Thursday, October 17, 2019

Letting the Animals Run the Circus...

I have been a preschool teacher for a LOOOOOOOOOOONG time--almost a dozen years.  My first students are in high school now, and I am still at it.  And before jumping into the profession I dearly love, I was busy raising my (and my husband's) own four children.  So as you can guess, I have had a lot of time to study, observe, and reflect on children.

My husband and I decided early on that we would not allow our little monkeys to rule the roost.  We enforced bedtimes and a code of behavior that included no back talking, no physical violence, and in general a helpful attitude.  We didn't always succeed at this but the love and respect grew over the years of effort, and the chores always got done before bedtime.  No excuses.

As a preschool teacher, I find my students bright, engaging, funny, caring, sweet, and impossibly cute most of the time. I enjoy each and every minute that I get to share with them.  I marvel at their triumphs (like coming to school sans blankie--when the first week we had a hard time putting blankie down to do anything).  I swoon when they are willingly kind to each other -- sharing a toy or a turn with another classmate.  I praise their paintings and block towers, and gladly help them put on their coats or wash their hands.  They are amazingly capable and enthusiastic learners with kind and loving hearts.

So here is my struggle these days...PARENTS!  My littles are blessed with loving and devoted parents.  So what is the struggle, you ask? My preschool parents either have no energy or no knowledge of how to PARENT their children.  The ringmasters have left the tent, and the monkeys are running wild.

They leave it all up to me.  Do they teach them manners? Nope.  I do.  Do they teach them to follow instructions? Nope. I do.  Do they even require them to look up when they hear their name? Nope. I do.  And the list goes on and on.  The bar is so low on the behavior that they accept, that it all falls to us in the classroom to corral and wrangle these little ones into a semblance of order.

We could never allow our preschool class of over a dozen children to run wild and do what ever they want every second of the day.  Children would get hurt, the noise level would be frightening, and the environment would prove impossible for any sort of learning.  But I am quite sure that many of my families allow this at home.  This lack of parenting in the long term will be a detriment to these children.  Children who grow up lacking all boundaries continually seek boundaries.  Boundaries show a child who is in charge, which in turn make children feel safe and secure.  Children raised without any boundaries or respect for their parents, have a higher likelihood to be depressed or indulge in risky behaviors in their later years.  The research to prove this has been done, and I personally have seen it in my many years.

I wish I could figure out where this laissez-faire attitude towards parenting is coming from.  These are parents who are by all accounts well-equipped. They are married, educated, and financially secure.  They are lovely people.  They are involved and helpful.  But they don't seem to have the stomach or drive or backbone to parent. They cannot find the strength to make their children listen to them.  They seem frightened of the result of being an authority in their children's lives.  They seem to duck and cover rather than expecting that their child(ren) listen to them or follow any code of behavior.  I am mystified.

When did parenting stop being a verb? Where have all the ringmasters gone? 

I know parenting can be daunting, but that's why it's important start small.  Expect a child to listen when her name is called. Have him make his bed every morning. Give them real consequences if they don't listen but also give real praise for what they accomplish. Have simple expectations of your children and their behavior. This will help them through the years.  I promise it will.

And it may just keep me teaching preschool.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Woman Carrying Baby Boy Wearing White Tank Top Infront of White Curtain Inside the Room

What Every Working Mom Needs to Know

There’s no question moms have a stressful lifestyle. Surveys confirm it.
American families report being very busy these days, with moms still
handling the majority of the housework, even when both parents work
full time.

That’s why self-care is so important. You certainly can’t tend to other
people’s needs if you never set aside time to address your own.

These tips will help you do so. Even if you have a busy life, you can use
them to make self-care part of it.

Schedule It

Self-care must be a priority, and you should treat it like any other daily
responsibility. By scheduling self-care, you’ll remind yourself this is an
important task, and not a mere luxury.

Get the Kids Involved

Busy moms lack the time for self-care for many reasons. A major one is
simply the fact that so much of their time is spent with their children.

Luckily, there are ways to enjoy self-care with the kids. Working out?
Try having your little ones join you. This helps you fit a workout into
your schedule while also promoting a healthy lifestyle for your children.

Or, maybe your idea of self-care involves enjoying a good meal.
Getting the kids involved when making dinner, especially
healthy kids meals, will go a long way it. As they get older,
they may be so experienced in the kitchen that they can handle
certain cooking tasks without you even asking for help.

Combine Enjoyable Activities

Working out is a key aspect of self-care. Exercising regularly

However, self-care should also involve participating in activities you
find enjoyable. Find time for both in your schedule by combining
them. Although you may have to try a few different activities before
finding one you genuinely enjoy, there are many ways to exercise
while also having fun. Try options like yoga, dance classes, walks with
friends, and any other type of physical activity that sounds appealing
until you find one that fits your tastes and lifestyle.

Wake up Earlier

While you do need to get proper sleep to stay healthy, that doesn’t mean
there’s any harm in waking up a little earlier than you normally do.
Busy moms often find the best time for self-care is in the morning, before
anyone else is awake.

This is particularly worth keeping in mind if you enjoy the types of
self-care activities that require silence. Meditating or reading a book
can be tough when the kids are up and about.

Find Substitute Activities

It is important to be realistic about self-care. When you become a
mother, some of the activities you once enjoyed may not be
practical anymore. You simply may not have the time or money
for them.

That said, don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to do
without those types of activities entirely. You can still find ways
to modify them for your new lifestyle.

For example, maybe a day of self-care used to involve shopping
for a few hours before enjoying a nice dinner at your favorite
restaurant. With a mom’s schedule and budget, that may no longer
be a regular option. However, you could still spend a day doing a little
online shopping, prioritizing getting one item you truly want instead
of several in order to save money. Rather than going to a restaurant,
treat yourself to your favorite meal at home. Maybe you can even
convince your spouse to make it!

Is it the exact same experience as your old self-care routine? No, but it
can be a satisfying substitute.

Most importantly, remember that you’re only human. A busy mother
is expected to do quite a bit for others every single day. Don’t forget
how important it is to take care of yourself as well.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

They're just looking for some FUN!

Children love to experience new things.  When they experience new things, they love to talk about them.  I see this everyday at preschool.  My little ones are bursting with excitement when we do something new, or introduce a new toy or activity to our classroom.  And they love to tell me all about the new or different things they have experienced at home. 

I remember teaching a student who never had anything to talk about at sharing time except his experience playing Minecraft.  Over and over again, when the other little ones were recounting a visit to the zoo, or a movie they had seen, or a playdate they had enjoyed; this little guy would offer up his gaming experiences.  The other children had a hard time relating to him, because they were not as familiar with his game.  And he had a difficult time relating to them, because on some level I know he felt as if he had missed out.  He had not been to the zoo, read books from the library, played at the park.  I felt so sorry for this boy.  He had two loving and successful parents, but they had fallen into a pattern of allowing their son to play on an i-pad for hours on end.  It was sad to think about all the time this little boy had spent doing this one activity while his young brain was being developed--and all the experiences he could have been having if the game was not part of his daily routine.

Each time you introduce your child to something new, you are growing their brain!  You are introducing new concepts to them.  You are helping them experience the world around them.  Children love this and NEED this.  We live in a time where children can be put to the side on devises, and be completely cut off from real world experiences.  To me, this is a form of child abuse.  Children need real world experiences and it is our responsibility as parents and teachers to make sure that they are exposed to new and different activities and environments.

So please, put down your phone.  Close up your tablet.  Power off your computer and go play with your child.  Give your child the gift of new experiences--and have some fun, together!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Parenting in the Aftermath--Your children are watching

I cannot write a post today, without thinking of the millions of people affected by Hurricane Henry and Hurricane Irma, both super storms that are causing pain and grief to millions of people in their paths.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the individuals who are dealing with the destruction and massive cleanup that faces them in the coming days.

The families that are facing a day or days without power and the tough job of cleaning up homes, businesses and communities, I say to you:  Remember your children are watching.  During times of stress and disappointment: your children are watching.  When you feel and anger, fear and helplessness: your children are watching.  When you take your stress out on your husband, wife or neighbor: your children are watching.

Children get their cues on how to behave from you.  So if you are stressed, overwrought, angry or depressed, you can expect the same from them.  This can be your finest hour of parenting or your worst.  The choice is yours.

During times of difficulty, choose to rise above the situation.  Choose to be the parent who can smile in the face of adversity.  Choose to be the neighbor who is reaching out to comfort others.  Choose to lend a hand, or a meal or a kind word to those who were hit harder than you.  Choose to be the person who creates a feeling of warmth and calm in the midst of frustration and chaos.

You will be teaching your children such a POWERFUL message.  Everything will be fine.  Everything will eventually be normal again. And while things are not how you would like them to be, you are able to choose to make the best of it--for you, for your family, for your neighbors, for our future!
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Five Simple Ways to Teach Gratitude

I was so lucky to attend a Cubs Spring Training Game last week.  The weather was beautiful in sunny Arizona.  The Cubs didn't disappoint either, hitting home runs and making incredible defensive plays. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was so thankful to be there with my husband.  There were families sitting near us, and the children in those families didn't share my sentiments.

First, let me explain that we had splurged on excellent seats.  We were in the second row, directly behind the Cubs dugout.  Seated both in front of us and behind us were two families.  The family in the first row was a dad and his two young boys (around 6 and 8 years old).  The dad spent the game leaving his seat to buy the two boys shirts, nachos (which ended up uneaten on the ground), and finally ice cream.  The older boy threw a fit because his dad did not bring him the flavor of ice cream that he wanted.  He ranted and raved at the dad, and dad apologized over and over again.  Near the end of the game, they left and left the new shirts in their bag on the ground.  Keep in mind, these boys were in FRONT ROW SEATS!  They had better seats than anyone else at the game.  This idea was clearly not brought to their attention.

Behind us was a family with older children. Mom left this family near the end of the game to buy cotton candy for her middle school age daughter. She was gone a long time.  When she returned, she told her daughter that she waited in a very long line and when she finally got to the front, they were all out of cotton candy.  The daughter got very upset and began throwing a fit that her mom didn't try another counter or find the cotton candy that she wanted.  As a side note, this family had already enjoyed a complete lunch, when Mom had gone and gotten burgers and fries and drinks for the family.But once again,  Mom felt guilty and apologized over and over again.

We need to do better, parents!!!!  If we don't teach our children to appreciate the things we give them, then why are we surprised when they grow up to be entitled, unhappy and ungrateful.  Why were these parents apologizing to their kids, in the midst of giving their children such a wonderful experience?  I found it difficult to hold my tongue and listen to these apologetic parents, while their children sat in the best seats in the entire stadium.  Thousands of other people were less fortunate than these families but clearly this lesson was lost on the children.  Where is the active teaching of thankfulness and appreciation?  Here are some suggestions to help teach these important lessons to our kids, so that we as parents can develop empathy and appreciation in our children.

1.  Model Thankful Behavior:  Kids learn what they live.  Show them you appreciate things in your life by thanking your spouse, children and others when they give you something or make you feel happy.

2.  Pray:  Say a prayer of thankfulness before meals or before bedtime with your children.  This practice of thinking outside one's self is an amazing way to pass on the lesson of being grateful for simple things like food, a warm house, a comfy bed, our loved ones, etc.

3.  Help Others:  Nothing breeds gratefulness like the realization that everyone doesn't have what you have.  Donate food to a food pantry and discuss with your children that some don't have enough to eat.  Donate clothes to a charity and discuss that some children don't get new clothes. You get the idea.  Generous people are grateful people.

4.  Teach Polite Words:  Start when your children are small, requiring them to use polite words.  Expect them to ask for things with polite words "Please may I have" and regularly use "thank you" when they receive something.  Remind them that at birthday celebrations and other gift centered times, each gift requires a verbal thank you.

5.  Write Thank You Notes:  Teaching children to send thank you notes helps them acknowledge that they appreciate a gift.  This is a wonderful exercise in appreciation, and a skill they will need through out their lives.

These five tips will go a long way in helping your children realize the blessings in their lives.  Small lessons over time make a huge difference.  Embrace thankfulness in your own heart and life, and see it spill over into the attitude of your entire family.

For more ideas go to this helpful post:

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