Hug More

Hug More


Hug More


“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”  ~Virginia Satir

Have you read about all the things hugs can do for us? They help the immune system, decrease depression, reduce stress, and induce sleep. As Josh Richardson wrote in a post on, “[Hugging is] invigorating, rejuvenating and has no unpleasant side effects. It is all natural, organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100 percent wholesome. There are no batteries to wear out, no periodic check-ups, low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation proof, nonfattening, no monthly payments, theft-proof, nontaxable, nonpolluting and, of course, fully returnable.”

Therefore, I’ve rediscovered the beauty of hugging. Not side-hugs. Real full-on embraces.

This past week, I’ve been with Nancy and her family in Lynden, WA. Nancy is our Project Manager. We’ve been working on various tasks and also enjoying ourselves. As a result, it’s been a good rest for me.

Nancy’s family hugs. All the time. It’s beautiful.

They hug when they say “good morning.” They hug when they say “good night.” They often kiss each other on the cheeks, too.

And you know what? They hug goodbye at the end of an evening of fellowship even when they have a plan to see each other the next day.

When I visit, I get all the hugs, too. Of course, I hug back. It’s easy. They’re warm, genuine, and easy-to-get-to-know and easy-to–be-with people.

Hugging is good self-care. Hugging is good group-care.

How emotionally healthy are you and your family? Being hugged reminds us we’re not alone. Hugging when love is barely felt can cause it to grow. Expressing love when it’s strong, like in Nancy’s family, keeps relationships healthy and deepens them.

Let’s hug more!

God Intervenes – True Hope For Texas

God Intervenes - True Hope For Texas

God Intervenes

True Hope For Texas

It’s hard to watch TV coverage of the devastating hurricane and rain damage in the Houston, TX, area. It’s hard not to watch. But, it’s hard to watch. Hard not to watch. Hard to watch. …

Interspersed with that coverage, there’s news about this and that. And “this” and “that” aren’t good.

Tragedy here. More tragedy there. Tragedy everywhere. This is how it seems sometimes.

While, in the old days, you could decide not to turn on the television and you could probably avoid the news. That’s not the case anymore. There are headlines here, there, and everywhere. There are TVs everywhere. Email blasts. Text alerts. Facebook posts. Tweets.

Discouragement can set in. Children who are also aware can be scared.

As a believer in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, I don’t want to be discouraged. I don’t want you to be either.

I believe what God’s Holy Word declares about Him. He is on the throne. He is omnipotent – He has unlimited authority and power. Nothing surprises Him. He intervenes when He wants to. While I admit I can get concerned and I wonder why God allows some things to occur. I also remember God is God. He gets to decide. God is interested in the big picture I can’t see.

Scripture encourages me. Because Scripture reminds me that God intervenes. I need to remember this today, and tomorrow and the day after that. He is active and aware and not wringing His hands worried about what His people are or aren’t doing.

The book of Esther has some of my favorite truths about God intervening.

In Esther 2:1-9 we learn that Esther was “lovely in form and features.” God intervened because only beautiful women could be in the harem from which the new queen would be chosen. God also intervened because Esther won Hegai’s favor. He was the king’s eunuch in charge of the women.

In 2:17 we learn Esther was chosen to be the queen. And this changed everything. Any number of women could have been chosen. God intervened.

Another evidence of God intervening is found in chapter 2:21-23. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, who raised her when she was orphaned, “just happened” to be in the right place at the right time to learn that some men were plotting to kill the king. As a result, he was able to save the king’s life. This, too, changed everything.

If you’re not familiar with the fascinating story of Esther and Mordecai, I encourage you to read the short Old Testament book of Esther. You’ll find other evidence that God intervenes.

So allow God’s Word to encourage you. Know that God is active and involved. Talk with your children about this so their faith in God is strengthened during challenging times.

Also, allow your past to encourage you. Remember times when God showed up and made a positive difference. When did He last intervene for you?

God intervenes. Pray expectantly! Watch optimistically! Finally, let’s not be discouraged.

Kathyism #205 – Remember To Be A Good Steward Of Your Time

Continuing a fun video series on things in Dr. Kathy’s office, today she introduces you to two related items. If you agree with her that sometimes a visual reminder is valuable, you might want to buy something similar to place on a shelf. Watch to see what they are.
#Kathyism #celebratekids #DrKathyKoch #stewardship #time

Last week’s video was very serious so Dr. Kathy thought she’d do something more light-hearted. In this first video in a series about things in her office, she introduces you to a stuffed animal. Yes, you read that right and it’s in her office.

Character Identity – Are You Telling Or Teaching?

Character Identity - Are You Telling Or Teaching?

Character Identity

Are You Telling or Teaching?

In early June, it was my privilege and joy to teach hundreds of 7th graders about their identity. Because, I wanted them to understand how multi-faceted they are. I wanted them to choose to invest in all of themselves. It matters partly because identity controls behavior.

Consequently, if children only know a part of themselves, they’ll struggle greatly if that part fails them. For instance, last Monday, I wrote about children’s social identity.  If that’s all they have to depend on, what will they do when they feel only negative about it? Isolate. Separate. Treat peers and others badly. And more.

What Your Teens Are Saying:

When I asked these young teens to tell me a high compliment they could receive if someone described their character identity, groups listed these qualities:

  • Kind, encouraging
  • Trustworthy, kind
  • Charismatic
  • Good, kind-hearted
  • Honest, truthful
  • Sweet, loyal, integrity
  • Humble
  • Perky, always happy, encouraging, bubbly, friendly, peppy, humble, helpful, careful, kind, loving, compassionate heart
  • Loyal, respectful
  • Easygoing, positive, problem solver
  • Open-minded
  • Hardworking
  • Diligent, respectful, responsible
  • Courageous
  • Good role model

What do you think?

I think these are great kids! Can you imagine if all of us consistently exhibited these qualities? Seriously!

So be grateful with me that these teens want to be known as having these qualities. Perhaps ask your children the same question. What character qualities do they highly value? Then, let’s ask ourselves how we can help them. Picture yourself talking with them about these. Which ones will we be better at modeling? Will accountability help us model those that aren’t natural strengths of ours? How can we teach these character qualities?

Teaching is a key. It’s absolutely essential that we talk about the character qualities we want our kids to choose. While modeling them prevents the hypocrisy that angers children. But, teaching matters because these qualities aren’t easy to embrace 24/7.

4 Ways You Can Help Your Children:

  • Starting with the old-fashioned dictionary might be wise. Definitions often reveal fine differences between qualities.
  • Since contrasting the qualities with their opposites is effective teaching. Share an example of someone being courageous and an example of someone not being brave. Teach about loyalty vs. someone giving up quickly on a friend. Also, contrast kindness with rude behavior. What does encouragement sound like and look like? What about discouragement? You get the idea.
  • Would role playing or making up dramas with your kids help them understand why and how to live out these qualities? Especially if they’re body smart and people smart, this could be great fun and very effective. What about watching favorite movies or shows and looking for examples of positive and negative character qualities? We could do the same thing with stories they’re reading.
  • Since there are numerous examples of many of the qualities these teens mentioned in the heroes we know from the Bible. I imagine the same thing will be true regarding qualities your children identify as important. Look for examples together. Did Jesus use that quality? When was he courageous? Encouraging? Respectful? Responsible? Was Paul hard working? Who can you think of who demonstrated loyalty? How does a study of significant men and women from Scripture inform our ideas about humility?

So What Can You Do As Parents?

If you engage your children in discussions like these, I’d love to know how they go.

Most of all, let’s not just expect our kids to wake up another day with better character. Children tell me they don’t want us to “tell and yell.” They want to be taught. They need to be taught. It honors them. I pray God blesses you as you persevere.


You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity:

Do You Know What You’re Aiming For?

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

In last week’s video, Dr. Kathy shared a parenting philosophy she is in favor of. This week, she talks about the type of parent who greatly concerns her. She admits it’s a serious topic. You won’t be laughing if you watch. We predict you will be thinking. Curious? Good!

What’s Your Child’s Social Identity?

“How are you?”

If you read my last three blogs, you’re beginning to understand that this question that we are often asked, and that we ask our children, isn’t simple.

If your son answers while thinking of his intellectual identity, he might answer great! But, if answering with his emotional self in mind, he might have said lonely or frustrated.

If your daughter thinks of her emotional identity, she might answer terrible! But, if answering while reflecting on her intellectual self, she might have proclaimed, super!

Maybe the internal contradictions are why children often just grunt, shrug their shoulders, or respond OK. And, this is only while considering two of six identities!

Today, let’s consider the social identity. No matter the age of your children, this matters. It’s about friendship, being friendly, community, establishing belonging, and being connected in meaningful ways.

What goals do you have for this identity for your children? What do you hope they’ll strive for? Talk with them about your hopes and goals as another school year begins. But, do more than talk. Help them. model for them what’s healthy. Be available for their questions. Share wisdom. Dry their tears. Be vulnerable about your past struggles. Identify missing skills and teach them. Think strategically and plan intentionally. Progress is very possible!

As in my past blogs, I’ll share here what groups of 7th graders listed as a high compliment when I taught this concept to hundreds of them back in June. Perhaps this will help you think about how to present this issue to your children and how to choose important goals.

  • Teamwork
  • Friendly
  • Friendly
  • Outspoken, friendly
  • Nice, helpful
  • People like being around me
  • Outgoing
  • A lot of friends, interactive, open, trustworthy, compassionate, fun to be around, respectful, perky, responsible
  • Outgoing, funny, friendly
  • Nice, kind, optimistic, caring
  • Optimistically outgoing
  • Friendly
  • Good at talking to people
  • Self-control
  • Funny, easy to get along with

I wish I could follow up with the five groups who listed “friendly.” If your children answer with this goal, I hope you’ll follow up. What do they mean by the word? What’s the evidence that someone is friendly? What does it look like? Sound like?

I’ve been observing people from afar. It’s been interesting. I’ve assumed someone is friendly based on body language, facial expressions, and how closely they sit next to someone. Am I right? Could I be wrong?

If you ask your children what “friendly” is like with peers they don’t know yet and what it’s like when they know peers well, I’d love to know what they say. Be prepared for an interesting discussion. I’ve been observing my own behavior at church, for instance. I’d like to be known as being friendly. How do I present myself to guests? How do I present myself to those I’m already friends with?

There’s much to think about! Again, the question, “How are you?” isn’t as simple as we used to think it is.


You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

What’s Your Child’s Emotional Identity?

If someone asked your children to describe themselves, what might they say? If you were asked that question, what would you say?

Chances are good that we and our children might not mention our emotions. Yet, they’re a very important part of our identity.

Knowing our emotions matters because feelings influence behaviors. Would you agree that if you’re angry, you may not behave in the ways you prefer? When you’re anxious, do you recognize you don’t behave the same as when you’re at peace? Feelings influence much. How about being ignored? Offended? Scared? Uncertain? Enthusiastic? Puzzled? Annoyed?

Helping children identify their emotions and name them accurately can help them process their feelings well. They can learn if they need help to do so, perhaps by talking with you. They can learn how some emotions cause others. This is essential so they deal with what’s really going on. For example, they may truly be angry, but it was triggered by jealousy. Or, fear. Or, hate, confusion, perfectionism, or disappointment.

Are you raising boys? They have as many feelings as girls, but often don’t have the vocabulary to name them. Girls and women seem to have a natural thesaurus for emotions. We can be frustrated, angry, upset, disappointed, concerned, and irritated. Guys are angry. That’s their word. (Certainly there are factors that won’t make this always true, but when I teach on this, the majority of men in the audience nod to indicate they agree.)

As I wrote in the first blog in this series, it’s wise for parents to think strategically and plan intentionally about who they want their children to be. You may do nothing more important than raise children well so spending time thinking about who you want them to be is time well spent. That’s an understatement!

What are the emotions you’d love your children to have consistently? Or, how would you like them to describe themselves? As I explained last Monday in a blog about having a healthy intellectual identity, I recently taught these concepts to a large group of 7th graders. I asked them to tell me what would be a high compliment in the emotional identity category. Before you look at their answers, how would you like your children to answer this question?

  • Loving
  • Caring
  • Stable
  • Kind and loving
  • Friendly, joyful, happy, compassionate
  • Happy, joyful, resilient
  • Loving
  • Joyful, grateful, kind-hearted
  • Humble, mature, stable
  • Joyful, happy, stable
  • Trustworthy
  • Joyous
  • Optimistic
  • In control of emotions

As I ended last week’s blog:

What do you want to be true about your children emotionally? What’s your bull’s-eye? Do they know that? Would they agree with you? How must you parent for this to be their reality?

As we say at Celebrate Kids, wishing it so won’t make it so. We can’t just wish this identity for our children. Talking about it isn’t enough. That is, of course, helpful and wise. But, to assure they define themselves in the ways we value, you’ll have to guide them, walk with them, affirm them, correct them, and maybe more. Are you up to the task? If not, adjust your expectations and change your bull’s-eye or you and your children will be disappointed. Discouragement can set in.

Having a goal matters. Working to make it a reality is loving. Make a plan now. Your children will benefit.

Does Being “Smart” Matter To Your Children? Why?

If you read Monday’s blog about helping children develop a healthy intellectual identity, I predict you weren’t surprised by the number of groups of teens who admitted they wanted to be smart. You might think they were influenced by the fact that I’m the “8 great smarts” lady, but I don’t think so. If you had asked, I believe they would have prioritized “smart,” too.

Why is “smart” something they want to be? For many years, I’ve referred to the word as a “power word.” Everyone wants to be smart.

Certainly, the present is a factor. Being smart just makes school easier and more pleasant. Some of these teens have parents they want to please who have probably told them being smart matters.

The future is a factor. Children inherently know that being smart increases education and career options.

I think the past has influenced them, too. When they were little, relatives and friends told them they were smart and had done a “good job” on any number of tasks. Parents clapped when they successfully repeated important behaviors and skills. These children, now teens, figured out that it mattered to figure things out.

Doing things well also made them feel good inside. Teens want to keep experiencing that feeling.

Ask your kids about being smart. Does it matter to them? Why?

A caution about screens: When I was a child, my parents interacted with me as I was learning. When my nieces and nephew were young, I interacted with them. Smiles on our faces, joy in our voices, and the applause of our hands communicated “well done” and “you are smart.”

When they were playing, learning to read, coloring, and the like, we probably said things like,

Way to go. That was easy for you!

I knew you could do it. You’re smart!

I love your creativity! That’s a beautiful drawing.

You built a lot of cool things with your blocks. You’re very good at that!

Because we were there, they learned what we valued.

If children are allowed to isolate with an app on a device in order to experience and learn things that we used to do with others, they may not receive any supportive messages at all. Research suggests they won’t retain the learning because they’re not interacting with people. Let’s be concerned. Let’s put screens down and interact. It will help them be smart and help them set goals like, “I want to be smart!”

Identity: A Child Needs To Know Who They Are…

Last week I wrote the first blog in a series related to intentional parenting. Having a focus, something to aim for will help us be intentional and more successful. Because it’s been a theme of our work at Celebrate Kids forever, let’s focus on children’s identity. They need to know who they are.

Breaking the broad concept of identity into categories makes it more manageable. And, it will help us make sure to raise children with a complete identity. They need to know themselves broad and deep. They have an intellectual identity, emotional identity, social identity, physical identity, spiritual identity, and an identity based on their character qualities. (Of course, so do we.)

Today I want you to think about the goals you have for your children’s intellectual identity. How would you like to describe them intellectually? How would you like them to describe themselves?

Depending on where you live, the new academic year may start in just a few weeks. Or perhaps you homeschool year round. In every case, it’s important to be thinking about the intellectual identity now so you can help them start the new year well.

In June it was my privilege to teach about a complete identity to a large number of 7th graders. In their small groups, I asked them to think of one high compliment they could receive related to their intellectual selves. (As you’ll see, some groups couldn’t limit themselves to just one idea.) Think about what you’d love your children to say and then read what these 13-year-olds listed:

  • Smart
  • Doing well in school
  • Musically gifted
  • Creative
  • Smart and creative
  • Smart
  • Learns quickly
  • Smart, talented, intelligent, artistic, unique, processing
  • History, bugs, science, robotics, music
  • Smart
  • Original thinker
  • Wise beyond their years
  • Smart
  • Focused
  • Motivated

What do you want to be true about your children intellectually? What’s your bull’s-eye? Do they know that? Would they agree with you? How must you parent for this to be their reality?

As we say at Celebrate Kids, wishing it so won’t make it so. We can’t just wish this identity for our children. Talking about it isn’t enough. That is, of course, helpful and wise. But, to assure they define themselves in the ways we value, you’ll have to guide them, walk with them, affirm them, correct them, help them with homework, study with them for their tests, and maybe more. Are you up to the task? If not, adjust your expectations and change your bull’s-eye or you and your children will be disappointed. Discouragement can set in.

Having a goal matters. Working to make it a reality is loving. Make a plan now. Your children will benefit.