TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

Spoil Your Child and Spoil Your Child’s Chances February 12, 2011

The other day I was talking to a mother of an 11 year old boy.   He is not doing very well in school, despite being fairly bright.  He has been suspended several times so far this year for behavior related things and is now on academic probation.  She has tried everything she knows to do and admitted that she is having difficulty sleeping and is experiencing some anxiety over her son.

The school counsellor is inclined to refer the boy for assessing to see if he has a ‘condition’ and is requesting the teachers to compile a profile of this child’s behaviors which might be useful to those who would be conducting the psychological analysis.

While I understand that many children are suffering conditions brought on by various external and internal elements, and these can be measured and treated (and should be), I also feel that before going down that road all adults involved in the care of that child should agree to determine whether it could simply be a case of immaturity combined with other elements like lack of self-discipline, laziness, lack of motivation, poor positive recognition or simply pure ‘indulgence’.  Then if all those things have been ruled out, then proceed to psychological evaluation.

In the case of this particular child, he does not have a condition, I don’t believe.  But he IS suffering.  He is suffering the realization that the world as he knew it, does not actually exist.

Until now he has lived in a world where he could have pretty much whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it.  He could just make everyone laugh and they would forgive his tardiness, his irresponsibility, his forgetfulness and his laziness.  He could turn on the charm and dance around and joke with everyone, parents and teachers alike, and get through every single day without major incident of consequence TO HIM.  Of course, his parents and teachers were pulling their hair out looking for a solution for him.

And therein lies the key!

Thinking is a necessary skill

We have to make sure that we provide children with opportunities in which we link what is important for them to LEARN with what IS SIMPLY IMPORTANT TO THEM.

So for example, with this young man I have been describing, it has become very apparent now, at age 11 that this young man is going through a paradigm shift.  Suddenly, teachers are expecting him to accomplish work during class.  His parents, who have even paid for tutors up till now with little or no lasting results, now expect him to take his studies seriously.

But how?

How can this boy suddenly see the world a different way?  And if he doesn’t begin to see the world a different way, then he may end up on medication for a condition that he has been diagnosed with.

But what if he does not have a condition?  What if he is simply…. spoiled?

Now of course, every child is different, but here’s what I found with this boy:

He is not accustomed to using his brain.  At the very point at which he needs to engage his thought processes, he instead expends huge amounts of energy trying to avoid ‘thinking’.

He is very clever, actually.  The thoughts that occupy his mind are all related to playing.

How can I play?

When can I play?

Who can I play with?

His teachers say he will copy from the board.  He sits still if forced to.  He can even appear to be listening and probably is listening.

But when it comes to accessing his knowledge, applying information or actually initiating an idea, this boy just ‘folds’.

He employs tactics like asking clarifying questions.  These work really well to give the impression he is engaged with the topic.  However truth be known, it is a tactic to keep the teacher talking, so as to minimize the time left for him to work independently.

If the teacher maintains the stance that he has enough information to begin the task and is not drawn into any extra prolonged explanations, and then this boy simply states, ‘I don’t understand’.

But it is not true in this boy’s case.  He absolutely does understand.  Remember, I said he was bright.  He understands, but he has neither  the motivation nor the habit of engaging his thought processes, as he has never had to use them this way before.

If the teacher then says to him,

‘Yes, you do understand.  You are a very smart boy.  You just need to think about what you know, and then you will work out for yourself, what to do’.

It is at this point where he can see the tactics have not worked.  Now, in order to get what he really wants…..TO PLAY…. he has to get the work done.

So guess what!  He does it.  And he does it correctly with excellent attention to detail.  Sometimes he is a little shaky on his confidence, and is hesitant, but on the whole once he finds out that what has always worked for him in the past does no longer work, that the only way he can reach his personal goal (to play) is to reach his teacher’s goal first, he then just gets on with it.

Then the young man has the opportunity to develop confidence in himself and in his abilities.  If he does gain in confidence, then it is possible for the adults in his life to help him recognize the good feelings he has when he independently solves a problem, completes class work or homework, or contributes in the classroom.

All those times while he was little, he should not have been indulged.  He should never have come to see the world as a place in which you simply play and never take responsibility for anything.

It is very hard on him to re-calibrate his thinking now.  And remember, he was almost on the path to medication.

He is not sick.  He does not have a condition.  He is merely ‘spoiled’.

As parents, it is a good idea to make sure you are allowing your child to strive, not struggle.  Allow him or her to work things out for themselves.  Don’t be too quick to give the solution to a problem, be it how to tie shoelaces or button a shirt, to how to solve an algebraic equation.  Let your child feel good about trying.  Let them feel better about trying than about succeeding.

In this time and age that we live in, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is the opportunity to develop ‘innovative’ thought processes.  Experimenting, failing, trying again, creating, trying something different, learning from mistakes.  These are the qualities and skills we want to be helping our children develop.

Our role is not to smooth out all the bumps in the road so they don’t feel upset or inconvenienced.

Our role is to be there cheering them on, setting an example, exposing them to positive role models, providing learning opportunities and encouraging them when it doesn’t go as they hoped.

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Cause and Effect January 16, 2010

Cause and Effect....or Choices and Consequences

Have you ever wondered why your child seems better behaved for one person than they are for another?

Or why does your child conform to expectations at school much better than he/she does at home for you?

It happens all the time, mom can’t get her child to take a nap, but every day at pre-school the teacher manages to get 20 small children to lie down at the same time.  Is it a phenomenon?  Or can it be explained?

I believe it can be quite simply explained in 2 words:  Cause and Effect.

Child-Care professionals understand the need to introduce the concept of ‘consequences’ to very young children.  Once a child understands that there are consequences to the choices they make, most of the time they will choose well.  So for example when it comes to nap-time, the children know that if they lie down for a little while, they will then get to play with something special, or they will have a treat and their teacher will be really happy with them….the payoffs to them are numerous and irrefutable.  They will see that for those children who chose not to nap, they will miss out.  Most children clearly understand ‘cause and effect’ when the adults in their life have clearly linked the consequences of their choices to the outcomes that they receive.

No matter how irrational your child seems, they truly do understand the language of Cause and Effect. 

Humans, no matter how young simply do not do things for which there is no evident payoff.  It will make daily life a lot easier for you as a parent, if you learn to talk to your child in terms of choices and consequences.  If you make it clear what will happen if they do one thing and what will happen if they do another, then they will usually choose the outcome that they want and will surprise you by the degree of commitment they can show to that outcome.

If your child does not lie down and take a nap when you know they need to, then that can be explained by the fact that your child doesn’t see what the payoff is. 

When it comes to payoff, there really does need to be some emotional payoff as well.  Going back to the pre-school example, you will notice that the outcome for napping was not just a treat or something special.  It also includes that the teacher is very happy with them.  The teacher will smile a lot at each child, pat them lovingly on the back, shoulder or head and will instinctively make sure each child knows they made a good choice…and that people are proud of them.  The teacher may boast about them to other adults and tell their mom and dad how wonderful they are and how they always nap well like it is some really big achievement.

I know this because I know the payoff for the teacher is that more of the children will nap well and so the day will be a better one.  Cause and Effect!

So no matter how old your child is, make sure you are arranging your child’s world so that it is clearly a series of choices each with different outcomes and that you are helping your child see what the payoff is to them, in language they will understand.  When they make a poor choice and the ‘effect’ is not what the child wants, let them learn from that.  Don’t save them all the time.  Let your child forego a nap or whatever but then make sure that they see that when they don’t nap, they are tired and cranky and that playing isn’t as much fun for the rest of the day.  Help them see that now, because they didn’t nap, they cannot go to the park or stay up and watch their show on television.  Let them see that they chose that and that next time they might want to make the other choice.  Show them what the ‘effect’ would have looked like had they made the other choice.  That they would now be able to stay up, that they would not be feeling so out of sorts with everyone and everything if they had had that nap.

Then next time when they have to choose to nap or not, help them remember the way they felt when they made the choice not to nap last time.  Help them connect the choice they have to make right now, with the ‘effects’ they have suffered in the past.  Remember that they need you to always connect the dots for them.

This applies to almost all the things that fill up your child’s day…not just to napping. 

I am sure you have stories about times your child had a lesson in ‘cause and effect’, or you have some situations you would like some help bringing into a ‘cause and effect’ understanding for your child.  If you want to share some of your ideas, stories or want some suggestions about how to word some of the choices positively, then please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post and I will answer you and I am sure some other parents will also bring their experiences to light.  Sharing what we know works for the sake of our children, in this very quickly changing world.  That’s what modern parenting is all about.

So talkback with me on the subject of ‘cause and effect’.  I want to hear what you have to say.

Warmest Wishes,

Vicki Jardine

 

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

 

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

 

How to Talk with Your Child, So that Your Child will Talk with You June 7, 2009

Talking to ParentsPractically every parent I speak to experiences the ‘after school shutdown’.  This is when you ask your child about their day only to get one-word answers.  You ask how their day was and you get …. ‘good’.  You ask what they studied and you get…. ‘nothing’.  After a couple of attempts to draw your child out into a conversation, you give up and everyone feels better.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Parents often ask me how they can establish open communication with their children.  So don’t think that you are the only one who experiences the ‘shutdown’.  And it’s not uncommon for parents to actually feel as though they don’t know their own children very well at all. 

Remember when they were little and you felt like you knew them very well?  Remember when they told you all their secrets?  Do you ever find yourself wondering who these little people ‘really are’ and what is actually happening in their lives? 

The subject of ‘communicating with children’ comes up a lot in coaching and emails that I receive.  It seems that most parents at one time or another struggle to keep the lines of communication with their children open.

Without getting into the reasons for this, today we’re just going to focus on positive things parents can do to create a family environment that encourages your children to open up and join in conversations and discussions.

 

 

When your son/daughter tells you something, try to open the subject up more by asking questions like:

  • Oh, that’s interesting! 
  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What else did they say? 
  • Did anything else happen?
  • Wow, what was that like for you? 

If you can get your child to explain more then you can respond:

  • Ok, so now I understand.  You sure explained that to me well.
  • Hey, you sure know how to explain things. 
  • Wow, you’re a great story-teller. 

If your child draws a picture don’t just say ‘that’s nice’:

Wow, how did you get that (wavy, dotty, scratchy) effect?  

If your child does some writing at school, say a poem or a short story or a letter:

  • Hey can you make a copy of that for me, so I can always have it?
  • Wow, can I show my friends what you did?

 Of course, you have to tailor these questions to fit your family.  But you can get the idea.  What you are trying to achieve is to make your child feel that you find them a lot more interesting, clever and valuable than they ever suspect that they are.

You are taking steps to give courage to your child to keep putting their best foot forward and to know that you are their biggest supporter. 

Handling your Childs Fears, Failures and Fear of Failure:

Of course, you will also need to learn how to handle your child’s fears and failures.  Or even more devastating to the development of self-esteem, is your child’s fear of failure.   This fear can paralyse your son/daughter so they don’t even attempt things that they may perceive themselves as likely to fail. 

This is why it is essential to be building the relationship with your child in which you praise their effort and not only their achievement.  For even when a child feels their achievement is lacking, they will need to know that their effort is even more important and that you as a parent place extremely high emphasis on the effort, energy and commitment, your child puts into things.

Situations in which your child perceives themselves as having failed or at risk of failing require a lot more sensitivity from a parent. 

Here are some suggestions to help you talk with your child when their confidence is waning:

  • I know you didn’t get the result you were hoping for, but I have never been more proud of your effort.
  • I understand you are upset right now, but I was so proud of the way you went about that.
  • I can see you are disappointed.  I hope you realize that I am not.  I think it was amazing how you  ….. ( fill in the blank with a sincere comment about something that was commendable).

And last, but definitely not least, remember to share your own achievements and failures with your child (where appropriate).  Look for opportunities to say how certain achievements make you feel so proud.  Let them know that you felt fear or risk of failure, but how you faced up to it and now you’re glad you did.  Of course, don’t burden the child with the ins and outs of your adult life, but it never hurts to create dialogue and impart vocabulary so your child exists in an environment where family members share their efforts, achievements and failures with one another in a safe and supportive environment.

This is a starting place to create that environment.  Before you know it, you will be privy to much more information about your child, the realities of their world and their ups and downs than you ever thought possible.

I know many parents will have some amazing stories about how they turned their child’s lack of communication around.  We’d love to hear about how you did it. 

Talk back to me.

Warmest Wishes

Vicki Jardine

 

Allow Your Child to Strive and Thrive May 13, 2009

Little girl HelpingI have been working with some quite privileged children lately.  Well they are privileged in some ways.  They are paupers in other ways.

For example, their families have maids for each child.  No, I do not mean nannies….I mean ‘maids’.  These maids do not contribute to the social development of the children, but merely ‘do’ everything for them.  If they use something, the maid puts it away.  If they need clothes, the maid gets them.  If they are off to school, the maid carries their bags and hands it to the ‘driver’ who takes them to school.

Needless to say, these children come to deal with the world almost in a passive way.  They are not responsible for making things happen in their daily lives, and yet they go without nothing.

Now you would think that they might have an elevated view of themselves.  But they don’t.  In fact, they are hugely lacking in self-esteem and this is what I want to talk about today.

Our children need to be given responsibility even if it’s for no other reason than to provide them the opportunity to discover their own potential.  If that were the only benefit, then it would be enough reason.  But it’s not the only benefit. 

By allowing our children to have to put effort into the daily-ness of life, things like picking up their own clothes, making their own bed, clearing the table after a meal etc., we enable them to feel like we think they are capable, as well.  It’s beautiful.  Children need their parents or guardians to recognize them for their efforts, (not so much their achievement…that comes later….first comes effort). 

Thinking well of yourself is one thing, but when it is confirmed by those around you it carries the weight that gives you conviction.

And isn’t that what we want?  Don’t we want young children who are absolutely convinced of their own strengths and abilities, who don’t waste any of their developmental years feeling insecure and inadequate?

So next time your child wants you to carry their school things, remind them that they are able-bodied young people who can do this for themselves.  Let them pick up their own rooms, before you go in and ‘fix’ it.  Let them feel like they did it.  They need to feel proud of themselves for ordinary things.  And don’t forget to recognize their efforts.  Don’t criticize the job they do.  Simply find something to praise.  Even a child with lazy tendencies will strive harder if they know there will be some praise. 

Children love you to look them in the eye admiringly.  They need this from you.  They can’t get too much of this kind of attention.  It makes them feel so good about themselves.

Think about the adults you know.  Which of them would you say actually feel good about themselves?  Have you ever known an adult who you thought had a lot more potential than what their lives were reflecting?  Have you ever wondered why?

It’s because somewhere along the line, the adults in their life when they were a child, failed to praise them and to recognize their efforts and their strengths. 

Let’s not do that to our own children.  Give them opportunities to perform and to succeed and to fail.  Some children don’t attempt things because they are afraid to fail.  But if the adults in their life would praise their effort, then they will come to look at failure another way and not be intimidated by the thought of failing at something.

This may seem like a ridiculously small thing…but in the scheme of your child’s life, this is actually one of the most important ‘gifts’ you can give your child.

I feel sorry for the seemingly ‘privileged’ children I have been working with.  After all, it seems they are actually ‘under’-privileged.

Talk Back to me.  I want to hear what you think some of the other benefits of allowing your child to strive, might be.  Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the parenting world.

Warmest Wishes

Vicki Jardine

 

Being Proud of Yourself – A Skill To Teach Your Child March 20, 2009

Highly Successful Kids know what it means to be ‘PROUD OF THEMSELVES’.  

Confident kids know the difference between feeling happy and feeling proud.  If you want your kids to really be successful in their lives they will need to be able to recognize and identify those things about themselves that make them feel ‘proud’.

proud-girlThis week I was with a wonderful 8 year old girl who got the best report card and I went with her to her ‘Open House’ at school.  Her teacher praised her so highly and this little girl showed me all her work which was laid out neatly on her desk.  I was so proud of what I was seeing in this little girl.

On the way back to the car I said to her, “You must be so proud of yourself”.

She said yes.  I asked her, “Tell me what things you are proud of yourself for?”

She replied, “I’m proud of myself for having a wonderful Mom and for being born and ‘cos you’re proud of me”.

And no, I am not her Mom.  Her Mom works nights and didn’t go to any open houses  at school this year.

Think about it for just a minute!  Think from the point of view of an 8 year old.  How does an 8 year old know that they are feeling ‘pride’ in themselves?   

They know they need to make adults proud of them.

What they don’t know is that they need to feel PROUD OF THEMSELVES too. 

They know when adults say ‘Oh, you can be so proud of yourself’, that it means you can feel happy with yourself.  The problem here is that they miss out on some of the meaning of ‘being proud of themselves’.  They need adults to help them see things about themselves about which to be proud.

To be proud of yourself is to recognize something that you know is ‘great’ about yourself.  It is more than just having a general feeling of being pleased with yourself.

Children who grow up with healthy self-esteem have learned how to recognize things about themselves that are positive.  Isn’t this the goal? To raise happy, confident  and successful kids?

Let’s talk about recognition for a minute!

  • To recognize something you need to know what it looks like in the first place (be familiar with it).
  • It helps if you are aware of ‘looking for it’.
  • If you recognize something, then it is good to be able to name it and know how it is different to other things.

Children need adults to help them differentiate and name their feelings.  Remember, they do not have the maturity or the vocabulary and this is one of the most important roles a parent or caregiver can have. 

As a parent or caregiver, you want to be focused all day, every day on ‘what a child does that is positive’.  All too often, adults only speak to children about ‘poor or undesirable’ behaviours or actions.

If you want to raise a highly successful child, you will need to turn that around and begin to focus your own attention on looking for opportunities to point out to the child how ‘terrific’ they are. 

Children need the adults in their life to be specific about what they are doing right.  Even the most disruptive and seemingly ‘naughty’ children are wanting to be told what they are doing right, so they can do it more often. 

Adults are the key to helping children to choose positive behaviours over negative ones.  So let’s just take responsibility for that right now and start looking for opportunities to tell children what they are doing ‘right’.

Steps to help a child feel  ‘Proud of Themselves’:

  • Look for positive things to Praise.
  • Focus only on these positive things.
  • Praise the child in detail. 

For example,Well done, Tommy!  You put the book down so nicely.  I am so proud of you for putting the book down nicely.  That’s the right way to treat books. In this example, Tommy (who doesn’t normally have a lot of respect for books and often throws them or stands on them) has been praised for something he was not even conscious of doing right.  He is told that the adult is proud of him and at least two times he is told what he did that was good. 

  • Anchor that good feeling for the child.  For example, while praising the child
  • make sure you look him/her in the eye. 
  • Smile and nod your head.   And most importantly,
  • Place your hand on the child’s head, shoulder or neck in a loving and affectionate way. 

The positive feelings of being verbally praised are backed up by the wonderfully warm feelings of having positive attention of an adult who has taken the time to look right at the child and to stroke them and let them know this is a ‘big deal’.

  • Tell another adult about the event that you want the child to feel pride over.  Let them hear you speaking of them positively to others.

So if you want to raise a child with healthy self-esteem and confidence, then take the time to teach them how to be proud of themselves for every little thing.  A child who feels good about themselves, makes better choices and experiences more success daily. 

Think of self-pride as a skill that needs to be taught to children.  Just imagine the difference in your own life, if you had more self-pride!  The benefits of feeling proud of yourself are endless.  This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  So why not give this skill to your child, today!

So let’s start right now to show children know what it means to be proud of themselves!

Talk Back to me about this all-important topic.  Let me know your stories about your kids and how they developed pride in themselves.  Share your ideas so other parents can benefit.  Remember, this is a ‘Parenting Community’ and you are a part of it.  The children really are the future.

Till next time,

Vicki