Thursday, December 22, 2011

Motivate Staff and Consumers With Gift Vouchers

If you're considering the various options for boosting your staff's performance and encouraging clients to buy your products or use your services, consider schemes that use gift vouchers. To find out why these are so popular and how they could help your business, read on.
Gift vouchers can be harnessed for a variety of purposes - and it's this that forms a large part of their appeal. Whether you plan to launch a consumer-focused scheme or something for your staff, you'll find gift vouchers are an effective tool to have in your arsenal.
There are a number of ways they can be used to improve your engagement with clients, for example. If you plan to launch a new product, why not offer a gift voucher with each purchase to encourage more sales?
Or, you could simply use them to acquire more customers - or encourage existing clients to keep choosing your services. Indeed, the latter could prove particularly beneficial if you operate in a competitive marketplace, as it will help to differentiate your business from your rivals - and even potentially gain some of their client base.
When it comes to staff performance, meanwhile, you'll find reward schemes and incentives can be an incredibly effective motivational tool.
For example, you could boost employee morale by offering rewards for long service or loyalty. Alternatively, you can encourage workers to meet their full potential by offering sales incentives, such as gift vouchers for meeting targets.
Of course, different people are interested in different things, which means what is considered valuable by some may not be by others. This brings us to the next benefit of vouchers and cards - their wide appeal.

Unlike other forms of reward, vouchers can offer tangible benefits for everyone. Should your client base be broad or your staff have a wide range of interests, consider multi-option gift vouchers that can be redeemed at an abundance of familiar names on the high street.
Alternatively, vouchers catering for travel services, leisure attractions and spas - to name but a few - are also available should you be happy to go with something a little more specific.
In addition to these great benefits, such schemes are typically simple to implement and wonderfully cost-effective - something most companies will be concerned with during the current troubled economic climate.
So, why not consider harnessing the power of vouchers to help achieve your business goals today?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Help Clients Start a Business Right by 8 Tips

When clients fail to plan, they plan to fail

Starting and running a profitable business is not rocket science. The 1st reason many people fail is they fail to follow a well-established business development process. Below are 8 tips to business development that, when followed with purpose, will significantly help your business clients and customers improve their chances for growth and long-term success:

1. Test the Waters: Encourage client so close a sale. While this is not possible for all ventures, making a sale validates the business idea on multiple levels, such as who will buy, why they buy, what they'll pay, how much it costs and how much profit will be made.

2. Research, Research, Research: Encourage clients to Web surf and shop the competition to learn how similar businesses define, price, market and sell their offerings. LIttle is new. Take advantage of what works.

3. Connect Clients to Experts: There are over 33,000 "volunteer" business mentors in the U.S. that offer all types of expertise, such as tax, funding, marketing, import/export, govt. contracting, etc. Introduce and help clients to connect.

4. Write the Business Plan: Require clients to write their own plan and invest the time, hard work, learning and focus that will be the keys to their future success.

5. Fund Innovatively: You well know, banks are rarely lending. Get creative. Will customers invest or prepay? Is joining forces an option where client have "x," someone else has "y" and together they're better off? Is contracting for a service versus buying equipment an option, such as a delivery service instead of buying a truck.

6. Recordkeeping: Require clients to demonstrate that they understand and have arranged for reliable expertise for maintaining breakeven, forecasting, cash flow and bookkeeping records. Business success lies in the details of managing the numbers.

7. Defeat Fear Through Knowledge: Asking for the sale is scary. Maintaining financial records can be intimidating. Investing in ones future is risky. Yet millions of people are doing this every day with success. Help clients connect with no-cost business assistance networks to learn how they can do it too.

8. Focus, Focus, Focus. Profitability is the first objective in business. Focus on a sales cycle where revenues exceed expenses. Assist clients with refining and repeating this process before they start something new.

Like most things in life, the more purposefully you engage, the more likely you'll get the results you seek. Good luck!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Should You Have a Business Partner?

Here at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), we work with all types of  businesses — from sole proprietorships, to partnerships, to corporations with several owners. We’ve seen partnerships work exceptionally well and we’ve seen disasters.
A Successful Partnership
We’ve counseled many small businesses with more than one owner. In a great many of these cases the owners are also a married couple. As one couple said, “We want to continue to stay married to each other and therefore make the business partnership work!” Their marriage is the “glue” that keeps the business partnership working. But what if the partners aren’t married? Several years ago we worked with a non- married couple that started a business that was unique for this area. Soon their personal relationship ended. They separated their living arrangement, but both wanted to continue to work in the business. They did and were successful at it because they both believed in their business idea and wanted it to be a success. Later, one partner married and moved to Seattle. She couldn’t work in the business anymore and wanted her partner to buy out her half. She said “I want to be fairly compensated, but I also want the business to succeed.” Her partner agreed. We worked with them to come up with a buy-out plan that accomplished both goals. The business grew and did succeed.

A Disaster
While we hear more tales of disastrous partnerships than we’d like to, one short example may be illustrative. Two couples, in their late-thirties, fulfilled their dream of moving to the Olympic Peninsula and buying a business. The women were childhood friends. The men were friends as well. The four of them planned to run this business. Within 6 months after buying the business the personal and business relationship between the two couples was destroyed. They found out too late that being friends doesn’t mean you have the same goals for a business or the same values that guide operating it. We offered to mediate, but one couple refused, demanding to be bought out at double what they put into the business a mere six months ago. One couple did buy out the other and the lifelong friendship between the two women was gone.

How to Avoid Disasters in Partnerships
Before you take on a business partner, ask yourself some important questions:
• Why do you want a business partner?
• What financial contribution can your potential partner make to the business? Does your potential partner have access to credit and what is his/her financial situation?
• Do your skills complement each other?
• Do you both have the same vision for the business?

If you do decide to enter into a partnership, it is best to have a written partnership agreement. Although we advise seeing an attorney to assist you with it, here are some issues to discuss with your partner. Your answers will form the basis of your agreement. The first section deals with issues involving “getting into the partnership”:

“Getting Into the Partnership”
~What are the mission, vision, and goals of the business? Of each partner?
~What are each partner’s expectations of the business?
~Will the partners be equal?
~ What is the initial capital contribution of each partner? Are the contributions true investments or loans?
~What commitment of time, equipment, and other resources will you each make?
~What is the value of “other equity” such as “sweat equity”?
~What level of income will you each expect or need from the business?

Once you’ve worked out the issues to get into the partnership, turn to the actual running of the business and how you will do that in partnership:

“In the Partnership”
~ What are the roles and responsibilities of each partner? Who will do specific tasks? How will day-to-day decisions be made?
~Will partners make additional financial contributions?
~How will each partner share in profits and losses?
~What salaries, if any, are to be paid to partners?
~ Will you prohibit outside business activities that would be in competition with the partnership business?
~ How will disputes be resolved? Is there a “managing partner” who will make final decisions?
~Will new partners be added? If so, what procedure will be followed?
~Who can make commitments or expenditures on behalf of the company?

Since partnerships do end, now is the time to discuss how this will happen:

“Getting Out of the Partnership”
~ How will a break-up of the partnership be handled? What if one partner wants to keep the business? What if both partners want the business but no longer want to work together?
~ How will you determine the value of the business in case of death, incompetence, or withdrawal of a partner, or dissolution of the partnership for any other reason?
~Is a partner allowed to sell his or her portion of the business?
~ What happens in the event of the death of a partner? Is it specified in a legal will for each partner?
~ What happens if a partner gets divorced? What legal and financial impacts will that have on the business?

Getting Help in Forming a Partnership

Bringing a partner into your business is a key decision that will either help or hinder the business. We recommend reviewing the issues presented in this article and perhaps making an appointment with the SBDC to guide you and your potential partner in this task. We also recommend getting advice from your accountant and having your attorney assist you with the final agreement, typically referred to as a Buy-Sell Agreement.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Two Keys to Learning Mental Arithmetic for Kids

Parents ask me what they can do to improve kids' mental health. They are surprised when I mention outdoor play. Oh, sometimes I recommend a parenting course for the parents. Other times I suggest spending more time with the kids... and, at times, I'll suggest encouraging uniqueness or cultivating a spirit of independence in a particular child. For kids with ADHD, I may suggest more structure at home or in the classroom. But... What is the single most powerful and urgent suggestion I offer?

Simple... Grab your kid, go and play outdoors!

Out Of Shape and Stressed Out Kids

We have a nation of obese, play-starved kids who are growing up on video games and living life with cell phones plastered to their ears. Most of the children I see in my counseling practice are in need of more physical activity. And physical activity is good for body, mind and soul! Our kids need to play more and to play outdoors. What a terrific way to combat childhood obesity!

Play-starved kids want and need more time spent in the great outdoors, especially city kids. I saw an eight year-old girl yesterday. When asked what she wished she could have or do more than anything else in her life she replied, "I want to go to the park more often!"

I'll go over the benefits later in the article, but allow me to say the benefits of more outdoor play are fantastic! Think about your kids' mental health... Consider that the average child spends less than 10 minutes a day outside. And allow me to say that our kids absolutely need more unstructured play time outside! Why? Because it is essential for their healthy development and maturation.

How to Help Your Child Live a Happier, Healthier Life

1. You are the key to your kids' mental health, well-being and success. You can be a great role model. Just turn off the TV or put down your electronic gadget and go outside (with kids in tow) and do something! You can take an early morning walk. Shoot hoops, toss horseshoes or go for a bike ride. Get your family MOVING! Outdoor play will make your children happy! And it will keep 'em moving. That is the key to raising a healthy, fit and happy child... more outdoor play.

2. If you want to make a change in a child's life you have to do something different. Otherwise you'll keep getting the same results. So... Visit your local neighborhood, city, state or national park more often. Outdoor play is very helpful for children with ADHD.

3. Teach (by doing) your children to enjoy nature in skillful ways. In other words, take them swimming and canoeing, fishing and rowing, bird watching, hiking and skiing, target shooting and rock climbing. Arrange for them to get good, safe instruction and supervision, and frequent practice, so they can develop the skill set needed for each outdoor activity. And they will learn to love being outside engaging in their favorite sport or activity. You'll find their self-confidence and happiness index growing with each activity they master!

4. Here's a big key to your kid's mental health. Give time for unstructured enjoyment of the outdoors, such as sitting on a blanket, watching the clouds, skipping stones, rolling in the grass, listening to waterfalls and playing tag. Kids really need this kind of stress busting time in nature. Learning to do nothing in a beautiful outdoor area is a lifelong value and skill you'll be imparting. Nature is healing and restful, challenging and stimulating. Kids who are nature-savvy are healthier and happier than others. So get those play-starved kids up and running in the great outdoors!

5. Get friends, family and other kids involved, too. You'll add a nice social component and you'll build strength in the group ethic. You can take your group to the park today and your neighbor can take them tomorrow. Draw upon your support system, consisting of relatives and friends, to help you get your children and adolescents out of the house and into the sunshine. You can find creative ways of setting up an environment for fostering health, success and well-being in your young family members. Outdoor play will fight childhood obesity, too.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Greater self-confidence, better attitude, improved mental and physical health, enhanced cooperation and teamwork, opportunities for spiritual growth, a deeper understanding of and respect for wildlife, a healthier brain, improved problem solving skills, and greater happiness, to name a few!

Outdoor play will bring the family together and reinforce all-important family values to guide and protect your child throughout his/her life.

Plus, outdoor play is a wonderful outlet for excess energy for all children and teenagers, especially those high-energy kids or those with ADHD. Outdoor play and time spent in nature can reduce depression, anxiety and anger. Outdoor play can give ADHDers an opportunity to blow off some steam and gain valuable experience stretching their legs, building their muscles and gaining coordination. Also, remember more outdoor play will help your kids fight childhood obesity.

In Closing

Get your kids outside doing, playing and exercising... and having fun doing nothing. You'll give them one of the greatest gifts you could ever give. And you'll help them build a foundation for a great life, full of meaningful endeavor, happiness and success! The key? More outdoor play!

Richard Hamon is a professional therapist and coach with over 30 years of experience. Richard helps people to solve their problems, enjoy truly extraordinary relationships and find meaning, value and success in all areas of their lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Five Ways to Simplify Your Life As a Small Business Owner

Most small business owners decided to start their own business because they believed it would allow them the freedom and flexibility to set their own schedule, make their own decisions, and only work as much as they wanted to. They might have thought that running a small business would give them more personal time and the opportunity to explore other activities outside of work. However, the nature of running a small business is such that most small business owners quickly discover that their business is controlling their entire life, and that they are working much harder than they ever did at any previous job. This is why it is always crucial for business owners take a step back and consider ways in which they can simplify their lives, practice better time management, and be more focused on the issues that are truly pressing at their business.
Here are five tips that will help you if you find yourself in this predicament:

1. Quit Sweating the Small Stuff
Don't let the minutia of owning and operating a business get in the way of you working effectively to achieve larger goals. While the small details of your business are certainly important, you can't let them hold you back from the more large-scale projects and tasks that you must accomplish. The lesson applies to perfectionists too: you will either have to let the small details and problems wait, or you will need to expand your staff to take care of them for you.

2. Set Concrete Goals
One way to deal with the issue of having too many projects to deal with at the same time is to set concrete goals and follow timetables. Once a week on Monday mornings, or every day - if necessary - write down a list of the goals you hope to accomplish that week or day. Keep your goals realistic.
Remember how much time you have and who is helping. No matter what issues may arise, ask yourself a few times every day, "Am I doing what I need to to accomplish my goals for the week?"

3. Stop Planning, Start Doing
There is at least one new study, blog entry, book, or Podcast published every week to help small business owners achieve success. Especially when it comes to small business marketing - a rapidly evolving and expanding field - it seems like there is way more information out there than any small business owner could feasibly comprehend and follow. This is why it is more important to take a look at what has actually worked to produce money for your business, and to use this knowledge as your own framework for success. You know your own business better than any author does, no matter how reputable they may be.

4. Allocate a Certain Amount of Time To Your Personal Life Every Week
No matter how pressing the issues confronting your business may be, there is nothing more important than your own health and happiness when it comes to running a business well. Balance is extremely important. If you are feeling overworked, exhausted, or overly stressed out, your emotions might begin to affect the way you work and the people with whom you work. There is nothing worse than snapping at a staff member or a customer because you aren't tending to your own well being. Give yourself a certain amount of time every week to spend with people you love, or doing the things you love, to help clear your head from all the work-related stress.

5. Make Your Workplace Your Happy Place
Regardless of how much you choose to follow the preceding four tips, the fact remains that, as a business owner, you will be spending a very large portion of your daily life in your workplace. This is why it is crucial to make sure that you enjoy your surroundings as much as possible. Hang up pictures of the people you love, bring some of your favorite or most sentimental pieces of art from home, or decorate in whatever other way makes you feel comfortable and at peace. Buy yourself a comfortable chair or invest in a nice sound system to play your favorite album (if the nature of your business permits it). Personalizing your work space and making it somewhere you like to spend your time will reflect in your work ethic and attitude more than you may realize.

Children and Stress

It's after midnight and Naomi's mother hears her in the refrigerator searching for a snack. No wonder she is gaining weight. She can't sleep, again. Tomorrow is an important day at school. Her 4th grade class will be taking a standardized test required by law. Rumor has it, among her peers that anyone who does not score well on this test will not be promoted to 5th grade. Naomi is different. Her 1st grade teacher helped her to understand that she learns differently from most of her peers.

Not only that, poor Naomi has been the tallest kid in her class ever since she was in kindergarten. Her classmates often call her "The Family Tree", a name Naomi has grown to hate. There are two new kids in her class. They are twins and they are bullies. They have chosen Naomi as their first victim. Plus, Naomi was frightened out of her sleep by her parents' fighting three nights in a row. To top it off, Naomi's gym shoes are too tight, she can hardly run around the gym with the other girls at school, the call her slow. Because at least one of her parent's fights has been about money, she is afraid to tell them she needs new shoes.

Naomi has drifted off to sleep several times but keeps waking up with questions. Why won't mommy and daddy stop fighting? Do they know they are frightening me? How can I stay out of the new girl's way on the playground? What should I do the next time she pushes me in line? Why am I still the tallest kid in class? How can I avoid having to take gym class? Why do I new shoes again? Can mommy and daddy afford to buy a new pair? Will they be mad at me? What can I do to make myself stop growing? What if I don't pass that big test? What will happen if I can't do it?

Life can be complicated. It is perfectly normal for children to worry about complications that may occur in their families and at school. Naomi however, spends too much time worrying about complications in her life. She is overwhelmed, feeling overly anxious, and her thoughts and feelings are causing her stress. She has too many situations causing her to feel a sense of urgency and mental tension. Many things have occurred which have given her cause to place emphasis or make important. There are too many things causing pressure and demands on Naomi. She could very well be on her way to developing an anxiety problem or disorder. Naomi is not alone. Many children are stressed by complications of life.

According to the Webster's New World Dictionary of American Language, stress is distress, anxiety, and strain on the mind or body. It is force exerted upon a body that tends to strain or deform its shape. Stress is caused by a sense of urgency, mental tension, and placing emphasis of a thing or issue making urgent or important.

Stress is natural. We all experience it from time to time. Stress is a feeling that's created by the adrenal glands the hypothalamus gland, part of the nervous system, signals it. The signal is triggered automatically when we react to particular events of emphasis and importance. Stress is the body's natural way of rising to the occasion, to a challenge, and responding to a problem. This natural response is the body's way of preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, emphasis, strength, stamina, and alertness. Too much of it, though becomes anxiety. Too much of it, causes the body to spend an excessive amount of time feeling anxious, could cause difficulty sleeping, and often lead to anxiety disorders, even in children.

This is how stress works in all humans. Specific hormones are released in this natural stress response. They cause the heart rate to speed. There is an increase in the body's breathing rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Next, blood vessels open wider in order to allow more blood flow to large muscle groups. This puts more muscles on alert. Then, the pupils dilate in order to improve vision. The liver reacts next as it releases some of its stored glucose allowing an increase the body's energy. The last physical reaction due to stresses is the production of sweat to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare a person to react quickly and effectively to handle pressure caused by the stress of the moment. When working properly, the body's stress response makes it easy for a person to perform well under pressure. However, anxiety disorders are developed when the stress response constantly overreacts, fails to turn off when the stressful situation has passed, and regularly neglects to reset itself properly due to continuous stress.

Because it interferes with their abilities, children repeatedly fall prey to many health issues caused by anxiety disorders. Many children have feelings of fear, worry, panic, or intense stress that can sometimes make it hard to get through the day and even the night. It interferes their ability to concentrate at school. It could either increase or decrease their appetite as well as cause them an inability to enjoy life or to relax. A child suffering from an anxiety disorder may be irritable, feel tired excessively, suffer with an upset stomach, tight and trembling muscles, or even suffer with frequent urination.

Teens who suffer from anxiety disorders may be prone the temporary escape found in, withdrawal, overeating, smoking, drinking and substance abuse. Families report that some children resort to cutting themselves and even attempting suicide. Teens choose these negative behaviors because they don't understand that these are temporary and feel helpless to address the underlying problem they face. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than two-thirds of a child's visits to the doctor are stress related.

Unfortunately Naomi is joined by many children who are also overly stressed by family challenges, bullying, difficulty learning, or just being different. They may be sad, hostile, or even self-destructive.

There are positive methods for children to relieve stress.

· pray
· play or do something active
· listen to music
· watch TV or play a video game
· talk to a friend
· try not to think about it
· try to work things out
· talk to parents or someone who loves them
· cry

Parents can teach these methods to their children. These methods of self-discipline will help children learn to minimize stress and manage the stress that may be unavoidable.

Let Your Child Get Dirty! It's Essential for Physical and Mental Development

Are you still following your child around worrying that they might stain their clothes? Do you forbid playing outside because they might get dirty? Do you see germs and infections in every step they take? Are you trying to keep away friendly dogs or cute kittens because they might be disease carriers?

Do any of the sentences above represent your attitude towards your child? If yes, you must reconsider. Depriving your child of physical contact with the "Dirty, Outside World" is bad for its health. Sound unbelievable? How can something full of germs be essential for a kid's development?

First of all, your child, in the delicate years between childhood and puberty, develops its immune system. The immune system is designed to defend the organism against millions of bacteria, microbes, parasites, viruses and toxins. But it needs to be trained; just us muscles need exercise to function properly. In order to recognize harmful germs, it needs to meet them first. Then it creates an archive, where it is all installed. When the time comes for a fight, the immune system will be prepared because it knows the enemy. Pure exposure to various microorganisms and other environmental factors leads to pure immune resistance. That means, that the child will be less susceptible to disease later in life. So, don't exaggerate in hygiene matters. Let your child's immune system harden, with the help of dirt.

Your child needs also to be active, run around and feel happy playing outside. Worrying about stains will make the child feel guilty about activities that make it happy. You cannot replace that happiness with clean clothes, or with indoor inactive activities such us TV or video games. This is especially true during the school year. Imagine being seated in a chair while experiencing growth and energy spurts! Getting loose outside home will help the child deal with that pressure.

Don't underestimate your kids' explorative skills. By exploring -not the house of course- it discovers the world. Exploration boosts the imagination as well as creativity, social and physical skills. Well-developed physical skills result in a healthy body. Creativity will bring adaptability, and social skills will bring success and mental health. All those will eventually turn an active child, into a lively, successful healthy adult.

Let friendly animals approach your child. They won't hurt it; they will be of benefit. By keeping animals away you teach your child to do the same. Have you considered having a pet? Children raised with pets show many benefits. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child's self-esteem and self-confidence. Your child will develop trusting relationships with others much easier. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.

Finally, how important do you think memories are? Memories are moments of our lives, forming our personality. What would you like your child to remember from its childhood memories? Clean, germ-free clothes? Or shiny days outside, filled with laughter and a sense of adventure?

Are you still afraid of dirt? No need to be, after all, dirt is health! So, let your child go and play outside, loose in the dirt. Join in if you get jealous, you might want to get a little dirty too!

Is Watching TV Bad for Your Mental Development - Could Be?

We've all been told that television is bad for us, that it melts our minds and retards our brains. Does it? Well, it's hard to argue that with a couch potato watching hours of TV each and every night isn't it. If we truly want an innovative society and a mentally strong base, then perhaps we ought to see what we can do about this.
No, I am not talking about removing TV sets in people's homes, I totally believe in freedom, and yet, I'd also like to consider perhaps some better communication about this, a national discussion if you will - who knows maybe a fire-side chat would be warranted too?
Not long ago, an acquaintance of mine stated to me on this very topic; "I once heard that our mind is actually less active when we're watching TV than when we're in a coma."
The visual stimulation goes up in the first 20-minutes and peaks, then slides down along a graph in similar shape to a Caffeine high, or most of those modern energy drinks - but "if" that graph kept going, after 4-5 hours, indeed, it would eventually get "way down" there I suppose. Still, it's a GREAT quote, I may use it sometime in an article or two, Thanks! That is funny. Perhaps, that comment was indeed the inspiration for this particular article.
Now then, let me ask you something. If we all know this, if we are already aware that TV is so debilitating and bad for our minds, turning it into Jello, and hurting our kid's ability to learn - then may I ask we spend so much time watching the boob tube in the first place? And what about the other distractions such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, or video games, YouTube etc. surely these are adversely effecting our population as well.
Are we in complete denial? In China they limit people from the Internet, as they want them to participate out here in the real world, not online. Some say that is more about censorship and control of their population, but is that all it is? Could it be that China noticed right away the adverse effects of such things? Well, maybe we need to consider that China and US are competing in the global market place now, and we need our citizens fully engaged in this game.
Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this and think on it. If you have similar comments, critiques, or questions feel free to email me at your earliest convenience.

Mental Development in Your Child - How You Can Increase It

Trying to teach your child enough to give them a head start when they begin school can be a daunting and stressful task. Either you are not sure what you should be teaching your child or you are not sure how you should be teaching your child. With this system though, teaching and training your child to learn can be both fun and rewarding without the stress involved.
This program was originally started to help accelerate mental development in children It can be used successfully with babies, pre-schoolers and children with brain injuries or learning disabilities. Children at these ages are eager to learn, they have a hunger for it. The incredible amount of learning and retention of information that they take in will never be as great at any other time in their lives. You can teach them to read words, phrases and stories. They can also learn encyclopedic knowledge and learn to do simple and complex math equations. Even if your child is not born a genius they can become one.
With the Genius Maker program you can multiply your child's intelligence and guarantee your child's academic success in life. Instill a life long passion for learning in your child and help them create confidence in their abilities to learn whatever they set their mind to. The program utilizes frequent yet very short lessons because kids get bored fast. This can be made part of play time and it will help you bond with your child. Guarantee your child's success; give them a head start in life.
Imagine your child raising his hand excitedly in school always with the answers? Think about him not struggling with his homework, and loving school. Now think of him proudly headed to college with this same confidence. Your child needs a head start in life, it is not to early to start teaching them! I know you want them to have this head start, this is how.
Money well spent for your child's future!

Nurturing Your Kids ' Mental Development

It is said that a child's brain is like a sponge which has the ability to absorb new ideas and knowledge. This is, of course, vital for his emotional and mental development. It is then important to provide your own with the opportunity to learn new things and have access to everything that will help him gain more knowledge than he can by himself.
Fortunately, there are many things that can help you do this and some of them are listed below:
1. Books- It is undeniable that children of any age enjoy reading books especially those which have colorful pictures and pop-up pages. Even children who are barely a year old are very eager to listen to bedtime stories. You should encourage your kids to read often. Take them along with you when you go to the bookstore. When the right time comes, you can teach them how to read. It is through reading that a child can have the opportunity to see the world from many different angles. With reading, he can explore the world even without traveling and, most of all, he can learn different cultures just by reading. Indeed, it is a fun and cheap way of enriching oneself during childhood.
2. Music- If you're a mother, you must remember relatives and friends who used to advise you to let your child listen to classical music while still in your womb. Yes, there is evidence that shows children who are exposed to music before birth tend to have a greater appreciation for it as adults. As your child grows up, it is good to introduce him to different genres of music and, if you can afford it, you can enrol him in piano, violin or guitar lessons.
3. Mathematics- Not everyone enjoys learning numbers and most certainly not children. Try to incorporate math in their daily activities such as making them count their toys at the and the end of playtime and have them compare the numbers they end up with. The challenge is to make math fun to learn. If it is fun, the child will have a greater chance of remembering each lesson he learns.
4. CAD for Kids- Every child has an artist in him. He may express this artistry through scribbling, writing, drawing, painting or even sculpting. Fact is, it is good for parents to enhance their kids' sense of creativity by giving them the opportunity through different activities. CAD is software used by design professionals such as architects and engineers. However, there is CAD for kids which allows children to discover their artistic passions through drawing on a digital medium. Who knows? Your child could be the next big thing in architecture for the future generations.
Nurturing your child's mental growth will not only help him achieve academic success. Also, a child who is are provided with many avenues for learning tends to grow up to be more emotionally secure individuals than one who is always left at home with a nanny who lets him sit in front of the television set all day without enough opportunity to engage in educational activities.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tracking Your Prime Cost? Good, Just Make Sure You're Calculating It Right

One of the most important and telling numbers of any restaurant is its Prime Cost.
Prime Cost is the total of food and beverage costs plus all payroll expenses including wages paid to management and staff and payroll taxes and related benefits.
Prime Cost is a key indicator of a restaurant's profit potential and how well management is managing the restaurant's biggest and most volatile costs.
Generally accepted industry rules of thumb tell us that in tableservice restaurants the goal should be to keep Prime Cost at or below 65% of sales. QSR or non-tableservice operations should aim for a Prime Cost is 60% of sales or less.
When Prime Cost exceeds these percentages by more than a point or two, it usually becomes a real challenge for any restaurant to make a sufficient bottom line profit regardless of the other expenses on their P&L.
Some independent operators may not be getting an accurate reading of their Prime Cost because of the way owner's compensation is handled.
When calculating Prime Cost, the owner's compensation should be included in management payroll only if the owner is actively working in the restaurant and the amount of compensation does not exceed 4% of sales.
If you own a restaurant but have a GM manage the daily operations, don't include your compensation when calculating Prime Cost
For owners who perform the duties of a GM and/or chef, first see if your salary exceeds 4% of sales. If it does not, don't do anything. If it does, take the amount that exceeds 4% of sales out of Prime Cost.
Reason for the 4% amount is this. In general, GMs or chefs are not paid more than 3%-4% of sales. When a restaurant is very profitable, working owners may pay themselves more or even much more than 4% of sales so including all of their compensation in Prime Cost can cause it to be artificially high in comparison to other restaurants.
If applicable, reclassifying some portion of owner's compensation out of Management Payroll should give you a better number for comparing your Prime Cost to industry averages and rules of thumb.

Have a profitable week!  Jim Laube & Joe Erickson

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anger Management For Children - Parents Are You Facing a Losing Battle? What Are Your Plans ?

This may not come as a surprise but anger management for children usually starts with a child's natural progression. Aggression can be a stage that children will pass through, but if aggression isn't checked by parents who are good role models for their kids it can become a

uncontrollable two headed monster. If it isn't checked by a kids tween years, parents should prepare for all out war as tweens roll into their early teen years. So it is always recommended to nip it in the bud while kids are still young, but parents are lost as to how to actually get control of a disruptive child.

To get control of a disruptive child in order to improve your anger management for children skills, a well to do parent needs a plan. The objective of the plan should be one thing and one thing only--respect. If a child respects his/her parent(s), he/she is more unlikely to show an aggressive, belligerent attitude. A parent's plan should include daily training because it will take daily training to install new learned habits. But not only will a parent have to change their child's attitude, parents may find that their own attitudes need a make-over.

Parents who are trying to cultivate a new attitude in their children first need to stand in front of a mirror with the following question. How can I change myself first? That usually starts with letting go of any egotistical attributes a parent may have. Many parents will go ballistic if a child disobeys, and this in turn only makes a child want to retaliate against the parent. Don't forget that a child is a child. They will make mistakes, but as a parent it is up to you to calmly explain that the mistake was just that--a mistake. If you find yourself screaming at your child for a mistake, you're not teaching, you are pouring salt in an open wound.

Anger management for children starts with a planed out, patient, harmonious, low-key approach. Parents need to plan in advance how to deal with a disruptive child. Parents should plan how they will react when things go wrong. This will eliminate any unwanted spontaneous anger from the parent, and in return kids will respect parents more. While planning, don't forget that kids will be kids, and that includes a little mischievous ways. They should not be yelled at for spilling milk on the floor, or for grabbing M&M's at the local grocery store. You wouldn't scream at a tiger because he has strips would you?

Although it seems like you have come to a dead end regarding your child. Know that there is another way to win [] back your power.This method has given me power over the situation. It has taught me how to remain calm and to be at peace with myself first.
Puberty is the most crucial stage of our lives and everyone goes through it at some point in life. All the major changes, physical, emotional and psychological occur at this stage. A human body begins to develop as one moves from childhood to adolescence. It has been scientifically proved that girls mature earlier as compared to boys. Girls get their first period around 12 years of age, i.e., two to two and half years after they begin puberty. But, this is a general observation, it differs from one girl to another. Some girls might get their first period as early as 9 years of age and as late as age 16. Naturally, the changes in girls are different from boys and so the timing of puberty varies a great deal in both of them. Puberty in girls starts between the ages 8 and 13 whereas in boys it is between 10 and 15 years. The wide age range can answer your question, why some girls and boys of your child's age still look like kids and some look more like adults.

The beginning of puberty at a very early stage is called precocious puberty. All individuals cannot take these changes easily as others and might be frightened and confused about it. Some schools talk to their students about these topics, but it comes very late. It is the primary responsibility of the parents to talk to their children during their early childhood, approximately at the age of 8 years. The next segment is divided into two parts because the ways to talk to girls and boys about puberty are different.

Talking to Your Daughter About Puberty

Earlier, it was like when a girl gets her first period, only then she knows about it. The mother or any other elderly female never bothered to explain what it was exactly or why it happens? The girl was not supposed to ask questions about it and even if she asked, very casual and ridiculous answers like "it happens" or "every girl goes through it" were given to her and nothing more than that. What should she make out of such statements? The girl used to feel only confused and helpless. But, nowadays, the situation has changed. Children are exposed to so many things that they are aware of these things before the right time and the information is also not from the reliable sources. Thanks to the present media and television. These mediums have become so much independent that they take up any issue and present it any how they want. In this case, talking about the issues of puberty remains an important point and you as a parent, should be very careful and start as early as possible to talk about puberty to your daughter. Here are a few tips to help you initiate the talk on this sensitive yet most important subject with your daughter.

    * Let her know about menstruation even before she gets her first period otherwise she will be frightened at the sight and location of the blood. You can start talking to her right from the age of 8 years.
    * Convince her that it is absolutely natural and normal and everyone has to go through it sometime in life only the timing differs from person to person because if your girl is alone in her group who still did not get her first period or if she is the first one to get it, she might feel embarrassed and as an odd man out.
    * Tell her the reason behind the small lumps that she experiences around her nipples and about the swelling of the breasts. Let her know that her body is growing according to her age and the above-mentioned parts are the major organs that reflect the changes and the growth prominently.
    * The growth of hair in the armpits and the pubic area is also a major change and needs to be talked about. Also the leg hair starts thickening and there is a rapid increase in the height of both girls and boys.
    * Last but not the least, be patient and open to answer any question raised by your daughter. Be clear enough in your explanation and make more use of scientific terms which will make both of you comfortable while conversing.

Talking to Your Son About Puberty

Boys may feel comfortable talking about their puberty with other males. May be the father, uncle or any other close male figure can take the responsibility of talking to the boy about the changes in his body. However, if there is no such person in his life, a trusted female can do the job. Many parents never talk to their kids about puberty. So the school in such a case must be advised to arrange a session on this subject. If you are going to talk to your boy about puberty, here are some instructions that will make your conversation better.

    * Like a girl, a boy also needs an assurance that whatever is happening to him is normal and there is nothing wrong in it. You should be confident enough while delivering your speech. This will make the boy believe you and won't feel awkward.
    * Make use of formal and scientific language which will make the explanation more clear. If you hesitate while pronouncing some words and say something different, it will only confuse the child.
    * Tell him that his penis and testicles will begin to grow during puberty and he will experience ejaculation. The concept of wet dreams or nocturnal emissions needs to be explained to the boy because he often gets wet dreams during puberty which makes him feel embarrassed. Nocturnal emission is nothing but the discharge of semen through the penis when the boy is asleep. The body is becoming capable of producing testosterone (male sex hormone) and there is an erection in the penis. This erection leads to ejaculation.
    * Tell your son about the growing hair on the face, in the armpits and the pubic area. There is also a considerable increase in the height and weight and the voice cracks and deepens.

Boys and girls both suffer from acne during puberty and it is important to tell them to take care of their body, especially the face and the skin.

As a last piece of advice, be prepared before the conversation, write whatever you want to say if you are not confident and get ready to answer any question. If you are not able to answer a question or feel doubtful, better take help from your family health care provider and clear it off. Finally, leave your child with something to read which will give him/her additional valuable information about this normal, natural yet important stage of life.

By Snehal Motkar

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Big Disaster For The Children. Divorce & Parental Alienation

Are you guilty? The big question for you..

Parental Alienation - when one or both divorcing parents attempts to negatively influence their children about the other parent -- is one of the most terrible outcomes of a divorce gone bad. It's a difficult and complex subject, but the outcome is always the same. Children who are emotionally scarred.
When you mix two egos with dramatically differing perspectives, you're bound to get an entanglement of emotions compounded by allegations, defensiveness and self-righteousness. Unfortunately, no one wins when parental alienation runs its course during and after a divorce. But it's the children in particular who lose in a big way. Many of them are affected for life.
Behind parental alimentation are parents who feel totally justified in hating, resenting or otherwise distancing themselves from their former spouse. They fail to take into account how this might psychologically play out in an innocent child who naturally loves both parents. Backed by the strength of their convictions, these parents feel validated in negatively influencing their children's attitude toward the other parent. Whether its overt put-downs, disparaging comments or more subtle nuances of distain, they make it clear that they do not like, respect or trust the other parent. The message to the children creates confusion mixed with anxiety, insecurity, guilt and fear.
What's a child to do when one of their parents says the other parent, who is genetically a part of them, is bad, wrong, hateful, or not worthy of their love? How should a child handle the burden of learning "truths" about their other parent that only an adult can comprehend? Who can a child turn to when Mom is putting down Dad (or vice versa) and it makes them angry, frightened or resentful?
Parents need to think before they act. They need to look ahead to the consequences before they share secrets that no child should have to know - before they take the innocence of childhood from children who are totally powerless to fix their adult problems. They need seek the counsel of professionals who can dispassionately help them make the right decision on their children's behalf. Then they need to work on healing themselves.

Psychotherapist, JoAnn Simmons, MA, LMHC, and a contributor to my new book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook(TM) Guide to Preparing Your Children - with Love!, offers some sound advice in her new book, Stop Looking ... And Let True Love Find YOU! "There's nothing that hurts more than a broken heart," she notes. "Romantic love relationships are the toughest to release, especially if you feel wronged by your partner. A rocky romance often results in blaming the other person. Some people hold grudges for years. These grudges block the energy around your heart and tend to constrict giving and receiving love."
This not only hurts your children, it hampers your ability to move on with your life in a healthy, productive way - and keeps you from attracting a happier, more successful new relationship into your life. "The longer we hold onto the past, the longer we stay stuck in negative feelings related to the past. You must let go of old resentments," says Simmons.
The essential point here is that you don't let go of those resentments in order to benefit your former spouse - or to let them off the hook. You let go so you can make a space for a better future for yourself. That better future will inevitably be better for your children, as well. So everyone wins.
Parental alienation is a sure way to risk alienating your children from you - if not today, in the years and decades ahead. When making decisions about your divorce, child custody issues, visitations, holiday celebrations and all the day-to-day activities that fill our busy lives, remember to be a parent first. Put aside your personal feelings about your former spouse. Stop - and see that other parent from your child's perspective - as the Mom or Dad they deeply love.

Children-Parent Communication, absolutely needed

Communication between parents and their children can be a source of great pleasure and a wonderful bridge to being close and warm. Or it can be a source of deep distress for everyone and bring a family to the brink of disintegration. It is that important. Often when professionals are brought in to help a family they spend time getting to understand the dynamics of the family and it is the communication patterns that give them the best 'feel' for what is really going on inside that intense and intensely private space that is a family system.
How can we make sense of communication?
One of the most useful models we have found for making sense of how people are communicating with one another is through Transactional Analysis. We have a short video of the model available on U-tube. With this model it becomes easy to see how two people 'miss' one another and talk at cross purposes. This is especially true between parents and their children as parents and carers have to walk a delicate line between talking to the children as equals and coaching them to make the most and best of themselves and some tough love type conversations where they lay down the family law and set boundaries. Getting that balance right enough of the time makes a big difference to the success of the relationship.

Getting it right: Tough love and fun
One of the things that children respond to really well is fun! Not any great amazing revelation I know but it is something that in our observations of family communication we see missing much of the time. The way I understand it is that parents and carers get caught up with their responsibilities - put food on the table, roof over heads, make sure kids get on at school. It is like a computer programme running their system. What they lose in this programme is the fun button. Spending time with the children, playing, doing interesting things and just hanging out somewhere you both enjoy gives more quality to your relationship than anything else. I have often found parents worrying about having 'family time' and yet hating the time they do have as a family because it always leads to rows! In fact it is far better to have quality time with the children on a one to one basis as the priority and that makes family events much easier because the competition for time and energy has been relieved. Try it and see.

How Childrens Wallpaper Can Complete a Kid's Bedroom

Designing your child's room can be one of the most exciting moments that a parent and their child can go through together. There are many aspects that complete a child's room. Such things would include the bed, colour scheme, toys and the list goes on. One of the more important things that add the finishing touches to a kid's room is Childrens Wallpaper. The thing about Wallpaper that many people don't appreciate is the fact that it sets the entire theme of their child's bedroom.
Instead of having to worry about paint and different colour patterns to go ahead with, choosing Childrens Wallpaper would be the ideal choice for your kid's room. Seeing as there has been an increase in demand for Childrens Wallpaper the market has seen an increase in the variety of designs that are currently being offered. The designs that you find in most high street shops are very simple, plain and boring to be quite frank.

The best place top search out cool and trendy Childrens walloper is to look online. There are a number of sites that are currently offering Childrens Wallpaper in unbelievable designs. Some of the Childrens Wallpaper designs include themes of cars, dinosaurs, the sea, football pitch, fairy princess and many more. The great thing about shopping for this product online is that you are open to more variety. Having a look around on a number of sites will also give you an idea of which wallpapers are more popular amongst kids. It will give you a chance to read reviews of other parents that have bought similar wallpapers and give their views on the quality that they received. The best thing about shopping online for kids wallpaper is the price factor. You will find yourself having to pay a fraction of the price that you would have had to pay on the high street for really interesting and attractive designs.

Here are some pictures

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Regulation Modifications That Can Help You Start a Business in Latin America Countries

When it comes to starting a new business in Latin America, the general misconception on the part of the potential investors is that the legislative limitations of the countries situated in this area outweigh the benefits. It is fairly true that in the past many governments imposed restrictive laws which deemed the business environment constraining.
However, nowadays, business in Latin America seems to be picking up the pace quickly due to several favorable modifications of the legal system and new regulations that favor development and the expansions of companies in the region. Although the following article will exemplify the highlights of these changes, it is advisable to employ the services of specialized consultants if you are not familiar with the Latin America market.
For Brazil, the most notable modification comes from the tax system, which has now synchronized the federal and the state taxes, for the convenience of the companies. It is necessary to point out that the old system of taxes made it very complicated and confusing for businesses to stay up to date with the full array of taxes in order to avoid penalties. Furthermore, those interested in the Chilean market will be happy to learn that the authorities have implemented an online business registration method as well as one that allows you to file publication requests.
Moreover, Chile now promotes corporate transparency and regulates the transaction approval, all in the interest of investors.
In Colombia it is much easier now to obtain construction permits, as the pre-building certificates are verified by the authorities online. There is no other notable achievement for Ecuador except for the implementation of the online system that manages social security registrations. In Mexico, on the other hand, several changes have been made, the first one being the one-stop shops which allow companies to register their business. At the same time, it is now much easier to obtain construction permits, as two major services (utilities and zoning) have been merged and streamlined. However, corporate taxes in this country have been increased, although the administrative tasks are much simpler due to the widespread popularity of online payment methods and high usage rate of accounting software programs.
Nicaragua, while it has regrettably imposed several new taxes (10 percent withholding taxes for the gross interest generated by a deposit) on companies and increased the preexisting ones has substantially improved the trade using innovative electronic data transfer systems for the department of customs and one-stop shops for goods exports. In addition, the investments made in the equipments for Corinto, one of the major ports of the country will also facilitate exports and imports trading.
In Uruguay, entrepreneurs will find it easier to register properties due to the elimination of the preemption rights waivers, which was required up to now. At the same time, Paraguay also allowed companies to obtain a construction permit with less hassle thanks to the improved administrative structures and the superior tracking systems which eliminated a great deal of bureaucracy. In a nutshell, many countries are striving to make business in Latin America enchanting for investors and many more changes are yet to come.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun, Quirky Children's Pillows That Adults Will Also Love

It's not all the time that when you see something, it immediately grabs your attention and when you come for a closer look, you actually fall in love it. When that happens, you just can't let it go. I'm talking about attention-grabbing, earth-loving, unique children's pillows. They look so good that kids and adults alike would surely love them!

If you're a pillow loving person who loves to play around and experiment with cool, unique, funky designs, then why not look around online? Sometimes, all a room needs is a change of accessories. You don't have to spend so much on redecorating and one of the ways you can give a room a fresh new look is with pillows! If, say, you're thinking of giving your child's bedroom a new look, then check out some pillows we recommend.

The k studio Crying Pillow for example has this really cool design. It looks like a chic rendition of a child's sketch of a crying girl. The chicness comes from the simplicity of the design and it can be used in children's or adult's rooms. And because k studio believes in taking care of our environment, this pillow has a 100% organic cotton case. You don't need a tearful night to hug this pillow but if you do, the cute design is sure to make you smile.

Another fun pillow from k studio is their Rain Pillow. The delightful design is handmade in black stitch and white opaque applique. Again, it is made of organic cotton and just like the other pillows from k studio, it is filled with feather/down insert for that cushy softness. This pillow is just too cute for words.

I just can't over the designs of the k studio pillows. They have other choices and all of them have that fun, quirky designs which are really appealing. Pillows are always nice to have around because of the comfort factor, but those with really unique designs are sure to become favorites.

These fun and quirky children's pillows are so unique that you might want to have them for your own too! We're pretty sure mommies will like these quirky pillows. Grab a couple for your kids and a few more for you. They will perk up any room as well as your mood. It doesn't hurt either that these are made from organic materials. What a way to marry style and social responsibility.

How Parents Can Help Baby Sitters Deal With Kids Who Don't Want Baby Sitters!

Baby sitter wanted: parents want someone who is qualified, experienced and loves kids. If you have these traits, then great. But what can parents do if their kids despise the babysitter?
Resisting Authority

They can always say they don't like the sitter's hair or the way the babysitter dresses. The truth is, they just don't like anyone else "telling them what to do" besides their mum or dad. The reality is, kids will be kids.
The children need to feel emotionally secure around the babysitter. As parents, we can help them understand that the purpose of having a babysitter around is not to have someone to boss over them but to have someone to make sure they are safe. Another thing that parents can do is that they can also look for babysitters who have great rapport with kids. A baby sitter wanted should be a baby sitter who naturally loves kids.

Mature Baby Sitter Wanted

The demand for a mature baby sitter who can handle negative behaviors from children then can never be stressed too highly enough. One way of getting babysitters who are well-trained in child psychology is by joining parent support groups and online babysitting agencies.
Here are some tips that parents can give their babysitters:
  1. As long as the child is not doing anything to harm himself/herself during a tantrum, it is advisable to simply pretend to ignore the child. Eventually, he or she will stop is he or she is not getting the attention from the babysitter.
  2. Build rapport with the child. Take interest in his or her interest and engage him or her in an activity which he or she is interested in.
  3. Show a good example to the child and use positive reinforcement always. 
  4. A good baby sitter wanted should leave the household with encouraging and positive words to the child. You could share some exciting activities you plan to do with them next time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 Secrets to Developing Social Skills

We should start developing social skills when we are young children. This is the best way to guarantee the skills will be inculcated in us. It begins at home and should be observed and practiced there. Parents have a social duty to take the lead in training their children to have social skills. This is because parents are the first people a child gets to socialize with.
Teaching social skills to your children gives them the confidence that they could stand up on their own two feet in the future. Therefore, parents must be equipped with knowing the proper way of developing social skills in their children.
The following are basic social skills that little children need.

  • Train your child to be polite. Being polite is not simply taught, it must be seen and practiced at home. Train the child to use the basic and important words in life.
- Thank you.
- I'm sorry.
- I forgive you.
- Excuse me.

These are the set of words that must be easily said when needed. It should be practiced daily at home. Being able to say thank you verbalizes your appreciation for the good gesture shown by another. However, children being children, they naturally show only what they feel. It is sometimes hard for them to say the words when they do not really appreciate something done for them. Have the patience to explain to them that they should always thank the other person, no matter what it was that was done for them.
Train them to say I am sorry. These may be the most difficult words to say but is healing for both the speaker and the receiver. It is part of building up the child to be normal, someone who could make mistakes and accepts corrections. Likewise, your child will also grow up to accept that people make mistakes.
We cannot protect our children from being hurt, but we could teach them the virtue of forgiving. This is a very important phase in their social development. In that way, I forgive you, could sincerely be said.
We often tell our to kids to say excuse me when they sneeze or are trying to reach for something between other people. You must painstakingly train your child to do so. It is part of developing their social skills.

  • Train them in table manners. You must be able to practice table manners at home so that your child will get used to it. Using the word please is basic and it should be practiced religiously. There is no need to enroll your child in a sophisticated school. As children grow up they get to join you in different social gatherings. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child practice what he learned from your home.

  • Always dress your children according to the occasion. Some parents tend to overdress their children to make them the center of attraction. This may have a negative effect on the child. It is still best to have the child dressed appropriately.

  • Communicate frequently with your child. Parent-child communication gives the child a feeling of importance. This communication serves as the basis for exchange of knowledge and bonding. This way, a child grows up communicating well with others.

  • Provide your child with the opportunity to play with other children in their social circle. Intervene only when needed.
Often times, pre-school teachers are left with the problem of teaching kids how to socialize with the other students. As a child enters the classroom, a seasoned teacher can easily detect someone who has been nurtured and trained with love at home. Developing social skills in your children is the best gift you could give your child in facing the real world.

Bring Out the Best in You and Your Kids!

Even though we need a license to do many things in life -- everything from driving and operating a forklift to practicing medicine and fishing -- there is no license required to become a parent and this is often the trickiest of all of the above activities!
Parenting today is far more difficult than it was, even a generation ago. Many well-intentioned parents are using outdated and ineffective parenting styles. As a result, they experience daily frustration and stress in their home.

Below you will find my top 7 tips for good parenting. These tips inspire children to want to be well behaved, can reduce family fights and boost family joy.
Good Parenting Tip #1 - If you love your kids--put yourself first!
One of the best things we can do for our children is to give them a foundation for becoming a happy and healthy adult. Self-care should not be a luxury for parents--it needs to become a necessity. You need self-care both for being a good parent and a healthy and balanced human being. Far too many children are living with parents who are stressed out and frankly, not at all fun to be around. If you are repeatedly burning the midnight oil, you may be on the brink of parent burnout--not a pleasant thing for you or your family to experience.

Good Parenting Tip #2 - If married--put your marriage before your kids!
Most of us have heard of Generation X and Generation Y. But did you realize that Generation S--Generation Spoiled--is on the rise? Many children today are raised with an unhealthy sense of entitlement because their parents have made them the center of the universe. With divorce statistics still hovering around 50%, children are far too often coping with unhappy, failing marriages and divorce- much worse for them than missing out on a couple of toys or brand name jeans. Take a stand and put some time into your marriage (like go on a date night)--for your whole family's sake!

Good Parenting Tip #3 - Cherish your children
No matter what your situation--no matter how often your children drive you crazy--know there are thousands of people in this world who would gladly trade places with you. There are couples who would give anything to just have a child. Strive to remember how truly fortunate you are. Hug your children at least three times a day. Regularly tell them how grateful you are to have the opportunity to be their parent.

Good Parenting Tip #4 - Teach your kids to fish--don't fish for them!
Many parents do everything for their kids. This only robs their children of the opportunity to learn self-reliance--which is vital to building their self-esteem. One of the best things you can do is to help your kids learn how to do things for themselves. One of the chapters of my first book on effective parenting is called "How To Get Your Kids Doing Their Chores Smiling". Some parents think I am from another planet when I even suggest that kids can learn to do chores with a smile on their face. These same doubting parents are often happily surprised when they see it is possible--in their own home and in this century! Household chores teach basic life skills everyone needs to know. Also, chores give children the opportunity to contribute to the household in a positive and meaningful way.

Good Parenting Tip #5 - Focus on what you like, not on what you don't
If children aren't being appreciated and aren't getting attention for what they do well--and when they behave well--you better believe they will learn to get attention for not behaving well. The more you notice what you like about what they're doing, the less likely they are to morph into destructive little terrors and the more likely you will inspire your child to repeat the good behaviors and achievements you love.

Good Parenting Tip #6 - Give respect and expect it in return
Don't do anything to your child that you wouldn't want your child to do to you. The list of things you don't want to be doing includes: yelling, hitting, spitting, and put downs. There are far better ways for you to handle conflict, stress and common misbehaviors. Commit to learning these "Ultimate Parenting" tools that are based on mutual respect--not fear based punishment that only teaches our kids to not get caught next time!

Good Parenting Tip #7 - A family that plays together stays together!
Have fun--play with your kids. Laughing, tickling, and enjoying one another's company is the foundation of a happy home. Having fun can go a long way towards preventing much of the needless conflict and behaviors that drive you crazy. It also provides your family with much needed quality time.

These seven effective parenting tips above are child-proofed, effective and fun. By taking the time to learn how to bring out the best in you and in your children, you will reap the rewards that come from the peace of mind--knowing that you did all you could to support and nurture a happy and healthy family life.

You may also read

Parenting For Teens - 10 Tips to Keep in Touch

Help Your Children to Live a Healthy and Happy Life by Setting the Example For Them

Our children learn from what their parents do. Children want so much to be like their parents that they will do what their parents do rather than what they are told to do. Children are observant and learn how to do things first by watching their parents. So what are you doing that you don't want your own kids to do?
If you are eating badly, don't you think that will have an influence on your children? Sure it will.
Everything parents do count. Too many parents have let go of their responsibility to their children. And is that responsibility? Well it is to raise a happy, healthy, and emotionally fit adult that is self-sufficient. If you are self-indulgent, then your child will learn that being self-indulgent is okay. If you smoke, then it is okay for them to do so too.
When I was in the Marine Corps, we were told that part of leadership is to set the example. It is no different being a parent and probably more important. You are their leader. Lead by example, okay? What are some of the ways that will help you to do this?
1. Never argue in front of your children. This includes any arguments you have with your spouse or significant other. Make sure that those arguments are settled by the time your children come home from school. Use rational thinking whenever an argument occurs. This will help to settle things down fast.
2. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same wavelength when punishing or giving any task to your children. Your children will pick up this.
3. Make sure that you have a loving relationship with your spouse or significant other. This is vital for your children. They learn how to have a relationship by observing how yours is going. If it is a destructive relationship, then your children will believe that is what a real relationship is all about and do the same.
4. Give your children chores to do. This will instill in them a sense of worth. Make sure that you also do the things that you should be doing around the house. And do it with a sense of enjoyment. You could even use that time as a way of exercising. Make it fun.
5. Keep yourself healthy and fit. Eat right and do a lot of self-care. Your children will learn that it is important for them to do the same - especially when they become adults.

6. Give all in your household unconditional love. This is vitally important for your children to learn. Too many times parents will only give love conditionally. I've seen some parents hold off any hugging to their children unless their child performs a certain way. This is completely wrong. Practice unconditional love all the time.
7. Finally, love yourself. Give yourself unconditional love too. Forgive any mistakes you may have made. Your children will learn the same. Accept yourself unconditionally too. Dr. Albert Ellis refers to this as "unconditional self-acceptance."
Be a parent to your children. You are not their friend. Your only role is to be a parent. Once they are grown and completely self-sufficient, then and only then can you move from parent to friendship.
I wish you and your children a lot of happiness and health as you move through life and the changes it will bring.
Helping You to a Higher Level of Performance and Fitness by Training the Mind and Body
Bob Choat, MS, CH.t., CTNLP, NASM-CPT does Peak Performance Coaching & Training and also works as personal trainer in Southern California. His training in hypnosis, psychology, and fitness enables him to best help in both mind and body towards complete fitness. He has a Masters in Psychology and degrees in business and leadership. He also completed leadership training from Rapport Leadership International and the U.S. Marines.

Parenting For Teens - Clarifying Family Rules

Every organization, ranging from the family unit to large corporations, have rules that prevent anarchy and help establish harmony and functionality. It is always best to keep these rules to a minimum and ensure they have appropriate consequences when they are violated.
Some families have an extensive set of rules, others have very few. You have to decide which approach works best for you. My experience in our own family and in counseling many families is that it is best to keep rules to a minimum.
The problem with a long set of rules is that they can be forgotten by someone and then fights ensue over breaking or keeping them.
Here's a suggestion for 2 basic rules that serve as a general covering for all others.
  • Respect yourself and the other people in the room. Treat them with respect and don't lose respect by being disrespectful to any one in the room, parent, child or sibling. Rolling eyes at someone's contribution is disrespectful so it should not be permitted.
  • Respect yourself and the other people in the room. Treat them with respect and don't lose respect by being disrespectful to any one in the room, parent, child or sibling. Rolling eyes at someone's contribution is disrespectful so it should not be permitted.
  • No insults of any kind against anybody's beliefs, skills, abilities, appearance, job or school performance or anything else.
  • These two rules embody the Bible's summary of how to obey the law - love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart. Those two dispositions eliminate a multitude or relational sins.
Now that you have established a general framework for the clarifying of family rules here are few suggestions that you might want to consider. This basic exercise should be done by the parents before any rules are discussed with the children.

  • Keep your rule list sparse; the fewer there are, the more power each rule will have.
  • Developing that list will not be done at one sitting. It will take time. Don't rush this part.
  • Once you've agreed write them down and review them the next day. You may want to reconsider some of them.
  • This process can lead to some very interesting discussions and avoid potential conflicts or resolve others. It can serve as a bonding exercise between parents.
  • Remember that family rules apply to everybody. If the rules are only for the kids, or if they're supposed to be for everybody but you break them, you're saying, "I'm the one in power (ha-ha, you're not)," "I'm an adult so I matter, you're a kid so you don't," and "Just wait until you grow up. Then you can break all the rules you want." For example, you agree to make a family rule that everybody's room has to be kept presentable. However, if your bedroom remains swallowed by piles of clothes, old papers, and dirty dishes, you're virtually assured that your child's will look the same.

Parenting For Teens - 10 Tips to Keep in Touch

Parenting for teens is a topic I think every parent should study before their kids are 1 year old. The foundation for good parenting begins from the moment the little cherub comes home from the hospital. But since that rarely happens here are some tips to keep in touch with your teen when they would rather be in touch with everyone else in their world.
  • Try taking your teenager along with you on your Saturday errand run. The car is a great place to talk! Be sure to leave the younger ones at home so you can spend time alone with your teen. Most teens want the feeling of of significance this one on one time creates. Share a coke before you return home.
  • If you can make it work schedule wise try driving your teen to school in the morning rather than take the bus. In our house mornings were a stressful time trying to get to school on time until we started preparing for morning the night before. We set the table for breakfast, decided what we would wear the next day and ended the day with a reminder that we would all wake up cheerful the next day. This simple act made mornings much more relaxed and enjoyable for all of us.
  • If your teen is bedtime talker make time in your schedule to talk before they go to bed. It's a time to tie up loose ends from the day, share pains and joys. Some of our most amazing conversations about boyfriends or girlfriends happened just before they went to bed. However, that meant we had to give up watching the news or CSI but it was a small price to pay for the relational dividends we got in return.
  • Go shopping! My wife and daughter connected during time spent shopping together, much of it window shopping. Sometimes they bought something but most of the time they just wandered through the malls. The conversations they had at those times created connections that still carry on now that she is married and has a family of her own.
  • Spend time away with your kids. Once a year my son and I attended a football or hockey game and my wife and daughter spent a weekend at a hotel. It cost us some money but we considered it an investment into our teens. It was great connecting time.
  • Share meals together. We established a rule early in their lives that meal times together was one of most important events of the day. Though my schedule was very busy I made it a point to be at home meals and we expected them to arrange their schedule to make that happen as well. Things changed when they got part time jobs but we could still make breakfast family time connecting time. Now that they are both married they still like to come home for Christmas brunch or breakfast.
  • Remember that very teen is truly different, as is every parent. The best way for you to find out what's going on in inside your teen is to listen and watch without judgment. This can be a challenge especially when they present you with ideas that are diametrically opposed to what you have teaching them. You'll begin to see the picture coming into focus as you pick up clues about what's going on in the lives of your kids.
  • During the teen years, it's the teens' job to pull away and our job to let them. Remember what it was like when you were a teen, trying to pull away from your parents controls. Start giving them more freedom to make decisions and let them face the consequences of their choices. Commend them when they do well but don't rescue them when they fail. This will help to help build trust and respect which are essential for good family connections.
  • Try communicating with your teen via email over issues that are hard to discuss in person. An example would be the conflicts that occur in many homes over the issue of keeping their room clean. By taking the time to write you give yourself time and space to think through your responses and reflect upon the reply you get back.
  • Lectures are not very effective for improving your connection to your teenager. When it comes to your kids as teenagers, you need to realize that most of what you have to lecture them about they've heard from you before, in earlier lectures. When they show signs of not listening it is best to stop, cut your losses and discuss the matter at another time.