Why Writing Thank You Notes Teaches Good Manners

By | January 21st, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , |

You may or may not advocate handwritten thank you notes in your home; no doubt, you have your reasons either way. Some folks believe the practice is outdated and the idea shouldn’t be forced on unwilling kids. Others were taught when they were young that writing letters of thanks after receiving presents was a polite measure and want their kids to do the same. Perhaps no one is right or wrong, but kids can benefit from expressing their gratitude by writing thank you notes; here’s how.

The act of writing thank you notes make kids think about the thought and care that goes into buying and wrapping the toys and gadgets they receive. The gifts themselves are super-exciting, of course. However, realizing friends and relatives care enough to be thoughtful adds a positive emotional dimension to receiving presents.

There’s more to gratitude than the recognition presents come from someone rather than appearing out of the blue. Studies show the art of being grateful makes people happy; it’s a well-being tool. Once kids tune into gratitude they can use it in all areas of life to boost happiness.

Writing for well-being
Many kids use computers instead of writing words on paper. Nonetheless, research reveals there’s a connection between expressing feelings in written form and well-being. Kids who get used to writing about what’s on their minds, whether to say thanks for gifts or share how they feel about events in a journal, can reduce stress.  If your child finds this type of writing, he or she might continue to write, not only to express gratitude but also for enjoyment and anxiety reduction later in life.

Good manners
Teach your kids good manners and they will thank you somewhere down the road of life. Etiquette is a useful social tool that makes people stand out from the crowd: it helps them forge friendships and make a terrific impression. The habit of being polite gained from writing thank you notes will give them the edge as they mature.

Handwritten thank you notes are just one way your kids can show appreciation for gifts. Nevertheless, putting gratitude down on paper rather than using another method is beneficial since doing so teaches them life lessons you won’t want them to miss.

Original Post can be found on Child Development Institute

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Vlinder Littles

By | January 4th, 2018|

Welcome Vlinder Little, the newest addition to the Breakthrough family. We also welcome our youngest clients who start at the age of 3. Breakthrough has decided to label Vlinder Little as a Behavior Reinforcement game rather than a behavior modification game. Behaviors which are addressed and reinforced are social skills, personal hygiene, and communication…

What’s the big deal? Pictures on the task sheets and reward cards allow the littles to participate in daily routine and structure within the home. Positive reinforcement provides motivation to continue good behaviors.The game provides the family a fun way to cooperate, communicate and connect.

Social and Emotional Resilience Vlinder builds lifetime resilience through game-like successes.

Visit the shop!

Vlinder Littles can be found at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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Vlinder Reward Cards

By | December 5th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

Happy Holidays,

November was the month of gratitude. Now December is our chance to give back! Our gift to you is a set of Vlinder Reward Cards. All you have to pay is shipping.

    • What if I own Vlinder? You can have a second set for yourself or share with a friend!
    • What will I do with cards if I don’t have a game? There are two things you can do!
          1. Purchase the Vlinder Task Sheets. We will make sure you get a set of instructions!
          2. Gain access to the Interactive Task Sheet app. This makes your Vlinder experience 100% customizable! Plus you never have to worry about where to get your refills!
    • Can I transfer my gift to a friend? Just tell us where to send the cards and we will make sure that they get there.

However you choose to use the Reward Cards, they are yours free of charge

Our goal at Breakthrough is to make a difference in the homes of families just like yours. 

To qualify for your Vlinder Reward Cards all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by the end of December. The instructions will follow.

Happy Holidays!

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Memory Lane

By | April 9th, 2017|Tags: , |

When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in a grand house that we called “The Ranch”. It had a formal living room with antique furniture from one side to the other. Each piece had its own story of how it had gotten there and where it had been. It was the perfect place for my grandmother, who we affectionately called Mom-mom, to tell the stories of her upbringing in New Castle, England. I don’t know any more about those stories about her adventures then that because I was too young to enter the room during story time. It was a reserved for the older granddaughters. I sat outside the two huge french doors and peeked through a little key hole, hearing only the occasional muffled laugh. I was rather grumpy and bored by the time the doors reopened and I rejoined to the group.

As the years moved on, my grandmother was diagnosed with what we now know is Alzheimers. I never made it into the living room to hear her stories and it is something that puts a lump in my throat, even now some forty years later. So today I’m doing my part for the next generation to make sure this doesn’t happen to them. I want to help facilitate a chat that your child can have with grandma or grandpa that gets the grandchildren past those two “living room doors”…

Here are 10 conversations starters.

  1. When did our family enter the United States? What is our history?
  2. When and how did you meet our Grandma or Grandpa?
  3. Where and when did you get married?
  4. What was going in the world when you were younger?
  5. What was your profession? Is that what you wanted to be?
  6. Who were your childhood heroes?
  7. Do you remember any fads from your childhood? Popular hairstyle?
  8. Where was your favorite vacation?
  9. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  10. What do you want people to remember about you?

Take 3 or 4 of the questions that most resonate with you. If mom or dad are suffering from dementia or simply need help remembering, ask other relative to help fill in the gaps prior to your visit. This is an opportunity to be a fun trip down memory lane for the whole family, as well as a lesson to remind kids that in Grandma and Grandpa were young once too.  Maybe you could even do this with Great Grandma and Great Grandpa?

As for Mom-mom, on my very last visit, long past her days of recognizing anyone, she stopped, looked me full in the face, put her hand on my cheek and said with all the love in her heart…”you always were my little lamb”. So in the end I feel I got my special moment after all!

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Setting Boundaries

By | January 2nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Children crave structure. They appreciate knowing the rules and how far they can push. It is one of the reasons learning how to set rules is important. Learning how to set boundaries can be difficult which is especially true when it comes to children; we want them to have more than we did. A parent told me “our generation has ruined it”. We get our kids what they want, when they want it. When it comes time to give a gift there is little from which to choose. It is time to set some boundaries! Let’s look at five steps for setting boundaries:

  1. Discover why you are setting a boundary. It is important to have a good understanding of the problem before trying to brainstorm solutions. You may miss your target altogether. 
  2. Explore and identify different solutions to the problem. Depending on your need, come up with as many solutions as possible and generate a list. There are no dumb ideas. Sometimes the whackiest idea (or ideas in combination) make a fun and appropriate solution.
  3. Choose the idea you will use. Don’t be afraid to combine lots of different ideas in setting your boundary. If your “problem” is that your child pesters you for treats at the grocery store, then some ideas might be: avoid taking your child to the store or allow them to accompany you, but have them choose to spend their own money.  This combination of options easily becomes: don’t take your child to the store unless he is willing to spend his own money.  Important: Don’t throw away the list just yet. You will probably want to revisit some of your ideas later!
  4. Implement your solution. Using the example above, take your child shopping.  This may appear easier than it is. Make sure to be prepared to allow him to spend his own money. Allow him time to pick the one thing that he can afford. Stick to your guns. Consistency is key.
  5. Evaluate. If your child has stopped pestering you in the store, it appears that your job is done! Congratulations! If, however, they pick their item and begin pestering for more, then make sure you have allowed enough time to implement your solution.  You may need another trip to the store.  If that doesn’t work, then it is time to start from square-one and make sure you have identified the right problem. Revisit your solutions and put another one into effect. This can be a long process. The important thing is being consistent once you set a boundary so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.

You may find that you have to go through the steps several times before you get the result that you want. The point to remember is that your child will be better for understanding the boundaries that you are setting.  The time you have together to visit, plan and perhaps dream will be priceless. 

  For more helpful tips on positive reinforcement and tools to help implement them in your home please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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Positive Reinforcement and Anger Management

By | December 12th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |

Here are some signs that your child may have an anger management problem.  Continue reading for some helpful tips on how to help modify unwanted behavior. 

  1. Is your child argumentative, ready to enter a debate without thought of subject matter or consequence? 
  2. Does your child have problems with impulse control?  This can appear in different forms including verbal outbursts or even physically acting out. 
  3. Does your child threaten harm to self or others as a negotiation tactic? 
  4. Does your child have difficulty accepting responsibility? 
  5. Is your child difficult to calm down following an altercation or misunderstanding?
  6. Does your child appear pessimistic and unable to see a brighter side?
  7. Is your child uncooperative and unwilling to follow directions no matter how straight forward?
  8. Is your child easily frustrated when presented with a new task or problem?

Collectively these signs of anger management issues may indicate that it is time to see a therapist or other specialist in order to reach a proper diagnosis.  The internet is helpful in understanding underlying problems, it should in no way take the place of professionals. 

There are; however, things that you can do at home to help manage your child’s anger.  First of all, acknowledge that anger is a normal emotion.  It is the actions that result from anger that need to be addressed.

The next part is sometimes difficult for parents to grasp.  Although there needs to be consequences for negative behavior, there are times when positive behavior should receive more attention.  Instead of getting frustrated and providing attention when your child misbehaves… use that energy to praise your child when they are behaving.  Be sure you take time to explain why you are proud and happy of their positive behavior.   Be prepared to reward.  If you child is aware of your expectations and they have something to work for then your child is more likely to repeat the positive behavior.  Change takes time and is inevitable!

For more information on positive reinforcement and behavior modification techniques visit me at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.  Breakthrough provides a positive reinforcement parenting aide called Vlinder. 

$5 Coupon Code: VLINDER

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Behavior Modification Programs Forever?

By | December 7th, 2016|Tags: , , , |

What I am going to talk about today is how you can phase out a behavior modification program such as Vlinder.  Like any good tool, it is nice to know that there are times when it can be put away for safe keeping. 

Vlinder uses positive reinforcement to help modify behaviors.  Care givers are encouraged to constantly praise their child before, during and after a wanted behavior is performed.  This is in part because the praise will become the only reward needed.  In the beginning you may choose to alternate between target behaviors such as good personal hygiene and respect towards others.  As you start to see growth in your child it will be time to retire them from the list.  The nice thing about Vlinder is that you can pick up again at any time and reinitiate your structure as new trouble areas appear. 

It is important to utilize all of your positive reinforcers while implementing a program.  Positive reinforcement comes in all forms.  Some non-verbal reinforcers are smiles, nods, and affection.  Verbal reinforcers play a key role because you are able to explain what it is that has made you happy. Tangible reinforcers are important in the beginning to help build structure in your family and help your child understand your expectations. 

Using a game/program such as Vlinder gives you the ability to cycle through the behaviors that you are trying to improve in your child.  They may think that it’s a bum deal that they don’t keep getting rewards.   This program facilitates growth and your child needs to understand that they are part of a process.

To recap – When you are utilizing a behavior modification program you use all your positive reinforcers; verbal, non-verbal and tangible.  As you move forward, behaviors get recycled.  When you stop working on a specific behavior you continue to give positive reinforcement; however, stop using tangible reinforcers, such as Vlinder Reward Cards.  They are no longer needed.  The more you move through behaviors, the more second nature this will become.

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The 12 Days of Giving

By | December 1st, 2016|Tags: , , |

It’s that time of year again.  How many acts of kindness can you offer your friends, family and community?

I am Thankful

By | November 20th, 2016|Tags: , , |

At the end of November, I always take some time out to remember all that I have to be thankful for. Today I am thankful to all of you who come to my website and make it possible for me to help families bring some cooperation and peace to their homes. Take a moment to complete some of these statements and remember all of the things that you have around you every day of the year!  Happy Thanksgiving!


What are you thankful for?

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The Importance of Immediate Reward

By | November 16th, 2016|

Today I want to talk about the importance of rewarding positive behavior in a timely manner when utilizing a positive reinforcement model. There are many reasons why this is important. The first being to understand the effort that you and your family are putting forth is worth seeing through to completion. A positive reinforcement model includes laying clear boundaries, recognizing progress and rewarding good behaviors. In our busy lives it is understandable to feel relief when things are running smoothly, but the fact is, if you want to see them running smoothly for the long term then that behavior deserves and needs to be rewarded.

Another reason to reward as soon as possible is that you want to make sure that your child associates the reward with the positive behavior that he or she performed. If too much time goes by then the impact is not as great and they may not feel the fulfillment of a job well done. Imagine getting a pay check late or receiving gratitude for a labor intensive meal long after it was eaten. You accept the payment and the appreciation but the immediate recognition of your hard work either in a job or at home is much more fulfilling.

How many times have you promised something to your kids only to let time get the better of you and either forget or procrastinate. It happens to the best of us but it is one of the worst things you can do when utilizing a positive reinforcement model. One way that kids will not respond to rewards is by learning that they are empty incentives. Why put forth the effort to support a household that does not follow through with a promise after a job is well done. It teaches indifference and supports poor motivation.

Think about why positive reinforcement is such a powerful tool. Children constantly want attention or prizes that are before them. You are giving them the opportunity to earn them. Keep that positive energy going in the right direction! Reward, acknowledge, and celebrate your children’s positive behavior and you can trust that it will be repeated.

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