There is nothing more frustrating and exhausting than a child who is inflexible. I have a four-year old. I know we can all have our moments of inflexibility, but preschoolers can take it to a whole new level of insanity and make life extra hard. Consider yourself lucky if you only had to deal with the terrible twos or the tantrum threes.

When behaviors continue past a certain point you wonder what in the world is going on. Fear takes over and you decide its finally time to get some professional help. Once you have a better understanding of your child’s lagging skills you can more confidently make a plan and pray the craziness will soon come to an end.

The kids definition of flexible in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “possible or easy to bend” or “easily changed.” When you have a strong-willed child every interaction can feel impossible because the child completely refuses to bend. I wish I knew what it was like to easily switch from one activity to another with him, but transitions are hard every single time.

Something drastic finally needed to be done, so I decided no more outings. Every outing ended in a meltdown, which was his way of telling me the world was too big right now, I just needed to pay attention and meet him where he was at. When I stopped putting him in the same situations that kept triggering meltdowns I could see his body start to calm after a few days. He began to enjoy the safety of home as he had more time to relax and less reason to get upset. Surprisingly he also started to initiate play with us and even alone, which was a new skill for him. It’s amazing how fast the brain can change and grow when it is not always recovering from a state of stress.

After a full week of practicing strategies at home to help teach him how to be more flexible and seeing such great progress, I was ready to attempt to take him out in the world again. I decided on a quick run to Target. There was nothing important on my list so I was ready to walk out if I needed to. I told him my expectations from the start and he was warned that we would leave if there was a problem.

Right away he noticed the colorful candies on display. Some shiny red packages caught his eye and he said he wanted to look at them. As I walked on by I told him we would come back and look at those in a little bit. He was too tempted by the shiny packages and slowly walked away from me and towards the display. I motioned with my finger for him to come back and surprisingly he did. I was impressed that he actually came back and said, “Thank-you for being a listener.” He smiled and said, “You mean thank-you for being FLEXIBLE?” I just stopped and stared at him with big eyes. It was the first time he ever used the word flexible. I began to think everything was finally starting to sink in.

This whole week made me think about the children’s book Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. The story is about a little lion who can’t seem to do all the things his friends are doing. The father can’t stop worrying about it, but the mother is not too concerned. Of course in his own sweet time he does bloom and learn to do everything his father feared he wouldn’t. Leo proclaims, “I made it!”

Every child will go through a challenge at some point in their life. It might be potty training, eating, sleeping, reading, writing, math, making friends, difficult behavior or something else. Parents don’t like watching their kids struggle, but it will likely be the struggle that will make them the amazing person they become. Be grateful for the struggle because it will help you learn and grow, even though it might be hard in the moment.

Remember that flowers bloom and close and bloom again. Blooming is a lifelong process, it’s not something that we ever arrive at, but something we keep working towards. My son had an encouraging week, but he still has a long way to go. Of course there will be more meltdowns and more struggles in the future. At the end of the story the little lion says, “I made it.” I don’t think we ever make it. We are all a work in progress. Our goal is to keep doing better and keep blooming.

If you are struggling with your child in any area don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes just having a better understanding of the problem can help you approach it from a place of love instead of a place of fear. This will make all the difference.

Do Better & Shine

Keep Moving Forward

I was sitting on the floor in my youngest son’s room. Little pieces of mismatched toys were scattered everywhere. Amid the clutter of toys he handed me a rock with three words on it. He asked me what it said and I read the words aloud to him, “Keep Moving Forward.” He then asked in his curious four-year old voice, “What happens if you don’t keep moving forward?” I thought about it for a quick second and said, “You get stuck.”

He proceeded to tell me about a cartoon he had watched where a girl was dribbling a soccer ball the wrong direction. I was intrigued by this example he immediately thought of and told him it sounded like the girl was not moving forward, she was moving backwards. He said, “Yes, she was.” I told him she was moving in the wrong direction and he agreed. I told him you don’t want to move backwards. He said, “No, you don’t.”

I thought to myself that is exactly what happens. You are feeling good and really focusing on doing your best. Then for some reason you become overwhelmed, and you don’t know which way to go or what to do next. It’s easy to get stuck in this place for a while until you can notice what is happening. If you are not careful and don’t notice your patterns, it is likely that you will continue to move backwards.

Amazing how my son just happened to pull that one little rock off his messy floor today at just the right time and ask me about it. A perfect little reminder for everyone to keep moving forward. Don’t get stuck. Try not to go backwards into old habits. This is a challenge and I know it is bound to happen. When it does, observe your patterns and get yourself back in the game. Don’t be the one dribbling the wrong direction, but if it happens it’s not the end of the world, all you have to do is turn yourself around and KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

~Do Better & Shine

You Are Worthy

Every child deserves someone to fight for them. Every child deserves someone to be their voice when they are not allowed or asked to use their own. Every child deserves their behavior and needs to be truly understood in order to help them grow and learn.

Just because you have a hard time sitting still, focusing in class, or keeping your hands to yourself, you are still worthy. Just because you struggle with reading, writing, speaking, or doing a math problem, you are still worthy. Just because you are easily frustrated, inflexible, or have trouble following a direction, you are still worthy. Just because you have a hard time being in your body, don’t like how your brain works, or feel sad about your behavior when your emotions take over, you are still worthy.

I see you. I understand you. I understand the real you underneath it all. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than. You have your own superpowers that are no more or no less that anyone else. Focus on those and you will begin to feel your strength.

We are all on this earth for a purpose. Behind all the hard is something very special. Behind all the hard is someone uniquely you. Know that you have a gift to share with the world. Keep moving forward. I will stand up for you when you can’t stand up for yourself. I will understand you even when you don’t understand yourself. I will hold the hope for your future self, even if you can’t picture it right now. Just keep moving forward and know that you are getting stronger everyday.

~ DO BETTER & Shine

What Is Not Serving You?

I am at our family cabin for a long weekend. The third day of 2020. When I opened my mom’s refrigerator yesterday I noticed the expiration date on every condiment I looked at was expired. I was disgusted every time I looked at this old stuff, but instead of throwing it away I put it back. When I got up this morning the same thing happened. I was wasting so much time having to check expiration dates all over again. This was not serving me, even though the stuff was not mine.

I decided that I needed to make a change. It’s not a fun job to look at old, expired stuff, but you need to get rid of what is no longer serving you and those around you. I started throwing away every condiment that expired before 2020. Some went as far back as 2011. Sometimes it’s just hard to let go.

It was quite gross. I had to open things that were moldy, chunky and smelly. Some things I couldn’t even identify or tell what purpose they originally served. Some things were hard to get rid of because they were so thick and crusty I needed to scrape them out of the jar. They had just been taking up space for far too long.

This is a perfect example of what I call holding on to old stuff that no longer serves. If you hold on to all your old stuff, how in the world are you going to make room for the new good stuff?

It’s time to start fresh! Please get rid of what is no longer serving you or those around you. I know it takes work, but it will save you lots of time and energy in the long run. After you do “the work” you will feel so much lighter, so much more free.

Now my mom’s refrigerator has a completely empty condiment shelf. No more wasted time and energy. No more negativity. Now there is only a clean fresh space for what is to come.

I look forward to seeing what new items will be placed on these shelves in the spring. It’s scary to start new, but it’s even scarier to see what happens when you don’t. I know whatever is added to the shelves it will be 100% better than what was there before.

What are you going to let go of this year? What is not serving you? What is not serving those around you? What do you want to make space for? What do you want the universe to bring you?

I promise that if you let go of what no longer serves you, only good will come. Please give it a try and see what happens. There’s no better time than the present to start.

~Do Better & Shine

Blog Intro

When I first decided to start this blog, it came out of the idea of developing curriculum for teachers. As I thought about what kind of curriculum sparked something inside of me, I decided that I wanted to create curriculum that allowed ALL students to feel successful. As a former special education teacher and a mom of three very different children- all with their own unique gifts and challenges, I wanted to create something that allowed all students to SHINE.

After lots of scribbling in notebooks and jotting down tidbits of thoughts here and there, I decided to start blogging publicly so someday my kids can gain some insight from my writing in a more organized fashion that might actually make some sense. Even though I try to teach them everyday, I know their brains will only take what they need today and learn the rest over time. My hope is that they will read this someday, be inspired by their own gifts and gain more insight into themselves and the world around them.

My soul was telling me to start. Just start even though I don’t know where this path will lead. I love to learn and I plan to share inspiration and ideas I discover on a daily basis, usually just within the chaos and challenges of family life. Writing helps me better understand and process my own world. I hope reading this helps you process yours a bit too. I’m sure this blog will evolve as I continue to learn and grow, but I’m excited to see where it takes me. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

~Do Better & Shine