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How We Can Show Love to Our Children

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (129)
There is a great book I use sometimes called “Feelings to Share from A to Z” by Todd and Peggy Snow and Illustrated by Carrie Hartman.

You can find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Feelings-Share-A-Todd-Snow/dp/1934277002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377560519&sr=8-1&keywords=feelings+to+share

And in it there is a feeling word for each letter of the alphabet.

My favorites are “U is for understood” and “V is for Valued”


Those pages read:


“U is for Understood

You feel understood when people hear

The things you have to say

About what is new at school

Or what you did today.”


“V is for valued

Your mother praises you for a job well done

And your teacher thanks you for helping someone.

When people notice the good things you do and say,

You feel valued each and every day.”


Yesterday I taught a Sunday school lesson to a group of 4 and 5 year olds stressing the importance of showing love to others.

The focus of the lesson was on helping the children develop behaviors to show understanding and value of others.


When all was said and done there were four behaviors that these young children isolated as the way to show love to others:

·         Tell them you love them. Say it in words.

·         Include them in the things you do.

·         Listen to the things they say.

·         Compliment them when you notice they have done something well.

 How often are we doing these things to show our children love? How often do we look into our children’s eyes and tell them that we love them? How often do we just sit and listen to their stories and their questions without interrupting or superimposing some kind of lesson onto their childlike amazement or wonder at the world? How often do we take the time to offer a labeled praise, full of specific information about their good choices or about what makes them magnificent? How often do we invite them to do what we do?

Children want to know that they matter to us. We think of it as a foregone conclusion: you are my child. Of course you matter.

But their little souls are searching for validation and acceptance in our eyes. Their sassy teen angst is a secret plea to be appreciated, respected, and included in the adult world.

How do you feed that need in your child?

The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 9:47 AM Comments comments (110)
Here's an interesting article about learning to appreciate what our children offer. This resonates with me. I often hear parents talk about their children in negative terms like "She is so slow!" or "He is such a trouble maker". How can we reframe the behaviors and qualities that we struggle with in our children into wonderful character attributes like tenacity, independence, or as the author says "noticer"? Through this reframing - if we can really do it and believe it - we can free ourselves of being annoyed or burdened by our children's personalities and instead celebrate and nurture their true selves.Enjoy!

The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'
Rachel Macy Stafford
Special Education Teacher

When you're living a distracted life, every minute must be accounted for. You feel like you must be checking something off the list, staring at a screen, or rushing off to the next destination. And no matter how many ways you divide your time and attention, no matter how many duties you try and multi-task, there's never enough time in a day to ever catch up.
That was my life for two frantic years. My thoughts and actions were controlled by electronic notifications, ring tones, and jam-packed agendas. And although every fiber of my inner drill sergeant wanted to be on time to every activity on my overcommitted schedule, I wasn't.
You see, six years ago I was blessed with a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child.
When I needed to be out the door, she was taking her sweet time picking out a purse and a glittery crown.
When I needed to be somewhere five minutes ago, she insisted on buckling her stuffed animal into a car seat.
When I needed to grab a quick lunch at Subway, she'd stop to speak to the elderly woman who looked like her grandma.
When I had 30 minutes to get in a run, she wanted me to stop the stroller and pet every dog we passed.
When I had a full agenda that started at 6:00 a.m., she asked to crack the eggs and stir them ever so gently.

My carefree child was a gift to my Type A, task-driven nature --but I didn't see it. Oh no, when you live life distracted, you have tunnel vision -- only looking ahead to what's next on the agenda. And anything that cannot be checked off the list is a waste of time.
Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, "We don't have time for this." Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: "Hurry up."
I started my sentences with it.
Hurry up, we're gonna be late.
I ended sentences with it.
We're going to miss everything if you don't hurry up.
I started my day with it.
Hurry up and eat your breakfast.
Hurry up and get dressed.
I ended my day with it.
Hurry up and brush your teeth.
Hurry up and get in bed.
And although the words "hurry up" did little if nothing to increase my child's speed, I said them anyway. Maybe even more than the words, "I love you."
The truth hurts, but the truth heals... and brings me closer to the parent I want to be.
Then one fateful day, things changed. We'd just picked my older daughter up from kindergarten and were getting out of the car. Not going fast enough for her liking, my older daughter said to her little sister, "You are so slow." And when she crossed her arms and let out an exasperated sigh, I saw myself -- and it was a gut-wrenching sight.
I was a bully who pushed and pressured and hurried a small child who simply wanted to enjoy life.
My eyes were opened; I saw with clarity the damage my hurried existence was doing to both of my children.
Although my voice trembled, I looked into my small child's eyes and said, "I am so sorry I have been making you hurry. I love that you take your time, and I want to be more like you."
Both my daughters looked equally surprised by my painful admission, but my younger daughter's face held the unmistakable glow of validation and acceptance.
"I promise to be more patient from now on," I said as I hugged my curly-haired child who was now beaming at her mother's newfound promise.
It was pretty easy to banish "hurry up" from my vocabulary. What was not so easy was acquiring the patience to wait on my leisurely child. To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young.
When my daughter and I took walks or went to the store, I allowed her to set the pace. And when she stopped to admire something, I would push thoughts of my agenda out of my head and simply observe her. I witnessed expressions on her face that I'd never seen before. I studied dimples on her hands and the way her eyes crinkled up when she smiled. I saw the way other people responded to her stopping to take time to talk to them. I saw the way she spotted the interesting bugs and pretty flowers. She was a Noticer, and I quickly learned that The Noticers of the world are rare and beautiful gifts. That's when I finally realized she was a gift to my frenzied soul.

My promise to slow down was made almost three years ago, at the same time I began my journey to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters in life. And living at a slower pace still takes a concerted effort. My younger daughter is my living reminder of why I must keep trying. In fact, the other day, she reminded me once again.
The two of us had taken a bike ride to a sno-cone shack while on vacation. After purchasing a cool treat for my daughter, she sat down at a picnic table delightedly admiring the icy tower she held in her hand.
Suddenly a look of worry came across her face. "Do I have to rush, Mama?"
I could have cried. Perhaps the scars of a hurried life don't ever completely disappear, I thought sadly.
As my child looked up at me waiting to know if she could take her time, I knew I had a choice. I could sit there in sorrow thinking about the number of times I rushed my child through life... or I could celebrate the fact that today I'm trying to do thing differently.
I chose to live in today.

"You don't have to rush. Just take your time," I said gently. Her whole face instantly brightened and her shoulders relaxed.
And so we sat side-by-side talking about things that ukulele-playing-6-year-olds talk about. There were even moments when we sat in silence just smiling at each other and admiring the sights and sounds around us.
I thought my child was going to eat the whole darn thing -- but when she got to the last bite, she held out a spoonful of ice crystals and sweet juice for me. "I saved the last bite for you, Mama," my daughter said proudly.
As I let the icy goodness quench my thirst, I realized I just got the deal of a lifetime.
I gave my child a little time... and in return, she gave me her last bite and reminded me that things taste sweeter and love comes easier when you stop rushing through life.

Whether it's ...
Sno-cone eating
Flower picking
Seatbelt buckling
Egg cracking
Seashell finding
Ladybug watching
Sidewalk strolling
I will not say, "We don't have time for this." Because that is basically saying, "We don't have time to live."
Pausing to delight in the simple joys of everyday life is the only way to truly live.
(Trust me, I learned from the world's leading expert on joyful living.)
Watch Rachel Macy Stafford discuss this post on HuffPost Live:
Also on HuffPost:
This story appears in Issue 63 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington

To Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be the One Who Says It Out Loud

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 2:04 PM Comments comments (117)
I'm interested lately on finding perspective in parenting. I ran across this lovely article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blackberry/p.html?id=3209305
I thought it worth sharing here:
Steve Wiens:
To Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be the One Who Says It Out Loud
May 3, 2013 17:02:32
I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone-tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted.I have three boys ages 5 and under. I'm not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter and chaos. I was that person for years and years; the pain of infertility is stabbing and throbbing and constant. I remember allowing hope to rise and then seeing it crash all around me, month after month, for seven years. I am working on another post about infertility that will come at a later date.But right now, in my actual life, I have three boys ages 5 and under. There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week, when Isaac told my sister-in-law that, "My daddy has hair all over." Or when Elijah put a green washcloth over his chin and cheeks, and proudly declared, "Daddy! I have a beard just like you!" Or when Ben sneaks downstairs in the morning before the other boys do, smiles at me, and says, "Daddy and Ben time."But there are also many moments when I have no idea how I'm going to make it until their bedtime. The constant demands, the needs and the fighting are fingernails across the chalkboard every single day. One of my children is for sure going to be the next Steve Jobs. I now have immense empathy for his parents. He has a precise vision of what he wants -- exactly that way and no other way. Sometimes, it's the way his plate needs to be centered exactly to his chair, or how his socks go on, or exactly how the picture of the pink dolphin needs to look -- with brave eyes, not sad eyes, daddy! He is a laser beam, and he is not satisfied until it's exactly right.I have to confess that sometimes, the sound of his screaming drives me to hide in the pantry. And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, I compulsively eat chips and/or dark chocolate. There are people who say this to me:"You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!"I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to hold them under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little.If you have friends with small children -- especially if your children are now teenagers or if they're grown -- please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it's not true, but because it really, really doesn't help.We know it's true that they grow up too fast. But feeling like I have to enjoy every moment doesn't feel like a gift, it feels like one more thing that is impossible to do, and right now, that list is way too long. Not every moment is enjoyable as a parent; it wasn't for you, and it isn't for me. You just have obviously forgotten. I can forgive you for that. But if you tell me to enjoy every moment one more time, I will need to break up with you.If you are a parent of small children, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can't believe you get to be around these little people. But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:You are not a terrible parent if you can't figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend's children do. She's obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they'd be put in prison.You are not a terrible parent if you can't figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise.You are not a terrible parent if you'd rather be at work.You are not a terrible parent if you just can't wait for them to go to bed.You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.You're not a terrible parent.You're an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we're failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are oversaturated with information about the kind of parents we should be.So, maybe it's time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to raise the next president who knows how to read when she's 3 and who cooks, not only eats, her vegetables. Maybe it's time to embrace being the kind of parent who says sorry when you yell. Who models what it's like to take time for yourself. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.So, the next time you see your friends with small children with that foggy and desperate look in their eyes, order them a pizza and send it to their house that night. Volunteer to take their kids for a few hours so they can be alone in their own house and have sex when they're not so tired, for heaven's sake. Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they're doing a good job. Just don't freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we're botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they're older.You're bone-tired. I'm not sure when it's going to get better.
Today might be a good day or it might be the day that you lost it in a way that surprised even yourself.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
You're not alone.

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