The Four Temperaments of Children

And how to motivate your child based on their personality

“Too often parents interpret a child’s behavior as rebelliousness, when in fact she is just being true to her nature…One of the most generous gifts you can give your child is to study her temperament and once you’ve learned it, work to accept it.” Wendy Mogel, Blessing of a Skinned Knee

There are so many ways we can describe our children’s personality and temperament: fun loving, a people person, intense, shy, a book worm. A person’s personality is defined as the totality of somebody’s, attitudes, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, social roles and other individual traits that are innate, predisposed and endure over a long period of time.

Temperament is a preferred, most natural style of how we respond to the world.

I am always hesitant to label children, however understanding a child’s personality and temperament can only be a plus. Differences in personality and temperament impact a child’s behavior in myriads of ways. Take the ‘slow to warm up’ child. That child is not being rude when he refuses to kiss the out of town relatives; he just needs a bit of time to get used to them.

When we understand our child’s personality and temperament, we can better communicate with them and understand them in deeper ways. We can then try to accommodate their unique and individual needs. It will make both our lives easier.

So when we are dealing with a ‘slow to warm up’ child, instead of getting frustrated and annoyed with them, we will understand that they need time to get used to new situations. Then we will more likely to prepare them beforehand, stay close by until they feel comfortable and reassure them, “Right now you don’t feel comfortable, but in a few minutes you will.”

Gretchen Rubin, in her book, “The Four Tendencies” takes this idea even further. She created a framework that describes how people respond to inner and outer expectations.

There are: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels. She contends that your tendency shapes every aspect of your behavior. If you understand your tendency then you will be able to make better decisions, work more effectively reduce your stress and most important create good habits and follow through on your goals. Knowing your tendency helps you understand why you act on your goals and why you may not on your goals.

  1. Upholders meet inner and outer expectations. They love rules, having a clear plan and are self-motivated and disciplined. Clearly tell them what needs to be done and they’ll lead the way.
  2. Questioners meet their own expectations but resist outer ones. They need to see purpose and reason in anything they do. Make it clear why what you want from them is important.
  3. Obligers meet other people’s expectations easily but struggle with their own. They must be held accountable by a friend, coach or boss to get things done. They thrive when they have a sense of duty and can work in a team.
  4. Rebels defy both outer and inner expectations. Above all, they want to be free to choose and express their own individuality. Give them the facts, present the task as a challenge and let them decide without pressure.

This information is important for parents to know. So much of what we do as parents involves how to motivate children, (i.e. get them out of bed in the morning, get them to do their chores) discipline them (deliver consequences when they don’t follow through) and help them develop and follow through on their goals (pick a topic for their history project, choose a summer camp or college). Understanding how children respond to expectations, whether they are an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel, can be invaluable. Rubin suggests that parenting strategies should take into consideration a child’s tendency or it should, “talk to” the tendency’s values.

Here is how this can work:

Upholders

If your child is an upholder, he/she will be pretty easy to raise. Teachers love upholders too. They are self-motivated and want to meet expectations. They are generally responsible about their homework and chores around the house and have all their school supplies on hand and are on time.  However, they would not be called laid back or spontaneous and can be inflexible. They cannot handle changes in plans, transitions, and dealing with situations when the rules are unclear.

Rubin encourages parents of Upholders, when up against their child’s iron clad following of rules, to explain, “Your teacher expects you to read for 30 minutes a night, but because we went to visit Grandma, it will be bedtime by the time we get home. A good night’s sleep will make you alert for school tomorrow and that’s more important than reading tonight.”

With Upholders “Those arguments will work better than…’You deserve it’, ‘The teacher won’t know you skipped one day.’”

Questioners:

Questioners are the children who are constantly asking for explanations of why they have to do what they are doing. They are often rebuked for being disrespectful. They are often accused of challenging authority, when really they are intensely curious. They will only do things if it makes sense to them. They need logical reasons to comply to any demands made of them. “Setting the table now helps dinner run smoothly. Everyone will have the utensils they need and we can sit comfortably and enjoy dinner.”

Most kids do not respond well to the typical parenting answers of “Because I say so,” “We’ve always done it this way,” “This what you have to do” or “These are the rules.” However, Questioners (and rebels) have a particularly difficult time with these types of phrases.

Many teachers appreciate Questioners because they keep class discussions going, but they also feel that they slow down the class with their constant queries and may also feel that they are being disrespectful.

Rubin points out that “Questioners can have a hard time in school because they resist doing mundane academic tasks that don’t make sense to them. It is helpful if … parents can give thoughtful justifications for why they have to complete assignments. If a questioner student asks, ‘Why do I need to know about ancient Mesopaotamia? This will never be of any use to me!’ a teacher might respond unhelpfully, ‘This is what we’re studying now, so get with the program,” or helpfully, ‘You’re learning about Mesopotamia true, but this assignment is teaching you much more. You’re learning how to analyze complex material quickly, how to pull essential ideas out of a text, how to take notes efficiently, and how to explain ideas in your own words. There are important skills that will serve you well.’”

Obligers:

Obliger children are generally easy because they like to please the adults in their lives. However, they do need external measures of accountability. Parents need to help them find systems outside of themselves that will help them enforce expectations. They have a hard time doing homework, practicing the piano or getting their chores done if someone is not holding them accountable.

Although it can be frustrating for parents, these children need gentle reminders. Incentive charts work well for these children. Positive reinforcement is a must: “That was a big help to me when you cleaned up all the toys in the family room.”

Obliger children will do well with sports metaphors: “Team Cohen is getting ready for our road trip. Let’s get the bags in the car!” “Our family works together. We are a great team!”

It is important to make sure that Obliger children don’t work too hard to please others. They are easily overwhelmed and they may lose sight of what makes them feel happy or fulfilled. They are often doing favors for their friends and are taken advantage of.

Rebels:

Rebel children are often challenging because they refuse to do what they are told to do. They like to make their own choices and they resist any expectations. They need to feel as is they are doing what they want, not what others want them to do.

Rebel children need our love and understanding, probably more so then our other children. They are often knocking up against people and limits. It can be exhausting to have an internal dialogue that does not allow you to follow the rules of society, to always feel the need to push back.

To maintain a loving relationship with these children it is important to avoid direct commands. When parents say to a rebel child, “Say thank you to Mrs. Cohen,” the child will most likely dig in their heels and refuse to comply. This may be the case even if he had planned on saying thank you on his own.

Rubin suggests the following procedure when speaking to all children, but with Rebels it is essential:

  1. Provide information: “I think Mrs. Cohen is going to give us some tomatoes from her garden today. Gardeners usually love to share their produce. They work really hard, so let’s remember to say thank you.”
  2. Tell them the positive consequences of their behavior: “If we thank Mrs. Cohen, she will be more likely to give us more tomatoes in the future. She might even let us help out in the garden!”
  3. Give them choices: “You can say or whisper thank you. You could also make her a card.”
  4. Let them decide: “The way you say ‘thank you’ is all up to you.”

Whatever tendency your child exhibits, they need our love, care and understanding.

About the Author:

Adina Soclof is a Parent Educator, Professional Development Instructor and Speech Pathologist working with children in a school setting. She received her BA. in History from Queens College and her MS. in Communication Sciences from Hunter College. Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com. She delivers parenting classes as well as professional development workshops for Speech Pathologists, Teachers and other health professionals. You can find her text based CEU courses at PDResources.com and video courses at Homeceuconnection.com and SpeechPathologypd.com

5 Tips for Disciplining Your Toddler

When those terrible twos hit, many parents are unprepared for the challenge. It seems as if children are a whirlwind of activity interspersed with meltdowns and even defiance.

As always, parents can better manage their toddlers if they understand that there are very valid reasons for their (bad) behavior. Toddlers act in this way because they have become more mobile. They have moved passed the crawling, cruising stage to the running, climbing stage. Parents now need to set even more limits: “No, get down from the counter!” “Move away from the oven!”

This angers children; they can’t take all the “Nos”. Developmentally they haven’t learned how to handle frustration in productive ways, so they cry and whine and eventually meltdown.

At the same time, children are learning that they are separate from their parents. They are now starting to understand that they have their own body, thoughts and feelings. They start to assert their independence. Now they need to feel in charge of themselves. This is when they start to say “Me do it!” They get really angry when they are unable to buckle themselves into their car seats, or they are not allowed to walk by themselves in the parking lot.

 So now that their behavior makes a little bit more sense, here are five simple ways that parents can handle these toddler years.

  1. Prevention is worth an ounce of cure:

The most relaxed parents are the ones who set themselves us for success. They know that they shouldn’t take their children on an errand at the end of the day or will skip the visit to the highly stimulating amusement park. Most children (and adults) do not work well when they are hungry, tired and overwhelmed with sights and sensations,(loud noises and bright lights).

The simplest way to ensure good behavior (or at least some sort of reasonableness) from your toddler is to make sure that they are getting a good night sleep, appropriate naps and are well fed. Although it is not always possible, it’s best if you take them to a venue that is age appropriate for them, like parks, mini-amusement parks, and the baby pool.

Another trigger for bad behavior is rushing. Most toddlers cannot transition from activity to activity easily. They need a lot of wiggle room. It is helpful to give children a lot of advance warnings before you need to leave home, get them into their pajamas or before putting them to sleep.

Similarly, if you know your child spends a lot of time in the bath and hates getting out, make that a part of your schedule. Parents often know when a temper tantrum is coming. Don’t act surprised. Try to schedule in that inevitable meltdown. So if Eli usually cries when he has to put on his pajamas and it takes him about 15 minutes, until he calms down, schedule in that extra time during your bedtime routine.

2- Choices:

Since toddlers are experimenting with independence, they like to feel like they’re in control. Giving them choices allows them to assert their autonomy, but safely, because you, the parent, are still in charge. Choices foster a sense of self as children come to learn that their preferences can be communicated and respected.

Some simple choices are:

“Do you want to take your book or a snack to the doctor?”
“Do you want me to buckle you or do you want to buckle yourself?
“Do you want the blue or green cup?”
“Do you want to put your pants on first or your shirt on first?”

These questions seem as if they can take a lot of time, but can save you hours in avoiding those toddler power struggles.

3- Humor

A sense of humor is a must when dealing with toddlers; they respond so well to playfulness. When moving children from activity to activity, parents can make it fun, “Let’s pretend that the bath is the ocean and we are dolphins! We need water to live! Let’s get to the bath fast!” “Let’s pretend we are vacuum cleaners and pick up all the puzzle pieces!”

Singing is also a great way to help get kids transition, “We are going to eat dinner, to eat dinner, to eat dinner….”, “It is time to leave the park, the park, the park…” Most parents, when it is time to clean up, have definitely used the clean-up song to get everyone going.

4. Kids are never too young for empathy:

Enforcing limits time and again can be frustrating for both parties. However, limits given along with empathy can soften the blow. It sounds like this:

“You are so sad because your video is over. You want to watch another video so badly. The rule is one video.”
“It is so frustrating, you wanted to stay longer at the park. It is time for us to leave.”
“You sound so mad! You wanted another candy. The rule is one candy.”

This doesn’t mean that your child will stop resisting. You might have to use these phrases over and over again. However, it gives parents something to say that is kind and helpful while enforcing the rules. It often keeps parents calm and can be soothing for children.

5. Patience is physical.

I was complaining to one of my very smart and kind friends about how tired I was and how I seem to be losing it with more and more with my toddler. “I feel like my patience is shot!”

She said, “You need a break, you can’t raise a family if you are not filling up your on gas tank. Patience is physical, my dear!”

She is right. Patience is physical. I have a lot more patience with my kids if I have eaten a healthy dinner, had my multivitamin and gotten a good night sleep. As parents we can’t always do that, but we should strive for it. It should be our number one priority.

About the Author:

Adina Soclof is a Parent Educator, Professional Development Instructor and Speech Pathologist working with children in a school setting. She received her BA. in History from Queens College and her MS. in Communication Sciences from Hunter College. Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com. She delivers parenting classes as well as professional development workshops for Speech Pathologists, Teachers and other health professionals. You can find her text based CEU courses at PDResources.com and video courses at Homeceuconnection.com and SpeechPathologypd.com.

5 Ways to Stop Your Kids Getting Spoiled this Chanukah

Chanukah is a highlight of the year for the Jewish family! Delicious latkes, beautiful songs and unforgettable family experiences.

But for most of us, these aren’t the only memories we have. Many of us have seen our kids show more interest in their presents than in the family celebration. Siblings fight over gifts and donuts and before we know it our beautiful holiday devolves into an exercise in self-indulgence.

How do we ensure that Judaism’s beautiful values are not lost amidst our Chanukah celebrations?

1. Appreciate the Givers

Help your kids to appreciate the people who bought them gifts. Encourage them to text or email a photo of them using the present they received, together with a personalised thank you message.

2. Donate

Jewish teaching and psychological research both emphasise how what we do influences who we are. If Chanukah is a festival of taking, our kids become materialistic and feel entitled. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Have your kids put money in a tzedakah box each evening before opening presents. If they receive Chanukah gelt, teach them to give 10% of it to charity.

There are other ways of giving over Chanukah. If you are in the northern hemisphere then Chanukah falls in the Winter. This is a time when clothing is particularly needed by those who are homeless. Socks are the most needed (and often least donated) item of clothing. Go with your children to a shop and pick out one or more pairs to donate.

3. Spread the Joy of Chanukah

Chanukah can be a very sad time for those living on their own or away from their families. Make some Chanukah cards and then go on a family visit to a Jewish residential home to celebrate with the residents. You can check out this excellent page which gives ideas for doing it in the most meaningful way.

Or take latkes or donuts to a sick or lonely neighbour.

4. Set Limits

Whether it’s the number of latkes or the amount of time playing on the iPod during school vacation, teach your child boundaries. While it’s not good to be overly strict, it’s important that sometimes the answer they hear is ‘no’. Teach them to realise that they won’t get their way through screaming and rude behaviour. This also applies to your toddler – don’t wait until they are five before you teach them how to behave!

5. Setting the Example

The most important rule – what you do matters more than what you say! Set the example by talking openly about the things you appreciate this Chanukah.

Chanukah Sameach!

by Rabbi Anthony Knopf

Rabbi Anthony Knopf  is the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Ora in Montreal. He previously served as Associate Rabbi at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue in London and as Rabbi of Camps Bay Shul in Cape Town. He has received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, and also has a BA in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge. He is married to Carly and is the proud father of Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami.

10 Guidelines for Healthy Discipline

How to administer effective discipline without hurting your child.

While it may be the least enjoyable part of parenting and educating, discipline and consequences are fundamental. A child who is not disciplined and never admonished will not only be less motivated to strive for more, but may actually sink from the level that he has already achieved.

But the art of discipline is tricky. When done incorrectly it can leave lasting damaging effects. Criticizing a child the wrong way can hurt his self-esteem in the long run.

These 10 guidelines are designed to foster healthy discipline and consequences.

1. Remember: Nobody is perfect

When it comes to our own personal shortcomings we easily overlook or make excuses for our deficits, saying, “Nobody’s perfect!” Children are entitled to the same consideration. We need to temper our immediate reactions to their misbehavior with the knowledge that they’re not finished products. Keeping this in mind helps us be more forgiving and tailors our response to a more tempered and productive one.

2. Know when to overlook

We may be tempted to notice every wrongdoing of a child, perhaps to show them that we are on top of a situation. This can be a big mistake. Some behaviors can and should be overlooked. If a child did something that was totally circumstantial and you are not concerned it will be repeated, the best thing is usually to just keep quiet. You should work on noticing three times as much good in your child than bad. The more good you notice and comment on, the more the child will strive to earn that positive attention from you.

3. Give your child the benefit of the doubt

Children deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt just like adults. Before you scold a child, show him that you take him seriously and ask him what happened. Really listen to what he has to say. You may not want to accept every excuse or fabrication which he will offer, but it is invaluable to show a child that you are not judging him until you hear him out. You’d be surprised how many times you may actually be mistaken about his behavior, or at least about his intentions.

4. Let the child save face

Even when you feel sure that you must rebuke or even give a consequence, start your message with something positive. Tell your child that you understand that he probably didn’t really intend to do anything wrong, or that you understand that he may have been provoked into doing it. The fact that you demonstrate empathy and understanding preserves his dignity without justifying the behavior in any way. As much as your child may resent being scolded or punished, he will at least feel that you listened to him and don’t think any less of him.

5. Never get personal

No matter what the situation is, never tell your child that he is bad or that you are very upset with him. Talk about the behavior, talk about the situation, talk about what happened, but don’t make it personal. Let your child know unequivocally that you believe in him. Tell him that it is because he is so special and has so many fine qualities that such behavior was inappropriate. When you label a child, that label may stick in his heart forever. You may intend to motivate him to improve but you could be doing just the opposite, ultimately hurting his ego and self-esteem in the process.

6. Don’t make comparisons

Don’t compare your child to anyone else. Even without saying anything negative about your child, any comparison to a sibling or classmate can be hurtful. Each child is unique. Aside from feeling that he will never match up to the one he is being compared to, it is hurtful to know that his self-worth is being determined by somebody else’s measuring stick.

7. Your message should be about the future

When you harp on the past, making your message all about what happened, your child may see it as your way of getting back at him for an inappropriate action or behavior. To succeed in discipline, steer your message toward the future, so that it will come across as a message of love and concern. Be clear that you are looking ahead and are confident that your child will do better in the future. The more your mindset is future-focused, the more positive, hopeful, confident, and optimistic you will come across. Don’t imply that you feel the future will be more of the same, as you may be setting yourself and your child up for exactly that.

8. Be clear and make sure you’re understood

When reprimanding or implementing a consequence, make sure that the “what and why” is extremely clear to the child. Before taking this step, ask yourself if the scolding and the consequence are necessary and appropriate for this circumstance. Was the child warned? Was the child aware? Will the child understand it, or will he assume it to be cruel and unfair punishment? When you feel comfortable with what you are about to do, be clear about what made you unhappy, and what you expect changed in the future. Be specific and on both the nature of the wrongdoing as well as your expectations.

9. Cushion any discipline with love

Your general attitude toward your child or student should be a loving and caring one. When there is enough love in advance, the discipline and consequence will not arouse intense negative feelings. Right after a consequence or rebuke is given, try to lift the negative energy right away by moving straight back into positive, loving mode. Don’t be afraid that by doing this the child will think you’re just kidding. If you made yourself clear, your message was heard, but now your job is to make sure that there are no residual negative feelings that can erode the relationship and trust. Without retracting from the punishment or warning in any way, win back your child with loving words and behavior.

10. Err on the side of caution

If you are unsure about whether or not to discipline, err on the side of caution. When you are worked up and angry you may not be thinking clearly. Chances are that if you wait till you are less emotionally involved, you will make a better decision. Even if you forgo the opportunity to rebuke when you should have done so, you’ll be doing less damage than if you do rebuke when you should not have. When in doubt about if you should hug a child or rebuke him, an extra hug will probably be the smarter choice.

Discipline is essential for children to grow up as responsible and confident adults. Implementing these ideas will help you discipline at the right times and in the most healthy and effective way.

Abiut the Author:

Rabbi Shimon Gruen is the founder of Leha’ir, an organization that offers classes, workshops, teleconferences, and counseling geared to promote conflict resolution and relationship building, with a special emphasis on parents and educators. Rabbi Gruen specializes in practical tools for marriage communication, classroom management, effective teaching, and success in the workplace. His forthcoming book Never Get Into a Conflict Again, will be published in Fall 2017.

This Is What Your Child May Not Be Learning in The Classroom

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than 2 million American children are homeschooled. That’s a huge increase from 1980 when only about 10,000 families in the U.S. homeschooled their kids.

What was once an alternative practice is becoming mainstream. Contrary to what some people believe, homeschoolers aren’t missing out. In fact, they may be exposed to a more comprehensive set of experiences and skills than children who attend traditional schools.

Homeschooled students tend to score up to 30 percent higher than traditionally educated students on standardized and achievement tests. They are also just as socially and emotionally intelligent as anyone else. Perhaps this is because they’re learning things that aren’t available in the average public school.

Learning How to Learn

Some experts say that traditional schools are raising children to be little encyclopedias. Teachers focus on the amount of information that kids can memorize. The kids that fall short of remembering all the facts feel like they’ve failed (and may also receive lower grades). This wipes out their desire to learn.

According to Amanda Lang, who wrote The Power of Why, “Curious kids learn how to learn, and how to enjoy it—and that, more than any specific body of knowledge, is what they will need to have in the future.”

The world is constantly changing. Students need more wisdom than knowledge to keep up. If they have a desire to learn, they’ll continuously search for answers instead of striving for the highest marks or the biggest reward.

The other problem with rote memorization is that it usually bypasses conceptual learning, according to The Atlantic. Reciting the 50 states in alphabetical order is impressive, but is it really helpful if students can’t identify them on a map?

Memorization that comes from raw rehearsal doesn’t necessarily help children learn concepts. It simply allows them to remember information at the surface level. However, repeated use can be a beneficial form of memorization. With this process, children end up automatically memorizing information because they have repeatedly used it in practical and applicable settings.

More Time For Practice

Some kids get on the bus at 6 a.m. and don’t get back home until after 4 p.m. If they have to finish up their homework and have dinner, they don’t have much time left for extracurricular activities. Flex ED argues that homeschooling allows children to focus on their interests.

Many parents who homeschool say that their children complete their academic work in much less time than students who go to school outside the home. This leaves more hours for practicing athletics or hobbies.

When students are immersed in doing something they’re passionate about, they’re more likely to develop a love of learning. When playing sports, kids can learn about anatomy. When drawing in a sketchbook, they can learn about shapes, color, and relativity. Giving children more time to develop their interests can lead them to become powerful explorers and free thinkers.

Research shows that the decline of playtime has led to increasing reports of anxiety, depression and attention problems in children. Scientists at the Institute of Social Research say that children between the ages of 6 and 17 spend about 7.5 hours more a week on academics than they did 20 years ago. About 32.5 of those hours are spent in school.

An increasing emphasis on schooling and adult-directed activities has gotten in the way of kids’ free time. Children don’t just get to explore their interests while they play. They also develop the skills necessary to:

  • Solve problems

  • Communicate

  • Follow rules

  • Apply self-control

  • Gain a sense of mastery over the world

When children have the opportunity to make their own decisions and direct their own actions, they gain a sense of confidence. This self-assurance reduces their risk of developing emotional disorders. Kids also learn to develop coping mechanisms for intense emotions through play. Homeschooled children are more likely to have the time available for copious amounts of free play.

Getting Creative

Many public schools are more concerned with being politically correct than helping kids think on their feet, according to William R. Klemm Ph.D., author of Blame Game, How to Win It. Although Klemm believes that public schools don’t require children to do enough memorization, he does think that conformity is valued over individuality in educational institutions.

When children are encouraged to think like everyone else, they lose their ability to form their own opinions. Although parents can also be guilty of forcing their own opinions on their kids, the less structured, more flexible environment of homeschool may foster creativity.

Some research points to the fact that open classrooms inspire creativity better than traditional classrooms. Parents may be more likely to support independence than schoolteachers. The format of homeschooling lends itself to self-regulation and investigation. You don’t have to wait for everyone else in the class to be on the same page before moving forward.

Maintaining Health

Many students who attend school sit through health classes that are designed to get them to recognize healthy foods and exercise regularly. Homeschooled children may be able to experience the benefits of living healthfully in person.

For example, gardening with children has been shown to have benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Kids can spend an entire day in the garden and knock out a variety of essential learning. They get the physical exercise that they need.

The heavy work that is performed during a gardening session, which involves pushing and pulling, is vital to helping kids develop body awareness, according to Understood. It organizes the brain and calms the body.

Although schools are required to allow time for play, most young children don’t get enough exercise, says WebMD. At home, you could spend a full day outdoors doing heavy work or other types of activity as you learn about photosynthesis, the weather, plants, and animals or just about anything else.

Plus, gross motor skills are linked with a boost in brain function, explains Your Therapy Source. Physical activity can especially affect cognition in elementary and middle schoolers. One study showed that both fine and gross motor skills can improve mathematical performance when they’re incorporated into learning. This is much easier to do at home than in the typical classroom setting.

Developing Fine Motor Skills

Many children aren’t getting the opportunity to learn fine motor skills before they start kindergarten. This Lancaster Online article explains that when children enter school without the proper fine motor development, teachers are unable to work on academics appropriately.

This highlights two problems. One is the fact that toddlers and preschoolers aren’t getting the occasion to play and manipulate objects in order to build the muscles and coordination necessary for fine motor activities. The other is the fact that traditional schools expect kindergarteners to sit at their desks for long periods of time doing classic learning instead of working on their fine motor skills.

In February 2015, the New York Times reported that there was a dramatic increase in the number of students who needed occupational therapy. It can be argued that schools should be incorporating this type of learning into the academic setting so that kids don’t have to be pulled out for special therapy sessions.

At home, kids can practice fine motor skills in a real-life setting. Cooking is one activity that requires the use of fine motor skills. Sewing is another one. When children learn to sew, they also learn spacial awareness and patience.

Psychology Today says that children with advanced fine motor skills are more likely to do better in school. This may be because the same parts of the brain are activated when processing motor information and performing intellectual tasks. When stronger connections are formed using fine motor practice, an individual will be better able to process academic data.

When children move around efficiently, they’re also likely to have more diverse experiences at an early age. This results in an increased number of neuronal connections in the brain. More pathways can make for quicker processing of information and an elevated ability to rationalize, analyze and reason.

A Final Word: Life Skills

Many homeschool advocates stress the fact that children don’t learn enough about life skills at school. They’re referring to financial management, communication skills, home economics and how to fix things around the house. Shop class, cooking, and sewing used to be part of a basic curriculum. Now, many students don’t even learn cursive in school.

In 2011, Smithsonian questioned whether home economics classes were still relevant in today’s society. Those types of classes began in the early 1900s and taught life skills that were pertinent to modern consumer culture. They’re also starting to be pulled from schools because of a lack of funding and a rise in a technology-focused curriculum.

However, knowing how to cook a healthy meal, manage a household, use power tools or sew a basic seam can get you pretty far in your daily adult life. Homeschoolers are at an advantage when it comes to learning life skills. They can spend their time shadowing their parents as they take care of everyday duties that make “adulting” easier.

Just like traditional education, homeschooling isn’t always implemented effectively. However, it can give students a chance to excel in areas to which they aren’t exposed at school.

 

I started this blog because I love to sew 🙂 ​The purpose of this website is to provide you with sewing tips, review the latest products and most importantly, build a community for us to express our love for sewing.

4 Ways to Help Your Child be More Successful This Year

It’s back to school time. Regardless of your child’s age, there are steps you can take to help your child thrive and flourish more this year. The key is focusing daily on these habits. Our children recognize our priorities when we don’t drop the ball despite the pressures and stress of family life.

1. Daily responsibility

Putting homework and books into knapsacks nightly, clearing away your plate and fork from the dinner table, placing laundry in the hamper are all examples of daily tasks that teach children to be self-responsible. When you realize that the mess you make is yours to clean and that there is no one who is going to be accountable for your tasks but you, maturity is gained.

Parents often give lectures about being responsible but the real way of transmitting this essential character trait is through making sure that our children live what we preach.

Successful children understand that they can be self-reliant and independent. They don’t whine about their tasks. We don’t fall apart as easily if we recognize that life is about accountability and responsibility.

2. Good relationship skills

Children who are socially happy in school and know how to settle conflicts with peers will be more successful students. If you see that your child is getting bogged down in arguments with siblings or friends, make a mental note of what is happening. Is your child overly sensitive? Is she easily explosive? Does he always have to get his way? Does your child know how to give space to others-both physical and emotional? Is shyness or lack of self-confidence preventing socialization?

Social skills are not automatic. As children grow we may notice that they are being excluded. Some children are socially awkward. Others don’t know how to read social cues properly. And there are those whose parents hovered when they were little so that they are now inept in grade school, high school, even college.

A 20-year study at Penn State and Duke found that kids with good social skills became more successful as years passed; it behooves us to help guide our children.

Pay attention to the way your child deals with peers and family members. Instead of jumping in, allow your child to find resolution. If you must, speak privately to your child about the right way to apologize and forgive. (Some adults may need to brush up on these skills before teaching their children.) Open your child’s eyes to feeling empathy, giving a helping hand to someone in need, and being sensitive to other’s challenges.

Too many of our children sit in front of their screens completely oblivious to the people around them. Facial expressions, eye contact, body language is completely ignored or misread. They do better with emoji’s than living breathing human beings. Texting all types of emotions is easy but saying “I’m sorry,” “I’m so happy to see you,” or “I’m excited” feels clumsy. The power of a kind word, reassuring gesture, and sympathetic eye cannot be minimized. Our children are losing this vital human connection through which relationships are built and endure.

Teach your child to put down his phone, especially at dinner time. Be sure to lead by example. Sit down and communicate together. Share a funny story or something that happened to you during the day.

3. Good study habits

Children require calm and adequate time to study. Pushing off studying until the last possible minute is a bad habit. Checking texts or Instagram while doing homework ensures a distracted mind. A loud noisy environment does not encourage concentration. If you know that your child is a procrastinator, or that assignments are consistently missed as the year passes, set a goal to tackle the issue this year. Ask your child before the problems begin: what can we do to make this year better? Involve your child in the solution. Good study habits bring children to feel more secure and self-assured as they face their school day.

Parents should be careful not to put down their children’s teachers and authority figures. We must model the behavior we expect. When we speak respectfully of teachers and school rules, children understand that their behavior towards school and authority matters. We will not look away at rudeness, ignoring of tests and projects due.

4. Value effort over grades

We have come to fear failure. Many parents would rather stay up the entire night and complete the science fair project than see their child grapple with a poor grade. Take a step back and recognize that even when not doing well there is opportunity for growth. There is no life that will not be touched by disappointment. Each person will find themselves in a situation where he has fallen and must pick himself up and try again. If never allowed the experience, how will our children know the power of their efforts?

Resilience cannot be taught, it must be lived. Give your child space to grow.

Pushing the idea that grades matter more than effort strips children of discovering their inner power to accomplish greatness.

This year pave the road toward success by focusing daily on these four habits.

by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Chinese-Israeli ed-tech startup teaches kids to code

Shanghai-based LeapLearner represents the first global venture built from the ground up by Chinese and Israeli cofounders.

Chinese students rank best in the world in standardized tests but don’t excel in thinking out of the box. Israeli kids aren’t great test-takers but have exceptional innovation and problem-solving skills.

Chinese students rank best in the world in standardized tests but don’t excel in thinking out of the box. Israeli kids aren’t great test-takers but have exceptional innovation and problem-solving skills.

LeapLearner, the first Chinese-Israeli startup, puts those qualities together in a disruptive online and offline platform to teach kids coding along with critical 21st century skills including innovation, self-learning, problem-solving, creativity and adaptability.

During the three-week self-learning program meant to be used outside of school, children as young as five are guided in examining the coding in games they play and then learn how to change variables in the code of those games. For example, in Pac-Man, children can change Pac-dots into bananas and Pac-Man could appear as a pet dog.

LeapLearner helps users progress in their coding expertise from variables to natural language programming to Java Script, culminating in an in-person or online hackathon to build a video game from scratch. This gives the kids a way to get acquainted, work together, and connect with adults who can help them advance.

“Whether you want to be a philosopher, doctor, lawyer, artist or banker, you must be literate in the language of the future,” says CEO Ami Dror.

 LeapLearner launches commercially on June 1 in Shanghai, in September in Latin America, and in early 2018 in Greater China, India and the Middle East. The multilingual platform also will be provided free to children in European refugee camps, pending a deal with a hardware partner.

“Places that give strong weight to education in the family are our target market,” says Dror, noting that Chinese families invest a high percentage of their income in their children’s education.

A screenshot of education start-up LeapLearner’s mobile platform. Photo: courtesy

LeapLearner was created in 2016 at Za

itoun Ventures, an Israeli hybrid investment firm cofounded by Dror and Forsan Hussein. Aaron Tian, a well-known Chinese math teacher, is CEO of the LeapLearner China in Shanghai.

“I had the idea for a company that teaches kids soft skills, and I wanted to start with coding because the process teaches children how to innovate and problem-solve,” Dror tells ISRAEL21c from Shanghai.

Taking advantage of cultural strengths

Dror’s close friend John Wu, formerly the CTO of Alibaba in China, loved the idea.

“He said, ‘You have to do this in China because they’re struggling in soft skills.’ So I went to China and was introduced to two top educational companies. They said it was a super-innovative idea but wouldn’t be easy because of cultural differences.”

Tian, Dror and CTO Leo Zhao not only believed they could overcome those differences but even take advantage of the best of both worlds, namely “the Israeli ability to solve problems and deal with challenges from different angles, and the Chinese way of dealing with conflicts very harmoniously and getting things done quickly,” explains Dror.

Zaitoun is the major shareholder in LeapLearner but most of its $5 million in seed money comes from Chinese investors including Wu. The company has some investors in the United States and in the Arab world “who believe in the vision,” says Dror.

He moved his family to Shanghai, where he is handling strategy and product design alongside the LeapLearner staff of about 50 people, many of whom do not speak English. Hussein is managing the Israeli end of the business in Haifa.

Dror, a serial entrepreneur who taught himself to code as a child, is a fellow at the Aspen Institute-linked Aspen Global Leadership Network. This worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector share a commitment to using creativity, energy and resources to tackle societal challenges.

Dror says it is the Aspen Institute GLN that infused him with the vision of making LeapLearner available for free in refugee camps and he is actively looking for ways to make this happen.

In general, however, LeapLearner users will pay a “tuition” fee for the program.

You’re setting your child up for failure if you do this one thing

Every parent wants their kids to be happy. They’ll do whatever it takes to see them smile. But does that come at a cost?

Researchers have weighed on the one generational trend that’s setting children up for failure: participation prizes. Here’s how:

The expectation of reward

A psychological phenomenon known as the overjustification effect results in children who are less likely to perform well when they knew they would receive a reward at the end. In sports, participants care less about working hard and succeeding because they know they’ll get a price, regardless.

Later on in life, your child may be less likely to work hard when studying, applying for schools, internships and careers because as a child, they grew up believing that hard work doesn’t make that much of a difference – the outcome will still be the same.

Trophies kill competition

… and competition inspires incentive. If children know they will get a reward, what is their motive for developing problem-solving skills that will put them ahead of their competition?
Do you remember the dreaded field day in elementary school? The day jam-packed with activities like the mile run and the long jump? Some classmates loved field day. It was the highlight of their school year. Most of the students, however, dreaded it. While a scarce few students would give field day their all, the rest of the students did the bare minimum. Some kids took eight minutes to run the mile, others took twice as long.
And at the end of the day, everyone received the same identical ribbon for participating. How did that make the hard-working students feel? Did their passion, preparation and hard work even matter?
Some parents will argue that competition is not healthy for children. But competition is inevitable in schools and in the workforce, and it’s crucial that children learn how to combat it at a young age so they can be better prepared for the future.

We all know that over-used quote, “life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Participation prizes ignore that important (yet cliché) life lesson. Children can no longer enjoy activities they participate in (whether that’s a sporting event, arts event or something else) because they’re so focused on what they’ll get out of it.
In elementary school, I was a part of my school’s annual talent show from first grade to fifth grade. The last two years, school faculty members decided to give out ribbons to every participant – and it killed the mood of the show. While no one “won” or “lost”, having a reward at the end of it all ruined the point of the show: we were no longer there to showcase our talents, we were there to be rewarded for our talents.
It establishes expectations
Children are being taught that it’s OK to fail, because they’ll still receive the same reward as the winners.

And yes, of course it’s OK to fail, but not because we are still all winners even when we lose. Failing at something can be a great learning opportunity for children. But with participation trophies and endless praise, what they’re learning from failure is that there’s no difference between that and success. Children today grow up not knowing how to handle rejection – an essential life skill.
They give children a false idea of success
Established expectations also comes with a sense of entitlement. As children grow up they’ll soon realize life didn’t turn out quite the way they had hoped it would. Maybe they didn’t get into their favorite college or their dream job wasn’t actually for them.
That inability to grow from rejection has made our children feel they deserve more or better than what they have. They’re asking “where’s my trophy?” Start now and allow your children to feel sad about losing. This will give them the opportunity to reflect on how to improve and handle loss in the future.
If your child has ever received a participation trophy, it doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent. Take this as an opportunity to teach your child about hard work and success. Remind them that activities aren’t about winning or losing, it’s about doing your best and enjoying your time.
Most importantly, let your child know that you will love them no matter how successful they are.
By Emily Brady ( JWR)

How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior

One good deed will bring another.

“One good deed will bring another good deed,” says the Mishna (Ethics of the Father, 4:2). There is so much wisdom in this statement. The more we focus on the good, the more motivated we are to do more good. This Torah idea that good brings good is actually the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Psychology, a technique used to effectively combat anxiety, depression and a variety of other mental health issues.

“One good deed will bring another good deed” is also a very effective tool for correcting and reinforcing good behavior in our children. The key to raising good kids is to “look for the good” in them and in their behavior.

Parents have a tendency to focus on their children’s negative behavior while overlooking the good. We can train ourselves to see good even in the little things our children do. Once we are focusing on their positive traits we can then compliment them, which will in turn nurture more positive behavior.

But there is a trick. When pointing out children’s good behavior we want to be as specific as possible and focus on the actual positive behavior that we are noticing. Phrases like “great job” or “good boy” are too general and don’t work. In the long run it just makes children feel more insecure and less capable.

Here are some examples of how we can use this technique to help our children improve their behavior in many different areas.

To stop difficult behavior:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “You can never take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Try this:

“You were upset that you could not get a cookie at the bakery. You asked a lot of times, I said ‘no’ a few times and then you did not ask again. You were able to calm down after a few minutes.”

To handle sibling rivalry:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “Why is your first reaction to always hit your brother? Why can’t you just tell him what you want?”

Try this:

“I saw you raise your hand to smack him. Then you put your hand down. You remembered not to hit.”

To limit temper tantrums:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “You get upset about the silliest things!”

Try this:

“You were so angry and upset that you couldn’t have a Popsicle before dinner. After you cried for a bit you were able to pull yourself together and come to dinner.”

To encourage learning:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “You spend so much time learning about cars, instead of doing your schoolwork!”

Try this:

“You really like to learn about things that interest you. You use the Internet, the library and you ask questions to get the information you want. You are learning how to research different subjects. That will be good for when you are an adult”

To encourage kindness:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “Why can’t you just share all of your toys with Sara?”

Try this:

“You gave Sara one of your dolls. That doll is one of your favorites. That is sharing. You were being kind.”

To encourage good manners:

Instead of focusing on the negative: “Why do I always have to remind you to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?”

Try this:

“You said ‘please’ when you ordered your ice cream and ‘thank you’ when you got it. You know how to be polite.”

Using the concept of “One good deed will bring another good deed” or “looking for the good” can be a game-changer in our parenting. It gives us a better perspective and generates a tremendous feeling of positivity. It transforms potentially ugly and harmful interactions into positive relationship building moments. And you are modeling to your children how to focus on people’s positive behavior and maintain an optimistic attitude. You can’t get more positive than that.

More about the Author:

Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Solutions, facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements. You can reach her and check out her website at www.parentingsimply.com or www.thinkaplus.com.

5 Parenting Goals for Every Family

How to ensure your children have a productive year.

We begin the school year with blank notebooks, pages fresh and clean. Backpacks are free of crumbs and leaked box drinks. Children wake up early in anticipation. We try to get to school a bit before the morning bell and start the year off on the right track.

But slowly the familiar patterns start to appear. The kids are going to sleep way past bedtime, waking up with just a few moments to spare. A child leaves his notebook in school and must scramble to find a friend whose fax machine is working. Nights spent struggling over homework for hours, studying for tests left for the last minute, assignments forgotten, cliques and social politics – it feels as if we are going backwards instead of forward.

How can we make this year different from all the others? How can we take our hopes and wishes for positive change and turn them into a reality?

Transition between summer and school can be difficult for children – and for parents. Any change in life can bring nervousness, worry, and irritability. Children often have a hard time adjusting to new situations, unfamiliar teachers, and the more rigid schedule needed during the school year. When feeling overwhelmed, our kids may express their emotions through becoming argumentative, fighting more often with siblings, or withdrawing into themselves. And parents can find it difficult to keep calm and not lose themselves in anger when things don’t go right.

Instead of just accepting that this is the way our home is meant to be, let us think about reachable goals that we can work on. When we create a plan, we can do away with unnecessary failures and strive to help our children feel and be more successful.

My 5 Parenting Goals

1. Keep My Eyes Open

Sometimes we notice that something does not feel right with a child but we get distracted. We are all very busy, it’s true. We have great pressures and responsibilities pulling us in too many directions. The child who seems a little ‘off’, not himself, snappy or more quiet than usual is trying to tell us something. But it is easy to tuck this information away in a back pocket and only realize that something is wrong when a crisis occurs. We then think back and recognize that the signs were there, we were just too preoccupied to pay attention.

Don’t allow problems with your child to fester and grow. Open your eyes and observe if a child seems sad, withdrawn, distant, more moody than usual, or angry. Recognize if there seems to be greater confrontation between this child and siblings, if friends stop calling or coming over, or if the child can’t seem to find his place in school. Because before you know it, half the year can go by and what could have been a small problem has now become a ‘situation’ that requires major time and investment and causes terrible aggravation.

2. Develop a Working Relationship with Teachers

Reach out to your child’s teachers before your child reaches ‘zero hour.’ Many parents feel as if teachers are their opponents and don’t realize that we are are all here to try and help our children grow in the best way possible. If you think that there may be an issue, it is a good idea to set up a meeting with the teacher and ask how you can work in harmony. Too many parents call teachers to demand and accuse instead of saying that we would like to solve this problem together. Before going to the principal with a complaint, see if you can first diffuse the situation.

If there are any special concerns going on in your home, do not wait for the teacher to find out through your child’s acting up in class or failure to keep up with schoolwork and poor grades.

When a grandparent falls ill, if there is a health issue, financial stress, marital upheaval, problems with siblings, or any other factor that may affect your child’s academic or social success, it would be wise to enlist your child’s teacher as your confidential ally and gain her/his understanding. You can believe that most teachers would go the extra mile and extend to your child an open heart.

3. Work on Social Skills

Help your child be successful this year by preparing him not just academically, but also socially. School is not simply about getting straight A’s, it is also about learning how to get on with others and knowing how to develop friendships. A child who is happy in school is a child who can focus on studying and doing well. He wants to be there and be a part of things. One who believes that school is all about academics and no social life unfortunately makes a big mistake.

How can we better teach our children social skills?

  • Set rules and follow through with consequences when needed.
  • Set routines for meals and bedtimes that establish stability.
  • Develop your child’s ability to put himself in the shoes of others and grow more sensitive.
  • Help your child learn how to express frustration, disappointment and anger without hurting others or retreating into sullenness.
  • Establish basic rules of conduct: no hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, (no hands allowed), and no hurting others through our words.

4. Help Children Become Independent

When children feel as if they are gaining skills and becoming self-sufficient, they grow more confident in their abilities. You will watch their self-esteem take off. Each year, every child should be able to point with pride to a newfound skill or added responsibility that comes with age.

We can help our children grow independent and flourish by:

  • Teaching our children to pick out their clothing, dress themselves as they grow older, tie their own shoes, pack school snacks, make lunches the night before, set their own alarm clocks instead of waking them up, and having children put away their books and organizing themselves.
  • Allow a young child to complete puzzles and feed himself on his own and as he grows, to do his homework and projects by himself. It is much healthier to tell a child that you will check his work when he is done instead of sitting beside him and correcting the answers as he goes along. Book reports and science projects should not be parent’s homework.
  • Have your child help around the house and gain responsibilities instead of waiting to be served. Some skills children can help with are putting away laundry, setting and clearing the table, helping to serve guests, baking, cooking and keeping their room in order.

5. Communicate with Each Child

Our children should never be afraid to speak with us. No matter how tough the topic, even if they messed up badly, they should not fear that we will hate them or want to close the door on them. Our love must be unconditional. True, there may be consequences or emotions of disappointment, but they must know that we are here for them. After all, we are their parents and if they cannot believe in our love for them, whose love can they believe in?

Work on communicating with your child this year. I am not just speaking about when you must call him in with a problem like failing grades or after you received a call from his teacher. I am talking about daily interactions where you share a smile, a good word, a laugh, a story, or a meal together. The main thing is that you put the time and energy in so that he knows that he matters in your life.

  • Talk to your child every day-even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Put down your iPhone , turn off your laptop when your child (or you) return home, at mealtimes and story times, and when you pick your child up from school. Look at him and make eye contact while having a conversation.
  • Speak to your child in the tone and with the words that you wish he would use with others.
  • Express your love every day, no matter how tough the day.

I know that some days will bring unforeseen difficulties and that some children seem more challenging than others. But at least we will know in our hearts that we have tried our best to help our children navigate the road of life successfully.

About the Author:

Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and parenting lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and daughter of Rebbetzen Esther Jungreis. Slovie is the author of the parenting handbook, Raising A Child With Soul. She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S.,Canada, Mexico, Panama, and South Africa.