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A Lesson in Heart: Why the Relative Age Effect is Wrong

Contrary to what some writers and sports analyst think being the smallest and youngest does not guarantee failure in a persons athletic career. Lessons are learned by team sports which go far beyond physicality, follow a child through their entire life and set them up for success.

My son is super active and in constant motion. We figured sports would help put that energy to use. We really didn’t give that much thought to the myriad of lessons learned through team sports. As we approach the end of the season I am reflecting on the amazing change and growth that team sports has brought in my child.

My son actually began with T-Ball and had an instant love for the sport. He took to it easy and made friends quickly. However, he is literally the youngest…I mean the absolute youngest player in the entire league. Due to when the division cut offs fall and when his birthday is. Much like school, in sports he is the youngest one out there.

Age is nothing but a number

If you have ready Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, ” then you might have thought, much like myself, that having the youngest smallest child in sports would be to set him up for failure in life.  According to NY Magazine, one of Mr. Gladwell’s points is “…an initial advantage attributable to age gets turned into a more profound advantage over time.” This theory has become known as the Relative Age Effect and in my view is  bull.

Me and my husband initially considered theory for a long time and actually thought about holding my son back in school to ensure he was bigger, stronger and more mature when he began. However, intellectually he was ready and decided we would be doing his a disservice by holding him back.

When we signed him up for T-Ball, this idea came back to haunt me. Would he be the smallest? What if he is picked on? What if he struggle? How it effect his emotionally and scar him for life? Ok I probably was a bit over dramatic. But aside from the scarring him for life part all of that has happened and it is not a bad thing.

Season one and two

My son was the smallest. In being smaller and younger he did not have the motor coordination, at first, that the other players did. I watched in agony as he would miss ball after ball. However, my agony was not his. He was having a blast. He loved his coaches and they loved him as well. My son was learning what it was like to be part of a team and how to support your teammates.

More importantly he was learning resiliency. How to keep trying even if you might not get the results you want the first time. Each practice he tried his best. Never gave up and enjoyed every minute. By the end of the first year he was actually hitting the ball!

Season three

The second year brought new challenges. The size different between my son and the other kids were much more apparent. Likewise the skill level difference between him and other kids varied greatly. He fell somewhere in the middle, with older, bigger kids having more skill and motor control then he had. To my surprise there were older kids that were similar in stature to him struggled throughout the season.

Also, due to the cut off he was no longer in T-Ball. He was moved up (too soon in my opinion) to Coach Pitch. My son was scared he wouldn’t be able to do it and almost choose not the play. However, after meeting the coaches and other kids he wanted to try.

Sometimes he went game after game without a hit. Without a play or so much as touching the ball. There were a few times I turned to mush as he cried that he wanted to give up. The difference is he didn’t. He asked me and his Dad to practice with him more. (which we did.) He started to pay better attention during practice. With hands on his knees he was “baseball ready,” instead of throwing his mitt around the outfield.

While it was heartbreaking to see him leave the batter’s box dejected and sad, there was a lesson in this as well. It was a lesson about playing with Heart. Heart, Will, Determination, Fortitude, Resilience, call it what you will. It is what winning teams are made from.

You can see it time and time again when the underdog, underestimated teams blowing away their opponents. The 1980 US Hockey team, the 2004 Red Sox, and most recently the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.  In most cases it is not purely, skill, strength or physical prowess that does the job. It is Heart and that is what my son was learning.

His abilities to field, hit and pay attention long enough to get through an inning were finally starting to come on line. By the end of the season he was hitting pretty regularly and had a good grasp of the game. Plus, he understood what it felt like to overcome a struggle.

Season Four

This past season was yet another lesson. Most of his teammate were almost a full 2 years older then he is. Many were now in travel ball league. This meant they had skills far beyond my son. I mean these kids were turning double plays! He had just learned how to hit. However, what surprised me was the social struggle. It seemed like none of the kids knew where they fit with each other. The age and skills varied so greatly. The older kids were not very nice. With the idea they were better players they acted like jerks to the younger kids.

My son, who pretty much gets along with everyone,  had a really hard time with this. It was the first time he was encountering bigger kids who were being bullies. He doesn’t really find them in school because of the anti-bullying efforts, but here on the ball field they still exist. I had a big issue with this and was ready to pull him out of the league.

However my husband stopped me. He reminded me that he NEEDS to learn how to deal with them. IF he doesn’t learn these lessons now he will have a harder time in life when he encounters bullies in the real world.  Boy was it tough to watch these kids but I knew he was right. he had to learn to stick up for himself. If things got bad I could step in. But as painfully hard as it was I had to let him fight his own battle. Uggg!

He was right, my son did learn how to stand up for himself. The effort in overcoming his fear also brought with it a new confidence in his abilities. I watched in amazement as he no only became a solid hitter he actually began to hit it into the outfield. Along with this his fielding also improved. With the encouragement and knowledge of incredible coaches he has grown into a strong player and a respected teammate.

Lessons for life

Being part of a team sport has brought along its challenges but the lessons learned and triumphs have been so worth it. These lessons learned through sports are what will make him a success, not the month he was born and when his birthday falls.  So Mr. Gladwell you are dead wrong that the smaller, younger kids are set up to fail due to age disadvantages that follow them through life.

You didn’t take into account all of the people like coaches, players, friends and family who help to mold them. Mr. Gladwell you also did not consider the many athlete’s who were not the ideal physical specimen, who might not have natural talent but still achieve greatness through hard work, will and determination.

Yes, my son is still the youngest and his is still one of the smallest but like many underestimated people he has Heart and that is what you need to win in the game of life.




5 Lessons from a Slower Paced Summer

5 Lessons from a Slow Paced Summer

Slowing down to make better memories

When I had children I read all the popular parenting books and magazines. I found they are filled with articles and information about how to stimulate young minds, how to prepare them for the world and how to teach them to achieve. I know I’m not alone in feeling the almost overwhelming pressure to create a prodigy, turn my kid into the next great whatever, and teach them from day one how to achieve success. Yes moms, we all feel the pressure to ensure our child is gifted, special and excelling. But after several years at a forced breakneck pace of activity, I had to question did my children actually want this?

Are they benefiting from rushing from activity to activity. I admit at times I still want to be the “Tiger Mom.” Like most moms we  feel the need to equip our children with every advantage, every possibility. So they can strive to be the best, underbeachstand hard-work and excel. These are all great values to teach our children. However, here is a point were it can get away from us. There is a point when the want for them to succeed outpaces the need to let them just be a kid.

This summer my family has focused on slowing down. This is the first summer we did not have swimming lessons or some sort of scheduled activity to rush to. After a school year with too much to do, I was burnt out. I think my kids and me both needed a break, We needed the downtime to do well…nothing. Or whatever we choose to do. That’s is where this summer’s goal began.

[ctt title=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” tweet=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” coverup=”92aQ9″]Ok, really we did not do “nothing.” We just had nothing on the agenda (expect my daughters birthday at Disney, but event hat was finalized last minute.) We didn’t even plan our trip to see family till the last minute. For a chronic over scheduler this was a test for me. But as it turns we accomplished so much and learned more then we ever expected. Here is some of the lessons to learn from a slower paced summer.

  1. We learned it is ok to just play – There is a lot to be said for just playing the day away. Matter of fact there is a ressurance in the usefulness of unstructured imaginative play. It has been found to foster creativity, and the social and emotional growth of children. Plus spending a day letting the kids just play without feeling the need to make it edulational or “productive” takes the pressure off mom.
  2. We learned about each other – Not having scheduled activity meant less time in the car driving from place to place and more time to spend with each other.  It gave us as parents the opportunity have unhurried, less distracted conversations with our kids. This gave us the chance to discovering my daughter’s newfound love for Betty and Veronica comics and my son’s aptitude in racing games.
  3. We learned to enjoy the season – This summer we really took advantage of all of the things that summer represents. We spent more time swimming, in the pool and at water parks then ever before. It was such a blast.
  4. We learned to go with the flow – A last minute, impromptu trip to visit my sister at a beach front condo became the best trip of the summer. Spending time together ,watched the sunset, and BBQing. It was a relaxing unscheduled time just enjoying family and the summer.
  5. We learned to be in the moment – This summer, more then any other, we savored the moments spent with family, friends and each other. In the past I was so busy planning what we would do next. I was never fully present in the moment. My kids suffered through me shuffling them off to the next thing. Just so I  to check off another accomplishment on to-do list of activities. This was the first summer I went without a to-do list and let things flow as they came up.

This summer we spent day’s running outside with the neighbors, and sometimes we stayed in and played Legos for hours. We spent summer evenings going for long walks around our community and mornings splashing in the pool. We had long talks, cooking experiments and water slides. This summer we made memories, unplanned and unfetter by a schedule. I will admit these lessons probably impacted me more then my kids. But these memories and what we have learned from this summer will shape my approach to the year ahead. In the end it isn’t how much you get done, or even what you are doing. It’s who you spend the time with and the memories you make that matter most.

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5 Ways To Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer

5 ways to keep your kids learning all summer long

5 Ways To Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer

Here is South Florida this Thursday marks the last day of school. Most teachers will advise that students lose some of the skills they had worked hard on all year over the summer break. My kindergarten ages son is a budding reader and my daughter is finally started to like math. I for one do not want to break the momentum of learning that has started with the fantastic teachers they have had this year. [ctt title=”So, how do you keep the learning going over the summer? He are some great ideas found around the internet.” tweet=”So, how do you keep the learning going over the summer? He are some great ideas found around the internet.” coverup=”Bfv5P”]

  1. Explore local museums – Not only does this help you beat the heat of summer it gives you kids an opportunity to learn something in a new setting. It doesn’t have to be an art museum . There are various types of museums such as those gear towards younger children that are more sensory, museums that explore science and others that teach history. Spots like this are tucked in towns all over the country and are a great source of summer learning.

You can find art museums by country, city or state here.

Looking for a science center? You can also search by country or state here.

You can also go to the American Alliance of Museums to find site specific to the US.

  1. Cook with your kids – If you haven’t already read my post about how my kids are learning measurements and cooperation thru Mug cakes you can read it here. Cooking with your kids is not only a great way for them to learn life skills. You can work a little math lesson in as well.

  2. Have your kids do a summer journal – This is something I am trying out this year. A journal jut for them to write down their thoughts and observations, save souvenirs from their summer trips and really document their summer however they feel.wpid-2015-07-31-21.58.18.jpg.jpeg

  3. Visit the library… often! – Last summer we visited the library every weeks and my kids got into the habit of reading all summer long. My son wasn’t reading yet but spending time at the library got him use to choosing books and got him excited for reading.

  4. Visit the famers market or local farm –  This was another Saturday activity we did each week last summer. My kids had so many great experiences learning about farm animals and the importance of farm fresh foods. They feed chickens and cows, picked peppers and tried new fruits. Plus you can save a bundle of money at the famers market and can bring your farm goodies home to cook with your kids.

How do you plan on keeping your kids learning all summer? Would love to here some other ideas to try with my kids. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below.

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

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Successful U

Trish Russell from Mini-Moments Monday is bringing her newest course to you. Here is a summery of her program Successful U
“Successful U is a two week course where we spend time together in a closed Facebook group applying systems and processes to develop strong roots for your business. I’ve structured the material so you can invest 30 minutes a day and see results. I provide videos, PDFs, and am available to make your journey personal.”
“The topics we cover are
1) Organization systems
2) Media Strategy
3) Customer Service
4) Leadership Prep
5) Personal Development & A wrap up of how to move forward.
The course launches Monday, April 4th and has a full two- week, 5 days per week curriculum. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
To sign up go to:

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What happens before the grocery store?


wgeaThat box of sugary cereal sitting high on the grocery store shelf. Those bananas in the produce section, The gallon low-fat milk in the dairy case. As a family we hastily run thorough the supermarket grabbing these items, but do we ever think of how they got there? More importantly, do our children understand that these items don’t magically appear on grocery store shelves? They are grown, cultivated and raised to become our food.

Our children are now generations removed from the agrarian system and really might not have a grasp of how our food is produced. This thought occurred to me as I was attempting to overhaul our household diet a few years back. When every item in your pantry is surrounded by cardboard, how will our children ever learn what real food is?grocery store

It became an important endeavor for my children to learn what real food was. Not packaged Goldfish crackers, but real fish. Not Oreo cookies, but oranges. Not Eggo waffles but real eggs. So I embarked on a journey to educate myself and them. This entailed learned about not only how things grow but also about the circle of life.

They are still young and I didn’t want to get to graphic about it, but I felt it was important to have an appreciation for the idea that meat doesn’t come from the meat counter. Some animal gave its life to nourish us.  Like Mustafa from the Lion King says, one day we will become the grass the animal eats and we will nourish it. We depend on each other.

To teach them some of these pretty heavy concepts, I looked to my local community for help. First I became part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. For a fee these programs give you a portion of what the farm produces. Sometimes it’s a little, sometimes the box is over flowing. It is all based on the harvest. So every other week, my children traveled with me to the farm to pick up the box and see what vegetables it contained. They also were able to tour the farm and speak with the farmers. You can see if your community has a CSA program at

In the summer, I also try to take the kids to a local “U-Pick.” A U-pick is a farming area where you can pick as many items that will fits into a box or bucket for one price. I will have them pick cherry tomatoes and green peppers then they help me cook them for that night’s dinner. This way they not only had the fun of picking the vegetables they also got to see first-hand how they become a meal.

The toughest concept, but one I feel was the most important, is to have respect for our environment and the animals in it. Eating meat is not a bad thing, it is what is something natural. However, it is important to have an appreciation for the animal that gave its life for our food. So whenever possible, I try to buy grass fed and humanly raised meats and fish. Yes, it is more expensive and not always in the budget. However, if my children can learn to be good stewards of our planet, that we are all connect, and to respect other creatures. That lesson is priceless.



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Why you should eat a Criticism Sandwich

Image from

Image from

This is not a technique they teach at Subway. It requires no meats, cheeses or special sauce, only consideration for someones feelings. Look, no one likes bad news, no one likes to hear what they have done wrong. So the manner in which the critique is given means a lot towards getting the desired results. (I have the remember I said this next time my husband forgets to clean up after himself.)

The Sandwich Technique is a way to approach having to give someone negative feedback. The criticism is like the meat and cheese of the sandwich, which is then sandwiched between two positive comments. (Sesame seeds are optional) Feedback in this manner softens the negative, sometimes harsh criticism, making it more palatable between two pillows of doughy praise.

Critics of this technique say it is not stern enough the get the desired effect and change behavior. But really, who eats just meat on a sandwich? It is usually to salty, tough and unappetizing by itself. It generally doesn’t go down well. Such is the same with negative criticism.

To me this technique is a gem for dealing with difficult people in an honest respectful way. However, in my experience it is used infrequently in the workplace. Employees and middle managers are met with a barrage of things they have done wrong. This creates a hopeless, demoralizing environment and a less motivated productive person. Self criticism or by ones family and friends can work

This Sandwich Method comes home when used with family and friends to deliver bad new or when putting up necessary boundaries. It still respects their feelings and presents the information in the most positive way possible. Mostly, I have been on the receiving end of this technique. As someone who wears their heart on their sleeve it really helped me to put the criticize in perspective, take it in stride and not over-analyse.

Maybe some would say this is a Pollyanna approach to giving feedback. Personally, I have more respect, appreciation and value in feedback given to me in this manner. It helps me to curb my own self doubt and causes a much more thoughtful reaction. Which might in turn illicit an effectual behavior change. It helps to focus on the actual issue and not take it personal or blow it out of proportion.

Hey, no one is perfect. We are all a work in progress. Even if it is not what we want to hear, honest thoughtful criticism given in this way is essential to become out best self.

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Overdoing the Overscheduling

Royal Carbean Cruise 018Like most parents, we want the best for out children. We want to prepare them with all the tools and skills to become successful adults. Whats more is we want to give them an edge to make them more productive, more successful then their peers. So they can win that coveted award, land that perfect job, be a pro-athlete or performer. That I think is what drives us to over schedule our children. Even now I admit I’m fighting the urge to book up my childrens summer with classes and lessons. I feel an intense need to “make the best use or their time.” When really the best use of there time is to let them be a kids and just play.

According to Gwen Dewar, PH.D from an article in, some of the many benefits of childhood play include improved memory, better attention span and better language and problem solving ability.

Also, when a child plays they act out possible real life situations. For example, when my daughter plays teacher in a classroom, or acts out a stage performance.

Play has also been shown to benefit adults. Play is one of the ways we connect with our children, and other adults. (Think of the last time your family played a board game together.) We can discover more about our friends and family thru play.crayons

More recently, there has been a strong resurgence in coloring. Adult coloring books are now being sold and many say
it is a relaxing, fun way to relieve stress. For printable coloring pages click here.

So the next time I feel the urge to structure and over schedule my children’s time, I must remember all the benefits to just letting them play.Plus it’s fun!

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In Between Moderation

In between overdoing it


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