It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings”Ann Landers
This section highlights ways to strengthen family bonds, create family connectedness, and build a lasting legacy of LOVE that transcends space and time.
Ideas to BUILD your family’s LEGACY of LOVE:
Create a Gem Jar and use it as a mechanism to reinforce desired, positive, and encouraging behavior within your home. Gems can be given to children and parents alike when being cooperative, helpful, sharing, creative, kind, and even for problem solving or handling a challenging situation well. The goal is to recognize EFFORT and ALIGNMENT with your family values/mission and to build positive behavioral momentum along the way. Once the jar is FULL you can enjoy a special reward as a family (like going out for ice cream, picnicking in the park, a special family movie night, or engaging in any other activity that is special and can be enjoyed by ALL.) This is a quick and easy system to set up and implement. I used an old clear vase and purchased a variety of gems for the kids to choose from. The top of our jar had a band depicting the values most critical to our family functioning (sharing, caring, loving, cooperation) and served as a written reminder of the positive behaviors and choices we intended to instill.
All family members have the ability to give and receive gems at any given time; which is incredibly empowering to the children, and the jar remained in a place that was constantly seen and easily accessible to everyone (even my daughter who was only 3 at the time). The only requirement for giving a gem was that the “giver” needed to clearly communicate to the recipient why the gem was being given (reinforcing and strengthening communication as well as social connectedness through compliments). It is important to note that this system is intended to be a POSITIVE strategy employed to maintain and cultivate good behavior in the home as well as healthy connectedness; therefore, gems are given but NEVER taken away. If your kiddos are having a challenging week it may take them longer to achieve the full jar, and that is ok!! But please do not take away previously earned gems as a means to “consequate” current behavior. That is not the goal of this system and it will not only degrade it’s value, it will quickly lose it’s effectiveness as a tool for positive behavioral change.
I love WORDS and I believe wholeheartedly that they can be POWERFUL influencers in our lives. Consider creating WORD BOARDS for each member of your family. Put your heads together and come up with a gaggle of POSITIVE words/traits that best describe each person. Shoot for at least 25 descriptors and then write them on their personal board. The boards themselves can be made out of simple construction paper, created on canvas or whatever type of medium you see fit. The goal is to create a meaningful picture of each family member’s personality and strengths by the words that are chosen.
It’s really FUN to see what words others choose for you too!! It’s a great way to spark conversation and it helps to bridge connection and understanding amongst family members. Even for members that could be considered “difficult” or “bossy”, creating options to capture these traits in a more positively valenced way such as “persistent”, “passionate”, or “determined” can spark greater levels of reciprocity and deeper, more meaningful levels of understanding. Once your boards are created, hang them proudly in your home. As your kiddos grow and change, I encourage you to update the word boards to capture the uniqueness of who they are and their ever evolving personality. They are incredible, time stamped keepsakes that you are bound to cherish for years to come!!
Are you into the vision board trend? How about a twist on this tried and true favorite….FAMILY VISION BOARDING. I know for sure that families that DREAM together ACHIEVE together!! Creating vision boards can be a powerful tool to teach children about goal setting in both the short and long term, as well as how they track to achieve those goals and/or make revisions along the way. Goal setting and CASTING A FORWARD VISION is a critical LIFE skill, in my opinion. And family vision boarding is a wonderful way to capture both personal and COLLECTIVE family goals!
Use pictures, words, phrases, quotes, symbols, or any other materials that speak to you (maybe a map of places you want to visit a family), to create your board. This can be a traditional style made out of a cork board with push pins or you can even devote an entire wall in your home office or other common area of your home. Whatever medium FEELS RIGHT for you and your family is what you should use. Just make sure it’s on display!! Don’t create it and file it away my friends!! Dreams are meant to be acknowledged and SHARED, especially with those we hold most dear. Family vision boards are also a fantastic way to create ENERGY and investment from ALL MEMBERS around the outcome (in addition to an added layer of accountability~ like ” hey mom, how is that book you plan on finishing this year coming along?”)! As goals are achieved and experiences are experienced, crossed them off or remove them altogether. And don’t forget to celebrate TOGETHER, whether the successes are large or small! Likewise, if you choose to remove the items as they are achieved considering adding a new one in its place. That way your vision board becomes a living “document” of sorts that is ever- evolving with you and your family! Whatever method you choose, START TODAY! So DREAM BIG my friends, and commit to creating your personalized pathway to get there!!
Create a YEAR JAR to capture the candid moments, experiences (good and bad) and to highlight various goals and achievements of family members throughout the year. Designate a specific jar to be used to record special memories, events, achievements or even goals (I recommend keeping sticky notes and pens/markers nearby too). The start filling it up with the years most precious moments! The best part, at the end of the year take some time to read through all of the entries and to reminisce about the hardships faced as well as the special moments SHARED throughout the year (we do this on New Year’s Day). Then record or save them in any way you see fit! It’s a wonderful way to not only create CONNECTEDNESS but preserve the moments and memories (large and small) that make up the mundane and momentous days of our lives.
Need some SUPER FAST TIPS to connect with your brood NOW?? Download my 12 Simple Ways to Create Family Connectedness Today!
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families (Stephen Covey)
- Hands Free Mama & Only Love Today (Rachel Macy Stafford)
- The Awakened Family (Shefali Tosabary)
- Dare to Lead (Brene Brown)
- Lean Forward Into Your Life (Mary Anne Radmacher)
- Start Where You Are~ A Journal for Self-Exploration (Meera Lee Patel)
- How to Raise an Adult (Julie Lythcott-Haims)
- Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antedote to The College Admissions Mania (Frank Bruni)
Becoming a parent is the REAL DEAL. It pushes you well beyond any boundaries you ever thought existed in your life. Yet, it is the most love-filled and enriching experience that will shape you evermore. Here are my MUST READS for all you newbies out there. They were essential to my personal survival and provided integral insights into the wacky world of parenting children from birth-early elementary school. And if you happen to have a spirited, intense child, buy the third one first (you can thank me later).
- Sleeping Through The Night (Jodi Mindell)
- Parenting With Love And Logic (Foster Cline & Jim Fay)
- Raising Your Spirited Child (Mary Sheedy Kurcinka)
We ALL want our kids to feel as though they have the POWER to grasp what they want in school, in sports, and in LIFE. This requires LEADERSHIP and intentional guidance. I’m all about cultivating a growth mindset & developing success strategies from an early age; however, I also realize that MOST kiddos ARE NOT GOING to seek this stuff out ON THEIR OWN. That being said, here are a few good places to START.
Gently nudge your kiddos to embrace these PRACTICAL, and in my opinion, MUST READS. You can expect that they will help them understand the benefits of a proactive, “offensive” mindset and build confidence and resilience that will serve them well for years to come…
- The Big life journal
- Success For Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using The Slight Edge (Jeff Olsen?)
- Seven Habits for Highly Effective Kids and Teens (S. Covey)(mini edition is perfect for the bedside table and when bored and can’t sleep~they’ll READ IT!)
- Gratitude Journal For Kids (Charlie Wright)
- *For MOMS of teen girls* Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through The Seven Transitions of Adulthood (Lisa Damour)
Traveling close to home or even far and wide, is a fabulous way to build everlasting bonds of connectivity through the shared experience of a new place. Exposure to novel destinations, different communities or altogether different cultures is incredibly enriching~ no matter how old you are! Likewise, there are so many critical lessons to be learned along the way!! Here are a few of our favorite family destinations….
- Manzanita OR
- Kiawah Island, SC
- Seattle WA
- Bar Harbor, ME
- Newport RI
- Grand Canyon, AZ
- Boston, MA
- Port Stewart, Ireland
- London, England
- Tortola (BVI)
Do you have a place that you and your family adore? Drop me a line and tell me what you love most about it!! We are ALWAYS looking for new family friendly destinations!