Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Parenting & Pregnancy (page 2 of 4)

Parenting Tip Series #3

Consistent Parenting

There’s an old saying:  A jug fills drop by drop (Buddha). In light of the saying:  What do these stories have in common?

  • My daughter was home schooled for two years of middle school.   Each morning we had school:  math, history, reading, science, and electives. Then we ate lunch. If all her homework was finished, we did fun things.
  • Every Monday night our family had family home evening. We varied the activities—sometimes having a lesson, sometimes playing games, occasionally inviting neighbors to join us.  But not matter what, we had family home evening and spent time together.  
  • Saturday was a time for chores.  In the morning there would be a list of chores that needed to be done with a note telling the kids how many chores  to sign up for.  Those who came first got to choose their chores first, and as soon as they were done, they could move on to other activities.
  • If the kids had to be taken out of church, they had to sit on a chair in a room with no toys and no treats and no interaction with others.  We never changed or varied from this rule.
  • Bedtime was a time for reading!  Every night we tucked our kids into bed with a story.  

The common denominator here is CONSISTENCY.   Good parenting requires consistent parenting.  Children need consistency.  It’s important that they know what the rules are and what is expected of them.  When children understand what is expected, they know what to do, how to behave and better understand consequences for their actions.   

Consistency works in multiple areas of life. Our kids loved to play at all hours of the day. Like most kids, they would beg us to let them skip dinner to continue playing. While this was sometimes tempting, I knew that the lesson they needed to learn of consistency (and eating nutritious meals) was more important than the short reprise it might mean for me if they skipped dinner. As soon as Dad came home, we would make sure the kids would come in and be ready to eat. This allowed us to enjoy quality family time and helped my kids learn important values.

Our kids didn’t always jump at the opportunity for family scripture study, so we made it an expected routine just like dinner. While we would vary our family scripture reading time, we always read with our children. This helped our kids learn the value in consistently putting our Heavenly Father first and also helped our children learn what we, as their parents, valued.

Another way to look at consistency is to think of it in terms of routine.  As you build routines into your parenting, you actually reduce the stress of everyday life and help children to feel secure.   For example, if you teach your children that they should brush their teeth every night, and you consistently make sure that happens, soon they brush their teeth by themselves without putting up a fuss.   They just know it’s part of the daily routine.  This eliminates discussion and arguments and hopefully cavities.

As you develop a routine for chores, children can learn that doing chores quickly and efficiently allows them to move on to more pleasurable activities.   This, in turn, motivates them to work hard and to organize their time.    When you have a routine for fun things (going to the park, visiting the library, etc.), then children learn that they can put off their wants for a period of time because they realize that the fun activity really will happen.  They are able to trust that you mean what you say.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Even as teenagers, (maybe especially as teenagers), children feel secure when they know you mean what you say.   When my kids were out with friends and we had agreed on a curfew, my kids knew that I would be sitting up waiting for them.  They also knew that if they didn’t come in on time, there would be consequences.   (Yep, once I made my teenage son put 30 puzzle pieces into the jigsaw puzzle I was working on because he came in late!)

These words of advice make sense and seem easy to follow.  Unfortunately, kids like to test you and your resolve at almost every stage of life.  When my oldest son was about twelve, I discovered how valuable consistency was, not only for the kids’ security, but also for making parenting easier.    My son started giving me a lot of grief about obeying the rules.  When I’d remind him it was time to do his chores, he would whine and complain and twist the issues around until we were arguing about all kinds of things—like why didn’t his brother have to do this chore?  Why did he always get the hard jobs? or Why did I love his sister more?  It got so out of control I finally I went to a counselor for help. The counselor changed my life. He explained I didn’t have to answer all the accusations my son was making.   All I had to do was be consistent. So then the dialogue went like this:  

Mom:  You need to clean your room
Son:  What??????????????   I just cleaned it.
Mom:  Oh, really?  Well, you still need to go clean your room.
Son:  Why doesn’t Steph have to clean her room?  Her room looks worse than mine!
Mom:  Really?  I’ll have to look.   But you still need to clean your room.
Son:  But I want to go outside to play!!!!!!!!!!
Mom:  Great idea.   As soon as you clean your room you can go outside.
Son:   Mommmm!
Mom:  I’m sure you can do it.   Let me know when you are done.

No matter how many excuses or changes of topic he introduced, I consistently returned to what I expected of him.   AND IT WORKED!   He eventually gave up and did what he should.   All it took was consistency on my part.

Being consistent isn’t always about chores, consequences, or nagging mothers. Being consistent is just as important when it comes to traditions and family fun.

Every family has traditions; and what builds traditions? Consistency.

One of our favorite family traditions is an annual Easter egg hunt.   Every year, on the Saturday before Easter we get out the dying gear and color our eggs.   Then later in the day, we hold our annual Easter egg hunt.  We fill plastic eggs with candy and then hide both the plastic and the boiled eggs all around the yard.   This is such a tradition, that we even took eggs with us (plastic ones!) when our family was on an outing over Easter.   We hid the eggs at the cabin where we stayed!

It is not just holiday traditions that are important.  Birthday traditions, family outings, or extended family get-togethers can also add consistency to the family.   One of our favorite habits as a family was the Sunday evening game night.   We spent many happy hours playing board games, card games, and in the summer—croquet!   These consistent moments built memories that glue our family together even today.

So if you feel like parenting is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, pause and ask yourself if maybe a little consistency wouldn’t help to smooth things out and make parenting easier.

2001 1462003 168022

Written by Phyllis Rosen

Parenting Tip Series #2: Teach Your Kids to Serve

Near our house is a fairly steep hill.  There are lots of big trees beside the hill, but no houses, so no one is in charge of the sidewalk.  During the year leaves, dirt, and junk collect in the gutter.   It never really washes away because of the cement barriers that are next to the curb.  When our kids were young we started an annual tradition to clean “the hill”. With donned gloves, gathered shovels and brooms, and wheelbarrows we made it our job to clean out the gutter and haul away all the junk.  We tried to do this before school started in the fall so the neighborhood children could have a clean sidewalk on which to trek up to the elementary school.

Needless to say, not all our children thought this was a great idea.  Some of them wondered why someone else didn’t take a turn.  (To make it more fun—and less work—we did invite other families to participate in this project.)  But we just reminded them that we were strong and capable and since no one else was doing it, we would.

897 There were other projects our kids weren’t too keen on.  After large snowstorms my husband took our boys over to  a neighbor’s house to shovel her walk and driveway.  Since she lived on a corner, this was a rather large task.  But she was single and older, and my husband (and one or  other of the boys) was her home teacher, so it wasn’t up  for discussion.   Often our other neighbors would be gone  for the Christmas holiday so we would shovel their  driveway as well.  

Not all of our service projects involved so much hard work.  I was talking to one of my neighbors recently, and she reminded me that our family had washed their cars the night before their daughter’s wedding.  Occasionally we babysat someone’s kids while they went out. We  also served food for the homeless on Christmas eve, and took pipe chimes to the memory care unit to sing Christmas carols with them.

Rosen 2013 683

What did we accomplish with all these random acts of service?  They say the proof is in the pudding, and about three years ago I had a wonderful validation of the value of  teaching our kids to serve through example.   I got a call from a neighbor who needed someone to be with her as she cleaned out her horse’s stall.   She was in the middle of a divorce and couldn’t be at the barn alone, due to hostilities with her spouse.   So she called me to see if I’d come talk to her while she mucked out the stall.  Unfortunately, I was out of the state.  “Not to worry,” I said.  “My twenty-five-year-old son is home and I’ll call him to run over.”   (Luckily he had worked at a horse barn when he was younger so it wasn’t totally out of his comfort zone.)  And he did it!!  He walked over and helped her out!!!

President Monson has spent a lifetime reaching out to “the one” and he is always encouraging us to do the same.  He counsels us:  

“To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.”  -President Monson

When the kids were little, I taught them this poem:

“I have wept in the night

For the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet

Felt a tinge of regret

For being a little too kind.”    (anonymous)

I hope that we taught our children that life doesn’t just revolve around themselves, but that others have needs that are just as important. I hope we taught them compassion, helping them to see that others might be suffering, or be lonely, or just need a little boost here or there.  I hope we taught them that it doesn’t hurt to give of your time and talents. Last of all, I hope they learned that they are always better off for having served.

Written by Phyllis Rosen

Ten Best Parenting Tips Series: #1 Read Aloud

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 5.40.34 PMMy husband and I have six children.  Six!!!  Who can believe it?  This fact puts Dave (my husband) and I into the  “experienced parents” category–especially since the youngest is now 23 years old.   Parenting is not easy.   Should I say that again??  Parenting is not easy.   It’s not for wimps or the faint of heart.   It takes commitment and effort and patience and effort and humor and effort and…….you get the idea.      

The other night, Dave and I decided to each compile a list of Ten Best Parenting Tips and then compare them.   Turns out we had very similar lists, so we combined them and narrowed them down to our favorite ten.   As some of you other parents might be looking for advice, we decided to share our list.  Each week on Stance we will discuss one of the ten tips.  So sit back, relax, and try to remember how excited you were to be a parent in the first place.

Read Aloud: Connecting with your Children

Read aloud to your children: From the time our children were born, we read aloud to them. When they were babies they just enjoyed being cuddled and hearing the rhythm of our voices.  As they got older, they loved the sounds of words, especially rhyming and alliteration.  To this day I can pretty much quote the entire story of The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss). These rhyming books were not only fun, they were vital in helping our children learn how sounds go together, which in turn helped them learn to read.  Beyond that, we found that simple books teach great principles.  We have a son named Sam, so of course we read him Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss).  Because of that book, we were able to encourage him to try new things. It’s fun to quote to our kids “You do not like it, so you say.  Try it! Try it! And you may!”  This phrase helped our kids with trying new foods, new clothes, and even making new friends.  When we read Horton Hatches the Egg (Dr. Seuss) we were able to mosey into principles of responsibility and promise keeping.

When the kids reached elementary school age, they still loved being cuddled, IMG_0788  held, and sitting close, plus now they really enjoyed and understood the story line.  Some of the first books we chose were Thornton Burgess’s books about the creatures of the forests and the meadows.  In this series of books, the characters; Danny Meadow Mouse, Lightfoot the Deer, etc. are intertwined, with each book focusing on a different animal.  (My oldest son, Kevin, loved them so much that for one of his birthdays, in his 20s, he asked for the complete set!)  These books also taught important life lessons, like what it means to be a friend, the importance of preparation, and the wonderfulness of diversity.  Charlotte’s Web (White) helped our kids learn to not judge others by their looks.  Where the Red Fern Grows (Rawls) allowed us to talk about sorrow and death.  Sometimes a book was so sad I had to hand it to my child to read because I couldn’t stop crying.  We continued to read aloud even as the kids got older.   Books that were exciting pulled them in.  Hatchet (Paulsen), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), and of course Harry Potter (Rowling) let us explore new geography, pirates, and wizardry as though we were having the experiences ourselves.  

You might think that the only time to read is at bedtime.  While we did read at bedtime almost daily, we found many other times to read.  Taking a break from playing—or working—to relax and read was something I cherished as a young mother.   Everyone needs a change of pace and I loved taking 15-20 minutes out of the day to read.  Whenever we went on vacation we packed some books along.  The kids liked to read their own book, but we also would choose two or three books to read aloud together.

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 5.40.40 PM During the summer we joined the public library reading  programs.  Having prizes to earn motivated the kids to try  new genres and broadened their world.  We liked  checking out books so much that I finally had to make a  rule that each child could only check out as many books as  they could physically carry.  (Our record for checked out  in one week was 54 books!!!)   We sometimes read  outdoors, sitting under a tree or on the patio.   We would  also read by the light of the Christmas tree, choosing one  Christmas story each night before bed.

So why is reading to your children so important?  Why did it make the parenting list for both my husband and me?  There are three main reasons:

  1.  Because reading aloud to a child can be a totally positive activity.  You aren’t asking the child to  perform or behave in any specific way.  You are simply enjoying being entertained together, and can laugh or cry or react in any way you want and it’s ok.   It’s a time to relax and be yourself and let the child be a child.  
  2.  It’s a way to enlarge a child’s world.  How else can they discover what it feels like to experience war—Shades of Gray (Carolyn Reeder), try to coax a goose to fly—Chester, I Love You (Blaine M. Yorganson), or live alone on an island—Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell).
  3.  It’s a way to teach values without preaching.  (Tom Sawyer:  “you can’t pray a lie.”)

Now that our kids are grown, do they still read?   Yes, they do!  I laughed when I found out that my son Stan has a public library card from every city he’s ever lived in.   My kids like to recommend books to me and we enjoy discussing what we’ve read.  So don’t hesitate—sit down and start reading.   You don’t like it, so you say…try it, try it, and you may!

Written by Phyllis Rosen

Having the Best of Both Worlds: Pregnancy and College

We have all heard our parents say the line “You [and your siblings] are the best thing that has ever happened to me.” While this statement is true, parenting is more than just sunshine and happiness.  There are many sacrifices that often accompany becoming a new parent.

POC-Youa-re-strong

 

One sacrifice that pregnant women often face is in regards to education. Because education requires a large sum of money and time that some women feel they cannot allocate after the birth of their child. Many women find being pregnant in college too hard to complete their education. While I would never suggest abandoning your duties as a parent, it might be possible to be a mother and complete your education. That’s the hope that led to the creation of websites, such as  pregnantoncampus.org and pregnantscholar.org.

Pregnant on Campus Initiative

In fact, that’s the belief behind the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. This initiative is a collection of resources intended for pregnant college students studying in the United States. The initiative has web pages for universities in each state. Some of the information found on this website that may benefit college students is:

  • List of grants and foundations to help fund your education You-are-capable-Pregnant-on-Campus-300x300
  • Clothing/food assistance
  • Child care
  • Insurance
  • List of websites that provide moral support for pregnant women

In addition to the individual pages for the universities/colleges, the Pregnancy on campus initiative also has a blog. The blog provides council to pregnant women that is intended to provide helpful advice for pregnant women.

You may visit the website here. To find information pertinent to Utah, click over the state of Utah. It will open a new tab with the lists of universities with a website in Utah. Currently, only University of Utah is the only university with a web page, but the majority of the information applies to the state of Utah in general. 

The Pregnant Scholar

Professors Mary Ann Mason (University of California, Berkeley) created The Pregnant Scholar in part to help pregnant students understand their rights under Title IX. The website breaks down the policy into different categories that are relevant to college students, such as the requirement of excused absence for pregnancy, childbirth, and similar events.

To view the relevant information yourself, go to pregnantscholar.org. Info can be found by scrolling down to “Key Facts”on this webpage and also pressing the link “For Students and Postdocs.”

At Stance BYU we support all things family, including the many families who have children while still completing their education. Our hope is that these websites will provide valuable resources for these families and that Stance continues to support the family in any situation.

Written by: Laura Fillmore

How to Teach your Child Sign Language

girl-1641215_1920I’ve always thought that the concept of teaching your baby sign language before he or she could talk was incredibly fascinating. I mean, to be able to communicate with your child before he or she develops oral language sounds surreal!

However, before I started writing this post, I had often heard contradicting opinions on this subject. Does teaching your baby sign language inhibit his or her ability to learn English? Does it help? Take a look at what I’ve found:

Sign language has long been used to help hearing children with speech delays acquire spoken language more easily. However it has only recently been introduced to the development of normally functioning babies. Not only can introducing sign language to your baby help him or her communicate and develop a closer bond with you as a parent, but it also shows signs of elevating your child’s IQ.

Studies show that a child who learned sign language in his or her infancy will be linguistically advanced when they get to school. They will have a larger vocabulary and a higher understanding of structure and grammar.

The biggest concern I’ve come across in my research is that the child will use it as a crutch and never take the time to learn spoken language. The Baby Language site says that babies will use sign language as a learning tool for speaking, similar to how they use crawling as a learning tool for walking.

They will continue signing as they start speaking (making it easier for you to understand them), and eventually drop it when they are comfortable with speaking.

It should be noted that most parents who introduce signs to their children have not learned American Sign Language formally, do not have extensive knowledge about its origins or the culture associated with it, and therefore do not actually teach their children to be fluent in ASL. Most parents just teach their children a few basic words, including mommy, daddy, milk, more, finished, etc.

It should also be noted that you should not stop speaking to your child in lieu of using signs. Sign and speak at the same time, if you wish, but cutting out speech altogether will delay your child’s acquisition of English.

Another good tip is to make sure both parents are using the signs with the baby. That will help reinforce them in the baby’s mind, helping he or she to remember them in the future.

To find more information on teaching your child sign language visit this website

Good luck, and happy signing!

Written by: Cari Taylor

Children Are Natural Actors—How Can We Foster Their Growth?

Recently, my husband and I taught a Sunday School class of 10- and 11-year-olds. To enliven the lesson, we decided to ask them to act out a story from the scriptures. Their eyes lit up when they found out what we would be doing, and they got really into the story as my husband narrated and I acted alongside them. When we discussed what happened in the story afterward, they were very attentive and thoughtful. They had captured the action because they had lived it!

singing-time-598909-galleryChildren are often great actors because they have no fear of looking silly in front of an audience. Even shy children will perform in front of those with whom they feel comfortable. Toddlers are constantly running around and picking up objects—props, if you will—and using them to pretend: some play house, others play cars. Older children also enjoy telling jokes, singing, dancing, describing a book or movie, playing games, and reciting poetry—all theatrical activities. For those children who truly want to become actors, parents may learn from Denise Simon’s article “Three Reasons to Support Your Child’s Acting Dream.” 

For all children, these skills of creativity and presentation are all critical to their success in school and in life. Gai Jones, in her book The Student Actor Prepares: Acting for Life, lists several life skills we develop through acting:

  • Creating imaginative, bold ideas
  • Reasoning
  • Thinking reflectively
  • Developing positive working habits
  • Being open minded and flexible
  • Conveying emotions with your voice and body
  • Listening appreciatively
  • Cooperating
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Reading and analyzing written material

What adult wouldn’t hope that a child develops these same life skills? Parents and teachers can foster their children’s acting abilities home, at school, and at church with ideas like these below.

At home

  • Provide props. Toys can invite creative and theatrical play. To avoid expensive costs of fancy toys, the National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests common household items that can double as toys, like plastic spoons and balls of yarn.
  • Provide a stage. Go to the park or the backyard for open spaces to dance and run. Move the couch and stand behind it for a puppet show. Tie a sheet on a window frame, put a lamp behind it, and learn to do shadow puppets with your hands.
  • Provide activities. Ask kids to act out their favorite movies or books with paper dolls, Barbies, dolls, stuffed animals, or action figures. Fun time guaranteed!

At school

  • Provide props. After reading a story, have students create masks with brown paper bags, etc., to use in acting out the story. Pinterest has tons of ideas on decorating masks.
  • Provide a stage. Most schools have an auditorium or cafetorium with a real stage, but teachers don’t need to get so formal. They can use the front of the classroom or move aside desks and have audience members sit on the floor. Or, the props themselves become the stage through Teaching Channel’s theater boxes.
  • Provide activities. One I like is “Fortunately, Unfortunately,” in which you sit in a circle and one person begins a sentence with “fortunately,” then the next with “unfortunately,” to form a story. Many websites have easy theater games, such as DramaResource.com.

 At church

  • Provide props. To act out stories from the scriptures, simple props like strips of cloth to tie around kids’ foreheads or waists and chalk to draw the backdrop are sufficient.
  • Provide a stage. Probably the best idea is to stay inside the classroom, but you might get permission from parents and other leaders to venture outdoors if you stay close to the church.
  • Provide activities. Act out scripture stories, as I mentioned in the beginning. SugarDoodle.net has lots of resources, including scripts. For example, here’s one script on the story of the Ten Virgins in the New Testament.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Image from lds.org. License.

Four Ideas to Give Children a Voice

Most people hate the feeling of being ignored. Whether in a classroom with a hand raised for a long time or at home with family who are busy doing other tasks, children may experience this feeling every day—not having a voice, that is. Giving children a voice is essential to their self-esteem, social development, and ability to get what they need and share what they want.

peru-1191359-gallery

In addition to the many methods of involving children’s voices—in family councils, as Elder Russell M. Ballard of the LDS Church recently taught, or in daily decision-making—I decided to compile a list of digital examples of children using their voices. My hope is that we can consider these examples—of children reporting the news, publishing their writing, reviewing their favorite stories, and sharing their faith—and then make changes to allow the children in our lives to have more of a say and more of a spotlight.

1. Reporting the News

I came across Time for Kids a few months ago when trying to find news that would be interesting to the students I was teaching. The site includes stories of interest to children by children, under the Kid Reporters tab. I noted kids writing about other kids who have served in their communities, writing about endangered animals, interviewing celebrities, and more.

Seeing how these children were given a voice—or at least a place to publish—helped inspire me to start a classroom newsletter, newspaper, or magazine written by students. How would you use Time for Kids to help a child dream big about sharing his or her ideas?

2. Publishing Writing

When I was in elementary school, I was intrigued by the writing contest by Reading Rainbow on the PBSKids channel. I sent in several stories, and although they weren’t selected by the contest, I had fun imagining, writing, and illustrating. The contest continues today—for grades K–3. A teacher or a parent could show children these examples of contest-winning stories and then help them write their own stories. In addition to the PBSKids contest, there are many other annual writing contests for kids.

A couple of simpler ideas—though not as prestigious as a contest—are to use a blog such as Blogger or a website like Weebly to publish writing for parents and peers to access with a password.

3. Reviewing Favorite Books

I stumbled across Spaghetti Book Club on the Internet and realized what a great resource it is for parents, teachers, and children. Members of the club can post their reviews of any picture book or chapter book, getting a chance to read and write for an audience, which can be incredibly motivating for kids. Anyone—member or non-member of the club—can read the reviews, and you can search by author, title, or grade level of the student reviewers.

Children who are reluctant readers may find it cooler to read a book review written by someone their age. They might use the site as a model for writing their own book reviews, as well.

4. Sharing Faith

The LDS Church produces videos on children around the world describing their lives and their faith, a project called One in a Million. I watched a video on Kuulani from Tahiti who plays music for church, and one on Alberto from Mexico who recovered from an illness by choosing to be healthy to obey God.

I think there’s a lot of potential to use these videos in Primary lessons or Family Home Evening lessons to show children how others their age are living the gospel. They could create their own videos or picture slideshows with their own stories of faith.

Of course, adults need more support to respect children’s voices than just viewing a few websites, but these resources can provide a starting point. Children have important ideas to share, and we can help give them a voice.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Images and videos from lds.org

Learning from the Open Minds of Children

Recently, in the General Women’s Session of General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphasized the need to reach out to serve refugees and others who may be facing significant life challenges. These challenges may include finding employment, adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language, and making new friends. As I was pondering this invitation, I remembered an experience that had taught me how to love a stranger.

little-boy-766653-galleryA few months ago, I rode in a carpool with a friend, her young son, and an older woman I was acquainted with. I knew that this woman had some irregular social behaviors, and I was worried that my friend’s son would be a little afraid of sitting next to her in the car. As time passed, she began to teach him little songs and tricks for counting, and she shared some snacks with him. To my surprise, he warmed up to her easily—acting more friendly than he has ever acted toward me.

A few days later, I carpooled with my friend and her son again, without the woman this time. The little boy sweetly asked, “Where’s my friend?” and we realized quickly to whom he was referring. In just a couple of hours, he had come to love a person that I had had trouble loving.

We can learn so much from children about accepting others and looking past their differences. I remember times in my life when I have met people and immediately begun to categorize the person, based on appearance or speech, into the type of person I believed he or she was. Most of the time, after getting to know the person, I have realized my gross mistake and misjudgment.

In contrast, most children are unassuming when they meet new people—they seem to see everyone as equals, including strangers. They don’t jump to making comparisons or casting judgment as some adults are prone to doing. For example, when I have taught children for the first time in church settings and public school settings, they have usually welcomed me with loving hearts, not caring what my background was or how well I delivered a lesson.

The little girl in this video from October 2015 General Women’s Session of General Conference shows another example of childlike acceptance of another who sometimes feels left out. If only we could all be that open-minded toward others and their circumstances!

Accepting others, seeing people as equals, and being open-minded are qualities that I know will help me better reach out and help my neighbors. I hope to follow the example of children who see others with such genuine love.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Image and video from lds.org

 

 

Goal-Setting with Children

eiffel towerWhen I was a sophomore in high school, I found out about a school trip to France that would take place about 18 months later. As a French 1 student and a less-than-frequent traveler, I was eager to go on the trip. Staying with a host family, dining on the Eiffel Tower, visiting WWII beaches, attending a ballet at the Paris Opera House, and exploring art museums were all included in the cost. The $4,000 cost, that is. I turned to my parents for their advice—hoping for their wallets, too. They helped me realize that I would find the trip much more valuable if I saved my own money. They agreed to pay for half the cost if I would pay the remaining $2000.

My parents helped me set goals to reach this seemingly impossible amount. First, I needed to get a job. I approached several adults I knew who owned companies about obtaining a job for that summer. After my first-ever interviews, I was hired to work part time at a fast food Mexican restaurant and part time at a home furnishings store. I continued babysitting for families when I could, and I saved rather than spent my paychecks.

My parents supported me in these endeavors to reach my goal. Since I still lacked a driver’s license, they dropped me off and picked me up every day from work. They helped me open a bank account in which to place my savings. They even paid for my first-ever passport and continued to pay for track and choir activities I was involved in that year.

Looking back, I would not have met my goal of going to France without my parents’ support.

When parents work with children to set and reach goals, children will be motivated to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve those goals. Whether the goal is related to saving money, building character, improving in athletics, learning to play a musical instrument, achieving good grades in school, completing family duties, or planning a service project, children will need help in forming consistent habits that will lead them to that specific goal.

A free online course from Glenn I. Latham, Ed.D. of Utah State University teaches parents how to help children achieve success in their education. The following six suggestions apply to helping children meet other goals, as well.

  1. Spend time talking with children. I think this means that parents need to listen and share ideas regularly in order to find out what a child wants and needs.
  2. Encourage learning. Many times children get discouraged at the length of time it takes to reach a goal, but parents can help by reminding children to do their best to improve.Family_Reading_Hour
  3. Read daily to and with children. Not only will children be exposed to more ideas and world views, but parents can see what is important to their children.
  4. Share (realistic) hopes for what children can do and become. The author of the course describes how he and his wife helped their children imagine what kind of car and house and clothing they hoped to have in the future. Then they doled out money—to the children’s delight—and let them pay for each desired thing in order to see how each of those things required money. The discussion turned to the need for education in order to earn the money necessary to fund those dreams.
  5. Provide direct help. Parents can help children with homework, model and give feedback on catching a ball, practice lines for a play, and so on.
  6. Organize time and space. In the course, this directive specifically refers to organizing time and space to do homework, but it can apply to any kind of goal. Children will need time to work toward goals, and they may need specific materials and places to use or store them. As parents plan for and work with these needs, they will accommodate their children in reaching goals.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Images from Wikimedia Commons

Dare to Dream

5388738535_e95ac8cc4b_o

Kids can surprise us every day. After teaching in an elementary school classroom for almost a month, I learned unexpected things about the students and their dreams for the future.

We had just learned in social studies about the dreams of African Americans in moving to the North during the Great Migration. We listened to a song and a poem with the theme of dreams by great Harlem Renaissance artists Louis Armstrong and Langston Hughes. Then, I asked students to write about their dreams. I was impressed at what they shared.211400445_056515d22c_o

One student wrote that she dreamed of playing in the WNBA. Another explained her hope of publishing piano music she had written.

Another girl wrote that she wanted to invent hovercrafts—because no one has been able to do it yet.

A third student described his goal to become a millionaire, and a fourth discussed her intention to become a paleontologist—and a doctor.

8168942173_9cc853509a_oStill others revealed their interests in creating video games and holographic rooms, publishing piano music, playing professional football and soccer, becoming entrepreneurs, and entertaining as famous actors, singers, and dancers.

Finally, a student explained her desire to help resolve conflicts in society and create world peace.

What powerful responses. What amazing dreams!

I remember as a child, at different times I wanted to be a zoo keeper, a dolphin trainer at Sea World, a children’s book author. I didn’t realize until college that I wanted to be a teacher, to helps others make their dreams come true. I want these students to know that they can do anything they put their minds to—and more.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Next week, I'll discuss how parents can help their children 
set goals to reach their dreams.

All images from Flickr Creative Commons. indecisive, “dream”: Link to license NFL News Desk Football, “NFL-Football”: Link to license Will Powell, “Piano”: Link to license

Older posts Newer posts