Dr. Kay Kuzma
Being a good listener is a simple way to show you understand and care. Here are some guidelines to follow:
1. Show interest in your child’s conversation. Look up. Make appropriate comments. Stop what you are doing.
2. Don’t correct his speech while he is talking to you.
3. Focus on the hidden message—if you think there might be one.
4. Don’t contradict his story or the points he is making until he has finished and wants your opinions.
5. Don’t squelch a child when he voices offbeat values or comes to an impossible conclusion. Don’t laugh, make fun of, belittle, tear down, or in any other way make it more difficult for a child to open up his heart and ideas to you in the future.
6. Be an active listener. Active listening means active involvement with the person who is communicating. To show that you are actively listening, make little expressions of understanding, such as, “Yes,” “Aha,” “I see,” etc.
7. Encourage your child to talk, to express himself, and to share his values and goals. One way to encourage your child to share his world with you is to have a “talk about it” bowl or basket that sits on the kitchen table. During the day, the children can put objects, notes, newspaper clippings, or articles into the bowl that they would like to talk about during dinner.
Write a variety of questions on paper placemats. …Choose questions that will stimulate a good conversation. When the dinner conversation seems to drag, read off a question, like, “What would you do if you just inherited a million dollars?” Or, “If you knew you were going to die in one month, how would you spend your time?”
8. Children should be encouraged to communicate on the feeling level.
If children are going to learn to communicate their feelings, then you must encourage them to do so. Does your child know that it is safe to say, “Mommy, I feel sad. Hold me a little bit.” “Mom, I feel discouraged. Do you have a minute to talk?” “Dad, I got angry when you spoke to me like that. Can we discuss it?”
What kind of communicator are you? For one hour while your whole family is together, record your conversation. Then analyze your interactions.
Excerpted from the book "Prime-Time Parenting" by Dr. Kay Kuzma.
By Joyce Suttin
During the spring of my junior year in high school, some girls suggested we practice for the junior-senior basketball game, and I thought it might be fun, so I tagged along. I did poorly in practice, more focused on my friends than on the game; but despite getting on the nerves of some of the more competitive players, I decided that I would go through with what was going to be my one and only basketball game.
Throughout the match, the seniors consistently held the lead, while my teammates were struggling. I had passed the ball a couple of times like a hot potato, happy to get it out of my hands as quickly as possible. Until…
We were two points behind with seconds left in the game when one of my friends managed to intercept the ball. She tossed it as far as she could, and I realized with dismay that it was coming straight at me. I caught it easily, but now what? None of my teammates were near the basket.
I must have appeared frozen in time, uncertain of what to do, when I saw the face of Stan, one of the athletic boys in my class, sitting in the front row in the crowd. He called out, “Just shoot the ball! You can do it!”
I remember looking at the basket from my place at half court, taking aim, and shooting with all my might. What happened next is somewhat hazy. Somehow the ball miraculously swooshed into the basket at the last second, and we won the game!
As everyone crowded around me during my moment of glory, my eyes searched the crowd for Stan. He finally came up to congratulate me, and I said, “Thanks, Stan, for showing confidence in me when I needed it. You were the one who thought I could do it, and I did.”
We all need someone who spurs us on when the faces in the crowd are a blur, when the voices seem unintelligible, and our steps falter—someone like Stan to tell us to go for it when we are hesitant and unsure, to boost our confidence to try the impossible, to say “I know you can do it!”
Your children need to see that you want them to achieve, and that you believe that they can achieve. In their times of despair or heartbreak, they need you to show them that they can pick up the broken pieces and start again. They need to know that no matter how hard they may have fallen, or how many times they may have failed, they can stand up again. They need to know that they are winners, they are champions, and that you believe in them.
There are many examples in history of people who did great things, became someone great, discovered something unknown, invented something ingenious, wrote something creative, sang something beautiful, inspired others, or helped to make the world a better place through their efforts—in great part due to the faith that someone had in them.
The strength of faith and the belief that others had in them helped many of these great people to overcome what seemed to be impossible odds, opposition, danger, or difficulty. They might have ended up unheard of by the rest of the world if they hadn't been inspired to achieve, and as a result of that, pushed themselves to become more than they were.
Many of these great men and women were thought to have had little or no potential to begin with. There have been cases of great teachers, scientists, and inventors who were thought to be below average intellectually as children. Some great athletes have been told that they were too sick, handicapped, or weak to qualify for even the first level of competition. There have been cases of great writers and speakers who could hardly articulate themselves when they first started. World-famous dancers, singers, and actors can remember being turned down at their first auditions due to "not having enough talent."
There are many who failed and made countless mistakes, who showed promise and potential, but were disappointed over and over again—until finally, through the strength to persevere that was ignited in part by those who believed in them, they succeeded.
Courtesy of Activated magazine and www.anchor.tfionline.com.
Imagine this: Every morning, your child makes his bed and puts away his pajamas. Before dinner, he sets the table and feeds the dog. And on Sundays, he helps wash the car.
Although having your child willingly help out around the house may seem like wishful thinking, five and six-year-olds can—and should—do regular chores. Assuming more responsibility at home is as crucial for children as learning to read, being physically active, and making friends.
“Children this age are better able to concentrate on a specific activity than they were at 3 or 4,” says Virginia Stowe, director of New York City’s Parenting Resource Center, Inc. They’re more adept with their hands and less likely to be discouraged by small setbacks, such as a tangled vacuum-cleaner cord. In addition, they have a sincere desire to please you and are proud of their accomplishments, such as dusting a tabletop or pouring milk without spilling it.
“In nineteen years of teaching, I can’t remember a child who didn’t wave his hand to be picked as snack helper or door holder,” says Marjorie R. Nelsen, author of A Child’s Book of Responsibilities. “Helping around the house makes kids feel independent, competent, and important within their family,” says Stowe.
What’s more, being accustomed to doing chores at home can benefit your child academically. He’ll understand that sometimes he has to do things he doesn’t want to do-and that will extend to doing homework or studying for tests. “Research has found that kids who don’t try as hard as they could in school are more likely to have been raised in families where they didn’t have to do much at home,” says Stowe. “They believe that someone will always step in and do things for them.”
If you approach chores with a spirit of fun rather than drudgery and don’t expect perfection, your child should be willing to participate.
The Kimberly family, of Beverly Hills, Michigan, devotes every Saturday morning to housework. The two older kids can do their chores on their own, but six-year-old Hannah prefers to clean the bathroom mirrors while her mother does the sinks. “She needs that motivation and partnership,” says her mother, Elizabeth. “But she can now make her bed and set the table by herself.”
If your child absolutely refuses to cooperate, administer consequences related to the chore. For example, if she doesn’t put her clothes in the hamper, tell her they won’t get washed until the next cycle.
Try not to get frustrated, though, if your child often forgets to do his chores. “Until the age of eight or nine, most kids have to be reminded,” says Dr. Turben. She recommends posting a chart with pictures of what your child has to do on the refrigerator or his bedroom door. But even with a chart, children still forget-and it’s not necessarily a sign of defiance. It’s also not a reason to give up and decide to do a chore yourself, even though it might be easier. Be patient: Eventually, your child will grow to be more independent, and the time invested now will pay off later.
By Stephen Mansfield
Her name was Elizabeth Anne Everest. Few today will remember her. In fact, few would have known of her even during her lifetime, which ended in near obscurity in 1895. She was, after all, only a nanny—one of thousands in Victorian England, who quietly spent their days caring for the children of other people. Strolling in a park with her baby’s carriage or braving the London streets with a little boy clinging tightly to her side, there would have been nothing to distinguish her to passersby; she was just another British nanny with another nobleman’s son in her charge.
Or so it would seem. But Elizabeth Anne Everest was not just another nanny. She was a Christian, and for her being a nanny was not just a job, it was a ministry. She worked hard to build godliness and biblical truth into the young lives in her care. Thus it was that she came to have an impact on the course of modern history. For on a blustery English day in February of 1875, Elizabeth Everest came to be the nanny, and soon the primary spiritual influence, of one rosy-cheeked baby boy by the name of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, future Prime Minister of England and major leader of the western world.
There was little hint in his early years, however, of the greatness that young Winston would one day command, and Mrs. Everest soon understood the immensity of her task. In time, the boy’s mother would warn visitors, in the style of typical British understatement, that he was a difficult child to manage. She was right. He kicked, he screamed, he hit, and he bullied. The word monster was often used of him, and the trouble was that he was bright, too.
Knowing of Mrs. Everest’s Christian faith, young Winston once tried to escape a mathematics lesson by threatening to "bow down and worship graven images." It worked, too for a while. But Elizabeth Everest was an exceptional woman. She knew how to enforce the boundaries she set, and from the beginning Winston held a grudging respect for this woman who seemed to know the secret that his irritating behavior only served to hide a desperate longing of his heart.
This was the truth she tenderly guarded, for she knew that her Lord had not entrusted young Winston to her solely for the discipline she would enforce, but more for the vacuum she would fill in the life of this lonely little boy. Few knew how painful his loneliness really was. It would be nice indeed to report that the Churchills shared a warmly intimate home life and that Winston was smothered with parental affection, but nothing could be further from the truth. Quite to the neglect of their son, Randolph and Jennie Churchill gave themselves completely to their social ambitions. True, Victorian parents in general maintained an astonishing distance from their children, receiving them only at prearranged times and under the watchful eye of servants, but the Churchills were remote even by these standards.
Of his mother, Winston later wrote, "I loved her, but at a distance." His father thought Winston was retarded, rarely talked to him, and regularly vented his mounting rage on the child. More than one historian has concluded that Lord Randolph simply loathed his son.
Thus it was that Elizabeth Everest (Winston came to call her Woom) became not only his nanny but his dearest companion, sharing with understanding and tender loyalty the secrets of his widening world. Of their special relationship, Violet Asquith later wrote that in Winston’s solitary childhood and unhappy school days Mrs. Everest was his comforter, his strength and stay, his one source of unfailing human understanding. She was the fireside at which he dried his tears and warmed his heart. She was the nightlight by his bed. She was security.
She was also his shepherd, for it was here, in the safety of their shared devotion, that Winston first experienced genuine Christianity. On bended knee beside this gentle woman of God he first learned that surging of the heart called prayer. From her lips he first heard the Scriptures read with loving devotion, and was so moved he eagerly memorized his favorite passages. On long walks together they sang the great hymns of the church, spoke breathlessly of the heroes of the faith, and imagined aloud what Jesus might look like or how Heaven would be. As they sat together on a park bench or on a blanket of cool, green grass, Winston was often transfixed while Woom explained the world to him in simple but distinctly Christian terms. And it is not hard to imagine that when their day was done, many an evening found this devoted intercessor praying over her sleeping charge, asking her Heavenly Father to fulfill the calling she sensed so powerfully on his life.
It would seem her prayers were answered, for though in early adulthood Churchill immersed himself in the anti-Christian rationalism that swept his age, he eventually recovered his faith during an escape from a prisoner of war camp during South Africa’s Boer War. So deeply had he received the imprint of Mrs. Everest’s dynamic faith that in this time of crisis the prayers he had learned at her knee returned almost involuntarily to his lips, as did the Scripture passages he had memorized to the familiar lilt of her voice. From that time forward, his faith defined him, as it did his sense of mission. He came to see himself in much the same terms as those he once used to dedicate his grandson. Holding the child aloft he tearfully proclaimed him, "Christ’s new faithful soldier and servant."
While other leaders of his age vacillated and sought the compromises of cowards, Churchill defined the challenges of his civilization in the stark Christian terms that moved men to greatness. Yet behind the arsenal of his words, behind the artillery of his vision, was the simple teaching of a devoted nanny who served her God by investing in the destiny of a troubled boy.
So it was that when the man some called the Greatest Man of the Age lay dying in 1965 at the age of ninety, there was but one picture that stood at his bedside. It was the picture of his beloved nanny, gone to be with her Lord some seventy years before. She had understood him, she had prayed him to his best, and she had fueled the faith that fed the destiny of nations in the hiddenness of her calling.
Unfortunately, between working as many hours as you do, and all the other responsibilities that fill your days and nights, you may feel like you’re not really connecting with your kids. While this certainly feels discouraging, “fixing” the problem doesn’t have to take up hours of your already-limited free time. Here are some practical tips to connect with kids of all ages in just 15 minutes per day:
Play together. Reconnect with your kids simply by playing with them. If your kids are fairly young, get down on the floor together and work a puzzle or play a board game. If you have older kids, play their favorite board game or video game together. This is a great way to supervise the content of their video games while also spending time together and giving yourselves a healthy dose of togetherness.
Listen to music together. This is another great way for moms and dads to connect with kids of all ages. If you have toddlers or preschool children, dance around the living room together to their favorite songs. If you have older children or teens, take some time to find out what music they’re into and why they enjoy it. Since we’re often drawn to music that speaks to our own emotions and circumstances, sharing music with your kids is a great way to learn more about where they’re at and what they’re really going through.
Create your own spa at home. Bath time is a regular, built-in opportunity for parents and kids to share some laughter and fun! As your children get older, though, they’ll be able to shower on their own and won’t need as much supervision in the bathroom. But that doesn’t mean this unique opportunity to reconnect will just disappear! If you have tweens or teenagers, take the time to do your nails together or have your own “spa day” at home. This can be a wonderful tool in opening up the doors of communication with your kids.
Cook and eat together. Dinner time offers another important way for parents to connect with their kids. Even during the busiest seasons, see if you can’t find at least three nights a week to include your children in the effort to make dinner, from start to finish, and eat it together around the kitchen table. During this time, turn off the TV and any other distractions, so that you can really sit down and talk while you eat. You’d be amazed at what a difference this one little habit will make.
Bedtime. The bedtime routine is another great way to regularly connect with your kids. More than just a “bedtime story,” your routine can include prayer time (which is a great way to find out what’s going on in your child’s world), sharing the day’s “highs” and “lows,” and the opportunity to ask questions or simply cuddle with one another. Keep in mind, too, that the bedtime routine doesn’t disappear once your kids are old enough to tuck themselves in. Look for ways to adjust your routine, and yet still connect, as your kids get older.
These strategies are just a few ways to connect with kids in and through the busyness of life. Be creative and look for ways to acknowledge your kids and reconnect with them in some small way each and every day.
Article courtesy of http://singleparents.about.com/od/communication/tp/connect_with_kids.htm
The surgeon sat beside the boy’s bed; the boy’s parents sat across from him.
Tomorrow morning, the surgeon began, I’ll open up your heart. …
You’ll find Jesus there, the boy interrupted.
The surgeon looked up, annoyed. I’ll open up your heart as we begin the operation, he continued, to see how much damage has been done…
But when you open up my heart, you’ll find Jesus in there.
The surgeon looked to the boy’s parents, who sat quietly. When I see how much damage has been done, I’ll close your heart and chest back up, and I’ll plan what to do next.
But you’ll find Jesus in my heart. The Bible says He lives there. The hymns all say He lives there. You’ll find Him in my heart.
The surgeon had had enough. I’ll tell you what I’ll find in your heart. I’ll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And I’ll find out if I can make you well.
You’ll find Jesus there too. He lives there. The surgeon left.
After the surgery, the surgeon sat in his office, recording his notes. Damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, widespread muscle degeneration.
No hope for transplant. No hope for cure. Therapy: painkillers and bed rest. Prognosis … Here he paused, … death within one year.
He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said.
Why? he asked aloud. Why, God, did You do this? You’ve put this boy here. You’ve put him in this pain, and You’ve cursed him to an early death. Why?
The Lord answered and said, The boy, My lamb, was not meant for your flock for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be. Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and he will be comforted as you cannot imagine. His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace, and My flock will continue to grow.
The surgeon’s tears were hot, but his anger was hotter. You created that boy, and You created that heart. He’ll be dead in months. Why?
The Lord answered, The boy, My lamb, shall return to My flock, for he has done his duty: I did not put My lamb with your flock to lose him, but to retrieve another lost lamb.
The surgeon wept.
Later, the surgeon sat beside the boy’s bed; the boy’s parents sat across from him.
The boy awoke and whispered, Did you cut open my heart?
Yes, said the surgeon.
What did you find? asked the boy.
I found Jesus there, said the surgeon.
- Author Unknown