Gracious Losers

Winning Isn’t Everything

Being crowned Miss Universe would be a dream come true for girls around the world. Standing in the spotlight, hearing your name and receiving the crown is a moment unlike any other.

Having that crown taken away would be heartbreaking, humbling and humiliating. And that’s exactly what happened to Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, Sunday night in the Miss Universe pageant. As the shock factor wears off, there’s a teachable moment for our kids – how to be a gracious loser.

Most kids will have moments they need to be a gracious loser. Although they won’t be globally televised, they will be public moments – at a little league game, a swimming meet or a spelling bee. As parents, we can prepare them for these moments by focusing on a few simple, age-appropriate lessons:

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Toddler Temper Tantrums
First of all, don’t be surprised if your toddler starts kicking, yelling and crying over a simple game. It is very normal and appropriate for a 3-year-old to express his emotions physically rather than verbally. Calmly put the game away and remove your child from the situation. Once his emotions have calmed down, try talking about why he was so upset. Praise his victories by saying, “Even though you didn’t win this game, you did a great job coloring the picture earlier.” You may also want to focus on some non-competitive activities for a while.

Preschool Foul Play
Preschoolers – 3- and 4-year-olds – may start cheating or changing the rules so they can win the game. To fight against this, set clear expectations before you start playing. Games like Candyland are about luck, which is a difficult concept for preschoolers to understand. As you sit down to play, set the tone by saying something like, “We can’t control what the dice will land on, so let’s focus on following the rules and having fun together.” If your child starts to change the rules, take her aside and remind her that you can have a good time following the rules.

Adult Actions
As parents, we should model the behaviors we would like our kids to follow. Even if it’s all in fun, try to avoid trash-talking in front of the kids. We should also be careful of letting the kids win every time, which could set them up with unrealistic expectations. Letting your child lose will help teach him valuable lessons, like resilience and how to deal with disappointment. You can also model good sportsmanship by giving kids advice on how to play better in the future.

Remember – sports and games should be fun! Keep the focus on having a good time and learning, instead of only winning. If your child tells you about a game she played at school – ask her if he had fun or if he made new friends, instead of whether he won or lost. By setting these expectations at home, you’ll set the tone for a more gracious winner or loser at game time.

 

Homemade Holiday Gifts

Little Newtons Homemade Gifts FOX9 12 16 15What Grandma and Grandpa really want this year is something little hands put together themselves. Homemade gifts are always the most beloved presents under the tree, and making them together can be a learning experience for the kiddos. I talked with FOX9 about some thoughtful and useful gifts kids can make:
(click here to watch the interview)

Picture Placemats

Christmas Tree Apron

Holiday Calendar (#22)

Festive Wrappings

The Spirit of the Season

christmas lights

The man in the red suit brings a lot of joy, a lot of presents and sometimes a little confusion about the true meaning of the season. It can be tough to get kids thinking about giving as well as receiving when they’re bombarded with ads for toys and the frenzy of the shopping season.

Parents can change the course with a few intentional steps. These don’t have to be serious or boring. They can be fun, family activities!

Teach the Joy of Giving
As your kids are making their wish-list for Santa, have them make a gift-giving list as well. The gifts don’t have to cost money- a handmade gift can be fun to give and fun to get. (I have several ideas for ornaments in my previous blog entry!) While you’re putting together that craft or making cookies with your little one, talk about why you’re making these gifts. Who are they for, and how will they feel when they get them? You can shift the discussion to focus more on the fun and less on the gifts.

Make a Donation
Kids can learn a lot from donating to charity, whether it’s new or used. Make them part of the process by asking them to sort through their old toys and clothes to find what they no longer want or need. By describing to kids who will benefit from their donation, you can give them a greater appreciation for what they have. Another great idea is to let the kids pick out a new toy for Toys for Tots or another organization. Shopping for someone kids will never meet will really help the spirit of the season sink in.

Volunteer as a Family
There are plenty of worthy organizations that could use a little help during the holidays. Packing meals or serving at a food kitchen may take kids out of their comfort zone, but in a good way. It’s okay if the kids are nervous or uncertain at the beginning. Talk with them about what you’re doing, who you’re helping and why it’s so important. Kids are quick at adapting, and you’ll likely find they’re having a blast by the end of your volunteer shift and asking when you can do it again. Find an activity you all enjoy doing, and you can make it as much of a holiday tradition as opening the gifts on Christmas Day.

Make a Meal
There are so many learning experiences that come with cooking a meal. Kids learn how to measure ingredients, and they’re exposed to the idea of converting measurements even if they don’t do it themselves. Cooking is also a great opportunity to talk about what you have. Explain to the kids that you earn money at your job to pay for the food they eat every day, but not everyone is as fortunate. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but it helps plant a seed in their brains. Not to mention, cooking can be a lot of fun for both kids and parents alike!

No matter how you choose to celebrate the season, I hope it’s very merry! Happy holidays to all!

Crafty Holiday Ornaments with Kids

Lil Newtons  12.9.15 on Vimeo

By making ornaments as a family, you’re creating more than something festive to hang on your tree – you’re creating memories! Kids naturally love doing art projects, and it’s important in developing the right side of the brain. I talked with FOX9 about the benefits of crafting with kids and shared some fun projects for families to do together:
Click here to watch the interview

Block Ornaments

Candy Cane Reindeer

Popsicle Stick Christmas Trees

Pinecone Outdoor Ornaments

Cheerio Bird Feeders