Sunday, April 19, 2015

Teens & Expectations: Do You Motivate or Cause Anxiety?

Parents are teachers, role models, leaders and guides.  We spend years trying to impart lessons about life.  We want our children to become self-motivating.  We want them to have a desire to strive and achieve.  In our quest to encourage them, we need to be careful not to cross the line that divides expectations from unreasonable pressure.

Expectations should be realistic and achievable.  We need to know that the ability to complete the task or exhibit the behavior is absolutely within our child’s capabilities.  We need to have expectations that are about our own children as individuals and not in comparison to others. We need to have expectations that are not wishes.  You can wish for your children but, ultimately, they will not live out your dreams.  They need to develop and find their own.  If you try to force them to live your dreams for them, they will never be their authentic selves.  If they fail to live up to their parents’ wishes, that feeling of failure becomes a part of their self-image. 

Do you motivate your children or do you cause anxiety?  Do you support them in reaching reasonable goals?  Rare is the parent who hopes to raise anxious, self-conscious children who feel like they can never succeed.  That is not the goal.  Be sure it is not the product of your messages to your children.  Consider these differences:

Grades
  • Expectation:  Trying your best to achieve the best grade possible for you
  • Wish:  Getting straight A’s every time

The expectation should be about effort and not a specific result.  We all have subjects that we can grasp easier than others.  If math or literacy is difficult for your child, an A may not be achievable.  Sometimes, the best they can do is a B or C.  When a child works very hard and gets a grade lower than desired, their own frustration is enough.  Parents need to teach them that this is life – sometimes you work really hard and the result is less than you hoped.  As long as you work really hard, then you have done all you can do.  When you don’t try your hardest, society metes out the consequences and will continue to do so.  Our children need to understand that poor grades due to lack of effort will not help them to achieve goals.  Sometimes, children need to learn that through experience, too.  We can't set unreachable goals and we can't always save them from consequences.

Sports
  • Expectation:  Practicing to hone skills that will add to your performance and be a team player
  • Wish:  Being selected for the elite team or elite position on the team

Parents need to convey the message that participating in a sport is a commitment.  They have to be willing to practice.  They have to be team players by doing what is needed and by supporting their teammates.  They don’t always need to be the absolute best and, sometimes, they will not be selected for the elite team or to be a starting player.  Dealing with that disappointment is a life lesson.  Sometimes, it is our role to support the achievements of others.  That doesn't diminish our own hard work.

We can motivate our teens to be the best they each can be.  First, parents need to accept.  We need to accept who our children are without comparison to others.  We need to accept the limits of their capabilities just like we want other people to accept our own limits.  We need to encourage, support and motivate so that we are not the cause of anxiety beyond that which is already heaped on everyone in our constantly connected, product based society. 

When you are setting goals, include your children.  Talk about what you expect and why.  Ask how they feel about your expectations and listen closely.  Listen for their fears and self-doubt. Discuss their concerns without judgement.  Open the doors to communication by including your teens in conversations that are actually about them. 

 
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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 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.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Self-Awareness: A Family Activity

People tend to be reactive.  Something happens.  We react.  The next thing happens.  We react.  We spend many days putting out fires without taking the time to consider why we react as we do and how we could be more effective; yet, we want our children to measure their reactions carefully.  A child grabs a toy and we want our child to remember to say, “I don’t like when you do that.”  Children get frustrated and we want them to remember not to push or shove or refuse to wait.  Do we model that behavior?  Do we think before we act?

The power of self-awareness and reflection is immeasurable.  We all make mistakes.  We all get carried away by emotion sometimes.  We can model the ability to reflect and self-correct for our children.  We can be examples of wisdom rather than drama.

Make self-awareness a family activity. Each day, spend time discussing the following questions:
  • What was great about today?
  • How can I make great times like that happen again?
  • What was hard about today?
  • How can I make that hard time easier next time?

When my boys were young, we used to sit at the dinner table and tell the best part of the day or the week and the worst part.  Even though we didn't do it often enough, they can still easily have that conversation.  Now that they are adults, it is a conversation that happens intrinsically when we talk.  They talk about the good in their lives and the things that frustrate them.  When they do, we talk about their options.  The ability to have that discussion starts in early childhood. 

Most preschoolers can tell you about the best part of the day and the hard part of the day.  Remember that their point of view is different than that of an adult but it is equally valid.  A young child may think the best part of the day was having crackers for snack.  Celebrate it.  A young child may think the hard part of the day was not getting to play with the trains.  Empathize and talk about how he/she might ask for the trains next time. Remember to not only hear them but to listen.  When you listen, don’t jump in with a solution.  Ask questions that lead them to finding the solution by thinking about themselves and their world. 

A discussion about the day should include you and your children.  They need to see that adults experience fun and frustration just like they do.  They need to see that adults don’t always like their own behavior and can improve upon it.  Most importantly, they need to see that families can discuss good times and hard times with calm, thoughtful lack of judgement.  They need to see that they won’t be teased or ridiculed for their missteps.  It fine to laugh with them but not at them. 

When you have this conversation often enough, you will all begin to consider your actions before the fires start.  You will be in the habit of thinking about yourselves and how you behave.  Someday, if you communicated well and without judgement or concern for appearances, your children will willingly share their good times, their bad times and their thought process with you.

 
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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 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.