Greetings Thoroughgood Families,
It’s hard to believe that the first quarter is over and we are heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. As many of you know, we work every day to reinforce our “Thoroughly-good Manners” in hopes to not only improve student success in school, but also in other areas of their lives. Our current manner that we are working on is “Showing Appreciation” which is perfect to highlight at this time of year.
As parents, we want our children to be thankful and appreciative; however, we need to remember that children are developmentally self-centered in their childhood years. We must model our expectations for them and reinforce their efforts. In addition, adults often do things to create a sense of entitlement by rewarding children unecessarily or providing their every request or more. When children are young, it is helpful to role play with them what will happen and what you expect when it’s an occasion where they will be receiving something. For example, when you are driving over to Aunt May’s for Thanksgiving, you tell them that it is always polite to thank the cook for dinner and have them practice what to say. If you think they may receive a gift, practice what they should say and act. You should also practice how to respond if it is something they aren’t fond of. What often happens is our children haven’t practiced a situation and then when they handle it poorly, we are embarrased or we try to cover it up by saying that they are shy. Practice these skills just like you practice math facts or reading: 1. give the expectations 2. give opportunities for practice 3. practice 4. reinforce positive responses and correct negative responses 5. the test (real situation) 6. Again, reinforce the positive and provide more practice where needed.
Below is an article I found that does a nice job of providing specifics for helping your children. As always, we are all working together to create healthy, happy, and successful individuals.
As the principal of Thoroughgood, I want to express my sincere appreciation for our entire community: teachers who strive every day for excellence, students who want to do their best, and families who support us in our efforts. I can’t imagine there is any better place to be! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Teaching children about gratitude
Thanksgiving crafts and family activities
Updated: Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 10:38 AM EST
Published : Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 8:49 AM EST
As the holiday season approaches we find ourselves reflecting on things from the past year that we are thankful for. It’s great for adults to reflect and contemplate our gratitude, but how can you also involve your children and teach them to be thankful?
Tracy Martin Turgeon, from The Children’s Workshop spoke on The Rhode Show about teaching children about gratitude.
Is important to teach your child to have a sense of gratitude?
Yes! Research has shown that being grateful is good for your health. Dr Robert Emmons, author of Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, and his team discovered that “people that are grateful report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and lower levels of stress. People tend to be more satisfied with what they have and less disappointed in what they don’t.” For a parent, expressing this concept to your children can be challenging. Where do you start or begin? There are some simple things as a parent you can do.
First, parents need to act as a role model; it starts in the home. Just doing these simple things goes a long way:
- Recognize and label gratitude. For instance tell your child: “That was nice of you to hold the door for that lady at the store. I am sure she appreciated it. ”
- Thank your children and others when they do nice things or complete their chores: “Thank you for helping take out the garbage”
- Express your appreciation of even simple things: “It was nice to bake cookies together, and I loved that you helped your sister mix the ingredients. ”
- Letting your child know that when they give gratitude and receive it, it’s nice to be acknowledged for what they have done.
When gratitude and being thankful are practiced on a regular basis, children learn to appreciate what they have and express it.
Additional Ways to Inspire Teens and Children :
- At dinner time, ask your children to tell you 3-5 good things about their day
- Help or encourage your child to volunteer at an organization if they are old enough. Or once a month go with your child to donate clothes, toys, and things around the house that are not needed.
- Ask your child to write a thank you note for a gift, or for someone helping them with chore, homework, or for fixing their bike or toy.
- As a parent be aware of the little things. If your child is upset about the rain, turn it around and say we really needed the rain and it is so good for the grass. Instead of feeding into a gloomy day, help your child to be grateful for even the smallest things.
- Go without a television, computer or cell phone for a week. Yes you can survive this! It will help your child to be thankful for the things they have (this works especially well for teens!)
Some Thankful Crafts to Do with Your Children:
Giving Thanks Placemats
Create a collage filled with drawings and pictures of all the things your children are thankful for. Use magazines and family pictures. Have your children write captions. Add their name and the year. You can use this at dinner time or at the holidays.
Thankful Paper Chains
Throughout the month, have your children write down on strips of paper what they are thankful for. Such as, “I love that grandma spends time with me”. You can start these in green and red and keep it going through Christmas. Staple each one together to make a chain to hang to remind everyone why they are thankful.
This is a fun activity. If you are expecting family and friends over for holiday dinner, send them a small piece of paper beforehand. Ask them to trace their hand on it, cut it out, and write what they are thankful for. You can also cut out leaves etc. Tell them to bring it with them to dinner. At the dinner table everyone can read what they wrote and you can put it on a tree branch as a display. Everyone will be able to admire and your children can read them again and again.
There are many things that happen in the course of a week or a day. To keep track of it all, keep a family journal. Journal about the fun, exciting and good things that happen but also chronicle challenges and troubles. Each time something is disappointing, you and your child can write down something that is good, or to be thankful for in the journal. There will be many times your children will pick up this book to read and I bet you will also.
Help your child to be thankful and appreciate all the small things in life. Remind them that a “thank you” or “that was nice of you” will go a long way. There are so many ways to be thankful and do grateful things, you just have to think outside the box. You never know your child might show you something to be thankful for!
Posted in Uncategorized November 23, 2012
Speaking of School
Welcome to Thoroughgood for the 2012-2013 school year! Approximately once a month, I will be posting some thoughts or tips of my own or from experts in the field with the goal of helping us work as a team to develop our students to become 21st century learners, workers, and citizens.
Last year was an outstanding year with our school being recognized positively in many ways. These awards only happen as we all work together as a school community. We were one of five schools to receive the Governor’s Award of Excellence for our third straight year. In addition, we were one of four schools to be awarded an exemption for SOL results this year (Yes, we still need to take and pass the tests). Yet, we are never satisfied with our results as we continuously strive to improve instruction to meet the needs of each student.
We are extremely proud as a school to instill the importance of personal accountability and integrity through our “Thoroughgood Manners” and “Habits of Mind” programs. We hope the social and emotional development gained will stay with our students throughout their lives. We are committed to making this a focus for all.
As the year gets underway, I recommend that you take an active part in our school in whatever ways you can. Join the PTA, volunteer at home or school, communicate with school staff, and support school initiatives to instill our belief that education is important to all of us. In addition, make time every day to read to or with your child.
If you have any questions, please contact your child’s teacher or the appropriate staff member. We are all here for one reason and only this reason; we want your child to succeed.
Here is an article for helping with homework. Let’s make this year the kind of year that you and your family will look back upon with a smile!
Helping Your Grade-schooler with Homework
During grade school, kids start getting homework for the first time to reinforce and extend classroom learning and help them practice important study skills.
By doing homework, kids learn how to:
read and follow directions independently
manage and budget time (for long-term assignments like book reports)
complete work neatly and to the best of their ability
It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, pride in a job well done, and a work ethic that will benefit them well beyond the classroom.
Parents can give kids lots of homework help, primarily by making homework a priority and helping them develop good study habits.
Setting Up Shop
The kitchen or dining room table is a popular workspace for younger children; they may feel more comfortable being near you, and you can provide encouragement and assistance. Older kids might prefer to retreat to their rooms, but check in periodically and review the homework when it’s completed.
Wherever kids do homework, it’s important to make sure their workspace is:
stocked with school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, stapler, calculator, ruler, etc.) and references (dictionary, thesaurus)
quiet and free from distractions — TV, video games, phone calls, or other family members
If kids need a computer for schoolwork, try to set it up in a common space, not in a bedroom, so you can discourage playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the Internet for fun during study time. Also consider parental controls, available through your Internet service provider (ISP), and software that blocks and filters any inappropriate material. Find out which sites your kids’ teachers recommend and bookmark them for easy access.
A Parent’s Supporting Role
When it comes to homework, be there to offer support and guidance, answer questions, help interpret assignment instructions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the right answers or complete assignments.
Focus on helping kids develop the problem-solving skills they’ll need to get through this assignment and any others, and offer your encouragement as they do. They’ll develop confidence and a love of learning from doing it themselves.
Here are more tips to help make homework easier for kids:
Establish a routine. Send the message that schoolwork is a top priority with ground rules like setting a regular time and place each day for homework to be done. And make it clear that there’s no TV, phone calls, video game-playing, etc., until homework is done and checked.
Strategize for homework sessions. Teach kids to take stock of how much homework there is and what it involves so they can create a strategy that fits their workloads and temperaments. Some kids might want to tackle the harder assignments first — when mental energy levels are highest — while others prefer to get the easier tasks over with. By helping them approach homework with a strategy when they’re young, you’ll teach your kids to do that independently later. Allow them to take a break if needed, then guide them back to the homework with fresh focus and energy.
Instill organization skills. No one is born with great organizational skills — they’re learned and practiced over time. Most kids first encounter multiple teachers and classrooms in middle school, when organization becomes a key to succeeding. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help get organized.
Apply school to the “real world.” Talk about how what they’re learning now applies outside the classroom, such as the importance of meeting deadlines — just like adults in the work world — or how the topics in history class relate to what’s happening in today’s news.
Especially as kids get older, homework can really start to add up and become harder to manage. These strategies can help:
Be there. You don’t have to hover at homework time, but be around in case you’re needed. If your son is frazzled by geometry problems he’s been trying to solve for hours, for instance, suggest he take a break, maybe by shooting some hoops with you. A fresh mind may be all he needed, but when it’s time to return to homework, ask how you can help.
Be in touch with teachers. Keep in good contact with the teachers throughout the school year to stay aware of your child’s progress, especially if your child is struggling. Don’t miss parent-teacher conferences and maintain an ongoing dialogue. Teachers can tell you what happens in the classroom and how to help your child succeed. You can also ask to be kept in the loop about quizzes, tests, and projects.
Don’t forget the study skills. Study skills often aren’t stressed in schools. When you’re helping your child study for a test, suggest some effective study strategies, such as using flashcards, or taking notes and underlining while reading.
Encourage kids to reach out. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources. So encourage kids to ask for help, if needed, but remember that in school kids are rewarded for knowing the right answers, and no one likes to stand out by saying that they don’t have them. Praise your kids for their hard work and effort.
Don’t wait for report cards to find out that there are problems at school. The sooner you intervene, the sooner you can help your child get back on track.
When Kids Struggle With Homework
Consistent complaints about homework or ongoing struggles with assignments could indicate a problem.
In some cases, kids simply need to learn and practice better study habits. Be sure your kids are writing down assignments correctly and encourage them to keep a daily homework notebook, which can help both kids and parents know exactly what assignments are due and when. If a particular assignment is giving your child more trouble than others, send a note to the teacher pointing out the difficulties.
By reviewing homework with your child and talking to your child’s teacher, you can identify any learning problems and tackle them early on.
Laying the Foundation
The key to truly helping kids with homework is to know when to step in. Make sure your kids know that you’re available if there’s a snag, but that it’s important to work independently. Encourage effort and determination — not just the grades they get. Be a good example by showing your own love of learning. While your child does homework, do your own — read books, magazines, and newspapers; write letters, lists, and emails; use math skills to calculate expenses or balance the checkbook. By showing that learning remains important — even fun — once school’s over, you’ll help your kids understand that building knowledge is something to enjoy throughout life.
Excerpts taken from KidsHealth.org
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2010
Posted in Uncategorized September 12, 2012
It’s hard to believe that May is already upon is and there are only 6 weeks of school left. The year has been a good one but it has been way too fast. This week we recognize grades 3-5 at honor roll assemblies and I was able to see our K-2 students by classrooms to recognize their hard work as well. Also, this week was kindergarten registration. It’s hard to surpass the excitement in a 5 year old’s anticipation of coming to school! I can’t help but be appreciative of our wonderful school community! So many fantastic children and families come through our doors every year-thank you!
I have attached an article on fun ways to “work” on math over the summer. There are many ideas that use your summer activities such as baseball, to hone your child’s skills.
I have also attached a snippet from a new book that has just been released. I have not read it so I cannot stand by anything it says; however, it seems as though it’s a quick read with practical, common sense ideas. As parents, we are always looking for more tools to put in our parenting toolbox! You will have to let me know what you think about it after you read it. We continue to stress how important it is for students to be independent and responsible. “The worst things you can do for the ones you love are the things they could and should do for themselves.” (From John Wooden’s Life Wisdom)
Available April 1, 2012
My name is Denise, and I’m a Mean Mom.
That’s the very first line of my book, Mean Moms Rule. Let me explain the “mean” for you, in case you were under the impression that I never hug my boys (I possibly do this too much, as evidenced by the fact that they routinely try to wiggle away from my embraces and especially my sloppy kisses, the urchins), or that I advocate for children to work in coal mines (it’s illegal! Plus, no coal mines in my area!). I say “mean” because my approach often bucks the prevailing parenting trend, which you could call helicopter-y or indulgent (I prefer my own technical term, “squishy”). It’s mean because it’s not easy. Because it’s focused on the end game, not the here-and-now (and anyone who has kids’ll tell you, they are all about the here and now).
I love my children in the natural, elemental, unspoken way that most mothers do. But just as love alone is not enough to sustain a lasting marriage, it’s also not enough to raise children into independent, competent adults – progeny to be proud of. You need a plan. And it’s been my plan, from day one, to be the kind of mother who keeps her eyes on the prize of parenthood, which is to say, the good kids.
From my own mother, the Original Mean Mom, I inherited a relentlessly practical nature. That plus my mile-wide stubborn streak make me ill-suited to be a loosey-goosey parent. I like schedules and order. I like to be in charge (but please note: in charge is not the same as autocratic. It’s just that someone needs to have her hands on the wheel). I don’t want to be my kids’ friends.
I’ve heard tell that my kids are good kids, which is satisfying to hear (then there are the times they’re decidedly not, but that’s another story). I can’t take all the credit for that, but credit isn’t what I’m after. I’m after growing my boys up to stand on their own two feet, to use their own fine minds, to not need me anymore (see? Mean). I’m after adding two more good men and good citizens and independent people to a world that, it looks like, needs them.
Mean Moms Rule (This is the link to the above mentioned book.)
Posted in Uncategorized April 27, 2012
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
I found this article online and felt that these tips were very well written. Often when we read an article or book, most of the material just affirms what we already know. However, if we can glean one new thought or idea that helps us in our parenting journey, it is worth reading. I definitely think this is worth the five minutes.
Posted in Uncategorized February 16, 2012
About 20 years ago, a first grader’s parent said to me, “No one told me that being a parent was so hard!” I had to chuckle inside because it was the first time that I had heard that in a conference. She was right, being a parent is not easy. And believe me, she meant it! One of the most difficult things that we do as parents is to watch our children deal with a consequence from an unwise choice they made, especially if we did not give the consequence ourselves. However, consequences are meant to teach not punish. If we are consistent and we allow children to have consequences, they will be better problem solvers, more confident about their ability to improve their decision-making, and able to see that when they make a mistake they can make amends and start again. The following is an article on choosing the most beneficial choices in consequences and helping your child develop self-discipline. I hope you find it to be valuable as you continue on your parenting journey.
TEACHING RESPONSIBILITY USING NATURAL AND LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES: TIPS FOR PARENTS
by Jennifer Marrero and Pamela Weiner
Intern School Psychologists, North Area Student Services
Does your child break the rules and not want to face the consequences? Do you feel like everything is a battle? Is your child unyielding when you say no? Do you find yourself giving in because it’s easier than constantly arguing? How can you make it stop?
The goal of discipline is teaching appropriate behaviors. Children need to be taught that their actions have consequences. Consequences can be either positive or negative. Positive consequences offer children something rewarding, while negative consequences are needed at times to help them learn to change inappropriate actions. When using consequences, it’s important to state what is expected and pair it with its consequence. For example, “After you clean your room, we can…(read a story, bake cookies, play catch, etc.).” “When you complete your homework, then you may ride your bike.” In these examples, the desired behavior is stated, and the reward is a positive consequence. Rather than: “If you do not clean your room, you will not be allowed to…” This does not state the desired behavior, but rather poses a threat to the child. Threats do not have much teaching value, and sometimes have unintended consequences. For example, threats may teach a child to avoid the person issuing the threat, but not to correct his or her behavior.
Natural consequences are outcomes of behavior that are neither planned nor controlled. A natural consequence occurs when parents do not intervene in a situation but allow the situation to teach the child. This technique is based on the old adage: “Every generation must learn that the stove is hot.” For example, if ice cream is left on the counter, it will melt. When a child refuses to eat, he becomes hungry. If a student stays awake too late at night, she will be tired the next day. If a child forgets his homework, he will receive no credit for the assignment. In each of these examples, the child learns from the natural consequence of his or her behavior. Experience becomes the teacher. So long as health or safety are not issues, parents should allow these situations to take their natural course; it doesn’t take long for most children to understand what they need to do to correct their behavior in such circumstances.
Although natural consequences always work, it is not always appropriate to use them. Sometimes natural consequences can be too severe or too delayed to be effective. Parents cannot use natural consequences if the health or safety of their child is involved. For example, the natural consequence of running into the street is obviously unacceptable because of the child’s safety. Failure to brush one’s teeth will result in future cavities, however, the consequence occurs too late to be a deterrent. In this example, the child cannot make a connection between the behavior and the consequence because too much time elapses before the problem becomes apparent.
In cases such as these, logical consequences are better suited to your purpose. Logical consequences do not occur naturally as a result of behavior, but are intentionally planned by parents. Logical consequences teach children to accept responsibility for their mistakes and misbehavior. Children can then link the behavior with consequences that make sense. If a child breaks a window, it is not logical for him or her to lose television rights, endure a speech, or receive a spanking. None of these responses is related to the “crime.” However, paying for a new window is both logical and teaches a valuable lesson about responsibility for one’s actions. If a child spills milk, she cleans it up. She is then able to connect the consequence with her behavior.
Logical consequences need to be “related”, “respectful”, and “reasonable.” “Related”means that the consequence is connected to the child’s behavior and its function. Consequences also need to be given with empathy and in a “respectful” tone of voice. When children are not treated respectfully, they may become aggressive, passive, resentful, or uncooperative. “Reasonable” refers to consequences that are fair and appropriate to the situation and the child’s age. Therefore, the consequence should be related to the misbehavior, respectful of the child’s feelings, and not too severe for the misbehavior. If parents follow these guidelines, their children are more likely to learn how to make responsible decisions and become capable, caring adults.
Logical consequences are often confused with punishment. Punishment is an aversive consequence for wrongdoing. These aversive consequences inflict pain or other unpleasant outcomes that can be harmful to the child. The key difference between logical consequences and punishment goes back to the idea that consequences should be related, respectful, and reasonable. While a consequence may at times “feel” punitive, the way the parent presents it to the child and its relation to the inappropriate behavior is what distinguishes it from aversive punishment. The differences are summarized in the following table:
|Leave the child with feelings of control
||Leaves the child feeling powerless
|Make use of thinking words
||Often uses fighting words
|Provide choices with firm limits
|Are given with empathy
||Is often given with anger
|Are tied to the time and place of the infraction
||Is often arbitrary
|Are never used to get revenge
||May be used to get revenge
|Teach children to take responsibility
||Results in children focusing on the adult delivering the punishment rather than on their actions
Natural and logical consequences work best if the child is told what will happen if a rule is broken. The parent explains the reasons for the rules and consequences and the child is given a choice. The parent, however, has to be willing to accept the child’s decision; and also to enforce the consequence when needed. Additionally, the parent needs to let the rules be in charge; it should not become a personal struggle. If the child feels that the rules are not fair, the parent and child should sit down and talk about the rules at a later date. Together, they may decide to change some rules or consequences. Consequences work best when they are made and agreed upon in advance. For example, family meetings provide a good opportunity to agree upon the future consequences of failing to do chores, missing curfews, fighting, or breaking family rules.
While it is not possible to anticipate every behavior, the more parents discuss their expectations, rules, and consequences in advance, the more receptive the child will be to understand and follow them. Parents should also elicit the child’s opinion on the rules and consequences. By participating in the creation of rules and consequences, the child’s sense of responsibility will be strengthened, as will his or her self-discipline.
Cline, F., & Fay, J. (2006). Parenting with Love and Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition) Colorado Springs: Pinon. ISBN: 1576839540
Dreikurs, R. (1990). Logical Consequences. Dutton Adult. ISBN: 080154632X
Etchemendy, J. (1999). The Concept of Logical Consequences. Center for the Study of Language and Information. ISBN: 1575861941
Positive Discipline by J. Nelsen from Sunrise Books, 1-800-456-7770 or www.positivediscipline.com
Posted in Uncategorized January 23, 2012
Happy New Year!
I was speaking to a well-respected colleague regarding her upcoming retirement before the winter break. When I asked her how the families were reacting at school, she said it was wonderful. So many parents, children, and others had thanked her for the work that she had done over the years. She said people were so nice that she felt it was like a funeral in that only kind words were spoken to her. Wondering why they had waited until she was leaving, the principal expressed how nice it would have been to hear the positive comments along her journey of serving others. “I usually just heard the problems, concerns, and negative things. It would have been so nice to hear.” Her final words to me were that educators just don’t hear it enough.
In general, we seem to withhold our positive and kind thoughts because we don’t realize how much it can mean to others. I agree with my colleague that we shouldn’t wait and reserve our thoughts until the year is over or it’s too late. However, as she spoke, I pictured many faces of parents and children who had expressed their thankfulness to me that very week for being at Thoroughgood; or for their teacher, the office staff, or the administration. And although I feel this way every day, I want to say how thankful for all of you and the support and kindness you show. In addition, I am very appreciative of the entire staff that we have here at Thoroughgood. They truly care about each of our students.
On a similar note, we have just received the Governor’s Award for Excellence for the third year in a row. We are one of only a few schools to receive this honor. Although it may not always be possible to receive this type of recognition no matter how hard we all work, it is a testament to the commitment and dedication of our faculty, staff, students, and parents. Bravo!
Posted in Uncategorized January 10, 2012
RAISE A THANKFUL CHILD and be grateful you did!
By Grace Bennett
How many times have you done it lately: prompted your child to say thank you to a neighbor, a friend, or Grandma? It’s natural to want to raise a thankful child, and those little reminders to say thanks never hurt. But the latest thinking about kids and gratitude is that you need to nurture this life skill while keeping your child’s development in mind. There’s no such thing as an unappreciative preschooler, because young kids “don’t understand the concept of gratitude in the way that adults do,” says Julie A. Riess, Ph.D., the director of the Wimpfheimer Nursery school at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Even 5 and 6 year olds are only starting to grasp that please and thank you are more than magic words that please Mommy and Daddy.
When you begin to feel a bit hurt or angry because your child isn’t gracious to you or others, bear in mind that all kids start out being self-centered. “It’s normal and natural for young kids to believe everyone in the world exists exclusively for their benefit,” says Deborah Spaide, the author of Teaching Your Kids to Care (Citadel Press). “Thankfulness is just not part of their job description,” say quips.
“Before age 7 children developmentally have difficulty understanding how other people feel or that their own actions affect others,” explains Neri Wallace, a child and family Therapist and directors of the Heights Center for Adult and Child Development in Brooklyn. “Empathy is a cornerstone of appreciation, and it takes years before children are able to think beyond their own wants and needs.”
Growing feelings of gratitude
Gratitude is a social grace that takes years to develop – and that many adults have yet to master. Thankfully, there are many ways that caring and concerned parents can raise their preschoolers to become more appreciative and to show it. Because these strategies take children’s development into account, they are realistic, too.
Show your children that you’re thankful for them
Children don’t come into the world hardwired to be appreciative: They learn this over time, notes Wallace. Before kids can show concern for other’s feelings she explains, they have to feel loved and cared for: “Loving attention enables them to develop empathy.”
Beside TLC, you can cultivate gratitude by tuning children into the pleasure of being appreciated. For instance, you might tell your daughter, “I’m so happy to have a little girl like you,” to express how thankful you are to have her in your life.
Be appreciative yourself
Do unto others as you expect your kids to do unto you – and everyone else. Children are apt to do as we do, not as we say, says Wallace. Particularly for those who are not yet talking, “modeling is the best way to teach social conventions so they can be internalized,” adds Dr. Riess, who points out that her nursery school staff never prompts kids to say please and thank you, but always models manners. Since your actions are such a strong shaper of your children’s habits, make sure you shower your spouse and other people with thanks for thoughtful gestures.
Let your children know you’re grateful for what they do
Also essential to raising a more thankful child is to praise any empathetic impulses (such as a toddler offering his cherished blankie to a crying baby) and to let a child know when his actions have made someone happy, says Wallace. Margaret Wiginton, the mother of two, always acknowledges considerate things her daughters say and do. She’ll thank 3-year-old Maggie for bringing her a toy or exclaim to 5-year-old Emily “Thanks for drawing me such a beautiful picture. I love it!” And her efforts seem to be paying off. “My youngest still has to be reminded to say thank you, but Emily usually remembers on her own.”
Don’t demand thanks
Instead of scolding or shaming a child when he isn’t courteous or grateful, praise him when he is. Tell your son, “I like it when you say thank you,” if he expresses gratitude for a gift. “You slowly build a skill with positive reinforcement,” says Wallace. Don’t command your child to be courteous (“Thank Aunt Sue for the block set right now!”) or withhold a gift or goodie if he doesn’t say thank you. “Gratitude shouldn’t stem from shame or fear of punishment,” Wallace explains.
While gentle reminders (What do you say?”) can help preschoolers learn courtesy, Wallace says the best way to teach thankfulness is to demonstrate considerate behavior and include your children in the effort. For instance, you might say to your 3 year-old, “Let’s both say thank you to Aunt Sue for bringing you the block set.” If your son doesn’t join in, don’t force the issue. Simply tell Aunt Sue, “Michael doesn’t feel like talking right now, but I’m sure he’ll love your wonderful birthday present.” Later, when Michael is playing with the blocks, explain that it makes people feel good when you thank them for gifts. Eventually, as your child matures and doesn’t see the world exclusively through his own eyes, he’ll more often think of others and express his gratitude to them.
Consider the reasons behind ungrateful behavior
If your preschooler is hungry, upset or tired, it’s not fair to expect her to be a well-mannered companion, says Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D., the author of The Gentle Art of Communicating With Kids (John Willey & Sons). In fact, an overtired child can feel every bit as confused and upset by her poor behavior as you do.
Also take your child’s temperament into account
“Some kids are more talkative than others and therefore more likely to say thank you,” Wallace points out. For a reserved child, a smile may speak louder than words.
Remember, kids say what’s on their minds. While adults have learned that good manners make for good relationships, impulsive preschoolers are apt to blurt out whatever comes to mind. For instance, two years ago, when Wallace gave her niece Megan two fashion dolls, the little girl announced, “I hate these dolls!” instead of saying thanks.
In this situation, a mortified mom’s first instinct may be to reprimand a child for being rude. But this will humiliate a disappointed child and make her feel guilty, not grateful, according to Wallace. To soothe the feelings of a crestfallen gift giver, you might generalize about children’s behavior, as Megan’s mom did: “Kids this age say what they’re thinking, don’t they! Thank you so much for Megan’s gift.”
As for your own feelings, keep in mind that an embarrassing display of ingratitude is likely to be a product of your child’s developmental stage, not a reflection of your parenting abilities, says Dr. Riess. In fact, consider such a display a chance to teach your child a lesson in thankfulness, she suggests. When you’re alone, explain to her that no matter what someone gives her, she should always say thank you, because it’s the thought that counts. With preschoolers, leave it at that. With older kids, encourage – don’t force- them to make amends for ungrateful behavior with a thank-you card or call.
Take advantage of a preschooler’s love of pretend play to act out different scenarios with teddy bears in which a thank-you is required. With older kids, try sitting down before a birthday or holiday and rehearsing how to receive an unappealing gift graciously. Ask, “What would you say if you got something you didn’t like?” If nothing comes to mind, practice responses that convey gratitude without faking enthusiasm, such as “Thank you so much!”
Establish year-round family rituals
that promote feelings of gratitude
Thanksgiving isn’t the only time you should encourage children to count their blessings. “On Sunday evenings we go around the dinner table and each take turns saying what we’re thankful for, says Elizabeth Ellis, Ph.D., the author of Raising a Responsible Child and the mother of an 8-year-old and a 13 -year -old. This kind of ritual helps foster in children an awareness and appreciation of what they have, Dr. Ellis says. It also encourages them to be grateful for everyday things, such as a trip to the park.
Embrace a less-is-more philosophy
If your child’s room resembles a toy store, such overabundance may dull his sense of appreciation. “The excitement of getting a toy or a treat is dampened when receiving becomes routine,” Dr. Elgin explains. To avoid toy overload, Margaret Wiginton asks relatives to give her daughters practical gifts like clothing on holidays. And if they get a mountain of toys at their birthday parties, she says, “I put some away for another time so my kids don’t take for granted. This way, each gift seems special and is more valued.”
If your kids always seem to want more no matter who much they have, you may need to point out that not getting everything one wants is simply part of life, otherwise, children come to believe they’re entitled to all they have and more, and that attitude circumvents any feelings of gratitude. Of course, make sure your actions don’t contradict your words, warns Dr. Riess. If your closets are crammed with clothes or you can’t resist the latest gadgets, don’t be surprised if your children constantly clamor for new toys.
Encourage your children to pitch in and help others
They will not only learn how good it feels to give but also develop empathy and gain a better appreciation of other people’s needs. Kids of any age can assist you in bringing meals to shut-ins, sorting through clothes to donate to charity, and visiting people in nursing homes. Be sure to explain that all people are needy in different ways, so we need to pitch in and give one another a helping hand. For instance, you might tell preschoolers that some people in nursing homes are lonely because their kids live far away, and that your visits will cheer them up.
Sharing experiences like these makes children feel important and moves their focus from themselves to others, says Deborah Spaide, who is also the founder of Kids Care Clubs, a nonprofit organization that involves children in a host of community service projects. (For Spaide’s suggestions on ways you and your kids can help others, log onto www.familycares.org.)
By nurturing thankfulness in your children you’ll see their gratitude grow. Indeed, by the time your tots turn into teens, they’re likely to feel and show appreciation. In a 1998 Gallup Youth Survey, 40 percent on teenagers aged 13 to 17 said they make a point of expressing thanks all the time, and 56 percent said they did this at least occasionally. For now, consider your kids’ spontaneous hugs and kisses a measure of their gratitude for all that they have and all that you do.
Other useful resources
Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots has established the Drew Bledsoe Foundation Parenting With Dignity program. Bledsoe says of his success “my parents helped me the most to be what I am today” and his goal is to help other parents give their children the best possible start. For more information, see http://www.drewbledsoe.com/.
Posted in Uncategorized December 13, 2011
One of the most frequent questions or concerns that we field at school is: How do we help our child be more responsible? In addition, parents often feel that their child isn’t old enough to handle responsibility. However, one of the best things we can do to help our children grow, is to help them develop responsibility starting at two or three years old and then continuing to provide guidance and additional expectations as they get older. This is an informative article from LSU that provides some helpful suggestions.
Happy Thanksgiving! Dr. Z
Help Children Develop Responsibility
Responsibility often is difficult to develop in children. Youngsters must have some inherent sense of responsibility before the trait can be developed more fully.
Teaching children to be accountable for their actions and to feel a sense of responsibility is necessary if they are ever to be prepared for adult living.
Here are some ways to help children develop responsibility:
- Do not do for your children things they can do for themselves. Some parents place too much emphasis on doing things perfectly or performing tasks quickly. Children learn many things by trial and error. Letting them accept responsibility also means allowing them to set some of their own standards and work at a comfortable pace.
- Give children time to learn. Learning is easiest in a relaxed setting. Give clear, careful directions for doing the task and allow plenty of time to complete it.
- Ask, don’t order. Ordering, demanding or forcing children to do tasks is not the way to develop responsibility. You usually will find children eager to help when they know they are needed and made to feel they can do the job.
- Use natural and logical consequences. If children refuse to do the tasks that are their responsibilities, step back, stop discussing it and let them experience the consequences. An example is homework. Homework is the child’s responsibility. If it isn’t completed, the child will soon learn the consequences. Parents must be willing to accept that children may make some low grades and not be on the honor roll until they accept the responsibility for studying their lessons and completing assignments.
When children learn to accept responsibility, they gain confidence, feel more worthwhile and enjoy being recognized as responsible.
Posted in Uncategorized November 20, 2011
I hope that all of you are having a wonderful school year so far. It’s hard to believe that it’s the end of the first quarter already! Here is an article from Parade magazine about children and technology. Happy reading!
Posted in Uncategorized November 11, 2011
Parents often question whether or not they should involve their children in extracurricular activities when they have homework that keeps them busy. Here is an article from livestrong.com that discusses some of the wonderful benefits of doing group activities outside of school.
Do Extracurricular Activities Build Self Esteem?
May 26, 2011 | By Laurel Tuohy
Taking part in extracurricular activities has a host of benefits for students. From learning team-building skills to gaining confidence, there are few downsides to youth taking part in after-school sports, teams or clubs. Not only does participation look great on college applications but it also helps the student feel better about herself.
What Self-Esteem Is
Self-esteem includes the ideas of confidence in yourself and respect for yourself. Having good self-esteem involves having a positive idea of your own self-worth, liking who you are and feeling aware of your own positive and negative qualities.
Extracurricular involvement can provide young people with new skills. The ability to play a new sport, perform a new activity or learn more about something they love can make them feel better about themselves. It can also give them a better sense of who they are and help them to develop a stronger personality. After-school activities can also teach young people discipline to a schedule and responsibility to their teammates or other club members.
According to a paper by Rachel Hollrah, she found that students involved in activities get better grades. These same kids also have more and more fulfilling social contact since many make friends with the like-minded students in their activities and spend time together outside of mandated meetings and practices. Students formerly at-risk of dropping out, changed their minds after finding a sense of place in extracurricular activities, according to Hollrah.
Within the framework of after-school activities, kids learn self-esteem related skills that will serve them long after their school days have ended. Enroll kids in sports or other activities and watch them develop the ability to interact with new people in an easy and positive way and to compete in a healthy way.
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/349274-do-extracurricular-activities-build-self-esteem/#ixzz1cTjYxgXq
Posted in Uncategorized November 2, 2011