Thursday, December 7, 2017

Need Gift Ideas For Your Loved Ones? I Can Help!

With three kids and numerous other loved ones to buy for, Christmas and birthdays are often a challenge for me.  Over the years, I’ve realized everyone is happier if we spend a bit of time planning and shopping around. 

First, let’s focus on your mindset.  Decide a budget and number of gifts and stick to it!  Try to release any guilty feelings – most of our kids have too much already, right? Also, DON'T expect every gift to be a hit – what pleases one kid will turn off another. 

Decide what you’d like to encourage with each gift. Examples are a love of reading, love of learning, creativity, getting outside and being active.  Spread the gifts around in different categories like books, bikes, board games, computer games, outdoor toys, etc. The variety is important for their development and they will appreciate the variety over time. Consider non-traditional and homemade items.  You might create a coupon book with passes for specific events they would like – “free coupon for ice cream with Dad”, “free coupon for playing cards with Mom”.

Here are some gift ideas by category:

             - Books – Giving kids books at Christmas and birthdays encourages a love of reading.  Look for lists of award winning books, such as Texas Bluebonnet awards, Newberry and Caldecott Medals. In addition to popular books, consider classic, age appropriate books like the Dr. Seuss books and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” series.
             - Educational gifts – Giving kids educational items at Christmas and birthdays encourages a love of learning.
             - Science projects, art supplies, hands on projects, fun and messy things
Kids get a lot of benefits developmentally out of hands on, messy, creative projects – it encourages their curiosity and creativity; educators highly encourage this sort of play.
Consider a science book or simple kit with at-home experiments. For artists, create a kit with paints, brushes, an apron and an easel.
            -  Hobby items – Look for kits or other items from your local craft stores.
             - Fun, active gifts – Get out there and play with your kids with kites, frisbees, scooters, and soccer balls.
            -  Classic gifts – These are classics because of their lasting play-ability.  Slinky, dominoes, play doh and playing cards are great examples.
            -  Board games - Try to choose games that most of the family can and will play and schedule special game nights.
            - Electronics – If you are like most of us, you will choose to give your kids some electronics.  If so, make sure it is age-appropriate.  Ratings (P, PG, PG-13, etc) are there for a reason.  Otherwise, this can start to snowball on you.  Use ratings as a guide and then read up on product reviews and check with other parents to make a final decision.
            - Gift certificates As I mentioned above, create a coupon book for special times with mom, dad, and other loved ones.

Here are some of my favorite websites:

Toy and game reviews:                Oppenheim Toy Portfolio                                 From Time to Play Magazine
GOOGLE "TIA Toys of the year 2017" to see toys that won awards for 2017 awarded by the Toy Industry Association

Educational Software Reviews:

Great websites with unique gifts:                    3D puzzles, unique games, crafts          Great selection of educational and fun toys                Unique toys and crafts                           Great books and other items                            Books and fun, educational toys and crafts                 Variety of items for older kids, great hobby sets and games              Educational and fun
AMAZON.COM is a great place to see what other parents think.
REMEMBER – If, like me, you want the focus to be more on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, exercise a bit of restraint in how much you give your kids. We encouraged the attitude in our kids of "look at the great gifts you got from everyone" rather than "I don't like this" or "why didn't I get more gifts".  Otherwise, like Harry Potter's cousin Dudley, they'll count and compare and complain instead of appreciating what they get!

Please share this post with other parents who might find it helpful.  Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Monday, December 4, 2017

This Young Adult Overcame Big Challenges Through Coaching!

In their quest for greater independence, teens and young adults often reach a point where they can't or won't turn to their parents when they feel stuck or overwhelmed (sound familiar?)  

Today, I’ll share a success story of a young man whose loving and concerned parents hired me to help him. Here is the story, with names changed for privacy:

Dianne, a loving mom, career woman, wife and more, hired me to help her oldest son, Chris was a very smart young college student who also happened to be very shy and uncomfortable making new friendships and talking with adults in both college and social settings.

Dianne explained Chris was soon to interview for a highly competitive internship at a large company in San Antonio.  While certain Chris had a lot to offer the company, Dianne feared he couldn’t make it past the interviews and would have great difficulty communicating and functioning in the internship if hired.

I first had Chris work with a business coach for a few sessions to hone his interview skills.  He nailed his interviews and landed the internship.  Then Chris and I began coaching, working to help him become more confident and comfortable in casual conversations.  We worked on how to team with other interns to get tasks done.  We looked at how to take assignments and show initiative in doing them.  We also looked at how to ask for help – being willing to ask questions when appropriate – not too soon and not waiting too long.

Over our time working together, Chris grew confident that he could take on this internship in a foreign environment, around complete strangers – both of which would not have been possible prior to coaching.

At the end of the summer’s internship, Chris proudly shared that he excelled in all areas, and was thought of highly enough to be asked back next year. 

Chris later landed a full-time position with this - his ideal company, and has been happily working there since 2014!

That’s a powerful story, right?  Know that I don’t do “one size fits all” coaching.  Instead, I carefully listen to what my client(s) bring, and help them establish goals and move into coaching.  To support discovery and growth, I also offer additional tools and resources to the client.

NOW is a great time to gift a teen or young adult the possibilities that open through coaching!

Check out my DASH Coaching offer by clicking HERE!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Your Kids Got Gratitude? Get Ideas and Inspiration for it HERE!

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." -- William Arthur Ward

As parents, we desire that our kids appreciate what they have and are willing to be of service.  Awhile back, I sat down with my dear friends and colleagues, Ricardo Flores-Clar and Angela Woodrow for an amazing “Wise Parents, Wise Kids” video chat on this. 

We talked about fostering an “attitude of gratitude” and internalizing it.  Then we moved on to look at wonderful yet simple ideas for putting our gratefulness into action.   Listen in to hear, among other things, stories about a “High Five Fest”, a family in El Salvador who gives back to the homeless, and a magical moment when Angie’s kids invited their friends into their family gatherings.

“Gratitude should not just be a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good…”  --Marelisa Fabrega

Good habits become great traditions, fostering awareness and a spirit of gratitude.  If you do these things often enough, they become ingrained in who you are, even spreading outside the family to help make our world a better place.

I’ve got to say this is one of my favorite “Wise Parents, Wise Kids” video chats ever!  Not only will you come away with ideas, you’ll enjoy and feel inspired.  So grab your favorite beverage, a pen and paper, and JOIN US by clicking here: 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How Do You Manage Your Family Member’s Chaotic Schedules?

Over the past several years, we’ve had a lot of wisdom shared with busy parents, especially through our “Wise Parents, Wise Kids” video chats.  I recently sat down to chat with Mary Beth Goodrich, Professor and Senior Lecturer at UT Dallas and mother of three, and with Gina Cruz, Owner and Director of Learning Rx San Antonio NE and mother of two.  They shared their thoughts on the challenges of juggling career, family, self-care, and more.  

The ideas covered can benefit you and your loved ones – whether you work full time outside home, full time within your family, or anywhere in-between.  One insightful idea that really helps Gina is using Google Calendar to keep up with each family member’s schedules and to plan where the kids will be and who is getting them there.

Don’t miss this!  Grab a pen and paper and listen to this great conversation here:

We all have goals and dreams for our families. One way to make sure they come to life is to talk about them and then create action steps that allow us to “aim for the ideal and deal with what’s real”.

Check out the many ways I can support you today in creating a better life for you and your loved ones here: 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Do This to Walk the Line: Talking to Your Kids About Natural and Man-made Disasters

Many natural and man-made disasters are in the news 24 / 7 these days.  How can we as parents educate and reassure our kids without completely isolating them from the events?  Let’s take a look at some tips to foster awareness, understanding, reassurance, and empathy during difficult times.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who work closely with children to filter information about the crisis and present it in a way that their children can accommodate, adjust to, and cope with.

  1. Consider your children’s maturity levels.  For the really young, you may choose to protect them from the news.  For older children, a willingness to follow and discuss what is happening can inform and inspire curiosity, empathy, and discussion.
  2. Set aside other tasks to really talk.  Your child may come to you with questions or concerns when you are busiest.  Be willing to put other things on hold if they seem to need it.

  1. Seek to understand and address what worries your child the most. Listen and ask questions to make sure you really get what he or she is saying and then gently address it on a level they can understand.
  2. Reassure them that you’ll do everything to keep them safe.   Offer love, protection and reassurance that you will do your best to keep them safe.
  3. Put things in perspective.  Put the event(s) in perspective (i.e.  the hurricane was many miles away, we just got a lot of rain.  The authorities are doing everything they can to rescue those in need.)
  4. Pre-screen as much as possible.  Viewing a video clip showing a lot of violence can have a profound effect on a young child. Trust your instincts to guide you on age-appropriate content, avoiding things that may be too disturbing but sharing others that may inform and inspire them.

  1. Let your child know you are concerned or upset, within limits.   It is fine to share your concerns as long as you don’t add fuel to the fire.  Carve out time to check in with yourself and reflect on your thoughts and feelings, reaching out to a trusted friend if needed.  Remember your children are looking to you on how to react and can be easily influenced by your emotions if they are out of control.
  2. Take a time out from all forms of media.  Even when you are ‘hunkering down for the storm’, consider silencing the unnecessary news.  Read, sing songs  or play a simple game of cards to help ALL detach and regain focus. These ‘tools’ in your parent tool kit are always available - just like with a first aid kit, you have to review and make sure the supplies are ready to use.
  3. Turn to a higher source. Whether you hold Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other belief systems, some type of prayer or reflection can calm and reassure you and your child.

  1. Ask your kids what, if anything, they’d like to do to help.  Move on to what you can do. This is a great time to foster empathy and giving - what can you as a family do to help those impacted by the event? Participating in a local relief effort can help your child feel they are taking action to overcome feelings of helplessness.  Taking action also helps those in need and deepens your child’s empathy for others.
And finally:
  1. Close by reassuring. When the chat is winding down, check to see if questions have been answered and offer to be there anytime your child wants to discuss it more.  

Taking steps to help your child understand world events without becoming overwhelmed by what is happening is an important life skill for you and your loved ones.  Using these tips as a guide can help you navigate any troubling event.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ramp Up the School Year - AIM For The IDEAL, DEAL With What’s REAL!

Over the past few weeks, we have ‘unpacked’ some key concepts to help your family design goals and take steps to achieve things you all dream about.  We especially talked about taking the Long View and developing personal grit in life.
Investing in your family by keeping the Long View in mind while dealing with the current reality is Fine-Tuned Families’ theme of ‘Aim for the Ideal, Deal with what’s Real’.
In "Aiming for the Ideal", we are dreaming of what could be.  There is room for creativity and possibility here.  That is part of the fun of coaching conversations, and you can start there with your family.  This is the area where great ideas and adventures happen.  Ask questions like "What is possible here?" or "What if we could GO anywhere we wanted?" or "What if we could DO anything we wanted?"
​The second part of the phrase is "Deal with what is real".  Life happens - things come up that get in the way.  Kids get sick, unexpected expenses arise....  That doesn't mean everything is a bust.  If you deal with what's real, you are willing to look for what you can do in spite of the issue at hand.  Plans may have to be scaled back or changed.  You can circle back to the questions above and create new ideas.
Parents make plans (family budgets, vacation plans, savings plans, etc.) for their families. Other examples are having a fire and house safety plan and a plan for what to do when you get separated in a large public spaces.
Some of the plans are:
•            Short Term (dealing with what’s real): how to best navigate a week of rushed and early morning departs form the house, getting everyone to their various after-school activities, etc
•            Long term (aiming for the ideal): how to grow and maintain family closeness—by creating traditions like family game nights, or sharing a holiday with grandparents, or other ‘big picture’ events like college planning (what a student needs to do to prepare for college, not just finances!) etc.
Taking time to plan, make goals, and talk about how you want your family to be even when real life interrupts, requires grit and a willingness to take a long view. And you know, these habits are not ‘instant’. They take time and energy to develop and maintain.
It is well worth taking time to dream, plan and live life while aiming for your ideals.  If you need inspiration, information and encouragement to help you build a family plan that is ‘gritty’ and real, call me. I am passionate about helping your family create SMAART goals for the #family win.

Check out this fantastic offer to move from Dreaming the IDEAL to REAL-izing it:

Click Here to Create and Realize Your Ideals!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The value of Grit and 'being Gritty'

I recently watched this fantastic TED talk on GRIT that is being shared across the internet. It is a video worthy of your time. 
Angela Lee Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania Psychologist defines grit as the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals".  In a blog post by Jenny Williams, she states it "... is a better indicator of future earnings and happiness than either IQ or talent.” )
Duckworth explains her research underscores the need for us all to be ‘gritty’ when helping our kids develop grit.
How can a parent help a child develop grit, you ask?
Duckworth acknowledges that she does not fully know. (Refreshing, right?) A child is unique. Learning is not ‘one size fits all’. We must all learn to learn. How successful you are as lifelong learner is determined by more than just a measurement of IQ or talent.
Learning is a lifelong function and needs a marathon mindset. Learning is not ‘done’ at the end of a grade, or when a project is turned in for a grade.  Learning is not a sprint. Learning is more than memorization and the ability to perform certain tasks and skills. Learning also includes the ability to wait, the ability to reset after failure, and to know that failure is not a permanent state.
Duckworth highlights a ‘growth mindset’, referencing a study from Stanford University, as an important concept to share with students. It actually empowers them to understand what happens to the brain when we learn. The growth mindset concept allows the student to adapt, to wait when needed, and to learn in the struggle. Learning to wait for an hour before playing a video game, waiting your turn in line, waiting to buy something with money saved over time is all part of the ‘growth mindset’ and will ensure a student’s ability to be gritty and thrive.
Duckworth challenges us all to be “more gritty”.

Creating a plan of action that guides our family through busy and demanding times also helps build grit.  It supports a marathon mindset and moves us away from constantly running around putting out fires.

Here is a powerful tool to help your family develop a ‘growth mindset’ and foster grit: