Parenting on Purpose

Parenting on Purpose

Teaching Kids to Appreciate Nature

posted by srballantine

 

Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Even though I spent many years living in the country, away from city life, it didn’t necessarily mean I spent much time outdoors; especially during winter months. And unless I sent my kids out to play, they didn’t either. In every direction was an expanse of green trees, hills and endless miles of Mother Nature. My driveway curved through a pasture, and my backyard was a huge mountain alongside a slow moving river.

As my garage door closed behind me, I entered my warm house without having to be outside. As I did an inventory of my lifestyle, I realized I rarely had to be outside no matter where I went. Unless I made the effort to leave my house and go for a walk, I never even got a breath of fresh air. I lived right in the middle of nature, but I had become an observer of its beauty. I wanted my children to learn to appreciate all the aspects of nature firsthand,by being in the middle of it.

Whether you live the country life, in the suburbs or in the city, you can teach your kids to better commune with, or at least have an appreciation for, being outdoors and for everything nature has to offer. It’s not just the aesthetic ofnature that you can benefit from, but also in the manner in which it enhances your being and what you’re living.

Some of the ways in which you and your kids can benefit from being outside:

~Nature is energetically grounding. Your feet on solid ground connect you with the Earth energies.

~You can fill your lungs with oxygen, which stimulates all of your cells.

~It can enhance your sense of wonder as you observe the perfection that is nature, and how it works together.

~Your appreciation of life can expand as you interact with or observe plants and animals that live in the environment.

~Experiencing the awe on a clear night as you look up at the stars.

~Your sense of smell is enhanced as you breathe in the grasses, flowers, and unique odors that make up the great outdoors.

~Sight becomes clearer as the sharp colors of your surroundings come into focus.

~There is calmness in nature that isn’t found elsewhere. As you breathe deep and just “be,” you have the opportunity to find a deep level of calm.

Children respond to activities and action, so we took them on many outings in our quest to help them appreciate being in nature. A few of our family favorites were:

~Camping; the entire family can participate.

~Nature walks in parks or recreational areas.

~Sleeping outside in our own yard.

~Visiting Botanical Gardens.

~Visiting the beach.

~Planting a tree or a flowerpot.

~Helping out with gardening tasks.

~A walk around the block, consciously observing the surroundings.

Show your children how to take a deep breath of fresh air and communicate with them about how nature sustains our lives and the world we live in.

You can participate and appreciate being in nature, no matter what the weather is.

Perhaps much of your day or your children’s are spent inside. Making a deliberate choice to put aside what you’re doing and visit the outdoors has the opportunity to stimulate and energize you in a wonderful new way.

Please feel free to comment.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Kids Love Their Bodies

posted by srballantine
Bigstock photos

Bigstock photos

Face it — most people have parts of their bodies that they wish were somehow different. By different, it’s generally assumed that they wish these attributes were better. Maybe you don’t like the color of your hair or wish your arms had less loose skin on them. Maybe you want that toned stomach you see Iggy Azalea or Jared Leto sporting.

However, the concept of better is so subjective, it is often unduly influenced by the opinions of other people, many of whom you don’t even know. Images that you see on television, in the movies, and on the pages of magazines are rarely what they appear to be.

Many people think that a poor body image is something that only affects teenage girls, but this is simply not true. People of all ages, both male and female, can suffer the ill effects of having a poor body image.

Yes, young women often think they are fat and many of them diet to the point of poor health or even anorexia. On the flip-side, there are boys who feel like “90 pound weaklings” and believe they’ll never get a girl or will get sand kicked in their face if they dare show their bare chest at the beach.

This is affecting more children than ever and at younger ages than most would expect.

So what can you do as a parent to help your child recognize how beautiful and miraculous their body is no matter how they’re built?

One of the first things to do is pay attention to how you feel about your own body. Are you setting an unhealthy example, constantly monitoring every bite you eat, fixating on your weight, or analyzing your features? So often, people will say negative things about their bodies, which kids can naturally take to heart. Even if you don’t say it out loud, your children still pick up on facial expressions and emotions.

Here are some things you can do to help your kids love theirs, and if you have body issues of your own, you can practice them, too.

Find Something to Love

Identify something about yourself that you like. What do other people compliment you about? Do you have pretty eyes, nice hair, or a great smile? These are all fantastic places to start. It is easy to get so down on yourself that you shrug off the compliments you get as being insignificant or even insincere. Learn to say a simple thank you when someone compliments you and feel that positive energy.

Be a Baby

 Get a picture of yourself as a baby. Pretty cute, right? That is still you. Embrace your baby-self. Accept your natural in-born beauty. Over time, find pictures of yourself as you were growing up. Look at those pictures and love that little girl or boy.

What Would Grandma Say?

Forget about anyone who said anything mean. Think about a complete stranger or a loving grandparent. What would they say about your appearance? Most of us see tiny flaws that no one else notices. Think hard about it and ask yourself if Grandma or Grandpa would take issue with the flaw in question.

Turn It Around

Imagine your “imperfections” on your best friend. Would you be horrified by them? Would you expect them to be ashamed of their appearance? Would you stop liking them because their thighs were big or small, or if they had acne? Of course not! Try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend.

Feel it

 Check in with your Internal Guidance System. How does it feel when you are beating yourself up over your appearance? I’ll bet it doesn’t feel very good. On the other hand, how does it feel when someone gives you a compliment? Pretty nice, right?

Your IGS will help you to know what is true and steer you onto a healthy path. Your IGS will help you to know that you are okay, right now, just the way you are. It will help you to know if you can be even happier and healthier by making some changes. Some people may be guided to make a change in what they eat because it feels good to them. Others may take up some healthy exercise.

Recognize What You Control and What You Don’t

Not everyone is built like a model with long slender legs, big blue eyes, and straight blonde hair. The good news is that there are so many different kinds of beauty and beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. You don’t have to try to look like anyone else. Some things you can change if you choose to. You can exercise and build up your muscles and tone your body. However, if you’re born with short legs, you can’t make them longer.

Focus on What Your Body Can Do

Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, focus on what your body does for you. Start appreciating that your body carries you around. Your eyes see the world and send messages to your brain. Your arms carry your books, laptops, puppies, and babies.

Once you let go of the idea of how you think you should look, you can start to be grateful for your existing health. This gives you the chance to notice how easily you move through the world, thanks to your wonderful body. You feel the wonderful sensations when you touch something soft, something fuzzy, or touch another person.

As your appreciation for your body increases, you’ll start to feel more beautiful. You’ll show the world your own unique, fantastic self. You will radiate your inner beauty and others will recognize it and be drawn to our positive energy.

Inspire your kids

Children often emulate how their parents think, act and feel. As you learn to appreciate how divine your body is, your children will have an easier time feeling positive about their own bodies. Being aware of what you’re projecting and deliberately keeping your dialogue positive will ultimately inspire your kids to the same outlook.

Please feel free to comment.

© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Your Child Wants A Pet And You’re Not Sure

posted by srballantine
Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Pets have long played an important role in the American household. I recently read “Pets in America” by Katherine Greer. Critics acclaim her book to be entertaining and informative, it being a portrait of Americans’ relationship with the cats, dogs, birds, fishes, rodents and other animals we call our own. The author says over 60% of U.S. households have pets.

 How familiar you are with the concept of having a pet is often determined by whether your family had pets when you were a child.  If you had pets, it may be an easy transition for you in accepting your child’s desires for having one.  If you did not have any pets growing up, it may be that you don’t want to start now, or you’re really eager to start a new family tradition as your kids are constantly asking you to give in and get them one.

 Children are constantly exposed to the concept of having a pet.  Most of their friends may have pets, schools may have “bring your pet to school day” (show and tell) and of course, the television is inundated with all sorts of advertising for pet food, pet care and family life with pets.

There are things to consider when choosing to have a pet become a member of your household however. Questions to discuss as a family unit. Who will be its primary caregiver? Are the duties to be shared? How involved does your child want to be with its care? Is your child mature enough to care for a pet?

 Children will eagerly exclaim that they will happily become the caretaker of the new family pet, but most of us know how that turns out. Mom and/or Dad inherit all the responsibility after a time. Having a young pet, such as a puppy or a kitten can be like having another child in the family. They require quite a bit of care and attention until they are a little older and more independent. The end result being, you now have a special new member of the family.

 What is the value in having a family pet? How will having a pet benefit your child? Pets that require less maintenance such as a fish or hamster in a cage, can teach a child responsibility. They require feeding and caring for their environment, but don’t need to be walked and played with. Puppies and kittens add a playful element to the home and as they mature, bond with the family.  Every pet has a different personality and can become a treasured companion for the family. There can be such an overt expression of love and affection between you, your children and the family pet. Children learn to express love and receive love through having pets that is free of judgment and expectations.

 There are so many ways in which a pet may enhance a family. Having a clear in-depth conversation with your children regarding your expectations and the responsibilities involved, is important before any pet is welcomed into your home.

 Please feel free to comment.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons In Gratitude For You And Your Kids

posted by srballantine

 

Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was born with an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’? You’re physically helpless at birth, totally dependent on others to have your needs met. For the most part, every need is tended to. Parents provide their children with love, food, clothing, and a warm place to sleep.

Most people as children don’t have to struggle for these basic necessities. You may take these things for granted as they are amply provided.

Expressing your appreciation for the good in your life and teaching appreciation to your kids is something  you learn, rather than something you’re born with. Most people learn it from their parents or their own life experience, and then teach it to their own children.

One of the ways you teach your children to express gratitude may be through prayer. Regardless of faith or religious affiliation, many families hold hands and give thanks for their daily bread, although this is a less common ritual than it was when your parents were growing up.

Many children across this country are taught to kneel next to their bed at night and thank the powers that be or ask them to bestow their blessings upon them and their families. Of course, prayer is not strictly a Judeo-Christian practice and it doesn’t matter what form of prayer you do. There is no right or wrong way to pray, and it can be done in a way that feels good to you,  any time of the day or night doing any form of activity.

Heart-filled prayer is a wonderful way to express your appreciation for the good in your life, but it is not the only way. For some, old-fashioned prayers are nothing but a shell, something that they know they should do. For others, they are no more powerful or meaningful than reciting a story from memory.

When you feel appreciation for what you have, you open yourself up to receiving more things, experiences, and people to appreciate. The more often you express your gratitude, the deeper you feel it in your heart. The pull you create attracts opportunities to you and grows stronger.

One of the best times to express your gratitude is as you’re falling asleep and waking up as these are the times of day when you are most “open.” These are the twilight moments when you’re not fully awake, but are awake enough to consciously direct your thoughts. At these times, you can access your subconscious more easily and program your messages of appreciation.

If you haven’t expressed gratitude to the Universe since you last recited, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” you might need a little practice. A small journal by your bed is a great tool, and kids may love this too. Commit to writing down just five things that you experienced or saw that day that felt good. Start small. It could be as simple as seeing a rainbow or playing with your child. Do this right before you fall asleep, filling yourself up with grateful energy. Encourage your children to think of things that felt good to them each day.

In the morning before you get out of bed, reach for your journal and review your list from the night before. Maybe even several days before. This starts your mind and your heart with positive thoughts and feelings. This can be a wonderful tool to use as a pick-me-up.

Encourage your children to create their own gratitude journals. If they’re too young to write, you can offer to help them. This gives you the opportunity to listen to your son or daughter tell you how wonderful their life is because they saw the coolest bug or because their teacher called on them in class and they knew the answer to the question. You never know, that just might make it into your gratitude journal, too.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

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