Keeping the ‘Happy’ in Happy Holidays – Part 2/5

November 28, 2012

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

Over the next four weeks, I will continue to write about the 5 H Plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays. It’s a simple strategy that I hope will assist you to navigate through this time of year.

It doesn’t matter how you celebrate or if you celebrate any of the traditional holidays, this season finds most families dealing with more time constraints and temptations. Our children are bombarded with excessive programming, ads, and store displays geared to lure them into begging their parents for MORE.  As advocates for our children, we must be vigilant in protecting them and our homes from the craziness. If you struggle with how to do that, I hope you will remember the tips in the 5 H Plan during the holidays or any time in life when you have additional time demands, family members around, interrupted routines, or are traveling.

The 5 H Plan consists of:

  1. Healthy Habits (last week’s post)
  2. Hearts of Gratitude
  3. Helping Hands
  4. Having a Hearty Plan
  5. Hilarious Humor

Hearts of Gratitude

  1. We must start early if we are to teach our children to be grateful. Asking your children to make a gratitude list before they make a wish list helps them remember how many great things they have. Even if they cannot write words, they can journal by drawing pictures. You can also take pictures of their favorite things, print them out, put them in a book, and let children write about them. With a very young child, go into her room with her, point out some of her favorite toys, and remind her who gave them to her.
  2. Be a role model and focus on giving rather than receiving. Start with simple, helpful acts of kindness. Being kind to and thoughtful of others is a very important aspect of our own holiday happiness, and even very young children can discover this early.
  3. Get your children involved in giving to those in your community who are in need. Pick out toys with them that are in good shape but they no longer play with and go together to donate them. They will appreciate their good fortune more by taking action than they will through our lectures.
  4. Every child can create a gift for the special people in her world. A gift that doesn’t cost anything requires creativity and keeps your child engaged, and handmade cards are a great touch to any gift.
  5. When children tell you what they want, let them put it on their lists so that they feel heard rather than just saying “No.” They will learn about delayed gratification, and later you can help them prioritize. Children should NOT get everything on their list. A “wish list” is not a “demand list.”
  6. Children love repetition and want to learn the family’s traditions. Decide before your family gatherings how you will acknowledge gifts and how you will open them. Will you acknowledge who gave the gift and say “Thank you” before or after?
  7. Set realistic expectations. One of the greatest stressors for adults is finances; and what we know is that children would rather have relaxed, engaged, happy parents than a room full of toys with stressed out, angry, unhappy parents. Toys cannot replace YOU.

The best way to develop a grateful heart in your child is to first nurture one within yourself. It is also good to remember that each act of kindness is important during this time. When your child has an idea regarding an act of kindness, do your best to help her accomplish it. It is difficult to be “greedy” when one is exposed to tremendous needs in others.

Advertisements

Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays – Part 1/5

November 21, 2012

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

Over the next five weeks, I will share my 5 H Plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays. It’s a simple strategy that I hope will assist you to navigate through this time of year.

It doesn’t matter how you celebrate or if you celebrate any of the traditional holidays, this season finds most families dealing with more time constraints and temptations. Our children are bombarded with excessive programming, ads, and store displays geared to lure them into begging their parents for MORE.  As advocates for our children, we must be vigilant in protecting them and our homes from the craziness. If you struggle with how to do that, I hope that this simple plan helps you remember some important tips for the holidays or any time in life when you have additional time demands, family members around, interrupted routines, or are traveling.

The 5 H plan consists of:

  1. Healthy Habits
  2. Hearts of Gratitude
  3. Helping Hands
  4. Having a Hearty Plan
  5. Hilarious Humor

Healthy Habits Tips

  1. Think differently about packing a bag when you go out, even if your children are older and you no longer need to take anything with you. When a child is hungry, he gets grumpy. Plan NOW for healthy snacks and water to have with you at ALL times and prepare to be gone longer than you expect.
  2. If you are staying in someone’s home, plan ahead to have your child’s favorite foods available. You will be surprised at the difference this will make. Sometimes this is just the ice-breaker that she needs in a new environment.
  3. Be flexible with your schedule but keep bedtime routines the same, if possible. It’s okay to let your child stay up late to visit with grandma and grandpa, but his routine is very comforting when it’s time to go to bed. Connect with him at bedtime just as you do at home.
  4. Make sure your child gets physical activity each day. Plan time when she can be outside to run and play and get rid of stored energy, even in cold weather. Teach her relaxation skills by playing games like “Frosty Says.” Make the stretching purposeful … anything to get the wiggles out.
  5. Continue to limit total screen time — computer games, video games, and television. Remember that your child will be bombarded with extra programming and ads during the holidays.
  6. Watch sugary snacks for both you and your child. As you see your child’s behavior escalating, check to ensure that he has had proper nutrition.
  7. Keep your child’s meal times on a routine whenever possible. Her body has adjusted to eating at certain times, and it is wise to keep her schedule.
  8. While it is true that there will be some things that you cannot control, be a strong participant in the health of your child and remain diligent regarding your own health, as well.
  9. Be consistent with the great parenting skills that apply throughout the year. Know where your child is at all times. Statistics bear out the fact that children are often harmed by those who should protect them. Watch for signs of distress and don’t assume that your child is safe just because you are with family. Check in on older children who are influencing younger children.

Next week, I will write about “Hearts of Gratitude,” the second H in the 5 H plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays.


My View: Kindergarten Redshirting Different for Each Child

November 14, 2012

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

I often read materials that approach a subject as if there were only one solution. Such is the case of “redshirting” children for kindergarten, which is the practice of holding a child back from school until he turns six. There is certainly a best answer for each child, and parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend.

No matter WHAT you decide to do, we know for sure that parents must understand that a child’s brain cannot be redshirted or held back. The child’s experiences during the fifth and sixth year of life are extremely important because the brain continues to develop and form synapses, and learning is at an all-time high.

It is the responsibility of parents and educators to challenge, nurture, inspire and ignite in our children a love of learning and exploration … Read more at CNN Schools of Thought Blog


Teaching Manners to Children

November 7, 2012

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

 

Are parents expecting too much when they insist that their preschool children routinely use polite manners? Is it okay to require them to say “please” and “thank you” to strangers? What should a parent do when a child refuses to use manners in public? How hard should a parent push? When does the issue between parent and child change from being about teaching manners to being about control?  How does a parent know?

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

*  Manners are the building blocks of empathy. Children need to learn early in life that manners make others feel special and are also a reflection of one’s own self-respect. Society expects and appreciates manners, and children are going to need social grace to succeed in life.

*  Children learn what they live, and the first step in teaching your children manners is to live out what you wish to instill in them. A child can instinctively spot a phony, and it is difficult to effectively teach your child the importance of manners if you do not model the behavior for him. Your message will eventually fall on deaf ears if you tell him that it is important to say “thank you” but never do.

*  Be precise when teaching manners. Most children do not understand generalities such as “Use your manners.” Offer your child specific guidance such as, “Say ‘please’ when you ask for a cookie and say ‘thank you’ when she gives it to you.”

*  Praise the specific behavior when your child covers his mouth to cough or says “excuse me” when he bumps into someone. Talk with him about how being polite makes others feel.

*  When a normally outgoing child refuses to cooperate in public, stay calm and be consistent. Is her lack of cooperation about being shy, not understanding the concept, or is about control? Consistent follow-through is necessary if you wish to instill in her the principle of good manners. It is perfectly okay to require her to give back a treat or take it away later if she refuses to say “thank you.” Explain that we do not take things that people give us without letting them know that we appreciate it. Again, consistency and calmness are the keys.

*  If your child continually refuses to cooperate, he might be trying to gain control over the situation in order to get your attention. To a child, negative attention is sometimes better than no attention. Spending one-on-one time with him will help him feel valued; and when he himself feels valued, he is more likely to empathize with others.

Teaching children manners is a process … and manners, much like other positive qualities, are often “caught” more than “taught.” As we improve our own manners, our children will notice. Say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and other polite phrases when addressing your child. She deserves the same respect that you expect her to show to others.