Don’t Worry … Do Something

August 29, 2012

I read the results of a new poll conducted by the University of Michigan which stated that parents’ greatest concern about their child’s health is “lack of exercise.” Childhood obesity topped last year’s list, and the lack of physical exercise wasn’t even on it.

While we are all aware that physical exercise is critical in addressing childhood obesity, it is refreshing to hear that parents are grasping the importance of physical activity in relation to other areas of development. Matthew Davis, director of poll, said in a statement, “Childhood obesity remains a top concern, and adults know it is certainly linked to lack of exercise. But exercise offers many more benefits   than just weight loss or preventing obesity — such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well-being.”

There are issues in our society today that we cannot control. There are issues that society imposes on us as parents, and we just grimace and wish we could turn back time to a better day. However, increasing the level of your child’s physical activity is an attainable goal — start today!

Here are some real ways you can begin ensuring that you replace that concern with action.

  1. Change your mentality when looking for a place to park on EVERY errand. We are so conditioned to make sure that everything is convenient that we will waste 10 minutes circling a lot. If we would park at the back and walk to the store each time, we would improve our lives.
  2. Walk anywhere you can. Create adventures for your child. Don’t make exercise a chore – foster the mindset that it is fun to be active. Start with simple activities like taking the stairs, standing instead of sitting, and replacing normal activities with ones that expend energy whenever possible.
  3. Have your child sit on a yoga ball and bounce up and down if she is allowed to watch a TV show.  A child will do this naturally when you give her the opportunity to do so.
  4. Keep a log, if necessary, to ensure that your child is getting enough exercise each day. You must be purposeful about planning and achieving a goal when something is this important. Plan active times for your child just like you plan ways to meet his other critical needs.
  5. Be intentional about planting the right idea in your child’s mind about physical exercise. Most of us do not dread eating. We understand that without food, we die. We find food that we enjoy and do not torture ourselves by sitting down to foods that we hate. We work hard to develop a healthy appetite for foods that are good for us. We must take this same approach to exercise. There are activities that we are never going to enjoy. Focus on activities that you like or ones that you and your child can develop a healthy appreciation for. Don’t make your child do something he hates. Keep working until you find activities that are enjoyable and fun. The idea is to build activity into your lifestyle and find ways to ENJOY moving.

You can replace the worry with action! Get moving today…let’s find what will motivate our children to action!

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


Gratitude Is Taught, Not Caught

August 22, 2012

With a new school year starting, it will not be long before your child brings home a picture he drew or a spelling test that she took. I urge you to be fully present in the moment when your child wants to share his day or goes out of his way to choose a flower just for you or pick up the trash without being asked. Also be mindful of openly expressing your gratitude to those around you so that you child catches the attitude of gratitude.

I believe that if you take an inventory of those in your life who demonstrate an attitude of gratefulness, you will find without fail that they are also the happiest people you know. What they have or don’t have doesn’t determine their happiness. Each one of them is grateful for every kind word you say and any kindness that you show them. No matter what you do for them, they let you know that they treasure your thoughtfulness.

I want to share with you five things that we know for sure that teach our children gratitude:

  1. None of us is born grateful—we must be taught.
  2. Grateful people have a greater feeling of optimism and overall well-being.
  3. Gratitude is more than simply saying, “Thank you.” It springs from an understanding of value—the value of people and the value of things.
  4. We must live out an attitude of gratitude before our children if we want them to “catch” it.
  5. The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. In an effort to love our children, we often unintentionally create a sense of entitlement in them.

While it may be fun for YOU to indulge your child’s every whim, remember it is our job as adults to give our children the skills they need to be successful and HAPPY. Teaching our children to be grateful and to value those in their lives is very important if we are to equip them for life.

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

Back to School

August 15, 2012

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get your daughter up for school when she’s usually awake at this time during the summer months? Why is she so tired? She isn’t doing nearly as much in school as she did in the summer. Why is your son so grumpy when he seemed really excited about starting back to school? Why are the mornings so hectic? You think, “I’m organized, and we get to other places on time. Why is it so difficult to transition to the back-to-school routine?”

The back-to-school transition … Many things have been written, and many parents and children successfully navigate it each year. What helps ease this transition? What really matters? Here are the most helpful hints that I have found from my personal experience and from working with many parents through the years.

1.     Although most parents tend to ease up on routines in the summer, we know that children need predictable patterns of sleep, activity, and nutrition to thrive. Before school starts:

a.     Establish a bedtime routine that allows your child to get plenty of rest.

b.     Set morning wake-up alarms so that your child’s body adjusts to the new schedule.

c.     Practice the morning routine before it is actually time to go to school.

d.     Focus on your child’s nutrition.

2.     Plan, plan, plan! This is truly the key factor to successful morning routines. I can honestly say this is probably the best investment of your time that you can make:

a.     Gather all assignments, notes, and other school items. Put everything in children’s backpacks and put the backpacks in a specific spot every night before bed.

b.     Lay out each child’s clothes or let the child choose what she will wear the next day. All decisions about clothes, shoes, socks, hair accessories, and such need to be made the evening before.

c.     Plan breakfast and, if applicable, what will be packed for lunch. Do as much as you can before going to bed. Do this every night so that it becomes routine.

d.     Set time markers for children and be as specific as you want. For example, be at the breakfast table at 7:00 a.m., be dressed and meet at the couch at 7:30 a.m., have shoes and backpacks on and be standing at the door at 7:40 a.m., and so on. Give children a way to see their progress and to know that they are on track. You can even set timers for the little ones.

e.     What about the child who has a hard time getting out of bed in the morning? Try this: For each time he is called and does not get up, move his bedtime earlier by 10 minutes that evening. Be consistent, not punitive. Say to him: “I can see that you were very tired this morning, and you needed extra rest. We’ll adjust your bedtime to give you the rest you need until you can get up when you are called.” Then do it. It empowers your child when you place the responsibility for getting up on him.

3.     Make every effort to clear your schedule the first couple of weeks of school so that you can listen to your children after school. They need to process the details of the day and talking it out with you will be a tremendous relief for them.

4.     Make yourself familiar with your children’s environment. Meet the people in their world. Go look at the classroom. Send a note to the teacher. Letting your children know that you are aware of their world brings a certain comfort to them.

5.     Children need calm and reassuring parents … so take good care of you. Sometimes a child has a very difficult time adjusting, and a calm parent can eventually lead him to see that everything is going to be okay. You may sometimes need to get involved and settle an issue at school. But concerns are always best resolved when parents are calm, professional, and keep their focus on simply working toward a successful solution for their child.

Back to School … It will not be long before everyone is in the routine, and you will not regret investing in establishing great morning and evening routines. Happy 2012-2013 school year! Make it a great!

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

2012 Summer Olympics

August 8, 2012

The Olympics have us all smiling with pride as we watch the United States compete. The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team winning the gold this past week was especially thrilling—such a commitment to excellence. There have been so many teachable moments to seize while watching the games, and I hope that you are enjoying the Summer Olympics with your children.

Even if your child is very young, pay particular attention if she shows an interest in a certain sport or sports figure. Young children love repetition! Record the sport she likes so she can watch it over and over. Go to the library and find a great book about the sport of the sports figure. Fostering your child’s natural interests allows you to flood her environment with literacy and enjoy her discoveries together.

If you have school-age children, there are so many great discussions that naturally occur from watching the triumphs and defeats. Here are some conversation starters that you might find useful.

  • “Wow! How do you think he felt getting that close and then losing? Have you ever tried really hard to do something and felt bad because you didn’t make it? Did you try again?”
  • “See that big smile on her face? She reached her goal of earning a gold medal, and she’s probably not thinking about all those hard days now. I bet that feels good. You must keep on trying to be able to smile like that one day about your success.”
  • “It takes commitment to be good at anything. How many years do you think she worked to earn that medal? Let’s go look it up to see.”
  • Some of the Olympians lived away from their families so that they could practice their sport with the right coach. That means they missed out on a lot of fun things that other children were able to do. That is called sacrifice.”
  • “Most athletes talk about their ‘passion’ for what they do. You should love your sport, but that doesn’t mean that you will love doing it all the time. If you want to do something well, you must have a real passion for it. What do you really like to do? Should we try some new sport or activity that you think you might really enjoy?”
  • Children need affirmation daily from those closest to them, and the Olympics provide a great opportunity to remind them how important they are to us. Encourage them with words such as: “Every athlete out there had someone who truly believed in them—typically a parent or a coach. I want you to know that I believe in you, and I am here to help you be the very best you. I am your number one fan, and I know you can do whatever you decide to do.”

Seize the teachable moments in life—especially during the Olympics. There are so many great opportunities to teach our children about our country, team spirit, the strength that lies within each of us, and the amazing accomplishments of those who love what they do.

Congratulations to all of the U.S. Olympians. We celebrate your success with you!

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

Investment of Time

August 1, 2012

One of the things that I know for sure is that you cannot build nor maintain a strong relationship with anyone without an investment of time. No matter how hard we might want to substitute other things, nothing takes the place of spending time with those we care about.

We can buy our children gifts and send them off on great adventures, and they will benefit greatly from both. We can provide amazing travel experiences and make sure that each one receives the very best education that money can buy. However, if we want to know him and want him to know that we care about him, we must invest our time in him.

It amazes me what I learn when I take the time to really listen to one of my granddaughters. They have such sweet insight into life, and I learn something beautiful each time I stop my hectic pace and just listen. It still astounds me the things I would miss if I didn’t relax and have lazy conversations with my daughter who is still at home. She keeps me young. As tired as I might be at the end of the day, she always adds sweet value to my life. If I didn’t spend time with her and listen to what is important to her, I could not possibly expect her to believe that I care about her. And it doesn’t stop there … No matter how long I am married, my marriage is never beyond needing the investment of time. It simply cannot thrive without both of us setting aside the time to connect.

So, as a parent, do not lose sight of the fact that your child needs you to invest your time in him. It takes time to show that you care. It takes tuning out all the other noise and being totally present with your child for him to truly feel your love and concern. Sometimes we send our child very mixed messages. We may tell him how important he is to us, but do we STOP and give him our undivided attention? If we don’t, then we are saying one thing but demonstrating another.

Michael J. Fox said, “Family is not an important thing, it is everything.”  We all need to be reminded to invest in what really matters!