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Charity: acting on our desire to help others

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it takes a natural disaster to move people to open their hearts to give to others.  We saw this great outpouring in the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans, the Tsunami that struck in Indonesia, a fire that strikes a neighbors home, a disease that hurts a child.  But when we take the time to be aware of the needs of others, even when there is not a tragedy involved, and give of our things, talents or time, we not only make the world a better place, but we also are helping ourselves.

Philanthropy is about making the  world a better place.  I have noticed that when I speak to children about this idea of giving to others without expecting anything in return that they are a bit quiet at first.  It is like they are absorbing it and trying to grasp the concept.  Then they many times want to act on it.  Just this week I have heard of our students setting up a lemonade stand to raise money for a cause.  Others have been talking about things that they could create – and give all the money to a cause. 

As parents the example we set in giving, using our talents and time to the advantage of others, will have a long term impact on our children.  What can you do to make a difference with an individual, in your community, or in the world?  Every good act – Every act of kindness is charity.


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Attitude: 3 things that control our attitude

I know of no parent that has not said to one of their children, “ Don’t give me an attitude!”.  We all know that we are talking about a bad attitude – one that is negative and disrespectful.  Yet most of us if we were truthful with ourselves would have to admit that from time to time we too have that “bad attitude”.   Interestingly in a recent article in the journal; Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics (April, 2009) that it is true that there are some people who are just more positive than others, but that only 50% of happiness is determined genetically.  Where do you think the rest of ability to be positive and happy came from?  Yes it was ourselves.

There are three things that only we have control over that have an affect on our attitude, whether we are 5 years old or 85.  They are how we feel, think and act.  I am sure you have seen this before.  If someone is thinking and feeling things in an optimistic way, they also act in a positive way.  If they think and feel more pessimistically, then they act in a negative way no matter how hard they try to cover it up and “act” positive.  

The way we see the world, how we feel it is treating us, the way we think and act influences in a great way our Attitude.  It affects our relations with others including our closest friends, to how we respond to events in our lives and even the very mundane day to day life.  

So what is attitude and can we choose the attitude we want to have?  What influence do we have on our children when it comes to their attitude?  Can we help them to approach their day in a more positive way?  As parents we influence how our children see the world, so what are strategies do you use to have a positive attitude?

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What to do when you get tired?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run.

– Seth Godin

We all have our own races.  Today we tested students for some advanced belts and each of them had to learn how to put the “tired” away for later.  How we run the race and our determination to finish strong can be learned and practiced.  Our students are learning and practicing.



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Anger management: #5 we need empathy

Depending on the age of the child, understanding the feelings of others may be difficult, if only due to developmental reasons.  A five year old has one emotional ability and a 12 year old another.  One thing though that does happen is that when they are angry no matter there age or training – they will be blinded to someone else’s feelings. 

Developing this empathy will help them to understand that all of us have feelings and just as we react to how others treat us, we too can react to how others feel.  Some children though who have had painful lives, may defend themselves by shutting down their sensitivity to others.  Or they may use intimidation and fear as a part of their defense.

Teaching empathy is a two fold.  First every child needs to understand feelings and they need adults around them whom they can trust.  With our younger children, increasing their “feelings vocabulary”, is very important to them identifying both their own and others feelings.

If we find older children are having difficulty with understanding the feelings of others, encourage them to write down stories in a journal.  If they have a problem get them to write or or talk about what happened – from the other persons point a view.

Finally as a parent or teacher, describing our own experiences and the emotions that we feel can be very helpful.  They can identify that you have faced difficult situations or may still be dealing with them, and they will learn to empathize.  

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