You are your child’s best teacher.

As the beginning of school draws near it is important to recognize that you are your child’s best teacher 365 days a year.  As their best teacher one of the most important things you can do for them is to read together and encourage them to read on their own.  Being able to read builds confidence and self-esteem.  Here are three simple things you can do to help your child develop good reading skills and habits:
Read Out Loud    For younger children, one of the best things you can do is to sit together while you read out loud.  Be sure the books have plenty of pictures and are fun.  During this time consider turning off all electronic devices to convey to your child how important this reading time together is.  For older children, schedule a family reading time where everyone takes a turn to read aloud.
Get A Library Card    If you live in a community that has a library, get your child their own library card as soon as they are old enough to have one (make certain you have one , too!).  Make it an event.  Begin scheduling trips to the library together to get books, or to just sit and read.  This will reinforce the fact that you see the library as a valuable resource.
Focus On Interest    If your child is not interested in reading, or is having a difficult time with reading, be patient.  Find out what they are truly interested in.  Cooking?  Maps?  Spiders?  How things work?  The weather?  Take some time to observe their genuine interest.  Then, go to the library or do an internet search together to get some printed material to read.  It is important to not make your child’s interst your interest.  It can be fun to let them teach you about what they are learning.  This is such a great way to build self-esteem and solidify knowledge.

Emotional Intelligence:  Developing Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the first of the five Emotional Intelligence stages. Here are two simple things that you can do to help develop self-awareness in your child (or anyone).
1. Ask the question, “What do you think?”, often.  Once the question is asked your job becomes that of listener and encourager. You might say things like, “Tell me more.” or “I see.” to stimulate more response. Simply nodding your head signifies you are listening.  Don’t judge what is being said, just listen.  In general, we grow up being told what to do and what to think.  By asking, “What do youthink?” you are promoting the develpment of self-awareness.
2. Ask the question, “How do you feel about that?”, regularly.  Then listen, empathize and validate. You might say something like, “I see how you could feel that way.” or “I have felt the same way.”  Stay away from saying things like, “Don’t feel that way.” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.”  The goal here is to promote the understanding, and taking ownership, of one’s feelings.  Try asking at dinnertime or bedtime, “What were you happy about today?” or “What were you sad about doday?”  Stay away from asking what made them happy, sad or mad.  In using the words, “what made you…”, you are teaching that our feelings are a result of something outside ourselves and that we have no control over, or responsibility for them.  It is like the classic line, “He made me do it!”, when, in fact, the truer statement would be, “I chose to do it.”So remember…take care of yourself today. Be risky. And most of all…have fun

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