Parenting

How to stand up to bullies & Raise nice kids

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Last weekend, I gave a talk on How to Stand up to Bullies and Raise Good Kids and wanted to share the two things you can start doing today to help your kids stand up to bullies and be a the type of kid who is “good.” Those two things are raising their self-confidence and teaching them empathy.

 

Here is a list of things you can do to help your child be more confident.   

Highlight the positive. We spend a lot of time correcting our children’s behavior which can cause kids to think negatively about themselves.

Encourage their interests regardless of if they are good at it. Your child might be an average artist or athlete, but if they like it encourage them to continue by praising their efforts. Learning how to persevere is an important part of gaining confidence.

Model confidence. Stand up for yourself, express your emotions appropriately, challenge yourself in front of your kids. Use positive language and don’t quit.

Here is a list of things you can do to teach your child empathy. 

Make a kindness jar. When someone in your house does something nice for other people place a pom-pom or gem in a clear jar. This helps children visually see their  (and your) acts of kindness. For young kids use a smaller jar so they get the reward faster. When it’s full celebrate by doing something fun together as a family.

Make an empathy bead necklace. Identify different colored or shaped beads for different feelings and when your child is feeling different emotions have them add the corresponding bead to a necklace, pipe cleaner, or other piece of string. Hang the strands from a stick to make a wall hanging, or have them hand their necklace somewhere. This helps children pay attention to a normal range of emotions and start identifying them for themselves and other people.

Make joy rocks. Paint rocks and leave them in different places for other people to pick up. Helps kids learn to do things that make other people happy.

Create Kindness Bingo. Create a chart with 12 - 16 squares (less for younger children). In the squares write things like, gave a compliment, helped someone clean up, made a picture for a friend, played with a new friend, etc. When they accomplish something and have them mark off the square they completed. When they have gotten a line or filled their board reward them with something special. This can be extra screen time, a later bed time, special one on one time with a parent or a small gift.

Take them to volunteer with people. Have them help serve food at a soup kitchen or on a lesser scale make and deliver food or a craft to someone in your neighborhood who may be having a tough time.

And of course, if you need some help, we are your Village and we are always here. #youareawesome #TOVillageWellness

Working Mom Guilt

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When I was pregnant with my first baby, I totally thought I would love staying home. I imagined all the play dates we would have, the groups we would join and all the new mommy friends I would make. I could see it in my head. The afternoons filled with adorable kid friendly crafts, the cute pictures of lots of babies all born in the same month sitting on a couch together, exercising with a group of moms. You know, the whole post baby package we see all over the media.

Then I had my son and I quickly realized that what I saw on TV and all over social media was crap. Being a mom was way harder than I had anticipated. It was not all play dates and time for lunches and new mommy friends. In fact it was pretty lonely. There were hours spent re-watching the entire series of 90210 (that really happened) when I couldn’t move from the couch in fear my sleeping baby would wake up. There were walks, and trips to the mall spent trying to keep a baby calm and fed, all while trying to keep my boobs from exploding.

As my son got bigger, there were fun play dates and parent and me groups with new mommy and daddy friends. There were trips to the park and failed attempts at stroller strides and honestly, it started to get fun. But I still felt like something was missing.

It was initially my husband who suggested that maybe I should go back to work. I scoffed at that, I mean, I was meant to stay home. But like most statements that I’m not ready to hear, it takes me time to process them and decide if I agree or not. Ultimately, when I was ready to listen to myself, I realized he was right (you’re welcome honey).

The idea of going back to work made me happy. There was an excitement that I hadn’t felt for a while. I was ready to have adult conversations and feel productive. I was ready to have a task with an anticipated beginning, middle and end. But all that meant that I had to leave my baby in the care of someone else.

And cue the guilt (and anxiety). And there was lots of it. What if he took his first steps and I wasn’t there, what if said a word and I missed it? What if his caregiver didn’t know that he liked to cuddle with his lovey before he took his nap, or that he liked to be held a certain way when he drank his bottle? There were so many conflicted feelings that it was hard to manage, and to be honest with you, it still is.

There are missed dinners, bath times, books and activities. And although my husband is amazing and incredibly supportive, a lot of work falls on him (how we split that up will come in a later blog post). But there is one thing no one can manage but me, and that is the guilt.

So how do I deal with it? I acknowledge it. I remind myself that I am a much better mom because I work. I am teaching my children how to responsibly manage their time, and how important it is to continue doing something they enjoy. I get to explain to them what I do and have them be proud of me. I get to teach them to be independent and to manage life without their dad or me always by their side. I remind myself I am boosting their confidence. I am teaching my daughter that women can work be whatever they want to be and I am teaching my sons that gender roles aren’t so easily defined.

In the end I know I made the right decision, because I feel more like me. If you are struggling with your decision to go back to work, or struggling with the fact that you have no choice, remind yourself of the positive aspects of working even when the guilt feels overwhelming. Remind yourself that you are a good mom, and make sure you always end your day practicing gratitude for what you have. And if you are still having a hard time and need to talk, I'm always here.