The Art Of Listening – Active Listening Exercises For Kids

Teaching your child the art of listening will assist him, to not only listening to you but aid him in learning to communicating with others.  Good Listening skills take practice.  It’s never too early to enlist your kids in active listening exercises.


Be An Effective Listener Yourself

Be an effective listener yourself.  It is the first key to teaching your kids the art of listening.  Turn your full attention to your child while he’s talking to you.  Look at him directly when you’re having a conversation. If you look out the window, or you’re visiting with someone else, it gives him the message you find what he has to say unimportant.

Give Simple Directions

Give age appropriate directions when you ask your child to do something. “Please, put on your shoes.” This is a simple and direct request that a young child can clearly understand and accomplish.  Again, making eye contact with her is essential for getting your point across and helping her to be an active listener.

Mean What You Say And Stay Consistent

Following through with what you say is as important as what you’ve said. In other words, don’t say something you don’t mean.  Relenting and giving in sends a message to your child that he doesn’t have to listen, nor believe what you have to say.

Sometimes Just Whisper

A fun listening activity is, changing your voice level.  If you say, “Shhhh ….Listen,” then soften your voice to a whisper, it will grab his attention immediately.  Whisper, “I love you.” Whisper directions and instructions.  The change of your voice level will often cause a child to sit up and take notice because it’s out of the ordinary.

Play Fun Listening Skill Games

To improve listening habits, play listening skill games.  A good time to play a “Listening Skill Game” is when you’re in the car. “What does the engine of our car sound like?” Let them vocalize what they hear. “Who can hear a ticking in our engine?” “The first person who can tell me the name of the song I’m singing, wins.” Also, let them ask the questions and you be on the listening end.  This type of listening game will assist your child in listening for details.

Read A Book To Your Child

Reading to your child will improve listening.  Reading directs focus from the outside world to the pages of a book.  A young child’s attention span is not be very long, so make sure the book is short. Discussing and pointing out details in the pictures will hold her interest.  If you’ve read the book before, noticed how she wants you to tell the story and talk about the details in the exact same way you did earlier? It shows you she’s been listening. Foster those listening skills by reading to your child often.

Compliment Good Listening

“Thank you for being such a good listener.” Praise is always welcome, and will reinforce your child’s desire to be a good listener. “Thank you for putting on your shoes the first time I asked you.” Small rewards, such as a hug, a kiss, a pat on the back, will reinforce your compliment.

Remember… your child is never too young to begin teaching the art of listening.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.   Active listening exercises will certainly help your kids develop the art of listening.  Good listening habits are not only of value to you as a parent, but will be invaluable to your child as he grows and interacts with teachers and eventually, employers.


Are Schools Killing Creativity In Kids?

According to Ph. D. Sir Ken Robinson, schools are not allowing our children to be creative.  In fact, according to Professor Robinson, the present school system…world wide… stifles or kills creativity.


In is new book, The Element:  How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,  he explores the need for more creativity in our in our school systems in order to prepare our children to meet the challenges they face in the next 20 years.    According to Robinson… present education is not preparing our children for their future.  Times have changed… and education has not kept up with present needs… let alone future demands.

For a long time, I have keenly felt the importance of parents and educators helping children discover and fulfill their dreams.   I devoted an entire chapter of my book,  5 Power Tips Moms Us For Raising Fantastic Kids,  to the subject.  I share ways you can discover, very early, what your child’s dreams and passions are.

Professor Robinson spoke at a Ted conference that was promoting creativity.  This information is so important, his 20 minute talk is included here.  You must take a few minutes to view his presentation.  You will clearly see why present education policies, and sometimes parents,  are killing creativity in our kids.

By the time you finish looking at this video, you will be convinced how important it is for us to revamp our present education systems  to allow for more creative expression so our kids can discover and follow their own dreams and passion.  Their future and ours depends upon it.

Absolutely true!

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  In the second grade, I had one defining moment when, I knew I was going to be an artist.  In my book, I share that moment with you.

P.P.S.  Click on the books and get further information about Sir Ken Robinson


Choices – When Do Kids Choices Really Count?

When do kids choices really count?  Or more importantly…do we as parents, teachers and guardians recognize kids choices really count?  So often, we adults set up scenarios for our kids to make choices… and when they do… their choices are discounted or invalidated.

Hang in there and I’ll explain, using the following example.

Each student, in my grandson Glade’s third grade class, was ask to choose and report on their “Super Hero.”  The report would included a bio, an oral report, and the portrayal of their “Super Hero” in a Wax Museum.  Glade was delighted to share his excitement about his “Super Hero”….. Rocky Balboa.

Now, you have to understand, this boy is pretty intense when it comes to his “Super Heroes.”  When he was 4, his hero was Spiderman.  He wore a Spiderman costume all through the heat of summer.. until it became shreds and fell apart.

Then, he turned to Superman.  He zoomed around the house for months with his cape flying from behind. He was disappointed that his hair was blond and not black.   A couple of years ago, Rocky came on the scene and has remained a constant.  Glade often does daily routines… which sometimes includes… lifting the end of the couch in order to better define his “six pack.”

Last year, for Christmas, he received a much wanted leather jacket.  He even tucked it under his arm when he slept at night.  Emily, his mom, supports Glade and has the Rocky music theme on her phone.  When it rings… she knows who’s calling.

So… when Glade came home and told his mom that his teacher said that  “Rocky” wasn’t good enough to be his “Super Hero” … the war was on.  “Rocky” became an issue for debate between the Emily and the teacher.

We, adults, often stand in the way of our children’s self-reliance and creativity by supervising, restricting, directing, and over parenting.  We call this behavior, guidance and then wonder why our kids can’t make wise decisions when we’re not around.

The issue here is… the children were ask to select their own “Super Hero.”  If the teacher had something more specific in mind… it should have been expressed in the beginning, rather than invalidate Glades choice after his decision was made.

Constant invalidation is one behavior that will eventually destroy the the best of relationships.  However, it has become a common practice to use this conduct to nullify each other… just watch the behavior on sitcoms.  It’s especially detrimental when it’s constantly used to control children.

To make a long story short… a compromise was made and Glade was Sylvester Stallone….  even though “Rocky Balboa” has his own web site…stands as a statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has his foot prints in gold on the stairs leading to the museum, and thousands climb the steps and strike a Rocky-like pose as a symbol of guts and fortitude.  City Commerce Director Dick Doran said Rocky had done more for the city’s image “than anyone since Ben Franklin.”

Whether you agree that Stallone is a “Super Hero” or not…. is not the point.  The issues is… he is Glade’s choice.

I attended the Wax Museum presentation and was impressed with the clever creativity and care that went into the costumes.  There were over 100 participants and the kids were so careful to pose and be still.  Quite a feat for a third grader.  Way to go Harvest Hill’s third graders!  Here are a few shots I thought you would enjoy.

Is this little girl gorgeous or what? I don’t know where they got this costume.. but it’s beautiful. Well done Cleo!

This young man’s mom said she had to really talk him into wearing the wig.  She said, “With that wig on, no one will recognize you anyway.”  Thanks Columbus… for your contribution to America!

This little beauty is Diana.  When I approached her with my camera in hand… She gave me this striking Diana pose.

I kept my eye on this fellow… and he held that pose for a long long  time before putting his arm down to rest.  He did Steve Young proud.

Isn’t this the sweetest face.  I thought she actually looked like Ameila Earhert’s photos.  She was another one who stood so still she really could have been wax.

This handsome fellow was one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s because Gandhi is one of my “Super Heroes.”  I remember seeing the real Gandhi in the newsreels at the movie theater… but that was probably before your time.

This little sweetie saw me coming with my camera and struck this precious pose long before I got to her.  I kept watching her as I moved up the isle and she didn’t move.  Sacajawea is another hero if mine.  Have you read the book  Sacajawea by Anna L Waldo?   If you haven’t … it’s a worthwhile read.

Look at the photo of Teddy Roosevelt and compare.  What a great costume and likeness.  In my book, this fellow gets an “A.”

There were lots of portrayals of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan… but I thought these costumes were the best.   These gals were so patient and held so still while I fiddled with my camera.  I had to take their photo 4 times to get the light just right.

Last but not least…  my number one hero, Glade Neff….Slyvester Stallone.  Way to go bud. Hang in there… you make me proud.

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  When do kids choices really count?  They always count.  Perhaps the real question is… how do they determine the choices they make?

P.P.S.  In my book…Raising Fantastic Kids, I explore in depth ways you can positively help your kids to make good choices.


Kids Birthday Parties

Charity Kids birthday parties have recently been brought to may attention   Over the past several weeks,  I have repeatedly heard about kids birthday celebrations called  “Charity Birthday Parties.  I first heard of this concept while listening to the “Glenn Beck” show on the radio.

At first, I thought he was making a joke… but soon realized he was serious.  A child 6 year old child was having a birthday party and his parents were asking the guests not to bring gifts to the party… but to donated to a political cause in the name of “Birthday Child.”

The idea is…  we live so abundantly… and a child already has so much… why not teach the child to be sharing and giving and donate his gifts or the money that would be spent on his gifts to a charity.  It could even be a charity of the child’s choosing.

It was brought to my attention again when Vanessa, of  I Never Grew Up,  posted a poll on her blog  asking parents if they thought it was a good idea or not.  I was surprised at the results.  79% thought it was a great idea and 21% thought it was a poor idea.  I was part of the 21%.

After I picked myself up from the floor… I made a comment on her blog… I’m afraid it was a bit stinging… and I would like to clarify my point of view here.

1.  I remember a program on TV years ago, called Queen For A Day.  It was a day they honored one lady from the audience by showering her with gifts etc.  For that woman…it was a magical day… a day she would never forget.  Our children deserved to be honored on their birthday.   It’s a day that we take delight in them for coming into the world and into our lives.  Let them be King or Queen for a day.

2.  The magic of childhood is short.  We as parents and grand parents can get caught up in pushing children into adulthood too soon.  T.V. does not supported kids being kids… and I think we can be hoodwinked into the same thinking.  Birthdays are part of childhood magic. Kids shouldn’t be short changed by forcing adult concepts too early… especially on their special day.

3.  You can’t tell me, that in the child’s heart, he wouldn’t feel some resentment… and sadness if denied gifts on his birthday.  He may not have the courage to stand up against such a “lofty” concept as a “Charity Birthday,” especially if he knew he was going to be made to feel wrong or shamed if he objected to the idea.

4.  I know that kids have an abundance of toys… my grands are a testimony of that.  But… who’s fault is that.  I’m guilty!  Their parents are guilty!  Every time we go into a store, they want something… and for the most part we succumb to their whining.

We might not purchase the $15.00 new toy they want… but we appease them with a little purchase at the cash register.  Marketers claim, they make a killing on purchases made for kids under $5.00.  I don’t know about you… but I’m tired of the “trash toys” that are placed in the “kids meals” at the fast food restaurants.  But… that doesn’t stop me from purchasing the “kids meal.”  Junk… Junk… Junk.  I know I’m part of the problem.

My point is… if we want to cut back on the amount of junk that is filling the kids closets, we need to control our own spending for them during the year.  But, let’s not take that leap on their birthday.

5.  It’s great to teach kids to be charitable and giving.  We can be examples of that when we clean out our own closets.  Perhaps when we are packing up our things, we could ask them if they would like to contribute something from their closet.  When it’s time to drop off our bundle at the “Thrift Store”, we can take them with us. It would be a great time to discuss what we are doing and why.

6.  There is a “time and season” for all things.  Studies have shown that children under 3 don’t have the mental ability to understand there is another world outside of themselves…. thus the “terrible two.”  A child’s reasoning capacity does not fully develop until around the age of 8 or 9.  To force concepts that are too mature for their reasoning is unfair.

7.  Besides… how would you feel if someone said to you, “You have too many things and you need to learn to share.  So, for your birthday… I’m doing to donate the money I was going to spend on your birthday gift and give it to the Blaa Blaa Blaa?”   I for one… would resent it…. in fact… I would be hopping mad.

My suggestion:  Celebrate your kids birthdays by showering them with lots of love, fun, and a few gifts.  Give them their special day… and teach giving, sacrifice and charity on another day.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  Have your kids been invited to “Charity Birthday Parties?”   What’s your point of view?  Talk to me.


School Policies – Are you Watching?

School policies for your children vary from state to state and from district to district.  Are you watching?  In the last several weeks, it has come to my attention that some districts have policies in place that may not be in the best interest of your family.

When you sign your children up for the school each year, the district has documents that parents sign that allow the school certain rights regarding your kids.   Because, each district is different, you need to be aware of the permission you are giving the school during school hours in your particular area.

1.  Immunizations records follow your children through out their entire school career.  Once you give permission to have your child immunized, your child’s health is in the hands of the state.  If your child in not immunized, or you do not keep up with their shots,  they can be denied entrance into school… at any given grade.  However, by law, your child can be exempted from immunization by following the Exempt Procedures on the back of the Record.

Now why do I discourage you from signing this document?  Because, if you do, you have just turned the health of your child over to the state.  At any time… the government can require your child to be immunized for anything they deem appropriate.  Immunization has gone well beyond Polio, Measles, Mumps, etc.  The list now up to 12 vaccinations… which some are repeated several times.  The next immunization that is being pushed to be on the list is the the Gardasil HPV vaccine for young girls for uterine protection.  The push is to immunize girls as young as 9 years old.

Now I’m not going to get into a debate as to whether you should have your children immunized or not.  I just think it needs to be take out of the hands of the state.  If you are exempt from signing the school policy… then you can manage your kids immunizations and health needs with out government interference. By not signing, you can examine each immunization requirement individually and make your own determination. You never know what’s coming down the pike.

2. Be careful of what records you allow to be passed from school to school.  You do have the right not to allow a school to pass on Special Education Records or Psychological Reports.  Are you are aware… in some states you are not allow to ever see your child’s school records? However, some social services can review, or  be given information from them.   So protect your family… don’t give any information you don’t want the school to have.

3.  In some districts, you sign away your parental rights as long as the child is in school.  Your child can be questioned by a councilor, principal, or teacher concerning family matters.  Caution your children about revealing “family matters” that are really family matters.

4.  If you think it’s alright to take your child out of school for a day for a family activity… you could be wrong.  In the State of Utah, the only valid reasons for missing school are: A. Illness.  B. A family death.  C. An approved school activity (field trip).  D. An absence permitted by the school… which is rehabilitation, or individualized education for those who have disabilities.   That’s why they can lower your child’s grade if their absences don’t fall in the above categories.  Schools can be tough on this issue, or lenient.  Know where your school stands.

I realize policies are put into place for a few irresponsible parents.  But…I don’t want to forfeit my rights when I have a choice and can do something about it.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Hmmm.  Does it mean if I don’t immunize my child… and they kick him out of school… they can take him away from me because he is truant?


5 Practical Back To School Ideas

Here’s 5 practical Back To School ideas that will be help you and your kids get back into the swing of things, now that the summer is over.

Going back to school can be stressful. There’s clothes shopping to be done, school supplies to purchase, bus schedules to review, registration forms to fill out, fees to pay, on top of the million other things you need to get behind you before the first day begins.

Kids also can feel a bit of school anxiety… will I like my teacher…will my teacher like me… will my best friends be in my class… what shall I wear on the first day? After the dust settles down… here are 5 tips to consider for making the school year run more smoothly for you and your kids.

Routine: Believe it or not.. kids like a routine. It takes some of the “unknowns” out of their lives. Can you imagine what it would be like to go into work everyday and not know what’s expected of you? What does the boss want me to do…what are my limitations… what is my job… how much freedom to I have within my job description… what can I do to please my boss?

Without a routine or guidelines… you would feel like you were walking on egg shells all the time. Your children have the same feelings when you don’t have a routine or guidelines. Talk about anxiety! Planning a back to school routine will help both of you get back into the groove of going back to school.

Things to consider are: What time do we get up… when will we eat breakfast…who uses the bathroom first… do we bathe in the mornings, or evening? What is the routine after school… do we work on homework before playtime or after playtime…. when do we practice the piano, what time can we plan on dinner… how much T.V. time do we have… what time do we go to bed?

Include them in the planning of the school routine. Of course your plan needs to be flexible but, for the most part, stick to the schedule.

Get Enough Sleep: More and more studies are being released, shouting the importance of children getting enough rest. Elementary children need at least 10 hours of sleep a night to be able to function at the top of their game the next day.

That mean, if a child gets up at 7:00 in the morning, he needs to be in bed by 9:00 in the evening. So, bed preparations need to start early so the lights are turned off by 9:00.

1. Having a set bed time gives them a target to work toward and trains their bodies towards the routine.

2. Turn off the TV and have a winding down period, which may include a bedtime story and a little bedtime song.

3. Get drinks and bathroom duties handled before the lights are turned out.

Believe it or not, studies show that Jr. high and high school students are routinely getting between 6.5 and 7 hours of sleep a night. They need a minimum of 8 hours or more during the puberty years… which can certainly be a challenge because their lives, like ours, is complex.

1. Homework can rob them of precious hours of sleep if they wait too long in the evening to get started. Waiting until bedtime to begin is not the ideal scene. Also, starting late often does not produce the best school work results because they’re tired and in a hurry.

2. Late phone calls and text messaging can infringe on their sleep time. Perhaps you can agree upon a time when phone calls or texting end for the day. It might encourage going to bed and getting enough sleep so they can be at their best in the morning.

3. They, like younger kids, need a winding down period. Perhaps, this might be the time when you can have a quite discussion about their day. I know of one mom, who would give her older kids a 5 minute back rub before they went to bed. I’ll have to say… that’s more dedication than I’ve got.

Lay Out Clothes and Get Backpacks Ready: Laying clothes out the night before and, having backpacks loaded with books and homework at the door, prevents “morning frantic panic.”

Even your young school kids can select their clothes the night before and have them ready to slip on in the morning. Have them place all of their clothes at the foot of the bed then, you can then check to see if their outfits are complete. “Oops, looks like your missing your socks.” Or, “The weather man said that it’s going to snow tomorrow…perhaps you need to select a different shirt.” They’ll soon get the drift of things and you won’t have to supervise as much. (Oh… and than means coats and gloves, boots etc. are also located the night before.)

Encourage your older kids to know what they’ll be wearing the next morning. No running the washer at five in the morning because they didn’t prepare well.

As soon as homework is completed and their reading is done, pack up the backpacks and place them at the door. If your signature needs to be on any papers, or they need money for a field trip, make sure those things are handled and in the pack before it’s placed at the exit. There’s nothing more frustrating than a kid waving a pen in front of your face as you’re driving them to school.

Eat A Healthy Breakfast: The school, a couple of my grandkids attend, sent a note home announcing tests were being given on a particular day and would parents see that their kids eat a healthy breakfast…. a breakfast of protein and grains and not sugared cereals etc. My thinking is… if that request is good enough on test days, it’s good enough for every day.

A child can be over stimulated by a breakfast of sugared products, therefore they can’t perform at their best… plus being a problem for the teacher. Scramble eggs with the addition of a little cheese can boost the protein in their breakfast. A cup of yogurt will give them protein… however, all yogurts aren’t alike. Watch the labels. So many yogurts are full of sugar and don’t contain beneficial enzymes. the labels. Use whole grain foods rather than products that have been striped of natural nutrients. (Oh, and watch the labels on peanut butter…some have a lot of sugar included.)

Keep A Sense Of Humor: Keeping a sense of humor goes along way between the the hours of 3:30 and 9:00. A frustrated mom creates frustrated kids. Keep to the schedule as much a possible but don’t take every little departure too seriously. Laugh a lot and keep things as light as possible.

When your kids get over-whelmed or have social problems, let them in on a few of your school challenges and mishaps. When kids feel you can duplicate their experience….it helps for them to know you understand.

I remember ending up at Jr. High with my P.J. bottoms hanging below my skirt. I would keep my bottom on to keep my legs warm until I walked out the door. This particular morning… I just forgot to take them off. I didn’t catch on until half way into my first period class…. talk about being embarrassed. Or, how about the time in elementary school, when I wet my pants in front of the class because a teacher wouldn’t let me be excused. And… that’s nothing compared to my wetting my pants on a date… but that’s a story for another time.

The experiences were tragic at the time… but I laugh about them now. Help your kids get a long range perspective. Keep them laughing.

Go for it… and good luck!

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

P.S. You can avoid confusion at school by having all of their books and notebooks labeled properly. Take a look at these fun book plates you can put in your kids books… I’m offering them to you for your kids… freeeeee.


Pulling A Loose Tooth

Pulling a loose tooth became quite a traumatic deal when my grandson’s front tooth was hanging by a thread.

“It’s my tooth,” Glade wailed, as his Uncle Wade threatened to remove it. Glade has been hanging on to his loose tooth for weeks now. He’s certainly earned the name, Snaggle Tooth, as the tooth is just hanging there by a thread. But… he won’t give it up.

Wade had dropped by my house to visit, when, he spotted Old Snaggle Tooth. He tease Glade about hanging onto it for so long. “Here, let me help you… just one little jerk and it will be gone.” “No, No,” Glade replied, “It’s my tooth!”

As Wade left to get something from his car, he turned to Glade and said, “Well Glade, I’m going out to my car and if you haven’t pulled it out by the time I get back, I’m going to do it for you.”

Glade put his hand over his mouth, lowered his head and his eyes filled with tears. When Wade return, he noticed how up set Glade was. We both looked at each other and realized that this was a much more sensitive subject than we had supposed.

“No Glade, I’m not going to pull your tooth. It’s your tooth and you can decide when you want it to be gone. I’m sorry that I up set you… I was just teasing. ” Wade put his arm around his shoulder to reassured him. Glade brightened up and was off to play, in a flash.

This incident led us to a discussion about choice. When do parents or adult cross the line and make personal decisions for kids and when does a child choose for himself? I have pondered this question for several days. Even though I have written about this subject in my book, “5 Power Tips Moms Use For Raising Fantastic Kids,” the theme fascinates me and always has my attention. It’s a subject that has many twists and turns. (book available on-line soon)

For parents, helping children learn to make healthy decisions is a balancing act, which can be confusing at times.

I also had a lengthy discussion about it with, Sheila, my wise sister. We decided, for the hundredth time, it all comes down to control. There is good control and their is bad control. There is the matter of being self-determined or other-determined… which leads to being responsible or irresponsible. (These are are subjects for later commentary.)

For now… the bottom line is… it’s Glade’s tooth and he should decide when it will be pulled. It’s not dangerous, it’s not immoral nor rude. For what ever reason, this little boy wants his tooth, and he should have control over that decision.

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S. It took another week before he decided to pull his own tooth. As you can see, by his own self portrait, the tooth fairy came… and he’s well on his way to mighty fine choppers.


Good Table Manners & Kids

Teaching kids good table manners can be a challenge if your wait until you’re at a friends house or a restaurant to in engage in dining etiquette lessons. Bad manners are develop at home and can show up at the most inconvenient time.

However, being one who likes to lick her fingers when eating the Colonel’s Chicken… or Goodwood’s ribs… I can’t be too hard on the kids. (Just how can you eat BQ ribs without licking your fingers?) But… there’s a time and place.. right? Come to think of it… I can’t think of a time and place where I wouldn’t lick my fingers if I were eating ribs. Hmmm… perhaps the White House?

Back to table manners… Training children to have table etiquette begins at home a little at a time…and considering the child’s age. Here’s a few table manners they need to know. These are probably the most obvious to others when they’re not kept. Helping your kids in these areas might save you and your child a little embarrassment…. You know… for when the in-laws come… or your dining at the White House.

1. Elbows On The Table: During the Middle ages, trestle tables were use and the diners sat on one side close to the fire… keeping their backsides warm. If they leaned on the table with their elbows, the table would collapse and dinner would be in their laps… So goes the tradition of “No Elbows On The Table.” Today, however, putting elbows on the table doesn’t leave much room for the person sitting next to you. So it’s best if you keep your elbows off the table and be considerate of your neighbor.

2. Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Full: Now just how do you talk during a meal with out food in your mouth? Get real! It would be a pretty quiet dinner conversation if you had to wait until your mouth was empty before you could talk. The secret is… don’t over stuff your mouth with food. Take small bites so you won’t choke and you can talk to someone while you still have a bit of food in your mouth.

3. Chew With Your Mouth Closed:
Good idea. Do the best you can.. no one like to see half eaten food. Sometimes we’re not as careful as we should be when we’re in a hurry. Best thing to do is slow down a bit.

4. Don’t Eat With Your Fingers: Unless… it’s ribs, of course…or chicken or food that is meant to be eaten with fingers. If your meal consists of finger foods, provide lots of napkins. Cutting food into small pieces will encourage your child to use utensils. (At last try to keep the finger licking to a minimum if your eating ribs.)

5. Don’t Burb at the Table:
If you slip… say, “Excuse me!” However, in some cultures burping is considered a way of showing the host your appreciation for a good meal. (When I was in China… there seemed to be a lot of burping going on… and no one seemed to mind. For me… I kept mine to myself.)

6. Use a Napkin: Wiping your mouth frequently is the trick. If you spill, wipe it up the best you can. Small children sometimes have a hard time with napkins. Help from parents is frequently necessary. (I swear… sometimes I have a hard time keeping food off my abundant Italian chest… so I really sympathize with kids in the spilling area.)

7. Say, Please And Thank You:
Get in the habit of saying, “Please” and “Thank You.” These are probably the number one rules of good table manners in any culture. Often… when we’re in a hurry… those words are easily forgotten.


8. Set A Good Example:
Setting a good example is probably the best teaching tool you have. As you can see by the above suggestions… they apply to us as well as our kids. As you already know… kids watch adults very carefully. Often times kids reflect our own behavior when they’re in public. I know I’ve been caught more than a few times… “Oh my gosh… just who did they learn that from?”

9. Explain The Rules:
Often time, correction is made by the parent and the child doesn’t understand the “why.” Explain “why” certain etiquette is appropriate in our culture. “Son, when you put your elbows on the table, it doesn’t leave much room for your sister.”

10. Make Your Meal A Pleasant Time:
Lecturing kids will turn them off to good manners, plus make the meal unpleasant. The best teaching method is “making suggestions” rather than nagging or putting a child down. They’ll come along if your patient and kind. They just might surprise you at the restaurant with good dining etiquette.

Good Luck… and I’ll be watching you at the restaurant with your kids… as you’ll be watching me with my grandkids. Let’s be kind to each other.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. Now for the issues of fighting among siblings, spilling milk, falling off the chair, whining about what’s served… you’re on your own. These are areas where I could use a few suggestions.


Parenting: Choose Your Battles Wisely

When I comes to kids, you have to choose your battles wisely. Such was the case this week-end, while I was tending my 4 year old grandson Randall. I was reminded about which battles are important and which are not.

Snip! It only take a few seconds and the hair is gone. Randall cut his own hair… right in the front… in the middle of his forehead.

I was standing in the kitchen when he walked in with a handful of hair… looked up at me with his Paul Newman blues… smiled… and dumped the honey colored remnant into the trash can and walked out.

“Yikes! What’s his mom going to say… and on my watch?”

Of course, I went tearing into the family room yelling like a banshee.

“Nana… It’s Glade’s fault, he left the scissors on the floor,” Randall explained. (Glade is Randall’s older brother.)

After loudly explaining to him that no one should cut his hair except Kayalani, his fantastic hair dresser, he retreated to the corner of the couch with his head down.

After a moment of getting myself together and remembering that his mother did the same thing at the age of 4… and also remembering that I cut my own hair about the same age… I sat down by him, put my arms around him and give him a big kiss on the top of this sweet head.

Several hours later, Randall came running into the kitchen holding a lock of the remaining hair. “Look Nana, I think it grew back.”

When his mom came to pick up the kids, Randall ran out to greet her. She took one look at him and said, “Well, it looks like you have a new hair cut.” With a proud grin on his face, Randall replied, “I did it myself.”

She looked at me and said, “After 4 kids, you learn not to take these things too seriously.”

“Oh… I forgot,” I thought to myself.

What my daughter, Emily, reminded me of today is: Parents have to choose their battles. They have to learn not to over-react to those things that aren’t life threatening, spiritually devastating, or emotionally crippling.

I know that children around the ages of 3 and 4 do not understand consequences. That’s why they sometimes repeat the same behaviors over and over again. They truly forget or they don’t understand. In addition, they don’t have the mental development to see that things are not magically fixed.

“I think it grew back.”

When they left to go home, Randall called out, “I love you Nana.”

All is well in my world!

Till latter,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P. S. Fortunately, his hair was not cut to the scalp, and with Kayalani’s magic touch, he looks great…. and the missing hair will grow back.

P.P.S. Kayalani rewarded him with a touch of green gel… Life is good!

Family Parenting

When Do You Take Your Child’s Blanket Away?

Here we go again… When do you take a child’s “blanket,” “snuggie,” “blankie” away from him? I have recently read several debates on the parenting social sites regarding the matter. Some say that when a child turns three years old, “It’s time to grow up.” Others say, “A child will give it up when he’s ready.”

I stand in the latter camp for several reasons. First: I don’t see many high school students toting their blankets to class. They do give it up… and if it’s later than three… so what. (They just find other “snuggies.”)

Second: We all form attachments. I have a basement full of them. Children, as well as parents, form attachments to things that give them pleasure and comfort. Love my Diet Coke!

Third: Children have ultimate power over so little. If taking the “blankie” away causes a power struggle… give it up. There are far more important things to consider than a soft, torn, worn out “blanket. Choose your battles.

Fourth: Last, but not least, is the plea, “Nana, will you sew my blanket up… one more time?” What can I say…I’m a whimp!

Till Later

Insightful Nana

P.S. I do draw the line on where the “blanket” is taken. Like my Diet Coke, I don’t take it just any old place!