Sunshine Parenting

by audrey@sunshine-parenting.com

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Camp Director, Mom, Author, and Speaker Audrey Monke and other youth development experts discuss summer camp, family life, raising thriving kids, and ideas for living more connected and happier lives.

Best Sunshine Parenting episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on May 28, 2020, 10:01 pm

#2

Ep. 78: The Danish Way of Parenting (Part 2)

March 15, 2019 • 34m

In Episode 78, I'm chatting with Jessica Joelle Alexander, author of The Danish Way of Parenting. We talk about how the Danes raise happy kids who become happy adults. Big Ideas Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. Danish people are happy because of the way they're raising their children. Happy children become happy adults. Free play is really important for children. The Danish way is simple and common sense. It's really important for students to have a feeling of belonging and connectedness. Quotes Jessica: "I have always actually been living in different countries and interested in cultural differences and studying cultural differences. My background is psychology." Jessica: "When my kids were born I became really fascinated by Danish children." Jessica: "I was reading the newspaper and I saw that Denmark had been voted as one of the happiest countries in the world- again. And that it had been for forty years in a row always in the top three." Jessica: "I had this lightbulb go off in my head and I thought "Oh my God! They're happy because of the way they're raising their children." Jessica: "I had to write this book because this style of parenting had helped me so much." Audrey: "It's not just about the parenting. It's the lifestyle and the way they choose to spend their time and live their life that is getting these really positive outcomes." Jessica: "The biggest beneficiaries of this time together are the kids and you really see how much they love being with their families and there's no drama and there's no negativity." Audrey: "We have to work a little harder and think a little more about doing the things that we all need for our wellbeing. This connection piece." Jessica: "Play, free play has been an educational theory in Denmark since 1871. And for them, it's the most important thing a child can do. It's considered learning. It's nothing about can they read, can they write, can they do these things early? Because they know they will learn those things." Jessica: "Just these simple things--like playing, being outside, or simplifying--is really what we need." Jessica: "One of the hardest things is how to shut out all that pressure and believe in the simplicity." Audrey: "In the end, what is more important is being a happy person with good relationships? And that leads to success." Jessica: "Self-esteem is how you feel about who you are." Jessica: "You can do anything if you believe in yourself." Jessica: "The book is very much education. It's focusing more on schools, but it's also at home. A bit like talking about what you can take home from camp." Audrey: "Let's get the whole world to be the Danish/summer camp way!" Links Audrey's book, Happy Campers: Nine Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults comes out on May 7th and is available for pre-order now. Visit www.happycampersbook.com to find links to all your favorite book retailers where you can pre-order your copy. Download the Hygge Oath and sign up for Jessica's email newsletter at www.jessicajoellealexander.com http://thedanishway.com/ Jessica on Instagram Books mentioned The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

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#3

Ep. 100: Teens' Advice for Raising Responsible, Independent Kids

August 09, 2019 • 34m

In Episode 100, I'm chatting with an amazing group of young adults ages 16 and 17 who participated in a month-long junior counselor program. They share their thoughts on ways parents can raise thriving, independent and responsible young adults. BIG IDEAS To help kids learn, gain confidence and independence, there are things parents should be letting their kids do early on, such as: traveling alone, navigating the airport, even flying by themselves packing bags, getting their own school stuff together doing their own laundry cooking (especially holiday meals), managing their time Establish expectations and a level of trust with your teen. Using technology to track your kids can cause unnecessary stress. Camp is a great break for parents because they don’t track their kids. They know they’re safe and so they can relax. Talk ahead of time about safe, comfortable ways to communicate with your teen while they are out so that you can be there to help when needed. Trust first. Trust that your child is responsible until they prove you wrong. QUOTES Audrey: "When parents are there (kids) just kind of default to letting them do it all because they’re so used to doing it. It's easy for parents to just drag (kids) along. But parents can start putting kids in charge, even when they’re there, and they can start that really young.” Audrey: “When you think about college and who you want in your dorm, you want people who’ve had experience taking care of themselves a little bit and living in a shared space.” Audrey: “When kids are going to preschool and you’re helping them get their lunchbox ready, that is appropriate.  But I think sometimes it just keeps going a little too long. You could switch over to just saying, ‘Okay not that you’re in (whatever grade) you get to start being in charge of remembering your own lunch’ and that kind of thing.” Audrey: “If someone else packs your backpack for you every day, at what point do you figure out what you need and how to do it yourself?” Audrey: “Being aware that you have things to learn is the starting point. A lot of it is your responsibility to figure out. So, if your parents empower you like, ‘Hey—what are the things you want to learn this year?’ that is a big deal." Audrey: “It’s kind of interesting how focused we are on academic stuff, but we neglect to learn some things that are part of being an independent person like being able to take care of your belongings, your laundry, your feeding, all that stuff.” Teens: “Kids love to cook, too. Instead of saying, ‘No, can I just get this done?’ allow them to do little tasks like mixing the brownie mix, cracking the eggs. Encouraging that at a young age spikes interest and eventually, you don’t even realize that you already learned how to scramble eggs or make a quesadilla.” Teens: “I wish my parents gave me more responsibility and made me feel like they trusted me. My parents do track me wherever I go, check all my social media, look at my phone and I have no privacy. That makes me feel like I’m not trusted or like I don’t have as much of my own life. If they gave me more freedom, I feel like it could be better.” Audrey: “The problem is that you can’t prove to someone that you can do something until you’re given the opportunity to try it.” Audrey: “We’re living in a time where parents are very fear-based. They’re so worried that something terrible is going to happen and we believe that if we know where you are, something terrible is not going to happen. But it’s kind of weird because just knowing where someone is doesn’t mean that or really make the difference.” Audrey: “If something’s not going well, I want my kids to come to me and ask for advice if they need me to help but I don’t want my kids to be thinking that I’m going to take care of it for them.” Audrey: “Anything that someone else if doing for you means that there is no motivation to figure it out for yourself. If you know someone else is going to take care of it, why would you start?” Teens: “If you establish expectations and your kids know that you’re there if needed but also what is expected of them and if you want your kids to do those things, then there’s a level of trust that exists that is necessary for a healthy relationship.” Audrey: “I think it’s causing a lot of stress for parents because now they think they’re supposed to be checking their kids’ everything, every day. That is like a whole other job.” Audrey: “There's so much dangerous stuff happening on college campuses and kids go from like the kind of things that we're all talking about to basically being unsupervised 100% of the time. And for a lot of kids it leads to just bad decisions because they haven't had much practice. Because if you've been so closely monitored, you haven't had any practice making decisions.” RELATED: Ep. 92: Creating Strong Relationships with Teens Ep. 27: Raising Teens who Thrive with Stephen Wallace https://sunshine-parenting.com/2018/05/what-do-kids-need-at-different-ages/ LINKS: Audrey's website www.sunshine-parenting.com Audrey's email: audrey@sunshine-parenting.com I wrote the book, Happy Campers, 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, because I really wanted to share with parents and teachers some of the simple strategies that we use at summer camp to create these really amazing experiences for our campers, where they grow in their confidence, social skills, and happiness, over just a few weeks at camp. You can find out all about Happy Campers on my website at www.happycampersbook.com. If you're interested in joining a group conversation, seeing videos and additional resources related to Happy Campers, there's lots more information about my summer read-along on my website, in the Book Hub.

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#6

Ep. 104: Know and Love Yourself AND Your Kids

September 06, 2019 • 36m

At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge.- The Enneagram Institute Website In Episode 104, I'm chatting with my daughter Meredith who--like me--enjoys learning more about herself and other people. The tool we discuss most is the Enneagram, which Meredith discovered last year through her employer and introduced to me and the rest of our family. Big Ideas It is important for parents, and anyone who works with kids, to be self-aware. Understanding personality types can help us to create healthier relationships because it affects the way we view the behavior of others, as well as our own reactions in different situations. Empathy increases when we are more aware of other people's tendencies. Each relationship is unique based on personality types. It is the parent's responsibility to adjust and to figure out where the child is coming from. Noone can be defined by one personality test or type but learning about the different characteristics and identifying with types can be extremely informative. We can't accurately assess other people's types just by observing their behavior. Personality test results are personal and best used for self-reflection. Being self-aware helps us identify our weaknesses and strengths in relation to achieving our goals and in our relationships with others. The Nine Enneagram Types in their Family Roles Ones: family perfectionists Twos: family helpers Threes: family stars Fours: Shed light on family problems Fives: family experts Sixes: move between building family unity and rebelling against the family unit Sevens: family cheerleaders Eights: family protectors Nines: family peacemakers   Quotes Audrey: "The theme of this podcast is about the importance for parents and anyone who works with kids to know themselves because your own self-awareness has a huge impact on how you view the behavior of others." Audrey: " You can have more compassion when you understand where other people come from and it changes your view of why they do something that may annoy you or that kind of thing." Audrey: "As parents, we are different with each of our kids because our kids each have different personalities. It's our responsibility to adjust and not our kids." Meredith: "I do think that the Enneagram, and with most personality quizzes once you find out what you are, you sometimes don't want to be that. I think its easier to focus on the downsides of that personality type and look at the good sides of other personality types." Audrey: "Remember, 'Comparison is the thief of joy.'" Audrey: "The more I've read about my type, the more it has freed me from some of my frustrations with myself. It has given me a better understanding of why I've done some of the things I've done and why I am the way I am. It actually makes me feel a little better." Audrey: "I like the whole idea that there are some things that just make me kind of unique and just because I don't do something the same way or view things the same way, it's still okay." Audrey: "I just think that self-awareness is a really important part of social intelligence and a lot of us don't have it. I really don't think I did until a few years ago when I started doing more strengths testing, this Enneagram, and the four tendencies. It's like all this stuff kind of comes together like a puzzle of self-awareness." Meredith: "It's a tool for yourself and maybe for your close family members and friends so that they can understand you better. It's not something that you go around asking people, 'What's your Enneagram number?' because sharing your numbers, sharing how you think, your weaknesses, the different lies you believe about your self, is actually quite personal." Audrey: "You really have to read the book to understand for sure the one (type) you are because oftentimes depending on how healthy you are and what you're doing, you may look like a different number." Audrey: "You really can't tell about someone else because you don't know what's going on inside of them." Meredith: "Being aware of Enneagram numbers has helped me to empathize with the way other people were thinking and for them to understand me, as well. It has made me more aware of myself and for example, how I can come off to others, even when I don't think I'm coming off as critical." Meredith: "It is helpful to be aware of the way my brain is wired, that I need to actively work to give myself grace, to be aware of my thought patterns so that I can see when I'm starting to be in a state of stress or a state of health because I'm taking on those qualities." Audrey: "For me, I'm prone to not rest in my emotions long or deep enough and that came out in the last few years with problems in my body. Like in my shoulder, my knee, I would always have some huge pain and it was because I had internal pain that I wasn't dealing with." Meredith: "Read an introductory level book. It's most helpful to read the descriptions in-depth and identify with one. I think that's more helpful than just taking a quiz and having it spit out an answer for you." Meredith: "You move around on the Enneagram a lot, sometimes to lots of different ones depending on if you're in a state of stress or security. So it's not like your number is locked in. You move around to your wings and then to other numbers too. It's normal to identify with lots of different qualities, but I think it's when you really identify with one number, you found the right one." Audrey: "It's fun to take them because any little insight that you gain is just more self-awareness." Meredith: "You have to give yourself grace because it's not like you can know what Enneagram or personality types all your kids or family members have, especially when kids are changing and forming in different ways. I think it's good just to be aware, but don't be too hard on your self." Audrey: "There can be certain personalities that may bring out your not-great parts, like when your kid has a personality that's so different from yours or one that clashes with yours. That can be really hard as a parent." Audrey: "A lot of parents have pain when they don't feel their relationship is really strong with one of their kids. But there is always reparation, especially if you take the time to learn a little bit more about each other and figure it out."   Books We Discussed     Different Personality, Strengths, and Tendencies Assessments The Enneagram is one of many different assessments that can give you more self-awareness. Here are some other popular options: Myers-Briggs Read more about Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies or take her quiz to find out yours! Related Posts & Podcast Episodes Ep. 28: Focusing on our Kids' Strengths 4 Ways to Focus on our Kids' Strengths Celebrating Strengths Ep. 75: Begin with the (Parenting) End in Mind Ep. 59: 5 Ways to Help Kids Thrive during their School Years and Beyond Ep. 97: Parenting the Challenging Child #oneword My One Word for 2019: Focus Want More Sunshine? Subscribe to my email newsletter to keep up with my podcasts, events, book club & resources, including favorites like my Ready for Adulthood Checklist. “It is remarkable to witness what happens when kids think and talk about a strength, often for the first time identifying it in themselves, and then learn how they can use that strength in different settings. When given a name to a part of themselves they recognize and intuitively know, kids gain a vocabulary to talk about themselves more positively.” #happycampersbook

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#7

Ep. 129: A Manifesto to Strength: Raising Anti-Fragile Kids

February 28, 2020 • 46m

Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm talking to Steve Baskin about raising strong, anti-fragile kids. Steve and his wife, Susie, are the owners and directors of Camp Champions in Marble Falls, Texas. For over 27 years, Steve has studied the camp experience and how to make it the best possible growth opportunity for kids. In his new essay, A Manifesto to Strength (published below for the first time) and in this interview, Steve shares his thoughts on what we can do as parents to raise kids who aren't so fragile. Big Ideas The summer camp experience offers kids so many benefits and opportunities for education and development. Avoid over-parenting and preparing the road for your child. Instead, prepare your child for the road by doing less for them as they get older. Kids who are allowed to experience life's ups and downs, learn to advocate for themselves and who learn from their mistakes are more equipped for adulthood. Protecting kids from discomfort is not the same thing as protecting our kids from danger. It does more harm than good in the long run. Camp is a powerful place to build internal strength. Resilience means you are worse after a challenge, whereas if we are anti-fragile, we should emerge from a challenging situation stronger. An example is a child who overcomes homesickness at summer camp and then has an easier time going away from home when it's time for college. It can be hard for parents to see their kids for the age they truly are. Instead, they see the "weighted average of all their memories." Quotes Audrey: "We have a lot in common in that we take this camp thing very seriously and are always thinking about how we can better deliver the social-emotional life skills growth that kids need at camp." Steve: "One of the things I began to see early on was over-parenting, first the helicopter parenting and then the snowplow or lawnmower parenting. One is watching your child's emotion and then trying to manage your child's experience and prepare the road for your child, instead of your child for the road, and I saw that as problematic." Steve: "We joke that we have a rule of parenting through laziness. If you think your child can do it, let them. If you suspect they might be able to do it, let them. If you think there's an off-chance, let them." Steve: "College campuses are responding to what they're getting. I think the horse is already out of the barn. The kids get there and they have had their parents get on the phone and talk to the teachers. They've had parents adjudicate their friendships. They've had their college applications coauthored.  They've been used to having someone say, 'If it's too much for you, sweetheart, your mom and dad are here, we're going to protect you. And it sends a really deleterious signal." Steve: "It's one of the saddest ironies that we, in our unbelievably, almost overwhelming love of our children and in an attempt to create some sort of advantage for them, we're baking in longterm disadvantage." Steve: "We think we need to protect our children. And the answer to that is yes, of course, from starvation and moving cars and juggling chainsaws. There are things that are legitimately dangerous. But we are not there to protect them from any discomfort or any pain or any sadness. What we need to do is not protect but prepare." Steve: "When you're handed that delicate baby on day one, you'd better be in the protect and provide business. You'll make sure they're not hurt and they're fed. But every day after that, we ought to be protecting and providing just a little bit less and preparing a little bit more." Steve: "There's a general parenting trend that equates protection from discomfort with protection from danger and it makes loving parents create fragile children." Audrey: "In general, the kids we see at our camps are less fragile than the general population. Parents who are willing to let their kids go to camp are already ahead of the game." Steve: "Parents tend to think in binary terms: I don't want a fragile child; I want a resilient child. And that misses a third, much more ambitious and exciting axis. Fragile is what happens if you drop a crystal glass on the ground. It breaks. If you drop a Solo cup, nothing happens. It's not better, it's not worse. It's the same. It's resilient. Anti-fragile is something that, when exposed to stress, challenge or difficulty, actually becomes stronger. So your immune system is anti-fragile. You get exposed to a disease and you're less likely to get it in the future." Steve: "We need to experience challenges and get through them to know that we're capable of it and just to build those psychic muscles." Steve: "I want (kids) to fail at something and then know through perseverance and try, try again that they can overcome that failure." Audrey: "(When kids forget their homework) people overestimate the importance of grades and underestimate the importance of getting the zero and realizing that the world doesn't end. And remembering it the next day." Steve: "We want our children to avoid any short term discomfort but at the cost of long term capability." Steve: "I'd rather have kids think the world is an adventure and know that everything's not going to be perfect. If you constantly send a (fearful) message, you make fragile children who are scared of the world. When it comes time for them to go into the workplace or go into college or go do something bold and exciting, they're going into a world that's scary. They're going into a world that they're not prepared for." Audrey: "Some parents have almost zero risk tolerance. They'll think about all the things that could possibly go wrong instead of all the learning and growth that could go right." Audrey: "We have a lot of fears that are unfounded. We've been inundated with scary, sad stories in the media but the chances of those happening to your child are very small." Steve: "My struggle with social media is that it has hacked our evolutionary wiring in the same way that Haagen Daaz or Pringles have hacked our wiring for fats, sugars, and salts so that we won't eat foods we were evolved to want. We want human connection. I think that Snapchat is to human connection what Pringles is to nutrition. It feels almost like food, and then you do a whole lot of it and you feel bad afterward." Audrey: "Teach them to be discerning. It's not like you send them out with no guidance...We're showing them, we're watching them do it, we're feeling comfortable with them doing it and then we're letting them do it." Steve: "If a parent were to say, 'What can I do?' my first answer is always, 'Less.'" Steve: "Always work off the assumption that they're okay. 'You've got this, I believe in you. You're strong.'" A Manifesto to Strength by Steve Baskin In recent years, we have read a great deal about grit and resilience. We have also seen studies about emotional fragility in our young people.  Even beyond the studies, I have personally seen a rise in young people (often first-time campers) who struggle with overcoming adversity and bouncing back from failure. But we know that life will have its challenges.  Our children will experience failures. They will experience loss and potentially even tragedy. I can think of no greater task as a parent or an educator than to help prepare our children to overcome these future struggles. But in order to do so, we must face an important realization. Doing so will be hard for us. As parents, we want to protect our children from dangers and hardships.  Our desire to protect them from real threats can also lead us to going too far.  In our love, we can find ourselves striving to protect them from discomfort, embarrassment, sadness, or boredom.  Their pain or discomfort becomes ours and we often do everything we can to eliminate it. But this does not serve them.  Our children need to learn how to cope with disappointment, heartache, sadness, and failure. They need to learn how to deal with an awkward social situation and social break-ups. We should not be absent: we should be there to let them know that we have experienced similar challenges and that we are available to help them. But we need to let them have these experiences themselves now.  Learning to cope with challenge is like developing resistance to diseases.  You become better at it through exposure to the challenges. Children are “anti-fragile”, which is to say that they become more capable through challenge.  [I recently wrote an article explicitly on this topic.] I share this because it deeply influences how camp benefits your child. We want camp to be full of friendships, laughter, fun, and activities.  But we also know it is a powerful place to build internal strength. I use “strength” rather than “resilience” for a reason.  “Resilience” simply means that you are no worse after a challenge. If we are indeed anti-fragile, we should emerge from a challenging situation stronger.  With that in mind, I hope some of the following happens to every camper: They are homesick and overcome it so that they will know they can thrive outside of their parents’ shadows.  This will be critical when they go to college. They have a heated dispute with a friend, are upset, and eventually, find a resolution. They try something new and fail.  And fail a few more times.  And then succeed through perseverance. They try something and fail without an eventual triumph.  We will not always win or succeed.  Children should know that they can survive those situations, too. I want counselors to be there to support our campers after these challenges, but not to prevent them from ever happening. One of the odd gifts of camp is that it is fun and joyful enough to allow these growth moments to happen and still feel like a positive experience. I once thought that the challenges (homesickness, cabin squabbles, struggles to learn a new skill) were the price you paid for the joys.  As the cliché says, “No pain, no gain.” “Into every life, some rain must fall.” But now I know that the pain IS the gain.  These challenges and struggles are building capabilities and capacities in your child that will bear fruit later in life.  When other 18 year-olds are suffering from homesickness as college Freshmen, your child will be there to comfort them. When a friend gets fired from a job or suffers from a break-up, your child will understand the disappointment and provide empathy.  And when your child has his or her own troubles, they will know they have overcome issues in the past. Here’s to strong children! Steve Sir About Steve Baskin Steve Baskin is the executive director of the boys’ side of Camp Champions. In addition, he is a partner at Camp Pinnacle and Everwood Day Camp. Steve is a lifelong camper. He first attended camp when he was 8 and he continued for 11 years. In his years as a camper and a counselor, he discovered the power of the camp experience to develop confidence, social skills, and joy. He even wrote about camp in his college applications as one of the defining experiences of his life. After graduating with honors from Davidson College, he got off the camp track for a few years during which he was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in New York and Simmons & Company in Houston. He then went to Harvard Business School, where he decided to pursue his true passion: summer camp. He and Susie have been full-time camp owners since 1993. Steve is lucky to have the pleasure of partnering with his wife (and best friend) and raising their 4 kids. Steve has been featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal, American Way magazine, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin-American Statesman. He has written for Psychology Today on youth development, education, and parenting. Steve chaired the Tri-State Camp Conference (the largest camp conference in the world) from 2008-2010. In 2009, he received the National Service Award from the American Camp Association(ACA). In 2010, he was appointed Treasurer of the ACA and serves on its Executive Committee and on the National Board. He is currently the chair of the American Camping Foundation. In 2013, Steve was asked to speak at his 20th Harvard reunion as an expert on parenting. WATCH STEVE’S HARVARD TALK: PLAY ► About Camp Champions Camp Champions is a 2-3 week overnight camp in Marble Falls, Texas for girls and boys. It is on beautiful Lake LBJ and offers over 50 different activities. They are all about the 4 Rs: respect, responsibility, reaching out to others and taking reasonable risks. Resources Campchampions.com Julie Lythcott-Haim's Ted Talk, How to Raise Successful Kids without over-parenting Related Ep. 128: “America’s Worst Mom” Lenore Skenazy talks about Letting our Kids Grow Ep. 101: Entitlemania with Richard Watts 5 Steps to Raising a Problem Solver 5 Ways Camp Grows Grit Be a Better Parent by Doing Less Ready for Adulthood Check-List for Kids Ep. 85: Grit is Grown Outside the Comfort Zone (PEGtalk)

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#8

Ep. 108: Simple Acts of Giving Back with Natalie Silverstein

October 04, 2019 • 36m

  In episode 108, I'm chatting with Natalie Silverstein about her new book, Simple Acts: The Busy Family's Guide to Giving Back. We talk about the importance of instilling the value of service and acts of kindness. She shares how she created a resource of volunteer opportunities for parents and children in her community and what led to her writing this book for families. It is full of ways to make time in your family's busy life for service and suggestions for making service part of your family's culture. Big Ideas Doing service, acts of kindness, helping others is a wonderful way to grow empathy, compassion, and open-mindedness in young children. Studies show that people who volunteer with their families as children are more likely to do so as an adult. Studies also show that volunteering makes you happier and healthier. There are many ways to give back which don't require scheduling, spending a lot of money, or volunteering formally. It can be incorporated into the things families are already doing: playdates, holidays, vacations, etc. Involve your kids when deciding who to help, how to serve, and which charities to support. You can follow their lead and they will be more invested. When we make service a priority, we find the time to make it happen. There are people in need all year long, not just during the holidays. Social media can be a helpful tool for people to promote positive messages and acts of kindness. It can also be a way to get family and friends involved in service. Quotes Natalie: "All of these life skills that kids get a camp are values that parents want to demonstrate and model at home." Natalie: "I do believe that this work begins at home with very young children. Anything we can do to incorporate these acts of kindness into camp life, into extracurricular activities, and most importantly, into our weekends in our free time, is really so important." Natalie: "It creates a foundation, a moral base for kids, from which they grow." Natalie: "Everybody has a laundry list of extracurricular activities and tutoring and sports and ballet and instruments and all of these things. We don't necessarily prioritize taking time out to say 'no' to some of those things and 'yes' to service and acts of kindness and volunteering together." Audrey: "It's a partnership. It starts at home and then you try to find places like schools, religious organizations, and camps, that also support and reinforce those values that you're trying to teach your kids. Audrey: "We can't do it alone. If we're all trying together to promote these things, it works so much better and our kids turn out a lot better, too." Audrey: "As individuals, we all have different things that bring us flow. I think just like regular work, our volunteering should also be something that's in our wheelhouse, things we enjoy doing." Natalie: "We are all moving through our days, interacting with other human beings. Teach your child to make eye contact with the person behind the counter, hold the door, thank the postman. There are things you can be doing at every moment, almost every day." Natalie: "This is not rocket science. I think the theme of my book is you don't have to change the world to change the world. You don't have to fly to Africa and build a school to make an impact on someone else's life." Natalie: "Give (your children) the opportunity and don't make it negotiable. Say, 'This is what we do. This is how our family operates. Find the thing that really speaks to you and then let's find a way for you to give back in that realm.' It just builds on itself for kids." Natalie: "Instead of saying you don't have time for something, change it and say it's not a priority and then see how that feels." Natalie: "We want to model our values. We want to live our values, perform service and acts of kindness, and just treat people the right way out in the world." Natalie: "These are all things that people can be doing if they're mindful of it. It needs to be intentional. Just like everything in parenting. We need to be thinking about what it is that we can show our kids every day as we walk through our lives that this is how we care about others because we hope that they care about us in the same way." Audrey: "If you find something that you really enjoy doing, then you'll keep doing it and it will bring you a lot of joy, too." Natalie: "You're helping others in the community, doing something substantive. But you're also creating really nice warm family memories and I think those are the things that people remember as adults." Natalie: "There are so many little things that kids can be doing You just have to keep your mind open to it and your heart open to it." Natalie: "You don't have to go out and do this huge, enormous, time-consuming, expensive thing. It's just the little things and they're like drops in a bucket. They add up and they fill the cup of your child's emerging character. It makes a difference in who they are." Natalie: "It's about mindfulness and keeping an open heart and an open mind and really just reminding your children to think outside of themselves." Natalie: "If we can get young people on social media channels to turn the narrative around such that we are putting up instead of putting down--promote the good and spread the good--that can be very powerful." Natalie: "If I'm hosting a play date and these kids are already drawing or painting or making cookies, that can have a service or kindness element built into it. Then even better, go for a walk in the community and deliver those cookies to the local firehouse. This is all part of making it social, making it fun, doing it with other people." Audrey: "It's just so important. We need to counter the negative. Cyberbullying is at an all-time high. If we can just get our kids to flip this and be more focused on what good they can do, then that would make this a kinder world." Natalie: "All of these life skills we learn are tiny drops in the bucket of a child's developing character. If you're not modeling this behavior, if you are screaming at the person behind the counter or the other driver in the car, the way you show your child how you hold the door, how you greet the postal worker by name, it's really powerful. By showing kids 'how we do it in our house', it sticks. It just sticks." About Natalie Natalie Silverstein is an author, volunteer and passionate advocate for family service. After a 15-year career in hospital administration, managed care and healthcare consulting, she now works as a freelance writer and editor with a particular focus on the non-profit sector and community service. Her first book, Simple Acts: The Busy Family’s Guide to Giving Back, was published by Gryphon House on April 1, 2019. In September 2013, Natalie launched the first local affiliate of Doing Good Together (www.doinggoodtogether.org), a Minneapolis-based nonprofit with the mission of helping parents raise kids who care and contribute. As the New York area coordinator, she curates a free monthly e-mail listing of family-friendly service opportunities that are distributed to thousands of subscribers. Natalie is a frequent writer, speaker, and consultant on the topic of family and youth service, presenting to parents, educators, and children across New York City. She is also a contributor to parenting blogs, GrownandFlown.com, and Mommypoppins.com. Along with her husband, she is the co-founder of The Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson’s with GBA(www.silversteinfoundation.org),a nonprofit focused on finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease in GBA mutation carriers, and serves as Executive Director and a member of the Board of Directors. Natalie earned an undergraduate degree in health policy and administration from Providence College and a master’s degree in public health from Yale University. Links Doing Good Together #CampKindnessDay Simple Acts Facebook Page Related Posts & Podcasts Ep. 46: #CampKindnessDay with Tom Rosenberg Why My Family is Celebrating World Kindness Day Focusing on Kindness  

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#11

Ep. 128: "America's Worst Mom" Lenore Skenazy talks about Letting our Kids Grow

February 21, 2020 • 39m

Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm talking to Lenore Skenazy about how letting her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone in New York City led to her being labeled the "World's Worst Mom" and sparked the Free-Range Kids movement. Her book, Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts with Worry, along with the programs developed and promoted by Let Grow, counter the culture of overprotection. Big Ideas Over the last decade, Lenore has been fighting the societal belief that our children are "in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape." People feel so much fear for their kids' safety, even when there's no reason to be afraid. A free-range childhood means kids can go outside after school and play with their friends without it being a structured, supervised activity. There are 5 reasons why parents today are so much more afraid for their kids: Media -- news, films, and crime shows. Laws and fear of litigation. Experts in books and magazines that produce anxiety. Marketplace and safety products that capitalize on our fears. Technology that allows parents to monitor kids at all times. The Let Grow organization promotes two school initiatives: Let grow Project: Kids get a homework assignment to do something on their own, without their parents' help. This promotes independence, a sense of pride, competence, and confidence." Let Grow Play Club: Kids stay after school or arrive early for extended, unstructured playtime with other kids. The Let Grow movement is promoting Free-Range parenting laws in states around the country. The bills define 'neglect' as a blatant disregard for a child's safety and wellbeing. It's not letting a kid walk to school, come home with a latch key, or play outside. Quotes Lenore: "It's not like parents are crazy, it's that we are being fed so much fear from so many corners of our life and culture that it's almost impossible not to breathe it in. It's like pollution. You're just breathing it in and it gets into your body." Audrey: "I look to you as a hero because you were at the forefront when this crazy overparenting came into play." Lenore: "It feels so much less safe, even though statistically the crime rate is lower now than it has been in 25 years." Lenore: "Your brain works like Google. It takes in all this information and then when you ask, 'Is it safe for my kids to walk to the bus stop today?' up pops the pictures or stories you've heard about, whether it was from 30 years ago or a Law & Order episode yesterday. Those stories are so easy to recall but they're not the most relevant results...so we start making our decisions based not on any kind of statistical reality, not on any kind of reality at all, but on the basis of all these terrible stories that have been shoved into us as we've been growing up." Lenore: "The media is certainly an enormous reason that we are so much more afraid than our parents who weren't as saturated with these fears as we were." Lenore: "We live in a litigious society. When you start thinking like a lawyer, which we all do, nothing seems safe enough...So you take something that is extremely safe and it is rewritten through the lawyer brain as potentially dangerous and you see everything through the lens of risk." Audrey: "People perceive camp or especially letting your child go to camp as being so risky and dangerous. But what's amazing is that statistically, summer camps are far safer than people's backyards." Audrey: "I think parents feel like when someone's not under their exact, very close supervision, there's this fear. You really want to trust other people with your kids, but there is always a risk." Lenore: "(Technology) gives us this level of omniscience that is actually very oppressive to parents because it feels like you have to know literally every breath your child is taking." Lenore: "It's as if our child is in such danger that we better be on high alert all the time or something terrible will happen and it's all our fault. That's why I feel sorry for parents raising kids in this era. The pressure to know everything and be aware of everything and worry about everything is at a breaking point." Audrey: "I think it has actually gotten worse than what you were talking about back 12 or 13 years ago when you first wrote Free-Range Kids." Lenore: "Let Grow, rather than working on changing minds, is focused on changing behavior. And the behavior we're thinking about is extremely similar to what happens when parents send their kids off to camp. We are trying to give kids a smidgen of independence and when they get that they're less anxious afterward and the parents are less anxious, everybody is allowed to grow." Lenore: "Until you see that they can do something on their own, you don't even know if it's going to work, this great experiment with the people you love the most. But when you see that they're blossoming, they can handle it, it's just a remarkable transformation. And you don't go backward...You watch them and your heart fills." Lenore: "The Let Grow project is just a way to make it easy to let go because everyone's doing it. Either everyone in the class or the school or the or the school district.  So you're not the crazy mom. So there are other kids doing it, other parents doing it." Audrey: "Because we're in a time where people look askance at the child or two siblings walking to a park to play. It's too bad. But being able to say, 'Oh this is an assignment from school.' You almost have to give your kids the words they need in order to defend themselves doing something that they are perfectly capable of doing and giving parents the permission to let their children do this." Audrey: "If you and all of your friends at school are all letting your kids do this stuff, you're going to start talking about that. The community will start understanding--it is genius." Lenore: "Kids have been so stunted, in a way. When there is always around somebody who's saying, 'Let me handle that for you.' We say, always helping kids isn't always helping them. And so, going to a store and talking to strangers, well, it's a store full of people. And I guess they're strangers, but they're just people. They're not criminals. And they just felt so much better about themselves and better about the world that they were making more friends. That was a, a bonus that I didn't expect." Audrey: "People think, 'Oh well my child's not ready for such and such.' But the thing is, the way you get ready for things is practicing. And if we don't let them practice, then are they ever going to feel competent and confident and capable." Audrey: "I'm always encouraging parents to just have kids do little things like making dinner or handling the checkout at the store. If you're not comfortable sending them on your own yet, let your child do the talking and handing them the card and running it through the thing or putting in your phone number and just let them try it in front of you until you feel confident." Lenore: "It's not just fun for kids to do things for their parents, it's also telling them that their parents trust, believe in and need them. Those things feel so great. It's great to know that your parents don't think you're so endangered or incompetent that you can't do things on your own." Audrey: "One of the reasons so many adolescents feel so bad is because they feel unneeded. When we are doing everything for them and not letting them start doing for themselves or helping others then they don't feel needed or valued, or necessary to a household, or to a school or a community. That's a terrible feeling." Lenore: "When you rise to the occasion on the playground and there are little kids there and you're the grownup, cause you're a fifth grader or a fourth grader, it is a great feeling. It's not just the leadership, it is the kindness that you get into yourself and realize this is fun. They didn't even realize what they were enjoying was empathy." Lenore: "I think camp is one of the last bastions of childhood freedom. And I think kids who are lucky enough to have it, whether it's day camp or overnight camp, they should take advantage and parents should take advantage too, because, as you said, the parents feel a lot more relaxed when they finally get to take their eyes off their kids for summer. Summer should be a time of freedom." About Lenore Skenazy After her column "Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone" landed her on every talk show from The Today Show to Dr. Phil, Lenore Skenazy got labeled “America’s Worst Mom.” Nice. She turned around and founded “Free-Range Kids,” the movement that says kids are NOT in constant danger. That grew into “Let Grow,” a non-partisan nonprofit working to make it easy, normal and legal to give kids back some independence. To that end, Lenore has lectured all over (Microsoft, DreamWorks, Sydney Opera House...) and been profiled everywhere from The New York Times to The New Yorker to The Daily Show. A journalist herself, she spent 14 years at the New York Daily News and has written for everyone from The Wall Street Journal to Mad Magazine. Yep. Mad! Her reality show “World’s Worst Mom,” airs on Discovery Life (from time to time, late at night, in re-runs). Last year, Utah became the first state to pass a "Free-Range Parenting Law," guaranteeing parents the right to let their kids do things like walk to school or play at the park without a security detail. Links Website: Let Grow: Future-Proofing Our Kids & Our Country Let Grow Project (for schools) FREE-RANGE KIDS has become a national movement, sparked by the incredible response to Lenore Skenazy's piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. Parent groups argued about it, bloggers blogged, spouses became uncivil with each other, and the media jumped all over it. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But if you try to prevent every possible danger or difficulty in your child's everyday life, that child never gets a chance to grow up. We parents have to realize that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence.     Interviews with Lenore Skenazy https://vimeo.com/56107897 Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind Jonathan Haidt and Lenore Skenazy co-authored "The Fragile Generation," Peter Gray, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom we had without Going Nuts with Worry, Lenore Skenazy Related Ep. 60: The Importance of Outdoor, Child-Directed Free Play with Andy Pritikin Ep. 65: Raising Engaged, Happy Kids with Mary Hofstedt Ep. 78: The Danish Way of Parenting (Part 2) Ep. 87: The Impact of Camp Experiences with Laurie Browne, Ph.D. American Camp Association The Camp Impact Study 

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#12

Ep. 94: Happy Campers Book Club Kick Off

June 28, 2019 • 24m

In Episode 94, I talk about why I wrote my new book, Happy Campers- Nine Summer Camp Secrets For Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, why I changed to a 'less is more' style of parenting, how the book is set up, who I wrote the book for, how I want people to use the book, and what we're going to be doing in the Happy Campers Book Club this summer! Why I wrote Happy Campers I wrote Happy Campers because I've had a lifelong interest in child development and positive psychology, and just understanding what makes people flourish. A lot of the things we do at summer camp can be taken home and used at home to help kids just connect with each other and with their parents, and have a lot more fun at home. I realized, about five years into parenting, that I needed to bring more of my camp techniques home. And really simple things that we train our camp counselors to do, parents can easily bring home. I've been noticing in the past few decades, it just seems like kids and parents are struggling a lot more with all kinds of different things. You don't have to do any crazy big changes in your family to get some really positive outcomes. I tried to synthesize into this one book some of the higher-level ideas and really simple strategies that I really think that parents and teachers, and really anyone that works with kids, can use to build a stronger relationship with kids and help them develop the character traits and skills that they need in order to be thriving adults. Why I changed to a "Less is More" parenting style Even the volunteer thing can go awry when you do too much of it. Working parents are trying so hard to do everything well that we do a little too much of everything. One of my fundamental philosophies that I've learned is that less is more, and the famous put on your own oxygen mask first. I'm so glad that I learned before it was too late, that to be a great parent doesn't mean that you have to be doing this stuff all the time. Read more about my philosophy in my post 10 Ways to do LESS and be a MORE Effective Parent. How is Happy Campers set up? The first chapter is Connection Comes First and that's the foundation of the book. The last secret is Coaching Kids To Better Friendship Skills, so the bookends of the book are both about connection and relationship. We've learned at camp that kids won't listen to us or even follow our advice, unless they first know that we really care about them as people. Sometimes we get so fixated on all the things our kids need to do, and we want them to do, and we forget that in the end what's really important is that we just have this great relationship that will last. One Simple Thing, at the end of each chapter, is really just about a change in yourself in either something that you can try to think differently about or a little thing that you can do that will help you relate better to your kids. I've found that oftentimes writing a note is more effective than repeatedly saying something. And it's not overwhelming or daunting to write a sticky note. I wanted to make the book just really simple little things that are really do-able and don't feel too daunting. And I also really don't want people to try everything in the book. Listen to my interview on the Mom Writes podcast where Abby shares her sticky note story. How do you want people to use Happy Campers? The way that I want people to use this book is the way that I've read some of my favorite books, which is- I just keep them around as a resource. I don't think even that this is necessarily the kind of book you need to read cover-to-cover. I'm hoping that it will be a book that will resonate with people. The secret that "Kids Are More Capable Than Parents think they are" talks all about responsibility and having kids get more involved with household chores and things like that. The book is about things that I've learned at summer camp that can be applied in other settings. Who I wrote the book for I really want teachers to read this book. I know from a lot of the teachers who I know that their time at camp, as camper counselors, and their experiences working in the setting of camp, really helped them be amazing teachers. I really wish that every parent would have the opportunity to spend at least one summer as a camp counselor. Join the Happy Campers Book Club In the Happy Campers Book Club Group, we'll be sharing bonus videos, downloadable resources, article and book recommendations. Most importantly, we'll have the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with each other. Step 1: Pick up your copy of Happy Campers wherever you buy books: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound Books-a-Million Kobo Step 2: Download your Summer Read-Along Schedule and Discussion Guide from the Happy Campers Book Hub. Step 3: Join the Happy Campers Book Club! I invite you to join me to read the book this summer and as we read along just learn from one another and collaborate on even more ideas that we can all share, to help raise this generation of kids to overcome the issues that a lot of kids are facing. "We really want our kids to be super resilient and able to make it through the ups and the downs and the challenges they're inevitably going to face. The 9 Summer Camp Secrets Watch the video version of this episode: Want to hear me talk more about Happy Campers? Check out these interviews on other podcasts! TiLT Parenting Best of Both Worlds Campfire Conversation We Turned Out Okay Dr. Sears Family Podcast Author Accelerator's Mom Writes The Pickup Line

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#13

Ep. 70: Parent on Purpose with Amy Carney

January 18, 2019

"It is not about creating some outcome for the kids. It's just about us coming together to figure out what values are really important to us, what type of adult we would like to launch, and how we can help them to get to that place." Amy Carney In Episode 70, I'm chatting with Amy Carney, author of Parent on Purpose: A Courageous Approach to Raising Children in a Complicated World. In the course of raising triplets and another daughter just one year younger, Amy found herself simply "surviving" motherhood and came to the realization that she needed to be more proactive, instead of reactive, as a parent. Her intentional parenting philosophy contributed to her family's courageous decision to disconnect from their busy lives and travel around the U.S. in an RV for seven months. With their children approaching ages 13 and 11, Amy and her husband felt that life was speeding by and an overhaul was needed. Their goal was to reclaim time together, to solidify the foundation of their relationships, and connect with their kids before they left home. So in 2014, they pulled out of the typical American life they led and went on a journey to find more happiness and unity. Big Ideas In the book, Amy shares the lessons learned to help parents: LEAD -- Visualize the end, determine your values and claim your authority. Pause and figure out your destination. As a family, ask yourselves: Where are you headed? Where do you want to go? LOVE -- Play, disconnect to reconnect, create timeless traditions. LAUNCH -- Prepare kids for adulthood by teaching them how to work. Make time for kids to volunteer and work outside of the home. A part-time job in a restaurant, retail store, or family business can be excellent training grounds for the real-life skills that kids need. Kids also need to do their share of work in the home, to contribute as part of the family. As they get older, they can take on more responsibilities such as cooking dinner and running family errands. We discuss ways parents can build their relationships with their children by doing less. Amy encourages parents to get off the sidelines of their children's lives and create a culture that children will want to come back to, with fond childhood memories. Quotes Amy: "Being stuck in a small space with a family of six forces you to work things out, to communicate -- where at home if you have arguments, everyone could go to their rooms. That wasn't possible. So we really learned how to communicate, to apologize, to come together, move on and become more flexible." Amy: "People ask if I homeschooled them. I 'unschooled' them. Our whole point was to get away from the stress and pressure and see there is so much more to the world. There are other things that are just as important as their formal education." Audrey: "I think in life we tend to not be intentional enough. Even with our own personal values. Often times we haven’t articulated them to ourselves or taken the time to reflect, so that we can, in turn, share them with others." Audrey: “It’s about bringing it into congruence. When your values and your actions aren’t matching up is when you don’t feel good about your life. But when they do, you feel much more at peace. This is where we want to be." Amy: "I see a lot of parents launching their kids with guilt and regret. Because their kids are gone and they didn’t do all the things they had hoped to do. I think if we look more to that end and parent today with that in mind, we will be able to launch them with a little more peace." Audrey: “I think that is what we all want, to launch our kids with core values that will help them have a really happy, healthy, successful life, full of good relationships, and to keep that connection with home, so they'll want to come back and reconnect with their siblings." Amy: “I think it is really important that if kids are carrying cell phones and driving cars that they are working to contribute to those costs...We have to raise contributors, not just consumers.” Resources/Related Read my post, One Simple Thing, for monthly parenting challenges for a happier, more connected family. Listen to my podcast episode 68 to hear more about my 12 Parenting Tips. Another great podcast is my interview with Jessica Alexander on The Danish Way of Parenting. Links Amy lives with her husband and five children in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Follow Amy Carney: Amy Carney -- Parent on Purpose Amy Carney on Facebook Amy Carney on Twitter Amy Carney on Instagram Buy her book, Parent on Purpose, on Amazon. As a foster and adoptive parent, Amy donates proceeds from her book to benefit children living in the foster care system.

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#14

Ep. 120: Family Traditions & Rituals

December 27, 2019 • 25m

In this episode, Sara Kuljis and I discuss the importance of family rituals and traditions. It's one of the topics that we wanted to cover with parents in our Raise Thriving Kids Workshop that we had in September. Big Ideas Family Rituals and traditions are important because they: help build a sense of shared identity and deep belonging. help us organize and make sense of an ever-changing world. help teach and impact faith and family values. They may remind us of our cultural backgrounds. provide safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world. help us cope with trauma and loss. produce amazing memories, the silly and the sacred. Talk to your kids about what traditions are important to them and let them come up with their own. Quotes Sara: "It has been remarkable to watch how important, year after year, the daily rituals and traditions of summer camp are to our campers and to our staff. I dove in and did quite a bit of research on this and was struck by how profoundly shaping rituals and traditions are in our family cultures." Sara: "In our fast-paced world, where people travel for work, where families are going in different directions more often, where we don't necessarily live by extended family, many of the rituals and traditions are falling by the wayside. Kids have fewer of these anchor points than they used to back in the day." Sara: "There are things that stay the same when lots of other things are changing and it really does give us a sense of structure and stability and addresses our longing for simpler things and things you can count on. I think that's very important to kids, especially as they're growing, changing schools, maybe moving homes. Maybe family dynamics are changing, but I can count on tradition." Audrey: "People like that security of know that things are as they were. Kids need structure, they need to know when bedtime is, but they equally need the ritual of being tucked in and having someone say prayers with them or say goodnight to them or whatever the tradition is in your family." Sara: "Children want boundaries. They want a frame around the picture. As they are figuring out how to live life, they really crave discipline. So structure and traditions add to that and it creates a sense of safety and knowing what to expect." Audrey: "You almost don't realize some of the practices that you do or don't do that are traditions.  It is anything that you do that is part of your family's life. So many of our rituals are communicating our values." Sara: "There are a lot of life skills, really practical stuff, that are embedded in traditions that are helpful for our kids. Traditions provide us safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world. The more change, the more rituals and traditions we need." Audrey: "When things are tumultuous, you just want these touchstones of things that are still going to happen, that you can depend on still being there, regardless of what else has changed." Sara: "I urge you to look back and think about the rituals built into your family. What are the memories that came out of that? What glue to bond a family and help you get through some of the bumpy times." Audrey: "Sometimes when you're in it, you don't realize that those are traditions. If there's something that you do as a family that's really fun or memorable, why not repeat it each year?" Sara: "As you think of the traditions in your own family, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure. The big things are awesome but sometimes it's just the daily flow of life things that provide even more anchoring." Audrey: "Returning to camp itself, or to the vacation places where your family likes to go, year after year, will help to bring calm back to the storm of life." Audrey: "Rituals and traditions are just something that can be going on all year, every day or every weekend or whatever, Friday night, movie night, a Saturday morning hike -- it could be anything." Resources Find out about our next Raise Thriving Kids Workshop 100 Family Memories 5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities Related If you liked this podcast episode, listen to: Ep. 7: Family Pace and Space with Sara Kuljis Ep. 23: Peaceful Mornings with Sara Kuljis Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis Ep. 70: Parent on Purpose with Amy Carney    

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#15

Ep. 114: Precursors to Gratitude

November 15, 2019

What comes before gratitude in our children? In this episode, Sara and I discuss how we can prepare our kids to become grateful people. Sara and I talked about gratitude last year in this episode about Growing Gratitude. Big Ideas As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, it is important to remember that we can cultivate a heart of gratitude all year long. Good manners are important but employing these "precursors" to gratitude can help instill our family values in a deeper and more meaningful way. Precursors to growing gratitude: Avoid over-giving, as it can lead to entitlement. When we earn what we have, we value it more. Cultivate empathy. When kids realize that there is a cost (money, time, energy or thought) associated with everything they have, they are more grateful. Model gratefulness. When kids hear their parents thanking each other, showing respect and demonstrating gratitude, they are more likely to adopt the same habit. Be exposed to seeing how most of the world lives or not always having daily comforts. A vacation from things like big meals and hot showers, such as in camping situations or while traveling, can help us to realize a greater appreciation for all we have. Quotes Audrey: "You can't just start saying thank you or start doing gratitude practices and suddenly become this grateful person. There are precursors to gratitude." Sara: "When our kids are little, one of the first things we teach them is to say please and thank you. As my kids grew, I wanted their thank yous to come from inside them, not from me reminding them." Sara: "It's my work to do as a parent to set these things up and to cultivate these habits in myself and in my home so that when it's time for our kids to build the muscle of gratitude, it fits in. It's kind of super-powered and more authentic." Audrey: "Practicing kindness and practicing gratitude is good because you build the muscle." Audrey: "The depth is what we're talking about. It's almost like a mindset, a way of thinking about things and remembering the impact of what we do." Sara: "As parents, we so long to meet (our kids') needs well, but we also feel compelled to meet all their wants. By 'needs' I mean shelter, love, food, medical care, sleep, all the things we need to thrive. But then we get on this hamster wheel of, 'well, they better have the newest iPhone, or best kind of tennis shoes, or the tutor everyone else is going to,' and we can over-give. We can over-meet their wants to a place where they develop an entitlement." Sara: "We've really got to guard our choices. We're developing grown-ups eventually who can work and earn something, who can long for something, who can have an appreciation because they had to wait or they had to grow into it." Audrey: "The expression 'delayed gratification' has 'grateful' in it." Audrey: "It's just kind of balancing. Are we giving in a good way? Are we overdoing it? It's the 'over-giving'. It's not to not-give to our kids, it's to give in a way that we're thinking through, is it the right amount?" Audrey: "You have to do things. You have to gain competence to earn confidence. You can't make someone confident. It has to take some time. It comes from learning that it's okay to make mistakes, you're not going to be good at everything the first, second, third, even 20th time." Sara: "When we help kids understand 'what did it cost that other human to provide this to me,' it naturally grows gratitude in them." Audrey: "Young kids are made to be self-focused. That's normal developmentally. Anything we can do to get them out of their head helps. I do think empathy is such a key thing." Sara: "I think sometimes our kids hear us being critical of things or dissatisfied with things more often than they hear us being grateful. Make thanking each other, thanking your spouse for something that he or she did, a really normal thing." Sara: "If our kids never see us being grateful, how will they suddenly become grateful people?" Audrey: "If you're only living in the bubble of your neighbor, which likely is safe, or you're own home, which likely has electricity and your kids have their own beds and running water, I think that we can get almost desensitized." Audrey: "We can just set our kids up, get that soil ready to really build their gratitude muscles." Sara: "Whenever we do something in the daily flow of life, it just becomes part of who we are as a family. Finding a habit or a ritual (not just around the Thanksgiving table--although that's awesome!) where we get to name something that we're grateful for, or practice thanking another person for something, done daily or weekly makes things stick." Audrey: "When we adults practice this ourselves it goes a long way in setting our kids up to be more grateful." Resources/Related Posts Three Good Things A Grateful Family is a Happy Family: 5 Gratitude Practices Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis Gratitude Revisited 5 Ways to Create a Happy Thanksgiving

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#16

Ep. 107: How College Makes or Breaks Us with Paul Tough

September 27, 2019 • 26m

In episode 107, I'm talking with Paul Tough about his latest book, The Years That Matter Most: How college makes or breaks us, a powerful mind-changing inquiry into higher education in the United States. We talk about the state of higher education today and how can we help more young Americans achieve success. Big Ideas Paul Tough's book examines the relationship between higher education and social mobility in the United States today and explores these questions: Does college still work? Is our system of high education fair? How can we help more young Americans achieve success? In the past, higher education was the great engine of social mobility but that relationship has broken down. Today it is viewed by many as an obstacle to social mobility. The most selective institutions, with the biggest endowments and budgets, almost exclusively educate affluent students, while low-income students mostly go to less selective community colleges and regional public universities that spend much less on each student and have much lower graduation rates. Studies show that some institutions spend as little as $4,000 a year per student compared to $150,000 or more on each student at elite, selective colleges. More money per student is spent in public high schools than in most public colleges. In the wealthiest zip codes, more students receive testing accommodations for learning differences than students from less affluent zip codes, which seems like one more advantage for the people who need them the least. While colleges strive to differentiate themselves by their facilities, endowments, and many other attributes, the ethical character of the institution should also be considered. Higher education is not a consumer good, it is a collective good. Tough proposes 3 solutions: Institutional change -- the level of admissions at private institutions needs to change. There should be pressure on them to admit more low-income students. Families should consider the global implication of their decisions and allow the culture to shift away from 'what's better for me' in the short-term to 'what's better for society' in the long-term. Public institutions need more funding and investment so that they can accommodate more low-income students and so that tuition rates don't continue to rise. Although the College Board has tried to change public opinion, they continue to be a force for inequity. The fact remains, the more money you have, the higher your test scores. Standardized test scores need to be given less weight. Test-optional institutions found that they were able to admit more low-income, first-generation students who graduate and succeed at the same rate as other students. Quotes Paul: "I think we have set up this system and there's no one villain that's responsible for the system. We all made it. It has inequities baked into and they're getting worse. It's clear now that there's this kind of stratification of institutions of higher education." Paul: "We've heard a lot about how high tuition is at those private institutions, but the reality is that those institutions are losing money on each student. They spend more on each student than they bring in. That's because they believe it's going to pay off in the future when those alumni become rich donors." Paul: "What is most remarkable to me about those numbers is that we pay for kids all the way through high school and then when they get to this more complicated, sophisticated, essential training for them to get ready for the workplace, we suddenly say, you can get by on a quarter as much as we were spending on you last year." Audrey: "Our kids have gone to very good schools, and they chose them, but we weren't willing to jump through the hoops that we saw other people doing in order to get their kids into those (elite) schools. I was very put off by a lot of the ways other families dealt with things, especially around test prep." Paul: "The overall fact that I think is so critical is that in reality, those students who are admitted to the most selective institutions are, as adults, making the most money." Paul: "The reality is if you are a student at Stanford, if you work at Stanford, if you're part of that world, you are taking part in a system that is making the country more unfair. That's not just a Stanford thing. That's a reality at any of the similarly selective institutions." Paul: "This generation of young people thinks about ethics, morality, and justice a lot and they should." Paul: "The way they talk about race, identity, climate--it's inspiring. This is a generation that is putting ethics, and figuring out how to do the right thing, at the top of their priority list." Paul: "When we look at higher education, we've been trained to see it as something that is a consumer good. If your kids benefit, then my kids fail. If my kids benefit, your kids lose out. That is not the way we used to think about higher education. It was a collective good." Paul: "Considering the ethical quality of the system you're working in, and the system that you are applying to, is a really important consideration and I wouldn't be surprised if more and more young people start thinking about it." Audrey: "We need high performing students at all the universities because that makes it more equitable. So if you're a super bright kid, you can actually benefit some of these larger public institutions in different states by getting some more brains there." Paul: "In the fifties and sixties, students were choosing their colleges just based mostly on geography and as a result colleges were more like high schools. There was a mix of different performers--A students, B students, and C students--but then something changed. Those high performing students started to cluster together at just a few institutions." Paul: "The algorithm that has been drummed into those students' heads is you just have to go to the most exclusive, most selective institution that will admit you. That worldview has created this stratification that is now so common in higher education." Audrey: "Our kids are going to public institutions, not in our own state, which is crazy when you think about it. That is what a lot of families I know do because their kids can't get into the same schools that we went to when we were going to college." Paul: "When we took that public funding away from the institutions in our own states, one solution they had was to begin admitting more out-of-state students because in-state tuition is less than out-of-state tuition...it just doesn't have the same kind of alignment between the mission (of public education) and the reality as I think it used to." Paul: "The reality is that nothing's changed in terms of the relationship between the SAT and our class structure. Test scores on the SAT correlate highly with family income: the more money you have, the more likely you are to get a high test score." Paul: "I think we need to be honest about the relationship between family income and SAT scores. Institutions need to find some way to take a more reasonable view of what those tests can do. We've given them way too much importance in our system." Audrey: "I agree, they don't really predict anything. I've been working more on kids' social skills and character development because those things end up making kids more successful in their jobs and roles, wherever they went to college or whatever they majored in." Paul: "You can sympathize with an admissions officer...All of this other stuff that we know is much more important in terms of evaluating a child and their potential is harder to put numbers on, harder to compare, whereas those numbers (test scores) just seem so tempting, so scientific. They look so nice." Audrey: "This competitive thing just goes on at every level, whether it's the kids applying or the schools trying to have the highest averages, entering SAT and all that stuff." Audrey: "I do think we need some major overhaul. Hopefully, 'varsity blues' and some of these things in your book will get us back on track so that our higher education system is doing what it's supposed to be doing for our country." More from Paul Tough "Working on this book was a remarkable experience: It took me six years to complete, and I reported in twenty-one states. The best part was getting to meet and hear the stories of so many remarkable young people — from the South Bronx to the affluent suburbs of D.C. to the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina — all of them trying to figure out how best to negotiate a path through the sometimes-treacherous landscape of American higher education. In the book, I tell their stories — sometimes joyful, sometimes heart-rending, sometimes infuriating — and I do my best to place those stories into a larger context. I talked to dozens of economists and sociologists and educators who helped me understand why our system of colleges and universities functions the way it does — and why it so often seems unbalanced and unfair." -Paul Tough PBS News Hour: Admissions scandal highlights 'disconnect' between colleges' message and action Amazon: The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us Paultough.com Paul Tough on Facebook Paul Tough on Twitter Paul's Speaking Engagements NYT Book Review Related Podcasts & Posts If you liked this podcast episode, listen to: Ep. 79: Thoughts on the College Admissions Scandal Ep. 34: Advice on College, Transferring, and How to Support Your Kids with Their Decisions Ep. 21 Advice for the College Application and Selection Process Read Conversations before College: WHO you are matters more than WHERE you go Don't miss my Happier in Hollywood Podcast: Ep. 123 Happy Camper at Work

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#17

Ep. 109: Parenting Challenges Q & A

October 11, 2019 • 46m

In this episode, I am speaking live with parents from Wayne Highlands School District and Superintendent Greg Frigoletto at Lakeside Elementary. We discuss my book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, and my key parenting tips and takeaways from lessons learned at camp. I spent the first week of October in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin speaking with teachers, parents, and camp professionals. You read about these events and see more pictures in this post. Big Ideas Parents need to have a growth mindset when thinking about their parenting skills. Lessons we learn at camp are: how to relate to kids how to make sure kids feel connected how to handle different behavioral issues as they come up It helps parents to "begin with the end in mind" (Dr. Stephen R. Covey) when deciding where they can make a more of an effort with their kids. Connection is crucial. Begin a daily habit of checking in one-on-one with kids and let children take the lead when they have thoughts to share. Independent kids become the kind of adults that people enjoy working with. Allow kids to find solutions to their problems and issues as they arise. Respond with, "Tell me your decision and I'll tell you why its the right one." This statement shows kids that you believe in their abilities. A habit of "purposeful positivity" and optimism promotes resilience. Allowing kids to be themselves and focusing on their strengths, instead of their weaknesses, brings out the best in them. We discuss positive tactics for dealing with common issues parents face, such as: whining fighting picky eaters kids who don't listen making transitions; routines and structure stressed-out teens gossiping Sometimes ignoring bad behaviors is the best approach. It's important to talk with your kids about the rules and have real conversations about your values so that they understand the "why" behind your expectations. Quotes Audrey: "What I'd really like the subtitle of my talk to be is, 'All I really need to know about parenting, I learned at summer camp.' Sometimes, as parents, we tend to overcomplicate things." Audrey: "To me, a growth mindset is just remembering that we can all do little things to get better and so can our kids. I think sometimes it's really simple, small things that do make a big difference. You have to keep evolving anyway because kids change and each kid is different so just being open to thinking about the little things you can do is really important." Audrey: "Kids need at least five positive messages for every one critical or feedback message." Audrey: "Most of the world does not go to camp. This is true, but many of the things that we do at camp can help the rest of the world. That's what my book is about: how to create that camp like growth and setting at home." Audrey: "Instead of feeling overwhelmed that there are so many things you have to do, just think about one thing at a time and make sure that one thing is on the path towards your end goal." Audrey: "If there's just one thing that you can do, give your children or your child your full attention for at least a couple of minutes every day." Audrey: "We can be so distracted that we forget to actually look in someone's eyes and say, 'What's going on? How are you doing? What can I help you with today?' A one-on-one check-in is not 'How much homework do you have? What time is practice?' or those kinds of logistical questions." Audrey: "One of the things we enjoy about the people we work with are self-starters who figure out how to solve problems. It's a really important trait for adulthood." Audrey: "I think when we are so fearful, we hold our kids back so much that they don't get the chance to show us all they can do." Audrey: "Reframe your child's negative characteristics or weaknesses into more of a strength. You can have a more positive mindset even about negative situations that come up." Audrey: "We can really change what our kids believe about themselves, their dreams, their lives, just by how positive we are about things and optimistic." Audrey: "Oftentimes things that we think of as weaknesses can be reframed as how they're going to serve them...A lot of differently-wired people do amazing things. In fact, the world really needs people who think and do things differently. Those are often the people who have the best innovations. We don't want to stamp them down by trying to make them conform." Audrey: "Sometimes ignoring things is good as long as you're doing the positive, full attention for good things. They can't be ignored for everything. They need attention. They need connection." Audrey: "I love the whole village idea. If you have extended family, good friends, teachers, coaches, these other people pouring into our kids' lives are really important." Greg: "To have parents to rely on to talk through things is a great asset for kids. Minus you, there is a great struggle that they might not be able to overcome. In a stressed world, you being there for them and having them know that you are is really important." Audrey: "Identify them as their best self. Instead of telling them not to do things, it's more helpful to help them to focus on where they want to be and who they want to be." Audrey: "Remember that kids save their worst behavior for their parents. If they're getting good reports from teachers and everyone else, you're doing just fine." Audrey: "We need to have real conversations with them so that we can feel confident that they will be able to problem-solve, that they will be able to make their own good decisions. If we don't give them that opportunity, they never get a chance to try it out." Audrey: "One of the best ways that you can raise kids who become thriving adults is showing them what that looks like. Make sure you spend time with your friends and figure out a way to do your hobbies each week. That offers your kids a great model of what it looks like to be a thriving adult." Related Podcast/Posts If you enjoyed this discussion, listen/read: Ep. 100: Teens' Advice for Raising Responsible, Independent Kids Ep. 68: 12 Parenting Tips for Happier, More Connected Families Ep. 54: Parenting Tips from Summer Camp to Raise Healthy Kids with Dr. Jim Sears 10 Parenting Tips from Camp Counselors Questions for Connection Links Discussed Sunshine Parenting Book Hub How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims Yes Brain, Tina Payne Bryson, PhD Anatomy of Trust, Brené Brown B.R.A.V.I.N.G: The Seven Elements of Trust

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#19

Ep. 46: #CampKindnessDay with Tom Rosenberg

July 20, 2018 • 25m

In Episode 46, I chat with Tom Rosenberg, CEO of the American Camp Association about summer camp, accreditation, and #CampKindnessDay. Big Ideas #CampKindnessDay Partnering with Kindness Evolution to promote #CampKindnessDay. Empathy and kindness need to be taught Practicing Kindness at Home The Importance of Story Telling Tom: "Camp is a place where we put those phones aside, we leave them home, literally - 91% of ACA camps do not allow technology to enter their campers' life while they are at camp. So at camp we have an opportunity to learn to live and work and play and communicate with other kids and young adults from different perspectives from our own." Tom: "I hope that on #CampKindnessDay ... campers will share stories of how they've learned to be kind." Tom: "Showing appreciation for other people, and helping them feel valued and part of the community - that's kindness. But that's also the way we lead." Tom: "When kids are in an environment where they feel appreciated and included, then they're willing to take positive risks and try new things that they've never tried before." Tom's Bio Tom Rosenberg has a distinguished career in the camp profession and a long resume of service to ACA. He most recently served as the executive director of Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Prior to Camp Judaea, Tom spent more than two decades with Blue Star Camps in North Carolina, most of those years as a director. Tom is a past national treasurer and board member of the ACA as well as a past board president and treasurer of ACA Southeastern. A founding board member of the North Carolina Youth Camp Association, Tom was awarded the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Camp Industry Leadership Award as well as the American Camp Association’s National Honor Award and ACA Southeastern’s Distinguished Service Award. With an educational focus in business, Tom graduated with distinction from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California with an MBA and from the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University with a BS in Management. He is also a graduate of ACA’s Camp Director Institute. Tom melds his experience in the camp profession with business expertise, inspirational vision, successful fundraising experience, professional agility, organizational skills, and strategic focus — attributes that are essential to achieving success as ACA’s President/CEO. We are indeed fortunate to have such a thoughtful, dedicated, and experienced leader who is willing to take his commitment to camp, youth development, and ACA to a greater level. Tom, his wife Pam Sugarman, and their son Daniel live in Atlanta, Georgia. Resources American Camp Association (ACA) Find a Camp (ACA's searchable database) Parent Blog (ACA) Accreditation (ACA Standards)   Links, Resources, & Related Posts American Camp Association (ACA) Find a Camp (ACA's searchable database) Parent Blog (ACA) Accreditation (ACA Standards) Kindness Evolution 5 Reasons Not to Worry While Your Kids are at Camp The Power of Kindness Too Much Screen Time? 4 Ways Summer Camp Can Help

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