushed ahead of a couple of smaller kids in the food line because he didn’t want to wait. He always seems to be nice to me but I wonder if he will treat me the same way one day.  Now Sara goes on to the rest of the questions and the answers are opening her eyes to what Philip is really like.  Sara realizes that Philip doesn’t know what love means at all.  Now she has to make a decision as to whether she will stick with him and try to help him change or end the relationship before any problems start.

Try this quiz with your kids when they are starting to date.  Try it with yourself if you are looking for the right mate.

  1. love is patient and kind, showing goodness to others
  2. love is not jealous of other people, it is pleased when others are honoured
  3. love is not boastful or proud, it accepts what it has
  4. love is not rude, it honours others by being considerate and courteous
  5. love is not self-seeking. it is interested in assisting others
  6. love is not easily angered, it is willing to endure insults and nasty comments
  7. love keeps no record of wrongs, forgetting and forgiving what has been said or done
  8. love does not delight in evil, taking part in things that are wrong, instead rejoices in the truth
  9. love protects others by concealing or hiding the faults of others
  10. love trusts and tries to believe the best
  11. love hopes that all things will eventually work out for the best
  12. love perseveres, it never gives up
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What do you do for fun?

I just watched a video that was very upsetting but didn’t really surprise me.  3 generations were asked the question,  ‘When you were a kid, what did you do for fun?”  Of course, when they asked the younger generation, it applied to what they did for fun right now.  The answers cut right into my heart.  Watch the video and then ask yourself these questions:

  • How does this make me feel?
  • Am I personally allowing my children to develop these behaviours?
  • What can I do to be a better role model?
  • How can I help make positive changes in  my children, grandchildren and other children around me?


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To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit – by Rachel Macy Stafford

A great post about how to build esteem in a child. We always need to be a positive role model and raise our children with love and respect.

Kindness Blog

To Build (or Break) a Child's Spirit - by Rachel Macy Stafford If you needed to lose weight, what would be most motivating?

You’ve put on some pounds. I’m not buying you any more clothes until you lose weight.


Let’s take a walk after dinner.
I’ll let you make the salad.
I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

If you needed to learn how to swim, what would be most motivating?

I don’t want to hear your crying. Get in the water and swim! Don’t be a baby!


I’ll be right by your side.
You can do this. If not today, we’ll try again tomorrow.
I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

If you needed to practice better hygiene, what would be most motivating?

What is that awful smell? It’s a wonder you have any friends.


Let’s go to the store and pick out some deodorant.
Your hair smells…

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Teach from the heart

We are all teachers.  Some of us are good teachers, some of us are bad teachers.  We don’t have to go to college or university to become a teacher.  Teaching is something that we do consciously or unconsciously.  Everything we say and do is teaching something to someone.

Parents are always teaching their children through example.   Children are watching and learning from our words and actions.   When they are small, they look up to their parents, older siblings and other adults in their lives and will try to follow their example.   We need to be careful that we are teaching them how to become responsible, caring adults.

We can teach in different ways.

  • We can teach children them by force, demanding that they follow our rules.   This will cause them to have low esteem, feel insecure, be unhappy, develop resentment for authority and possibly become a bully or a controlling adult.
  • We can teach children by allowing them complete freedom to do whatever they want.  This will also cause low esteem and insecurities because they don’t have any boundaries or guidelines.  They won’t know how to make good choices and will struggle as an adult.
  • We can teach children from the heart, showing love and encouragement but also setting reasonable boundaries and using fair discipline.  This builds esteem and a sense of value, leading to a responsible, caring adult.

How are you teaching your children?  By force, allowing them complete freedom or from the heart?  Take a close look at the relationship you have with your children and make sure you are providing them with a positive example.

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Teach your children to be financially responsible

Many adults today are not financially responsible.  They don’t know how to budget for their expenses and often don’t have any savings at all.  They live week to week, spending every cent they have and using that convenient plastic card when they run out of money.

  • If you have grown up in a home where everything is charged and your parents are up to their eyeballs in debt, it’s unlikely that you will be able to responsibly handle your money.
  • If you have grown up in a home where you have been given everything you want, you won’t feel any responsibility for the money you earn and will expect to have whatever your little heart desires.

It is important to teach your children how to spend and save money efficiently so they will become responsible adults.   The world pressures us to spend more than we earn by using credit whenever possible and we need to learn how make good decisions so we don’t end up with mountains of debt.

Here are some ideas to help your children learn the value of money:

  1. Set a good example by using cash when you buy things.   Your children will imitate what you do and if you use credit cards, they will do the same thing and think it is okay.  Remember, it is way to easy to slap down plastic and not think about making those payments later.
  2. Give them an allowance based on their age and what jobs you expect them to do in return.   If the jobs are done, they don’t get their allowance.  When kids are paid to do work, they learn the value of working and getting paid.  However, some family chores should not receive monetary payment (making bed, picking up toys, doing dishes) but should receive payment in praise for helping and being part of the family.  Paid work could include cleaning the basement, vacuuming, taking out the garbage and cutting grass.
  3. Guide them as to how they should spend their money.  Teach them the difference between wants and needs.  It is so easy to spend money on things we want but don’t need.  Encourage them to save some and also donate to a church/charity.  A reasonable percentage might be saving 20-30%, giving 10% and spending the rest.
  4. Open a bank account for their savings and as they get older add a chequing account so they will be ready to pay for item they need or a small monthly bill like a cell phone.
  5. Let your child shop for their own items.  A small child might be given $5 to buy toys or snacks – this could buy a couple of small items or 1 larger item.  A teen might be given $100 to spend on clothing – this could buy 1 sweater at an expensive store or several items at a discount or second-hand store.
  6. An older teenager should be encouraged to get a part-time job and save money towards their future.
  7. Talk to your children about the dangers of having credit cards and how easy it is to get deeply into debt.  Encourage them to pay cash when possible.   Teach them how to say ‘no’ to pushy salesmen and to think carefully when spending money, to avoid buying things they don’t need.

If you don’t teach your children how to manage their money, they will likely end up being pressured into buying things they don’t need and end up deep in debt.





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Listen to your children and acknowledge their feelings

Youth today want to be heard.  They want to know that others understand them and that they have something important to offer in life.  They need their parents and other significant people around them to indicate their value by listening and acknowledging their feelings.  When they feel like someone is really listening to them and really cares about how they feel, they will experience love and grow into mature, responsible adults.

Parents want the best for their children but too often we believe that what we say to them is more important than what they say to us.  We tell them how to feel, how to act and how to think.  Then when they don’t listen or do things the way we think they should, we show our disapproval through correction and punishment.  This just tells them that their thinking is not right and they shouldn’t feel the way they do.  They will believe that something is wrong with them and their esteem will become greatly damaged.

It is important that we take the time to listen to our children and try to understand their feelings.  This doesn’t mean we have to approve of everything they say and do or allow them to do something that will harm them in any way.  We just have to let them know that it is okay to be different and build a close, trusting relationship with them by loving and supporting them.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Your 6-year-old likes to climb up on the furniture and you are afraid they are going to get hurt so you keep warning him to stay down.  However, one day, he climbs on a chair and it tips over, throwing him on the floor and hurting his arm.  He cries out in pain and you say, “I don’t feel sorry for you.  I’ve told you to stay off the furniture.  Now go play and stop crying.”  What does this tell your child?  Does it tell him that you love him and don’t want him to get hurt?  No, it tells him that he is stupid and you don’t care about his feelings.  Instead, you should empathize by saying, “Oh no, you must have hurt your arm.”  Give your child a hug and then talk to him about why he shouldn’t climb on the furniture.   This will help build his confidence.
  • Your parents are coming to visit and you don’t have a guest bedroom, so you tell your teenage daughter that she will have to give up her room and sleep on the living room sofa.  Your daughter is very angry with you and becomes withdrawn.  What message have you given your daughter?  That you have total control over everything she owns and her feelings don’t matter at all.  Instead, you should talk about how difficult it is for her to share her room for a few days and tell her how sorry you are that you don’t have another option.  Then offer to help clean up her room and maybe sit and chat with a glass of hot chocolate.  This will show her the importance of doing something nice for another person.
  • You come home from work and find a big hole in your dining room window.  On the floor lies a baseball that looks a lot like one your 12-year-old son plays with.  You know that he walks home with some friends that like to meet and play baseball after school.  When your son walks in the door carrying his baseball bat, you confront him loudly with, “What did you do to our window?”  Your son was going to tell you what happened but your angry words communicated to him that you have already found him guilty and that you don’t trust him.  He yells back, “Nothing, I don’t know what you are talking about”, then goes into his room and shuts the door.  Your outburst has turned off any communication and tore down his esteem.  You should have calmly asked what happened and given him the chance to respond.   You don’t really know if he was guilty of doing the damage or it was one of his friends.

Many problems could be avoided by showing our children that we care about their thoughts and feelings.  If we keep open the lines of communication for all the small things in life, they will talk to us about the important things.  This also works in all our relationships, so make sure you are listening to people and acknowledging their feelings.  We all need to be heard and cared about!