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.”

________________________________________________________________________
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.