September 28, 2011

For those who are privileged to live in areas of the country that experience changing seasons, you are beginning to enjoy brisk cool mornings and feel the temperatures drop a little. In other places, these welcome changes come ever so slowly.

Every time I experience this transition, I think about the seasons of my life. Where am I at this time? What transition am I personally experiencing? What was I doing last fall and what progress have I made since then?

There are seasons of parenting, and every season has it beauty and its toil. Some parents truly enjoy the infant/toddler stage while other parents find the “baby” season the most challenging. Some simply “endure” as their children pass through the teenage years.

Regardless of how you view the various seasons of parenting, one thing any parent with grown children will tell you is that the seasons pass far too quickly. If you focus on the toil of ANY season, you will miss its tremendous beauty.

Personally, I hate to be cold. I freeze when everyone else is comfortable. However, I would hate to think of the grandeur, beauty, and amazing experiences that I would have missed if I had focused on being cold. I force myself to get outside in cold weather and travel to freezing cold places. Experiencing the beauty that the cold season has to offer is more than worth it.

When a season of parenting is troubling you, try to find the beauty in the season. Before you can blink, your children will be on their own; and so many teachable moments and chances to make memories with them will be in the past. Sometimes you just have to choose to find the beauty and focus on it over the toil.

Your child has only one childhood, and you have only one chance to get it right. Embrace every day with your children. I love these quotes:

Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the
year as you make use of.
  ~ Charles Richards
Waste your money and you are only out of money. Waste your
time and you’ve lost part of your life.
~ Michael LeBoeuf

And I would add…a part of your child’s life.

Blog written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Center, Inc.


Raising Global Citizens

September 21, 2011

I was having a conversation the other day with an exceptional mother of four young children. She just recently moved her family back to the United States after living in several other countries for the previous five years. I was so impressed at how well her children had adjusted to the moves, the cultural differences, and the various language barriers.

I asked her how she felt we could better prepare our children to become global citizens. Her response, as well as my own research, resulted in the same conclusion. Like most things in life, the earlier we start and the more intentional we are in our approach determine the level of our success.

Here are some tips for parents:

1.     Raising global citizens begins with helping children realize that there are needs/issues outside of their own home and/or environment. Get your children involved early in helping others. Donate books to a children’s hospital and gently-used toys to children in need. Help raise money for the family that lost their home to fire.  Organize a winter clothing drive in your community. Support a local, state, or national child advocacy group.

2.     Rent movies/books about other cultures and consider animated features for the very young. Also keep in mind that young children learn best by doing. Cook food and play children’s games from that culture. Ask your children to choose countries of focus and make one night a week Global Night or Culturally Diverse Night—rent a movie, prepare a dish, and play a game from that country. Your children will have fun while learning about places around the world.

3.     Respect begins at home. Do not allow your children to disrespect their siblings by name calling, humiliating, or teasing each other over their unique differences or traits. Encourage them to respect everyone and remember that habits in the home become the way a child lives in the real world.

4.     Be open to new experiences and let your child see you try new things. We owe it to our children to teach them to embrace new ideas and ways of thinking because this day and age requires different skills than when we were preparing for life.

5.     Encourage your child to learn a second language. Dare I say, require your child to learn a second language.

There are great resources available for parents to help raise global citizens. Just because you cannot travel around the world does not mean that you cannot expose your children to the world.

As parents, we want the very best for our children. It is our job to ensure that we are doing everything possible to equip them with the life skills that they need to succeed.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Center, Inc.


September 14, 2011

Standing in my kitchen last night, I asked my son and daughter-in-law what I should blog about this week. Since their first child is due to arrive in about 10 weeks, I fully expected them to give me a topic related to newborns. The first thing my son said to me was “integrity.”

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for Children defines integrity as “total honesty and sincerity.” WOW! This is the way most children live. They are totally honest and sincere. It struck me that it is the adults who seem to slowly teach children how to lose their integrity as they age.

I remembered that not too long ago I had written about how to raise joyful children and recommended a great book for parents entitled Teaching Your Children Joy by Linda and Richard Eyre. However, I wasn’t sure that I would find such a valuable resource on how to “teach” integrity to young children.

Infecting Your Children with Integrity is a great article written by Alan E. Goodwin, a Christian psychologist. Even if you are not a Christian, Goodwin offers exceptional material about how to raise children who possess integrity. I love the title—integrity is an infection. If you live it out, your children will be infected. They will “catch” it. It is very difficult for you to raise “totally honest and sincere” children if you are not totally honest and sincere in the home.

Children notice if you do what you say you are going to do. They notice if you are honest in the smallest details. They will observe what you do much more than they will listen to what you say. As always, successful parenting is really about continually working on our own character to ensure that we are the best adults that we can be. Successful parenting is about being totally honest and sincere in all that we do. That means accepting that we are not perfect and admitting to our children when we make a mistake. Forgiveness, kindness, love, and communication are components to a great relationship, regardless of the age of the ones involved.

An honest and sincere person is a person of integrity. Let’s infect our children with integrity by “catching” it first.

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

It’s A Balancing Act!

September 7, 2011

I was hanging out with my two little granddaughters this past holiday weekend and keeping an eye on the approaching weather. I found myself facing a challenge that I am sure many parents with young children face daily: remaining updated on current events without needlessly frightening the little ones.

Let’s face it—bad news sells. Sensationalized news with all the ugly details “spelled out” sells even better. So how do we protect our children from bad news yet seize the teachable moments when newscasters report on the outcome of someone’s bad choice? How do we stay informed about potentially dangerous weather without the little ones hearing the warnings and “freaking out”?

It’s a balancing act!

First of all, just like every other aspect of parenting, the age of the child should determine how much information she is allowed to view. It is extremely important that we are aware of information children are viewing as well as their understanding of what they are viewing. Children often overhear things, see things we do not know they have seen, or digest news from a misinformed classmate or friend.

For children under the age of six, it is best to shield them from bad news as much as possible. If they do view bad news or if something touches their lives personally, it is very important that we separate fact from fiction. Young children have very vivid imaginations, and they often imagine things much differently than reality. Keep the facts simple and honest. Offer frequent reminders of how the news affects THEM. Remind them that they are safe by repeating such statements as, “We are safe,” “I am going to be right here with you,” and “The tornado is not close to us.”  Our words are very comforting to them. State the obvious. They need to HEAR you say things that you might think they already know.

For older children, it is very important to know how they understand news and events. Create an environment that encourages your child to open up so that you know what he is facing internally. If he will talk about what he has heard or seen, you can replace irrational fears with facts.

Adults must be informed about dangerous weather, current events, and possible threats. However, it is also our responsibility to make sure that children are exposed only to information that is necessary for them to know.  What you tell your child depends on her age, emotional personality, and your philosophy regarding the matter.

Here are a few hints that might help when dealing with sensitive matters:

  1. If you are listening to weather radio about approaching weather, use headphones to ensure that you are informed yet keeps your children from hearing repeated warnings that may not pertain to your area.
  2. Turn on a TV in another room so that you can keep your eye on the situation without children seeing it or hearing about it.
  3. Watch the weather on your computer rather than on TV so that children are not frightened by it.
  4. Watch the nightly news after young children have gone to bed.
  5. If you allow your children to watch the news, talk about what they observed. Get them to tell you about it so you can know how they understood what they saw.
  6. If your child asks about a sensitive subject, give her a direct, concise, and honest answer…but only for the one question that she asked. Do not overload her with information. It is simply too confusing.
  7. Seize the teachable moments. If something seems to really impact your children, look for ways to bring it into their everyday lives and build teachable moments around that matter. For example, if they are worried about what would happen if your home is flooded, get them involved in helping flood victims. Show them how people help those in their community. Show them how families stick together in tough times. Continue to find opportunities to demonstrate what happens AFTER a family experiences a traumatic event.

It IS a balancing act! An event that you think is a good life-lesson might be very upsetting to your child.  Or your child appears to hardly notice something that you thought she would be very moved by. It is often tough to predict her response. The one thing we know for sure is that communication is the key to ANY good relationship. Keeping the lines of communication open with your children is the foundation needed for dealing with ALL issues. The issues only get more complicated as they grow and develop, so an early start helps. As parents and caregivers, we can help children deal with the stressors of bad news if we build a strong relationship that allows them to open up about their fears, concerns, and worries.


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