Sunday, January 25, 2015

Teaching Children to Ask for Help


Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if everyone simply asked for help when they needed it?  There are so many stigmas attached to asking for help.  It is so hard for adults to accept when they need help that they suffer instead.  People don’t need to struggle alone with mental health issues.  There are professionals that can help.  Students don’t need to struggle with learning issues.  We live in a time of progressive special needs therapies and accommodations.  Adults drown in debt before they might be willing to reach out for financial counseling. 

I can’t help but wonder if resistance and feelings of fear & shame actually started when they were very young.  In our quest to make our children or our students independent, are we forgetting to teach them that we are here to help? 

In our preschools and at home, we should make “Come to me for help” one of the first strategies that we teach children.  Too often, I hear teachers and parents tell their children to go and figure it out without saying, “And I am here to help.”  As much as it is our job to teach our children to think and act independently, it is also our duty to teach them to accept assistance. 

The next time you are with a child and there is a dilemma, be mindful in your advice and reactions. Pay attention to the words you use, your tone of voice and body language.  Someday, that child might be an adult with a problem that seems so big that there seems to be no way out.  Teach children from the time that they are very young that they can come to you and go to other trusted advisors. Keep in mind that the lesson can only be learned if:
  • You advise without judgment.  When you judge and shame, children learn to keep their problems to themselves.  Discuss with your children what they might have done instead without demeaning them.  Remember that we all make mistakes and childhood is all about growing from them.
  • You are an example of accepting help.  As with all other things, we have to act as we want our children to act.  When I was a girl, my father would tell me not to smoke while he held a cigarette in his hand.  It was hard to take that advice seriously.  “Do what I say, not what I do” isn’t reality.  You cannot expect your child who is struggling with anxiety to seek support when you never did.  You cannot expect your child to accept extra help with school work if they’ve never seen you ask someone else to teach you something you didn’t know. 
  • You respect the privacy of children.  Children need to know that their private lives are not always being discussed among adults or being posted on social media.  There should be no stigmas attached to needing help while, at the same time, we are all entitled to privacy.  My children’s stories are their own to tell, not mine.  I ask permission before posting about them or writing about them.  Children who are growing up in a world where everyone knows everything about each other may end up being more afraid to seek help.  We cannot control the judgment and gossip of others.  We can merely ensure our children that their lives are their own to discuss or not.

Hillary Clinton popularized an African proverb when she said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  The truth is that it takes a village for all of us.  I know that I don’t gather my own food, cure my own illnesses or even repair my own car.  The willingness to reach to others for support should know no limits.


________________________________________________________________________
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 2015 © 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, January 11, 2015

Discipline Without Name Calling: What To Say When Enforcing Rules

Our interactions with children shape their view of themselves.   The words that we use when we need to teach acceptable behavior are just as important as the words we use when we are proud of our children.   We have learned a lot since the years of “children should be seen and not heard.”  We know that we need to teach children to seek positive attention and so we commit random acts of pride.  Parents today are willing to learn about making respect part of discipline methods.  The truth is that those actions are easy when compared to measuring your words when children are pushing boundaries and breaking rules.   

It is imperative that we use language that addresses the offending behavior without diminishing the child.  We need to speak simply, firmly and consistently.  We need to demonstrate that behavior can be addressed directly and calmly.  We need to simply say, “That is not allowed.”
                                          
“That is not allowed.”  The subject of that sentence is the action and not the child. 

A child tells another child that she is stupid.  An adult might say, “You are being mean” or “Be nice.”  The subject of those sentences is the child.  When the subject of the sentence is the child, the child personalizes and integrates that negativity.  It impacts his/her self-esteem, your relationship and your future communication.  Children will more like grow up to have an honest and open relationship with you if they don’t grow up feeling personally attacked when things go wrong.  Instead say, “That is not allowed.  The rule is that we have to be kind to other people.”   That statement is about the behavior.  The behavior wasn’t allowed.  That is a far more productive and instructive message than a personal attack.

“That is not allowed.”  It is simple.  It states the truth.  It works for all ages.

Your teenager needs to learn to speak with you without yelling at you but, once again, there has been a disagreement and he is emotional.  It is hard to stay calm and factual.  The best thing you can do is to diffuse the energy of the emotional situation by staying calm.  Calmly say, “That is not allowed.  The rule is that we speak respectfully in this house.” You have stated a fact and demonstrated the respect that you are trying to teach. 

“That is not allowed.”  It draws the boundary.  It is not debatable.   It often should apply to you, too.

Your child yells at you.  You yell back.  You, through your actions, have just taught your child that yelling is acceptable.  Children learn what they see and not what they hear.  We send silent messages to children all the time.  They are watching, noting, imitating and forming a world view based on their observations of the adults in their lives.  There are rules that are different for adults –we can drive, watch R rated movies and stay home alone.  We cannot be disrespectful while teaching respect.  We cannot be mean when teaching kindness. 

“That is not allowed.”   It cannot stand alone.

One sentence will not do it.  You need follow that sentence with the rationale and the expected behavior.  The reason that a behavior is not allowed should not be a mystery.   If you cannot come up with a good reason for a rule, then question the validity of the rule before you enforce it. 

Children need to know their boundaries.  They need to know what is acceptable, what is not and how far they can push before they have stepped over the lines that you have set for their behavior.  Calling them names – “you were mean,” “you are rude,” “you are being bad” – those “you” statements are not allowed.


________________________________________________________________________
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 2015 © 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, January 1, 2015

Family To-Do Lists: Not At All About Groceries, Appointments & Errands

Our lives are full of lists and calendars.  The day-to-day minutia of our lives is recorded and charted.  We take lists to the grocery store.  We download calendar apps that allow all members of our family to see each other’s busy schedules.  We note upcoming bill payments, appointments and other reminders.  These are the details.  They are not the goal.  When I ask people about their vision for their family, they talk about having more time together while taking time for personal care.  They say that they want more quality experiences, more patience and time to really talk to each other.  No one tells me that they want to create the perfect grocery list; yet, we often spend more time focusing on that than on what really matters – creating a list that would lead to a life filled with peace, love and memorable moments of joy.

Get some paper.  Yes – actual paper because you want to stumble across this list daily and not have to click on an app to see it. Gather your family.  It’s time to make a Family To-Do List.  Be sure to include your children in your planning.  They need to know and participate in the goal discussions in the family.  You will be teaching them what really matters, how to make plans and how to work together.
                                          
Next – and this is hard – forget about the day to day details and create a vision.  A vision is similar to the resolutions that people like to make for a new year except that it is more often about how you would like to feel.  This year, for example, you might like to have more moments filled with family fun and laughter because they give you great joy.  You might also decide that you want more time to feel like you do when you are on vacation sitting on a beach.  It is also very acceptable to have a vision of taking better care of yourself so you can be more relaxed when your family is together.  We are at our best, after all, when we take care of ourselves, and that is a fine lesson for your children to learn.  No one enjoys a martyr – not even your children who will sense when they are the cause of choices that actually make you unhappy.  When you have come up with a vision that leads to the desired emotion, write it at the top of the page.

Now, it is time to break it down.  What are the steps, individual and concrete steps, that you can take to make that vision happen?  One tiny step at a time, you can create a Family To-Do List that leads to your vision.  Your Family To-Do List may include specific ways you will spend your time at home or exactly how many hours your family will spend together in a week.  Your list may include specific things you will do for yourself that will refresh you.  The list has to be exact and achievable.  You cannot take more vacation time from work that you are allotted, but you can be very exact about how you will spend the time you are given.   Don’t forget about the kids while you are making the list.  It is great when they have ideas that can help your family to reach their goals and you may be amazed at how even young children can give valuable input.

When your Family To-Do List is written, place it somewhere very visible.  We tend to get caught up in the details of our days.   Before we know it, months pass without having done anything to meet our goals.  A visible list will help to keep you focused.   I hope that you get to accomplish some of the steps and that you find great joy in doing so.
________________________________________________________________________
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.