Q: I know that I should carve out time each year to take my family on vacation. But with a high-stress career and crazy schedules for everybody in the household, it's been several years since we've made it happen. We're just too busy!
Jim: I hear that sort of comment a lot from many people I know. But I encourage you to find a way to have some time off. Your family needs a chance to rest, regroup and have some fun together.
There's an old adage: Nobody ever lays on their deathbed and says, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office."
It may surprise you to know that Americans collectively forfeit hundreds of millions of vacation days each year! In fact, in a typical year, over half of working Americans leave at least some of their allotted vacation time unused.
I can certainly appreciate that people give various economic reasons for not taking vacations -- especially if travel expenses are involved. But there is another problem as well. From Fortune 500 executives to stay-at-home moms trying to keep an orderly house, many people feel there's too much to do to actually stop working. The unfortunate consequence is that many Americans are making do with little or no time off.
But extended periods of rest and relaxation are not only good, but necessary for our health and future productivity. That's why making time for rest is a principle we're wise to follow.
So take time to recharge. Not everyone can take a two-week vacation to the beaches of Hawaii, but most of us can at least take a few days off a year to rest and refresh ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Q: How can I teach my two-year-old to share his things and be more cooperative, generous and kind when he plays with others? I've been concerned to see how selfish he can be in social situations with other children.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: It's not uncommon for two-year-olds to resist sharing. They're still learning what it means to coexist with others -- especially others wanting the same things they want.
Under normal circumstances, the foundations for healthy, productive interactions with others will be laid at home and in low-key, informal play with friends under your direction. Most children at this age tend to play by themselves or one-on-one rather than in true group activities.
Patience is in short supply at age two, so it takes a while to grasp the idea that something given up now can be retrieved later. And some personality types have a tougher time learning this concept. Be patient and model the behavior you're seeking to teach.
The best strategy at this age usually involves using a distraction of some kind to shift the child's attention to something else. For example, your son might become fixated on a toy truck when he sees another boy playing with it. Manage his hyperfocus on the truck by helping him get another car or interesting toy. If he gets upset, be patient. The goal is to teach your son to deal with uncomfortable emotions and situations in a healthy manner.
You can also demonstrate the concept of taking short turns (five minutes or less) by using a kitchen timer: "Jared can have the truck until the buzzer goes off, and then Alex gets to play with it." This option is especially useful because it gives your child an opportunity to experience sharing, cooperation and taking turns (however reluctantly). By setting boundaries, you're helping him learn these skills early on so that he doesn't run people over in social settings later.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.