Category Archives: Parenting

Mother’s Day and Brain Science?

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I recently read an interesting article on the Greater Good Science Center website: Why “Mom Brain” Is Good for Mothers and Babies by Elise Proulx. The article explains that a woman’s brain actually changes after having a baby. The change is a decrease in gray matter! Hold on, don’t laugh dads! I know what you are thinking.

Mom’s tend to share with each other their “fuzzy brain” feeling while pregnant or becoming more forgetful than usual after having children. However, what research is showing is that the decrease in gray matter actually creates a mother who will connect with their child and will be more aware of their children’s needs and feelings.

“The researchers found that the change in gray matter “significantly” predicted the quality of mother-to-infant attachment, as assessed through a survey. The more gray matter lost, the more positive the mothers felt about interactions with their baby.”  Elise Proulx

However you became a mother, father or caregiver, I believe our children shrink our gray matter. 🙂 What I mean to say is, our children are deeply connected to us and we completely grow into warm, nurturing people because of them. Our children shape who we are far greater than I ever imagined.  I am beyond grateful for my three beautiful children who are making me the mom I am.

Happy Mother’s Day to My Happy readers! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day!

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_mom_brain_is_good_for_mothers_and_babies?

Summer Reading

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Summer Reading

Happy News

This summer dive into these good reads! While reading a Happy blog (ha ha… yes, many others are sharing their happy stories), I learned about this great newspaper:  “The Happy News”.   A newspaper to celebrate all that’s good in the world…The Happy Newspaper is a platform to share positive news and wonderful people. The line up in this issue was: General News Stories, Everyday Heroes, Celebs/Showbiz, Poems, Lifestyle, Food, Travel, Your Year, New Year Tips, Meet the Writers, From me to You. All written from a positive perspective.

One of my favorite sections included positive news about celebrities. It was great hearing about good news like Pharrell Williams turns ‘Happy’ into a children’s book. Malala Yousafzai, youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize celebrates her 18th birthday by opening an all girls school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Prince Harry and Prince William join BBC home improvement program ‘DIY SOS’ in renovating an abandoned street in Manchester into 26 homes for homeless war veterans. Another section I enjoyed reading was Everyday Heroes. There you can find people and organizations trying to make the world a happier place.  One organization, Free Cakes for Kids UK network is a community organization of volunteer bakers who provide birthday cakes to families who are struggling and find it difficult to provide a cake to their child.   www.freecakesforkids.org/uk  The paper includes many websites and other resources to lift you up.

Emily Coxhead  had the idea to begin a newspaper that “added sunshine to a person’s day”. She and other volunteers collaborated on this fun and enlightening newspaper. To learn more about it or order the next issue go to:  http://www.thehappynewspaper.com

9781611800586_p0_v3_s192x300[1]Sitting Still Like a Frog” Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel is a fun way to encourage children (and their parents) to meditate. Eline Snel is a therapist who has been working with Mindfulness for 20 years, developing training programs. She is the founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands.

Bedtime “shenanigans” led me to try meditation with my children. Does anyone still use that word? I think it is a nice way to explain the silliness that occurs at my children’s bedtime. Sometimes..er..okay a lot lately my little ones have difficulty settling in. Even after their bath and stories, they are still playful. I find having them lay down in their beds and talking them through a relaxation meditation can be very helpful.  “Sitting Still Like a Frog” helps parents and teachers use meditation at various times during the day and it also includes a meditation for bedtime, “Sleep Tight”.

Eline Snel uses the description of a frog to develop an understanding of the importance of stillness.  My children found it interesting and fun.  There are positive reviews from teachers who have used it in their classrooms. You will find an Introduction to Mindfulness, Parenting with Mindfulness, Weathering the Storm Inside, Handling Difficult Feelings, It is Good to Be Kind, to name a few. The book includes a CD of 11 mindfulness practices you can do with your child. Our children LOVE to spend time with us. Sometimes simply role modeling  gets children interested enough to try a new thing. I realized, though my children preferred  my voice over listening to the CD at bedtime. My friend, Kathleen noticed that with her daughter. Familiar voices are the best, of course. Your children may prefer you to do the narrative for the bedtime meditation.

Let me know what YOU think! You can share what you like about the “The Happy Newspaper” or how your children respond to “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by commenting on this post. I would be very interested in your feedback!

Happy Reading!

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Let’s Show Our Children We Value Their Happiness!

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“That Makes Me Happy!”

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Will you please join me in showing our children we value their happiness?  We value their happiness as much, or more than their academics and achievements. The day I shared a story and happy lesson with my children’s class (see I Did It!) , I knew I wanted to share it with as many children as I could.

After positive feedback from their teachers, parents, and other classmates, I went back to the drawing board (literally), drew every picture again, had help with editing and rewrote the story.

“That Makes Me Happy!” was written to share 3 simple ways children can boost their own happiness. Take a walk with Tucker, a sweet puppy, and Penny, a kind fairy to learn how everyone can help themselves to be happy. At the end of the story use Penny’s idea, a “Happy Ring”, to practice these happiness strategies every day!

The following is a link to purchase “That Makes Me Happy!”.  createspace  It is also available at http://www.amazon.com  I’m excited to do readings of “That Makes Me Happy!”  in my community and surrounding communities. I’m looking forward to sharing this story, it is my hope and dream to teach children how they can help themselves to be happy. You can help by purchasing a book and sharing this post with your friends and families.

To learn more about “That Makes Me Happy!” go to the book link and come back to “My Happy” soon, as I will be creating the “That Makes Me Happy!” page. I am grateful for those of you who take time to read “My Happy” and I appreciate your help sharing this book.

Happy Regards!

Tiffany

Stop Learning, Start Thinking, and Create!

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“Stop Learning, Start Thinking, and Create!” Jacob Barnett

Below you will find a most inspiring Ted talk by a teen, Jacob Barnett! I am often searching through Ted talks in areas of my interests. I happen upon Jacob Barnett’s talk and was truly amazed. While most people will be amazed by this young person’s genius, I am amazed by his enthusiasm, humor, and happiness! Jacob lives his life focused on his passion, not his grades, IQ, or achievements. He is focused on what he loves, yet he’s not even sharing that subject (quantum physics), he is inspiring us to stop learning, think, and create. My writing would never do this talk justice, please watch it below.

If you haven’t heard of Ted talks…….

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After watching the video you have learned that Jacob has autism. He speaks of the difficulties his parents encountered because of his developmental delays which included an inability to communicate and interact like a typically developing child.  The Barnett family refused to accept that their son would never learn or speak. Kristine Barnett’s book “The Spark” shares her story of staying focused on her little boy’s “spark”.

Whatever drew Jacob’s interest would be what she would use to try to connect her son to her world.  With that focus, much love,  creating childhood memories (in the midst of therapies), and carving a new path to educate her son, Jacob grows into an amazing child and has gone on to create an original theory in  astrophysics.  Jacob’s talk and his mother’s book speaks volumes to parents who might be struggling with similar problems and to all parents, no matter the situation, who want to see their children happy. Jacob’s message to us all is to stop the learning, take time to think about your passion, and use your unique perspective to create!

After reading “The Spark” I wanted to share the story and Jacob’s message to take our passions seriously no matter what they are. To recognize the passion in your children and encourage, no more than encourage, to give them opportunities to do their passion. Kristine Barnett worked with many children in her daycare and always found success when she focused on the children’s “sparks”.  She did not trust that her son’s school would do the same.

I do not know what their school’s plan would have been for Jacob, but I do know what systems are in place today. I appreciate Kristine Barnett’s positive message to focus on our children’s “spark” and to trust our intuitions (especially about our children), however, I would also like to support all the incredibly dedicated people working with or  parenting children with autism by offering a sense of what help for children with autism is like today.

Today there are caring professionals and parents who use a variety of approaches to bring out the best in children with autism. Schools support these children by educating their social and emotional smarts, as well as supporting or challenging them academically.  Parents also use outside resources to add to those efforts, such as play therapy and social skills groups.  Children with autism are of course, all unique individuals and may require a  balance of doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, teachers, besides their main support system of family and friends. The needs of each child is not the same as another, some need more support while others need less.

In fact, ALL children need to be educated, supported, or challenged in academics, social skills, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness to bring out their best!

If I might add to Jacob Barnett’s encouragement, I would also encourage families this summer to spend some much-needed mindful family time along with a focus on your passions.

Stop learning, start thinking, be mindful, create, and be happy!

Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful

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Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful.

Please take a moment to be inspired! Click on the above link to watch a video at http://www.mindful.org

Here’s My Mix!

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calendar - Copy - Copy“My Happy” began as a place for me to organize helpful information that has become an important part of my life. My experiences have led me to appreciate all that brings positivity my way. I strive to share the things that have made a significant difference to me and my family. This post will explain my (always evolving) positive strategies I use with my family. You may see other strategies I have posted previously on the Parent/Caregivers Page.

Strategies may change as my children get older, I learn new information, or if the strategies stop working. There are various ways to help support children. I began as a teacher, searching for the best behavior management practices for my class. As a parent, I continued to learn as many different approaches that I could. The important realizations for me were:  being mindful, keeping a balance, practicing, and being  flexible.  Not one approach works best, it is using a mix of them that really makes the difference. Also, knowing when to be flexible by changing or dropping something that isn’t working.  Here is what is in my “mix”!

Mindful to create a positive, caring, loving and supportive environment:

Lots of hugs, kisses, and a growth mindset….. goes without saying 😉

Family Mission Statement was my latest way to give our family an idea of what is expected and appreciated in our family.  I decided to do this after learning more about Emotional Intelligence.  It is similar to the “family rules” I have previously posted; however it is more about what we want to focus on daily.  Together, we discussed what mission statements are and then decided what we wanted it to look like. Our family decided on the following:

 

Family Mission Statement

  •  Look for “happy” (positives)
  • Kind and caring
  • Be a helper
  • Have “everyday bravery”
  • Be thankful
  • Be a problem solver
  • Try your best

“Happy, Healthy, Strong”

 

We read it out loud once a day and display it where everyone can see it. I used a bullet format to make it easier for my children to understand. Older children could decide whether they want it to read like an actual statement. We also ended it with what has turned into our family “cheer”, happy, healthy, strong. This began as an affirmation I wanted to share with my children and they like saying it so much, we use it all the time.

“Everyday Bravery” was taken from the work of Rachel Simmons.  Rachel Simmons explains that it is not just heroes in movies who are brave, we are brave every day. Children may see being brave as: going to school and rising to challenges there, beginning a new anything, maybe even trying a new food. knowing they can tackle these smaller challenges will help them to become braver and braver, more able to tackle whatever new challenges come their way.

http://www.rachelsimmons.com

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Positive Rewards

I have used reward charts, stickers, homework passes, lunch with teacher, and more. I find this works well to recognize good behavior or to motivate learning something new, such as potty training. Rewarding in this way is effective for a specific period of time. Another example would be earning stickers for 7 days in a row to receive the privilege of picking the movie for movie night.  These rewards also worked well with students because it was only be for one school year. When you are a parent or caregiver, these positive reinforcements do not always stay effective. Reward charts are available free online. Instead of stickers, kids can color the squares in.

Earning privileges

Instead of punishing by taking away a toy or activity, we remind the kids that they earn their privileges by being a cooperative part of the family. Paying attention to the family mission statement (or rules), doing chores, homework, and being responsible. We usually say that they are earning their privileges for the next day.

Choices

I give my children choices when I can. They have learned that they can’t always have a choice. It helps them to be more flexible.

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Calendar

We keep a monthly calendar to help the kids see the “big picture”. This helps our family stay on track as far as our weekly activities and it is a great way to help each member of the family see that everyone is getting choice time.  My older son was constantly saying  our weekend activities revolved around what his younger siblings wanted to do, not what he wanted to do. Having a calendar with weekend plans helped him to see the “big picture” and that he was getting his choice, too. We also color code the kids’ choices to make it easy for them to see their “picks”.

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Chore Chart

This has helped my older son keep track of all his responsibilities. I found a white board at Target that has the chart on it. My son filled in the chores, which he liked. He also likes checking things off when he’s done with each chore. He feels proud to see all those  checks at the end of the week. (This is also how he earns his allowance.)

Affirmations

“Happy, Healthy, Strong”    I sometimes request this at some point during the day. We have been saying it for so long my children usually bring it up before me, now.

“Safe, Cooperative, Kind, and Friendly”    I began this when my  younger children were 2 and 1/2 years old. I would ask them to say it before we got out of the car. It helped them to stay safe when we were out and about. Now, it reminds them that these expectations are always important wherever we are going.

Deep Breaths

We practice this daily to calm or focus. After practicing this daily, it has become more natural for them to do.  I knew this was working when my children began reminding me to take a deep breath when they saw I needed to. 🙂 Which usually makes me laugh, leading me to my next strategy.

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Humor

Whenever possible! Silly dances, mistakes on purpose, jokes….

(This is not to say my family and I are doing all of the above perfectly, but we are making good efforts! )

What’s in your “mix”?

I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment or e-mail me.

Have Fun, Learn, and Grow

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I recently watched a speaker explain that sometimes we don’t follow through with ideas because they seem too “easy”.  That is how I feel about my blog. I am simply a messenger posting what is all around us.  It is my way of doing the work for my readers by organizing important information which can improve lives. This is my fun, learning and growth. I have been posting about ways to feel happier (according to the latest research) and retweeting real life examples of the information I share. I would like my readers to find the information easy to understand and use in their lives, because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

The following video explains the difference between having a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  Carol Dweck (Stanford University psychologist), Christine Carter (sociologist, happiness expert, author) and Kelly Corrigan (author, speaker) discuss mindset and motivation.

To learn more please visit their websites at:

http://www.mindsetonline.com

http://www.christinecarter.com

http://www.kellycorrigan.com

 

 

 

 

 

Social and Emotional Learning

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This video, 5 Keys to Social-Emotional Learning Success, was shared from Edutopia’s YouTube channel. I thought this video would be helpful in understanding SEL.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is happening in the U.S.,  China, the UK, and Singapore! Some of my friends get excited about new technology, some get excited about new fashion trends, others get excited about the latest music…I get excited about social-emotional learning!!!

Validated by research, social-emotional learning is shown to enhance academic success as it actually reduces stress levels in that pursuit. It prevents negative behaviors and gives students the “soft skills” they will need to flourish in today’s work environments.  It also promotes positive relationships and attitudes about school, and in general.

Studies with toddlers show that we really are “born to be good”.  In his book Born to Be Good, UC Berkeley professor (and Greater Good Science Center Director) Dacher Keltner discusses our natural tendency to be good.  Keltner makes the case based on research in psychology, sociology, and neuroscience that we are also wired for good. More specifically, he looks at the science of emotions and how positive emotions such as compassion and awe are contagious—and help to bring out the good not only in ourselves, but in others as well. (Taken from:  Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now?  by: Vicki Zakrzewski Ph.D.)

SEL cultivates our self-awareness.  Focusing on understanding our emotions, positive and negative, to help us navigate the classroom, workplace, our relationships and the decisions we make in life.

Again (if you are a regular here at “My Happy”), positive emotions such as gratitude, tranquility, love and joy expand our hearts and minds which helps us to share and connect with the people in our lives and increase our learning potential. Also, as I have previously mentioned, there are times everyone experiences negative emotions and difficult experiences, however, our children will be better equipped to handle those times with this kind of learning.

I have created an SEL page where I have taken information from various sources to explain what SEL is and why it should be a priority in our homes, schools and communities. I also included websites where you can find more information. Take a look at the Social and Emotional Learning Page to learn more about it. 

 

I would love to hear about what you think! You can write a comment or e-mail me at tiffanylynne_14@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

Got Emotional Intelligence?

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EIMy family and I practice our EI skills regularly.  This is something I encourage you to take time for. Please be sure to do a “self-check” before your try to teach it to your kids or the people in your life. Expecting your children to learn and use these skills only works if you “Lead By Example”.  We are role models to everyone around us.  Trying to improve and strengthen your emotional intelligence will help your children or the people you are closest to.  The following is practical information to begin learning and strengthening your Emotional Intelligence.

 

“Emotional Intelligence is the set of abilities that helps us get along in life with other people in all kinds of situations.”  ~Maurice H. Elias, Ph.D.    Rutgers University

Emotional intelligence is a wide range of skills that children (and adults) can develop and improve.  Developing and improving these skills are critical for emotional well-being and life success.

The following are social and emotional skills to focus on:

  • happiness and optimism
  • self-regard (self-compassion)
  • emotional self-awareness
  • assertiveness
  • independence
  • self-actualization
  • empathy
  • social responsibility
  • interpersonal relationship
  • flexibility
  • problem solving
  • stress tolerance
  • impulse control
  • conflict resolution

Please note, happiness and optimism are at the top of this list.  It is my opinion that they should be.  If we focus on happiness and optimism we will be strengthening many of the other skills on this list. “My Happy” is full of ideas to strengthen your happiness and optimism.  Many of my posts discuss self-awareness. We need to be aware of our thoughts and realize we can control them and choose to be positive. Using positive thinking can improve other skills.  Take flexibility for instance. I realized that I have difficulty with this at times. In fact, I can really get annoyed  when plans change at the last-minute.  My initial reaction was to become upset and react negatively (grumpiness, I know, hard to believe..ha ha).  After realizing I did this, I had more control over it. Now when something happens that forces me to be flexible (when I don’t want to) I still may initially react negatively, but I can usually catch myself and change my attitude. 🙂 My improvement happened as a result of  practicing positive thinking which contributed to my being a more flexible thinker.

Learning and improving these skills is important for everyone. Not only does it improve your social and emotional well-being, it leads to a more successful life.  This is a topic that I have wanted to share with others, especially caregivers because I know the value of these skills for children. Not only does it help children do well socially and emotionally, it increases learning potential.

As I continued my research in this area, I found CASEL. The Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago, seeks to enhance children’s success in school and life by promoting evidence-based social, emotional, and academic learning as an essential part of education from preschool through high school. I am looking forward to someday having SEL in schools world-wide.  Website: http://www.casel.org or check them out in my twitter feed!

Books to read:

EI Goleman         EI parenting

more to come…..

 

 

“Cloud of Love” Gift of Love

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Are you looking for a special gift for someone you love? “Cloud of Love” is something I did with my kids for birthday gifts in our family. I thought you might like the idea for the holidays. For those of you who might not know, Clouds are groups of words showing categories viewed on blogs, websites, and other social media. This “Cloud” though, is created of reasons why you love your special someone.

The title of the “Cloud” can include the person’s age. For example, 60 Reasons We Love Mimi.  I chose to use the person’s age to determine how many reasons are used. You can choose to do the same or another number that is meaningful to you.  List reasons using different sizes, colors, even fonts, if you are computer savvy or simply use paper with crayons, markers, or pens.

Once you have created your cloud, it could be framed or placed in the front of a photo album (They still make these, right?). You could also include pictures of the person with you or your children. I have given a partial example below. (There are not 60 reasons in the example. It gives you the idea, though.)  I also included it as a document link. I think you could use it as a template, please let me know if you try it. 🙂

https://myhappydotme.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/60-reasons-we-love-mimi2.docx

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