Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Gift-giving love languages

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: washington

Amy Johnson

As we embrace the holidays, many of us choose to focus on gratitude, and we work to help our children do the same.

If you are familiar with the Five Love Languages (, you know that each of us has a preferred way to receive expressions of love.  I’d take that a step further and say that gratitude is a way of expressing our love and care for someone. When you are looking for gifts this year, keep your child’s love language in mind.  Check the website for information on how to tell what love language someone has.

If one person prefers physical touch as their love language, they might like to be held, have their head stroked, or receive gifts that are touch-oriented, like a soft pillow, blanket or sweater.

Sometimes it's hard to be kind

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: thanksgiving

Amy Johnson


Last time, I wrote about hearing something on the radio that touched me.  Here is another story from that same radio station and show.  (  This story is near the end of hour four).

The host was describing an experience with a friend who delivered canned goods to people in a housing project in the Washington DC area during the holidays.  One time, he went along with his friend.  They took a wagon with shopping bags, each holding a turkey, some potatoes and vegetables, and a pumpkin pie.  They went unannounced, and people were sometimes angry and overwhelmed, and sometimes grateful.

Living without regrets

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: washington

Amy Johnson

Recently, I was listening to the radio on my way to yoga.  The hosts were discussing gratitude and moved to a story about a hospice nurse, who was sharing her wisdom from over 25 years doing her work.  She mentioned that people often die the way they live.  Some people are grateful and peaceful, others are resentful and angry. You can read or listen to the story here:

What struck me, though, was her advice about five things we should say before we die.  They are:

  1. Thank you
  2. I love you
  3. I’m sorry
  4. Please forgive me
  5. Goodbye


Advocate, Advocate, Advocate

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: child advocate

Amy Johnson

If your child has special needs, and is part of the special education system, then you are probably familiar with meeting with school team members at least yearly to review your child’s progress and create new goals.  Advocate for your child as much as possible.  Be sure to share new information from home, the pediatrician, or other professionals working with your child in order to give the educators as complete a picture as possible. 

If you need help, consider contacting a parent advocacy agency, such as PAVE (in Washington State— Many states have advocacy organizations for parents of children with different disabilities.  Some will even attend school meetings with you to make sure your child is getting all the services to which he or she is entitled.

Most of all, trust your intuition.  If you believe your child is having trouble learning, continue talking to professionals in order to find out what might be the culprit.  Here are some people to consider consulting:

Daily Debrief

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: washington

Amy Johnson

Take some time each day to debrief with your child about his or her day.  Avoid saying, “So, how was your day?” if you routinely get a one word answer, like “Good” or “OK.”

 Instead, try some open ended questions like these:

  • What was the best thing that happened to you today?
  • What was the worse thing that happened to you today?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened to you today?
  • Who did you sit by at lunch?
  • With whom did you play at recess?  What did you do?
  • Which subject was the most interesting today?  What interested you about it?
  • What is one way in which you were kind to someone today?
  • What’s one really great choice you made today?
  • How were you helpful/respectful/honest/hardworking today?
  • What’s one thing you did really well?
  • What’s one thing you wish you would have done differently?
  • How could you do that differently in the future?

 Be willing to answer the question yourself, too, if your child asks.  You can also check into some games that are available for conversation starters.  Use them in the car or at the dinner table.  Give everyone a chance to participate, and watch your connections with each other grow.

Beware of Overscheduling

Posted by: Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Today’s children are often overscheduled, creating stress for both parents and students. It’s important for parents to discern which activities they are signing up their children for and why. With older children and teens, allowing choice is great, but helping them to understand what is a reasonable amount to take on is equally important.

With young children, remember that their work is play. Directing it too much can impinge on their creativity. Some cities are even moving to more creative playground options, where the children actually build the play structure themselves with a kit of foam blocks and other materials (see:,9171,2007398,00.html).Providing opportunities for this type of play encourages problem-solving, cooperation, assertiveness, and creativity.

Older children and teens need down time, too. Boredom for them is often a precursor to coming up with a creative idea. Too much down time and too much boredom can lead to poor choices and poor use of impulsivity, but allowing some unstructured time for most children and teens is not a bad thing.


Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: homework help

Amy Johnson

Establishing a few routines can seem like a lot of upfront work.  However, if you stick with it and keep them fairly simple, routines can make transitions around the house run much smoother during hectic mornings and afternoons.

 First, do as much as you possibly can the night before.  Help your child get in the habit of choosing what he or she will wear the night before, and laying it out.  Have your child bathe or shower at night, and gather everything he or she needs for the next day before going to bed.  Designate a spot for things that need to go to school, and get it all there the night before.  If your child brings lunch, prepare as much of that as possible the night before, too.

 Also designate a spot for where stuff goes when it comes into your home in the afternoon.  Do you have a place for backpacks?  Help your child learn to clean out his or her lunchbox and put it where it’s ready to be refilled.  Create a place for papers that need to be looked at or signed by you.


Posted by: Amy Johnson

Tagged in: washington

Amy Johnson

One of the many things students learn when they go to school is that rules can be different in different places.  The rules in their classroom may differ from ones they must adhere to at home.  The rules in the cafeteria may be different from the school playground, and the rules in the gym will certainly be different from those in the library. 

This is an important skill for children to learn.  While general rules, like respect and nonviolence can transcend location, other rules vary.  Children need to learn to respect and follow the rules in the place where they are, whether it is at home, at school, at a friend’s home, at church, at a sporting event or another extracurricular club.

If your child is having difficulty in this area, talk to him or her.  Ask which rules are different in some of the areas mentioned above.   Ask them if they are harder or easier to follow in one place than another.  Find out if he or she is uncomfortable with a certain rule, and explore why that may be.  You can also play a game where you ask your child what rules he or she would make if she or he were king or queen.  Then follow their logic. “What might happen if everyone to the people who want to read if everyone could dance and sing in the library?”  “How would the children learn if the teacher couldn’t talk?”

School may be fun some of the time, but other times, school is work.  If we tell our children to “have fun” every day, they may expect to be entertained at school all of the time. 

While good teachers use a variety of methods to reach the different learning styles and abilities of the students in their classrooms, there are times when students need to work hard, and it may not be fun. 

Depending on your child’s innate abilities, their skill level and interests, and their connection with their teacher, he or she may find different parts of their school day fun.  Your child may enjoy reading, art, science, or recess more than another time of day. 

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