Planned Connections

September 18, 2013

 

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

I watch parents with young children and sense that some think the road will get a little easier when their children are older. I just smile to myself as I scroll through my phone to see how long it has been since I called or texted my grown children or my parents. Keeping connected with our family members is always challenging due to the pressures of life, regardless of our age or status in life. If we are going to have meaningful and loving relationships, it will be because we choose to invest the time and effort. This commitment is true from the very beginning of our relationship with our newborn and continues … always.

Often what we enjoy doing, what we do best, or what is easiest for us are the things we do first without giving a thought about where we are investing our time. I am a list maker, and I love marking things off of my list. When I find an old list, I often shutter at how many things on it added absolutely no value to my life or to anyone else’s life. Too many times, I have said, “I’ll call just this one client while she plays on the slide” or “I’ll send just this one text while I am bathing them.” How purposeful have I been about planned connections with those I love and cherish?

What I have discovered is that a pattern continues unless the pattern is broken. So often, tasks feel urgent but are not really that important. Connection takes time. If we are going to truly enjoy those we love, we must make them a priority in our lives. This means that we set aside the other “important” things and focus on those we love. I feel like I am living a balanced life when I see dates and other plans with my husband, children, grandchildren, and parents written into my calendar.

I can say from experience that these moments that truly matter will not occur if we do not focus on planned purposeful, connections. These connections might be as simple as committing to be totally present for one hour a day in the backyard, at the park, or in the family room with your children. It might mean turning off all electronics from 5:30-8:00 pm and talking, running, playing, and enjoying each other before bedtime. Perhaps it means planning special weekends and doing something each day that builds up to those weekend plans. Every family is different, and only you know what planned, purposeful connections mean for your family. What I know for sure is thatit is up to you to make it happen.

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Peaceful Environments

September 11, 2013
she loves youWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Wikipedia defines peace as“a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships.” Webster offers this definition: “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”Where do our children find peaceful environments?

So often I look around our homes, our preschools, our nursery schools, and even our churches and wonder if we are doing what we should be doing to create the most peaceful environments in which our children can thrive. The older I get and the more I learn, it becomes so obvious that we must first live out in our own lives what we desire for our children. If we want our children to have peaceful environments in which to thrive, we have to have a lack of conflict behaviors, freedom from fear of violence, and healed interpersonal relationships. WOW! I get it — it’s up to us! The children of this world depend on the adults.

As a parent and grandparent, I ask myself what “absence of hostility” really means. Sure, it can mean no yelling or fighting in my home, but the definition also suggests that peace is the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal relationships. Research shows that 70-90% of all communication is non-verbal; and sometimes there is a deafening hostility in the silent glares, the body language of anger, and the unspoken messages that convey that we are not at peace.

We must create peaceful and secure environments in order for children to thrive, feel safe, and develop a lifelong love of learning. If children are cocooned in a loving, safe, and peaceful environment, their energy can then be focused on their natural love of learning, exploring, and experiencing new adventures. Until a child feels safe, it really doesn’t matter what gifts are placed beside him and what opportunities are in front of him. He simply cannot feel released to embrace life if he lives in an insecure, chaotic, and hostile environment. Children want to explore, they are amazing dreamers, they are filled with wonder, and they have some of the most profound observations to share with us … if we just listen.

Providing a peaceful environment does not mean there will not be conflict. When people get together, there will be conflict. My two granddaughters were with me yesterday, and they were arguing. I stood there trying to decide what to do, and the 4-year-old said, “Dee Dee, would you like for us to go sit down and work out a peaceful deal and then come back to you?” I was both stunned and relieved! They understood conflict, and they also had good conflict-resolution skills. I confess that I went around the corner but stopped to listen to how they negotiated the deal. They compromised. All’s well that ends well, right?

My challenge to you is that you are purposeful in creating peaceful environments for any child in your world. You cannot control anyone but yourself, and only you can control your responses. Commit to creating and maintaining a peaceful environment in your classroom, your home, your car … anywhere and everywhere that children are present.