Tag: Advice

Supporting Personality and Confidence Growth in Children

Our children are our greatest treasure and we, as parents, need to do everything in our power to provide them with an appropriate environment where they can develop their unique personalities and self-esteem and grow into strong, confident persons. Helping them develop great self-confidence means partially paving their way for happiness, well-being and a stable future. Thus, it’s essential that we help them develop their personalities, acquire a strong sense of competence and gain a realistic image of themselves and their abilities.

Express your love and appreciation

Although this goes without saying, showing your child that you love and appreciate them will greatly influence their self-image. Every child needs to feel accepted and loved by their family and later on their friends. It’s essential that your child knows that you love them unconditionally because it will help them develop a positive self-image. This is particularly important when they make a mistake or you lose your temper – your child needs to know that you love them no matter what.

Find proper educational help

Although parents are real-life super-people who manage to balance their family, personal and professional lives, sometimes they should seek help from professionals with educational experience to help their children advance or overcome certain developmental difficulties. This is of the utmost importance if you and your spouse have full-time jobs, because you need to pay special attention when it comes to appropriate childcare. Parents in Australia are supported by the early education Panania childcare centre, recognised for their focus on interpersonal relationships and social development, while providing a safe and caring environment for children. This type of childcare centre can really be a substantial support to parents and children during their upbringing. Not only do they make children feel accepted by their peers, they can also help them acquire a range of skills and start them off on the road to success.

Praise and criticise responsibly

When praising and criticising your child, you need to be very careful about how you do it because both can have negative effects on your child’s self-image. Every child is mischievous from time to time and you simply need to express disapproval of certain actions and behaviours. However, what you shouldn’t do is criticise your child and their personality. Instead, you need to focus on the behaviour itself and explain why they shouldn’t behave that way. Saying “you’re a bad boy” will affect your child’s opinion of themselves, but saying “you shouldn’t do this because…” will help them understand why a certain behaviour is inappropriate.

When it comes to praising your child, you also need to be mindful of how you do it. If you praise every little thing your child does, you’ll send a message that you have low expectations of them, which will affect their confidence. On the other hand, if you say “you’re the smartest child ever”, they will acquire a false self-image. Eventually, when they come across an obstacle that they cannot overcome, they will feel incompetent. Therefore, you shouldn’t exaggerate when you praise your child, but try to focus on positive behaviours you want to reinforce.

Teach your child responsibility

Assigning your child specific tasks and responsibilities will help them become more independent and self-assured. When you give your child an important task, you show them that you trust them with it, which sends a positive message to your child. If you give them a bit more demanding task, they’ll feel satisfied with themselves once they’ve completed. However, you should carefully choose the difficulty of a certain task – it should be neither too difficult nor too easy. If you assign them an extremely difficult task, they won’t be able to complete it and end up losing confidence in their abilities. On the other hand, if the task is too easy, they’ll quickly get bored and may even feel that you don’t trust them with more challenging tasks. Thus, you should aim for a task that will be slightly above your child’s abilities, which will give your child’s self-confidence a boost once they’ve completed it.

Parents all over the world are giving their best to provide their children with the optimal conditions for their development and these are some of the ways that can guide them in the right direction.

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Iconic Attraction Full of Knowledge, Science and Fun

“Inspiring a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet.” – Ontario Science Centre

Toronto, Canada is the city that I was born and grew up in. Therefore, it is a city that I hold dear to my heart. It has so much to offer to their residents and to those visiting from out of town. This could be why The Baby Spot (global parenting magazine) has named Toronto the city of the year for 2017.

There is so much to do and see in Toronto and one particular place that should be on everyone’s list is an iconic cultural attraction called, the Ontario Science Centre. It is full of knowledge, science and fun for everyone in the family with no age restrictions.


My family and I visited the Ontario Science Centre this past summer and I have to confess that I don’t remember ever visiting them (maybe when I was much younger on a school trip). So it was a great opportunity for my three-year old daughter and I to experience a first together.

When we arrived at the Centre, I could not help but notice that there were a lot of people visiting and knew it must be a special place. One very important piece that I have to mention is that even though it was really busy, the Ontario Science Centre is so big and entertaining that we didn’t feel crowded. I think this is an amazing feature as it can be stressful to be in a place that feels overwhelming with big crowds.

We grabbed a map at the entrance which I highly recommend to everyone as it helps with guiding you through the six levels at the Ontario Science Centre. Yes you read that right – six levels of fun!

I will highlight our most memorable activities and provide a few tips along the way.

Kidspark 

Kidspark would have to be our favorite part of the Ontario Science Centre as there is a lot to do there for our toddler. It is divided into two sections which I thought was neat and a great way to space out the crowds. Kidspark is the opportunity to ‘spark’ your child’s imagination and curiosity through play, building, water, music and so much more. This is ideal for kids eight years and younger and if you are wondering if your toddler or infant can have fun, they sure can! There is a designated play area for children three years and younger which my daughter truly enjoyed.

Special Exhibition

The special exhibition hall which is located on Level 6 is a space that is changed every 4 – 6 months or so. On our trip the exhibition was the Wildlife Rescue which we really enjoyed. This special exhibition took us on a journey to Africa and Indonesia where we saw the dedicated efforts of caretakers who successfully raise and release young elephants and orangutans to the wild. We explored the innovative ways used to capture, raise and release endangered species back to the wild in the Species Recovery Center. This was very insightful for us to learn and it was great for our toddler to see. This exhibition has just been extended until October 9th so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should make some time to check it out!

TELUS Rain Forest

You don’t need to travel far to experience the rain forest ambience as the Ontario Science Centre and TELUS brings it to you. It is absolutely breathtaking and it was my favourite part of our trip. You can walk up near the waterfall and there is a bridge that you can brave to cross (I made it safely). 😉

After crossing the bridge there are some reptiles that you can see secured in their spaces and a description of what they are. You also hear thunder in the rain forest which really makes you feel like you are really there. *Momma Braga Tip: If you are looking for a great place to take some photos in, this is the place!

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree is a sight to see and we really loved seeing this beauty! This tree is a sculpture created by the Ontario Wood Carvers Association from part of the silver maple tree that inspired Alexander Muir’s 1867 song “Maple Leaf Forever.” It features 35 hand-carved leaves, each depicting a historically-significant person, place or event in Toronto’s history, the sculpture is the result of more than 10,000 volunteer carving hours. This beautiful artwork was formally handed over to the Science Centre on July 19 of this year, in celebration of Ontario 150. It is definitely something to see during your visit!

The Ontario Science centre offers top science experiences, memorable exhibitions, engaging programs and breathtaking films so that visitors can do far more than observe; they can interact and participate.

We learned so much and it really got us all to think a little more. You can tell that a lot of thought and planning goes into the layout and exhibits on each level.

A really neat part of the Centre is that you can find healthy snacks to purchase and there is a restaurant on level 6 called the Valley Restaurant with yummy and affordable options to eat. But if you want to pack your own lunch you can and there is space to eat in or you can enjoy the Terrace on Level 3 where you can eat outdoors. I really love this option to bring your own food and I am sure many other families love it too!

We will definitely go back to see what new and exciting things they will have for us to see and learn. The learning opportunities are endless for any age and I think that is what we loved best. We highly recommend to put the Ontario Science Centre on your list to visit. We do recommend to check out their events when planning your visit, make sure to visit their calendar and see how you can plan your next visit.

If you are interested in purchasing your tickets online you can and if you would like to make a donation of a gift of science you can also do that. To learn more about their donation program, please click here.  Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to see all the neat things that they are doing.

Special thank you to the Ontario Science Centre for having us and keep inspiring minds. See you again soon!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

 

 

*Please note that this article is not a sponsored or paid post. 

A Run in with My Younger Self

Written By: Jax Menez Atwell
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I’d fallen asleep but found myself awake in a strange place.  An alley.  A dark alley with dim lighting from a lamp above, some fog and mist for affect.  There before me was my younger self.  It appeared he was listening to me.  What was I saying? 

I’m sure everyone at one point has thought, “Oh, if I could just go back” or “I wish I would have known this when I was young”.   For me it is a real dilemma.   If you had known somethings would you have made the same choices in life and would you be the person you are today.  At forty years old, I am full of scars and mistakes that are all a huge part of what makes me who I am.  If I take away many of those supposed “negatives” then would I have experienced success, would I have enjoyed my triumphs, would the positives still be there without the negatives.  Each individual can only answer that question for themselves.

For me, experiencing the height of a mountain only has the elation and joy if you came from the valley.  That physical and true metaphor has a ton of weight for me as I contemplate what I would be telling my younger self.  My life has truly been hills and valleys and deep canyons and mountain tops.  For me the sweetness of the journey, in success or failure, is what makes the man.

Sure, there are lots of silly things I’d probably love to be telling myself.  Just in items of fitness alone: “Don’t lift so heavy, your joints will pay for it when your older”, “Protect your elbows and knees”, “Don’t waste your money on most supplements and learn how to eat correctly”.  I use the fitness items just as an example I’m not sure my younger self wouldn’t have already tuned out! 

If the silly, little things wouldn’t need to be said and I’m pretty confident I believe my journey of ups and downs was truly an exercise in seeing the forest for the trees.  Then what would I actually be saying to the younger me?

I found myself telling him about balance.  Such an important part to this life.   A person has categories to their life. I believe I have four categories.  I believe one category would be my spiritual side.  The physical side would represent health, fitness, body, and sexuality.  The work life or occupation would be another.  Finally, your home life and what that entails.  I was told by a man that you can have one of these categories in turmoil but getting a second into turmoil causes major life disruptions.  If a third category begins having issues then this is when we see life struggles that can cause fierce issues. I’m not sure if it was the darkness, the misty lighting or my cryptic personality but my younger self appeared to be a captive audience so I continued…

I began telling him about a code I’d develop in law enforcement.  One that has served me well as an investigator, father, and just being a good person for those around me.  The code is pretty simple, “There are two sides to every coin”.  This very simple philosophy can be applied to a plethora of things in life.  It keeps your mind open, it keeps you from instant judgements, it prevents prejudice, and it drastically will reduce failures of all kinds.  I’d want my younger self to have this mental power much sooner to deal with things to come.  Even though my younger self looked a bit puzzled I moved on.  Not knowing how much time I would have.

The process of hurt blurted out of my mouth.  Hurt will happen.  People will hurt you.  Expect to be hurt but DON’T let it make you give any less love.  As my dear mother says, “Your rewards will be in heaven”.  I found this to be a very slow and painful life lesson that I wish I’d conquered much sooner.  Always being shocked when someone close hurt me or when that knife in the back really catches you off guard.  As we get older we close people off, trust people less, have less friends…our circle gets so small that sometimes there isn’t anyone around.  I’ve experienced this and done this very action.  It really is a natural reaction to “circle the wagons” but if we do that and don’t experience the gift of giving our love to others we miss one of the true joys in life and one that is unique to the human experience.  Not sure if that one took; his look of puzzlement went to deer in the head lights!

So, feeling like my time was over I simply left him with this, “In this world, dark times will come and go, keep yourself grounded and balanced, look above to God, follow your heart, and survive the storm.”  For me that would be the best advise because I relish my journey.  I wouldn’t want to veer my younger self from the path.  “Enjoy the Journey” would be my last words.   This is where I go slinking into the shadows and disappear!  Oh, the look on my younger self’s face, you should see it!

Did he listen?  Would your younger self listen?  Life’s a journey, enjoy the path.

About the Author

Jax Menez Atwell plays The Scavenger. Jax has more than ten years of investigative experience in law enforcement agencies in Arizona and California. His investigative law enforcement experience and training include under-cover operations, narcotics, SWAT, person and property crimes, etc. Jax has been a private investigator since 2008 specializing in the hard to solve cases such as cold cases, civilian, business and government investigations. Jax was additionally part of a team of three investigative team that explored missing people in History Channel’s “Missing in Alaska.” When Jax is not perusing the truth in his investigations he finds time to throw himself at acting roles. He has been in a number of productions since 2013. Films like “.357”, “New World Order: The End Has Come” and another Montana made film “The Big Muddy” western series. Plus more. Jax brings with him a lot of energy, enthusiasm and a fierce work ethic.

 

A Widow’s Perspective: Life without Your Life Partner

“My life is extremely full, I wouldn’t have it any other way!” – Kim

Kim Sutherland is a working mom with two grown boys, ages 22 and 17. Kim has enjoyed a full time career in the travel industry for 20+ years. About ten years ago she opened up her own décor business, as she always had a desire to be an entrepreneur and gain some additional income.

Kim has a busy schedule; however, she is careful to build in time for herself, her family, and volunteering. Kim fosters Labrador Retriever puppies for Dog Guides of Canada. She provides a loving home, follows specific training guidelines to prepare the dogs for their future “service” to a Canadian with a disability. All of the above keeps Kim very busy, and she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

What many people may not know about Kim is that she is a widow and became one at a young age with two young children to care for. You can say that her world was rocked but how she coped is an inspiring story that I get to share with all of you as I interviewed Kim for this exclusive piece.

The timing of this article is extra special this week as September 10th is quickly approaching which is a memorable day for Kim. This date was when Kim and her husband, Randy were married and it is also Kim’s birthday. Therefore, this makes it a perfect time to share Kim’s story.

Tell me a little about what your husband was diagnosed with?

“My husband was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia, at the very young age of 39. It came out of nowhere, he did not feel well for three weeks prior to Christmas, needless to say it was shocking news, it rocked our world.”

Once you heard of your husband’s diagnosis and time to live. What did you do and how did you cope?

“My husband was given three months to live, at that time I was holding our six month old infant, Carter and  my other son Matthew (age five). We were living in Calgary at the time, both of our careers had taken us there. We loved being in nature, the mountains, all of the outdoor space and family friendly living. Our family members were all back in Ontario.

Once the doctor gave me the news, I immediately called my parents. My mom jumped on a flight to Calgary to come and help. Doctor’s told me to get help, get paperwork in order, he would die from this. What I struggled to understand, was how does this happen to a guy that was so fit, extremely fun and positive, always. We had everything going for us. I couldn’t believe it, but when the doctor sat me down and calmly explained to me how sick he was, and we were being moved to a terminal ward of the hospital within minutes of the diagnosis, I realized this is serious and happening fast.

“Your dad had amazing courage, so let that be a lesson, we need to be tough cookies from time to time…life is not easy.”

Each day was tough, watching someone who was incredibly vibrant maintain his positive attitude and courage (during chemo, brain radiation, hair loss and a bone marrow transplant). To this day, I tell the boys, “Your dad had amazing courage, so let that be a lesson, we need to be tough cookies from time to time…life is not easy.” Sadly all the drugs and great healthcare could not keep my husband alive, his body did shut down. We lost him on August 26, 2002. The boys were really young.”

After your husband’s passing, what did you do to help yourself and your children cope?

“I knew I had to continue to be strong, no matter what. I moved back (to Ontario) to be close to family and friends. I enrolled my boys in some activities and even when I had to do the 5 AM hockey practices, bundling an infant and my eldest into the car at that horrible hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning was not necessarily fun, but it was important. The social aspect was great for them and me! I also had the unwavering support of my mom and dad. Truly, my mom is my rock.

Moms are made of something we cannot describe. Somehow we pull energy and strength out when you really feel exhausted, but you get up and put on a smile for your child and that is what matters. You are their world. My mom did a ton to keep the house together, while I ran to/from the hospital. It was a very sad time, but I knew my boys needed me and I had to keep busy to cope. I also knew that my career and the people at work, were good for me. The boys and I did a lot of activities together such as reading, Lego, playing board games, crafting, setting up play dates with other moms and kids, making new traditions.”

What advice can you give a parent who has become a widow with small children?

“Keep positive! Keep their routine, be the parent you wanted to be with your partner/spouse. Don’t be afraid to seek out friends for a shoulder to cry on, or even get professional help to deal with the grief. Nobody knows what it is like until you are in it, so if anyone is not supportive, keep away from those people. Grieving is tough. I suggest you ask someone to take the kids one day a week so you can go do something for yourself. Go to the gym, or for a long walk (or run), meet a friend for a coffee, get a pedicure…you get the idea. It’s about your downtime to re-energize. Kids take a lot of your time and energy. Take a lot of pictures. I found when my husband was sick I didn’t take enough pictures. He didn’t want photos taken (of himself); however, my boys have learned a lot through the videos and pictures we do have.”

How did you do it all? How did you balance two young children, a career and a passion (staging)?

“I did it with the help of family and friends, which I am so grateful for. I love being busy, I don’t stand still often. I started Above & Beyond Décor, to have additional income but it also feeds my creativity. That is what fills me up. Staging is hard work, although it is fun too. You get to create, like a picture in a magazine. Meeting new people, building my business, planning for the future is important to me. I am an advocate for other women, letting them know you need a “plan” i.e. get your financials in order and be ready to take on anything. None of us really know what lies down the garden path, so best to have a plan and have passion.”


Tell me a little about your staging company.

“Above & Beyond Décor was founded as a result of my passion for home décor, floral design, networking and personal growth. I read about home staging and a course that was being offered by a North America staging professional. I decided that would be a great addition to my list of services. I enrolled in the course and became a Certified Staging Professional. Real estate staging is merchandising a property’s best features, understanding lifestyle selling techniques and targeting specific buyers. My friends and family kept telling me I had the “knack” a real talent, knowing how to style and decorate. In order to get that talent noticed, I offered to stage a couple of friend’s homes for free. Their homes sold in a matter of days (with multiple offers on the table), the realtors were very impressed. Soon, a number of realtors were calling me and my business flourished.

I work with a lot of local Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington real estate professionals, they call upon me to stage vacant properties as well as those lived in.

What makes a great stager? Testimonials and referrals. I am extremely pleased with my client testimonials. I often hear that they love my style, my approach (not intrusive), and I am very personable. Comments include: “Your work is amazing;” “Wow, I love how it looks now, I don’t want to move!” “We received multiple offers because of your staging!” or “I need to live like this in my new home.”

What made you decide to become a stager?

“I realized there was a huge opportunity in the market and this just seemed like a natural step forward for me. Realtors and homeowners appreciate when a home sells for top dollar, studies have shown that 65% of buyers prefer to pay more money for a “move in” ready home. Staging is huge now!”

If you could give a younger you some advice on parenting what would it be?

“Hmm, that is tough one. I do not have any regrets, very happy with the way things have worked out for me. I would say getting proper rest is key. Being a parent is fun, challenging, you will be juggling a lot of balls in the air, so when you don’t get enough rest or just need support – Ask for help! Most of us moms don’t ask – we try to be SuperMom and do it all.”

Anything else you would like to add for our readers?

“Melanie, thank you for allowing me to stage your home and for sharing my story on your blog. It was a pleasure meeting you, Mike and Nikki and seeing the smile on your face when you sold for top dollar! As for your readers, fellow mommy friends and family – I look forward to hearing from you. Someone you know might need a stager – that’s me.

Above & Beyond Décor for the ultimate first impression. Staging really sells! Please contact me at kesutherland@cogeco.ca.”

Special thank you to Kim for her time and inspiring us with her strength, courage and passion. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Kim on the staging of my home and to get to know her as a business woman, mother and as a friend.

Kim is such an inspirational person in every way possible!

Losing her life partner was tragic and yet she found the courage and love to cope. I have to admit that this was a tough interview for me to do without shedding tears but it shows you how life has many unexpected turns and we have to embrace and love what we do have in the present. Kim has reminded me how precious life and my life partner are. Thank you Kim and please keep inspiring all with your positive love of life!

I am truly honored to have been given this opportunity to share Kim’s story with all of you and I hope you have been inspired as much as I have.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

How to Maintain Sanity When Getting Back to School

You may think that this year is going to be easy-peasy, especially if you have prior back-to-school experience. However, the reality has a tendency to be a bit different than what we expect. Therefore, stress and anxiety that follow school year prep can be really pressuring for both your kids and you as parents. With that in mind, you can take a new practical approach and make sure that this beginning of a school year proceeds as smoothly as possible. There are a couple of tips that can help you prepare so take a look.

Photo Source; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mareeam/4999637599

Adopt the new schedule in advance

Even if there’s still a week or two of summer break left, it would be wise to start with the school year schedule as soon as possible. This especially involves waking up, meals and bedtime. If your whole family starts following this new schedule, it will be much easier to transition back into it just in time for school. That way, you’ll be able to prevent any potential issues that would have otherwise stress everyone out.

Plan out your shopping essentials

Shopping for the new school year can be another stressful issue. Your kids may really hate shopping, or, they may enjoy it far too much. Either way, unplanned shopping trips can really end in a disaster. Therefore, before you go anywhere and look at any school essentials, sit your kids down and talk to them. Make a shopping list of all the things they need and then find the best offer. That way, you’ll know exactly where to go and what to look for.

Be there for your kids

The ones that are the most nervous about going back to school are your kids. Therefore, it’s very important to talk to them. However, don’t do it superficially. Talk about the possibility of making new friends and minimize their anxiety by talking about things that they will actually love about school. This can be playing with their friends or learning something new. Of course, if they’re truly worried about something, try to come up with possible solutions.

Bring back the responsibilities

Not many kids think about chores and other responsibilities during summer, and that’s perfectly normal. After all, they too deserve a rest. However, they still need to fall back into the usual school routine and keep up with the program. You can help your kids rediscover the importance of being responsible by giving them some chores to complete before the school year starts. This can be making the bed in the morning, tidying up their room, choosing the clothes to wear for tomorrow or folding the clothing pieces properly.


Make the whole experience enjoyable

If your kids aren’t happy and they stress about school a lot, you won’t be satisfied either. However, it’s paramount for your and their sanity to make school time as fun as possible. Studying is important but kids also need to know that they can freely express themselves. For example, you can let them use eco-friendly permanent markers to decorate their notebooks or, wait for it, decorate a wooden garden furniture, thus, expressing their creative self. You can also do fun chemistry experiments at home or let them in on some of the most extraordinary facts about the nature around them.

The most important thing about the back-to-school period is understanding that it’s perfectly normal for it to be a bit stressful for your whole family. Once you accept that, dealing with different situations and changes in your everyday life will be much easier. The end of summer may be near, but that doesn’t mean that autumn, and everything that comes with it, is not going to be fun and exciting.

3 Must Have Gifts To Get Your Kids Right Now!!!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

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Originally Posted Here

As I walked with my four year old down a busy city street in the sweltering heat, I stopped momentarily to grab my key out of my purse so I was prepared to unlock a building door. As I reached for the front glass door, an elderly gentleman beat me to it, opened the door for both myself and my daughter.

“Thank you!” I said with a smile. I hear my daughter’s tiny voice echo her thank yous.

“You’re welcome.” He said smiling back and headed out the door and down the busy street. I love to open the door for people and I am grateful when anyone takes time out of their day to open the door for me. I don’t expect anything said to me when I open the door for someone, if it puts a smile on your face to have the door opened for you then that is great. If I don’t get a thank you, no worries, I wanted to open it for you and that is that. In retrospect, I am grateful when someone does a nice little deed for me. It reminds me that the strangers around us are too, three dimensional who think, feel and are going through things in their life whether it be good or bad.

I like people.

But then I looked down at my daughter. I have spoken to waiters and people in service who are shocked at how today’s youth does not use manners. How many children interrupt or swear at their parents when a service individual has briefly taken their parent’s attention to do their job. Basic manners are not mandatory and definitely not mandated by any law in any country that I am aware of. However, it makes all of our lives a little easier.

As human beings, we are a social creature, but little ‘isms’ and human nuances can get on everyone’s nerves. I get it. I’ve been there. Someone not yielding to the right on an escalator for the quicker walkers to walk passed you is social suicide in some cities. Loud talkers in some countries are considered the norm, whereas in my city and in others, it’s considered extremely rude for everyone to have to hear your conversation. In an age where we are blessed to live with different people, cultures and ideas, we can get on each other’s nerves. We can misunderstand and misinterpret each other. There are literally some cultures who shake their heads from side to side meaning ‘no’ and other cultures that shake their head from side to side meaning ‘yes!’ The confusion and naivetés of one another can cause conflict and therefore can make the world a bit of a more challenging place to live in.

So before the keyboard warriors come out and tell us how I and everyone else can do it better, stop! I have three gifts that you can buy your children or even buy yourself that with a simple investment, will make your life easier. With a very unprofessional and uncertified rating system, I will give you a cost break down and an approximate amount of time for every gift to be properly consumed.

The best part of this is, I don’t even have to provide backlinks to any of these gifts because they’re right in front of you. So, put your credit cards down.

Thankfulness

Beyond the screams of a child in a toy store of the sighs of a preteen because Mom or Dad did not let them buy “this cool app, look, it’s only $3.99” is thankfulness. We can’t blame our children. They come from an instantaneous gratification society, a society that gives them information at their fingertips. I am not advocating for this to be taken away, oh no, I think technology is great for the most part. But when we live in a society where we have advertisements telling us we want something, then your children may see a little snippet on the news, of a Syrian family narrowly avoiding death, of a shooting nearby or something that humanizes them that makes them think “well, this did not happen to me, this does not happen here.” The feelings of life start to flood in, but are immediately interrupted from that text of a friend, a new advertisement or another distraction. Before we ask our children to “Be helpers” as Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood so eloquently put it, we need to remind our children in an age where it seems everyone gets everything right away, to be thankful.

The best way to teach your children, in my humble opinion is to lead by example. No one wants every outing, every experience to be some lesson or lecture. But when a parent shows thankfulness in front of their children, “I am thankful I got home twenty minutes early today and I was not caught in traffic.” “Just got back from the doctors kids, I am thankful for that clean bill of health.” A child starts to hear that behavior and mimic it. Being thankful for a gift, to live in a safe area, to have a loving family is a wonderful seed to plant. A child must be thankful for what the opportunities they have before they can provide opportunities for others.

To add, saying “Thank you” to others, like people who hold the door for your family, serve you in restaurants or in retail settings, deserves a thank you from you and your children if they were kind and attentive.

The greatest thing about thankfulness is you can start when they are infants. Yes, a parent even speaking to their child is soothing. You can introduce this at any age and I promise, it will help shape your children and also keep you in check in a world that can sometimes seem cruel.

Final Cost: 0

Time: About 5 to 10 seconds for each thankful thought.

1 Minute relaying thoughts to others.

Understanding

Understanding can be a tricky one. I am in no means asking you to teach your children to let every bully walk over them “maybe he or she has a hard life and that is why they punch you in the face every day after school, dear.” Or “this person is trying to get me fired from work but maybe they need to feed their family more than I need to feed mine.” That is not the understanding I am advocating for. Protect yourself!

The understanding I am asking for is for your children to function with others who do not think like them. We have this new opportunity where the whole word is connected, a whole world that has opinions, many of them different from their own. I have traveled a bit over the course of my life and created this global parenting magazine on two premises, celebrating the similarities and embracing the differences of parenting practices worldwide. The whole “we are all the same” movement is nice and all and as a people we do share some amazing similarities in both genetics and thought processes, but it is silly and almost ignorant to ignore the vast differences from culture, people and society. Those differences, though foreign to some, are interesting, beautiful and quite frankly, I prefer it. I prefer my thought processes to be challenged and questioned. It either teaches me something new or helps me reform my original opinion to be stronger. As long as the learning process is healthy, I am all for it.

We must teach our children understanding. People have different needs. We have some children who recognize certain religious practices during the day. In retrospect, we have children who require certain understanding. There are children who are religious, not religious, have different ways of thinking or perception like children with autism. The point is, we think differently and we perceive the world differently. We need to understand each other and learn about different types of people.

So what does that mean? Perhaps enrolling your children in a language class, to have a second language under their belt. It’s a new opportunity for your children to learn about a new culture and make new friends speaking their second language. It could be volunteering at a homeless shelter, so your children can interact with people who live differently than themselves. It could also mean having your children meet other children outside of their regular circles, volunteering at a reading program or if extra time is tight, reading about a new country, culture or religion every night for ten minutes. You don’t have to have your degree or be an expert in a subject to get a sense of understanding.

My mom for a short period of my childhood would grab one of her encyclopedia’s, (yes, the book ones not the ones online) and read us a little snippet of a country, culture or place while we ate breakfast before school. Maybe this is corny but it’s true, I enjoyed it! It must have stuck in my head throughout the years, because even though I may not remember anything she read to us, it planted the seed to learn more about everything, to understand to the best of my ability.

I think understanding comes with educating your children. Whether they are destined for a doctorate in medicine or changing the world with Tool and Dye, education breeds understanding. A combination of books and street smarts is a beautiful thing.

Cost=0

Time= ongoing dedication

Empathy

Do you have that child who wants to adopt every stray animal they find? Do you have a child who does not bully others even if everyone else is doing it? You have raised the empathetic child, one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. A child who many would say is beyond their years, I would humbly say is right where they are supposed to be. To get their peers to think and to inspire adults to remember.

If your child is none of those things, don’t worry! Empathy can be demonstrated and you can ‘wake up’ your child to think in a different way.

For those parents whose child is not empathetic, with most children, you can lead with example. With children with mental health challenges, leading with example, as you well know, may not work.

But you have to live empathy if there is any hope for your children to be empathetic. Showing empathy for other people’s pain is a gift your child will never know how important it is to have. Empathetic people are the seeds that grow ideas into beautiful plants. When one person, combined with understanding, empathizes with another, it helps build bridges with humanity and not make the gap between human being to human being, even bigger.

How you can express empathy is key. You won’t yell at that waitress who took an extra five minutes to fill up your cup because you can see she is waiting on at least ten other tables and you know this task is next to impossible. So you show and exhibit patience. Yelling never helps anyone anyway. You will donate your clothes to those new immigrants to your country because you know they have never felt a winter like yours and you want them to bundle up and stay warm and cozy as they get to know this new land. You use kind words to others, you hear peoples pain and you respond instead of ignoring. You are alive and you act like it.

Cost: 0

Time: a full time investment at first, but then it comes naturally.

These three gifts are not only a must have for the family, but if you use them as a combo, you can get results far greater than buying into just one. With all three gifts, you give yourself a huge discount in time management!

The media is always talking about role models and who will be the role model for your child? You see celebrities protesting that they just sing songs or act in movies and never asked to be your child’s role model. You know what? They’re right. You never asked them to. You don’t need to because you are their role model. It may not seem like that when they run off with their friends without saying goodbye or are rude sometimes. But they are listening. They are observing. You are the answer to your children getting these three gifts. With a onetime investment on behalf of your children, you can really change their life. I am not promising perfection. But what I am promising is you and your family making a difference, no matter how small, in your community and your world. All cliché aside, stop buying into what people tell you that you need to buy your family and invest in these three gifts for life.

Bijoux Marie Puce Making Teething Accessories Unique and Cool

One item I find that usually is forgotten when we are first expecting is teething accessories. Usually we don’t always see this as a gift idea as when we think of newborns, we are not thinking of that wonderful teething stage (one of the hardest stages of raising children). However, teething accessories are very important and there are some really adorable options available!

Recently I have been introduced to Bijoux Marie Puce who creates colorful jewellery, teething accessories and offers gift ideas. Bijoux Marie Puce is located in Montreal, Canada and the owner is Marie-France and she is a mompreneur who has two daughters.  Marie-France has a passion for creating unique products and this can be seen in each piece that she makes.

The product that we got to see was the Silicone Teething Toy and I had to see the owl one in person. It arrived in a nicely wrapped package and it a hand written personal thank you note (love this personal touch!). The material used to make the teething toy is: food grade silicone, nylon cord, and plastic clasp. Items made at Bijoux Marie Puce is hand made and you can tell that it is made with lots of love.

Now you can’t have a #MelandNikkiReview without honesty and when I first opened the package to see the teething accessory, I was really surprised. It is much bigger than I was expecting but in a good way. Usually when you go to these big brands, the teething accessories are so tiny and don’t last long due to poor quality. However, the teething accessory by Bijoux Marie Puce is an amazing size and high quality.

The teething accessory is easy to hold, clean and very appealing to the little ones. It would make a perfect gift for a baby shower or even as a welcoming gift to a new baby. I am sure that the little one will thank you when they are older and the parents will be grateful to have this accessory to help their little one cope with the difficult teething stage.

For this #MelandNikkiReview, we give Bijoux Marie Puce 5 hoots out of 5 for the quality, uniqueness and pricing ($25 CAD for the owl teething toy). Of course I can not forget how absolutely adorable it is! Wish I had one of these when my daughter was teething but now I know where to go if a future child is in the works. 🙂

You must check out Bijoux Marie Puce on Etsy where you can see all that she has to offer such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, hair accessories, rings, magnets, bookmarks, keychains, scrunchies, teething toys, teething necklaces and children necklaces.

Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see more of the beautiful creations.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

* Please note that the product was given in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed in this review are of Momma Braga and were not influenced by the company.