How Yoga Saved Me

It’s international yoga day, and I shall celebrate by writing about my yoga journey because it has been on my mind a lot lately. I found yoga after graduating college at a local 24 hour fitness after moving home. I believe this was my first experience to yoga and I would go pretty frequently. I loved the mind-body connection that I found in the practice. However, the classes no longer challenged me, so I took a little bit of a break.

Then, I got my second introduction to yoga when I was working near Santa Monica because my coworker and I decided to join a nearby studio off groupon. It was an awesome way to beat traffic and reinvigorated my desire to practice. This studio was filled with some pretty serious practitioners and I remember the first class I went to was packed mat to mat. I was apprehensive because it felt like we were in somebody’s attic, but as we got to flow breath to movement, I felt better. This studio did not have mirrors and it helped tremendously with tuning into our own bodies without comparing ourselves to others. To this day, this is still one of my favorite studios, but I had long since quit that job. The studio ended up moving a city over and I would still go once a week on the weekends, but life hit and my momentum stopped.

In tandem with my experience at the windowless studio, my boyfriend (now husband) knew I enjoyed yoga, so he asked if I wanted to join him for a free class at a studio his friend taught at. Thus, began my serious love for heated power yoga and yoga sculpt. I used up that free week like candy and at my second sculpt class was seriously considering getting into teacher training. I enjoyed it so much so, that I am actually doing it at three years later! But in between I’ve dabbled in Bikram and Ashtanga. Not enough to become an expert, but just enough to understand the basic postures.

I went on a tangent just now to explain how I got into yoga, but my point is: Yoga has meant a lot to me these past few years. In my teacher credential program, we had a class that asked us to share five things about ourselves in a paper bag and one of the things I made was a miniature yoga mat, to which I said “Yoga saved my life”.  It literally shifted my mindset and helped me get by when I had to move home after college. After years of very negative mental conditioning, yoga became a tool to battle that with positive affirmations. I still have days where I get very down on myself and my friends anxiety and depression come up to challenge me. However, yoga puts all of that in check by making sure I tune into myself and find ways to arise through the challenges.

I used to drive and yell at every car, yoga has helped me keep my mind at peace and allowed me to focus on the present. I used to feel badly if I couldn’t do something and give up, yoga has given me the power of growth mindset and to push through without judging myself or others. I used to compare myself to others in a way that pushed myself further away from my goals, now I am inspired by other people’s accomplishments as I work individually on my own goals. It has saved me from perpetuating a pattern and cycle of anger, narcissism, and negativity that surrounded my childhood.

I am humbled by yoga constantly and in awe of it all at the same time. I have cried during Savasana and laughed out of joy in my Down Dogs. I have days where I drag my feet on the mat and days where I feel like I’m light as a feather. I know for a fact that after 8 years of on and off practicing and even just a few days break in between consistent practice, I have SO much room to grow and to stretch. I no longer feel “unchallenged” like I did when I began and I’m finding new depths within my body as well as my mind. I have many goals that I want to work towards with my practice, but once I get on my mat, most days that goal is to bring my head closer to my shins in forward fold. I have always been that child that needs to practice things a ton of times before I feel confident enough to go further, and so I nurture that inner child. Yoga helps me to absorb my feelings and digest them as slowly or quickly as my mind and body allow. It’s really a beautiful thing and I am so grateful to be able to do it as often as I do.

That is all. Namaste :).

 

Holy Yogi

This post is a little long overdue, but I’ve been so much enjoying the process, that I haven’t had the time to share it with the anonymous cyberworld. I started Yoga teacher training on May 12th and since then have attended 22 Yoga Classes (sometimes twice/ day). I started out slowly, by doing a few HIIT workouts and incorporating yoga, but now I am going to class almost everyday and because the changes I’m feeling mentally and physically are incredible and familiar (to when I used to go consistently).

Now, this yoga training would be considered by most serious yogis, probably not yoga at all. But the good thing about yoga, is that judgment is discouraged (or at least that is what I believe to be true). I have been wanting to learn to teach this format of a class ever since I discovered it in 2014. But, the timing was never right. Even now, the timing isn’t exactly, perfect, but something that I’ve learned about life is that there is no perfect timing. As long as there is a crack in the door, it’s prime time to walk through it. Yes, I’ve struggled with a schedule change, closing out the school year paperwork, marital issues, general life stuff. However, I am incredibly happy that I decided to do this because I love the yogi mindset.

The reasons why this is appealing to me varies on so many different personal levels, but here are two:

1. I wanted to be an expert in something I have a hobby in. Because I love so many things, I tend to only touch the surface of many things. Yoga is something that always humbles me and at the same time allows me to grow.

2. Embraces a quiet mind. I have lots of thoughts and have a hard time quieting my mind. Yoga is like a brain massage for me that I need to definitely keep stable and happy. As I go through the practice regularly, I feel more willing to take healthy risks. I also am less negative about myself and others.

I started out uncertain if I want to teach it, but I definitely want to stay as involved in the community I’ve found as much as I can. Working on this new skill has been a powerful experience because it pushes me to step out of my shell. I have a hard time feeling confident when I am speaking to a group of adults. Doing this definitely pushes me to become more comfortable with my personality. I love encouraging other people, but am always scared I will come off as condescending, so this overall is creating more comfort in my overall self. I’ve already noticed a change even in how I treat my students and my daily mentality. The positive people I’ve met have definitely inspired me to continue to cultivate a positive mindset and kick out the negative white noise. Additionally, it’s made me more weary of competitiveness in other people and has given me more space to embrace others. I feel like, back to my social media post, it also makes me want to focus on my present world as opposed to the exterior world. But, this is a struggle I go between with wanting to connect through sharing things I see and seeing negative posts where people complain about trivial things. I guess as long as the intention is positive, I can focus on whatever I want as long as I’m present.

Lastly, I restarted my Whole30 a week ago….I have a sugar demon and I guess it’s hard to tame.

Small Pebble

I’ve finally gone through the cycle of my first parental complaint. The small pebble, that these past weeks has ballooned into stress eating/can’t get out of bed/depression triggering boulder.

It started with a parent coming to me a few weeks ago because they were upset that I mentioned retention with their child. Then, it escalated to the same parent coming to me upset because I sent home an unsatisfactory notice after the conversation we had about retention. So, the parent asked me to set up a meeting with the principal. I asked the principal just to reach out to her directly. Said parent went to the principal with a typed up letter about things like “unsupportive environment” “public shaming” and “bullying”. Plus a whole other slew of quotes around things that I had supposedly said.

In teaching, there are two separate powers: teacher recommendation and parental consent. Ultimately, parental consent wins, so what has unfolded has felt like a twisted and passive aggressive form of power play. Even though the parent always has the upper-hand (as they should be advocates for their children), she was using it to discredit me. As a teacher, I am obligated to notify a parent if their child is performing well below grade level. It brings me no joy to send home these notices as I already feel like I’ve failed (in some ways) as an educator if I can not bring these students to grade level at this point in the school year. In this case, an unusually high number of absences also were in play. However, I feel that a bruised ego is what caused this much hoopla over something that I wish the parent would just come to terms with the fact that their child has fallen behind.

As a parent, I’m sure that reality is distressing. But not once did I say “Your child isn’t smart”, but I’m assuming the heart of the panic and anger comes from having heard that as a subconscious thing. Or similarly “Your child isn’t special”. Which turns me into the bad guy by simply saying “Your child needs help/ extra support”. Because at the end of the day, when I say that it puts the responsibility back on the parent to assist their child in said catching up. As a teacher, that is not an easy thing to say to parents. In fact, I know teachers who would prefer to avoid that conversation, but I adamantly believe that is not in the best interest of the child.

I feel that I am writing this out because it has been this huge boulder in my life these past few weeks. For anyone reading this who might have a kid, just know that teachers take your complaints very seriously. And that they are sorry to have been the cause of your stress or worry. In return, please don’t pull a power play because you’re unsatisfied with your child’s academic progress, just accept responsibility and partner up to find the best plan to help. Your child is special, smart, and amazing. I believe in them just as much as you do, but that does not make them invincible from falling behind without your consistent support and guidance.

Connectedness

This post will highlight my general social anxiety and how it turns me off to feelings of connectedness through technology. In general, most people my generation love to connect through social media or technology because it is easy. I too, enjoy being able to connect with people with convenience and ease (especially when I am busy). However, my experience with this (through the lens of my social anxiety) looks like this:

Group Messaging: 
I love the idea of having all of my friends in one place when I want to shout something out to them or shoot of details to a plan. But it feels awkward to have chain of random thoughts pieced together throughout the day especially when I am in front of a classroom full of students. I go through this weird feeling of guilt knowing that most likely the sender knows I saw their text/yet I decided to ignore it. Most of the time, I really do just see it in passing, tell myself I’ll respond later, then forget to respond. For this reason too, I have all of my group texts muted. I actually have my phone on silent mode ALL THE TIME because the notifications make me jump (even on vibrate). So, even seeing my phone light up with constant notifications of text messages gives me anxiety because my brain sees it as an emergency that I need to address right away.

Text Messages (in general):
My husband and I rarely text. When we do, it’s usually because I need to know something and occasionally, when we fight and I get anxious. In which case, I fire off rapid alerts to his phone (sometimes in the form of the devil emoji) hoping to get a response to alleviate the panic of “HE’S NOT RESPONDING HE MUST WANT TO LEAVE ME!” (Just Kidding! Who does that???…..). In reality, just as much as I hate feeling required to answer to him, I know he hates having to answer to me. I always prefer sharing my thoughts with him in person about the things that happen than via text. To be honest, I rather hate most conversations over text messages. I would much rather prefer to schedule a time to hang out and talk or spend face-to-face time with someone. First, because I usually don’t have much idle time to sit around and think about what to write back and secondly because what if something comes off as bitchy on accident?

Facebook/Instagram
I much prefer Instagram to Facebook because I enjoy taking pictures and seeing pictures. I use Facebook and Instagram as my end of the day treat, it’s like popping candies into my mouth going through and liking everything/commenting on some things. I mainly like to see what my friends are up to and use it as a way to see what they are most excited about or passionate about in the moment (because that’s what most normal people share about). I also follow comedic people (for entertainment) and teachers that I aspire to one day be like. I myself, like to share about my adventures with my husband/ love for food or nature/ and classroom ongoings. But my one rule for both is, I will not follow anyone whose posts make me feel like shit. No, seeing everyone getting married/popping out babies/popping out six-pack abs/traveling/living their dreams does not make me feel like shit. In fact (especially at this time in my life) it gives me hope that other people are taking the plunge into committing their lives to happiness and inspires me to do the same. However, seeing other people bring up only past memories/complain about things/brag about things that are not real accomplishments makes me upset. Because, there is more to life than living in the past/everybody goes through painful or uncomfortable experiences/ and the last one, duh. So, I just unfollow or scroll quickly past those kinds of people and flood my feed with all of the babies/rainbows/couples/body inspiration/a** kicking mother effers out there.

So, in the big picture, my thoughts are: If someone’s interactions with me via technology outweigh their interactions with me in person, I see them as disingenuous. The exception is if they live far away from me, in which case, I tend to value interactions we hold through social media/technology. The other exception is if someone has undergone or are going through a life changing event and requires the efforts and energy to adjust to those things. I guess these are my personal feelings and if I’m truly accepting of all humans (with compassion) I can grow to accept everyone (still trying). In an attempt to stay grounded, however, I still feel that the people I feel most connected with, are the ones who I spend the most time having conversations with. Like true conversations and not an endless exchange of banter and inside jokes (although, these can be fun). Ever since I have realized I wanted more in-person connectedness, I’ve seen my friendships with people who make the effort become stronger. I hope to continue navigating real life conversations and being mindful of technology’s illusion to connectedness.

First-Year Reflection

As the end of the school year approaches, I find myself getting more reflective and more excited to plan for my next year of teaching. I know it’s not quite the end yet, but my students seem to be starting to think so. Additionally, my first-year review was finalized yesterday and so I feel like it’s reinvigorating me to the same excitement I had when I was planning my classroom last year. This time around, I have a whole school year of experience in my own classroom under my belt to decide what worked, didn’t work, and new things I definitely want to try. Since this blog has become a cluster of thoughts about all the things in my life I’m passionate about, here are my cluster of thoughts about my (almost completed) first year of teaching.

1. I LOVE TEACHING!!!!!

My first year of teaching has not been the nightmare that many people have painted it to be. I know what a nightmare job is to me (it’s so different for everyone). I came from my nightmare job (that I thought was my dream job) to pursue teaching and I could not be more grateful that I landed in the school/ grade-level/ and profession that I did. There is not one ounce of me that feels like I can’t be myself in the classroom or at school.  I enjoy everything from mulling over how to manage a student’s outlier behavior to making copies to watching my students joke around. That is not to say, I do not have days (consecutive sometimes) where I’m tired and I feel like I have no more energy left to help a student out (who is asking me for the 6th time what they are supposed to be doing). Or days where I feel ineffective or inadequate as a teacher. However, I enjoy every moment of my job in the sense that no matter how much work goes into it, it does not feel like work. I feel like I’m also utilizing every last talent that I possess daily, and that challenge energizes me. That challenge also allows me to own my work in a way I have never been able to before. I even feel a sense of tingly inspiration when I see other teachers kicking ass (in a really non-envious, yet ambitious goal-setting way to look for the steps to get there).

2. I am not Inadequate, I am just Learning

Obviously, it’s only my first year, and obvious human thoughts lead me to feeling inadequate. However, when I watch seasoned teachers, it gives me hope that there are strategies and options that I have not yet even touched on. I think any feeling of defeat this year stems from me feeling like I’ve run out of things to try. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS MORE!!!! Thank the planet for experienced teachers, teaching blogs, and Instagram. Which gives me this feeling of “I get knocked down, but I get up again!” And this feeling is especially amplified when I think of the possibilities of the plethora of things I can try on my class next year. So, it’s exciting to me when I have the chance to sign up (and attend) a new training, research a new strategy, pick another teacher’s brain. It gives me the same feeling of playfulness as I used to have when I got to try out an extracurricular activity like swim or tae-kwon-do.

3. I don’t really think about they pay…

It’s odd how before, I used to obsess over my paycheck and whether I had enough money left to save for the month. Or whether my efforts were “worth” the money that I was getting. I guess this is a sign that I’m a sucker for following my dreams over making a buck and there may come a time where I regret saying this. In any case, my paycheck comes, the same time every month with enough for me to pay my bills and save and I never question if I’m getting paid a fair wage. Teachers get a lot of attention for how “low” their pay is. And of course, if they increased our wages, I wouldn’t be complaining. But, I’m not complaining now and I find solace in knowing that we get a steady increase over time and we get a lot of benefits that are practical. I’m sure if there were budget cuts/etc. my mindset would change. Which leads me to…

4. Self-Care has become my Priority!

Without getting into the politics of how detrimental privatizing public education would be (especially for students), I am eternally grateful to be working a job that I love because it energizes me. Because this job energizes me and I feel financially taken care of, I am driven to do my best daily. If I sacrifice any area of my physical and mental health (even if I’m sacrificing it for work) I am sacrificing my ability to teach the next day. So, I sleep on time, eat good foods on time, workout on time, because it makes me better at doing what I love. I just pray and hope that public education will always be protected, but I guess a new reflection would come if anything were to change.

Compassion and Friendships

Recently, I started to go back to meditation classes from my wedding planning frenzy hiatus. The topic last week was about compassion and extending compassion to strangers and enemies. Of course it is easy to be compassionate towards our friends and loved ones, but in this class our teacher shed light on treating everyone like a friend. This idea of opening up friendships and not creating tiers for people in our lives has been at the forefront of my mind for a while now. I have been thinking a lot about friendships over the years and how the older I get, the more my friendships evolve. I think when I was younger, I would tier my friends out, now I really genuinely feel like I can have strong feelings of kinship towards people I just met. In addition to these thoughts, for the past year I have been asking myself, “How do I create more meaningful connections to people?” in conjunction with “How do I distance myself from toxic people?”

I’ve learned, the answer to that question is to treat everyone with compassion and an openness that you normally would a friend. It’s obvious that by treating strangers or even coworkers with a little extra kindness will give everyone feel-good feelings. This week, I’ve been working on asking other people about themselves and sharing more about myself to create an openness that I am normally too shy to.

So, how does that help me with toxic people? Well, I’ve learned toxic people react to people’s kindness in two ways. Most toxic people do not like other people’s’ happiness and generally like to complain about other people. So, the more I treat these individuals with the hopes that they reach a sense of contentedness and inner peace (happiness), the more they distance themselves from any real progress from that happiness. The second way they respond (which is ideal), is they see the light and make small changes towards happiness. So, either way I am fighting negativity with positivity and in a sense, positivity wins in both situations.

I find the more time I create opportunities to create a meaningful relationship with myself, the more meaningful my relationships with others has become. I’ll keep updating as meditation class thoughts come up. I also should post about my trip to Bali soon.

 

Observations and Prioritizations

Yesterday, I was thinking about how much working out and nutrition has become my PRIORITY in the past three months. To be honest, I’ve always been the type of person to prioritize work above all else. Part of the reason why I wanted to leave the food industry is because I wanted to start prioritizing my relationships with my family and friends. However, even as I went into teaching, work was still my priority. At the beginning of the school year, I would wake up, be at school by 6:40AM and leave around 6:00PM. Or bring work home and work until about 8:00PM and then start thinking about taking care of myself. On the weekends, I would still work and lesson plan for at least 4 hours a day. About a quarter of the way through the school year, I started feeling a little burnt out, so I backed off on my hours. I still worked 7 days/week, but by the time February rolled around, I could no longer keep up. I started thinking about working out again and committing to it as a way to get my energy levels up and de-stress.

I went to the gym a few nights a week with my (now) husband. Then I started really getting into working out and started working out 6-7 days/week. When Whole30 started, food prepping became a priority hand-in-hand with working out. If I didn’t work out in the morning, I would workout when I got home. I am now going into work at 7:30AM and leaving every day by 4:00PM (the latest). I share this because, today I was getting observed (which usually means someone from the district comes by to check in). I found out we may be getting observed on Monday. When I prioritized work, I would spend hours ruminating over what to teach, how to teach it, and plan extensively for lessons to make extra sure that I was doing everything I could to make sure the observation went smoothly. Yesterday, I noticed a huge mental shift because I rushed home to work out and made sure I had dinner before I even thought to prep for the observation. Old me would’ve freaked out, panicked, rushed home, spent hours looking for the “best” lesson and then another few hours prepping everything. I am typing this up today because I wanted to wait and see how the observation actually went before I went on to say what I’m going to say now. The observation went just as well as any observation in a classroom can go. I got kudos for doing what the district and principal is focusing on for our school and I didn’t feel unprepared at all. I say this not because I’m an experienced nor excellent teacher (this is my first year and I’m far from both) but because I’ve realized that work should never be the priority.  If I don’t spend those extra hours obsessing over the details of doing things perfectly, and I spend some extra hours taking care of myself and my relationships, I can still excel at work. In fact, the positive mindset that comes from having taken care of myself makes me do better at my job when I’m at work and allows me to relax when I’m at home.

So, I guess what they’ve been saying all along is true. It’s important to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. Because I no longer miss a workout and am eating healthy 90% of the time (Okay maybe 85% if you count Almond Butter as a unhealthy food) I don’t feel guilty for letting myself down. Because I don’t feel guilty for letting myself down, I’m better equip to deal with all of the other things I may have to prioritize on a daily basis. So, here’s a little “Wohoo, go me!” I have a hard time telling myself I’m doing good, but I’m feeling it today!

 

So…how does it feel?

The top question I’ve received as a newlywed is “So, how does it feel being married?” Or, “Does it feel different being married?” Much like waking up the day of your birthday, or after your birthday, it’s not like you (or the person you’re married) wake up a drastically different person overnight. So, it’s mostly true when I say, about the same!

However, to explain the nuances that go from being in a relationship, to engaged, to married to the passerby wanting to make small-talk is much too philosophical of a conversation. I’ve been honest, for the most part, my favorite thing about being married so far is that we no longer have a wedding to plan. I know that it sounds like such a trivial difference, but the reason why it’s my favorite thing is because we now have the rest of our lives to plan for, the rest of our lives. As we both have agreed to become our very own little family (of two). I find comfort in knowing that I get to create and plan the traditions, rituals, and life with someone as a partner as opposed to following those things as someone’s child. So, in a way, I guess I feel a strange sense of freedom to create and pursue my own happiness as long as I’m learning to compromise with this partner of mine.

To add onto that same sentiment, it also means that I do have to spend most of my time compromising with this partner of mine, regardless of how frustrated we may both become with each other. That responsibility is something that I have been absorbing slowly in my engaged life and I feel much more evolved in as a married woman. Not for any reason other than it has been a slow evolution, and I’m growing each day knowing that is going to be our biggest challenge. (I like to know how challenging something is and prepare for that before I ever give myself the illusion that anything worth pursuing comes easily).

Additionally, I feel that it’s finally time to let go of any sort of blame or anger I hold on towards my parents (which again is something I have slowly been evolving towards), but now in my married life and newfound crevice of adulthood I feel it is so much more important. I owe it to my new family member to create a life of light and happiness (mainly). To hold onto negative and non-present problems is no longer necessary to my survival as the pain I’ve experienced no longer needs to exist if I do not allow it. Rather, I need to save the space for perseverance through challenges that are real and worthy of this life my husband (tehe) and I have decided to create.

So, per my previous post, depression sucks, but I have more reason than ever to understand and fight it off. Onwards and upwards :).

Sugar is a Helluva Drug

Hi Internet World!! I am finally returned from wedding and honeymoon bliss. Both were, in every sense of the word, bliss. I will definitely share my feelings on traveling to Bali and being married as well. This post however, unfortunately, will be about the delicate balance of my body’s chemistry and the dangers of sugar.

During my honeymoon, I decided that I was feeling so good, I wanted to eat the sweets and things I enjoyed without worrying, and indulge I did. Was it worth it? In many senses of that word, yes it was. I enjoyed the heck out of my honeymoon. However, one week post return, I must report that I am still feeling the awful side effects of depression from my sugar indulgence. Upon returning, I decided to administer my lack of motivation and my devotion to sleeping 10+ hours to jet lag. However, after a few days of this and the napping in the middle of the day until dinner time and then sleeping right after dinner and sleeping in during the morning, it was a positive sign that my depression was back. I definitely worked out every day since my return (and even during some days of my trip), but I want to curl up into a ball and shut out the world.

Thankfully, I married the most understanding human in the world, who tries his best to understand this confusing duality that haunts my life. How I can go from waking up at 5 am, doing laundry mid week, and having bountiful energy to not being able to stay awake long enough to function beyond my work day. How I can go from wanting to talk to everyone to not wanting to leave the house to run simple chores. How I can go from being a positive and motivating person, to someone who only sees hell in a dark hole.

I share this because now I know that over-consuming processed sugar contributes a large share to my depression. It must somehow deplete me of my natural endorphins and set off triggers that normally wouldn’t bother me. Alcohol is also most definitely included in this equation, however my need to consume a sweet baked treat is a million times stronger than any need to consume alcohol. Sugar is a dangerous drug for me and leads me to this dark hole. I’m trying my best to ride this out and not let my cravings take over. I am holding onto dear life to get past this (hopefully short) lapse of depression. I could say, what a horrible way to start a marriage, but the sake of my husband is what is keeping me afloat to fight this off as quickly as I can.

Parenting Coach

One of the things that caught me off guard when I officially became a teacher was that, of the many hats I wear, I would have to sometimes be a parenting coach. This notion still makes me uncomfortable for two main reasons:

  1. I do not have my own kids.
  2. I do not like to tell other people how to live their lives, let alone how to raise one.

Unfortunately, I find myself kicking myself in the behind for not being able to say things to parents that they really need to hear more often than not. But, on my morning run, reflecting on how I could improve as a teacher, my brick wall is a handful of my students’ lack of motivation. I’ve tried everything I can from positive rewards, community circles, parent contact, punitive punishments like detention, letting them just showcase one item to turn in that week, more parent contact, but I’m running in circles. A few of the students have come a LONG way, but not far enough to my standards by this time in the year. But I’m stuck with 3 thorns in my side. My solution, just isn’t working and I attribute, in large part, to inconsistency from classroom discipline to home-life discipline.  Obviously as a teacher, I can do more and am trying new strategies all the time. But, I know that home-life plays a large role because all of these students also come to school saying things like “I’m lazy/stupid/not good at this/not smart enough”. I know for a fact, that I am not teaching them these phrases, but someone (probably at home is). So, parents, here is some unsolicited advice on what to do if your child’s teacher is calling you to notify you that your child ain’t doing sh*t in the classroom.

Use positive reinforcement. Your kids want your attention all the time. You can choose to give them positive attention for positive things they want or negative attention for messing up. However, providing them with negative feedback just reinforces negative behavior.

This should be a no-brainer, but please don’t use put-downs when referring to yourself or your children, they will pick up on these mindsets and start implementing them in their own. Be kind to yourself and your children.

Don’t make excuses for your child. It doesn’t matter if they are the “youngest” or the “only child”, they still need to follow through with the same responsibilities that any of your other kids, or students in the class, have to follow through with. Which leads to…

If you baby your child, they will remain a baby. Some of my 4th graders whine or throw tantrums like toddlers still when they get in trouble/don’t get what they want. All of them because they must get away with this behavior somewhere. All of these also happen to be only children or the youngest in their family (I swear!). But, not all of the only children or youngest children act like this, which tells me their parents tell them “no” sometimes. I’ve literally had a parent tell me her child would be “sad” because he wasn’t getting Pokemon cards because I gave her a negative update. She was asking me what to tell her son. That tells me that he’s probably used to getting what he wants and the parent has a hard time taking responsibility for making her child “sad”.  Hopefully him feeling “sad” will make him avoid the negative behavior in the future.

Your kids will not hate you because they didn’t get what they want. In fact, your kids will love you no matter what. You just need to stand your ground and take control. They need to learn that they have to earn rewards. Otherwise, you’re setting them up for getting rewards for not even achieving a goal. Kids will always try to see how much they can get away with, and if you’re allowing them to get away with anything you’re stunting their growth. If you don’t want to raise entitled, unmotivated kids don’t allow them to get away with entitled, unmotivated behaviors.

If one strategy doesn’t work, try another. Get creative, get to know your child (which I’m sure most parents do) and if you yelling at your kid every time the teacher calls doesn’t work, try something else. Ask your child to share with you their feelings or the reasons they won’t complete their work. Get involved and work with them to accomplish goals. Set and finish projects at home, like organizing their video games, painting their room, washing all of the dishes, or folding all of the laundry just to let your child experience how good it feels to accomplish a task.

With all of that said, my next steps as a teacher is to get better at partnering up with parents to come up with concrete goals we can work on together with their child. I’m going to go ahead and try to own that parenting coach hat when I need it on.