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How Wearing Different Hats Can Help Your Negative Self-Talk

By | September 25th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Pessimism is not your friend. It does not have to be your enemy. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you don’t know its broke you can’t fix it?” Part of being in charge of your life is learning how to listen to your self-talk, and TALK BACK!
It sounds a little crazy. I’ve just asked you to talk to yourself, which doesn’t always have the greatest social response. I’m asking you to do it mindfully, not on autopilot.  When you are having one of those days that the world has turned against you and you find yourself missing old coping strategies…use this time to benefit you.
Take our your faithful journal and start writing what it is that you say to yourself in these times of dread. How do people support you or not. How is your career? Your home life? Your health? Your sex life?  Don’t censor yourself and certainly don’t worry about being grammatically correct. That would just piss you off! At some point when your pen stops moving so fast…because I’m sure it could go on for days…take a breath and try and put on a “hat”. 
First of all, you have already helped yourself by writing some of this jumbled negativity down. Its a mess living in that head of yours, with what you put yourself through. If this is all you can do today put the journal down and know you are not done!
The therapeutic side of the lesson is well underway…writing your woes. I stated at the beginning I wanted you to take back charge. Learn! To do that pick one of your phrases and respond to it. It isn’t always easy, especially if you are feeling sarcastic. So take one phrase and force yourself to look at it and answer it with three different “hats”.
Hat 1: The child. Without justification, explain the thought to a child. Perhaps to yourself as a child. For the purpose of this exercise assume that you care about this child and you never want them to feel the same way. What can they do? Write down whatever comes up for you. This self-reflection is what the exercise is about.
Hat 2: The lover. I would wager that your most intimate partner has heard most of your negative talk, and perhaps of the remorse that follows. Write it down. Our partners have a way of helping us build our thickest walls of protection so as not to be hurt…but they also have a way of melting them down and getting to what’s real.
Hat 3: Your ideal self. Be honest…how many times have you caught yourself talking shit and yelled, SHUT-UP? You know the harm. Your inner-most self or ideal self is in there thinking what the heck is he doing with all this potential! How do you answer to yourself for your negative thought? Don’t just write down your confirming thoughts…I want to know the thoughts that you are trying to crush out. (read that part again!) In between your thoughts, there’s this little voice that’s saying there’s hope. I want you to write down more about what’s being said between the lines, as it were.
At the end of the day, you get to choose what to do with this information. The more you do this exercise…the less jumbled the negative self-talk becomes and the abler you are to call upon what you need to hear to push forward. The goal is to be successful!

 

Some Effective Tricks to Say Good Bye to Legos

By | September 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

When is it time to say goodbye to legos? My sons haven’t played with them in years, they are gathering dust on their shelf and they desperately need the space, and yet I find myself asking again when do we box them up and put them away? I’ve been researching this topic for some time. Projects to do with old lego sets. Revamping old lego sets. Setting up your lego set. Restoring your lego sets, donating, and storing. In this time I realize that I’m putting forth this effort because I’m having a difficult time letting go of a “phase” my children went through. Plus…it has been replaced by the video game phase…and I see no end in sight.
 
The lego phase was fun and creative. It was interactive and required patience and thought. In the end, there was pride in a job well done. There is a large difference between that and now that they have discovered video games. Video games are isolating and often thoughtless. Progress is achieved with a skill that is acquired over time. The time that is spent away from friends and family. Although I limit my children’s video time, I compare it with lego time and miss it greatly. Because video time has to be controlled it often involves arguments and tears. Lego time was endless hours on the floor putting together battleships, dragons, and superhero space stations. The only tears were of frustration when tiny pieces couldn’t be found
 
This is more than saying goodbye to legos and re-structuring family life to involve some independent play time. There have been a lot of phases that I have not given the same thought. Kids grow up so fast. I’ve heard that phrase a lot but today it holds new meaning. Although I don’t find it necessary to eliminate all electronic use in our home, I do have a call for action. I call for more time playing games on the floor, at the table, in the garage…wherever there is space! There is no use crying about the end of a phase if you aren’t going to do something about it! Replace it with something fulfilling. I’m missing the time spent with my children. Done! And as far as my initial question…I guess I’m going to box them up today.
 
Some simple steps:
 
  1. Don’t forget to ask your child – Believe it or not, I started the process of deciding when to store their legos months before asking them. I finally built up the courage and was surprised when my oldest was already on board.
 
  1. Have a plan in mind if your child is resistant. For my younger two we are planning on keeping two or three of their favorites.
 
  1. Decide how to store and stay consistent. Keep them in their sets or color code. Either way, make sure that you keep them in airtight containers. If you are going to go through the process to store them make sure they are usable after you open them again. 
 
  1. There are plenty of projects to do with mix-matched sets. Research books, websites, etc for ideas if you are not ready to store your legos.
 
Breakthrough is a path to many useful parenting tips. Come to visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com
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Helpful Hints of Healing

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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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.

Appreciation
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.

Gratitude
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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An Overview of Behavioral Psychology

By | January 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Updated August 16, 2016
originally located at VeryWell.

Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our actions.

According to this school of thought, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner regardless of internal mental states.

Basically, only observable behavior should be considered—cognitions, emotions, and moods are far too subjective.

Strict behaviorists believed that any person can potentially be trained to perform any task, regardless of genetic background, personality traits, and internal thoughts (within the limits of their physical capabilities). It only requires the right conditioning.

A Brief History

Behaviorism was formally established with the 1913 publication of John B.

Watson’s classic paper, “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.” It is best summed up by the following quote from Watson, who is often considered the “father” of behaviorism:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.”

Simply put, strict behaviorists believe that all behaviors are the result of experience.

Any person, regardless of his or her background, can be trained to act in a particular manner given the right conditioning.

From about 1920 through the mid-1950s, behaviorism grew to become the dominant school of thought in psychology. Some suggest that the popularity of behavioral psychology grew out of the desire to establish psychology as an objective and measurable science. Researchers were interested in creating theories that could be clearly described and empirically measured but also used to make contributions that might have an influence on the fabric of everyday human lives.

There are two major types of conditioning:

  1. Classical conditioning is a technique frequently used in behavioral training in which a neutral stimulus is paired with a naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the neutral stimulus comes to evoke the same response as the naturally occurring stimulus, even without the naturally occurring stimulus presenting itself. The associated stimulus is now known as the conditioned stimulus and the learned behavior is known as the conditioned response.
  2. Operant conditioning (sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through reinforcements and punishments. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior. When a desirable result follows an action, the behavior becomes more likely to occur again in the future. Responses followed by adverse outcomes, on the other hand, become less likely to happen again in the future.

Top Things to Know

  • Learning can occur through associations. The classical conditioning process works by developing an association between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus. In physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s classic experiments, dogs associated the presentation of food (something that naturally and automatically triggers a salivation response) with the sound of a bell, at first, and then the sight of a lab assistant’s white coat. Eventually, the lab coat alone elicited a salivation response from the dogs.
  • Different factors can influence the classical conditioning process. During the first part of the classical conditioning process, known as acquisition, a response is established and strengthened. Factors such as the prominence of the stimuli and the timing of presentation can play an important role in how quickly an association is formed.

    When an association disappears, this is known as extinction, causing the behavior to weaken gradually or vanish. Factors such as the strength of the original response can play a role in how quickly extinction occurs. The longer a response has been conditioned, for example, the longer it may take for it to become extinct.

  • Learning can also occur through rewards and punishments. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner described operant conditioning as the process in which learning can occur through reinforcement and punishment. More specifically, by forming an association between a certain behavior and the consequences of that behavior, you learn. For example, if a parent rewards their child with praise every time they pick up their toys, the desired behavior is consistently reinforced. As a result, the child will become more likely to clean up messes.
  • Reinforcement schedules are important in operant conditioning. This process seems fairly straightforward—simply observe a behavior and then offer a reward or punishment. However, Skinner discovered that the timing of these rewards and punishments has an important influence on how quickly a new behavior is acquired and the strength of the corresponding response.

    Continuous reinforcement involves rewarding every single instance of a behavior. It is often utilized at the beginning of the operant conditioning process. But as the behavior is learned, the schedule might switch to one of a partial reinforcement. This involves offering a reward after a number of responses or after a period of time has elapsed. Sometimes, partial reinforcement occurs on a consistent or fixed schedule. In other instances, a variable and an unpredictable number of responses or time must occur before the reinforcement is delivered.

  • Several thinkers influenced behavioral psychology. In addition to those already mentioned, there are a number of prominent theorists and psychologists who left an indelible mark on behavioral psychology. Among these are Edward Thorndike, a pioneering psychologist who described the law of effect, and Clark Hull, who proposed the drive theory of learning.
  • There are a number of therapeutic techniques rooted in behavioral psychology. Though behavioral psychology assumed more of a background position after 1950, its principles still remain important. Even today, behavior analysis is often used as a therapeutic technique to help children with autism and developmental delays acquire new skills. It frequently involves processes such as shaping (rewarding closer approximations to the desired behavior) and chaining (breaking a task down into smaller parts and then teaching and chaining the subsequent steps together). Other behavioral therapy techniques include aversion therapy, systematic desensitization, token economies, modeling, and contingency management.
  • Behavioral psychology has some strengths. Behaviorism is based on observable behaviors, so it is sometimes easier to quantify and collect data when conducting research. Effective therapeutic techniques such as intensive behavioral intervention, behavior analysis, token economies, and discrete trial training are all rooted in behaviorism. These approaches are often very useful in changing maladaptive or harmful behaviors in both children and adults.
  • It also has some weaknesses. Many critics argue that behaviorism is a one-dimensional approach to understanding human behavior. They suggest that behavioral theories do not account for free will and internal influences such as moods, thoughts, and feelings. Also, it does not account for other types of learning that occur without the use of reinforcement and punishment. Moreover, people and animals can adapt their behavior when new information is introduced even if that behavior was established through reinforcement.
  • Behavioral psychology differs from other perspectives. One of the major benefits of behaviorism is that it allowed researchers to investigate observable behavior in a scientific and systematic manner. However, many thinkers believed it fell short by neglecting some important influences on behavior. Freud, for example, felt that behaviorism failed by not accounting for the unconscious mind’s thoughts, feelings, and desires that influence people’s actions. Other thinkers, such as Carl Rogers and the other humanistic psychologists, believed that behaviorism was too rigid and limited, failing to take into consideration personal agency.

    More recently, biological psychology has emphasized the power the brain and genetics play in determining and influencing human actions. The cognitive approach to psychology focuses on mental processes such as thinking, decision-making, language, and problem-solving. In both cases, behaviorism neglects these processes and influences in favor of studying just observable behaviors.

A Word From Very Well

One of the greatest strengths of behavioral psychology is the ability to clearly observe and measure behaviors. Weaknesses of this approach include failing to address cognitive and biological processes that influence human actions. While the behavioral approach might not be the dominant force that it once was, it has still had a major impact on our understanding of human psychology. The conditioning process alone has been used to understand many different types of behaviors, ranging from how people learn how language develops.

But perhaps the greatest contributions of behavioral psychology lie in its practical applications. Its techniques can play a powerful role in modifying problematic behavior and encouraging more positive, helpful responses. Outside of psychology, parents, teachers, animal trainers, and many others make use of basic behavioral principles to help teach new behaviors and discourage unwanted ones.

Sources:

Skinner, B. F. About Behaviorism. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc; 1974.

Mills, J. A. Control: A History of Behavioral Psychology. New York: NYU Press; 2000.

Watson, J. B. Behaviorism. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers; 1930.

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The Safety Parent

By | January 3rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

A long time ago I had a scary conversation about child predators and how to keep our children safe. The talk progressed sharing fear-based stories heard on the news, internet and via word of mouth. We naturally helped each other as each tale got more difficult to fathom. It followed with good parenting advice on how to prepare children for such a potentially horrible world. What hit me later is that I don’t want my kids to grow up fearful. I want to instill confidence.

At the time my own fears were getting in the way. The avoidance method was in full effect. Around the same time, my oldest son had an interaction with two separate men at the grocery store. One made him very uncomfortable so he stayed clear. Another was a homeless man and they shared a special interaction. One that I would have robbed him of had I been around. I’m proud of him and I don’t have advice on how to make it safer. It was time to review how I parent, the rules of safety, and make decisions that have long-term benefits for my children.

When I think of what I want my children to be I think of words like outgoing, adventuresome, kind, brave, intelligent, and confident. I don’t think of weary or even aware. There is a question that looms over my assertion. How do you keep your children safe?

The best I can do is feed their intelligence by watching the news and discussing stories as needed. As a family, we work on confidence and self-esteem with self-defense or martial arts. We inspire adventure with travel, imagination, and books. I have had to come to peace with the fact that as ready as I think I am, there is always the unknown that I am not prepared for.

There are many strategies that can be used to nurture a personality trait. As the parent, you decide which actions you take, even when if it is no action there are outcomes. If you read my blogs, you know that I am a proponent of parenting with intention. I proffer that after reading this you look at what you want for your kids with regard to their safety and decide if your actions are helping or hurting them get where they need to be.

The biggest lesson in this part of the journey was learning that I have to continue to work on my own fears. Fear is a strong emotion and impacts the decision-making process in a profound way. Children look to us for our strength and guidance. Making sure that I have enough energy saved up to offer what is needed is my goal, my mission, my work.

Thank you for reading. There is more available at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. Come visit to learn more about what Breakthrough, LLC has to offer. We invite feedback. This is a great place to start a conversation.

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Vlinder Elf Tips

By | December 12th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

It’s that time of year when parents get a couple of extra hands to keep an on eye on things. I’m talking about the elves. I appreciate using the little guys and gals to help bring some order into the home. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that this is helping your quest to maintain long term change and not adding additional stressors to your kiddos. It’s a nice break having Santa’s naughty and nice list as a motivator but since we know you aren’t going to send a present back to the North Pole we need to keep it real.

Some children are more prone to anxiety than others. You are feeding that by suggesting that they may not get the gifts if they don’t perform. Careful how much power you give the elves and remember not to put into jeopardy that which will not be taken away. This tradition is meant to be fun.

Using the elves to create order in your home is a type of reward system. Depending on when the elves show up at your house, the reward takes a long time to get there. One way to manage this is by setting up other forms of positive reinforcement. Rewards are not always presents and candy. Some ideas are sitting at the table with mom or dad to write a letter to a loved one, special one on one time or tons of kudos and high fives! Be clear why the reward has been earned if you want to see it repeated.

Finally, if you use your elf for behavior management then please remember that they, the elves, also “see” the positive behavior. Allow your kiddos time to reflect on the positive reports that the elves will be reporting to Santa.  Personal pride goes a long way.

If you have any questions or suggestions for today’s entry please contact us on our website, www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We love visitors and invite you take a look around while you are there. If you would like to sign up for our free newsletter there is a form provided on the home page. Happy Holidays!

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Where Are All the Grandparenting Books?

By | December 7th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

(This article was originally posted by the New York Times on Dec. 6, 2017. Written by Paula Span)

It was, let me acknowledge, an old-school response. A major life cycle event was underway — becoming a grandmother or, to use the Yiddish name I’ve chosen, becoming Bubbe. So I began looking for a helpful book.

Others might prefer a website like The Grandparent Effect, where the writer Olivia Gentile passes along news, interviews and studies.

But I wanted a book I could underline and dog-ear and stick Post-its on. I had in mind an authoritative user’s manual, a later-life counterpart to the Penelope Leach baby and child guide I’d relied on as a parent. I also hoped to find more empathic, personal volumes that explored the emotional side of the experience.

Publishers would be eagerly targeting this vast market of 70 million American grandparents, I figured, so I would find dozens of worthy contenders in both categories.

Well, no.

You can indeed find scores of grandparenting books. But when you weed out journals and keepsake albums, books for specialized audiences (often religious ones, like “Biblical Grandparenting: Exploring God’s Design, Culture’s Messages, and Disciple-Making Methods to Pass Faith to Future Generations”), self-published books (without gatekeepers, it’s hard to gauge quality), books that label their reader a “complete idiot,” and those out of print except for digital versions, there’s not much left of substance.

But here’s the good news: You can find scads of wonderful children’s books about grandparents, even if there aren’t a lot of great adult books for them.

Why the disparity? Maybe the industry thinks we’ve been parents already, so we don’t need or want books about grandparenting, even though these are very different roles.

Or perhaps potential readers don’t exactly want to acknowledge being old enough to be grandparents, though you can achieve that status long before Medicare eligibility.

When I asked people in publishing about the gap, they couldn’t quite explain it.

“They’re conspicuous by their absence,” the literary agent Andrew Blauner said of good grandparenting books.

“There should be a big book by someone we’ve all heard of and want to hear from,” said Marnie Cochran, executive editor at Ballantine Bantam Dell, who has published family and parenting books for 25 years. “Like Nora Ephron, God rest her soul.”

So why isn’t there? Ms. Cochran’s sense is that grandparents who want the kind of guidance offered by a Penelope Leach are reading … Penelope Leach.

Still, here are my picks. I’ll be interested in yours.

When it comes to instruction manuals, I’ve found no contemporary expert with the status and clout of a Spock, a Brazelton or a Leach. But a California child psychiatrist, Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, came close. He researched grandparenting extensively, published half a dozen books and many articles in the 1980s and ’90s, became a TV fixture. Tom Brokaw called him “the Dr. Spock of grandparenting.”

Now 85 and still practicing, he has self-published an updated version of his encyclopedic “The Grandparent Guide,” first released in 2002. Like many self-published books, it suffers from poor layout and design, with lots of typos; it’s not an aesthetically pleasing object.

But so what? Here’s a guy who has thought about every aspect of grandparenting, cosmic and pragmatic, and covers subjects ranging from favoritism and spending to L.G.B.T. families and visitation laws. He writes authoritatively, citing others’ research and his own; he combines compassion with sound advice. Like a Spock or a Brazelton, he earns your trust.

And he may have a rival come March. The trade publication Publishers Weekly just warmly reviewed “Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today” by Jane Isay, a longtime editor and author of several books on family relationships.

In writing about grandmotherhood (grandfathers are even more underrepresented on bookstore shelves), they’ve taken a collective deep breath and proceeded with unexpected honesty.

You’ll read heartening stories, but also chilling ones. The authors confess to competitiveness and perfectionism. They sometimes triumph as magical, memory-making grandmoms and sometimes screw up. They keen over grandchildren they’re no longer permitted to see. (Note to my daughter and son-in-law: Don’t ever do this, ever.) It’s a compelling collection.

A few runners-up in this category: The relentlessly droll Judith Viorst’s account of a briefly multigenerational household, “Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days.” The more recent “Becoming Grandma,” from the veteran television journalist Lesley Stahl. And, depending on how resonant you find her spiritual labors, Anne Lamott’s “Some Assembly Required.”

You’ll find the true riches, though, among the children’s books. Here, I turned to a friend, Marjorie Ingall, author of “Mamaleh Knows Best,” who reviews children’s books for the Times Book Review.

Among picture books for the youngest, she gave a thumbs-up to Todd Parr, who has created dozens of Technicolorful books on an array of subjects. I add my thumbs-up for his producing both “The Grandma Bookand “The Grandpa Book.” “For very, very little kids, these books are crack,” Marjorie said. “And if the goal is to enjoy cuddle time with your grandkid and make reading feel intimate and pleasurable, mission accomplished.”

She also applauded Lauren Castillo’s “Nana in the City,” a Caldecott Honor picture book for ages 4 through 7. “The grandma is bold, vigorous and energetic and wears snazzy Berkeley therapist-esque clothes,” she said. “I have a hard time thinking of other picture books with lively, out-in-the-world, non-soup-making grandmas.”

She’s also fond of another Caldecott Honor picture book, by the revered Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. “Coming on Home Soon,” meant for 5- to 8-year-olds, is set during World War II, when a mother must go off to work in far-off Chicago, leaving her daughter behind with her grandmother. “It’s an intimate portrayal of the little girl and grandma’s life together,” Marjorie says.

Other friends have tipped me to “Tom,” the wonderful illustrator Tomie dePaola’s idiosyncratic tribute to his own grandfather. And to Vera B. Williams’s much-loved “A Chair for My Mother.” And to “What Grandmas Do Best” by Laura Numeroff, of giving-cookies-to-mice fame. Flipped over, it becomes “What Grandpas Do Best,” and in egalitarian fashion, the text is the same for both.

All these children’s books were new to me, and they’re all marvels. So my granddaughter will come out ahead in this investigation, apparently.

The bookshelves in her small bedroom are already crammed, because while we were awaiting her birth, good friends hosted what they called Bubbe’s Book Shower.

The guests all brought favorite children’s books, a wonderful idea. Nobody had to worry about proper sizes or whether her parents would appreciate princess-themed onesies. (Answer: No.) People just brought copies of “The Story of Ferdinand” and “The Runaway Bunny.”

But I’m going to wedge in these new titles, too. This is the kind of reading about grandparents I’ll probably be doing for a while.

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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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Where Did Vlinder Come From

By | September 29th, 2017|Tags: , , , , |

A question I get asked a lot is how I came up with Vlinder. Was it something I played as a child or did I discover it while I was over seas. No…the answer is it is a compilation of a number of things over my career. One thing I like about social service is I am in an element that is easy to learn from others. That is what inspired me to create Vlinder. Picking and choosing the best pieces was the easy part of creating Vlinder.

My background is in Sociology. I believe in the concept that characteristics are developed and maintained within a society or social group rather than existing inherently. That thought should empower you to affect change in your child. This is the first lesson in Vlinder. Change is inevitable because your world is ever-changing. You can impact what it looks like.

In the late 90’s, when I worked first in prison and then with at-risk youth teaching life skills, I took lessons in team building, communication, stress and anger management, motivation and value recognition. You will find each of them interwoven in the game.

In 2006 when I first started having children I began to realize that there is a difference utilizing a program in theory vs. in practicum. I realize that sounds silly since my child was just a baby, but I realized that some of the expectations that I had for others, no longer applied to myself. The lessons themselves were still valid, but the application seemed unrealistic. It was like giving someone the tools without the instruction booklet.

I got another job working with youth and learned the importance of teaching expectations and most important recognizing growth. It wasn’t the first time that I appreciated this practice. It was, however the first time I had see it on such a large scale without the use of another “parenting style”.

At this point I had three children. I made a point not to bring my work home. I didn’t for a number of years, until that fateful day that my own children’s behavior put me over the edge and I realized that I wasn’t utilizing my skills at home. That “aha” moment was the biggest lesson that my children have given me.

I was reminded of the inspiration I had early in my career and how unattainable it felt after having children of my own. Now that my children were of an age when they needed direction I had a chance to make a change.

There are no chapters to read, no questionnaires to fill out, no exercises to complete. Vlinder is an experience for the whole family to benefit from. The beauty of it is that you can personalize it so that it is already part of your routine!

I hope this answers the question. Keep them coming! admin@ourbreakthroughs.com

For those of you that are just joining us, welcome. There is more at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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