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Be The Bra: The Tools You Need to Lift Up & Support Your Girls.

Teach Your Child the Art of Conversation in the Age of Technology

(4-minute read) It’s no secret that I’m a talker. This trait largely stems from my curiosity and desire to learn.  I’ve found that engaging in conversation with people other than friends and family fulfills these needs. Whether I speak with the familiar woman fulfilling my order at the bagel store or a complete stranger awaiting the same train, or the regulars at my house like the mailperson, sanitation workers and landscapers, I almost always walk away happier than I was prior to the conversation (and more enlightened). This practice has not only proven advantageous for me personally, but it has also led to professional growth (I’ll save that for a future blog). I recognize that starting casual conversations comes naturally to some and not for others. Just the thought of engaging in a dialogue with a stranger makes some people want to crawl into a hole and never come out. Obviously though, going through life without communicating in this way is simply not an option. Regardless of age or profession, being introverted or extraverted, everyone needs to engage in back-and-forth, face-to-face dialogue every day of their lives. Given the rise of smartphones and other portable technology, the primary source of communicating among children is through text and social media. So children do not get as much practice interacting and verbally conversing with others.  Even worse is the fact that technology is a distraction. The world around our children goes by so fast that when they do talk to people face-to-face, they are often unable to focus on the person or the topic for more than a few seconds. What...

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Teach Your Daughter What to Say (and not say) to Support A Friend.

(3.5-minute read) When I was young and carefree (you know…pre-marriage and kids) all I wanted was friends, friends, and more friends. In my mind, the more the merrier. Having a lot of friends gave me more opportunities to go out and have fun. More people to talk for hours with about cute boys, dream jobs, and how stupid or annoying our parents and siblings were (funny how I probably now qualify as that stupid and annoying parent). After I got married, however, I began to appreciate the principal of quality over quantity. Instead of relying on an endless network of surface level friends, I focused on spending time with women who shared the same values, and couples with whom my husband and I were both compatible. After becoming a mother, naturally, an even more noticeable shift occurred since I had less time to spend with my friends.  It prompted me to become more particular about the people with whom I chose to spend my limited time. Since then, I have come to value my friendships more than ever.  And now that I am older – as are my daughters, (who have formed their own friendships which I am privy to seeing as an outsider and hearing about third-hand from them), I have the ability to look at relationships, and reflect on what made them successful…or not. Inevitably, I have experienced a fair amount of girl drama. Which has caused me to leave some so-called “friends” behind. But, comparing them to the valued friends I have now, I can’t help but wonder if those friends were ever really friends? Turns out,...

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When Should My Child Get a Smartphone? Buckle up. Technology’s a bumpy road

(3-minute read) According to data firm Nielsen,  The average teen sends and receives over 3000 texts a month. That means, 3000 possibilities to send something they may later regret. 3000 chances to make a mistake that can’t be undone. This technology driven world is something everyone is still trying to figure out, including our kids, who are growing up surrounded by it (unlike us oldies).  And what’s worse, is that it’s constantly changing, so even once you think you have it figured out, something changes. With that in mind, it’s no wonder we have to think long and hard about when to first hand over a cellphone to our children. We can easily justify the need for them to have one at younger ages, telling ourselves that it will allow us to be more connected. But ask yourself…is that really a valid reason? When we were kids, somehow staying connected seemed to just work out. We were able to figure out who was picking us up from practice when we saw the cars pull up, or when our friend pulled us over to let us know that their mom was driving us home. We found a payphone and called our parents to tell them if we were staying after school for extra help. We heard mom scream down the block, “it’s time to come home,” when we were playing in the neighborhood. We learned where everyone was meeting up through chain calls. One way or another, people somehow ended up on the same page. But now that we have constant access to communication, it seems like we feel compelled...

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Get Creative-It Goes Beyond Fun. Join Household Item Creative Game Challenge

(2-minute read) Self-expression plays a key role in a child’s emotional development. Creative and artistic expression can be especially beneficial for children who don’t know how to express themselves or are uncomfortable doing so. It helps children learn new things (without the pressure of learning), and enables them to apply it to everyday life.  It’s for these reasons that Art Therapy was developed. Creativity is actually an extremely valuable skill that prepares children to engage with an ever-changing, complex, and unpredictable world by allowing them to: See things from new and unique perspectives Express themselves Focus, be mindful, and live in the moment Embrace their authenticity / willingness to be original Use problem-solving skills to devise unique, practical solutions to complex problems Be resilient (in the creative process things don’t always work out as planned. So failing before achieving success, adjusting the plan or redefining success is necessary.) Based on the potential to develop critical life skills through creativity, it is essential for parents and teachers to encourage it on a regular basis. The good news is that it can easily be integrated into children’s daily life without the use of special tools.   This Winter Break why not strengthen the bond you have with your children, as well as your creative abilities by inventing your own fun games. Better yet, why not engage your imagination and use common things you already own. We’ll kick things off with 5 Creative Games Using Household Items. But we’d really love for you to join the Household Item Creative Game Challenge.  Invent your own games. Then share them with our community by posting them on our Facebook or...

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4 Simple Ideas that Express Love & Gratitude this Valentine’s Day

(2.5 minute read) I’m no Grinch, but I must admit that some might consider me a curmudgeon when it comes to holidays.  I can’t tell you why, but I just don’t feel the need to make a big deal out of them, not even birthdays.  While I admire those who decorate their house for every occasion, and have special plates and napkins, this simply is not in my dna. I know how I feel inside about the true meaning behind each holiday and to me that’s what’s important.  As I started writing (and thinking) about this, it occured to me that my stance on this is similar to posting on social media. I do not subscribe to the idea that I need to broadcast, or prove that I have love, happiness and success in my life – my personal  highlight reel. That is not to say I don’t enjoy scrolling and seeing what others choose to share with the world. In fact, I actually love seeing the celebrations, milestones, and achievements, and the pure joy on people’s faces. I admire how much people have grown / changed and yes, even those who aged.  I even appreciate learning of sad news as I then keep those people in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll be honest, while it’s mind-blowing to me that people choose to spend so much time on social media, it’s equally as baffling that people put so much effort and energy on holidays-whether big or small, real or fake. And by fake I mean the hallmark-celebrations, like the upcoming Valentine’s Day. I am totally comfortable with my lack...

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Be Seen as a Strong (not bossy) Leader: 4 Qualities for Females to Lead Successfully

(3-minute read) It’s no secret that female leaders are often labeled as bitchy or bossy. In fact, recent research shows that women who exert their leadership by behaving like men are seen as “bossy” and “less effective” than their male counterparts who behave the exact same way (but are praised for it). I know it’s hard to believe, right? What makes matters worse is that some women even perceive other strong women in this negative light. This can obviously have a detrimental effect on our future. As women, we need to work together to redefine what it means to be a leader – regardless of sex. As mothers, it is our responsibility to nurture our daughters so they can become valued and respected leaders.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a magic recipe for how to do that.  Having said that, one of my GAALSters seemed to find just the right blend of ingredients that resulted in her ability to lead in a confident yet reserved manner, while being highly respected by her peers. Sometimes the most unexpected combinations make the best dishes. Turns out people are the same way. At the end of sixth grade, Ella decided she no longer enjoyed swimming (despite excelling on the swim team for three years prior). Ella’s parents, although reluctantly, decided that she did not have to continue competing as long as she chose an alternative activity that provided some sort of exercise. It could be anything. While dancing would have been her first choice, she unfortunately was not able to join her friends at the local facility. Despite her keen interest and...

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My Unexpected Journey to Mindfulness: How You & Your Kids Can Get There Too

(4.5 minute read) Who would have guessed that the two things I fought my husband hardest on in our 20 year relationship would end up being the same two things that have drastically changed my life for the better? (Don’t tell him I said this…but I should probably listen to him more often. He seems to know me better than I know myself.) First of all, if you would have asked me seven years ago, I would have told you that I was born to live in NYC. I loved everything about my life there: raising my daughters with everything I needed at my fingertips, being able to walk everywhere, the high-power corporate job I worked so hard at. I ate up that fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle lifestyle that is so characteristic of the city. It fit my personality to a T. I used to pride myself on how well I was able to juggle everything, my ability to multitask. People would marvel at how much I could get done in a day. And I love it. My self-esteem was somewhat based on my productivity, and being praised for it only increased my desire to be just that…productive.   So, as you can imagine, when my husband sprang on me that he wanted to move to the burbs, get a dog, and have a third child, my reaction was not exactly supportive. “No, no and absolutely NO!” My world (that I seemingly managed so well) was about to turn upside down. Lo-and-behold, a year later I found myself living in Long Island. Being out of the city allowed me to think about...

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No More Girl Drama-Mama Please Help (The Effects of Cliques)

(4.5 minute read) In an ideal world, the topic of friends would elicit nothing but warm, fuzzy feelings and fond memories. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. I hear stories on a daily basis about girls feeling excluded and/or judged, and about them doing/saying things just because of their deep desire to fit in- typical girl drama. Unfortunately, these sentiments are at their worst in middle school, when girls are experiencing physical changes to their bodies and hormones are raging. At this same time girls start to separate from their parents in an effort to figure out who they are and who they want to be. And friends begin to yield a greater influence on our daughters than parents. As a result, girls begin to focus on things like popularity, status, fashion, and appearance. They try to find the right group, believing it will ultimately lead to happiness. But when girls befriend people just for the sake of fitting in, looking impressive, or maintaining the status quo, the pressure they feel makes it difficult to think and act for themselves. Thoughts like “everyone is wearing that new style of shoes, I have to get a pair” or even “she has the best figure, I need to eat what she eats,” can become all-consuming. Most girls focus on “keeping up with the joneses” instead of being their own person. These unhealthy patterns of group thinking are perpetuated (and even rewarded), as girls bow down to the queen bees of the world and blindly follow their lead. For instance, if the queen bee of a particular group likes one person, then...

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When Your Daughter Has An Inflated View of Self. Is it Good or Bad? What Should You Do?

(3-minute read) Not only do I lead organization specifically for girls, but I am also the mother of two daughters – one preteen and one teenager (all thoughts and prayers are welcome). In both of these roles, I have become acutely aware of how a girl’s sense of self, particularly her esteem, changes as she grows.  Unfortunately, it typically dwindles as she grows. Pressure increases. Opinions are shared. And she is inundated with the often unrealistic standards set by society at large. In an effort to help girls build confidence in themselves and their abilities throughout their development, I’ve read books, attended seminars, spoken to professionals…you name it. The most rewarding part comes when I am fortunate enough to witness firsthand this increased sense of self, whether it’s under my roof with my daughters or through GAALS programs with one of our GAALSters or from one of their parents. You can imagine my surprise when one mom, let’s call her Kim, came to me with the opposite problem. She called me concerned, saying “I’m worried. My daughter sees herself as better than she is. I don’t know what to do.” Of course…this piqued my interest. A young girl with an inflated view of herself? In my experience, this was rare. Kim continued, telling me that her daughter is a good student, but not great. That she is a good lacrosse player, but not great. Despite what I termed exceptional mediocrity, Kim expressed that her daughter repeatedly says she would like to go to Penn, and even thinks she will get a scholarship to play lacrosse there. Although I could...

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Encourage Your Children To Set Resolutions for 2019 & Use These 10 Tips To Foster Success

New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity to inspire change. But, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just for adults. There is plenty of room for every individual to learn and grow, especially with all of the promise and opportunity that a brand new year provides. Even preschool aged children can set age-appropriate goals when given the right guidance and support. So why not encourage your child(ren) to share in this age-old New Year’s practice? Finding simple and practical ways for everyone in the family to make the right resolution for them, whatever that may be, can be a healthy and positive experience. Plus it can be a lot of fun! Remember, resolutions don’t need to be limited to one, and they don’t need to be overly ambitious or complicated. You could have many – for example, one as a family and one or more as an individual. They can pertain to various different aspects of life: academic/business, physical, social, artistic, etc. Here are 10 tips to foster your children’s success in making (and keeping) resolutions Make it a family tradition.  Traditions not only bring families together, they create lasting memories. In a survey that asked children what they remember most about their childhood, a majority of kids responded by talking about simple traditions. Be a role model. Share your resolutions as parents, both success stories and failures. It’s not only good for your children to know you’ve been successful, it’s important that they know that on the path toward success, you overcame obstacles. It’s in the face of adversity where we show great strength. Avoid the negative.  Language is...

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