Thursday, December 18, 2014

Are You Raising Applause Seekers?

I believe in praising the good works of young people.  I commit "Random Acts of Pride".  I wonder at what point do we cross the line and create adults who require the praise of others?  We all know them – adults who need others to approve of their lives and acknowledge their actions.  Why didn't they integrate a feeling of pride that would lead them to be more self-confident adults?

Little children love when you clap for them.  My niece, who is 1 ½ years old, plays a game.  She jumps on her mother’s lap and then applauds so we will all applaud with her.  She looks around the room to make sure we are all clapping and we do.  I've seen adults do a grown up version of this.  They state something about themselves and then look around the room to see the reaction.  They hope for the same thing that my niece does – a room full of acknowledgement.  I hope someday that my niece takes a giant, fun leap in her life and feels that applause without needing it from us.  I hope she makes a tough decision and has the fortitude to stand by it without caring what others think.
                          
There is a fine line between teaching children that their actions are worthy and teaching them to require the approval of others.  Ideally, our children will grow up to take pride in themselves and enjoy the compliments of others but not require it.   When we praise children, we need to do more than say that we are proud of them.  We need to ask them about their own achievements.  When they have done something and say, “Look” we need to do more than tell them how we feel.  We need to teach them to recognize and honor how they feel about what they've done.  We need to stop only making statements like, “Good job” and start asking questions, too.  How different would our children’s outlook be if every “Good job” was followed with:
  •  “What do you like about what you made?”
  • "How do you feel about what you did?”
  • "What does it feel like to have done something well?” 
For every emotion, there is a bodily reaction.  When we are afraid, we feel tension in our bodies.  When we are proud, we feel what I can only describe as lightness.  We feel a tad lighter in our own bodies when we are proud.  A warmth spreads through us and we smile.  We need to teach children to recognize that wonderful feeling and sit with it a moment.  They need to find joy and pride from within so they don’t spend their lives on an endless quest for the unattainable.  Other people cannot make us feel the warmth of work well done.  When we look for that feeling from outside ourselves, we are never quite satisfied.

Sometimes we win tiny, little battles.  Sometimes we do generous things and, frankly, other people won’t care.  Sometimes we accomplish a goal quietly and there is no one to applaud.  We need to teach our children the beauty of all of those moments.  We need to actively teach that the best reward is simply knowing that you have been the best version of yourself.

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The December Opportunity

I was recently on a trip to Washington, DC with a wonderful group of 10th graders.  After seeing the Christmas tree in the hotel lobby, one of the students said that he always wanted a Chanukah bush.  I told the student that you can respect and enjoy the beauty of other people’s traditions without having to make it your own.  On the same day, my colleagues showed me an article about a product being marketed to Jewish families that is very similar to one sold for those that celebrate Christmas.  Then, I walked into a store and saw blue and silver garland on the small shelf of Chanukah items.  When I was standing there, a woman walked over and said, “Isn't it great that our kids aren't left out anymore?”  No.  They were never left out.   It isn't their tradition.  We have beautiful traditions of our own. 

Why is there such a need to ensure that our children have everything that everyone else does?  It is so powerful that we cannot even stick to our own religious traditions anymore.  I am not Christian, and yet I object to the Americanization and commercialism of Christmas.  Christmas is their religious holiday.  The tree has religious significance as does the wreath.  I respect what it stands for in their culture enough that I will not diminish it by teaching my children that anyone should have one.  I expect the same respect of my beliefs.  I am pleased that schools in my area close for Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur and that non-Jewish people don’t walk around wearing Tallit (our prayer shawl) just randomly as a fashion item that they do not understand.  
                                  
Since the trip, I have thought a great deal about what seems to be an overwhelming need to ignore the importance of individuality and difference.  The United States is a melting pot and we have all assimilated since the time of our immigrant ancestors, but when has it gone too far?  When does it reach beyond religious melding and become fear of being different?  It is a far bigger problem than one that is only noticeable in December.

Today, every child has to be a champion.  The classes, lessons and sports begin in preschool.  They dance and cheer and play every sport like everyone else.  Parents worry if their child isn't ready to read as soon as the next child.  Soon, the children will become product conscious and want the same toys, clothes and smartphones as everyone else.  I have heard parents compare the number of advanced placement classes that their high school children attend as if one more advanced placement class makes you a winner in the game of life at the age of 17.  I interact with anxious students who compare everything – classes, grades, number of extracurricular activities, possessions – to each other. Wanting to do well for your own satisfaction is one thing.  Having to keep up to the point of anxiety disorders is another.

Perhaps the lesson that we are each of value as individuals should begin with respect for individual cultures.  When children are young, use the December holidays to say, “Isn't what they do nice?”   Teach your children from the time they are young that we should respect differences and not consistently seek ways to be a part of everything and everybody.  That lesson can translate to every aspect of their lives.  You are not the same as everyone else and that’s terrific.  Other people have value and so do you – as individuals.  December provides an opportunity to embrace our individuality.  If you are raising children in an interfaith home, it is an opportunity to celebrate the individual traditions of each branch of your family.

The younger generation has a saying that I like – “Do you.”  When I ponder a decision about buying something or going somewhere aloud, my 17 year old will say, “Do you.”  He means that I should do what is right for me.  Let’s teach our children to “do you” and not “do everyone else.”


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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.      

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It’s Time To Abolish Time Out

Three generations ago, adults said, “Children should be seen and not heard.”  The next generation knew better.  Two generations ago, spanking was more universally viewed as an acceptable means of punishment.  The next generation knew better.  One generation ago, time out was seen as the solution to unacceptable behavior.  Today, we know better.  Time out – sending children to be isolated – teaches the wrong lessons.  It is time to abolish it.
                         
When we send children to time out, we do teach them.  We teach them that when things don’t go well, you go away from me.  When things get emotional, you will be isolated.  We teach children that we do not want to deal with them because we have sent them away.  Is it any wonder that when our children are teens and we want them to tell us what is wrong, they go to their rooms?  We taught them to do that.

Time out is not a logical consequence for any action.  It is not specific to the inappropriate event.  It may stamp out behavior for now but, in the long term, children will just try to figure out another way to break your rule.  Consequences need to make sense.  Think about these scenarios:

“Stop fighting with your brother!  Go to your room!” – Have you addressed the source of frustration that caused the fight so you could teach your child coping strategies?  No, you have not.  It is true that siblings who are fighting may need a break from playing together.  That is entirely different than banishing them to their rooms so they can just sit there and be angry.

“You cannot talk to me like that.  Go to time out!”  Have you stayed out of the power struggle to model the respect that you want your children to learn?   No, you have not.  Children do need to know that they have to speak to us with respect.  We have to tell them that in a less emotional manner that demonstrates self-control.   The ultimate lesson is, after all, to learn self-control so they are careful about their words and intonation.

Stamping out behavior makes the adults feel better.  We have ended an unpleasant and frustrating situation. We have stopped what we don’t enjoy but we haven’t actually addressed the problem. Unfortunately, that is merely a Band-Aid approach to a bigger issue.  The bigger problems need more of our attention and not less.  When our children need to be re-directed, bring them to you.  Tell them that they cannot continue that activity right now and they need to sit near you.  Calmly tell them that their behavior is unacceptable and to have a seat where you are.  Explain:

“Fighting with your sister doesn’t solve your problem.  In this family, we treat each other kindly even when we are frustrated.  Come sit over here for a few minutes.”  When your child calms down, talk about what caused the fight and how it should be handled next time.  Give your child a choice of two other things to do if you don’t want the child to go back to the playroom. 

“I am not yelling at you. Take a breath and talk to me nicely and with respect.  Sit here for a few minutes while you calm down.”  If your child yells and you yell, you have demonstrated that yelling is acceptable behavior for people in your family.  If your child curses at you and you react emotionally, you have demonstrated loss of control and proven that losing control is acceptable.  So much of parenting is about understanding that we are not children.  We should not react to children like we are children ourselves. 

You have the right to set rules.  You can teach your children that inappropriate behavior during play time means that play time stops.  You can teach them that they must be respectful and follow the rules or there will be consequences.  Consider the lesson of the consequences and institute a method of “time in” rather than “time out.”  Time in keeps you within the sight of your child so your child learns that even when you are mad, you are accessible.  You will not abandon them when things go wrong.  Sometimes, we need to stop what we are doing and that time doesn’t have to include the fear and anger that comes with isolation.

You threw a toy.  You cannot have that toy right now.”  That’s a consequence that makes sense.
“You are yelling at me.  Take a few breaths.  When you speak nicely to me, we will continue this.”  Stopping a conversation to regain composure makes sense.
“You aren’t playing nicely with your friend.  You cannot play together right now.”  What happens when we don’t play nicely?  We can’t play.  That’s logical.

“Children should be seen and not heard.”
“You need a spanking.”
“Go to your room! You need a time out!”

We didn’t know better.  Let’s make them all a thing of the past.  Open more doors of lasting communication.  Actually teach your children about appropriate behavior, actions and reactions by saying, “Sit right here.  Take a breath.  Calm down.  Where did that go wrong?” It’s time to abolish isolation and address behavior with “Time In.”

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.      

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Technology Breaks Benefit Kids, Too

I am preparing to take a technology break – no email, texts or social media, nothing that requires me to look at a screen – for the next 5 days.  I am setting up “away” messages and scheduling posts.  I am letting family know how to reach us in the event of emergency.  Thinking about not using technology has caused me to notice how much it is being used around me.  I must be more aware because it is on my mind.  It is like when you buy a car and you start to notice all of the same makes & models on the highway.  I walked through a store today and noticed all of the children using technology.  Parents were shopping and children were looking at screens.  Children were swiping, poking, touching and listening.  They were being read to, challenged and entertained.  They were sitting so still with their eyes on the screens.
                       
This ability to entertain children with technology is fairly new.  It didn’t exist when I was raising my boys who are now 17 and 21 years old.  I remember carrying bags of books and toys.  Parents developed an uncanny ability to read, play and shop all at the same time.   As soon as they were big enough, they were out of the cart and nothing I could bring in my bag would entertain them enough to keep them from running in the aisles.  We tried to contain them by letting them stand on the back of the cart as we ran.  They must have felt like they were flying.

Do you remember being that child?  For as long as I can remember, I was a people watcher.  People fascinate me.  I remember shopping with my parents and watching the people.  I remember my father holding my hands and swinging me in the air.  I remember that whenever I had to wait and be patient, my mother would have her bag of tricks.  My doll was in it.  She had books to read to me.  There was a lot more interpersonal contact than there is today.

What are our children losing by having so many screens?  I cannot help but wonder how different their manual dexterity will be if they spend more time swiping  than turning pages or holding pencils.  Will they learn to take social clues if their heads are buried in gadgets instead of watching people?  There is something so impersonal about technology reading to children instead of humans.

I understand that technology has permeated our lives.  I know that parents need to help their children to wait or to be patient when on line in stores or sitting in waiting rooms.  It is unrealistic for me to tell people that children should never be using electronics.  It is more than I expect of myself.  But sometimes – every now and then – perhaps on holiday weekends – we should all take a break and teach our children to do the same.  Thanksgiving is in two days.  Families will gather.  Daily schedules to come to a screeching halt.  The days of conversation, family time and personal interaction that we so fondly remember can happen for children today.  It just takes more effort because we aren’t used to it.  Join me in pressing the "off" button and teaching your children the value of technology breaks. 


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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission. You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fear Based Parenting – A Scary Trend

I recently drove past a church’s sign that said, “Are your goals about your hopes or your fears?”  What a great question, especially for parents.  Our words and our reactions to our children become how they think of themselves.  Our fears become their insecurities… and today’s parents are full of fear.  I speak to parents all the time in my role as a school director and on the road when I am hired to speak about parenting.  Their fears worry me because I also work with many children and teens who suffer from anxiety, depression and/or self-destructive behaviors.

Parents need to think about from where their parenting is rooted.  Is it rooted in hope and acceptance?  Is it rooted in fear and insecurity? Parenting goals need to be based on the reality of your child’s development and abilities with an eye on what really matters for the future.  When we hold our children for the first time, we dream of them having a happy and healthy life.  A happy and healthy life includes following their dreams and not ours.  It means having a life filled with personal fulfillment. It needs to be based in self-acceptance.  Somehow, along the way, this vision gets muddled with worry about being in the gifted & talented class or with fear that being identified in need of special services will harm the child.  It gets lost in concerns for being the best in a dance class or making the elite sports team.  It becomes about comparing their class assignments with the neighbor who has just 1 more advanced placement class.  Dreams for their happiness become too much about parents and not enough about the children.
                                          
Ask yourself, “Who do I want my children to be and what do I want them to value?”  If you want them to value your culture, then you must lead a life that immerses your family in that culture.  If you want them to be happy, they need to know that happiness is not about competition.  It is about self-acceptance.  They cannot accept themselves if you do not accept them – if you are pushing them to be who they are not. 

Every child develops at his/her own rate.  Every child has strengths and weaknesses.  We know that about ourselves but, too often, fear it in our children.  Children are always doing their best.  When they don’t seem to be applying themselves, there is a reason.  When they struggle with a subject, they simply need help, encouragement and the knowledge that being the best at everything isn’t reality.  They need to see confidence in their parent’s eyes and not fear or disappointment.  They need parents to provide them with the real tools for a happy life – confidence, peace of mind and self-acceptance.


________________________________________________________________________
Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Teaching about Thankfulness While Respecting Cultures



We live in a time when teaching acceptance and tolerance has become a necessary priority.  We try to teach that stereotyping, bullying and scapegoating are wrong.  We teach children to respect the ways in which we are alike and we are different. 

The month of November can be challenging when we are mindful of the messages that we give to children through our actions.  For generations, children in preschools and elementary schools celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing like Native Americans. The Native American headdresses and other clothing are sacred in their community.  They are not uniforms or the clothes worn by characters in a fairy tale.  The clothing has meaning.  Native Americans have written articles, editorials and other documents declaring how offended they are when we have children dress as them.  Unfortunately, some schools and teachers still create their garb. 

It is time that we stop teaching this holiday by dressing like characters and teach the true meaning.  We need to focus on the real lesson.  Let’s face it—the story of Thanksgiving that we all heard as children isn’t entirely accurate.   The real lesson of this month is thankfulness.  We should talk about what it means to be grateful and thankful.  We should talk about how lucky we are to be loved.  We should talk about how we can say “thank you” for all of our blessings. 

This is a great time to year for children to learn to respect that all of us have different traditions.  The children can talk about similarities and differences in their holiday celebrations.  They can create art that is about gathering of family and friends.  They can learn about traditional Thanksgiving foods and what others may eat that are less traditional. 

By the time November and the December holiday season is over, perhaps they will have learned to be a little more aware, a little more thoughtful and respectful of everyone.


________________________________________________________________________
Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Words Matter



Words matter.  An elementary school student told me that she is “unteachable.”  Where did she learn that word?  “Unteachable” is not a word that a young student knows.  It is not a label she should own.  It is entirely false. 

Words matter.  A preschool student told me that he is “bad.”  He is sweet and funny.  He is young and needs to learn about socialization and behavior.  He is under the age of 4 and already has a negative word about himself.

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.  Untrue.  Words mean everything.  Words shape our view of our world and of ourselves.  Too often, adults talk about children as if they cannot hear them.  Just because a child is shorter and his ears are not at the same height as yours does not mean that he cannot hear you.  A child may be playing with toys but, if she is in the vicinity, she can hear you.

Think about the words you use when you are with children.  You cannot fill the air with negativity and expect to get positive things back.  Ask yourself:

  • Do I use more positive, self-esteem building words or more negative words?
  • Do I use words to point out how we are all human and deserve compassion or do I use words to create a gossipy world of them vs. us? 
  • Do I use words that reflect the values that I want to teach?
  • Do I use words to criticize rather than offer constructive advice? 

We all have a thought reel that plays in our heads.  Our thoughts are almost always about the past or the future. We remember.  We imagine scenarios.   It is our brain’s self-defense, survival of the fittest mechanism for keeping us from harm.  When children are young, their thoughts about themselves are shaped, in part, by the words of others.  Their thought reel is created by us.  We each need to take responsibility for the words we add to their world.   If each one of us thought for a moment before we spoke, maybe one less child would think herself “unteachable” and one less preschooler would enter elementary school feeling like he is “bad.”

Words matter.

________________________________________________________________________
Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites. 
                                                                                                                    

Thursday, October 16, 2014

THE Best vs. THEIR Best: The Pressure Filled Quest of Today’s Children



We are living in a “THE best” society.  It isn’t good enough for children to try THEIR best.  They have to be THE best.  They can’t just dance for the fun of it and do their best.  They have to be on a competitive dance team.  They can’t just play a sport for the fun of it and do their best.  They have to be on the elite team, the travel team, the championship team.  In school, they are being tested and measured and compared more than ever before.  There is untold pressure to score high, get into the gifted classes and, eventually, take more Advanced Placement classes than anyone else they know. 

What are we doing to the children when their best isn’t good enough and happiness is packaged in winning?  Our society has presented them with an elusive “THE best” that they must constantly strive to achieve.  It is out there, barely reachable and nearly impossible to sustain.  Children who are still developing a sense of self are being inundated with goals that have little to do with them as worthy individuals.  Is it any wonder that so many of our youth struggle with anxiety issues, eating disorders, self-mutilating behaviors and depression? 

Parents need to be intentional in their decisions and actions.  They need to be made aware of the damaging effects of THE best and having that confused with individual goals.  As adults, we get frustrated when people expect more of us than we can achieve.  We tell ourselves that all we can do is our best – OUR best.  That, however, isn’t good enough for children anymore.  We need to stop expecting more from children than we do from ourselves.  We need to teach children that taking pride in THEIR best matters.  THEIR best should not be measured against other people.  We need to intentionally examine the goals that we help our children to set.

  • Are goals about just your child or are they comparing your child to others?
  • Are goals achievable or are they an ideal that is just beyond their reach?
  • Do goals take self-esteem, self-worth and long term mental health into consideration?
  • Do goals demonstrate that there is more than one path to achievement and that having achieved is an individual measurement?

I implore parents to resist the whirlwind of endless competition.  In the end, when all is said and done, what do you want for your children?  What do you want them to think of themselves and how they should walk through life?  In the end, when all is said and done, it is so important that children have a positive self-esteem, to be confident decision makers and to have found how their talents can lead to work that fulfills them.  At the end of the day, our children will sit where we do right now and they will need to know that life can be joyous and peaceful.  They will not learn that from having spent a childhood feeling like they aren’t quite good enough or that they have to achieve goals unrelated to their own emotional well-being.  There is an unhealthy disconnect between individual worth and goals that are based solely on comparison to others.

Parents have asked me if I think that the pendulum will swing back and people will go back to teaching children about the importance of THEIR best rather than THE best.  My answer?  That’s up to you in your house with your children – one family at a time….

 ________________________________________________________________________
Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
                                                                                                                               
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.