“Into the house where Joy lives, happiness will gladly follow.” Japanese Proverb
Children hear the words, “No, Don’t, Stop it!” all day long. Can you imagine having your desires thwarted often and on a daily basis? Sometimes NO is the appropriate response, but it is more effective when used sparingly.
Here are a few alternatives to NO that I have used with success.
“From a little spark may burst a mighty flame.” Dante
Our children are unique individuals with their own character, temperament, feelings, tastes, and dreams. Encouraging autonomy leads to self-determination and independence.
Parents can provide opportunities for children to make choices and take on responsibility from a very young age. Teach, then step back and allow them to explore, make mistakes, and learn from their mistakes.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi
Service is giving to others; considering other people’s needs as important as your own. Service involves anticipating the needs of others and thinking of ways to serve them–helping people just because we care and for no other reason. Performing a job with the spirit of service can elevate the most mundane of jobs into a rewarding experience.
“Anyone can become angry – that’s easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not easy.” Aristotle.
Children often have a difficult time managing their anger, and adults aren’t always sure how to react. Too often we are reactive, which in turn fuels the anger, and very little gets resolved. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me when addressing anger, meltdowns, or tantrums.
When my children ask questions, I am pretty good at keeping things simple. But when it comes to “important life questions,” I sometimes forget to keep things simple.
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” Aristotle
Adolescence is a time of transition from childhood to adulthood. There are many physiological, emotional, and spiritual changes that teenagers experience as they try to find their place in the world.
During adolescence, children require lots of time, limit-setting, and connectedness/caring (TLC). They need to feel like they belong. I’ve always felt that structured activities are great for teen years, while unstructured free play should be encouraged in younger children. Here are a few predictors of success that I have picked up in my readings.
ADHD, PDD, ASD–Mental health labels are used to describe a growing number of disorders. Are labels holding children back?
I recently went into a classroom to work with one of my students. I asked him to perform a task and he responded with, “I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder); I can’t focus.” My response was, “ADHD? Sounds like a bunch of letters to me.” He smiled, relaxed, and performed the series of tasks quite well. We had a pretty good session.
I seldom have the opportunity to watch the news, but yesterday I happened to go to the gym to jog on the treadmill. The treadmills are set up in a way that forces you to face the lineup of TV screens. Although I could not hear any of it, I was able to clearly read the headlines.
The choices were: crime and violence, some form of criticism, sitcoms depicting people engaging in inappropriate behaviors, and advertisements encouraging us to shop and or medicate ourselves. Is it any wonder that so many of us are walking around anxious and depressed?
So I thought–or rather hoped, what if…
Do you ever find yourself barking out orders at the end of the day before you have had time to settle in? Some days, I return home from work and immediately start in: “Have you practiced your music lessons, finished your homework, emptied the dishwasher, put away the clothes?” and on and on goes the list. Sometimes, I catch myself doing it first thing in the morning. Yikes!
As our lives and schedules get busier, I sometimes forget to take that moment, check in with my family, ask how their day went, and give them hugs. I’m working on it.
Given the right environment, children will find ways to explore, be creative, and gain knowledge. In today’s world, our children are faced with many factors that inhibit learning. Perhaps if we recognize what gets in the way of learning, we can make an effort to change things. Here are six factors that inhibit learning.
- Very little unstructured free play.
- Increased competitive sports.
- Parental expectations and pressure.
- Societal expectations and competition.