Blog postings by
Donna McClintock, COO


 

A Note From Donna McClintock
As many of you who follow my blog know, Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. was acquired by Bright Horizons Family Solutions in July of 2013. I am confident that this will always be noted as a wonderful day in the history of Children’s Choice. I am thrilled to report that the integration of Children’s Choice into the Bright Horizons family has been respectful, methodical and gradual. I can honestly state that our educators have received a “World Class Welcome”.  
 
I have always written my blog with candor, from a place of authenticity and have shared personal and professional experiences with a strong desire to encourage and support you and your family. 
 
Twelve years ago I started out on an unintended journey when I became the Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. It has led me on the most amazing path and I have been humbled, blessed, and thrilled to have had the honor of leading and walking with such incredible folks. I could have never imagined how rich the past twelve years would be. 
 
Mary Ann Tocio, Chief Operating Officer of Bright Horizons, graciously gave me some time in October to reflect and rest as the past year had been incredibly intense. She was extremely gracious to allow me to take some time off to rejuvenate and invest some time in my own family. This was a very special time for me after giving to others for such an extended period of time while watching my own family make so many personal sacrifices. 
 
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” I simply have not known what I desired in my future after the acquisition, but what I can honestly say is that I could not have asked for more caring, kind, and understanding leaders than those within Bright Horizons. They have allowed the future to unfold one day at a time. 
 
I officially announced the end of my formal employment with Bright Horizons - effective at the end of 2013 - but not my relationship. I will be a phone call away for anything that is needed. I am leaving on great terms and I leave with the greatest respect for everyone I met. I am so grateful for how I have been treated, for the world-class welcome that has been shown to each Children’s Choice educator and for the kind and gentle way the integration has been handled. It has truly taken a “Bright Horizons Village” to make this happen and they have demonstrated amazing teamwork. I am going to stay especially close during the first quarter of 2014 and have made it very clear to everyone that the successful integration of Children’s Choice into the Bright Horizons family is very important to me and I will do anything I can to ensure our ongoing success. 
 
I want to say that I am absolutely certain that Children’s Choice has found the right home.  Our passion for children and their families can live on and continue to improve within the Bright Horizons family. The educators that care deeply and are committed to success will continue to thrive. 
 
Bright Horizons is a company filled with smart, dedicated, nice, and professional folks. There is no other outcome that I would wish for this company that I worked so hard to build. I would also like to thank Dave Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, for his support and kindness to me. Dave Lissy and Mary Ann Tocio are genuine, kind, and honorable leaders. Bright Horizons is fortunate to have such a great team at the helm.
 
I will treasure my memories always and I feel truly humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of the Bright Horizons family. The blog will continue with qualified, passionate, and dedicated writers. You will find so many resources at your fingertips and I encourage you to allow the experts at Bright Horizons to truly become your partners as you navigate through all the challenges that parenting and life presents. Bright Horizons has solutions for every stage of life, not just for your child care needs. 
 
As I stated at the beginning, I am 100% sure that Children’s Choice has found the perfect home and that is why I feel free to step away and focus on my own family. I have my eight year old granddaughter, Ava, sitting by me as I type. It is a new season for me and I am blissfully happy for us all. 
 
With Utmost Respect and Happy New Year!
 
Donna McClintock
Life's Perfect Moments
Your family wants you during this holiday season. The essence of our love for our children is not what we provide for them, but how much of ourselves that we give to them. Whenever we give our time, we are making a sacrifice and sacrifice is the essence of love. 
 
The very best parents are those who are purposeful and value the power of simplicity. Be mindful of how healing a kind word is when a child feels lousy and how good a gentle hug feels when the rest of the world has hurt us. Let your child feel that you are there with her as her number-one fan. Let go of the things that are crowding your mind and enjoy these priceless moments that will pass all too soon. It’s these simple connections that you make with your child when she is very young that become the glue that holds you together. 
 
Simple guidelines to remember when connecting with your child:
 
1. Eye contact is important. Make every effort to get on your child’s eye level when carrying on a conversation. 
2. Be a great listener.
3. Treat your child with respect – it’s critical to his self-esteem.
4. Catch your child “doing it right” and give her praise that is specific to the act.
5. Keep it simple and stay in the present. Get rid of distractions if you are serious about being in the moment. Let your child know that you have chosen to put him first.
 
Don’t miss a single minute of this holiday season. Your child has only one childhood … and nothing can replace the hugs, the laughter, and that warm feeling of being totally present with your child. These are the moments along life’s path that are truly perfect
Bullying in Preschool

The November and December holidays bring families and friends together and remind us to make sure that the children in our lives are surrounded by peace, love, and kindness. Mainstream media has made us very aware of how hurtful it is to be bullied, and many parents and educators think that this abuse doesn’t become a real issue until middle school. However, we know that we cannot wait until children are bullied to teach them how to cope with this hurtful behavior. We must equip them at a very young age with the skills they need to successfully navigate through the preschool years. When we do, we empower them with confidence and self-respect.  

Bullies taunt others because they can and because they don’t value and appreciate the feelings of others. Often they themselves have been bullied. When a preschool child hurts another child, it is important to understand what happened. Educators need to give each child the opportunity to express his feelings, but it must be very clear that our classrooms are safe and respectful. We use our hands for gentle hugs but never for hurting. We use our words to express our feelings. If we are angry with our friend, we talk about it. We do not make fun of anyone or cause someone to feel afraid. Every preschool classroom should have a Peace Table or a Talk-it-Out Center where children can resolve issues. While educators should facilitate these conversations, we must teach our children how to work together toward a respectful solution.  

Young children will not always tell us that they are being bullied. It is our responsibility to watch for signs of distress, observe the classroom, and build strong bridges between school and home. If we are going to eradicate bullying, we must start early. Every social issue that becomes a crisis begins in the early years, and research shows that children who are mistreated often grow up to abuse their spouses and their own children. We must do our part to stop this cycle.  

I encourage parents to never ignore their instincts. Watch for these signs that your child is being bullied and be persistent in equipping her with the skills she needs to cope with anyone who disrespects her.

1.     Be aware of any physical changes in your child such as unexplained stomachaches and/or headaches that occur around school time or seem to disappear if she does not go to school.

2.     Listen to what your child says and what he does not say. Children learn by playing, and you can learn from them by playing with them. Pretend that you and your child are in the block center at school and ask him which friend you can be. Play nice and then play unfairly and see how he responds. You should hear kind words and see respectful behavior that he has experienced at school. Seize every teachable moment to role play what to say and do if someone treats him unfairly.

3.     It could be a warning sign if your child avoids looking you in the eye when you talk about school. It is definitely a warning sign if this is combined with withdrawal or other unexplained behavior. Again, connect with your child in her world through hands-on interactions.

4.     If you suspect bullying, keep it simple and tell your child what to do. The younger the child, the simpler the message should be -- “Hands are for gentle touches” or “It is not okay for anyone to hit, kick, pinch, or hurt you.” Consider a book such as Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, which focuses on positive behavior rather than on bullying, to point out how we should treat each other.

It will take all of us working together to instill in our children the universally accepted character trait of respect. Bullying is a learned behavior and hurts everyone, and we must begin early and be strong advocates for the children in our world. 

Gratitude is Caught ... Not Taught

I have noticed that the people in my life who have an attitude of gratefulness are also those who are the happiest. They show their appreciation for every act of kindness and any gift bestowed. No matter what you do for them, they make you feel that it is fantastic. Their gratitude is not dependent on money or social status or any other external circumstance. What they have or don’t have doesn’t determine their outlook on life.  

Each of us knows at least one person who is on the opposite end of the gratitude spectrum. These are the self-centered, unappreciative people who are just not happy in life. No matter what you or anyone else does for them are, they are never satisfied.

Gratitude is caught, not taught. Here are five things that we know for sure about giving our children the gift of gratitude:

1.     No one is born grateful — we must be exposed to it over time.  

2.     If we want our children to be grateful, we must live out an attitude of gratitude before them.

3.     Gratitude is more than simply saying, “Thank you.” It springs from a deep understanding of value — the value of people and the value of things.

4.     Grateful people have a greater feeling of optimism and overall well-being.

5.     The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. In an effort to love our children, we often unintentionally create a feeling of entitlement in them.

Gratitude is essential if we are to equip our children for a happy, successful life. Show your appreciation when your very young child goes out of his way to choose a flower, draw a picture, or pick up the trash for you. Openly express your gratitude to those around you so that your child catches the attitude of gratitude. Gently point out opportunities where your child can show her gratitude, even when she is very young. Her gratitude will build over time and trust me … it is well worth the effort.

Children's Stress is Real

I think Barbra Streisand sang it so beautifully when she belted out the words, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.”

Have you ever noticed how we, as adults, tend to minimize a child’s pain if the source of that pain is something we know he will “outgrow”? For instance, if he is struggling to adjust to a new school, we might be quick to reassure him that everything will be okay. We tell him, “You will find new friends, and you will be just fine.” We easily forget how difficult it is to be the new student.

As adults, we need to remember that children’s stress is real.  We know they will move through this stage, but we should not make light of their feelings. Stress is as overwhelming to children as it is to adults because most children do not, as yet, have the necessary coping skills.

As always, begin with patience, love, and understanding to help your child through a stressful situation.  Here are a few tips to help decrease a child’s anxiety:

1.     Spend one-on-one time with your child. Find an activity or hobby that you both enjoy doing together such as reading books, baking cookies, or playing games.

2.     Never underestimate the power of touch—back rubs, massages, hugs, and gentle touches are very soothing to a stressed child.

3.     Be physically active together—it’s a great way for you both to release the stress of the day. Encourage vigorous activity and go outside whenever possible.

4.     Let your child know that it is okay to make mistakes. Share a minor mistake you have made and explain how you corrected it on a level that she can understand.

5.     Children love stories. Make up stories where the main character deals with the stress that your child is facing. Laughter is a great stress reliever so make the stories humorous whenever possible.

6.     Consider deep breathing exercises and even yoga classes for an extremely stressed child. You will find http://www.yoga4beginners.org/yoga-for-kids.htm to be a great website detailing the benefits of yoga.

7.     Validate your child’s feelings with phrases such as “I know you feel sad” and “It’s okay to feel scared.” Validation simply means that you have heard her. Your child needs to know that you have listened to her feelings more than she needs to know that the problem will be resolved.

Life brings stress. Be a role model. Let your child see you working through your stress and handling it in a healthy, positive way. Every child handles stress differently, and there are times to ask for help. Do not hesitate to involve your family doctor if you believe that your child is exhibiting signs of extreme stress and anxiety.

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