Parenting 101 with Robyn Spizman: Tips for Creative Parenting
Parents are constantly finding themselves asking the multi-million dollar question: “How can I best help my child succeed in life?” While there isn't a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success. Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to creative parenting. But when it comes to inspiring happier, brighter future generations even the best of parents need a little help sometimes. Renowned parenting expert, educator, and author Robyn Spizman spoke with EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson. She shared tips on creative parenting, as it pertains to behavior, education, and overall long-term success! Watch the full interview here:
So, how can we keep our children engaged and interested in simple learning activities? How can we help them find the fun in tasks they may not otherwise enjoy? “Make learning fun!” Spizman says. Parents kind of need a bag of tricks. Sometimes you can make things at home, others you can purchase, depending on what you want to do. Here are some of Spizman's suggestions for how to keep learning fun through creative parenting.
DRAWING IS AS EASY AS ABC. ABCs are an early learning area you can always have fun with. It starts young and it starts at home. An ABC game you can do is incorporate drawing with the ABCs. Two B's, for example, back to back make a butterfly. A circle and a triangle make a clown. A square and a triangle make a house. Another way to play with the ABCs is at the grocery store. Every item you pick up, sing or talk about the letter it starts with. For example, A is for Apple, M is for Milk, C is for Carrot, and so on. The creative parent is going to have an easier time overall.
POSITIVE RE-ENFORCEMENT … FOR BREAKFAST? Spizman acknowledged the importance of positive re-enforcement. “Positive reinforcement is such an important tool to have in your belt, but sometimes it’s hard! Kids respond much better to positive reinforcement.” So, what’s something we can use right now? Something as simple as hiding words of encouragement around the home can inspire positive behavior. There are simple and great ideas, like for example, placing a note on the cereal box saying “I’m so proud of you” – and little notes around the home can inspire positive behavior
Spizman shared that her kids didn’t like eating breakfast. When her daughter was little, they invented their own cereal! Spizman recalled, “I put her picture on a cereal box (I put healthy cereal inside), and she named the cereal. Every day there would be a new prize in the box: A new toothbrush, stickers, a bookmark, things that aren’t sugary. And all of a sudden she started eating breakfast and enjoyed it. Breakfast was fun again!”
Other than that, just celebrate proud moments. It’s a team effort. Take pictures of amazing moments and save them. Celebrate each moment over and over again.
BOREDOM BUSTERS. Let’s face it. Kids get bored. Easily. You can keep children engaged and interested by playing simple games with them, like tic-tac-toe, alphabet connect-the-dots, and I Spy. Other times, you may need to break out an interesting toy. When it comes to toys, we as parents want to buy the toys that make a difference in our child’s day. Magic Sketch's Boogie Board comes with learning activities, and everything you draw or write on it disappears with the touch of a button when you’re finished.
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Learning isn't always about academics. How can we encourage an attitude of gratitude in our children? Use a recycled jar and little slips of paper that the family can drop notes into. For example, notes saying how much they appreciate Grandma or Grandpa or other family members. The goal is to fill the jar with things they are thankful for, which in turn instills in children the art of being thankful. At dinner, you can randomly pull “thank yous” out of the jar, read them aloud, and have people guess who wrote it or who the thank you was for! It really gets conversations going in a positive direction.
Teaching children how to give gifts that don’t cost anything is a great idea. Another idea is the Thank You Grandma Bag (although the bag can be for anyone you want!). Have your kids decorate a bag. Have them put a hand-drawn picture or a thank you note in the bag and give it to grandma next time they see her. She gets a wonderful show of thanks from her grandchildren. The next time the kids see grandma, she returns the bag to them with something inside for them! The bag gets passed back and forth to grandma and kids, always with a gift for grandma in it, then something from grandma next time you see her. It makes gift giving fun!
Spizman had a fun story about helping her kids remember to use their manners in the car. “I put a flower in my minivan. This flower had a job. It was the Thank You Flower. It reminded them to make my day so happy when they said thank you, every time they got out of the car. Being good, kind, and nice was something this little flower encouraged.” Spizman added that you don't have to use a flower. It can be a toy, or a photograph of you smiling, anything that is a visual reminder of manners.
Be sure to visit MagicSketch.com for more creative ideas! It's a lot of fun!
Robyn Spizman is the best-selling author of dozens of books and a seasoned media personality. Her parenting tips have been featured on local and national television, ranging from NBC’s Today Show, to CNN, to Good Day New York. She has also been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Parade Magazine, and countless other top-tiered media outlets.