TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

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

 

Let’s talk about ‘Bullying’. February 26, 2009

bullying

What do you think constitutes ‘bullying’?  Everyone gets picked on at one time or another in their young lives.   How can a parent know if their child is being bullied?  Does bullying imply continued and frequent events, or can a single event be identified as ‘bullying’?  How harmful is bullying to the ‘victim’ child?  Is bullying harmful to the children doing the bullying?

How can a parent truly re-establish their child’s confidence after they have been bullied?

These questions are all important to consider if you are a parent, caregiver or educator.  Bullying is an unhealthy manifestation of low self-esteem on the part of the bully/s.  When a person (sadly some adults are bullies too), bullies someone, they feel they are elevating themselves and showing that they are more powerful than the victim.  Bullies often appeal to the crowd who are also lacking in sufficient self-esteem to ‘go along’ with behaviours they know are not acceptable.  The ‘peer pressure’ that is created by a bully is almost ‘tangible’.  Children who would otherwise not behave in a cruel manner side with the bully rather than become a target of the bully themselves. 

In times past, some degree of ‘bullying’ was actually acceptable in as much as it was thought that it allowed the development of some ‘life skills’ in which children could learn to defend themselves and stick up for themselves.  Most cases of bullying were never identified as bullying and many times the victim was told to ‘toughen up’.

So what we have is a society in which some parents were themselves ‘schoolyard bullies’ and no one really thought anything much about it. 

Add into the equation that most parents will feel defensive of their child if he/she is accused of bullying at school. 

So the stage is set.  But these days we know that bullying can have serious consequences, not the least of which is that of the ‘suicide’ of the victim. 

So I would like to see adults address this issue as the serious issue that it is.  I would like to have some input from parents whose child has been bullied.  I would like to give them this space to say what they saw as the ‘real problem’ and what they feel the ‘best solution’ would be.  I would like these parents to describe for other parents what they wrestled with in order to restore their child’s confidence.

I also want to hear from parents of children who have been accused of bullying.  I believe these parents too may be struggling to ‘help’ their child to interact more positively.  I believe that since ‘bullying’ has become a recognized issue, there are some children all too ready to accuse others of bullying, which is not really a desirable outcome of addressing the problem.

I would like to hear from educators for whom the whole issue of bullying has dominated large portions of ‘teaching time’ and who have also had to ‘deal’ with both sets of parents (the victims and the bully’s).

Talk back to me, people. 

Share your experiences and let’s try to make the way we do things for kids more relevant to the ‘real world’.

Here’s to your child’s success!

Vicki Jardine

 

Healthy Self-Esteem vs. Unhealthy Self-Esteem January 15, 2009

Healthy Self-Esteem!
Healthy Self-Esteem!

The following is a quote from a magazine and it really caught my eye.  It was part of a list of 10 things your child will not learn at school.  It states:

The world won’t care about your self- esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

 

How do you feel about that statement?

 

I am sure it was written a little ‘tongue-in-cheek’, however I feel that the statement seems to somehow imply that a child should only possess self-esteem if and when they have accomplished something.

 

This is the complete antitheses of what I believe. 

I believe deep-seated self-esteem is only achieved when a child knows that he is valued just for ‘being’ and his/her value is not dependent on anything that he/she does.  It is unconditional.  It supersedes behaviours and accomplishments. 

In fact, I propose that in order for our children to achieve, they must first possess self-esteem.  A child needs to feel good about themselves in order to accomplish things, especially things that the world would notice.

If we look at famous achievers like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, just to name a few in the sporting world, we know that it must feel very good to win as they do.  They must feel very good about themselves. 

However, what we see when we look at them is humility and confidence. 

And while it is true, that your child may not attract the kind of acclaim and applause that Lance, Tiger and Michael do,  there is little benefit to your child to inform them of that fact.   

Obviously I am referring to ‘healthy self-esteem’ here.  There is such a thing as ‘unhealthy self-esteem’.  Parents can recognize one from the other very easily.  Simply ask, does my child’s self-esteem motivate him/her to achieve or does it prevent him/her from achieving?  If it is ‘big head’ and no action, then it is un-healthy self-esteem.

I would like to re-word that statement above to read:

The world will not reward you for having unhealthy self-esteem.  What the world respects is healthy self-esteem which is evidenced by your wonderful achievements.

What do you think about the statement now? 

Do you agree with either statement? 

Why? 

Have your say about this very ‘hot’ topic. 

 

Talkback to me Now.  Leave a comment on this post.

 

Warmest Wishes

Vicki Jardine

 

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly December 7, 2008

dreamstime_69553473Fa la la la laaaaaa    
La la la laaa!

So here’s an idea to make the season even more memorable for your child. Select a favourite Christmas Carol of yours….think back to when you were a little child. Which ones were your favorites? I loved Silent Night for a couple of years running and then when I turned 9 years old I fell in love with ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ (parhump a pump pum…me and my drum). Just make sure it’s one that you love, because you are going to sing it and hear it over and over again this Christmas.

Now sing it to your child and sing it with your child. Make it a celebration. Do sign language with it. Make it up if you don’t know authentic sign language (but you could find out what the signing is for your particular song).

Then each time you sing it the song together, have a big smile and a hug at the end if possible. Of course, if you are driving in the car or something like that then a hug won’t do, so clap or snap or something to signify between you and your child that you are both feeling really ‘happy’.
The idea here is to ‘anchor’ the good feeling you both get when you are singing that song. By ‘anchor’ I mean make a definite link in your mind and especially in your child’s mind between the happy feeling, and the song.

dreamstime_68615091It’s even a good idea with younger children to give them the vocabulary to describe their feeling of joy or happiness.

Young children really only know if a feeling is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and need they need your help to learn words that they can use to express their feelings.

An example of this is when my daughter was 3 or 4 years old she used to say her tummy hurts when she was actually just hungry. She knew the difference between the feelings of hunger and the need to use the bathroom, but she didn’t know how to express it to me. She only knew one word for the two sensations.
It’s the same thing with happiness, joy, contentment and pleasure. We have to give our little ones the words they need to express themselves.

So sing the Christmas Carol and then anchor the good feeling by using a big smile and a hug, snap or clap. Repeat this over and over always remembering to anchor the good feeling to the song and sometimes to describe the feeling of happiness, pleasure and joy for your child.

Now why am I suggesting you do this?

Well even though ‘tis the season to be jolly, it is also the season where the routines get out of sync and there are ‘more things to do’ than normal. I mean, it isn’t called the Silly Season for nothing! Sometimes it can be very unsettling for children, even older children.

You may notice your child’s behaviours escalating more often and you may find your child testing the boundaries just to see if they are still there. And opportunities for ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ seem to go out the window sometimes.

dreamstime_5800111So if you have ‘anchored’ the joyful feelings associated with the Christmas Carol, then when you notice things escalating with your child, when you notice their mood changing and the atmosphere in the home or the car declining, all you have to do is start singing the song.

This lifts your child’s spirits and changes the emotional direction he/she was going in. You can instantly distract your child from their feelings of insecurity this way by focusing their attention on something you have previously established as ‘happy’.

Not only are you changing the mood of your child, but you are establishing a very positive ‘shared experience’. The value of ‘positive shared experiences’ is immeasurable as your child matures.

You know even if your child is older, you can do this. As children get into teenage years you will want to have established as many ‘positive shared experiences’ as you can. Your child will need to know more than ever that the bond between you and them is intact and strong.

 

And the beauty of this little technique is that it costs you NO TIME to implement. You can sing your carol as you put dinner on the table, as you do laundry, as you drive the kids to school, or whenever and wherever you choose.

See!

‘Tis the season to be jolly!!!

So Talk back to me!

Let me know what carols you decided to use.  Let me know if you have any other ideas for making the season jollier for your children and ways to give them the attention and security they deserve without adding drastically to your long list of things to do.

Leave a comment for other moms to see and have your say!

Bye for now

Vicki Jardine

 

Every Day – Thanksgiving Day! November 29, 2008

dreamstime_1403336Each year we all look forward to Thanksgiving Day.  It resounds with echoes of the very foundation upon which America was built.  Pausing in our busy schedules to ‘give thanks’ for the blessings of our wonderful lifestyle, we are reminded that despite the current economic crisis, we have much to be thankful for.

But the other 364 days of the year, are we practising thankfulness and gratitude?  Are we teaching our children gratitude by our example?  And more importantly, are we teaching our children how to express gratitude on a daily basis in their lives?

Children are very observant.  They are excellent at determining a contradiction between our actions and our words.  And they know when a tradition has lost its’ meaning by how well it is held up in their lives on a daily basis.

Being grateful for what you can determine that you already have is one thing.  But it is also possible, and necessary to teach our children how to express gratitude for what they ‘would like to have’.  This is more commonly known as making an affirmation. 

Have you ever thought about why the practise of making affirmations has begun to be very popular? 

It’s because when you affirm the way you would like something to be, you are focused on what you either have now or want to have.  That focus produces joy and happiness.  It feels good.

Another way to explain it could be it is life giving you what your mind believes it should have.  It’s refusing to focus on what things you feel life has not delivered yet and having the expectation of life for the future.

It’s all about ‘focus’.  When you are being grateful and expressing gratitude, you simply can’t focus on what you don’t have. 

What would you rather do?  Focus on what you have or want to have and enjoy the feelings of happiness and joy? 

Or would you rather focus on what you don’t have, what you fear will happen and what you consider to be completely out of your reach?

Which one of these skills would you like to teach your children? 

Which one of these skills will enrich your child’s life and encourage your child? 

Which one will bring happiness and which one will bring sadness?

Even if you don’t believe in affirmations, you can believe in the importance of making the Thanksgiving Day tradition relevant to your child’s daily life today and every day.  Don’t allow Thanksgiving Day to be some kind of dinosaur tradition in your child’s eyes.  Make ‘thanksgiving’ relevant every day.

Talk Back to me.  I want to know what you think!

Vicki Jardine