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Sometimes It’s Both: Helping Children Make Good Decisions

Father and Son Dancing TogetherHelping  your child to learn to make good decisions start earlier than we think. When we ask our toddler, “Fruit pop or jello” we limit the choices to only two things.We unconsciously give our children choices of either/or, rarely ever a choice of  both. Sometimes we should introduce the concept of having and doing both. How about do a little dance while you clean up your room or pick up your toys. Turn on the music and have fun while you are cleaning up. It doesn’t have to be all of the time, but it should be some of the time so that children learn that there are more choices than this or that.

I totally understand that as a parent you just don’t have a lot of time and you just need things done. Ditto that for teachers, you have even less time because there are so many other demands in the classroom. But what would happen if we could expand our thinking just a little bit to think about how we can teach children as well as ourselves to ask “How can I do both.” or ” Is it possible to do both.”  So we can give choices of would you like tuna salad and turkey salad, have a little of each. Or in the other example clean up the room and have fun while doing it.

The choices that we give children should grow up with them. They wont need to have either or choices forever. They can make decisions on having both. When my daughter was making a choice on her career, she initially felt that she had to choose between being a dancer or an attorney. I asked her why can’t you do both. You can be a professional dancer and find a way to practice law also. It doesn’t have to be either/or.  A light bulb went off in her head, she had never thought of that.

I am going to make a point of thinking in terms of both when making decisions and choices and be open to thinking about what else is possible.  Doing this will open up greater possibilities and choices to  choose from. Having greater choices and possibilities will result in experiencing a richer and fuller life.

Try this not only with your children but also when you have to make decisions yourself. Think in terms of how can I have both and see what opens up for you. Come back and let me know what happens. I’d love to hear from you. Please share this with family and friends if you find value. Also please feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you

Question: Do You Feel You Should Actively Encourage Your Child To Fail

Success Picture- Black woman getting high fived

I was watching an interview with the CEO and founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely. I was intrigued by her story where she said every day her father would ask her and her brother what they failed at  that day. I thought that was so interesting and enlightening. I understood why he was doing this immediately. He wanted to prepare his children for success by first having them get over their fear of failure. To them failure would not be anything bad or terrible, but something that happens in the process of learning and life.

Sara’s father wanted them to become resilient and confident and know that they can easily overcome failure. It was not something to take personally or that they were bad or a failure themselves. By doing this when the children were young they developed a positive perspective around failure. Failure didn’t mean the same thing to them that it means to the average person. To Blakely and her brother, failure just meant try again, try something different, maybe possibly even use your mind differently or look at things in a different way.

I feel  this was an excellent and crucial life skill that he taught his children. The skill he taught them will help them be successful in any venture they decide to undertake. They will know from experience that they can overcome failure. They understand that inside failure is a valuable opportunity and information. They now know what will work and what will not work. A base from which to create the desires of their heart is provided for them because of this valuable information.

Of course with your children you would give them age appropriate and developmentally appropriate challenges to conquer and succeed in and build from there. I recommend something physically challenging, as children build esteem by what they can do. Even if your child is not a physical child you can introduce them to games like catch, walking on a balance beam or ledge or trying to shoot something in a basket. Keep telling them to try again and that they can do it and soon they will.

What are your thoughts on this. I would love to hear about your experiences and what has and hasn’t worked for you. Please share them in a comment below. Also share this with your family and friends online and off.

Have a great day! :-)


Teach Your Child That Mistakes Are Their Helpers

Childhood Girls floor painting

Teaching children that mistakes are a vital part of the learning process helps to build confidence, resilience and creativity in children. If children are allowed and actually encouraged to make mistakes they will learn to not take things personally and are willing to explore and try new things. They will receive valuable and necessary information about themselves and the world that they live in. Most importantly they will learn what works and doesn’t work and develop a mind that is open,  flexible and learn to tolerate when things don’t go their way more.


As educators, caregivers and parents we want our children to confidently and boldly learn about the world around them and how they fit in it. We want them to be willing to take risks, make a mess, explore and discover. When we box children into only right or wrong answers or only a certain way to perform a task we are limiting their learning potential and minimizing their learning experiences. Instead we want our children to learn to think about what else is possible? What other ways can a task be successfully completed?

I totally understand that they are right and wrong ways to do things and children definitely should be taught this. What I am talking about are areas where they are no right or wrong answers, but sometimes teachers and parents make it that way.


A perfect example of this is when teachers don’t allow children to do their own art work. They are usually well meaning in that they want the class to have beautiful art hung around the room and in the school. What they fail to realize is that things like art, music, painting and building with blocks or legos  or anything else, is not about perfection or right or wrong but are merely for the expression and exploration of those mediums.

Some teachers and parents understand this but do not want to deal with the mess or noise that these activities create. Once in one of my classes we were having such a blast that the noise level had reached a high pitched scream. We were in an area where we were the only ones using that area and the teacher jumps up with this frown on her face and screams “BE QUIET!!!!!!!”

We quickly took a rest period with a magic number( a game that I play with the children to get them to be still, listen and focus) to quiet the kids. It wasn’t the worst thing because we had been running around so it was time to take a rest anyway. After class I spoke with the teacher to explain that noise is to be expected when kids are having fun and the class is designed to allow for this and also help them to calm down also.

I hope you get my point, in that we should make allowances for and encourage the best way that children will learn and express themselves. We should also take care of ourselves so that we can allow for those methods and facilitate the learning process of children. How have you managed to do this for your children? What has worked for you either in your home or classroom. Please share your thoughts with us in the form of a comment. Also share this with your family and friends either online or off. Have a great day! :-)

Why Babies Need To Crawl

I am so amazed at how quickly children change and develop. I only get to see my students once a week and believe it or not a lot can change in a week. Last week one of my eight month old students could not hold her body up to sit up by herself. She needed props and pillows all around her to support her. I was ecstatic to see her sitting up by herself when I came to her  class to teach her music and movement. I greeted her with an enthusiastic “Hello followed by her name. She game me that million dollar smile I love so much.

Although she was not yet mobile she moved her body to the music very gingerly. All of her weight was moving forward, so she was making a 45 degree angle with the floor. I explained to her director that although she was sitting unassisted we still need to build her core strength and upper body strength so that she would be able to sit up straight making a 90 degree angle with the floor instead of a 45 degree angle.

I also explained to the director that if she didn’t lean forward she would fall over backwards if she tried to straighten up. Isn’t that amazing that her body figures out a way to keep up upright. I explained to the director that this is why we do the exercise of having the students crawl through a tunnel like object. Crawling and scooting( where they are not on their hands and knees) help children to build upper body and core strength. This is necessary for them to go from crawling to eventually walking. All children take the same path of development but at different times according to their own individual development.

One other very important purpose of crawling and scooting is to integrate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This is very important because not only does it integrates the brain which helps it process information quicker. It also builds brain architecture and support neurological organization of their nervous system. Crawling and scooting are very essential aspects of child growth and development.

Giving babies ample floor time gives them an opportunity to develop both the muscles of their bodies and also ensures neurological health. Babies have to move. Through movement they are using their muscles to create pathways and connections and wire their brain. They also need to move to develop their muscles for future skills they will need like walking and feeding themselves. Cognitively they learn about themselves, their surroundings and environment.

So give babies ample time and space to crawl, scoot or just be on their tummies. In Early Childhood we call this tummy time. So make tummy time a fun time that can also be used for learning. I would love to hear about some of the activities you use with your baby during their tummy time. Please remember to share this with your friends, family and anyone who would find it useful and leave a comment below.

Positive Parenting and Teaching: Helping Children To Feel Good About Themselves

I love seeing the smile of success on my children’s faces when they accomplish something big in their eyes or get the correct answer. It is a priceless perk which I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. Seriously,  when my students succeed I feel it too. I love seeing them beam with pride. I had the pleasure of this experience this afternoon.

As a positive incentive to insure good behavior in my classes I reward children with stamps done with non toxic ink. The stamps have pictures on them as well as words. The pictures are of things that children really like, a cat, dinosaur, frog, teddy bear, a school bus filled with a boy and girl and a rabbit and teddy bear are just a few of the pictures on the stamps.

The words are “Terrific”, “Great Job”, “Very Good”, “Parent Signature”, to name a few. Why would a kid want a stamp that says “Parent Signature” you ask. Since 90 percent of my students are under the age of 5 most of them haven’t started reading yet. They really don’t care about the words as much as they care about the pictures on the stamp. The “Parent Signature” one in particular happens to have a star on it. So the kids really love it because of the star.

I have found this technique to be a successful one. It rewards good behavior and at the same time discourages undesirable behavior. I say undesirable as opposed to “bad” behavior because often times children are just being children and just need guidance and correction. They need to have opportunities to get it right, when we give them these opportunities, this is how they learn.

Today, Noah was standing in line waiting for his stamp. Another benefit of this technique is that it teaches the students patience. As he was standing in line, he noticed a partial picture of one of the stamps on the ink pad, which is in a white case. He asked me if this was one of the stamps that I had. I turned it around and asked him to tell me if this was the case. I turned the stamp pad case right side up and placed it next to the stamps.

He looked from the pad to the stamps, when he finally matched the two I saw the most beautiful smile spreading across his face. He’d done it. He succeeded at finding out if the ink picture on Ms. D’TaRelle’s stamp pad was the same as one of the stamps in the collection. You are so smart! I said to him. His smile grew bigger, his eyes twinkled, he had a happy face from the inside out. He felt great about himself and it showed.

When he left and went back to class I wondered to myself what I would have done had he not got it correct. Normally I would have said try again. This time something different came up. The words”You’re learning!” came to mind. I loved it! Children get to feel good about themselves whether they get an answer right or not. They get to understand that learning  can be a positive experience. That part of learning is not getting it right all of the time and that’s okay.

When we as parents and teachers present mistakes and not getting the right answer as just feedback, not anything that’s good or bad, we help to preserve and build  our children’s esteem and confidence as well as emotional resilience. We help them to look at it as an opportunity to do it better and get it right. It is not a reflection of them personally, like a hair out of place or the needle on the gas tank, there is something we can do and continue on.

So try this the next time with your kids. Help your children to feel good about the learning experience and themselves. If this has been helpful to you please leave a comment and share this with you family and friends. Until next time, have an amazing day! :-) D’TaRelle