Quitting is Easy!

The following is an email that I took out to my team of managers when a pretty senior manager quit during a transition period in my company. We had just promoted a long-timer to fill his shoes. The transition was basically a move from being just a stationery products company to a baby and children’s products company. There was a lot of pressure on the teams to get out of their comfort zones and start thinking like a start-up. There was pressure on managers and leaders to understand, align teams and deliver in unfamiliar territories and product categories.  I felt the message in the letter is very important for every leader in today’s challenging and uncertain markets. It’s more important to people who shift jobs at the drop of a hat and likewise companies that hire and fire. Stability in teams, innovation and sustained action is what sets Great companies apart from the Good ones.

I have changed all names in the letter to protect identities.

Subject of Letter (Email): Quitting is Easy

Dear Managers,

Firstly I would like to congratulate Sachin on becoming an Area Sales Manager. Sachin has not become a manager by default due to Hari’s exit, but because of his ability to solve important problems for the company, and his go-getter attitude. Sachin was a deserving candidate because he has a positive attitude and has shown the behavioural characteristics of a leader, with the ability to embrace change while sustaining and growing the heritage business also. At Bril, we try our best to give people within opportunities to grow, and as managers and leaders all of you should be looking at grooming future leaders. Make sure you are encouraging people below you to grow. Identify the guys who are ready to walk the extra mile and give them added responsibilities. Allow them to fail as long as they are diligently and ETHICALLY taking action. Sachin, so far you have done well to get where you are, but I sincerely hope you realize that this is the beginning of your journey. Do not allow this promotion to get to your head. Stay focussed, grounded and positive. Think big, motivate and work with your team to take this company into the future successfully.

You must be wondering why the subject ‘Quitting is Easy’?

Yes, the point I want to make through this email is that Quitting is the easiest thing that all of us can do. True leaders, in fact the greatest leaders of today are people who didn’t quit when there was pain, when times were tough or when there was change or transition. Steve Jobs was thrown out of his own company, but he never gave up pursuing his dream. His positive attitude and drive made the universe conspire and give him back his company on his terms. Apple nearly went bankrupt at one point, but Steve Jobs knew it in his heart that one day it would be the best and most sought after company in the world. He never stopped working on his dream and the rest as they say is history. Ask anybody who has worked with Steve Jobs and they will tell you that he was a tyrant to work with, but the people who stuck on have become millionaires (Some even billionaires), because they kept a positive attitude in the toughest of times and kept taking action day in and day out for many many years till success was inevitable.

Leaders of tomorrow will be people who sense an opportunity today, in times of change, maybe even adversity and take it as a challenge to seize the opportunity that every change or adversity brings along with it. Bril today is at an inflection point of tremendous growth. All of us are fortunate to be in the positions that we are in today, as I believe in my heart that this company and brand is going to scale unimaginable heights. I include myself in being fortunate, as it is only divine grace that puts us in a place of opportunity and surrounds us with people who are going to create the future. This is a time that I am going to be harshest on the people who I believe can deliver, but are being pulled back by their negative mindset or maybe lack of systematic action. I will be harsh if I sense that you or people in your team are not pulling up your socks and working your butts off (Pardon my language). I will not tolerate excuses; I will not take NO for an answer. The products identified as the future of the company HAVE to be sold, and sold in the tune of several hundreds of crores in the years to come. This has to happen without sacrificing on or while achieving growth in the stationery business. What does it take? More number of hours of work, supreme time management abilities, dealing with more rejections in the market, motivating the right team members and good old dedicated action (New distributor appointment, Primary, primary primary, secondary, secondary preschools, apartment complexes, flier distribution……..again and again and again focussing on the new products daily and making it a part of your and every team member’s daily routine like they do for stationery products and more). So in this mail I want to make it very clear to you that when I scream at you, I scream for YOUR growth, so you can achieve your full potential and make the company grow. A parent only screams for the benefit of their children, a guru only reprimands the brightest of students (There is no ulterior motive!). Please don’t prove me wrong, as I believe that this team is the brightest and most capable team we have ever had at Bril in all these years. During this time, those who are weak hearted and cannot see a bright future here will leave. That is fine, but what I would like to emphasise is that QUITTING IS EASY. It is the easiest thing any of us can do. Believe me that I will not rest till Bril is a huge force to reckon with- I believe that this is my life purpose. Stay here, if you share the same passion as I do, or we can be good friends and you can move on. Having said this, I honestly believe that each and every one of you I am mailing today has the capacity to lead their respective teams and this company to great heights. I sincerely hope you believe in yourself too. Who says there will be no problems along the way? Great leaders are those who love the challenge and convert problems into opportunities.

So, the message I would like to drive home in a nutshell is……

  • Quitting is easy- that’s why quitters never grow. They normally start and quit all the time so they never really achieve success in anything they start (Most ordinary people are quitters). Leaders are persistent and keep DOING till they achieve their goal (No matter how many months, years or lifetimes it takes).
  • You fail only when you Quit.
  • Believe in yourself
  • Always have a positive attitude
  • Genuinely be good to people. Show them you care, but reprimand when it is due. Be fair even when you reprimand.
  • Don’t lose that fire in your belly EVER!
  • Great things happen when small actions are taken on a daily basis
  • Don’t wait for that big deal. Win a small deal everyday

I am hoping and praying that this is the dream team that will take Bril to stratospheric heights in the years to come.

All the best.

With Love,

Jayaram Rajaram

Managing Partner – Bril

Managing Director & Chief Dreamer

ELSA Learning Private Limited

www.brilindia.com / www.brilart.com / www.elsalearning.com

This post is as important for children, who will be future leaders, as it is for adults. Not quitting, and being persistent will surely Make Living Fun in the long run. As parents, let us try to instill resilience and a Never Say Die attitude in our children.

 

 

Entering the mind of a child

Entering A Mind Of A Child

You may say that I’m over analyzing, but today I would like to take a couple of feet off my already short 5 foot frame, subtract a quarter century from my age and try to see things from the eyes of my 7 year old. Here is what he listens to in the morning:

  • “Rohan  – wake up – getting late”
  • “Drink your milk – if you miss your bus, I’m not going to drop you”
  • “No – you can’t play your cricket cards now – no time”
  • “DRINK your milk before I count to 10″

This is what he hears when he gets back:

  • “Wash your hands”
  • “Not on the floor – the uniform goes IN the laundry hamper”
  • “Eat your fruit first – then you can have some junk food”
  • “You are going to have to switch off the TV in 5 minutes”
  • “BTW, what did you do in school today?”
  • “Just a couple of minutes more – then TV time is over”

And this, when he comes back home from playing downstairs

  • “I don’t care if you don’t like daal – you’ve got to eat it”
  • “No time to play now the board game now – play with your sister for sometime”
  • “Clean up – do you think I’m going to do it at the end of the day??”
  • “Time for bed – otherwise you can’t wake up in time for school tomorrow”
  • “Good night”

And I sometimes wonder, have I really got it right?

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

Is Innovation & Creativity Mere Lip Service in Organizations?

By Jayaram Rajaram

How to create and sustain an Innovation Culture in your Organization?

I have interacted with many-a-CXO over the last 10 years in business and almost every single time I have heard the words ‘Innovation’ and ‘Creativity’ being used. While I find that there is unanimous vote when it comes to the importance of innovation, it’s the MBA-clan and managers who sit inside boxes that are talking about the urgency to innovate. While the desire to innovate is a good starting point, most leaders and teams seem to just get stuck with the desire alone. Unfortunately most Business schools stifle creativity and innovation by equipping future leaders with analytical tools designed to mitigate risk. Innovation and creativity can never happen when leaders tread cautious paths. Time and again people say they want innovation but are even scared of embracing a slightly off-beat advertisement campaign maybe in a not-tried-before media vehicle; leave alone allowing collaborative creativity that is required in creating innovative products, innovative distribution channels or coming up with innovative solutions to sales or operational challenges and most importantly to people issues.

Over the years, I have been tracking companies that have excelled despite recessionary environments, with customers falling over each other to buy their over-priced products. Yes, the first company that comes to everybody’s mind is Apple then there’s 3M. Yes, Google gives its employees time to pursue their passion and allows them to fail. While this is a very good step forward for innovation and has yielded great results, why do so few companies come to our mind when we think of the word ‘Innovation’? I am not saying that there aren’t more companies that have taken the innovation pledge seriously. There are a few hundred companies that are continuously creating the right environment to nurture creative thinking amongst employees and their customers and shareholders are rewarding them with premium margins and share prices. But the point I am trying to drive home is that, in order to be able to create, nurture and sustain an innovation culture, the right leadership is required. I am sad to say that many companies are stuck with leaders who have suppressed their own intuition for way to long and have prevented anybody else to get creative in the true sense.

Before I offer a solution, let us analyse why Apple has been so successful? In my opinion it is because their products were designed with the arts in mind. Arts are more human, arts have a heart and Steve Jobs was inspired by Calligraphy, Zen and simplistic design- the arts. He intuitively built products that he would love, rather than asking customers what they wanted. Asking customers what they want only gives you iterative improvements and rarely radical innovation (I am so happy Steve Jobs came along, as finally people listen to me about meeting unrealized needs!). Steve Jobs honed and acted upon his gut because he got in touch with his core through Zen meditation. More importantly he had the guts to defy corporate risk aversion and create & take-to-market products that revolutionized the world. . How many CXOs have such gumption to stand out and say the buck stops here?

Now that the problem is clear, what can be leaders do to enhance and sustain creativity and innovation in their organizations? While you don’t find a Steve Jobs every day, every single organization can take the following steps to nurture creativity within.

  1. First and foremost every leader must give employees opportunities to realize that they too have a creative side. Not only by acknowledging and accepting suggestions and ideas from even the junior-most employee, but by acknowledging talents in the arts.
  2. Leaders and Talent Heads must start recruiting people who have pursued some art form like music, dance, visual arts etc. as they would understand how the arts have the ability to impact people at their core, and apply it to their work- if given the right environment and opportunities.
  3. Try to create opportunities for people to look within and de-stress. This could include meditation sessions, exposure to creative arts performances by musicians, dancers, artists and maybe even cooking sessions, photography, drama sessions etc.
  4. Incorporating a system whereby employees, especially leadership teams interact and attend workshops conducted by real creative geniuses, to understand the essence of tapping into their innate creative zones and understanding how to create the correct environment for innovation to happen.
  5. Get new perspectives by engaging in and also helping your employees engage in creative interests (even during work-hours whenever possible), to understand the emotions that they feel while doing so. These are the emotions that should translate into products and experiences that the company offers to its customers (Remember- that’s what Steve Jobs did). I call it taking advantage of your goose bump moments to intuitively know what makes people tick. I’m hoping your employees and customers are people, if not this may not work J
  6. Cut-out power-point presentations and focus on real idea generation and open-ended brainstorming sessions. Encourage people to move from head to heart in every meeting. Believe me customers are fed-up with information overload and want to work with companies that are more human, while delivering results of course.
  7. Encourage people to dress-down and meet customers like they meet friends (This is innovation in sales). This is a pet topic of mine and will tell you more about the importance of this in a separate post.
  8. Encourage action and systematic action to put creative ideas into real-world action. Nothing happens without systematic action and even the best and most creative ideas will remain just that-brilliant ideas without leaders who ensure they are acted upon.
  9. Last but not least, allow people to take risks and FAIL!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril, a company that works on a Mission to Make Living Fun for its customers and consumers, through its world-class school stationery, baby and children’s products. For more information about Bril please visit www.brilindia.com  (Bril’s Facebook  Page: www.facebook.com/brilconnect) . Jayaram is also the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA Learning Private Limited, a human development company that works towards nurturing and enhancing creativity amongst children and adults and also helps organizations take innovation seriously through its BrilArt@Work offering. For more information about BrilArt please visit www.brilart.com

 

My experience as a parent volunteer at school

My experience as a parent volunteer at schoolYesterday was the annual event at my daughter’s school “Magic Puddles“. The theme this time was “Street Utsav” & the school team had roped in parent volunteers to help them out. We started off with lots of ideas on showcasing the street flavours of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Our first few meetings were full of enthusiastic suggestions from parents and teachers on dandiya, Char minar, Hyderabadi biriyani, dhoklas, et al. It all sounded hunky dory. But, I soon realized that we were nowhere close to execution! While the teachers were juggling school work with this added responsibility, the parents were doing double duty with work and office – none of us had the time to actually do anything!

With client deadlines breathing down my neck & my troublesome toddler eating away whatever free time I had, I undertook the responsibility of handling a “Dandiya” stall, where I would teach youngsters to make their own dandiya sticks from newspapers. I decided to make this fun for myself and my kids by involving them in every step. My daughter accompanied me to the shop to buy craft accessories, my son helped me glue things together & they both gave me some critical feedback on the end products too.

The day of the fair – a lovely Sunday morning – was really exciting. Glad to leave the kids behind with their father, I went in early to the school to find a whole bunch of mothers and teachers looking all resplendent like a glass of bubbly champagne! We had a blast setting up the stalls, trying our hand at a few rounds of dandiya dance before the crowd arrived and, of course, in sampling the food at the food stalls. As the children and their families came in, time just flew by in all the craft activites, games, qawwali rounds, dandiya dances, et al. As a lover of craft, I had a blast teaching youngsters to mess around with fevicol and paper creating their own sticks. As a mother, I enjoyed watching the smiles on the faces of each child proudly showing off his/her hand-made puppets, kites, caps, pen holders, etc. Most of all, as a stressed out working mother of two, I enjoyed doing something for myself – something which I truly enjoyed.

As a busy parent, have you ever taken time out to do something different – which turned out to be surprisingly refreshing?

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

Who are the people in your (changing) neighbourhood?

Who are the people in your (changing) neighbourhood?The Unit of Study for this month in my daughter’s Kindergarten class is ‘Community Helpers’. And I had the bright idea of showing her the delightful Sesame Street 2-minute “Who are the people in your neighbourhood” videos on the different professions – she would enjoy the catchy tune and colourful costumes and I could laugh at the droll puns and sing along.

So the first video plays and Netra stares intensely at the man in a tall cap holding a box of vegetables, cheese and other fresh food items.

Netra (wrinkling her nose): “Who’s that?”

Me: “The grocer.” And then I go on to explain how a grocer has a small grocery store and sells food items.

Netra (waving away my explanations): “I’ve never seen a grocer shop. We only go to Cold Storage.”

Me: “Maybe here, but you have seen small grocery shops in Mumbai.”

Netra: “No – I went to Reliance Fresh. It’s a big shop.”

Me: “Ok let’s move on to the next video”.

Netra: “Who is that?” She points at a man in a blue uniform with a satchel in his hands.

Me: “The postman who delivers our letters. Don’t you know that?!”

Netra: “I know who the postman is but I thought they were extinct!”

Me: “Whaaat?! – they are people Netra, not dinosaurs! Why would they be extinct? If you want to write a letter to Brinda paati, then you need to write her address on the envelope, stick a stamp and ….”

Netra: “But amma, why can’t I just send her an email? And I skype with her everyday, so why should I….?”

Me (anticipating and stalling a string of questions): “Ok…. But next month you have to write a letter to Santa Claus and then you will have to go to the post office….”

Netra: “But you were telling daddy that everyone is on Facebook except him, so you can send a message to Santa Claus on Facebook, no amma?”

I clutch my head in despair and try to identify safer videos – we breeze through doctor, nurse, teacher, librarian. Then we come to a man with a saw and a hammer.

Netra: “Handy Manny!”

Me (sighing in relief): “Handy Manny is a handyman, but yes, this is close – a carpenter. A carpenter doesn’t just repair things but also builds furniture for you, like tables, beds….”

Netra: “I thought we go to Ikea to buy furniture and then build it ourselves!”

Me (losing patience): “Ok, you tell me what video you want to watch!”

Netra: “Why is there no investment banker in the neighbourhood?”

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

Teens & Time Management

Teens & Time ManagementThe high school years (Grades 9 -12) are crucial as they, whether one likes it or not, largely determine   the choices a student has in college and beyond. As such, all parents are concerned about how to help their children during this time.

My daughter Priyanka is in Grade 11 and she has  multiple goals for the next two years- staying focused on academics, taking standardized tests, creating a portfolio for music and dance, doing some writing and also applying to shortlisted colleges. Add to this the long commute to and from school, she really does have a jam packed schedule.

My first instinct, as a mother, was to see how I could directly pitch in and help her out, but my son (he is in college)’s words cautioning me about hand-holding her too much and hence not  preparing her to manage college life by herself reverberated in my ears . So, I thought about how I could contribute without necessarily “doing things” for her and decided to put my “management background” to good use.

I  suggested  to her that she create a master plan on excel which tracked her goals across all her priority areas.  More importantly, I persuaded (sometimes goaded J) her to review this every week.

In the first month, in her excitement, she went overboard and literally made an A-Z list of things to do. I desisted from pointing this out to her (with some difficulty I must admit) but only kept prodding her to check progress. End of month 1 and Priyanka reviewed the list. She used colours- red, orange and green- for indicating tasks that were at various stages of completion and was quite crestfallen at the number of reds she had. I consoled her and said that she had bitten off more than she could chew.

For the next month (October), she has been much more careful and put down a more pragmatic plan (while still keeping the bigger picture in mind). She has also thought about when she has her term break and packed more for that period, likewise she has reduced non-academic activities during her test week.  The end of the month will give a clearer picture but I am quite sure that she has made good progress both on how to make a plan as well as delivering on the plan!

This experience made me feel really good on two counts- first, on how much learning she derived from the first month’s experience- at the risk of sounding clichéd, ultimately, experience is the biggest teacher, not lectures, however well-meaning they are! Second, I had grown up in this time as well; I had resisted my tendency to jump in, and instead tried to remain in the background, allowing her to deal with the challenges of managing multiple goals.

As a parent, letting go is not easy and I am hoping that small steps such as this will equip her better to deal with life more confidently and capably in the years to come.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

There’s More to Life than English!

Last night I watched the Movie ‘English-Vinglish’ and it took me back to my school days, though the memories evoked strong yet mixed feelings. I come from a traditional tamil-brahmin family where we still speak a lot of Tamil- Thankfully. I went to an International school which I loved, and owe a lot to; but one thing that I wish would change in that school and many international and mainstream schools with a colonial hangover is the attitude towards The English language (specifically to people who cannot speak the English language very well). More than school managements it is an unwritten law that only children and parents who speak ‘good English’ are cool amongst some teachers and peers! God save a child who accepts that he/she speaks only their mother tongue at home! Now I am proud to say that I speak primarily in Tamil with my 2 year-old son, because he’s going to learn English anyway. Not for a moment do I debate the importance of English as an essential tool for communication, but it’s the self-deprecating, belittling attitude of many-an-Indian that we must join hands to change.

When I watched that movie, I realized that as a child growing up in cosmopolitan Bangalore even I have been guilty of laughing at, feeling a tad embarrassed and correcting my mother and grandmother when they didn’t speak this foreign language the way it was meant to be spoken (I know many of us are guilty of judging people by the way they speak English, which we should stop immediately). In fact my grandmother doesn’t speak English at all, and she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren who would only speak in English amongst themselves many-a-times. My heart goes out to the poor lady, who silently accepted her position, and probably even felt proud that her children were so fluent at the English Language (Though she would have yearned to be able to communicate better with them). As we bring up our children, whether we as parents can communicate in English or not, it is important to keep reminding them that this is a foreign language that is important to learn, but what’s more important is to see and appreciate the goodness in people (especially those who are closest to them).

As I type, I am still wondering how, as a parent I am going to teach my son that not speaking English in a perfect manner (What is perfect? There probably is no perfect anyway) needn’t be an embarrassment or a reason to rebuke. I urge every parent to happily teach their children their mother tongues and English, Sanskrit and maybe even Chinese, so we can celebrate India’s and the World’s diversity, instead of being embarrassed by our own languages. Let us take a cue from some first-world countries like Japan and Germany, which have achieved great technological advancements even without being able to communicate in the English Language. Communication transcends language barriers if we move from head to heart. Let us join hands to Make Living Fun for everyone because THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN ENGLISH!!!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is one of the Managing Partner’s of Bril, a company that works on a Mission to Make Living Fun for its customers and consumers, through its world-class school stationery, baby and children’s products. For more information about Bril please visit www.brilindia.com

Please support our Cause ‘There’s More to Life than English’ by clicking on this link http://thndr.it/YHSnxm. Just sign up using your Twitter of Facebook login details, support and then share on your wall. Thanks a Ton!!

Learn from Your Mistakes and so will Your Child

Learn from Your Mistakes and so will Your Child Everyone makes mistakes. Granted, some mistakes are more significant than others and harder to get over, but they are a part of life. How individuals deal with those mistakes is significant to their self-esteem. Children who are taught from an early age to admit to their mistakes understand that it’s not a crime to make one, and they seem to have the ability to cope much better with them. They recognize that a mistake was made and admit the error. . Most importantly, these children also develop a strategy to change the mistake and not do the same thing again.

The process of making and learning from mistakes is an extremely valuable life skill for everyone because learning involves risking. Every time children risk, they will not always succeed. But they tried something new and most likely learned from it as a result.

Children with low self-esteem deal with making a mistake quite differently. More often than not, these children use the experience to devalue themselves. Instead of looking at the error as an opportunity to learn, these children interpret the experience as a reason to quit and never try again. They view it as a devaluing and humiliating experience.

You can help your child cope with mistakes by first making sure they understand that everyone makes mistakes, even you. Own up to your own mistakes to teach them there’s no shame in making them. Make sure they understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. This presents a great opportunity to tell your child what you’ve learned to do differently the next time. Then, offer strategies to turn mistakes into learning opportunities.

In the process, you can provide your child with an opportunity to enhance their self-esteem and accept responsibility for the mistakes they make. Help your child to realize that the mistake is the problem, and not them. Then help them develop a positive plan for the next time around, and what they’ll do differently the next time to avoid making the same mistake again.

Top 10 Tips for Hong Kong Disneyland

Source: http://www.batgung.com/disneytips

1) Do try to arrive right at the opening, and go deep into the park immediately to take a couple of the rides you’re really looking forward to. This is standard advice for amusement parks, but it really paid off for us, as a couple of the Fantasyland rides we walked right onto first thing in the morning had hour-long queues just a little later.

2) Don’t waste time taking photos with the characters that greet you at the gate as the park opens (see point 1!), unless getting such photos is one of your top priorities. If so, you’re not reading the right set of tips. Okay, okay, I aim to please: if you’re committed to posing with Mickey, have at it right away, although you’ll have lots of company. You might also consider heading straight for the ‘Fantasy Gardens’ section of ‘Fantasyland’ when you arrive, where you can pose to your heart’s content.

3) Don’t bother trying to ‘stick to a plan’ for working your way through the park. It’s so small you can change your mind anytime you want, and walk right across the place in five or ten minutes. This is actually a blessing if you’ve got small children in tow, and when you’re off to get ‘fastpasses’, which we’ll discuss next.

4) Do make use of the ‘fastpass’ system. A fastpass is a pre-booking you can make on any of five popular attractions. You put your park admission ticket into a machine, and are issued another ticket with a time range on it. During that period, you can turn up at the attraction and get right on it, ahead of the normal queue. You can only hold one fastpass at a time, and it has to have expired before you can get another one.

5) Don’t bother tying up a fastpass on the Lion King stage show, though. Although those with fastpasses were indeed cordoned off into a ‘special’ waiting area when we visited, they were admitted into the show right along with us ordinary-queue proletarians in a single stampede.

6) Do take advantage of the ‘Single riders’ option at Space Mountain if you are a couple with small kids, or if you and your companions don’t mind riding alone. Using this ‘queue’, Mrs Tall and I rode twice each and waited a total of about three minutes.

7) Do use sunscreen and wear hats if it’s sunny. Sounds obvious, but although most waiting areas were at least partially shaded, on the day we visited there were still hundreds of painfully red faces and shoulders around, proving that some of us need little reminders.

8) Do buy orange juice. There are plastic bottles of fresh orange juice on sale all over the place for HKD15. That’s not bad, given the general range of prices around the park, and it’s delicious.

9) Don’t expect to ride all the way around the park on the little train if the park’s busy. The train has two stops: at the entrance, and at the opposite side of the park in Fantasyland. We found out that when the park gets crowded, you can only go from one stop to the next one, where you then have to get off.

10) Don’t go crazy trying to get a good spot to see the fireworks. We saw people staking out positions to watch them almost an hour and a half in advance. This is surely not worth it. We waited till the last minute, and still were able to squeeze into the main plaza in front of the castle where the show is centered. We had a tree branch obscuring a bit of our view, but it was still fine.

The Whys of Whining

The Whys of Whining“Moooooooooooom!”

It’s irritating, it’s frustrating and it gets on your last nerve. Though it’s obnoxious and unacceptable, it’s actually an effective for your child to get your attention. It’s whining.

But, like other bad habits, you can nip it in the bud early with a few simple strategies to teach your child there are other appropriate, effective forms of communicating with you.

First, try limiting the situations that trigger it. Avoid extra errands when the kids are hungry. Don’t let them get involved in a frustrating game or project prior to bedtime. Pay attention when your child is talking, as sometimes whining is a reaction when a child feels you aren’t giving them your full attention. Praise them for not whining and talking in a normal and understandable voice that allows you to fully understand what they are saying to you.

When the whining begins, don’t overreact. Keep your response simple, calm and neutral. Ask your child to repeat the request in a normal tone. When giving in seems inevitable, don’t delay. If you must finish the grocery shopping so you can put dinner on the table, for instance, and your child starts whining for a snack, offer something healthy right away.

Once a limit has been set, parents should follow through. It’s imperative that both parents are on board with this limit and fully follow through when the whining rule has been violated.

If you have an older child that’s developing a whining habit, suggest they come up with a solution to their perceived boredom or other voiced problem. If you suggest possible alternatives, it might just prolong the child’s whining.

Sometimes whining can be the result of trauma and trouble in their life. A family illness or problems at school may be at the root. Additional positive attention and quality one-on-one time may be just the medicine your child needs at a time like this. Your pediatrician can also suggest alternatives to curb whining should the positive attention and disciplinary actions be ineffective.