Parenting 101: From Tinkertoys to Tiddleywinks – Using the Power of Play to Boost your Child’s Confidence

Recently, my kids and I were running down the stairs “throwing” spells from Harry Potter at each other. An hour later, we were building a fort out of plastic cups. Later, we chased each other around the yard until they collapsed on the trampoline in a fit of laughter. Seems like a fun, lighthearted day, doesn’t it? It was. It was also an incredible boost their confidence.

By nature, we are born to play. It’s instinctual. Playing helps children not just survive, but thrive, by connecting your child’s ideas, feelings and creativity, to what he or she understands about the world. It helps children develop a sense of well-being and identity.

Play can also help children develop a sense of command over their responses to tragedies, setbacks and obstacles. It can both calm and relax while simultaneously stimulating the brain and body. Play helps children become more inventive, smart, happy, flexible, and resilient. Play is fundamental grow physical, emotional and social growth.

How can you make sure your child is getting the most out of playtime?

Make playtime YOUR priority – Playtime isn’t just for kids. It is just as important for you to play as it is for your kids too. Play is essential to our physical and mental health as is getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. As parents, we often take playtime for granted. It’s easy when we have an endless task list of laundry, meal prep, sports, shopping, chauffeuring, working and more. However play is the time when a majority of parents say they feel most alive. So, eschew the laundry for a bit and go play Twister with your kids. Your kids will soon model your light-hearted nature as a way of handling everyday stressors.

Think playtime not just toy time – At times, it may feel like your son or daughter has a never-ending supply of toys to occupy his or her time. And, yes, toys can enhance playtime. However, you are really the ultimate plaything for your child. Your attention positively feeds your child’s self-esteem. It shows your child that you think he or she matters. So, from blowing bubbles at each other to singing silly songs to playing hide and seek, look for ways to play that involve movement, touch and you.

Get over it and get silly and dirty – It’s easy to worry about what others may think if you are getting silly or goofy with your kids. I have three words for you: Get. Over. It. Your kids love seeing you act like kids. When you let loose, be goofy and let your kids see your silly side your kids will not only be excited; they’ll be engaged and connected.

Put your child in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing activities – When playing with your child, let him or her choose activities and control the direction of the play. Yes, you can suggest new things or present new options, but give your child permission to be the boss. This is a great way to allow your child to exercise his voice and flex his independence muscle. Plus, play is about fun, and if there’s one thing your child good at being the boss of, it’s having a good time.

The attention you show your child when you play together is key to building his self-esteem. Whether you are digging in the mud, drinking tea with teddy, playing a video game or just singing a few goofy songs, you are showing your child that you accept him and his make-believe world. You are also showing your child that you value her and her interests; you are showing that her she is important to you. And, that is the ultimate boost to anyone’s confidence.

Interested in starting a conversation of character in your home? Check out Julie Watson Smith’s workbook, Karmic Acts of Character.

Parenting 101: Family Challenge Adventures – How Outdoor Adventures Help Kids Climb to New Heights of Confidence

When you hear the word adventure, what does it bring to mind? The thrill of skydiving in New Zealand? The heart-stopping excitement of running with the bulls in Spain? An adrenaline-filled cliff dive in Mexico? Imagine feeling to-the-moon confident and ready to take on the world.

What if I told you that you can recreate those same feelings in your child, even your family, without stepping foot outside the county, let alone stepping off a cliff? How? With an outdoor family adventure challenge.

An outdoor family adventure challenge can be anything that takes you out of your comfort zone – running a mile, hiking a mountain or even joining a beach clean-up. There’s nothing like accomplishing something as a family to bring you closer together.

Challenge is essential for emotional growth and social learning. Challenging yourself and the kids to try something exciting and new – together – develops leadership skills, boosts confidence and teamwork. Family adventure challenges also provide opportunities to foster integrity, responsibility and respect.

These challenges also allow children to push themselves a bit beyond what they believe themselves capable of and to persevere in tough situations. When families create adventure challenges, they are providing a supportive space for children to discover what is possible while building a sense of their potential. The inevitable result of adventure challenges is self-confidence. Confidence grows with each sense of accomplishment.

So, does this mean you have to go out and jump head first out of a plane? Not at all. Family challenge adventures can be quite, well, family-friendly.

Ideas for a Family-Friendly Adventure Challenge

Create a backyard obstacle course – Use your lawn chairs, cardboard boxes or cones to set up an obstacle course in your own backyard. Use a stopwatch to see which family member makes it through in the best time. This provides healthy competition as well as a benchmark to gauge individual and family achievement and improvement.

Hike and climb – Taking a hike up to the top of a mountain is a great way to boost a child’s self-esteem. Ascending the mountain can feel like a rite of passage. Be sure to snap a photo of your child at the summit to mark this milestone!

Train and complete a 10K – Recently, I challenged my own kids to walk/jog a 10K with me. While my son is quite active, none of us had ever run a full mile. Each week, we trained doing fun outdoor games, hikes and jogs until the race day came. I’m happy to say that each of us completed it (my son did it in a little over an hour)! My favorite part of the event was at the finish line when my 9-year-old daughter said, “Mom, I didn’t think I could do this at the beginning, and now look, I’m crossing the finish line. I’m so proud of me!”

Survival challenge – Challenge your family to fine-tune their survival instincts during your next day at the park or campout. You can split up in teams or remain together. Either way, provide the group(s) with a compass and directions to get to find you at a certain spot (picnic table, tent, etc). Be sure to equip them with a walkie-talkie and a few other necessities (water, a light snack, sunscreen) and then let them discover their way back to you. This exercise is truly a fantastic and fun way to test and rely upon one’s instincts and to work together.

Some of the most memorable learning experiences occur when we leave our daily routine. They truly do provide, well, adventure, challenge and loads of fun. So, whether cliff diving in Mexico or jumping over lawn chairs, your child and your whole family can and will boost their confidence while discovering new possibilities for themselves and the world.

Interested in starting a conversation of character in your home? Check out Julie Watson Smith’s workbook, Karmic Acts of Character.

Gimme Ten to Create Momentum: MOMeo’s 30 Day Challenge continues with Susie Shina


Do you have a tough time getting in the mood to exercise?


Instead of focusing on the hassle, the pain or the sweaty mess associated with exercise, CREATE MOMENTUM by knowing that 10 minutes of movement means:
•    a better night’s sleep
•    more satisfying sex
•    less stress
•    increased mental focus & clarity
•    age-defying longevity
•    better body confidence

When you commit to any kind of physical activity for just 10 minutes, momentum builds like crazy to continue everyday because the body loves:
•    the “feel good” endorphin rush
•    the increased oxygen to your brain
•    Increase circulation & blood flow
•    Release stress and tension
•    the engaged mind/body connection
•    the fat burn for a sleek and toned look

Not convinced that 10 minutes of a total-body exercise circuit will do the trick?  Slip your shoes off, put on your favorite music and take action with this quick 10 minute home-office workout…

I’ll let you in on a little something…I made up Gimme Ten for myself.  Although I know the benefits of exercise, sometimes I don’t want to work out either.  I put a hot pink sticky note on the door of my studio that says “Gimme Ten.”  It always works for me, without fail.  It works for my clients, and it will work for you too.

Remember “Gimme Ten” for creating momentum to enhance your lifestyle when you:

  1. Just want to stay in bed.
  2. Think you don’t have time.
  3. Just want to come home from work and put your feet up.
  4. Can think of 10 billion things to do other than exercise.

Let the momentum build, get motivated and do something for yourself for just 10 minutes…you’ll be so glad you did!
Susie Shina is an award-winning author, lifestyle strategist and creator of the Fit for Biz Challenge.  Her innovative Fit Enough concept has been featured on CBS, Fox, NBC, women’s magazines and hundreds of radio stations.

Sign-Up for the 30 Day MOMentum Challenge: 30 Days to Build Unstoppable Momentum


Susie Shina is a Lifestyle Strategist who creates sustainable fitness, nutrition, stress-reduction and self-care programs so clients can start getting the good stuff in life.

Here’s the stuff meant to impress the heck out of you

Award-winning author … Regular guest on CBS, NBC & Fox morning shows … appearances in Natl women’s magazines like Glamour, First, Fit Pregnancy … regular expert for WebMD … hundreds of radio interviews & featured guest host appearances … Corporate wellness program creator & consultant for Mars Chocolate … featured speaker for Fix the Family.

Fix America series … CEO of Lady Boots … co-creator of patent-pending eco-friendly fitness product that reduces cellulite (for real) launching in the mass marketplace this summer … host of Gettin the Good Stuff.

MOMeo Show: Sandy Grason – The Secret to Claiming your Magnificence


What’s holding you back? Is it that Inner Critic whispering (or screaming), “Who do you think you are?” Fabulous Formula Founder Sandy Grason shares her secrets to conquering your inner critic and claiming your magnificence.

Join Carla Young, Founder & CEO of MOMeo and Publisher of MOMeo, as she talks fear and fabulousness with Sandy Grason. Learn from Sandy Grason:

  • The Fill-in-the-Blank syndrome
  • How to claim your magnificence and propel yourself forward
  • Simple, but powerful techniques to quiet your inner critic
  • How to live fabulous NOW!

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