With another school year upon us, Dr. Kathy encourages you to think about goals you have for your children. She also recommends that you ask your children for their goals for this school year. You can compare them and talk about what it would take to be successful. Are they willing to work to meet their goals? Are you willing to work so they’ll meet the ones you’ve set for them?

Great Starts Accomplish Great Goals

ck running start

Did you enjoy watching some of the Olympics? As I watched various events, I was struck again by how important the start is for athletes. It’s important for you and me, too.

In swimming, athletes wait for one whistle, get up on their stand or into the water, wait for the second whistle, get into position, and then launch themselves into the water at the exact right moment – not too early and not too late. If they’re too early, they’re disqualified. If they’re too late, they most likely won’t medal.

It’s similar for the running events in track. Athletes get into their position, place their feet into the grips when they’re supposed to, and wait for the gun to go off. There’s pressure at the start!

Gymnasts also have a particular start to what they do. Did you notice that? They approach their apparatus with a ready body posture, always with a smile. When they’re notified to do so, they position themselves with a wider smile and begin. If their first hand-grip is off or they launch toward the vault on the wrong foot, they’ll not do well. The start matters.

I’m determined to think more about my beginnings. I want to be more strategic and intentional. Just like the athletes, I want to win at what I set out to do. The start is relevant to the finish.

I also want to be like swimmers and runners who may have false-started and been disqualified. They have to shake it off when beginning the next race. New beginnings – that’s what life is full of, and I’m grateful.

Will you join me with a new emphasis on beginnings? Is this something you might want to talk with your children about? We have the start of the day and the start of the evening when everybody is home again. We have the start of a weekend and the start of a meal. We have the start of homework and the start of projects. And we can restart after false starts. Yes, we can.

This is slightly adapted from an article I wrote for our email newsletter. We send it every other Tuesday. It also includes an excellent column from Tina Hollenbeck that will bless you, news about products, my speaking schedule, and more. You can subscribe here if you’re interested.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Break Through By Connecting One Piece At A Time

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When’s the last time you were overwhelmed? It might have been a few minutes ago. It’s common today for a variety of reasons. Busyness. Responsibilities. Character issues or good old-fashioned disobedience. Mixed messages and confusion. Disappointment. Fear. Quick pace. Perfectionism.

Children can become overwhelmed very quickly for a variety of reasons as well. For some, one homework assignment is one too many. For others, it takes three or four responsibilities or activities in one night to make them feel overwhelmed. Are you concerned about this as the new school year gets underway?

How do you respond when you’re overwhelmed? What about your kids? Many report feeling paralyzed and doing nothing. I can be guilty of this, at times, especially if I’m tired on top of being overwhelmed. Now accomplishing little or nothing adds to my being overwhelmed. It’s a vicious cycle. Maybe you’re in a different cycle.

What can we do about it?

Recently, I met with a friend who would like to write more. In between bites of fabulous barbecue, she shared some of her interests and concerns with me. I asked her why she’s not writing more. She answered with something like, “When I read what I write, it feels like I dumped a large puzzle on the table, cardboard crumbs and all. I don’t know what to do with it.”

We both chuckled and I assured her that I knew how that felt. Then I asked her how she finishes a puzzle. Without hesitating, she said she finds the corners and straight edges first. Exactly!

We then talked about how we might also group the inside pieces by color. For example, we might identify which pieces are part of the sky and which might be a part of a brick building. We might also group pieces by shape.

But, we usually don’t wait to connect pieces until they’re all sorted. Rather, we connect those that we see obviously go together. We complete the border and then move to the inside. We connect one piece at a time, keeping the big picture in mind. We expect to make progress and the more pieces we put into place, the clearer the design becomes.

We then talked about how to approach her writing in this “divide and conquer” way. She can critique whether her verbs are active and her adjectives are vivid. She can critique her paragraph organization and the flow of the piece. She can decide if the readers will take away what she hoped they would. She can ask if she wrote with the right perspective or purpose – to inform, instruct, inspire, persuade, or something else.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this divide and conquer puzzle analogy can help me. I can use it for more than my writing. I sometimes look at my to do list and am overwhelmed by how much is there. Or, I stand in my kitchen and become acutely aware of all I need to do.  I’m paralyzed from starting rather than motivated to accomplish something. That is far from ideal.

I’m now looking for the equivalent of corner pieces and straight edges and beginning with those. Then I tackle more details while I brush the “cardboard crumbs” out of the way so they don’t distract me. Progress happens one task or piece at a time.

Maybe you could gather your family, get a puzzle, and dump the pieces out onto a table. Talk with your children about similarities between finishing a puzzle and finishing tasks that have them overwhelmed. Talk about connecting one piece or doing one thing at a time while keeping the big picture in mind. Then, keep this language alive, using the puzzle analogy when you or your kids experience being overwhelmed. “Just one more piece.” “Look for a corner piece.” “What goes with that piece?”

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to know.

Listen Now So They’ll Listen Later

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Listening to your children matters. Really listening. Listening to understand, not listening until they go away or until it’s your turn to talk.

Responding matters. Not treating them as unimportant. Not making them feel like pests.

Be with them. Be fully present.

What’s your motivation? Hopefully, you love your kids and enjoy being a parent. Great!

I respect that many parents today are busy and easily distracted by legitimate pressures. Yet, here’s what I know. You have to make time for your children. If you’re waiting to find time to spend with them, you may never develop a close, trusting relationship. Or, you may lose the one you have.

If your children approach you and you regularly say “not now,” your children may say “not now” later when you want or need them. They want or need you now. You’ll want or need them later.

You earn the right to be heard later by listening now. You earn the right to lead later by sometimes following now. Go to the tea party your daughter wants to have. Play a game together now even though you have cleaning to do. Build a tent in the living room with the sheets and blankets you were going to wash and wash them later. Ask your son to demonstrate his favorite video game. Listen to your daughter’s favorite music.

Be with them now so they’ll want to be with you later.

A Powerful Cycle: Self-Talk Matters

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After six days away, I got comfortable in my seat for my flight home. As always, after taking off, the pilot shared some details about the trip with us. People groaned when he told us it was expected to be 100° when we landed – and that was scheduled to be 9:30 pm!

The heat was very noticeable when I got to my car that night and during my first day home. The second day, its intensity couldn’t be denied. At the end of the day, I learned why. The official high was 107°. That’s hot. Very hot!

When shopping that afternoon, a clerk wanted to engage me in a discussion about how miserable the weather was. I couldn’t join in by complaining.

Why? Although I was hot and miserable, that didn’t control me.

A few days before this encounter, our Celebrate Kids email newsletter was sent out to our readers. In it, I wrote, “When it’s hot, some people complain. This winter, those same people will complain that it’s cold. Why? As friends and I say, we chose to live in Fort Worth so we’ll have many summer days of 100°. We shouldn’t be surprised and complaining doesn’t help.”

When at the store, the phrase complaining doesn’t help kept reverberating in my mind. Our words matter. Our self-talk greatly matters. What we say out loud and to ourselves influences our thought life. Our thoughts influence our behavior.

This isn’t just my opinion or experience. Have you realized this is true for you, too? It’s not just us – research supports it.

Children (and adults) who speak what’s right are more likely to do what’s right. Read that again. It’s encouraging, isn’t it?

If you want your children to do what’s right, encourage them to verbalize their plans. Or, as I did, they could write down what they intend to do.

  • I will be kind even if there’s no guarantee other kids will be kind.
  • I will speak up when others aren’t being treated fairly.
  • I won’t whine and complain because it doesn’t help. If I need help, I’ll ask for it.
  • I will do my best because it honors God.
  • I will pay more attention to what I can do than to what I can’t do.
  • I will remember to express gratitude.
  • I will choose joy.

Expressing goals or expectations compels us to follow through. When we do, we have integrity – a very powerful motivation. It’s internal and we’re not always consciously aware of its draw.

Expressed thoughts lead to actions.

Actions lead to thoughts.

Expressed thoughts reinforce actions.

Actions reinforce thoughts.

It’s a powerful cycle.

Remember – it’s the expressing of the thoughts that’s important. Having them isn’t enough. How can knowing this influence you this week? What might you want to say out loud? How and when could you talk with your children about this? What can you encourage them to say out loud? Then, how can you follow through to find out if they honored their word with their actions and how they felt?

In addition to our children doing this, let’s tell ourselves out loud what we’ll do this week. I’d love to know how it goes.

Dr. Kathy regularly teaches people the difference between corrections and criticisms. In today’s video, she shares a power word that will change a negative, non-helpful criticism into a positive, helpful correction. We hope you’re curious because watching this will help you.

Go For The “Smarts” Gold! Olympics Scavenger Hunt

US Womens Gymnastics team
Photo Credit: NBC Olympics Women’s gymnastics team wins gold!

Gather your children and go for a scavenger hunt. Yes, you!

Watch some TV coverage of the Olympics and hunt for evidence of all 8 smarts. Body smart is obvious everywhere. What about the relevance of the others? Who is using them? Athletes? Coaches? Judges? Broadcasters? Fans? How do you see non-athletes also using their body smart?

  • Body smart – think with movement and touch
  • People smart – think with other people
  • Nature smart – think with patterns
  • Word smart – think with words
  • Self smart – think with reflections
  • Logic smart – think with questions
  • Picture smart – think with pictures
  • Music smart – think with rhythms and melodies

You could give bonus points to the first person to point out a negative or unhealthy use of a smart. You could do the same when you or a child notices someone not using a smart that would have been helpful. For example, I’ve noticed some broadcasters who didn’t appear to be using people smart abilities, which include reading body language and responding appropriately, when interviewing athletes. Have you noticed that?

You could also give bonus points to children who spot someone using more than one intelligence at the same time. It happens all the time. It’s essential to our athletes, coaches, and broadcasters. Judges probably use two or more at the same time, too. You want your children to do this in life and in school so finding proof at the Olympics could be a great way to reinforce this and talk about it.

Have fun! Hunt, hunt, hunt, ….

Life According To T-Shirts: The Message Matters

got hope

Am I the only one who reads t-shirt slogans or do you do it, too? It can be quite entertaining – not just seeing the people, but reading the slogans on their shirts.

For example, in about 20-minutes while waiting for a flight at Orlando’s airport, I saw lots of children wearing shirts declaring they had just been to one of the Disney properties. I also walked by many sports fans and adults proclaiming their allegiance to certain universities. I also read these slogans:

  • Sarcastic moment loading – please wait
  • Messy hair – I don’t care
  • I did not hit you – I just high-fived your face
  • Just an average guy serving an awesome hero
  • I am not with her
  • Don’t work
  • Smile today
  • Today’s outfit (I laughed out loud when reading this one.)

If you’re still buying school clothes and as you continue to do so throughout the year, consider their messages. I think slogans influence the identity of the wearer. Not all t-shirt slogans and messages on other clothes are a big deal, but they can be. I know when I wear a Celebrate Kids shirt, I’m aware of the message. (We don’t have many left in stock, but they declare “Kids have present value, not just future potential.” and “We were created on purpose with purpose.”)

Our shirts remind children and adults of a positive identity. So does the one that declares smile today. What about the teen wearing the shirt that shouted Don’t Work? Every time he looked in the mirror, he was reminded not to work. Messages matter.

Some slogans are harmless, but some aren’t. They can influence people in positive and negative ways. And, because we’re influenced by people’s reactions to us and how they interact with us, they matter.  When reading the slogan above, I did not hit you – I just high-fived your face, how did you respond? Do you want to know this person? If you needed to talk with him for some reason, what might your initial interactions be like?

Let’s look at a positive example. I asked the teen boy wearing the hero shirt about it. After he got over the shock that I cared, he enjoyed telling me about his church youth group service project that the slogan represented. I enjoyed affirming him and his choice to make Jesus his hero. (It’s not hard to encourage teens. Make that a priority today.)

When we purchase clothes for others, we can communicate beliefs and expectations As a positive example, I still work out in my hot pink Got Hope? t-shirt. On the back, it proclaims I do. My mom purchased this for me during one of her bouts with cancer. I still remember our conversation about hoping in God vs. hoping in a cure. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing the shirt because of its message and its connection to my mom.

On the negative side, if a mom purchased the shirt that shouts, Don’t Work, for the teen boy wearing it, she sent a negative message to a child she should be speaking life into. And, I would suggest that if the child chose it and the mom didn’t object, it sends the same message.

Parents need to choose their battles. Therefore, sometimes letting kids wear what they want is right. But, because messages influence identity and identity causes behavior, sometimes it is a big deal. We can say something like, “Let me tell you why I don’t want you to buy and wear the I’m not with her shirt. It’s not who you are. You’re friendly and concerned about bullying. That’s not what that shirt says. It’s not you.”

Imagine how my friend, Nicole, felt when shopping with her children and seeing a daughter choose this shirt: You can sit with us If you guessed Nicole felt good and proud, you’re right.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. What are you going to do with these ideas? Think more about them? Talk with your children? Clean out your t-shirt drawer? Ask your children if they’d like to clean out theirs? I’d love to know.

Welcome Focus On The Family Radio Listeners!

Welcome! If you’re here for the first time because you listened to 8 Great Smarts on Focus on the Family Radio, we’re glad you’re here!

You are your children’s first and most important teacher. The ways you love them, mentor them, and teach them matter! Celebrate Kids is here to offer you ideas, practical skills, new ways to see your children as well as encouragement for the tough times.

Teachers face many challenges in their work. When they attend one of our workshops, they gain different concepts to add to their understanding of their students and can plan innovative and effective ways to meet the needs of all their students. Educators are heroes in our eyes!

Church-based teachers, leaders, and volunteers are equipped to love, lead, and teach well during these days when culture is teaching our children and us if we’re not careful, that Truth is what ‘I’ want it to be, and you can have your own Truth. Teaching God’s Truth is just as important as it’s always been.

Our seminars, whether in a church, school, camp or another setting, promote these truths, so children and adults become convinced they apply to themselves:

  • I can be smart with my smarts.
  • I am created on purpose with purpose.
  • I am who I am supposed to be.
  • I am a human being, not a human doing.
  • I am a unique, one-of-a-kind, created-in-the-image-of-God miracle.
  • I will control my technology. It will not control me.

Radio is an efficient way to influence people, and we’re grateful to Focus on the Family for the opportunity to be a guest on their show. Speaking at events sponsored by Christian schools, public schools, homeschool groups, churches, camps, corporations, and conventions are the most common way we meet people’s needs. Providing hope and direction is a privilege! You can learn more here.

We also support you in these ways:

  • This blog. Check out a list of recent and popular posts in the right sidebar. Clicking on “multiple intelligences” at the top will direct you to the posts about our smarts. You can subscribe near the bottom of the sidebar, so you don’t miss any posts.
  • Our twice-a-month email newsletter will keep you inspired and equipped to celebrate your kids well. Subscribe here.  There’s no risk. We won’t use your email address for any other reason, and it’s easy to unsubscribe. We hope you won’t, but we’ll understand if you do.
  • Kathyism videos are posted to our Facebook page and on Vimeo.com. Two-five minutes in length, they’re produced for you to watch alone or with your kids. Fun and influential!
  • You can also connect with us on other social media sites for an open exchange of experiences and ideas.  Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  • Our website includes information on my main topics. For instance, you can read about multiple intelligences here. My speaking schedule is posted there, and you can get to our shopping cart to see what books, CDs, DVDs, and other materials may meet your needs.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that you’ll continue to follow us and take advantage of all our resources so you’ll find solutions for today and hope for tomorrow. It’s why we do what we do!