Model What You Want Them To Be

Today I am borrowing from a much wiser and well known writer to help convey an important parenting concept.  If like me, you grew up hearing “Do as I say not as I do,”  and tried that as a way of parenting, you probably have already discovered that it doesn’t work.  Integrity is a much better basket to put your eggs in.  Kids today see through anything less.  Being the role model you want for them, empowers you as well.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Wayne’s Weekly Wisdom “If you model self-pride and self-worth for your children, they will in turn leave the nest with an absence of stress and turmoil for all concerned.”

I have the following saved on my desktop because it profoundly demonstrates the importance of our awareness of our own behavior.  I notice too much explosive behavior, loss of control, and spewed anger that is justified with ridiculous excuses that make perfect sense to the person explaining them.   Is society becoming numb to inexcusable behavior? Parents and other relatives of children are their role models and need to be cognizant of their actions at all times.

This was Wayne’s last Facebook post.

I was preparing to speak at an I Can Do It conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.

“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”

“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”

“No!” he laughed.

“What about grapefruit juice?”

“No!”

“What would come out of it?”

“Orange juice, of course.”

“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”

He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.

“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”

I nodded.

“Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”

It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezingyour mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.

Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!

I was impressed with Wayne’s understanding and explanation that negativity within is a choice.    Choose peace, calm, patience  and love and you and everyone around you benefits.

 

 

 

Following the Adolescent Mind

Earlier this week I blogged “What were you THINKING!?!”, concerning adult reaction when older children make poor decisions.   A news report concerning adolescents taking selfies on active railroad tracks, encouraged me to continue on this topic.  In the last year over 500 deaths on railroad tracks have been reported.  One of the issues is the adolescent attraction to thrills.  Of course, it was mentioned the influence of music videos and movies.  But we must also look at the physiological development of children and adolescents.

Neuroeducation.com states that by adolescence the brain is full size but is making many organizational changes:

“At this point in development the brain has to decide what’s needed, what’s not, and how to become the most efficient. In order to do this the adolescent brain has to undergo synaptic pruning, in which useful neural connections are kept and less useful connections wither away. One important area of reorganization is in the prefrontal cortex that handles abstract cognitive abilities as well as impulse control.”

Research has shown that the brains of children mainly focus on visual processing and slowly begin to develop in planning and impulse control, a process which isn’t complete until adult maturity.  The adults who are involved with children and teens must keep in mind that the brain function does not keep up with the physical growth on the outside.  To know what is going on in that brain, parents and other loving adults must become very good listeners.  Stephen Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the  intent to reply.”  An adolescent’s adults must listen to them with intent to understand, and often to ‘read between the lines’  throughout the conversation to ascertain what they really want  to be known.   Often you need to restate what you heard for clarification as what you hear is not always what they are trying to say.    They do not want to know what you think, they want you to know what they think.  When you stop listening, they stop speaking, when they stop speaking, there is no communication.   listening to hear

Observation of  adolescents shows they are a whirlwind of brain activity in short spaces of time.  They can be a wealth of knowledge one moment, have the enthusiasm of a  puppy, interest in topics far beyond their years, or want to spend the day watching cartoons.  It is normal!  Expect them to behave like children, be grateful when they act maturely showing signs of brain growth, prepare them as best you can for the decisions that they may have to make when you aren’t around, and love them no matter what.   listening with intent

C. Beth Hoffman M.Ed, author of My Loving Self and Me

What Were You THINKING!?!

Making wise choices comes about from experiences and practice as well as maturation.  In any situation, children see what they are focusing on.  It is only with growth and lessons learned that they begin to realize that there are consequences to every action.  They are usually as surprised as anyone else when things don’t go the way they pictured them in their head.  Being allowed to make their own decisions in a risk free situations encourages them to expand on the possibilities.  My granddaughter has said more than once, “I didn’t see that one coming.”  In reality, adults don’t either sometimes.  Not doing it again in that exact way is a learned lesson.

Actions, whether judged to be good or bad are best handled with a true, calm, question about the process of their thinking.  What were the steps?  Did you think that it might not go as planned?  Was there a risk and was the outcome worth it?  Discussion with children builds their self esteem and courage, reducing stress with decision making.

Teach Kids How,  a website for parents,  lists activities for teaching children early about making choices.  It must be a continuous process for them to become confident.

 

But  too often, a child’s mistakes have an impact on the parent.  Their behavior or choice may be an embarrassment.  It may cause more effort or work when their plate was already full.  They look at the child incredulously and ask in a questioning voice, “What were you THINKING!?!” Although it may sound like a question it really isn’t.  The parent probably is not in the mood to hear the answer.  The question is really a statement that says to the child, “You were not thinking at all.”  It is not a question but a condemnation of self.  mental abuseMany parents heard something similar when they were growing up.  “Are you crazy??” or “What are you? Stupid?” come to mind.  Past generations were not immune to this kind of questioning.  Many were raised this way as well and only through self reflection as parents will they realize it did not have a positive impact on them, either.  Children develop a fear of making decisions when their choices are wrong.  It becomes easier to say, “I don’t know.”

Karen Stephens contributing writer to childhoodexchange.com in her article, ‘Parents Are Powerful role Models for Children“, says “Being a positive role model requires fore-thought and self control. Today we talk a lot about disciplining our children. We parents need to put an equal emphasis on disciplining ourselves.”

Parenting must come from the heart to raise children who are confident, caring and loving.  Teach them to love themselves by loving, respecting and caring for yourself.  “Do as I say, not as I do.” was resented by every child who ever heard it.  It won’t work on your child either.  Don’t raise your children as you were raised without forethought as to how it affected you.  Keep the best learning experiences and discover new ways to interact with your child where you  were not positively affected by the lesson.  Structure and discipline can always come from love.

 

Miss Misunderstood- an unpublished new story

The day had seemed long when Gabby opened the back door to the kitchen. It wasn’t that she felt sad, more like empty. Unsure of why she felt this way, she knew she felt like she needed a hug, a tight one, one that said, “You are all right the way you are.” Mom was already busy in the kitchen. Apparently she had school work because the computer was surrounded by a ton of books. Mom was attending college and that kept her very busy. There was something in the oven, and something on the stove, and Mom was racing around like she was in a big hurry to get somewhere. Obviously she had no time for Gabby tonight.

Mom turned her head when she heard the door close and called out, “Thank goodness you are home. I have a study group at the college tonight at 5:30 so I have to leave in an hour. I need you to finish getting dinner ready, set the table, and make some iced tea for your father.”

Gabby just stood there. So much for that hug she was thinking about. No time for Gabby at all.

“What’s that face for? I just asked for a little help and I get attitude from you?” Mom asked more as a statement of anger than a question.

“I don’t have an attitude.” Gabby replied.

“Yes, I think you do. I can see it on your face. You used to be so sweet and helpful and now all I get is attitude”, was Mom’s reply.

Gabby thought to herself, “Yeah. And you met me at the door with a smile and asked about my day and dinner was ready. You start college and it is me that changed.” But she kept silent.

The look on Mom’s face hurt Gabby to the core. She hadn’t doubted how her mother felt about her before, but she did now. She really felt alone.

“Gabby, why are you still standing there. Get started on the iced tea!” Mom yelled.

“I am,” she replied. Sometimes this type of conversation made Gabby very angry and she wanted to yell back, but this afternoon, she knew she was about to cry. In fact she could feel the tear coming down her face. She quickly wiped it away and got out the pitcher. She checked the oven and saw a lasagna from the supermarket had been recently put in. String beans were on the stove awaiting the stove to be turned on.

Gabby finished the iced tea and set the table for 3 since Mom wouldn’t be joining them, and took her backpack up to her room. She didn’t have the energy for homework right now and turned on some music, and put on her earphones. It was her way of blocking out all that noise she heard in her head. Sometimes she was angry. Sometimes she told her mother off in her head. Sometimes she told herself what she was sure everyone else was thinking. It was never good.

The door slammed open and Gabby jumped. Mom was standing there with her REALLY disgusted face on.

“That is why you didn’t hear me! Take those things out of your ears. Gabby you know I have to get out of here and get to school. Why did you leave me? I don’t have time chasing around after you”, said Mom, frustrated.

“I thought you were finished with me. I set the table and made the tea. The lasagna won’t be ready for 20 minutes. I needed some me time.” Gabby replied.

Mom looked like she was going to blow, but she took a deep breath, and then another. She came over and sat next to Gabby on the bed.

“You needed to get away from me, didn’t you?” Mom asked.

Gabby just shrugged her shoulders. “Mom, I am not trying to make anything harder for you. I am trying to do the chores you ask me to do. I know college is hard work for you. But I still need my mom sometimes and today was one of those days. I just needed a hug or a smile. That is all. Growing up is hard, too.”

Mom put her arms around Gabby. “My Loving Self was really far away. I was so wrapped up in my All About Me Self that I took it out on you. I know you are trying and should have been more appreciative.”

“That took a lot of love to express yourself so clearly and calmly. You are growing up and I am missing it. I am sorry, Gabby Gootz, I will do better at being a college student and a mom. I wasn’t thinking about how you were feeling. Here I thought you were being selfish and didn’t want to help. It was me that was being selfish. I will try to understand your feelings and not jump to conclusions. I know growing up is hard. I really don’t want to make it harder for you”, said Mom.

Mom hugged Gabby tighter and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you sweetheart”, she said with a smile.

Gabby smiled back as Mom got up and headed off to school. She sat for a few moments before heading down to check on the lasagna. Did Mom really think she was making annoyed faces at her?

She didn’t like being misunderstood. She wasn’t comfortable when her feelings didn’t seem important to anyone else. Mom was right. That did take courage to tell her the truth calmly. Gabby smiled to herself and then realized she was grateful that Mom listened. Gabby also realized that sometimes it was difficult explaining herself clearly because she didn’t always understand how she felt. The one thing she did know was that she wanted to feel good about herself, and pleasing others sometimes made that difficult.

Gabby continued down to the kitchen and remembered something Gram had told her.

“When nothing seems to be going right, take an account of all you have to be grateful for. Make a list. If you can’t think of anything, write down all your complaints then write BUT after them. Go back and read each sentence once more with the “but” there and fill in the blank. Once you have vented, you will have an easier time finding something good to complete the sentence,” Gram had said.

“I guess I can give that a try,” Gabby said out loud and went to find a pen and paper.

I Didn’t Know What To Do!

Facilitating learning of many aspects of life is in a parent’s hands whether they choose for it to be or not. Some know exactly how they want their kids to be and others feel ill equipped for the responsibility. With the many influences available for children, preparing them, and not overprotecting them can be daunting. Having practice in a myriad of possibilities helps them and you, be more comfortable and less fearful of what they may encounter. Most of those situations with which you want them to be able to deal, you hope they will never encounter. Preparing them becomes a dilemma.

reading tween dadEach story in My Loving Self and Me, has a problem and a solution that works for the book’s characters with supportive parents and grandparents with strong spiritual background. It provides other children the opportunity to see that issues they have are shared by others. However the solutions in fiction aren’t always what works in reality, so after each story, there are open ended questions or activities for the reader to try out. This is best done with a parent or other responsible adult or in a family setting. Where solutions and possibilities work in my mind, they may not in someone else’s life. As a parent, you know best what the outcome might be in your community and school and guide them in ways that are more personal for your child. During the discussions you also have the opportunity to listen to situations that have arisen in the social life of your child, affording you insight into their private world outside of your home.   Issues may come up that are not included in My Loving Self and Me that you may never have known about had the discussions not been taking place with your child. Follow your heart in guiding and assuring them.

reading familyMy greatest joy as a new writer is for My Loving Self and Me to be a family book for facing difficult issues head on, the go to book for adults and older school age children to enjoy quite time while they read together, a source of inspiration for the pre-teens who are feeling alone, and a how to for parents of young children not yet ready for the stories. As one mother told me, my child is too young for the stories, but not too young to begin learning that he has a loving self. She added that she is already asking him what his loving self would do.

Books and e books can be purchased here on this website from Balboa Press, Amazon.com, or Barnes and noble. I would love to hear from my readers concerning difficult issues their children have faced that should be written about. Who knows? They may be the inspiration for another book.

 

 

10 Ways to Help Children Face Negative Emotions and Find Happiness

Worry, doubt, fear, sadness and poor self esteem don’t belong in children. Adults either. But we expect children to be happy and playful and full of joy. How do they take on so much negativity at such a young age? Although it is assumed that traumatic experiences are the cause, more often than not, it is something much smaller that can cause a personality to wither with no one the wiser.

During a study of key life influences, I remembered one such account when I was five or six. The den in my family home had a bay window and I had been told not to climb on it. However it was very tempting. It was my very own dance stage! I don’t remember anything in my way. Perhaps I didn’t see it as an obstacle, but the Victorian lamp that probably had been passed down through the family, hit the floor. My distraught mother cried and cried. Why couldn’t I listen? What was the matter with me? How often scenes like this happen in family life. Frustrated parents lose it and yell, something they wish they could take back. But the child gets over it and life goes on. All is well. But is it? My little self perceived an unbelievable fact that day. Lamps and other things are much more important than me. It was my first encounter with not being worthy. I began practicing playing small. My mother always thought that I had a hard time adjusting to school and that was why I became more quiet and subdued. She would have been devastated to know that her reaction to a broken lamp had that kind of impact.   I discovered this about myself in my sixties and have pondered the unknown affects I may have inadvertently caused for my children and grandchildren. But the reality is that what took place took place in my brain.

The brain chooses how it will react to situations, and that reaction becomes an emotion. Each human being has a multitude of interactions and experiences some of which trigger negative emotions while others do not. Protecting children from experiences is not possible, nor healthy. If they don’t learn to deal with small things, they will have no skills for dealing with larger ones. Research has shown that over protective parenting leaves children vulnerable when they grow and leave home. They are used to their parents as their life shield. They feel exposed and worried. Rather than hovering, or feeling guilty for our own emotions, adults can teach kids how to handle situations that have triggered negative emotions of fear, self -loathing, sadness, feeling unworthy or unloved. People expect children to “get over it” when many adults do not have that capacity either. They hold grudges, blame, show anger, or are willing to let go of relationships rather than deal with the emotions, or “get over it” themselves.   happiness

So how do we help kids deal with negative emotions in their life and be happy?

  1. Appreciate having them in your life and teach them to love and value themselves.
  2. Acknowledge their feelings and give them an opportunity to talk often.
  3. Value their concerns and commend their efforts to deal with them.
  4. Assure them they are surrounded by God’s love and His protective angels; they are never alone.
  5. Teach them to communicate with God. Listening to the answers in their heart is just as important as talking.
  6.  Be grateful and practice daily gratitude with them.
  7. Guide with questions rather than tell them how to handle their emotions.
  8. Show them forgiveness and an ability to take responsibility for your own actions so they can model you. Children need to forgive themselves.
  9. Prove that joy can be found most anywhere (without medications, alcohol or drugs).
  10. Help them to choose happiness for what they have in the present.

All experiences in life offer choices. Kids need to learn that so they avoid feeling powerless. Imagine if you or I learned this as children!