July 27, 2011

Did you know that choosing to be joyful can be taught?  Did you know that you can teach joy to young children?

I understand that the personality of a child is marked. Any mother who has more than one child realizes that each child is different and that you cannot parent any two children the same way and get the same results. Some children seem to come out of the womb oozing with joy and laughter while some come out with such a serious disposition that you wonder how two parents could create such different children. However, no matter the overall disposition, every young child has a spontaneity about them that he tends to lose as he ages. Parents must be purposeful in not allowing life to tear down the natural inclination that children have to be creative, spontaneous, and joyful.

As adults, we tend to worry about teaching our children their colors, shapes, letter recognition, and ultimately to read well and have great math skills. These beginning academic skills are necessary, and children will certainly need these to build on for their academic success. However, we know that teaching children to be joyful is best accomplished before the age of five.

If you are interested in this subject and wish to have some real-life suggestions on specific ways to teach joy to your children, there is a great book out by Linda and Richard Eyre called Teaching Your Children Joy. I recommend that you read it and try some of the activities in the book. See if you do not experience some of the laughter and “joy” that perhaps you have lost through the busyness of life.

Written by Donna McClintock, Children’s Choice Learning Centers COO



July 20, 2011

Someone once asked me why manners mattered in your own home where one should be able to relax and not worry about being on her best behavior. My response was, “If manners do not matter in the home, then they do not matter.” How we live at home is who we really are.

Children have an uncanny ability to find truth. They figure out if parents truly believe what they are teaching or if parents are just teaching them something to “relieve their own guilt.” I wrote a few weeks ago about children becoming what they live.

Teaching polite manners to young children begins by modeling those manners to them. I am still shocked by the number of adults forcing children to say “please” and “thank you” and yet never bothering to use a single “please” when making a request or a “thank you” when their child does something they have asked him to do.

It takes only a minute to say, “Anna, please pick up that book,” instead of “Anna, pick up that book.”  Be sure to say “thank you” when she does. When you hand your child an ice cream cone and you pause to look her in the eye, you are giving her a gentle reminder and an opportunity to say “thank you.” If you do not practice this at home, it will NOT happen in public.

Your home can be the place of love and shelter and should be the environment where your child practices the manners that will benefit him the rest of his life.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers

Simple Pleasures!

July 13, 2011

Although I am not sure this story is true, I personally believe it could be. As a physical workout, a sports coach had a member of his team follow a two-year-old for one full day and do everything the child did. The sports figure reported back that it was the most difficult workout he had ever had.

I believe that children can teach us so many things. If we would just follow their lead and move as they do, we wouldn’t have to worry about our weight. They never stop moving! Research now tells us that it isn’t just about what we eat—it’s also about how much we move each day.

We tend to shut our children down as they age. Instead of nurturing them and opening them up, we harness them with so much structure, so many “no’s,” and so many restraints that they lose their spontaneity and zest. We even put them in structured programs that do not allow them to move around naturally as they would like. Thus, we have created our own childhood obesity crisis in this country. If we would allow children to teach us, we would learn so much.

One thing that children do very well is find such pleasure in simple things. Have you ever noticed how a child can play in one little rain puddle for an hour? He will experience the feel of the water on one foot. He will ask: “What does it feel like if I put both feet in?” “How does the shoe look when it’s wet?” “Does the water roll off my shoe or does it stay on there?” “What happens if I take off my shoe? Will it sink? Will it float?” “How does the water feel to my hand?” He will put one finger in at a time and then slap the puddle as hard as he can. The child is truly “experiencing” that little rain puddle.

Yes, we see the wet shoes we have to dry, the germs and dirt on his hands, and the soaked shirt. But I challenge you to stop and enjoy this simple pleasure with your child. Stand beside him and ask: “What does the water feel like on your foot?” “What does it feel like on your hand?” “Does it feel cold?” “Did your shoe float?”

Seize the teachable moments with your child. Go barefoot. Let your child engage his senses by playing in water, playing in the sand, lying in the grass, playing in the mud, rolling down a hill, lying outside at night and gazing at the stars, and any other “simple pleasure” that he can find. Let your child lead and teach you.

Enjoy these moments and don’t miss the simple pleasures in life. They will become some of your favorite memories…I promise.

Written by: Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers

I Happy…

July 6, 2011

I have a little two-year-old granddaughter named Ella. She delights us, she inspires us…and I am sure her mother would add that she challenges us at times. She and her six-year-old sister, Ava, are the inspiration for many of my blogs. This past week, Ella added a new sentence to her ever-growing vocabulary—“Momma, I happy.” When my daughter called to tell me what she had said, my eyes and my heart filled with such emotion. What more could you want for your grandchild than for her to enjoy being a child, to feel the freedom to express her emotions openly, and then to feel confident that her mother would be interested enough to stop what she was doing to really hear her? My daughter had a teachable moment. She could have chosen to say, “Oh, okay…good.” Had she blown her off in this way, Ella would have received the message that her feelings do not matter. However, the next time she got Mommy’s full attention by crying because she wasn’t getting her way, she would conclude that screaming, crying, and/or anger are the emotions that receive attention. Instead, my daughter stated that she stopped, looked her in the eye, and said, “Ella, that makes Mommy smile that you are happy.” Remember that you reward what you want to see repeated. So for a week now, Ella has been expressing her happiness, and her mommy has been trying to not grow weary in acknowledging it each time. Those two-year-olds really love repetition! Next time your child has a special look of happiness on her face, let her know that you noticed. Tell her that it makes you smile to see her having fun. Express your emotions so that she is comfortable talking about hers. Remember that communication is the key to building and maintaining great relationships…and this is especially true with our young children.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers