Posted tagged ‘self esteem’

How to nurture your kids confidence this summer

July 16, 2012
summer is a great time to experiment in the kitchen with kids. let then make a mess. let loose, have some fun. children in summertime can learn skills and boost confidence through experimentation

Making scones is fun and sometimes messy.

Kids are messy.  Cleaning up after them is part of part of being a mother. 

That wisdom came from my mother, who had nine children and cleaned up many different kinds of messes.

When things get messy, they get interesting. Creativity starts flowing, interest heightens, you get lost in the project. Discovery occurs. Problems get encountered and solved. Confidence and self-esteem build through the experience.

None of this happens if you have to worry about “Mom getting mad about a messy kitchen,” or “Dad getting upset that his tools didn’t get put away.”

It takes time to clean up and teach them how to put away the tools where they belong in the workshop and kitchen. It’s about the process, the moments spent together experimenting and getting flour on the floor and a pile of pans dirty.

One of my kids’ favorite traditions was making homemade applesauce. We’d fill every big pot on the house with apples, simmer them and put them through the food mill. Every counter would be full of sticky bowls and utensils. Your feet would stick to the floor. It took a good half hour to clean up.

Hot fresh applesauce is SO delicious. I can still smell it and taste the sweetness. We froze it and enjoyed applesauce for months. It’s a sweet memory that showed my kids to be adventuresome in the kitchen, and perhaps, in life. We worked together and took turns.

Self-esteem and self-confidence can’t be bought at Target. Self-esteem and self-confidence have to be developed and nurtured through trial and error, encouragement. trying again, and celebrating success.

Summer offers the luxury of extra time to explore and get messy. Indulge them and yourself. You’ll be surprised at the results.

What are some of your summertime memories where you got to slow down, try something new or make a mess?

Let them mess up the kitchen

May 11, 2011

Making cupcakes can be messy. Let children get their hands in the batter, lick the pans, and experiment in the kitchen. Here's a parenting tip: cook with them.

It has been at least a decade since I made cupcakes. I needed a hiatus after sending cupcakes to school to celebrate many birthdays of my four children for years.

Sadly cupcakes are banned in many schools today.

Kids still need to be encouraged to cook. As I managed the batter in and out of the bowl and made the icing, I remembered how hard it was to make cupcakes when I was in elementary school. It was hard to follow the recipe, divide up the batter neatly and evenly and to ration the icing. They had to be baked them the right amount of time and I tried my best to not spill the ingredients.

My mother never complained about the mess we made when cooking. She encouraged us to cook, even sweet treats. It saved money off the family grocery bill — always a concern when you have nine children — and gave us the life skill of cooking confidence and self-esteem.

Because she gave us free rein in the kitchen and coached us, I have the attitude that I can cook anything if I follow the recipe. I’ve saved thousands of dollars by knowing how to cook and not needing to eat out regularly.

Cooking together is an excellent way for families to bond and to encourage cooking skills in children. STart with simple recipes- especially "betty crocke"r.Today I hate to cook alone. I miss having the kids around to break eggs, mix up the batter,  lick the bowls and appreciate the results.

I licked the bowls this morning and started the day with an excellent chocolate/sugar surge.

I wish these cupcakes were destined to celebrate a child’s birthday at school. They are for a reception at a memorial service, the father from a family my children grew up with.

Life is short. Do what matters. Make cupcakes with your kids today and relish the moment. You’ll be giving them a gift that will last them a lifetime.

A first family meeting success story

March 14, 2011

The two most useful habits for positive parenting are family meetings and encouragement (instead of praise, reward & punishment). Family meetings are a powerful way to stay connected to your children and teens, which protects them from bullying by connecting them to your family, nurtures their self-esteem, practices mutual respect, builds their confidence and teaches them teamwork. Family meetings reinforce every positive parenting strategy and everything you want your child to become.

The first week’s assignment in my online parenting class was to hold a family meeting. The mother who posted the report below has four children between ages 4 and 8. She took the assignment seriously, involved the children in picking out a special treat and had a very successful meeting. If your family could have a meeting that was half as good as hers, it would be a success.

One tweak is that I would have invited the children to set up the ground rules. The “three strikes” will hopefully prove unnecessary. Be happy they show up for the meetings, especially as they get older. Another suggestion is to have one of the children prepare a blank agenda template on the computer. The more the children are involved, the more they are empowered.

I hope her family meeting will inspire you to have a family meeting. See my book or tip sheet for more information. The first step is to post an empty agenda on your fridge and announce the time of the meeting to your family. Good luck and tell me what happens.

We held our first family meeting tonight, 3/4/11, and happy to report my kids were so excited to do it! I made a big deal out of it by taking them to the grocery store after school, and letting them each pick out a pint of their favorite ice-cream, which would be their special treat after the meeting (they didn’t eat the whole pint each, just a serving ;o-).

I used the Family Meeting agenda document. For this first meeting, I led the discussion and opened with discussing the Ground Rules of our meeting:

1. Discussing one topic at a time
2. Not moving to another topic until everyone agrees to do so
3. Taking turns while speaking
4. No putting other people down
5. No fighting or arguing

We agreed that if anyone should break a rule during the meeting they would get 1 strike. If a person got to 3 strikes then they would not get to have the treat that followed.

After we had the ground rules established, we moved on to Compliments. My children and I really enjoyed this part of the meeting and said some really sweet things to their siblings, none of which I think I’ve EVER heard them say before and nearly brought tears to my eyes. They also had some sweet things to say about my husband and myself.

When it was my turn to compliment, I was sure to mention how much I appreciated their help over this past week, and how it makes it easier for me when everyone pitches in to help. ***I honestly can report I was AMAZED at how willing my children are to help, especially when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Each and every one of them were on board with a job I asked them to do, right down to my 4-year-old washing a pan!

 In addition to complimenting my kids, it felt really good to compliment my husband. We are guilty of not taking the time to do this. I mentioned to him how much I appreciate that he makes it possible for me to exercise, and I meant it 100%!

From compliments, we moved into discussing what Respect means (my 8-year-old did a fantastic job explaining to his siblings ). I brought up that I feel like we as a family could do better at showing each other respect, and brainstormed about ways we could change. They had some great ideas, and felt like it definitely clicked =)

We then had everyone go around the table to answer the following questions:

1. What made you feel good this week?
2. What made you feel bad this week?
3. What do you want to accomplish next week?

Asking these questions lead into some great family discussion, i.e. My daughter expressed that she felt great cheering on her friends in her gym class when they were struggling with an exercise. My husband said, “The Family Meeting was the highlight of his week” which, of course, THRILLED me!

Finally we discussed our upcoming events\schedule. One of the items on this list was my daughter’s Powderpuff Derby race (the equivalent to the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby) The opportunity to build another car out of wood was met with much enthusiasm by all of my kids, and lead to brainstorming what we will do differently to make my daughter’s car faster, etc. We also discussed we will be getting a visit from Grammy & Grandpa next weekend, and I would need some extra help around the house to get it in tip-top shape for their visit.

Finally we closed with activities that each of us would like to do as a family, i.e. Go Bowling, Play Lazer Tag, once spring arrives we are going to make it our goal to walk on every trail in our town.

We closed the evening by making ice cream sundaes and watching a family movie together =) It was a great night, and so pleased with the outcome. My kids said they can’t wait until next week, and our next family meeting. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to print off a blank agenda and write down topics to discuss as they come up.

Calling photos of children — even you — doing chores. Win $50.

August 31, 2010

Little kids ADORE chores. This is me at age 4 or 5 ironing. I couldn't wait until I got a pillowcase or handkerchief to iron. Chore make children feel good about themselves. Chores nurture self esteem. Chores teach responsibility.

That's me ironing at age 5 in about 1963. I eagerly waited for handerchiefs, dresser scarves and pillowcases to iron.

This photo says so much about how my parents raised their nine children. We all had chores and those chores taught us self-discipline and nurtured our self-esteem because we contributed to the family. Today, most of us are in business for ourselves. We’re very self-directed and I attribute that to doing dishes regularly.

Do you have a photo of YOU doing chores? Or of your children doing chores? Post it on my Raise Able Young People Facebook page. While you’re there, vote (LIKE) for your favorite photo of a little person working. The winner – to be determined by Sept. 7, 2010, will win a $50 gift card.

Chores are the anti-brat remedy. It’s impossible to be entitled when you take out the trash, scoop dog poop and sweep floors. Chores teach children about life. Sometimes we have to do things whether we want to or not.

Some of my best memories growing up are doing dishes with my brothers and sisters. It was fun to rake leaves, clean out the garage and paint the house together. I felt important.

I loved when I was old enough to paint a radiator while my older brothers painted the walls. They carefully instructed me, “Watch out for drips!” I didn’t know that painting radiators was boring and time-consuming. I relished being part of the action. Painting the radiator was challenging. Instead of bugging them or tagging along with them, I was helping.

By the way, today I don’t iron very much. I got into the Zen of Ironing then. The skill has transferred to other areas of my life :-)

You Can Do It

July 2, 2010
Here's a parenting tip for all ages: encourage your child by displaying their art -- even if you have to install it in the backyard! Encouragement can take many forms, including silent encouragement. Kristen and JEff buried this four feet under the ground, so it will stand as encouragement and support of my daughter for a long time.

Tantrum. See the spoons around the high chair? Art parents need a lot of space. Luckily we had room for this outdoors.

Art parents need plenty of room. Kristen needed plenty of courage to conceive and build this work. Art is risk. She calls us "good art parents." Parents can encourage children by simply displaying their children's artwork. I like it. It looks really cool when it's dark.

This was inspired by a bug. I forget the title.

These sculptures show one of the many forms of encouragement — the silent type. The act of displaying your child’s work is encouragement. “Tantrum” is permanently installed. I love it. Notice the spoons all around it? It’s back by the clothesline and chicken coop, still visible from the pond. “Tantrum” is original, unusual and expressive.

Kristen, an art major, says to us, “You’re good art parents,” which translates to us NOT saying, “Sweetie, How are you going to make money majoring in art?”

Encouragement can mean keeping quiet.

Encouragement is the act of giving courage. We most need courage when we are on the journey of working towards a goal, when we have an idea, a dream. That is when parents can use the four most powerful words in the English language: You can do it.

Kristen can make a living as an artist. She is following her passion, with our encouragement.

Encouragement is the most powerful form of discipline. The root of discipline is “disciple,” which means to teach, not to punish. The most powerful way to teach children is by encouragement. Parents think children must suffer to learn. NOT! The most effective way to influence them is by encouragement. Catch them being good, in the act of doing what you want. Encouragement is specific and low-key. It can be quiet.

Praise is the evil twin of encouragement. Praise can only be given upon completion of a goal. Praise is all about how it makes the parents/teacher/boss look. Praise is high-energy and general. It’s sickening and sugar-sweet. Praise is extrinsic, versus encouragement, which is intrinsic.

A bug provided inspiration for the white piece. Kristen welded the frame, hand-sewed material over it and lit it up from within. That’s a tremendous amount of work, skill, creativity, risk and courage. I’m displaying it for the summer in the living room. It looks neat at night when lit up from inside.

Kristen can make a living from being an artist. I have confidence in her. Displaying her art says, “You can do it.”

The payoff of chores

February 15, 2010
This young man is learning his contribution to the household counts. He is developing self esteem because he can feel good about himself helping his family. He is learning self discipline and how to wash dishes. Childhood chores teach individual skills and benefit the family. They are part of a positive parenting plan.

What he's learning from washing dishes will last a lifetime. Credit: Manchester Evening News, UK

Childhood chores are making a renaissance. We started the century using children as vital contributors to farms, factories and cottage industries. We finished the century treating children like consumer and performers.

The boy at left doing dishes is learning more than just how to do dishes. Life-lessons are being absorbed, such as: his contribution is important; his family depends upon him; he needs to show up whether he feels like it or not [AKA self-discipline]; he’s small and mighty — what else is he capable of doing?

Many children live an entitled life of activity-mania  their main role is to  perform and make their parents proud.

Personally, doing dishes is a lot more beneficial than earning trophies for participation on travel soccer. A few activities are acceptable, but many families are constantly on the go, with no time for chores or the other traditional family centering habit of family dinner.

A survey of 564 people from ages 11-90 I took showed that a remarkable 87 percent had or have childhood chores. They reported that family dinner and family chores often go together. I would add a third leg to that chair: family meetings.

Democratic family meetings are useful to make decisions, divide up the housework, plan the week’s schedule, compliment each other, enjoy a healthy snack and have some simple fun together at the end. Family meetings offer children a voice and a choice. Family dinner is the glue that holds a family together. And chores are an integral part to both because children can be involved in the preparation and clean up of family dinners.

The Boston Globe West published a story on chores and cited many children today who do laundry, help care for siblings and mow the lawn and more — without getting paid by the chore. The story cited the research of Wellesley College Professor Markella Rutherford who researched chores. Rutherford found that in the last 15 years chores have made a comeback. Hurray!

The article cited my upcoming book, “Raising Able: how chores cultivate capable confident young people.” It’s being edited and will be out soon. It offers many ideas on how to have a more harmonious home and get children involved in doing their parts.

The value of sweeping the floor

November 16, 2009
chores, raising able children, good parenting advice, parenting tips, helpful tips for parents, raising teenagers, families parent, help parenting teens
Reliable Bob building a chicken coop at home.

I spent the morning helping Reliable Bob, my “starter husband” of 29 years, install a laminate floor at a customer’s house. Bob left the golden handcuff of corporate America six years ago and founded a home renovation business. 

Bob likes to work with an apprentice, and he’s had a few since he set up shop. As his apprentice this morning, my job was to help him — by sweeping the floor,  going for coffee and supplies from the truck, sawing pieces, and recycling materials.

My objective was to make myself useful doing menial work — which requires the right attitude, interest and some aptitude.

Not all of his helpers have displayed the right attitude, interest and aptitude.

As Bob went out to the truck for supplies and left me alone, I joked, “Now that the boss is out of sight, I don’t have to work until he comes back.”

Some helpers had that poor attitude, and  Bob couldn’t stand them. They took no initiative, showed up late, called in sick often, were poor listeners, and looked forward to cigarette breaks. They got eventually got fired.

Chores are the best way to teach children a work ethic – starting when they are 3 years old and continuing until they leave home. My upcoming book, “Raising Able: How Chore Empower Children,” touts the long-term benefits of a childhood regime of chores.

Children and teens don’t have to:

  1. Like the chores,
  2. Want to do chores or
  3. Get up at dawn to milk cows.

They just have to do a few chores around the house for the common good, and be held accountable do them regularly. The chores can be as simple as sweeping the floor and taking out the garbage daily.

Notice I didn’t say acceptable chores are “to clear their own dish and clean their own room.” The chores must be done for the common good. Do not pay them for the chores, other than a weekly allowance unrelated to the chores.

In the rushed lifestyle of today’s families, many parents don’t want to burden children with chores. If your lifestyle is so busy that children don’t have time to sweep the floor every night, re-evaluate your choices and consider making some changes.

Chores develop a host of beneficial personality traits, such as strong self-esteem, responsibility and confidence. Children learn practical skills and project management. Children who do chores can feel valued, connected to their families and capable.

Being held responsible to do something as simple as sweeping the floor every night creates myriad long-term benefits.

Next: how to use family meetings to get children started doing chores.


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