The Genius of Play shares some of their favorite family play ideas

We all worry about our kids learning to control their emotions. After all, it’s emotions that so often get us off track and into trouble! The Genius of Play, is a national movement with a mission to give families the information and inspiration needed to make play an important part of every child’s life. Fortunately, play can serve as a key tool in helping your child manage their emotions. Play provides children with an opportunity to not only learn how to express themselves, but how to explore and understand their wide range of feelings.

Through play, children learn to cope with emotions as they act out feelings such as anger, sadness or fear, in a situation they control. Imaginative play allows them to think out loud about experiences charged with both pleasant and unpleasant feelings, creating a safe outlet for self expression and self exploration. Plus, by giving children a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, play can help build their confidence and self-esteem.

Erik A. Fisher, Ph.D, aka Dr. E…TM, Emotional Dynamics Expert at Genius of Play, has been changing the lives of children, teens and adults for two decades by encouraging self-empowerment through play.

He opens our discussion by stating that ” often children take their lead on how they learn about their emotions from the adults that guide them. Many of us received very little education on how to manage emotions or the purpose of emotions when we were children, so knowing what to do with your own kids when it comes to emotion can be challenging. I believe that emotions are all there to tell us and teach us about life. For example, the purpose of Anger is to protect. The purpose of Failure is that it tells us when it is time to learn, the purpose of Guilt is that it lets us know when we have done something to others that we need to fix.”

“Too often, we are taught to ignore what our emotions may be trying to tell us, and all too often, many adults don’t know what to do with the emotions that they are feeling. Unfortunately, when adults do not understand, it is difficult for them to properly educate their children.”

“It is for that reason that I often recommend that parents learn right along with their kids and even let their kids be teachers to them. The Genius of Play is a great way for parents to learn about the value of play in various domains, including emotional realms, and I always encourage parents to take a look. I also recommend my parenting book, The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With that discusses power, emotion, and how we can learn to manage these challenging aspects of life.”

The Genius of Play, is excited to share some of their favorite play ideas that focus on emotional development and teach children how to express and regulate their emotions.

Kindergarten

· This is a great time to use role playing and engage imagination to work through emotions. Kids at this age are often playing with dolls, puppets and may be starting to play with action figures. Watch the themes of how they play with these toys and the emotions that they may demonstrate through their play. As they may be playing, be willing to get on the floor with them, play and talk about what is going on with their characters and what they may be feeling. You can also play out some of the challenges that they may be having with others through the dolls and show how they can work out their difficulties by you taking on their role. Ask them what the other characters may be feeling when they may play these roles.

· Many children may be exposed to many of the cards, blocks, images, and emoji that denote various emotions. These images that help children identify emotions can be helpful for kids to visually identify what they are feeling so that an adult can help connect the words with the emotions. As these emotions are discussed, let your kids know that these emotions aren’t bad or wrong. They are trying to tell us something. It is the choices that we make when we feel these emotions that we want to be aware of to change. Understanding protective emotions like Anger, Rage, Hatred, Defiance, Sarcasm, Flippancy and Arrogance are trying to help us look strong when we feel weakness inside.

3rd Grade

· Kids have been in school for a few years. They are learning to grasp emotions and experiencing better emotional regulation as their brains also develop. However, the patterns of emotional expression that they learn now can be harder and harder to reverse if they are reinforced and/or if new patterns aren’t learned. While it is always a good time to work on discussing emotions and what they are teaching us, helping to find healthy ways to express them is also important. Charades can be a great game for kids to act out emotions. Making your own game of emotional charades can be a good way to see how your kids view emotions and even to discuss them after a round.

· There are also many board games and books that help kids become aware of various emotions. Exposing them to the uniqueness of each emotion through play and helping them to understand them will be adding to their skill set in real life situations.

5th Grade

· This is a year that kids are still kids, and some are getting closer to adolescence. For some, they are still interested in children’s games, and the same games, cards and emoji can still be helpful to discuss emotions, while for some who want to associate with “older age” activities, they may show no interest in the games of “children”. The issue is that even though kids at this age want to be older, their brains are not developed and they are often playing the emotional games and “writing the emotional checks that they can’t cash”. Making sure that they are processing and understanding emotions is so important at this time of life. Playing games that involve perspective taking, communication, listening closely to how they see the world can help this. Don’t just listen to them when they are aware that you are around, listen when they don’t realize that you are listening. There are many role-playing games that give opportunities to share emotions and see inside of them, as well.

Most importantly, at any age your kids are, Eric suggests that you play with them, and no matter what you are playing talk with them, ask them about how they see life, how they feel about themselves and others, how they feel about you as a parent

It is often when distracted by a game that kids will share more. Listen without judgment, and ask more questions than telling them what to do.

Please click on The Genius of Play for more information.

Hope’s Front Door: Financial Literacy program changes lives

By Janell Robinson:

Kim was pregnant, unemployed and homeless. She came into Hope’s Front Door because she needed help obtaining medication and transportation vouchers for a job search, but found a resource that would not only change her life, but that of her unborn child, Noah, as well.

“I have never been a saver. I was like, I need some help here. I thought to myself, I am here anyway, maybe I should meet with bank counselors. During my sessions with the bank counselors, the bankers helped me create a plan to pay off my debt. I just started paying the smaller ones first and then putting the larger ones on a payment plan as they suggested. My credit score is now at 735. I also started a savings account at that time with the help of the program. I wanted a rainy day fund.”

“Noah knows I was homeless before he was born. So, it was important to show him that we were saving money. Each time I would get a receipt from the bank after making a deposit I would show Noah and tell him, ‘Look! That is what we have now in the bank.’ When he saw the amount growing, Noah decided he wanted learn how to save too. So, we went to the bank and they gave him his own little piggy banks, which he filled for his college fund.”

“Noah has been saving since he was five years old; he just turned 10 years old last month. He likes going to the bank. He likes to collect change from everyone’s pockets. The bank tellers’ print out the receipts with how much has been put in the account and how much money we have. He likes to tease me saying, ‘I have more money than you, Mom!’”

“I have taught him about saving and budgeting his money using Legos which are his favorite toy. I ask him, does he want to save his money to buy the big Legos that he really wants or spend right now for the smaller ones. He is very disciplined with his money. I hope that he realizes the more you save, the more you can get, and the more self-sufficient you can become. At his age, I would have just spent all of the money I could have saved!”

“Basically, by going through the financial literacy program, I wanted to share with him some of the things I learned. I wanted to show him that if you spend everything you won’t have anything, you will have to be dependent on others and no one wants to live like that.”

Kim and Noah’s journey from being homeless to becoming financially secure started with help from the community.

HOPE’S FRONT DOOR (HFD) often acts as a “first responder” to neighbors who are facing financial and/or medical crises. They serve the homeless, as well as those seeking assistance in the communities of:

  • Darien
  • Downers Grove
  • Lisle
  • Westmont
  • Willowbrook
  • Woodridge

Hope’s Front Door will be hosting The Traveling Feast fundraiser on October 5, 2017. Guests will be tasting delectable food offerings from five downtown Westmont restaurants before traveling down the road to their next culinary destination. We’re looking to raise to raise $20,000 that will be used in support of our Financial Literacy Program – helping area residents, like Kim and Noah, gain financial self-sufficiency through baseline financial literacy including budgeting, savings and credit repair.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please visit www.hopesfrontdoor.org or call 630-322-9804.

Who is a chauffeur of trust?

Leaders need return to a back- to- basics approach in building a collaborative culture in a new age of globalization and change. High technological understanding in an organization is extremely important but many leaders have been caught up in an artificial world and lost sight of developing a people culture that was needed to thrive.

A strong culture can only be built on effective, enduring and trusting relationships within the company. That begins with a leader who has the ability to listen, is honest, is committed, encourages others, rewards others and can convince workplace associates that this organization will be a better place for the employees, stakeholders and clientele.

Once these attitudes are established and progress begins to move in an upward direction, trust, which takes a long time to cultivate, begins to develop that sustains the consistency of positive movement.

Leaders who find themselves frustrated by their inability to get people to cooperate with them on the tasks vital to success can be traced back to a lack of trust. A leader doesn’t have to break promises on the level that executives at Enron and AIG did to breed mistrust. One obvious example is when a CEO promises Wall Street a certain result and fails to deliver. Another example is of an advertising campaign that displays a corporate image of employees being the most important asset but the company is laying off great numbers of people at the same time; leaders never promise what they cannot keep.

Effective leaders respond quickly to challenges and are trusted to do the right thing; they are the chauffeurs of trust and a culture is established that peers, in their industry, are envious.

The nature of vision to lead and gain a committed culture is to graft exactly the direction that needed to be followed. Though a leader’s vision is clear, it is essential that a vision must include specific steps. Visions have to be grafted with a timeline and results projected even though there is always room for adjustment. Visions are not expressed in just a managerial setting but have to be delivered by the leader to all levels of employees. Once the vision is promoted, then as a leader, constant follow up is required to see if associates are committed to the progress.

Ambivalence is always present in any organization and setting the example is imperative to developing a more committed culture. If you expect your employees to be on time, than you better follow the same rule. Trust and confidence has to take center stage before ambivalence can be eradicated.

Never feel that your vision is absolute; be open to confrontation rather than fear the inevitable. Your vision may be cloudy and that person may have a great idea. It is not your intention to take the person out of the game but get them on board. Once ambivalence has been addressed and it continues, then a reassignment is suggested. If the ambivalence is corrosive, invoke the iron fist before it spreads too quickly.

Middle managers must be your adversaries and gaining their trust is to make them part of the team project; having them part of the solution not the problem. Assure that they will get the recognition they deserve.

Becoming a leader for the sole purpose to attain status and money will eventually result in a losing proposition.

A leader is about selfless guidance and formulating a team that shines above and beyond the leaders own capabilities.

A leader is not about getting a bonus for their efforts but about acknowledging their team accomplishments and encouraging bonus incentives to be given to team members.

A leader does not talk about what he has done lately but what each member of his staff has contributed to the organization.

A leader is not about managing by fear because they feel out of control but to delegate control to their staff and trust them to do their very best.

A leader is not about favoritism but fairness concerning job performance at all times.

A leader is about carefully examined truths and trusting ones instinct.

Ultimately, a leader is about making the company profitable by rewarding the contributing worlds of his or her staff.

Quieting the Storm

After grabbing the key that had been securely hidden from the eyes of most, I unlocked the door and stepped inside. As her professional caregiver, these were the instructions for taking care of her. She would wander the streets if the doors were not locked from the outside.

At first, it was quiet; maybe Emily was asleep and then I heard it.

“I don’t remember, you should know where Dennis lives,” her voice angry and desperate. “That’s why I called you,” she pleaded.

Knowing Emily was on the phone, I followed her anguish to the bedroom. She was pacing back and forth, the cordless in her hand. I noticed that directory assistance was talking to her. Emily had a son who lived in town named Dennis. Her husband of over 60 years was still alive, but recovering from a stroke and currently in a rehabilitation facility.

His absence played more havoc with her dementia, especially shortly before the hours of sundown. Emily’s symptoms of memory loss and confusion were much more enhanced during this time of day.

Gently taking the phone from her hand, I quickly apologized to 411 and put the phone on the receiver. Simultaneously, I grasped her arm, and looked into her eyes.

“I have Dennis’s phone number,” I said, waiting for some recognition before I continued. “Let’s call him”.

“Hi Mom,” he said and assured her that Dad would be home soon. But she would forget, and in a matter of minutes it would have to be repeated. She may not be sure of the time, date or even season. After she hung up, it seemed she had not been satisfied and started to become more agitated. Emily needed constant stimulation.

I got up and removed the painting from the nearby wall. Maybe she could tell me about the majestic movie house called The Chicago Theatre, with 1941 written on the marquee. Built in French Baroque in the 1920’s, the theatre was one of the most lavish in the country; remodeled in the 1980’s. As I brought the picture closer to her eyes, the tension began to fade.

“Oh my,” she started as she began to search for the answer, “My first date with my husband. Oh, he was such a good-looking man. The line of people that night reached all the way around the block to see The Lady Eve.”

Emily couldn’t remember if he was in the military, or his involvement in World War II, but she could remember how he held her hand in that line that seemed to stretch forever.

Giggling and moving closer while grasping my hand, she said, “I could tell he just didn’t have too much experience with the girls like I had with the guys.”

“How could you tell?” I asked.

“His hand was perspiring and shaking,” she laughed again.

“And you hooked him for sixty years…I imagine!”

“I knew he was the one the first night. He gave this painting to me for our anniversary.” She responded tenderly.

“Which anniversary?”

“I have no idea,” she giggled, “there were so many!”

Later, I found her wedding picture; a breathtaking bride with large eyes, dark hair and beautiful smile. But Emily seemed more interested in talking about her mother, after eyeing this photograph, who did not see her dressed in white because she had passed away before her marriage.

“My mom passed away just a few years ago,” I commented.

“You have a Dad,” she stated matter of fact.

“No, he is gone too.”

“Brothers and sisters?”

“Only child.” Emily just couldn’t fathom a 50+ woman to be the only one and parentless.

“I do have two children. I am a Mom like you too.”

That didn’t matter much to her; it was about who was going to take care of me. She asked if I was hungry…most mothers do. Her vivid heart and mind remained cognizant, regardless of the disability, of her partner’s love and parental obligation.

Love always somehow survives in the end. Every time I visited as her caretaker, we did it all again; sometimes the phone call, the Chicago theatre and their wedding. Always before leaving, she asked if she could cook me something to eat.

However, one Monday the routine had changed; allowing an astounding new journey to begin. Her son had told me that his daughter had just gotten married and because Emily was not in the best condition to attend the wedding, they brought the party to her the Saturday before. Emily dressed in her finest while receiving the wedding party, between the service and reception, in her living room.

New pictures were shared in front of the family fireplace; cake was cut and served along with dribbles of champagne. As I viewed the new pictures, the bride and grandmother shared the same tears.

On that autumn afternoon, with brilliant color shading the home, Emily displayed a new color in her cheeks and vibrancy in her eyes. This time she remembered every exciting detail of blossoming new love in front of her own fireplace that weekend; just like her own in first encounter in 1941.

(Originally published in Maria Shriver’s Architect of Change- Taking care of those with Alzheimers/2013http://archive.mariashriver.com/quieting-the-storm-karla-sullivan/

Seek to be the very best

Which statue of Abraham Lincoln is considered to have the most accurate likeness of the president and why? What sets Victory Monument apart from other World War I memorials? Why is the Balbo Monument so controversial? Celebrated photographer, author, and art historian Larry Broutman is eager to share his vast knowledge of the fascinating history behind Chicago’s public art and iconic places. Broutman is the photographer and author of Chicago Monumental and Chicago Unleashed, the latter book; a collection of whimsical images.

Chicago Unleashed, Larry Broutman’s first book published by Lake Claremont Press in 2014, presents images that combine wildlife photographed by Broutman in the wildlands of the world and iconic Chicago urbanscapes he also photographed. The concept of these fanciful pieces was created for the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago during its design and construction.   His second book with Lake Claremont Press, Chicago Monumental is a gorgeous full-color photographic tribute to the City of Big Shoulders that showcases over 250 Chicago monuments, memorials, statues, and fountains. Many were created by acclaimed sculptors from the past two centuries. There’s even a 3D photography section with 3D glasses included in this wonderful coffee table book.

Lake Claremont Press celebrates the power and character of place for our particular corner of the globe, Chicago and greater Chicagoland. Their nonfiction histories and guidebooks foster and reveal Chicago’s special identity by exploring our city’s history, culture, geography, built environment, people, and lore. They publish authors with specific Chicago passions and knowledge and local organizations with Chicago-centric missions.

Founded by Sharon Woodhouse in 1994, Lake Claremont Press has published over 60 titles, including local bestseller Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City and several award winners. Other favorites over the years have included Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100 Years of Chicago and the Movies, The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History, A Cook’s Guide to Chicago, The Streets and San Man’s Guide to Chicago Eats, The Golden Age of Chicago Children’s Television, Oldest ChicagoHistoric Bars of Chicago, and Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom.

Chicago Monumental has received two book awards in the last month: a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category.

Since the 1990s, Larry Broutman has traveled the world over to capture the perfect photograph and has found Chicago to have a plethora of visual inspiration. His projects include work with Lincoln Park Zoo, Africa Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Children’s Memorial Hospital Clinic, and The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Broutman attended MIT where he received his S.B., S.M., and doctorate degree in the field of Materials Engineering and Science in 1963. Specializing in Polymer Engineering and Science and Composite Materials, Broutman has vast experience writing college textbooks, reference books, and technical articles. In fact, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

All author proceeds are donated to The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled, and Access Living, Chicago-based nonprofit service agencies.

Larry Broutman’s impressive background and education is truly an inspiration to others and I asked him what kind of advice he would give to those young and old trying to pursue their own ambitions.“I have always followed the advice of my academic adviser at MIT where I received my B.S., M.S., and doctorate degrees. His sage words were to choose a career/profession which you love and once you choose it, seek to be the very best. So, in my case, I was guided by choosing career paths I could both enjoy and also strived to be the best. So, this thought not only helped me in my principal career in engineering, but in my second career as a photographer and author.”

Chicago Monumental may be enjoyed as a visual history, as social documentary, as a guidebook to both familiar and little-known works, as a portable art gallery or as itself a piece of public sculpture. And if like me you are always looking for the perfect gift to give to a client, an aspiring artist, photographer or those who just love our city, Chicago Monumental is a beautiful choice.