Posts

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

Baggage: Are you letting your “once was” dictate your “to be?”

bag2_written21-300x173

Everyone comes with baggage; roads traveled, tears cried, and scars of recent and distant past.  But we also come with gifts, strengths, and dreams.  Don’t let your “once was” dictate your “to be.” Write the ticket. Then go! —Dr. Robyn Silverman, from Creating a Community of Character, Keynote presentation

Tabula rasa is dead. And it’s OK.

We are all born into current states of something.  Good or bad, bad or good, we come in with a suitcase and we fill it up as we go along.

Some might view this as depressing. I guess it can be depending on how we choose to look at the contents of the suitcase.

What are you carting along with you? When you take inventory on the contents of your baggage you notice…

(1) Life experience wears on you vs Life experience makes you stronger: Well, which one is it? Maybe it’s a little bit of both at times—sometimes events in our lives make us feel tired, frustrated, angry, alone and sad.  We’ve all been there—some more than others. Many choose to stay in this state of unrest for months, years, and sometimes even their whole lives.  Others find ways to remain hopeful and move forward.  They use their life experiences to help them make decisions for the future and for that, they are grateful.

scar-300x199(2) Scars keep me guarded vs scars remind me that wounds heal in time:Betrayal, loss, pain and suffering have a profound effect on the human spirit.  Some are cut deep and remain closed off from others—concerned that the wound will easily open and they will be hurt again.  While we take a chance with trust, this is no way to live.  We guard ourselves from hurt but also from joy.  So many choose to try again. To trust again. To love again.  And for those who do, they give themselves a chance for new happiness and fulfillment.

(3) Challenges hold me back vs challenges urge me forward: When you feel challenged, do you push back or do you cave in?  There are many challenges in life.  Some are dealt what can be seen as a very bad hand—disabilities, unsupportive or unplugged families, poverty, illness—and yet, some thrive.  And those who do often use their challenge as a stepping stone rather than a boulder holding them down from their dreams.  One of my friends had major learning disabilities and ADHD growing up—moved from school to school hearing that she’d never be good enough– she’s now a special needs teacher who helps many children every year learn, grow, and believe in themselves.

(4) Labels stick vs labels are just one person’s opinion: Children are labeled at a very young age.  Negative labels, whether true or not, can make an impact on a young person’s psyche. “She’s shy.” “He’s not athletic.” “She’s awful in math.” Some children, teens and adults self label. Others receive implied labels by comparison, for example, “His brother is the book worm” or “Her sister is the real ‘go-getter’ in the family.” And then there are the name-calling labels such as “bitch,” “player,” and “slut,” that can pigeon hole, hold people back and keep them from attempting new goals and meeting new people. Children, teens and adults tend to live up to the expectation set forth for them.  Unless…we learn that one person’s opinion is not necessarily reality.  As mentors, business people, parents, teachers and leaders we must demonstrate that we make our own reality.

(5) Yesterday’s noted characteristics haunt me vs help me: Were you called “argumentative,” “spirited,” “headstrong,” “stubborn,” or “opinionated” when you were little?  Sometimes the old traits that frustrated our parents and teachers in the past are the very characteristics that serve us well in the future. Reframing those opinions in the positive—perhaps seeing “opinionated” as “assertive” and “headstrong” as “determined” can show that you were always in training to go after your dreams.

suitcase-300x199(6) Old baggage stored vs dealt with or dumped: Remember that bully you never faced in elementary school?  Can’t forget that one thing your parent, teacher, or friend said to you in 9th grade? Wish you said sorry for something you did in college? Negative memories can hold a lot of weight in the baggage we cart around in life.  But they don’t have to.  When I first got onto Facebook, I reached out to a bunch of people who I felt I wronged in some way in childhood or adolescence.  As a different person now, I wanted to be accountable for my mistakes.  I also remained open to others who wanted to do the same with me.  They were different people now too.  The band aid was finally pulled off—and the memories were reframed, explained, and changed.  Some of you can do the same. If the chance has passed by due to death or inability to get in touch, write the letter, say the words, have the conversation with someone else you trust so you can forgive and let it go.

(7) Negative people accommodated or released: Everyone has housed negative, rude, unsupportive, and detrimental people in their lives for some period of time.  Some have taken permanent residency in our lives—even seated in the driver’s seat or at least backseat driving us to an unhappy place each day. When it’s a family member, it can be hard to let go.   And when it’s a friend you’ve had since childhood, it can seem wrong.  Still, it may be best to literally or figuratively dethrone that person in your life.  That means cutting ties, having a frank conversation about the need for change in the relationship, spending less time with that person, or what I call “demoting them” in level of importance in your own head space.  Sometimes, the negative people are no longer in our lives but we still repeat their ugly words in the privacy of our own head—shine light on that—and let them go.

The weight we give our so-called deficits, weaknesses, negative life experiences, leaches, and unsupportive labels actually is up to us.  It’s not always easy to let go, reframe or disempower whatever has been weighing us down—but it is possible and it is time.  When we commit to making this shift, our strengths become more obvious, our happiness more likely, and of course, our baggage more manageable, lighter, and quite nice to have along for the ride.

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

Colds, Colds, and More Colds! Getting Healthy During Cold Season

dadanddaughter_sleep-199x300Well, I like to think of it as an indicator of just how close my family is– when one has a cold, we all get it.  It’s hard to avoid, you know, with my almost 3 year old giving lots of hugs and kisses to everyone and my 19 month old putting his mouth on everything and then coughing and sneezing in our faces.  Fun times in the Silverman household.

chickensoup2-300x225 remember how it once was—no problem avoiding colds.  If my husband, Jason, had one, I would simply pistol-pack Lysol in one hand and Fabreeze in the other, spraying everything in sight– doorknobs, sheets…Jason. I’d wash my hands every chance I could. Avoid touching my face. Took vitamins and downed my share of the very awful-tasting Grapefruit Seed Extract.  Not to mention, I would make a huge pot of chicken noodle soup (made it last night, as you can see from the pic, and hoping it’s not all gone by the time I get home today!), an offering to the cold gods to please, please, please overlook me if I just took care of the rest of my family and friends who already were laid up.

Of course, I didn’t have young kids back then.  The cold gods have no mercy for parents.

So here’s the scoop about colds during Sneezin’ Season:

Cold Symptoms

  • Usually develop 2-5 days after exposed to someone else who kindly shared their cold with you. (My 19 month old started sniffling on Tuesday, my almost 3 year old on Wednesday, and my husband and I on Thursday).
  • May include: Fever, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, and muscle aches. (What a joy!)
  • Mucus: Likely starts off clear then turns green or yellow after 2-3 days (let’s not even go there). This does not automatically indicate an “infection” as the medical world used to believe.
  • Symptoms usually get worse over the first 3-5 days and then slowly disappear over the next 10-14 days. (What ever happened to only 7 days?)

Treating a Cold

  • It’s not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics won’t work. Taking them is pointless unless you or your child has an ear or sinus infection. If you are concerned, make sure you take him/her to the Pediatrician.  My son starts to lose his balance when he gets an ear infection–he is a bit prone to them.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you or your child: Take in extra fluids, use a cold humidifier, and rest a lot—well, if you can—which most of us probably can’t…but we can dream, can’t we?
  • You may want to get a bulb syringe or saline nasal drops to clear nasal passageways for young kids who don’t “get” the whole idea of blowing their nose yet. Of course, anyone who has a young child in their life knows that this bulb syringe (which we call the “Booger Bulb” in our house), is not received with the greatest fanfare by the child in question.
  • Some say that over-the-counter meds might help ease symptoms like fever, congestion, and cough. Talk to your pediatrician about all medications before giving them to your child.  Many are not made for young children or do not have the right dosage for young children listed on the back of the bottle.
  • Zinc lozenges should not be used by children because they’re not often tolerated well and haven’t been shown to be helpful in children.
  • Some are turning to natural remedies like honey. Doctors often recommend putting honey in tea or giving a spoonful to your preschooler to help soothe throat pain.
  • Consult your pediatrician for more information for your specific child. Be aware of possible interactions with other drugs or allergies that your child might have before trying to treat cold symptoms.

Do you have any great cold remedies? Please share here or on our Facebook page!

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