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How to Talk to Your Child About Violence

July 11, 2016

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How to Tall To Your Child About ViolenceIt has been a tumultous few weeks here in the United States and I’ve been reeling.  With the police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castillo, and the police shootings in Dallas on Thursday night, there’s been a lot of talk of violence in the news.  How do you talk to your child about all this violence?

I was unsure of how to talk about all this with my 7-year old daughter.  I initially took a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to it.  Probably not the best way to handle it.  

I then decided I needed to lighten the mood and move away from all the violence, so I took her to see the Secret Life of Pets.  I maybe should have read Roger Moore’s review in Movie Nation before going. He wrote: “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how violent this pre-tween farce is. Slapfights, brawls, violent death and near death experiences abound.”

The characters, both “good” and “bad” all employed incredible amounts of physical violence and coercion towards each other.  Especially after this sensitive week, I was slightly horrified.  My daughter loved it though.

After the movie, I knew my daughter and I definitely needed to have a “teachable moment” talk and discuss the violence we had just seen depicted.

I did a wee bit of research to figure out the best way to have this discussion and in the end we had a talk that was very positive. 

With all the violent media and news, I thought it would be helpful to share with you too, how you too can talk to your kids so they can better cope with the violence in media and in the world around them.

  1. Talking to your childEncourage your kids to talk about what they see and hear.  After your child sees or hears about something violent, it’s a great idea to sit down with him or her and encourage them to talk about their feelings. Give any needed information at age appropriate levels. Also, for real occurrences, reassure them.After the movie, I sat down with Aliza and we started talking about how she felt. At first she said “It was good. I really liked it.” I then asked specific questions like: “That movie we just watched seemed pretty scary to me, what did you think?”. And I asked her “How do you feel after watching so many animals fighting and getting injured?” I listened for her feelings and shared mine as well.
  2. Limit exposure to violence. Research has shown that children who watch a lot of violence on TV, movies or video games feel more anxious and less safe than those that don’t and also may be desensitize them to violence. So it’s always a good idea to limit the amount of violencec they see. When they do see violence, remind them that the characters they see in the movies or on tv are acting. Also talk about the consequences of what would happen in real life.angry GidgetIn the Secret Life of Pets there’s a little dog named Gidget that got laughs because she seems sweet and then slaps around a cat to get him to talk and later single-handedly beats up all the “bad guys.” Aliza and I talked about what would happen to Gidget if she did that in real life. We both agreed she would get in a lot of trouble.
  3. Reassure your child. Kids who see or hear about violent acts can become fearful and anxious about a similar act happening to them or a loved one. Reassure your child by telling them they are safe and lots of people are here to watch them. Also, let them know what they should do if they feel unsafe and you are not at home. You can let them know they can go to another trusted adult, a teacher or a family friend.Make them feel like they can always tell you when they are afraid in any situation. It’s important that boys get this message as well as girls. Also, talk to them about the police and that they are there to keep the community safe. You can let them know about the police as a resource.For children of color who may feel anxious about the police, teach them to be respectful but not fearful. Provide a consistent and supportive environment to help reduce your kids fears and anxieties.
  4. Don’t Allow Violence In Your Home and Stand firm. The values you wish to instil in your kids need to be clear and consistent. Explain to your kids why you do not allow violent media or actions in your home so they can accept your decision. Model the behavior you want them to exhibit and be firm about what you won’t accept them doing. Just because “everyone else is allowed to watch it” doesn’t mean you have to.  You could say something like: “Your father and I don’t agree with the message that movie sends. Watching violence is not enjoyable and we don’t allow it in our family”.With regards to teasing and other more aggressive actions, talk to your kids about teasing and its limits. Let them know that teasing can be bullying and can go further than what you sometimes intend. Tell them that in your family you have zero tolerance for bullying or roughhousing.If your child is violent towards another, child, put them on “time-out” or whatever disciplinary strategy you prefer. Once they are calm, ask them about why they have behaved or reacted in that way.  Try to understand the why of the behavior (sometimes it’s just hunger or fatigue, other times it is something else). Together, work out a peaceful way using words to resolve problems without using violence.
  5. Educate your kids. Give them options and prepare them for what to do if they are faced in situations where they feel unsafe. For example, what to do if they see a gun, how to deal with bullies, what to do if they see someone else being mistreated, etc.
  6. Control your own behavior. Examine how you approach conflicts and know that your child is learning from you and may model the same behaviors. Ask yourself – how do you settle an argument or other conflict? Are you respectful or reactive?  When you’re angry, how do you deal with it?Model the behavior you want your child to emulate.  Model respect and peaceful dispute resolution.  The nice thing is that if you model the behavior you want your child to emulate, you’re training yourself to be the best version of you possible.  It’s a win-win-win – for you, your child, and all society.

    Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Parent Facebook Page and on twitter as @monickpaulhalm.

 

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The Perfect Day Camp Checklist

June 21, 2016

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Perfect Day Camp Checklist

Today is the first official day of summer and you probably, like many other moms, have kiddos that are off to day camp.

My 7-year old with an entrepreneur’s soul is at a girls’ business camp. She started yesterday and is in heaven.  I was, however, a little ashamed because I arrived with her unprepared for what she needed.  Yikes!  I didn’t have a checklist.

So… I’ve since made a checklist and want to share it with you.  Without further ado, here is the PERFECT DAY CAMP CHECKLIST (and by perfect, I mean “probably good enough.”).

This is a checklist for the items to put into your kid’s backpack for day camp.  

___ Sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 45

___ Insect repellant wipes, wristband, or lotion (I don’t recommend the aerosol can of insect repellant–the spray can sting if it gets in your child’s eyes.)

___ Water bottle filled with ice-cold water

___ Sun Hat

___ Bathing suit and towel (I recommend a super thin towel to create less bulk in the backpack.)

___ Extra set of clothes (especially a pair of socks and shirt if they get wet from the rain or water play)

___ Comfortable running shoes or closed-toe sports sandals WITH socks

___ Rain poncho (not something we often need in Los Angeles, but if you’re in a rainy place this is good to have.  Ponchos are good because they roll up small too)

___ Medication: All camps should have your child’s medical information on file. Having an extra note with details in their backpack and attached to their Prescription medication and/or Epi-Pen is helpful.

___ Food: Many day camps will provide lunch and snacks. If you pack a lunch it should be easy to eat on the ground and not need refrigeration. A sandwich, fruit and a juice box or water makes for a healthy lunch. Granola bars make an excellent snack. Some camps may have vending machines or snack bars — find out the rules and cost of items ahead of time so you can plan if and how much money you want your child to have every day. I recommend putting money in a zippered change purse or zip-up sandwich bag. Notify the camp of any food allergies your child may have.  And be careful about sending your child with peanut items (e.g. PB&J sandwiches) for any other children that may have that allergy.

___ Other: If your child is at a specialty camp like my daughter, your child may need to bring other objects or gear.  You can note it here.

Day CampOptional:
___ Change purse with $1-$5 for snacks
___ Benadryl cream for itchy mosquito bites.

With these items in your child’s backpack, it should help your child have a happy and healthy day at camp!

 

 

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Parent Facebook Page and on twitter as @monickpaulhalm.

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10 Kids Movies Adults Will Love Too – 52 Checklists Project Week 16

April 20, 2016

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10 Kids Movies Adults Will Love TooFor this week’s Checklist Project, I’m sharing  my 10 Favorite Kids Movies That are Enjoyable for Adults.  

My daughter loves watching kids’ movies, and I like taking her to see movies.  In my opinion though, many kids movies are pretty dreadful and painful to watch.  I compiled a checklist of some movies to watch with your kids that you will also love.  These are my favorite eleven (I know I wrote 10, but I wanted to share a bonus).10 Kids Movies You'll Love Too

    • Zootopia: I brought my daughter to see this one over Spring Break and we both loved it.  My 16-year old step-son went with his friends and they all loved it too.  This is definitely a great one for all ages. 

    • Labyrinth: This is an oldie, but a goodie.  I loved this one when I was a child.  When I saw it again with my daughter, we both loved it still.  I feel particularly nostalgic about Labyrinth given David Bowie’s recent passing.

    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: This is a holiday movie, and one of my favorites.  It’s 30 minutes of pure goodness.  I particularly love the dog Max.   I had a hard time deciding between this one and the movie Elf, another holiday favorite of our whole family.  

    • The Incredibles: I saw this when I was an adult, but before I had kids.  I absolutely loved this movie.  When I showed my kids they all felt similarly – who can’t relate to a family of super heroes with super normal problems?  

    • Meet the Robinsons: This is another favorite movie of mine.  I love the message in this movie about how it’s ok to experiment and fail. In fact, it’s more than ok, it should be celebrated.  

    • Up: This is such a sweet movie and has one of the best love story montage scenes EVER.  Though this is a kids’ movie it really speaks to people of all ages and is a reminder that you’re never too old to follow your dreams.

    • Princess Bride: This is another oldie, but a goodie.  I find it so hard to believe that this movie is 26 years old!!!  It’s great for kids and hilarious for adults.  It also is one of the most quotable movies.  I’ve seen this movie a million times and love it more every time.

    • Shrek Series: I’m including all the movies in this series because DreamWorks managed to pull off 4 spectacularly funny and well-told movies.  They were all great, and the jokes work on many levels to entertain the whole family.

    • Toy Story series: This was another film series that managed to stay strong with all 3 movies.  These stories of change and loss and friendship definitely speak to people of all ages.  I loved them and my kids did too.

    • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: This strange and hilarious little movie is definitely one of my favorites.  I thought it was so great when I first saw it and have fallen more in love with it in each re-watching.  It’s available on Netflix now and I recently watched it with my 7-year old.  We were both crying with laughter.  This old gem has certainly held up over the years.  

    • Earth to Echo: I really do love this movie, but I’m making it a bonus because I am a bit biased.  My son, Teo Halm, stars in the movie.  I’ve seen it many, many times (not including the times I was on set watching it get made), and I still laugh and even tear up a bit at the end.  It’s a very sweet movie that’s great for the entire family.    

So that’s my “Kids Movies Adults Will Love Too” Checklist.   It turns out that it was pretty hard to limit it to just 10.  As I dug deeper I remembered more and more great kids movies.  What are your favorite kids movies?  What’s on your checklist?  Share it in the comments, on twitter or on Facebook with the tag #52checklistsproject.

10 Kids Movies Adults Will Love Too

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Kids

April 19, 2016

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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day With Your KidsEarth Day is coming up this Friday and it’s a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about taking care of the environment.  This is something that I’m really passionate about teaching my kids.

I’m not sure why, but people in the part of Los Angeles where I live really litter!  Sometimes I’ll even see people driving down the street and they’ll throw their trash out the window!  It drives me and my husband nuts.  Once he went to talk to someone who’d just dumped a bag of trash on the street and asked him “Why did you throw that on the street?”  The guy responded “Because the street cleaners come and pick it up.”  My husband replied “They only come once a week!”  The guy just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.  Grrrr.

I was raised that you NEVER littered.  You picked up after yourself and you left a place at least as clean as you found it.  Because I live around so many people who obviously were not raised that way, I’m obsessive about making sure my kids have more respect for their neighborhood, city, and world.  Litter is just one of the problems challenging our environment and it’s up to us and our keeps to make sure that the world is around (or we humans are around) for future generations to keep enjoying it.  Earth Day is a wonderful time to bring that message home to our kids.

Towards that end, I gathered 5 easy ways to share Earth Day and the importance of nature with your kids.

  • 800px-MCAS_Yuma's_Environmental_Department,_CDC_assist_kids_with_Earth_Day_event_130425-M-HL954-163PLANT SOMETHING: Go into the garden or even a potted plant for the house.  Plant a tree, flowers, herbs, a vegetable garden.  Allow your kids to play in the dirt and get their hands dirty.  Then you will all enjoy watching your plant(s) grow and maybe eating of the fruits of your labors.
  • CLEAN SOMETHING: Earth Day is a wonderful time for a clean up.  Grab the kids, some rubber gloves and some trash bags and pick up trash from the beach, creek, city streets or anywhere else you find litter.  If you go online, you will likely find organized clean-ups in your area.
  • LEARN SOMETHING: Take the kids to a museum (natural history museum or science museum), zoo, or farm to learn about nature.  You can also take them on a nature hike and point out the birds, animals, and plants.
  • RECYCLE SOMETHING: bottlesGather up and return bottles and cans to a recycling center (you can even do something fun with the money you get back).  You can also create a recycled material craft.  
  • REDUCE SOMETHING: Teach your kids about the importance of reducing.  Turn off the lights.  Save on gasoline and bike or walk somewhere to commute.  Visit a Farmer’s Market and save on packaging by buying straight from the farmers.

Those are some ways I came up with to celebrate Earth Day with your kids and teach them to be good stewards of our natural resources.  How are you going to celebrate Earth Day?  Let me know in the comments.

How will you and your kids celebrate earth day

 

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @monickpaulhalm.

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The Biggest Mistake I’ve Made as a Mom

April 5, 2016

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The Biggest Mistake I've Made as a MomI’m far from being a perfect mom.  I make mistakes all the time.  I can definitely lose my patience and raise my voice from time to time.  My kids don’t have the best sleep schedules (my little one could be part vampire – at least I’ve never had the issue of her waking up before me and getting me out of bed), and I’ll let my kid just eat pasta with olive oil and salt for days so she will JUST EAT SOMETHING.  But I don’t think any of those things are the biggest mistake I’ve made as a mom.

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made as a mom has been to not prioritize having fun and quality time with the kids.  I feel like my interactions are more of the purposeful, task-oriented variety – getting them up and ready for school, eating or rather negotiating eating, making sure homework is done, chauffeuring to extra-curricular activities, getting kids to do chores, etc.  By the end of the day I’m exhausted.  My husband has the bedtime routine where he tells stories and has the quality time.  I feel like my biggest mistake has not been prioritizing the fun and quality time.  Someone does need to keep the ship running and on course, but my mistake has been to be so focused on the ship running that I haven’t focused enough on enjoying the journey with my shipmates – my husband and kids.

I shared before the story of my challenging childhood with my mom.  When I was young it seemed my mom was only focused on making sure we ate, were clean, did homework, did our chores, etc. Those were important things, but I don’t have any memories of fun times with her as a child.  In contrast, I have vivid memories of going to the duck pond or the library with my dad or just sitting and having tea with him and talking.  The fact that I don’t have any similar memories with my mom makes me very sad.  The thought of my kids might not having similar memories with me makes me even sadder.

So, I have shifted some things.  I am sharing some other duties with my husband and taking my turns at bedtimes and story times.  I am prioritizing fun outings with the kids and fun experiences, because I want to leave my kids with great memories (not of how much homework I got them to do, but of how much joy we managed to have).  How about you?  How do you get quality time in with your kids?

I took Aliza on a boating and kayaking trip.

Last weekend I took Aliza on a boating and kayaking trip.

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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10 Fun Spring Break Activities to Do With Your Kids

March 23, 2016

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Spring Break is upon us!  Are you wondering what to do with your kids?  If so, we have the answer for you.  Here are 10 fun family friendly activities (many of which are free) that you can do with your kids this Spring Break.  Read below to also get your free downloadable Family Travel Checklist PDF.

1. Road Trip! Go someplace within easy driving distance – like a nearby city or a national park. This year is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks and there are probably some amazing parks in easy driving distance of wherever you are.CLM Travel Packing Checklist

If you’re going on a trip, you  to make sure that you pack wisely.  Click Here to get your free downloadable Travel Packing Checklist PDF and make sure that you remember everything.

2. Staycate. Be a tourist in your own city and visit spots in your city that you or your kids have never been to. Though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 years there are still plenty of places – new and old – I’d love to discover and bring my kids. I’m sure there are interesting spots near you to bring your kids to discover.

3. Go Camping. Pack up the tent and sleeping bags and take your family camping. There’s nothing like campfires, open air, and no cell phone reception to bring a family closer together.

4. Volunteer. Volunteering is always a wonderful activity to do as a family. If you’d like some help to find kid-friendly volunteer opportunities, you can check out the blog post I wrote on How to Find Kid Friendly Volunteer Opportunities.

5. Plant a Vegetable Garden. As the ground thaws, it’s the perfect time for planting. Early spring is good for planting hardy and semi-hardy vegetables like spinach, kale, carrots, beets, broccoli and leeks. You’ll enjoy eating your harvest and the kids will love digging in the dirt with you.

6. Spring Clean. Are you thinking “wait… cleaning isn’t fun. How am I going to get the kids to do that?!” The answer is make it into a game. Race to see who can pick up the most items off the floor or gather the most dust on a cloth. Pretend you’re all Cinderella or the seven dwarves and sing while you work. Anything can be fun if you do it together and you play.

7. Get crafty. Pull out your craft supplies, surf Pinterest for ideas, and get crafty with the kids.

8. Go Spring Skiing. Many mountains still have snow, and the slopes are probably not as crowded as during the winter holidays. This break is a perfect time for spring skiing.

9. Hit the Beach. Drive or fly to the nearest beach and enjoy the sun, surf, and sand. After experiencing winter, getting to the ocean is one of spring break’s greatest joys.

10. Pajama Days. Spend the whole day in PJs watching movies and reading. There are few things I love more than this. After the frantic pace of our usual lives, one of the greatest luxuries is to do nothing at all.

Those are our 10 ideas for enjoying spring break with your family. What are you doing for spring break?  Share in the comments below.what will you and your family do for spring break?

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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10 Things I Wish for My Kids – Week 11 #52ChecklistsProject

March 19, 2016

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#52checklistsproject 10 things i wish for my kidsThis week’s checklist prompt is: 10 Things I Wish for My Kids.  We all have desires for our kids.  These are our hopes and dreams for them as they grow up and mature into adulthood.

So the checklist prompt is aimed at tuning us into what we most want for our kids.

Here are my top 10 wishes for my kids:IMG_0583

  1. Share their gifts – I believe each one of us is born with unique gifts and talents and true happiness comes from fully sharing our own unique gifts and talents with the world.  I notice how each of my kids has their own talents and I try to encourage the development of those talents whenever I can.  My deepest wish is that they fully share those talents with the world. 
  2. Find love.  I wish that each of my kids finds a deep abiding love like I’ve found with their father.  They definitely have love from our family, but I also wish them to experience the profound joy that comes from a fulfilling romantic relationship.
  3. Make a difference. This wish goes hand-in-hand with my first wish – that they share their talents.  When they share their talents, they will make a difference.  What I truly wish here is that they always strive to make a difference and do the right thing.  
  4. Are kind.  I try to encourage and model this as much as I can.  I want my children to be kind — kind to others, kind to animals and the environment, and most importantly kind to themselves.  
  5. Enjoy financial success.  I want my children to be financially successful.  By this I mean, I want them to never feel like they have to worry about money.  I want them to feel comfortable enough to share their gifts, live the lives they want, and be generous.  Money doesn’t make one happy, but having enough definitely eases some worries and provides more options. 
  6. Are healthy in mind, body & spirit. I want my children to be healthy in this broad sense of the world. In fact, I want them to be more than just healthy, I want them to be thriving.
  7. Become parents. I really would love to be a grandparent someday, so I hope my kids have kids.  Also, parenting, while super duper challenging, is also one of the greatest life experiences.  I desire them to be able to experience that.    
  8. Are happy. Everything I’ve written is ultimately because I want my kids to be happy.  Each of the other wishes for them are ultimately about this.  So, if they’ll be happier not having children or renouncing all their material possessions and being ascetics in India, I’m good with that.      
  9. Are true to themselves. In my coaching and speaking, I often focus on helping people listen to their intuitive guidance – that still small voice that knows exactly what is best for you.  I wish for my kids to listen first and foremost to that voice and be true to it.  I wish that for them even if the message they get is different from what I would say for them.  Ultimately, I want them to be true to themselves.  Luckily my stubborn, non-people pleasing kids, seem to have this one pretty firmly under control.     
  10. Play as big as they can. I truly wish that they never play small.  I wish that they always reach for the moon and go for it.  They may fail … no, they will definitely fail sometimes.  Not giving up after failures and continuing to play big is what will lead them to success.  I hope they are never too scared of losing that they sit out of the game.  I want them to always play and to play as big as they can.  

Those are the items on my list.  What’s on your list?  What 10 things do you most wish for your kids?  Share in the comments or share on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #52checklistsproject.  I can’t wait to see your checklists.What do you wish for your child?

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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6 Ways to Raise a Happy Child

March 8, 2016

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6 Ways to Raise a Happy ChildAs I wrote about last week in my post- Will Watching Sad Stories Help Turn Your Kids Into Happy Adults?,  I’ve been reading a book called The Danish Way of Parenting – A Guide to Raising the Happiest Children in the World. I have now finished the book, and I want to share with you the 6 things that Danish parents do that helps them raise happy children who become happy adults.

Denmark has been labeled the world’s happiest country almost every year for the past 40 years – even when it’s not in the top spot (like this year), it’s always in the top 3.  They must be doing something right.  Would you like to raise a happy kid who becomes a happy adult?  Yeah, me too.  So, I recommend that you read the book. In the meantime, here’s a summary:

The first letters in the 6 factors in raising a happy child spells out PARENT – Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, and Togetherness.

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones, flickr.

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones, flickr.

Play – according to the Danish, the inventors of Legos and the best-selling playground equipment in the world, the key to raising happier, better adjusted, more resilient adults is to have more free play.  Stop scheduling your child’s every minute and let him have some unstructured time to discover, create, and play.

Authenticity – To raise a happy child you don’t have to make the child think that everything in life is happy and everything has a happy ending.  It’s important to be emotionally honest to your child.  So, if you are having a difficult time, don’t smile and say to your child that everything is ok.  Be honest with them in an age-appropriate way.  Also, Danes don’t believe in over-complimenting a child.  If a child scribbles something, a Danish parent won’t say “Wow!  You’re such a great artist!”  They’re more likely to just ask about it –  “What is this?”  “Why did you use these colors?”  Or just say thank you if it’s being given as a gift.  They also don’t compliment on fixed traits (“You’re so smart!” which studies show tends to have a stifling effect on children’s happiness and intellectual growth). They compliment

mother soothing childReframing – Help your child see the glass as half-full.  The Danish do not ignore the fact that negative things happen, but they reframe and put things in a more positive light.  They do this for themselves and they help their children to reframe as well.  For example, if a child is upset because it is raining and they can’t go outside, an adult would help her reframe and see that it’s cozy inside and there are many games to play.  Additionally, the Danes avoid limiting or black and white language like “I always…”, “I never…”, “I hate…” “I should…”, and help children when they do use such language to reframe and see a more nuanced version of reality.  Lastly, Danes avoid labeling people such as “he is lazy”, “she is aggressive,” or “she is smart.”  Rather, they look at their actions –  “He is not working very hard today.”  “She was being aggressive today” or “She works hard and has been getting good grades in school.”

Empathy – There are two main parts to this point.  First, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your kids and others (showing that you don’t know what to do or that you’re feeling badly) and being empathetic and non-judgmental of others.  The second part has to do with helping your child be more empathetic and emotionally intelligent.  Danes will rarely say “Don’t cry” or “Don’t be angry.”  Instead they’ll ask “Why are you crying?” or say “You seem to be angry.  Why are you angry?”  They allow children to feel how they feel and get curious about it.  Similarly, they will ask of their child about another child.  “Sam seems upset.  Why do you think he is upset?”

No Ultimatums – this is about parenting with love and respect, versus fear.  Ultimatums (“If you do this one more time, I’ll …” ), yelling, and spanking are about trying to get your kid to do something by making them afraid of the consequences.  They’re afraid of the ultimatum, being yelled at, or being hit.  They will most likely listen in the short term, but this type of behavior results in kids that have low self-esteem, depression, and poor social skills.

Instead of those methods seek out win-win solutions and parent with respect.  Danish parents are firm (they don’t necessarily let children run amok and do whatever they want), but they establish and maintain boundaries without spanking or yelling.  Also, they devote more time and energy on how to avoid problems rather than punishing them.  So instead of punishing your child for breaking a boundary, aim to teach and educate them.  Lastly, put the bad behavior in context.  Is your child acting out because they are hungry or tired?  Is there some other change in her life that might be causing her to act out?  Deal with the underlying issue, rather than the outward behavior.

Togetherness – the Danes value intensely friend and family time together, and all strive to make it as cozy or hygge as possible.  This means that they make the atmosphere cozy – they light candles, play music, and have nice food and drink.  They keep their personal problems and dramas out of the time together and focus on being present, positive, and in the moment.  They keep it simple – minimizing gadgets.  They play games together (adults and children).  They all help out so that no one feels like they have too much of the burden with the cooking and cleaning.  They are more focused on creating comfort for the group, then on their own personal comfort level.Hygge

Are your family gatherings like this?  Strive to make your time with children, family, and friends more like the Danish gatherings.  You’ll be modeling for your kids how to create loving and warm relationships that are a true measure and indicator of happiness.

***

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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Will Watching Unhappy Stories Help Turn Your Kids Into Happy Adults?

February 29, 2016

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will watching unhappy stories help turn your kids into happy adults?Last summer I spent a few days in Copenhagen, Denmark with my family.  There was something about the city and the Danish that I couldn’t put my finger on at first.  Later I realized what it was – everyone just seemed so happy!

My happy kids in Copenhagen

My happy kids in Copenhagen

For those of you who don’t know, for almost 40 years Denmark has been rated as the world’s happiest country by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).  I definitely felt it when we were there.

I’ve long been a student of happiness and a student of parenting, so when I heard of the book The Danish Way of Parenting – A Guide to Raising the Happiest Children in the World, by Jessica Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl, I knew I had to get it.  It’s one of my books on the 10 Books To Read in 2016 Checklist.

The premise of the book is that the reason Danes are so happy is due to their upbringing. There are certain things that Danish parents do that lead to their children being such happy adults.

I’m currently in the middle of the book, which talks about 6 major things that Danish parents do that leads to happier kids. One thing in particular really struck me – Danish parents don’t just tell their kids stories with happy endings.  In fact, many Danish stories are tragedies.

Here in the United States we are somewhat maniacal about needing our kids’ stories to have happy endings. I remember an uproar on Facebook when Big Hero 6 came out. One person was calling for an end to kids movies where there is a death. “Why do kids need to be reminded about death?!?” she asked. It’s viewed as terrible to make kids experience sad or tragic stories.

Statue of the little mermaid in Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Avda-berlin.

Statue of the little mermaid in Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Avda-berlin.

Hans Christian Anderson, the fairy-tale writer, is one of Denmark’s most famous writers.  Many of his stories had dark endings.  For example, unlike Disney’s Little Mermaid, in the original Little Mermaid, the little mermaid does not end up happily married to the prince.  Rather, the prince marries someone else and she turns into sea foam from sadness.  The Little Mermaid is definitely not the only fairy tale that’s been sanitized for kids: here are some other fairy tales that Disney made into happy endings that are really not very happy at all.

In the United States we feel that children should be spared these darker aspects of life.

According to the book’s authors, “Danes believe that tragedies and upsetting events are things we should talk about too.  We learn more about character from our sufferings than our successes and therefore it’s important to examine all part of life.

According to the authors and to researchers, watching or hearing sad or tragic stories leads to more happiness than watching movies with happy endings because it teaches kids (and adults) to be empathetic and have a deeper respect for humanity.  It makes them appreciate the positive aspects in their own life more.  It helps them to feel more grateful for the simple things in life – things that we could take for granted if we focused too much on the fairy-tale life.

I don’t know if the question I posed in the title is the correct question – “will watching unhappy stories turn my child into a happy adult?”  Maybe the questions are more: “Do I help my child by shielding her from harsh stories?” “What would happen if I allowed my child to watch something sad and tragic and afterwards we discussed how that felt and what she could learn from it?” “What if we could look at a story that’s sad or tragic and find something good or positive from it?”  That’s the Danish Way.  They seem to be doing something right.  Are you willing to try this?

If so, here’s another Hans Christian Anderson story that you can watch with your kids — the Little Match Girl.  Please remember that this story does not have a happy ending.  I watched it with my 7-year old and we had a good talk afterwards.  I’d love to know how it goes for you.

Monick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom, and has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, yoga teacher and practitioner, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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