Have you ever had a discussion with your children about gift giving? Most children see the act of giving as customary at particular times of the year but do they really understand the reason behind giving a present?
If you haven't talked about the difference between giving for the sake of it and giving with meaning then perhaps it's time to explain the heart factor that should lie behind every gift we give.
Gifts are a way of acknowledging someone and showing our appreciation for the positive attributes that we love about them. It's important for children to understand that a large, more expensive gift doesn't equate to greater appreciation. In fact, parents and grandparents in particular, generally appreciate homemade gifts far more than something bought because they know have been made with love and given from the heart.
Ho, ho, ho!! It's almost Christmas!!
Many of us are in denial that the festive season has arrived again SO SOON!! I'm pretty sure science hasn't proven it but I'm convinced that time goes faster the older we get!
Though parents and teachers are usually pretty busy at the end of the year, it's actually a great time to get your kids involved in doing good. Encouraging kindness should, of course, be a year round endeavour because it's shown that after the fourth grade, positive perceptions of kindness decrease in children.
Because we know you've got other things on your mind right now, we've put together a kindness advent calendar to help you nurture the positive values we all want our kids to adopt.
The hard work has been done and all you have to do is inspire your kids to participate!
When I teach Kindergarten or first-grade children, I always teach my students a little song called “Five Little Bluebirds”. I developed some motions for the song, and always end this subtraction-type song by making a very sad face and saying, “No little bluebirds in the nest.” The kids find this hysterical!
We sing the song through a second time with them joining in with more enthusiasm, and I can see in their mischievous eyes that they cannot wait until we get to the last line and they get to see my sad face AND make a sad face of their own. They laugh with their entire bodies, as 5 and 6-year olds are prone to do - and yes, that means some of them end up “prone” as they fall over on the carpet with laughter.
Whether you teach your children a song like that, or find some other way to introduce emotions, you can lead them to discover their Superpower.
I ask them to show me their sad face. Show me their surprised face! Show me their sleepy face. Show me their angry face! And finally, show me their happy face! Then I tell them that we are going to do a trick.
I had an interesting question last night from my 10-year-old daughter Claire. Claire is a blogger and loves asking questions. A trait I admire so much. She was working on a school project and doing a few interviews with me.
She asked me if I had always been this confident and commented on how easy it is for me to get along with people including celebrities.
I thought about it for a while and I gave here the best answer I could with regards to my own personal development.
I was born in Zambia in Southern Africa in a small country town by the feet of the Mpangwe Hills and the Katete River. Katete is a very small vibrant town full of colors and culture, from its traditional ceremonies to the beautiful wildlife parks nearby. I was very fortunate that from a very young age as I was encouraged to explore my world and ask as many questions as I could.
My grandfather was a High Commissioner for Community Development and I watched him as a young girl interact with his people. He treated everyone with respect. read more →
There are so many wonderful people in our communities who go out of their way and even risk their lives for us every single day. Often these people go about their jobs without ever really being thanked for the extraordinary things they do.
Here are some fun ways to show community workers how much they really are appreciated or to show your support for someone who may need a little encouragement.
Law Enforcement or Fire Fighters
My children are very well behaved. They are well-mannered, obedient, and they ‘do as they are told.’ Great right? I’m not so sure.
I became increasingly aware that my kids were blindly following authority and it bothered me. I don’t want my kids to be drones who plod through life, I want them to be thinkers, feelers and do-ers.
I remember years ago being present at an assembly where a decent, church-going, hard-working council member was speaking. He was telling the children to listen to adults and do what they are asked to do. Major alarm bells sounded off in my brain. I was a young, childless teacher at the time, but had worked with enough foster children to know how dangerous that message can be. Why? Because as much as we hope it doesn’t happen, some adults prey on children. They rely on the fact that we are raising very well-behaved, quiet, obedient children who will not stand up against an authoritative figure.
There was a case in America where a whole fast-food restaurant was tricked by a guy on the phone pretending to be a police officer. There was even a movie (Compliance) made about how he managed to manipulate the staff to such a degree that it lead to the abuse of one of the 18-year-old female workers over many hours. read more →
World Kindness Day is a celebration of what most people consider our species’ best set of qualities: compassion, consideration for others, respect and generosity.
Kindness shouldn’t be limited to any particular gender, race, age group or even species. In fact, showing kindness and compassion to the most vulnerable of our fellow earthlings (i.e. other animals, particularly under human care) is often seen as the most telling sign of a person’s capacity for the traits we hold most sacred. As Gandhi famously said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
You’ve heard the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. When it comes to their education, the same principle should be applied in the form of a positive and proactive partnership between teachers, student and parents.
I’m a huge advocate for clear, open communication between all parties to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary stress. Good relationships between teachers and parents should be a priority to ensure the best outcome for children.
There are a number of simple things that parents and teachers can do to support one another.
Teachers supporting parents:
Keep parents up to date
Parents who confide in a teacher and don’t receive further feedback on an issue affecting their child can become frustrated and angry. If they’ve made an effort to contact the school, it means they’re genuinely concerned. They need to feel confident their child is being cared for by teachers staying contact and updating them on what’s being done.
Send home a note
Make a special effort to call or send home a note to parents of children who need extra support or are struggling to fit in. A teacher who shares a few kind words about their child’s successes or positive progress will win a parent’s heart in an instant. read more →
As important as it is for parents to encourage, love and support their children, it is just as important that children learn to create this within themselves. It is very empowering for a child to create positive beliefs in themselves so it is much harder for people to tear them down.
As our children learn behaviours and wire their brain, affirmations are very effective in nurturing self-belief in childhood, which will stay with them throughout their life.
We all develop our belief systems about ourselves and the world around us from our environment. Our family and friends, role models, television, magazines and advertising can either be nurturing or damaging.
It is important that we learn to take control of our belief systems and the younger that we learn, the easier it is. It can be as simple as affirming the positive beliefs that we would like to grow up with. Negative beliefs can impact our lives greatly and can be hard to shift as we grow older.
Affirmations are a powerful and holistic way of building a positive mind and happier children. Nurturing their authentic self and helping them to enjoy the magic of childhood.
“Affirmation takes advantage of our reward circuits, which can be quite powerful. Many studies have shown that these circuits can do things like dampen pain and help us maintain balance in the face of threats.”
- Christopher Cascio, PhD.
Put simply, an affirmation is to affirm to one’s self. Positive words that are absorbed by the mind to create your belief system. Once affirmations are learned, they work by coming to mind when that belief is challenged.
If your affirmation is "I am wonderful just the way I am", and you are told you are stupid, the affirmation will come to mind to remind you of your belief. Instead, you will think, "I’m not stupid, I am wonderful!”
Without a positive belief, you may take on the one you just heard and start to believe that you are stupid. The more an affirmation is repeated, positive or negative, the stronger it becomes.
What we think about ourselves, is how we develop
If we feel we are worthless, we will behave like we are worthless. If we believe that we are special and loved, we will behave like we are special and loved.
This is why affirmations are so important to help children develop positive foundations on which to grow. Once we have matured, it is hard to change those foundations.
Affirmations also provide us with the opportunity to learn to look at ourselves in the mirror. This is the most effective way to say an affirmation and learning to do this as a child makes it much easier to do. Many of us find it quite confronting to look ourselves in the eyes, let alone say “I love you” as we do.
Why we need to be kind to ourselves
This leads to the next benefit if affirmations. They teach us positive self-talk, to speak to ourselves with kindness. As we grow, we can develop a habit of criticising ourselves, harming our own self-confidence and lowering our resilience. For children to learn positive self-talk from a young age, helps prevent self-criticism, as a strong and positive belief system has already been created from within.
As bullying is such a huge issue that many children face at some time, self-confidence is the very thing that will help them deal with these situations. Keeping a positive mind is essential. This can be really difficult when children are dealing with bullying behaviour. By developing positive mental pathways, children are more resilient and self-assured, coping much better than if they had a low self-esteem.
Many children who bully lack confidence, so feel a need to belittle others to make themselves feel better and more in control. Children with a positive self-image feel less inclined to bully others. Uniting a class with a quick two-minute affirmation at the start of a school day could make the world of difference to troubled children.
Creating an inner confidence as children can shape our whole life. Every aspect of our life is affected by our self-confidence. It affects our ability to learn and participate at school, socially, creatively, our relationships, achieving our goals and dreams, and most importantly our standards. With little self-confidence, we often lower our standards or ‘settle’ for what we believe is achievable.
Just a few positive words spoken to ourselves each day can, amazingly, make such a difference to our whole body, our mind, our heart and physically too. There is much research on how the heart and mind are wired to communicate and how a happy and positive mind can improve overall health.
Make today the day that you try affirmations with your children. Helping them to shine with confidence as the unique individuals that they are.
Introducing your children to affirmations
Affirmations can be implemented into your daily routines very easily. Only taking a few minutes each day.
It is a good idea to talk to your children about using affirmations so they understand what they are for and how they work. Keep it fun and encouraging. “Affirmations teach you new and positive ways of thinking. They can help you believe in yourself, feel happy and help you to feel better when you are angry or sad. Let’s try them and see what we think!” "Affirmations encourage kind and happy ways of thinking, you will remember them when you need them most."
Another way to introduce affirmations to your children is to place affirmation cards around the house in areas that they will see them. Just reading the words will help them affirm positive beliefs. On the mirror in the bathroom is a great spot or on the breakfast table.
It will also help if you were to lead by example and read the affirmations as well. You may like to do your affirmations together. You may find that this allows you the chance to discuss emotions or issues that they may be experiencing, opening doors for conversation. Working together on your affirmations may just have you shine together.
Looking in the mirror
One of the most valuable lessons affirmations offer, is being comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror and learning positive self-talk (talking to yourself with kindness and positivity). Many of us find it hard to look at our reflection without being critical, judgmental or negative about ourselves.
Affirmations are the most powerful when we say the words to ourselves whilst looking into a mirror. These positive words are literally building our own self-belief. Young children introduced to this concept feel more comfortable and far less confronted looking at themselves in the mirror. If you find that your children feel it is difficult to look into the mirror to say their affirmations, it is best not to push them. Affirmations are still very effective by just reading the words aloud to yourself. Children that are visually impaired will use this technique.
Affirmations are more effective when repeated and it's best to repeat an affirmation 3 times, saying the words louder and with more confidence each time. This helps affirm the belief. You may like to work on one affirmation a day or one a week, depending on how confident your child is with each affirmation. If they seem to struggle with an affirmation you may like to continue working on that one longer.
You could also take a little time to discuss the affirmation and how your child feels about it. Perhaps even write a long list of their qualities to help boost their confidence and help them to recognize their values. Some children may prefer to work on the affirmations on their own and this is ok too.
It is important to show respect for your child and their feelings and not to push them too hard if they're feeling uncomfortable. Positive affirmations should always be introduced in a fun and exciting way. Use them to help children be the best that they can be and to nurture happy and positive feelings.
Never should affirmation cards be used for punishment, in time out, or in relation to any bad behaviour. As affirmations are such a wonderful tool, it is important not to bring a negative tone to them.
Children using affirmations under the age of 5 or 6 when they're not yet reading, can be read the words by their parents for them to repeat. This works very well and affirmations used at this age create strong and healthy foundation.
AUTHOR: Roxanne Wilkins - Nurture Cards
Roxy created Nurture Cards in 2009 after her own personal and family struggles with her young children. As she saw other young children suffering with low self-confidence, bullying, negative self-image, anxiety, effects of divorce or unhappy family dynamics, she wanted to create a tool to help them through these tough times.
Nurture Cards are used worldwide by children, counsellors, therapists, primary teachers, early childhood centres, disability services and much more. I also have other resources for improving sleep and self-esteem.
Follow Nurture Cards on facebook.
13 years ago I was expecting my first child. It had taken us a while to get pregnant with our first as I had undiagnosed health problems, so we were delighted with the news. We did everything that most first-time parents did, buying equipment as well as baby-proofing everything because that is what good parents do, right?
Our bouncing baby girl arrived and I was a very focused and dedicated parent. Monitoring every aspect of her life and making sure that her every need was attended to. Life went on and we continued to extend the family with 3 more children, all boys. As my family grew in size and age, I began to observe and learn about what was helping them to grow and what was stopping them from growing.
As time went on, I realised that the better and more efficient mother I became, the more often I disadvantaged my children. In an attempt to make sure that my children were happy, healthy, comfortable and safe I was actually preventing them from experiencing all aspects of life. I was undermining their confidence and I was denying them the tools they needed to thrive. Let me explain. read more →
My daughter has been having difficulty with a girl at school. This girl “Mary” became a bit of a stalker and it became quite intense.
It was manageable during school hours, but it was the constancy of exchanges on Instagram that became overwhelming. Relentless messages from Mary accusing my daughter of bad behaviour. Mary snapping a photo of my daughter’s private messages, where she revealed her crush and then showing him. Not cool. In the end, we advised our daughter to block Mary, at which point the girl jumped on to my account. Yikes, it was intense.
A meeting was held at school and the cyber issue was resolved. Several minor incidents occurred thereafter, but nothing that we couldn’t handle.
Then, one day my daughter came home from school furious. We sat down as I listened to the drama that had unfolded this time. Mary had taken a rotten piece of fruit and had thrown it at one of the boys. This particular boy is very shy, a bit of a recluse, an easy target. The fruit hit him. He did not respond and simply continued staring at the floor. My daughter then flew into action (she has a very strong moral compass).
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears
of another and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler
The Knit-For Service Club began in 2004 with twenty members and has grown to eighty-plus boys and girls who knit to help others. The first year, we made one patchwork blanket to donate to Harold, the King of the Valentine’s Day Dance, at his retirement home. Since then, we have collectively knit over two dozen blankets and two thousand baby hats for people in need.
In our third year, Save the Children® in Connecticut asked us to join its Caps to the Capital campaign. That visit resulted in our club’s effort to rally the community to help us send 329 handmade caps to developing countries to help reduce the infant mortality rate. Consequently, we were invited that January to deliver a basket of those caps to the White House. Elizabeth, our young Westwood Ambassador, left one of her hats with the First Lady’s chief of staff. When asked how it felt to leave her handiwork with the First Lady, Elizabeth remarked, “It was okay, I suppose. But I really made that hat for a baby.” A project with a purpose. Be still my beating heart.