Navigating the world of remote work is challenging on its own, but when coupled with the demands of caring for toddlers and babies, it can feel overwhelming. Parents are not just juggling deadlines but also diapers, feedings, and sudden toddler tantrums. However, with a strategic approach and some key survival tips, this seemingly chaotic balance becomes manageable. This article from Parent-Child-Connect will delve into strategies designed to help parents efficiently manage their professional tasks while caring for their little ones.
1. Make Your Workspace Safe for Kids
The intermingling of work devices and curious toddlers can be a recipe for disaster. It’s essential to ensure that your workspace is childproof. This means securing electrical outlets, managing cords to prevent tripping or pulling hazards, and investing in furniture that doesn’t have sharp edges. Remember, a safe workspace allows parents to concentrate better, knowing their little explorer is protected from potential hazards.
2. Establish Boundaries
Establishing a dedicated workspace, rather than succumbing to the allure of the comfy couch or convenient kitchen table, can significantly enhance your productivity and focus. Such a space signals to your child that it’s a designated “work time” for their parent. More importantly, it mentally delineates personal and professional areas, ensuring there’s a boundary between home chores and office responsibilities. This separation allows you to immerse yourself in work tasks, even amidst the lively chaos of family life.
3. Look to Online Education Opportunities
Perhaps the silver lining of remote work is the flexibility it offers, including opportunities for further education. Parents can explore online degree programs to diversify their career paths. Fields like education, where learning about educational foundations, teaching methods, and classroom management can be invaluable, offer skills transferable to many remote roles. Such degrees can open doors to professions that harmonize better with parenthood.
4. Maintain a Well-Structured Routine
Having a predictable routine can be reassuring for both parents and children. Outline your day by designating specific hours for work, breaks, and quality time with your child. By adhering to a consistent schedule, you’re setting expectations, which can reduce the anxiety of unpredictability and create a rhythm that both you and your child can rely on.
5. Get Help Where Possible
Even superheroes need sidekicks. If you find yourself drowning in responsibilities, remember that seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness. Whether it’s entrusting a family member with a couple of hours of childcare, hiring a part-time nanny, or leaning on a partner, remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Sometimes, a few hours of dedicated support can make all the difference.
6. Invest in Comfortable Clothing
Comfort is paramount, especially when multitasking between work calls and nursing breaks. Invest in loungewear and nursing bras made with carefully sourced, buttery-soft fabrics anchor for that extra layer of ease. Such choices make the day more bearable and positively influence your mood and productivity.
7. Keep Your Kids Engaged
This is more practical advice from Kris Louis that can be applied for parents with children of all ages! This is a timely message as thousands of schools prepare for fall break. I will highlight just a few ways you can apply this advice for school-aged children.
Every parent knows the magic of a toy that captivates a child’s attention. Especially during crucial work moments, having a set of well-reviewed learning toys can be a lifesaver. These toys provide the necessary distraction and stimulate your toddler’s developing mind with age-appropriate educational activities. When considering toys for your little ones, be sure to consult online reviews.
Balancing remote work with the responsibilities of caring for toddlers and babies is no small feat. However, it’s entirely achievable with careful planning, clear boundaries, and the right resources. As we’ve outlined, from childproofing workspaces to investing in comfort and education, there are a myriad of ways to navigate this challenging yet rewarding phase. With resilience, support, and adaptability, remote-working parents can indeed have the best of both worlds.
Bonus: Note from Olaolu
This is a timely message as thousands of schools approach Fall break! The great news is this advice applies for your school-aged children as well. I highlighted a few examples below:
Establish Boundaries: School-aged children will demand your time as much (if not more) than toddlers and babies. They need to understand that the place and time you designate for work is strictly for work. Get in the habit of engaging in all other interactions (including eatinglunch, enjoying social media, etc.) elsewhere. It may seem a bit over the top at times, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Make Your Workspace Safe for Kids: Password-protect your work laptop so it serves the sole purpose of your remote work. Allowing our children to use our work laptop for recreational purposes can cause unwanted distractions and risk damaging the workstation and/or losing important files.
Keep Your Kids Engaged: Don’t let school breaks on the schedule surprise you. Preplan activities to keep your children engaged. As much as I would love for “rest” and “quiet time” to be the prescribed activities for my kids so I can focus on work, that’s not reality. The more you plan ahead, the better you’ll be able to survive.
I’m grateful that Kris shared this excellent advice! Do me a favor: share this with the parents in your life!
Thanks for your support!
Who is Kris Louis?
Kris Louis is mom to two rambunctious boys. Her oldest is 10 and her youngest is 7. A former advertising copywriter, she recently created parentingwithkris.com, where she puts her skills to work writing about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Kris, her husband, and two boys live in Durham, NC.
Being a busy parent can feel like a juggling act–balancing work, children’s activities, and a myriad of daily responsibilities. While the demands can be overwhelming, staying organized can significantly ease your stress and make your life more manageable. In this article from Parent-Child-Connect, we’ll share tips on how to live an organized family life to make room for what truly matters.
Begin the Day with a Checklist
The first step in managing your time is knowing where it should go. Start each day with a checklist outlining your tasks and priorities. This will act as your roadmap, guiding you through the day and ensuring nothing vital is forgotten. Place this list in a highly visible location, such as on the fridge or saved on your phone, and cross off items as you complete them. The satisfaction of checking off tasks will also give you a small but significant morale boost.
Go Digital with Your Documents
Once you’ve sorted out your daily tasks, it’s crucial to focus on long-term organization to manage important family documents like medical records and school forms, which can quickly turn into clutter. A practical solution is to digitize these essential papers, converting them into PDFs using secure, free-to-use online tools. These digital storage solutions not only streamline your organizational system but also make it convenient to share your files through online formats. Retrieving critical information becomes significantly easier when everything is neatly organized in your digital storage.
Get Smart About Your Receipts
After making your daily life more manageable and digitizing important family documents, it’s time to tackle the financial paperwork that inevitably piles up. Good news: the IRS accepts scanned or digital receipts for tax purposes, allowing you to streamline your record-keeping. Utilize electronic storage systems like cloud services or specialized receipt-tracking apps to keep all your financial documents in one secure, easily accessible place. This digital approach doesn’t just declutter your physical space; it also simplifies your financial life.
With your daily tasks and important documents sorted, you can further enhance your efficiency by embracing proven time management strategies. Techniques like the Pomodoro Method involve working in short, focused intervals followed by brief breaks, optimizing your productivity. Allocate time blocks for specific tasks, which prevents time from slipping away and leaves you with time for your family.
Combine Your Errands
Efficiency doesn’t just apply to tasks at home; it’s also crucial when you’re out and about. Instead of making separate trips for groceries, the post office, or other errands, consolidate them into one outing. This saves both time and fuel, reducing your stress and your carbon footprint. Consider involving your children in these tasks, turning errands into educational opportunities.
Make a Cleaning Routine for the Whole Family
A tidy home is more than just pleasing to the eye; it also promotes mental well-being. Establish a cleaning schedule, dividing tasks among family members or allocating specific chores to specific days. This planned approach avoids the last-minute rush to clean when unexpected guests arrive, or the feeling of being overwhelmed by an untidy living environment.
Meal Prep and Batch Cooking
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the ever-important task of feeding your family. Plan meals ahead to make grocery shopping more efficient and to avoid the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma. Batch cooking on weekends can also provide ready-made meals for the week, freeing up time for family activities.
Parenthood doesn’t have to be synonymous with perpetual chaos and clutter. By adopting these smart, budget-friendly strategies, you’re not just organizing your life—you’re investing in your own well-being and that of your family. Taking control of your time and space brings a sense of calm, allows for more meaningful family interactions, and most importantly, empowers you to live more and manage less. Don’t wait for “someday” to get organized; start reclaiming your life today and experience the transformative benefits for you and your family.
Who is Kris Louis?
Kris Louis is mom to two rambunctious boys. Her oldest is 10 and her youngest is 7. A former advertising copywriter, she recently created parentingwithkris.com, where she puts her skills to work writing about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Kris, her husband, and two boys live in Durham, NC.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we discussed how “punishment” and “redemption” relates to discipline. Now we will dive into the six principles of discipline.
Principle #1. Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line.
I know there are plenty of times when I just want to say, “Get out of my face” when my children do something wrong. Whether it’s my frustration with the incident or a feeling that sending them away will teach them a lesson, I should consider the potential unintended negative effects of this action. In essence, we are teaching our children that their connection to us is conditions-based. Thus, they should expect separation if they violate the conditions of this unspoken “agreement.”
Aside from the psychological reasons, children, like all other mammals, learn through imitation. By banishing them, we teach them to disregard other people when they disapprove of them. In reality, our focus should be on separating the human from the deficiency with the belief that humans, including our children, are generally well-meaning beings. Separating the human from the deficiency does not mean we shouldn’t hold our children accountable for their actions; it means we should never identify our children by their deficiencies.
With that said, I’m not saying we cannot take a moment of separation to gather ourselves when we’re frustrated–we’re still humans. I’m suggesting we should eliminate reactions that isolate the child from the adults responsible for grooming and guiding them. Remember, it’s your responsibility to maintain a connection with your child.
Establishing the connection requires us to apply some basic fundamentals. Remember, every child is different, so they require a unique approach.
Communication: Effective communication is key. Listen actively and express yourself clearly. Be aware of non-verbal cues like body language and tone, and adjust accordingly.
Contact: Be in the moment. Eye contact and physical touch make a huge difference. Practice embracing your child everyday so this contact will feel natural when it is time to correct the child.
Find common and relatable interests: Find shared interests or hobbies to bond over. It helps create a sense of belonging. Nobody likes a long, irrelevant lecture.
Respect: Respect your child’s time, intellect, and intelligence. Do not be rude or condescending. Respect their beliefs and opinions, and gently guide them as required.
Openness: Be open to their ideas, feelings, and experiences. Being judgmental will cause them to shut down. Encourage open dialogue while teaching them the proper tone and time to provide an alternative opinion.
Vulnerability: Be transparent, and share your thoughts and feelings– even if they make you feel uncomfortable. Transparency and embracing each other’s vulnerabilities can deepen the relationship.
Trust your instinct: We are naturally wired to nurture, care for, and protect our children. We know what’s best for them and will do everything to protect them. Trust that both of you share an innate desire for love, connection, and closeness.
Patience: Building a connection will take time. Be patient and allow your relationship to develop naturally.
Principle #2. When problems occur, work the relationship, not the incident.
This point cannot be overlooked or understated; however, it’s easier said than done. We should teach our children that condemning (giving strong disapproval of) their actions is not condemning them. The challenge is we are simultaneously teaching them to accept responsibility for their actions–a critical component of self-discipline. Therefore, we should teach them how and why what they did was wrong, show them the right way, and recognize them when they do the right thing. The goal is to break the repeated wrongful act before it becomes a habit and the habit becomes their identity. I wrote more about habit creation here: Establishing Winning Habits.
Here’s my advice (with an example):
Don’t make excuses: “You lied about that because…”
Don’t attack the person: “You’re a liar because…”
Highlight the wrong without connecting the wrong to their identity: “The lie you told was wrong, but it is not indicative of who you are as a person.”
Principle #3. Emotions, ego, and embarrassment.
I challenge you to check what I call “the three E’s” when you’re preparing to interact with your child.
How does your child’s action make you feel? Be in tune with your current emotional state and address that before addressing your child.
Why do you feel that emotion? Did the child’s action impact your perception of yourself (ego)? This is where identifying, understanding, and embracing our vulnerabilities helps us to avoid lashing out at our children or attempting to shame them into submission.
Are you responding because they publicly embarrassed you? This is a parenting reality. Our children, especially toddlers, aren’t selective of when and where they demonstrate poor behavior. The infamous meltdown in the grocery store is a perfect example of this. If we’re not careful, we quickly react out of embarrassment instead of love. Our intuitive reaction to embarrassment is to build a formidable defense against the one causing the embarrassment. We do this to regain status in whatever environment we are in at that time. The problem is that the psychological (and sometimes physical) defense we build severs the connection with our child which isolates them and worsens the situation. I’ll talk about this a little more later.
Principle #4. Solicit good intentions instead of demanding good behavior.
We’ve all been there–we’ve excused our own behavior based upon intentions while demanding perfection from others. This is not only counterproductive, but it creates a toxic, no-win environment for our children. Start by recognizing and encouraging your child’s desire to do the right thing. This is extremely hard to do in the heat of the moment, so it’s best to practice this daily before your child does something wrong. Again, this is not an attempt to excuse poor behavior; rather, it is a method to impact the root of self-discipline–a will to do the right thing regardless of circumstances.
Principle #5. Impulsivity and self-control.
There’s a positive correlation between impulsivity and our emotional state. This is something that we intuitively know. The more disarranged our emotional state becomes, the more impulsive we are. Like us, our children sometimes express their emotions with rash speech or behavior with little to no forethought or acknowledgement of how their words and actions impact those around them (including you). Though you should immediately address the behavior, the long-term goal is to teach your child emotional control. Teach them to acknowledge and validate their feelings, take a deep breath to calm down, and develop/execute a plan to solve the problem causing the emotion.
I’ve already highlighted that we should check the three E’s (emotions, ego, and embarrassment) before interacting with our children. I’ve also described how our children are susceptible to the three E’s. There’s a fourth “E” that can either tranquilize or inflame an unstable situation–environment.
Many believe it’s best to make on-the-spot corrections. These kind of corrections are sometimes necessary and even useful. There are other times when these kind of corrections make the situation worse simply because you negatively impacted the child’s other three E’s. My advice is that, unless you need immediate conformity (e.g. there’s a dangerous situation), it’s best to isolate your child to have the discussion. This allows you to connect with them and talk tothem instead of talking atthem.
My embarrassing example.
I’ll share an embarrassing example. My son had a break-away run while playing flag football last season. The nearest person was more than ten yards away with no chance of stopping him before he scored the touchdown. Noticing this, he began to high-step while placing his l-shaped hand on his forehead and looking over his shoulder at the nearest defender. The referee threw the flag and called back the touchdown for “taunting.” I was floored! I couldn’t believe that my son, who I previously told he’d get his team penalized for taunting, was now getting his team penalized for taunting.
I moved closer to the field as I turned off my camera. Another mom said, “Get him, Dad” as I moved closer to the field–further hyping my planned on-the-spot correction. “Jacob!” I yelled. “Cut that crap out, and play ball! You know better than that!” There I was, pointing and yelling at my son from the sidelines like a deranged lunatic. It seemed effective in the moment, but I cringe as I reminisce about that moment because it was ineffective and embarrassing to me, Jacob, and my entire family. The worst part is I publicly created a rift between myself and my child. Oops! Needless to say, I apologized after the game and began restoring the connection.
Mistakes will happen, but keep trying!
Ironically, I’m sharing this embarrassing story as encouragement. None of us are perfect, and we shouldn’t entertain a delusional belief that we will do everything right and lead our children to perfection. Do your best! Discipline takes time, but through your consistent connection and strong desire to lead your children with love, you will help them achieve self-discipline and grow into well-rounded adults.
“How do I discipline my child?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve received since publishing, “Discipline: A U.S. Marine’s take on what it is and why we need it.” It’s a wise question because on one hand, discipline done right can influence positive behavior, solidify your relationship, and increase your child’s chances of succeeding in their life’s endeavors. On the other hand, discipline done wrong can have traumatic long-term effects, reduce confidence, and create a rift in your relationship that is incredibly difficult to mend. Here’s a brief overview of what I previously wrote so you’ll have context for my recommendations today. I encourage you to read (or listen to) the entire article!
Recap of “Discipline: A U.S. Marine’s take on what it is and why we need it.”
Discipline is training and preparing, not chastising and punishing.
If I were to break my idea of discipline down into its simplest form, I’d submit that discipline is a cyclical process where you learn from someone you trust, reenact what you learned (self-discipline), and teachwhat you’ve learned. The word discipline was tainted over time to incorporate “chastisement” or “punishment”; however, “discipline” originated from a word that describes a teacher presenting information that a pupil accepts.
Effective discipline leads to self-discipline.
We emphasize discipline because we want our children to apply what they learn in our absence. That’s self-discipline. You lead others to become self-disciplined by applying the following fundamentals:
Set the example!
Remember, it’s a team effort.
Create a structure for repetitive actions.
Be consistent and persistent.
Reward and hold accountable.
Prioritize education and explain the “why.”
Building upon this foundation.
I’ve read several books since I wrote my original article about discipline that have caused me to reflect on my own relationships at home and work. There are two specific books that I highly recommend to any parent, teacher, mentor, or caregiver. The first book is Daring Greatly by Brené Brown that talks about embracing our vulnerabilities. I honed in on her philosophy on how ineffective and harmful it is to “shame” others into compliance. The second book is Hold on to Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Garbor Maté. Their thoughts on viewing every interaction with our children through the lens of connection or “attachment” resonated with me.
I’m going to intertwine some of the concepts from these two books, and use some of Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Maté’s principles of natural discipline (chapter 16) in Part 2; but first, I want to establish a baseline understanding. We must relinquish control of the outcome.
Relinquish control of the outcome.
Yes, this seems counterintuitive and potentially contradictory to what I have previously recommended. I admit that this can even seem like advice from a defeated father. Contrarily, I couldn’t be more inspired and motivated to deepen my relationship with my children as I lead them to become self-disciplined! I still believe that we should begin with the end in mind like Dr. Steven Covey recommends in his books; however, I believe we’ve become unhealthily obsessed with how our children will turn out. A combination of this obsession and failing to embrace our own vulnerabilities associated with what appears to be our children rejecting us can taint our relationships and diminish our influence.
Children are living beings… not robots. That means that no matter how much you attempt to control the environment or manipulate external factors, only the child can determine the person he or she will become in the future. I highlighted the words “manipulate” and “determine” because these two contrasting concepts underpin my entire philosophy. Another word for manipulate is “coerce,” which is to persuade someone to do something by using force or threats. This kind of leadership may actually be effective in getting your child to do what you perceive to be the right thing–garnering praise from the untrained eye.
I counter by explaining that this type of leadership usually restricts creativity, damages the relationship, and often develops individuals who are unable to solve complex problems–especially in the absence of direct supervision and guidance. The negative impact on the relationship is arguably the most crucial aspect because it creates a vulnerability for the child that is filled by immature people with no vested interest in the child’s success in today’s peer-oriented society.
The bottom line:
There’s no code you can enter that will develop your child into what you assess to be the perfect being. Attempting to do so will only cause emotional distress for you and your child.
Relinquishing control of the outcome isn’t an excuse to become disconnected or give up leading your children; it’s a freeing mindset and daily commitment to doing your best to mentor and guide your children without attempting to control their actions. Many metaphorically describe this phenomenon as “teaching a man to fish” or “leading a horse to water.” In both scenarios, you lead the individual towards what’s best for them, but you cannot attempt to force them to take a certain action. They must determine their own fate.
This highlights that the crime-punishment methodology becomes cyclical, and it has the potential to condition one’s mind to persist in this dangerous cycle. For example, when my oldest daughter was three, her daycare implemented what was called “the red chair.” The teacher could send a child to the red chair for 1 minute of time-out for every year of the child’s age if he or she committed an offense. Well, there was this young man who loved to hit others. So much so, that he would hit someone and immediately begin walking to the red chair to serve his sentence…without being told. My wife and I still chuckle about this, but it is one of many examples of how punishments only lead to immediate compliance, not the change in behavior we seek.
A different approach.
Leading our children to become self-disciplined requires a different approach. This approach should help them recognize what they did wrong, understand why it is wrong, and determine they will not do it again. That’s why I encourage parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers to remove the word “punishment” from their vernacular. Instead, teach your children that there are positive and negative consequences for our actions.
I also encourage leaders to implement rules and restrictions that keep the child focused on their daily priorities and maintaining a connection with those who share common values with the adult. As I’ve said before, there are a lot of people and things grasping for our children’s attention to influence their behavior. Either we can combat those influences or collaborate with them. Either way, we must be intentional about how we lead and guide our children.
My dad has always given me wise advice even if I pretended I wasn’t listening. One piece of advice he gave me was, “always give your children an opportunity to redeem themselves.” We cannot overlook this important note. To “redeem” is to regain possession of something. So what is lost when our children do something wrong? Nothing! No matter how frustrating their behavior may have been, you still love your child unconditionally. The problem is your child may perceive that they are disconnected from you, and their perception becomes their reality.
I’m not suggesting that we pamper each of our children’s fleeing emotions. This would be an exhausting and fruitless endeavor. However, we must be keenly aware of the moments our children feel disconnected from us. Strengthening the connection to our children should always be the focal point of any interaction with them. This leads us to our first principle of discipline in Part 2 of this series: Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line.
Bedtime is probably my favorite time of day! Nothing like plopping down and allowing my body to sink into the mattress after a long day’s work. Before I do, there’s one more thing we have to do in my home—STORY TIME! Our story times are fun, engaging, and slightly silly. 😜
I want to share these moments with you and your children. As such, I created audio versions of the three books in my Parent-Child-Connect (P2C) Book Series just for you! Each video was created with you and your children in mind as I read it with the same energy and enthusiasm that has entertained hundreds of children across the world. This selection is perfect for ages 2-9!
Grab your favorite YouTube-compatible device, relax, and enjoy tonight’s bedtime stories on me! Let’s create memorable and teachable moments together!
BREAKING NEWS: Screen time is at an all-time high! Some of you would skip right past that headline. Others would say, “I knew it! Those darn millennials ruined everything!” Some would immediately have a reflective moment. Regardless of your reaction to the above headline, we must agree that we are living in the digital age. In a time where screens and gadgets dominate children’s attention, fostering a love for reading has become more crucial than ever!
We all know that reading enhances literacy, but it’s important to note that reading also builds confidence, sparks imagination, cultivates empathy, and opens the portal to knowledge which helps us develop our perspective and opinions. As parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers, one of the most impactful ways to instill this love for reading is by engaging children in fun and memorable reading experiences. Creating these experiences allow us to unlock the magic of reading and pave the way for a lifelong passion for books.
When should I start reading to my child?
Before we discuss how to create these magical experiences, I’d like to quickly answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive: When should I start reading to my child?
My recommendation is you start reading as soon as the child is conceived. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out! There are numerous studies and articles that support reading to your baby while in the womb. Many assert that reading to your baby as early as the third trimester is great for bonding and developing your child’s brain–both admirable goals! I’d like to add more practical benefits: practice and habit creation. If you recall, in my previous article, “How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments,” I offered lessons I learned from reading aloud to children. It’s simple: the earlier you start practicing those fundamentals, the more skilled you’ll become. You are truly bringing the story to life for your child from conception to reading age, so bring on the inflection, excitement, energy, and rhythmic stories!
Start early and sustain the habit!
How do I get my child interested in reading?
This is another frequently asked question I received that is usually accompanied by embarrassment, guilt, and a feeling of inadequacy. Allow me to encourage you: There was a time I felt reading was a chore for numerous reasons! I’m sure my parents chuckle at my “anti-reading” stint when they see how involved I’ve become with writing and increasing literacy, but it was a phase. Reading didn’t fit well with my schedule, I didn’t like the books that were chosen for me, and TV was much more entertaining. These may not have been facts, but they were true to me.
Whether your child is revolting like young Olaolu or they’re extremely interested in reading, let’s discuss my ten principles for creating magical reading experiences to increase literacy.
1. The Foundational Principle: Creating magical reading experiences begins with books relationships.
I admit, this is strange. My foundational principle about reading and increasing literacy is not about books. Allow me to explain. My goal when reading to children is not to simply tell them what words are on the page. My goal is to bring the story to life in a way that resonates with the children. It’s about establishing shared moments or connections with the children that will last beyond the story time. If successful, they can and will carry memories and lessons they learn for the rest of their lives.
Using story time as an opportunity to build relationships gives us the flexibility and scalability we need to engage our children at a level that they understand so they continue this habit throughout their lives. What I’m suggesting is you are the star of this magical experience, and the book is your script. Everyone knows that many successful stars tend to ad-lib quite a bit. It’s what makes the show or movie unique and keeps the fans engaged. Be enthusiastic, athirst, and excited for story time! It’s your time to shine and build a lasting relationship.
The 5 P’s (2-6)
2. Priority: Shared reading must be a priority in the home or classroom.
Why would you want to read when you got the television set sitting right in front of you? There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.
Harry Wormwood in Matilda
Ok, I get it Mr. Wormwood. Children can learn a lot from watching TV. In fact, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrissett –founders of Sesame Street–disproved the theory that TV doesn’t require the interaction needed to enhance literacy. However, prioritizing regularly shared reading experiences creates a safe and productive environment where parents, teachers, caregivers, and mentors can help children explore their unique talents, life experiences, and needs. Ultimately, along with increasing literacy, prioritizing shared reading experiences can help the child grow and develop into a more confident individual capable of developing meaningful connections with others.
3. Patience: To accept delay without becoming frustrated.
The flexibility associated with our foundational principle can be a double-edged sword. Since reading provides countless opportunities for learning beyond the words on the page, imaginations can sometimes seem to completely derail what you seek to accomplish during a particular story time. This requires patience. Do your best to gently refocus the child on the topic. It won’t be perfect, and some days will seem more productive than others. Remain consistent and patient. The memorable and teachable moments are worth it.
4. Perspective: Evaluate your motives. Understand the child’s perspective.
Remember your why and the child’s why when patience begins to wear thin. I have to reframe the situation when I feel frustration or impatience creeping in. Most times, my frustration/impatience is driven by this thought: “I know what’s best for you!” Though this may be true, our intentions, motives, and attitude must remain aligned to our goal to increase literacy and memorable experiences. In other words, I may intend to establish a magical reading experience with my children with a great motive, but if their distracted behavior or disruptions cause me to become frustrated or impatient, my attitude is distorting the connection. There are numerous factors that may influence the child’s behavior. Take a deep breath, reframe the situation to account for the child’s perspective, and re-attack from a different angle.
5. Passion: No passion, no magical reading experience.
Books have the power to evoke emotions and create lasting memories. I love seeing children’s reactions when I’m reading. For example, in my book “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine,” there is a scene where Billy Dipper hits his rock bottom moment. I do my best to sell that moment to children so they can empathize with Billy. Then, I like to pause both for dramatic effect and to encourage children to empathize with the characters and discuss their feelings about the story. Explore themes of friendship, kindness, perseverance, and diversity to foster empathy and understanding. Encourage them to share their favorite parts of the story or relate it to their personal experiences. These emotional connections make reading a deeply personal and enriching experience.
6. Positivity: Maintain a great attitude and remember: Your positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Reading should never feel like a chore or a task. Instead, it should be a delightful adventure that sparks curiosity and captivates young minds. Therefore, you have to be supportive and maintain a positive attitude towards reading. Bring stories to life by using expressive voices, incorporating gestures, and even acting out certain scenes. Encourage children to participate by asking questions, predicting what might happen next, or even creating their own alternate endings. By infusing playfulness and positivity into reading sessions, we create an environment where children eagerly look forward to the next chapter. Moreover, it shows that you support their creativity and opinion, and your positive reinforcement will help build their self-esteem.
The three I’s (7-9)
7. Inspiration: Develop success from failures.
Consistency is key when it comes to cultivating a love for reading. Even so, children may struggle to comprehend, sound words out, or pay attention. Establish a reading routine, whether at bedtime or a designated hour during the day. Make it a special time, free from distractions, where you can fully immerse yourselves in the world of books together. Allow children to choose books that pique their interest and let them take turns reading aloud. Again, some story times may feel more productive than others, but continue to maintain a consistent reading ritual. Your children’s anticipation of the next story time and inspiration to read will overcome any obstacles they previously encountered.
8. Improvisation: “Situational family engagements”
Create teachable moments. Pause during the story to discuss new vocabulary, encourage critical thinking, and ask open-ended questions. Relate the story to real-life experiences or connect it to other subjects like science, history, or art. Integrate activities, such as crafts, games, or cooking, that align with the story’s theme to enhance comprehension and make the experience more memorable.
9. Influence: There are many influences out there. Will you combat them or collaborate with them?
Choose engaging and age-appropriate books. Selecting the right books is key to capturing children’s interest and keeping them engaged. Vibrant illustrations, relatable characters, and captivating storylines can work wonders in capturing their imagination. Explore various genres and introduce diverse authors and cultures to broaden their horizons. Children are constantly observing the world around them and learning. Create a sense of wonder and excitement about the world of books by relating the things they observe to the things that have the greatest influence on their lives.
10. Carpe Diem: Opportunities & moments are prevalent in our daily affairs. Seize the moment!
Reading to children goes far beyond simply teaching them how to read. It creates a bridge to a world of imagination, knowledge, and discovery. Seize every opportunity to infuse fun, teachable moments, and emotional connections into your reading experiences. By doing so, you’ll nurture a lifelong love for books. Let’s embrace the magic of reading and embark on a journey where children’s hearts and minds are forever transformed through the power of words!
Father’s Day is coming soon! As such, Military Families Magazine lent me its platform to discuss one of the many challenges that military fathers (and other service members) face while deployed. As the title, “4 Lessons from a Deployed Father” suggests, I wrote this article during a recent deployment, so you’ll quickly gain first hand insight on my personal feelings and the feelings of others who I either deployed with or met overseas.
Many of us shared a similar internal conflict that admittedly seems melodramatic. Oftentimes it is a search for purpose at home that can lead to one simple question, “Have I been replaced?” It’s a harsh reality created by a skewed perspective. However, if left unchecked, those feelings can become consuming and lead to isolation, depression, and other dangerous side effects.
I felt it was imperative to provide four lessons I have learned to apply over the years to overcome my own feelings that arise when I’m away from home for days, weeks, or months at a time. Click the button below to read the entire digital June 2023 edition of the Military Families Magazine. My article is on Page 15. Share with your deployed father, husband, or service member!
I’m excited to share my latest article with you! My friends at Stand For the Silent gave me another opportunity to share my opinion. This time, I discussed how we can provide our children the support they need. This topic is extremely important to me because I believe our support is the foundation upon which our children build their lives. Therefore, our children rely upon our support to effectively navigate the obstacles and opportunities in life.
Other Articles I’ve Shared on the Stand For the Silent Platform.
Stand For the Silent has really opened their [virtual] doors to me and the parent-child-connect platform! It’s always fun to collaborate with visionaries who share a common goal. Their message, “I AM SOMEBODY” perfectly aligns with my goal to remind people to “Never, EVER, forget your worth!” Ultimately, we share a common goal to raise awareness about issues that impact our children and provide resources for parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers to develop a positive relationship with their children to lead them through life’s many challenges.
Here are the other articles I shared.:
What is Stand For the Silent?
I have introduced Stand For the Silent before on my platform, but here is a brief description from their About Us page. It won’t take you very long to figure out why I love collaborating with this organization!:
Stand for the Silent was started in 2010 by a group of high school students in Oklahoma City, OK, after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley’s son, Ty Field- Smalley. At eleven years-old, Ty took his own life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully that had been bullying him for over two years. Stand for the Silent exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story, and offer education and tools that will prevent their tragedy from happening to another child and family. Kirk and Laura’s mission is to continue to change kids’ lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes.
Since May 2010, Kirk and Laura Smalley have traveled to over 1,000 schools and spoken with over 1,000,000 kids! On March 10, 2011, Kirk and Laura met privately with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in The White House prior to attending the first ever White House conference on bullying.
The Stand For The Silent (SFTS) program addresses the issue of school bullying with an engaging, factual, and emotional methodology. With the help of student leaders, Kirk Smalley presents his inspirational story, and students are shown first-hand the life and death consequences of bullying. Through this unique approach, lives are changed for the better. Students, some for the first time, develop an empathetic awareness through education and understanding.
The goal of the program is to start a SFTS chapter at each participating site. Each chapter consists of a group of students committed to change. These students will no longer stand for their peers to suffer at the hands of a bully. At the end of each event, pledge cards are given to those who agree to stand for the silent. The pledge speaks of respect and love…hope and aspiration. Above all, it illustrates the main lesson taught through the Stand For The Silent program: I AM SOMEBODY.
My brother, Dr. Clement Ogunyemi, and I are excited to announce our most recent partnership with the Good Dads nonprofit organization in Springfield, MO! Good Dads has dedicated the entire year to men’s mental health, so we are elated to be a part of these efforts at such a pivotal time.
The Men’s Mental Health interview.
Clement and I were both extremely transparent during this conversation-style interview. In less than 25 minutes, we discussed depression, counseling, family, self-esteem, and more! Our hope is that we can encourage and inspire other men to free themselves from societal norms, and seek the help they need to focus on their mental health and become stronger. Why? Because you have to focus on personal development before you can pour into anyone else. That was the focal point of the entire interview–self care.
The Men’s Mental Health blog.
You will hear us reference a book throughout the interview. Well, that book is none other than the “Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition. A leader’s journey to building mentally strong children.” We created this journal-style eBook to help parents, teachers, and mentors lead their children on a positive mental health journey. This guide is completely free to download and has been shared all over the world! You can download your own copy below.
Good Dads was gracious enough to share “Day 1” of our guide. Day 1 helps leaders introduce the “mental health” topic. Mental health should no longer be a taboo topic–especially with men. We must continue to be open about our mental health journey and prioritize mental resiliency the way we prioritize physical resiliency.
I would be remiss if I didn’t provide more information about the organization behind these noteworthy initiatives. Here is a short blurb about what Good Dads is. Find out more about this great nonprofit organization–to include how to donate– by visiting https://www.gooddads.com/about-us!
Good Dads is the only organization in Southern Missouri focused on helping all dads be more engaged with their children. It began when business leaders in Springfield, Missouri recognized the impact of father absence on child well-being and came together for the purpose of supporting father engagement.
Good Dads is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to encourage fathers by providing inspiration, resources and events to help dads be the best they can be.
Brea and I have always encouraged our children to read a variety of books. On one hand, Brea was a huge reader growing up–choosing to spend time in the book mobile from the time it arrived until it departed. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading until I decided I wanted to rebel against my parents’ “reading time.” Although we had an entire library of interesting books to choose from in my home, I transformed my perspective on reading from “fun” to “forced.” That was just one of the many weird things I decided to rebel against during my preteen and early teen years. Thankfully, I matured (a little) and regained my love for reading by junior year of high school.
Our reading strategy.
As parents, we decided that reading would be one of our main priorities. Even so, we do our best not to order our children to read; instead, we create opportunities for them to enjoy quiet recreational time before bed. They usually write, color, read, or play with their toys quietly in their separate rooms during this “wind down” time. We found that each of them are more inclined to enjoy reading when they didn’t feel forced to read. With that in mind, we always try to strategically purchase books that align their interests with the values we teach in our home. Recently, I slightly deviated from this plan after I found and began reading the book, “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Honestly, I found this book on accident while looking for another book with a similar title. However, I knew this book was a great read for both me and my oldest daughter (recently turned 13) after I read the first four chapters! The irony is not lost on me that I–the prior rebellious teen–have handed my daughter a book about becoming a “rebellious teen.” Of course as the title reveals, the kind of rebellion I’m encouraging is against low expectations and harmful stereotypes. I encouraged my daughter to reflect on what she’s learning and how she can apply what she reads.
The elephant analogy.
Alex and Brett lead in with an “elephant” analogy I have heard and read several times. Similar to the “grasshopper in a jar” analogy, Alex and Brett explain that trained elephants are often restrained using only a small rope. As with every other time I’ve heard this analogy, I interpreted that I should not allow artificial or superficial constraints to limit my potential. I handed my daughter the book thinking that was the same message she’d receive. To my surprise, here’s what she wrote.:
Some people are like elephants; they are strong, smart, and hold potential, but sometimes they have to be held down by a rope. Elephants can escape from a small rope, but they have to be trusted to do what’s right.
Constraints vs Tethers.
My brand new teen daughter taught me a valuable lesson on perspective. Some of us view the proverbial rope as a constraint. This rope can and will stop us from achieving greatness. It makes us think less of ourselves and keeps us from achieving our true potential. Others, like my thirteen year-old daughter, view the rope as a tether.
I use the specific word “tether,” because it has multiple definitions. One definition in Merriam-Webster states, “a line (as of rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement.” People like Brilee use the second definition: “a line to which someone or something is attached (as for security).” The easily recognizable difference between the two definitions is the connection’s purpose. One is used to restrict while the other is used to secure. To “secure” is to, “fix or attach (something) firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost.”
Bringing it all together
I’m so proud that I was able to learn a valuable lesson from my teen’s perspective of a well-known analogy! Many of us view the proverbial rope as a limitation. Even so, Brilee reminded us that it can be a firm connection to our values. Life presents so many obstacles that at times, we choose to take the easiest path. Unfortunately, the easiest path isn’t always the one that aligns with our values.
Brilee’s perspective is a gentle reminder that we must identify and commit to the principles that drive our daily decisions. We have to remember our purpose and allow our moral compass to direct our judgement. This is what will inform our decisions when we have the opportunity to cut corners or cheat.
Brilee, thank you for encouraging me to remain committed to my guiding principles regardless of how hard it may be!
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!