We parents want our children to be liked and get along well with other children. I certainly did when my first child, Danae, was beginning to play with other kids. I tried to teach her how to interact lovingly, and she did well in most aspects--making friends, not fighting, being considerate and helpful, and even letting me play with the other children. Teaching her to share her toys was the biggest challenge.
To give her more opportunities to learn this, we started inviting other children her age over to play. That small step was the key to helping Danae discover that it's fun to share with others--a lesson I needed to brush up on myself, as it turned out.
One evening Danae had invited a friend, Natalie, to play with her. Natalie was one of her more frequent playmates, and their favorite thing to play with was the brightly illustrated deck of cards from a children's card game called Go Fish. Although the girls were too young to follow all the rules and play the game as intended, they liked looking at the pictures and finding the ones that matched.
That evening, after Natalie left, Danae came to me and said, "Mommy, I'd like to give these to Natalie. They're her favorites." She held up three or four cards from the Go Fish game.
I tried to explain that I didn't want her to give them away because then our set wouldn't be complete, but Danae persisted. "But I really want her to have them!"
Again I tried to explain. "Danae, these cards belong to our Go Fish game. If you give them to Natalie, we won't have them anymore and the set will be missing pieces."
"That's okay, Mommy, because I have the other cards."
I thought perhaps she didn't understand that when she gave something away, it was gone for good, so I tried again to dissuade her. "If you give those to Natalie, you can't go and ask for them back tomorrow. Once you give them to her, they'll be hers."
A look of concern came over Danae's face. For a moment I was happy that she seemed to understand. Then she smiled and said, "Well, that's okay, I want her to have them anyway."
What could I say to that? I sat quietly for a moment and prayed. Then it came to me: I had been trying for so long to teach her to share, and now that she had learned that important lesson, I was trying to stop her. What was I doing? I was just about to make a very stupid mistake! What did it matter that our Go Fish game would be incomplete? It could be replaced, if need be. What mattered was that my daughter was learning the joy of giving, that she was thinking about others instead of herself, that she was trying to make her friend happy. Isn't that what life is all about?
My daughter taught me a lesson that day, and it's one that I still get tested on. I now have three children, and fairly often one of them will come to me with a toy or stuffed animal in their hands and say they want to give it to one of their friends. My first thought is often how I can talk them out of it, but when I stop to think about it, I always come to the same realization: Things are not forever, but children are. The values I instill in my children today will be part of who they are tomorrow.
Taken from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
Abigail Van Buren (1918-), "Dear Abby"
Oh, heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power.
Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.
Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.
May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect of them the judgment of adults.
Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions.
Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests, and the courage to deny them privileges I know will do them harm.
Make me fair and just and kind. And fit me, O Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen.
I found this article the other day and I think it's something that every parent should read and put into practice. This article not only puts into words how I want to raise my daughter but also gives practical ideas and tips.
One of the most important things we can spend on children is time. It seems we parents often need to be reminded of that important principle. When our days are busy and our children are in school throughout the day, the short amount of time families have together in the evening and on holidays and weekends should be cherished and guarded as special "family time." That's our chance to show our children just how important and special they are to us.
How we spend our time together and how much time we spend together should be important to parents and children alike. However, it's really up to us parents to make this time both fun and worthwhile for the kids. One thing that shows kids that they're special to their parents is when the parents make sure those times together are not interrupted.
In many homes, the first time of the day the whole family gets together is at dinnertime. Dinner conversation is good, but it's not enough. Some parents with strong bonds with their children have found that the best way to ensure they stay close is by setting aside one hour after dinner as official family time and making sure it's quality time. During this hour, the parents agree to not disturb one another with any other business. That way, the children know they can count on having their parents' full attention.
Whether it's an hour or more, it's up to each of us parents to make a conscious effort to put aside our work and other concerns and give our children our 100 percent. It may be inconvenient or seem a sacrifice, but if we will be consistent and put the necessary effort into it, it will make a noticeable, positive difference in their lives and our kids will love us for it!
To make family time all it can be, get involved with your children. Don't just do the same thing separately in the same room--like watching TV--but get on their level and talk with them, make conversation, find out what they're thinking. Step out of your adult world into their world. Have fun. Relax. Learn to really enjoy your children.
If you have both younger and older children, you will probably want to do different activities with each age group. Perhaps one evening Mom can play with or read to the younger children, while Dad does a special art or carpentry project with the older ones, or helps them with their homework. Then the next night the parents can switch roles. Or if you're a single parent, you may need to spend time with the younger ones first and the older ones after the younger ones are in bed. The point is to spend some quality time with each one.
The main key to success is to have ideas planned out and organized in advance. You don't need lots of special skills or fancy equipment to keep your kids happy and challenged at family time. Just as your children are very special to you, you are very special to them. Spending time with you is what will mean the most and have the greatest lasting effect. Give it your best shot, and you and your children can all look forward to family time as a chance to do your favorite things with your favorite people!
Taken from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
Believe it or not, young children like to help out. It's true! Children actually enjoy and take pride in being helpful until they are "taught" otherwise. It's only when they hear their parents or older siblings grumbling about "having to do" this or that around the house that helping out becomes a chore.
If approached positively, helping out can seem more like play. It can also go a long way in building self-esteem and instilling other qualities that will greatly benefit the children in school and throughout life, such as self-discipline, initiative, diligence, perseverance, self-reliance, and being responsible.
The kitchen is a great place for helping out. Preschoolers can help with simple meal prep, beginning with washing vegetables, spreading peanut butter onto sandwiches, or mixing cookie dough or pancake batter. The table needs to be set and cleared, and spills wiped up. Young children enjoy using hand brooms and dustpans, and they love getting under tables and into other places we adults have a hard time reaching. You can also let your little one sort and put away the silverware (or nonbreakable plates, bowls and cups) after the dishes are washed and dried. If you keep it fun and reward them with praise and recognition, they will be thrilled when they "graduate" to washing or drying alongside you, and eventually on their own.
And it doesn't need to stop in the kitchen. Even toddlers can learn to help tidy their rooms, put away their things, and fold their pajamas or clean laundry.
Nor does it need to end when your children reach school age. It was a milestone for my children when they were considered old and responsible enough to use the vacuum cleaner. Some children like to clean bathroom sinks and change the hand towels. Others like to rake leaves or mown grass, or help wash the car. Some older ones like to sew on buttons or do other simple mending. The list is endless--just look around!
Assigning game names to household jobs is good "marketing strategy." The first such game I taught my children when they were little was "Ant Hill." They pretended they were ants and scurried around, taking every toy, block, or stuffed animal that was left out back to the "ant hill" (where it belonged). Even babies can learn to play this game, sitting in your lap or next to you as the two of you take turns putting blocks or other small toys into a box--then you praise, praise, praise!
Some possible pitfalls and how to avoid them:
There are so many benefits to making work fun for children. Not only will they learn practical skills and develop character, but as you work alongside them they will also learn to work as a team and better appreciate how much you and others do for them.
Originally published in Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
How can we say something is bad if it teaches us lessons of faith or patience or perseverance or love—if the good effect is greater than the bad effect? Almost everything in life has its pros and cons. But if the positive outweighs the negative, then we can and should say that it is a good thing.
There are in fact upsides to most negative situations. When children are discouraged or become negative over something that has happened, try to steer their thinking toward the positive aspects. Following are some stories and songs for children that can help them to learn how to have a positive outlook.
This is Good - http://freekidstories.com/2011/02/23/esto-es-bueno_this-is-good/
God is Good - http://freekidstories.com/2011/06/02/dios-es-bueno-god-is-good/
Grumble Bumble Bee - http://freekidstories.com/2011/03/29/%C2%BFque-aqueja-a-la%C2%A0abeja_-grumble-bumble-bee/
The Oyster Story - http://freekidstories.com/2011/05/07/la-historia-de-la-ostra_-the-oyster-story/
Dunkin the Donkey - http://freekidstories.com/2011/05/26/dunkin/
The River and the Caterpillar - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmBZzuqvLwM&playnext=1&list=PL704EE8AA3B7C2383
Look on the bright side - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od9-VI5mj50
Try again - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB_yF0_M660
Have a good laugh - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uA8KmwTqqw
Smile - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSrfNIj2RZc
Two frogs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-mtHepPKuU
Stay Sweet - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bibY1r-vE-U
There are 1440 minutes in a day. Subtract the nine hours or so that my children sleep, and that leaves 900 minutes each day in which I am bombarded with questions, requests, tearful pleas, laughs, kisses, hugs, and messes.
At times, I feel overwhelmed as a mother. I have three small children, and their care is the most important thing in my life. It’s easy to get so caught up with chores that I neglect the most important part of homemaking—love. It was my children who recently reminded me what the best-spent minutes in my day are.
I was rushing around, trying to get the room cleaned before my baby woke up from his nap, when six-year-old Charlotte came with the sweetest smile and asked if I could put together a puzzle with her. I tried to persuade her that she should try and do it on her own, and explained that I really didn’t have time right then. The look of disappointment on her face showed that more than help with the puzzle, she wanted a few minutes with me. I stopped to consider what I was about to do. When Charlotte looks back on her childhood, what do I want her to remember—the clean room, or our times together? I played puzzles with Charlotte, we had some laughs, and I hugged her when we were done. Ten minutes well spent.
“Mommy, Mommy, please read me this book!” Three-year-old Cherise had already had three stories that night, and I was tired and wanted to get some work done before collapsing into bed myself. I tried to sweetly tell her no, but she persisted. What she really wants, I thought, is a little more attention from me, a few more moments to show me she loves me and to be assured of my love. I read her another story as we cuddled beneath my blankets, and she fell asleep on my shoulder. Fifteen minutes well spent.
It had been an especially busy week, as I was helping to prepare for an event for 100 underprivileged children, and today we were having guests over. My to-do list was overwhelming. Then my daughters asked if they could bake some cookies for our guests. I tried to reason with them. We didn’t need to bake cookies, because we had some from the store to offer our guests, plus I was really strapped for time. But I couldn’t resist their sweet, pleading faces. As they served the cookies to our guests, full of satisfaction at having made them almost entirely on their own, I was glad I had given in. Thirty minutes well spent.
My nine-month-old son Jordan can really keep me running around, trying to keep up with his antics, taking things out of his mouth, and keeping him away from our rambunctious pets. When he couldn’t sit still and play with something for one minute before crawling off into trouble, I became exasperated. He was whiny and cranky, and I was getting a headache. Somewhere in all the madness, I realized that maybe he needed some extra love, and so did I! So I took him into my arms and let him put his head on my shoulder while I gently danced with him. He loved it! After a little snack, he played happily by himself long enough for me to help the girls finish their schoolwork. Fifteen more minutes well spent.
In the course of our busy days and adult responsibilities, let us not forget that every minute we give our children is an investment in the future. The rewards will last for eternity.
Excerpted from Activated magazine. Used with permission.