TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

Managing Kids When You Don’t Feel Motivated July 29, 2009

Feeling too tired?

Feeling drained?

Feeling frustrated about your job or the economy?

Just feeling like you are not where you thought you would be at the age you are?

Grieving the loss of a loved one?

Get the BIG PICTURE!

Get the BIG PICTURE!

Coping with a difficult relationship?

Struggling to overcome your own bad habits?

Managing an ongoing health issue of a loved one, or an aging parent?

Or simply feeling depressed and finding it difficult to snap out of?

How can you motivate yourself to be upbeat and positive for the sake of everyone around, especially your children?

No matter how you are feeling, parenthood does not wait for you to get it together.  It is literally 24/7 – ongoing.

Your child is counting on you to be a grown-up.  It will not have crossed your child’s mind that you are not the ideal model of an adult.  In fact, your child will most definitely model themselves on you (even if, as they grow older they really don’t wish to).

We parents need to be able to see the big picture.  We need to be able to view our daily life in perspective.  When we remember that we, ourselves are only part of the picture and all that we think we are suffering, will one day be ‘history’ much of which was of little real importance in the scheme of things, then we can begin to appreciate the needs of those around us.

I guess what I am saying is we only get one chance to parent our children.  They only have one childhood and it is truly only a ‘few years’ long.  In those years, we get to model for our children what it is to:

  • Care about others
  • Work towards goals
  • Be responsible
  • Be honest with ourselves and others
  • Contribute to sustainability of the globe

We cannot afford to get bogged down in the daily-ness of life with all its’ ups and downs.  We have to think about how we impact on our families and how they are looking to their parents to cope, lead, guide and inspire them.

We need to focus on being their sanctuary from the hardships they face on a daily basis rather than focusing on our own.  Because when we can do this, we have the knowledge that we are doing something great.  Something absolutely ‘invaluable’ that no amount of money can buy. 

We are giving our children the place of importance that they deserve, that builds their self-esteem, that teaches them how to value others needs and how to ‘focus-forward’, rather than on the way they are feeling at any given time.

They are going to need these qualities as they grow and mature into the magnificent adults that they will be.  You will find that while you may have been a ‘bit down’ some of the time when your children were young, that you cannot even really recall why you were down, in the years to come.  

Whatever the problem today, it is not made better by letting it get on top of you.  You will only look back and think about the days you wasted, rather than building your child’s bright future….and therefore your own. 

Once you are a parent, your happiness, sense of accomplishment and self-opinion does become inexplicably tied up in how you rate what you have done for your children, one way or another.  Your joy is very much dependent on how you perceive your children’s lives ‘turn out’, whether you like it or not.

So when you are feeling down, upset, out of sorts or stuck in an emotional black hole, you can re-focus your thoughts and motivate yourself to see the day through your children’s eyes.  I know it sounds simplistic and you are probably thinking I have never been unmotivated or ‘down’. 

I have though.  I have experienced what it feels like to just not be able to muster the energy I need, for one reason or another.  And one thing I have come to realize is that life is just like that.  Ups and downs. 

I am not saying that you don’t count or that the way you feel is not valid.  I am merely saying that in a day or two, or week or two, or month or two, the way you are feeling today will not be remembered. 

Feelings come and go. 

We dont have a lot of control over feelings.

But we do have control over thoughts.  We can think about things differently.  We can recognize that there is a ‘big picture’ and it is happy, rosy and filled with joy.  We can gain encouragement for ourselves to see how the big, rosy picture can motivate us out of feeling down.

Focusing on how things can turn out if we perservere and keep sight of the vision motivates because we all want to experience joy and happiness.  It is a need and a driving force within us.  And if that is true, then we can get the energy we need for today because we believe it will result in producing the end result that we are looking for.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Recognize the signs that you are ‘down’.
  • Admit how your ‘downer’ may be affecting those around you.
  • Decide to re-focus on the bigger picture and put the daily picture into perspective (think 5-10 years). Here’s how to re-focus:
    • Imagine what joy you will feel when you see you have raised healthy and happy children.
    • Imagine (really see) your life the way you want it to be rather than keeping on looking at it the way it is now.
  • Take actions consistent with your image of your happy life and family.
  • Remind yourself of the ‘big picture’ and know that what you do today is building that picture.
  • Re-focus every hour or minute if you have to. 
  • Never give up on your dream for your family.

I know it sounds too simplistic.  But what if it is just that simple?

I am reminded of a verse from the Bible that really is consistent with this idea:

Philipians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Think on these things. 

What if it is telling us not to dwell on how down we are feeling? 

What if we can truly become motivated to be happy, even when we are down, simply by refusing to dwell on what we are down about?

I believe that so many of us parents have been raised by imperfect parents who simply did their best, but didn’t know what to really teach us about managing our everyday lives. 

I believe we struggle as adults without children.  But then we find ourselves with children and suddenly, we know we have one chance to help them.  One chance to set them up for life.

Then we try to draw on our own imperfect experiences, like that is going to be enough. 

It’s not enough to just draw on the past.  We have to really develop some vision about the future and work towards setting our children up for that.

So next time you just feel paralysed by your own problems and feel unmotivated, try to think about the future and the needs of your children and take the steps to motivate yourself through it. 

Simplistic?  Yes….but nonetheless true….and it’s worth the effort, I promise!

TalkBack to me.  I value your opinions.  Everyone has either experienced difficulties such as these, or knows someone who has.

Let other parents know about your solutions.  Share your thoughts on this subject.

Bye for now,

Vicki Jardine

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Say NO and MEAN IT! July 16, 2009

Does this child look HAPPY to you?

Does this child look HAPPY to you?

 

Don’t be afraid to say NO to your child!

Children actually want you to say ‘no’ some of the time.  It makes them very nervous if the answer is always ‘yes’.

I know it is hard to believe.  Especially when you see how hard they are willing to work to have you change your mind when you do say NO.

They can sulk and throw tantrums and try over and over again, but if you can stick to your answer of NO despite what behaviours they dish up, you will be very surprised to discover that your child, who may have seemed completely out of control in the past, is actually very reasonable and calm and will accept your answers without too much opposition in the future.

The problem is that too often parents cannot stand the tantrum and come to believe that ‘giving in’ is the fastest, most effective solution.  But this is not true.

Step back from the situation and think about this from your child’s point of view.  They may be happier to accept NO for an answer than you think they are.  Perhaps you have not really put that to the test yet.

Let’s look at a scenario:

  • Your child wants something.
  • They let you know they want it.
  • You say NO
  • Your child tries again to get what he/she wants.
  • You again say NO.
  • Your child tries again…and maybe escalates the request to a demand.
  • You again say NO.
  • Then your child wants to know why not.
  • You answer or you don’t answer (doesn’t matter which)
  • Your child then tries to argue the point (whether you made one or not)

What happens next of course depends on you.  It depends largely on what you routinely do in response to your child’s repeated nagging, asking or demanding.

On the surface of it, it seems like the child simply wants to do or have something in particular.  It may even begin to feel like a battle of the wills (and sometimes it is exactly that, but not always!).

More often than not, your child actually understands that when they ask for something, the answer could be NO.  In fact, they will most likely have prepared a list of reasons that they should be allowed to have or do whatever it is that they want (this is of course in the case of an older child).  Young children only know that they want it.  Older children understand the concept of debate, argument and persistence.

Why is it that older children understand those things?

Well, it is because you, the parents taught those things to your child when they were young.

Persistence.  You taught your child to persist, when you changed a NO to a YES simply on the basis of the argument not being ‘worth the trouble’.  Your child learned that if they keep crying, screaming or simply asking over and over again, that you will eventually give in and say yes.  You taught them that by repeatedly doing so.  Later, when they are older they know you will eventually give in, so they are practically running the show a lot of the time.

But what would have happened if you had not allowed your child to see that their persistence paid off in that way?  Imagine if you let your NO be NO and your YES be YES.

It is never too late to bring in a new understanding into the way you run your family.

If you allow your child to have what they want most of the time, then they will expect to get what they want by the same means elsewhere in their life, not only at home with you. 

So what’s wrong with that?

Well it is in fact highly unfair to let a child have what they want most of the time and to let them think that if they nag or throw a tantrum there is an excellent chance they will get what they want. 

This is not something that will happen for them everywhere they go.  It will not happen at school.  It will most likely not happen when they are playing with friends and with the parents of other children.

It would be great at this point if parents could keep in mind what is actually going on when a child escalates their behaviours to get what they want.

Children want to know that you love them more than anything else in the world.  They are not so interested in having what they want as knowing that you care about them.

  • What if you turned every request into an opportunity to show love to your child?
  • What if you looked at requests from your child differently?
  • What if you understood that saying no with love can actually make your child feel happy and secure?
  • What if you took a minute to explain why you are saying no, or that you would like to say yes, but you know it would not be good for your child?
  • What if you refused to enter into debate over a NO?
  • What if you expressed your understanding for why your child wants something and on top of that expressed that while you understand their reason, it does not change your answer?
  • What if you let your child see that you are in fact in control?

How do you think all these things would affect your child?

Well, I can tell you.  If you could do those things, CONSISTENTLY, here’s what you can expect to happen:

  • Your child will feel loved and secure.
  • They will relax in the knowledge that someone who knows more than them is ‘steering the boat’.  They will come to understand that arguing is not the way to turn a situation around. 
  • They will see what it looks like to manage other people rather than react to them. 
  • They will see that wanting something doesn’t mean you will get it. 
  • They will see that your role includes making decisions for them and their role is to live with those decisions.
  • They will learn that throwing a tantrum does not result in a change of decision (and can possibly have the opposite effect).
  • They will learn that love does not mean saying YES all the time.

So next time your child asks you can they have something, don’t be afraid to say NO.  But if you do say NO….stick to it no matter what.

If your child is not used this being the ‘norm’ in your home, then take a few minutes when there is no issue or request being denied and explain your role as the parent so your child can see that possibly something has changed.

It doesn’t matter if your children are strong-willed.  They will give in, in the interest of self-preservation.  If you have been giving your child most of what they want for a very long time, then it is only fair to expect them to ‘hold out’ for a very long time to get what they want.  Remember, you taught them that if they persist, they will get it.  So don’t hold it against them if they do persist.

Just understand that if you don’t stop this pattern of behaviour now, it is going to cost your child dearly as time goes by.  Also, it will mean you have less control over your own life probably for the rest of your life.  Do you really want to be a slave to your child’s whims for the rest of your life? 

How many people in their 50’s and 60’s have you seen still trying to ‘give’ their adult kids what they want one way or another?  When that happens it is easy to see that the parents have been mistaken.  And it is riduculous actually.

It is not as ridiculous when you see that happening with a 3 year old.  However, it really is as damaging to all involved.

So don’t be afraid to say NO and STICK TO IT!  It will save not only time, but ultimately could save your child from having unrealistic expectations of other people for the rest of their lives.

Leave a comment and let people know what you think about saying NO and sticking to it. 

Let us know about your child’s tantrums or if you have any questions you would like answered.

Talkback to me!  I’m interested in what you have to say.

Vicki Jardine

 

The Ultimate Gift July 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — vickijardine @ 6:41 pm

Is it gold?  Is it diamonds?  Is it 5 minutes of peace and quiet?

What is it? 

Is it the birth of a child?  Or is it the love and innocence of a child?

It is none of the above…..and yet it is ALL of the above.

The Ultimate Gift is the gift you are receiving NOW. 

It's the thought that counts!

It's the thought that counts!

 

I don’t mean this blog post from me (though that is pretty special).  I mean that whatever gift your child is giving you at any particular time….that is the Ultimate Gift.

That gift, at that particular moment is a complete expression of love, appreciation, the desire to please and the greatest symbol of your connection with the deepest thoughts and feelings of your child. 

Whatever gift it is, is a symbol of the fact that you are bonded at the ‘heart’ level with this little person and more importantly….they, themselves feel bonded to you.  

You know that when it comes to gifts, it is often not about the gift itself.  The old saying, ‘It’s the thought that counts’, well the feeling counts too.  In fact, the feelings that ‘giving’ provides to the person doing the giving is very important to that person’s self-image.

And when it comes to children, they are the most open-hearted, giving little people on earth.  But they don’t stay that way, do they.  Few children remain as giving and unconditionally loving as they were when they were infants.

Why is this? Where does that ‘open-heartedness’ go?

I think that as parents it is important that we ask ourselves the following kinds of questions:

  • What do I do that encourages my child to be ‘giving’?
  • How do I respond when my child does give me a gift?
  • Do my child’s gifts have an emotional impact on me?
  • How would my child recognize the impact that their gift has had on me?
  • What evidence is there of the value I place on the child’s thoughts and feelings, rather than on the gift itself?

Because, actually the gift itself is not the thing that is ‘ultimate’.  It’s what it symbolizes….to your child.

As parents, carers and guardians, we need to realize what is going through a child’s mind when they give a gift.  What is the child’s motivation and intention?  What is the underlying objective of your child, when he/she gives you a gift?

You know the bible says it is more blessed to ‘give’ than to receive.  Giving therefore is better for the giver, than it is for the one who is receiving the gift.  When I was a child, I could just not fathom that.  How could it be that if I gave someone a gift that I would really like to have myself, I am actually the one more blessed?  Surely the one with the gift is the one who was blessed?

But giving brings joy to the giver.  It also brings a sense that the ‘self’ is a good person and that others appreciate you and you are someone who shows appreciation to others.  Giving says we are connected in a special way. 

Giving produces the kind of happiness that no-one else can provide for us, we can only feel that way about ourselves and others through the act of ‘giving’.

Another important aspect of maximizing the benefits of ‘giving’ to your child is to help your child focus on the good feelings that they experience when they give.  Help them notice that it feels good and to recognize their feelings.

Say things like,

  • ‘You must feel so good to know that your special, thoughtful gift has given me so much happiness!’
  • ‘I know you put a lot of thought into that, and you know what….your special thoughts and the gift are so important to me, because they tell me that you love me, did you know that?’

Or ask some questions about how they arrived at this ‘particular gift’.

  • ‘How did you decide to make this for me?’
  • ‘Oh, you remembered that I said that I love those colors?  Wow, you really care about what would make me feel happy.’

Notice things like:

  • The time it might have taken to make.
  • That they may have needed some help to get the materials, or the gift itself.
  • That they remembered something special that you had said or done for someone else even and translated that information into making or buying something similar for you.
  • Help them recognize the special thoughts, memories, decisions that they made and help them to give themselves credit for taking action on those things.

Also remember that children do not have the emotional development or the vocabulary to recognize and identify feelings, attitudes and thought processes.  Talking about the gift, the gift selection process and the feelings, thoughts and attitudes attached to them is what helps your child develop these all important degrees of maturity.

So, when your child brings you a gift just remember that each little gift is an opportunity for you to show your child that you value that bond and connection you have with them.  It’s a sign between you that you mean something to one another.  Moreover, it is an opportunity for you to turn that into the Ultimate Gift….a deep-seated appreciation that they can develop from simply ‘giving’ to others.   Help them develop an appreciation for themselves, for others and for the thoughts and feelings that connect them to their loved ones.

Talk Back to me.  I want to hear your stories about the times your child has given you a gift.  Or tell me about a gift that you gave your mom or dad when you were a child.  We all have ‘gift’ stories, so let’s share them with one another.

Here’s to you and your child

Warmest Wishes,

Vicki Jardine