Family Values

October 26, 2011

I heard a statement this morning that hit me so hard. A father said, “We changed our family values for technology without realizing it.” WOW! This unintentional change had a huge impact on their children’s future. And yet, as parents, they felt they were doing the right thing.

I thought about how many parents believe that spending time with a child simply means playing a video game together where conversation is minimal. Perhaps it is true that you are sitting beside one another, but is that really interacting? Parents and children text each other, but is that communication? We get our pre-teens phones because we want to keep them safe, but then we often choose technology over personal communication to stay connected.

Technology even allows us to feel connected as we travel, but are we really connecting if we are not there to tuck them in and give them a kiss good night? How much time away is too much? Does technology cause us to do things we would not have considered before?

I am a very busy person who has embraced technology, and I do believe that it allows us to stay connected in ways that were not available in the past. However, I wonder how many of us would be brave enough to truly look at how we have allowed technology to alter our values regarding how we interact with our family? Are we living out our family values or have they been adversely affected without us even being aware of the subtle changes?

Your children have only one childhood. You have only one opportunity to hug, squeeze, and laugh out loud with them. There is NOTHING that replaces eye contact and the warm feeling of being totally present with your child. You can accomplish this only when you shut out all of the other noises of life. It is impossible to be totally present with your child and answer an email, a text, or talk on the phone every few minutes. It is impossible to really “hear” your child unless you are creating an environment where your child can open up and express his emotions and feelings. This takes time and effort. In this age of living with the speed of technology, our children do not always respond in the 15 minutes we have allotted them. We must do whatever it takes to MAKE THE TIME and not allow anything to rob us of our family values.

My challenge is that we all stop, look, and listen. Are we in control or have we allowed something from the outside to control us? Our children deserve our very best, and often we must “course-correct.” Our family is worth it!

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

Halloween and Tips and Tricks

October 25, 2011

Halloween can be a very magical time where the world of make-believe comes alive for children. Let’s make it safe and fun family outing by preparing!

  • Plan your route so that children do not become overtired. Agree ahead of time about how many houses you will visit.
  • Take the opportunity to explain that normally children should not speak with strangers. Remind them that Halloween is a special time when it is alright for them to go door to door because you will be with them to keep them safe.
  • Share your expectations about using good manners before you go out. Let children practice trick or treating at their own door a few times. Reward good trick or treating manners with a treat!
  • Don’t forget a flashlight to light the way!

Looking for some more tips?  Visit our blog:

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Potty Training

October 19, 2011

My daughter will not be surprised when she reads my blog this week. Actually, my blog is dedicated to her. Misty, you are an AMAZING mom; and I love you dearly.

The great thing about blogs is that they CAN be personal. I live in a world where personal references are not welcome, and I go to great lengths to be mindful of keeping my personal life out of my professional life. However, I get to merge the two when I blog each week and that gives me great joy.

My granddaughter, Ella, is two; and it is time to potty train. Misty writes curriculum for infants, toddlers, and twos. Unlike the cobbler who has no shoes for his family, Misty truly practices everything that she researches for the curriculum she writes.

Despite pressure from her peers, she decided that it is better to start late than early. She has waited until Ella is two-and-a-half. She believes potty training is a team effort, and Ella is the team captain. Without the team captain buying into the play-by-play strategy, the game would certainly be a total flop.

Misty, in her wisdom, took Ella to the store where Ella chose her own potty chair, her own panties, and then they were off. The first day was tremendously successful. Ella was SO excited about her potty chair that when she played outside, she insisted that it was on the patio “just in case” she needed to go…and she did with great excitement.

My point is this: When your child needs to conquer a milestone, wait until she is ready. Get her to buy into the idea, let her participate in the preparation, and then bask in the success.

I admit that Ella is not fully potty trained. But with the route we are on, I have NO doubt that she will be trained in a matter of days. Had we started before she was ready, we would have only frustrated her AND ourselves.

When others are pressuring you to do things a certain way, always remember that the best interest of the child must be your guiding principle. Typically, it’s better late than early. Don’t sweat the small stuff—and as a very wise man once said, “It’s ALL small stuff.”  Love your children, celebrate the small accomplishments, and take time to enjoy every magical stage. Let me remind you: Don’t blink! Savor each moment! Your children will be grown and gone, and you will long for the day when they wanted to take their potty chairs out to the patio because they were so excited about beginning the process.

Misty, you are an incredible mom; and I applaud you. Ella, I love you and your big sister, Ava, more than I can express. You two are my world. Keep up the good work!

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

Three Words

October 10, 2011

I’ve noticed that three words have been the “going trend” for a while now. “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Live, Laugh, Love,”  “Be the Change”… Good Morning America is now ending its weekend broadcasts with three-word home videos that describe the life events of the viewers who sent them in. Some of the clips are very moving.

It just so happens that I am blogging today on my son’s 33rd birthday. As I thought about all the opportunities I had with him, I asked myself what three words I would chose to speak to him every day if I could go back. What three words would I have whispered as I rocked him as an infant? What three words would he have heard as he left my arms and ran down the hallway to his kindergarten class? What three words would he hear today at age 33 that would still apply? We didn’t start that tradition, but I wish we had. I’ve given him many words of affirmation, but a tradition of affirmation would have been a neat one.

In the movie The Help, there is a very precious scene where the loving caregiver says to the precious child she is caring for: “Just remember—you smart, you kind, you important.” She would say this to the child every single day.

As a parent or as an adult who works with young children, it is important that you find words of affirmation for them. Speak them into your children’s lives on a routine basis so that when they hit a tough spot, they will hear those words ringing in their ears. You never know…it just might be the very words they need to hear when they stand at a crossroad.

Start early. CHOOSE the words while they are young and speak them every day. Tell your children that they matter to you. Tell them that you believe in them. Sometimes we make things so complicated, and it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes just three simple words can make a difference…“Just Say No” was the beginning of Nancy Reagan’s great campaign.

“Seize the Day”! Find your three words and say them every day to your children. Let them hear your affirmation. Children are bombarded with negative messages by a world that tells them everything that is wrong. Allow your voice to be the constant in their lives that reminds them what is RIGHT and GOOD…

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