Saturday, January 31, 2015

Preventing Bullying by Building Relationships .

This blog is a short for a longer article. If you would like the full article please contact me.

I call parenting the toughest job you will ever love and hate. The ramifications of what you say, do, and how you react can help or hurt children as they develop.

Many adults do not consider how their actions will affect the lives of their children. Parent- child interaction has a lot to do with a child’s sense of self, sense of others and how to treat people. One of the biggest issues I see is the use of negative words to motivate children. The words parents use are the most powerful in children’s lives. Children believe what their parents tell them. When their parents say you can do it. Then give them the tools they need. Children try hard and work to accomplish it , because they believe they can. The opposite is also true. Negative words do not motivate they fester. They can also teach children to accept negative words and violence from others. Bullying is defined as using words, actions, attitudes to intimidate, harass, isolate or violate another person who is weaker or subordinate to you. Relational intimacy can help children resist bullies.

Relational Intimacy and Bullying

Relational Intimacy is the closeness of heart, soul and mind that leads to connection and camaraderie. This kind of relationship can happen with deliberate and planned effort on behalf of parents. There are three elements of relational intimacy they are respect, listening, and time.

Self-respect is a by-product of being respected by important adults in our lives and by doing things and being successful. Parents when they use respectful words, actions, and attitudes in raising their children empower them with self-respect. Also, children knowing that they are good at something and becoming proud empowers them. Respect also helps children to recognize that all people have a right to be treated with dignity. This prevents them from becoming bullies themselves.

When do you provide time to listen and not interrogate?” Children need to feel safe when talking. Provide some kind of activity that requires no media and you will find all kinds of things to discuss. Eye contact can be intimidating so avoid it. There is an art to listening it takes several steps. 1) listen carefully, pay attention to the feelings being expressed and not just the words; 2) don not criticize or give advice just hear what is being said 3)before you respond repeat back what you heard ask questions for clarification and then 4)take a moment to think before you respond. Take a drink or restroom break if you need it. Your response should be loving and kind.

The one thing that we never get back is time.. The truth is what you spend y our time doing is what you value. Relational intimacy is all about spending time to learn about each other and to keep the communication going.

Parents who work hard to develop relational intimacy with their kids will automatically give them the tools they need to combat bullying.   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mental Illness, Desperation, Suicide, Murder, and Parenting

It is sad to see the latest murder-suicide of a Mom and her children reported in Florida. There are so many families, there are many people with mental disorders or those kinds of issues who are exceptional parents.The main issues effecting these families is to develop a safety plan. Depending on the disorder parents need to develop not only a team of professionals who can help them to manage the illness. But, also a group of family and friends who are willing to help in cases where the parent's illness becomes less manageable.

Creating a safety plan is very important to the health and well-being of everyone most especially the children.  A safety plan starts by having one or two people in the life of a person who checks in with them on a regular basis. This person(s) provide accountability partnership to the parent. (See blog post In addition, this person can serve as a respite caregiver for the children if the parennt is experiencing difficulty. There are other steps to a safety plan for suicide prevention. Recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed or when suicidal thoughts are creeping in. Make sure you see and seek the help of a mental health professional. Create a safe environment in your home.

Things like this can be prevented by careful management and teamwork. The parent needs to create a safety plan preferably with the assistance of a mental health professional. Then every person who is part of the team helping this person should have a copy of the plan and be very familiar with its use and what supports they can provide. We can work to prevent this from happening. How? If you have a friend who has these kinds or similar issues get involved. Talk to them about a safety plan and become a part of the team!

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a PDF a template for writing a safety plan. .

Believe in Parenting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

President Obama's plan to Tax 529 Plans

I am not looking to start a political argument here, but I am sad and even a little disgusted by this proposed tax hike. I am of the opinion if a parent is working hard to care for their children's future anyone who gets in the way is collateral damage. I have heard both political parties are not really backing this action plan. However, it is an indicator I see of governmental crack down on family and parenting in particular.

I have worked diligently over the course of  my career to become knowledgeable about parenting the trends, practices, and impacts which  effects it. Over the course of the last five years I have seen parents arrested for leaving their kids 10 and 12 home alone for the time it took to run and put gas in the car, for children not being is school even when the school knew the parent(s) dropped them off and picked them up everyday, for allowing a child or stay in a locked car for ten minutes while Mom or Dad grabbed something for dinner from the grocery store, and most recently for letting their children walk a mile home alone. This is unacceptable one of the most important thing for any parent to do is to teach children how to be independent. Independence only comes as children learn to be alone and gain experience in making decisions and knowing they are okay. There is a balance to be struck between protecting our children and overprotecting them. What I am most concerned about is instilling the fear of risk into our children. Life has risk and if  we cripple our children by making them afraid to live; then we are crippling them for life. Step back and take time to think clearly about the risks you are allowing and not allowing your children to take. Look at your fears, examine them and talk about them with other adults.  Decide if they are rational or if you are being overprotective. If it is the latter then make decisions not based on them but in spite of them.

I fear for the parents who are making 50k trying to save in a 529 plans for their children's future. They are being taxed just the same as those who are making 200K and saving in a 529. Please, contact your Senators' and Congressmen and let your opinions be known.  The Middle Class has enough to worry about without the Federal Government reaching into the already limited funds of parents trying to further their children's future.

Believe in your Parenting!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Parenting in the News: Should Kids Be or Walk Alone

Are we in America leaning further and further towards becoming Parents who cripple Indepenence?

Recently, in the news there have been stories about parents allowing their children independence through walking a mile home, learning to ride the subway, or even just leaving a child at home alone for short periods. The general thought is children need to be supervised at all times never left alone or to be free of adult oversight. My question is are we so afraid of what could happen we are willing to rob our children of the feeling of accomplishment of being left on their own and being okay?

I think we have let ourselves come to believe children being abused, kidnapped, snatch, or deliberately harmed by a stranger is the norm rather than the exception! Do not get me wrong I am in no way saying parents should not be vigilant in protecting their children from hurt, harm, or danger. What I am saying is our petulance of being overprotective is just as dangerous if not more so.

Children who do not develop a sense of confidence in their ability to be strong and independent. Will inherently be followers. Followers  who have not been allowed to think for themselves and have learned to let the stronger ones guide. This is okay, until the leader is the school bully who decides your child should beat up the weakest girl in school. Or the college professor who wants to have sex with them. Or the drug dealer who wants them to be a courier.

Whether CPS or the Division of Family Services or any other agency wants to admit it parenting is all about helping small people grow into strong, capable decision-makers who can stand on their own and be responsible. This does not happen without some practice and yes that does me some level of non-supervised time. Every parent must decide what this looks like for their family and each child in particular.. However, it is not optional. Children need to learn  what it is like to be alone and independent. Unless we adults get our acts together and realize living by fear will cripple rather than protect our children. We are in danger of creating a nation of followers not seen since the Third Reich.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Attn: Parents and ECE Professionals The QualCon Web-based Conference for Early Childcare Leaders

It is often difficult for Early Childhood Professionals to get their needed professional training hours. Patricia Nan Anderson and her web-based Quality Conference is working to make it easier. This conference is also important for parents to investigate. Last years conference had sessions which focused on ADHD and another on dealing with children's allergies. Patricia uses her vast resources to gain professionals from all over the US and Canada to bring great information and unique perspective to caring for children. The conference will be held in May. Keep an eye on the site linked below for more details. I will be blogging to remind you and keep you updated.

Friday, January 23, 2015

KidZania: A new kind of Theme Park

KidZania a new kind of theme park which allows  children a chance to explore the adult world by working at adult jobs, paying taxes, and making other adult decisions. Parents are allowed to watch through glass walls, but not allowed to intervene.

I love the concept of this theme park. A parent's whole goal is to get kids to the point where they can thrive in the adult world. I think this park gives kids a glimpse into what it really means to be an adult. I also think this concept is fascinating to kids.

I believe that in order for parents to empower their kids especially their teens to be ready for the adult world take mentoring. I think KidZania may be a great way to get this process started. Want to know more about this park.? Click the link below.

More about KidZania

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Are you an Effective Parent?

Effective Parenting
Are you an effective parent? The following six questions will give you a snapshot of your parenting tendencies.
1. Can your child predict with 100% accuracy what will happen as a result of their misbehavior?
2. In your arsenal of parenting tools do you have light, medium and heavy consequences?
3. Do you spend time each day with your children engaging in meaningful activity or conversation?
4. Do you take time to talk through misunderstandings and misbehaviors when you are calm and level headed?
5. Are you focused on helping your children become adults who can face the world in a competent and remarkable ways?
6. Are you being a living the example that you want your children to meet and exceed in their future life?
The following discusses how effective parents handle issues.
Question I: Discuss the rules with their children and make sure that they understand the expectations. They also make sure that consequences are understood and follow through with. Question 2 : Keep a variety of tools at hand. They recognize that children make mistakes and that this is different from willful deliberate disobedience. They make certain that consequences are swift, loving, kind and sympathetic to the plight of the child. 
Question 3: Make time each day to make meaningful connections with their children. It becomes a priority to be a part of their children’s everyday world. It is very important for them to have loving and nurturing activities and conversations with their children .
Question 4: Take the opportunity to use times of misbehavior and mistakes as teaching tools. They discuss the expectation and help kids to step back and look at their motives and hidden reasons for their misbehavior. They keep responsibility for the actions with their children and help children come up with strategies to prevent future problems.
Question 5: Recognize that the true test of parenting is in the adults their children become. Keeping that in mind children tend to take detours along the path. They stay focused on helping children learn from mistakes and help them to use the new learning.

Question 6: Recognize that they are the example their children will base their lives upon. They also know that behavior speaks louder than words. They live out each day the person they want their children to be in the future; recognizing that their children will often exceed them. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Parent Relationships can Improve Parenting

Parenting and relationships is the basis for the growth and development of both the adult and the child. The relationships we model are important. However, equally important are the growth and development we get from interacting with others. If our relationships make us better. All of our lives will get better including our parenting. I encourage all adults to develop accountability relationships. These relationships have specific and focused conversations surrounding deeply personal and emotional growth and development.Our relationships as adults affect our children follow our example. If we have happy, healthy, and well-balanced relationships so will they. If our relationships are frustrating, chaotic, and harsh their relationships will be the same. In this blog I want to focus on a type of relationship which is needed in our lives for growth and development as people and therefore as parents.

Accountability Relationships

I encourage all adults to have at least two accountability relationships. One with their significant other and one with a same sex person outside of the romantic relationship. Accountability partners are people with whom we are completely and brutally honest with. It is within these relationships we get mentally, emotionally, and verbally intimate with someone. It is important for the growth of any romantic relationship for each partner to feel love and supported enough to be able to share this kind of vulnerability. If you feel you can not be in this type of relationship with your significant other, I would question how "in love" you really are. Love by its very definition is all about being vulnerable to the other. Secondly, there is an old saying "your husband can not be your best girlfriend". Having a same sex accountability partner who you can be vulnerable with is important. If you are gay then the opposite holds true. You should have an opposite sex accountability. partner.

 Accountability is all about laying your hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, goals and plans out for someone else to see and examine. Your accountability partner should be someone whose judgment you trust. Someone who will tell you you are being a chicken if you are, and also tell you you are being reckless. as well. Basically someone who will look you in the eye and tell you the truth. This person is also someone you can tell the truth to when needed. You can not be accountable to someone who is not willing to be accountable to you in this kind of relationship. A person you are accountable to but they are not to you is a mentor. Accountability relationships are for equals.

I love being in this kind of relationship. It is good to have a person in your life you can be completely honest with. It is nice to be loved and liked by someone who really knows you. This is why it is so important not to have accountability relationships with opposite sex persons if you are involved romantically with someone else. There is an intimacy that becomes very personal with your accountability partner. If you are married it is best to have that kind of relationship with your spouse. You can have a group of same sex friend who you are accountable to.

Many people do not have significant others. I like the idea of an accountability group of four same sex friends. More heads on a problem makeshift easier to solve. In addition, these friends are the ones you will eventually gravitate to spending time with on a regular basis. Which means you will tend to life out healthy relationships for your children. I also encourage you to develop a mentoring type of relationship with your children . I will write on that next blog. In the meantime think about developing and accountqability relationship yourself.

Believe in your Parenting!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fire Safety at Home!

It takes just little planning to avoid ever having to make a choice of whether or not to through your child out of a window to save their lives. Fire safety at home is all about planning and practice. There are some important things to think about in preparing for a fire.If you live or have bedrooms on the second or third floor purchase  fire ladders and install it beneath your windows. 

Know what to do
Many fire fighters have found children under beds, in closets, and a myriad of other places in a house fire. Just because your child goes to school and participates in fire drills, does not necessarily mean they will understand what to do at home. You need to prepare your children for what to do if fire strikes at home.

Be prepared
Being prepared is about having all the tools you need in an emergency. Simply having a fire extinguisher is important. However, when was the last time it was taken to a Fire station and checked. When was the last time you checked the batteries in your fire alarms? Many people have not gotten a carbon monoxide detector, have you? Other than tools are your ready if an emergency happens?

Have an escape route
In order to have an escape route you need to be aware of where all of the doors and windows are in your house and which one is most likely your best escape if you cannot exit via the front door. This is especially important if you live on the second floor. Do you own a collapsible ladder to use to escape from the second floor?

What you need for an Emergency Kit
Here is a list of things you should have ready in a bag that is near your escape exit in case of fire: Copies if important papers (include a driver’s license, insurance papers, birth certificates, social security cards, include copies of anything important which may be on your home computer, all of this information could be stored on a jump drive. Medicines that you or your children need to take to ensure your health. You can ask your doctor or pediatrician for samples to keep in your emergency kit. Also you should include an extra set of keys, a check book, an emergency credit card, and a list of emergency numbers. You will need warm clothing and travel size toilettes for each family member (diapers and wet wipes if there is an infant or small child), at least one blanket, one bottle of water for each person, and non-perishable snacks. Include a small first aid kit. It would be best if this fire safety kit is kept in a sturdy duffle type bag with a variety of compartments that will allow for toiletries to leak or break if the bag needs to be thrown. I also suggest a baby sling or body attachment carrier is included especially in the case of a second floor escape plan. Place this kit in a place you will think to grab it in an emergency situation, such as under the bed or in your closet.

It is also important to train your pets as part of you safety plan. Cats and Small doges will need carriers to get into in the escape route.If you have a pet door. Train them to go out the door when the alarm sounds. Make sure if you have pets a person is assigned to take care of getting the pet out with the family and make sure you practice

The most important part of planning for your family’s safety is to practice your escape plan.
People tend to panic when an emergency comes. So, practicing for an emergency is a crucial part of planning. It is so interesting that people fail to plan by practicing, yet, on the news we see emergency personnel practicing all of the time. If they are constantly dealing with emergencies and they practice, then those of us who do not deal with them regularly really need the practice. Practice it has been said makes perfect. I am not sure I believe that is true. However, I do believe that practice makes permanent and in the case of an emergency having the understanding of what to do made permanent can save everyone. So, practice, practice, practice!!I hope these five steps will hopefully prepare you and your family in case the unthinkable happens.

What if we can not get out
Teach children t
o stay low to the ground. Plan two or three specific locations in the house where a person should go if they can not get out of the house. This way anyone who can get out can tell emergency personnel where to look if they need to go in to get them out. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Belief in Parenting Blog: An Expert Guide you Down the Path to Quality Childcare

Over the last year many politicians, newscasters, reporters, and others have been talking about high quality child care. However, the average person has no idea what that means. Quality child care is all about a term used in early childhood it is Developmentally Appropriate Practices or DAP  for short. This term refers to ensuring that each classroom environment contains the educational equipment (toys), shelving, chairs, tables, etc necessary for children at that age to be as safe and  independent in their learning as possible. It also refers to educators making sure that all lessons are appropriate for the age and developmental level of the children in the classroom. . Children learn from their environment. Also, there are no real subjects as known in Elementary school instead they are domains. The four areas children need to develop to be ready for Primary school learning. These are four different types of development Intellectual, Language, Physical, and Social/Emotional.  In my next blog I will explain what each of these are. Suffice it to say that Early Childhood is very different than what most of us remember in school. The link below shows the differences betwwn the two.

I will tell you that Quality in Early Childhood depends on five things:

Classroom Environment
Curriculum Development
Children's Ability to be Independent
Teacher Training and Understanding of both Child Development and Classroom Environment
Involvement of Parents and  the Community

Want more information? Check our my book.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Parenting in the News-Sick Children Separated from Parents

This story is about the Connecticut Division of Family Services has taken a 17-year old into custody. The teen wanted to do homeopathic cancer therapy verses Chemo. Her mom supported her daughter's decision. DFS took the daughter into custody and is forcing her to take chemo. In addition her mother is not allowed to see her. As a parent-child advocate I am concerned. This is the fifth story in the last year I have heard of where state divisions for families have stepped into homes and removed children to force them into medical treatment. In this case the mother and daughter had opted to treat the illness without drugs. Please note they did not, not chose to treat the cancer. However, someone in this governmental agency without knowing the family and more than likely the child forced the will of the state onto the mother and child. Having cared for my mother with cancer, I can tell you dealing with this was very taxing for her. Forcing someone into it at the same time removing their support system is cruel!

What many do not understand about these state agencies is once your child is taken into custody it will more than likely be six to twelve months before the parents can get their children back home even if the state took them in error. Compound this with a child who is sick and it  in my mind becomes the state perpetuating a crime against not only the family; but the child. The agency and courts need to work harder to meet their own mandates of being in the best interest of the child. This particular case is obviously not in this child's best interests. What really concerns me is it is happening more and more. It is like certain states believe the children belong to the government and not their individual families. Which is not only dangerous precedent to create. It is damaging to children and their ability to attach and stay attached to the family unit.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Are you a parent who leads? Or a leader who parents?

 I was watching one of Simon Sinek's Ted Talk  in it he spoke of the difference between leaders who have the title and those who inspire even without the title.I though of something a local Atlanta leader Kim Hoeffsteder told me.  The goal of every leader is to inspire, motivate, and empower others to the point where  they are able to turn around and do the same for someone else. So, when I ask the question are you a parent who leads? Or a leader who parents? I am asking, are you inspiring, motivating, and empowering your children, in such a way they can do it for your grandchildren? Or are you simply  using your title to keep your children in line until they leave your house?

You can develop inspiring relationships with your children. The first step is to choose to develop a relationship. Many parents want to be friends with their children. Which is a good goal to have for when they become adults. Honestly, the most amount of your time with them will be adult to adult. However, the relationship you build with them as children will set the parameters for that future friendship. The goal of your relationship when they are children really requires three things. Respect for them as a human being. Expectations of them to be kind, safe, well educated, and neat. And lastly, guiding them to develop their dreams into goals and plans.which they can grow into and accomplish.

 The way you accomplish these parenting goals is through modeling, discussion, and support. Modeling means you must be a living example of what you want them to be. If you expect your children to grow up  and not be a smoker, don't smoke. Discussion does not mean you talk and they listen. It means you both talk and you both listen! Support helps your children do what you are asking them to do. Be patient. The average child need to hear something 500 times before they internalize it. Why? Because they are constantly learning from and absorbing what is around them. They need to hear it many times to get it to sink in.Give them every opportunity to hear, absorb, and internalize the important things.

Being a parent who leads is so much more important than simply having the title! Many people can bring children into the world. But, it takes a dedicated, loving, creative, and patient person to inspire a child. Be that PARENT!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Journeys Through Parenthood Volume One Highlight 1

Last year one of the things which impacted me most is seeing Simon Sineek's TED Talk Start With Why. . This talk inspired me to look at the real reason I wrote Journeys. I have a strong belief in parents and their ability to inspire, motivate and empower their children. I believe any adult who chooses to can build strong, long-lasting, deeply emotional relationships with their kids. However, this does not happen organically; it takes work. It is my job to give information which helps parents build the knowledge they need to build these relationships. Writing Journeys was an an important step in my own journey.  This short read is packed with lot of information about what quality Early Education looks like. It gives parents what to look for, questions to ask, and ideas of things they can do with their children to support learning and growth. Choosing who will help you prepare your children for life and school is an important decision. I wrote this book to give parents the information they need to make a great decision for their family. I hope you buy and read it! I hope it helps.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Parenting: Am I Doing it Right?

Parents today often wonder if they are doing a good job. Many worry about what their child could be getting into add to that bullying, sexing, social media etc. the world feels like a much more dangerous space. The truth? Parenting is first and foremost the relationship you take the time to build with each child.

Every child is different. They have differing personalities, temperaments, gifts,talents and abilities. Learning to love, accept, and appreciate each child as an individual is what great parenting is all about. Every parent has the same goal to help their children grow in to adults; who are happy, capable, caring, and contributing to make the world a better place. This takes three things: relationship, guidance and belief.

Relationship as mentioned earlier is about making connections. Every child needs a parents undivided attention everyday. This time should be simply about connecting not discipline or teaching. Reserve this time for talking or diving a shared enjoyable activity. Each child also needs extended time more than a half hour of time with each parent at least three times a month.

Guidance depending on the age of the child guidance includes listening, advice giving, talking through a problem together, counseling, or comforting. It really depends on the situation. It is always the proper practice to soothe then to apply consequences. Children should be able to come to you with a problem and get your empathy and compassion. If they also need discipline and consequences let that take second place. When in doubt always put relationship first.

Belief in both yourself and your children is imperative in creating and sustaining an environment of peace, great guidance, and joy. Believing in yourself and your parenting demands two things first is to to be authentic and take care of yourself. Maintain balance is also an important part of belief. As a parent, you are also a spouse, sibling, employee, friend etc.  Making time for all of these roles and giving each one space allows you to live all aspects of your life. Belief in you ability to maintain balance means you will. It is when you convince yourself you can not life becomes unbalanced. .

The second thing you need to set the example in life you want your children to meet and exceed. 85% of what children learn and become in life is what they watch their parents do and become. Therefore, if you wanty your children to grow up and follow heir dreams you have to do it first! As Oprah used to say "you must becom your best self". In order, for your children to become their best selves. Many people think adults following their own dreams is selfish and irresponsible. TYhis is only tyrue if you follow your dreams at the cost of your family; instead of for your family. You can not run off to Hollywood to pursue your dreams, but you can start auditioning at the local playhouse. Or you may not run off to Now York yo styaryt your cooking show, but you can create a YouTube channel. 

Parenting is not about doing it right. It is about being t5rue to yourself, building a strong relationship wityh your kid, and living a life you would be proud for them to emulate and succeed in tyheirs.

Belief in Parenting