A Better Way to Teach Kids Emotional Intelligence – Books About Feelings

My son Blake is a spirited child, a boy full of passion but does not like to hear the sound ‘no’. Teaching him to regulate his emotions better has always been a challenge. When he is in the middle of a tantrum, he is too upset to listen to anything; when the tantrum is over, talking to a four year old about how to better behave next time has been very ineffective, at least for us. We were lost until a friend told us about these: books about feelings.

Our favourites are:

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The benefits of these books are:

– They are fun stories to read. We read them during story time before bed and Blake thought they were just like any other stories; it was a good activity to do.

– They are about someone else so your kids will not get defensive. I know that Blake recognized the similarities between himself and the main character immediately but he didn’t resist because he felt it was about Miles or Sally, not himself but he understood the message.

– It is easier and more effective to remind kids in the middle of the tantrum. We would say “remember Miles?” Maybe because we are referencing a character in a book instead of directly criticizing him, Blake was able to stop and think about his action when he usually would not.

I have to say, we really loved these books and will probably search for more when  needed. The good thing is there is a wide selection of such books that address different problems. You can find them at Amazon.ca easily.

The only thing I need to warn you is that these books are good but not magic. Your child’s challenge will not disappear; they will not change overnight. The books teach them why and how but to actually improve ones action, it takes lots of reminding and of course, time and patience, for both parents and kids.

What worked for you? Please share your tips and success!

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My Favourite TV Show of the Season

Mad Men would’ve been an obvious answer but believe it or not, something else has grabbed the top spot on my list, despite Jon Hamm in his impeccable suits!

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No it is not Breaking Bad, only because I have not found time to watch Breaking Bad. I know it isn’t fair due to my limited viewing repertoire, but hey, it is MY list and there is only so much time a busy mom of two can spend in front of a television!

Before I reveal the unlikely choice of winner, can I just say I really miss THESE gals. untitled (2)

I really do! Whether you hate them or love them, you have to admit they were the start of HBO series rivaling influences from movie sets. Their lifestyle was in every girl’s fantasies but they had every girl’s real life problems. Their fashion is the only show(that isn’t a period piece) that I have utter respect of. I miss them, enough said.

This may be to your surprise, but my new favourite is GIRLS!

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I can’t get enough of Lena Dunham! Her witty, genius script of course, not so much of her bare chest. Although the timing and situation of those bare chest scenes deserve some respect on their own, for depicting real life sexualities on TV. I mean we have been fed this romanticized, unrealistic image of sex with perfectly choreographed moves and shot at perfect angles, with the women’s hair perfectly blown out for too long…Do we even know or believe anyone who has sex in that way? Anyway, I digress!

Although I can’t relate to the characters much (due to a generation gap perhaps), I do feel that she IS the voice of her generation, with narratives that are being churned out at lightning speed! The show is perfect for the instant and oversharing age of today. It isn’t done as in ‘retrospect’; I think she literally experiences something today and goes home to write about it and produces it on the show tomorrow. There is no time lag! Its accurate, not shy (is this even an expression? anyway, you know what I mean) depiction of a generation that is thick on entitlement, dreaming in the biased life philosophy of Steve Job’s “do what you love”, but thin on practical skills and discipline to achieve any tangible goals is so beautifully done that I am genuinely impressed. It’s real, somewhat fair and not judgemental. It is also very, very funny, which is a great bonus!

So, after nights of sleeping sitting up (that will be another post another day on baby’s sleeping challenge), feeling too rough to venture out with baby, I can be in my pajamas, sans makeup and baby strapped on chest, and spend half an hour laughing and being educated on the youth of today. What a pleasure!

I would like to mention my favourite character – Adam! Yay Adam! images4ZPPA2SC

Quirky, intuitive, and undeniably a little weird but utterly genuine. He lives life by heart and NEVER overly intellectualizes anything – the complete opposite of me! That is why he is my favourite!

I can’t wait to indulge in this new season, Season 3 that just kicked off 2 weeks ago. This season will be a true test to Lena whether the show will seal its zeitgeist status and join the coveted list of SATC and such, because now after the initial character development and setting the tone, it is entering the most interesting and challenging stage of a show’s life cycle: how the characters grow up with time.

What is your favourite of the season? Game of Thrones? Downton Abbey?

Lean In – Women, Work, And The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

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So I caved in. I usually don’t rush out to buy a book to read because of hype or controversy but as a working mom trying to establish a career in today’s corporate world, this one is just too tempting.

I heard a lot about this book before I read it, mostly criticisms. After I got it, I devoured the book in a few days (trust me, this is fast when you have a 4 yr. old, self-perceived super hero at home and one in the belly). It was an easy read. So the verdict? I have to say I loved it!

One of the biggest criticism was that Sheryl was giving advice to ordinary women when she herself is nothing but ordinary. She went to Harvard, got amazing internships, and was able to have a career and a family partially due to the great amount of money she and her husband made (so she could hire help). 

I actually don’t see this as a bad thing. While it is true that she came from an impressive gene pool (just check out what her siblings do for a living), and she was extremely smart and focused from a very young age, it does not take away the advice she wanted to give.

I am an extremely ordinary woman, who currently holds a non-managerial job nowhere near the executive level, and I can’t even afford to have a cleaning lady or babysitter for date nights, I still found some of her advice useful and easy to relate. I focused on the actual advice she was giving, rather than her privileged situation. I think we can learn from anyone, not just people in the exactly same circumstances as us.

Here are a few points I really liked:

1. Women put themselves less out there at work. This is true from my own observation although there are always exceptions. I do find men appear to be more confident and always make sure they get their face time.

This is something I have been working on myself. It is great we try to prove ourselves through hard work, but the truth is, if nobody sees you and knows what you did, it is hard to get ahead.

2. Don’t leave until you leave. This one I am particularly guilty of. Sheryl points out that many women start to scale back way before they even have a family in anticipation of becoming a mother in the future, and that results in many lost opportunities.

I got engaged in 2007 and I knew my husband loved kids and wanted to have one sooner than later. I started gravitate toward positions that were more 9 to 5, without people management responsibilities and I wasn’t even married yet. I already assumed that fast career advancement was not doable if I became a mom.

Some women intentionally choose to slow down their careers because that is what they want, then that’s great. But I laid low because I just assumed I could not do it before I even tried. It took me 4 years to reevaluate and apply for a promotion. Now in hind sight, I did not have worse work life balance because of this promotion and I wish I had done it earlier.

3. Ditch the guilt trip. I truly believe this is in every mom’s DNA. We are programmed to feel guilty no matter what. From my doctor friends who do such amazing work to save lives and still manage to spend every night entertaining/breastfeeding their little ones, to the single mom friends who are the only financial source to their kids, no one escapes this “g” word.

Then there is me.  My mom worked her whole life, so did my grandmother, my aunts and every other woman in my family. I am proud of my mom’s work (a research scientist) and I admire my aunt’s drive (a physical therapist who now owns an acupuncture clinic) and my grandmother’s work ethic. I learned so much from these women and yet I still feel the sting when dropping off my son at daycare.

I am working on taking Sheryl’s advice on this: believe in the choice I made, and believe in ourselves. I know both my husband and I spend as much quality time as possible with our son and he is thriving. I hope one day he will be as proud of his mom just like how I am proud of mine.

Before I close this post for today, I just want to say that this last point is not just for working moms. For those fabulous stay at home moms I know, they sometimes have doubts whether they’ve made the right decision as well. I think we need to believe in the choice we’ve made and drown out the little negative voices, because we know in our hearts what is best for our children. Be confident, our kids will notice it!