Party like its 1914

April 12th, 2014

The weather today is amazing!

Until recently, we didn’t believe that we could do without coats and boots, but spring has finally arrived and the prison of outerwear is behind us.

Now what…after a deep breath and squinting glimpse of sunshine, have we learned to appreciate the beautiful outdoors, or will we sink back to the lethargic habits of hiding behind screens of various forms?

Two interesting things might change your perspective:

1.       Today, April 12th is National Big Wind Day

On April 12, 1934, Alex McKenzie wrote about the wild day on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  Between noon and 1 p.m., the wind was 220 mph with gusts up to 229 mph. Then at 1:21 p.m., the wind out of the southeast was recorded at 231 mph. It is still the highest natural surface wind velocity ever recorded in the world, according to mountwashington.org.

 What a great day to fly a kite!

2.     May 5 through 11 is Screen Free Week, which is the reason for the headline.  The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a complete organizers kit to kick it off.

I love this concept and I love this kit!

In case you need to think about this idea, ask yourself these questions….

  • Do you see your child more agitated and aggressive when he is in front of a screen?
  • Do you see middle-schoolers texting the same friends they are standing next to?
  • Have you witnessed a lack of social skills and increase in obesity?
  • Do you struggle getting your kids to complete homework assignments?
  • Do you find it hard to engage them in conversation?
  • Does the discussion center around what’s trending, rather than what really matters.

But the biggest challenge hasn’t yet materialized 

This generation of children believes everything on the Internet is true.  This is without thinking it through, experiencing it, or discussing it with you.   The Internet is the authority.  It’s as if you’ve opened your front door to a world of strangers who are talking to your kids.

Take it back and Just Play

In support of Screen Free Week, I’ve committed to tweeting play ideas beginning May 1st running through May 31st.   Initially I thought it might be a good idea to indicate age ranges for play ideas, but since they are all fun, let’s just say the ideas are appropriate for kids ages 1 to 100.

#justplay

Play is so essential to children’s health and well-being—and so endangered—that the United Nations lists it as a guaranteed right in its Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We owe it to our kids to have a childhood like the one you remember.

“Play is the highest form of research.” 
― Albert Einstein

 

Have a great week, and more to come!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

https://twitter.com/parentalwisdom

#justplay

Spring awakening – Our children need to explore

March 22nd, 2014

As I read the article The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly, I couldn’t help but think of the joke:

What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

Have we let our litigious society stop us just short of bubble wrapping our kids to the extent that we have taken the very joy out of childhood?  Five-year old Kyle said to his Nana, “I’m never allowed to play outside with my friends.”

They know they are always being watched.   Each generation of parents wants their children to have a better life.  Unfortunately when it comes to play, we are the ones standing in the way.  This video demonstrates that.

In 1994 I joined others in my community to build what is called a creative playground.  The event is similar to an old fashioned barn-raising.  The school children were asked to make sketches of what they would like in a playground, and the drawings were turned over to architects.  Parents and local businesses raised money for materials which lead to a five day playground build.  It is still to this day one of the most awesome experiences I ever had.  The playground was fun and popular for many years.

But as I read this article, I realize the playground was sterile.  Missing was adventure and the ability for children to imagine and reinvent fun.  The only playgrounds they knew were out of the box yet we expected them to think out of the box – not possible!

Children are supposed to move and play and learn and honestly express themselves.  Some time ago, I interviewed Dr. Vicki Panaccione on the topic dealing with anger.   She suggests that we have a lot of angry children because they aren’t allowed to be little children.   We are in control of everything they do.  On the one hand we say kids grow up to fast, but on the other hand they don’t get the space and freedom to grow up at all.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic Monthly article.  I encourage you to read it and hope it inspires you to make change in your own community.  It might be a change as simple as starting with “playworkers” which the article references, and I first learned about from the International Association of the Child’s Right to Play. This concept is brilliant because playworkers are professionally trained to keep a close eye on kids in public parks but don’t intervene all that much.

To see the full article, visit The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly:

The Land is an “adventure playground,” although that term is maybe a little too reminiscent of theme parks to capture the vibe. In the U.K., such playgrounds arose and became popular in the 1940s, as a result of the efforts of Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood, a landscape architect and children’s advocate. Allen was disappointed by what she described in a documentary as “asphalt square” playgrounds with “a few pieces of mechanical equipment.” She wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures. But more important, she wanted to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.

The playgrounds were novel, but they were in tune with the cultural expectations of London in the aftermath of World War II. Children who might grow up to fight wars were not shielded from danger; they were expected to meet it with assertiveness and even bravado. Today, these playgrounds are so out of sync with affluent and middle-class parenting norms that when I showed fellow parents back home a video of kids crouched in the dark lighting fires, the most common sentence I heard from them was “This is insane.” (Working-class parents hold at least some of the same ideals, but are generally less controlling—out of necessity, and maybe greater respect for toughness.) That might explain why there are so few adventure playgrounds left around the world, and why a newly established one, such as the Land, feels like an act of defiance.

If a 10-year-old lit a fire at an American playground, someone would call the police and the kid would be taken for counseling. At the Land, spontaneous fires are a frequent occurrence. The park is staffed by professionally trained “playworkers,” who keep a close eye on the kids but don’t intervene all that much. Claire Griffiths, the manager of the Land, describes her job as “loitering with intent.” Although the playworkers almost never stop the kids from what they’re doing, before the playground had even opened they’d filled binders with “risk benefits assessments” for nearly every activity. (In the two years since it opened, no one has been injured outside of the occasional scraped knee.) Here’s the list of benefits for fire: “It can be a social experience to sit around with friends, make friends, to sing songs to dance around, to stare at, it can be a co-operative experience where everyone has jobs. It can be something to experiment with, to take risks, to test its properties, its heat, its power, to re-live our evolutionary past.” The risks? “Burns from fire or fire pit” and “children accidentally burning each other with flaming cardboard or wood.” In this case, the benefits win, because a playworker is always nearby, watching for impending accidents but otherwise letting the children figure out lessons about fire on their own.

Let’s make it wonderful to be a kid again.

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play”

― John Cleese

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

Words that start with B

March 8th, 2014

A very long time ago, my mother picked me up from my kindergarten class in P.S. 153 Brooklyn, NY. The teacher pulled her aside to say, “Tina is a boss.”

That is why I found today’s WSJ article, Don’t Call Us Bossy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chavez so fascinating.  I encourage women who have been called bossy, or anyone with daughters who are called bossy to read this article.

They discuss the word bossy which is the PG rated B word used before you enter the workforce, where assertive women are called the PG13 rated B word.

Serendipitous timing as today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.  Read inspiring, empowering, or amusing quotes from women who have paved the way, and others who believe in women.  Also watch the video by Google.

Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.

Marilyn Monroe

Here’s a thought as we work through the alphabet of adjectives.  Let’s skip to the L word and call our girls Leaders.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Constraints help us be more creative

February 23rd, 2014

Next week, parents and teachers join forces to celebrate Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr Seuss, who is known for writing children’s books.

Teachers dress up and plan activities demonstrating the fun of reading.  Though geared to students, there is a lesson we can all learn from Dr. Seuss.

In 1960 his publisher at Random House, Bennett Cerf, made a wager with Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) that he could write an intelligent, entertaining children’s book only using 50 words.

Geisel won the bet and $50; one dollar for each word. Despite the limitation of words, over 200 million copies of Green Eggs and Ham have been sold.

Kids of all ages can learn how constraints help us be more creative.

Constraints are often used as an excuse for not moving forward.  Instead, let’s embrace them and come up with creative solutions.  Don’t buy your child a creativity kit, which is an oxymoron, but rather give them things you have around the house and ask them to create something.  You might be surprised at the result. Talk about how limitations helped the ground crew bring home the astronauts from Apollo 13.

In business, we look for reasons that stand in the way of us being innovative.  We don’t have the time or money, or we haven’t vetted out ideas properly, or don’t have the right talent. I’ve written this before, but if we wait till all the lights are green before we leave for work, we will never begin.

As our children’s greatest role model, what is it that you would love to do?  Get started despite the constraints, and your children will follow your lead.

You may even want to fry up Green Eggs and Ham!

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

When is a minute not equal to a minute

January 26th, 2014

Some of the best ideas I get seem to happen when I’m doing mindless manual labor or exercise. I’m not sure how that happens, but it leaves me free for remarkable ideas to occur.  – Chuck Palahniuk

The January 25th WSJ featured an essay entitled, Why Mom’s Time Is Different from Dad’s Time.

The premise is that even though moms are working more and dads are contributing more, even if the time is equal the tasks are not.

So when does a minute not equal a minute? The answer is when the intensity of the task takes more focus, thought, single mindedness, etc.

When divvying up tasks, most moms will take the dishes because, “The dishes don’t talk back to you.” 

Reading through this, my thoughts trailed back to my childhood.  As the second eldest in a family of six kids, I remember my mother doing the dishes and singing Everybody’s talking at me.

In our multi-tasking, attention grabbing, never quiet present day society, we would willingly gravitate to the tasks that are, for lack of a better word, mindless.

I know I do…call me crazy, but I LOVE ironing!  My mind wanders, but yet at the same time there is attention to detail on the task at hand.

Most would agree that Moms are the CEO’s of the household and in that role, need time for quiet reflection.  So dads, volunteer for bath time after dinner, so moms can get lost in the dishes.

For fun, here are two links:

1.   From the past the classic Honeymooners show “A woman’s work is never done

2.   Present day link from Buzzfeed “Why dads can’t be Trusted to do Anything Right.”

Now, if you will excuse me…the ironing pile is calling.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Is it possible to quantify trust?

January 18th, 2014

This week marked the fifth anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson, where Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III safely glided U.S. Airways Flight 1549 after a flock of geese disabled the engines.

The more interesting fact may be that not one of the 150 passengers sued the airline, which is pretty surprising considering our very litigious society.  Even though no one was at fault, that rarely stops a firm looking for a good class action law suit.

Perhaps no one sued because of the enormous trust the passengers had in the pilot who demonstrated incredible character under such pressure, dismissing the praise by saying he was just doing his job?

Trust is earned but rarely quantified.

This would be a great discussion over dinner with the kids when you talk about how one person can make a difference.  Certainly ‘Sully’ who could be considered the Tom Hanks of air travel made a difference on January 15th 2009 to the lives of 150 people.

What difference can each of us make?

“The last words Albus Dumbledore spoke to the pair of us?’
Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him.”

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

We are moved by our emotions

January 3rd, 2014

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”

 -Helen Keller

One of life’s biggest frustrations is knowing the right thing to do and not doing it.

Sometimes it is because we wait for things to be perfect which is like saying I don’t want to leave for work until all the lights are green.

But a friend (thanks Suzanne!) posted a link to an article The Important Thing About Yelling by Rachel Macy Stafford which causes you to stop and think.

That article coupled with an amazing ad directed to moms demonstrates how critical moms are of the job they do, while their kids have a totally different and far more positive reaction.

The clichés express we are to enjoy each moment. Since we are driven by our emotions, I thought the article and video will help.

But simply stated moms, lighten up!

You see – the greatest impact you will have in the world is on your own family.  And you can do that every day in little ways by finding reasons to celebrate without waiting for the big traditional holidays.

First up – Trivia Day – January 4th

What I love about this ‘holiday’ is that you could tailor it to your own family.   Think about creating:

For future ‘holiday’ days/dates – please follow me on Twitter

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

As Nike says…just do it!

December 31st, 2013

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.  -Brad Paisley

December 1st I promised to perform 24 Random Acts of Kindness, and post tweets each day – see #randomactsofkindness2013 .

  • I suspected at first it would be a challenge to find ways to be kind.
  • I hoped that as I started down this path, it would feel natural.
  • I learned you feel better doing RAOK thus creating a positive momentum.

This is a good tie into the first day of the New Year, and the hopes that come along with a new beginning.  There are hundreds of motivational quotes that we all read.  Want to know a secret?  Reading them isn’t enough – you actually have to act!

  • Buying a workout DVD is great, but you have to open it & exercise daily.
  • Resolving to spend more time with your kids is meaningful, but you have to put down the phone and be present.
  • Deciding to reach out to people that you’ve meant to connect with is nice, but you have to (get the irony here) pick up the phone and call them.
  • If you want to improve things in your life, then don’t waste your life.  Start doing things that you love to do.
  • If you are happy with the status quo, then keep on doing what you’re doing.

I will be posting motivational tweets each day; please feel free to follow me.

Happy New Year, and 2014 – please be good to us!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

 

 

We must not give our children too much

December 15th, 2013

Your children need your presence more than your presents.  – Jesse Jackson

Privileged Texas teen Ethan Couch was charged in the deaths of four pedestrians while driving drunk.

His attorney used the ‘affluenza’ defense claiming that he had a sense of entitlement and was irresponsible.  His poor behavior was due to the fact that his parents did not set proper boundaries.

The judge gave the teen 10 years of probation for the fatal accident. Prosecutors were seeking the maximum 20-year prison sentence.

In the season of giving, you may want to give your children less in terms of material things.

You may want to consider the four gift rule:

  1. 1 thing they want
  2. 1 thing they need
  3. 1 thing they wear
  4. 1 thing they read

You are probably done shopping now.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Random Acts of Kindness 2013

December 1st, 2013

The countdown begins!

December 1 is day one as little children open Advent Calendars eager to find a surprise each day until December 24th.

The holiday season is our time to build family memories.  

Some families cut down their own tree; others watch classic holiday movies, some bake cookies, while others write an annual holiday letter.  The common thread is just that – a thread, and threads are like habits.

Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it everyday and soon it cannot be broken.

-Horace Mann

It’s never too late to start new traditions. I’m going to start a new tradition this year which is to perform a random act of kindness each day until December 24th.

Please follow me on twitter #randomactsofkindness2013.

Traditions matter more than the gifts and more than you realize. Ask your children about their favorite holiday traditions. Guarantee this will make you smile.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder
Parental Wisdom®