Sand seeping through hands

4 Timely Ways to Overcome Procrastination Quickly

With HUGE delight we welcome our guest blogger, Sonya Kaiser.  Sonya was a high school classmate of my son and has now graduated from University of Pennsylvania in Biological Basis of Behavior with a minor in Psychology.  Sonya is bi-cultural, with a French father and American mother, and has lived on several continents.  She currently teaches in a bilingual pre-school in Seattle, Washington, USA.

It’s a treat to benefit from her scientific knowledge of the brain and its impact on behavior.  It’s also an honor to feature a young woman whom I knew as a teen and is now a colleague.  She’s keeping me on my toes!

Please do let Sonya know what you think of her article! Which of the Procrastination Traps catches you most off guard?!  How do you overcome it? Share your questions about neurology and time management in the comments.

 

Sand seeping through hands
Time running out

We’ve all done it, thought “I’ll do it tomorrow”, left an assignment to the last minute, procrastinated a task for so long that eventually we just forgot we wanted to do it in the first place.

Procrastination is an enemy to many and the best way to handle it is to know your enemy.

Did you know that procrastination can be caused by a few  psychological patterns? Which one of these speaks to you?

Procrastination Causes

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure
“Oops!”

The reason that is most commonly brought up is a fear of failure.

The feelings of anxiety or self-doubt that come over you when you’re unsure whether you can complete a task successfully can quickly become crippling and prevent you from getting started.

Even worse, as time goes by, you can start overthinking and building the task so much in your mind that it becomes harder and harder to overcome that fear.

Self-Defense

Kids in viking costumer with shields
“No way!”

Another possible cause of procrastination is a sort of self-defense mechanism, to maintain a positive view of yourself.

Your sense of self-worth is often determined by your ability to successfully complete tasks. This is why it’s often easier to check easy tasks off your to-do list than more challenging ones, why you might tend to avoid anything with a higher likelihood of failure.

Procrastination can also be a convenient defense if you do end up failing.

If you don’t give yourself enough time to complete the task, you can blame the failure on the lack of time rather than your own lack of ability, which in turn enables you to maintain your confidence in your abilities.

Problem for the “Future Me”

Einstein in color graffiti
“I’ll be smarter later”

Another common reason to procrastinate is the idea that your future self will be better equipped to handle the task. You might think you’ll be in a better mood, less tired, or more emotionally prepared in a few hours or a few days and you leave the burden of your task to a future you.

 

Which of the above have tempted you the most?!  Fear of Failure – Self-Defense – Delegate to “Future Me”

Want help setting up your Pro-Doing-It-Now plan?  Ask your question here.

Strategies to Turn Procrastination Around

Divide tasks into smaller pieces

Watermelon cut into smaller pieces
Chop, chop

This will make them seem more manageable. It’s always less daunting to start a task when you can picture the end of it.

Tips for parents

Instead of writing “clean the house” on your to-do list, try “tidy living room, do laundry, mop floors, vacuum floors, fold clothes”

Tips for students

Instead of writing “write 10-page essay” on your to-do list, try “find topic for essay, research for 2 hours, write an essay plan, flesh out essay”.

Set tangible deadlines

kitchen time
“Driiiiing!” Time is up.

If a deadline isn’t imposed by someone else, try giving yourself one. Self-imposed deadlines are generally less effective than external ones, but they’re better than nothing!

Tips for parents

If you do give your kids a deadline, try using “when” rather than “if”. For instance, try saying “When you’re done cleaning your room, we can play a board game” instead of “If you clean your room, we can play together”

Tips for students

Try setting a timer to encourage yourself to work for a specific amount of time without stopping or getting distracted.

Block access to distractions

Fence with this way sign
Stop. Turn. Go.

It’s so easy to let your attention wander. As an adult, the main culprits are often distracting websites like social media or streaming services. But kids can be distracted by anything that moves, anything that makes a noise or even by their own exciting inner lives.

Tips for parents

Try keeping your kids’ attention focused on boring tasks, like putting on shoes and coats, with a little song that you can all sing together.

Tips for students

There are a few great apps that can help you block websites in a more effective manner than just self-monitoring, like SelfControl and StayFocusd.

Find joy in the task itself

Boys in garden
“Joie de vivre” – Contagious joy.

It always helps productivity and mood to think of tasks as things that you want to do or get to do, rather than things you have to do. Try to make tasks either positive, worthwhile or entertaining in some way.

Tips for parents

Add a sense of competition to dull tasks like getting ready for school. The first person who’s completely ready gets to ring a little bell! Ready, set, go!

Tips for students

Instead of sitting down or pacing while studying some flashcards, put on some music and have a little dance party!

 

Teen boy

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be flexible. To child, advance step by step

We’re on a roll with the Family Feedback.  Our eldest son has given and received his insights (read here) for the Family Feedback.  We’re sitting around the dinner table and our third son is next to him.

Perfecting Family Feedback Process

(In a teensy bit of a controlling style) I turn to our second eldest son.

Mom:  “What is your feedback for me?”

Purposefully, I did NOT ask, “Do you have____?”  Our purpose with this discussion is to create an environment where our children voice a compliment and a concern.  We’re going beyond “Yes” and “No” mutterings.  (Read here for Family Feedback How To’s and free download)

Son 2:  “Oh, we’re going this way?  By age?”

Mom, interpreting the question as a gentle invitation to allow the kids to take the lead:  “We don’t have to. Who wants to go next?”

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Son 3 pipes up, “I’ll go.  Mom, you have been nice about getting special school supplies for me.  Sometimes I’ve run out of _______ or needed a specific book or _______ and it meant going to a specialty store to find it.  I appreciate your effort.  Thanks.”

Mom smiles…lips and eyes.

To Change

Son:  “And Mom, you have GOT TO BE more flexible with my going out at night.  I don’t want to have to give you a fixed phone number AND address AND friends’ names AND time I come home before you let me go out.”

Older brothers:  “Aaagh, we hated that too!”  “Now it’s your turn!”

Mom:  “Do you know why I ask for those?”

Son:  “Yeah, my older brothers messed up so now you’re tough on me.”

Mom repeats:  “Do you know why I ask those things?”

Son 3 grunts.

Mom:  “When you give your friend’s mobile number, they don’t answer.  There have been times when we found out that you boys were not where you said you were, so I like to have a number to call just in case.”

Son:  “The phone number is the worst thing.”

Mom:  “We had dinner with friends last night who, for sleepovers, systematically call beforehand to check that their sons are expected.”

Son 3:  “Don’t do that!”

Mom:  “And I ask about where they are and getting home so that you can work out public transportation and return on time.  ‘I missed the last train’ is not a valid excuse for being late…”

Dad:  “STOP the bickering!”

Brothers:  “Yeah, work this out the two of you.”

Mom:  “OK, honey.  Make me a proposal for a different way to get permission to go out.  Let’s talk more over something concrete.

Son 2: “My turn?”

Brothers:  “Yeah, let’s move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to Son

Well Done

Mom:  “You have shown us your ability to be responsible. Admittedly your teachers are writing that you are insolent in class 🙁 and lacking in maturity. Yet over this vacation and through your job (as a high school freshman, he’s tutoring a French boy in English) you have demonstrated to us your leadership skills, positive initiatives, and commitment to completing your responsibilities well.  When you want to, you excel in maturity.

To Change – Have an optimistic view of you and your future.

You state these outlandish goals for yourself:  king of the world! You know these are unattainable (undesirable?) and I wonder if you say these things out of lack of confidence?…I don’t know.  No one expects you to reach them, so no one will consider you a failure if you don’t.

Raclette à l'ancienne

(“Pass the cheese, please,” someone requests…and we keep talking.)

What you can change is to think of how you can be a success…you choose the realm.  You are WAY MORE LIKELY to fulfill your dreams one step at a time than through a miraculous leap.   Break down your mega-perfectionist goals into smaller tasks…and you might even surprise yourself by how much you accomplish…and then you’ll have the courage to really dream big AND realistic.”

Son:  “Yeah…”

Mom:  “You have soooo much potential, darling.  You know that, don’t you?”

Son:  “I know.”

Brothers:  “Let’s pick up the rhythm.  Next!”

No room for mommy sentimentality!

NEXT SON…

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Child giving kiss in thanks

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A Family Meeting for your family in your home
facilitated by Denise Dampierre, Positive Discipline educator

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

A Family Meeting is an opportunity for children to give feedback to parents, both about what they appreciate in family and areas where they would like to see change.  Parents always seem intrigued…then wary.  “What if the kids will make a laundry list of our faults and we will feel overwhelmed?”

With a clear and positive structure, Family Meetings are enjoyed by all!

Father mother son daughter in family meeting

Today’s gift is a Family Meeting in your home with your family held under the guidance of Positive Discipline trained Denise Dampierre.  After a brief introduction, you will begin the Family Meeting by sharing thanks.  What each family member appreciates in the other.  Then we will broach issues to change and close by celebrating your family.

This structured discussion lasts 30 plus minutes, depending upon the number and ages of the children.

The sharing of THANKS sets the tone for the Family Meeting. 

An attitude of gratitude also sets the tone for this gift-giving and gift-receiving season.

The Christmas Nightmare

You may have experienced this too.  It’s Christmas morning and the SUPER-EXCITED kids are Ready. Set. GO. to open their gifts.

Son and Daughter rip off the wrapping paper (you spent hours to put on) and discard the shreds on the living room floor.

Then they wail.  They did not receive The. ONE. Present. they oh-so-badly wanted.  They gave you a list of 10 wishes and you offered them 9 and, oooops, you missed the right one.

Or it could be they don’t like the chocolates offered by Great Aunt Martha.   Your child prefers milk chocolate with krispies, not this fancy (and expensive) stuff.

Or a sibling received better or more presents than they did….

The supposed-to-be magic festivities result in an emotional breakdown.

When Christmas Magic Means Fair

Parents work hard to prevent such a scene.  We spend fortunes on our children.  We make lists and compare the “value” of gifts so that the kids feel Christmas is “fair.” (Fair to whom? To you? To the child born in South Sudan?)

What about another approach?  It might require a paradigm shift.

When Christmas Magic Means Thankful

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart. Stewart plays George Bailey, a kind-hearted man who regularly sacrificed his well-being for the good of others.  One of these altruistic acts got him into major financial trouble.  In desperation, George turns to the town’s banker-tyrant, Mr. Potter.  Potter, referring to George’s life insurance policy, tells him

“You’re worth more dead than alive.”

That’s when George decides to take his life … but is given the chance to see what life would be like had he not been born. He is given the gift of glimpsing the value of his life which, in his discouragement he had been too blind to see.

It’s people’s thankfulness for George that transformed the situation.  First came the change in attitude.  This then enabled a reversal in circumstances.

George Bailey richest man in town

Gratitude Characteristic

There’s a multiplier effect to appreciativeness.

Thankfulness opens the eyes to more gratitude.

Being thankful for a tree with flickering lights leads to gratitude for electricity, and an income to buy the decorations, and the dedication of the garbage folk who pick up the spindly debris (stuffed into those recycling bags of course!)

Gratitude Can be Taught

Gratitude can be taught!

Thankfulness is a mindset which develops through practice.  Like any habit, the more we do it, the easier it is…and then it just comes naturally.

Like many new skills, it can feel awkward at the beginning.  We all start somewhere.

Olympic medalists did with their sports.

We can too with our thanks.

So when folk shrug their shoulders and excuse their self-focus with “It’s just not part of my personality or part of my culture,” think again.  It might not be part of their practice.  Yet!

Olympians excel in their domain through a discipline training plan.  So, what plan will you put in place to train yourself and the kids in gratitude?

Olympic skiier
Olympians began…
Little boy on baby skis
…like this.

 

Train as of Today

Advance step by step to encourage a thankful spirit (and preventing a Christmas Nightmare) in the next few days

  • Today:
    • Be an example of thankfulness.  Say, “Thank you” five times today.
    • As you put your child to bed ask them about one thing for which they are thankful today
  • Tomorrow
    • Be thankful out loud for something that you usually take for granted: electricity, sunshine, comfy sofas
    • Say “Thank you” to your partner while your children are within earshot
    • Share ONE Great Thanks to every child
  • After-tomorrow
    • Be thankful for this day. So excited to see what it will bring!
    • Transform a “calamity” (spilled milk, dirty clothes…) into a question. What could you and I do differently next time?  Say “Thanks for this time thinking of solutions together.  I learned about you and felt heard too.”
    • Share a train of thanks. “I’m thankful for a car.  It makes it possible to visit Grampa and Grandma.  I’m thankful that you have so many people who love you.  I’m even thankful that I’m hungry because I’m looking forward to our meal together even more!”
  • The day after that
    • You decide!

Prepare for a great Christmas morning NOW by practicing thanks. 

Take the time to practice.

Hands helping each other

Faites la Paix avec Quelqu’un

Le Cadeau du Jour sur le calendrier de l’avent Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home

1 heure de coaching pour réparer une relation + des SMS quotidiens de suivis pendant 1 semaine avec Denise Dampierre 

Comment recevoir ce cadeau ? Faites le quizz amusant du Calendrier de l’Avent pour Parents aujourd’hui, et vous avez l’opportunité de gagner le cadeau grâce à notre tirage au sort. N’hésitez plus, la chance est avec vous !

Le cadeau du jour vous aide à vivre une vie sans regrets et à réparer vos relations. Vous recevrez une heure de coaching pour créer un plan de réconciliation et vous bénéficieriez d’un suivi SMS quotidien pendant 1 semaine pour vous encourager et modifier votre plan selon vos besoins.

Réconcilier ?  C’est la Question

Obtenons l’avis sur ce sujet de personnalités connues :

Steve Jobs, fondateur de Apple entre autre

Quel que soit l’étape de la vie dans laquelle nous sommes en ce moment, au final, nous allons devoir affronter le jour ou le rideau tombera.

Faites un trésor de l’amour pour votre famille, de l’amour pour votre mari ou femme, de l’amour pour vos amis…

Que chacun agisse avec amour et occupez-vous de votre prochain.

Clayton Christensen, professeur à Harvard Business School.  En parlant des relations parents-enfants :

Le temps de planter un arbre est avant que vous ayez besoin de son ombre.

Charmantes Dames

Que feriez-vous aujourd’hui pour que votre relation reste aussi forte et vive demain ?

L’histoire d’une maman

Voici un aperçu d’une conversation de coaching avec une mère de quatre enfants :

Maman: “Je ne veux pas faire face aux erreurs du passé que j’ai pu commettre avec mes enfants. Je suis humaine.”

S’excuser ? Non !

“Voici comment je traite mes erreurs du passé. C’est comme si je les balayais sous le tapis et les plaçais derrière moi pour que je ne les vois pas.”

Nous avons tous les deux beaucoup ri en imaginant la scène et ce que les enfants verraient : une mère souriante avec un tapis TRES CAHOTEUX derrière elle! LOL

Pendant que nous parlions, elle a admis que les débris se trouvaient vraiment entre elle et ces enfants, comme un obstacle à escalader pour gagner de l’intimité.

Maman: “Un petit obstacle n’est pas un problème.”

Coach: “Quel est votre objectif avec vos enfants? Avoir une grande intimité ou de petits problèmes?

Hand building lego wall
Les barrières se construisent ou se détruisent ?

Désolé Semble Etre le plus Difficile des mots

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – le titre d’une chanson de Elton John

“Mais j’ai raison!”

Les parents peuvent se demander: “Pourquoi s’excuser quand j’ai raison?!”

Il faut deux personnes pour avoir un conflit. Très rarement une partie a 100% raison et l’autre a complétement faux.

En ce qui concerne le problème sous-jacent entre vous et votre enfant, vous avez probablement raison. La chambre a besoin d’être nettoyée. Il faut rentrer à l’heure après la fête. La façon dont vos enfants parlent aux aînés compte également.

Et le processus compte aussi. Peut-être avez-vous eu une réaction excessive ? Êtes-vous fermé aux commentaires de votre enfant qui voulait partager son point de vue ? Des distractions ont-elles limitées votre capacité à vous concentrer sur votre bien-aimé  ?

Durant le coaching, j’aide les parents à savoir quand ils ont mis de l’huile sur le feu et que cela a entraîné des tensions dans la famille.

Ne soyez pas désolé de demander à votre enfant de ranger sa chambre. C’est votre devoir de parent.

Vous pouvez vous sentir attristé de lui crier dessus quand il ne vous a pas répondu après que vous lui ayez demandé de faire quelques choses plusieurs fois. “Et, chérie, est-ce que nous pouvons travailler ensemble de telle sorte que je ne sois pas tenté d’élever la voix parce que tu ne me réponds pas plus rapidement ?

“Est-ce que les excuses vous rendre plus faibles?”

Au contraire. Des excuses sincères de votre part vous rende authentique, une des qualités que les adolescents apprécient chez les adultes.

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, rappelle aux parents que le respect est assimilé à un exemple de comportement et de langage respectueux, et non à un acte “ d’’enseignement ” traditionnel (un discours). Même les jeunes enfants comprennent quand les adultes ne vont pas dans leur sens. À l’adolescence, ces messages contradictoires peuvent entraîner des divisions de plus en plus profondes entre les adolescents et les adultes.

(Marilyn Price-Mitchell est l’auteur du livre “Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reconquérir le pouvoir de la citoyenneté pour une nouvelle génération”. Psychologue du développement et chercheuse, elle travaille à l’intersection du développement positif de la jeunesse et l’éducation.)

Chat et chien réconciliés
Comme c’est BEAU la réconciliation !

Se réconcilier, c’est choisir d’aimer

Nelson Mandela disait :

“La rancœur est le poison que l’on boit en pensant tuer son ennemi.”

Se réconcilier ne signifie pas qu’un comportement incorrect devient tout à coup acceptable. Une mauvaise action reste mauvaise.

Réparer une relation, c’est choisir d’aimer même quand on a été blessé et d’oublier sa rancune pour avancer.

Se reconnecter met la priorité dans la relation plutôt que de se concentrer sur le manque de respect, le retard perpétuel, ou le comportement difficile de nos enfants.

Il se peu…

Il arrive souvent (mais pas toujours) que lorsqu’une personne reconnaisse ses torts dans un conflit, l’autre le fasse aussi.

 

Note: Ce coaching sera réalisé avec Denise Dampierre, une éducatrice spécialisée et certifiée en Discipline Positive. Si votre situation nécessite une expertise médicale ou psychologique, Denise peut vous recommander à un spécialiste.

Photo de Brooke Cagle sur Unsplash et de PetsWorld

Hands helping each other

Make Peace with Someone

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

1 hour Relationship Repair Coaching + daily SMS follow through for 1 week
with Denise Dampierre

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Today’s gift helps you live a life without regrets and to repair a relationship.  You receive 1 hour of coaching to create a reconciliation action plan and daily SMS follow through for a week to provide encouragement and tweak your plan as needed.

Let’s gain insights from wizened folk.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and much more

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School.  In speaking about parent-child relationships

The time to plant a tree is before you need the shade.

Lovely Ladies

What will you do TODAY so that TOMORROW your relationships remain vibrant and strong?

A Mom’s Story

Here is a glimpse of a coaching conversation with a mother of four children:

Mom: “I don’t want to deal with past mistakes I may have made with my kids.  I’m human.

Apologize?  No!

Here is how I treat my past blunders.  It’s like I sweep them under the rug and place them behind me so that I don’t see them.”

We both laughed as we imagined the scene and what the kids’ saw: a smiling mother with a VERY BUMPY rug behind her!  L.O.L.

As we shared, she admitted that the debris really lay between herself and the children, like a hurdle to climb to gain intimacy.

Mom: “A small hurdle is not a problem.”

Coach: “What’s your goal with the children? Big intimacy or small problems?”

Hand building lego wall
Building or taking down the relationship barrier?

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

“But I am Right!”

Parents may wonder, “Why apologize when I am right?!”

It takes two people to have a conflict.  Very rarely is one party 100% in the right and the other completely at fault.

Regarding the underlying issue between you and your child, you are probably right.  The room does need to get cleaned.  Curfew is to be respected.  The way one speaks to elders matters.

AND process matters too.  Might there have been an over-reaction?  Were you closed to feedback and your child wanted to share his point of view? Did viable distractions limit your ability to focus on your loved one?

In the coaching I help parents realize where they may have added fuel to a slight tension flicker…which resulted in a full-blown flame.

Don’t be sorry for asking your child to clean his room.  That is your parenting prerogative.

You can be sorry for screaming at him when he did not respond after you asked him numerous times.  “And, darling, can we work out together a way that I won’t be tempted to raise my voice because you would respond more quickly?”

“Will apologizing make we look weak?”

On the contrary.  A sincere apology for YOUR part of the conflict makes you authentic, one of the qualities teenagers appreciate in adults.

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD reminds parents that respect is assimilated through language and modeling, not through the act of traditional “teaching.” Even young children understand when adults are not walking their talk. By adolescence, those mixed messages can cause deeper and deeper divides between teens and adults.

(Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD, is the author of Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation. A developmental psychologist and researcher, she works at the intersection of positive youth development and education.)

Reconciled cat and dog
Isn’t reconciliation PRECIOUS !

We reconcile to choose to love.  To reconnect.

Nelson Mandela is reputed to say,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Reconciling does not mean pretending that the incorrect behavior suddenly becomes acceptable.  The mis-action remains wrong.

Repairing the relationship means choosing to love even when you have been hurt and to let go of the resentment so that you can keep thriving.

Reconnecting places the priority on the relationship rather than on the back-talk, perpetual tardiness, or any other of our children’s challenging behaviors.

Wonder!

It often happens (but not always) that when one person recognizes their part in a conflict, the other party admits their misdead too.  Phew !

 

Note: This coaching will be with Denise Dampierre, a trained Positive Discipline educator and certified in Appreciative Inquiry.  If your situation requires medical or psychological expertise, Denise can you recommend you to a specialist.

 

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash and PetsWorld

Driving in England on the left

Boost Confidence Tips from Driving in England (on the left)

We just dropped off our rental car at The Southampton, UK airport.

In England, they drive on the left side of the road.  I live in France and in the US where we drive “normally” (!!!), that is on the right side.

I had been apprehending this automotive experience and nervously stalled car while exiting parking lot.   “Mom, are you SURE you can handle this?” my sons inquired.  We survived.

WE THRIVED!!!!

It was hard.

[bctt tweet=My weakness contributed to our combined strength.  Asking for help boosted everyone’s confidence.]

Enjoy these precious parenting tips gleaned from our exotic automotive adventure:

  1. Enlist Help. My weakness contributed to our combined strength.
  2. Our focus determines our action plan. Look to the problems leads to fear-full measures.   Aim for the goal stimulates a solution-finding approach.
  3. Overcoming challenges builds, rather BOOSTS, confidence.

Boost Confidence –
Be weak to let others be strong

I made NO pretense about confidence.  I had a teeny amount.

If we could each contribute our small portion of confidence to the common pool, we could have enough…

“Boys, we can include a special adventure in our trip which would require driving.  I’m scared and would need your help.  Are you up for it?”

Warmed by the children’s encouragement, I reserved the car.

We then created two driver-assistant roles:

  • The navigator who would help identify the route to follow so that I could focus on the road.
  • The left-side driver coach who would remind me to stay in the correct lane!

Both guides proved vital.

“Yes, Mom, the clouds are beautiful…but could you keep your eyes on the road, PLEASE?!”

Of course I still missed multiple turns and took us on detours.  Some scenic detours.  Some traffic-filled delays.  No big deal.

The Unexpected

An unexpected difficulty superseded what I had anticipated as the greatest challenge.  I had feared swerving into the wrong lane.

Instead ended up driving off the road, sometimes barely missing cars parked on the left hand side!  This dilemma, the problem that had not even occurred to me, ended up being our greatest challenge.

We sure benefited from those warnings:

“Mom, careful of the parked cars!  You almost ran into it!!!”  How embarrassing.

“Mom, you’ve passed the white line and are driving off the side of the road…That was the sidewalk you hit.”  Oops.

“When they drive on the left, aren’t the slower traffic lanes on the left too?  At your speed, are you where you should be…?”  Feeling like beginner driver.

None of these comments bespoke, “Shining Star.” or “Wonder Mom.”  They all communicated, “Mom, we love you AND we are with you.”

Boost Confidence –
Focus on the Goal, not the Barriers

Courage, willingness to take risks, and foresight are qualities I seek to encourage in my children.

This driving adventure created an opportunity for me to model these qualities for my children.

They hear about them all the time.  This time, I could speak of their importance through actions, not merely with words.

One of our sons gets discouraged by academic challenges.  When he encounters a difficult math problem, he stops.

“Did you ask your teacher?  Could you get help from a friend?”  I inquire with the most positive intent.  He senses my concern and it feels like pressure to him.

My attempt to encourage backfires.  Instead my child returns to his math homework, repeats his mistakes, and gives up anew.  It’s like he reinvests in his losing strategy.

I wonder if he believes “Smart people don’t ask for help.”    It’s an incorrect belief.  And it’s bringing him down.

[bctt tweet=”Does my child believe that “Smart people don’t ask for help.” It’s false.  And it’s debilitating.”]

He and I converse about this.  And there is a time to stop talking (Now!) or I too would be reinvesting in my losing strategy!

This driving challenge provided the opportunity to model the behavior I seek in him.  I could speak through actions instead of with words.  Through a fun adventure I showed how

  • To set a worthwhile goal that reaches beyond the comfort zone
  • To identify potential challenges
  • To secure help to overcome them
  • To celebrate victories!!!

Boost Confidence by Overcoming Challenges

While standing in line at the airport, I smilingly confessed, “I’m proud of myself.  I did something difficult”…

In unison, the boys interrupted me to complete the sentence: “AND YOU SUCCEEDED!”

In fact, we succeeded together and, thanks to the rented car and the additional flexibility it provided, we were able to visit Stonehenge, one of the great prehistoric sites…located deep in the English countryside.

Flying high with confidence now!
Teen bursting with confidence at Stonehenge.

…Surprise!  The REAL travel adventure ended up being our flight back to Paris on a propeller plane!

Encourage Appropriate Behavior in Kids: Parenting Tips inspired by Snow!

It has been snowing all week.  Every day.  All day.  Every night.

We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish:  I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions.  Abracadabra.

Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep 🙂

Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?

Mom or Dad ask for a clean room.  Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work.  “Aussitôt dit.  Aussitôt fait.”  Say the word, and it’s done.  Just to our liking, no less!

No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!

We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee.  Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…

Ski cabin "Shelter" in snow
“Abri” means shelter

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.

[bctt tweet=”Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to  perform well. “]

Think about it.  Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb?  Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?

We parents often teach through discipline.  We tell our kids what is wrong.  “Your room is messy.”  “Elbows off the table, please.”    

How do they find out what is desirable behavior?  Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?

Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right?  How motivating is that?!

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

Sounds are muted.  Senses are chilled.  Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.

These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while.   Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.

What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own?  THIS is our parenting vocation.

My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks.  I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul:  the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).

These qualities are communicated by savoring the present.  The magic of small successes.  Noticing appropriate behavior.  Appreciating hard work.  Encouraging me to persevere.

Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.

When it snows, it is time to slow down.  Just a tad.

When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear? 

  • What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
  • Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
  • Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
  • What could help them succeed even better?

In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.

No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.

Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request?  Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”

Are they not listening to instructions?

That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior!  So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.

Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”

Do the toys not have a home?

Playthings are tumbled into a box.  To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor).  The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.

“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home.  Your toys want to be more comfortable too.  Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation.  Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I?  YOU can change every weekend!”

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes.  That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique:  bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to  absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…

Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.

In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.

If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).

A clean room means

  • Nothing on the floor
  • The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
  • Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
  • Toys and books are placed their assigned home
  • The desk has space to be able to work correctly

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish.  There is a recipe to follow.  Step by step.

If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too 🙂

4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”

After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin.  Different strokes for different folks.

A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility.  An excellent skier dances through the powder.

“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor.  A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”

5. Celebrate performance

A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up.  Kids help with the chores.  During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job:  to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.

She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner.  It sparkles!) and off he went.

He made the chrome sparkle.

My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.

Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning.  He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness.  We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.

That’s a win-win situation!

Children parade to congratulate appropriate behavior
Ready? Set. Go! checking out the spotless bathroom.

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

Proud teen and admiring brother
Our cool dude still takes pride in “clean.”

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?

  • What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
  • What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
  • What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
  • How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
  • How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?