TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

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

 

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