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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Unhappy Child, Unhappy Family January 9, 2009

Here is a scenario that is not uncommon:

Our 6 year old has been talking back to us and having a ‘lot’ of attitude.  He simply refuses to do what he is asked and thinks it’s funny when we correct him.  He takes things he isn’t supposed to take and doesn’t care about the consequences.  He seems to be ‘unreachable’ in that nothing we say or do makes any difference to him.  dreamstime_angryboy

We have tried reward charts and taking away his most prized possessions or TV time. 

Nothing! 

We have been to a kinesiologist to work on helping him see how his behavior makes everyone around him feel as well as trying to show him how his behavior is making him feel. 

Still nothing! 

He is now behaving like this at school too and life has turned into a long stream of his crying, tantrums, throwing things, throwing himself on the floor and refusing to budge.  Everything is a ‘mission’ and nothing seems to work. 

What’s Up With That?  What would you do?

TalkBack to me!

 

 

 

Parenting Intentionally to Build Up Your Child’s Confidence November 10, 2008

dreamstime_1777143

Imagine daily life from your child’s point of view.  I mean really put yourself in your child’s shoes.  How many times in one day is your child’s ability stretched and how many incidences of perceived failure does your child experience every single day in play or at school or at home?

The sheer number of challenges your child faces each and every day would exhaust an adult completely.  We would be so discouraged if every day we existed on such a steep learning curve as our children deal with daily.   

It is a series of ‘learning experiences’ and ‘personal challenges’.  Can you imagine yourself experiencing even one day like your child’s?  No wonder so many children have such low self-esteem.

What kind of a loving and understanding support are you to your child?  How does your child view you?  Are you the ‘safe haven’, the ‘sanctuary’, where he/she is safe and valued and ‘restored’ to feeling confident? 

Or are you the main source of your child’s feelings of failure and discouragement?  Unintentionally, of course!

Couldn’t we as parents decided INTENTIONALLY to be the source of children’s COURAGE!!!  The source of their CONFIDENCE!

We could consciously work with our children to help them develop self-confidence.  And what might this do for the way we view ourselves as parents?  Might we then feel less conflicted and more confident ourselves?  I believe so, because when you help your child develop confidence, you gain a more communicative, cooperative, helpful, happy and peaceful child who has problem-solving skills and you know you helped make the difference.  I think parents suffer a lot of unnecessary guilt in relation to their children’s emotional needs, brought on by modern lifestyles and the pace of life, generally.

The solution lies in embedding the parenting activities that you are already doing with a philosophy that if your actions as a parent encourage your child, then your child will develop confidence.   No need to add complicated systems and routines to your already busy day.  Simply learn to think differently about how to do the things you are already doing with your children.

If a parent were to come from a place of ‘How can I make sure that every interaction I have with my child leads to him/her building self-confidence?’ Then children would begin to blossom and family life would be a lot easier for parents as a result, too. 

 

So, from now on why not evaluate your interactions with your child in terms of

             Did I just build my child’s confidence?

             Did I just destroy my child’s confidence?

 

Imagine the effect that would that have on our parenting?  Doesn’t this simplify things for moms and dads without adding anything to their endless lists of things that have to be done. 

Talk back to me.  Let me know what you think?  Post a comment.