Category Archives: personal development

7 Steps to Creative Thinking in Kids

In a world dominated by technology, creative thinking is at a premium. While we can find the answer to most any question just by goggling it, one thing that computers can’t do is create new ideas, problem solve or design projects that are outside of the box.  It takes the creative human mind to to connect the dots.

Is creativity just something some people are born with?

Is it possible to teach kids how to think creatively?

If so how?

7 steps to creative thinking:

  • Narrow the field– I know this is a surprising first step because most of us think to be creative that we need to widen the field of choices.  We believe we need to consider all the possible options.  Instead the brain is overwhelmed by too many choices and it is more productive in a smaller playing field.  Sometimes thinking creatively doesn’t mean thinking outside the box but instead changing the choices, connections and relationships inside the box.  Here are some examples of narrowing the field that can result in creative work:
    • Tell a story in 10 words
    • Draw a picture using just one color
    • Design a 7 step process for developing a new skill
  •  Re-frame the problem– This involves thinking about the problem in a new way by asking, “What if it’s possible?”
    •  What if it’s possible to maintain someone’s attention by creating a story with only 10 words?
    • What if it’s possible to tell a story where color plays an important role in the story?  (Check out the Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig.)
    • What if it’s possible to learn how to make friends in 6 easy steps? Check out Dale Carnegie’s book, How to win friends and influence people)
  • Separate research from development– Designate a particular time for gathering information and a later time for compiling and developing your information.  Just as it’s hard to research and write a story at the same time, its hard to think creatively about solving a problem when you are still gathering  data.  Multitasking isn’t effective in any arena of effort.
  • Silence the critic within- Our creative thinking is often squelched by our inner critic who is constantly offering negative comments and criticisms.  By deciding not to judge whether or not something is a good idea or even possible in the initial stages of creative thinking, you are able to open the door to imagination and originality. Learn to enjoy the process as much as the end result.
  • Sleep on it– Taking a break or sleeping on an idea and returning to it later allows the unconscious mind to sort through ideas and consider new and unique possibilities.  It releases inventiveness and ingenuity.
  • Think about how your work will benefit others– We often need to develop some personal distance from a project and asking how others will benefit or enjoy the end result helps to provide that space.  We can become more engaged in a project when we think it will help someone else than when we are doing it for ourselves.
  • Recognize the effort as well as the finished project– not everything works out as well as we would hope.  However when we encourage a growth mindset and praise the time and effort that went into a project, we are setting the stage for more creativity in the future.

Related Posts:

Teach Girls Bravery not Perfection

5 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Kids

4 Skills Your Child will Need as an Entrepreneur

 

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.

 

http://wyatthewonderdog.com/activitybook

 

 

The power of ‘not yet’ in changing behavior

As I visit schools and provide training in DISC personality style to staff and parents, I’m often asked, “Can you change your basic personality style or is it just hard-wired in?”  The exciting news in all areas of human development is that we can change and grow in many ways. Personality style is no different.  We can change our perception.  We can change our behavior.  We can change our personality style.

However, it’s not always necessary to change our personality so much as it is to recognize and work in our strengths. Every personality style has strengths and areas of concern.

A high D personality style can be decisive and determined.  Or they can be bossy and domineering.

A high I personality style can be interactive and inspiring.  Or they can be impulsive and self-centered.

A high S personality style can be supportive and encouraging.  Or they can be passive and too compliant.

A high C  personality style can be conscientious and competent.  Or they can be paralyzed by details and insensitive.

I think you get the picture.  We all have the potential to maximize our strengths and be both a great leader and a great team-player but doing so means recognizing our areas of potential weakness and overcoming them.  There is always room to grow and change for the better.

Although much of Carol Dweck’s work on the growth mindset is around the area of improving academics, it is also relevant to improving behavior. Just as we can teach kids that their behavior is “not yet” optimal, we can also teach that there is always another chance  for change.  Just as kids can be taught that they can learn and grow academically, they can also be taught that they can learn and grow behaviorally.  Their daily behavior strengthens neural patterns making change and improvement easier and easier to repeat.

This is exciting news because we can help kids understand their potential for success. We can help kids learn to not only accept challenges but look forward to them because they mean growth.  We can help them understand that their behavior now is not yet optimal but that there is opportunity for improvement starting right now.  Notice as well that we aren’t passing out rewards, stickers, candy and toys to improve behavior.  Instead we are focusing on the intrinsic reward of growth and goal achievement. We are creating a positive vision for the future.  Most importantly we are preparing kids for the endless possibilities ahead.

Listen to Carol Dweck talk about the power of “not yet” over the tyranny of “now”.

 

Related posts:

How to create a better behavior plan

How do you change a child’s behavior?

How effective is your school’s ISS?

Parenting with Heart: Understanding your Child’s Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that your children are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this eBook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and how to speak the language of other personality styles to create a winning  environment in all the seasons of your family’s life.

parentingheart

Click on the link below to purchase the ebook:

Parenting with Heart: Understanding Personality Style

 

 Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first.  Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it.  Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried.  Will he make friends?  Will he get lost in the new school?  Will he miss his mom?  Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure!Wyatt-kKindergarten_thumb
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Goes to Kindergarten

 

Taking the drama out of conflict

“He’s not following the rules!  He’s a cheater!”

“She is being mean to me and my friends. She won’t include us in her club.”

“She took my markers and lost them.  Now I don’t have any.”

Some days it feels like all we do as educators and parents is solve conflicts between kids. Maybe you even feel  like you’ve tried everything and you are at the end of your  rope. “Why can’t kids just get along?” we wonder.  It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting.

Here are a few ideas but get ready… most of them mean changing your mindset as well as your strategies.

  • Re-frame conflict as opportunity instead of a battle of the wills- As a parent, I used to actually thank my children when they were having a disagreement.  Sounds crazy I know, (and they’d look at me like I had lost my mind) but I’d explain that life is full of conflict and it’s good that you can learn to solve conflicts as kids.  It’s true of course;  learning to solve conflicts is a necessary life skill.
  • Create conflict rules-For example: no blaming, no name calling and no threatening. Help children define what the rules mean.  Calling someone a cheater is name calling.  Refusing to be someone’s friend if you don’t get your way is threatening.  Saying it is all your fault is blaming.  Post the rules and refer to them when needed.
  • Take the drama out of the  situation-You can of course sympathize a bit with hurt feelings but don’t let it rule the day.  Begin by establishing the facts.  What happened first?  What happened next? Teach children to clearly identify the problem. It helps to have them state the problem without any feelings attached.  Teach the difference between the facts and the feelings.  And while we are talking about feelings…
  • Teach children to be responsible for their own feelings-Most of us think that others have the power to make us mad, or sad or to hurt our feelings. Disagreements provide a great opportunity to teach that others don’t have that power.  We control our own feelings by what we tell ourselves about the situation.
  • Teach a variety of ways to problem solve and resolve conflicts-Does one child want to play with a toy and the other not want to share?  Ask them to list all the possible solutions to the problem.  Then rather than you as the parent or teacher making the executive decision have them work together to decide which choice is best.
  • Recognize your own feelings surrounding conflict and interpersonal differences.  Just as  children come with their own personalities, we as parents and educators have our own temperament and our own history with conflict as well.  Were you the youngest child in your family who felt continually picked on by the oldest?  Were you the middle child who felt you had to create conflict to get noticed?  Our own history may flavor how we react to conflict in our children.  Make sure that you are operating out of a calm space and teaching good skills rather than taking sides or replaying your own history.

As parents and educators, we aren’t just solving kids’ problems today, we are teaching them how to solve much bigger conflicts later in life.  Does this take more time than simply telling kids to stop fighting and get along?  Yes!  But in the long run you are teaching important skills as well as saving time because children are learning strategies to solve their own problems rather than rely on you to solve problems for them.

Related posts:

What to do when kids argue

How do you do things in your family?

3 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Self-Discipline

 

Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend. Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners

On Teachers Pay Teachers:

Free Product Situation Cards for Lessons on Conflict

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Develop Resilient Kids

Tuesday, February 7th, I’ll be attending an event raising money for a thirteen year old boy who experienced a brain injury after a biking accident.  In a networking group this week, I talked to a business owner who has had cancer of the eye, his daughter has recovered from a brain tumor and his wife is a breast cancer survivor.  While you probably don’t know these individuals, I bet you know someone who has had similar challenges to overcome. Sometimes it is a physical challenge, sometimes it is an environmental challenge and other times it is a mental challenge.

After talking with someone about personal challenges like this, I always ask, “What is it that sustains you and gets you through the  experience?”   I get a lot of answers but if I were to summarize the attributes of a resilient individual I’d list the following…

  1. A growth mindset instead of a victim mindset–Individuals who believe that change and growth is possible stay engaged in practices that help them overcome their current circumstances. They follow treatment protocols, they ask for help and guidance, they set goals and follow the steps necessary to attain them.  Individuals with a victim mindset give up and allow their  circumstances to control the outcome.
  2. A community environment instead of an isolated environment–Community can take many forms.  For some it is their faith community while for others it is their family or friends and co-workers.  Regardless of who makes up the support community, resilient people don’t try to go it alone.  Difficult as it may be, they learn to ask for and receive help.  They share their struggles with others.  Not only do they reap the benefit but often their challenges pull the community closer together as well.
  3. A personal sense of purpose and identity instead of low self-esteem— Resilient individuals believe they have something unique to offer and they are determined to make a difference in their world through their strengths and skills.  They take failure and hardship in stride as part of the necessary road to success.  They don’t let their circumstances define who they are but maintain a strong sense of self and purpose. They don’t waste time wishing their life was easy and problem free.  Instead they allow their situation to help them develop mental and physical muscles that sustain them through the tough times.

How can we as parents and educators instill resiliency in our children?

  1. Foster a growth mindset–Encourage children to see obstacles as challenges to be overcome.  Instead of asking, “Why me?” teach them to ask “How can I learn from this?”
  2. Create a supportive community–We all need encouragers and teachers in our lives. Don’t wait for a crisis to establish a community in your life or your children’s lives. Develop systems of support and be that support for others as well.
  3. Develop a personal sense of identity and purpose–Help children develop a sense of who they are as worthwhile individuals with something to offer the world. Challenge them to learn from failure and celebrate success.

Related Posts:

Developing Resiliency:  The Story behind Kid President

Before there is Grit, there is pain

5 Ways to Help Children Develop Grit

 

Want to bring the Dream Achiever Academy Training Program to your school? Here’s how:

Dream Achiever Academy Educator Training

Dream Achiever Academy Parent Training

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

Is your child a people pleaser?

Is there a child in your life that is a people pleaser?

Are they always looking for  approval and recognition?

Do they worry too much about fitting in?

Do they complain that they have no friends?

Do they have trouble taking initiative, even in situations where they have experience and ability?

Young children are often naturally authentic.  They don’t worry about giving the right answer or comparing their efforts to someone else.  In fact, this was one of the things that made teaching lessons in kindergarten so fun and entertaining.  I never knew what students would say in answer to questions.

However at some point, the comparison trap kicks in and children begin to recognize and value the opinions of others. Soon they are worried about saying the right thing, doing the right thing and even wearing the right clothes.  In her excellent book on The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown pinpoints the age that this begins to show up as around fourth grade, although I think it happens much younger. Brown goes on to define authenticity as the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.  

Considering authenticity a practice is good news for all of us who have been compulsive people pleasers because it means that being authentic is actually a choice albeit a choice that we must make over and over on a daily basis.  How can we share this information with the children in our lives and encourage a lifetime of authenticity rather than comparison and people pleasing?  Teaching and modeling authenticity is tricky business for sure. Here are some tips:

  • Re-frame mistakes and failure as learning not losing.  Look for the opportunity to learn in every experience.  This helps defeat the need to compare my score or success with yours.
  • Praise the effort and intention behind the work rather than the end result.  Teach children to practice self-talk that  models this so that they can encourage themselves to be authentic even when you are not available to encourage them in this direction. As Brene Brown says, “Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you love.”
  • Model authentic behavior as well as a brave attitude when faced with challenges yourself so that you can teach through example as well as words.
  • Use the examples found in the lives of well known people who have followed their own vision and mission rather than conform to the expectations of others.

Related posts:

Teach girls bravery not perfection

Positive Storytelling

Celebrate your child’s unique voice

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

7 ways to help the perfectionistic child

Who do you want to be? Helping children find their voice.

Helping children find their voice and determine who they are at their core has been a task for all generations.  Over the years we have certainly approached it in many different ways. There have been generations that  focused less on who you wanted to be as an adult and more on survival issues such as finding a job and feeling secure.  However, today’s students often have the luxury of envisioning a future where they can discover a career that not only pays the bills but also combines passion and purpose as well.

Nevertheless there are many pitfalls and detours that students can take that will leave them derailed from developing a lifestyle that matches their inner voice.  What are common mistakes?  Here are a few:

  1. They can become too absorbed in tracking other’s opinions rather determining their own.  Peer pressure and friend’s views have always been important but social media has enhanced this to an alarming level.  Every word and picture is up for everyone to like or love and it can become a personal mission to win approval. Finding your voice means turning inward and listening to your personal strengths and abilities, desires and passions not turning outward and tracking what others say.
  2. They can develop an expectation that everything must happen at the speed of light or at least at the speed of the internet connection.  Because we live in a microwave fast world, students can believe that they should be able to determine their life course lickety-split and they tend to give up on situations that don’t measure up quickly.  The days of expecting to pay your dues are gone and while there are some benefits to that, success is still dependent on persistence and determination.  Every opportunity is a chance to learn more about ourselves and what matters but sometimes it takes time to determine the benefits.
  3. They can become dependent on standard methods for finding their voice rather than developing their own path and journey.  While going directly from high school to college is certainly one pathway to exploring career options, there are many more that are not widely recognized.  Certainly not every student needs to or even wants to go to college.  However there is often a lack of support and encouragement to discover alternative paths such as:
    1. taking a year to explore a variety of interests in order to be better focused in academic endeavors
    2. attending a community or trade school
    3. finding an apprenticeship situation
    4. creating their own business through entrepreneurial efforts

How Can We Help?

As educators and parents we can best help children find their voice when we provide opportunities for discovery rather give pat answers.  The world is changing rapidly and students need to learn how to cope and adapt to any situation, not just how to navigate the world as it is today.  That being said many of the best practices are actually old practices useful in our new world.  We can help students:

1. Discover how to use their talents to help others and make the world a better place.

Rather than feeding off the approval of others, students can feel better about themselves when they serve others.  Approval becomes irrelevant when we focus on helping others rather than comparing ourselves to others.

2. Find a cause they can believe in that is bigger than themselves.

We all want to belong somewhere and students benefit when they can find a positive place to fit in.  Belonging to a group or a cause can provide support and encouragement during tough or uncertain times.

3. Develop and reach for personal goals.

Children flourish when they are able to achieve what matters to them.  This is a much better self-esteem builder than hollow affirmations. It also teaches children that accomplishing goals is a process with many steps and an action plan, not something that magically happens because you wish for it.

Yes, its a new and ever-changing world and the best preparation that we can give children is to embrace it with enthusiasm while exploring ways to use their gifts and talents for the betterment of others.

Related Posts:

Good or Bad Decision?

Helping Kids Develop Self Discipline

Creating a growth mindset in kids

Wyatt Learns about Giving

It’s almost Christmas and Wyatt the Wonder Dog is wondering how long he will have to wait until the big day and what gifts he will get.  His mother however, has a more important question, “What will you give for Christmas?”  Join Wyatt as he learns a valuable lesson about how anyone can be generous and giving at Christmas and all through the year.  Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_for_Kindle
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Giving