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.

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:

  • 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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Someone is watching you

mom and girl planting seedsWe always need to think carefully about what we say and do because someone might be watching us.  Young children especially, are great imitators and they will try to imitate the actions of everyone around them.   You might notice a child imitating a bad behaviour that you have shown them without even realizing it. We aren’t always aware of what we are doing because we do many things by habit, but all of us have bad habits that we know are wrong and if we don’t actively change them, we may have a bad influence on the people around us.

We need to help build good habits ourselves and become a positive role model, so we can help children and everyone around us to build good habits.

  • If we model love, people will learn to love.
  • If we model patience, people will learn to be patient.
  • If we model kindness, people will learn to be kind.
  • If we model responsibility, people will learn to be responsible.

We don’t want to be a model of an angry, unhappy, bitter or nasty person.  This certainly doesn’t help anyone, especially ourselves and it won’t attract friends.   People want to be around those who are happy, friendly and sincere.  By providing children and other people around us, with a loving, supportive atmosphere, it helps them develop the skills necessary to overcome life’s challenges and difficulties.  It will help them build confidence in their abilities and increase their self-esteem.  It will also help us build our own confidence and esteem.

So remember – someone is watching you!  Is it your children, your family, your friends, your co-workers, other people in the community?  Are you modelling good habits?




Show love to your children

My husband was checking his Facebook account this morning and I was reading my emails.   He likes watching the short video clips and I heard the sound of a lady’s voice screaming.  When I looked to see what he was watching, it was a clip about a mother yelling and using the F word, at her child to clean up the mess in the bedroom and that she was posting this on Facebook, apparently for the purpose of shaming the child.

I know there are many parents who raise their children in this type of negative environment, but hearing and seeing this really upset me.  I wrote a quick comment – ‘This is a terrible thing to do to a child.  It will destroy their esteem.”  I wanted to add more and tell her that she should be ashamed of herself, but I stopped myself.   I’ve learned to see people from a different perspective and I realized that this women had probably been raised in a similar environment and probably thought she was doing the right thing.  Some of the comments she received from other people were praising her for taking control of her child.

It’s sad that people think it is okay to raise a child by controlling them, belittling them and criticizing them.  This only creates an adult who has insecurities, fears and the inability to make good choices in life.  Children need to be raised in a loving, encouraging environment if they are to become responsible, caring adults.

I feel very sorry for that poor child that was criticized and put down on Facebook where everyone could see it.  What a cruel form of punishment!  However, I also feel sorry for that mother who didn’t know any better.

It is so important that we try to be good examples for those around us, whether they are children, teens or adults and try to model love and kissing little baby

Parents, please love your children with all your heart.  Children are special!

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10 ways to help your child build esteem

family in circleI came across this article on building esteem in children.  It uses the acronym for self-esteem in an interesting way.

Building a child’s esteem is critical to their future development.  Parents are the biggest and most important influence on their child’s life until about the age of 9 when peer pressures start to influence a child’s behaviour.  It is extremely important that parents help their child build esteem in their early years so they will be able to handle life’s difficult situations and be able to make proper choices.  Here are 10 ways that you can help build your child’s esteem:

S Set a good example.  Children look up to their parents and will try to imitate what they do.  We need to be positive role models and start building our own esteem so our children can follow our example and become a confident adult with strong esteem.
E Encourage your child. Children will struggle and fail, but their efforts and feelings need to be acknowledged in a positive way.   Even if they haven’t been successful, let them know that you are proud of them, encourage them to try harder and keep going.
L Love your child unconditionally.  Children need to know that you accept them even if they do something wrong.  Give hugs often.  Studies have proven that human touch is essential for human growth and development.  Hugging is healthy and it boosts security and self-esteem.
F Fill their emotional self with positivity.  Children are naturally negative and have to learn how to be positive.  If they can see things in a positive way, they will deal more effectively with life’s challenges.  Teach them to be kind and help others as   this will be a positive experience for both the person they help and also themselves.
E Empower your child to make good choices.  When decisions need to be made, don’t just tell them what to do, explore the choices with them, give them options and make sure they understand the consequences.  If they do make a bad choice, help them evaluate and learn from their decision.
S Set realistic goals.  Help your child write down their goals in a daily journal, break down larger goals into smaller goals and reward them when they reach a certain point as an incentive to keep going.  Rewards should not be large or costly, just simple things like time spent playing a game, going to a movie or having a special treat.
T Talk to your child and spent quality time with them.  Positive communication between a child and their parent will help develop positive, healthy attitudes.  Listen to your child, try to understand what they are saying and value their thoughts even if you don’t always agree with them.  This will build character and promote independence.
E Energize your child with a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise daily, eat healthy and get sufficient sleep.  A healthy body will result in a healthy mind.
E Explore areas where your child can excel.  What are their interests, abilities, strengths?  Children have   better esteem when they are actively involved in activities they do well and enjoy.
M Make fair boundaries and set realistic rules for your child, then enforce them.    Discipline may be necessary when they cross these boundaries or break the rules, but this is important as it helps them take responsibility for their own actions and also teaches them respect for others.
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Raising children in a tough world

It’s a day for reading articles and here is another one I’d like to share.   In today’s world people seem to have forgotten what it means to be a parent.   We allow our children to spend a large part of their day on the computer, the phone or other electronic device and not pay any attention to what is going on in their world.   Problems are on the rise – bullying, eating disorders, violence, hatred, depression and suicide.  Children don’t even seem disturbed by horrific events on the news – such things would have been traumatic for me when I was young.  Parents need to start parenting..   It isn’t easy being a parent but if we don’t do something, many more children will grow up full of fears and insecurities.   We need to get involved in our children’s lives, spend time with them, listen to them, talk WITH them not TO them, set realistic boundaries and enforce them.  If children grow up in a positive, loving environment where they can build confidence and esteem, they will become a responsible, successful adult.  Of course there are no guarantees because the pressures from peers and the media can be very powerful, but with a solid foundation, children will have a much better chance of surviving.

Please take a few minutes and read this excellent article by Wendy Wolff.

Be Brave For The Sake Of The Children

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11 March 2013 – 00:00 EDT

It’s 2013.

Your child…has access to a private world that doesn’t include you. They speak a language in code that changes rapidly. They exist with their fingers and minds wrapped around an electronic entranceway to a society in which you have completely relinquished control. They deal with bullying, violence, and childhood hatred in ways that you never had to.

You…spend much of your ever dwindling time cleaning, cooking, holding down one or two jobs, laundry, managing activities, homework, being a spouse, doing the job of two parents, resolving conflicts and simply trying to catch your breath. Maybe there is a minute or two in the day when you get to sit and be still. Maybe not. Regardless of the immense pressure upon you there is one commitment that has been shamefully put at the end of the list, keeping our kids childlike and carefree. Remember the days of playing for hours on end outside with the mosquitoes leaving their welts but we were too busy to care? Now for some reason while we personally covet those days and even long for their return, we settle on giving our adolescents devices that keep them indoors, sitting, angry, and alone.

We… are raising a generation of children absent from the input of adults. How are the youth of today gleaming personal insight and growth from the valuable lessons of those who lived before us if we are not involved? We… have given in to the “wants” of our children beyond our better judgment, allowing them access to things that hinder the positive growth of their hearts and minds. We… have convinced ourselves that this is the natural course of evolution.

Why and how can this be ok?

The neurological development of the brain says when children are in their pre-puberty years, their brains are growing and enlarging with capability. It is clearly a time to get children learning new things. It was found by Dr. Jay Giedd, neuroscientist from the National Institute of Mental Health, that the new cells and connections in the brain will survive and flourish if they are used to learn new positive activities. Those cells and connections that are not used by eleven or twelve years old will wither and die. That’s it, bye bye.

In simpler words, that means if your pre-pubescent teenager is learning to play music, involved with sports, art, chess, or other active hobbies, then those new connections inside of the brain will become permanent forever. They will have more brain to work with! According to Dr. Giedd, if they are purely sitting around playing video games, watching TV, texting, those connections will never survive. How do people not know this simple fact about human development? How is this not guiding every decision we make for our future leaders?

In an article written by Dr. Robert Brooks of Harvard Medical School, he quotes world-renowned psychologist Julius Segal in saying one factor that enables children of misfortune to beat the heavy odds against them is the presence of a charismatic adult, a person with whom they can identify and from whom they gather strength.

How many children/teens are engaged with an adult who truly inspires them when their fingers are wrapped around a cell phone, typing a language in a world in which we have become foreigners? How can we do this if we don’t check their Twitters, Facebooks, text messages, and Instagrams? Doesn’t this make you want to do something? Anything?

And yet we somehow keep stepping further back. We succumb to the difficulty of raising children and let it rule us. We are now more committed to encouraging privacy among our children in an increasingly frightening world than we are to being engaged for their safety.

Is this really okay with all of us? Are we actually happy with the level of torment that occurs between kids, sometimes in a very subtle way, that gets hidden inside of the devices that keep us excluded? We wonder why we haven’t seen the signs before tragedy strikes—but then, if the signs are hidden inside devices that we don’t check, how could we possibly know?

It seems like we are generally afraid. A great friend of mine believes that we have lost our sense of courage. She often says that we have become a self-involved, fear-based society and that this fear keeps us completely separate. It keeps us from standing up for each other, from saying the difficult things that need to be said and from basically helping each other. The fear allows us to let our kids wander around in the cyber world aimlessly filling their growing, beautiful minds with garbage.

Have we decided to sit back and let the parenting just happen? When do we get involved? Being an involved parent and/or caring adult for a child is the hardest job in the planet and makes us go through a whirlwind of emotions that seem scary and unmanageable. Yet, the alternative to feeling the discourse is what we have now, kids who are giving us the rules and who are desensitized to violence.

What do we fear so much?

Are we so intensely afraid of the potential repercussions that we:

  • are afraid to see the pain and suffering that goes on between kids and actively resolve these issues?
  • are afraid to admit that while the secret to the billon dollar advertising industry is that our brains want to buy the pretty things we see…yet we somehow believe that having our precious children interacting with severe violence and promiscuity will do them no harm?
  • are afraid to read every single post and private message of our kids on Facebook, Oovoo, Tumblr, Twitter, and their cellphones and address what we see?
  • are afraid to see how out of control the language, sexting, drama, violence, bullying has become?
  • are afraid to know the passwords of our children’s accounts and check them regularly to make sure they are protected, happy, and carefree?
  • are afraid to shut off violent video games and limit access for the developing minds of our beloved offspring?
  • are afraid to limit our children’s access to chemically-laden energy drinks?
  • are afraid to teach them how to be positive contributors in their community and world?
  • are afraid to actually resolving conflict among children and their tormentors through the use of peer mediation, conflict resolution? Why have we let the bullying problem continue and build up speed in the past three decades? Why haven’t we bounded together and demanded that any adult that is within arm’s reach of our children treat them with dignity and be committed to disallowing any form of cruelty to exist on their watch?

Are we afraid or is it that we are just too tired?

Something has to change. Bullying is at an all-time high with one out of four children in the U.S being targets of bullying by another child. We have one out of five children reporting that they have bullied someone else. The cycle of violent, unkind behavior affects so many children that it now is more of a normal occurrence with that many children affected.

Children are tormented daily by other kids and our system is set up to have zero tolerance but to truly do nothing about it. We either aren’t capable of showing children the positive ways to behave in relationship with each other, or we are too tired.

What can we do to help our children? Why not try to…

  • Ask for help from a friend that you trust.
  • Demonstrate to the children in your life how to help others.
  • Make the time to listen. Really and truly listen.
  • Share the information that will help your children be positive, contributing members of society. They will only learn this if you share with them how.
  • Pray in any way that connects you with your inner voice.
  • Be an adult that cares. So much research has shown that parental warmth or support is key to protecting a child from being a victim and/or a bully.
  • Demand that your children give you access to their accounts. If they don’t, be the boss and disconnect them. You cannot keep them safe from things you don’t know about.
  • Learn about the food and drinks that you are giving to your children. Balance is key—but over-sugaring, over-food coloring, and over-processed fooding dramatically interferes with learning and managing.
  • Teach your kids about the good ol’ days of playing.
  • Take the TVs and computers out of your children’s bedrooms and let their bodies experience a proper night’s sleep.
  • Monitor what your children are watching. There are all kinds of parental controls on the TV and computer for you to use.
  • Talk with your kids anywhere and every time. No matter how uncomfortable it may make you. If you can’t, find another adult who can.
  • Do something to help children find a common ground with each other. Bullying will never stop until we believe in the goodness of each other. There will always be things to decipher, but with enough like-minded people we can spread caring, easily and rapidly.
  • Commit to be a formal or informal mentor to the children within your neighborhood, group of friends, church, or even within arm’s reach. All it takes is a smile and caring heart.

Thousands have said before this article, and thousands after will, tell you to dig deep, listen, hear the words that your kid is using, watch their behavior, encourage, guide, provide wisdom, advocate for, support, discipline.

Find a blend of those techniques and use them all or just use one. Pick one on this list and experiment with it. Be brave, for our children’s sake. Then, watch it work.


Children learn by example

Children learn things in life by observing people as they grow up.   They watch their parents and other adults around them, noting everything they say and do.   Their minds are actively discovering their world and digesting a lot of information.   Parents need to be good examples of what they want their children to be when they grow up.  When children have positive role models to follow, they will become responsible, caring adults.  However, too often parents are caught up in their own issues and forget that their children are following their poor examples.

I like the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, called Children Learn What They Live.  It draws a good picture of what children learn by the example they are shown.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns what envy is.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. couple with baby

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity, your child will live with peace of mind.

With what is your child living?