November 21, 2014

All About Kids: Setting Intentions

 

It is July and school seems a long way off but, in reality, we start school again the middle of next month, August 12!

Now is the perfect time to begin the mental preparation for a successful school year, beginning with guiding your child through the process of envisioning their school success. In my book, “How to Have the Best Super-Duper School Year Ever!,” I discuss setting intentions, goals and creating a vision board. July is a great month to begin by helping your child set intentions and in August I will discuss creating goals and using a vision board to help prepare for the new school year. Here are three steps to create a positive mindset for your child.

SETTING INTENTIONS

When we set intentions, we create the possibility for our ideas, hopes and dreams to come true, yet most children are not even aware of this possibility. When I ask children what they want to do during their free time at home, many pause to think, unaware that they can make choices regarding their own time.

This exercise can help children become more conscious about the choices they make and those they would like to make.

BALANCE

Using the four areas of a balanced day as a guide—time spent at school, “me time” at home, creative pursuits and self-care—let your child think of five choices or new habits for each area. For time spent at school, your child might think about keeping their desk organized, participating in active listening in class, practicing the 3-B’s (be safe, be respectful, be responsible), being a kind friend, or using polite words such as “please” and “thank you.”

“ME TIME”

During your children’s “me time,” which is another way of saying unstructured time at home, your child might choose jumping on the trampoline, riding their bike or skateboard, drawing, playing a board game, gardening, playing with their dog or writing in a journal.

Thinking about these activities lets your child become aware of the many choices they have available.

It is helpful to create a list of all of the possibilities and put a visual cue next to each choice, such as a picture of your child on her bike next to the words, “Ride my bike.” This works very well for younger children who are not yet readers.

CREATIVITY

As parents, we often schedule many activities for our children in areas ranging from sports to the arts. We want to provide enrichment for our children and sometimes we remember our own childhood and the missed opportunities we regret. When I was little, many of my friends took ballet class and participated in a theater group in our neighborhood. I longed to have these opportunities, but my mother couldn’t provide the extra activities. When my daughters showed the slightest interest in dance, music and drama, I was ready to sign them up!

I wanted them to have the experiences I had missed out on as a child. My daughters loved the arts and studied dance, music and theater.

The activities enriched their middle school and high school years, created a place to belong and a circle of friends. During high school, each daughter honed in on her favorite activity and while I missed seeing her perform in areas of lesser interest, I had to respect each of their choices to follow their own passion.

We can give younger children opportunities to try many activities, but it is equally important to listen to them as they find a sport, musical instrument, art class or acting class that they feel passionate about.

LEARNING SELF-CARE

Children need to practice self-care, but it is a learned skill. We can begin by teaching them how to complete a chore chart with items such as making their bed, setting or clearing the table, taking out the trash and feeding a pet, but there is more to self-care than keeping a clean room and helping around the house.

Children need to learn that they are capable of making themselves feel good by eating healthy foods, bathing, cleaning their fingernails, brushing their hair and getting exercise.

Teaching children to make their own lunch, even at the young age of five, can empower them and contribute towards peaceful meals and easily packed lunchboxes. Word cards with a visual cue are a great help and can serve as a reminder; for example, a chart of lunchbox choices posted on the refrigerator can help a child select items from a variety of food groups.

Children can also help select healthy food choices at the market and create lunches and snacks they will love to eat. When my daughters were young, they made their school lunch right after dinner when we were still in the kitchen together cleaning up. They packed the non-refrigerated items in their lunchboxes and kept perishables in the refrigerator, packing them in the morning.

Not only did they get the lunch they wanted, but also it made mornings so much easier!

School days seem far away, but July is the perfect time to set intentions, create new habits and practice them during the less stressful days of summer.

For questions or comments, please send e-mail at amyweisberg@completeteach.com, with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. I would love both feedback and questions!