Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why do Early Childhood Teachers need a College Degree?

Over the last ten years there has been an ongoing debate  do teachers of children younger than five need college degrees? There are those who believe that taking care of children who "play all day" do not need a college degree. If it were true and all children did all day was play I would probably agree with them. However, child play in early education goes beyond enjoyment by a wide margin.

Let me tell you my story:

After two and  a half years in  college,I started my degree in elementary education and the following year I began to serve in the two and three year old class st Grace Church St. Louis. I fell in love with the two's and decided to switch my major to early childhood education. I was surprised to find out there were 90-semester hours difference between the two majors.I was perplexed, how could two fields that shared one title education be so different that they basically shared only the college general requirements? Upon counsel from my college advisor I opted to get my Masters of Art in ECE rather than start all over since I was a second semester junior.

I graduated and taught first grade and junior high school science before I went back to school to get my Masters of Art in Early Childhood Education. It was over the course of this year, I began to realize why there was so much difference in the two fields. It was literally necessary for me to set my elementary education degree  on a shelf and ignore what I knew before in order to learn about early education. It is not an exaggeration to say they are polar opposite in theory and practical application.

First an early childhood teacher has to know the ins and outs of the four domains of development (physical, intellectual, language, and social/emotional). Knowledge of these four areas has to become almost innate. Early Childhood is based on observation, interaction, listening, and asking questions.   Using these foundations a teacher then must set up the environment to support each child's individual scope of learning. This scope of learning shifts and changes depending on the child and what other lessons the children are developing. A teacher has to keep up with every shift of development for each child and change the environment accordingly.

Young children use play to act out, practice, and absorb all the things they have observed, heard, been involved in, or want to know more about. Kids under 5 can not yet think in abstract terms. So, as they play they often think out loud to themselves. Teachers listen to what is called thought-speech and ask questions that get kids to expand their thinking and move along the process of learning more about what they are thinking. Based on this teachers choose books, activities, and cooking experiences that will help the children build on what they are learning.

In addition, the largest area of development in the ECE classroom is social/emotional development. This starts by teachers learning about and using a standardized assessment called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. This assessment is a combination of teacher observations, questions discussed with parents, and evaluating a series of developmental exercises children are asked to perform. All the data is collected and sent off to the testing center where it is evaluated and returned. This one time assessment is used as an starting point on which teachers  can build upon to guide each child's learning start.

Teachers of children from birth to age 5 are teaching children how to put things where they belong, how to follow directions, sitting still during circle time, waiting their turn, and learn to listen. Teachers also guide children in how to interact with one another learning to negotiate, consider the feelings of others, share, and be kind. This is the greatest impact teachers have on children as they get ready for the Kindergarten classroom.

Brain research shows that in the first five years of life is when the brain makes it possible to develop these pathways. The early childhood classroom is an ever changing environment allowing children the opportunity to look at a situations and circumstances in a variety of ways. A teacher who has studied child development, classroom organization, classroom environment, observation techniques, open-ended questions, and a variety of other skills learned in a college classroom is far more equipped to support children in their learning and development.

The final reason an adult in an early childhood classroom needs a college education is above all the most important is called Developmentally Appropriate Practices or DAP for short. This is the concept of ensuring children are in an environment and are participating in activities which are geared toward the development of where they are in age and developmental stage. When children are pushed it can cause stress and overwhelm which  can damage brain development, but also can keep children from gaining the skills necessary for future success. ECE Teachers are tasked with ensuring children have a balance of activities which help kids build upon the skill they already have and stretching them to acquire the ones in a way which causes them to grow without causing undue stress. This is the purpose of knowing and understanding the principles of developmentally appropriate practices and the  signs of stress in children and doing everything necessary to maintain this balance.

Do adults who teach young children need college degrees? The answer is yes. There is so much going on in a child's life and development, that they need adults who understand how they learn and what to do to support that learning. This by the way is the foundation for everything they will learn in the future. ECE professionals are our first line of care and support for our youngest learners. They deserve to have adults who are fully able to help and support their learning and development. Childcare is very expensive parent should get what they are paying for someone who can step in and help their child to develop fully and be ready to step into the Kindergarten classroom ready to learn.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sometimes the answer is: 'Because I Said So'

I remember being a kid and my Dad saying "because I said so". As a kid I said I will never say that to my kids. That was before I reached adulthood and realize that sometimes that is the only answer. One of my favorite ages is the curious, questioning, adorable, laughing 4-year-old. This is the age of the infinite list of questions and where many parents are endlessly answering questions. Why? Where? When? Next, there are those times when your eight-year-old really wants to do something ridiculous like build a treehouse on their own in the tree in the backyard. You discuss doing it together and they they do not need either help or supervision. Then the greatest of all challenges the teen who wants to go to the  rock concert 500 miles away with a group of unsupervised kids.

These are all times when parents may drag out the dreaded statement by all kids.

Because I said so!

Do you feel guilty for using it sometimes. Of course. This past Saturday Rabbi Kevin Solomon made the point; it is about the fact that you simply have lived longer and know a few more things our kids do not. Sometimes we need to assert our authority, not because we want to "Lord it" over our children. But, simply because it is our job to keep them safe and see dangers that exist from benefit of having lived longer than our children have lived.

I am writing this blog to offer you some support! You love your kids and much of the time you know best. While it is our job to ensure our children can look at a situation and figure out and do the right thing. Sometimes, this is beyond the scope of their years; because of this you may need to say no. When the challenge is on and the real reason is because you have lived longer and see the dangers they can not. You may find yourself using the dreaded "Because I said so!" It is okay because that is a valid response.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Parent Classes For Centers

In 1995 as I was creating the early childhood training program for Ozarks Technical Community College, I went all over the city talking with child care providers. I met many directors and owners looking for ways to support their parents. It turned out their parents wanted to be able to ask questions of an expert and other parents. Parent support groups became a regular practice among centers. I was asked to lead several a month. It was an exciting time as I watched parents grow and expand their knowledge.

Once I moved to Georgia I tested out my parent program called PT*A Parent Program. It is a curriculum designed to first help parents reach Maslow's top tier of self-actualization. Then moves on into child development and other programs. PT&A is short for Parents, Teachers, and Advocates. We are a parent development group in Atlanta, GA. We offer trainings here for parents and have worked with two of the most noted centers in the Metro Atlanta area: Child Development Association of Roswell and Gate City Day Nursery established in 1905. We are looking to expand into more areas of Metro Atlanta. It our goal to bring parent programs to early childhood enters around the city.

 We are also looking to train others to do our program. We require out teachers to have a minimum of a AA in early childhood. Our 16-week training program would allow staff members to carry on parent programming as a long-term program where parents would have ongoing direct access to their parent development coach.

Would you like to check out the curriculum? Click here.

If you would be interested in starting a conversation about which option would be best for your agency. Please call Coach Barb Harvey at 770-256-3281. 

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who I serve and how I can help!

When I think of rich content it is hard for me not to think of what my ideal client most needs. 

She is between 25-45, a mom with children under the age of five. In addition, she is a committed christian, she's married, works full-time either as an employee or an entrepreneur, loves cooking and gardening, Her number one fear is not being able to handle her work and be a great wife and mom.

She may or may not have a full grasp on God's purpose for her life, but she is committed to finding out what that is and how it works in her life and family.

I am committed to helping this woman build a great life. I want to help her do several things.
1. Build and authentic relationship with God, herself, her husband, and her children.
2. Create a personal mission statement that will guide her to stay focused on what God has for her and a foundation from which to choose wisely where she spends her time.

3. Equip her with the tools she needs to be an exceptional Mom.
4. Coach her into becoming a Psalms 31 woman; whose life blesses her family first and the world second and she has a stellar reputation in both areas of influence.
Is this woman you? I have been coaching since 1995; I have helped literally thousands of parents get to the place they want to be.
Here is the first exercise I give my clients.
Write down your top 10 values. Then look them over and put a check next to the most important and an x next to the least important. Write down five ways you have lived out your top value in the last week. Then your least. If you want to talk about me possibly coaching you. Do this exercise and email me the results. 

Have a great day!

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ECE: K-3 Parent Engagement in November!

November is parent engagement month and I want to encourage all levels of early childhood education programs to think about what this means.I love early childhood most people consider that early childhood ends at preschool. In actuality early childhood extends through the third grade. So, as a first grade teacher I was as much a part of the early childhood experience as I was when I taught 3-year-olds. One of the major standards needed in our field is family engagement. Getting parents involved right from the beginning by encouraging them to take an active role in the educational process is the ideal if we want them to continue throughout their child's school career.

As a teacher who started out in inner city schools I can tell you this becomes so very important. As a first grade teacher I made it my business to visit the homes of every child in my class. I talked to parents about my plans for the school year, what activities I was panning, and how they could help. I taught in a neighborhood school and could do that. What my visit did was to let parents know I cared not just about a child in my class, but how I engaged with the family as a whole.

Schools today are rarely so engaged in the process of putting the family first in the educational process. However, if schools do so they will find great success in the education of the students they serve. So, I encourage parents to look for schools which support their families and not just their child. One such charter school system serving inner city students is called Rocketship Education in this blog post they talk about the 10 lessons they have learn in serving inner city families. Parent empowerment is number 3. This shows me the level of dedication they have to family engagement. if you are in the inner city of the Bay Area, Milwaukee, Nashville, or DC then check them out. If you are not as I noted above family engagement and parental support is key in the process of education.

How can today's educator empower parents to engage  themselves in the early years of education? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Send home or email a newsletter to parents each moth about the goings on in your classroom. Give them a heads up on ways they can participate far in advance so they can plan.
  2. Create homework assignments which involve parents and children doing things together. Plan an activity at school where kids need to bring in family pictures, tell a story about their mom or dad as a kid, or share a family recipe.
  3. Invite parents into your class to speak about their culture/job/hobby/interest which can expand the kids knowledge of the world and how people engage in it.
  4. Ask parents to volunteer to read or do math work with a child who needs extra help.
  5. Chances are some of your parents have jobs with ultra flexible schedules. Ask them to com in and help with any ambitious classroom project you know you will need extra adult eyes and hands to pull off.
The truth is we as educators, make parent engagement difficult mainly because we think parents do not care. When mostly it is just that parents are not sure how to help. If we open up our mindset to the ways parents can help, explain those ways, and give them enough time to arrange their schedules to do so; I think most educators will be pleasantly surprised. Do not let your preconceived notion of what parents will or will not do prevent you from asking. Give parents the benefit of the doubt. They deserve to be invited to engage in their child's education. All they need is a little guidance in the process.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ECE Support for Multiracial Families

Several years in America General Mills highlighted the cutest kid in their commercial. Little did they imagine that the little girl's parentage would spark such an ugly debate. Yet, race in America is still a large issue. This black man/ white woman intercultural; couple is just the start of the of the process.  Many black women are also choosing to marry from other racial groups and the more our children share high school and college experiences the more families we will see with intercultural couples. In February 2012 the Pew Group released a report on this issue .The report shows that 8.2% of married  couples are multiracial. This means that at least 8.2 % of children entering into early childhood programs are going to either see or be in a multi-racial family.  

We here in the US have such a problem with cultural differences it is often astounding.  I remember when I was 16, I was in line at Venture (wow throw back!) I was standing in line with a friend who was older and I babysat for; a very light skinned black woman. She had run out of a conditioner she used on her daughter's hair, She had been out playing in her kiddie pool, we ran to the store to get it. While in line; a woman behind us said very loudly,"I just hate it when these white women marry black men and have no idea how to take care of their children's hair." It was the first time I had ever heard something so blatantly racist and mean. My friend turned to the woman and said in her very inner-city St. Louis dialect, "I ain't white, and I know exactly what to do with my baby's hair. Life might be easier for you if you minded your own business." The other woman's mouth dropped open in surprise and she tried to apologise. But, my friend who had had a bad day already was not in the mood for apologies and just ignored her. I share this story because it is important to realize that mixed cultural families face bigotry, and prejudice in today's world as shown with the Cheerios commercial as they always have. They should not also have to face it in their ECE community.

The facts are children who are taught to accept all of who they are develop a stronger and more well-developed sense of self. In her blog Chantilly from Bicultural Familia writes there are ( things families can do to raise conficent kids. Who know who they are as a person.(

Those of us in early childhood can help children of mixed heritage by helping them and their peers understand a variety of cultures. Learning to accept all kinds of cultural and famiiy member make-ups; help children learn from the wold around them. As they participate in the ECE classroom children become exposed to a variety of cultural differences which help then learn to value themselves and others. This is clearly a component of  social/emotional development and learning about it  must be supported. Here are a few suggestions:

Books about multiracial families
No Tildes on Tuesdays: by Cherrye Vasquez
The Aunt in Our House by Angela Johnson
Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff
Brown Like Me by Noelle Lamperti
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
Hope by Isabella Monk
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman

Cooking Experiences
Create snacks that showcase a variety of multicultural tastes and talk about differing ways people prepare foods in dinfferent cultures. Discuss how in a multiracial family cooking practices are mixed.

Pictures and Posters
Hang a variety of pictures and posters that showcase all kinds of family groups and multiracial families.

Circle Time Discussions
Teachers can use circle time to discuss family. Invite children to bring in pictures of their own families to share and discuss all the differenes the children's pictures exhibit.

Parent Involvement
Because teaching culture has often included asking parents to bring in dishes, tell stories, and give children a picture of their lives as part of our cultural teachings. Inviting parents iof multicultural families to come in and talk about how their family meld the two cultures in their homes.

Using these tools will expand the social/emotional aspects of ECE classrooms and help children like the little girl in the Cheerios commercial begin to accept themselves as a single person who is a reflection of two or many other cultures. This is a large part of family engagement and support we in the field of ECE can do to support our families.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lessons From Legacy Academy Snellville

Here in Atlanta there was a newsreport regarding an incident where a Mom of a 4-year-old went to the director of the center to inquire about a bruises on her daughter and was told her daughter was no longer welcomed at the center. After doing some investigation I discovered this center received it's inicial licensing review on July 17, of this year. Which makes me sure of two things: this director is new to the field and she had no real support to find out how to handle this issue.

I suspect Mom's version of this story is the accurate one, why I have been there. When you are new and a situation comes up like this you panic. Thus, you say something stupid like "your daughter no longer meets the parameters of this center she is excused from the program". In other words, I am scared and I have no idea what to do except to solve the problem by getting rid of you. A more experienced director would have said, " This is the first I am hearing of this. Give me a few days to investigate what happened and I will get back to you. I ensure you the safety of the children is our paramount concern."

I am almost positive what happened in this case is primarily about inexperience and not callous disregard for a parents concerns. This is why I think parents need to ask about the director's experience when checking out centers. While a new director can be effective it usually takes between 2-4 years to be comfortable unless they have dealt with children or been in a center for a long period of time before becoming a director.

I want to use this example for several things:

  1. I would like to see owner and franchisers of childcare to hire a director/assistent director for training purposes. You should not hire a new director unless absolutely necessary.
  2. If you are a new director call your local National Association for the Education of Young Children state office and request a meeting. Once there ask if they can suggest a possible mentor for you to call if you hit a problem.
  3. Remember as a director it is your job to ensure you are meeting the needs of your team (staff), customers (parents), and your clients (children) at all times. The only way to do this is to talk to everyone and find out what happened and then make your decisions.
  4. Parents be sure to investigate by asking a lot of questions before you place your child in a center.
  5. PT&A teaches a class on choosing quality childcare, contact us for help!
You can avoid these situations on both side it just takes a little time and asking lots of questions!

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Friday, October 13, 2017

How to Effectively Engage Parents in ECE!

The National Association for the Education of Young Children   (NAEYC) has standards for accreditation. One standard is for Family Engagement and Support. Teachers are the staff which engage with families on a daily basis. They are the ones who need the greatest training in customer service. Many times we in the field of education do not consider ourselves in the customer service industry. However, early education is the one field where we have both clients and customers. Clients are people who depend on our knowledge and skill to help them move on to the next station of life. A customer uses services to improve or enrich their lives in some way. ECE has children as clients and parents as customers.  While it is true most centers do an excellent job with our clients; we often fail miserably  serving our customers. Customer service is about meeting customers needs even when sometimes they have not yet realized they have that particular need.
There are three services I believe every child care center in the nation should be providing to parents. 1) Training in child development from six weeks to eight years. 2) Training in positive guidance. And 3) a program for meaningful engagement in the center both in decision making and participation in their child(ren)'s education.
Child Development
In every state early childhood professionals are required to take training hours. Having staff use the trainings they take and then offer them to parents is a great way to meet this need. In addition, there are parent education experts who work with parents on a regular basis. EC Centers can partner with these professionals to bring training to parents. One way to find professionals in your state is to visit the website for parent educators. It lists agencies by state.  The website for the National Parent Educators Network is If you are in the Metro Atlanta, I can support these efforts in your center. My website link is at the end of the article.
Positive Guidance
In 2011  UNICEF released a report stating the most effective  parent trainings that support parent-child relationships are those which focused on positive guidance. This means building loving, respectful, and nurturing relationships with children based on their development and ability to engage in being responsible. At the time the report said only 2% of programs emphasized this concept. Early childhood practices are all about using positive guidance principles. Teachers have great opportunities to be role models for parents. Directors can share articles regarding the use of these principles. Also, this would be another opportunity for teachers to offer sessions to parents. Here is a blog post from Kars4Kids you can share with parents.
Meaningful Engagement
The truth of the matter is people engage in things which are meaningful to them. If early and even on higher educational systems want parents to become true members of the community it has to be worth their while. This means going beyond the fact their children attends here. Centers need to find ways where parent input is both valued and put to use in meaningful ways. Parents can become part of a parent advisory team which works directly with center staff to make programming and practical decisions.
Parents can be asked to do a center newsletter working with staff to plan pictures and articles about center happenings. Parents can also offer support by teaching children about their occupations.  Centers could invite parents to come have lunch and put their child down to nap. Parents can be asked to come in long enough to read a story. Also, having family fun nights where families engage in fun activities after hours which promote parent-child interactions around fun and educational activities. One local Atlanta center has two late evening events parents can sign up for during the Christmas season.

These three areas can help centers support families as they begin the educational process. Centers can be supportive through offering education and meaningful experiences to families. It is these programs which will give families the tools they need to continue to engage in the process during their children's entire educational experience. Ir is also the tools you can use to offer excellent customer service to the families you serve!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Baby-The value of a Good Name

The scriptures says in Proverb 22:1 TLV

A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth,
and grace rather than silver or gold.

This says to me the naming of our children is the most important aspect of our parenting them. The reason I think this is so important is because what we name our children is who they will become. Every time we call them we are telling them who they are.This really hit home with me recently at my home fellowship. A new member was speaking of her daughter our leader asked her daughters name she said Shekinah Glory. For a moment there was complete silence in the froom. What a powerful name! Each time she called her daughter she was reminding her she was always in the presence of the Most High God. 


I think there are four things to consider as we name our children.

  • Definition
  • Hearing from God
  • Their Calling
  • Creating a Positive Inner Voice

The top eight names for 2016:


Sophia-woman of wisdom
Enna-Universal Woman
Ava-Living and Breathing


Jackson-God is merciful
Aidan-Like a Fire
Lucas-From Lucania
Liam-Strong mind and protection

Examining the definition of these eight names gives you a quick look at why meanings are important.  Aidan means like a fire. This could be good or bad depending on how we focus him in life. Fire can be both warm and helpful, or burning and destructive. Giving your son a name like Aidan demands we care for his mental and emotional state so as we call him we are always building a positive bent to his nature.

Hearing from God
I believe we as parents need to pray and seek God to understand the purpose he is sending this little one into the Earth. David said in Psalm 139:14 all of my days were written in your book as yet none of them had yet been lived. The prophets of old would often tell parents who their children would be. He told Sampson and John the baptist mothers' as tow examples. If you pray and ask God will give you insights into the life of your child and who they are meant to be. He will also give you understanding on how to be an effective parent for this particular child. Once you understand who they will be it will be easier to name them. Keep in mind the meaning of your last name and how it can fit.

My full name is

Barbara-strange or exotic woman
Elizabeth-consecrated to God
Harvey-worthy of battle

So, on those days I heard at the top of my mothers lungs ny full name she was calling me:

You exotic consecrated woman worthy of battle

NOT Bad! 

However, when I heard it it was usually not good! LOL!!

You can look at the most popular names of last year and see some meanings were great and some not so much. Pick your child's name carefully. They will live up to what you call then.

Their Calling

I thin it is interesting how my sister got her name. My parents were arguing about tow names. One day I was talking to someone and said I am going to have a baby sister and her name is Angela. My parents looked at each other and shrugged. Her name is Angela and she is a writer. I think it interesting her name means messenger.She is living up to her name everyday!

Positive Inner Voice

Our children need to have their inner voice tell them they are smart, hard working and worthy. When kids have good names and are told often their names meaning and how they were named on purpose to fulfill the meaning of that name it helps tahem to form a positive inner voice based on the name. It is something they will think about often over the years of their lives. I do.

I want to congratulate you on your coming arrival and come up with a name who will let them know who they are and what they can accomplish!

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Monday, October 9, 2017


In 2004, I started reading Dr. Phil McGraw’s book Self-Matters it is the first place I heard of and learned about the concept of elf-talk or the inner voice. I love the way he explained it. What I took away from it was the concept of a quietly running tape which urns underneath all the other voices in your life and this voice is the one where people live from. It is based on all the things you heard as a child not only about yourself but about the way life works in general these are the voices primarily of your parents. Therefore, it is what we hear our parents say about us and life that creates the foundations of our inner voice. As a parent coach, this caused me to step back and examine my whole concept of what it means to be an effective parent. I have concluded that effective parents have several things in common when it comes to creating a positive inner voice for themselves first and as a result for their children. I have found this can help even if their children go differing messages early if parents are willing to communicate these inner changes with their kids.

1.      Authenticity
2.      Examination of own Inner Voice
3.      Recognition of Values and Self
4.      Positive Parenting

Authenticity is defined as living a life true to yourself. I believe authenticity is about aligning your life so the following parts of you are congruent.

·        Beliefs
·        Thoughts
·        Feelings
·        Words
·        Actions

As I was reading Dr. Phil’s book it began to occur to me I had no real idea what my self-talk was and how it was shaping my life. I began to wonder if other people felt the same way. At the time, I was working with a group of moms and I began to talk with them about what I was reading and how it was affecting my life and I wondered what they thought. It was amazing every woman in the group of 12 shared the same feeling.

Exploring your own self-talk-taking the time to stop and get your mind and surroundings as quiet as possible while thinking about a decision. Finding out what our own inner voice was saying and deciding about whether this is what we wanted for our lives. We began to think about and create a space where we could be open and vulnerable with one another about how do develop our own self-talk. As we did so something interesting started to happen, the kids started to respond differently to how we interacted with them. Upon reflection, we recognized in developing our own connection with our inner voice it causes significant changes in our outer voice as well. This is where I began to realize that authenticity is the true foundation of parenting. I call authenticity living a life based on what I truly believe, and let that be the basis from which I think, say, feel, and act. Bringing my life into congruence. This causes me to be clearer on what I want and what I expect. Living an authentic life is not easy. If you want to learn more about it. I wrote a post for Inspire Me Today which gives a short post on how to start.

Exploring your values and goals-Being authentic is primarily about exploring who you are and what you want in your life. I have created a list of ten questions I ask every client today. You can use them to help you think not only about the values you consider important. But, also why they are important to you.

  1. What is the most important thing in your life?
  2. What is your biggest dream?
  3. Who are the most important people in your life and why?
  4. If you could do anything in the world for your work life, what would it be?
  5. If you could do anything in your personal life what would it be?
  6. What do you spend the most time doing?
  7. In one to three sentences write down what you would want people to say about you after you die.  Are you living in a way in which people would say that?
8.      What are your most important roles in life?  Why? (I.e. mother, father, sister, friend)
  1. What would you say living a spiritual life is to you?
10.   If you could sit down to dinner with three important people in your life dead or alive and have; what three people would you ask> What would you ask them?

These questions get down to the core of your belief system and therefore get to the heart of what your inner voice is saying to you. It was not until I came up with this list and answered the questions myself that I began to really define what my life was about and why. It was this understanding which gave me the courage to strike out on my own and start a nonprofit organization based on effective parenting. I firmly agree with Dr. Phil when he says, “you can’t lead where you haven’t been”. We adults need to know, understand, and adjust our own inner voice to be a positive one before we can ever get our children’s inner voice to be positive. This is because it is our voice which forms the foundation for the future inner voice of our kids. If we are not positive, they will not be either. How we answer the above 10 questions will help to know what you value and why. Once we know this we can then step back and examine how we feel about things and weigh what we think, say, and do based on these insights. Here is how we change our voice.

·        Know our values and why we think they are important.
·        Based on these values create positive statements to replace the negative ones which may come up.
·        When making decisions listen to our inner voice for any negative feedback.
·        Speak out loud the new positive statement you have created. (Saying the statement out loud short-circuits the inner voice and instead hardwires the statement over it.)
·        Observe the changes in yourself and those around you as you work on re-working your inner voice.

Words really are the most powerful force of the universe, we can use our own words to change our own inner voice and shape the inner voice of our children.

Positive Parenting

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know it is all about positive parenting. So, I will just give you my take on what it looks like for me. One thing I often tell parents is you are not raising a child you are grooming a person to live in the adult world. The truth is 75% of your relationship with your child will be on an adult to adult level. Therefore, it is important to remember that eventually you want to be close friends with this person you now hold in your arms. While for the first 18 years they need you to be their parent first and not necessarily their friend; they still need to be treated with love and respect. My mother was great at positive parenting she respected us and gave my sister and I real tools to develop positive inner voices. One thing she did is she never let us win at anything if we won it is because we beat her. I remember the first time I beat my mother playing Scrabble I was so excited. My mother was a word smith as a voracious reader and a Liberian she knew words. For me to beat her in a game we started playing to help my sister and I with spelling, it gave me a real sense of pride. She gave me the respect of learning to win and growing as a person to think about strategy and effort in playing the game. Based on this I think positive parenting in my thoughts requires three things.

·        A relationship based on mutual respect and love.
·        Rules and consequences for the family
·        A parent focused on building a strong, deeply committed relationship with their child at every stage of development

Mutual Respect and Love

There are times when we as adults tend to forget that kids are people too. These small beings while in our care and need our protection and love. They are their own separate beings with their own purpose for being on the planet. As those who care for them it is our duty to ensure they are treated with the greatest level of care and respect. Mainly because how wo treat them defines for them how they should be treated. While we call them our children they are only ours for a little while until we launch them out into the world to establish and develop their own way of living and serving. This suggest that as they ae developing it is our duty to help them learn about the world and how to engage. The first thing they need to learn is what it means to be loved and respected. In laying the foundation for a positive inner voice it is these two attributes which lay the first blocks of the foundation to building it.

Rules and Consequences

I firmly believe in family contracts. There are many versions, however the one I promote has a list of rules, rewards and consequences. This family contract works in the following way:

·        The parents first decide on the non-negotiables things everyone must abide by no matter what.
·        The whole family sits down and talks about the rules, rewards the family or individual gets at the end of the week for following all the rules, and what light, medium, and hard consequences the person must do if the rule is broken.
·        The rules, rewards, and consequences are written and hung up on the wall as the family contract.
·        Everyone in the family must pay the consequences for not following the rule including Mom and Dad.

I really like this form of training kids to follow the rules. I like it for three reasons. First, it puts more power in the hands of the children. They know what the rule and the consequences are ahead of time. It gives them an understanding about choosing the correct behavior. Secondly, it takes the parent out of the bad guy role. Kids know the rules if they choose to break them the consequences have already been established and the children participated in choosing them. Finally, I like the fact that if Dad breaks the rule he also pays the consequence teaching children that even adults must follow the rules. This form of a family contract supports the development of a positive inner voice as children see they can have control over their own lives and develop a sense of self-control.

Strong Relationships

As in any relationship building getting to know a person takes spending time, and building a shared history. However, it also takes a good bit of communication. For parents and children this means spending as much time together as possible dong activities which allow for both conversation and building memories. Things like cooking together, going to the zoo, seeing a play or movie and discussing the likes and dislikes of what was portrayed, building a tree or play house in the back yard and discussing the design; it is doing these things together and getting involved which builds an interaction which builds and strengthens relationships. Kids know their parents are the most important adults in their lives it is the fact that parents take the time to not only do things with them but talk with them. It makes them feel valued and important to you which in turn give them a positive inner voice which says; “I Must be important my Mom and Dad think so.” Try these things.

·        Take at least 15 minutes each day to have some one on one time with each child. Ask an open-ended question which does not require a yes or no answer like-what was the best thing that happened in your day today?
·        Have you thought of any more rewards you would like us to do as a family?
·        Is there anything you would like to say to me or talk to me about?
·        What is one thing I can do this week to help you?
·        What do you think we could do to make our family life better for everyone?

When you ask these questions listen to the answer. Ask questions to clarify and them give open and honest responses. Talking and relation to one another’s ideas is another way to grow a relationship with our kids. It is what we do and say everyday which is the foundation of building our children’s inner voice. Creating positive memories, thoughts, and experiences in what we say and do is what creates an inner voice which is positive and confident. If you would like more on my thoughts on positive parenting you can read the blog I wrote for Kars4Kids here.

Putting it into Practice

I think you can do several things over the next few weeks which will help you begin to start building a foundation to help your child build a positive inner voice.

2-minute Action Plan

·        Click on the link for Self-Matters and order the book.
·        Go to your child and give them a hug. Tell them three positive things you like about them and why.

Long-term Action Plan

1.      Begin to really catch yourself saying negative things. Come up with one positive statement to say instead. (Example: I need to lose weight. Replace with: I need a fit and healthy body.)
2.      Get a journal and answer the 10 Values questions and get clear on what is important to you and begin to think and talk about it with friends, family, and the kids.
3.      Start spending at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with each child. (Read a book, talk, make dinner together, just get alone and communicate us the open-ended questions above.)

The original question of this article was “How do you ensure your child has a positive inner voice?” The answer is first every parent needs to develop their own positive inner voice. Then use the tools they developed to create their own inner voice to help their child do the same. Good Luck, You CAN do this!

Believe in Parenting!

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