Dad and daughter cuddling and smililng

Spell “love” T.I.M.E.

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

Gift Certificates to offer to your children and your spouse – “My Time, Your Way”
by Denise Dampierre of SoSooper

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Time as a present to offer

Money cannot buy time.  Not when it comes to time spent with kids.

Play-together-time often misses the Christmas list…AND yet, it’s the gift kids crave.

How does one “give” time?  How can one make it feel like a present?

That’s why we created these Gift Certificates.  Personalize with your child’s name and you signature, et voilà!  You have a valuable stocking stuffer you and your children will cherish.

Click here to download Gift Certificates.

Kids and Parents Learn Through Play

Play teaches children how to overcome boredom, to follow rules, to win and lose well.

Let kids direct the play (that’s your gift). You’ll discover them WHILE helping your child learn life-skills.

You thought your daughter was impatient? She spends ½ hour dressing and undressing a doll! That’ll stretch the fortitude of many adults.

One Mom’s Story

The first year I offered these gifts to my sons they all invited me to play their favorite video game.  “Oh, no! Wrong gift!” I thought.

These shared screen times taught me so much.  This time was “extra video time” for the children and since the intent was to share a moment together, they willingly spent 30 minutes teaching me why they like this particular game, what makes it exciting, and how to win.

I observed their skills (or lack of) in anticipation, in strategizing, in concentration, and more.

And the following week when they struggled with homework, we applied ideas from the game to help concentration.  “Let’s create levels.  When you finish your first math problem, you reach level 2!”

The next year, I gave each child two gifts of time. One could be used for games on screens. The other was for something else of their choice.  One child wanted to learn more about his bank statement.  Another wanted to go shopping.

I kept doing this for years, even when our eldest was in high school.  He asked for a visit to the ophthalmologist to see about contact lenses!

You Don’t Feel Like It

Screen games or doll dressing isn’t your cup of tea? Is homework theirs?

Look to the bigger picture.  You’re creating memories, proving their importance, and connecting on their level!  You’ll be amazed how that encourages them to seek to connect on issues of importance to you…like picking up their bags and coats in the front hallway.  Seriously.

The Children Don’t Feel Like It

Kids might act like they don’t want to play with you.

“Children often resist love when they need it the most,”

assert Dr. Scott Turansky and nurse Joan Miller, authors of Parenting is Heart Work. Be creative and kindly insistent. They might be testing the sincerity of your offer.

If the kids don’t want to play, consider admiring them for 15 minutes. No words. No judgement.  Simply seeking to understand them in their environment.

Say “Thank You”

That magic word for all ages concludes your time together on a positive note.

The Biggest Kid of Them All

How about playing with your spouse……! We’ve got a gift certificate for them too!

Gift Certificate for couple's romance
Gift Certificate for couple's romance

To receive Gift Certificates click here.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash.com

Girl enthralled by candles

Spend a Moment in Wonder

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A Candle for Relaxation and Well-Being
from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Une parenthese bougie
Today’s gift. A scented candle for relaxation and well-being from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

Candle Wonder

There is something wonder-full about candlelight.  For kids of all ages!

Is it the hypnotic way the flame flickers?

Or the association of candles with memory-filled events

  • Birthdays
  • Fancy meals, like at a restaurant or with the “grown up plates”
  • Visits to churches where candls flicker and light strwons through the color-filled stained-glass windows
  • And Christmas or Hanukah!

And it might be with the way adults treat fire with such care.  “Darling, CAREFUL. Your can get burned.” Literally.

Love flickers like flames too.  A spark enflames and warms or burns. Figuratively.

Candle magic for children

 

Children’s Questions – What do they wonder about?

Children have questions about fire and love.  They have been hurt or seen others in pain.  Why? How come?

How to answer their queries…when we hardly have answers ourselves.

What if activities with candles could help shed light on your children’s searching for answers about loving others and about being loved.

Questions like

  • “Do you love me more than _______?”
  • “Does love stop?”
  • “So many bad things happen.  I’m so small.  Can just a tiny bit of good make a difference?”

“Why be good when there is so much bad?”

Children sure do have a knack for asking Some. Tough. Questions.

Do you or I even have the answer to this one?  If we did, could we express such complex responses in words that our children can understand?

Candle Activity

Here is an activity that conveys the power of hope in the face of just a tiny bit of light.

How to:

  1. Take your children into a totally dark room.
    Sometimes the only place is a windowless bathroom.  One friend spoke of taking the children into their WC (in France there is a room with just the toilet seat).  What unique memories they cherish!
  2. Bring along one candle and a match or lighter.
  3. Notice the blackness without making it scary.
    “I can’t see anything!”
    “How many fingers am I holding up?”
    “Let me try and find your nose…oh is that your ear instead?!”
  4. Ask the kids how they feel…and how this makes them want to act.
    “I feel alone so I want to talk and have you talk to me so that I know I’m not alone.”
    “I feel lost so I’m scared to move. I don’t want to hurt myself.”
  5. Light the candle.
  6. Notice that it is one-small-flame in One. Whole. Room.
  7. Now ask how they feel and how this makes them want to act.
    “I see just enough to move and not hurt myself. I can move.”
    “I see you and I know I am not alone.  I can find your hand and we can be together.”

The children just EXPERIENCED the answer to their philosophical quandary.  One small light makes a HUGE difference. “Be a light, darling.  Be kind even if others are being mean.”

Child holding candle

“Does Love Stop?”

What happens when grandfather dies?  Or when couples separate? Or when friends move to another city?  Does love stop?!

This question surely benefits from answers in layers.  A few words one day.  A different approach a next day.  Reading a book together about the subject.  And possibly this activity with a candle.

Candle Activity

What you need:

It works best with a candle, something to light it, a cup to turn upside down over the flame.  A transparent cup or glass makes this even more dramatic.

How to:

  1. Gather the children around the lighted candle on the table.
    Admire the flames and it’s lively flicker.
  2. Notice together how this candle is like love, burning and warm.
  3. Cover the candle with the cup turn upside down over the flame. Allow a bit of smoke to gather inside the cup before smothering out the flame.
  4. Remove the cup and notice how the smoke is visible and rises from the still glowing wick. It rises in a clear ribbon of smoke and then diffuses into the air and throughout the room.
  5. Notice how we even breathe in tiny bits of the rest of the flame and carry it in our bodies!

In a similar way, the love for the child remains when someone dies or distance separates.  Love takes on a different form, one that can travel far.

Even when we do not see the flame or feel its warmth as we did before, the love is still there.

“Do you love me more?”

We do this activity in our Positive Discipline classes.  We”ll discover it together in person.  Ask about upcoming classes here.

 

Wishing you peace AND growth as we all struggle through understanding and living out Love.

Contact (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

Boy with mom in kitchen

Say, “I Love YOU”

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

3 fruit-based skin care products especially created for kids
from TooFruit  

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Children’s Skin

When our babies were born, we all rushed to the “baby care” aisles for the creams and lotions specifically designed for the fragile skin of our newborns.

Years pass…and we are still applying baby lotion to our children when they enter the teen years and changes in their complexion clearly reveal the need for an adapted skin care routine.

Zut (“darn” in French)!

Zits (“pimples” in English)!

But what about those years in between?

Katell Perrot, mother of 3 children, and biochemist Stéphane Lafond researched children’s skin and discovered that between the ages of 6 and 12 years, our kids’ skin lacks the ability to self-protect.  Children are not able to create a hydrolipidic film to naturally protect their skin.

That’s why they founded TooFruit, to provide children with the care their skin requires: more nutrition than baby products, and more protection than lotions for adults.

 

TooFruit products

A Touch of Fruit

Besides, children delight in the delicious scents of TooFruit’s fresh fruit, organic skin treats.

It’s a way to say, “I love you,” to provide the skin care that’s best for our kids.

The Touch of Love

Gary Chapman, in his Five Love Languages series, shares that individuals express AND RECEIVE love in a unique way.  We each have a preferred love language.

As an American living in Paris, I fully relate to the notion of a preferred language.  Although I converse fluently in French, my deepest thoughts are more easily expressed in English.

Similarly, people receive love through a variety of preferred means and Chapman presents these five:

  • Loving Touch
    We know we are loved through a caress, a hug, a kiss.

  • Gifts
    We know we are loved when people remember us with a present, even a small one like a note, or buying our favorite fruit.
  • Services Rendered
    We know we are loved when people do things for us like help to fold the laundry or fill up the gas tank.
  • Shared Experience
    We know we are loved when folk enjoy spending time with us as in watching a movie together.
  • Words of Affirmation
    We know we are loved through the ways people notice our strengths and encourage us.

The Loving Touch

Chapman remarks that a majority of men and boys respond best to the loving touch.

A hug a day can keep the doctor away!

Sian Beilock, Ph.D., psychology professor at The University of Chicago and an expert on the brain science behind performance failure under pressure, further asserts that a daily dose of loving touch helps ward off sickness.

A daily dose of hugs and loving touch helps ward off sickness. Click to Tweet

Yet as our kids grow older it can feel more awkward to coddle them.  A ten year old already pleas mom and dad to stay out of sight when we take them to school!

15 Fun Ways to Share a Loving Touch with your Child

Enjoy our list of ways to love your child with an age-appropriate Loving Touch.

  1. Massage their limbs after exercise.
    Try it with TooFruit 🙂 Smells yummy.
  2. Give a good morning smooch.
    Try 3 kisses: one for each word, “I love you!” He’ll ask you what that was about, and you’ve been given the invitation to tell him.
  3. Draw a love message on their body…like on their knees.
    Klutz body crayons makes it easy and hilarious!
  4. Teach your child to cook and show him with your arms around him.
    Transform a chore into an opportunity for intimacy.  You’ll be feeding your emotions as well as your tummies.Mother son licking beaters
  5. Play bump-into-you. 
    “Excuse me; there is just no room here!” Dad pretends to squirm through a crowd when it’s just the two of you…and it turns into a hug.
  6. Give a rub-a-tub-tub.
    It’s a towel massage when princess steps out of the bath. “Wrap” her up and bounce her on her bed.
  7. Roll him up in his comforter.
    Place junior in the middle of the bed with the comforter on top. Roll him towards you and tuck in the far cover. Roll him over the other way and tuck in the side close to you. Settle him on his back (with comforter edges secured under him), lift feet and tuck in the bottom edge. Snuggly!
  8. Give her a face massage when you say good-night.
    Loving bedtime routines assure her of your caring presence.  A gentle face massage relaxe stress from the facial muscles. That makes sleep come easier!  Try TooFruit‘s face creams.
  9. Cuddle together on the sofa.
    Ideal when watching a movie or reading out loud.
  10. Put your arm around his shoulders when you ask how school went.
    Even pre-teen and teenage kids do accept a brief and casual embrace.
  11. Twirl together and be joyful.
    A loving touch all around. It’s no wonder they’re expressions like “dance with joy.”
  12. Go swimming as a family.
    Pool games like “climb on me” or “throw me higher” offer lots of healthy skin-to-skin contact…and photo opportunities.
  13. Hold hands while you pray or envelop them in your arms.
    Double whammy the love. Yours and God’s combined.
  14. Tumble together.
    Wrestle. Give them a bear hug. Don’t let go!
  15. Let them give you a “farty” kiss.
    The smooch that makes a “Pffft” kind of noise. My son tried to give me one tonight and laughed so hard he couldn’t finish the kiss.  We all roared…and felt loved.
Surprised and joyful boy

Welcome surprises and encourage learning

 Today’s Gifts on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

One My Little Box & One My Gambettes Box
from My Little Paris 

How to receive these gifts?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky ones to win the draw.

My Little Paris graces the life of 100 000 people worldwide with their monthly themed boxes.  My Little Box reveals beauty products and lifestyle accessories and the Gambettes Box unveils 2 totally chic and unique legwear every month.

  

My Little Paris chooses it’s monthly themes with care so that surprise even means continuity, not chaos, so that you can fully delight in them.

November’s Box brought comfort, the kind you seek when lounging on a Sunday.  Comfort for the face, the hands, for fun and for food.

Gambettes Box took an intellectual turn with leaf designs as you leaf through your books at the Sorbonne Library!

And December? Can’t unveil that box yet…or it would not be a surprise!

learn through surprise and trust

Invite Surprise @ Home = Relinquish some Control

“It’s been known for a long time that it’s unexpected events in particular that drive learning,” asserts Wael Asaad, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Brown University.

How about surprising the children, especially one that seems reticent to learn, with responsibility. 

“Are you sure?” parents respond.

Many of the mothers and fathers who attend our workshops seek predictability.  Control.  Yet they find it slipping away.

As one father puts it, “The more I try to keep the kids in control, the more out of control I feel.”

Your Relationship-Building Surprise

Why not try a once-a-month relationship-building surprise. 🙂

Consider the “Smooth Morning Out the Door with a Smile” Theme

Select a Date

This is an exceptional event.  Put it on the calendar for everyone to look forward to.  Choose a weekend morning when there is less pressure to be on time.

Who wants to be in charge?

Invite a child to have the responsibility of getting out the door on time to a child.  “Who would like to Be In Charge?”

Consider offering this to your most “problematic-in-the-morning” child.  You’ll be surprised at ALL OF THE LEARNING you’ll do…and together!

 Prepare when you are calm

With the date set in advance, you can help your child prepare.

Your child both knows and does not know what to do.  Help her formalize the routine.  “What needs to happen so that we get out the door well?”

Make it like a brainstorming together.

  • “Honey, what do you want to remember for your ‘Morning I’m In Charge’?”
  • “Remind me what needs to get done in the morning before we go…. Yes, we do need to choose clothes. Could that be done the night before or do we HAVE TO DO IT with blurry eyes?… You decide.  You’re in charge.”

Gather Helpful Tools

“Darling, what could help you get the job done? 
A buzzer to keep track of time?
A meeting of the family the night before where you remind everyone of what they have to do?
Waking up earlier?” 

Let your child choose.  She’s in charge.

Be a Gracious Follower

Remember the first times you prepared your babe to go out and forgot the extra diaper and the pacifier fell in the mud and….

Your child will probably face challenges and could even get frustrated because she has HIGH expectations.

Be the first one to behave as requested. Do what is asked of you…and try to refrain from doing more.

Allow your child to experience the challenge of herding a group out the door.  THIS FRUSTRATION is part of the prize.

Once your children realize how much effort is required, they become more understanding and cooperative with you. ????

Review and Improve

“So, darling, what went well?”

Invite their self-evaluation and offer a few genuine positive observations as well.

Maybe it felt like a fiasco.  Did you get out the door?  Then share that.  “Honey, we got out the door!”

Ask your child what she would like to do differently next time.  Help keep it specific.  If she asks you, offer ONE idea for change.  Specific means doable, which means she could succeed next time.

One Mom’s Story

“Our second son was so contrarian.  I felt like we were in a perpetual power struggle.  By the time we got out the door in the morning, I was ready for a nap!

We tried this Mom-Son role switch.

Mr. Rebel was delighted. ”You’ll let ME be in charge, Mom?!”

He became a new person, Mr. Responsible, being conscientious with his job.  In the middle of the preparation he realized this was work.  “Can we switch back, Mom, and I’ll be the kid again?”

We encouraged him to follow through to the end.

The experience transformed our every day morning ritual.  Firstly, the morning routine was clear in everyone’s mind.  Our previously challenging son because the first one ready.”

Boys hiking in canyons

Challenge Builds Self-Confidence in Kids

Self-esteem.  Self-confidence.

THAT’s what I want for my children!

How do kids grow in self-confidence? 

One sure way is to

  • allow them to engage in difficult activities,
  • give them a role in the decision-making process, and
  • celebrate the achievement together.

When I change my behavior (less control, more appreciation of each person, and enjoyment of the moment), the kids grow more confident!

Free download

Read on or download your free Family Confidence-Building Calendar now.

Continue reading “Challenge Builds Self-Confidence in Kids”

pere et fille

Kids change when parents listen

“Dad, listen…”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in France.  A friend (a mom of teens) shared about her reunion with her parents. “I left utterly discouraged.”  What happened?!

They enjoyed a day full of fun outings:  restaurants, shopping, and culture.  What was discouraging about that?!

Then she spoke her heart. “I shared a video of my work with my dad.  Not even 10 seconds into the video my father began telling me what I did wrong.  Hey, I know the video was not perfect, but critique before listening is not the feedback I need.  I just won’t talk to him about work anymore.”  She’s an entrepreneur; work is her passion.

I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.

[bctt tweet=”I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.”]

Could you and I do that with our children too?  You bet.

(In)Active listening impacts behavior

And when the children act out of discouragement, we think their behavior is their problem.

  • They are too blasé. “Whatever.”
  • They don’t listen to us
  • They criticize their brother or sister
  • Why can’t they just be motivated?!

Irony.

[bctt tweet=”Children misbehave out of discouragement…and parents get more annoyed at the kids!”]

My friend is an adult.  “She should know better,” and in a responsible, loving gesture she should go to her father and share her feelings.  But, in her discouragement, she’s opting for “why bother?”

If adults (she’s MY friend.  So, if intelligent, dynamic, and caring adults ????) decide against reconciliation, then what will our discouraged kids choose to do?

Yep.  Our children keep up with that annoying behavior!  And they seek counsel elsewhere.  Aagh!

Father and daughter in conversation. Listening dad.
Father intently listening to his daughter. Body, mind, and heart are all engaged.

What does active listening sound like?

I shared with my friend tips I learned from Positive Discipline about listening styles.

In our classes, we have an activity like the movie “Groundhog Day.”  We get to replay a scene, beginning again as if we were given a fresh start every time.  It’s a roleplay of a child (an adult playing the role of a child) who comes to tell Mom or Dad about his BFB (Best Friend Breakup).

  • Scene 1 – parent is on the phone, distracted
  • Scene 2 – parent criticizes
  • Scene 3 – parent tells child how he should act next time
  • Scene 4 – silence
  • Scene 5 – active listening. “What happened?  What had you hoped would happen?…”

We ask the person playing the role of the child how they feel, what they think, and what they decide to do after each of these scenes.

The first four scenarios generate disengagement in various degrees of intensity.   “I’ll go to my room…I just won’t tell them next time…I’m not good enough so why bother try.”

The Curiosity Questions*, however, built trust between parent and child, helped the kid discover his responsibility in the friendship dilemma, and inspired the child to handle the relationship differently.

(*Curiosity Questions are a tool from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.)

SoSooper “Aha”:  when bloopers help parents become super

These role plays are an Aha! moment.  Oooops.  You mean my kids act the way they do in part because I (the parent) acts the way I do!

John Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to e-motions:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Father and son having fun in the pool.
For every action, there is a reaction. Play (action) leads to togetherness.

It’s stories like that of my friend that motivate me to keep on developing SoSooper, the mobile app that helps parents equip their children to thrive.

Guess how many tips you’ll find to reconnect with kids WHEN you feel like a recording machine because they’re not listening? 

Check it out on the SoSooper app 🙂

Cover photo from KiddyTrend

 

 

Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here

 

with tots

Click here

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Happy New Year tiara for girl

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Cover photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash