Self-Reliance – Raising a Child You Want to Meet at Age 25

August 2nd, 2015

Oz-end

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

In order to survive and thrive, babies have complete reliance on their parents. As they grow and learn, we need to help them build self-reliance.

What is self-reliance?

A person who is self-reliant is self-sufficient, able to think and function independently, is not risk-averse and solves problems rather than worries about them. Such a person would trust his own judgment, rarely needing to consult others for advice or guidance. A self-reliant person has better control of his life and can handle any curveball that life may throw his way.  This is exactly what we want to build in our adult children.

Here are strategies that can be used as a starting point, and consider age appropriateness.

  • Give kids responsibility – and hold them accountable for completing tasks.
    • Don’t do things for your children they can do for themselves. Three-year-olds can make their beds. An easy way to do that is to take three pictures as an example and hang the pictures by the bed.
  • Let them problem solve – be your child’s coach rather than sage.
    • For a middle school aged child with a problem with friends…Ask them, “What’s bothering you?” Let them explain and then assure them… “I know you can figure this out.” Give them time and ask, “How do you think you can fix this problem?”
  • Make room for mistakes – nothing is perfect, especially not at first.
    • They are learning self-reliance so they aren’t going to get it right all the time, whether it is how to make the bed, take the garbage out, set the table for dinner, or put windshield washer fluid in the car. Don’t jump in to ‘rescue’ them or hover over them. We learn by our mistakes.
  • Other ideas:
    • Begin with small tasks. Don’t say, “Clean up this room.” But instead, “Put the Legos in the bin.”
    • Encourage ‘free-play” throughout the day. Children need time to make their own rules, pretend and establish boundaries.
    • Schedule daily chores – children should learn early they are part of a family and that means helping with chores. Create a chore chart, with pictures for younger children.
    • Provide options when possible. Choice should be limited for younger children, and can increase as children mature. This helps them become independent thinking. This often begins with choices in what they are going to wear.
    • Give them stretch goals – ask them to do a little more than might be expected. That can be great for their self-esteem. You may even want to plan what new things they can try for the week. As an example, think of household skills, cooking skills, financial skills, or life skills.
    • Recognize them for things they’ve done well, but don’t recognize them for things they haven’t; the praise will be meaningless. Say, “Great job on putting all the Legos away!” or “Thank you for bringing the dinner dishes over.”

Since I opened with a classic movie line that helps reinforce the concept of self-reliance, I would like to close with one as well.

From Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Professor Henry Jones to Indiana Jones:

Did I ever tell you to eat up, go to bed, wash your ears, do your homework? No, I respected your privacy and I taught you self reliance.

Follow us all week for additional tips follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  As always, please share your thoughts because we are all in this together!

See you next week.

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

#parentalwisdom #self-reliance #valueoftheweek

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Friendship – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet at Age 25

July 26th, 2015

street games 5

 

There is only one way to have a friend, and that is to be a friend. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If necessity is the mother of invention, then our children had to find ways to make friends online because we make it difficult to make friends the old fashioned way; on the playground.

We were told we were bad mothers if our children played outside.   The alternative was to keep them inside where they found entertainment watching TV and playing electronic games.

From the time they are babies, we organize play dates, and as young as toddlers, we put them in organized sports. The problem is they have no idea how to organize a pick up game of baseball. They may not even know what a pick up game is.

When their friends do come over, they sit side by side playing electronic games with no face time (I mean that literally).

Left on their own, children invent games on the fly, natural leaders rise to the occasion, and friendships are formed; all with no adult intervention.

Let’s give our children the opportunity to learn how to be a good friend, which includes:

  • Giving them free time – don’t over schedule
  • Making friends a priority
  • Be there for good times and bad times
  • Be honest and kind
  • Be loyal
  • Knowing what to say and when to say it
  • That in time of crisis – drop everything
  • Be happy for them when good things happen to them
  • A smile and positive outlook go a long way!

All week, please look out for ideas to help you and your child discuss friendship on Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page, Twitter Feed and Instagram.

Friends are people you can count on, but don’t need to count on Facebook. This blog post is dedicated to people I am privileged to call my friends.

See you next week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

#parentalwisdom #friendship #friends #valueoftheweek

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Happiness – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet at Age 25

July 19th, 2015

mt-and-noelle-smiling.jpg

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln

Please watch this week’s video on Happiness. I encourage you to ask your children what makes them happy and post their video in response.

Happiness is such a basic and important quality; but how do we get there?  Our children are always watching the behavior we model and do what we do.  But in the case of happiness, look to your children to teach you about happiness.

Children are naturally:

  • Fearless
  • Carefree
  • Find joy and ease in expressing themselves
  • Love unconditionally
  • Give with an open heart
  • Forgive easily
  • Tell the truth
  • Dream Big
  • See everyone as special, and treasure the differences in people
  • They don’t worry, they are just happy…

What could we possibly teach them about happiness? All this week on Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page, and Twitter Feed, enjoy!

  • Sunday, July 19th – Ice Cream makes everyone happy! Today is National Ice Cream Day.
  • Monday, July 20th – Monday and each day this week, look for songs that make you happy. Dance with your kids.
  • Tuesday, July 21st – 18things kids can teach us about happiness
  • Wednesday, July 22nd – A very happy baby sees her parents for the first time
  • Thursday, July 23rd – How to be happier at work (then you come home happier!)
  • Friday, July 24th – Scientifically proven ways to be happy (they really work!)

As always, we can learn from each other.  Please respond to the video and share your great ideas to encourage happiness.

Smile and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

#valueoftheweek #happiness #parentalwisdom #kids

Resilience – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet at Age 25

July 12th, 2015

cameronfisha.jpg

 

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela

Please watch this week’s video on Resilience.

It’s easy to parent little children with so much in our control. We oversee what they eat, when they sleep, what they wear, who they play with, what they watch and hear. A fall on the playground means a Band-Aid, a kiss, and it’s better.

But as our children grow, outside influences come into play. Life isn’t perfect, so it is important that we teach our children how to bounce back from adversity; how to be resilient.

When our children are faced with disappointments, how do you handle them?

  • Your 15-year old daughter doesn’t make the cheerleading squad?
  • Your 11-year old loses the spelling bee
  • Your 9-year old didn’t make Little League All Stars?

Here are some conversation thought starters:

  • Actively listen, and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Even if your child did something wrong, let them know everybody makes mistakes.
  • Use the mistake as an opportunity to learn. Word of caution – they don’t like hearing ‘life lessons’ but they will someday appreciate the lesson.
  • Let your child know you believe in them. This is different from acknowledging that they deserved to be selected in (fill in the blanks).
  • Engage them in conversation about how they should handle this particular disappointment, and recommend ways they can handle it. Example, could you practice more?
  • Explain the concept of the right skills and right fit. Example, you may have done your very best when trying out for choir, but if they need a soprano and you are an alto, you won’t get selected.
  • Time heals all wounds, and as hard as it is for them to hear, it will be better tomorrow.
  • When your child is better, remind them how good it feels to have handled the situation with grace, tact, dignity and the euphoric feeling of accomplishment.

For more information on this topic, please visit Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and Twitter feed and you will find:

  1. Monday, July 13th Famous Failures video and a great journal from Parental Wisdom!
  2. Tuesday, July 14th Sesame Street & Bruno Mars video “Don’t give up”
  3. Wednesday, July 15th from Creative with Kids, 25 Ways to teach your children resilience
  4. Thursday, July 16th from PBS Kids, Encouraging Nature Play and a very interesting idea called ‘hummingbird’ parenting as compared to helicopter parenting.
  5. Friday, July 17th Making Bouncing Bubbles to teach kids how to bounce back!
  6. Saturday, July 18th 18 movies that build resilience in children
  7. And more…

And the best advice of all

Two simple words when things don’t go well… 

Do Over

As always, please add your own great ideas, because after all, we are all in this together.

Enjoy and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

#valueoftheweek

#resilience

 

Family – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

July 5th, 2015

Family is the most important thing in the world.

Princess Diana

As made famous in the Monty Python catchphrase…’now for something completely different’ I’m sharing a video rather than simply a blog post on this week’s topic – Family.

Presenting in a video format feels a little more personal, though I’ll continue to provide helpful information to support the topic throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter.

When asked, “What is the most important thing in your life,” people will respond without a moment’s hesitation – my family, though our actions may not be as obvious as our intentions.

Here are some thought starters on demonstrating the importance of family:

  • When you were growing up, you had a sense of different kinds of families you visited
  • Now that you are the head of your household, what do you want your children to remember about growing up in their home?
    • Ask them what kind of a family they want to be
    • They can even create a family crest
    • By defining your family, you stand together

This week, please look for Parental Wisdom’s Facebook post and Twitter feed on the kinds of things families can do together.

  1. Monday, July 6th – Coolest Roadside attractions in every state
  2. Tuesday, July 7th – Top 10 Sports Halls of Fame in U.S
  3. Wednesday, July 8th – Fun Activities that create memories
  4. Thursday, July 9th – Cooking with kids
  5. Friday, July 10th – Fun ways to read with your child

As always, feel free to add your own great ideas, because after all, we are all in this together.

Enjoy and have a great week!

 

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

#valueoftheweek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 28th, 2015

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life. Leo Buscaglia

I have a complied a list of over 400 values/qualities with a plan to focus on one each week for this series, but how to choose?

This week’s post was easy – it was love based on The Supreme Court Ruling best said by the closing paragraph:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.  The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.”

It is so ordered.

  • We fail to understand when we deny people love, what they have to lose, which are the things we take for granted:

“This Fall we [my partner and I] will go to Disney World. It will be the first time that we travel out of state without having to bring Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy forms with us, in case anything happened to either of us. We had to do 2nd parent adoptions for our children, in case anything happened to either of us. We have had to do many things that everyone else takes for granted, all because of legislative action (or inaction as the case may be).“ Kris Conley

  • We have to think what those who are opposed to gay marriage have to lose…Sorry, I can’t think of a single thing.

 Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.  Buddha

 Love is Love. Finally!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Creativity – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 21st, 2015

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. 

Mary Lou Cook

Parenting now includes ‘cruise director’ to the ever-growing list of required skill sets. Buying highly rated educational toys, enrolling babies and toddlers in music, art and dance programs are must do activities to ensure our children are creative.

Children don’t need things to be creative; they are all born naturally creative. This was proven in 1968. Dr. George Land took 1,600 five–year-olds and gave them a creativity test used by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists. He retested the same children at age ten and again at age fifteen. What he found was that 98% of the children at five years old tested in the genius level category of creativity. The percentage at age ten dropped to 30%, and at fifteen, the test results dropped to 12%. The same test was given to 280,000 adults; 2% were in the genius level category. Dr. Land concluded that non–creative behavior is learned. We’re all given the gift of creativity; we have to work to keep it.

Creativity is one of the most desired qualities for a CEO because in its highest form, creativity is about problem solving. This is best illustrated by Einstein’s own response to his discovery:

“When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the Relativity Theory, it seems to lie in the following circumstance. The normal adult never bothers his head of space-time problems. Everything there is to be thought about, in his opinion, has been done in early childhood. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about space and time when I was already grown up. In consequence, I poked deeper into the problem than any ordinary child would.”

What parents can do:

Recognize that boredom is good.  In our ‘cruise director’ role, we need to fill every moment with an activity, play date or some form of distraction.  But boredom is a good thing.  You don’t have to figure out what they need to do, just tell them screen time of any kind of off limits.  You may consider giving them a household problem to solve.  Since we don’t often do this, you may have to ease it in.  Consider ‘book end’ blocks of time with structured play, starting with shorter times at first. Let kids know what to expect, play for 20 minutes, and then I will call you to help fold the laundry.

Designate a play space and remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure:  Don’t toss old hats or jewelry. Instead create a costume box and buy an inexpensive door mirror.  We did this and family parties always lead to dress up with kids and adults.  The same is true for oatmeal containers, tissue boxes and the most treasured gift of all – a large cardboard box!  Keep it simple and don’t worry about creating a ‘pinterest’ worthy space.  While that impresses other parents, it does nothing for kids.

Appreciate, but don’t reward creativity.   You want to build their confidence and encourage creativity,  but rewarding them isn’t the way to do it; in fact it has the opposite effect.

Don’t manage the activity.  You may build the fort differently, but not necessarily better.  Ask them to explain what they’ve done and how it works.  Very often, they will invent something new.

Change up the routine. If you always drive to complete errands, consider taking public transportation instead.  Kids LOVE simple changes in routine, especially when they are active participants like putting in the bus fare.

Help kids pursue their passions. Pay attention to your child’s interests and make these materials and activities available to them.  If they love taking pictures, consider a trip to the library to find books on the topic or take a trip to a gallery.

Take the time for your own creativity. Kids learn best from watching you.

Now that school is out, summer is a perfect time to start a new habit!  Be on the lookout each day this week for more creativity tips on Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Gratitude – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 14th, 2015

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward

As the second in our series, this week’s focus will be on gratitude. According to Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.”  Interesting that in America we have a holiday dedicated to being thankful.  Does that imply that all other days we are not?  With all values, our goal is to form a habit.

Geoffrey James explains gratitude as, “an emotional muscle,” one should use so it is strengthened. People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what is wonderful in each day, and take nothing for granted.  They take time to see a child’s smile, acknowledge a stranger’s kindness or appreciate the cool summer wind.

This TED Talk by Louie Schwartzberg called, Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. is the most beautiful presentation on gratitude that I have ever seen.  Sharing this is my gift to you because it will change the way you think, and what you may have been taking for granted.

As always, we model the behavior we want to see in our children.  Though we intend to express gratitude, too often we put our daily tasks at the top of our list, and may simply run out of time.

What we can do right now to change our behavior:

  • Be present; don’t let the busyness of life make us stressed
  • Appreciate the people in our lives; possibly sending a letter of gratitude each week
  • Give at least one compliment daily, and say thank you often
  • Work on a cause for the greater good
  • Keep a gratitude journal

What this does for us:

  • Gratitude makes us happier
    • It puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck
    • Gratitude reduces envy
      • It helps us realize what we have, and lessen our need for wanting more all the time.
      • Gratitude strengthens relationships, deepens our friendships, and makes us less self-centered

How we can create an attitude of gratitude for our children:

  • For babies
    • Obviously they can’t do very much, but you can!  One mom made her very own thank you notes with the baby’s handprint.
    • Babies learn language at an incredible rate; so use the words ‘thank you’ often.
  • The preschool years
    • Create a thank you card with their picture on it and ask the child what they liked about the gift, including their words in the note.  If they don’t like the gift, explain the gift givers consideration and thought in selecting it.  You could say, “Grandma, loves you so much, she carefully picked out this sweater.  It makes her happy to do nice things, and we should thank her for such thoughtfulness.”
      This can be reinforced when your child makes gifts for family.  “See how happy Grandma was to get the macaroni picture!”  Ask them how it made them feel to see Grandma’s smile when she received it, and explain that is how Grandma felt choosing the sweater.  This reinforces empathy.
    • Every evening, ask your child to share the three best things that happened today.
  • Elementary School
    • Again, great idea to create a child’s very own stationary.  Consider putting all the supplies (cards, pens, and stamps, return address labels), which you can make also, in a plastic box with their name on it.  Quality over quantity – even a one-line thank you is great.
    • As they develop writing skills, have them create a gratitude jar.
    • Leave sticky notes out so family members can thank each other.  You can include a sticky note in their lunch box to thank them for being ready to leave the house on time.
  • Middle School
    • Think past notes and have your child call or even create a video.
    • Encourage them to help without being asked at least once a day, and ask them to share what that was and how they felt.
    • Create a gratitude picture board that could include family, friends, pets, and pictures of nature.
  • High School
    • By this time, they need to own ways they show gratitude.
    • At the end of the school year, ask them which teacher made a difference and encourage them to send a hand written note.
    • Donate time to help your school, church or a local shelter.

I am thankful to each person that reads and comments on these posts. Be sure to like Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and share stories where your child demonstrated gratitude.  We’d love to hear from you, because we are all in this together!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Teaching Empathy – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 7th, 2015

 “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

– Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

It was the PTO’s annual ‘meet the candidates’ for the Board of Education.  One speaker promised funds would stay in the district and not go to other (implied poorer) districts. I raised my hand and asked if said differently, aren’t we responsible to ensure all children have a good education? No reaction.

At that point I realized that my kids were going to school with his kids, and we have the responsibility to teach our children that all children didn’t have the same start in life.  But how could we do that without lecturing?

Our solution was to sign up for Big Brothers/Big Sisters where we were introduced to a wonderful mom and her two children, close in age to our kids.  As often happens when you try to help someone else, you gain so much more.

The first time we picked up our little brother and sister it was like The Wizard of Oz film transition from black and white to Technicolor, but in reverse.  We left the lush and gorgeous colors of our pretty middle class town to the sepia tones of the inner city.

It was immediately apparent playing outside was not an option as evidenced by the hypodermic needles strewn on the walkway, and questionable characters standing guard on the rooftop.  While we found it helpful to introduce the kids to our simple world of apple picking, bowling and trips to the city, they had given us and our children a view of life we could have never understood.

To do this day we continue our relationship with this family, who have become an extension of ours.

When a parent teaches the gift of empathy, that connection changes everything.

What can you?

  • Use the word empathy which is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., to place oneself in another’s shoes. Ask open ended questions when children present a situation, such as “Tell me about it” or “How do you think she felt?”
  • Set the example.  Be empathetic and caring to your child and others, and she will learn. Because she loves you, believes you are perfect, and wants to be just like you, she will grow up wanting to treat herself and others with the same loving kindness she gets from you.

Parenting with empathy helps your child to learn to manage his emotions, while experiencing your empathy will also help him to develop empathy for others. A child who feels empathy is more cooperative in accepting your guidance, making parenting a lot easier!

Be sure to like Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and share stories where your child demonstrated empathy.  We’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to receive the weekly email, simply signup here.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Raising a Person You Want to Meet at Age 25

May 31st, 2015

“So how am I doing?”  That was a frequent question posed by Ed Koch, the popular three-term New York City Mayor.  What a great question for parents! But how do you know how you’re doing?  Is our goal to raise a straight ‘A’ student or a good person?

The job of parenting is 24/7, 365 for the rest of your life.  It includes a laundry list of skills you are required to learn that look something like this.

But these are tasks, not the goal.

Then I came across a wonderful quote by Michelangelo in his response to someone who asked how he took a slab of marble and carved such a beautiful angel.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

And I realized that was the answer!

As parents, we need to see our children in the future, which is basically reverse engineering them into the adults we want to meet.

When I asked parents what values they want their children to possess, there was a response of over 400 qualities.

Raising a good person is easier than you think, and most effective when you:

  1. Model the behavior you want to see
  2. Encourage good behavior
  3. Offer alternative ways to act when children exhibit less than desirable behaviors

Starting next Sunday, June 7th I will be sending out a weekly evening email focusing on one value such as empathy, gratitude and family. That week’s highlighted value will be reinforced on the Parental Wisdom® Facebook page giving parents helpful ideas and tips, such as capitalizing on car time, breakfast banter and dinner discussions.

Being a parent can be unpredictable, but you can count on this email every Sunday night 9pm EST.  Consider it your “big kid bedtime story,” and a great way to kick off your week.

If you would like to receive the weekly email, simply signup here.

Don’t forget to share your stories too; after all, we are in this together!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®