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Parents forget child at Chuck E Cheese: 10 parenting tips for safety and preparation

chuckecheese-300x168I can’t believe I’m saying this…Parents are forgetting their kids at the children’s play place, Chuck E. Cheese’s.  While this may sounds like the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit to you, it’s actually the truth. Yesterday, Good Morning America called me to do a piece (which was squashed at the final hour) about a 5 year old girl who was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s last week.

It happened on Thursday night when the child was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s immediately following her own birthday party.  One of 10 children in a family, she was left behind by her mother—it wasn’t discovered that she was missing until the following day when her mother realized the girl wasn’t in her bed (she as getting her up for school).  Sounds completely implausible, right?

Perhaps.  But when 3 adults were attending the event with 19 children—things can get pretty hectic.  Was there a miscommunication of who was taking the child home?  Did everyone assume someone else was taking care of her?  We don’t know. The girl is now in protective custody until they determine what really happened here.

harmony-300x225But, believe it or not, this has happened before to other parents.  In fact, it just happened last Monday to another family! Three-year-old Harmony was left behind by her parents at a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Bel Air, Maryland. They only realized that they had forgotten her when they saw a report about her on the evening news. Apparently there have been other cases of this in other areas as well.

Were the children misbehaving? Were the parents trying to employ the safe haven rule at Chuck E. Cheese’s? No. Parents haven’t left their kids there because they were at their wits end, they were leaving them there…by mistake.

I know.  It’s ridiculous. How can people forget their child…let alone in a place that they attended for their children? But if you had 10 children…if it was a big crowd…if you made assumptions about who was picking up or dropping off your child…if you were exhausted or fed up or had a headache…could it happen to you or someone you know?

Whether you think so or not, this does beg some tips about parenting in a large, chaotic play place.

(1) Ensure that you have enough adults: When you have 19 children at a range of ages (some very young) and only three adults, you are out sorely outnumbered. There needs to be enough adults to ensure the safety of the children—especially when they may all be heading in different directions.

(2) Have an exit strategy: When you are dealing with multiple children, make sure every child and every adults knows where to meet, who they are going with, and how to check in with the adults.

(3) Make sure everyone knows the rules: Before entering a large play place, talk to your children about the safety rules. Even though this place is devoted to having fun, safety must come first.  Young children must be attended to at all times—they must be able to see you and you must be able to see them.

(4) Do a headcount: When you first walk in, periodically throughout the play time, and upon leaving and getting into the car, do a head count.  Not sure if everyone is there?  Roll call!

(5) Pair up buddies: Another safety precaution is assigning buddies.  When each child has another person they must keep track of and who must keep track of them, it adds another layer of security.  When you call out “buddies!” everyone finds their buddy or, alternatively, can tell you that they don’t know where their buddy is at the time.  You can pair up friends—but

(6) Appoint adults: When hosting a big group, each adult should be appointed to certain children such that the same people who came in the car on the way there should be the ones who return in that same car on the way home (unless explicit conversations and logistics beg otherwise).  When children pour into cars without thought, assumptions about the whereabouts of certain children can be made.

(7) Teach basic safety: Just like we discussed in the attempted Walmart kidnapping recently, each child should know how to protect him or herself. Who should s/he go to if s/he is lost?  What if s/he is approached by a stranger?  What if someone tries to take them away from the play area or outside through coercion or force?

(8) Teach life-saving personal information: Every child should learn basic facts about him or herself at a very early age.  For example, my daughter just turned 3 and already knows her full name and her street address.  If she needs it, she has it.  You can easily start to teach this to a young child by saying your address each time you approach your home—break it down a little at a time.  It can become a game of 20 questions—what number house do we live at? What street do we live on? What color is our home? What town do we live in?  Then teach him or her when to share the information and who s/he can share it with—and who s/he shouldn’t!

(9) If you can’t handle it, don’t do it: Think it sounds overwhelming to take a group of children to a large play area without more help?  Listen to your gut and don’t do it.  Even taking care of 2 young children in a large play area can be challenging if they go in two different directions—so know your limit and be sure you have enough back up.

(10) Recheck: At the end of the day, before leaving any venue with your family and friends, check and recheck that you have everyone!  Make no assumptions.

When Good Morning American did their preliminary interview with me, they asked if only bad parents would leave their child somewhere such as Chuck E Cheese’s. I can’t make assumptions about the character of any of the parents who have done this—but I can say that parenting begs incredible organization, preparation and attention.  In this case, these areas failed.

As parents, we will all make some mistakes. I’ve had very smart friends who thought the other parent was home and left their children to run an errand for a short time. I’ve had friends who thought the other parent was picking up their child from school and didn’t. Strange things can happen.

The Chuck E. Cheese’s situation pushes this to the limit considering that the parents didn’t know the child was missing until the next morning.  To that I say, check beds, kiss heads and make sure you KNOW where every one of your young, school-age, or pre-college age children are when you turn out the light at night.

What do YOU think? Has anything like this ever happened to you?

drrobynsig170

 

Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage?

silverman_headshotCourage is the Powerful Word of the Month! How do we encourage our children to try new things? Meet new people? Stand up for what they believe in?  Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist, answers one reader’s question about developing courage in her child. Several tips are provided– which ones resonate with you?

 

 

What will you try with your children this month? How have you helped your children to show more courage?  Please share here or on our Facebook page— We’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage!

Happy March! The powerful word of the month is courage! Let’s help our children (and ourselves) face fears and challenges with determination.

Courage Quotes:

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”–Thomas S. Szasz

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”–Charles Dubois

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”–Soren Kierkegaard

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rewards doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest or the best.  It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” — Dr. Robyn Silverman

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” — John Maxwell

Wishing you a powerful month of trying new things, meeting new people, and courageously standing up for what you know is right and fair.

drrobynsig170

February 29th: Teaching Children about Leap Year

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2012

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

leapyearleap-222x300Are the children asking you about leap year? I know, as a parent, I get pelted with questions about just about everything! If you want to be ready– here are some answers to frequently asked questions about leap year:

Leap Year Defined: What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year in which February is longer than it typically is in a non-leap year year. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28 days.

Why do we need a leap year?

In order to align the Earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons, leap year was started. Even though we acknowledge that a year has 365 days in it– that statistic isn’t completely accurate. Actually, it takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. So, in order to get “lined up,” we give one extra day to the calendar every 4 years to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2012, is a Leap Year. Leap year occurs every 4 years (believe it or not, with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules used to determine if a year is leap year or not a leap year.

  • Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4
  • Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800 is not a leap year
  • Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Were you born in a leap year?

2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1968, 1964, 1960, 1956, 1952, 1948, 1944, 1940, 1936, 1932, 1928, 1924, 1920, 1916, 1912

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I? (For someone who is 40 this year they are 11 leap years old.)

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

frogpuppetFrog origami

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince

Musical Lilly Pads

Frog CupCakes

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative

How to celebrate leap year:

It is rare that we get an extra day out of life.  Celebrate it by:

  • Making it a day when you show gratitude for your family, your friends, and other things in life.
  • Taking a courageous leap to do something different or try something new.
  • Reiterating a goal that you made in January as part of your New Year’s Resolution.
  • Play leap frog or do a special leap year craft with your kids!

Have a powerful Leap Year Day!

drrobynsig170

The ABCs of Parenting & Stress Management

stress1-199x300Much more than 10 parenting tips to reduce your stress and get you from a to z!

What?  Nobody gave you a manual giving you the abc’s of parenting and stress management when you gave birth to your bundle of joy?  Why stop at 10 parenting tips—let’s give you the full alphabet! Here’s something for you to print out, pin up, and read everyday!

A-   Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It is important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on and…

B-   Breathe: We know it is involuntary and yet sometimes it just takes so much effort! When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold, on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C-   Count your blessings: I’m not saying that you should think about all the bad things that are happening to everyone else and somehow feel grateful and lucky that they aren’t happening to you. That’s not productive. But there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today…like your child gave you a sweet kiss on the cheek, your toddler ate all his peas and your spouse actually didn’t leave the dirty dishes in the sink.

D-   Decompress: This may take some practice.  It may even take some assistance.  Giving yourself time to take a break, read a book, go out, have a little family fun, is important to your whole family.  A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E-    Eat good food: We take care of everyone else but ourselves.  We run from one activity to another, picking up, dropping off, and getting dinner ready for the kids in between.  What about you?  Eat breakfast! Stop for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F-    Focus on the big picture: Does it really matter that Johnny wants to wear his Spiderman pajamas to the market…again?  Let’s focus on the fact that Johnny at least got out of bed without too much of a fight this morning, brushed his hair (kind of) and told you that you were “awesome” even before you drank your first cup of coffee.  Not bad. So, when choosing between sanity and Spidy, choose sanity, OK?

G-   Go to the gym: Or to yoga or for a simple walk out the door.  There is fresh air out there! It is important to clear your mind and work on you so that you can stay healthy and fit.  How else are you going to keep up with Jr?

H-   Hang up the phone: O.K. We are all guilty of this.  Sometimes we spend more time on the phone (or on Facebook) than actually with the people we are with.  Children can get really annoying when they are trying to vie for your attention while you are on the phone.  I know…I’m a parent too! We all need to reserve some time for family only so that when you really need to be on the phone, the kids won’t feel so deprived.

I-     Identify the kind of family you are aiming for: And relay it to the family!  Have you ever sat down with your family and discussed the kind of family you aim to be?  Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Get your family on board and create the vision as a team.  There will be much more buy in and everyone will know what they are striving to achieve!

J-     Joke around: Don’t take everything so seriously!  Life is a laugh a minute.  If you think about some of the things your kids have done in the past that have made you mutter, “why me?” they are probably kind of funny now.    Take time to poke fun at yourself, and at life!

K-   Kiss, hug, and show affection: This is the fun stuff in life!  These little things can mean the difference between your family feeling secure and your family feeling like they need a therapist.  It’s good for you and it’s good for them.  Set the precedent that your family is the kind of family that takes the time to show that they appreciate and love one another.

L-    Listen: We blab on and on about the significance of listening and all the while forget to do it ourselves. What about all those great stories your children have to tell?  Those great thoughts or dreams your spouse has about your future? When we listen, we expand our minds and let others know that they are important.  When we listen, we know what to say, when to say it, and catch the subtleties that would otherwise pass us by.

stress_relax2-300x199M- Make time for family fun: We schedule in violin lessons, football, skating and choir but we forget to take time to engage in family fun.  Family fun could be taking a martial arts class together, taking a vacation, having a game night, or going for a bike ride.  Family fun means different things to different people.  The important part is that you do it together and it is enjoyable for everyone.

N-   Negotiate time for the couple: We all love spending time with the kids but it’s just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Remembering why you got married and had kids in the first place is crucial! Rekindle your love every week—whether it is going out for dinner alone of spending time cuddling with each other while the kids are out at Grandma’s.

O-   Open your mind to “the opposition:” You and your partner are a united force, however, you may not always agree.  Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise. When we avoid such discussions, stress and resentment can form.

P-    Play with friends: Of course this applies to your kids but also to you!  What do you consider play time?  Going to a movie? Having lunch? Playing golf? Having some adult company and some good laughs with friends could really make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q-   Quiet your mind: When it is time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.  Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall.

R-   Recruit some outside support: These days you don’t even have to go out and get support.  You can do it from the comfort of your own home.  Enlist the help of a coach who can help you reach your goals, deal with your present challenges, and create action plans to make the most of the future.

S-    Simplify: Why make everything so complex? There is really no need to schedule your child into 40 different activities per week. Nobody will suffer if they only choose 1 or 2 activities during the school year.  It really is OK.  Nothing spells stress like O-V-E-R-S-C-H-E-D-U-L-I-N-G.

T-   Teach the lessons you want them to know: Most schools do not have the time to delve into character development and issues of respect.  It is left to the parents and other significant adults in your child’s life to teach such things. Pair up with an after-school program that teaches Powerful Words like discipline, responsibility and openmindedness (if you need a recommendation of a place in your area, please contact us).  When you teach your children about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.  That’s definitely less stressful than defiance, rudeness, and tantrums!

U-   Utilize your resources: Did the grandparents tell you that they stress_relax3-300x199will watch the kids while you go out? Did your neighbor offer to tutor Katie in that Trigonometry you don’t quite understand?  Take them up on their offers!  When we reach out for help, it gives us time to collect ourselves and do the things that we do well.

V-   Value your time:  You do not need to volunteer for the board of every parenting group and say “yes” to every school fundraiser drive.  Of course, it is important to be involved.  However, overextending yourself takes time away from your own family and robs you of your own sanity.

W-  Wipe the tears: Yours and theirs.  My grandmother always told me “never go to bed angry.”  It is some of the best advice I was ever given.  Keeping grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness.  That is a legacy you do not want to leave.

X-   eXplore, eXpand, eXcite: Why go with the status quo?  Try something new and expose your children to unique experiences.  Travel to different places, try new foods, dream big dreams, and shake it up a bit!  You never know what you will find.

Y-   Yearn to grow and learn: Just because you are a parent, doesn’t mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals.  You may need to modify your ambition to be a Broadway superstar and instead, audition for your community theater company (I did this!), but you can still express yourself through the arts if you desire.  You may not be able to travel with the Peace Corp but you can volunteer in town, take courses in public service and citizenship, or even teach! Dream, visualize, and go for it.

Z-    ZZZZZZs: Get some.  Parenting always seems more doable after a good night’s rest.

Pleasant days and pleasant dreams.

drrobynsig170

Ask Dr. Robyn: 5 Tips to Encourage Generosity in Children

Here we are! Holiday season! At a time of year that shouts “buy, buy, buy!” how do we encourage giving and generosity in our children? Dr. Robyn Silverman answers a question about generosity and children from reader, Linda:

Dear Dr. Robyn: We want our daughter, Krysta, to be the kind of person who gives of her time and energy to others.  Kids are often all about what they get these days. Her cousins are so selfish– they get everything they want and don’t like to share.  Krysta gets jealous sometimes. We want her to be happy but we don’t want Krysta to pick up the same habits as her cousins have adopted.  How do we help her to become a generous, giving person?

How do YOU encourage generosity in YOUR children?

Unschooling: Is radical homeschooling right for your child?

Unschooling is a radical form of homeschooling that throws the books out the blog_unschooler-196x300 window on traditional learning. School [School newly corrected: Learning] takes place out of traditional school doors and on the child’s own terms. Today, I sat down with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, to discuss it.

How can this work?

(1) Know your child. Some children thrive in a less rigid, less structured, more free form education process. Some children are self propelled, self motivated, and ready to learn in many different kinds of ways. Other children thrive with structure and adult guidance.

(2) Know yourself: It may not sound like it, but this is an investment on the parents part. Self directed not mean by themselves.Unschooling doesn’t mean only exposed to what’s in front of you. Parents must be willing to get out, get their hands dirty, and take the road less traveled.  (There are lots of sites and blogs where parents and young people are sharing their experiences so you can see what this entails).

Why would people do this?

(1) Some parents may be dissatisfied with the local school system, their personal education growing up or even what traditional schools provide today.

(2) Some parents may have an exceptional child who has specific gifts that they believe would be better suited outside of the traditional classroom structure.

(3) They may want to nurture a passion of their child’s that they don’t feel the traditional local school has the time or curriculum to do.

Note: Some unschoolers will take a college class if they feel that this will help them to grow and learn what they are interested in as many they believe all avenues of learning should be tapped.

As a parent who may or may not be considering this– you may have some questions:

(1) Are there longitudinal studies? There are no long range statistics on if it’s working, not working, what’s working and what isn’t. Right now we’re going on faith and anecdotal evidence. Hopefully, studies will be provided in the coming years.

(2) Will there be gaps in their education? If the children are hyper-focused on one or two things, there may be concern that the fundamentals may be lost or delayed if they are not as exciting to learn. Even though unschooling is self-directed, parents will need to encourage some balance. After all, in order to delve into many topics of interest, reading, writing, and math are necessary. The philosophy here is; the children will learn what they need to learn at the time it’s necessary to learn it.

(3) What about socialization? Parents of all home-schooled children need to provide the socialization their children need to grow up as a well-rounded, social individual of our society. All children need to exposed to other children, away from parents, so they learn how to be with other kids.  If they aren’t in school, and other avenues aren’t provided, socialization can be an issue. (This is where programming like 4H, scouts, martial arts classes, sports, community theater and camps come in- many home-schooled children will take part in after-school programming or even get together with other home-schooled children during the day and learn together).

(4) Will they be exposed to enough variety? Parents need to ensure that their children are receiving diversified exposure that allow them to discover all their passions aside from the one they are already nurturing. If a child is really interested in one area, we still need to expose them to much more than that…or how are they going to discover all the passions they may have?

(5) Are they learning to persevere through tough subjects? Parents need to ensure that all children learn how to persevere and endure through subject matter that kids may not find all that intriguing but is necessary for their development. All children need to venture out of their comfort zones, try new things, and overcome challenges.

If college, then what?

If unschoolers want to go the more traditional route, they’ll have to do what every other student does and take the necessary tests to get placed. However, there is one major difference: they’ll provide a resume of learning rather than a traditional transcript. Some unschoolers will have to learn to take tests and focus in larger seminars if they haven’t been in that circumstance before. Only time will tell if there are significant gaps and when unschooling is right for a specific child.

What can we learn from unschooling?

Just as unschoolers can supplement their education with traditional school classes, those who go the traditional route, can supplement their child’s formal education with experiential learning in areas that truly excite them. Use some of your weekends, summer vacation, winter breaks, and after-school times to go the nontraditional route. Your child may want to do science camp in the summer, take trips to the zoo, dig in the dirt to learn about bugs, camp in the forest, or draw on a mountainside.

There are great things to learn out there beyond the school walls whether you are interested in unschooling, homeschooling, or traditional structured schooling. If you take nothing else away from the segment, I think that’s the bottom line here. The “recipe” for success is different for different children and different families– parents can and should explore a variety of different approaches to see what can work best for their child.

Let’s chat about it! Join me on Facebook or Twitter!

drrobynsig170

 

7 Lessons The Life of Steve Jobs Can Teach Children (and Parents)

blog_stevejobsSteve Jobs, innovator, inventor, and game-changer died yesterday at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer.  The news of his death, while bringing on mourning of an amazing thinker, prompted those who revered and respected him to focus on his noteworthy influence on the current way we live, work, and enjoy entertainment.  It got me thinking.  What can our children learn—and how can our parenting be influenced—from looking at the contributions and life path of Steve Jobs?

  1. Enjoy what you do: Steve Jobs talked about how important it is to enjoy the work you do—and if you don’t like the work you are doing, to keep searching for what you love. As children, we all have things we have to do but there is always time to concentrate on what you love as well. What is it?  Don’t do something simply because your friend does it, all the kids in the area do it, your brother or sister did it, or your parents played it or participated in it as a child. As parents, that means, we need to step back and allow our children’s passion to emerge rather than forcing them to commit to something because of an outside reason.  Support them in trying different things and then, allow them to choose based on what they love.
  2. Encourage experimentation and creativity: No one can argue that Steve Jobs wasn’t a master at creativity.  He invented something that simply didn’t exist before. What does that say to our children? Childhood is a time of exploration.  There are such small risks—no one will dock your pay if your invention fails to work as planned, you will not be fired, tossed out on the street, or cut off from your family if you spend a few hours digging in the dirt, taking an old clock radio apart, or walking in the woods pretending you are on an animal safari. In fact, you may just discover something amazing. As a parent, that means, allow your children to feel, think, take things apart, put them back together, or make something completely different from the materials.  Let them believe that there are no wrong answers, just undiscovered ones.  They may just figure something out that will bowl you over.
  3. All paths are not conventional: After careful thought and introspection, Steve Jobs dropped out of college. He expressed that he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.  Then he started taking classes that excited him.  He tells a story about taking a typography class that, while unknown at the time, influenced the various fonts that Apple provided a few years later when the personal computer was invented…in his garage.   Childhood is not a paint by numbers experience.  I’m not saying that people should drop out of school, hole up in the garage and see what happens. That would be a ridiculous interpretation. What I’m saying is that children need to take healthy risks based on insightful thought.  What are they doing simply because it is the path usually taken and what are they doing because it is the right path for them?  As parents, that means we need to ask ourselves what’s best for our specific child.  It takes strength and faith.  That may mean having your child participate in a different kind of school, activity, trip, retreat, or experience.  It may mean asking your child to spend time setting goals and envisioning what s/he really wants.  It most definitely means we need to listen–really listen–to what they have to say.
  4. Everyone has the capacity to change the world: Steve Jobs was adopted by parents who hadn’t gone to college, weren’t well off, and weren’t what someone would call “connected” to high-powered people.  What does that mean for our children? There is no excuse not to achieve your personal greatness.  Everyone has gifts to share but they must cultivate them and go for it.  As parents, that means, we need to see our children in terms of their assets rather than their deficits.  So many of parents compare, contrast, and wonder why their child falls short of a standard set by the neighbor’s son, their cousin’s daughter, or the fictitious ideal child set in the minds of the family.  When we do that, we fail to see the child who stands before us.  What is your child passionate about? What are his gifts? How can you help to ignite the S.P.A.R.K. within him so he can truly shine?
  5. There is success in failure: When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he bought Pixar and made a huge splash with the mega-hits Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Animation techniques changed, story telling was revamped, and the movie industry was forever changed.  Our children need to learn that when they don’t make the team, don’t get the part in the play, or are even painfully cast out by a former friend, it may be just the thing that provides the space for greatness.  When I was in college, I didn’t get into a singing group I auditioned for—and I was really upset.  I found out that had I gotten in, I wouldn’t have been able to spend my Junior year abroad at my dream school, Oxford University in England.  That year abroad changed my perspective as much as it changed my life. There is success in failure.  As parents, it means that we need to help our children find the silver lining when things don’t go as planned.  We need to model being optimistic and hopeful that success comes with trying and failure is one more step towards success.  We need to point out when a gift or opportunity comes along because a previous failure made room for it.
  6. What goes around comes around: In 1996, Apple bought NeXt, and in an amazing twist of fate, Steve Jobs wound up back at Apple, helping the then struggling company come back to life.  Having left feeling embarrassed and stripped, he returned wiser and refreshed.  His innovation meant the creation of the Ipod a few years later, and Apple was back in the game with a vengeance. What can our children learn from this? They can learn that goodbye doesn’t always mean goodbye forever and that a break from what you always do may mean an opportunity for growth.  Hiatus from a relationship can allow perspective. Submerging yourself in new responsibilities can be freeing.  Learning something new can revitalize and rejuvenate. As parents, that means that there are times to ensure your child’s commitment and there are times when a break from the norm may be the best parenting choice you can make.  Time away doesn’t need to be seen as a time of interruption but rather, room for innovation.
  7. You never know: When Steve Jobs invented the personal computer, it hadn’t been done before.  When Toy Story came out, the animation was the first of its kind.  Nothing like the Ipod was ever seen previously.  We must teach our children that doing the same things everyone else does, copying other people’s work, and following in someone else’s footsteps, is not the answer to discovering one’s own gifts.  There is value in mentorship, internship, practice, and skill acquisition, of course, but don’t be afraid to do something nobody ever did because that is how inventions are created.  As parents, that means, encourage healthy risks and don’t criticize when your child’s quirks lead him on an unexpected journey (as long as its done safely and with character).  Imagine what would have happened to so many great inventions if those in the lives of those creative people continually downplayed their gifts, their ideas, and the value of their path.  We need more inventors—more girls, boys, women and men, thinking about what is possible rather than what is logical and practical.  You just never know what they’ll come up with when they are given the freedom to try.

As I sit here and write this article on my Apple MacBook Pro, I send out my appreciation to the life and innovations of Steve Jobs.  But his life is so much more than the vehicle for creation.  It is a testament to what can happen when we let creativity, curiosity, and love for our passion lead us down our path…living each day as if it were our last, until it is.

In gratitude,

drrobynsig170