Let’s Make a Deal

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All of us have situations in which there aren’t any choices, like work requirements. Children need to learn that they don’t always have a choice. Sometimes decisions are made by parents or other adults.

Safety Reasons

For example, parents are responsible for their children’s safety. Dr. Sue Grossman, Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan reminds parents that children can’t play with everything, like the stove or burner controls when helping make cookies. (1)

Primary and Secondary Decisions

Sometimes they can’t do something because of time constraints, like when parents need to drop the children off at pre-school and get to work. Parents make the primary decision, it’s time to get ready, but then children can make subsequent, secondary choices, like what to wear or whether they want to pour in flour or chocolate chips for the cookies.

Accepting No

Dr. Grossman adds, “When children know that they will be given sufficient opportunities to choose for themselves, they are more willing to accept those important ‘no choice’ decisions adults must make for them.” (1)

Source:

1. Offering Children Choices: Encouraging Autonomy and Learning While Minimizing Conflicts, Sue Grossman, Ph.D., Early Childhood News, 2007. www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?…607. Accessed 3/25/2014.

“Lessons Learned From Dancing Dog” Hope Street: My Journey

Dancing Dog in Front Pack

It is 108°. The A/C is still not working. It’s really too hot to do much of anything. I can’t get much done sitting in front of the fan, so I sweat through the day doing what I can. I certainly can’t ride my bike in this heat. I’m going to ride in the morning.

But that’s my prime writing time, I argue with myself. But if I don’t, I won’t be primed to ride 40 miles at the Clear Lake Konocti Challenge in October.

I get up twenty minutes earlier. Throw on old clothes. Feed the dog. Feed the fish. Drink my Boost. Get my water. All I need now are my shoes and helmet.

As I reach toward my bike shoes on the closet floor, I notice Dancing Dog. She’s so excited anticipating that I’ll take her on my bike ride, she pirouettes. Again. And again. And again.

“Do you want to go on ride?” She pirouettes even faster; then races down the hallway towards the closet that stores her front pack, like a front pack you’d use with a young baby.

“Stop dancing so I can put you in your pack.” Then we’re off for a morning ride. Dancing Dog takes it all in. She observes what’s going on, smells the fresh air, and holds her head high while the wind blows on her face. She’s simply taking in the moment as she rides along in my front pack.

I’m still grumbling. I’d rather ride in the late afternoon. I’m missing my writing time. Then I restate the truth. I’m delaying my writing time. I will write after my eight-mile ride.

With the writing dilemma settled, I focus on my ride and am in the moment, just like Dancing Dog.

“Dancing Dog, do you see the kitty?… Hi kitty cat,” I sing-song as if both animals will answer. I’m now aware of the birds’ songs in the quiet neighborhood. I observe a breeze, just enough to keep me comfortable.

Ahh, this is why I like bike riding. I’m in the fresh air enjoying God’s nature and beauty. Oh yeah, and getting some exercise too.

Before I know it, we’re heading home. After I cool down, I write. And Dancing Dog? She’s lying next to me, living in the moment, yet anticipating our next adventure.

 

Is Your Child a Quitter?

Do you wonder if your child is a quitter? Does it seem like your son or daughter begin something gung ho and then loses interest? 

Parents can help prevent children from quitting by teaching their children decision making skills and follow through. When our six-year-old daughter wanted to play soccer, we discussed with her what the commitment would involve before she made a choice.

Discussion Questions. For example, if your son or daughter wants to play sports, what will the schedule be and for how long? Does the child want to get up early for sports and give up part of the weekend? How many days a week and what times are practice? How will the child fit this in with other activities and homework? When all the details are gathered and explained, then the child can make an informed decision.   

New Skills. This dialogue begins equipping your child with decision making skills and responsibility for follow through. Is this an activity the child enjoys or is it something the parents want? The child understands that he/she is expected to finish the entire sports season.

Finish Up. If it involves an entire school year, such as playing a violin in the school orchestra, the child will continue lessons until the end of the school year even if their practice sounds horrific! If they don’t like the activity after the season or year, they can choose something different the next time. Equipping your child with decision making skills not only gives them a better chance of follow through, they learn vital life skills.

7 Reasons I’ll Never Be a “Real” Bike Rider

I found this blog that I wrote four years ago. Nothing’s changed, but I still enjoy riding my bike.

1. I’d rather have a practical kick stand than have to lay my bike down just anywhere.

Hershey chocolate bar for breakfast

Hershey’s chocolate bar for breakfast in Palm Desert

2. I’m not competitive; I ride for fun.

3. I can’t drink water out of a sports bottle without falling off my bike.

4. I use paper and pencil to track my miles, times, and speeds.

5. Check order when I fall off my bike: No broken nails! Am I hurt? Oh yeah, is the bike okay?

6. I’d rather eat a real chocolate candy bar than GU energy gel. (See photo)

7. I ask, “Do I need to ride faster?”

P.S. Maybe there’s hope for me. I laid my bike down to take a photo. Just had to get a shot of a wading bird!

 

Yard Duty and Campus Supervisors Serve on Campus’ Front Lines

This week I had the privilege of training yard duty for Modesto City Schools for two days and one day for campus supervisors. In honor of their dedication to students and the start of another school year, I’m re-posting this blog. Thanks for your investment in our community’s children.

The men and women whose job title is, “Yard Duty” or “Campus Supervisor,” don’t get near the recognition they deserve. Yard duty are on the “front lines” of our elementary schools while campus supervisors are on the “front lines” of junior and senior high schools.

If you want to know what’s happening at your local school site, they know. They know because they spend time with students while they’re not in classes. This includes time before school, passing periods, recesses, lunches, and after school. They are amongst different groups of students most of the day.

Changes. During the summer 2015, Modesto City Schools changed work hours and the number of yard duty at many sites. I have the privilege of working with many of the employees in these roles at 16 school sites. Yard duty and campus supervisors have a huge sphere of influence. It’s the reason so many restorative practices training hours are invested in them.

Why do they do this kind of work? A large number of them wanted to work, but also wanted to be around their own children. At last week’s training, one site had four of six yard duty who began working when their children started elementary school. Their children are now attending junior and senior high schools, but they’re still there. Why? They enjoy working with students and making a difference in their lives.

At Work. I wish you could see yard duty and campus supervisors interact with our young people. Last December, my husband had that opportunity. Our granddaughter, Khloe, was having tubes in her ears so our grandson, Parker, stayed with us. Papa took him to school in the morning. He asks, “Parker, where do I drop you off?”

“Just drive by the front and I get out,” he explains. Papa drives his car through the parking lot. A yard duty approaches the car and opens Parker’s door.

“Hi Parker. How are you? Where’s Khloe today?” she asks.

Nurturing School Climate. My husband was so impressed that she knew each of our grandchildren and called them by name. I was too. But I shouldn’t have been. Greeting each student by name is recommended as part of a positive and nurturing school climate – helping each student feel welcome and cared for at school.

Next time you see a yard duty or campus supervisor, I’m sure they’d appreciate a few kind words. After all, they have a significant impact on our students every day.

 

Image source: TK3401_and_TK3501D [commons.wikimedia.org]

Choices: Fast Food or Leftovers?

While reading the latest magazine and waiting for an x-ray at the busy clinic, an eight-year-old girl

hamburger-1198649-swith dark eyes and a curly brown ponytail catches my attention. Anything is more interesting than a magazine a few years old that no one has bothered to steal yet. The girl whispers a secret in her friend’s ear; they both giggle.

Anticipating an afternoon playing together, the mother casually inquires, “What do you want for lunch?”

Their faces beam as they simultaneously declare, “McDonald’s!”

Of course they want McDonald’s. What kid doesn’t?

“Well, we’re going to have leftovers from last night,” the mother casually comments.

The girls’ smiles fade.

No Intention. Leftovers, I ponder. Who wants leftovers when you think you’re going to get McDonald’s? My joy observing the girls dwindles. Another parent giving children a choice while she never intends to let them choose. It won’t be the last time I witness this dilemma.

In my last blog, At What Age? the key question was, how are you intentionally allowing your child to make increasingly more choices and God honoring decisions as he or she launches into adulthood? Today we’ll explore giving children choices, benefits of choices, and building basic decision making skills.

Making Choices. Learning to make choices actually begins in toddlerhood. Parents and caregivers can offer simple, either-or choices to children. “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green shirt?” “Would you like yogurt or applesauce for snack?” Even toddlers can point to what they want. “Choices offered to young children must be legitimate and meaningful to them and acceptable to adults,” explains Dr. Sue Grossman in Early Childhood News. 1

Follow Through. Don’t give a choice if you don’t intend to follow through. The mother in the waiting room could have stated, “We have leftover casserole and macaroni salad for lunch today. Would you girls like to eat lunch outside on a picnic blanket or in the kitchen after our appointment?”

Simple Choices. In preschool, children can begin choosing from more than two options. My four-year-old grandson loves grocery shopping with Grams. Besides organizing the shelves, he proudly selects juice from a number of varieties or yogurt flavors. “Limiting the quantity of choices is actually helping your child be successful in the decision-making process,” notes Dr. Alexandra Delis-Abrams, author of Children, Choices, and Consequences. 2

Avoiding “NO.” In an effort to increase children’s choices, sometimes parents give children more choices than they’re developmentally ready for or are beyond their cognitive abilities. For example, “Do you want to go to bed now?” will most assuredly be answered, “No.” Where do you want to go on vacation may be answered, “Disneyland!” while you’re planning on a camping budget.

Contribute to Choices. Children do not get to make every choice, however, within many parent-made decisions, children can still contribute to choices. “Next week we’re going on a family campout. Do you want to go fishing, boating, hiking or swimming on Saturday?” “Do you want me to read you a story or would you like to read for ten minutes on your own before the lights go out?” Our daughters became so accustomed to making choices, that sometimes our response was, “This is not, Let’s Make a Deal. This is a parent decision.”

Choosing Activities. As children enter elementary school, helping them determine outcomes of choices becomes imperative. “I want to play soccer this year,” our six-year-old daughter shares. “It looks like fun.” But what does she really know about being on a soccer team? “Too many times a child is given the power to make the decision without the information first,” notes the founder of ABC Feelings. 2

Engaging Questions. Does my daughter understand that she must practice three times a week? Does she recognize that a coach will be teaching her how to play? What does she comprehend about teamwork, winning, and losing? Have we explained that if she chooses to play she’s expected to complete the twelve-week season? Although this may sound overwhelming for children, this discussion develops reasoning skills and accepting personal responsibility for choices which will serve them well for a lifetime.

Problem Solving. Helping school-age children determine possibilities before adolescence is invaluable and builds strong problem-solving foundations. Asking situational questions like, “What would you do if a stranger asked you to help him find his kitty?” to “What do you think about the decision Joey made on TV last night?” require critical thinking skills. Setting up situational scenarios and asking thought-provoking questions play a critical role in adolescence when the stakes are higher and the costs are greater.

“You are capable.” Allowing children to make choices helps them developmentally in several ways. Children build autonomy, a fancy word for independence. Adults make so many decisions for children, that when children get to choose they possess a sense of control. They feel validated when parents and other adults send the message, “You are capable. What you say is important and matters.” Training in problem solving empowers children for future decision-making. Children are more committed when they’ve made the choice for themselves.

Fond Memories. Our daughter chose soccer year after year. She even played a few winter sessions in the mud and rain, her favorite way to play. When my husband and I see children in soccer uniforms on fall Saturday mornings, it brings back fond memories…. watching her valiantly defending the goal, her excitement when she wins, and forming strong friendships. Then we remember the year she chose not to play soccer. And that’s another story.

Sources:

1. Dr. Sue Grossman, Ph.D. Offering Children Choices: Encouraging Autonomy and Learning While Minimizing Conflict, Early Childhood News. www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychldhood/article_print.aspx. Accessed June 20, 2012.

2. Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D. Children, Choices, and Consequences. www.abcfeelings.com Accessed June 20, 2012.


At What Age?

 
At what age will you allow your children to DECIDE…
  • the condition of their bedroom?
  • the clothes they wear?
  • their hairstyle?
  • what television shows they view?
  • the music they listen to?
  • the movies they see?
  • the friends they choose?
  • pack their clothes for a trip?
  • how often they use their phone & texting?
  • what they do on their computer, IPod & other electronics?
  • when they do their homework?
  • the classes they take at school?
  • whether to attend church with you?
  • how they spend their money?
  • who they date & when?
  • where to work?
  • where they will live?
  • what career they’ll choose?
                 

In my last blog, Dependence to Independence, the analogy of your children being 100% dependent on you at birth and becoming 100% independent from you as they launch into young adulthood, is the foundation to these questions. Is your nine-year-old making 50% of his/her daily decisions? Is your 12 1/2 year-old making 75% of his/her decisions? Of course, this isn’t an exact formula, but the key question is, How are you intentionally allowing your child to make increasingly more choices? I realize this concept is frightening, but it is even more frightening to launch a young person into today’s secular world not possessing the life-skills, responsibility, and decision making abilities to make God honoring choices throughout adulthood. It’s your privilege & responsibility to decide how you will train up your sons and daughters in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

Dependence to Independence

Your blotchy, wrinkled newborn baby lays in your arms. Quickly forgotten is the pain of childbirth and angry threats, “I’m never having sex again.”
 
“He’s got your eyes,” coos daddy.
 
“We’ll be the best parents ever,” mommy tiredly suggests.
 
Your newborn or adopted child is a gift from God. And this gift is 100% dependent on you – the parent. The newborn needs you for everything: feeding, diapering, burping, rocking, holding, more feeding, more diapering. You capture all the “firsts” in pictures. As junior takes his first steps away from you, he is gaining independence.  You cry on her first day of kindergarten, certain that she will always be your little girl.
 
That is, until the day hormones kick in and your child retorts, “You can’t make me.” Your son begins middle school. Your daughter wants a strapless dress for 8th grade graduation. You comfort yourself that you still have four more years of high school. But the years continue to fly by even faster, and your young adult daughter or son stands at the threshold of adulthood crossing the graduation stage with diploma in hand.
 
With tear filled eyes and pride swelling in your heart, you wonder, “Did I prepare him? Does she know how much I love her? Will he remember the importance of God in his life? Will she become successful?”
 
The answer to those questions actually began before birth.
  • What was your purpose and goals as parents?
  • What plans did you make to help your son launch into adulthood?
  • What skills would your daughter need to live independently?
 
Remember that 100% dependent newborn? Imagine that at age eighteen, your child is leaving the nest for college or vocational training, is serving our country, or becomes employed and is beginning to live on his/her own. Consider that 18-year-old 100% “independent.” Some young people will leave their homes earlier, while others leave later. However, for this example, if we use age 18, that means that at age nine, your child is 50% on his way to independence. At age 13 1/2, your teenager is 75% independent from you. Sound scary?
 
It is, unless you plan ahead and intentionally prepare your son or daughter to enter adulthood. Our intentional parenting purpose was, “To raise our children to live independently, become a contributing member of society, and love & serve the Lord.” Every parenting decision made was aimed toward that goal.
 
Whether your child is young or already a teenager, it is not too late to determine your parenting goal or philosophy. What’s your parenting purpose?   

Bickering kids? Try People Smart Activities

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Are your kids arguing with one another? Are they grouchy and hard to get along with? Try one of the eight Multiple Intelligences: People Smart. In this blog, you’ll find characteristics of people smart and activities to do with your kids to foster People Smart.

People Smart Characteristics

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Verbal, non-verbal communication
  • Understands others’ feelings; empathizes
  • Works /plays cooperatively in a group
  • Understands feelings from facial expressions, gestures & voice

Activities to Develop People Smart

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4.

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4

  • Play old-fashioned board games
  • Make up words & play body language charades (whisper word for pre-readers)
  • Read Bible stories that feature character traits. For example, Daniel in the lion’s den and courage. Focus on ways the family can demonstrate the selected trait this week. At the end of the day, ask how each person used the trait.
  • Serve God by helping others. Ask your kids for ideas or give them choices, such as: make a card of encouragement & mail/deliver it; visit an elderly person; bake cookies for a busy neighbor; serve the homeless; bring a meal to a widow or invite a widow for a meal; mow the lawn for someone who’s sick or an elderly neighbor
  • “What would you do if . . . ?” Create age-appropriate stories where school-age kids face a dilemma. Ask, “What would you do if . . . ?” Great discussion starters. (School-Age)

What can you do this week? Please share what you tried.

Additional Resources

Exploring God’s World: Nature Smart

DSC_0243

Kylie (2 1/2) brushing goat at Oakland Zoo, March 2015

It’s already the middle of summer. Your kids have seen all the summer hit movies. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV and electronics and spend some time outdoors.

Being outdoors is a great way to develop another one of the multiple intelligences: nature smart. This is my favorite intelligence. In this blog, you’ll find many activities to do with your children and grandchildren.

Nature Smart Characteristics

    • Strong connection to outdoors 1
    • Exhibits outdoor imaginative play using environment (dirt, sand, plants) 2
    • Likes to spend time outdoors observing plants/animals, collecting nature items, catching insects, butterflies 1
    • Collects nature items & sorts them 3

Activities to Develop Nature Smart

  • Turn off TV/electronics & go outside; 3 the natural world becomes part of play 4
  • Take walks and hikes
  • Explore nature items (shells, pinecones, branches, seeds, feathers, tree stumps, rocks, dirt)
  • Point out intricacies of God’s creations
  • Grow something or take care of small animal; learn about life cycle/seasons 3
  • Choose nature friendly day trips & vacations 3
  • Visit pet stores, aquariums, zoos & museums
  • Make a family nature journal that everyone contributes to 4
  • Nature journal ideas: record facts, identify plants/animals, draw, collect nature items & glue in journal 4
  • “Vacationing with the Bears” – Pitch a tent & camp in your backyard
  • In the backyard – identify local plants; animals; insects; count birds; build a bird feeder, look for dead items 1
  • Take a nature walk and collect seasonal items
  • Then create nature art: make collage, pine cone animals, leaf-people, feather poster 4
  • Use photos & books about animals and the natural world to explain topics that are interesting 5

Resources:

Book of Stuff to Do. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/

Parent Guide. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/

 

Sources:

  1. Multiple Intelligences: Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style. Sue Douglass Fliess on March 5, 2009. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Multiple_Intelligences/ Accessed April 4, 2016.
  2. Multiple Intelligencers Summary Wheel. Kathleen Rowlands. January 8, 2005. www.csun.edu/~rowlands/content/Academic_/Resource/Diversity. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  3. 6 Activities To Strengthen Children’s Nature-Smarts. January 5, 2013 by Maureen (Mo) Weinhardt, MS. http://growingwithyourchild.com/6-activities-to-strengthen-childrens-nature-smarts/ Accessed April 1, 2016.
  4. Smart Parenting: Using the Multiple Intelligences at Home. December 23, 203 by Julie Lemming. decodedparenting.com/smart-parenting-usingmultiple-intelligences… Accessed April 1, 2016.
  5. How Is Your Child Smart? www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/thinking-skills. Accessed 4/1/2016.
  6. Multiple Intelligences in Early Childhood. University of South Florida, Education Department http://www.coedu.usf.edu/~morris/multi_ec.html Accessed 2/11/2003.