“Patience Young Grasshopper”

Now or later

I love baking. It’s calming, soothing, brings out my creativity and character.

Like tonight, I realized I forgot to pick up bread at the store and decided to try my hand at making it myself. I let the yeast meld with the warm water while I sifted the flour with the egg substitute. Then I added a little salt, some spice mixture and olive oil. Into the oven it went for 17 minutes.

I waited.

As the smell of fresh, homemade bread wafted from the kitchen to my dining room, I peaked inside the oven, poked a few holes to let the steam rise, and put the timer on for three more minutes.

I waited some more.

I waited till I could see the dough turn just a slight brown, knowing that the olive oil seeped through the bottom to create a crisp crust. Taking it out of the oven, I let it rest.

I waited again.

Would it come out all soft in the center? Would it taste good? Should I put butter and jam on it or date syrup?

Finally. It was done.  Not exactly as I had envisioned, more like a scone than a bread, but still, deliciously satisfying.

Waiting is anticipation.

Anticipation is full of a range of scenarios, strategies, emotions, what-ifs, hopes, nerves, and dreams. There’s so much more to the art of waiting than we acknowledge because, in our go-go-go culture today, we do not value waiting. Everything is at our fingertips. With the tap of the “confirm” or “send” or “delivery ordered” button I can buy, watch, and eat most anything, which makes it even more difficult to hone the art of waiting.

Waiting is a skill. A skill that is intended to teach patience. A skill that is becoming harder and harder to teach.

Just like our 24 hour news cycle and our quick social media replies, the quality of what we are saying, what we are doing and what we are portraying and projecting has been replaced with knee-jerk reactions. We are choosing to react instead of act on our own volition.

What can we do about it? How can we change? How can I change to be more artful, more intentional about waiting?

Well, I am learning that slowing down does not mean I will end up last in the race. In fact, it means that I will remain steady and steadfast to the cause. Steady is not boring. It does not mean I have given up or giving in. Steady means that I am stable and stability can bring consistency and appreciation to those aspects of life I may have put aside for a chance to run the race.

As I take this summer to recharge and reevaluate, I vow to also help myself learn to slow down a little more, be a little more intentional about my words, and when I’m ready — after waiting for the right moment — take action.


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Terry Tutors Specialized Education Services, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit with a focus on providing wraparound academic, behavior and advocacy support services for struggling students in southern California. Learn More at TerryTutors.com

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Hi, My Name is Consistency and I am Related to Success

ConsistencyIt’s no secret that anything done well is done consistently. If we want that beach-ready body we know we must consistently eat green things and go to that spinning class. If we want that A in a class we must consistently study and go above and beyond the norm. There is no shortcut to success.

Part of the reason students struggle in school is not because they aren’t working hard but because they aren’t working hard consistently

When students are young, teaching accountability falls on the parent. This is a challenging lesson, and one I find starts from the top down. Your children will not assign value to school unless you, as the parent, value it yourself

Children inherently want to meet their parent’s expectations. As we talked about in our recent post here, the best way to combat learned helplessness is by raising your expectations. For example, don’t be afraid to say no to hanging out with friends until homework is completed. Do this consistently and your kid will stop fighting you on finishing their homework. Yes, consistency even combats teenage attitude.

Putting systems and structure in place allows for consistency to take priority and ensures that everyone in the family is on the same page about school expectations, such as homework time. Check out some great, practical tips outlined in our previous discussion on how to “Eliminate the Homework Woes“.

You can still give your kids a beautiful childhood & teach them the value of hard work too

As an in-home service provider, parents often express concerns to me that it’s difficult to find a balance between teaching hard work while also trying to give their kids the best possible childhood. There is only a finite amount of time that we get to be carefree kids and the rest of life we must learn to be adults. My response: I agree, and that’s precisely why we should all be working together to instill the common underlying value of dedication to individual accomplishment during childhood, which stems from being consistent with our children. You can still give your kids a beautiful childhood and teach them the value of hard work at the same time.

As a culture, we need to slow down and enjoy the quiet moments more often. The days of over-scheduling are coming to an end.  The days of helicopter parenting should be on their way out the door too. We need to let kids learn first-hand the consequences of not putting their all into a project, a task, or a test. You wouldn’t prevent your child from learning how to walk by continuing to carry them around town until their 18th birthday, right? Of course not, that’s just absurd.

Sheltering them from the fear of “falling” is a disservice, and parents who prevent their child from experiencing the consequences of inaction are preventing them from experiencing the triumph of success.

So give your child the best possible chance in school and life by remaining consistent with your expectations. You’ll find that your child will rise to the occasion and even exceed the goals you set.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student by combining Academic, Behavior, and Advocacy support. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.

Sugar, Then Salt: Making Constructive Criticism Taste Better

No one likes to be criticized, especially when it comes to something as intimate as writing. Those of you who have had to endure such criticisms over and over again may at one time felt victimized by this harsh practice but are now thankful for the honesty because it made you a better–more complete–writer. I’m no stranger to these criticisms myself. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times my mom, the English teacher, would correct my phone etiquette: “Yes, this is she, NOT this is her”. (Mom, is that right?) As an adult, I’m grateful for these types of corrections. As a kid, I’d rather take an F in a class than have a teacher tell me I was wrong. So I know firsthand what it’s like to be in my students’ shoes. That’s why I’m extremely careful of how I approach this act of constructive suggestion, as is now the PC term of art. I always start with a compliment. Then a small correction. First, compliment. Then, complaint.

This “sugar, then salt” technique works in most situations where conflict is imminent and emotions run hot. Having a problem teaching your three-year old to put away his toys? Sugar: “Aaron, you are such a good helper!” Salt: “It makes me sad when you don’t put away your toys before nap time.” Having a problem in your relationship? Sugar: “It makes me feel special when you take the initiative and make plans for us in advance.” Salty Sugar: “I would like you to work on planning a date night for us so I can look forward to spending quality time with you.” Some would call this manipulation, but I think it’s just a way to sweeten the personal critique that no one wants to hear but needs to hear.

As a person who works with kids struggling in school due to a learning difference, behavior challenge, or social skills concern, I know that they need all the positive sugar they can get because their confidence is so depleted. Once the confidence is under control (like we talked about here) we can then work on correcting the grammar, formatting essays appropriately, organizing thought processes into a cohesive sentence, comprehension, inference, and the subtleties of writing for your audience. Behavior Support equals Academic Success.

As with anything, balance is important. Pouring on the sugar without any salt, however, is a slippery slope to mischaracterization of self, thinking that everything you do is the best. If you never have to practice grace under pressure (self-regulation), then you never get a chance to learn how to appropriately deal with disappointment– a required lesson in school and in life.

So Parents and Teachers: if you’re not already employing the “Sugar, Then Salt” method, give it a shot. You may find that it’s a successful way to teach your children and students the art of communication in a sticky situation.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Your Word is Your Everything

keep-calm-and-follow-throughWe can boil down the ability to follow-through to one word: Action.

In today’s day and age, where everyone is on the go and over-scheduled, following-through with commitments can be a tall order. As a parent, however, your ability to follow-through must be Priority #1 if you want your child to respect and trust you.

From a simple request such as, “Mom, can we get Jamba Juice after school?” to a complex one like, “Mom, can we go to Italy for my birthday?”, your answer should always be truthful and intentional. Why am I harping on this need to stay committed?

Three reasons:

1. Sometimes parents have a tough time saying no to the their child because they really do want to give them everything they can and more. I get it! It’s hard to look into those cute, little faces and hear their puppy dog whimper while explaining that what they want to do is just not gonna happen right now. (My little students use this tactic on me all the time. Sorry kids, but you still gotta do your homework; I’ll help you write the first paragraph though 🙂 ) By promising something that’s unrealistic, however, you’re giving your cute, little mini-you unrealistic expectations and creating unnecessary roller-coaster emotions. Little ones have not yet learned the highly developed reasoning skills of processing information in context and understanding the concept of time. Little kids are literal creatures and will take you at your word. So when you promise something, you better deliver. For example, if you promise that the family is going for ice cream after dinner with the condition that little Harper eats all of her broccoli, Harper is going to attempt to rise to your level of expectation and swallow all of those little trees. If Harper holds up her end of the bargain and you fail to do the same, Harper loses some trust in your word. If this happens frequently, she begins to doubt the value of your commitments in general.

2. By following-through with things promised, you are teaching your child to do the same. The value of your word– saying what you’re going to do and then actually doing it– is far more worthy than fancy trips or expensive toys. Children really don’t care about how much they have or don’t have– what they really want to earn is your approval. So make sure your word is a valued asset.

3. Same goes for a consequence. If Harper doesn’t eat her broccoli, there will be no ice cream for dessert no matter how much she whines or breaks down in tears. Stick to your commitment. By doing so, you are teaching Harper that you mean business and your word is truth. She’ll respect you and honor your approach once she realizes you have no intention of caving. And if you learn not to cave over the little things, you’ll be ready to make sure not to cave over the big things. That’s when it really matters.

Your child wants to trust and respect you and their actions often act-out their desire for these boundaries. So help your child learn to trust and respect you by simply sticking to your word. It’s the best gift you can give them.

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

The Reasonable Choices Method

choicesI have these friends who are really excellent parents. To observe them is to learn. One of the methods they use with their young children is what I like to call The Reasonable Choices Method, a simple idea but one that requires a lot of internal patience even when things are just pure chaos around you. As a prerequisite you must be on your way to mastering the 3C’s in a parenting crisis: Calm, Cool, and Collected.

Here’s how it’s done: Two-year-old Ben is playing with his toys in the playroom and you notice it’s now 7:00 pm, thirty-minutes before bedtime, and you still need to give him a bath to wash off the sand from all of his sandbox adventures today, his sidewalk chalk mishaps, and the milk that spilled when he attempted to grab the cup from the counter but sadly missed. You give Ben a heads up that it will be time to take a bath in 5 minutes and you set the timer for 5 minutes, making sure to show him (as evidence) on your phone, kitchen timer, or even those little sand timers found in a board game. When there’s one minute left of playtime you give him a courtesy warning. By giving him this courtesy warning you’re really allowing him to prepare himself to switch tasks. Remember that a toddler’s brain is developing the ability to process information at a faster rate and creating those memory synapses so he needs a little more time to prepare himself to do something else. Emotionally, he’s also learning to assert his independence and this is a good thing. However, it’s still important to rein it in, molding his ability to make decisions within the confines of safe parameter.

When the timer has gone off you announce again that it’s time to clean-up and take a bath. If Ben is like most two-year-olds he will resist, explaining that he needs more time because he’s not finished playing. If you really think about his argument it is easy to understand. We all run behind at times: finishing a paper at the last-minute, remembering a birthday card on the way to the party, not realizing that dinner will take a little longer tonight because we’re trying a new dish. Although his request for more time is understandable toddlers are notorious for saying one thing and doing another. Remember that this is not a negotiation, this is a teaching moment–an example of how you are helping him learn to sustain a commitment and begin to make the right decisions. An assertive yet loving response should outline the fact that you understand his wants but you have given him a specific set of tasks to complete for the next part of the evening: “I understand that you want more time to finish playing but the timer has gone off and it is now time to clean-up, go upstairs, and take a bath”. It is likely he will still resist and so at this moment, while you’re helping to clean-up, you say to him, “Ben you may walk upstairs yourself or I can carry you upstairs. Which do you prefer?” Here it is: a Reasonable Choice–one where each option is something you can live with, gets the next task going, but allows him a way to begin to assert his independence.

If he says, “I need more time” calmly explain that he already had 5 minutes to prepare himself to take a bath and that you will make the choice for him if he is unable to make it himself. Then, follow through! I cannot stress enough that this the step I coach families most on. No doubt it is the most difficult step and I feel for you because when your child is on the floor having a tantrum it is heart-wrenching and frustrating at the same time. Use those 3C’s and realize the psychology of what is happening here: Ben is wrestling to understand his own ability to make the right decision. Your job is to help him understand why it is important and assure him that by trusting you, his parent, it will bring about the best decision possible.

The key is to employ your 3C’s, be consistent, and follow-through. Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong the first few times. Just keep trying! You are helping your child build character and learn to make the right choice, a skill that he will use for the rest of his life.

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