Your Good Life Guide to the Hudson Valley. It's Fun Here!
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Helping Your Kids Find Purpose And Passion

parent childHelping Your Kids Find Purpose And Passion- Expert Advice From Stanford University Professor William Damon

Bill Damon was a mediocre student drifting through life. Until the day he told his junior high teacher that he hadn’t worked hard on an assignment because it didn’t really matter.

The teacher responded, “EVERYTHING YOU DO IN LIFE MATTERS!!” He wouldn’t let Damon turn in mediocre work. Now Damon is a professor at Stanford University and a national expert on nurturing purpose, passion and ethics in our youth. At a recent program sponsored by the Family Awareness Network, Glencoe Parents Association and Make It Better, he offered these recommendations:

  •     Communicate that everything your child does matters.
  •     Watch for their spark of interest. Every child has at least one.
  •     Nurture a positive outlook.
  •     Provide knowledge and social capital – help your child find the information or resources that he or she needs to pursue an interest.

Damon cited examples of ordinary kids – not athletic or artistic prodigies – who accomplish extraordinary things because they were allowed to follow an interest where it led them. For example, a young boy heard that some children in Africa spent most of their days carrying water because their towns had no wells. So he saved his allowance and did a little fundraising to pay for one well. This felt so good that he started a foundation which now funds many wells a year. He is an otherwise normal 14-year old boy, but the passion he feels for the well project carries into the rest of his life too.

You want that for your child. Right?  I certainly want it for mine.

Unfortunately, it’s not something that parents can make happen. We can’t buy it for our kids and we can’t push them into the perfect activity to grow that passion.

According to Damon, often parents aren’t even the adults who provide the initial nudge toward authentic purpose and passion. It could come from a teacher, coach or other adult mentor. Frequently the initial interest is sparked by a relatively small event– a passing comment or simple activity.

However, parents can still do a lot to nurture passion and purpose, including the 4 points at the start of this article. In short, parents can and should be supportive of interests and activities their child wishes to pursue, without being judgmental about the expressed interest. Parents should be their child’s biggest cheerleader, love them unconditionally and facilitate, but not force, their interests.


Active Families

thBy Let’s Move

Engaging in physical activity as a family can be a fun way to get everyone moving. Studies show that kids who believe they are competent and have the skills to be physically active are more likely to be active. And those who feel supported by friends and families to become active, or surrounded by others interested in physical activity, are more likely to participate.

Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day, but it doesn’t have to occur at once. It all adds up! And remember, sleep is just as important and is an essential part of living an active life. A recent study found that with each extra hour of sleep, the risk of a child being overweight or obese dropped by nine percent.

Here are a few activities and steps that you and your family can consider to get started on a path to a healthier lifestyle:

Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes.
Encourage children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity.
Limit TV time and keep the TV out of a child’s bedroom.
Facilitate a safe walk to and from school a few times a week.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Walk around the block after a meal.
Make a new house rule: no sitting still during television commercials.
Find time to spend together doing a fun activity: family park day, swim day or bike day.
Issue a family challenge to see who can be the first to achieve a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award by committing to physical activity five days a week, for six weeks. Adults and children can both receive the award!
Talk to your children’s principal or write a letter to your district superintendent to incorporate more physical education in schools.
Encourage schools to hold recess prior to lunch to increase physical activity before mealtime.
Volunteer to help with afterschool physical activity programs or sports teams.
Be sure that children get the sleep they need. Most children under age five need to sleep for 11 hours or more per day, children age five to 10 need 10 hours of sleep or more per day, and children over age 10 need at least nine hours per day.
Learn how engaging in outside activities can be fun and affordable for families through Let’s Move Outside, which promotes a range of healthy outdoor activities for children and families across the country.


Day 10: Summer Safety Tips

th7LFDI1OOKeep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.

Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers.

Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.

Make sure that sturdy shoes are worn while mowing.

Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.

Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.

Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.

Keep children out of the yard while mowing.

Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.

Keep guards, shields, switches, and safety devices in proper working order at all times.

If children must be in the vicinity of running lawnmowers, they should wear polycarbonate protective eye wear at all times.