Friendship is extremely important for kids and adults alike. After all, it's friends who share in our life and who challenge us to be our best selves. With friends we create memories that are happy and with friends we go through tough times as well. Unfortunately, some kids have more difficulties than others when it comes to making friends. While you'd probably like to get out there and make friends for your child so they aren't so disappointed, you can't. However, what you can do is help to equip your child with the tools needed to function socially and start making friends.

Each child is born with the desire to have relationships; however, every child goes about developing friendships in a different way. For many children, especially younger ones, they need a bit of help to develop important social skills along the way before they are able to make friends. Some of these skills include negotiation, communication, problem solving, empathy, and cooperation skills. There are things that you can do to help support your child as they work to make friends. Here are some tips and ideas to help your child to develop friends.

Give Your Child Opportunities to Meet Others

One way that you can help your child to make friends is to give them opportunities to meet other people. You can do this by having other kids over for a meal or for play time. Consider carpooling so your child can meet other kids or get them signed up for extra curricular activities. Allow your child to have unstructured time to play as well, since this helps them to develop important social skills. Get your child interacting with other people as well. If you are visiting a neighbor or you are having adults over to your home, allow your child to interact with them. The more your child interacts with various types of people, the easier it will be for them to make friends.

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by Stacey Schifferdecker

Ask most people to name the main focus of their Thanksgiving celebration, and chances are you will hear about time spent with family and friends at a Thanksgiving feast. From turkey and dressing to pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is all about the food and the chance to share a special meal with friends and family. But have you ever noticed how much time is spent preparing the Thanksgiving meal compared to the time that is spent sitting down at the table together eating it? Many Thanksgiving meals take hours to prepare, but the eating is over within minutes. If the dinner table is the site of your fellowship time with friends and family, this doesn’t give you much time to connect and share together.

To extend your time together, make cooking the meal as much a “togetherness” time as eating it is. And especially invite the children into the kitchen to help with meal preparations. Kids love to help in the kitchen and will feel proud and happy to be included. READ More on Cooking With Kids For Thanksgiving

Teaching our Children the Joy of Being Grateful

Dr. Caron B. Goode
Gratitude is more than an attitude. Recent studies show that grateful people are happier, more resilient, and less depressed. They also have higher self-esteem and better relationships. These results prove that gratitude is more than polite manners and positive thinking. It is a way of life, and a wonderful legacy to leave our children. 
Plus, the beauty of gratitude is that it does not have to come naturally. It can be taught. A study by Dr. Michael McCullough, professor of psychology and religious studies at the University of Miami, demonstrates just that. McCullough, who also co-authored The Psychology of Gratitude, asked his subjects to write down four or five things they were grateful for each day. In as little as two weeks, they began feeling happier. This illustrates that gratitude can not only be taught, but that it is relatively simple to do so. 

Seven Simple Ways to Teach Your Children Gratitude

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Thanksgiving Thoughts on fairness

by Stacey Schifferdecker

With Thanksgiving approaching, I am struck by thoughts of fairness and gratitude. I never really thought of these two concepts being related, but we are currently in a phase of "That's not fair!" at my house. W, the middle school boy, says it isn't fair that his friend B has a cell phone and he doesn't. J, the elementary school girl, says it isn't fair that W gets to eat pizza at the church youth group meeting and that everyone has a later bed time than she does. And K doesn't think it's fair that he has so darn many math problems to do every night.

So why does all this whining make me think of gratitude? I sure don't feel grateful for the kids' bad attitudes! Unfortunately, many times a cry of "It's not fair!" is a symptom of an ungrateful heart. W, for example, should be grateful that he gets picked up from school instead of walking home like B does. J at least has food to eat and a warm, safe bed to sleep in. And K has a nice graphing calculator to speed up his Algebra II homework.

All of this reminds me of the Bible parable that my Sunday school class seems to have a hard time grasping. As Jesus told the story, a man sent workers into the vineyard in the morning, after agreeing to pay them a denarius for their day's work. A few hours later, he sent more workers to join them, and a few hours later even more workers. The end of the day came and all the workers received the same payment, whether they had worked one hour or the whole day. The workers who had been there all day protested with the classic cry of "It's not fair!" And the response of the master? "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'  So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:13-16).READ More on Its Not Fair! – Thanksgiving Thoughts on Fairness and Gratitude


by Stacey Schifferdecker

My husband tells a story about an ice cream social on his family’s farm when he was a boy. His family and some friends were sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather and eating delicious homemade ice cream – the kind made with an old-fashioned wooden churn that you had to crank for hours. It was high summer, but this was Bible belt Kansas and the conversation turned to God’s blessings. Everyone began sharing what he or she was thankful for, just like many of us do around the Thanksgiving table. The adults were all thankful for the big bowls of ice cream, the good weather for crops, jobs that paid well, healthy kids, and other big stuff. When it was little David’s turn, he said, “I’m thankful for the water!” The adults all got a good laugh at the little boy who was enjoying a bowl of homemade ice cream but was thankful for the glass of water he was drinking with it. But to David, that water made his enjoyment of the ice cream even greater by cleansing his mouth between bites. READ More on What Children Can Teach Us about Being Thankful

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by Stacey Schifferdecker

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, but the idea of an annual celebration to thank God for his bounty stretches back through time and around the world. Here are some ways other cultures celebrate Thanksgiving. Maybe you can find some ideas to enrich your own family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year.

The ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, and Egyptians all held harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations. These celebrations continue today in various forms. Jewish families celebrate with a seven-day autumn harvest festival called Sukkoth. Sukkoth commemorates how God cared for Moses and the Hebrew people as they wandered in the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. During Sukkoth, families build small temporary huts out of branches and foliage. Inside the huts, they hang fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. A special ceremony is held each day to remember their Hebrew ancestors and to thank God for the harvest. Families eat in the hut at night and sometimes sleep there as well. READ More on Thanksgiving Around The World


Teaching Empathy by Lori Ramsey

Teaching children empathy helps to build good character. Empathy is the ability to both share and understand in others' feelings. It starts with self-awareness and in distinguishing the feelings of self separate from the feelings of others. Empathy moves on to the ability to put yourself in the other’s shoes so you can feel from their perspective. Empathy is knowing your own feelings and learning how to experience what the others may feel. Teaching children to do this properly should start at a young age.

Meet Your Child’s Emotional Needs – Lead by Example

A truly empathetic person is one who can rest secured in the emotional health they receive from their family. You do this by example. You care for your child. You empathize with your child. You offer help when they experience emotional or physical distress.

Encourage Your Child to Think Through Things

As parents, it may be too easy to take care of things without talking it out with the child.  You need to talk with your child about their feelings and help to steer them to the correct way of processing thoughts. In other words, your child has a mind, let them use their mind. Talk through their distresses and help them to understand why they experience the emotions the way they do. Help them to take on better thought patterns that will help create a kind and caring character.

Opportunities to Empathize

Every day your child will face situations in which they can empathize. When a child faces a situation where they don’t have a pleasant encounter, use the opportunity to teach them empathy. Encourage them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.  Dig deep with this, when children encounter other children who they don’t like, or who are a bully or mean spirited, have them look for the under lying reason behind it.

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