Monday, June 4, 2012

No More Pencils; No More Books ... Well, Sort Of~

As if the end of the school year isn't enough awesomeness for students ... how about making it more special for them? Look, they don't have to know that this is also a little scheme to keep them busy and out of your hair for a while now that they are home for summer break! (We'll keep that as our little secret!)

Yes, this little project is going to occupy them for a while; however, the true purpose is to create golden keepsake memories of this school year. Although their rooms are no doubt filled with mementos and souvenirs from fun times had, this will be their own personal recollection, from their eyes, from their hearts, and yes ... from their minds. It is a sneaky way to keep the mental wheels turning during break.

If you are a regular reader of my articles and posts, you know that my method of engaging little brains is to give them a subject that lights up their eyes, and makes their heart sing. We've got to make it personal to them, and it's got to be fun ... after all, this is summer; this is break time; this is the 'no work zone' for the brain ... yeah, right. Don't worry, they are easier to trick than we sometimes think.

It is good to do this early in the break while their memories are fresher, and while their level of excitement is high. No doubt they are excited about summer, and trust me, there is a lot of talk right now amongst them and their friends about every event that occurred this school year. This is a fabulous way to capture that excitement and passion!

Depending on your child's age and your schedules, this can be accomplished in phases or all at once. Either way, here is a brief outline from which you can work. I love outlines because they give a little direction while allowing creative freedom! In fact, I love outlines so much that the entire project is built around one :).

• First, ask your child to list out some memorable events from this school year whether it was as big as the prom, or as small as a sleepover. There really are no small memories when they involve fun times or matters of the heart.
• Ask them to arrange those memories in order of when they happened, creating a sort of timeline. Each event at this point should be numbered in outline form, as each one will be the title for that category.
• Then ask your child go through, and under each category title, bullet out (A,B,C…) certain details from each event. It is most effect in this phase to only use one word to quickly jot down seedlings of ideas.
• Next, they will go through the outline, beginning at the top, and turn each bulleted item in to a sentence.
• Later, they can sequentially turn each sentence into a paragraph.
• Eventually, it will become apparent that this ‘outline’ is turning into a book.

You see what we did there? ... Yep, we just helped them write a book about this school year, and what they learned personally. This is a book about their personal growth this year, from their heart, through their eyes. It will help the lessons sink in, too, because they don't really know that it is part of the purpose here. This is much better that the class yearbook, yes?

Now you can simply keep this in raw form, or you can go to whatever extent you choose to bind it professionally. I’ve got plenty of input here if you’d like … just feel free to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to share my thoughts and experience with you. However, if this is as far as the project gets, know that you’ve accomplished a few pretty important things already.

Your child used his/her brain (both left AND right … which makes me happy!), they relived memories which are important, they memorialized some big events as well as some ‘small’ happenings which could be huge turning points, this helped some important lessons sink in, and (last but not least!) they were busy (AKA out of your hair!). This is not just a great way to turn idle moments into productive time spent for today, it creates golden memories for tomorrow … in keepsake form!

This just might be the way you choose to begin each summer from now on! Regardless, make certain you enjoy today's moments with your kids, soon these mementos will be all that's left of their childhood!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Mom/Dad ... Can we Talk?

What do you do when your child tells you something that stops you in your tracks? Whatever it is, perhaps it's a deep, dark secret that you never expected; perhaps it's a lifelong dream that you would never have guessed; perhaps it's _________________. Fill in that blank with whatever it could be that you just did not see coming.

What do you do? Well, I hope that first, you hug your child, let them know that you LOVE them, and then thank them for telling you. That's big, don't you think? Sometimes we allow ourselves to get hijacked by shock, fear, drama ... when what we really should do is look at the real, simple, raw truth first: Your child trusted you enough and had the hutzpah to come to you with his/her issues. Second, and I'm going out on a limb here, but ... whatever the issue is, I'm guessing that it did not change your love for him/her. Please say that out loud to your child.

Then you can begin laying whatever groundwork is needed to deal with whatever issues surround the circumstance at hand because only then are you doing it openly and knowingly with unconditional love and acceptance. Although you might not understand, and perhaps you don't fully accept whatever 'it' is, you have at least accepted the message at this point, and sometimes that is all that is needed ... for now.

Like anything else, you will navigate through this one step at a time. Seek professional help if/when needed, but please, oh please, never lose sight of the fact that you LOVE this child ... and please, oh please ... don't let them lose sight of that fact, either!

If your child has not opened up to you, yet you suspect there is something they are trying to broach, perhaps you can just periodically mention that you sense something 'in the air' and want him/her to know that you are there when they are ready to talk. Although it might take a while, at least they know that you are 'in tune' and open for reception.

Even when they feel that they are ready to share, they might have difficulty beginning; it might help if you simply put your hands on their shoulders and tell them to just say the first word, and the rest will flow. Now, listen ... really listen ... with an open heart. Don't be shy about asking questions ... just be aware of how a barrage of questions might make them feel. Respect is a huge component to open lines of communication. You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

If you are an avid reader of my posts and articles, you know my 3 steps to open communication:
-Common, everyday chit-chat

Try to keep it light, short, and not so oppressive. Who wants to 'open up' to a long, dark 'talk?' It's the common, everyday chit-chat that breeds comfort and continued communication. That's the space where the best relationships are formed.

With that said, perhaps you can let your child know that you have a ton of questions swirling around in your head, but you don't want to deluge him/her. Suggest that you select three questions each week to ask so that this is not the only thing you talk about with him/her. This will help you home-in on what is important to you, and it will help ensure that your relationship remains solid. The foundation of your relationship was built upon a lifetime of experiences, and I'm guessing that you don't want this newly discovered circumstance to become the focal point of your relationship from this point forward.

You may have to remind yourself to continue to nurture all elements of your relationship as you always have. Put effort into doing what you have always done with your child; don't make this situation all there is to your time together, and try not to bring your questions and comments into every conversation. It is important not to lose the connection you already have while building a connection to work through a new situation.

And, whatever else you do, please remember to continue to build your child's self-esteem. This will help ensure that s/he has the tools to navigate through life successfully, and with velocity! There is no better time than now to work on that!

As always, feel free to email me ( if I can be of further help to you.

Until next time, here's to just loving our kids~