A Child’s Wisdom

Kids. We can learn a lot from kids.  Sometimes kids are our teachers.  As adults, if we listen…truly listen, talk, ask questions…we find that yes, indeed they are the ones who are wise.

This pix is a summary of a conversation with my 9 y.o. son.  It happened tonight.  He’s an amazing kid. No bias, of course. When I told him of my plan to post as an unedited blog, he calmly said, “That’s great, Mom. I hope it helps a thousand people.  Yeah, a thousand.  That would be nice.”

So, if reading our conversation helps you, moves you, does something positive for you (and I hope it does)…please leave a comment. I’ll be sure to show him.

All my best, Dr. Deb


Mindfulness, Parenting, and Rewards: What We Can Learn from Young George Washington

In today’s world, it seems like everyone gets a reward.  Kids get rewarded for just showing up.  Heck, attend any kid’s birthday party and even the guests receive a gift.  I’ve done this myself…those outrageous goodie bags – when did that start, anyhow?

Back to rewards. As parents, what do we reward?  Do we reward our kids being honest or for telling a lie?  When asking kids a question, and they tell us the truth, what’s our reaction and response? Do we yell and scold them for telling the truth or encourage kids to lie just so they don’t get into trouble?

When kids are scolded and criticized for telling the truth they are more than likely to tell a lie the next time.  Why?  Because if kids aren’t caught telling a lie, then there’s 50/50 chance of not being scolded and criticized. Not getting caught resulting in not getting scolded, criticized, and “in trouble” is worth the risk.

What are the parental messages to a child?  They are mixed.  Tell the truth and get punished. OR tell a lie and get away with it…that means no punishment.  However, tell a lie and get caught telling a lie, and then get punished.  These last two support a 50/50 chance of not getting punished.

When you were a child, which did you do? What did your parents reward? What did we learn from our parents?  If you were your kid, what would you do…tell  a lie or be honest? (now be  honest).



Let’s look at this another way.  A mindful way.  Using practical mindfulness.  What can we learn about rewards and mindful parenting from President George Washington? Plenty!  What would happen if a parent was mindful about rewards….being in the present moment, as things unfold, aware of their reactions, responses, rewards…and yes, what they’re teaching their kids (and future generations too).  What if we were mindful about what to rewarded…and decided to reward a child for telling the truth?  This does not mean accept what was done or what’s being inquired as okay, but rather reward for telling the truth and be mindful of how we communicate and share with our child in that very moment.

Let’s learn from good ole’ George Washington who when asked by his father if he chopped down the cherry tree replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my little hatchet.” Did George’s father yell or scorn at little George?  No, he did not.  Instead, (as legend says) George’s father opened his arms, hugged, and held George saying, “My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees!” George Washington’s father was angry about his prized tree being chopped down but rewarded George for telling the truth. George told the truth and got rewarded.  George’s dad responded mindfully; he responded to what was important to him and also taught young George a lesson about courage, honesty, bravery, compassion, relationships, and love.

If we were in George’s dad’s shoes….what would we have done?  What have we done?  What do we and have we taught our children about rewards?  About honesty?

Communicating and sharing dissatisfaction of an event can be done using practical mindfulness with our word choices, awareness of tone and inflection, facial expressions, and body language. In as much, at the same time a parent can be mindful and be like George’s father and reward their child for telling the truth, being brave and having courage to tell the truth, and feeling safe to tell the truth.

So, the next time your child does something and you ask them, “Did you do this?” be mindful of what you are supporting to reward: honesty or a lie?  Do you open your arms and praise for honesty or scorn with criticism and punishment?

Be aware that these suggestions will be new for you and your kids to experience.  Give them a try.  See what happens.  Their reaction and response might be very telling, surprising, and open up an entire new way that the family can relate to rewards.

We welcome your comments – share with us your thoughts and if you’ve tried our practical mindfulness tips designed to use anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

Mindful Parenting













As parents, we are busy.  We are busy working, busy taking care of our families, busy with our kid’s activities, busy caring for our home/cooking/cleaning, busy with the endless to-do list…whew!  Just thinking about all of the things we do and are responsible for is exhausting.

With all the stress and stressors (those things or situations that cause us to become stressed) and our reactions to stressors and work-life demands, how are we being mindful parents?  How can we use practical mindfulness to help us be better parents? Here are a few tips:

First, let’s take a look at mindlessness.  We’ve heard this term and it’s often associated with other terms such as: autopilot, zombie, and zoning out. When have we been in this type of state? When and how are we and have we been mindless?

Mindless ranges from autopilot examples such as not hearing the kids (tuning them out) to over scheduling activities (yeah, keeping up with who again?) to emotionally and physically abandoning our kids (this is an unfortunate reality for many children). So, how do we overcome mindlessness? 

  • Be honest with yourself and identify how often we ignore our kids?  Are there certain triggers or activities that we tend to do this more often?  Less often?
  • How many activities are scheduled?  How do our choices support the well-being of everyone in the family…this includes parents too!
  • How often do I walk away or just leave them alone? Is this to collect my thoughts or is it something more?

Second, let’s take a look at patterns.  As the saying goes, history will repeat itself. Do we treat our kids the way that our parents treated us?  Do we yell?  Do we use criticize?  Did we like being treated “that” way as a kid?  Chances are you didn’t – and yet, we often repeat what we’ve learned and what was done to us. But we are adults, and can pave a new path for us and our kids.

So, how can we overcome these patterns?

  • Use the Golden Rule and identify how we would want to be treated and do that instead of what we “know.”
  • Instead of reacting, take a pause (count to 10) and rethink a reaction into a response.
  • Listen with full attention and talk. Yeah, talk it out. Share with your kids.  Tell them what’s going on. Kids are really smart and you just might be really surprised by the outcome and closeness of what happens when we get real with our kids. For example, share with them that you didn’t like getting yelled at as a kid and that we can do differently. Also, get kids on board with solutions! Ask them what they want, share what you want and have a discussion and come to a joint-decision of how to come to a solution.

Third, be positive!  Turn negative statements and comments around. For example, instead of saying “Johnnie, don’t forget your backpack” replace it with “Johnnie, remember your backpack.” One statement supports “forgetting” and the other statement supports “remembering.” Here are a few Instead Of Phrases (Left Side)…Use Phrases (Right Side):

Don’t run.                                           Please walk.

Don’t use your fingers.                       Please use your table manners.

Stop yelling.                                        Please talk in a calm voice.

Don’t let it fall out.                                I hope it stays in.

Don’t dirty your clothes.                      Keep your clothes clean.

By mindfully turning a negative statement into a positive statement, we are communicating, sharing, and encouraging our kids the behaviors we want and not putting the spotlight on the ones we do not.  Also, focusing on the appreciative and gratitude goes a long way – we all crave and love praise!

Try out these uses of practical mindfulness.  Try out one for a day and notice the changes; no matter how small – a change is a change.  Then continue doing it for another day….and then try adding another practical mindfulness tip to use.

Make using practical mindfulness into something fun (a game) for everyone in the family to participate! Keep track and tally up at the end of the day the number of noticed changes then celebrate…a pizza, ice cream, movie night, a visit to an arcade…

Finally, be kind to yourself. Parenting is joyous and it’s tough.  Remember to be kind to yourself (say positive things to you too!).  By using some (or all) of these practical mindfulness tips, we can make become mindful parents.

Please share a comment!