International Women Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women who made History and I would like to dedicate this #IWD to the women who inspire me the most in this world : Moms.

A week ago, I posted a message on my group “Things I learned from my mom” :

“There is one person in this world that is both magical, inspiring and love us unconditionally and it’s our Mothers! They are the only people on earth who knew us before we even came to this world. Our mothers experienced our growth while in their womb, delivered us through an experience that can sometimes be excruciating (and that is just the beginning). Interestingly, once a man gets married, he can witness that process far closer.

Standing by the mother of his kids, a man can see what they go through once they become mothers. My experience overwhelmed me with awe when my first daughter was born. My wife spent more than twenty-five hours in the delivery room. It struck me like an electric shock when I saw her in surgery delivering our second baby and take care of him before he sadly passed away from SIDS. I watched my wife, mourning the death of her son, yet not giving up. We got pregnant again and had a beautiful daughter one year after. Witnessing the agony of the loss and the bittersweet joy of having a new baby left me with an infinite admiration for her strength.

My own process as a partner, threw me back twenty years early. I found myself wondering about my own mother. How was she able to do this? Where did she get the strength from? What encouraged her to embrace me unconditionally? How come she didn’t give up on me?

I was born when my mother was only twenty-years-old. For six years, until my younger brother was born, we were just the two of us. She raised me as a single-parent. It was the early 1980’s and my mother was still in college, studying to get her degree (in Education) while working as a young assistant teacher. I remember the days she wrote her first lesson plans, creating activities, making phone calls to parents and even principals. She was a busy young lady!

Despite her hectic life, my mother succeeded in providing me with a great childhood. We had lots of quality time. We hosted many interesting people: stylists, artists, and fashion designers who came to speak with my mother to find some empathy. It was during those days that I learned how people can be different and so interesting in different ways. I remember a lot of 1980’s music too and will never forget how we danced in front of the mirror just for fun. As I grew older, I realized how young my mother was. Having me in her life imposed many kinds of responsibilities which she fulfilled diligently.

Three months before my 30th birthday, my mother passed away. She had just celebrated her 50th birthday a few months earlier. Today, I obviously cannot call her, send her pictures of the girls or go visit her. The only thing I possess is a set of memories, values and life lessons which I try to impart to my children. I created this group to encourage each one of you to share gratitude, express your admiration, and inspire us with life lessons from your mothers. I hope you will take the opportunity to do so because for some of us, it is the only way.”


Positive Body Image

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
~ Sarah Koppelkam

Help Your Children Understand The Core Values of Friendship

The following activity will take between 20-25 minutes of your time but will have a lasting impact on your child’s life!

Helping your child understand what true, loyal, and happy friendship is can be a complicated task. You should not give up the opportunity to know how your child perceives friendship and what s/he is willing to tolerate to stay in friendship with others.

Below, you can find two charts I created (one for boys and one for girls) to help young students understand the pillars of healthy and happy friendship. We did it as follows:

  1. My child and I spoke about her friends and asked various GENERAL questions about her social dynamic in school.
  2. To make a smooth transition I asked: “Could you complete the sentence: A good friend is….” Fill-in-the-blank questions are more engaging than questions like “Who do you think can be a good friend?”
  3. I suggested we will search in the internet for pictures that described a good friend.
  4. We found four pictures that encompass the values I wanted to illustrate with her: inclusiveness, loyalty, respect, and diversity.

It is essential that your child will describe the picture and only then complete the sentence. Also, make sure to revolve the conversation around the value YOU think are relevant to your child’s social dynamic with her/his friends.

Friendship- GIRLS

Friendship- BOYS

Six Parenting Mistakes that Fuel Sibling Rivalry


Most of the parents I work with are desperately seeking answers for how to effectively (and positively) stop the fighting, bickering and antagonizing that siblings of all ages are drawn to do.

Believe it or not – there are things we (well-intended) parents do that actually fuel the competition and rivalry between our kids. Think about it – if we can just STOP making these simple mistakes, we can curb the infighting and cultivate an atmosphere where there’s more love than love-lost between our kids!

Read on for a few of the common parenting missteps that actually escalate sibling rivalry:

1. Being all inclusive, all the time. Family time is coveted and essential in nurturing the bond between family members. That said, there is also a very real need for every child to have their own ‘attention bucket’ filled by our individualized time and attention. This one-on-one time is key to a child’s emotional connection, security and sense of family belonging that is uniquely theirs. The mistake most parents make is making play time an “everyone in” venture. (Usually because time is in short supply.) But here’s the problem: when you lump kid time together, it creates natural competition for your attention which often leads to sibling friction.

Here’s what to do instead: Schedule in 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with each of your kids on a daily basis. This time is devoted to doing what your child loves to do – reading, building Legos, shooting hoops, coloring, whatever! Your kids will treasure this new “all about them” time and you’ll find a significant decrease in sibling competition. Note: if you find one child or the other gets curious or a little jealous as you venture into individual time, don’t stress, that’s natural. With a little practice and assurance that they’ll have time of their own, that will dissipate. You’ll also find that once your family adjusts, you’ll actually save time because you’ll eliminate much of the quarreling, fighting and need for discipline.

2. Using the “everyone into the pool” strategy.We all know it’s easier and more convenient to treat siblings as a unit – to put them in the same “pool” with activities – such as playing the same sport, taking the same martial arts class, attending the same music lessons. The mistake is that this “package mentality” doesn’t allow your children to explore their individual talents and it can create competition between siblings pursuing the same activity.

Here’s what to do instead: As you dive into the daily one-on-one time I just referenced with your kids, spend time finding out what they are curious about – what talents and interests they’d like to nurture or explore. Then find opportunities and resources to help those ideas and talents flourish and celebrate each child’s individual strengths as well as treasuring the time you spend together as a family unit.

3. Unknowingly labeling your kids. Society does enough labeling for our kids; don’t you think? Shy. Spoiled. Hyperactive. Geek. Most parents know not to use negative labels with kids. However, the mistake many parents make is using the so-called “nice” labels such as the “good one,” the “studious one,” the “funny one,” or the “talented one.” Believe it or not, these “positive” labels are just as troublesome as they can still create division and comparison between kids. If you’re the “smart one,” I can only assume I’m the “not so smart” one, right? Negative labels are hard to live down and the positive labels are hard to live up to. Suffice it to say, ALL kids have attributes that make them special and cherished.

Here’s what to do instead: Skip the labels and focus on building up the whole of what makes your children awesome rather than always singling out those attributes that can create comparison.

4. Creating unnecessary competition. It may seem harmless, but saying things like, “Let’s see who can get dressed the fastest!” or the frequently heard, “Let’s see who can be the MOST quiet!” creates the opportunity for an inevitable winner and loser. There is enough competition in the world; there’s no need to kindle even more competition and rivalry at home.


Here’s what to do instead: Look for ways your kids can work together to accomplish something and praise the joint participation. When looking to get a specific task completed, use a simple When-Then statement: “When you are ready for bed with your teeth brushed, thenwe’ll read books until lights out time at 7:30.”

5. Having a “go-to” kid. You know the one… the kid you “go-to” because she will lead the way, accomplish what is necessary AND not kick up a fuss? While that may save you a little aggravation and make the “go-to” kid feel like a superstar, it essentially makes the other child or children feel left out, or have little to no desire to ever rise to meet your expectations because they never have to.

Here’s what to do instead: Fight the urge to take the easy path. Be equitable (in age appropriate ways) in the expectations and responsibilities you set for your kids. And of course, let your kids know how much you appreciate their contributions.

6. Assigning positions in a fight. When kids fight, it’s a normal parenting reaction to step in and assign roles such as “victim” and “aggressor.” Typically, the “victim” is showered with hugs and “poor babies” and the “aggressor” is reprimanded and sentenced to his or her room. That’s a mistake because it pigeon-holes kids into roles they’ll likely repeat and it robs them of the opportunity to work on solutions to resolve conflict peacefully.

Here’s what to do instead: Focus on training your children in the art of positive conflict resolution (outside of the moment) and on solutions to solve the dispute in the moment such as asking, “What can you guys do to work this out?” That minimizes tattling, aggression, and teaches valuable skills they’ll need in adulthood.

And lastly, realize that some sibling rivalry is normal and navigating the bumpy road can be fraught with mistakes. Remember that how you react to those bumps is the key. Instead of dwelling in the mistakes, know that you can teach your children to develop their relationship with each other in healthy and loving ways. And when you do – you’ll teach skills and mindsets that they will use to manage relationships the rest of their lives.

Relax, own these strategies and skills and enjoy these precious years with your kids! We’re here to help.

Article by Positive Parenting Solutions.

Teach your kids to write notes

Why (and how) you should encourage your kids to embrace the thank-you note. And cultivate an attitude of gratitude along the way.

Writing thank-you notes has gotten a bad rap as a chore but a note of thanks can do more than dutifully tell Uncle Max how much you like the Word Yahtzee that he sent. Gratitude may be crucial to compassion, empathy, and even happiness, according to Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Why? Thanks for asking!

“Grateful kids tend to be much more satisfied with their lives,” says Froh. “They do better in school and are less materialistic, less depressed, and less envious. Their relationships are much stronger and more supportive.” In one study, grateful kids even reported fewer physical symptoms, like headaches, stomachaches, and fevers.

Thank-you notes don’t have to be reserved for physical loot: Your kids can write them in appreciation of awesome outings or good friendship. “My five-year-old borrowed my phone to type a thank-you text to his mom for a special day that they had spent together,” says Froh. The key is to make it a creative project in which kids get to express themselves. And when they craft their sentiments, you’ll get the chance to appreciate your unique, sometimes wacky little people.

To Make Thank-Yous More Meaningful

Set a time for it. There’s something wrong about trying to teach gratitude by nagging or rushing a kid. Get some snacks and settle in.

Gather your resources. A correspondence kit is a fun motivator. Put one together with note cards, a return-address stamper, a great pen, postage stamps, stickers, a first address book, and even sealing wax and a monogram seal.

Be the designated writer. A child who can’t write yet, or one who is just learning, will feel more grateful if she doesn’t have to agonize over sentences. Also, transcribing her thanks gives you a chance to capture the depth and the complexity of her feelings. (“Thank you for the game Candy Land, which has Queen Frostine, which is who I love so much even though it’s who Ben loves, too, and so we fight sometimes.”)

Teach sincerity. You want your kids to learn to be authentically gracious. Aunt Ida’s terrifying woolen anorak? Skip “Thank you for the beautiful sweater—I love it!” and talk your child through what is true. “Dear Aunt Ida, it must have taken you so long to crochet this. The wool feels really warm, and you remembered that my favorite color is green! Thank you so much.”

Do it now—and later. Every now and then, encourage your child to send another note, long after the fact, just to make somebody’s day—especially for a gift that has turned out to be a favorite. “Remember that moose hat you gave me last Christmas? Here’s a picture of me wearing it on our trip to Niagara Falls!”

Source can be found here.

Working Memory


Executive Functioning: Working memory

Working memory is a basic mental skill. It’s important for both learning and doing many everyday tasks. Working memory allows the brain to briefly hold new information while it’s needed in the short term. It may then help to transfer it into long-term memory.

Most kids with learning and attention issues have trouble with working memory. Working memory is an ability that allows us to work with information. It helps us learn and perform even basic tasks.

Working memory is one of the brain’s executive functions. It’s the ability to hold on to new information so we can turn around and use it in some way. Working memory allows us to hold information without losing track of what we’re doing.

Working memory is like a temporary sticky note in our brain. It holds new information in place so the brain can work with it briefly and perhaps connect it with other information. (Attention plays a big role in this process.)

The teacher may ask your child to put her snow boots away, but first hang up her coat. Your child may only do one task or forget which one she’s supposed to do first.

Your child may also find that the information she has remembered doesn’t make much sense. Because of her working memory problems, her brain didn’t package it properly in the first place. If kids learn information in a disjointed way, they have trouble using it later.

A video from Executive Function Coach Benjamin Mizrahi.
Mr Mizrahi is a coach, a learning specialist and a teacher.

Morning routine – a follow up

A follow up on my first video on morning routines.
Remember that most of the stress in the morning stems from the fact that we are trying to manage few routines at the same time. (ours and our kids’)

(my first video on morning routine can be found here: )

Mr. Mizrahi is an Executive Function coach, a learning specialist and a teacher in New York City.



Four Lessons from “Inside Out” to Discuss With Kids

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, it’s important to get involved in your kid’s media lives, one way of doing so is to watch movies together.

Today, I sat with my kids to watch the movie “Inside Out.”

“Since its release, Inside Out has been applauded by critics and adored by audiences.

But perhaps its greatest achievement has been this: It has moved viewers young and old to take a look inside their own minds. As you likely know by now, much of the film takes place in the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, with five emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—embodied by characters who help Riley navigate her world. The film has some deep things to say about the nature of our emotions—which is no coincidence, as the GGSC’s founding faculty director, Dacher Keltner, served as a consultant on the film, helping to make sure that, despite some obvious creative liberties, the film’s fundamental messages about emotion are consistent with scientific research.

Those messages are smartly embedded within Inside Out‘s inventive storytelling and mind-blowing animation; they enrich the film without weighing it down. But they are conveyed strongly enough to provide a foundation for discussion among kids and adults alike. Some of the most memorable scenes in the film double as teachable moments for the classroom or dinner table.

Though Inside Out has artfully opened the door to these conversations, it can still be hard to find the right way to move through them or respond to kids’ questions. So for parents and teachers who want to discuss Inside Out with children, here we have distilled four of its main insights into our emotional lives, along with some of the research that backs them up. And a warning, lest we rouse your Anger: There are some spoilers below.

1) Happiness is not just about joy. When the film begins, the emotion of Joy—personified by a manic pixie-type with the voice of Amy Poehler—helms the controls inside Riley’s mind; her overarching goal is to make sure that Riley is always happy. But by the end of the film, Joy—like Riley and the audience—learns that there is much, much more to being happy than boundless positivity. In fact, in the film’s final chapter, when Joy cedes control to some of her fellow emotions, particularly Sadness, Riley seems to achieve a deeper form of happiness.

This reflects the way that a lot of leading emotion researchers see happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of the best-selling How of Happiness, defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” (emphasis added) So while positive emotions such as joy are definitely part of the recipe for happiness, they are not the whole shebang.

In fact, a recent study found that people who experience “biodiversity,” or a rich array of both positive and negative emotions, have better mental health. The authors of this study suggest that feeling a variety of specific emotions may give a person more detailed information about a particular situation, thus resulting in better behavioral choices—and potentially greater happiness.

For example, in a pivotal moment in the film, Riley allows herself to feel sadness, in addition to fear and anger, about her idea of running away from home; as a result, she decides not to go through with her plan. This choice reunites Riley with her family, giving her a deeper sense of happiness and contentment in the comfort she gets from her parents, even though it’s mixed with sadness and fear.

In that light, Inside Out’s creators, including director Pete Docter, made a smart choice to name Poehler’s character “Joy” instead of “Happiness.” Ultimately, joy is just one element of happiness, and happiness can be tinged with other emotions, even including sadness.

2) Don’t try to force happiness. One of us (Vicki) felt an old, familiar frustration when Riley’s mother tells her to be her parents’ “happy girl” while the family adjusts to a stressful cross-country move and her father goes through a difficult period at work. As a child, Vicki got similar messages and used to think something was wrong with her if she wasn’t happy all the time. And all the research and press about the importance of happiness in recent years can make this message that much more potent.

Thank goodness emotion researcher June Gruber and her colleagues started looking at the nuances of happiness and its pursuit. Their findings challenge the “happy-all-the-time” imperative that was probably imposed upon many of us.

For example, their research suggests that making happiness an explicit goal in life can actually make us miserable. Gruber’s colleague Iris Mauss has discovered that the more people strive for happiness, the greater the chance that they’ll set very high standards of happiness for themselves and feel disappointed—and less happy—when they’re not able to meet those standards all the time.

So it should come as no surprise that trying to force herself to be happy actually doesn’t help Riley deal with the stresses and transitions in her life. In fact, not only does that strategy fail to bring her happiness, but it also seems to make her feel isolated and angry with her parents, which factors into her decision to run away from home.

What’s a more effective route to happiness for Riley (and the rest of us)? Recent research points to the importance of “prioritizing positivity”—deliberately carving out ample time in life for experiences that we personally enjoy. For Riley, that’s ice hockey, spending time with friends, and goofing around with her parents.

But critically, prioritizing positivity does not require avoiding or denying negative feelings or the situations that cause them—the kind of single-minded pursuit of happiness that can be counter-productive. That’s a crucial emotional lesson for Riley and her family when Riley finally admits that moving to San Francisco has been tough for her—an admission that brings her closer to her parents.

3) Sadness is vital to our well-being. Early in the film, Joy admits that she doesn’t understand what Sadness is for or why it’s in Riley’s head. She’s not alone. At one time or another, many of us have probably wondered what purpose sadness serves in our lives.

That’s why the two of us love that Sadness rather than Joy emerges as the hero of the movie. Why? Because Sadness connects deeply with people—a critical component of happiness—and helps Riley do the same. For example, when Riley’s long-forgotten imaginary friend Bing Bong feels dejected after the loss of his wagon, it is Sadness’s empathic understanding that helps him recover, not Joy’s attempt to put a positive spin on his loss. (Interestingly, this scene illustrates an important finding from research on happiness, namely that expressions of happiness must be appropriate to the situation.)

In one the film’s greatest revelations, Joy looks back on one of Riley’s “core memories”—when the girl missed a shot in an important hockey game—and realizes that the sadness Riley felt afterwards elicited compassion from her parents and friends, making her feel closer to them and transforming this potentially awful memory into one imbued with deep meaning and significance for her.

With great sensitivity, Inside Out shows how tough emotions like sadness, fear, and anger, can be extremely uncomfortable for people to experience—which is why many of us go to great lengths to avoid them (see the next section). But in the film, as in real life, all of these emotions serve an important purpose by providing insight into our inner and outer environments in ways that can help us connect with others, avoid danger, or recover from the loss.

One caveat: While it’s important to help kids embrace sadness, parents, and teachers need to explain to them that sadness is not the same as depression—a mood disorder that involves prolonged and intense periods of sadness. Adults also need to create safe and trusting environments for children so they will feel safe asking for help if they feel sad or depressed.

4) Mindfully embrace—rather than suppress—tough emotions. At one point, Joy attempts to prevent Sadness from having any influence on Riley’s psyche by drawing a small “circle of Sadness” in chalk and instructing Sadness to stay within it. It’s a funny moment, but psychologists will recognize that Joy is engaging in a risky behavior called “emotional suppression”—an emotion-regulation strategy that has been found to lead to anxiety and depression, especially amongst teenagers whose grasp of their own emotions is still developing. Sure enough, trying to contain Sadness and deny her a role in the action ultimately backfires for Joy, and for Riley.

Later in the film, when Bing Bong loses his wagon (the scene described above), Joy tries to get him to “cognitively reappraise” the situation, meaning that she encourages him to reinterpret what this loss means for him—in this case, by trying to shift his emotional response toward the positive. Cognitive reappraisal is a strategy that has historically been considered the most effective way to regulate emotions. But even this method of emotion regulation is not always the best approach, as researchers have found that it can sometimes increase rather than decrease depression, depending on the situation.

Toward the end of the movie, Joy does what some researchers now consider to be the healthiest method for working with emotions: Instead of avoiding or denying Sadness, Joy accepts Sadness for who she is, realizing that she is an important part of Riley’s emotional life.

Emotion experts call this “mindfully embracing”emotion. What does that mean? Rather than getting caught up in the drama of an emotional reaction, a mindful person kindly observes the emotion without judging it as the right or wrong way to feel in a given situation, creating space to choose a healthy response. Indeed, a 2014 study found that depressed adolescents and young adults who took a mindful approach to life showed lower levels of depression, anxiety, and bad attitudes, as well as a greater quality of life.

Certainly, Inside Out isn’t the first attempt to teach any of these four lessons, but it’s hard to think of another piece of media that has simultaneously moved and entertained so many people in the process. It’s a shining example of the power of media to shift viewers’ understanding of the human experience—a shift that, in this case, we hope will help viewers foster deeper and more compassionate connections to themselves and those around them.”

Source here.