All posts by Lynne Watts

Stress Free Morning Routines for Kids

Mom, where’s my lunch money?

I can’t find my backpack!

What happened to my homework?  If the dog didn’t eat it who did?

Get in the car… Get.  in.  the.  CAR!

Did the school bus just go by?

It’s back to school here in Georgia.

Have you established a morning routine with your crew?  Or are you back to dreading the early morning rush and late night homework sessions?  One of the most stressful times of the day for many parents and children is the early morning rush of getting to school on time.

Although back to school start dates may vary around the country, one thing that doesn’t vary is the manic morning rush to get everyone out of the house and off to school/ work on time. To change manic mornings to  tranquil transitions create a morning schedule that is congruent with your family’s style.  Not every personality style reacts well to a timed schedule and a stop watch mentality but you can create a school morning scenario that matches your family’s unique preferences.  Here’s how:


Four tips for creating a stress free morning

  1. Begin by discussing as a family the goals that everyone has for the morning.  Be at school and work on time?  Eat a healthy breakfast?  Have a positive mindset? Have all the supplies you need for the day? Get everyone’s input to make sure everyone is clear on what is expected.
  2. Plan ahead by getting things ready the night before–  I’m a big fan of this approach. When my children were little we got clothes out and backpacks ready the night before.  Even now I prepare the night before for my next day.
  3. Leave yourself enough margin  to arrive on time—  The idea of margin is a good one. Plan for the necessary amount of time with some extra time added in for unforeseen difficulties.  Teach children to create a schedule by working backward from the time they need to arrive at school.  Then follow through.
  4. Spend some quiet time in gratitude. This is a definite part of my morning and a great start for families as well.  Share a devotion with the family as you eat breakfast.  This is so different from the rushing-out-the-door, pop-tart-in-hand approach that often characterizes the morning routine.
  5. Share a positive affirmation that sets the tone for the day–  Make the affirmation a question to get the biggest mental impact. One example is: “How can you make it a great day for someone?”  Sharing a positive thought at the last good bye can create a positive mindset that lasts all day.


Related Posts:

Personality Style and Motivation

Begin School with Intention

Create a Growth Mindset

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

It’s time to catch the school bus and Wyatt can’t find anything.  Where is his backpack?  his lunch money? Wyatt is about to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being organized and the benefits of planning ahead.  This adorable story offers simple helpful ideas that kids and parents can use to make life less stressful and more fun.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Being Organized



Doubtbusters for kids

I can’t

I’m a loser

Everyone else does it better

I’m afraid I might fail

I’m afraid I might succeed

Do you know a kid who is riddled with doubt?  Do you find that no matter how much you praise him, he still lacks self-confidence?  Is it frustrating to see her not living up to her potential because of doubts and fears?

Certainly we all have a lack of confidence and courage at times.  But when we know someone who is chronically plagued with doubt, it is often distressing to see their self esteem plummet and their self concept weaken.  What can you do to be the doubt-buster that they need in their life?

Three ways to increase kids’ self-confidence

Focus on action, not feelings–Teach kids that many times our feelings trick us into believing things that just aren’t true.  Just because we feel nervous about trying something challenging is not a sign that we should avoid it.  In fact many times feeling nervous is a good thing because it is an indication that we are stepping outside our comfort zone and taking on a challenge.

Focus on positive self talk, not negative self talk— Our brains are like Velcro for negativity and Teflon for the positive so its important that we learn ways to take charge of our thinking.  One way to do this is to teach kids to pay attention to the messages that they are telling themselves, to evaluate those messages and change it to a more realistic and positive one if necessary.

Focus on measuring personal progress, not comparison to others–The comparison trap will always lead to doubt and criticism.  We can always find someone who is better than we are.  By the same token we can always find someone who is weaker as well.  Neither is beneficial for shoring up self esteem.  Instead, teach kids to measure personal progress based on goals and personal accomplishment.

Related posts:

Developing self-esteem in kids

How to raise a resilient child

Kids and anxiety

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)

Self-esteem Group Curriculum for School Counselors





teaching kids to handle rejection

You don’t make the team

Your friend doesn’t invite you to to the party

Your essay, performance, or art work doesn’t win first place

Rejection is a part of life, for kids a well as for adults.  I bet we all know adults who never learned to handle rejection or obstacles well.  (Think John McEnroe and his famous temper tantrums on the tennis court.)  No one wants to raise a kid with similar outbursts.  So what’s the answer?  Teaching kids to control their mindset and to re-frame failure.

Here are some ideas:

Teach kids the power of not yet— When a child doesn’t win the trophy or make the team, don’t gloss over it and don’t get them a participation trophy so they fit in.  Instead teach kids that just because they didn’t make it this time there is always a chance to make it next time.  Teach them that persistence and effort make a difference.

Teach kids to be a learner, not a loser--Help kids understand that every failure has the seeds for growth in it.  An evaluated experience makes for an improved and better performance next time.  Teach them to ask:  What have I learned that I can do differently next time?

Teach kids positive self-talk–Often kids feel rejected, worthless and inadequate in the face of failure.  Teach them to identity the stories or messages they are telling themselves, to challenge those messages and replace them with a positive statement.  Instead of, “I always lose,” they can say “I’ll work hard and do better next time.”

Teach kids how to measure progress–Often we measure progress from how far we are from the goal; “I didn’t make a 100 on my test.”  Instead, teach them to measure progress from how far they are from where they started;  “On my last test, I made a C.  On this test I made a B.”

Teach kids that rejection can sometimes be redirection–And sometimes that is a good thing.  We aren’t meant to win at everything and sometimes it can be a sign that our strengths and talents lay in another area.  Evaluating whether or not to continue along the same path is part of the message that rejection can clarify.


Related posts:

The power of not yet in changing behavior

Four steps to change failure to success

Teach kids problem solving skills


Wyatt the Wonder Dog

Learns about Teamwork

Camping with his Boy Scout Troop is exciting and fun… until Max takes a serious fall while hiking.  When Wyatt and the rest of the Scouts use their emergency training to get Max safely out of the woods, they learn the value of teamwork and the power of community to achieve big goals.

Wyatt Learns about Teamwork

Kids and decision making

In a recent post, Tim Elmore discusses the consequences of removing risk taking from children’s lives.  In older times, summer or free time, was when kids roamed the neighborhood playing, creating their own games and developing their own network of friends. Parents relayed the rules. Kids knew their boundaries and what they were allowed to do.   Parents couldn’t check on kids’ movements with cell phones and days were not filled with scheduled activities that kept both parents and kids occupied from dawn to dusk. It was truly a different world that seems foreign now when every second of everyday is choreographed and planned with activity.  I’m not saying it was perfect or even better but it is true that left to their own devices, kids had to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills that are not demanded in today’s world where parents or other adults are always on hand to make decisions, influence consequences and even manipulate the environment.

Since it seems  unlikely that our society will step back in time to the previous generational model where children were faced daily with decisions that involved everything from how to spend their time (what to do) to determining which activities were dangerous and which were not (how to behave), it seems the least we can do is give kids some tools for how to make those critical decisions when they are faced with them.

Here are a few techniques we can use to help children learn to make effective and reasonable decisions on their own:

Have children ask what their role models would do– Help children through biographies, movies, television and other media identify responsible role models.  Make sure they recognize great role models in their everyday life.  Have them get in the habit of noticing how their role models handle tough decisions.  Then help children evaluate whether or not they made the right decision.

Link good behaviors to moral character- Develop core values as a family, as a classroom or as a team. Discuss them often.  Point them out in others.  Notice how behavior follows good values.  Develop empathy by pointing out how our behavior has consequences for others. Have kids learn to ask, “How would I feel if I were on the receiving end of that behavior?”

Develop critical thinking by emphasizing values over rules–  It’s not enough to just follow the rules.  Help kids evaluate rules based on values and determine why it is necessary to follow the rule (or not!).


Wyatt the Wonder Dog

Learns about Teamwork


Camping with his Boy Scout Troop is exciting and fun… until Max takes a serious fall while hiking.  When Wyatt and the rest of the Scouts use their emergency training to get Max safely out of the woods, they learn the value of teamwork and the power of community to achieve big goals.


Wyatt Learns about Teamwork



Handle parent-teacher crucial conversations effectively

In my years as a school counselor, I coordinated and lead a lot of parent-teacher conferences.  Lucky for me, I worked in a school with an amazing dedicated team of teachers who came to those conferences prepared and eager to serve.  It’s an important mindset to cultivate.  However, I also talk with parents and teachers who encounter a very different environment.  Typical problems include an unwillingness to listen, a need to be right or prove a point and a lack of sensitivity to the intentions and efforts of others.  How can you best ensure that a conference starts on the right track, ends with an action plan for moving forward and doesn’t get derailed in between?

Here are some tips to create a positive environment during crucial conversations:

  • Begin by clarifying what you really want to accomplish in the meeting. Are you sharing information and bringing someone up to date?  Do you want to make a decision about services or placement?  Are you creating a behavior plan or academic plan for moving forward?  Make sure everyone is prepared for the goal and on the same page.  Being blindsided as to the real purpose of a meeting creates tension.
  • Ask yourself how you need to act to accomplish your goal?  Calm and focused? Confident and prepared with the facts?  Sensitive and empathetic?  Take some time to create a positive mindset beforehand.
  • Avoid the extreme choices of:
    • Maintaining peace and harmony at all costs by withdrawing, not speaking up or not identifying what you think is the best goal and why.
    • Being more concerned about making a point than making a difference.  Being determined to win and express your opinion at any cost.
  • Instead of looking for differences and either/or decisions, look for common ground and make decisions that incorporate everyone’s concerns.  Anticipate and encourage cooperation and investment in a positive outcome on everyone’s part.

Related Posts:

7 secrets to effective teacher-parent communication

10 secrets to effective parent teacher communication

The greatest gift a teacher can give


 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





Be the hero in your story

In a school where I was doing some training, I found this quote on a classroom wall: “Be the hero in your own story.”  I love the concept.  In recent years the art of story telling has been incorporated into business and many other mediums where we might not expect to find it.

What if we helped kids recognize that their life is a story that they are writing every moment of everyday?

Would it make a difference as they make decisions and choices on a regular basis?

Since elementary school is the age where we learn about writing stories with a beginning, middle and end, it seems like a perfect time to also teach students to consider their life as a story telling opportunity as well.

Here are some common characteristics of writing a fictional story and a life story:

  • There is a main character or a hero- This is the student.
  • There is a problem- This is the challenge that they face.
  • There is tension- This is the difference or gap between how things are now and how they want things to be in the future.
  • There are possible solutions- These are the strategies, the tactics that they try to solve the problem.
  • There is closure- This is the solution or resolution of the problem.

Helping students see their life as a story is useful in several ways:

  • It gives them ownership of their life-  It places them clearly at cause in their life rather than at effect.  It sets them up as problem solvers not just someone who is waiting for life to happen to them.
  • It promotes a growth mindset-  Problems in most stories, just as in real life aren’t solved immediately.  In fact, it often takes many tries to solve the problem with sub plots and distractions, false starts and mistakes. Thinking of our lives in the same way gives us confidence to kept trying even when we fail.
  • It gives them hero status- When kids see themselves as heroes, it helps them recognize their strengths and skill set.

Related posts:

Positive Storytelling

Four Ways to Teach Your Best Lesson

Teaching Kids Problem-solving Skills


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max wants to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)