Put First Things First

Do you get frustrated having to say “no” often to your children? What if you taught them that your “no” was really saying “yes” and you are putting first things first?  When we say “no”, most of the time it means “YES” to something more important. Yes to healthier choices, habits, and relationships. Putting first things first in life means that we are choosing to put lesser things to later and first things to sooner.  Remind your children this week that your “no” is really a loving yes to the better version of them. Our no’s and yes’s reflect our values and when we are clear about what we value in life “no” is often the perfect and right thing to say.

One of my favorite lessons in the Middle School Pathways program is the rocks and sand exercise (see the Pickle Jar video link). It is a clear metaphor for getting our priorities straight and finding ways to be more intentional about our life and likely, being able to achieve more than we may have thought possible. Happy and successful people are great at spending their time and talent on what is most important to them; heart, mind, body, and soul.

Help your children to examine their “firsts” by asking them about each of the AACA colors:

  • Heart  – Who are the most important people in your life?
  • Mind  – What topics do you enjoy learning about most?
  • Body- How do you like to spend time physically? (favorite sports, hobbies… )
  • Soul – Why are you so special?

The other important message tied to this week’s habit is knowing what is important and urgent, and what is important but not urgent. Sorting the tasks and activities in our lives between these two ideas helps to keep our plates from feeling too heavy and full. I have attached a simple guide that may support our families in organizing our week/month and helping us to be intentional about our time and talents. I encourage you to print it, talk about it, and decide as a family how you can best use the precious asset of your time.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Goethe


Finding Our Rutter

It may be the start of the school year, but it’s time to begin with the end in mind. Does your family have a rutter? A rutter is a mariner’s handbook of written sailing directions. Before the advent of nautical charts, rutters were the primary store of geographic information for maritime navigation. Ironically, it’s the rudder that steers the boat.
If we are going to be proactive we need to determine where we want our actions to lead us. Someone once said that if you have no direction, any direction will do. Unfortunately, there are too many directions in this world that can lead us right into a life of misery and unhappiness. We began the year with the five TeRRiFiC citizenship traits because we were beginning with the end in mind.
If you stop to think about the hopes and dreams you have for your children, they likely have to do with integrity and strong character. People we respect most and are great leaders can be trusted, are respectful, act responsibly, play fair, and care for our fellow man. Success and happiness stands on a foundation of strong character. While we Grow Great Kids! it is essential that we help to lay that foundation and build everything else on top of it. When our lives are grounded on sound principles, the direction we move and live guides us toward a happier and more successful life.
There is an old saying that “living without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder”. A ship worries on top of the water without direction and can easily lose its way when the rudder isn’t in the water. A captain with a hand on the rudder guides it to its destination. It’s way too easy in our modern society to get caught up in an abundance of things to do, thoughts to think, and places to go. Without a rudder directed by our principles, we can easily stray from our course. Guided by the end in mind and strengthened with the power of positive principles, each and every child can achieve the success they seek and deserve.
Heart – Talk about your favorite hero and the principles they live by.
Mind – Develop a personal or family mission statement that describes your values, roles, and goals.
Body – Set a specific goal for a favorite skill, sport, or hobby.
Soul – Consider what kind of person you want to be and list 3-5 activities that will help you to be that person.
Writing a Family Mission Statement
Have you ever considered writing a personal or family mission statement? We wrote a family mission statement over twenty five years ago and it continues to guide us to this day. Mission statements identify our values, roles, and goals. They provide direction and guidance in the midst of a very fickle world. Stating this mission and hanging it somewhere in our homes helps us to sow the thoughts regularly and act accordingly. I have created a simple guide to help you write our mission statement (see attached). You likely have a strong sense of the mission of your family, but writing it down and making it readily available can help keep your family focused especially when days are difficult.
Learning Links

Be Proactive – Take a Knee

Proactive parenting is a positive approach to nurturing the best versions of our kids. Reactive parenting causes our kids to retreat and fear failure. How we respond to the ups and downs of everyday parenting may be the most critical element of successful parenting. With patient, persistent, and positive guidance our children will trust that the directions and correction we give will guide them to happier and more successful lives. Consider the formula of E + R = O.  An event plus our response will create an outcome. When our responses are negative to negative events, the outcome is only going to be more negative. Do the math:
-2 + -2 = -4
-2 + 0 = -2
-2 + 2 = 0
-2 + 4 = 2
The trick to this math is to pause between the event (E) and your response (R). Using the “paus-itivity button” can help us to create a proactive response instead of a reactive one. I encourage you to pause when you are peeved and listen with understanding and empathy. Take a knee! I used this example with the kids this morning at Shared Start. When a player is injured on the field we take a knee and pause while the player gets back on their feet. Then we applaud their courage to play on. It also means to get down to their eye level and express understanding and empathy. Listening with understanding and empathy is a part of our emotional intelligence (EQ). Did you know that our EQ has a much more profound effect on success than our IQ? It is reported that 85% of success can be attributed to our human relationship skills versus 15% due to our technical knowledge.
In other words, how we speak to our children has a much more profound effect on parenting than what we speak to our children. Whether the goal is to get out the door in the morning, finishing a meal, sharing with a sibling, or getting ready for bed, our willingness and ability to listen carefully will determine how well we maintain our composure and how cooperative our children will act. Empathy is a powerful tool in any relationship. Using our two ears and one mouth proportionally, will always improve relationships.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother (or father), and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill
“If you judge people, you have not time to love them.” – Mother Teresa
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson
Learning Links
Developmental Asset #2 – Positive Family Communication

Tips for building this asset (Positive Communication) also means listening to a young person’s perspective, not to advocate your position. Be available when young people need you—and even when they think they don’t. Take good care of yourself so when your children want to talk, you can give them your full attention. Also try these In your home and family:

Make it easy for your child to spend time talking with you. Keep an extra stool or chair in the kitchen, den, home office, or workshop area. When you’re in the car together is a great time to chat, too.In your neighborhood and community: Ask young people you know caring questions, such as: What was the best thing about school today? What was the best act in the talent show? Why? Listen to their answers and respond accordingly. In your school or youth program: During parent meetings, discuss the importance of positive communication between parents and children.

NC school introduces new student leadership program

Almond Acres Charter Academy is the first school in the county to introduce a unique student leadership program, Leader in Me, for the 2018-19 school year.  

The Leader in Me initiative will integrate leadership development into existing school programs, curricula, and traditions.  Leader in Me is an inside-out approach that is evidence-based, empowering students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive. It’s based on the premise that every child possesses unique strengths and has the ability to be a leader, thus improving relationships, transforming culture, and motivating staff and students alike.

Centered around Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, students will focus on skills that nourish the heart (socialization, service, empathy, synergy), the mind (reading, visualizing, planning, writing),  the body (exercise, nutrition, stress management, balanced life), and the soul (value clarification, commitment, reflection, perspective).

“The Leader in Me program encourages problem-solving skills that affect not only the student and the school, but also the community.  When students have the confidence to know that they can make a difference, they do make a difference,” said Bob Bourgault, Executive Director of Almond Acres. “Leaders are followers of what is good, true, and right.”

Via: Paso Robles Press