Want to simplify your life and declutter your house? Many people I know want to achieve these goals but are concerned about the effect on their family. Be encouraged that you are doing the right thing! Here are reflections on minimalist living with kids from people that have made the change themselves, and why they think your family will not only survive, but thrive! Includes a review of a new picture book on tiny house living.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission, at no extra charge to you.
Minimalist Living with Kids
Learn more about minimalist living with kids from parents and educators who have made the change!
A great resource to talk to your kids about minimalism and “tiny living” is Sissy Goes Tiny, created by long-time friends Rebecca Flansburg and Ba Norrgard. Sissy is an ordinary girl, who loves her home, her toys, her spacious backyard, and her big, cozy bed.
So when her mom and dad (a beautifully portrayed interracial couple) break the news that the family will be going tiny, Sissy is understandably skeptical. But her parents explain that while living tiny does mean fewer things, it also means more freedom and more experiences.
The book goes through each stage of the downsizing, including donating many items, re-purposing others, and making a scrapbook of their favorite things. Though this process is at times difficult, as it progresses Sissy’s skepticism soon turns to excitement, until it finally culminates in the arrival of their beautiful new tiny home!
Get your child’s school year off to the right start by encouraging them to love themselves just as they are. Help kids embrace their own uniqueness with these books and music that teach kids self-confidence! Because every child should feel comfortable and happy in their own skin.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the material below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contians affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Teach Kids Self-Confidence: Books and Music
We love these Changing Faces books! They are so adorable and fun for little ones, as the faces of the animals change each time you turn the page, thanks to something like a built-in Venetian blind. And the latest in the series, I Love You, Elephant!, has a special message of being happy just as you are. Little Monkey encounters different animals, wishing he could be like them. Yet his animal friends help him by pointing out what makes him special!
Ninja Boy’s Secret is a beautiful book about a boy learning to follow his heart – even if it means he might disappoint his father. Because unlike so many children, Ninja Boy doesn’t actually want to be a ninja. He wants to be a musician! Fearful of how his father will react, Ninja Boy nevertheless summons the courage to share his secret, by playing a beautiful violin sonata. Great story and I love the Japanese-inspired illustrations!
Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color is a beautiful story for anyone who feels like they don’t quite match anyone else. Simone, a young mixed girl, isn’t as dark as her mother or as light as her father. She longs to find a color of her own. A beautiful story about building self-confidence through embracing your uniqueness. It also sparks a lot of conversations with my mixed kids, who were curious to identify exactly what color they were!
How Do You Dance? is a great book about finding your own way, rather than trying to just imitate what everyone else is doing. There are so many ways to dance, but the most important way is the one that feels right to you! Lovely illustrations of diverse people enjoying music in all different ways!
The Love is a truly unique album! It’s hip-hop music that focuses on “love, belonging, and gender justice.” It features more than 60 artists, including many children. What really impressed me was that the album grew out of the group’s genuine engagement with their audience. As one co-founder explains, “Hundreds of kids and families trusted us with their lived experience to write these songs.” It really inspires self-confidence in kids who feel ostracized and misunderstood and encourages allies to stand up for inclusion. And beyond that, it’s just really great music that my kids love!
On sale now! Friends, I have been working hard on getting this planner for Baha’i parents ready for you – and it’s finally done! It includes monthly and weekly calendars, plus planning pages for service projects and holy days! If you are a homeschooler like me, you can also purchase a homeschool supplement to get curriculum planners and lesson plan templates. Read on to find out more!
Planner for Baha’i Parents with Homeschool Supplement
In this digital Homeschool Supplement, you will find templates for fleshing out your family’s daily and weekly routines, organizing curricula and resources, as well as (of course!) lesson plan templates.
I also know how diverse homeschoolers are! There are so many ways of organizing a homeschool; therefore, I have included several different lesson plan templates, also recognizing that some of you may not use lesson plans at all!
This Homeschool Supplement is designed for you to print as needed. This way you can print only the pages that fit your homeschool. Inside you will find:
Want your child to give back to their community – or even just pick up their toys? Children have natural tendencies to want to make a difference in their homes and communities. Nurture them with these wonderful new books that inspire kids to help others!
Books that Inspire Kids to Help Others
It is such a classic dilemma: Parents feel like they are drowning in housework, yet their children never appreciate all of their hard work. In fact, they usually just contribute to the mess! In Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess, Llama Llama – like so many other children – ignores Mama Llama’s calls to clean up. But Mama Llama uses an unexpected strategy to convince Llama Llama of the importance of helping out. What would happen if Mama Llama didn’t clean up either? When Llama Llama realizes how chaotic and stressful life would be without Mama Llama’s hard work, he sees that pitching in means a peaceful home – and more playtime! – for everyone. A fun way to teach responsibility to little ones.
If you are an animal lover, prepare to have your heartstrings tugged with Garbage Dog! This is a sweet, beautifully illustrated book about a dog forced to live on the streets. But throughout his struggles, looking for food and avoiding mean animals, Garbage Dog never loses his sense of decency. He makes friends with all kinds of animals wherever he goes, and looks out for others, even sharing the little food he manages to scavenge. But don’t worry, there is a happy ending for Garbage Dog! A lovely book about friendship and kindness to others.
Endangered Species Superheroes is a graphic novel about a teenage girl living with her grandfather and helping out at his wildlife sanctuary. Yet Lindsey’s idyllic life is interrupted when her grandfather’s nemesis, Mace Zagan, escapes from prison. Overcome with jealousy for her grandfather’s many awards and accomplishments, Zagan is determined to get his revenge. After his first attempts to hurt Lindsey’s grandfather fail, Zagan decides to kidnap Lindsey!
Help comes from unexpected quarters. Several of the animals from the sanctuary – loyal to Lindsey and her grandfather – discover that they’ve developed super powers, ironically, thanks to one of Zagan’s evil schemes. Working together, this super team of an iguana, sloth, rhinoceros, and tapir help Lindsey to save the day.
I love that despite the dangers presented in the book, it always manages to stay upbeat and positive. Plus the relationships shown among both humans and animals are very supportive, as the characters demonstrate true friendship for each other. A great adventure story, and one that will spark an interest in the urgent need to help endangered animals.
The Chupacabras of the Río Grande is the latest installment of the wonderful Unicorn Rescue Society series for middle grade readers. (Read my review of the first two books). There are so many things to love about this book: How its heroes are smart, thoughtful, brave (and diverse!) kids; how it centers on rescuing mythical (but actually real, and very endangered) creatures; and how, through their adventures, the children also learn about other culture and very real problems facing society.
In The Chupacabras of the Río Grande, Elliot and Uchenna travel to the Laredo, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the US, to investigate reports of a chupacabra. This book builds on the previous ones of the series, but new co-author (and Pura Belpré winner) David Bowles brings an intimate knowledge of the bicultural & bilingual communities on the border. The book delves into an issue that children will surely have heard about on the news – the border wall – but in a nuanced way that carefully avoids generalizations. In fact, one of the most brilliant plot twists is that in the end, the children find an unexpected ally in a rancher that they had thought they would have nothing in common with.
Highly recommended series for kids with a lot of imagination and a desire to save the world!
The Bahá’í Festival of Ridvan just began yesterday, and this year I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to focus on acts of kindness. Here is a simple activity that families can do together, by focusing on spreading joy during this most holy festival. I hope you enjoy this Ridvan coloring page with your loved ones!
Ridvan Coloring Page: Acts of Kindness
Here is a simple activity that families can do for Ridvan to celebrate doing acts of kindness. Just download your Ridvan coloring page by clicking on the image below, then they can color in a rose each time they do an act of kindness during Ridvan.
You can find tons of ideas for acts of kindness on my Pinterest board, and I’d love to see yours! Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page, and have a wonderful Ridvan!
Want to raise children with healthy self-esteem? Of course, we all do! Below some wonderful children’s books and music that will help reinforce a positive self-image in children and remind them that they are surrounded by unconditional love. These beautiful resources reinforce your own efforts, inspiring your child to love themselves and their own unique ways.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books and music below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Inspiring Your Child to Love Themselves
My children adore You Can Be. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve read it together. It has just the right blend of silliness and inspiration, teaching children that there are many ways to be a kid – funny, sensitive, smelly, grumpy – and that they can be anything they want to be – except mean or rude, of course! I love the diverse children depicted in this simple picture book, as well as how it works very hard to not reinforce gender stereotypes. For example, it is a boy that is shown to be sensitive, crying over an emotional book, and another boy shown to be caring, by watching out for a younger child. And “dirty” is exemplified by a girl playing on the ground with a truck, and “smelly” is demonstrated by a girl tooting (my kids always crack up at that one!) A lovely book inspiring your child to love themselves however they feel like being that day!
Reading That’s Me Loving You to your child is the verbal equivalent of wrapping them in a big, warm hug. It is a wonderful way to remind little ones that even when you are apart, your love always surrounds them. Best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses beautiful imagery from nature to emphasize this point, “That shimmering star?/That’s me winking at you./That drifting cloud?/That’s me thinking of you.” A sweet book to share with younger children, especially if they are just starting school or daycare.
Do you have a child that’s fallen behind on the growth curve, or who feels like they can never catch up to older siblings? Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) is a great book to show children that while being small may have its challenges – like not being able to reach high shelves or being chosen last in sports games – it also has many advantages – like having more leg room on a plane or being able to squeeze into small spaces you want to explore.
I love the obvious love the mother shows to her daughter as she comforts and encourages her, as well as the little touches that demonstrate how loved she is, like the girl’s self-portrait hanging on the wall that show her as a princess surrounded by hearts. It is a wonderful way of inspiring your child to love themselves in whatever kind of body they are in, big or small!
Love Is Te Quiero, now available for pre-order, is a lovely album of bilingual English and Spanish music from award-winning artist Alina Celeste. Love Is Te Quiero is a celebration of hyphenated heritage (Celeste herself is Cuban-American) and love in two languages, inspired by her hometown of Miami. This is reflected in the language mixing in the title itself, which many Spanglish households like ours will immediately recognize! (As my son once put it, “I te amo you, too, Mommy! I te amo everyone in the whole world!”) The music is also a joyous blend of influences, interweaving bluegrass, Caribbean, Latina American, and contemporary styles. For this collection Celeste draws inspiration from sources as diverse as a Civil War-era ditty, an old Caribbean nursery rhyme, and a 20th century Spanish children’s song. One of my favorites is Chito and Abu, a melodic celebration of childhood friendship.
Celeste is also a champion of a cause close to my heart, bilingualism. In fact, she co-founded the Being Bilingual Rocks Foundation, which advocates not only for learning multiple languages but also for engaging with other cultures.
What is your favorite way of inspiring your child to love themselves?
A common experience of childhood (and beyond) is feeling that you don’t belong. Maybe you don’t have the right clothes, know the right jokes, or just aren’t “cool” enough (or at least you feel this way). On a more insidious level, children who look or act different (because of, for example, race, class, religion, or gender norms) grow to feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Following is a collection of books for children about not fitting in. These lovely and often funny books are a great way to start a conversation with young children about how differences can be beautiful and sources of pride.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Books for Children About Not Fitting In
Unstinky is one of my son’s favorite books because it’s all about wanting to be gross and stinky! Bud is a bug that just can’t find his stink. Whenever he’s in a stink contest, he puts out smells like fresh baked bread or flowers instead of gym socks or armpit! Bud is embarrassed, until a new friend helps him discover his real talent. A really funny look about not fitting in
Twig is a beautifully illustrated book about a stick insect on her first day of bug school. She is excited to make friends, but bug school is so busy that no one notices her – especially because she is tall and thin just like a twig! Heidi becomes more and more isolated, until a near mishap with another student finally pushes her to cry out. Once she has everyone’s attention, the others realize that her camouflage was working a little too well! The teacher comes up with a clever way everyone can help Heidi stand out more, by weaving her a beautiful scarf. I love the detailed illustrations of the insects, which are so realistic yet filled with emotions.
Piggy: Let’s Be Friends! is a very sweet story that will help young readers feel more at ease in situations when they feel they are not fitting in. Poor Miles the mole wants to make friends, but he’s just too nervous, especially when he has to venture above ground. Big-hearted Piggy persists in searching for a way to help Miles feel at home – and even take part in an underground tea party with his new friends! One thing I love about this book is that even though some of the characters make fun of Miles at first because he is so different, but they soon come to see that he was just looking for friends. Together, they all work together to make things right with Miles.
How many children’s books have an endorsement from a famous comedian? Thanks to author Elliott Kalan’s time as a writer on The Daily Show, Horse Meets Dog has just that – an enthusiastic endorsement from Jon Stewart! And it’s not just empty praise. This wildly funny book describes an encounter between a horse and a dog, both of whom see the other as a bad version of himself. For example, Horse sees Dog as a very odd looking horse, while Dog sees Horse as an awkward, overgrown dog. An absurd lesson for kids about appreciating others for who they are, rather than who we think they should be.
Stellaluna is a well-loved classic about a baby bat who ends up in a bird’s nest. In a way, it is a re-telling of the ugly duckling tale, as Stellaluna feels there is something wrong with her, that she can’t be like her adopted siblings. She is forced to sleep in the nest at night instead of hanging upside-down by her feet during the day and even (gulp!) eats insects instead of the fruit she craves. Then, one fateful night, she discovers a group of bats and learns that she has talents that her bird brothers and sisters don’t, like the ability to see at night. When he is finally reunited with his bat mother, the story comes full circle.
One aspect I love about this book is that when Stellaluna first lands in the best, the baby birds are fascinated by her habits. They even try hanging by their feet, until their mother discovers them and forbids them – and Stellaluna – from doing it again.
This diversity craft is easy to do and uses materials you probably already have! More importantly, it teaches children about unity in diversity, and how we can celebrate our differences while still coming together to create something beautiful. For those getting ready for Ayyám-i-Há, the nine-pointed stars also make a great decoration!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Diversity Craft for Kids: Easy Nine Pointed Stars
Today more and more people are coming to appreciate the joys and strengths in our diversity. Yet others confuse this celebration of differences as fundamentally divisive. This simple diversity craft teaches children that this does not have to be the case!
When we recognize our essential unity as a human family, there is nothing to fear from recognizes our differences. Instead, we can celebrate them. After all, what a boring world it would be if we were all the same!
This diversity craft teaches children about unity in diversity in a visual way, and it’s incredibly easy to do.
Why a nine pointed star? First, it lets you use three different colors, so it’s very beautiful! Also, since nine is the highest single digit, it is often used as a symbol of unity.
What You Need:
Tissue paper in at least three colors. You can also use Kite Paper, which is less likely to wrinkle and so makes for even more beautiful stars.
Tape – regular tape works fine, but if you have double-sided, even better!
Piece of light weight cardboard (like from a cereal box)
Ahead of time, trace a nine pointed star onto the light weight cardboard. Separately, use the nine pointed star to trace just one of the star’s triangles. (Just trace the points from the star then connect them to make a triangle). Cut out both the star and the triangle to make your templates.
Use the triangle template to cut out triangles from the tissue paper, 3 per star. (Depending on the age of the children, they can do this step or you can prep ahead of time).
Have the children each pick out three triangles, each triangle of a different color.
Using the star template to see how to position the triangles, have them layer the triangles on top of each other to make a nine pointed star. Use tape between each layer. If you don’t have double side tape, just make a little loop out of the tape so that it sticks to both triangles. Note: I originally used glue instead of tape, but it ends up looking mottled even when dry, so I don’t recommend it.
Now you have a cute, multicolored nine pointed star! What’s beautiful about them is that the three colors are seen distinctly in each of the points, but – especially when you hold the star up to the light – the colors also blend to make new shades together! A super simple but powerful way to teach children about the beauty of unity in diversity.
January 31, 2019parentingComments Off on Strengthen Your Child’s Self Esteem and Positive Self Image
We all want to nurture a positive self image in our children but sometimes are unsure of how to go about it. Guest writer Viki de Lieme from ParentsEnlight shares with us a simple but powerful practice to strengthen your child’s self esteem as well as build your relationship!
Helping our little ones build a positive self image and a strong self esteem is much more than praise; here is a simple, yet mindful practice that will enrich your daily activities, empower your child, and even help grow their vocabulary.
Strengthen Your Child’s Self Esteem and Positive Self Image
Mindfulness is on the top of the list of traits somewhat lacking in modern parenting. We’re busy, we have so much to do and so little time, and thus so many parents resort to praise whenever their children engage in a desired activity. Praise however, was already proven problematic.
When Possible, Avoid Praising Your Child
Children’s brains are different than adults’ brains in so many ways. They lack the knowledge and experience that we, adults, have already acquired. They lack the ability to evaluate and judge words, instead – they feel our words. What we process through our brains, children process through their hearts. And this means a whole lot about the way children experience words, about the way they fathom our words.
When a child is doing something he is truly enjoying (drawing, building), or something that his heart told him to do (help you around the house, bring you a glass of water), he is following his internal motivation to get his needs met – either his need for creativity and entertainment or his need for love and connection. Whatever it was that he did – he did it for himself, even when his deeds ended up pleasing you. We are, all of us, selfish that way. We want to make others happy – because it makes us happy.
What Really Happens When We Praise a Child?
Praise is a motivation shifter. Praise takes inner motivations and shifts them into external motivations. If the child was happily drawing to meet his own needs, he will now know that when he draws your needs are met, too. And thus next time, instead of following his heart to the canvas, he will consider your needs, too. And if you’re not that connected that day? If meeting your needs doesn’t meet his own needs at the moment, the canvas might end up white and deserted.
More often than not, what we consider as confidence building (good boy! You got this!) and self image boosting (I told you you can make it!) is actually everything but that.
So How Can You Boost Your Child’s Self Esteem?
The practice I’m sharing with you now is one of my favorite mindful parenting practices, because with so little – it achieves so much. I advise parents to children of all ages to begin using these cards, yet it is best practiced with children over 4 who can play this game, too. To practice this, you’ll need to hold on to your praises (I know it’s hard, kids are so great!) and set 5 minutes each evening to discuss your day with your little one using this mindful tweak on gratitude cards.
Gratitude Cards – With a Mindful Tweak
Usually gratitude cards are used to thank people for doing, in our case – these cards thank our little ones for being. All you need to do is print these cards out and laminate them (just so they would live longer). Then, at bedtime, or any other moment of peaceful connection, take the cards out and put your day’s experiences into positive traits. Not only that your little one will learn the true meaning of his actions, but he would also learn the proper names for his inner needs. Your gratitude towards his deeds will teach him how proud you are of him, but it will achieve that through his heart, without that switch in motivations.
In addition to naming the trait behind the deed, you can ask your little one which other traits were involved in the same did, you can ask him to switch and find the traits he recognized in your deeds today, you can ask him how these deeds made him feel and stress that pleasant deeds derive pleasant emotions. There are, really, endless possibilities to this card game, all of which boost your child’s self esteem and positive self image by touching his very heart, and enhancing the connection between the two of you.
Here are a few examples taken from conversations I had with my own son:
Lately my little one is all about picking up his toys, putting dishes into the sink, turning lights off and whatnot. Everything we were modeling for the past three years if finally showing 🙂 At bedtime (I always do this during bedtime) I brought out the cards and told him how responsible it is of him to put everything back in place (surely there was more detail in our actual conversation), and how proud I am for his growing sense of responsibility.
He then said “responsibility? I am responsible”? We named the trait, made him feel good about what he had done, and made him acknowledge is strength – on his own.
When taking extra time to build the “perfect” (to him) tower, or complete a more challenging puzzle, I thank him for his perseverance. Especially if there were a few “failures” on the way. This teaches him that not making it is a huge part of eventually making it, it teaches him that practice makes perfect, and it teaches him that hard work gets things done. Whenever the perseverance card is pulled out, I always ask him how completing the task made him feel, and whether this pleasant feeling was worthy of the unpleasant feeling the “failure” caused him. By now he already knows that he is perseverent (he says it himself), a trait that will follow him for the rest of his life, and that small “failures” are a part of the big picture of success.
The authenticity card is definitely one of my favorite cards. We live in a world where most children (and adults, too) are catering to the needs and feelings of others, on the expense of their own. Mindfulness is about being present, with ourselves, at every given moment. Being authentic to ourselves, and expressing ourselves authentically. I pull this card out when my little one tells me what he thinks, what he wants, and what he doesn’t want (whether I like it or not). Not too many kids out there are thanked and appreciated for not hugging aunt Sophie when they don’t want to – yet the ability to refuse an activity that doesn’t meet our needs is one of the most important abilities when these little ones enter their teen years and beyond. “No” saves lives and there’s no better time to teach this, than now.
Generosity had gone unnoticed, yet all kids are naturally generous (because making their friends/parents happy meets their need for connection). The more we celebrate it, the more we put an emphasis on their natural generosity, the better are our chances of raising truly generous adults, who give from their hearts and for the sake of giving (rather than from their brains and with the hope of receiving).
When my little one candidly offers his friends his own snacks, and especially when he gives out everything he has – without leaving anything for him (yes – that happens) – he later on finds true pride in being generous.
Celebrate Your Child’s Strengths, Every Day
This mindful activity is a powerful activity to enhance children’s positive self image and boost their self esteem. They love playing with the cards, learning the words, and looking for the deeds that fit those words. They love learning who they are, the love learning that all this positivity comes from within, they love learning how proud these traits of theirs make us feel.
Parents’ Role in Children’s Positive Self Image and Strong Self Esteem
Kids believe what we tell them. This is how it works, and this is why a positive, mindful language is the single most important tool we have in our children’s education. The more positive words we use, the more mindful we are about our own actions and about the actions of our little ones, the easier it will be for us to keep the deep connection and attachment with our children.
Is there anything else that we, really, want?
This deck of Gratitude Cards includes 20 of the most powerful and empowering traits: authenticity, compassion, courageousness, fairness, forgiveness, honesty, initiation, integrity, kindness, lovingness, loyalty, modesty, optimism, patience, perseverance, reliability, sensitivity, and responsibility. The cards are 14.8*10.5 cm and are optimized for print. Get your link, email it to the nearest photography store, ask for laminated cards and pick them up within the hour. It’s totally worth it 🙂
You can download your cards (for free) from ParentsEnlight and start practicing this amazing confidence and self esteem boosting activity.
About the Author
Viki de Lieme is the owner and head coach at ParentsEnlight. A Nonviolent Communication specialist, a human rights activist, attachment parenting advocate, and a firm believer in a better future through mindful parenting.
Want to help get more diverse, multicultural children’s books out into the world? Support Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019 with free resources and a classroom kit offered on their website. And be sure to use #ReadYourWorld on social media and spread the word!
Welcome to our 6th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Here’s how to celebrate:
Link up your diversity book reviews below.
Join us tonight at our 6th annual Twitter Party! Follow @McChildsBookDay to join in on the diverse book discussions, discover new titles and authors and for a chance to win one of our twelve book bundles. Party time is 9 pm to 10 pm EST. RSVP here. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld.
We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to all of the Sponsors, Authors, Publishers, Organizations, Book Reviewers, Book Donators, Parents, Caregivers, Educators and Librarians who devote their time and energy to helping us to achieve our mission of getting multicultural children’s and YA books into the hands of readers. We appreciate you!
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