Introduction to Empowerful Parenting™ 

What is Empowerful Parenting™?  

Empowerful Parenting™ is giving children the power and opportunity to learn and grow by doing things for themselves.  

In a society of “helicopter parents” who swoop in anytime their child is challenged or uncomfortable, Empowerful Parents understand that it is through life’s challenges that we grow

Empowerful Parents give their children space and opportunity to learn through experience

Empowerful Parents provide children with honestloving guidance and positive support to develop independence and self-confidence.  

  

Scenario:  Your 6-year old wails from the couch, “Mom, I’m thirsty!”

The enabling parent:  

Responds to needs by getting the child a drink.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Says an empowering statement, “You are thirsty? What are you going to do?” (This statement says:  I believe in your abilities.  You are capable.  I value your opinion.)

Then, gives space and time for child to think and respond.

If child needs help, parent offers guidance by saying, “You could get a cup from the panty for water or there are juice boxes in the refrigerator”

If child asks parent to do it for them, parent responds, “Let’s get your drink together.  I can show you how, so you will know what to do next time you feel thirsty.”

Scenario:  Your 10-year old has put off doing his book report–it is due tomorrow and he hasn’t even started yet.

The enabling parent:  

Helps the child by basically doing the project for him so he won’t get a bad grade.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Encourages the child with an empowering statement that helps the child recognize the strengths of the situation (i.e.  “you still have plenty of time to finish the project” or “you are smart kid, I know you’ll figure it out”). 

Then, The Empowerful Parent gives the child space and time for independent problem solving while remaining present for positive support.  

Next, offers guidance when child requests assistance.

Finally, if needed parent works together with the child to help facilitate problem solving. 

The Empowerful Parent sees challenges like this as an opportunity for the child to learn about time management.

Learn more:  Empowerful Parenting™ Fox News interview 
I can’t talk about Empowerful Parenting™ without giving a “shout out” to all of the people who have influenced my evolution as a parent.  I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of Empowerful Parents.  It is these amazing mamas and papas who have helped me to see the power of positive thinking, recognizing abilities and providing children with safe and appropriate opportunities for growth and independence.  These relationships have helped me evolve from an enabling parent into an Empowerful Parent.  Thanks to all of you…you know who you are 😉

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How to Play “The Smile Game”

Smiles are contagious. 

Every time you smile, you start a feel-good party in your brain.  Your brain starts throwing out neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin like confetti. When other people sense your smile party, they want to join in too. Before you know it, your infectious smile has spread.  People all around you have contracted your contagious smile.  Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile makes you appear more attractive to others. It lifts your mood as well as the moods of those around you, and it can even lengthen your life. So slap a smile on that face of yours.  Who knows who you will spread your case of the smiles to?!?!

THE SMILE GAME   The perfect great game for ANYONE, ANY AGE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!

How to play:

  1. Smile at someone, anyone.  It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
  2. See if they smile back.
  3. If they do, hooray!  You get one point.
  4. If they don’t, boo hoo.  You lose one point.
  5. The goal is to get 10 points.
  6. This can be a contest between multiple people to see who gets to 10 points first or a race to see how quickly you can get to 10-points on your own.

My family has a blast playing this at the grocery store, at home with each other, at school…any where.  

Have fun and may the smiling odds ever be in your favor! 

 

The BEST jeans for the kid that ONLY wears elastic waisted athletic pants.

For the past two years, my 9-year old son’s wardrobe has rarely deviated from elastic waisted athletic pants.  We have endured tears and tantrums about putting on a pair of pants that have a zipper for class programs, weddings, and family portraits.

I am not the mom who picks out their kids’ outfits everyday.  I’m exactly the opposite.  Anyone who has seen my kids on any given school day knows that I let my offspring choose their clothing–almost always.  

  A handful of times each year, I ask ny kids to wear something that matches and looks like they didn’t just roll out of bed or walk off the basketball court.  

Special occasions requiring dressed-up attire have been a tearful, sweaty disaster with my big-guy.  UNTIL, my neighbor enlightened  me about Abercrombie & Fitch’s sweatpant stretch jeans.  

That’s right.  SWEATPANT. JEANS. 

Jeans that fit and feel like sweatpants. This is not a joke. This is a real thing. If you don’t know about it, you are missing out.

After purchasing a pair of the $39.95 a&f straight sweatpant stretch jeans, my 9-year old son who hasn’t worn a pair of jeans without crying in 2-years exclaimed,

“On a scale from 1-10, I give these a 9.75!”

Then, HE WORE THEM TO SCHOOL! All day.  Without complaining. He even rode his bike around the block wearing them after school.

I am getting ZERO kickbacks from a&f for this blog (although I would gladly except some in order to afford multiple pairs of these magical sweatpants jeans).  I wrote this so other mothers with “husky” “sensory-sensitive” boys can experience the bliss and freedom from a life lived solely in athletic pants.  
 Disclaimer: my husky 9-year old needed a size 14 in the skinny stretch jeans, so size up if your little man is a bigger-little man.

Seriously…Give your family the gift of a athletic pant-free holiday and order some of these magical jeans today!  You will not regret it.  Especially when it’s time to go to Aunt Vivienne’s fancy China-clad Christmas Eve dinner and you kid wants to roll up to the table in his Under Armour apparel.

 A&F Sweatpant Stretch Jeans

Empowerful Parenting: how to lovingly empower your kids vs. enable them

Any parent will tell you that parenting is the hardest job in the world. A day spent at home with my kids is more mentally and physically challenging than any day at work.  Why? I believe it is my strong emotional connection to my kids.  After all, it is my responsibility to fill them with love and help them grow into the best human beings they can be.  As parents, it is our nature to give our children unconditional love and kindness. The challenge arises when delineating between loving-kindness and enabling.

“Moooom, WHERE ARE MY SHOES?”

“Moooom, I’m hungry!”

“Moooom, is it time to go yet?”

“Moooom….”

“Mom? Did you hear me?”

“MOM–wake up!”

I know I am not the only mother that is exhausted by the end of the day. The constant need for guidance and assistance and attention can be draining.  Sometimes, it just seems easier to do things for them rather than teach them to do things for themselves.  But is that the loving thing to do?  Isn’t empowering more loving than enabling?

Like all parents I love my kids to the moon and back. I want the world for them and I want them to HAVE, DO, and BE everything their soul desires. I realize that I don’t have to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.  

So, where is that fine line between acts of love and enabling (which really is disabling) your child to depend upon you to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.

By definition, enabling means: give someone or something the authority or means to do something.  

There comes a time when you have to choose between giving your children the means to depend upon you or giving them the authority to explore the world independently.

I recently placed a picture in my kitchen to remind myself how to choose between lovingly empowering and enabling my kiddos. 

On a picture of my children at the beach, the caption reads: Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.

Now, when I hear, “Mooom….”, I take a moment to ask myself, “Is this request something they can do for themselves?”

If it is something I know they are capable of doing, I do this– I call it Empowerful Parenting:

  
1. I encourage them by letting them know that I believe in them and their ability to do this task independently. 

You are smart and strong I believe that is something you can do for yourself. 

2. Then, I challenge them to find a solution.

Hmmm…what ideas do you have to solve this problem?

3. If they tried. I mean really tried. Then I offer choices as suggestions to guide them in their problem-solving.

Have you tried___ or ___?

4. Finally, I offer to help complete the task together. Not FOR them, WITH them.

I am proud of you for trying…let’s see if we can do it together.

If you think about it, when we are recognizing our children’s abilities and supporting and believing in the fact that they can do it for themselves. We are empowering them. That is ultimately loving them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still “MOOOOM” moments that require my attention. (i.e. I puked in my bed or I want a hug.) 

And, if I am being completely honest, I still revert back to the “I’ll do it for you” on occasion. Hey, nobody is perfect, right?

Overall, I am consciously making an effort to EMPOWER my children to trust in themselves and their own abilities, not to depend upon me to magically meet their needs and solve all their challenges.

Presently–and even after my kids are grown-up and moved out of the house–I know there will be those “MOOOOM MOMENTS”. Those moments when my children really do need ME. 

In those moments I will follow the advice of my own mother, and “appreciate being needed“.  

Energy + Feelings.  

  

I love pillow talk with my 9-year old son.  

That bedtime hour when it is time to get tucked in and go to sleep is when my otherwise quiet-guy often turns into a little chatterbox.  

Tonight, was one of those awesome chatterbox nights.

“You know, Mom, you can’t change how someone else is feeling.”

“That’s right, ” I said.

“But, you can change how you react.”

“True, you get to choose how you respond to other people,” I said.

“Well, it sure would help me to know how to react if I knew where they were coming from.”

“What do you mean?” I probed.   (When my little-big guy gets to talking, his words don’t always keep up with his brain. I wasn’t sure where he was going with this.)

“What I’m trying to say is people have energy-feelings and feeling-feelings.”

“Go on,” I probed. (He was really starting to lose me.)

“It’s so hard to put into words, but it’s like this:  Somebody can be feeling like an energy-zero.  That’s like– ‘I am so tired I just want to go to sleep’. But, they can also feel like a feeling-zero.  That is like–‘I am so grumpy, nothing will make me happy.’ But, an energy-five is like–‘I am playing Skylanders, hanging out.’ And, feeling-five is–‘I’m not really thinking about much; not worried, not excited, just being here.”

“So what does a ten look like?”  I asked.

“Weeellll….a ten energy looks like–‘I want to run around the block and do something, I can’t sit still.” (giggling)

“And a ten feeling?”

“Love.  Lots of love.” (big sigh, smiles and head nods)

I asked him if he thought we should talk about our energy and feeling levels more in our family.

“Um…yes.  Definitely.” He replied. “Ya know, sometimes, I do something like, shoot the paper from my straw at Dad’s face and he thinks it’s funny…that’s when he is at an energy ten and feeling ten. But, oooo…if I do it and he is at a zero…not good.”

“So, how would that work?” I wondered out loud.

“Easy, you just have to ask–‘Where are your levels?’ If dad says zero, I know how to act (like don’t blow that straw wrapper at his head) rather than react (like get my electronics taken away for the rest of the week.).”

“Hmmmm…do you think it would be helpful if Mom and Dad told you our “feeling levels”? So, when we are tired or frustrated, we could say, ‘my energy is 2 and my feeling is 3…and you would know to behave and not act squirrelly.”

“Weeellll…that gets complicated, because I have my levels too, you know. But, yeah, it would help to share our levels more.”

I looked at the clock, it was almost 9 o’ clock.

“Oh man,  my feeling is at a 10, but my energy is at a 2,” I told him. “We better get you tucked in.”

“I’m at an energy 3.5, but it’s almost to a 3.  It’s going down.  It was at a 5 a few minutes ago.”

He wiggled under the covers and pulled the blankets over his head like he always does.  I tucked him in and walked out of the room feeling more like a 20 than a 10.  

My heart just swells with love after special little conversations like that with my kiddos.  

Our kids have so much to teach us if we just take the time to listen.

I hope you consider having a dinner conversation with your family about feelings+energy…I know I plan to bring it up over our pasta dish tonight.

Also, I hope you take the time to really listen to your kids.  Life is busy.  Believe me, I know.  I feel like half of the time I am conversing with my kids while cooking or driving or washing dishes, but rarely am I 100% fully present with them.  I am going to be better about that.  If I want my feeling to stay at 20 and my kids’ feeling to be at 20, I need to get my energy to five and do more of “being here” with my family.

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio should be a required read for everyone.

“Wonder” is the story of a ten year-old boy with severe facial abnormalities and his transition from home-schooling to fifth grade at a Manhattan private school.  While the meat of the book addresses bullying and acceptance, it also has a deeper layer that speaks to the soul.  

“Wonder” enlightens readers to become more conscious of their thoughts, words, and actions. It brings awareness to the power of kindness and compassion.  And, it teaches readers that judgement and blame are not the path to growth.  It is through awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness that we learn from our mistakes and grow to become better and brighter human beings.  
Our children spend thousands of hours in classrooms learning the subjects of reading, writing, math and science.  Yet, how much time is devoted to the lessons that are truly important in life?  Lessons about kindness, compassion, love and acceptance.  Lessons in accepting yourself and others for the wonderfully unique beings we are.  Why do we spend so much time teaching kids math facts and spelling words when we should be teaching them to love themselves and love others?
This book had me sobbing tears of joy and sadness.  It revealed wonderful life-lessons in language and topics that children and adults can both relate to.  Through laughter and tears, “Wonder” teaches:
1.  Our perspective creates our journey.  
2.  In all cases choose kindness.
3.  Reflect on your mistakes and learn from them.  
There are so many other beautiful life lessons expressed in this WONDERful story it is a definite MUST READ for any age, young or old.  

How does it get any better than this?

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It’s the first day of 2015. Two-thousand and FUN-teen is over. Now what? My intention to live 2014 having fun was a huge success…
I made new friends.
Connected with old friends.
Played and laughed with my kids.
Took vacations.
Sprouted creative ideas.
Materialized those ideas.
Celebrated ordinary days.
Wore funny costumes.
Snuggled my giant puppy.
Had slumber parties with my kids.
Took time for date night with my hubby.
Tried new things.
Learned new things.
Asked lots of questions.

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It’s a question that I hold in my mind at the beginning of 2015…

“How does it get any better than this?”

One of the many things I learned this year is that when I ask questions, the Universe answers them.

It is with excitement and giddy anticipation that I look forward to how the universe will answer my question for 2015…
How DOES it get any better than this amazingly FUN 2014?

I know it does. I know it will. With a new book, a sprouting business, a trip to Hawaii and 364 1/2 days ahead of me to fill with amazing awesomeness…I know it can and will get better.
But the HOW (this is where the fun is hidden)…the HOW I am going to leave up to the Universe.

My hubby says, “You can’t have a question for your intention for the new year.” So, to satisfy him, and anyone else (including my children) who think a question is an unacceptable intention, I ALSO choose 2015 to spread loving kindness. I have learned that what you GIVE you RECEIVE. So with the intention of spreading my love and kindness, I hope to receive loving kindness as well.

Check out my website: spreadlovingkindness.org where I will be sharing how I #spreadlovingkindness in 2015.
I invite you to #spreadlovingkindness this year as well and share your stories with me on Facebook.

With LOVE and KINDNESS I wish you a Happy New Year!

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The Window to your True Self

I am writing a children’s book!
I was inspired to write the story a year ago while reflecting on a fun “game” I played with my kids when they were younger to get them to take a nap. The game worked like a charm, so I decided to share it with the world.
For the past year, I have edited and rewritten the story about 110 times.
This very moment, my old pal from Frontier Trail Junior High School, Lewie Smith, is bringing the story to life with his AMAZING illustrations (check out some of his work: Lewie Smith)
We look forward to seeing Snooze on bookshelves in March 2015…just in time for daylight savings time–when our clocks spring forward and sleepy tots (and their families) REALLY need a nap to make up for that “lost” hour of sleep.
Lewie recently asked me to send him a list of all of my favorite childhood toys to include in the illustrations for our book.
I am having a BLAST reflecting on the toys from my childhood. Do you remember playing Candy Land, Care Bears and Tinker Toys? Sit-n-Spins? Easy Bake Ovens? Rainbow Brite?
Oh my goodness…such fun memories!
I never did have one of those Easy Bake Ovens, man I wanted one…bad. Maybe I will add it to my wish list this year.
All this thinking about toys lead me to ponder this question: How did I occupy my time as a child when I had no other obligations except to play?

I wrote a neighborhood newspaper. Here it is: Kids Update
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I dug this gem right out of my Snoopy Scrapbook today!
I remember running off copies on my dad’s office fax machine and passing them out to all of the houses on my block.
I am chuckling thinking about me, 20-some years later writing a blog…my grown-up version of Kids Update.

Reflecting on cheerful childhood memories is good for the soul.

It is like peeking through a magical window into your spirit…your true self. Remembering how you played as a child takes you back to a time when your actions were guided by your spirit more than your mind or the societal paradigms.
Your childhood self is your true self. Go ahead, look through that window. Who do you see?
What games did you play?
How did you spend your time?
What made you laugh so hard your belly ached?
Are there similarities to what you played as a child and how you find joy today?
I would love to hear about your reflections!

Carpool Conversation. Crickets. Shake It Off.

I am blessed to participate in our neighborhood carpool. Two mornings a week, I get the joy of transporting six of the kids in our neighborhood to school.
For 10 minutes, twice a week, I have a captive audience. Literally. So, I try to make the most of this time and impart on them some positive thought or wisdom.
This Monday, I wanted to help them to start thinking positive thoughts about the upcoming week. I asked the kids,

So, what is one thing you are all looking forward to or excited about this week?

Can you hear the chirp of the crickets?
There was silence.
Nothing.
“Oh no,” I thought, “they have nothing to look forward to!?!?”
Just then, the kindergartener of the group hollered from the third row,
“Turn up the tunes…this song rocks!”
To the blaring sound of Taylor Swift’s newest hit, Shake It Off, I had a revelation. Another teachable moment brought to me by my 5-year old.
Happiness is not found in some future thought. True happiness in life is found in BEING and experiencing and feeling 100% in THIS present moment.
Happiness is right here, right now. Kids know this (especially 5-year olds).
Watch a group of kindergarteners at recess on the playground. They are running, laughing, squealing with delight. Picking dandelions. Burying their feet in the rocks and sand. Catching bugs.
They aren’t worrying about what happened yesterday or what happens next. They are reveling in the magic of the moment.
Aha…Duh-why on Earth would this carload of elementary school kids want to waste these valuable minutes thinking about some possible event in the future when it would be better spent rocking it out with Taylor Swift?

Just when I think I am playing the role of “Mom of the Year” my kids go and show me, yet again, that I could stand to learn a few things from them.

And so, in those remaining 8 minutes on the way to school we were living in the moment. We “shook off” any thoughts about the future or the past and laughed and clapped, sang and shook with all our hearts :

I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

That’s right, Taylor Swift. It IS going to be alright!