Keep Your Expectations High for Your Child’s Success

Over the years, I’ve set expectations for my students that they’ve never seen before in any other class they had. On the first day of school, they have about three homework assignments written on the whiteboard. After I take attendance, I tell them to open up their assignment planner that they have been given and to write down each night’s homework assignment word-for-word as written on the front board. I tell them that there will be quizzes each quarter on their homework assignments. Some of the students look at me with a dumfounded, quizzical look on their face wondering why I expect them to remember every capital letter, number, and punctuation mark. I tell them, “Pretend that you are taking a photo of the homework assignment. I expect that it looks exactly like that in your planner.” So, what is the reasoning for my obsession of having my students copy down their homework in this manner? It is the same reason why you should hold high academic expectations for your child – teaching a child responsibility and accountability.

Children typically strive to live up to their parents’ expectations. The standard that you set for your child is typically where they will strive. I realize that the students I have in class all have different learning styles and levels of motivation. However, if I hold them all to a very high standard for writing down their homework in this manner, then the students, who typically blow off writing anything into their planner, would write something down and the ones who take pride in their work get rewarded at the end of the quarter with an easy quiz to boost their grade.

Using Positive Reinforcement

If you have a goal for your child to obtain good grades and one day further their studies, set forth an expectation that your child put forth their best effort in their school work. If you set the bar high, there’s a good chance that they will work toward that goal. That may sound all fine and dandy that what you expect, you will get from your child. However, we know that things aren’t that cut and dry. Parental expectations have to be coupled with positive reinforcement for accomplishing tasks or achieving goals. Your child may struggle academically. So, praising their efforts and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes – regardless of the outcome – is a big motivator for them to persevere in future tasks.

Expecting your child’s best vs. Expecting your child to be the best

There is a big difference between holding high expectations for your child and expecting perfection. Holding the bar high allows a child to reach for goals and not be afraid to fall short, as long as they gave it their best effort. On the other hand, expecting a child to do everything “right” may create a feeling of inadequacy and may backfire in that a child is afraid to make mistakes and would then do anything to cover up their mistakes or prevent them from happening, such as cheating on a test.

Furthermore, it is important to never compare your child with other siblings or their friends. If your child is doing their best, acknowledge their effort and from there, you can work together to develop a plan to help your child overcome obstacles and continue to improve. You can help them understand that time spent studying or working on something increases their chance of doing well at that task. Discuss different strategies with your child that best suits him or her for doing better the next go around.

The important point is that children need to feel successful in order for future successes to take place. When they feel responsible for their own successes and failures, they are more likely to continue to work toward your expectations and not quit if something gets too difficult. Ultimately, holding high expectations is one of the greatest services that you can do for a child. Talk about what success looks like and help a child discover their talents and explore future career interests early on so they can see that in order to achieve their dreams, they need to put forth continuous effort and always learn from their mistakes.

In order to successfully support and guide your child as they encounter adversity, defeat, failure and peer pressure, it is important that you possess specific strategies to fall back on when things get rough. Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the distractions of technology, social pressures from school and peer influence that your child faces, and need assistance in helping navigating your child through all of the critical challenges they are regularly exposed to? Click here to receive two complimentary chapters of my book “THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO RAISING TEENS AND TWEENS: STRATEGIES FOR UNLOCKING YOUR CHILD’S FULL POTENTIAL.”

Happy Discoveries!

Why GMOs are OMGs to You and Your Child’s Health

You don’t need a Ph.D. in a biomedical science to realize that inserting genes from one organism into another is an unnatural process that can lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of our food. What we should know about GM foods, and what can be done about it, can save you and your child’s health.

It’s not surprising to me when I hear that, to this day, there still remains an invasion of nutrient-skewed refined foods in our children’s lunches at school. According to WhatsForLunchNYC.com, a typical elementary school menu for the week consists of chicken tenders, cheeseburgers, “Pizza Fridays,” with sides of cheesy rotini, mozzarella sticks or French fries. How these refined flours, sugars, vegetable oils are affecting a child’s daily performance is becoming a burgeoning concern that can have a detrimental impact on their health.

Most school lunches rely heavily on genetically modified (GM) foods that are high in calories and contain low-nutrient value because it’s cheaper than whole food products. Also, when we pack our child’s lunch bag, we may not think that the turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo, along with an apple and fruit juice, can actually be unhealthy. Well, the truth is, if it isn’t certified organic, then there is a high possibility that your child’s food contains genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, nitrates and other unnatural additives and fillers.

The Concerns

From evidence collected over the past decade, scientists indicate that consuming an enormous amount of unlabeled GM foods carries a risk of weight gain, organ disruption and triggering life-threatening allergic reactions. According to the Royal Society of Canada, “The potentially widespread use of GM food products as food additives and staple foods, including use in baby foods, may lead to earlier introduction of these chemicals.” GMO products are found most ubiquitously in the American diet in tomatoes, soy-based products and all forms of corn from corn syrup to corn starch to corn oil to corn meal and just plain corn — in addition to several other foods.

GMO products first started in the mid-1990s. When Calgene first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato, there was excitement for both producers and consumers. GMOs are created when a gene from one species is introduced into another and creates something that is not found in nature. GMOs have been linked as a causative factor in tumor production in rats and mice and their health consequences associated with humans. Many scientists worry that the genes from the bacteria that transfer these “desirable genes” will mutate and get into the bacteria within our system and wreak havoc.

Will we know what’s in our food anytime soon?

Connecticut’s decision to pioneer in an effort to require labeling on genetically modified foods may or may not spark other states to follow suit. Signing the GMO labeling bill into law on June 25th, 2013 did not declare it immediately effective for CT. Four other states must also enact similar legislation, with one of those states sharing a border with Connecticut and the northeastern states (ME, VT, NY, PA, MA, RI, NJ, NH) and combining for more than 20 million in population. Is this truly a possibility for Connecticut and other states, considering the heavily solidified bond between governmental agencies and these corporate manufacturing moguls?

Getting all states on board

The way we got here is because of agribusiness. The fear is that both Democrats and Republicans would be hesitant to rock the genetically modifying giant, Monsanto, off its “genetically-modified” apple cart. We live in a country where, by and large, we don’t know everything that is or isn’t in our food. We have a right to know, but will this ever happen, considering the fact that universities are receiving “corporate funding” from these GMO food producing companies to do these kinds of “safety tests?” Dozens of U.S. Senators confer about the fragmentation of GMO labeling if it were to be passed state-by-state. They adamantly claim, “Food labeling is an issue the FDA should tackle.” Yet the FDA has been known to be connected and sell out to corporate interests before.

Youth standing up against GMO products

Informing the American people about what “GMO” means is a start and making GMO labeling required at a state-by-state level will catapult our society out of the dark on what we are eating. While the FDA may have concluded that GMOs do not pose a “reasonable threat” to humans, we should ask ourselves the questions, “Why did 27 countries ban GMOs?” “Do they know something we don’t know?” Ask anti-GMO teen activist Rachel Parent her viewpoint on this topic, as she opposed an incredulous Kevin O’Leary while being interviewed on his popular CBC Business News Program, “The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.” She professed, “I am for responsible science and ethical progress. Science that’s proven safe by not the very same companies that stand to gain by their [GMO crops] approval.” It’s time for America to become a free society by being informed through credible scientific evidence to the potential dangers of GMO foods and how they can affect you and your child’s life.

Happy Discoveries!

The Importance of Drinking High Quality Water

Let’s talk about water, baby! Let’s talk about all the good things and the great things that make water…well…so amazing! Drinking the proper amount of water is important for a wide variety of cellular processes that take place inside your body and is necessary for optimal body functioning. The fact is that you lose water every day without even knowing it. You expel water when you breathe, speak, cough, sneeze, and sweat. While the typical eight 8-ounce glasses of recommended daily water may be beneficial for some people, others who regularly exercise, or work and live in hot climates, should drink a gallon or 128 ounces of water daily. Also make sure that your water is pure, filtered and free of harmful chemicals and store it in a glass bottle while on the go. Water in plastic bottles is not the best option since the chemicals from the bottles can leach into your precious drink and then into your tissues.

Benefits All Body Systems

Water is an essential nutrient that is fundamental for a wide variety of cellular processes that take place inside your body. As the primary fluid in the body, making up 60 to 70 percent, water plays important roles in digestion, absorption, transportation and the use of nutrients. It is the medium for body temperature regulation and the safe elimination of waste products.

From energy production to keeping your skin healthy to maintaining joint lubrication, staying hydrated is necessary for maintaining optimal operation of all body systems. Although your brain is only one-fiftieth of your body weight, it is 85 percent water. A water loss of as much as 1 percent of body weight can result in impaired physiological and performance responses. Dehydration plays a role in depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and migraines. Your brain utilizes hydro-electrical energy created by the water drive of the energy-generated pumps. With dehydration, the level of energy generation is decreased, thus leading to a depressed brain function.

Prevents Diseases and Ailments

Water has a significant influence on health and disease. Dehydration may compromise body temperature regulation, disturb various enzymatic and chemical reactions, alter cellular concentrations of fluids and prevent the removal of toxins, which can lead to various health problems. Drinking a gallon of water a day helps reduce joint pain by keeping cartilage hydrated. Water is a natural diuretic that flushes out waste and harmful bacteria from your body. Staying hydrated can reduce the risk of many different cancers and plays a fundamental role in strengthening your immune system.

Curbs Calories

Drinking a gallon of water every day aids in burning fat and building muscle. Water suppresses the appetite and aids in fat metabolism. When you are sufficiently hydrated, your kidneys are able to burn more fat as fuel because your liver is able to metabolize stored fat more efficiently. When dehydration occurs, your body senses a lack of water and attempts to hold onto every bit as a survival mechanism. This causes swollen hands, feet and legs.

Considerations

Because sodium is lost through sweat, drinking excessive amounts during endurance activities can result in a rare but potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia. Sodium levels in your body become diluted. Consequently, your body’s water levels elevate and cells begin to expand, which can be dangerous for your organs. Individuals with kidney problems may have difficulty removing extra fluids from their body. A low-sodium, high water diet can also impair the homeostatic balance between sodium and fluids in your blood.

Happy Discoveries!

Sources:

Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Water: An Essential but Overlooked Nutrient: Susan Kleiner, Ph.D.: 1999

Dorchester Health: The Health Benefits of Water

Golden West Medical Center, P.C.: Importance of Drinking Water: Donald Robertson, M.D., and Carol Robertson

MayoClinic.com: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?

How to Talk to Your Teen So They Listen

When things are going great, it is easier to have an open conversation with a child. For that matter, it is easier to have a conversation with anyone. We should take heed of this notion and have the tough conversations about those “scary” topics such as sex, drinking, drugs, and smoking when times aren’t so tough. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may be an understatement, but it can be applied for effectively communicating with your child. We know that getting through to a teenager who is boiling over with anger and feels on the defense when “no one understands them” can be quite challenging and often lead to an argument.

Statements to avoid with teens

“You shouldn’t do this.”

“Don’t do this.”

“Why did you do something like that?”

When kids make mistakes

Kids are going to make mistakes and making statements to them about “what they did wrong” will often turn them off and be met with an eye roll or a shrug of the shoulders at the very least. Providing appropriate feedback to a child who has made a poor choice may not be something your child wants to hear or something you feel comfortable doing, but is absolutely essential in your child’s development and something that must be done!

Phrasing things in the positive and infusing the word “AND” followed by constructive criticism will help your child know that they are capable to make good choices and become better people. It provides the self-reflection that adolescents oftentimes don’t yet know how to do for themselves when they make unfavorable choices for their well-being.

Address the behavior, not the person

Use statements that address the behavior. Avoid attacking personal qualities of a child, especially if they are linked to their intelligence, as that can be very destructive.

DON’T SAY: “You always do poorly on tests. You just don’t get it. You have to study more for tests.”

SAY: “You’re a very smart kid, AND you could have put in more effort for this test. So next time you know that putting in consistent effort for studying for tests or asking the teacher for extra help beforehand will get you a much better result.”

Caution: If you use the word “BUT” instead of “AND”, the child only hears what comes after the word “BUT”.

If you say: “You’re a very smart kid, BUT you made some poor choices,” then your child only registers “I made some poor choices.”

Be assertive, yet display kindness

Your goal is to effectively communicate your point to your child so they make better choices and become better people. But before they can take your advice, they will have to be open to listening to you. That comes with trust and the feeling that they will not be judged or criticized, but rather loved and respected. Pointing out mistakes to your child with a calm, assertive voice and using encouraging statements provides an opportunity for your child to see that you respect them and also empowers them to learn from their mistakes, solve their own problems, and avoid making these decisions next time.

Be willing to listen to your child’s concerns as well. This will help avoid unnecessary power struggles and can open up communication lines. Showing a willingness to hear their point of view all the way through shows them that you respect their opinion and is a great way to encourage your child to listen to you. If you are looking to transform your relationship with your child and help them make smart choices to reach their full potential, click here to receive two complimentary chapters of my book “THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO RAISING TEENS AND TWEENS: STRATEGIES FOR UNLOCKING YOUR CHILD’S FULL POTENTIAL.”

Happy Discoveries!

Mya McLure Activity Book

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