If you believe in your kids, they will believe in themselves. If you say, “You can do it,” then they believe they can. If you say, “Knowing you, you’ll find a way!,” then they will. If you praise hard work and effort, then they will learn to work hard and persevere. If you love them without condition, then they will know that they don’t need to earn your love–it’s free. . Don’t let these “ifs” get lost in the shuffle of your busy life. Believe, Praise, Honor, and Love. I believe in you. You can absolutely do it

Question: My son is almost 3 and in full time daycare. He has struck up a friendship with a kid that is always in trouble, lashes out, acts out–everything our boy is not. I see my son bring out the best in this boy. I see genuine friendship and kindness in both when together…I know my job is to keep him safe.  Am I wrong to let them be friends?

Amy:  First off, I am touched with the loving nature of this question—It’s so heartwarming to see a Mom consider not only the well being of her child, but also the well being of another. I am proud of this mom’s concern for others. Before I jump in, here is a bit of background:

I believe we have a job as moms. Our job is to keep our kids happy, healthy, safe, and cozy. I review this parenting strategy at length in the Balance MAP, yet suffice it say that it provides direction, for both you and your child, while it increases the cooperation and the enjoyment you share with them. Yet, you can’t do it all alone – you need a Support network.

One of the most important partners you will have raising your son is his teachers or in this case, your childcare provider. Start there. Get an explanation of what is going at day care. Discuss the impact of this friendship on your son and his development. How is he affected by playing with the other boy? Do they in fact play nicely together? I would ask specifically how the day care handles this child.

Although your child sounds like a lovely role model, I would like to suggest that your day care is also actively helping to reshape and redirect the other boy’s attitude and behavior. It is dear that you want your son to be the catalyst for goodness and a role model. Your childcare provider will help shed great light on what is happening throughout the day.

The most important point here is that you need to be able to count on your day care to provide a happy, healthy, safe, and cozy environment where your child thrives. You can’t always be with your child and you need to have partners you trust who are extensions of you.  Work with them to create the right environment and healthy relationships for your child.

In addition to talking to the day care, you should use this opportunity to explain to your son about friendships and healthy relationships.  Make sure he is clear on acceptable, unacceptable behavior, and what to do when he experiences unacceptable behavior (go to the adult in charge).

I want you to feel great about dropping your son off at day care each day– your peace of mind is important and something you must nurture.

Trust your instincts and follow through with your support network to help you keep your kids happy, healthy, safe, and cozy. You are your child’s greatest advocate.

Welcome Parents I love this question.  Our children, like many, have conferences this week so the timing couldn’t be better.

First off, understand that your feelings of nervousness and anxiety are normal. Many moms feel like they are on “review” as much, if not more, than their kids. Dig deep to not take your child’s conference personally, rather, try to view it as a wonderful opportunity to hear from the one person or group of people who have the privilege of spending the entire day with your child—soak it up and enjoy it!  Your child’s teachers are some of your most valuable resources.  Together, you are partners in raising a happy, healthy, and successful child.

Let’s begin with what to bring.  I have a spiral notebook that I bring into every conference.  I have seven kids, so I have seven notebooks.  Bring that notebook to every conference or school meeting that concerns your child throughout the year.  Write your child’s name, grade, and year on the front.  You may have 3 or 4 school years in one notebook, and when that one is full, store it and buy another.  It will become a treasured keepsake of your child’s growth over the years.  Next, before you go, write down any specific questions you have or bring along any examples of your child’s work that you want to discuss.  One quick reminder, do your best to arrive on time.  That can be tough, but being on time sends a message to the teacher that their time is valuable and you respect it. Now, for the two questions you should ask your child’s teachers: 

  1. What are my child’s strengths? 
  2. What are my child’s opportunities for growth and development? 

The minute you ask about your child’s strengths, a positive atmosphere is created.  It’s fun to talk about where your child excels and it is a wonderful way to begin your conference.  I love to watch my child’s teacher sing their praises.  I want to hear the positives: both intellectual strengths as well as social strengths, as both are equally important to me.  As the teacher shares where your child excels, write them down in your notebook.  Ask the teacher to repeat any you might have missed because later you will share that praise with your child.  It’s important for our kids to hear genuine praise, especially from the people who make a difference in their lives.  Your kids will love it and it will motivate them to continue with the positive behaviors.  It is so important to witness the power of affirmation and how valuable it is to build in your child a positive self image.

 

Now it’s time to learn where your child has room to grow.  This question is important because it establishes that your child is human.  We all have areas of opportunity for growth and it is normal and healthy to approach life eager to learn where we can improve.  As the teacher shares the areas, it is your job to empower your child with this information.  Once your child has clarity on what the areas are and where to focus, they will know exactly where to begin to direct their time and energy as they build these skills.  Utilize the conference time with the teacher to hear specific examples so together you can create an action plan for your child’s growth.  Suggest your plan to share this information with your child and request a follow up to review the steps of the plan to motivate progress.  It is important to set weekly check points to touch base to make sure your child is making progress.  It’s in this process of setting goals, working toward them and ultimately achieving them where your child learns their capabilities.  They take ownership of their progress and learn the importance of a strong work ethic, which helps their self-confidence grow along with a host of other virtues.  A productive parent teacher conference is the stimulus for empowering your child to learn, grow and develop.  You and your child’s teacher help fuel that process. Make it a great one!

The most important thing about Back to School Night is that your kids know that you are excited to meet their teachers and learn about their school community. You are your child’s most important advocate and Back to School Night provides the first opportunity to create a partnership with your child’s new teacher and staff.

 

Back to School Night kicks off your partnership. It allows you an opportunity to get to know the people who will be spending time with your child. It also provides a glimpse into the curriculum, the teacher’s experience and their philosophies. To make the most out of this evening, start off by introducing yourself.  Shake the teacher’s hand; let them know that you are excited to meet them and appreciate the work they have done to prepare for the year. (ie. “The classroom looks so fun," or “What a neat year you have planned for the kids.”) Be honest with your praise– everybody enjoys sincere recognition.

 

Next, make sure the teacher has a good idea of who your child is, academically and socially—the clearer the picture, the better. Many teachers provide an information sheet for you to complete regarding your child; their strengths, challenges, likes, dislikes, interests, etc. and ask you to turn it in at Back to School Night. If not, take some time before you head out and jot down some notes regarding any information you think the teacher would need as they begin the year instructing your child. Remember, you are your child’s first and most important teacher– share your wealth of information. I promise the teachers will appreciate it and respect you for making the time to partner with them to make it the best year for your child. I have such respect for teachers. Like us, they work hard!

Great question. Like any muscle, the brain can atrophy if not used, and some of those important skills your child spent a year mastering can fade. My approach to keeping my kids intellectually fit is pretty easy going, yet consistent– I encourage them to read, write and play throughout the summer.

 

To begin, make the library one of your first destinations this summer. Take advantage of the summer reading programs that begin at birth and span every age group up thru high school. Most programs encourage kids to set a goal as to the number of books they want to finish before the summer’s end and incentives are given along the way to entice them to achieve their goal. An entire world of learning and adventure opens up to your kids at your local library. We make multiple trips each week– it’s our routine, make it yours, too.

 

Next on the literacy front is writing. This one isn’t as simple, yet very important. My strategy to keep my kids writing is to encourage them to do it daily. Every summer I buy the kids composition or spiral notebooks and they journal each morning. Writing well is a skill, and the only way to develop it is to practice. I want my kids to be confident writers– more so than their loving mother. J Yes, it’s quite possible that your kids may not like their new journal routine, and, they may even complain. I’ve personally heard almost every complaint, yet my response is this, “My job is to keep you healthy, and that includes your intellectual health. I’m confident that you will think of something fun to write about!” To start your kids off, you may want to suggest that their first entry is to make a list of all the things they want to do this summer– places they want to visit, people to play with, etcetera. Make it fun! Then let your kids write whatever comes to mind each morning. At our house, my kids write for about 20 minutes and it’s for their eyes only. They all get into it and it becomes easier and easier for them and you! Start today– you won’t regret it! Also, all ages join in; scribbles, pictures and stickers are all early learning. Your younger kids may want to dictate their entries to you. Great, support them, have fun and watch their love for writing grow!

 

Finally, it is time to play– games that is. Your kids will stay mentally sharp and have fun at the same time.  All it takes is a deck of cards and some board games. Think back to when you were a kid; remember card games like war, gin rummy, hearts, concentration, or spoons? Those are great ones and all require number computation– math.  Board games also sharpen skills like critical thinking, spatial reasoning, strategy, and the list goes on. Our latest family favorite is Qwirkle, and the kids love Risk, Blokus, Connect Four, Yahtzee, Scrabble, etcetera. Keep a game or two out on the kitchen counter or table and start one up after dinner– if you set it up and invite them to play, chances are, you’ll have little trouble getting your kids to join in. Enjoy!

First off, you aren’t the only one who is stressing about what to do with the kids this summer. Your question came up a lot this last week. Think about it, in a week or so, the entire structure of your life and your child’s day is going to change—pretty drastically. What may have been P.E on Mondays, and Art on Tuesdays is now going to Mommy on Monday and Mommy on Tuesday. No pressure there, huh!

First thing to remember is this: kids thrive in a structured environment. That is why teachers post each day’s schedule on the bulletin board. Kids take comfort in knowing what is next. Routines and structure empower a child to anticipate the energy and effort necessary to be successful.

Establishing structure at home will yield you the similar benefits. Knowing that mornings bring certain activities will make those mornings so much more enjoyable for you and your kids. You can be creative within your routines, yet the structure and direction sets both you and your kids up for success.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

*  Read to your kids. Start the day off together snuggling in your bed with a pile of books. You get to stay in bed a bit longer and they get to pick out their favorite books for reading time.

*  Turn off your television and surround your kids with books, paper and pencils, markers and stickers and let them go to town. Without the television as a diversion, your kids will build their imagination, intelligence and self-esteem by relying on themselves for entertainment.

*  Get out most mornings. Whether it is to a park, pool for swimming lessons, a class or the library. Have a reason to get up and go and then exercise those sweet kids of yours. They need it, and so do you!

*  Come home for lunch and if appropriate, nap your sweet children or at the very least, maintain a quiet time. Your kids will be so much better prepared for the fun the afternoon will bring and so will you!

*  Pick one day a week, (I like Fridays) and pack up your kids and take them on a Mom’s Day. Surprise your kids with a morning or afternoon activity of your choice. What makes you happy? Share it with your kids! Talk about inspiring!

As you jump into summer, remember that every day is an opportunity to create fun and lasting memories. When in doubt, play in the sprinklers, get out the bubbles, make an obstacle course and crack up with your kids. Those are the memories that will last forever!

Make it a great day and keep those questions coming!

Send your questions, concerns, and challenges to askamy@inspiringmoms.com. How can I help you and your family?

Amy