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

6 Important Values to Teach Your Daughter

(2.5 minute to read) Like most working moms, my to do list is pages long. And that means I’m constantly juggling things. If you’re anything like me, you might find that while you’re doing one thing, you’re thinking, planning, and reflecting on other things. At some point, conducting ourselves in this manner becomes somewhat second nature. (C’mon tell me…is there really any other way to operate if you want to get things done?) Even though I’m somewhat proud of my ability to multi-task and accomplish a lot, being on autopilot isn’t necessarily sustainable or beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to parenting. How we respond, tend to, and deal with our girls on a daily basis sets the scene for how they will grow up to view the world. I know it may sound like a gross exaggeration, but I really don’t think it is. Rather than only focusing on what will make the present moment easiest, I’ve come to realize that it’s important to take time to think about the key values we want to instill in our children long-term. And then act accordingly. When I reflected on my personal experiences as a mother, I was able to recognize that oftentimes my words, actions and reactions didn’t reflect the values I wanted to instill in my daughters. So together with my husband, we determined our core family values and then wrote them down. Going through this exercise made it easier to ensure that our words and behaviors accurately embodied the values that would most powerfully impact our daughters.   6 Top Values to Teach Our Daughters:...

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Create Traditions & Rituals Your Children Will Never Forget: 12 Ideas

(2.5-minute read) What better way to spend a holiday than with family. Take a minute and think about how you spent your holidays as a child. Odds are you have lots of wonderful memories of the traditions your family created (i.e. finding the matzoh on Passover or enjoying a traditional ham dinner for Easter). What you recall tells a story about your family, like your history and religious / cultural beliefs. But holidays don’t have to be the only time to create traditions and rituals that children will remember. There are endless opportunities to make everyday events and milestones special. And the end result is so much more than creating fond memories. In the New York Times bestseller, The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler, sites a study that showed that “kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.” It’s experiences, not possessions, that bring people more happiness, according to research. Why? Cornell psychology professor, Thomas Gilovich, says it’s because people are “less likely to measure the value of their experiences by comparing them to those of others.” (although with everyone sharing images of their experiences on social media, comparisons now seem inevitable). Establishing traditions strengthen family connection and unity, while instilling a sense of comfort and security. These rituals say, this who we are and what we value. While creating traditions/rituals is priceless, it doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Here are a dozen fun & simple family traditions/rituals:...

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Helping Your Daughter With Her Friend Drama: 7 Do’s & Don’ts

(5-minute read)  I’m not a fan of gender stereotypes. But I think we can all admit that dealing with girls is not always easy…or fun. Especially when young girls approach adolescence, the transformations that are happening within their bodies and their brains present many challenges: changing bodies, fluctuating moods and hormones, increasing responsibilities, and separating from parents in an effort to forming their own identity. No wonder why teenage girls are so sensitive and moody. And while girls are trying to figure out who they want to be, they face a myriad of opinions, pressures, and influences from various sources, which can be daunting…especially when technology and social media are added to the mix. Whether we like it or not, social media influencers will for sure have a huge impact on your daughter. But the friends she chooses will play an even more crucial role. Their beliefs, their likes and dislikes, their style, their attitude, their character – all of it will influence your daughter. Think about it. Regardless of age, it’s nearly impossible to resist being influenced by our friends. So now put your inexperienced daughter (who’s also likely to be insecure) in a situation where she differs from her friends and watch it play out. For example, you may have asked your daughter to give back to the community and she couldn’t find the time.  Yet when her friends are going to a local charity event, she’s on board. Group think is super powerful (and definitely warrants its own future blog – so stay tuned for that!) While this can be advantageous, things can quickly turn from...

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Reframing Youth Sports: What Do We Want Our Daughters to Get? Give?

(3-minute read) The temperatures are rising, the sun is shining, and spring sports are back in play! That often means our daughters are getting more exercise and we’re doing more schlepping to practice and games. For many girls, unfortunately, that also means more tears. Whether it’s because they didn’t start the game, get enough playing time, the coach was hard on them and/or they made a mistake during the game, I see (and hear about) these stories more often than I would like. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be this way. The bad news? Very few of us are taking action to prompt changes to the sports culture You’re probably asking, “How can I change what I (seemingly) can’t control?”  To answer that, we need to first take a step back and think about the reasons we enroll our daughters in sports programs in the first place. Personally, I want my daughters to be physically active, learn skills, and work as part of a team. But it’s not just about practicing and competing. I also see youth sports as an opportunity for my daughters to gain other valuable life skills, such as commitment, persistence, goal-setting, and communication. I want coaches that applaud positive attitudes, effort, and improvement, while also recognizing every child for what they bring to the table. I also want coaches who serve as role models – ones that motivate and inspire my girls to do and be their best. This approach is what enables them to thrive. Our children’s participation in sports is an opportunity to help them grow physically, emotionally, mentally, and...

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Going Solo: Cultivating Social Courage in our Daughters

(3.5-minute read) I’ve never considered myself to be someone who struggles with social anxiety. Put me anywhere and I will be okay. I guess this ability can be attributed to my gift of gab. That being said, I’m still able to empathize with my GAALSters when they share that they are worried about engaging in social activities – whether it’s signing up for an after school activity, going to a party, or attending homework club. Naturally though, that social courage seems to fade and their anxiety intensifies if girls don’t have anyone to join them. When you have someone by your side to provide support, it gives you the courage to stand tall, hold your head high, and feel comfortable in your own skin. But life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, we have to do things alone. At GAALS, one of the most beneficial opportunities we provide to girls is facilitating dialogue in a safe, supportive environment where they feel comfortable expressing themselves. Learning that others think and feel the way they do helps them feel less alone (and normal), which in turn builds self-esteem.  So when it comes to conversations about social fears, girls share strategies they’ve tried and even talk about experiences where the outcome was better than they anticipated. Even with this catalyst, many girls still can’t summon up the courage to do something alone. And it breaks my heart. But I could never feel the anxiety in my gut the way I knew they did. Without that feeling, I could only go so far in relating to them. That was until a few weeks...

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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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