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    How To Help A Child With Anxiety About School

    Does your child have back-to-school anxiety? If you have a verbal child, they have probably told you how they feel about going back-to-school. However, some kids may not know how to express their anxiety or may be embarrassed to admit that they are nervous about school. Young children often need help identifying their feelings and figuring out the best way to work through them. If you suspect your child is suffering from worry or fear, here are some effective ways to help a child with anxiety.

    7 Ways To Help A Child With Anxiety

    As a first step in addressing anxious feelings, make sure to ask open-ended questions and really listen to the answers as detailed above.

    Don’t take your child’s anxieties personally.

    Some parents may dismiss their child’s anxieties while others may take them as sign of their own failure to do something right.  Neither would be fair to yourself or the child.   You want to approach their anxieties in a calm, confident manner.  Let your child know that it OK and natural to have anxieties but that you are confident that they will make it through this fine. This is one of the most important ways that you can help a child with anxiety.

    Discuss the anxieties when your child is the most relaxed.

    You don’t have to talk about your child’s back to school anxieties the second that they surface.  If your child expresses their concerns right before bed or when you are rushing out for an appointment, it is OK to let them know you want to discuss this important matter with them and a time when you think it is best to do so.  Select a time when your child is rested and full (as well as yourself) for the best chances of a productive conversation with your child.

    Start your discussion by letting them tell you their feelings.

    In order to help a child with anxiety, it is important to give your child a chance to talk and really listen in order to get to the root of the fears and tell you why they are nervous.  It may require some gentle probing questions.  Only when you find out what is really bothering them, can you begin to address it.

    Anxious children may not always show you their signs of anxiety. It may take a little probing to find out what your child’s fears are.

    For example, I asked my son if he was excited for school and he replied, “I don’t know,” in a very unconvinced manner.  I let it go and asked the same question later and got the same response so I knew something was up.  This time I probed deeper, “Why aren’t you excited?” I asked.   I got the same, “I don’t know” response again.  I kept probbing and got this answer, “I don’t know if I will do as well as my sister.”  I immediately assured him he would do as well and that he was smart just like she was.  I reminded him of many things he had done well with in Pre-K and listed his talents.  He was again unconvinced.  So I kept calmly asking questions about why he felt that way in several ways until he unloaded, “But Mommy, I can’t read!”  Then I explained that you don’t have to know how to read when you go to kindergarten, that he would learn the beginnings of that in kindergarten.  “Oh”, he replied with obvious relief and then he started laughing, “Oh!” he said again.  We were both very relieved and he began to get excited after that.

    Be understanding but encouraging.

    You might say something like this to you child, “Even mommy can be nervous about starting something new. When I started my new job, I wondered if I would like it and if I would like the new people. But then I made up my mind to have a positive attitude and I realized I didn’t need to be afraid. It all turned out fine and you’ll get through this fine too.”  In other words, let them know you understand that they are nervous and that concerns are natural but don’t encourage the fears.

    Help your child remember past successes.

    Remind your child of other times they have successfully come through new experiences and challenges. “Remember when ____.  You did just fine with that. I’m sure you will do well with this too.”

    Facilitate your children’s problem-solving.

    Once you pinpoint their anxiety, help them make a plan to address it.  Let them tell you what they think will help and if they can’t think of anything then you might make suggestions.  If they are afraid of riding the bus, for example, ask them what they think would help?  If they need ideas, offer to tell them about how the route will go, maybe to find a neighbor that can be their buddy or tell them about how it works,  call the office for details, etc.

    Get Professional Help If Needed

    Don’t be afraid to seek the professional help of a doctor or psychologist for your child, if you feel they need it. While anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion, anxiety that involves more than temporary worry or fear and that interferes with daily activities may be a sign of various anxiety disorders. Addressing any mental health issues early with professional cognitive behavioral therapy helps to ameliorate them.

    Suggestions For Easing Back-To-School Anxiety

    Plan some play date with classmates. 

    Seeing some familiar faces at school will be a good feeling for them. Try to plan some playdates before school starts. This can help a can help a child with social anxiety prepare for the first time they face a full school day.

    Familiarity decreases anxiety.

    Plan a tour of your school so they can visit school, play on the playground, walk the halls, find out where the cafeteria is and what the release area is.  You will need to talk with the school office to find out how they handle this- each school is different. This familiarization activity will often help reduce your child’s anxiety about the first day of school.

    Get into the school schedule early.

    Get your kids going to bed on time and waking up early for at least a few days before school starts so they know what to expect. Getting enough sleep will help them be rested enough to meet the challenges of the first few days. Establish a before school and after school routine. You may find this after school checklist handy for the first day of school and establishing a routine.

    Make sure your child has a good breakfast and snack.

    You will want your child to be full on their first day and not get crabby because they are hungry. It is a good idea to make sure they have a snack ready for right after school too!

    On a separate note, if you are dealing with a school refusal or school avoidance from older children, be sure to take that seriously and investigate what is causing these feelings. Is it just an anxious brain or is there a more specific cause such as a certain member or the school staff or social situations they are trying to avoid? If they won’t talk to you the school guidance counselor may be an effective way to get the bottom of things.

    Creating Emotional Resilience For Dealing With Anxiety

    Jodi Aman shares some great tips in her video on how to develop emotional resilience for both parents and kids trying to deal with back to school anxiety. She empowers you to become a problem solver so you don’t feel trapped even when faced with tough choices. Enjoy!

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    Don’t worry! Take a few deep breaths. The good news is that you and your child will make it through Back-To-School anxiety just fine. You can help a child with anxiety by trying these tips and remembering to stay calm and composed. Just talk with your child in a calm way and brainstorm together about solutions and you will be building a positive framework for your relationship and ability to handle things together at the same time!

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    Children’s Books About Healthy Eating

    Most parents struggle to get kids to eat healthy. Children can be reluctant to try new things and that includes trying new vegetables and fruits. However, helping your child to develop healthy eating habits is important to their growth and development. It can also have a lasting influence on their adult eating habits. That is why I am happy to bring you this sponsored feature that offers a solution from registered dietician nutritionist, Beth Dunlap. She wanted to make healthy eating choices easier from parents and kids of all ages from toddlers on up. She figured out that children’s books about healthy eating would be the perfect way to get kids on board with wanting to eat healthy so they can grow and get stronger. Not finding what she was looking for on the market, Beth Dunlap decided to write her own healthy eating books for kids which you can find on her Sunny Bites website. I think both you and your children will love her character “Boots the Bear” as he inspires preschoolers to want to try fruits and vegetables.

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    Her new children’s book about healthy eating was feature on Bloom and you can watch the short video clip above to learn more!

    Why Pressure Doesn’t Fix Picky Eaters

    As a dietician nutritionist, Beth Dunlap understood why eating healthy was important to building a healthy body. She also understood that a lot of parental pressure may increase picky eating and make a fussy eater worse. Approach is so important as you don’t want a child to develop negative feelings towards food. Pressure is not the answer. Getting children to buy into trying healthy foods is an important part of the process. Not only does this make feeding kids easier for the parent, it also allows children to think more about what they are putting in their body and begin to make healthy eating choices for themselves.

    How Healthy Eating Books For Kids Can Help

    As a mother, Beth Dunlap discovered how much easier it was to get kids to eat their fruits and veggies when they understood what positive effects these healthy foods have. She knew that children’s books about healthy eating would be the perfect way to help get kids motivated to eat well. Once kids connect with the book character, they learn about the positive effect each fruit and vegetable has on Boots The Bear. Naturally, they want to apply this new found knowledge to themselves so they too can run faster, grow strong teeth, and have good eyesight.

    Beth Dunlap has written a children’s book about eating healthy as well as A Parent’s Guide for raising a healthy eater. Enter for a chance to win a prize pack giveaway on the KidsSunnyBites Instagram page.

    “Hey, Boots the Bear, what do you eat?” [Children’s Book]

    Boots the Bear has a mystery to solve and he needs help from friends. As kids follows Boots on his adventures, they learn how certain foods help fuel the body. Through adorable drawn illustrations of animals your child can connect with Boots the Bear and be interested in learning about how nutrition helps him grow. Through pictures of real children, your child can see that other kids may in fact like strawberries, for instance. Boots the Bear and his friends share how over 25 fruits & veggies plus the 5 color groups help your body grow, run, and play.

    Boots the Bear is ready to answer your child’s question, “Why should I eat my fruits & veggies?” The book includes symbols for each food they encounter such as brain smart, helps build muscles, to healthy heart and more. Boots the Bear shows how each fruit and vegetable helps you grow, run, and play. The symbols help children to connect how these nutrient packed foods help fuel their growing bodies.

    7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    Beth knows that feeding young children can be very challenging! She also knows how busy parents can be. That is why she made this super easy to read Parent’s Guide. It is in a magazine style with clear visuals so you can glean a lot of helpful tips and information with a quick glance. Even if you only have time to spare a few minutes here and there, you will learn so much!

    Page 3 of 7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    She provides 7 Steps to empower parents with the knowledge they need to help decrease the stress of mealtime. earn what is the flavor window and what age children typically are in the flavor window. Use the “Instead of This, Try This” to learn how to handle real-life situations with your children. Her book makes the enjoyment of meals with toddlers and young kids possible!

    Page 29 of 7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    Limited Time Offer: Sign up for her FREE Parent’s Class August 2nd here!

    Healthy Eater Book Bundle

    Get the children’s book “Hey, Boots the Bear, what do you eat?” + Parent’s Guide + Boots the Bear Plush Animal

    I love this healthy eater bundle because it provides the Boots the Bear Plush Animal. I know the power of a stuffed animal with my own son is huge and it really makes the book come alive even more and stay at the front of the child’s mind. The Boots the Bear Plush Animal can even help model trying new foods. The child can role play the bear trying the food and this helps make it more comfortable for them to do so too.

    I recommend this healthy eater bundle 100%. I used this same method of getting kids to understand the health benefits of what they were eating and with my own kids and I can tell you have a two kids that love to try new things and are happy to eat fruits and veggies. I love how her bundle makes the mealtime easy and more enjoyable for for both kids and adults!

    You can learn more or place your order at

    Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods? Do you believe in the power of books to help model good behaviors for young children? More

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    Summer Schedule For Kids [Free Printable]

    The warm days of summer certainly encourage us to relax with family and friends and that should be what summer is all about! While you and the kids transition to a less structure filled days, it can still be helpful have a daily schedule so everyone knows what to expect. Whether you are keeping track of summer camps or just wanting to add some learning time into the week, a free summer schedule template can really help keep you get organized.  Plus, it is always fun to cross things off your to-do list! I hope you find this printable summer schedule for kids useful. I have also included a list of a few things you may want to add to your child’s summer schedule.

    Free Summer Schedule Template

    Summer Schedules- Just click on the image and then click on File from your menus and click print!

    This weekly summer schedule includes the days of the week so they can mark important blocks of time. It also includes a To-Do List section (a great place for chores) and a Project or Activity of The Week (great for older kids to set bigger goals). This weekly planner is one of the best ways to add a little structure to your own summer schedule. From quality time to educational activities to summer fun, this will help you fit it all in! I am a big believer in teaching kids how to schedule and manage their time.

    Plan Your Summer Routine

    It might be tempting to let your kids sleep in really late and float through the day without a schedule for the summer days.  We usually allow this for a week tops and then we switch to a daily routine and a kids summer schedule.  This helps keep them from getting too much screen time or getting bored. I also feel like it is a great way to schedule in summer learning activities.

    My kids and I sit down together to plan our daily routines. Depending on the age of your children, 11 and under you may want to take the lead, 12 and over you may want to let them take the planning lead.  It is a great way for them to learn to organize their time. You can print several of the kids summer schedule templates and fill them out each week or all at once in advance and make additions as things come up.

    You may want to schedule in things like summer camp, reading time, musical instrument practice, chores, nap time or quiet time, and bedtime routine. Believe it or not, your kids will appreciate the structure. Don’t forget to put in some down time for creative play and outdoor fun!

    Sample Summer Schedule

    Make Necessary Appointments

    The summer is a great time to schedule in any doctor or dentist appointments that you can get out of the way while the kids are out of school.  If you take your kids to the dentist during the summer, your dentist’s office should be able to block out time during the day to see all of your kids at once.

    Buying School Supplies

    Use this task to teach your kids about getting the best deals on what they need for the new school year. If you haven’t yet, get a hold of the school supply lists that you’ll need for this project. Throughout the summer, have your children track store ads (found in the Sunday paper) for these items, writing down the store and the best price they can find. To extend the lesson, give them a budget that they need to stay within for their school supplies, and then give them that specific amount of money. Take a family field trip to the stores they’ve written down that have the best prices, and have them buy their school supplies.

    Brush Up Those Reading Skills

    Summer reading is a great activity for kids to keep their reading skills sharp and to teach delayed gratification. Many businesses – like Barnes and Noble, Chuck E. Cheese, and Borders – support local reading with special calendars, resulting in free items and additional special offers once the calendars are completed and turned in.   Find  some summer reads for moms and top picks for kids books. It is a great idea to include 10-45 minutes of reading (based on their age) into your child’s daily summer schedule.

    Don’t Forget To Plan Fun Into The Summer Schedule

    Summer tasks are important, but so is fun time with your family and independent play time. Be sure to plan some fun summer activities for kids, putting corresponding outings onto specific dates of your long-term summer calendar. Make sure to schedule in some time for fun things like playing outside, swimming in the community pool, hitting a water park, or heading to the local children’s museum. Get their input on what they would add to their summer bucket list! Consider easy wins like ice cream nights and free time every Friday as a reward for creating and following a predictable routine.

    My son used the printable kids summer schedule template. My daughter had to out do me and hand make her own bullet journal style schedule. They do learn quickly!

    I hope this free summer schedule template helps you organize your summer break because it always flies by!   These summer schedule planning tips should help you make the most of your summer for both fun activities and getting things done!  This is really a great idea for helping your child learn to become organized as well.  Do you think you will give this printable summer schedule for kids a try? What do you think is the best thing about a daily summer routine for the whole family?

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    A Look At The Role Of A Father

    The roles of the father in the family have been changing a lot over the last century. Fathers are no longer just the breadwinners while mothers are just the caregivers. The role of the modern dad has shifted and changed. It is time to acknowledge the caring moments of fatherhood that often go overlooked. It is worth remembering just how much dads do and how important they are in the creating a happy family. From both the perspective of a mother and a child, I know just how much I appreciate my husband and my dad and how important the role of a father is.

    What Is The Role Of A Father? Responsibilities of The Modern Dad

    The roles of dads are evolving over time. Today’s modern dad in the United States Of America is more involved with childcare and home responsibilities that in previous generations when these things were considered the mother’s “responsibilities.”

    According to Pew Research Center’s Modern Parenthood study, fathers in 1965 spent only 2.5 hours a week on childcare. With fathers today, that number has jumped to about 7 hours.

    “Wow, 7 whole hours” you’re probably saying, sarcastically. “Start the parade.” But evolution is a process, and the generations of boys we are raising might do even more.

    So what’s changing?

    The era of after work dinners and drinks have been cut downwomen are delegating family tasks to their spouses (more than their mothers did)more men are staying home with their children (more SAHDs than ever)technology is enabling work flexibilitymore women are staying in the workforce – in fact, 40% are the family breadwinner.

    The Role Of Father In Family Is Important

    Involved fathers make a huge difference in children’s lives. There is no question that the role of the father has a huge and direct impact on the cognitive development, social development, and emotional development of the child. A good father no doubt provides children with a leg up in life as he helps prepare the child to be a positive part of the community. This not to take anything away from single parents but when two good parents can be had, it just doubles the child’s support system.

    Contributing To Financial Stability

    Modern dads have so many roles to play. I know that many dads have the role of bringing home the bacon. Let’s face it, that is a pretty important role whether he is the sole bread winner or not. Dads are all about making ends meet and making our dreams come true. From what becomes expected (like putting meals on the table and a roof over our heads) to saving for college, our dads deserve our gratitude. But dads don’t just help provide financial security and increased financial power. Not by a long shot.

    Taking Part In Household And Childcare Responsibilities

    Father involvement in sharing household and childcare responsibilities is an increasing circumstance for today’s families. Today’s fathers are playing more of an equal parenting role. It’s parenting in the sense of presence and not just a paycheck. Modern dads are finding themselves doing the “juggling” of personal and professional responsibilities that women have been doing for years. And they’re realizing how challenging this really is.

    Dads Finding More Family Time

    Modern dads want to be more present and this means more family time. They want to know their kids better– from birth. Our society and culture have encouraged this. Active participation from early childhood has become the norm. My father’s generation was allowed in the delivery room, could even cut the cord and call the gender. Today’s generation of dads are (often) offered paternity leave and childcare benefits as well. Dads are increasing the father’s role for their children emotionally from the mundane to heart stopping moments. When dads take a positive active role in parenting young children, they are creating better bonds and improving social competence which a recent study shows may be related to reducing behavioral problems.

    The Father As A Role Model

    Dads wipe our little baby butts when we are in diapers, wipe our noses, and teach us how to wipe after ourselves! Dads do a lot of the care giving in a household from providing snacks for junior to helping get homework done. They are teachers- by words and by example. Dads teach manners. Dads teach responsibility. Dads teach a healthy respect of authority and following the rules. Fathers get dirty with us as they show us how to play sports and wet with us as they show us how to swim. Dads impart family values and morals through the life that they live and the reminders that they give. They are excellent role models and they contribute to our idea of what healthy relationships look like. A responsible father helps show kids the right way to do things through his own actions.

    Dads Are Life Coaches Too

    Fathers who are present during the young child’s life and offer emotional support, will naturally be someone they turn to for advice. Dads give us aim. Not just with a baseball either. They help us figure out what we aspire to be and help find a path to achieve our dreams. Dads pay for music lessons. Dads line up college campus visits. Fathers talk to us about career choices. Fathers give us relationship advice.

    Dads In Two Parent Families

    In an ideal situation, the fathers’ roles also include being a loving partner. The close relationship that the father and mother have then offers emotional security to the child. The positive effects of a loving relationship are so many they certainly effect the lives of children in so many different ways. Not having to deal with the toxic stress of constantly fighting parents is itself a huge benefit. The positive impact of a close partnership of parents can also be seen as children learn to communicate better, to resolve conflicts better, and to offer compassion and understanding. This positive model helps children develop better relationships in their own lives.

    Many Modern Dads Are Step Fathers

    Let’s not overlook the role of a good step dad in child development to step up and be the replacement dad and/or additional dad to the biological father. Both roles are challenging. A friend once told me of her second husband stating that she admired him so much for being able to step up and fill in the hole her first husband had left in her life and in her children’s life. Now, that is a beautiful thing.


    The role of a father is ever evolving. Fathers of previous generations may have felt less responsible for child’s development and more isolated in the role of providing financial support. Today’s dads have the opportunity for active involvement in the lives of their children. There’s still time to define your role as the modern dad. 

    Let’s face it. A father’s role to ultimately to be there for his child and provide guidance and support. We should let dads know that we notice everything they do and we are thankful for all of it. I know that my father contributed to making me the person I am today in many ways. I know that my husband’s role as a father is something that I am thankful for. That is why I try to show my gratitude every day. A good dad makes his family’s life better everyday and above all- his love is felt- and returned!

    Share your thoughts about how the modern dad is evolving in the comments. Did I miss any of the roles of the father in the family? Discuss it with me on social media @familyfocusblog!

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    Benefits of Bedtime Rituals And Purpose, Passion and Pajamas Excerpt

    Bedtime rituals are important in all phases of life. From helping soothe a new born to sleep, to relaxing bedtime rituals for young children, and the nightly tuck in for older children. Even adults have important bedtime rituals. Whether it is special pajamas, bedtime music, or a bedtime short story, these series of actions let us know that it is time to settle down and relax so that we can welcome sleep. They also help us recognize that we are safe and feel comforted and happy before we settle in for a night full of what we want to be good dreams. For many, thinking back to bedtime in their childhood will help them feel loved and that is a wonderful thing. Here I will discuss a bit about the benefits of bedtime rituals and share an excerpt from a best selling book on the subject.

    The Importance of Relaxing Bedtime Rituals

    Photo by Ben

    There are the parts of our bedtime rituals that are purely functional- brushing our teeth, setting our alarm clocks, etc. They need to be done and in doing them we let our bodies know that it is time to relax and prepare for sleep.

    But the bedtime rituals have the potential to be so much more than just functional! Bedtime rituals can have many benefits and be a source of well being. As a child, bedtime is a special time when you should feel loved and attended to. This helps set the child up for a restful night of sleep, which is important for improved mood, concentration, and athletic performance. Bedtime rituals offer the opportunity to reset with love and support so that the child may rest easy.

    As Psych Central says, “Bedtime is a daily opportunity to build and nurture your relationship with your child. There’s something about a quiet darkened room that invites conversation. This is a time to take stock, to snuggle, to conversation about some of the important things that your child is thinking about. When children know that bedtime is a time when you give a few minutes of undivided attention, they often save up their most sensitive questions for sharing. Yes, sometimes they’ll use it to hang onto you when you really want to get to your own projects or the newspaper. Calmly set some limits and carry on. This is the real stuff of parenting — building your child’s sense of personal value, answering the big questions, teaching your values through stories and conversation.”

    That was so well put I had to include it all! Most parents will tell you that tucking their children in can take awhile but the bedtime connection is special, fun time that should be cherished and has enormous benefits.

    The Sanctity Of Bedtime Connection And Bonding

    I was speaking with Genevieve Piturro who founded the national nonprofit, Pajama Program and she understands firsthand, “the profound meaning of a loving mom at my bedside as I drifted off to dream.” In fact she says that, “it’s this sacred, quiet bonding time that lays the foundation for a child’s self-worth and self-love that gives us the strength to move past obstacles and challenge as we grow into adulthood.” That sounds like a description of good parenting and love and when you think about it, that is exactly what is happening at bedtime when you both slow down together and focus on each other as parent and child.

    Genevieve Piturro has published an Amazon best seller new book called, Purpose, Passion and Pajamas. It is about her journey founding and growing Pajama Program. I am very excited to share with you that I have been permission to share an excerpt form her new book with you here. It’s about how the sanctity of bedtime between mother and child can impact not only the child’s life decisions as an adult, but also impact millions of others as a result.

    Excerpt from:PURPOSE, PASSION AND PAJAMAS: How to Transform Your life, Embrace the Human Connection and Lead with MeaningRiver Grove Books; Illustrated edition (July 28, 2020)By Genevieve M. Piturro

    Purpose, Passion and Pajamas Excerpt

    Her big brown eyes were locked on the pretty pink pajamas I held out to her, but she hesitated to take them.

    “Don’t you want these?” I gently asked.

    She glanced from the pink flannel to the other children who held their new nightwear. At this shelter and after-school program in New York City, there were about 12 children in all, many here because of abusive or absent fathers, or mothers who were battered or headed for drug rehab—or prison. The girl looked cautiously at me kneeling in front of her, ridiculously overdressed in my corporate pantsuit. She turned to watch the other children head to the back room with their garments.

    Then she looked at me again.

    “What are they?” she whispered.

    “They’re pajamas,” I said.

    “Where do I wear them?”

    “To bed at night.”

    She shook her head, puzzled.

    “What do you usually wear to sleep?” I asked.

    “My pants,” she said softly, tugging on her too-tight, too-short,

    dirty pants.

    I tried to make sense of what she’d just said. My mind was racing. Surely, I’d heard her wrong. I needed a minute to rewind our conversation, to put it right in my mind. And I needed to keep from crying before she thought she’d done something wrong. My brain scrambled to steady itself and respond in a way that didn’t show her how shaken I was, how upside down everything had become.

    “Well, now you don’t have to wear your pants to bed,” I said.

    “Tonight, you can wear these soft, pretty pajamas.”

    Her face registered little emotion as she tentatively accepted the gift. A staff member and I found a private place where she could change. In what seemed like slow motion, we watched as the most precious smile appeared on her face, and a tiny giggle escaped. The staffer took her hand and led her into the other room to sleep. Then my tears came. And I let them. I didn’t know it then, but it was in that moment, the most poignant I’ve ever experienced, that Pajama Program was born. With that little girl, I found my true purpose in life, a purpose that would propel me day and night. It was also then that I realized there is enough in this world—more than enough, in fact—to fix situations like this.

    Over the next several weeks, I visited and read with different groups in the New York City area. I quickly realized the emotional impact these children had on me. I was drawn to them in a protective way, and my need to comfort them felt overwhelming. There was something just so right about it all. Every time I had to leave, I had a difficult time finding the right words to say goodbye to the children. I hated these last moments because I felt I was leaving them alone and afraid. I knew most, if not all, of them would be gone the next time I came, and a new set of abandoned or abused children would be listening to me. The prospect was deeply upsetting. I made sure my goodnights were cheerful and warm. I couldn’t let my sad feelings show after filling their heads with so many happy endings. Still, I felt like a fraud, pretending tomorrow might be full of sunshine and happiness when I knew I couldn’t deliver either.

    As affecting as these experiences were for me, I grew restless. I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I could do more than simply read. I felt guilty walking out after an hour, leaving them with only books and a memory of story time. How much was I really helping? Was it more unsettling to them that I left them, too? Books had always been an escape for me as a child, but the discontentment that made me reach for a book was nothing compared to what these children were hoping to escape. Was I fooling myself thinking I was doing something that made a difference? I continued my visits, reading to the children in a circle on the floor, and looking for a way to do more. Surely I’d find it.

    As a child, I loved the coziness and comfort of bedtime. In addition to the many books she read us, my mom made up her own funny bedtime stories. To this day, one very special story brings tears to my eyes, filling me with so much love and gratitude for my mother who, even now, is the person I want when I can’t sleep. The story is about a little boy eating a candy bar with peanuts when one peanut comes alive and shouts, “Don’t eat me, don’t eat me!” That always made us giggle and demand of our mother,

    “Tell us again, tell us again!”

    All the laughing and hugging tired us out and sleep quickly followed. I was always conscious of our family’s financial limitations, and it was obvious to me that most of my friends had more than I did. We had bag lunches and were rarely given money for hot lunches; we got new store-brand clothes, but only at the start of the school year and again at Easter, and the items were always on sale. But we had one thing in abundance—we had love.

    The Heart of the Matter:

    • Learn from your childhood lessons.

    Life tends to come full circle. I see now it was the foundation of my mother’s love and my parents’ commitment to us—as well as the sacrifices we made—that helped me to see clearly when everything I thought I wanted was challenged. That foundation drove me to find my true passion in pajamas. My mother’s expressions of love helped me identify exactly what was missing in that little girl’s life. And my father’s insistence on education and hard work showed me how to provide not only for myself but also for others—helping me redefine what it means to be a “family.”

    • Examine the way you’ve “always” done things.

    Partly because of my family’s hard work and sacrifices, I sometimes felt I didn’t have enough. As a result, I started out in my career by focusing too much on what I wanted in terms of wealth and material possessions—money, clothes, apartment, travel. Soon the polish wore off those pursuits, however, and I was left unfulfilled. I knew I needed a change.

    • Don’t let tradition hold you back from your true purpose.

    We were raised to work hard and respect our family, and I spent many years fulfilling the role of dutiful daughter in my traditional Italian family, which included having successful career, well-appointed condo, and nice clothes. I had no idea I would need to let those markers of success go when I first stepped into that homeless shelter to read bedtime stories to children. But I did let them go, and that opened the way to being free to pursue new goals, ones that would give my life meaning.

    I hope you enjoyed this inspiring excerpt from Genevieve Piturro’s book, Purpose, Passion and Pajamas. You can learn more about her work or order a copy of her book through her website. This year, the Pajama Program celebrates its 20th anniversary, having delivered more than 7 MILLION magical gifts of new pajamas and new books to children through their 63 chapters across the U.S.

    She has been interviewed on and in many local and national media including most recently, Hallmark’sHome & Family show, OPRAH, TODAY, GMA, The Early Show, CNN, Fox & Friends, O Magazine, Forbes,The Wall Street Journal, and Parenting Magazine. Here is the Oprah clip for your viewing pleasure:

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    In conclusion, bedtime rituals are the perfect opportunity to establish a wonderful bonding time for parent and child. Relaxing bedtime rituals can help the child destress, feel safe, and feel loved so that they can get the most out of a peaceful night’s sleep and be ready to meet the new challenges in each day. What types of bedtime rituals do you have with your child? Do you think this special bedtime connection helps improve their resilience?

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    How To Be A Good Mom

    With mother’s day approaching, I want to celebrate all the good moms out there. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What makes a good mom?” Well, to me, a good mom is a mom who is trying to do her best. No mom is perfect but when they are trying, they are almost perfect because effort and caring is what we all want, deserve, and need. When I think about what makes my own mother such a good mom, it is because she makes me feel loved through all of her actions and words. She doesn’t do and say every single thing right but no one does. My mom is a good mom because she is there day after day, showing me she cares. Listening to me. Talking to me. Sharing her life with me. Offering advice. Letting me turn it down! Asking my advice. Feeling free to ignore it! Making me laugh. Laughing with me. Loving me. And letting me love her back. For this mother’s day, I want to honor not only my own mom but all good moms. So go ahead moms, pat yourself on the back! I also have a guest author with more advice on how to be a good mom. See if you recognize yourself or your own mother in her descriptions!

    What Is A Good Mom?

    Today, I would like to share some excellent advice on how to be a good mom from author, Meredith Jacobs. She knows a lot about how to a good mom! She is the proud mother of daughter Sofie, who is her co-conspirator in all things Just Between Us, and son Jules, who will commission as a Navy officer in May. Her newest book is JUST BETWEEN US MOTHER & DAUGHTER (Chronicle Books, April 13, 2021). Co-written by mother-daughter duo Meredith and Sofie Jacobs, it is a thoughtful, hands-on keepsake designed to cultivate a deeper understanding, communication, and respect between mothers and daughters.  

    Meredith Jacobs is also the CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI), a 125-year-old organization with a mission to empower women and girls. She works closely with JWI’s philanthropic partners, Sigma Delta Tau national sorority and Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity, developing initiatives like the award-winning Green Light, Go! and Girls Achieve GrΣΔΤness. Jacobs is an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Washington Jewish Week. She is also the author of The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate—Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal (HarperCollins). As you can see, she has a lot of qualifications to offer advice on how to be a good mom! Without further ado, I am so glad to share with you her guest post.

    How To Be There For Your Kids Through Every Life Phase

    by Meredith Jacobs

    It feels like forever since I’ve written a post about just being a mom. Now that I’m in my early 50s and my kids are 22 and 24, it’s strange to put back on that advice hat. And, I can tell you, it gets so much easier! All that hard work you’re putting in now, when the kiddos are younger, pays off when they turn into amazing young adults, who you not only like, you admire. Oh, and did I mention, you get to do things like make cheese boards and cocktails with them (yes, cocktails). 

    Funny, at the same time it feels like forever ago, it also feels like yesterday. I so clearly remember how much I looked up to the moms who raised incredible young people. Talking to these wise women, who were only one or two steps ahead of me, was how I started on my own parenting writer journey. So, I guess I’m now that slightly older mom. And, I hope whatever I did along the way, might help those of you who are deep in it now.

    You Never Stop Being A Mom

    All that said, I must admit that you never stop being a mom. Never stop worrying. Never stop trying to fix things and smooth paths. Never stop wanting to hear from them, meet their friends, know their life is okay and they are happy. If anything, being the mom to two 20somethings has helped me better understand my mom. I don’t get as annoyed when she complains that I haven’t called enough. In fact, I make a point of calling more regularly now.

    The Best Parenting Tip

    But, even though I just spent three paragraphs writing about the wisdom of other moms, it was my daughter Sofie, who gave me my best parenting tip. When she was 9, she asked if she could write in a journal and if I would read it and write back to her. I mean, amazing, right!?! What an incredible gift! Not only was my daughter letting me READ her journal, she wanted me to respond. (Of course, it wasn’t her actual, super private journal. This was a new one she created specifically to share with me.) But, writing back and forth strengthened our relationship. It let her share things she wanted to talk to me about but felt too awkward to speak. Everything from that first crush on a boy in math class, to mean girls, to puberty — all those things we all go through.

    What I learned from the experience of journaling with Sofie was that I actually listened better when I read. I have a terrible habit of interrupting people when I think I know what they are about to say and I want to swoop in to solve the problem. Trouble is, sometimes our kids don’t want us swooping in with answers. They want to be heard. Fully. So, through our journal, Sofie was able to write everything she wanted to say without my interrupting. And, I got to be more thoughtful when I answered.

    Long story short, that journal turned into a journal other mothers and daughters can share (based on the one we shared). In fact, it turned into a series of journals — for mothers and daughters; grandmothers and granddaughters; sisters, mothers and sons (I also have a son), and now, a new mother-daughter journal, that has stickers and note cards and stencils, and is…adorable.

    What We Can Do With Our Kids

    Scarlet asked me to share ideas of what we can do with our kids. And, I thought about how important that is right now (of course, it’s always important, but now more than ever). I think about parenting during the pandemic. I’ve helped Sofie navigate the loss of her dream job — the one she worked so hard to get. And, I’ve helped my son navigate the loss of his final year and a half of college. As much as I’ve treasured this time with him, I would have rather he had a senior year at school. And that graduation and his Naval commissioning (he’s Navy ROTC) would be celebrated with his fraternity brothers and battalion friends, and not on yet another Zoom. I know all of our children, 22 months to 22 years, are all struggling right now and how we want to be there for them. 

    Before my son, Jules, and I started writing Just Between Us: mother-son journal, I asked him what, if anything, his father and I did right. Without hesitating, he said, “You cared about the things I cared about. You did things with me.” He was right. I always made a point of spending time with my children (I just loved that he noticed.) Whether it was watching cartoons and movies together, or visiting the zoo several times a week to see the baby elephant, who was “his best friend” (he was a little boy then), or driving 20 hours round trip in a weekend to take him to a lacrosse tournament in another state, I made a point of being there and learning about the things they cared about.

    I remember once Jules asked me how I knew so much about dinosaurs (again, he was little when he asked this). I reminded him that I was the one who read him all the dinosaur books when he was too little to read. And, that I was the one who took him to the museums and dinosaur shows and laid on the floor to play with dinosaur figurines and shared his outrage when someone referred to a brontosaurus, when there was no such dinosaur — it was actually a brachiosaurus. 

    I know I joked earlier about making cocktails, but this was a natural transition from all the times I cooked and baked with my kids. From braiding bread dough and decorating cakes and even trying to grow vegetables (never worked because I quickly lost interest in watering).

    We listened to music and did arts and crafts. We read books together — Harry Potter and Twilight. We ran errands together (often stopping for a treat). And, I made a point of getting tickets for events or knowing if something was on tv that related to something they cared about. And, I listened to when they told me about a project or after school activity they were involved with or even something they were trying out and I remembered to ask about it and be there for important (and even not so important moments). 

    Let Them Know That They Are Valued

    So, if I could give you advice, it’s be there. Be there. Listen. Remember. When we show our children that what they care about is important to us, it lets them know that they are valued — that their thoughts and dreams and opinions matter to us and are worth listening to. 

    The funny thing is, when we show our children that we want to listen, they start talking.

    Thanks again to Meredith Jacobs for the advice on how to be a good mom. Be sure to check out her book!

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    The Importance Of Family Dinners And Ideas For Dinner Time With Kids

    Let’s discuss the importance of family dinners and celebrate the benefits of eating dinner together as a family!  I will share with you some statistics to help get you motivated to make family dinners a priority. I will also share some wonderful tips from Naomi Davis, the popular writer, entrepreneur and creator of “Love Taza,” on how to get the most out of dinner time with kids. There are even some ideas for family dinner recipes at the end of this post. It is a great time to take the Family Dinners Challenge and commit to making family dinners part of your family routine!

    Benefits Of Eating Dinner Together As A Family

    Eating as family is so much more than just eating- it is time for family bonding.  The benefits of family time are many and a family dinner is the perfect time to come together on a consistent basis.  Shared family meals means you talk to each other, you look each other in the eye, and hopefully, you are thankful together for the shared meal and shared time.  Shared family dinner time is something that becomes easy the more you do it.  I know that it seems like chess club, flag football practice, and piano lessons can sometimes get in the way but when you remember the importance of family dinner, it will be easier to make it happen.

    If you put away distractions and take time to be fully present during your family dinner time, you will notice a huge difference. It is about creating a family tradition of coming together daily for a positive experience. It does not technically have to be family dinner that is the shared meal but that is what works best for most families. If you have an atypical work schedule, you may try to make it family breakfast. It is the routine that matters so you can all look forward to sharing some time together and reconnecting over a meal.

    Importance Of Family Dinner Statistics

    Sure they are nice but are family dinners important? Yes! Shared family dinners show a high correlation to children that eat more fruits and veggies, are more willing to try new foods, and are less likely to be overweight. But that is not all, studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, or to develop an eating disorder, according to Wow.  Are these correlations making you think you could probably fit in a shared family meal a few more nights a week? There are even more reasons to share a meal together as a family- doing so at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs (CASA Report).  School performance tends to go up and divorce rates tend to be lower in families that eat together.  

    Anne Fishel, executive director of the Family Dinner Project, shared on the Harvard Graduate School of Education Podcast that “80% of teenagers say that family dinner is the time of the day they’re most likely to talk to their parents.” Staying in the know about what your teens are up to? Priceless! She also adds, “Regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression, and anxiety, and substance abuse, and eating disorders, and tobacco use, and early teenage pregnancy, and higher rates of resilience and higher self esteem.” Again, wow.

    As you can see, the importance of family dinners really can not be overlooked!

    Fun Ideas For Family Dinner Time

    I am so happy to have Naomi Davis, who has been named a Forbes Top 10 Parenting Influencer, share with us some fabulous ideas for dinner time and how to get the most out of it. She is also the author of the brand new book A Coat of Yellow Paint: Moving Through the Noise to Love the Life You Live (April 6, 2021, Harper Horizon). In the book, Naomi shares a collection of intimate and vulnerable essays that explore being a wife, raising five children, and living an authentic life, in her trademark candid style. So without further ado, the rest of this section on fun ideas for family dinner is by Naomi Davis.

    Five Ways I’ve Gotten More Out Of Meal Time With My Kids

    by Naomi Davis

    There’s an entire chapter in my new book, A Coat of Yellow Paint, all about how loud and messy our dinner table can be. As a mother to little ones, you might read that sentence and think, I already have a loud and messy dinner table in my own home, I don’t know if I’m interested in reading about another. And I feel you.  One loud and messy dinner table is plenty! 

    But what I explore in this particular essay in my book, is the magic often found at the dinner table, amidst the smeared marinara sauce and noodles splashed across the floor— when we use this dedicated meal time to grow our family bond and interact in meaningful ways. After all, despite the days feeling long, this chapter of life is incredibly short. And utilizing our minutes together around a dining table, where there are limited outside distractions, just might make the loud dinner table your favorite dinner table! (Most days.)

    I’d love to share with you a couple of ideas and prompts my husband and I have found especially helpful when it comes to engaging our kids around the table. 

    Designated Jobs

    First, we give everyone a designated job around meal time. It might mean setting napkins on each plate or helping Papa mix the pasta in the kitchen. But as each family member has a specific task, we feel a little more united in our efforts before the meal even begins! And having that spirit of unity as we go into what can often feel like a battle (I mean, pleeeeeaaaase don’t throw your broccoli and keep touching your brother with your spoon!), it helps!  

    Dinner Conversation Starters

    Second, we have found conversation starters with fun prompts the key to making our loud dinner table one where everyone loves to be. The table grows still as we explore feelings and share stories based on different categories: If you had a superpower for a day, what would it be? What is the greatest invention? Pretend you are popcorn popping!  We also learn some of the most endearing facts about our kids and each other as we build upon each answer. A great place to start is with an open-ended question around a topic a family member is interested in. Bringing their imaginations into the conversation only sets you up for success and some good laughs, too. 

    Dinner Games

    Third, a game at mealtime can keep everyone in their seats successfully and possibly even linger as the meal comes to an end! It doesn’t need to be a physical game or include tangible objects, but sharing riddles (or making up your own!), playing word games like Telephone or the Yes or No game (can you make it through the meal without saying yes or no?!), usually ends in laughter. Sometimes designating someone in the family to hide a particular utensil as the meal progresses without anyone noticing is also so much fun! 

    Family Dinner Questions

    Fourth, have everyone come to the table with a question the family can explore together.  While we usually have a “no phones at the table” rule in an attempt to keep tech away from our mealtimes, we make an exception every once in a while for a special topic like “why are panda bears black and white” or “how many types of lizards are there?” These kinds of questions lead to incredible discussions where we all take something away and while doing so, the chaos is kept to a minimum!

    Kind Words

    And fifth, taking turns sharing something we love about another family member is one of my favorite dinner table prompts. We used to reserve this for birthdays, but honestly, nothing bad ever comes from sharing openly what you love about someone you love, and I think it should happen more often than every 365 days. If I can help facilitate a little bit of a bond between my children by way of kind words and affirmations shared every single day around our table, I think we might be building something special. I encourage families everywhere to share something they love about another family member at every meal.  

    While I certainly hope these suggestions or ideas are helpful during the next loud dinner table experience when you aren’t sure you can reign in the madness that has commenced, I also hope you know you aren’t alone in the dinner table mayhem (coming to you from my own chaotic dinner table where the madness is often maddening!). And like me, I hope you can find ways to celebrate this short chapter of life that messy and loud and totally out of control most days. Because someday those tiny bodies will have extra curriculars and friends and outside activities that will inevitably pull them away from the loud dinner table. And while each season is beautiful in its own right, I have a feeling we might long for this one. And so while we have it here before us, may we take full advantage of its magic, embrace the mess and the loudness, and enjoy making the memories around our very loud dinner tables. 

    I hope you enjoyed Naomi Davis’ tips for engaging kids around the dinner table!

    Family Dinner Recipe Ideas

    There are no rules around what you eat at family dinners! Of course, healthy meals are best in my opinion but the shared family time is what matters most. I am going to put links to a few recipes under various categories just to get you started in case you are stuck there!

    Chicken Family Dinner Recipes

    Recipe For Chicken Tagine With Apricots And Tangerines

    Chicken Drumsticks With Artichokes Sheet Pan Dinner Recipe

    Easy Chicken udon Noodles Soup Recipe

    Beef Family Dinner Recipes

    Slow Cooker Beef Roast

    Mojito Grilled Steak Salad Recipe

    Homemade Meatballs With Spinach Sauce

    Vegetarian Family Dinner Recipes

    Savory Root Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe

    Caprese Pasta Salad

    Sweet Potato Couscous Recipe

    Ready Made Family Dinner Options

    Order Pizza

    Order Takeout via DoorDash

    EveryPlate Boxes- Dinner Ready To Make

    No Time 2 Cook Frozen Family Meals

    Frozen Italian Meals

    Let’s Start Eating Dinner With Family- Take The Family Dinners Challenge

    Now that you know the importance of family dinner, don’t you just want to let others know too? The Family Dinners Challenge is about uniting to remind the world to have more family dinners!  It is about showing that connecting over a shared meal can bring more love, compassion, and wellness into our communities! Let’s create a movement that aims to bring people together by challenging families nationwide to enjoy family dinner time. How? By example! Just share this post (or a photo of eating dinner together as a family) on social media with the hashtag #FamilyDinnerChallenge.

    Did you already know the importance of family dinner? Do you think you will try to eating dinner together as a family more often?

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    Raising Kids With The Entrepreneurial Spirit

    We are all hopeful that our children will grow to be confident, motivated and resilient adults, but how do we best set them up for success early in life? Raising our kids with the entrepreneurial spirit can help give them the can-do growth mindset, analytical skills, and leadership abilities that allow them to thrive in any given situation. Today, I will share with you some expert tips for a few ways parents can encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in children from an early age.

    What is The Entrepreneurial Spirit?

    The entrepreneurial spirit meaning is best described as all of the key traits that make an entrepreneur successful. That is to say, the vision, confidence, drive, determination, persistence, and the ability to adapt, grow, and change based on the market. Being an entrepreneur takes a special ability to think for one’s self, to be willing to take calculated risks, and to go after big dreams with a passion that is unstoppable. Leadership qualities are a must and they love a good challenge. A true entrepreneur is full of new ideas and knows how to seize new opportunities. A few entrepreneurial skills include intellectual curiosity around even ordinary things, creative thinking, and developing innovative products. They can be a measured risk taker who knows how to use right people to create a positive business community that takes a good idea to fruition.

    Hosts of the Top 100 podcast The Product Boss, co-founders of The Product Boss Mastermind courses

    Encouraging The Entrepreneurial Mindset

    Raising a child with the entrepreneurial spirit does not mean they have to be an entrepreneur business leader when they grow up. It just means that they have the self-motivation and drive to chase their dreams and be self starters.

    With this in mind, I am so happy to share with you some fabulous tips for raising entrepreneurs from two amazing moms and successful entrepreneurs, Minna Khounlo-Sithep and Jacqueline Snyder, also known to the world as The Product Boss. Together, they use their expertise to help small businesses with savvy strategies to achieve success through their coaching platforms, top-ranked podcast (The Product Boss Podcast), and social media shopping initiatives that promote small businesses.

    With close to 30 years of combined experience in the business venture space, they’ve learned the value of entrepreneurial drive and have been consciously motivating their kids to follow in their footsteps over the years.

    The Product Boss ladies have shared their top three tips for encouraging those “kidpreneur” tendencies and fostering feelings of independence and ingenuity below.

    Ice Cream Shop- pure joy!

    1. Give playtime a purpose 

    While they are young and imaginations are still running wild, encouraging your kids to open up their own shops at home is always a fun and enriching experience for everyone. Whether they decide they want to open up a restaurant, a veterinarian office or a bakery, all of these add a sense of purpose and drive to their free time that didn’t exist before. Getting that first-hand experience, even if just artificial, plants the seed early that one day they too can create a life and career that they dream of if you mix those passions with a little hard work. 

    2. Keep them interested and involved 

    If you’re a small business owner yourself, getting your kids interested in your work is a natural next step. Keeping the business conversations going when the kids walk in, asking them to offer their two cents on career-related predicaments, having them help out on certain activities in your work they might enjoy, and discussing your career goals at length with them are all fantastic new ways to keep them invested. Before you know it, your kids are dreaming up their own aspirations, careers and lives soon to unfold. 

    3. Hold them accountable and offer choices

    It’s never too early to begin to instill a hard work ethic in your kids. If they say that they want that new toy, ask how they will go about earning it. Can they set up a lemonade stand? Can they earn money from completing various household chores? When children aren’t simply given everything they ask for and, instead, are encouraged to go out and work hard for what they want, they begin to see the world in a new light. In addition, giving them these decisions early on sets them up as independent thinkers. It also helps improve low confidence levels and indecisiveness. Setting these standards from the jump and holding them accountable for their actions is the best way to set them straight on their entrepreneurial path. 

    If you enjoyed these tips and would be interested in more tips on how to become a successful business owner, check out the The Product Boss Podcast, A Top 100 Podcast On Apple Podcast Business Charts. You can listen on Spotify or various other podcasting services.

    Additionally, I want to share some of my favorite entrepreneurial spirit quotes with you today for a little extra inspiration.

    Entrepreneurial Spirit Quotes

    “You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.” –Jessica Herrin

    “You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.” -Brian Chesky, Co-founder of Airbnb

    “Don’t worry about being successful but work toward being significant and the success will naturally follow.”-Oprah Winfrey

    “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain

    “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

    “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” –Richard Branson

    “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” -Bill Gates

    Spirit Of Entrepreneurship Conclusion

    I hope you enjoyed these tips to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your children so that they stay curious, optimistic, eager to find better ways. Developing a positive attitude and the desire to find new solutions will serve them in all areas of life. After all, who doesn’t want to help their kid become more confident and motivated? How will you encourage your young entrepreneur?

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