Saturday, August 30, 2014

Acceptance: It’s Come a Long Way and Yet…..



When I was a girl, a number of topics were only spoken of in a whisper.  I remember my grandmother only whispering the word “cancer” when a relative was ill.  When a child struggled in school in that time before there was so much help available, the adults would whisper that there were “issues.”  Then, they would exchange knowing glances.  Sexual preferences were not even spoken of in the quietest of tones.  I also remember a family member struggling with mental health issues and whispering about that took place in corners away from children.  We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time, but we aren’t quite there yet.  We still have stigmas in our society.  We can lift stigmas with the right messages to our children.

Today, students who struggle with learning have so many more opportunities.  We have better ways to diagnose and work with students with learning challenges.  And yet – many parents are afraid of pursuing that help because of the fear of labels and stigmas.  Parents have told me that they don’t want their child “classified” without even fully understanding what that means.  The federal law entitling students to special services is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  To receive those services, students must have a challenge that falls within specific categories or classifications.  The child has a diagnosis that matches a classification.   It does not mean that the child is doomed.  In fact, it means that the child qualifies for needed assistance.  As a society, we need to do a better job demonstrating acceptance for learning differences.  We need to teach our children that we all need help sometimes and there is nothing wrong with qualifying for it.  Perhaps, the stigma can be diminished so that less fear will be associated with special services.
                                          
The recent, tragic death of Robin Williams shined a bright light on mental health.  We have come a long way from the days of filthy, abusive asylums and random electric shock therapy.  And yet – so many of our teens engage in self-destructive behaviors behind a curtain of shame.  So many parents seek help for their teens and feel alone in their journey and their fears.  So many adults go for therapy but are afraid to tell anyone.  We live in a very competitive, stressful, always connected society where advertising tells us that good isn’t good enough.  We spend less time in nature and less time taking care of ourselves.  We are better able to diagnose and treat clinical depression, bipolar disorders and other imbalances.  There is no shame in seeking peace and happiness.  Again,  we need to teach our children that we all need some help sometimes and there is no shame in reaching for it.  In fact, it takes courage to seek help.

As the parent of a member of the LGBTQ community, I am so grateful that acceptance has reached a point of allowing same sex couples to marry.   And yet – so many young people are so afraid to tell the adults in their lives that they are lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning.  People should not suffer emotionally for their biology.   We should be grateful when our children find love so they can share their lives with others.  We need to teach our children that sexuality isn’t a choice, no one lifestyle is better than another, and we are all entitled to love and to be loved. 

As I watch my sons and their friends, I see how much more accepting they are than generations past.  They whisper less.  They don’t talk in the shadows as often.  Acceptance has come a long way and yet…..

                                                                                                                   

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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, August 28, 2014

Random Acts of Pride



One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is a healthy self-esteem.  When children believe that they are capable, they are more willing to try new things.  They learn to believe in the possibility that they can succeed.  We do them a terrible disservice when we point out what is wrong more often than what is right.  A preschooler should not struggle with defeat.  Preschoolers should reach for a familiar feeling of success.   It is, however, human nature and a symptom of our adult preoccupation with the details that draw our attention to the negative.  We are so busy that we forget to catch the little moments - the random moments -  when our children do great things and praise them.  It is easy to congratulate your child when they put a piece of paper in your hand and say, “Look what I made.”  It is harder to find the random moments when they:

  • Wait nicely in line at the supermarket – This is not easy for anyone.  I know that I get impatient with the people and their price checks and their coupons.  Children have an even harder time waiting.  The frontal lobe of their brains are fully developed and so they cannot resist impulse or stay still as long as an adult.  When they wait nicely, tell them!  Say, “You waited so patiently.  You should be proud.”
  • Choose their own clothes - It is highly likely that the clothes won’t match and aren’t quite right for the occasion but they chose.  The point is that they boldly chose and did not wait for you.  Tell them, “You should be proud that you picked your own outfit” instead of shaking your head and apologizing for the clashing colors all day long.
  • Make a keen observation – Children do say the most amazing things.  Just when you think they haven’t developed empathy yet, they tell you about a child who is upset.  They seem to be paying no attention and then add a tidbit to a conversation that stops everyone in their tracks.  Tell them how great it is when they notice something important that you missed. 
  • Entertain themselves – When you are parenting small children, it is always a relief when they spend some time entertaining themselves with a toy.  Amusing themselves and not requiring your participation is one of the first steps of independence.  Make note of it.  Tell them that they should be proud of how long the spent playing with that doll or building that building.
  • Walk into a building – Put that child who can walk down!  Leave a little extra time if you have to but for goodness sake, let that child walk!  Walking into school, the store or a friend’s house is a very grown up thing to do.  It is also one of your child’s first ways to feel separation from you.  Celebrate it with your child.  High fives all around!

You may have noticed that in each scenario, the adult points out how proud the child should be about the action or behavior.  The Random Acts of Pride aren’t about us.  They are about instilling pride in your child.  Children need to integrate that feeling and will do so more readily when we make it about them.  They will feel good because you noticed them being well behaved or doing something praiseworthy.  That feeling has a name but they don’t naturally have the words for what they feel.  Commit Random Acts of Pride and help your children to identify that wonderful feeling that is a building block for positive self-image. 
                                                                         
                                                                                                                   

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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.                                                                                                                    

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Transitioning From Summer to School



It is hard to go back to work.  When my administrative assistant or I take a vacation, on our first day back we always look at each other and say, “Re-entry is brutal.”  The same is true for your children.  Going from one routine to another requires time to transition.  When they go back to school, they are going back to work.  In preschools, we know that transition times are challenging.  We have songs we sing before snack time.  We give the children plenty of warning before it is time to clean up and go outside.  When we are outside, we talk about going in for at least 5 minutes before we actually attempt to go.  Make going back to school gentler with a routine of transition.  After each break of more than a few days, have a plan that you always adhere to and is predictable.  The longer the break, the longer the transition time should be.  Here are some back-to-school suggestions:

  • Put down the computer and go to the stores.  I understand the ease of internet shopping.  I know there are cyber-bargains.  Resist!  Spending a fun day buying things for school helps to transition your child.
  • Buy special items that are saved for the first day of school.  When I was a girl, everyone had “back to school shoes.”  It was very common to buy shoes in August that were kept in the box until the first day of school.  I couldn’t wait to wear my new shoes.  It gave us something to look forward to that was connected to the first day of school.  Today, my peers and I talk about the years of “back to school shoes” fondly.  I hope you will buy a pair for your child or find something else your children love – clothing, backpack, accessories – and keep them in the box.
  • Gradually get back to a school year routine before it starts.  Summer brings flexibility.  Children can stay up a little later and sleep until whenever they wake.  Weeks before returning (or days if it is a shorter break), get back to stricter bedtimes and waking to an alarm.  Help your children to adjust to the school schedule by getting their bodies adjusted to the correct sleep routine.
  • Tell stories about when you went to school.  Our children love our stories.  When we share positive memories about school, we are an example of enjoying education.  Our attitudes have a tremendous impact on how our children view their world.  They need to know that we know that school can be both challenging and fun.  Our stories teach them that we weren’t always adults – we were also students who had similar experiences to theirs.
  • Give your children permission to be anxious.  The year ahead is filled with unknowns and unknowns make us nervous.  The worst thing that you can do is to tell them that they have no reason to be scared.  They do have a reason.  They are starting something new and don’t know what it will look like every day.  If your children are anxious, tell them that it is perfectly normal.  Assure them that you also get scared when something new is starting.  Tell them that when they are feeling scared, they should take a few deep breaths because that will help them to be brave (and reverse the physiology of fear thus allowing them to think clearer). For more information about separation anxiety, see the links below this article.

Have a terrific school year filled with laughter, listening, patience, purpose and kindness.  Before you know it, the lazy days of summer will be back.


                                                                         
                                                                                                                   


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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.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Raising a Less Narcissistic Child in an I, Me and Mine World



We have all met people who live in an I, me and mine mindset.  We have sayings – “The world doesn’t revolve around you,”  “The sun doesn’t rise and set on you” and “There is no I in team.”  As the world becomes smaller due to technology and simultaneously more competitive, life becomes more about self-preservation and survival.  We want our children learn to reach for what they need. We want them to grow up to strive for good grades, achievements, honors and be successful in a tough job market.   At the same time, we want them to see the world from a larger point of view than their own.  How do we strike a balance between teaching children to meet their own needs and knowing when to put their needs aside for the better good?  How can we raise them to have a world view larger than “I, me and mine?”

While not every self-focused person has a personality disorder, one hint as to how we may foster empathy and mindfulness may lie in the definition of narcissistic personality disorder –

“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” -  The Mayo Clinic Staff (www.mayoclinic.org)

 “…behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”  Being able to see the world from other points of view and knowing when to do that is tied to our own self-worth.  Children learn what they see and they develop self-esteem by being given many opportunities to feel pride.  When young children are intentionally parented and taught in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, they are more likely to integrate those positive feelings and require less approval from the outside world.  We can give young children a foundation of self-care and empathy.  We do that by being mindful of our own actions and words.

  • Commit random acts of praise.  We have a tendency to point out what is wrong far more often than we point out what is right.  When things are going well, we say less than when something is wrong.  Without a gold star on a piece of paper and when they least expect it, celebrate your young child’s actions or behavior.
  • Praise specifically - “Good job” means nothing.  Children have no idea what you liked.  When your child cleans up his/her toys nicely, say, “You cleaned up the room so nicely.  You should be proud.”  Specifically state the good deed and let them know that they should feel good about themselves.
  • Say “You should be proud” more often than “I am proud.”  Make feeling good about themselves about them, not you.  By telling them that they should be proud, you have implied that you are but you have placed the focus on them.   When they are pleased with themselves, it needs a name – proud – and it needs to not be about you.
  • Make hurt feelings okay.  Everyone gets hurt sometimes.  Children need to know that.  They also need to know that other people’s opinions don’t diminish us.  Tell your child, “I know that hurts” and problem solve together.  Teach your children to control what they can – their own actions and reactions.  Strategize about the situation and stick to the facts.  Letting children get lost in hurt – well, it hurts more.
  • Be an example of appropriate self-care.  It is good for you and your children when you take care of your needs.  Take time to attend a class, exercise, get together with friends and take time for hobbies.  Children who watch adults think of themselves sometimes and others when needed are observing balance.  They also learn that each of us is worth taking time for ourselves.   When we care for ourselves, we are often better emotionally equipped to have empathy for others.
  • Monitor your own use of “I, me and mine” in conversations.  We often wince at people whose every sentence begins with “I” or who can’t listen to others without turning the conversation back toward them.  Have you ever really listened to yourself to see how often you do that?  Listen to yourself.  Can you hear about someone else’s situation without telling a story of your own?  Can you put your own viewpoint aside to try to see another?


Like everything else, children learn from watching you.  Be an example of a bigger view than your own while still demonstrating your own self-worth.  Work intentionally to provide children with a balanced foundation of self-esteem and empathy.

                                                                         
                                                                                                                   


______________________________________________________________________________

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.