Three Things You Can Teach Your Kids At Home

3 Things You Can Teach Your Kids At Home

There are a lot of things kids learn at school. How to do math, science, spell correctly, write legibly, and if you are lucky, play sports. But once they leave school, many life lessons await them. As Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, the authors of The Coddling Of The American Mind: How Good Intentions And Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation For Failure remind us, kids are arriving at college less and less prepared.

Depression and anxiety rates have risen sharply among college students, more kids are on some sort of mood enhancer, and student counseling centers are seeing more visits than they ever have. While there are numerous reasons for this effect, the point is that kids need more than simply school preparation to not be overwhelmed by college (and life). So, with that in mind, here are three useful things you can teach your kids while they are at home during the pandemic:

Time Management

So much of school is scheduled for kids. This class starts at this time, practice starts after school, parents pick you up at a given time, teachers prepare the lesson for you. But what do you do when you want to accomplish something on your own? How exactly do you manage your time to reach your own goals?

For example, let’s say your kid wants to run a 5K race. How does he design his schedule to allow time to train? How does he make sure that he also accomplishes everything else he has to do like chores, homework, sleeping, etc.?

How to Teach Your Kid Time Management

Having your kid at home is the perfect opportunity to help him learn how to set a goal, then manage his time to reach it. Start by having your kid choose a goal. It could be anything from finding a recipe and making dinner for the family to selling 400 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, or, of course, a 5K race.

Then put your kid in the driver’s seat and have him create his own schedule to reach his goal. Your job is not to help him. Sure, you can let him know that you are there to answer questions, but you are not there to tell him what to do or when to do it. That, in fact, is the lesson for him to learn. But there is an even more important lesson here – that you believe he can accomplish his goals on his own. 

How To Cope With Failure

Failure is a part of life. Try anything, from getting a job to learning to skateboard, and you will face failure. But what is more important than if we fail, is how we fail. Do we quit? Do we blame others? Do we make excuses? Or do we pick ourselves up and try harder?

Now that you are at home with your child, you have the perfect opportunity to teach him how to cope with failure, and even have fun in the process. Start by choosing an activity or skill to learn with your child. You could learn how to sing, play the guitar, dance, knit a blanket, ride a skateboard, or do gymnastics. Really anything is fine as long as it is a reasonable challenge and something that you and your child can enjoy.

Then learn alongside them and when you fail (which you will) use the opportunity to model self-control, personal responsibility, and the link between effort and outcome. In short, just shake it off and try harder. When you do this, you teach your kid an invaluable lesson: it is okay to fail; it is what you do about it that matters.


Drug addiction, smoking, procrastinating, interrupting, arguing, overeating, and over-consuming media, at the core, are all problems of self-control.

Essentially, we would like to be doing one thing (or envision ourselves doing this) yet we are actually doing something else. We would like to exercise every day, but we can’t seem to find the motivation. We would like to stop at one piece of pie, but that second one seems to call our name. And we know we should’ve gotten that last piece of work done but we were just so tired. You get the point.

The problem with poor self-control is that it keeps us from getting what we really want. Moreover, it keeps us stuck in a cycle of conflict with ourselves. The energy we spend justifying our actions could be spent working toward our goals. It all starts with better self-control.

So, take the opportunity now that your child is home with you to teach self-control – and maybe even give yourself a refresher. Start by sitting down with your child and telling him you are both going to choose a goal and help each other stay motivated to reach it. He can choose something like building a model airplane, brushing his teeth every day, walking the dog every morning, or eating only one bag of candy every day. You can also choose any goal you like so long as it is something that you would like to accomplish and is within your reach.

Then choose a strategy with your child to help you and he reach your goals. You can choose a motivational mantra, a commitment strategy that utilizes a penalty for not reaching your goal, or anything else that you want. The point is to learn how to work with yourself to change your behavior, and essentially overcome the impulses that keep you from reaching your goals. I can think of no better life lesson.   

Having your kid at home for an indefinite amount of time is something that no parent could’ve anticipated. Yet, if we are creative, and a little open-minded, we can use the time as an opportunity to teach our kids all the things they might not otherwise learn in school.

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Supportive Communication for the Child with Special Needs is a 1-hour audio continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides practical tips for helping parents to communicate with their child who has special needs. Click here to learn more.

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Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time

By Leo Babauta

Too Much to Do, Not Enough TimeOne of the biggest frustrations many of us feel is having too much to do, and not feeling like we have enough time to do it. We are overwhelmed.

Of course, having “not enough time” is just a feeling — we all have the same amount of time, but we often fill up the container of our days with too much stuff.

The problem is having too much stuff to fit into a small container (24 hours). If we look at task management and time management as simply a container organization problem, it becomes simpler.

How do we fit all of the stuff we have to do into our small container?

By simplifying.

And letting go.

I promise, with this two-step process, you’ll be able to deal with the problem of “too much to do, not enough time.”

Simplifying Our Tasks

When we realize we’re trying to fit too much stuff (tasks, errands, obligations) into a small container (24 hours), it becomes obvious that we can’t get a bigger container … so we have to get rid of some stuff. It just won’t all fit.

We do that by simplifying what we have to do.

Mindfulness is a helpful too here: pay attention to all the things you do today and tomorrow, and try to notice all the things you’re fitting into the container of your day. What websites are you going to in the morning? In the evening? What games are you playing on your phone? What are you reading? What busy-work are you doing? How much time are you spending in email, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram? How much time on blogs, online shopping sites, Youtube? How much TV are you watching? How much time do you spend cleaning, maintaining your personal hygiene, taking care of other people? How much time driving around or commuting? What are you spending the valuable commodity of your attention on?

What you might realize is that you’re fitting a lot of junk into the container. Toss some of that out. Ban yourself from certain sites or apps until you’ve done a few really important tasks.

Notice also that you’re committed to a lot of things. Those commitments are filling up your life. Start getting out of some of them, and saying “no” to new ones.

Now look at your task list: how many of those things can you reasonably do today? I say three.

If you could only do three things today, which would be the most important? If you’ve ever played baseball, and swung a bat, you know that what matters is not so much how hard you swing, but hitting the ball with the sweet spot of the bat. What you need to do with your task list is hit it with the sweet spot of the bat — find the tasks that have the most impact, that matter most to your life. Choose carefully, because you only have so much room in your life.

Now ask yourself this: which task would you do if you could only do one task today? That should be what you put your focus on next. Just that one task. You can’t do your entire list today, and you can’t do your top three tasks right now. So just focus on one important task.

Clear everything else away, and focus on that.

By picking your tasks carefully, you’re taking care with the container of your time. You can pick important tasks or joyful ones, but you’re being conscious about the choices. You’re treating it like the precious gift that it is: limited, valuable, to be filled with the best things, and not overstuffed.

The Art of Letting Go

What about all the other stuff you want to do (or feel you need to do)? What if it doesn’t fit into the container?

This is where the joyful art of letting go becomes useful.

You have too many things to fit into your container, and you’ve decided to only put the important and beautiful things into the container. That means a bunch of things you think you “should” do are not going to fit.

You can get to those later. Or you can not do them. Either way, they won’t fit into today’s container.

This in itself is not a problem, but it only becomes a problem when you are frustrated that you can’t fit it all in. Your frustration comes from an ideal that you should be able to do it all, that you should be able to do everything on your list. Plus more: you want to travel, workout, meditate, learn a new skill, read more, be the perfect spouse (or find a spouse), be the perfect parent/friend/sibling, draw or create music, and so on.

Your ideals don’t match with reality — the reality is that you can’t do this all today, or even this week. You can choose to do some of them, but the others will have to wait, or not get done at all.

Since you can’t get a bigger container, you need to adjust your ideals. The ideal you choose to have can be this: that this moment be exactly as it is. The old ideal is one that you can toss into the ocean, as it was harming you (causing frustration). Let it go with joy and relief.

The new ideal is that this moment is perfect, and it deserves to be in your container.



Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: The Predicament of Being Busy

by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD

Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: The Predicament of Being BusyHaving a full calendar, in many ways, is a sign of success. At best, it’s an indication that we’ve acquired what we set out to attain in our younger years — possibly a career, a family, and a sprinkling of hobbies and involvements that hold meaning. Yet, often this fullness, even when it’s a good sort of fullness, keeps us from truly enjoying our lives. It leaves us thirsty for a particular quality of living that isn’t possible when our cup is full… not even possible when our cup is full with high-quality ingredients.

The observation that too much busyness leads to suffering is nothing new. In some ways, it lies at the root of every time-management tool and stress-reduction resource ever created. Yet, the topic seems worthy of continued conversation given that even with all of these resources, we only seem to be getting busier as a collective.

I’ve noticed a similar paradox in buying storage containers over the past decade. I first discovered these plastic boxes lining the store aisles when my children were toddlers. I was certain that if I bought enough of them life would become manageable — or at least the contents of my home would become contained and organized. It was a different version of my attempts to buy smaller planners, thinking that if the boxes for each day were tiny, somehow fewer things would get written in them. Sadly, neither intervention really seemed to help. The containers didn’t ever seem to hold everything, and my handwriting only got smaller to be able to fit everything into the day. Obviously, life’s too-muchness wasn’t going to be lessened through a purchased item.

These experiments led me to wonder if the issue wasn’t life’s cup being too full, but rather life’s cup being too small to hold everything. Sometimes the days would go by so quickly, with so little getting accomplished, that it felt like life’s container had somehow shrunk to the size of a miniature tea cup — the type that might be placed in front of a seated doll or teddy bear. It’s the opposite of what most of us would want with all that we have going on. It would be much easier if our cup could expand to the size of the Mad Hatter ride at Disney World, so it could at least have half a chance of holding the contents of our day.

It’s a tricky fine line, however, because we wouldn’t want to have too few items in our containers, just as we wouldn’t want to overly empty our cups. We want lives that hold meaning and enjoyment, and most of us also want a certain amount of responsibility as well. Finding the middle ground between these extremes often requires a trial and error process that can feel a bit like the first two-thirds of Goldilocks’ tale. Sometimes we have to live through experiencing life as being too much and not enough in order to gain clarity about where our own point of balance exists.

Along with learning through personal experience, it can help to get in touch with the intention behind our busy calendars. Often what leads us to overfill our lives is a desire to make the most of our days and to bring ourselves fully into that which we’re involved in. Sometimes recognizing the sweetness of this desire allows us to have a bit more tolerance for the tensions that arise between the fullness of our planner and our human need for some open space and time.

In offering counseling to many busy people over the past 16 years, and knowing this place myself, I’ve recognized six particular shifts that are useful when we need to press a reset button in our lives. These shifts reflect what often gets lost when we’re moving quickly from one activity to the next. In my next posts, I’ll address each of them: pausing, turning within, filling up, coming back to life, embracing difficulty, and remembering lightness. In the meantime, consider what “just right” would feel like for you in terms of your life commitments. Pay attention to what seems to get in the way of arriving at this place, and if any of these obstacles are things you can do something about.

For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.

For more by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., click here.


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