Monday, November 16, 2015

Creating Future Foodies

 Go Ahead and Give Your Toddler a Kitchen Knife*

A child in the Amazon rain forest "was playing with a sharp kitchen knife, about 9 inches in length. He was swinging the knife blade around him, often coming close to his eyes, his chest, his arm and other body parts. When he dropped the knife, his mother—talking to someone else—reached backward nonchalantly without interrupting her conversation, picked up the knife and handed it back to the toddler."

Gupta explains that there's an evolutionary argument for allowing children to learn how to work with dangerous food implements. David Lancy, an Anthropologist and author of The Anthropology of Childhood, says childhood used to be filled with tools, such as hammers, mortars, pestles and machetes to break open foods like coconuts. 

Lancy says that this laissez-faire approach to parenting has several explanations, among them parents' unwillingness to impose their will on another, even a child, and the belief that children must learn through exploration, regardless of the risks.

*NPR's Go Ahead and Give Your Toddler a Kitchen Knife, by Sujata Gupta

The joy of cooking with toddlers
You're my kind of guy!

Allowing Time for Little Helpers

Well, there's no doubt that it would be easier to plop your kids in front of the television to watch Landfill Harmonic, a documentary on how poor urban children in Paraguay play musical intruments made of junk from their landfill, while you relax in the kitchen. That's okay. But, children love to help their parents, especially during the incredibly formative toddler years (which I'll classify as 1 - 4 years of age), so find the time to let them trash your kitchen! Here are the guidelines:

  • Adults should not be in a hurry 
  • Relax about cleanliness and perfection
  • Skip recipes, at first
  • Toddlers have a natural urge to want to help—nurture and develop this instinct with gusto
  • You really should watch these six short (2 - 3 minutes each) videos that will blow you away with their cuteness (no cats–sorry) score 

Please Watch One of these Five Videos (get hooked!)—be sure to click the 'start' arrow

Grocery Cart Shopping - A child-minder and two girls (3.10 and 1.6 yrs) at the grocery store. Watch the girls expression of satisfaction as she helps with the bread and finally the basket!

Helping in the Kitchen - A mother and her son (3.9 yrs) and daughter (1.6 yrs) prepare lunch. The boy peels carrots while the mom helps her daughter cut a cucumber. Watch how the little 1 1/2 year old then arrange the slices on a plate!

Setting the Table - A group of three year old children are preparing the table for lunch at a childcare home. Watch the teamwork and seriousness of the task!

Baking a Cake - A mother, while holding her 9 month old son, helps her 4 year old son prepare his birthday cake. The older (6.3 yrs) brother helps out with interest. Watch the youngest boys attentiveness.


Cutting a Banana - At a Montessori school, a 20 year old girl peels and cuts her banana snack all by herself. Watch her feet kick with joy!

Parenting, empowerment, self-confidence
Let me mix the salad, then I'll eat it–see!

Recruit your child's help

  • At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods 
  • Don't buy anything that you don't want your child to eat
  • At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table
  • Ask what flavors they like and help them combine those in a single dish
  • Under supervision, let them do the measuring, chopping and mixing

Make the process less rough on you

  • Show your children where all important items are kept in the kitchen

  • Adjust the height of work surfaces

  • Teach about cleanliness 

  • Let older kids help younger ones

  • Start with basic dishes—a salad or a fruit dip—that don’t require recipes

teamwork, parenting
Is there pizza in the freezer, mom?

Conclusion: Inspire self-confidence

Giving your toddler a kitchen knife may be beyond your trust level, but find what you can let them do with conviction. Your children look to you for encouragement, so smile, roll up your sleeves, put on your aprons, and get cooking!

Here are previous Papa Green Bean posts with related slicing, dicing, chopping and mixing stuff:

Light-Hearted Fathering— under "Empathy"
Creative Pumpkin Seed Recipes—ALL!
Open Kitchen Equals Healthy Minded Children—ALL!
Take Time To Be—under "Take Time to Trust"
Hold Me Like You'll Never Let Me Go—under "personal insights"

With a glass of wine... "Cheers",

Papa Green Bean

Dishes were not part of the deal, dad!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Discovering (and Building On) Your Child's Natural Strengths

Each Human Being Learns Differently

There really isn't a definitive "difficult" child. The child who is most challenging is the one who doesn't think like we do. Much of what we perceive as our children's deliberate efforts to frustrate us are actually a difference in perception. If we can learn to recognize and appreciate their learning sensitivities, as opposed to true disobedience, we will become more knowledgeable and happier parents—and the child will be too.

parenting, learning styles
My strength is painting the walls, hahahaha!

As I read Cynthia Ulrich Tobias's excellent book, The Way They Learn, I began to understand the truth about each newborn’s uniqueness in a deeper manner. Many parents expect their children to learn the way they did. And many children will grow up loving their parents' teaching models. As Tobias declares, "Parents rarely intentionally frustrate their children".

As a little boy, I was a daydreamer who enjoyed gazing out the window more than the chalkboard monotony of a lecture. School was difficult but I loved my fellow mates. I was relaxed and thrived on the playground! At home I could play outside all day creating imaginative adventures for my friends and me.

Study habits
We work best together on the floor with colors!

The basic concept behind Tobias's The Way They Learn is that when you, as a parent, show confidence in your child's innate learning personality, he or she is much more willing and able to blossom. Tobias explains that it helps to comprehend the basic theories for yourself—to know your strengths, as in how your mind works—how it learns best. And then to extend that knowledge to how your child’s mind operates. And, to be clear, these insights are worthy for the spousal relationship as well. Tobais, rightfully so, spends much time in expounding the benefits to the teacher-student dynamic within a school-learning environment.

Summary of Key Ideas from Cynthia Ulrich Tobias's book: The Way They Learn  

  • First, we need to realize that because each human being is so complex, no one fits neatly into any one category.
  • Each of our children perceives the world differently from the way we do.
  • Each child is an individual with his or her natural strengths and preferences.
  • We should focus on natural strengths, not weaknesses. It is difficult to build on weaknesses—strengths provide a much better foundation.
  • Getting to know each of our children as individuals is an exhausting but rewarding proposition.                                              

Parenting learning styles
Are you getting this, Mom and Dad??? 


Perception is the way we take in information and how we view the world. Perceptions shape what we think, how we make decisions, and how we define what is important to us. There are two basic perceptual qualities that each mind possesses:

1)   Concrete – registers information directly through the senses.

2)   Abstract - visualizes ideas using intuition and imagination.

Everyone uses both concrete and abstract abilities every day, although most people are more comfortable using one over the other and this becomes their dominant ability.


Ordering is the way we use the information we perceive:

1)   Sequential - follows a logical train of thought—a linear step-by-step or conventional manner—prefers to have a plan and follow it.

2)   Random - organizes by chunks with no particular sequence, skipping steps in a procedure or even starting in the middle or at the end and working backwards—seemingly impulsive or spontaneous.

Parents may want to recognize their own natural ways of perception and ordering so they may better understand what comes naturally to themselves and to their children.

Child development
I learn best outside on a playground!


Understanding the Effects of Environment on Concentration

Sounds - some learners like solitude and silence while others learn best in activity and noise. I need quiet at home, but there is an exception, and that is a coffee shop where I am able to focus very well.

Light - some need bright light and others prefer moderate or dim lighting to focus. I work best in bright light unless I am composing poetry, then I need a candle and dim light!

Temperature - some are most comfortable dressed lightly while others need many layers of warmth. I like layers of clothes so I can strip down to match my body heat!

Eating habits - some focus best with no food or drink while others find snacks and a beverage necessary to focus. I like a tea or coffee next to me.

Time of Day - the internal clock works differently as far as best time to be efficient in getting things done. Some prefer early morning while others operate best in the evening. I like late afternoon.
Childhood development
I need silence to focus so turn down the bass people!

How Do We Remember?

There are basically three ways in which humans take in and retain information. Most people are fairly strong in two of these areas, and no one is restricted to just one area. In fact, it may vary from day to day.

1)   Visual - Learning by seeing or watching; using strong visual associations.

2)   Auditory - Learning by listening to verbal instructions; remembering by forming the sounds of words.

3)   Kinesthetic - Learning by becoming physically involved with what is being studied.
early childhood development
If I can see and touch, I will remember... spinning the globe is fun, too!

How Do We Understand?

Understanding information is fundamental to everything we do on a day-to-day basis. No one person understands in strictly one manner; however, if we can identify natural inclinations, we may discover more efficient ways to learn. Note that the terms 'global' and 'analytic' are extreme style characteristics, but it is true that each person sees the world from his or her own frame of reference, and therefore, there are definite differences in how different people learn best.

Analytic - These types break new information into component parts and then focus on details. They sometimes have trouble with identifying the overall concept the details are describing.

Global - These types don't worry about the details as much but are more interested in the overall big picture or "gist" of things. They quickly get the main idea but miss the details. A global learning style often does not fit the traditional analytic school structure.
We all have a bit of dog/chimp/turtle/lion in us, don't we?

Different Types of Intelligences

We now know that each human being possesses several aptitudes (Howard Gardner), each housed in different parts of the brain. Gardner originally identified seven although he recently identified an eighth - Naturalist. While everyone can develop a reasonable use of all seven intelligences, most beings are particularly strong in two or three areas. It is up to us as parents to help identify and encourage our children to show us how their minds function best. The more we learn to identify and use our multiple intellects, the more effective our educational system can become in developing the next generation of individuals that shall value the differences among the various world cultures. And this is the big picture that I wish for—world peace. The seven intelligences are categorized as follows:

1) Linguistic - verbal abilities
2) Logical - number and pattern capacities
3) Spatial - ability to think in vivid pictures.
4) Musical - natural rhythm and melody powers
5) Kinesthetic - bodily movement or physical activity talent
6) Interpersonal - a gift for understanding, appreciating, and getting along well with other people
7) Intrapersonal - a natural bent for understanding oneself—often expressed in self-refection.
8) Naturalist - involves understanding the natural world; keen observer with ability to classify.

You can't see more even though you may want to... don't be so curious... ha!


If you can help your children discover and use methods that work with their natural strengths instead of against their natural strengths, you may find them succeeding more than you ever thought possible. If you as a parent can help your child discover his or her areas of aptitude and then reinforce them, you will help to build your child's confidence while developing his or her abilities more than you could ever have imagined. 

Smiles, Papa Green Bean

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Parenting Styles: Authoritarian vs Egalitarian

Raising Children with Anxiety versus Trust 

A libertarian egalitarian is surely 
a utilitarian humanitarian and quite possibly 
a fun-loving person—
maybe even a librarian with plenty of free books

A strict disciplinarian may be 
an unyielding totalitarian, a rigid authoritarian
and perhaps a bit dogmatic—
maybe even giving unsolicited harsh looks

This is going to taste so yummy!

Now Let’s Peak Into An Authoritarian Household:

Dad (while watching TV): Son … SON! Come here when I call for you!
Son (Roy): Yes, dad?
Dad: Did you finish all your homework?
Son: I couldn’t because
Dad: What? No excuses. I guess you’ll have to skip dinner and do it.
Son: But dad, I have a good excuse.
Dad: I’ll give you the back of my hand as an excuse. Now, I’m missing the news so get out of here.
Mom: Honey, why don’t we have TV dinners since Roy won’t be joining us.
Roy: Mom, can I tell you why my homework isn’t done.
Dad: Son, don’t make me get up!
Mom: Not now, Roy. I’ve got to call Betty about my card game tomorrow. I do wish you’d behave yourself and listen to us better.

The Same Scenario In An Egalitarian Household:

Son (Roy): Excuse me dad. I’ve got something to tell you.
Dad (putting his newspaper down): Yes, Roy. What is it?
Roy: Well, I couldn’t do my homework today.
Dad: Okay, why not?
Roy: I was playing with Kevin in the playground and he cut his hand on a nail. So, I went home with him and rode into the doctor with his mom to get it cleaned out and wrapped up.
Dad: Oh, that was nice of you to stay with your friend.
Mom: How is Kevin doing now, Roy? Did he have stitches?
Roy: No. He’s doing okay, but he may miss school tomorrow.
Mom: Maybe you can call him after dinner.
Roy: That’s a good idea, mom. And then I’ll stay up a little late and get my homework done.
Dad: Sure, Roy. Whatever you think is best.

Tell another story, Pops

Many children grow up in a home demanding strict compliance. Their parents think they are doing their best for their kids. But, they are not—not even close. In fact, they are their children’s worst nightmare. Some parents are very clearly abusive, unpredictable, dangerous, incapable of listening and unable to recognize human emotions. These children grow up without the ability to trust, and consequentially, acquire developmental disorders. Humans need to be able to trust to function properly in today’s society. Of course, there are various degrees of domineering parents.  

Peaceful playgrounds do exist!

How To Raise Trustful Children VERSUS How To Create Anxiety In Children

  1. Recognize the child as an individual VERSUS Compare the child to someone else  
  2. Be predictable and organized VERSUS Don’t be reliable with your words
  3. Be reasonable VERSUS Create too high expectations
  4. Have two-way conversations VERSUS Give long-winded speeches
  5. Provide a listening ear VERSUS Do not respond to the child
  6. Reflect back without judgment VERSUS Do not empathize with child         
  7. Provide think time VERSUS  Expect the child to act immediately
  8. Make eye contact VERSUS Do not give the child your full attention
  9. Smile VERSUS Act like a tyrant
  10. Find reasons to compliment VERSUS Find reasons to censure
  11. Praise effort VERSUS Criticize failed effort
  12. Respond respectfully in the moment VERSUS Ignore the child with curt answers
  13. Be a positive mentor VERSUS Maintain a negative mindset
  14. Be a loyal friend VERSUS Avoid being a friend
  15. Allow the child to choose VERSUS Choose for the child (to save time)
  16. Do not critique in front of others VERSUS Criticize others anytime anywhere
  17. Feel your child is an equal to you VERSUS Feel you are better than your child                                                                        
  18. Show understanding VERSUS Physically spank/hit your child
  19. Demonstrate compassion VERSUS Ridicule others
  20. Maintain a calm demeanor VERSUS Raise your voice
  21. Encourage self-thinking VERSUS Demand unquestionable compliance

Trustful parenting equals trustful children


Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. Showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial.


Of, relating to, or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. In an egalitarian marriage, every aspect of home life is open to renegotiation.


I've layed out the details of two very real parenting styles. There are many adults who choose and support one style or another, others who combine these approaches with other types. We should think about the children who grow up within an environment of the characteristics the adults in their lives choose. It makes all the difference.

Respectfully, Papa Green Bean

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Youth Library Cards

Common Sense is the New Wisdom 

Hop on down to the local library
with toddler in tow
Scoot on over to the librarian
with toddler on toe
Order a library card in toddler's name
Then dance and hoot 
until you get the boot!


early learning
Papa, please put my library card on our refrigerator with a really good magnet

It came as rather a surprise when I read an article in The University of Washington's Columns magazine about "The New Mindset, Turning Research Into Better Living." The first example of UW's "innovation imperative" was a nursing professor who "discovered" that premature babies gained weight and developed faster if they were rocked and could hear the sound of a heartbeat.

I thought, "What? Really? Doesn't everyone know that?"

The next line was even more surprising to me. . . "The findings, which ran counter to the convention of protecting preemies from everything, including sound and motion, revolutionized neonatal care. . . it showed that nurturing and contact are vital for these tiny beings to develop and thrive."

I thought, "Wow! I guess what I consider simple logic isn't that apparent to some others."

library, baby, toddler,
. . . and you can go anywhere, too!

The next day I read an article from the local newspaper. Its title was. . .

"Librarys Offer Literacy Tools For Children: This is National Library Card Sign-Up Month"

I thought, "Hmmm. . .  the fact that libraries have literacy tools for children seems way too obvious. . . wait. . . maybe common sense is the new wisdom!"

So, the article went on to encourage parents to get into the habit of going to the library with this one kick-start-action step.

Action Step: Library Cards For Young Children

Parents and guardians may sign up their children for their very own youth library card beginning at birth!

These are some of my personal suggestions:
  • Create a schedule going to the library every two weeks, say on Tuesdays, to begin while the baby is not able to walk. 
  • As soon as your toddler is running, wildly inquisitive, let them help to choose the books. 
  • Choose five and let your child choose five for a total of ten books to take home. This helps to keep track of the number of books you need to find when they dissapear under the sofa etc. 
  • As soon as the child is dexterous enough, let them slide the book's barcode under the scanner themselves, or bring them up to the desk with their own library card in hand. 

early literacy skills,

  • 'Check out' their look of concentration, pride, responsibility, and determination.  
  • Do not help them to save time. 
  • Take a breath mint and just sit back and observe your child in action. 
  • Naturally, if the need becomes clear, the child may ask for help at some point. 
  • But only if they ask.
  • Try to fend off other well-intentioned adults from helping your child. 
Just do it!

Libraries offer many resources to help parents and caregivers get children off to a strong start at home with proven early literacy practices. Early literacy is a component of early learning.

Early learning is everything a child experiences and learns in the first years of life, from birth to age five, even before they actualy are able to read for themselves!

With a bit of common sense and much bookish mirth, 

Papa Green Bean

At many libraries, youth library cards do not have late fees!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hands Free Life

After reading Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford, I began to understand myself better. Her poetic, philosophical, spiritual, and above all, inspirational writing reminds me of Kahil Gibran's masterpiece, The Prophet. But Stafford is also a contemporary Maria Montessori. Perhaps, a beautiful blend of the two.

Overcoming distraction, inspirational
Compassion is contagious!

The shining heroines of the book, in my opinion, are Stafford's two young daughters. They are the inspiration for Stafford's transformation from harried to loving, from distracted to attentive, from micromanaging mom and adult to trustful parent and global citizen.

Stafford now understands that life 'must be felt through the open hands and heart of an awakened soul'.

Here is a quote of Montessori from her Education for a New World - "We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit"

In one of Stafford's many tear moving stories she allows her girls to bake in the kitchen by themselves for the first time. Afterwards, as she enters the mess, she observes - "My children's faces held the unmistakable glow of ungoverned triumph."

Early childhood education and development
Empathy creates a ripple effect

Here is a taste of the revolutionary goodness inside Hands Free Life:
  • The most meaningful life experiences don't happen in the "when," they happen in the "now."
  • Let regret be someone else's companion.
  • Perhaps the greatest opportunity to connect to what really matters lies in the silent spaces of our day.
  • Let us surrender the failures and pains of our past so that our love is not separated and weakened but instead united and strengthened.
  • Garner the strength, the patience, the resolve to do one thing: Listen. Unconditional attention is just as important as unconditional love.
  • By rejecting societal measures of success, we open countless opportunities to grasp what really matters in a way that feels right in our heart and soul.
  • Maybe second chances are not given to us but are something we offer ourselves by using new words and new actions.
  • Living life fully is not in the first-place finish, the shiny blue ribbons, or the flawless form; it's in the joy you feel in your heart because you were brave enough to try.
  • My children will always know I will give them truth, even when the truth can be difficult or uncomfortable to say or hear.
  • As children often show us, our most precious gift is the one given from the heart with a loving smile - no wrapping paper required.
  • Let us create boundaries that build up, not tear down. Let us be role models, not bad examples. Let us leave legacies, not scars on our sisters and brothers.
  • With heightened awareness... taking a few minutes to savor everyday wonders makes the heart fuller, the inner doubts quieter, and the human connections stronger. And that is when the ordinary becomes extraordinary for yourself and those who share your life.
  • Small, daily gestures of love hold the power to transform our relationships, but also the world.
  • The one who notices and responds with empathy can create a ripple effect. Because compassion spreads . . . compassion is contagious.
  • Happiness beats perfection. Every. Single. Time. 

Here is another Montessori quote from her The Secret of Childhood - "The study of the child... may have an infinitely wider influence, extending to all human questions. In the mind of the child we may find the key to progress... "

Gibran, Montessori, and Stafford all share a delicious quality; a special sensitivity that enables one to feel the essence of life, and to be able to express those sentiments on the written page.

Rachel Macy Stafford is correct - compassion is contagious. Let's spread it around by sharing her new book with friends and foe alike. I began this blog because I wanted to help parents, perhaps, become a bit more sensitive in their relations with their children. Stafford is a brilliant example of one who has done it.

With love, Papa Green Bean

Here are links to Rachel Macy Stafford's books, with a special offer below:

With any pre-order of HANDS FREE LIFE comes a free e-book download of Stafford's New York Times bestseller, HANDS FREE MAMA. The offer is good until September 7th. Here is the link with all the details ==>