“Our job as parents is to put ourselves out of business”

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“Our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job” -Julie Lythcott-Haims former dean of freshmen at Stanford University stated in a recent article in the Washington Post, “We need to know that our children have the wherewithal to get up in the morning and take care of themselves.”

“We want so badly to help them by shepherding them from milestone to milestone and by shielding them from failure and pain. But over helping causes harm,” she writes. “It can leave young adults without the strengths of skill, will and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life.” says Lythcott-Haims

“Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing,” Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory at Swarthmore College, said “But happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.” It’s precisely this goal, though, that many modern parents focus on obsessively—only to see it backfire.” Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?

Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA, says the answer may be yes. Based on what he sees in his practice, Bohn believes many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment—“anything less than pleasant,” as he puts it—with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.

Consider a toddler who’s running in the park and trips on a rock, Bohn says. Some parents swoop in immediately, pick up the toddler, and comfort her in that moment of shock, before she even starts crying. But, Bohn explains, this actually prevents her from feeling secure—not just on the playground, but in life. If you don’t let her experience that momentary confusion, give her the space to figure out what just happened (Oh, I tripped), and then briefly let her grapple with the frustration of having fallen and perhaps even try to pick herself up, she has no idea what discomfort feels like, and will have no framework for how to recover when she feels discomfort later in life. These toddlers become the college kids who text their parents with an SOS if the slightest thing goes wrong, instead of attempting to figure out how to deal with it themselves. If, on the other hand, the child trips on the rock, and the parents let her try to reorient for a second before going over to comfort her, the child learns: That was scary for a second, but I’m okay now. If something unpleasant happens, I can get through it. In many cases, Bohn says, the child recovers fine on her own.

It is not easy to see your child hurting. However, what is more important than your temporary discomfort is the social and emotional lessons that the child learns. When a 2 year old is crying over a toy being taken away from him by another child, what he gains by being allowed to handle it himself is the ability to self-soothe and learn how to interact with others through difficulty.

This social lesson is what the child needs as a foundation to build all the other lessons on as they age. If a two year old doesn’t know how to handle a 2 year old’s problems, they do not learn how to solve 5 year old’s problems, 10 year old’s problems and so on.
What studies are overwhelmingly showing is that what children have learned by over-parenting or helicopter parenting, is that they are INCAPABLE of handling things on their own, so they don’t even try. When parents rush in to rescue and solve all of their child’s problems, it reinforces the child’s feelings that they are not as smart or brave as their parents. When more complicated matters arise in their lives, they are totally unprepared. This leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem.
Interesting how, in creating perfect little stress free environments for our children so that they can “thrive” and “succeed” and by giving every child a trophy so that their sensitive self-esteem is not hurt; in reality we are doing the exact opposite.

“College students are seeking counseling at an unprecedented rate because they are having ’emotional crises’ over everyday life.” Peter Gray, a Boston College Professor has claimed.
Dr. Gray was invited to a major university to talk about student resilience and found counseling services had conducted twice as many appointments in recent years because of increasing ‘neediness’. He added that faculty members are now afraid to give low grades because of ’emotional fragility’. They also feel like they have to do more ‘hand-holding’ and avoid challenging their students as a result, he claims.

Parents love their children, and do what they think is best for their children. We do not believe that people who over-parent even realize that they are doing harm to their children. So how do you know if you are a helicopter parent? Lythcott-Haims offers 3 quick tips.

1. Check your language. “If you say ‘we’ when you mean your son or your daughter – as in, ‘We’re on the travel soccer team’ – it’s a hint to yourself that you are intertwined in a way that is unhealthy,”

2. Examine your interactions with adults in your child’s life. “If you’re arguing with teachers and principals and coaches and umpires all the time, it’s a sign you’re a little too invested,” she said. “When we’re doing all the arguing, we are not teaching our kids to advocate for themselves.”

3. Stop doing your child’s homework – enough said.

Lythcott-Haims adds that in order to aid in your child becoming self sufficient you need to teach them the skills that they will need in real life and give them enough leash to practice those skills on their own. She also suggests mandating chores for the children within the home, “Chores build a sense of accountability. They build life-skills and a work ethic.”

If we can adopt a forward thinking mentality, this problem may be all but solved in a few years. If we can think about how we are reacting to our children in these terms, “What will be the best for my child in the long-term, not just pacify their immediate emotions for now?”

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Excessive complimenting actually leads to Low Self Esteem

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The first time you lay eyes on your baby, there is no limit to the superlatives that come to mind about him/her.  It is a very natural and necessary phenomenon that occurs with parents.  “he’s the most beautiful baby in the world,” ” I have never seen a more perfect creature in my life” are common feelings,  post-delivery.  As our kids begin to develop, “She’s the smartest toddler ever,” “He’s way ahead of any of the other babies” and similar thoughts run through parents’ minds.

The problem with these very wonderful and necessary feelings is that after we think them long enough and have sweet, kind people reinforce those thought by being kind and sweet, some parents actually begin to believe that they are true!

Those feelings are called LOVE…

They are put there so we bond with our children and become committed to taking care of them before the really hard work begins.  However, at some point, the euphoria of having a “perfect” infant needs to wane and the reality that no matter how cute or bright or gifted our child is, there is going to be someone, somewhere who is more “perfect” than them.

A new study recently was released online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that tells us we need to be honest with our children from the get go.  The study released Monday concluded that “When children are seen by their parents as being more special and more entitled than other children, they may internalize the view that they are superior individuals, a view that is at the core of narcissism,”  “But when children are treated by their parents with affection and appreciation, they may internalize the view that they are valuable individuals, a view that is at the core of self-esteem.”

No one is saying to stop complimenting, loving and supporting your child.  However,  If you are convinced that your child is the BEST of everything, instead of repeatedly telling them that, and setting them up for a realization that they are not “water-walkers” tell them that they are the most beautiful, smart, talented child in the world TO YOU.  If not, narcissism begins to set in at an early age, setting your child up for hurt, disappointment and a feeling of betrayal.  Children feel as though their parents and loved ones have misled them about who they are when they come to the realization that they are just like everyone else.  This then makes them begin to doubt other notions that they have held as absolutes about themselves and the world around them.

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Saying ‘No’ to your kids doesn’t make you a bad parent

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 But constantly saying yes may

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” ~ Helen Keller

iStock_000010912368XSmallAs a parent, we all want to provide for our kids and help them feel good about themselves.

Many of us want to shield our children from the hardship and disappointment of going without some of life’s luxuries that we were denied in our own childhood. But look at all that we gained from not getting everything we wanted: we learned to count our blessings, how to handle disappointment, that hard work pays off, and that materials possessions aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

If a child has the best of everything and instant gratification of all they desire, how will they learn that it takes hard work to accomplish goals and achieve success? Most times, less is more.

Here are five ways to help build character and coping skills in your children:

  • Let them fail, occasionally. If a child has never experienced the pain and sorrow of failure, they will never experience the feeling of empowerment that comes from accomplishment.
  • Be honest with them about their strengths and weaknesses. If a child is constantly told they are the most beautiful and best at everything from birth, they are being set up for disappointment. There will always be someone better or brighter. Instead of giving our children a false sense of superiority, give them a realistic goal and something to strive for.
  • Say ‘no’ once in a while. If a child is given whatever they want whenever they ask, they will not develop the life skills they will need later in life. Success takes hard work and commitment, and life is full of disappointment. If children have everything handed to them, how will they learn to work hard for something? If they never experience disappointment while growing up, how will they deal with it as adults?
  • Raise the bar. Demand that your child treat you and everyone else with respect. Children will rise or fall to your expectations. If you expect good behavior and refuse to settle for less, you will get it. If you expect your child to be disrespectful and you allow it, that is exactly what you will get.
  • Be consistent. If a child disobeys or neglects a boundary, be consistent in your treatment. It is not cruel to take a privilege away from a child, but it is cruel if you fail to equip them with the skills that they will need to face the real world.
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Being Popular doesn’t assure your child wont be bullied

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bulyingResearch published in the American Sociologic Review challenges the widely held belief that weak, unpopular kids are more likely to be the victims of bullying in school.

“For most students, status increases the risk of victimization,” Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee found in their longitudinal network study in 19 schools. Popular kids use bullying to jockey for position in their social standing, dispelling the myth that bullying victims are often social outcasts.

Bullying is more often about the strong attacking the strong to gain position than about the strong attacking the weak, according to the study.

Just as there is no “stereotypical” victim of bullying, neither is there a stereotypical offender. In fact, many people involved in bullying situations can be categorized as “bully-victims.” Not only are they being bullied, they in turn are bullying others. As a result, no one set of rules or policy can be a catch-all for handling bullying situations.

This revelation should change how we approach intervention and bullying prevention.

It has taught us that bullying situations are as different as the people involved. Bullying is not one size fits all, and school policies on bullying should not be either. Schools need to recognize the many facets of each situation and that the bully one day may be the victim the next.

It also tells us as parents that no one is immune from bullying. Bullies don’t just target the “different” or less popular kids. We need to be aware of bullying and give our children the tools of resiliency and teach them how to stand up for themselves. The COREMatters Project can help!

Geared toward 4th and 5th graders, the evidence-based COREMatters Project builds empathy and respect in kids through fun physical activities, exciting role-playing games and reflective discussion. The COREMatters Project prepares kids to effectively deal with issues such as bullying and peer pressure. For the first time ever, the program is being offered directly to families through the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Department starting in February.

Registration opens in mid-December for The COREMatters Project, a 13-week program that begins Feb. 2. The program will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays from Feb. 2 through May 4. To register, visit http://www.palosheightsrec.org/registration/online-registration/ or call (708) 361-1807.

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Help your kids be active and resilient

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kids fitnessWhether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer or a Millennial, you most likely have fond memories of playing outside when you were a kid. When summer came you couldn’t wait to call your friends and go ride bikes or roller blade or walk the neighborhood for hours.

Unfortunately, many kids today may not have those memories to look back on, thanks in part to technology.

There are many reasons that children today are much less physically active than past generations.  Parents may be afraid to let their kids play outside because of child abductions, gangs and street violence. Digital media, video games, computers provide additional distraction and keep kids from going outside to play. No matter the reason, the fact remains that this generation is the least physically active of any prior.

Although these kids may seem “safe” at home, there are some definite drawbacks. Consider the following:

●  Obesity, diabetes and all many other health problems are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

●    Reduced motor skills: Motor skills, including fine motor skills, are developed by doing , not

watching.

● Behavioral and attention issues.  Children need to blow off steam.  Physical activity helps kids concentrate better and releases stress.

● Heart issues. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day to maintain a healthy heart.

The COREMatters Project is a resiliency initiative that combines physical activity with exciting role-playing games and reflective discussion to build empathy and respect in kids. Geared toward  4th and 5th graders, the evidence-based program prepares kids to effectively deal with issues such as bullying and peer pressure. For the first time ever, the program is being offered directly to families through the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Department starting in February.

Registration opens in mid-December for The COREMatters Project, a 13-week program that begins Feb. 2. The program will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays from Feb. 2 through May 4. To register, visit http://www.palosheightsrec.org/registration/online-registration/ or call (708) 361-1807.

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What’s at the core of The COREMatters Project?

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best onewebSusan Barnes and Christy Pace both quit their longtime jobs to start The COREMatters Project to empower kids to be more resilient in the face of adversity.

Geared toward 4th and 5th graders, the evidence-based program builds empathy and respect in kids through fun physical activities, exciting role-playing games and reflective discussion. The COREMatters Project prepares kids to effectively deal with issues such as bullying and peer pressure. For the first time ever, the program is being offered directly to families through the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Department starting in February. Registration for the program begins in mid-December.

Prior to starting The COREMatters Project, Barnes was national director and safety coordinator for 20 years for a large nonprofit organization that produced drug and personal safety printed materials. She helped communities put together safety programs for all ages – from preschool to senior citizens. Her passion is to help people achieve their best possible life. Like the Maya Angelou quote, “When you know better, you do better,” Barnes believes that information is power.

“If people are empowered with information and know the facts, they are more likely to make smart life decisions and take responsibility for themselves and their property to keep it healthy and safe,” Barnes said.

Pace is a 23-year police veteran who spent 14 years as a crime prevention/drug education officer for the Palos Heights Police Department, and 8 ½ years with the Midlothian Police Department teaching DARE curriculum to tens of thousands of kids in the classroom. She also trained thousands of law enforcement officials as DARE officers.

Barnes and Pace first started the Safety Education Alliance of America, the nation’s premier supplier of vibrant, engaging printed safety materials for all ages.

They also wanted to find a way to equip kids with the tools vital to coping with life’s adversities, such as bullying, cyber-bullying and peer pressure. So they collaborated with a team of nationally and internationally known educators and members of the scientific community, including nationally known educational advisor Jolene Palmer, to research and create The COREMatters Project.

Approximately 1,000 kids have gone through The COREMatters Project since it began in 2011. Multi-year research done in schools in partnership with Governors State University shows that The COREMatters Project works.

A study of kids before and after they went through The COREMatters Project showed improvement in six key areas: respect, pro-social communication, pro-social behaviors, awareness and understanding of bullying, school climate and self-esteem, motivation and confidence, according to Jennifer E. Beebe, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY.

Registration opens in mid-December for The COREMatters Project, a 13-week program that begins Feb. 2. The program will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays from Feb. 2 through May 4. To register, visit http://www.palosheightsrec.org/registration/online-registration/ or call (708) 361-1807.

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Program empower kids to handle life’s challenges

The COREMatters Project PRESS RELEASE
Dec. 1, 2014

Palos Heights Parks & Recreation Department now offers program

PALOS HEIGHTS — For the first time ever, a resiliency initiative that has proven to be effective at helping kids handle adversity and bullying is being offered directly to families through the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Department.

Registration opens in mid-December for The COREMatters Project, a 13-week program that begins Feb. 2. The program will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays from Feb. 2 through May 4. To register, visit http://www.palosheightsrec.org/registration/online-registration/ or call (708) 361-1807.

The COREMatters Project is an evidence-based program that builds empathy and respect in kids by teaching them how to handle adversity in respectful, constructive and non-violent ways. Through fun physical activities, exciting role-playing games and reflective discussion, the program prepares kids to effectively deal with issues such as bullying and peer pressure. It is geared toward 4th and 5th graders.

“We combine social-emotional learning with taekwondo to create a winning formula to teach kids resiliency and empowerment in a fun interactive way,” said Susan Barnes, project administrator for The COREMatters Project.

Research done in schools in partnership with Governors State University shows that The COREMatters Project works. A study of kids before and after they went through The COREMatters Project showed improvement in six key areas: respect, pro-social communication, pro-social behaviors, awareness and understanding of bullying, school climate and self-esteem/motivation/confidence, according to Jennifer E. Beebe, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY.

“We found a significant decrease in teasing and bullying behaviors among students,” said Beebe, who conducts research in bullying and cyber-bullying. “It’s just as important to teach social and emotional skills to students as it is to teach them science.”

Barnes and Christy Pace created the nonprofit organization to offer the multidimensional experience to empower kids and teach them how to be more resilient in the face of adversity. It focuses on social-emotional learning, empathy and respect-building instruction through cooperative learning activities, role playing, reflective discussion, individual work and taekwondo.

Pace is a 23-year police veteran who spent 14 years as a crime prevention/drug education officer for the Palos Heights Police Department, and 8 1/2 years with the Midlothian Police Department teaching DARE curriculum to tens of thousands of kids in the classroom and trained thousands of law enforcement officials as DARE officers.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Susan Barnes
susanb@coremattersproject.com
708-389-0641

Christy Pace
christyp@coremattersproject.com
708-389-0641

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Anti-Bullying Bills Miss the Point

 

Skyrocketing youth suicide rates and increasing school shootend of tearsings are prompting Gov. Pat Quinn to sign into law two landmark anti-bullying bills (HB 4207 and HB 5707) that require schools to investigate every reported bullying incident and broaden a school’s authority to deal with bullying, even if it happens off school grounds.

Instead of putting brightly colored band-aids on a festering wound, The COREMatters Project proposes a novel approach: let’s effectively address the core issue of why more and more kids are using violence or ending their lives in response to life’s challenges.

We a very big believers that schools should be places where kids feel safe to go to learn without threat of physical harm. However, creating stricter behavioral guidelines and finding additional people to blame is not the answer.

 

As a 23-year police veteran and mother of four, I am very concerned that many children in this country are not equipped with the tools they need to successfully navigate the world we live in. Children are increasingly exposed to pornography, graphic violence and celebrities who are glorified for their bad behavior – all without having the emotional maturity to understand what it all means or make sense of it all. This exposure to such hyper-sexualized, hyper-violent images and stories have also desensitized kids to the real, authentic human emotion, leaving kids lacking in the empathy required for healthy social interaction.

Somewhere along the way, kids stopped learning how to be good people. Traditionally, children learned morals and manners through their families, at church and in the community. Kids are hungry for structure, expectations and guidelines that allow them to feel cared about, safe and secure. When children are given these things from an early age, they grow up feeling self-confident and equipped to take on the world because they now that they have a structured, safe place to fall back on.

Today, however, so many children are not learning these basic social emotional skills for coping and resilience through their upbringing, and we see the consequences in the headlines every day.

That’s why we created The COREMatters Project. It addresses all of these issues by going back to the basics of respect for self and others. First and foremost, we teach kids why they are worthy of respect and in turn, all others are as well.

The COREMatters Project is a 13-week in-school curriculum that teaches kids the importance of being strong, balanced and flexible.  We address these things in the physical sense and talk about not allowing others to knock you down.  We then speak of the necessity of having these within you as well so that you cannot be knocked down with words.  This process replaces the false power that violence and bullying provides with real empowerment.

Part of this process includes teaching children how to face and handle adversity.  Many well-meaning parents shield their children from anything perceived as painful or difficult. This actually impedes the natural maturation process and creates young people who, since they have not had to solve their own problems, are incapable of handling the normal pitfalls they encounter in life because they are incapable of handling the emotions that go along with them. This leads to increased anxiety, fear and confusion, which many times lead to violence.

The COREMatters Project teaches children that although they may not be in control of everything that happens to them, they are in control of how they react.  Strength, balance and flexibility are the main ingredients in resiliency, a trait that is sorely lacking in today’s youth.

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When A POST Turns to MURDER

Three 14-year-old lives changed forever

Last night, on Chicago’s crime-ridden South Side, a 14-year-old girl was shot in the back as she walked home from school.  Like most Chicago-area residents, you may have quickly concluded that this innocent child was caught in gang crossfire or involved in some sort of criminal activity.  To be sure, both would be tragic.

But what prompted a 14-year-old classmate to shoot and kill Endia Martin magnifies the tragedy even more.

What prompted a female Tilden High School classmate to shoot both girls Monday was not gangs, or drugs or money of any kind.  It was prompted by an argument about a boyfriend on Facebook. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said this is further proof of the need for stricter gun laws, but the issue here is not the gun.

The gun used to kill Endia was stolen, so stricter gun laws would not have kept this gun out of the killer’s hands. She could have just as easily used a knife or a baseball bat to accomplish her goal. The real story here is why this girl chose violence of any kind as an acceptable way to resolve a conflict. The tragedy here is not merely the fact that the lives of three young women and their families have been irrevocably altered forever, but the fact that children are not equipped with the tools they need to endure adversity, avoid conflict, communicate effectively and resolve problems without resorting to violence.

Lack of empathy, anger, fear, revenge and other anti-social behaviors are common threads that run through all the stories of violence by young people in this country.

There are many theories on who is to blame for this phenomenon: lack of parental involvement; violence on TV and in movies and video games; unlimited and uncensored access to inappropriate content on the Internet; and easy access to guns.  Although one could argue that all of the above factor into the current situation, it’s far more productive to begin to heal and fix what ails our children.

Let’s get to the bottom of why so many young people are turning to violence to resolve conflict instead of using non-violent alternatives. Equally if not more important, let’s empower young people to handle adversity, conflict and setbacks in productive, non-violent ways.

Here are some steps to take to begin to turn the tide on violence:

1.  Teach children from a young age that adversity is a normal part of life that cannot and should not be escaped.

2.  Model what can be accomplished through non-violent conflict resolution.

3.  Equip children with the tools that they need to handle adversity and help them work through their difficulties instead of shielding children from anything “painful” or “unpleasant.”

4.  Realize that by allowing our children to fix their own minor problems without intervening, we are allowing them to learn lessons that will help them as they go through life.

5.  Limit young people’s exposure to violent media and censor Internet usage.

6. Be involved in all aspects of your child’s life. Even though teens push for less limits and parental intervention, this is a crucial time for parents to be involved in their kids’ day-to-day interactions with others.

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Pay-it-Forward Day April 24, 2014

Boys with swim coach

Pay it forward on Thursday

By Susan Barnes and Christy Pace 

“Paying-It-Forward” may be the simplest and best lesson you can teach your child.

On Thursday, April 24, you can join an estimated 3 million people around the world who take time to bestow a random act of kindness on someone as part of Global Pay it Forward Day.

The possibilities and the ramifications are endless, as evidenced by 8-year-old Myles Eckert, who gave a $20 bill he found in a restaurant parking lot to Lt. Col. Frank Dailey. The Ohio boy’s simple act of kindness snowballed into a more than $1 million donation to Snowball Express, a national military children’s charity in Dallas that hosts a weeklong vacation for Gold Star children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.

The story of Eckert’s simple act of kindness spread quickly after Dailey’s family posted it on Facebook. Media reports about it spread, and soon donations of money and toys were pouring in for the Eckert family. But instead of accepting the gifts, the Eckert family chose to continue paying it forward and donate all proceeds to Snowball Express. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres donated $20,000 to the cause, actor Gary Sinise donated $75,000, and Dallas-based Highland Capital Management offered to match every dollar donated through Memorial Day, up to $1 million.

Such is the power of paying it forward.

Imagine if parents around the world stressed the importance of paying it forward to their children. What would be the impact?

Paying it forward is an incredibly powerful gift, and one that we all possess. What better way to teach kids to think of others and lend a helping hand? A random act of kindness has a ripple effect that one cannot imagine until it is given away.

Why not pick a day (or week or month) to teach your kids about paying it forward or volunteering? April 24 is “Pay it Forward” Day.  You can also choose any day that is meaningful to you, such as a birthday or anniversary of the death of a loved one.

To get you started, here’s a list of “pay it forward” ideas:

  1. Pay for the food of the person behind you in line.
  2. Donate toys to a local YMCA nursery or daycare center.
  3. Open the door for a person and smile and wish them a great day.
  4. Donate your aluminum cans to a local Girl Scout troop.
  5. Leave a little potted plant on a neighbor’s doorstep.
  6. Offer to do some yard work for an elderly neighbor.
  7. Pick up trash at a local park.
  8. Make cards (or any kind of craft) for a local nursing home. Deliver them.
  9. Give your mailman a little bag of cookies.
  10. Write a thank-you note to a teacher (past or present) who really made a difference for you.

 

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