Measuring Success: Good Morals or Professional Achievement?

successI read an opinion piece in the New York Times several months back entitled Raising the Moral Child written by Adam Grant. I found it fascinating and quite surprising to learn that many countries around the world place more emphasis on raising children with morals and ethics and place less emphasis on academic and professional achievement.

Though parents in many societies revel in their children’s professional or academic success and sometimes live vicariously through their accomplishments, a vast amount of research in the area still indicates that parents are much more concerned about their children learning to be kind, caring and compassionate members of society.

So how can we strike a balance between the two?

Measuring Success: Encouraging Good Morals and Professional Achievement

Measure effort, not ability. All children are not the same. They do not learn the same, they do not comprehend the same, and they do not act the same. In every environment, both academic as well as personal, parents need to encourage their children to be their best selves without comparing them to others including siblings, peers, classmates, etc.

Use praise instead of rewards. Parents who are in the habit of using praise instead of rewards will raise more confident, self-assured children. Using rewards too frequently runs the risk that children will learn to adapt their behavior in order to ‘earn’ a reward at the end. Rather than encouraging the behavior for the good feelings it might elicit, children might learn to expect some sort of ‘prize’ at the end. In an academic setting, children who pay attention and work hard in the classroom will find the natural rewards (feeling good, feeling proud) much more fulfilling and longer lasting than a trip to the toy store (which will ultimately lose its appeal within a day or two, anyway).

Compliment the behaviour, not the child. Parents need to learn to compliment the behavior, not the child, so the child will learn to repeat the behaviour. And the same rings true for the opposite. When a child misbehaves, this is not a reflection on the whole child, but rather a poor choice in actions.

When children misbehave, this does not make them bad. Perhaps their behaviour was misguided and needs to be remedied. By labeling the child instead of the behaviour, parents run the risk that their children will internalize what is said to them. For instance, if parents are disappointed in their children’s behaviour, children might misunderstand it and begin to feel that they are a disappointment to their parents.

This is not to say that parents shouldn’t express disappointment in their children’s behaviour and explain why the behaviour was wrong and how it may have an effect on other people. But parents must keep in mind how they express this to their children, the wording they use, etc. Parents can even take it a step further my role-playing with their children and having them speculate how they could behave differently the next time a similar situation arises.

So is it possible to strike a balance between professional accomplishments and moral savvy? I sure hope so.

Every day my husband and I work tirelessly to encourage and raise our children to grow up to be good, polite, members of society. As much as we value a good education, both in and out of the classroom, we also spend a lot of time teaching them proper social skills, using their manners, appreciating the differences between people, etc.

But like most parents, we too struggle to find the perfect balance. Like any other family, we have good days, and then there are other days where our children lack the confidence to make good choices on their own. We try to guide them as best we can and encourage them to trust their instincts.

We value the act of proper socialization as much as we do a good education.

We want them to learn to be comfortable with who they are, and what qualities they have to offer others. We encourage them to be themselves, and not to do anything which makes them uncomfortable, merely because they were asked to do so.

After all, what good is receiving the best education in the world if you never learn how to think of others, speak politely to people, or be sensitive to others’ feelings?

I welcome your thoughts.

Until next time,
Sari

Triple Chocolate Brownies

chocolate browniesThese chocolate brownies no doubt will be the best-tasting dessert square you’ve ever served. And to boot they’re lower in fat and calories. The cocoa, oil and yogurt that replace the traditional butter and chocolate are the way to keep the calorie and fat count low. They freeze well and I often triple the recipe and bake in a 9” x13” pan.

Serves 12

Ingredients

Brownies

⅔ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup low-fat yogurt or sour cream

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Icing

⅓ cup light cream cheese

⅔ cup icing sugar

1½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ tsp water

dusting of icing sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch-square pan with cooking oil.
  2. For the brownies, combine the sugar, oil, egg and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Add the cocoa, mixing it in well. Add the flour, baking powder, yogurt and chocolate chips, mixing just until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, just until set. Do not overbake. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before icing.
  4. To make the icing, place all the icing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Spread over the top of the brownies.
  5. Cut into squares and garnish with a dusting of icing sugar, or drizzle melted dark and white chocolate overtop.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving 
Calories 140 * Protein 2.3 g * Fat 7 g * Saturated Fat 1.5 g * Carbohydrates 20 g * Cholesterol 19 mg * Fiber 1.2 g

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes

Source: The Complete Light Kitchen (Whitecap Books) By: Rose Reisman
Photo Credit: Lorella Zanetti, from The Complete Light Kitchen (Whitecap Books)

Body Image: How You And Your Kids Can Feel Your Best

body imageSummer season is here and that means shorts, skirts, tank tops and bathing suits. Like many other women, you may have had a moment (or moments) where you’ve second-guessed an outfit because you couldn’t stand some aspect of your body. Whether you’re concerned about saggy arms, a flabby tummy, back fat or stretch marks, you’re not alone! We all have these thoughts from time to time, even as early as our “tween” years.

It’s only natural as a woman to want to look and feel beautiful. Knowing that body image can be so fragile at a young age, as mothers, we must be mindful of what and how we eat and the potential impact it can have on our kids.

So how can you and your kids feel your best about yourselves? 

  1. Choose your words wisely. Kids mimic our language and behavior so, like you often tell your children, think before you speak. Do you ever catch yourself saying, “I can’t eat those potatoes because of the carbs,” or complain about “looking fat” or “feeling ugly”? Kids internalize what they observe and if you’re always frowning upon your own figure, experts say your kids may do the same. If you’re not feeling your best, ask yourself why. Have you stopped working out, been extra stressed at work or forgotten all those healthy habits you were working so hard at incorporating into your daily routine? Figure out the root of the problem and find a way to get back on track.
  2. Be educated about nutrition. You’re likely in charge of the grocery shopping and cooking so it’s important that you take charge in educating yourself about foods that are nutritious vs. those that are not. I always say: “you are what you eat” and if you eat foods that are bad for you, you’re going to feel bad. If you eat foods that are amazing for you, you’re going to feel amazing. Avoid foods that cause you to feel bloated and you’ll instantly feel like you’re 5 lbs lighter (if you don’t know what those foods are, contact me about food sensitivity testing). Be aware of misleading marketing and consider adding a Naturopath to your health care team so that you can have one-on-one guidance. The bottom line is that there is no better way to teach your kids about positive self body image than to empower them with the knowledge of good nutrition. That starts with you.
  3. Physical activity for all is essential. Are you “too busy” or “too tired” to exercise? It’s a common excuse that we’ve all made at one point or another. Exercise is not only necessary for healthy weight management, it is essential for optimal cardiovascular functioning and can improve mood, energy levels, digestive functioning and sleep while simultaneously reducing pain. Both adults and kids should be participating in at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day. Walking, running or riding a bike all count as exercise as does swimming, yoga and any sport. It doesn’t matter what activity you participate in, all that matters is that you’re moving your body and getting your blood pumping!

At the end of the day, parents are the most influential people in a child’s life. For this reason alone, we must lead by example in our language and behavior. Remember small changes make big differences and if you feel like you can’t do it alone, there is always support out there waiting for you.

Image“Unhappy Girl Looking At Mirror” by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Your Libido is Hot for Yoga

libidoLast night as I practiced my late night yoga, I felt my “Ohm” on the brink of “Ohhhhhhhhhh”. My open hips, the rapid fire breath exercise, the reverse of blood flood experienced in my inversions were all feeding my soul and my body, but my hunger was coming from my libido! My sexual energy was in full swing and ready to get busy!

By now it is fairly common knowledge that yoga can help reduce stress, increase flexibility and mobility, build strength, and even elevate your heart rate when practicing the appropriate sequences. But even more gratifying to know, yoga has been linked to boosting your libido!

It’s all about the increase of blood flow to the right areas that will light your fire! Blood flow is a key element in increasing your sexual appetite.

As for men, the better the blood flow the harder the tool…and for women when her blood flow increases, the more aroused and interested in the tool!

5 BEST YOGA POSES TO INCREASE YOUR SEXUAL PASSION

1. BITILASANA – Cat & Cow

  • A gentle way to begin to warm up the spine and strengthen the Kegel muscles – those wonderful muscles that contract during orgasm.

libido

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to be soft and heavy, sinking towards the floor. Exhale and round your spine, using your abdominals to synch inward and hug around the centerline of your body as you draw you chin to chest. Inhale and exhale with your back changing from concave to convex.

Repeat 10 to 20 times.

2. BADDAH KONASANA – Butterfly

  • This works the inner thighs, and opens the hips for a wider range of motion. It improves blood flow to the pelvic area immediately.

libidoSit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can.

With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.

Firm the sacrum and shoulder blades against the back and lengthen the front torso through the top of the sternum. Never force your knees down. Instead release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor. When this action leads, the knees follow.

Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. Then inhale, lift your knees away from the floor, and extend the legs back to their original position.

3. UTTHAN PRISTHASANA – Lizard Pose

  • This works hip flexors, groin, and opens the hips for emotional tension release allowing full mind and body present when with your partner.

From a high lunge, place both hands on the floor to the inside of your right foot. Lower your left knee to the floor. Bring your forearms onto a block or, if it feels appropriate, to the floor. Bring your pelvis into a reverse tilt (pelvis forward). You’ll feel the left side of your belly and the front of your left leg (the psoas and quadriceps muscles) stretching.

Stay for 5 to 8 breaths, the longer the hold, the more change occurs.

libido

4. GARUDASANA – Eagle

  • This constricts the blood at each joint, so when you release the legs, all the blood comes flooding through the cervix preparing this area for increased stimulation.

libidoStand in Mountain Pose, bend your knees slightly, lift your left foot up and, balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh high over the right thigh. Point your left toes toward the floor, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot. Take the arms overhead and swing the left arm under the right arm, twist tying the elbows and reaching for opposite hands. Lift your elbows to shoulder height, and stack your shoulders, hips and ankles directly over each other.

Stay for 5-8 breaths.

5. SALAMBA SARVANGASANA - Supported Shoulder Stand

  • The Mother of all poses, this asana strives for harmony and happiness in the human system.

libidoFold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them one on top of the other. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported and your head on the floor. Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones.

Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso. Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor. Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the blanket and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.

Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso.

Style Find – Kate Spade Zip Around Wallet

walletEveryone needs to feel good when they take out their wallet. This Kate Spade wallet is fresh and sophisticated. I love the Grace Blue colour for now but am also feeling the red for Fall/Winter.

Regular $198. Sale $118.

Zip around..a must!

12 credit card slots…perfect!

2 bilifolds..now that’s organization!

Zipper compartment for change…Coffee money always available.