NAGGING OR TEACHING… are we nagging our children or teaching responsibility

quote-nagging-2Are we nagging our children when we think we’re teaching them responsibility?

It’s easy to do.  And being the parent we think we’re right.  But are we?

There is a difference between teaching responsibility and nagging.  Sometimes, we get frustrated with them because we see the negative in us emerge through them.  Is that their fault?  Of course not.  Is it ours? Not always because we don’t realize what we’re doing.

Parenting is a circle of hit and misses.  But it’s the misses we must pay attention to, and if we’re lucky, we will learn more about ourselves as we go along – if we’re willing to put aside our ego and acknowledge, “Okay, let me retrace my steps, see what went wrong, the words I used, the actions I used, and start over.”

We all want our children to take responsibility for themselves, starting at a young age.  When they start crawling, that’s the time to start teaching responsibility.  You can never start too early!  Have a small basket nearby and crawl with them to toss their toys into the basket at the end of the day.

But as they get older, it can turn into nagging.  Do they even listen to us if they feel like it’s nagging?  Probably not.  It’s frustrating when you think you’ve taught them, and showed them by your actions, to take responsibility for everything from homework to cleaning up after themselves and they still do not do it for one reason or another.   We as parents feel hurt and frustrated because we’ve tried everything.  Maybe switching gears a little may help.

Maybe it’s the way we’re speaking to them.  Instead of, “Didn’t I tell you no T.V. until your homework is done!”  Ask questions.  “I know you were excited about staying on schedule with getting your homework completed by 6:00 P.M., how is that coming along?”  Instead of, “We’re not leaving this house until your bed is made, how many times do I have to repeat myself!” (No question mark because in our mind, it is a rhetorical question!), ask, “I know we agreed your goal was to make your bed every day this week, how is that coming along?”

It’s very important that they SEE US take responsibility, as well.  We really shouldn’t tell our children to keep their room spotless if we’re not going to do the same.   Keep their bathroom spotless, if we’re not keeping ours that way.  It’s not always that the child is hardheaded or rebellious, sometimes – and this is difficult as a parent to say – it is us.  It’s what we’re doing, or not doing, or it is the way we are presenting it to them.  And how we react to their actions, speaks volumes to them, especially when you do keep everything spotless and do everything right, and expect them to follow.

Every child is different.  So are parents.  When we focus on our responsibilities, and ‘show’ them we did, and even say, “It feels so good to make the commitment to myself to go to the gym four times this week, and actually do it! I did it, and it feels great!” There’s a very good chance soon thereafter your child will follow in your footsteps for his or her own goals.*

The main thing is that we as parents never stop trying to guide and help our children anyway we can.  As parents we have to be creative because every child is special and unique, and so are we! Their actions aren’t perfect, but are ours?  As long as we keep searching for what will work for that special individual child, then we need to pat ourselves on the back, because we deserve it!

Debbie Caldwell

*There are developmental problems that should be addressed by a professional, such as ADD, if you feel you’ve exhausted every avenue and still having issues.


“Mommy, what is Thanksgiving?”

“Daddy, why did the Pilgrims leave their country?”

“Why do we eat turkey?”

We all have been asked these questions from the children in our lives. But how do we shorten the long version in words that they can understand about this holiday of giving thanks?  

How about:thanksgiving-free-clip-art-222074127304

“Today, it’s 2016, but way back in 1620, we had our first Thanksgiving!

Many people from England wanted to pray to their God, but their King did not want that.  He wanted everyone to go to the same church – the Church of England.  If they did not go to this church they would get in trouble and go to jail.

Some of the people were sad and angry.  They wanted to pray the way they wanted to, not the way they were told to, and they wanted to respect their church, which they did not, so they decided to leave their home country, this King, and his church.  They got on a ship named the Mayflower and traveled across the ocean and arrived in Plymouth.  Because of this “pure” freedom, they were called Puritans… also, Pilgrims.

They were scared, because everything was so different for them.  The Native Americans were already in Plymouth and living off the land.  They could see that the Pilgrims were having a difficult time.  So being kind and thoughtful, they helped them build homes, shared their food with them, and taught them how to grow their own food.  They became great friends!

The first winter was very hard for the Pilgrims.  Over time their food grew, and their friendship with the Native Americans grew, too.  Having this new friendship and sharing so much together, the Pilgrims wanted a grand feast for the Native Americans.  With all their new food and their new hunting skills, the Pilgrims had a beautiful dinner with their new friends – a dinner of thanks and gratitude – a thanks-giving dinner.

That was our first Thanksgiving!”

And that’s that! Close enough?

Depending on the ages of the children, you can incorporate the correct definition of Puritans and the difference between Puritans and Pilgrims, along with the feast lasting three or four days, where Plymouth is on the map, and what year the United States made it a national holiday – 1941.

Questions to spark the imagination may be:

* What kind of food do you think they had at the first Thanksgiving (remember… grown from seeds).

* What did they drink?

*What decorations for the table did they use?

*What did their homes look like?

*The Pilgrims were grateful for the Native Americans and their kindness, what are you grateful for?

*What pictures do you think the children drew for the Native Americans?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends.  It’s a perfect day to think about life’s blessings.

Harry Pierre & PeTunia and their creators wish you and yours a wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving! We are grateful for each one of you and the joy that Harry Pierre & PeTunia bring to children, encouraging kindness and respect, and the beauty of friendships.

–Debbie Caldwell


Cookies and Fall! What a winning combination!

Fall is a time to sip hot chocolate and stroll around the neighborhood in the evenings.  It’s the time to pull out the old flannel pajamas and your warmest bedroom slippers.  It’s the time to take drives out into the country and smell the fresh air.  It’s the time for crafts and walking through the pumpkin patches.  It’s also the time to bake!

Feel free to send us your favorite Fall recipe to share with other parents and friends.  Harry Pierre & PeTunia would love to see a photo of their little Puddibee – Puddlesworth Imagination Believer – baking and using their imagination!

Happy Fall and Happy Baking!



1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup canola oil

1 egg

1 ½  teaspoons  vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon milk

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, but both are very good, especially the walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degree.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Using mixer, mix well pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and egg.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and salt.

In a bowl, dissolve baking soda with the milk.

Add both the flour mixture and the baking soda mixture to the pumpkin mixture.  Mix well.

Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Using a cookie scoop (about 1½ tablespoons) drop spoonful’s of the cookie dough on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake between 9 – 12 minutes, depending on oven.   Allow the cookies to remain on cookie sheet cooling for two minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


CHILDREN’S BEDTIME ROUTINES… making treasured memories

When it comes to bedtime routines with children, every parent has their own opinion.  Some are on the go and a strict bedtime routine isn’t part of their day, and others see it as a sacred ritual.

For two of the co-creators of Harry Pierre & PeTunia, they were in each of those categories!

Quote Read to Tucked in

I was in the latter category.  From the day I brought them home from the hospital, I looked at their schedule and the bedtime routine as a strict ritual.   If we went out, we had to be home by 7:15 P.M.  If my two daughters were heavily involved in play, I would set the kitchen stove timer for five-minutes, and when the buzzer sounded, it was time to put away the toys, and take a bath.  After bath, and brushing and flossing teeth-time, we would put on their choice of two pajamas.  One daughter had a favorite nightgown she wore to threads, and would then move on to the next nightgown which she wore to threads, as well, but the other liked choices, and isn’t that the norm with children – being totally different from one another? After bathing, we would go downstairs to sip a very small cup of less-than-hot-decaf tea with milk, rock in a rocking chair, and return to bed to read our favorite story – okay, two or three times reading the favorite story.  And I quickly learned that the way I read the stories and poems was much different than how my husband read it to them.  Because one daughter loved the extra words and silly phrases he would interject, while other one would come to me crying that Daddy didn’t read it right!

After the bed-time story, we said our prayers:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

May Angels watch me through the night, and wake me in the morning’s light.”

Then they would say their little blessings for their family, and their dogs, of course, and toys sometimes, and once in bed and snuggled in well, we would end it with:

“Goodnight, sleep tight, and our love will carry us to the morning light.”

They got a goodnight hug and kiss, and then I would stand by the door of my youngest daughter because I knew I would be called in for just “one more kiss!” This would be between 8:15 – 8:45 P.M., and then my husband and I would have the remainder of the evening alone.

The other co-creator of Harry Pierre & PeTunia, Gladys Vargas-Ruiz, on the other hand, having three sons and then a daughter, got tickled with my schedule because where I looked at bath-time as a scheduled ritual; she and her husband worked their children in and out of the shower like speeding bullets! She was a very busy lady, on the go all the time, and according to her there were times where some of their bedtime routine was done on the way home.  She, as well, loved reading to her children so I’m sure she read bedtime stories, but the question remains, “Where did she read them at?” 🙂  She also had special bedtime prayers, too.  One of her bedtime must-haves was for all her children to tell each other “goodnight” before crawling into bed.  She laughed when she heard I rocked my daughters until their legs entwined with mine.  I didn’t bother telling her how devastated I was when my oldest untangled her legs and firmly, but compassionately, said around ten-years-old, “Mom, I think I’m too old for this.” Oh, my stomach pangs thinking of her walking away that evening!

Her children, like mine, have fond memories of all they did at bedtime.  Were our routines as different as day and night? Yes, but what worked for me, would not have worked for her, but she devised one that worked splendidly for her and her family.

We both believe the most important thing about a bedtime routine is spending time with your children – regardless of how you do it – and putting them to bed at a decent hour so they get plenty of sleep, and finding a way to wind them down to feel happy and safe so they may sleep in peace and wake in joy.

Every parent and every child is different.  What works for one doesn’t work for another, so if you are having difficulties at bedtime and it’s more like a battlefield instead of a tranquil experience, change it up a bit.  Children really do work better with routines, so maybe you’re not structured enough and he/she needs more structure and longer sleeping hours.  Maybe you have too much structure and not enough choices.   Maybe you’re not giving them enough time to quiet down or trying to quiet them down too abruptly.  Maybe you can add a little warm decaf tea with milk and a few minutes of rocking! Whatever you choose, be consistent. 

Read to your child as long as you can.  It’s such a special time for them.  I’ve met families that as the children aged they went from picture books at bedtime to appropriate aged novels, reading a chapter a night, and did so until the children were in their very early teens.

Having children think they are the center of your world and making memories before they drift off to Sleepland could be one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. 

We all learn from each other, so we invite you to share what works best for you and your family!

–Debbie Caldwell

THE BIG BAD PARENT Will you seize the moment if it means your child will be embarrassed or even get in trouble at school… or will you not?

quote if we think before we act“Should I get my child to take responsibility for something that was his fault? But he’ll get in trouble at school if he admits to it.  He learned from it, so we should just move on.  I don’t have the time to deal with it.”

I recently heard a parent ask this question, and well, it disturbed me, and for more than one reason.  One, as parents, regardless of how much trouble our child will get into when taking responsibility for his/her actions, it has to be done.  Because, children just don’t “move on” if they are not guided to be accountable for their actions.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will not happen again, and possibly on a larger scale.  We have to be sometimes, The Big Bad Parent.  Two, regardless of age, what is the opposite effects of them not taking accountability? Think about it…

If a child writes on the wall at school and you learn your precious offspring was the Picasso, are you going to just point your finger and say, “You know that’s wrong, don’t you do it again! I don’t have time to deal with your mess!” and hope it won’t happen again?

Or, are you going to take the time to take him/her to the school office, make them tell the Principal what they did, and if possible, that you want to buy the matching paint, take him/her to their masterpiece and make them repaint it, on top of doing extra chores to repay you for the paint money, ask the Principal what chores can he/she do around the school for at least a month, plus whatever punishment you think should be placed upon them at home?

Which one would you choose?  I believe most parents are good parents and would choose the latter, but not all would do so.   

Why? Could it possibly be tarnishing the child’s image? Or, it may bring others to look poorly at your parenting skills? Or, you don’t want your child embarrassed in front of the other children?

Isn’t that too bad?

A little embarrassment with children taking responsibility goes a long way.

Years back when my youngest daughter was in grade school, a “friend” suggested if she and another girl wanted to be cool, they had to write with her on the bathroom walls.  So, they did.  Even though she may not have realized what she and the others were writing, she did know it had to be carried out as if it were a James Bond secret mission – thus, if anything has to be done that secretly, then it’s wrong.   And, since they’re no 007’s, they got caught.  Lucky for her, I left that morning to go to an out-of-town conference, and as her teacher politely put it, “I thought, ‘Great, she goes out of town and all hell breaks loose!’”

When I returned, I went to the office to see if her painting the walls were allowed, but by then “all was taken care of” – maybe from their end, since she and the others were suspended for ONE day, but not from our end.

A few very special television recordings she loved and would occasionally watch – deleted.  An upcoming birthday party invitation – a gift was given, but she was not in attendance.  Her room and closet – super cleaned.  Weeds around the bushes – pulled. “I will always respect school property,” – written 50 times, three times that week.  Her hand written, and hand delivered, apology letter to Principal, and I believe her teacher as well, if memory correctly serves me.  And, it was quite a while before she could go over to a friend’s home to play, because she had to rebuild that parental trust (and never again to one of her “art buddies” homes either).

Last, but not least, disappointment.  I made sure she knew we loved her, but her actions were very disappointing to us, as well as to her teacher, and to old Mr. Joe, the custodian that had to clean and paint the walls because of her and her “friends” choices, which led to their actions.

And, that was another perfect opportunity to again discuss that we have the choice to choose our thoughts, and every thought has an action, and every action has a consequence.

Were those the correct ways to discipline? I have no idea.  We’re only parents, we’re not perfect, but they were though, the best we could do with the knowledge we had at that time.  All I knew was that her actions could not be ignored.  She was in 5th Grade, and if she was old enough to hold a pen and secretly take it to the bathroom to write and draw on the walls, then she was old enough to take responsibility for her actions.  If we did nothing, what would she be doing with friends in 10th Grade? 

There are going to be moments in your child’s life where you will have the opportunity to help them take responsibility for their actions.  Jump at those opportunities! Seize the moment to help them understand while they’re young, that their choices and actions affect us all.  It has a trickle-down effect to everyone around them, even strangers.  Regardless of age, there is no one that can do or say something that is wrong without it not only affecting others, but possibly hurting them, as well.  And being one that believes in “What goes around, comes around,” some people may say “Kharma,” their actions, if ignored, may just come knocking at your door one day.  

We all have different ways to guide and discipline our children, but our end result should be the same – teaching character, responsibility, and kindness.  If we work together to help children understand the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, grow confidence and self-esteem as a result of doing so, just think how happy they will be as they grow into healthy, successful, responsible adults!

Life is what we make of it, so let’s make this life a grand one for our children!      

–Debbie Caldwell

Harry Pierre & PeTunia Puddlesworth

…enriching children’s lives, one story at a time…

SUMMER FUN WITH CHILDREN Keeping Children Happy, Healthy, and Challenged During the Summer Months

surfboards sitting in the sand at the beach

Children look forward to summer break – no school, no responsibilities, sleep in late, no worries! But many parents do not relish summer break.  It can be stressful for parents, especially working parents, to keep children entertained and active without becoming couch potatoes and bored during the break.

There are so many questions parents must ask prior to summer break: is my child old enough to be left alone during the day, how will they stay occupied, will I have to find a caretaker, can I afford a summer camp, do I even want a summer camp, will the caretaker keep them busy enough, will I keep them busy enough, is it fair to drop them off at their grandparents everyday – for both child and grandparent.

Not all parents work outside the home, so asking several of them for help and offering fiscal compensation could be an option for working parents.  If you work from home – and that includes stay-at-home parents because they are often the hardest workers of all and the most overlooked – you are one of the lucky ones during summer breaks.

Here are a few ideas for summer activities:

  • Reading and games. Buy some new books and games throughout the year, but do not share them with the children until summer break begins.  A good way to stock up on books is to check with the local libraries for the dates of their book sales.  Many will have quarterly, if not monthly sales.  Some great games at inexpensive prices can also be purchased at early morning garage sales and consignment stores.
  • Local Parks & Recreation Department have summer activities available for children. Many will offer art lessons, introductory swim lessons, music lessons, dance and exercise lessons, and the best thing about the Parks & Recreation Department, they are usually well-staffed and economical.
  • Performing theaters and museums. Many of the performing arts theaters have early bird performances during the summer months where tickets are half price, and the museums will have special showings for children as well as art classes.
  • Plant a little garden in small planters. Let them be responsible for its watering and care.  Help children appreciate not only the beauty of flowers and the importance of herbs, but encourage the benefits of being outdoors.
  • Baking. Pick one day a week to bake something new for the entire school break!  Any extras can be delivered to neighbors, the staff at convalescent homes, your doctor’s and dentist offices.  The little acts of kindness are the ones that children will remember most.

It’s important to help children stay challenged with academics during the summer months.  Grade appropriate workbooks can be found in many stores, parent teacher stores, and online.  Spending 30 minutes going over a few pages a week can go a long way with reducing stress when returning to school.

Summer is a great way to spend extra time with your children.  It’s also fun to make a Special Summer Family Calendar where the entire family can contribute ideas.  It’s a great way of staying organized, keeping the excitement high, and the stress level low during summer break.

surfer standing next to surfboard at beach

Harry Pierre & PeTunia would love to hear any ideas you may have for entertaining the children during the summer months!

–Debbie Caldwell

(clipart from


CHILDREN AND COMPUTER TIME… how much is too much?

Quote imagination ThoreauMy daughter works part-time at a tutoring company that cares for younger grade school children after school and assists with all homework; thereafter entertaining them until the parents’ arrival.  She mentioned how worried she was with children nowadays, and to me, that was a little humorous since she is only twenty-years-old!  She stated that after the homework is complete, she tries to encourage them to socialize at their table of six, in her presence, and working together find a way to use their imaginations.  So she asked, “Who can share ways we can now use our imagination?” 

She said they sat, and sat, stared down at the table, and sat longer, and never gave a response.  So she offered several examples from having a treasure hunt outside to building a fantasy city with cardboard.  With looks of boredom from these young children, she said, “Okay, how would you like to use your imagination?”  In a heartbeat, they all retrieved iPads and/or expensive phones from their backpacks and started playing games – alone.  She stated it was as if they were all inside of their own little bubble.  They didn’t look at each other.  They didn’t laugh with each other.  They didn’t want to play together.  The only talk around the table was who had the nicest phone and iPad.  And their response to her asking, “Let’s go use our imaginations!” was, “We are!” Even though not a one was using a drawing/art/academic app or some type of similar play.

Days later she had a new group of children at a different school and asked the same question when their work was completed.  The results were better, but still, only four out of the six had ideas of ways they could use their imaginations.  The other two wanted only to socialize with their iPads.

That was eight out of twelve children that said they could not think of things to do on their own.  And when asked what they do with their free time at home, it was playing games on their iPad or phones, or watching music or make-up videos online, or they’re on their popular photo-sharing websites.

I am all for modern technology.  I love my computer though I am technologically impaired, and my family and two business partners will agree to that, but I believe majority of people will say it has made our lives much easier.  From communicating with others to finding the best recipes on earth to driving in faraway lands you dream of visiting with Google Drive to earning an income, the technology is amazing.  And some people meet the love of their lives online!

But are we going to pay the price one day for allowing our young children to spend so much time on iPads and phones?  And if so, what will that price be?  Will they be able to socialize as they age? Will they even want to? How is this going to affect their growing brains? I am all for the academic, art enrichment, crafts, etiquette, social behavioral games/videos available online, but are our young children spending too much time online? If so, what are the limits? And, what are they looking at?

You have scientists all over the world that will give you answers from one extreme to the other to the above questions.  You have ones that say it is fine being online so much at that young age, as young as two-years-old, and it will not affect their social behavior skills as they grow, nor brain productivity.  Then you have others that state that never in history has children so young spend so much time on the computer and the result could be “Digital Dementia.” It is a term used by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer to describe an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in very young adults, with the affects being similar to an aging brain decades beyond their years, and in ways that is commonly seen in people who have suffered head injuries or psychiatric illnesses.

So what’s the answer? Being parents, and even though our children think we have all the answers, we know we don’t, and that’s okay.  All we can do is love our children, monitor them the best we can, ask them everyday lots of questions, guide them even when they don’t want us to, and encourage them to use their imaginations.  If you think they are spending too much time on the computer, then limit the time.  I heard a parent say she tracked the time her child was using his iPad for one week, whether for pleasure or school, and she had no idea of the hours he spent doing so.  For awareness, maybe it’s time we all notice what we’re not noticing.

Being creative and using your imagination is a beautiful thing.  It helps in all areas of our lives.  It is the main reason my partners and I started our company and created Harry Pierre & PeTunia Puddlesworth for children and made our first DVD with the duo – to encourage friendships, kindness, and to believe in the power of the imagination.

If you need a few extra tips on things to do with your children to encourage their imaginations, available free on our website, are Harry Pierre & PeTunia’s Top 40 Family-Fun-Time-Tips!

Helen Keller said it perfectly, “The most beautiful world is always entered through the imagination.”

–Debbie Caldwell