How do you feel about Participation Trophies?

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Growing up, I was involved in a lot of athletics and competitive events.  I have a box full of trophies, medals and certificates showing my success.  As my children begin their own adventures into the sports world, their generation’s parents have created a push for participation trophies.   While receiving a medal for my participation and fundraising efforts for Miles for Migraine, I took a second to reflect.

How do I feel about participation trophies?

When I received my medal, I felt good.  I felt happy, proud, and I did something for a good cause and myself.  The trophy made me feel like a success.  My children also received participation medals for their Tball and softball efforts this summer.  In our cases, we were not playing winning or losing games.  We participated and were rewarded for our efforts.

I think participation should be recognized at a noncompetitive level.  I see the recognition for both my children and myself this summer as motivation.  The medals we received were mementos of the hard work and dedication to the race and season.  My children are young and beginning to find what interests them.  Children need to be motivated.  My son’s league was not keeping score, there were about 20 four-year olds playing in the dirt more than playing the game.  They didn’t even understand the concept of score.  A game without a score is a game of instruction  not winners or losers.   

The only thing I can say about the medals is that they look at them and want to play next year.  They have a physical reminder of their good memories and the fun they had throughout the year.  If the medals were a pat on the back to say good season, I think a snack would have done the same.  My son looked forward to the snacks at the end of the game as much as the game.  I think a pizza party and snacks could have been just as an effective participation trophy.

Once they get into the winning and losing age of sports, I think medals should go to the winners.  Will they always win and be rewarded?  No, that’s life.  They will learn how to overcome setbacks, see progress, learn how to have sportsmanship and how to be a team.  Loosing is part of life and participating does not mean a reward is given.  If you show up at work but don’t get the job done, are you still paid?  Probably not for long.  Sports teach lessons of winning, loosing and working hard to be the winner and best.   Endless lessons can be learned without rewarding those who just showed up.

I think rewarding those who show up when it’s noncompetitive is ok.  We all felt good and were reminded of our dedication.  I felt proud of what I did and want my children to feel the same.  Overall, I think we all need to be reminded to keep trying and getting better.  I think a snack can be swapped for a medal and that the trophies can be saved for the winners once they are to that point.  If they don’t have a box full of trophies at the end of their lives, does that mean they are losers?  No!  In fact, they may learn more from losing than winning.  It’s all about the process not the gift.  I will take lots of pictures to save those moments as reminders of the ups and downs.  They won’t need a trophy to remind them they showed up.

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Participation trophies have turned into a way of saying the game doesn’t matter.  As long as you got dressed and showed up that day you are a winner.  The real world doesn’t reward you for showing up.  The real-world needs people to show up then do something!  It’s the something that counts.  They don’t need to just show up for school, they need to do something!  They need to work hard and get better to be a winner in life.  It will hurt to learn that sometimes they just aren’t good enough, smart enough, fast enough.  As an overprotective mom, I don’t look forward to those moments.  I will sit and cry with them when they lose but I won’t be giving them a trophy.  I’ll give them a hug, a sports tap and get them back out there.  It’s not the things in life that motivate, it’s the experiences.

When you fall off your bike, get back on and ride.  Your trophy will be knowing how to ride the rest of your life.

Now let’s go have a snack!

 

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Starting school, making friends and my hopes for my children’s future

As the school year begins, I have been thinking about my childhood a lot.  I actually have a friend who I have had since I was 5 and a neighbor that became family when I was in 4th grade.  Since then, I have gathered a great group that have made me who I am today.  My “oldest” friends are the ones who know a little piece of me that no one else knows does. They have been there since the beginning.

As the school year begins I think about how my children are starting their “beginning.”  When they go to school they hopefully will find forever friends like I did.  All too soon they will be listening to those friends more than they listen to me and that is terrifying.  Other influences will guide them through school, sports, nights out, big dances, academics and everywhere in between.

These are the people that they will laugh, cry, and grow with.  They will think that the world has ended with a break up and think that missing a party will ruin their lives forever.  They will lie to me, hide things from me, and grow in a blink of an eye.  I just pray that we have raised them well and that their choices in friends have had the same.

They are growing up in a world that is filled with so many more challenges than I ever had to face.  I think we are the first generation to say, it was easier when we grew up.  Social media didn’t run our lives.  Our bullies said it to our faces.  As cruel as it was, it wasn’t the massive amounts of people who can hide behind a screen to say words that crush someone’s soul.

Our football players fought with their fists.  Now they fight with guns.  I wasn’t fearful for my safety.  Columbine shook our lives with the unheard of massacre of many.  Now it’s a part of life that you can’t fly, go to school, the movies, work or a playground without being on high alert.

We didn’t sit at home searching the internet.  We were out riding our bikes and playing endless hours of baseball.  My neighbors watched me and an army of adults were in contact with my parents.  I was held accountable for my actions by everyone.

If I got in trouble at school, I would be sure to hear about it when I came home.  Being a teacher, my student’s parents would blame me for their child’s actions.  They had  little follow through with accountability thus raising an entitled generation with little remorse.

I trusted the teachers and coaches that I spent countless hours with to strengthen and make me a better person.  Are teachers even allowed to do that anymore, or do they just hand them standardized tests?

The only person taking pictures of me was taken by my mom to be put into a family album, not spread on the internet for the world to see.  I grew up with privacy and felt safe.  I have happy, happy memories of my adolescence but remember it not being easy.

My children’s lives will not just be uneasy, it will hands down to hard.  And as a mom I’m so worried about it all.  Right now their tiny hands fit in mine when we cross the street and I pick their play dates.

Some day they will be embarrassed of me and go places that I’m not sure exactly what that they are  doing.  At that point I will rely on the way that we have raised them and their  forever friends that they have chosen.

My babies will always be my babies and they will be thrown into a grown up world well before they will be ready.   As my daughter stands before me in her princess dress I can practically see it as a homecoming dress. I can only hope she wants a beautiful ball gown that makes her glow from the inside out instead of a skimpy dress that she feels appropriate in this overly sexualized world.

As my son runs around in his super hero shirt, I pray he will be safe and this world won’t need saving.  He thinks he can fly and has super strength.   He already has made everyone’s lives better that knows him.  I just hope his ambition and spirit never fades.

I see their innocent smiles and I just want to freeze these moments in time so I never have to see them cry.  I just want to hold them and keep them with me forever.  But I know I can’t do this.  I want and need them to find those forever friends to be something that I can’t.

I need my daughter to understand that although boys are great, every girl needs really good friends.  Men try their best to figure us out, but friends don’t need to.  They just get it!

Their friends will get them through things that really matter when they really matter.  I want them to accumulate all of the wonderful memories that I had and continue to have with my friends that I love so much.

I don’t feel old enough to say that I have friendships almost 30 years but I do.  I’m not sad about my age.  I am proud that I have achieved so much and created so many important relationships during this time.  I’m so happy that I am secure, confident, loved and stable in so many ways.

I no longer have people in my life that are unimportant and as a girl it takes a long time to be happy with yourself and I am.    Life can be so hard yet so wonderful.  I can just pray that my children find people to get through the hard parts of life that I can’t be there for and make the wonderful memories all that sweeter.

May they grow to be happy and healthy.  May they find forever friends who guide them to make good choices and as they guide others.  May they laugh and value people for who they are inside.  May they teach others while they learn so many lessons.   And please God, may they be safe!  As they leave my nest of safety I trust you will watch over them and that the good people of this world will do the same.

Lessons and life with Migraine and Disney

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With seeing the new Beauty and the Beast and planning a trip to Disney World this year, I have been reminded of a lot of lessons learned through Disney.

Today I reminisced to the very beginning of my blogging adventures.  I wrote a post about Aladdin that was short and sweet but meaningful to many Disney movies and life lessons.

This week I will repost my Disney World, the good, the bad and the migraine series.  Please follow me on:

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These posts will not be directly sent to my email list due to reposting, so follow along….

For today, a flashback to my thoughts on Aladdin and a Whole New World

Comment on the lessons you’ve learned through Disney movies

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Lessons your children learn or miss on vacation

img_9212I just came home from vacation with 4 children under 9.  When we left for vacation I was reminded that school districts look poorly on unexcused absences.  My answer was, “My children learn endless lessons on vacation and I’m not apologizing for showing them the world.”

While on the cruise I noticed lessons learned and missed everywhere.  Being a stay at home mom and teacher makes me see the world through different eyes.  I see my children and nieces as students in the real world.  I don’t have them in a classroom but I take opportunities to teach them as often as possible.

Waiting in Lines

Traveling requires a lot of waiting.  I’m writing this from the airport with a canceled flight and 8 hours of airport sitting.  When we travel, we wait in line for security, baggage, departure, arrival, check in, check out, and events that we attend.  Everyone waits in line but how they wait is crucial. 

As a teacher of three year olds, a line is a completely foreign concept.  We work on it all year long but it’s up to adults to show them how.  Are you waiting in line complaining that it’s not moving?  Are you pushing people?  Are you cutting and stepping in and out of line?  Patience my dear…..patience.

Eating

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On a cruise, food is endless.  With this, are endless options.  We don’t encourage our children to order mac n cheese every night (although my son would love it and cause me less issues).  I will fully admit my son is an insanely tough eater.  He cries through most meals and only eats about three things by choice.  I have a picky eater who ruins most meals for me.  This does not mean he gets what he wants.  On vacation we aren’t shoving veggies down our kid’s throats and we eat lots of desserts. 

We mainly focus on trying new foods.  What better time to try new things than an all-inclusive meal package?  They tried escargot (gross!), lobster, crab legs, fruit soups and more.  If they don’t like it, ok.  If they do, it gets added it to their vast pallet.  We take “No thank you bites” which mean they try it and say no thank if they don’t want more.  Try new foods.

Along with this comes table manners.  Even my three year old orders for himself and has for years.  Look at the waitress, order politely and wait patiently.  We look at how a table is set, why there are so many forks and put napkins in our laps.  At home my children set the table and having a beautifully set table is something they recognize.

Different cultures, languages and social studies

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Our children have classmates who are bi lingual but only hear them speak English in school.  When we travel, we see adults and children speak in their first languages and it’s a great learning experience.

 My son played with a little girl in the pool and neither one of them knew they were speaking different languages.  I sat and laughed watching them play in the water while joy and giggles spoke for them.

We saw different bathing suits, hair coverings, dress styles, jewelry choices and more.  Talking about differences in cultures is different than seeing it.  Both on the boat and on the islands we saw every color of skin, eye and hair color. 

They saw homes that look a lot different than ours.  Telling a child to appreciate their home and showing them a shack where children their age live is a lesson that lasts.  More is not always more and location dictates dwellings.  We don’t have brightly colored houses like the Bahamas and they don’t have snow barriers like Cleveland.  Location, location, location.

It was diversity at it’s best.  We rode in elevators with a swirl of languages around us.  We tried to identify where they may have been from and where in the world it was.  It was fun to problem solve and see social studies come to life.

Maps.  Maps can help teach scale (additional math lessons below).  It can teach location, direction, elevation, landmarks and more.  Wherever we travel we get a map.

Math

Math surrounds us everywhere.  Money is always an easy lesson.  Change, dollars, prices etc. are all opportunities for lessons.

We found lessons in walking the stairs when the elevators were too crowded.  How many floors till we get to where we need to go?  Addition, subtraction, counting stairs and more.  Active math can be better than paper pencil math.

At dinner we had my niece making patterns with the utensils.  Fork, spoon, fork, spoon, fork…  Now try spoon, spoon, fork, spoon, spoon, fork, spoon….

We had a ton of events to go to.  What time is it?  What numbers are on the clock?  How much more time till we need to go?  What time do we need to get up and what numbers will be on the clock?

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Technology

HERE COMES THE JUDGEMENT…..

Get the ipad out of your kids hands!!!!!  I was sickened by how much other children were missing life lessons.  If the schools are referring to those kids and missing school, I agree.  How you vacation with your children should dictate if you can miss school or not.  If your child is handed an ipad for a week, keep them in school!!!!!!  You aren’t doing them any favors by “showing them the world” when they are missing the world around them.

I sat at dinner for an entire week next to a family who gave their son an ipad at dinner and I did not see them speak to him ONCE!  It actually distracted me from my own family by staring at this poor child holding a screen 1 foot from his face for an hour straight each night.  Literally……NOT ONE WORD WAS SPOKEN TO HIM!  A generation without being spoken to or speaking was screaming in my face.

Do people say to themselves, “Let’s have a baby and not talk to him.”  I know this is super judgey but it’s the truth.  It’s easier to give technology than to speak to your babies, I get it (but I don’t do it).   We talk to our children and they speak to us.  Language development is hugely lacking due to technology.  Children should not have difficulty in conversation, in fact, they should be difficult to stop from their inquisitive natures.

We ask open ended questions that provoke thought…What was your favorite part of the day?  What was your least favorite part and how did it make you feel?  Who made you laugh today?  How did you feel when (a situation) happened?

Our children colored, did actual homework, read menus, played with characters and were aware of their surroundings.  Are my children perfect?  No child is.  Most nights we had multiple trips to the bathroom and walks around the halls while waiting for food. 

Like I said, my son is a picky eater and my husband and I battled him every night to cut his attitude and sit with us whether he was eating or not.  We left most dinners exhausted and frustrated but we didn’t take the easy way out.  He’ll thank us some day and onlookers thanked us as they left for the polite lovely children that we are raising.  I’m not kidding, we get complimented most places we go for their manners.

Technology is easy being a parent HARD.  If you got into being a parent thinking it would be easy, check the definition again….it’s HARD and requires real work.  Technology is not work.

As we waited in those lesson teaching lines, I mentioned above, I saw dozens of children with ipads again.  These aren’t educational games that my kids play at home on rainy days, they are manic, ADD producing, mind frying, delusion creating games (cue the negative feedback).  There is a time and a place for shows, movies and games and it is NOT ALL THE TIME!

Like I said, this is  judgey and I’m not perfect.  I typically try to be politically correct in my posts because I tend to lean towards: Everyone is different.  But in this case, if you want to battle me in saying that ipads are good to be in children’s hands at all moments I’ll take that challenge.

A generation that can’t self-entertain, don’t speak and are missing life lessons around them is frightening.   Children playing games sitting in diapers instead of playing in the pool is wrong!  Not talking to your son at dinner is not OK.  Waiting in a line and frantically searching through a purse to quickly soothe a toddler who needs to be swiping his finger while rewiring his small brain and is losing potential with each passing minute is tragic.  Kids who are only comfortable “talking” through their fingers saying things that they wouldn’t have the nerve to say out loud is their “reality”.

I can go on and on and on and on about this.  As a teacher, as a mother, as a human being watching my babies surrounded by robots is nothing short of terrifying!

 Conclusion

Circling back to the comment of schools not liking personal vacations, I ask you this…..Are your children learning and living lessons or missing them as a world passes them by?  Enjoy life and be present.  Being a parent is hard and a lot of my vacation consisted of cranky kids and not being easy.  We read books at bedtime, we talked, we grew together and we all had moments of tears and difficulty.

Life is hard and vacation should not consist of ipads and missing life.  Life is real, it’s fun, it’s different, it’s people, it’s tantrums, it’s conversations, it’s exhausting, it’s living school.  They can look and speak to adults, entertain themselves, use their imaginations and be kids the ways kids should be (the old fashioned way).

I’m not perfect, my kids aren’t perfect and I know no one is.  But together we enjoyed vacation and learned lessons that school or an ipad could not teach us………LIFE.

RANT and JUDGEMENT OVER…..

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Music Therapy: Chronic Pain, Migraines, Children and Special Needs

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I have experience teaching children with severe special needs.  It was an extremely difficult job while so rewarding at the same time.  During my time teaching these special children, they received Music Therapy.  I have written about how much music helps me (feeling better makes me sing) but have seen the actual clinical side of how it can benefit many.  The American Music Therapy Association has provided fact sheets and extensive information on music therapy.

After reading many informative articles on Music Therapy, I thought I’d share some information I found intriguing and hope you will follow the links to learn more about how Music Therapy can benefit so many.

Music therapy is using music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of an individual. Treatment includes creating, signing, moving to and/or listening to music.

Music therapists are more than music teachers.

To be a music therapist, one must “complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).” [1]

What can one expect from a music therapist?

“Through a planned and systematic use of music and music activities, the music therapist provides opportunities for:

  • Anxiety and stress reduction
  • Nonpharmacological management of pain and discomfort
  • Positive changes in mood and emotional states
  • Active and positive patient participation in treatment
  • Decreased length of stay

In addition, music therapy may allow for:

  • Emotional intimacy with families and caregivers
  • Relaxation for the entire family
  • Meaningful time spent together in a positive, creative way” [2]

How does music therapy make a difference for medical patients?

“Music therapy has been shown to be an efficacious and valid treatment option for medical patients with a variety of diagnoses.  Music therapy can be used to address patient needs related to respiration, chronic pain, physical rehabilitation, diabetes, headaches, cardiac conditions, surgery, and obstetrics, among others.  Research results and clinical experiences attest to the viability of music therapy even in those patients resistant to other treatment approaches.  Music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it.” [3]

Not only am I interested in how it can help migraine and chronic pain sufferers, but I am also interested in how it can help children.  I am a firm believer in teaching children through music and think it can benefit them for mild to severe needs.

How Does Music Therapy Make a Difference with Young Children?

“Music stimulates all of the senses and involves the child at many levels.  This “multimodal approach” facilitates many developmental skills. Quality learning and maximum participation occur when children are permitted to experience the joy of play.  The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently. Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect.  Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves. Music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations. Music can encourage socialization, self-expression, communication, and motor development. Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.” [4]

Natural treatment

“Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.” [5]

 

This post is inspired by the U.S. Pain foundations 30 day challenge during pain awareness month (Septmeber). The focus of the challenge is a month of empowerment!

For more information on how you can participate and support the U.S. Pain foundation please go to: http://uspainawarenessmonth.com/30-day-challenge/ #PAM16 #PainAwarenessMonth #USPain

For more information on Music Therapy please go to the referenced links or visit: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/

References:

[1] http://www.musictherapy.org/faq/#39

[2] http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Medicine_2006.pdf

[3] http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Medicine_2006.pdf

[4] http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Young_Children_2006.pdf

[5] http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/