Call Now! 1-(877) 826-2776
International 1-(317) 826-2777
Mon-Fri 9:00am - 5:00pm EST

Shop by Category


Thursday, January 29, 2015

What a Wonderful World: 9 Ways to Foster Respect for Diversity in Your Kids

Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation (Flickr)

Recently, we explored a few different ways to foster gratitude within kids. There is SO much to be grateful for in this big, vibrant world. I've found that thankfulness and appreciation for diversity are key ingredients to a happy, colorful life. How can we create a foundation for these traits in our kids? The first step is to be mindful of our own attitudes towards others. Our kids are always emulating us, so we need to strive to be strong examples of respect.

By encouraging respect for diversity in our children, we are opening so many doors for them. Rather than being intimidated by the world wide mosaic of culture, they will be eager to explore it. They will promote inclusion rather than exclusion, molding friendships that are enriching and unique. They will earn experiences that help shape a solid yet flexible foundation for work and life. They will help build a future that is bright and welcoming to everyone!

Here are nine ways to foster respect for diversity in your children.

  1. Banish Generalizations: A person is a person. Try to establish this as a mantra in your household. This does not mean that every person is trustworthy, only that this assessment should be based on their actions and not a stereotype. We watch movies from across the globe, experiment with a wide array of cuisines, and read books plucked from the global shelf. This celebrates that we are indeed different on some levels, but not in a way that is scary or harmful. It adds more flavor to the hearty stew of life and more colors to the tapestry!
  2. Get Out and Play: By getting out and playing, whether it's at school, the playground, or just around the neighborhood, your children will be able to meet others, interact with them, and learn about their particular lifestyles and cultures. Playtime with others is a natural, wonderful way to open the hearts and minds of our kids; it cultivates community and curiosity.
  3. Always Be Respectful: Respect is key. Communicate to your children that assumptions rarely lead to accurate or helpful conclusions. We're all human beings with our own stories and struggles.
  4. Be Patient With Them: As parents, we know how stressful and difficult to stay patient. In the case of diversity, it is crucial. If your kids question why someone is different, don't assume that they are being rude; they're asking because they're curious. You can transform this into a teachable moment by fielding their question with kindness and earnest.
  5. Confront Intolerance: Silence implies acceptance and can perpetuate bias. If your child makes a prejudice statement, don't stop at simply demanding they never repeat it. Ask them why they said it to uncover the root of the issue. From there, you can explain why it's unacceptable.
  6. Build Empathy: There are many ways to nurture an empathetic spirit in your children. This begins by listening to them and respecting their beliefs so that they extend this courtesy to others. Caring for a pet and volunteering are also fantastic ways to tune the compassionate heartstrings.
  7. Celebrate Progress: Just as we shouldn't hesitate to nib prejudice statements at the bud, we should also jump on the opportunity to praise our children for moments of respect and empathy. My oldest daughter told me about how she made a new friend at school by sitting with a girl who was all by herself due to bullying. I was thrilled and made sure to tell her why it was brave and kind of her to do so.
  8. Family History: Grow blossoms of respect by tending to your own roots! Dive into your family heritage with your kids. It can be such a fun, enlightening experience for the whole family. You can create a family tree, discuss the struggles and triumphs of your lineage, and share with friends.
  9. Be a Role Model: I said this before, but I feel it needs to be said again! At first, our kids perceive the world through us. Our outer voices become their inner voices. Let's strive to respect others, speak a language of peace and understanding, and embrace diversity with our actions and words.

In what ways have you worked to instill respect for diversity within your kids? Let us know what you think of these suggestions, and feel free to offer even more ideas in the comments section below!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Young Hearts: 9 Ways to Cultivate Compassion in Kids

Photo by Jennifer (Flickr)

It goes without saying, but saying that it's important for children to learn about compassion and kindness from a young age would be a massive understatement. During the early stages of their development, as a parent, you should be communicating to them not only the importance of both kindess and compassion but how opposite factors such as bullying are very wrong and should be something that they never engage in.

Compassion is something that is especially vital during the holiday season. It's a time of giving, and that's not just something that's done through gifts that are placed into colorfully wrapped and tied boxes. It's important to show compassion toward one another for many different reasons, some of which you may not be aware of.

Here are nine ways to cultivate compassion in your kids.

  1. Allow Them the Opportunity to Learn: Give your children any and all opportunities you can to learn more about other people, and this will help them become kinder, more compassionate, and more understanding of others. Aside from school, consider getting your kids involved in other activities to allow them to interact with children of all different backgrounds and races, for example. Not only will their understanding of others be increased, but their communication will benefit from it as well.
  2. Lead by Example: Always be a positive role model for your children. By showing them that you're kind and compassionate toward others, they'll see that you're leading by example, and your kindness will rub off on them, too. Show them how it's done!
  3. Volunteer With Them: There isn't much more that you can do to be kind than to volunteer. Take a look at local events, activities, and charities in your area, and contribute to help make a positive difference in someone else's life. Clearly, this defines "compassion."
  4. Consider Getting a Pet: Having a pet can be a great way to teach your children how to care and be responsible for another living thing. Animals show unconditional compassion, and who doesn't love having a furry friend around the house?
  5. Practice Healthy Communication: Compassion and communication often go together. If you can clearly tell that something is bothering your child, don't just let it be; get to the bottom of it. Ask them what's wrong and for them to explain it. Be there when they need help and they'll be more likely to return the favor to you and others as well.
  6. Random Acts of Kindness: Nothing says "kindness and compassion" like random acts of kindness. Even if it's just holding the door for someone, a little kindness can go a long way with people!
  7. Compassion Through Video: Some kids are visual learners, so consider watching shows or documentaries with your children, ones that truly show compassion. This could even be in the form of a classic children's movie where the message in it shows great value and meaning in that regard.
  8. If You Fall, Pick Yourself Back Up: We all get angry at times, and so will your kids. With that said, we won't always be nice to others at times. However, in the event that you're not, it's important for us (and for our kids) to realize that if you slip up, you should learn from your mistakes.
  9. Help Make Dreams Come True: One of the best charities out there is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Consider volunteering with your children to help out other children who could really use their spirits lifted by helping to make their dreams come true!

In what ways have you been able to cultivate compassion in your children? As always, we want to know what you're thinking, so let us know in the comments section below.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

21 Reasons Why Play Truly, Deeply Matters

Photo by: Dean McCoy (Flickr)

Now this is a title after my on heart! You know that "play matters" is my favorite mantra. I tweet it, talk about it, interview about it, research it, love it! It dawned on me that I've never just simply stated WHY it matters. So here goes! Play matters in many wholesome ways. It's growth magic. It boosts confidence, sparks creativity, fortifies physical health, fosters compassion, and builds emotional fortitude. While it helps kids grow, it also helps them cope.

Stress gets to all of us, even children. Much like how we need release after a stressful situation, children need the same. Whether it's playing inside or outside, on the playground, or in an enchanted forest, kids need to play! It creates a safe place to express emotions and work through imaginary scenarios. I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let's launch into this list!

Here are 21 reasons why play matters:

  1. Enjoyment – Age has no sway over the power of play! Kids need play to diffuse tension, learn, and just have fun! Adults need play to detoxify from the rigors of the grind. Fun is an essential ingredient to a happy, wholesome life.

  2. Relaxation – Frankly, stress is toxic. It curtails healthy development and limits brain power. Children deserve to play. During play, they conjure fantasies that help them cope and understand.

  3. Confidence – Play preps the soil for confidence to bloom. Kids learn, take action, and explore. This helps them realize their own abilities and set goals. Play invites them to discover inidividuality while urging them into the world.

  4. Teamwork – Play often unites kids towards a common goal! This jumpstarts the development of communication skills, empathy, and trust. Even when kids sit side by side but play on their own (parallel play), they build innate insight into nonverbal cues.

  5. ExercisePhysical activity is a necessity. With child obesity rising, we need to encourage of kids to detach from devices and get moving. Play makes this happen in countless fun ways!

  6. Emotional Growth – An exploratory lifestyle helps build emotional structure for kids. They'll delve into what makes them happy, what makes them sad, and what they're passionate about. They gain empathy through interaction with peers and explore new perspectives through pretend play.

  7. Creativity – Life is a canvas, and play invites us to experiment with mediums. Play invites children to express themselves as they pretend, create, and imagine.

  8. Imagination – Imagination is a garden of blessings. Active play tills the soil, sensory play plants the seeds, and pretend play opens the blossoms!

  9. Group Learning Experiences - At school, kids are expected to work in groups. Play strengthens communication skills and imbues a sense of respect for others and oneself.

  10. Problem Solving – Einstein once said that "play is the highest form of research." Through play, kids experiment with cause and effect, surmount obstacles, and strategize with peers. A brain at play is both energized and at ease; this combination ventures beyond boundaries and opens us up to abstract concepts.

  11. Learn from Failure – Failure may taste bitter, but it's crucial for growth. Play provides a safe "sandbox" for kids to test theories, push limits, and bounce back from falls. This resilience is the foundation for success in life.

  12. Release of Energy – Cooped up kids struggle to learn. After all, we are built for movement and exploration! The benefits of play on cognitive function are undeniable, so let's save recess!

  13. Practice Makes Perfect – Just like artists focus intently on their craft, play inspires us to passionately chase our goals. Play gives our dreams buoyancy!

  14. Self-Esteem – Play helps kids grow into themselves and find hobbies they can be proud of. It preps the "soil" for self-esteem by mixing ingreidents like learning, action, freedom, and reflection.

  15. Reduce Anxiety – This is true for both kids and adults! Play gives us a buffer from stress. We can catch our breath, and reflect. We can think more clearly and formulate solutions.

  16. Self-Reliance – Solitary play encourages a child to think independently, develop an inner voice, and get in tune with healthy emotions. Independence is a cornerstone of happiness!

  17. Motor Skills - For kids, playtime is synonymous with bouncing, throwing, exploring, and dancing. Movement is fundamental. Play builds and refines motor skills.

  18. Better Grades - There's a positive correlation between cognitive development and play. All animals play, and all brains are activated by play. An active brain, eager imagination, and ample self-motivation are all key factors to good grades.

  19. Matisse Said So! - "Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play." Have you seen his paintings? He was onto something!

  20. Sharing – Stuart Brown, MD stated that "play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation." Play creates a platform for engagement with peers. They will learn how to express their wants and respect each other's wants.

  21. They Deserve It - "Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity." ~ Kay Redfield Jamison

Why does play matter to you and your family? Please let us know in the comments section! I'd be absolutely thrilled to hear your reasons.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Children Are the Future: 7 Ways to Build Work Ethic in Kids

Photo by Vox Efx (Flickr)

The importance of being a hard worker is something that simply can't be underestimated. Whether it's through completing chores around the house or even helping to take care of the pets, there are plenty of great (and also fun!) ways to instill a strong work ethic in your children. It all has to start at home, too, when they're young, so that they have a foundation for themselves and they progress further and grow as an individual.

With my kids, I've also tried to put an emphasis on making daily, household, and sometimes boring chores as fun as I could. Face it: Children want to have fun as much as they can. While there isn't always time for actual play, other activities and duties can definitely be made enjoyable.

Here are seven ways to build a good work ethic in your kids.

  1. Let Them Explore: Simply put, don't hold back, and allow your children to explore their own individual interests and passions. It's much easier to work hard on something when they can fully enjoy it. That way, they'll give it their full attention and do the best job that they can do. This is a great way to ease them into learning about what it takes to have great work ethic.
  2. Let Them Play: Don't ever forget to allow an adequate amount of playtime for your kids. Through play, they will learn more about themselves, what they're capable of, and what their passions are, and it will also help them build better communication skills. All of these elements are part of what goes into hard work.
  3. Time for Chores: Households chores and hard work are certainly related. One way that I got my children excited about doing work around the house was by giving them incentives. Whether it was through some kind of reward or by way of additional playtime, the kids would get excited and motivated to help out around the house, and as we know, chores are a great way of teaching kids about what goes into hard work.
  4. Consider Volunteering: It's also important for your children to learn about what it's like to put in hard, valuable work without receiving any kind of pay. One great way to do this is through volunteering. There are plenty of great charities and causes that are worth checking out, no matter where you're located.
  5. Make Chores Fun: Believe it or not, some chores can be turned into games, which will make them more fun that you may have originally thought. Try something as simple as singing while you work; my kids and I do this, and it even makes doing the dishes a good time!
  6. Don't Always Provide Protection: It's important that children learn from a very young age that it's OK to fail and that it will happen from time to time but they need to pick themselves back up and get back at it. This is one big part of hard work: It won't always be easy, and there's a reason it's called hard work.
  7. Patience is a Virtue: It sounds like a cliché, but patience and hard work have a direct relationship with one another. One of the best things that you can teach your children is that hard work does pay off, but it's not always instant. They need to keep at it and continue to put forth their full effort, and the results will eventually come.

In what ways do you work to build work ethic in your children? As always, we want to hear from you, so let us know what you think about this in the comments section below!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Let's Play! 7 Tips to Encourage Goal-Setting in Children

Photo by jayneandd (Flickr)

2015 is finally here! A new year promises more success and less stress, right? There's a sense of renewal we all share as we imagine what this fresh start has to offer. We make promises to ourselves and our families. We want to be more healthy, improve as parents, and nurture new talents. A crucial step towards fulfilling our aspirations is to set goals!

Goal-setting seems like a snap, but it often proves daunting when we really dive into the thick of it. When goals are split into realistic steps, the joy of success can unfold! As parents, we can help set our kids on a path of perseverence and triumph by teaching them how to set solid goals. It's a vital skill that will inspire every aspect of their lives.

Here are 7 tips to encourage goal-setting within your children:

  1. Don't Be Pushy: This is a major blunder. A surefire way to sabotage your child's goal-setting is to be forceful and overbearing. They need to muster up motivation on their own. Offer as much encouragement and support as you can, but don't harp on small things and avoid outrageous expectations. They are kids; they deserve freedom and fun!
  2. Let Them Decide: How would you feel if someone else decided what you should strive for? The most attainable goals are those sparked by own passions. The same goes for children. Feel free to give input, but ultimately, it's up to them what they set their sights on (as long as it's safe). Our kids are unique, budding individuals and we should respect and celebrate that!
  3. Rewards: Achieving a goal feels absolutely amazing, right? As parents, we want our kids to experience this gratification. To spark a go-getter attitude, we can offer compliments that are personal and empowering, such as, "That's impressive. When you care about something, you really go after it!"
  4. Self-Starter: This piggybacks onto letting them choose their goals. While we can help them formulate a plan and be accountability buddies, we should avoid caving to the parental instinct of doing it all. Kids need to explore the full dynamic of fulfilling a goal, even if that includes failure. We can foster independence in our kids by letting them navigate.
  5. Be a Role Model: If you want to instill a healthy relationship with goals in your children, pursue healthy goals yourself. Tell them what you want to achieve and how you'll go about doing it. Including them in the process is a wonderful way to start small and build dedication. For example, enlist their help in a household project such as creating a vegetable garden. They can till the soil or pick out seeds for their own patch. Not only will they get to relish in the satisfaction of a job well done, they'll enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor!
  6. Be Realistic: As much as we want our kids to believe anything is possible, we need to be prepared to deliver a gentle but encouraging reality check. Kids don't quite grasp the full extent of reaching a goal just yet, so frustration and burnout may strike. Rather than feed their doubts and veer them towards smaller objectives, map it out for them: Tell them what the challenges are and what they'll need to do to accomplish it.
  7. The 5-Step Plan: Jim Wilten's 5-step plan is an simple, compelling way to launch your kids on the right foot. First, write it down, such as, "To become better at playing the saxophone." Second, narrow the goal down into something measurable, such as being able to play a certain song that requires a realistic level of mastery. Third, define pro's and con's. If the con's severely outweigh the pro's, a goal realignment may be in order. Fourth, define who can help, what needs to be done, and when it will be done. Lastly, have progress monitored. As a parent, you can offer to record their playing and offer feedback.

In what ways do you encourage your kids to set goals? How do you inspire them to keep at it? I'd absolutely love to hear your feedback!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

ShareThis