All posts tagged: family

3 Ways to Cultivate Kindness in Your Children This Holiday Season

3 Ways to Cultivate Kindness in Your Children This Holiday Season

Kindness and concern for others are regarded as moral virtues in almost every society and major religion. Unfortunately, unadulterated kindness is rare to find in today’s society. Many feel there has been a steady decline in values, and that individual advancement is becoming more and more significant than the ability to care for others. What is most overwhelming, however, is that this tide of unkindness is now reaching children.

A survey conducted by Sesame Street called “K is for Kind: A National Survey on Kindness and Kids,” unveiled that 70% of parents say the world is unkind to their children and 58% of teachers say most children today are disrespectful. Most people are quick to blame other societal factors for this. Some might say it’s the lack of kindness ailing new generations. However, it is clear that parenthood is a direct correlation. Most importantly, this survey helped us realize the importance of actively teaching kindness to children. Therefore, here are a few simple ways you can spark your kid’s wish to help – and what better time than the holidays to do so.

Assign Chores

To truly demonstrate that kindness is a core value, try assigning chores to your children. Kids should understand that a certain amount of help is needed from them, and for no particular reason. Therefore, assigning tasks such as making their beds, cleaning the table, and washing dishes is an integral part of their understanding of kindness. By making them aware that they are not getting anything in return, you are instilling in them an innate obligation to help. Then, kindness will slowly become an instinctive character trait.

Share the Wealth

Teach your children to see the abundance around them and to think of people to share it with. Is your child’s room overflowing with toys and other personal items? Tell them that in order to purchase something else, they must first donate something they own to a donation center. To really bring the point home, make sure you demonstrate this as well. Baked too many cookies this Thanksgiving? Invite your child to take them to your neighbors. By doing this constantly, children will begin to see kindness as an inherent part of life. They will then find opportunities to help others without expectations of them returning the favor.

Notice

This might seem counterintuitive, but praising your child when they do something nice for someone else is a fool-proof tactic to teach them kindness. According to David Schonfeld, M.D., director of development and behavioral pediatrics of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, children are hardwired to be considerate and kind. He notes that kids help others primarily because it helps them get what they want. However, kids then do acts of kindness because they know they will be praised by their parents and loved ones. It is through this praise that they begin to anticipate the needs of others. Ultimately, it becomes intrinsically rewarding to be considerate and they begin to reflect true kindness with no expectation of praise.

Being kind to others feels good. It helps us step back from our own troubles and creates a sense of interconnectedness with the people around us. Let’s not forget the important role of kindness in our lives and let’s remind ourselves to teach it to our little ones in these three simple ways.

Pete and Rachael Herschelman3 Ways to Cultivate Kindness in Your Children This Holiday Season
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How to Stay Connected When You’re Busy

How to Stay Connected When You’re Busy

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
-Charles Buxton

Between thriving careers and active families, it’s common to feel that you’re too busy for weekly outings with your spouse. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that the level of personal importance (not a lack of time) is the only true differentiating factor between the tasks we pursue and the activities we skip. Once you come to the realization that you do have the time needed to focus on your spouse, you’ll no longer find “business” as a valid reason to neglect the quality time that marriages need to survive. If you’d like to know how to stay connected, even when you’re busy, check out these three steps.  

Discuss the Meaning of “Connection”

The most important aspect of maintaining a strong connection with your spouse is communication. By initiating a discussion that covers the specific details of what it means to be “connected,” you can build from a shared understanding of each other’s needs. For some, remaining connected means feeling romantically involved with their partner. For others, a healthy connection only requires a few minutes of daily conversation. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your personal definition of connection, but you do need to know what your spouse desires from you. Many couples agree that holding on to a steady connection requires quality time spent together, but that too can be defined in various ways depending on each person’s perspective. Can time spent together doing household chores be defined as quality time? Or is it only quality time if it is planned, memorable and filled with undivided attention from your partner? Take your spouse’s answers to these questions, compare them with your own and work together to meet halfway.

Be Intentional

Once you’ve determined what staying connected looks like in your marriage, you can create a plan to work quality time into your busy schedule. Both of you should gather any work calendars, appointment schedules or agendas and start by finding an available time that you both consistently have open. Choose that day or time to focus on rekindling the fire. Refer back to the initial conversation you had with your spouse and schedule some time to talk, date or relax together. Remember, there is no incorrect way to go about investing quality time as long as your plan meets the needs of your spouse. Once you’ve chosen a day and time, put it in on your schedule as a long-standing appointment. After writing it in stone, stick to it! Treat your connection time with the same respect you’d give a work meeting. Prioritize your time together. Don’t shirk your responsibility just because your spouse is understanding and canceling doesn’t seem to hold much consequence. Be intentional about devoting time to your relationship and proving to your spouse that in spite of a full schedule, they matter most.

Take Advantage of Spontaneous Opportunities

Lastly, don’t pass on spontaneous fun. Every now and again you and your partner will have a break in your schedule that wasn’t planned but is available. Don’t let the opportunity slip away by filling the time with work or chores – use it to surprise your spouse with a last minute date. You’ve already covered your bases by keeping your scheduled marriage dates, but spontaneity is a vital part of any long term relationship, too. After some time, the expected can become monotonous and the novelty can wear off. Remedy that by using spontaneous opportunities to keep your spouse on their toes.

Investing time into your relationship is always worth the effort. Your spouse is one of the most important people in your life and should be treated as such. When things are well on the home front that positivity can influence other areas of your life. Take these three steps and make the choice to never be too busy to prioritize the success of your marriage.

Pete and Rachael HerschelmanHow to Stay Connected When You’re Busy
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3 Reminders To Build Strong Bonds With Your Children

3 Reminders To Build Strong Bonds With Your Children

With so many parenting tips and advice out there, it is so easy for parents to feel overwhelmed or confused. However, a close look at all the how to’s and must do’s may make you realize that everything just boils down to one essential factor. This is that parents who want to raise happy and successful kids should focus on forming a strong and positive connection with their children.

Just imagine the wonderful sense of fulfillment you would feel if your little ones trust you and freely share ideas with you? When you have a positive relationship with your children, you give them strong emotional security that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Parenting books give you endless lists of things to do so you can form a special bond with your child. As you work your way to become the best parent you can be, make sure that you do not forget the following crucial points as well:

Do not forget to shower them with affection

Everybody wants to raise a responsible child. To achieve this you would probably prioritize instilling discipline early in life. In setting rules and restrictions, some parents may hold off showing affection for fear that the child may not take them seriously. However, parents should remember that being overly affectionate will not spoil their child. In fact, physical gestures such as hugging and snuggling provide numerous benefits upon children. Among many other things, affection increases confidence, reduces anxieties, and prevents tantrums. Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that infants with affectionate mothers can easily cope with stress as adults. So of all the things you have to be scared of, do not be afraid to show your children how much you love and appreciate them through physical and verbal affection.

Do not forget to focus on the moment

Parenting is hard work. It is a 24/7 job filled with sleepless nights and stressful days. It is easy to get caught up in a routine and the tasks you have to accomplish. You may get to achieve great things this way. However, the downside is that you may forget to be in the moment. Do not forget that your children will never be this young or innocent ever again. Time passes by so fast and once it is gone, you can never take it back. So make it a priority to enjoy these precious years by giving them your undivided time and attention. This means that when you sit down to talk to them, you make them feel your presence. It may mean removing gadgets or other distractions that may ruin the moment. This way, you get to listen intently to the things they have to say and you get to know each other better.

Do not forget that they are not your possessions

A poem from the famous writer, Kahlil Gibran has an opening line that says, “Your children are not your children.” It is a gentle reminder that even if you are fully responsible for your children, you cannot fully control or manipulate them because they have their own minds and unique personalities. As a parent, your goal is not to show where they have to go but to help them discover the best path for themselves. When you accept and respect your child as an individual, you give them a chance to nurture their innate talents and achieve their full potential.

In the end, there is no exact formula or detailed steps to take on how you can form a special bond with your child. However, there is one thing that you must always remember as you raise your kids – that every effort you do out of love for your children matters. Your child will surely appreciate and cherish the special bond you have with them all their lives.

Pete and Rachael Herschelman3 Reminders To Build Strong Bonds With Your Children
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Why Choose A Service Trip As Your Summer Family Vacation

Why Choose A Service Trip As Your Summer Family Vacation

As the Summer months approach, many parents are beginning to line up schedules full of activities, kid camps and play dates in order to fill the time for children on summer break. As parents seek out anything to entertain their children and make sure their brains don’t turn to mush during the vacation from school, it oftentimes leads to a packed schedule more so than when school is in session. If you are some of the lucky few, you are able to include a summer vacation somewhere in between the calendar of constant activities. Vacation offers families a break from the craziness of summer break, a time to spend with each other, and a time for adventure. This year, instead of jetting off to your typical beach destination or tourist attraction, consider opting for an alternative vacation focused on serving others and new experiences that will encourage much needed direct family time.

Here are the reasons why you should opt for a service trip as your family’s summer vacation this year:

Disconnect From Chaos And Connect With What’s Important

Participating in a service trip provides the opportunity to disconnect from digital devices, packed schedules, and negative influences, and to focus our energy and time on important values that we may have forgotten. Typically, those that need help are living in poverty or even way below the line. When seeing how others live with far less than we have, and doing so with smiles and laughter, it changes one’s perspective. It will provide you a new perspective on what matters in life, a sense of joy for life and its newfound simplicity, gratitude for each other and all your blessings. The opportunity to reconnect you and your family back to what matters most in life is one that can be found on a service trip.

Unique Opportunities For Family Bonding

When you go on a service trip, most likely you will be living in an entirely new environment, with a different context of living than you are used to (IE. A small village in Africa may not have running water for showers or drinking). Such circumstances will force you and your family to step outside of your comfort zone and adapt to new situations together. Through overcoming obstacles, experiencing new activities, and stepping outside from what you know, it will create memorable experiences only you will understand. Service trips unplug you from cell phones, tablets and TV’s, and encourage time spent interacting with each other. The experiences and memories made will always be remembered and cherished by both parents and children.

Explore New Cultures

Most vacations involve visiting several tourist attractions, which provide very minimal insights into the local culture and way of life. The locations chosen for service trips are far from tourist hot spots and are places you most likely would not otherwise visit. Typically, the villages and small towns are in the middle of nowhere, with no economic means. Therefore, many of these towns need the assistance of volunteers and donated services to help improve daily life. Because of this, villagers rely heavily on tradition and it allows volunteers the opportunity to learn the heart and soul of the country’s culture. From elementary age children to adults, everyone will have their own intercultural experience when living like the locals of the area while on a service trip. This experience influences a person’s interpretation of differences and allows parents the opportunity to mold children’s overall acceptance and respect for other cultures.

Everyone Will Grow

Every member of your family will develop and grow positively from the experiences on a service trip. There will be opportunities for parents to teach their kids about kindness, generosity, and acceptance, and moments for children to teach their parents how to play a new game learned from the children in the village. Everyone will walk away having learned a new skill or two—from painting a house, to how to lead a team. Some may find a new passion or career path to follow based on the work and services they provided on the trip. As a parent, it is important to provide children with the opportunities to learn in different ways and that is just what a service trip does. In the end, volunteers will come home feeling successful and empowered to continue giving back and making a difference in the lives of others, which ultimately provides a continuous opportunity for personal growth.

There is a common misconception that to attend a service trip you must be religiously driven, but the truth is all you need is a desire to give back and make a difference in the lives of others. As an alternative to the traditional summer vacation, a service trip offers a new adventure filled with many opportunities for quality family time and bonding, emphasis on values and personal development and special memories that will always be kept close to the heart. So, before all those summer activities pile up on the schedule, be sure to reserve a week or two to make a family adventure out of a service trip this year.

Pete and Rachael HerschelmanWhy Choose A Service Trip As Your Summer Family Vacation
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