“Oh, here we go again, a reminder of how imperfect I am.” Usually when we think of self-improvement, we tend to start underestimating ourselves, our potential, and our purpose. We focus on our weaknesses and our mistakes, making it difficult to remember our strengths and successes.
Have you ever received “constructive criticism” but, in reality, the words actually take jabs at your heart? Have you ever set goals and held high hopes, only to realize that carrying them out was close to impossible? (especially with the way you had planned)
Like many of us, you’ve probably felt down on yourself. You’ve probably failed a few times and have felt like you were drowning in depths of despair. The last thing you want to think about is how you can be better.
You’ve already made a list of what you consider weaknesses and what you can improve: serving others, friends, smiling, prioritizing, organizing, cleaning, showing your love, getting good grades, finding/keeping a job, stop crying so often, eat less/more, exercise, and so forth.
At this point you’re having trouble trying to remember that you’re worth something.
For me, especially when I’m being hard on myself, I like to remember three steps that help improve my mental health and attitude. Improving attitude is the best thing we can do to strengthen ourselves in times of need and to prepare for difficult times in the future. We can recognize that we are not perfect now, but we can also be confident in our ability and purpose as we strive to become better.
1) Strive to overcome your weaknesses. Now, this doesn’t mean you ignore your weaknesses, nor does it mean you will be “weakness-free” anytime soon. It does, however, mean that you recognize your weaknesses and have a desire to change. With patience and grace, along with the desire to learn, you come to recognize that what you once believed were your weaknesses, have now become strengths when used correctly. For example, although speaking loudly is a trait you may feel ashamed of in some situations, in others it works greatly, so you discern in which circumstances you can make it a strength.
2) Use your strengths. The best way to improve is to remember your strengths, and to put them in action. We all have things we are good at, whether it be as small as making your bed every day or as big as recently getting a new job. Recognize your strengths and cater to those. Strive to set goals within your abilities, this will help you accomplish more and gain confidence in your abilities.
3) Fear not. Don’t get down on yourself for the fact that you need to improve in some areas. It is a common sphere that we are all working within. Remember that through it all, you are still amazing and there are good things to come. Remember that you CAN do it all, all that is required of you and all that brings you joy.
“Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.”
Believe in yourself. Believe in your capability. Believe in your ability to become. You are strong, beautiful and full of potential. Embrace it. Overcome the despair of failure and find the joy in imperfection. Find the joy in progression. Focus on self improvement.
Written by Rebekah Day
My 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 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, 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.
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:
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
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 26.6% of children and adolescents were diagnosed with a chronic condition in the United States. This means that one in five children today have a chronic illness, with chronic conditions s spreading, it’s more important than ever that we take proper care of our bodies.
While chronic illness can be life altering, the effects of a chronic illness can be diminished by following a healthy lifestyle. It is widely known that 30 minutes of exercise and a balanced diet are necessary ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. What may be less known is that exercise and a balanced diet are suggested by health care professionals for proper control of one’s chronic condition.
Even though these guidelines are well-known they are difficult to implement into a busy family life. The following are some suggestions to start implementing a healthy lifestyle for your family:
Written by: Laura Fillmore
Most married couples typically fight about three things: kids, sex, and money. These areas carry a lot of weight, and can cause a lot of stress if things aren’t the way you’d like them to be. Since I’m only writing a blog post, and not a novel, I’m only going to focus on two of these issues today.
Difficulties with money can be daunting and frustrating, but breaking things down and taking them a day at a time can really help with conquering the troubles that you are having. In fact, studies have shown that being financially stable is not so much about how much money you make, but about how you learn to manage it.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you and your spouse get your financial feet planted firmly in the ground:
1. Listen to the counsel of the Lord.
Since the time of Abraham (and most likely before even that), the Lord has been giving us counsel about how to wisely manage our money. This starts with paying a full tithe. It is important to remember that all we gain in this life actually belongs to the Lord. Paying tithing helps us show gratitude for this, along with expressing trust in our Heavenly Father that He will keep His promises.
He has told us that he will “open the windows of Heaven, and pour [us] out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). I don’t know how he makes it work, but as I have seen this principle work time and time again in my own life, I know that when we work to pay a full tithe the Lord will ALWAYS take care of us. The Lord has continued to give us counsel from the current prophets and apostles more specific for our day.
2. Stay out of debt.
This can be difficult in our world of credit cards, same-day loans, and easy- access online shopping. However, avoiding consumer debt allows us to practice and exhibit self- control, and increases our capacity to take care of our families, serve others, and exercise our agency to keep the commandments.
The Brethren have expressed that there are three things for which it is acceptable to go into debt, and these are a modest home, a modest car, and education. However, even in these circumstances, we should still do our best to practice wise money management, and avoid excess.
Written By: Rian Gordon
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.
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:
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
I’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
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!
Children 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:
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.
—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance
Image from lds.org. License.
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.
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.
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