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Happy Holidays

Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Today we are taking it slow here at Tot Thoughts so we’ll keep it nice and simple: Thank you for your incredible support this year. I wish you all the best in 2013!

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Brothers and Sisters

Posted by on Aug 19, 2011 in Blog, Humor | 1 comment

I give you the “Awesome Brothers” and the “Sensational Sisters.” Gotta love...

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This Morning

Posted by on Aug 11, 2011 in Blog, Humor | 0 comments

This is what I saw when I walked into the Negotiator’s room this morning: Nice.

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10 Questions – Failed Ideas

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in Blog, Thoughts | 0 comments

I recently gave an interview for Idea Mensch, a global “community of people with ideas.” One of the questions was: how do you cope with an idea that has failed? This question seemed very intriguing to me and I think it serves as a good base for today’s 10 Questions. So, here are 10 questions you should always ask yourself when faced with an idea that has failed. As an example, I’ll use my own original “failed” idea that eventually got me to Rock Thoughts, which I consider to be a rather successful one. 1. How does the failure of your idea make you feel? I start with this question because it is the one we most often ignore. We rarely like to talk about our feelings of defeat, let alone acknowledge them. However, unless we recognize the emotional impact that a failure can have on us, it will color our decision-process for everything else that follows. Obviously we will all feel angry or disappointed or frustrated. The key is to give our feelings on the matter an opportunity to vent so that we can then tackle the failure without being moved by the emotion. My original idea was to do a form of collaborative storytelling that could be conducted on-line leading up to books delivered virtually and in print. After over a year of actively developing this concept, I stumbled upon Storybird which is exactly what I wanted to do. I was utterly devastated. I had invested so much time, energy and emotion into my idea and it had already been developed and in a beautiful way! There was nothing left for me to do. I literally closed my computer and walked away determined to sulk my way into forgetting the whole thing. I realized, however, that the sulking emotion was clouding my vision so I gave myself a day to be sad and then moved on to step (2) below. 2. What is the specific idea that has failed?  An idea is comprised of many components, all of which are interconnected but not all of which “fail.” Therefore, it is important to separate that which is still viable from that which you think no longer has merit. The reason for this is that the valid content may be useful in reformulating your idea (see below) and the failed content will be useful to analyze  in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Storybird had certainly captured the bulk of my original idea; however, when I looked more closely at my specific concept, it turned out to be broader than what Storybird was doing and therefore allowed me some flexibility to create something new and different. 3. Why do you think the idea has failed? This is probably the most important question you can ask and it goes to the heart of how you understand “failure.” Perhaps I’m stating the obvious but, how we define failure affects how we view our success. Some questions to ask: are you relying on your own parameters or those set my a social system, are you working off of your expectations or those of others, are you looking at the idea on a short-term or long-term basis, etc? The point here is that we oftentimes deem an idea to have failed when in fact, if we revise our understanding of failure, we will see that the idea may still be viable. I thought the idea had failed because it had already been done and there was nothing new for me to add. However, once I looked more closely at my idea, I...

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The “Feelings Toolkit”

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011 in Blog, Ideas in practice | 0 comments

The “Feelings Toolkit”

Today’s post is from a guest blogger who writes for Last Mom, a blog about the daily rewards and challenges of older-child adoption. I thought this post was particularly relevant to the discussion on multiple intelligences as it offers a brilliant wonderful example of how we can help empower our children by teaching them to develop their interpersonal intelligence.  Our daughter came to us at nine-years old. She was abused and neglected in her first four years. She lived in extreme poverty (including homelessness) and witnessed drug, alcohol and domestic abuse. Her mother abandoned the family when she was 18 months old. Her father dropped her and her five siblings off at a children’s shelter when she was four, never to return for them. She then bounced around foster care for the next five years. She had two adoptions fail prior to finalization and many foster homes. She had about a dozen sets of parental figures before us. We read her entire file before committing to becoming her parents and saw that she was a little girl in such pain with no one to help her through it. We were confident that we could give her the love, support, understanding and guidance needed to start sorting through her turmoil. It turns out that we were right. She’s been home for fourteen months now (with the adoption finalized for eight months). She’s made huge progress. In the beginning, she would only acknowledge two emotions: happy and mad. Either everything was great and she was sweet, loving, joyful and oh, so desperate to please or she was ANGRY. She would scream for an hour at a time. She couldn’t give any reason for her big feelings other than “You made me mad!” She didn’t want to talk about her feelings or her past. She tantrummed at the slightest correction or gentlest “no.” I have a background in early childhood education and have worked with at risk preschoolers for years. I teach preschool teachers to use Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline methods in classrooms. I made copies of some of those materials and brought them home for my daughter. I stuck a feelings chart in a clear sleeve and put some relaxation exercises together in a little booklet. I taught her “the balloon” when she was calm. This is a breathing exercise where you put your arms over your head and take a deep breath in while inflating your arms like a balloon. Then you blow the air out (quickly and loudly at our house!) to deflate your balloon. I started telling her, “You are safe. You are loved. You can handle this.” I repeated this mantra as she screamed and cried.  As I started to recognize the signs of a meltdown, I would say it softly and have her repeat me. I would remind her to do a balloon if I saw her getting agitated. I realized that she didn’t understand other feelings. She was trying so hard to put on a happy front and when that failed, “mad” was her default. It’s all she knew. I explained to her that mad is a big and loud feeling, so it’s easy for other feelings to hide behind. I started talking about other feelings and asking if they might be hiding behind her mad. I made her a “Feelings Toolkit.” The “Feelings Toolkit” I gathered up lots of items we had around the house, picked up a few cheap things from the store and taped some handwritten labels on a couple things. I put it all in a plastic storage box and wrote,...

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Develop your Child’s Naturalist Intelligence

Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 in Blog, Ideas in practice | 2 comments

Today’s post was written by Brenna Holzhauer to whom I am most grateful for sharing her knowledge and expertise as we continue to explore multiple intelligence. Please see her bio and additional information at the end of the post.   When Howard Gardner first outlined his theory of Multiple Intelligences (Frames of Mind, 1983) – a model of thought that differentiates “intelligence” into various sensory modalities, rather than seeing it as a single general ability – it did not include the Naturalist Intelligence. It wasn’t introduced to his list of intelligences until the late 90s (Intelligence Reframed, 1999), after Gardner realized that the understanding of nature and living things was not sufficiently covered by the original seven intelligences (verbal/linguistic; mathematical/logical; spatial; kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal; and intrapersonal intelligence). He introduced and defined the Naturalist Intelligence with: The very term naturalist combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of a role that many cultures value. A naturalist demonstrates expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species — the flora and fauna — of his or her environment (Gardner 1999: 48). (Read more here). In this chapter, Gardner stated that “the naturalist’s intelligence proves as firmly entrenched as the other intelligences,” of no less importance than any of the others, and “every culture prizes people who not only can recognize members of a species that are especially valuable or notably dangerous but also can appropriately categorize new or unfamiliar organisms.” In addition, he recognized that “just as most ordinary children readily master language at an early age, so too are most children predisposed to explore the world of nature;” however, some individuals display more acute disposition these skills and traits than others. Some characteristics of a “naturally intelligent” person include: Ability to make justifying distinctions, visually or non-visually, of both living and non-living items. Comfort and interest in the world of organisms. Talent in caring for or interacting with living species. Detection of novel patterns or styles. Drive to identify and classify natural and artificial objects. Early fascination with plants, animals, natural phenomena and the surrounding environment. Affinity for symbols (linguistic and taxonomic) – identifying, representing and recording features and phenomena. Basically, someone with a keen Naturalist Intelligence can recognize and classify individuals, species and ecological relationships, relate information to one’s surroundings, interact effectively with living creatures, and discern patterns of life and natural forces. Careers well-suited for these “nature smart” people include farmers, park rangers, gardeners, florists, naturalists, biologists, environmentalists, taxonomists, fishermen/women, zoo keepers and veterinarians. An interesting point that Gardner mentions is that most children seem innately predisposed to these traits and have an inherent interest in exploring the natural world (read this NWF blogpost about “Why Kids Explore Nature Better Than We Do.”) Unfortunately, with today’s children and adults spending nearly 99% of their day indoors, separated from nature and the environment, many individuals with Natural Intelligence may never identify their skills and interests in this area, and this natural curiosity in so many children slowly fades away. According to Gardner, and many other educators and proponents of his theory, individuals demonstrating certain intelligences should be nurtured and encouraged to explore and utilize their talents, fully reaching their potential, and pursuing career and lifestyle choices that are fulfilling and do not stifle their creativity and intelligence. With today’s busy schedules and increasingly urban lifestyles, families’ outdoor recreation time is reduced and children’s Naturalist Intelligence may not be discovered or developed. However, it is quite simple to determine if your child displays a Naturalist Intelligence, and there are many ways you can encourage them to realize and nurture these traits. Does your child:  Enjoy being outside or participating in activities such as camping, fishing...

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