5 steps to Foster the Fearless Child!

As a child I grew up curious about everything. I wanted to know how things worked, how they were assembled and what they could do differently. I still, to this day, want to solve a Rubik’s Cube (even though I haven’t focused a full hour on YouTube to make it happen!)

I wanted to be like the Olympians when I watched them win the Olympics. I could feel from my living room as a child, the rush they must feel from being #1. I would practice my cartwheels and flips on the couches. I would dream of someday being amazing too.

I would be the first to volunteer myself to go on stage during an assembly. I would write the poems for the competitions and submit the short stories. Sometimes I won! I would try out for every play,every sport,and if I didn’t get picked I would try again another time.

I would talk other kids into trying new things. I would explain bravery as a child and go first just to eliminate their fears. I was not afraid of anything.

When I grew up and had kids I decided I would make them try everything. If they feared the unknown I would push them just enough to step out of their comfort zone. Sometimes they would surprise me and do things I could never even dream of.

At the age of 7 my daughter jumped off of a 50 foot cliff at Lake Dudu in the Dominican Republic. Teachers would call from school to tell me about my child’s imagination and how she was telling children great fish stories. Imagine the teachers disbelief when I verified her stories and sent pictures in as proof.

I have and will always remain shocked at the child that won’t try the unfamiliar and the parents that encourage this behavior. I wondered what the parents did differently when raising their children compared to how I am raising mine or more importantly how my parents raised me.

I have analyzed this closely and read tons on how to foster confidence in a child and allow them to experiment with their own comfort boundaries.

So what are the 5 major parenting/teaching roles you must foster in your child/student to create a brave and fearless (in the right areas)child/student.

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1. Keep your life long fears away from your child/student.
Parents/teachers that are afraid to swim will often (not all times) never allow their children/student to swim. If you don’t like broccoli,tuna fish,or string beans, keep it to yourself and allow the child to try it anyway. Plenty of times parents will suggest their child doesn’t like something. That’s fine however allowing them to try it again and again is not a bad thing. Not to mention people change their minds daily and so do young children. They will also follow the lead of other adults or children and try something that may surprise you.

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2. Give your child/student their own voice and allow them to use it.
Children from a young age will tell you “No” without any warning. “No, I dont want that, no I dont like that, no I’m not eating that, no I’m not doing that,ect!” Allow them to use their voice if they dont like something. Try not to micromanage the things they like or dont like. Its OK at 7 if your son doesn’t like Thomas the Tank Engine anymore. They are going to eventually grow up. Teach them to use their voice!

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3. Let your child/student be brave and push boundaries.
Naturally children will try your patience and do things that you dont want them to do. Pay attention to the timing of this situation. If you are being pushed and no harm can come of the bravery that is being displayed, then allow the push on your boundary. Let the child learn that pushing can lead to winning. This will create the essential skill of advocating for oneself, being a self starter and not being afraid of a little challenge.

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4. Support your child/student with all safe choices even if you disagree.
If your child wants to be a snowboarder but you think it is unsafe, maybe its time to back off a bit. Let your child attempt greatness in areas that you would never try. If your child wants to try out for a play however you dont think they will make it, let them try out. Its not the end of the world if they fail even if you thought they might. Children need to learn that some things in life dont come naturally and sometimes you aren’t going to get the lead role.

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5. Foster your child/student to dream greatness.
Allow them to design their road map to success. If they decide they want to be a pilot at the age of 9 or a famous soccer player at 4, support the dream. Children can learn in their own time that life can be disappointing.  As parents and educators it is our job to keep children dreaming until they are 99!

 

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.”  ―Zig Ziglat

 

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Dating happily

Starting, repairing or enhancing a relationship is a great New Year resolution. The beginning of the New Year offers hope and the ability to change. We make choices to start new relationships, bring back youth to our marriages, or just learn how to let go.  Then time goes by and we get busy! Less thought goes into the relationships and more into how to make money, take care of our obligations, and just survive.

Just surviving and relationships should not even be in the same sentence. Dating should be the best roller coaster ride you have ever been on. It is the moment to figure out if the behaviors being newly introduced to you enhance your life or make it worse. Marriage should be amazing. We get married to share our love and to add more happiness to our already happy lives. Sometimes neither of these work, boundaries are crossed and need to just let go.

There are 3 types of Daters.

The type of people that love dating: These are the ones who are either falling in love or just having so much fun.

The type of people that hate dating: These people hate it because, they are sticking too long with the wrong guys/girls or spending too much time changing themselves. Maybe they tried Match.com and weren’t happy with the results or sadly, they just don’t know how to put themselves out there to find a date.

Then there is the final type: The ones who just dont care. They have it the easiest!

Continue reading with my Union Times post to find out the steps to love dating and setting boundaries to happiness!

http://www.uniontimes.org/relationships-in-2016-part-1-dating-happily/

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Marriage and Relationships

“We use to be goofy and laugh,” the counselor hears for the 3,000th time in therapy.

Remember the days where you would crack silly jokes and would laugh in bed for hours, never wanting to separate from your lover and wishing you could quit all other obligations just to stay right there at that moment… in love.

Slowly the butterflies in your stomach ceased, as you were “told they would”, and real life sets in. You decided to move the relationship forward, got busy with married life, had children and added other new obligations into your world.

The spark that brings people together can sometimes begin to fade, others burn out completely and some couples struggle to bring it back.

What if getting the laughter back in your marriage doesn’t require a trip to the moon but just enough effort to bring the laughter and fun back to your love.
If you are like most people you can take life and yourself a little too seriously and that always stunts laughter. Laughter connects people and remains a critical healing component in relationships.

Recognizing that there are different types of couples in marriages and knowing your marriage is always helpful. So, which are you?

• The “so cute and perfect” happy couple: This couple is so amazing and will stand the test of time. They love to be around each other, they sit in bed and read side by side, they help each other with their projects, they jump at the opportunity to help the other and most of all they laugh any chance they see the opportunity.

• The “whatever “couple: This couple separates often. He does his thing, she does hers and they are totally fine with this. They meet up when they can and don’t push the other to do anything. They are perfect in public settings and when they interact they find the simplicity in their uncomplicated relationship. They laugh when laughter presents itself.

• The “I can’t stand to be in the same breathing space as you” couple: This is the couple either nearing the end of their marriage or really losing the ability to survive the beginning of the marriage. They are uncomfortable to be around. They rarely laugh together instead feeling annoyed by the other spouses voice. They either ignore each other like the plague or attack on demand. They stopped laughing with each other a while back and can’t find it again….

Follow this link to read how to make your marriage better from my Union Times post

http://www.uniontimes.org/relationships-in-2016-part-2-bringing-goofy-back-to-your-marriage/

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Who will your student be? Foster Imagination

Planting creative seeds into children’s minds at a young age helps them to dream. Dreams lead to ideas and ideas lead to innovation. Create the Dreamer!

Preschool and Early Elementary teachers have the power to instill long term dreams into children. Yes, being the president of the united states is the hardest thing in the world. Somebody is going to be the president every 4 years, why not teach the children in your classroom that someday that could be them?

Train young children to dream the unthinkable. The hardest things in the world are being achieved everyday by “NORMAL” people. Everyone has the capability to be amazing at something.

Dream huge and it can come true as proven in history! We should be teaching dreamers.

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Monster Gym: Imagination and Creativity

No one does monsters better than our friends the Muppet’s.  Since 1969 Sesame Street and the Muppet’s have taught children everything from being kind, friendships, family types, eating healthy and let’s not forget exercise!

Children follow these role models on Sesame Street because they are amusing. They allow the children to laugh and play while learning important life lessons.  Our goal as teachers is to make learning just as fun as Sesame Street for 4-8 hours a day in preschool through grade school!

So, let’s use our imagination and creativity to create a fun way to exercise. You may think that all children love to exercise but as a former teacher I can assure you, this is not the case.

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Just like us grown adults, children are very selective about what they want to be doing with their bodies. Have you ever tried to make a 2 year old stand when they wanted to sit? They are relentless and amazing at getting what they want! They will bend their legs, curl their body, flop into a total back bend, swing their neck back, and slowly make their way back to sitting.

You can tell them to stand, tell them what you are doing, talk to them in a child voice, or whatever it takes to get this child to react the way you want. Not working still… Sometimes it can be difficult for a trained teacher to get a child to follow her/his lead. It usually ends up with the student sitting in “think about it” or “time out.”

When these situations occur, no one gets what they wanted. The young student wanted to just sit on the floor. The teacher just wanted to have the child participate. A battle took place and no one is a winner. Not to mention now the youngster isn’t getting any exercise (as state mandated) because there was a failed power struggle.

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So what can we do to make sure our children are having fun, excited to do activities, and joining us in our programs?

#1 ANSWER: Use Imagination and Creativity!

Tired of doing the same old rainy day activities? Musical chairs getting old? Singing in the rain become enough?

Let’s create the Monster Gym inside of your classroom.

1. Welcome Monsters: Greet the monster children as they walk in the door!
I’d probably be a flying fairy monster, with rainbow fur, and giant wings that sprinkled glitter everywhere! (But that’s just me!) Ask them what type of monster they would like to be all week. Write a list of all the monsters and what they look like and put it on the wall.

2. Set up monster gym: Prep ahead of time
• The children will create tiny little dumbbells using Q-tips and mini marshmallows. Take the Q-tip and stick the marshmallows on both ends. This is great for fine motor skills and fun to eat!
• Have the children paint miscellaneous sized boxes. The teacher will write 2,5 &10 lbs on the boxes. These will later be used in a “competition” to see how strong the children have become. Counting by 2’s,5’s &10’s and working on small, medium & large will help develop beginner math!

3. Create an obstacle course: Get on your hands and knees to crawl!
• Have the children navigate an obstacle course. The teacher leads the way from walking slowly around chairs and toys, dropping on the floor and crawling under “the invisible monster” to staying away from the “monster spray” (another teacher has a water bottle-kids love water!) This helps the gross motor skills. Hop on one foot, jumping jacks, and dribbling a ball can be added for extra fun!
• Relay Races are always a fun treat. Have oranges on both sides and the children must run back and forth picking up the oranges for their basket. Healthy monsters are always needed!

4. Cheer leader monsters: For the child who doesn’t want to participate.
• Everyone needs a cheer team. Stand on the sideline with these monsters and yell for their friends. Even the shyest of kids will love to laugh and clap with their friends.

5. Art monsters: Create,create,create….
• Popsicle sticks, googly eyes, puffy paint, colorful balls, construction paper, string, buttons, and glue! Have the child use their imagination to make whatever monster they want to. It may not look like ANYTHING to you but, ask the little monsters what they see and I bet it will surprise you.
• Prep a monster shape ahead of time. Have the children design a prepped monster.
• Use food to make art. What would a monster eat? Chocolate pudding with gummy worms, eyeballs, and jimmies is sure to be a success! Introduce broccoli and spinach to the strong monsters! Can we get them to eat it? Off an award to the strongest monsters!

Monster training is so much fun. Maybe next week we can be horses, unicorns, and Pegasus!

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Photo Credits:

moshimonstercentral.weebly.com 

 www.theguardian.com

insharepics.info

yesterdayontuesday.com

Jim Hensen Studios

www.dreamstime.com

Mr.Frog – A Playground Story

Across the playground you hear a young child crying as his teacher panics yelling, “Ugh–he is so dirty, put him down!” knocking the frog out of the child’s hand. She then picks the toddler up as he screams “My frog! My frog!” She puts the boy down and walks away with the child in tow. You hear her explaining how dirty that frog was and how he shouldn’t touch it.

Sobbing with boogers dripping down his face, he screams louder about his frog friend. He becomes inconsolable. He is flailing his arms in anger. Nothing she can do now can stop the temper tantrum. The damage is already done.

At this moment, I wish I had an imaginary teacher helper that could run around and say “No, no, no, try it this way!” This insane moment that was created by an overreaction is so unnecessary. The teacher, the child, and anyone else in the class now have to feel the stress created by the teacher’s reaction to poor Mr.Frog’s visit.

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The skills needed by a teacher, caregiver, babysitter and a mother/father are all the same in these moments. Patience, love and IMAGINATION.

Skill #1 Love: How would I feel if …

If I was holding a frog in my hand and someone tore it from me, how would I react? I would throw an adult temper tantrum. I would feel unloved.  I would demand to know who has the right to grab my frog from me, and cry just like the child! Okay so maybe I wouldn’t cry, but I would certainly question anyone who treated me this way.

We should only react so abruptly to children when there is an emergency scenario. Emergency scenarios do not count picking up a frog or a ladybug! (Step #4 will address the safety issue of frogs)

Children need to be viewed as little future adults and deserve kindness and respect at all times.

Skill #2 PATIENCE:  Remember what it was like to be a child…

A young child is not going to want to hand you their new friend.  They will run from you, hide from you, maybe even stick the frog in their pocket for it’s safety!

Stay patient and remember to laugh.  Young children are developing their own survival skills and yelling at them about a frog will cause fear, not compliance.

Sit with the child and pet the frog too.  Tell the children as they gather around how this frog needs to go home to its mommy.  Stay calm, loving and patient.

Skill #3 IMAGINATION: Join the child’s world…

Get on the child’s level. Remember what it is like to be young and excited about something you’ve never been able to hold before. Join the child in their adventure. Be as excited as they are and save the frog–with their help!

“Johnny, that frog is amazing. How did you capture him? You must be a super hero to that frog. Come on everyone, let’s save Johnny’s frog and get him back to his mommy!”

Even a 2 year old will be excited to help. Slowly walk the child and frog to the fence line and say goodbye together. Release Mr. Frog and wave goodbye.

Suggest that maybe the frog will be in the classroom and go for a Frog Hunt! Hop around like frogs on lily pads! If the child still throws a fit, then at least the child crying won’t be a stress and distraction to the fun the rest of the children are having!

But wait, can’t frogs be dangerous?

OK, sure, some say that contact with frogs can cause an infection because they may carry salmonella bacteria. Still, this is not a reason to freak out. After touching a frog, you should simply wash your hands with soap and water immediately. Don’t eat or touch food before washing your hands. Frog juice is not tasty anyway.

After the Frog Hunt or lily pad jumping session, warn young children not to touch any frogs or other living creatures without calling for an adult first and keep an eye out for any sneaky frogs that have made it into the classroom or home!

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Note from your preschool teacher.

Dear Parent,

I love your child.  We have a blast playing every day. He/She laughs at the simplest of acts.  You know that laugh, the one where you can feel their inner adult coming out.  I often spend time trying to hear that sound come out of your child.

Laughter is the main idea I have in my preschool program!  We use our imagination to run around and act like monkeys or zebras, we fly in pretend spaceships, we caught an alien, all while learning real life.

Sometimes your child struggles.  They all do.  I am always going to tell you where your child struggles because, I am the first hope of helping your child become amazing in school.  You got this at home, I promise to be here in school.

Sometimes your child is going to get picked on or pick on another child or even BITE.  NO your child isn’t bad.  They are figuring out their way, at this time in life.  I will never judge your child. I will redirect them and help with making better choices, just like you would on the playground.

I will always tell you when he/she has decided peanut butter and jelly is gross.  I won’t force your child to eat.  They dont starve if they don’t like your lunch.  Would you want to eat a mushy sandwich happily? Me neither.  I wish I could share my own but state laws so NO!  I’m sorry.  I’ll teach them to share in other ways.

I am going to hug your children when they fall, scrape their knee, or their feelings are hurt.  Sometimes just one hug can make the difference.  I will also give a band aid even if there is no wound to show for the pain.  It’s just a band aid and sometimes its worth giving one up.

I am not just the teacher of your child.  I am your friend, your eyes when you can’t be there, and the other person showing your child real life and dedication.

I am here for your child and I will teach your child to be there for all other children.  I am teaching them this lesson along the side of you, the parent.

Thank you for being a great parent and raising an adorable child.

TEACHER

 

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