Saturday, December 12, 2015

Most Effective Ways to Praise and Motivate Girls (and Boys too I Bet!)

From A Mighty Girl:

'Dweck, one of the world's leading researchers in the field of motivation, has found that there is a strong praise paradox for girls: "What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.”'

Additional Resources:
Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick by By Katrina Schwartz, April 24th, 2013 on MindShift

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Matters...

As we enter into the holiday season, well just about any season really, these are good reminders about being great to our precious ones, especially when our stress level runs high.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Our Children Need

This is such a great article about what our children really need from us!  We want to grow children with imagination and creativity, who know how to build relationships, and who care for the environment.  Play is the work of children and too often we leave them alone with gadgets and electronics (and you know I love technology...but I love to play so much more!).  Please do take a moment, this article is worth a read~

4 Things Your Children Absolutely Do Not Need (and What to Give Them Instead)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Sign of Great Parenting

As a young parent, I was consumed with what my children did.  Certainly some of the concern was centered around their health and safety, but much of it was centered on my need for their compliance.  A wise mentor, observing my parenting style, casually commented "You know, when they are little, we can make them do things because we are bigger and more powerful.  But as they get bigger and faster, we really can't make them do anything.  Some parents try to use baits and guilt, but in the end, we have to rely on our ability to influence them and not to control them.  That's why it's the relationship we build that truly matters."

Her wisdom deeply influenced my parenting philosophy.  Am I expressing care by my action?  "Oh, that sounds rough!  I am in the middle of cooking dinner but I can listen if you want to tell me more about it?  Am I expressing my confidence in them?  "Go ahead, climb!  I am right here!"  Am I expressing how much I value their independent thinking?  "Huh...I didn't see it that way, but explain that to me again..."

Let's not worry about what others think but wrap our hearts around the connection between us and our children.  No matter how old they are, they will always need to feel safe enough to dock back home.  No matter how successful they are, they may still need to rely on our influence.  "May" being the key let's stay connected, just in case.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


"Little people with BIG feelings don't need a piece of your mind.  They need your peace of mind."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Teaching Tolerance and Respect for Diversity

How silence can breed prejudice: A child development professor explains how and why to talk to kids about race by Brigitte Vittrup

Talking to our children about topics such as race, disability, and other differences can be uncomfortable.  It is, however, extremely important if we want to build a positive community and gift them with positive life skills.  This article by Brigitte Vittrup shares a few good ideas including sample script for responding to different situations such as a child's observation regarding the patrons at a restaurant and meeting an inter-racial couple for the first time.

“Actually, this is a Thai restaurant, so maybe some of them are from Thailand. It’s a different country than China, and they even speak a different language.”

“When you love someone, it doesn’t matter what color they are” or “Friends come in all colors. As long as they’re nice, they can be your friend.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

20 Things I Have Learned Since My Son Was Diagnosed With Autism

"A diagnosis is just a label" so some people say, it provides helpful information they explain.  It may be so for some, but when a label is put on our children, it strikes a note, sometimes a chord deep in our beings.  The label can be something simple such as tall or shy, or something closer to home like energetic or strong-willed.  When the preschool lead teacher told me that my daughter was precocious, I went home and cried because I could not make sense of the word in relation to my precious child and I wondered if I was doing something terribly wrong.

We do that, mothers, blame ourselves for just about everything.  When it comes to something deeper like a learning profile or a medical condition, the impact runs so deep and it is easy to feel very alone.  While this piece by Shawna Wingert does not provide a comprehensive view of what it feels like to be parents of children diagnosed with Autism, it does provide a sense of camaraderie and a little much needed chuckle for some.  

My favorite lines:
  • 13. Being a student of my child has helped me learn more than any book, therapist, or website. Differences in brain function can be really hard to understand for the neurotypical momma. The more I pay attention to how my son thinks and responds, the more I begin to understand.
  • 14. Autism makes my life weird sometimes. For example, I found myself in an aquarium store every single day last week. Every single day, for at least an hour a visit. It feels like a bizarre way to spend our time, but this is us, living our life well.

20 Things I Have Learned Since My Son Was Diagnosed With Autism by Shawna Wingert

Here's to living our life well!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom

Shared by one of our second grade parents: Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom by Motoko Rich.  Play is such a powerful concept.  Even as grown ups, we enjoy people who are playful and we attain new knowledge better when the learning environment is fun.  These two quotes sum up the concept well:

“People think if you do one thing you can’t do the other,” said Nell Duke, a professor of education at the University of Michigan. “It really is a false dichotomy.”

“Before we had the water table because it was fun and kids liked it,” she said. “Now we have the water table so kids can explore how water moves and actually explore scientific ideas.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 30 is Pay it Forward Day!

50 Easy Pay it Forward Day Kindness Ideas:

  1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
  2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  3. Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
  4. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
  5. Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
  6. Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
  7. Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
  8. Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
  9. Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
  10. Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
  11. Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
  12. Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
  13. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  14. Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
  15. Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
  16. Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
  17. Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
  18. Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
  19. Place a positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
  20. Smile at five strangers.
  21. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
  22. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
  23. Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
  24. Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
  25. Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
  26. Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
  27. Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
  28. Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
  29. Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
  30. Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
  31. Have a clean up party at a beach or park.
  32. While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  33. Leave a kind server the biggest tip you caƄn afford.
  34. When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
  35. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  36. Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
  37. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
  38. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
  39. Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
  40. Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
  41. Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
  42. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
  43. Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
  44. Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
  45. Run an errand for a family member who is busy.
  46. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  47. Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
  48. Put your phone away while in the company of others.
  49. Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
  50. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Healthy Technology Use Speaker Series - Notes from March 25th, 2015

Courtesy of a Lowell school parent:

March 25 Recap
The first event featured Laura Indigo who led us through mindfulness activities for adults and children and Jon Mattleman who framed the problem of the hidden and emotional consequences of the Internet and digital space. Mindfulness activities help us—whether we are 5 or 95—reconnect to our feelings, thoughts, and bodies. Even a few minutes of mindfulness can return a child or adult to a powerful feeling of wellbeing. Jon agreed that while technology is incredible, if we feel compelled to be connected24/7, we are losing out on personal human-to-human relationships, time for reflection, and calmness in our lives. Our goal is healthy connections online and offline too.

Some of Jon’s core messages:
  • Digital platforms magnify the toughest part of adolescence. Too much exposure to the wrong messages can be humiliating and scary, negatively impact self-esteem, and induce anxiety, isolation and lead to self-harm.
  • Many kids do not understand the permanence of what you put online. If you put a nasty statement or an indecent photo online, it never goes away.
  • Due to the developing brain, kids are not great decision makers. Technology takes away the ability of kids to make bad decisions without the aftereffects haunting them.
  • Technology and risky behaviors are intricately linked. Digital access increases the risk of drinking, drugging and sex. Kids communicate their worst emotions online, leaving their friends unsure how to respond and filled with anxiety.
  • Cyberbullying is real and the majority of middle and high school students do not tell their parents about it.
What to do?
  • Set limits. Reduce exposure. Whether your child is 1 or 15, make rules. If you pay for a phone, you can take it away.
  • Even if you feel as though you have lost control, you can decide to get it back any day. Children are minors and require parental direction.
  • Put a family contract in place regardless of your children’s ages. For example, technology can only be used in common areas of a home; school work first; no technology before school; no technology at the dinner table; phones are not allowed if you have sleep overs.
  • Talk to kids about technology. Have you used this app? What do you like about your favorite app? Have you heard of problems? What would you do if…?
  • Talk with your family about healthy technology use. What do you do that you enjoy and that is health promoting?
  • Have tech-free times. Unplug. Try mindfulness activities.
  • Model appropriate behavior.
  • Stem the tide of over use by talking with your kids’ friends’ parents. Do not go it alone. Build safe communities with other parents, schools, teachers, coaches, extended family members, friends, and others. Share this recap with family and friends!
About the series
Special thanks to Watertown Community Foundation for making this series possible. The series is a collaborative effort between local parents, Watertown Public Schools, the Watertown Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC), the Watertown Boys and Girls Club, Wayside Youth and Family Services, the Watertown Youth Coalition, Live Well Watertown, the Watertown Education Foundation and Families for Depression Awareness.

Go to to find a library of resources and share your tips on reducing screen time and helping your children stay safe when they are online. "Like" our page to stay in touch.

The Healthy Technology Speaker Series Committee

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February is a time many of us pay special attention to our relationships as the piles of heart-shaped candies remind us of our need to be connected.  In a 2014 article, "Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to 2 Basic Traits", Emily Esfahani Smith at The Atlantic cited two important dynamics in successful relationships.  The first is the responsiveness partners show each other when one asks for the attention of another in conversation or in observation of something interesting.  Basically, this is the putting down of the iPad, looking up, and engaging in what is termed in the research "bid" for attention.  The second is choosing to be kind in the relationship, even during a conflict.  Julie Gottman, one of the researchers, speaks of kindness not only as an internal character trait, but also as a muscle which can be built.  The more we practice acts of kindness, the more acts of kindness will become a natural response.

Although the research cited are conducted between married couples, these ideas translate to parenting and friendships.  Many of us experience the universal phenomenon of a child asking for attention when we are in the middle of cooking dinner.  The times when I placate them with half acknowledgements tend to result in greater demands for my attention.  The times when I push aside the stress of dinner deadline, turn off the stove, get on her eye level and give her the five minutes she needs, often lead to a better evening.  Even now, as the teenager bid for my attention, if I close the laptop and turn around to give her my full attention, she leaves with a little bounce in her steps.  (Which incidentally is why this entry has taken three tries to complete!)

The topic of kindness, on the other hand, deserves it's own entry.  For now an inspiring quote:  "Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for a kindness" ~Seneca~

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Watertown SEPAC - January Offering

JANUARY 8, 2015
6:30 pm
Watertown Middle School Auditorium 
The Watertown SEPAC is proud to offer
The Five Horsemen of Anger Management
Presented by Dr. David Perna and Dr. Elizabeth Barcewitz

This presentation focuses on the challenges to an individual's thought process that lead to anger episodes and interventions that tend to remedy these major concerns: Cognitive rumination, Poor reality testing, Impulsive decision-making, Cognitive Rigidity, and Pseudo-Paranoia.

Dr. Perna is a licensed psychologist who has an expertise in the treatment of child/adolescent anger management and its relationship to learning challenges.  He is the owner of Copernican Clinical Services, a group practice with offices in Lexington and Newton, MA. He works with families, schools, and various professionals in addition to running specialized anger management groups. He maintains an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School and is a Clinical Associate at McLean Hospital, the medical school’s largest psychiatric teaching facility.  He is the former Director of the Child/Adolescent Anger Management Program at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Barcewicz is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families. She is currently at theBrookline Community Mental Health Center working with children with a wide range of presentations. Dr. Barcewicz co-leads the Adolescent Anger Management Groups with Dr. Perna

*Childcare and refreshments will be provided