Woman doing pushups in Pilates class

Lead Constructive Meetings – Tips from Pilates

For many of us, meetings are a necessary evil.  We need team ressources and support, so we have to meet.  And yet many meetings feel unproductive.

How does one organize and run a meeting for optimal teamwork and productivity?

Contrary to popular believe, efficient and effective meetings rarely start by jumping right into the meat of the matter.  That’s expecting everyone to have thinking, listening, and creative caps donned.

It’s rarely the case.

Here is inspiration from one of my most envigorating weekly meetings:  a Pilates class.

1. Define the Mindset

Tips from Pilates

Our teacher begins every class the same way.

“Breathe.  Stand straight.  Feet hip-width apart.  Shoulders above hips.  Tummy muscles squeezed tight. Let your chin drop towards the sternum and feel the stretch…”

Every time, I am caught by both surprise and familiarity.

Surprised because I’m slouching, am disconnected with my body, and don’t even realize it!

These regularly repeated words prime both my spirit and my body for stretching and muscle-building. It takes 10 seconds.

Positive Mindset in Meetings

How do you prime your team members for alignment during your meeting?  Model the behavior you seek.

For connectedness: Take 10 seconds to smile and look each person in the eye.

To tackle a challenge regarding the competition: Link your fingers and stretch your arms out in front of you.

To foster listening: Stay silent until the room quiets down.

2. Engage the Core Muscles

Tips from Pilates

“Tighten your abs. Squeeze the inside of your thighs …”

Engage the Core Muscles in Meetings

What will constitute a “firm core” for your meeting?  Let the group know the intellectual muscle you expect.

“Let’s put those creativity caps on!”

“We have a full agenda.  We want to hear from everyone who has something new and relevant to add.”

“Disagreement is OK. When we present our viewpoint, let’s stick to facts. I may request a moment for each of us to write our thoughts down before continuing the debate.”

3. Clarify Expectations

Tips from Pilates

“Feel the stretch in your lower back…”   It’s our cue for success; if we only feel the legs, something is out of whack.

Clarify Expectations with a Meeting Agenda

A shared written agenda helps keep the meeting on track.  It’s an agreed-upon tool to refocus.

“The decision we have to make today is ___________. You have a valid point and we still need to move ahead.”

Time indicators on your agenda adds yet another element of accountability.

“We had spent 15 minutes debating this issue.  Are we getting ready to decide or do we need to come back to this topic with additional information?  If so, who will do what?”

4. Maximize Results in Minimum Time

Tips from Pilates

“Let’s tone triceps.  For these push-ups, place your hands facing forward with arms next to your body.”

Standard push-ups build upper body strength.  This particularly positionning tones triceps.  Our goal is fit-looking arms to show off our summer wardrobe.  These forward-facing pushups get us the results easier and faster.

Stay Focused

Less is more.  Avoid distraction that generate lengthy, somewhat-related discussions.  Aim to define several concrete steps to move forward and assigning who does what.  That’s HUGE and motivating to all.

5. Self-Evaluate

Tips from Pilates

Between exercises, our Pilates instructor reminds us to align our body, to strengthen our core, and where to feel the stretch.

Oops!  I squeezed those glutes five minutes ago and then shifted my concentration to the movement.  In that short time span, I forget to keep those butt muscles engaged!

Invite Re-Alignment throughout the Meeting

In the same way, it’s helpful to return to meeting’s posture, purpose, and schedule to check in.

To avoid putting someone on the spot, invite self-evaluation.

“How are we doing on creativity/timeliness/mutual respect/?  What could you do to help us be more imaginative/productive/effective listeners?  Let’s continue…”

Read Turn Good Intentions to Great Teamwork for an example of self-evaluation during meetings.

 

6. Nourish your Brain

Tips from Pilates

Between exercises we rehydrate with water infused with lemon, ginger, or cucumber.

Serve Water during Meetings

Do you know that the brain contains 80% water?  Studies show that hydration contributes to memory and clear thinking.

Serving water also creates a pause in the meeting dynamic.  Try relieving tension between participants by offering a glass of water.  These nanoseconds allow the brain to receive nourishment AND to process emotions which boosts the ability to reason and rationally weigh alternatives.

The humble act of service demonstrates your care for the participants.  It’s a basic human need to seek belonging and significance.  A glass of water with a smile allows you to connect one-on-one with a person, even during a large meeting.

7. End with a Closing Routine

Tips from Pilates

“One last stretch before we go.”

Stretch the Value of the Meeting with One Word to Recap

“Let’s go around the table with a take-away from each of you.”

This is a gentle yet firm way of securing buy-in….at least on something.  Peer pressure encourages even the reticent participant to contribute.  It could be eye opening for them to realize the meeting held value to their colleagues.

If the closing comments fall below your hopes,consider how to prepare or manage your next meetings differently.  Take stock:

  • What went well?
  • When were the less productive moments?
  • How well did your respect the schedule (ie and respect the value of your participants’ time)?

Want to participate in a business meeting with these tips in action?  Contact me about organizing a conference in your workplace.

Apply to Life

These techniques work marvels with children around the kitchen table.  It’s the opportunity to address an elephant in the room and get the kids involved.

“I noticed that we have trouble getting out the door on time in the morning.”

Define the Mindset – Smile.  Reassure the children this is a time for solution-finding, not blaming.  “Around this table I won’t tell anyone to ‘Stop dragging your feet.’”

Clarify Expectations “Let’s come up with ideas to make mornings calm and joyful.  From our list we can choose one to try this week.”

Invite Self-Evaluation“Yes, your brother could ______.  What could YOU do?”

Stay Focused – When the kids squabble among each other, reframe.  “Hum. How is that pinching helping us get out the door on time? (Pause. Eye contact. Smile.) Another idea?”

Finish Strong“Let’s each say one phrase to share what you thought of our meeting.”

  • “I felt like a big person.”
  • “I know how to help.”
  • “We have great ideas!”

Cover photo from Unsplash

Martin Luther King Jr "I Have a Dream"

6 Insights from MLK to Dream Big

Today we commenmorate 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many remember this inspiring leader in the human rights movement and his speech “I Have A Dream.”

What is your cause? What is your dream? 

Martin Luther King Jr did more than dream.  He transmitted it too…so that others could share it and spread it too.  He began with the folks close to him, and his circle of influence grew and grew…to include me and you!

Let’s start turning our dreams for those closest to us into reality.

1. Dream for the Next Generation & Empower Youth to Dream Too

Learn from this great man to dream big and empower others to have a vision.

It’s OK to dream big even when the situation looks dire

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail … I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” MLK Jr

nine dots

You and I can limit ourselves.

We can allow ourselves to hope what is feasible – the Basic-Fix-Dream rather than THE GRAND-VISION.

We do this every day at work and in family.

We hope employees get the job done.  They do…and 70% of them lack engagement in their work.  Could we dare for a passion for contributing to their team and for excitement to grow?

When siblings fight, we hope for “no blood.”  Can we envision them as co-builders of an amazing venture?

You may be familiar with these nine dots.

The exercise consists of passing through each of these dots once with four straight lines.  No more, no less, no curves.

Try it.

The clue?  Get out of the square.  In fact, there is no delimited zone.  The nine dots are in the shape of a square and folks like you and I turn that into boundaries.

Dreaming means setting sights high…

…then following through with an action plan.get out of nine dots

2. Powerful dreams tap into a common heritage, a larger-than-me mission

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the hue meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

According to psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, grandfather of Positive Psychology, a communal vision which benefits your community, be it family, neighborhood, friends, or more taps into our basic human needs of belonging and contribution which he describes as “Gemeinschaftsgefuehl .”

A community goal brings along with it a network of supporters.

It takes a team to reach the stars.  Set a dream that motivates and engages all.

Co-dream. And co-labor (collaborate).

When you converse with your team members or even with your children, how often do you refer to the common goal?  Find ways to include it in every day conversation.

At work:  “Today was a good day!  I helped solve a customer problem and it felt like ’empowering our customers through our technological and service excellence.'”

In family:  “How will we talk so that we show we are a family and that we love each other?”

3. Live the vision

Walk the talk.

Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words.

The US constitution declared all men of equal value.  And yet they were not treated as such.

Are you ambitious for your team or your child?  What qualities do you dream for them?

  • Respect of self and of others
  • Love of excellence and effort
  • Wise decision-making
  • Curiosity and tolerance

Let the next generation witness it through your actions.

  • Speak to the young interns and children with respect…even when they act without thinking
  • Stick to your commitments, like when you say, ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • Allow them to live the uncomfortable consequences of their own unwise decisions when the stakes are low. Misplacing a 10 cent coin is less painful than losing €1000.
  • Listen actively to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions

THAT is dreaming with credibility and conviction.  Our example convinces our youth of the value of our hopes.

4. Dream with valor

Martin Luther King Jr ignites our fire when speaking of brotherhood, transformational peace-making, and character.

A dream worth living for is one worth dying for too. 

Who do you want with you as you end your days here?  What do you want said of you and for them to share with each other?  NOW is the time to plant those seeds.

For me, I want the “F.U.N.” back in funeral.  It’s because I celebrate life today that I hope folk will remember me with a smile GRIN in later years.

5. Clearly define success

“…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

A clear goal vitalizes both you and your co-dreamers.

Visualizing is a technique many leaders adapt to help them define their objectives.

A friend shared her experience at a career change workshop she attended.  The facilitator invited participants to close their eyes and to think of their ideal (dream) job.

“Now visualize the office in which you are working.”

And they proceeded with another dream session.

“Describe your colleagues.  Their age, what they are wearing, their facial expressions…”

Specifics make the dream more real…and realizable.

6. Seek strength for the LONG (loooooong) haul

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with… With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.”

In our quick win world, how can we prepare for valiant dreams that require sacrifice and persistence?

Performance experts assert that it’s not talent that keeps people from reaching their goals; it is lack of consistency which engenders lackadaisical results then discouragement and finally giving up.

In what will you place your faith?  Where will you find your source of strength?

The question is not “if” you will require boosting and encouragement.

The issue is WHEN.

Martin Luther King Jr found his from the God of the Bible.  It did not make him into a perfect person.  It made him united with others AND able to take a stand alone, peaceful AND powerful, patient AND courageous.

WOW.

 

Boys in teamwork. What collaboration!

Turn Good Intentions into Great Teamwork

Who among you works with youth or young employees?  How do you help the next generation to transform good intentions into teamwork, collaboration, and positive results?

That’s what I had the opportunity to put to the test this past week when teaching a class in Introduction to Management to university students, youth with several months of corporate work experience.  The university called me in to pick up a class in the middle of their curriculum; I began with the topics of Motivation and Leadership.  How appropriate!

Personable and polite students entered the class with good intentions.  In theory, they were motivated.  In practice, they quickly lost focus by chatting with a colleague or scrolling on their mobile phone.  Bye bye, teamwork.

Professor colleagues lament the young generation’s lack of attention and most respond in either of two schools

  • to carry on whether the students are listening or not
  • to walk over to the students’ desk and close their computers for them

Motivation 3.0

My area of expertise is Motivation-in-the-Era-of-Internet which expounds that employees are most motivated when they find autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their work.  Ignoring students or treating them like a child lies contrary to this Motivation 3.0 approach.

“Management is about creating conditions for people to do their best work…And what science is revealing is that carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view.” – Dan Pink, from Drive

Additionally, my experience with Millennials confirms their search for authenticity and connection in relationships.  Neither of the above teaching/leadership styles convey either genuine interest in or an engagement with the students.

Here was my dilemma:  How to teach/lead and engage these students in a way that

  • ensures results (the material is covered qualitatively=
    AND SIMULTANEOUSLY
  • creates a sense of belonging and desire to contribute among the students?

In other words, how to help these Post Millennials transform their good intentions into positive teamwork?

Team-Generated Collaboration Guidelines

We used a tool that works wonders in my workshops: Co-Developed Group Guidelines

This tool helps both create and maintain a constructive work environment.

CREATE COLLABORATION

1. The first step entails putting the good intentions into writing.  Here is how.

Invite your group to share, “What can we each do to work together as a great team?”

Folk respond right away with, “To respect each other.”  And the list continues.

2. It’s helpful to break down vague or over-used words. 

  • “What does respect mean exactly?”
  • “What will it sound/look/feel like?”
  • “What is an example of lack of respect that we should avoid?”

3. Once the brainstorming complete, invite the group to prioritize three to five of these great team behaviors.

The process of making the list together brings the success-criteria to top of mind.  It’s like hearing the reminder to drink 1 liter of water a day.  We know these are helpful behaviors AND we benefit from remembering to do so.

The process of having built these teamwork criteria together builds belonging to the group and accountability.  “It’s the rules I made.  It’s normal that I should keep them.”

Here is our class’ list.Teamwork collaboration guidelines

MAINTAIN TEAMWORK

As humans, any rule is hard to follow, even the great ones we make ourselves!  We need help yet even well-intentioned positive reminders can sound like nagging.  Invite self-evaluation as an effective means of follow through.

Half-way through my class I invited our group to review our team ground rules.  “How are we doing? Thumbs up (good teamwork), side ways (OK job), or down (need improvement).”

In our class, thumbs were all over the place!  That’s an opportunity to address the elephant in the room.

“Well…it looks like some people think we are listening while other people talk, and others don’t.”

That’s where I appealed to everyone to think of one or two behaviors to change so that our listening improved.  Some students closed their computers on their own accord.  We reshuffled the break-out groups which had the effect of separating chattering partners.  People sat up straighter in their chairs…

And we smiled (!) and continued with class.

And for our next session on Communication and Teamwork, we’ll begin by reviewing those same co-developed ground rules and setting a personal goal to be 1 Great. Team.

How do you engage your young employees?  Please share in the comments.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Work

What is your challenge with teamwork?

  • People arrive late in meetings
  • Folk repeat what has already been said or done
  • Meetings have no agenda
  • Lack of trust

Try setting a new stage.  Instead of focusing on the challenges, brainstorm together about great teamwork and, TOGETHER, set yourselves some clear guidelines.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Life

Easter is this Sunday.  In France, it’s customary to celebrate over a looooooong meal with extended family.  You love the food, wine, and company.  The kids get bored à table for an eternity.

Try this activity “en famille.

“Sweethearts, what can we do to make the big family meal a great experience for everyone?”

Everyone can brainstorm:

  • “We could get up and play between courses”
  • “We could get up and help (!) between courses!!”
  • “We could have Easter Egg drawings and color them while the adults finish eating”
  • “We could make an Easter Egg hunt for the adults!!!”

Once the brainstorming juices have flown free, then select one or two options that’s acceptable to everyone. 🙂

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Child convincing argument

Why We Need to Teach our Children to Disagree Well

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work” by Amy Gallo received 3500 + likes on LinkedIn and generated 1400 comments.  The focus of the article and the remarks center around the value of diverse opinions to stimulate learning and innovation. 

Wouldn’t you like your child to become a professional who contributes to progress and creativity in his or her workplace?!

Reality Check – Disagreement in “Real Life”

Here is what happens in many homes when kids disagree.  (And even at work too.  Replace the word “parent” with “boss”)

Many parents fear chaos.  Mutiny.  To be avoided at all cost.

And many parents respond with control.

Control anger and emotions.  Control kids’ behaviors.  Control oneself.

Yet underneath we feel out of control…and under increased pressure, we lose our temper.  We lose control.

Benefits of Disagreement

Gallo acknowledges similar tendencies in many workplaces and challenges managers to allow open communication, even disagreements, as they benefit the workplace through

  • Better solutions
  • Improved relationships
  • More sense of belonging
  • Greater happiness

Parents, wouldn’t YOU like a home with smarter solutions, stronger relationships, sense of belonging, and happiness? Of course!

An Every Day Example

Instead of a morning rush out the door with stress for everyone, your family morning routine became smooth and joyful THANKS to the challenges your child had in getting ready.

Before parent and child disagreed over the morning routine.  Mom wanted to get out fast.  Child dragged his feet.  The previous “solution” had been a nagging parent…which is no fun for anyone.

To open up communication regarding this disagreement, the family brainstormed ways to organize mornings more effectively.  The children came up with a wacky solution that they love and you, the parent, would not have imagined: “We want a fun wake-up song.  Can you sing “Happy Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to us every morning?!”

And it works! Now, it’s a delight to leave home for school on time AND with a smile.  

The children feel so proud to have devised this new plan; they know their ideas are heard and valued. Home is a happier place…thanks to disagreement!

How to Make Disagreement Positive?

1. Start with…YOU

What is YOUR attitude?

Many parents consider disagreement to be a failure.

Let’s re-examine that.

Do you REALLY want your children to think exactly like you?  How will they be able to grow into positive contributors to society in an ever-changing environment?

Reframe

Try re-framing. CONGRATULATIONS!  Respectful disagreement means you have taught your child to think for himself!

Avoid Taking Disagreement Personally

Children are growing their roots and pushing boundaries.  It’s an essential part of their growing job.

Besides, there is something to learn from the children’s perspective.  Physically and literally they view the world from another angle.

What does your kitchen look like to a three-year-old who cannot reach the top of the counter?  She sees the loooong stretch of countertop and a glimpse of the sky when looking out the window.  You see the garden.

Looking out of window from below

Garden scene through window.

In the same way, you and your child will have differing views on sharing of toys, cleanliness of room, sex drugs and rock ‘n roll….

It is normal that different folk have a different perspective.  In the working world, this is the concept of collaboration with diversity.

YOU have been uniquely selected to teach your child how to thrive with diversity! 

Good news & bad news.  It’s a tremendous privilege AND you get to be the guinee pig as your children learn from their mistakes.

2. Connect (or re-connect) with THE OTHER

Seek the Beliefs behind the Disagreement

According to Psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Adler, every person has beliefs about himself, other people, and the world. Some of these beliefs may be beneficial while others may be harmful and/or erroneous.

Beliefs about Oneself

“I matter, no matter what.” ‘(Beneficial belief)

“I am only valuable when I do not make mistakes.  When I fail, I am worthless.”  (Belief of conditional value)

Beliefs about People

“________ (name any religion or political party) are fanatics.” (Belief of superiority)

“Parents want to control me.” (Non-collaborative belief)

“Mom/Dad says ‘No’ but does not mean it.” (Manipulative belief)

Beliefs about the World

“The world is a safe place.”

“There is no such thing as win-win. The strongest gets his way.”

 

A child who believes his parents want to control him will act differently from one who believes that home is a safe place.

For many of us, adults and children, these beliefs rest in our subconscious.  So how to identify them?

Want help identifying your child’s beliefs?  Give a quick coaching call.

Our emotions reveal our beliefs.  Our beliefs determine our actions.

One Family’s Story

“We had just given our son his first portable phone and had clearly reviewed the rules with him, the first of which was ‘When parents call, you answer.’

On several occasions our son would not return home directly after school and nor answer his phone.

On one evening I welcomed him back and asked to speak one-on-one.

Parent: “Hi sweetheart.  Did you know that your behavior talks?”

Child: “NO.  I speak with my words.  Deuh…” Instead of getting distracted by his disrespect, I pursued.

P: “Yes.  Your actions talk.  What do you think a tardy return with no response on your phone is saying?”

C: “Dunno.  You tell me.”

P: “Think, darling.  You’re smart.” Said kindly, yet seriously.  My son realized I expected an answer. 

Thoughtful silence.

I probed, “What does it say about the importance of your time with regard the to value of my time?”

C: “Well, I guess that my time is more important than yours.”

P: “Is that true?  How would you feel if someone treated your time as less valuable?”

C: “Well, I’d be annoyed, and I guess it’s not true that my time is more important,” my son admits with a sheepish grin.

We even enjoyed (!) the ensuing conversation about limits since we had connected and corrected some hurtful beliefs.”

Your child’s disagreement, in word and action, gives insight into his beliefs.

Seek to Understand the Others’ Perspectives

What if your child were making very intelligent decisions…from his perspective!

When above the kitchen counter one sees a ceiling which looks pretty safe, it is not surprising that children place their hands on the burning stove.

Create a Safe Space to Voice Disagreements

There is a time and a place to voice a differing opinion.  It’s not when rushing out the door and tension is high.

When there is no acceptable way to express differing viewpoints, disagreement can happen anywhere and anytime.  It sounds like argumentation, like picking a fight in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the grocery store while parents are trying to rush three munchkins through the crowded aisles.  “I WANT_______.  You NEVER let me choose!” During dinner with the grandparents.  “Did dad ever ______ when he was a kid because he doesn’t let me do it.”

That’s why we love Family Meetings.  It’s a scheduled time to

  1. check in,
  2. resolve issues if needed, and
  3. have fun

Family council get together resolve issues

Family council get together with fun

A Family Meeting is a safe space for children (and parents) to voice their issues.  Knowing that the Family Meeting is coming up, provides resolution to many every-day crises.

When the kids fight (disagree) with over TV use, they can write it on the agenda of the Family Meeting.

When they don’t like veggies, they can bring it up at the Family Meeting.

With some structure to this short meeting (15 minutes a week), parents and children resolve disagreements together.  They can express their feelings about the incident, share their perspective, actively listen, and work together to find better solutions which make everyone happy and feel belonging.

Want help setting up a Family Meeting chez vous?  Set up a quick coaching call.

 

Martin Luther King Jr "I Have a Dream"

6 Insights to Dream Big for Your Family from Martin Luther King Jr

Today we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many remember this inspiring leader in the human rights movement for his speech “I Have A Dream.”

What is your dream for your family? 

What do your children dream for their own future?
(Check out our workshop for teens)

1. Dream for Your Family & Empower Kids to Dream Too

Learn from this great man to dream big and empower others to have a vision.

It’s OK to dream big even when the situation looks dire

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail … I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” MLK Jr

nine dots

You and I can limit ourselves.

We can allow ourselves to hope what is feasible – the Basic-Fix-Dream rather than THE GRAND-VISION.

If our children dislike school, we aim for passing grades.  Could we dare for a passion for learning?

When siblings fight, we hope for “no blood.”  Can we envision them as co-builders of an amazing venture?

You may be familiar with these nine dots.

The exercise consists of passing through each of these dots once with four straight lines.  No more, no less, no curves.

Try it.

The clue?  Get out of the square.  In fact, there is no delimited zone.  The nine dots are in the shape of a square and folks like you and I apply the boundaries.

Dreaming means setting sights high…

…then following through with an action plan.get out of nine dots

2. Powerful dreams tap into a common heritage, a larger-than-me mission

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the hue meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

According to psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, grandfather of Positive Psychology, a communal vision which benefits your community, be it family, neighborhood, friends, or more taps into our basic human needs of belonging and contribution which he describes as “Gemeinschaftsgefuehl .”

A community goal brings along with it a network of supporters.

It takes a team to reach the stars.  Set a dream that motivates and engages all.

Co-dream. And co-labor (collaborate).

Which of your children’s classmates will want to help your kid be better than everyone else? (or vise versa)

3. Live the vision

Walk the talk. Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words.

Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words Click to Tweet

The US constitution declared all men of equal value.  And yet they were not treated as such.

Are you ambitious for your child?  What qualities do you dream for them?

  • Respect of self and of others
  • Love of excellence and effort
  • Wise decision-making
  • Curiosity and tolerance

Let your children witness it through your actions.

  • Speak to the children with respect…even when they act without thinking
  • Stick to your commitments, like when you say, ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • Allow them to live the uncomfortable consequences of their own unwise decisions when the stakes are low. Misplacing a 10 cent coin is less painful than losing €1000.
  • Listen actively to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions

THAT is dreaming with credibility and conviction.  Our example convinces our kids of the value of our hopes.

4. Dream with valor

Martin Luther King Jr ignites our fire when speaking of brotherhood, transformational peace-making, and character.

A dream worth living for is one worth dying for too. 

Who do you want with you as you end your days here?  What do you want said of you and for them to share with each other?  NOW is the time to plant those seeds.

For me, I want the “F.U.N.” back in funeral.  It’s because I celebrate life today that I hope folk will remember me with a smile GRIN in later years.

5. Clearly define success

“…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

A clear goal vitalizes both you and your co-dreamers.

Visualizing is a technique many leaders adapt to help them define their objectives.

A friend shared her experience at a career change workshop she attended.  The facilitator invited participants to close their eyes and to think of their ideal (dream) job.

“Now visualize the office in which you are working.”

And they proceeded with another dream session.

“Describe your colleagues.  Their age, what they are wearing, their facial expressions…”

Specifics make the dream more real…and realizable.

6. Seek strength for the LONG (loooooong) haul

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with… With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.”

In our quick win world, how can we prepare for valiant dreams that require sacrifice and persistence?

Performance experts assert that it’s not talent that keeps people from reaching their goals; it is lack of consistency which engenders lackadaisical results then discouragement and finally giving up.

In what will you place your faith?  Where will you find your source of strength?

The question is not “if” you will require boosting and encouragement.

The issue is WHEN.

Martin Luther King Jr found his from the God of the Bible.  It did not make him into a perfect person.  It made him united with others AND able to take a stand alone, peaceful AND powerful, patient AND courageous.

WOW.

African girls and boys choir singing

Sing Your Heart Out

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

Original Gospel-Jazz Songs
by Ruth Naomi Floyd

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you will receive the download link.

Ruth Naomi Floyd offers us music to soothe the soul … and to surprise us.

Through Christmas day you can download six of her original compositions of Gospel Jazz.  The link is on the Parent Advent Calendar behind door 24.

Gospel & Jazz?

When I think of jazz I conjure up images of African-Americans in New Orleans and then Parisian night clubs.  Yet Ruth brings us jazz tunes with lyrics inspired by the Bible.

It’s an unexpected union. And it’s beautiful.

Ruth Naomi Floyd fine arts photo
Also a fine arts photographer, Ruth combines surprising juxtapositions in song as well as in images.

Beautiful Unexpecteds

Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas.  Another unexpected juxtaposition.  According to Christian theology, Christmas celebrates when God comes to earth in the form of Jesus, God’s Son in flesh and blood.  Why would an all powerful god debase himself so much as to become a human…and a helpless baby at that?!  It is unexpected, to say the least.  And to those who believe, it is beautiful.

Our hope in sharing this music is to encourage you and me to invite in the unexpected and to allow ourselves to be challenged and comforted by its beauty.

  • In the way we view our children – seeking (hunting down) their positive qualities and then building on them
  • In the way we view ourselves – allowing imperfection. We grow THANKS to mistakes
  • In the way we view our parenting – full of hope and purpose

BON COURAGE!

And as we introspect, let’s SING!

Music is Good for your Health

Our brain, heart, lungs, and emotions all benefit from listening to music, and even more from singing.

Ruth Naomi Floyd singing.
Ruth in full health. Photo by George Wells

Benefits of listening to music

Studies show that listening to music makes people happier, less stressed, less sensitive to pain, better performers in sports and in school, and helps with recall.

What?  With recall!

I wonder if it helps children with temporary memory loss remember to clean their room, to stop fighting with their brother/sister, and more!

That’s what we are banking on with these fun tunes to motivate children.  Enjoy!

Benefits of singing

Here’s how Stacy Horn, the author of Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others recaps the benefits of singing together.

What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.

The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.  Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.

It turns out you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards.

So gather around for some Christmas caroling “en famille.”

Need the lyrics?  Look them up here.

Dad and daughter cuddling and smililng

Spell “love” T.I.M.E.

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

Gift Certificates to offer to your children and your spouse – “My Time, Your Way”
by Denise Dampierre of SoSooper

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.

Time as a present to offer

Money cannot buy time.  Not when it comes to time spent with kids.

Play-together-time often misses the Christmas list…AND yet, it’s the gift kids crave.

How does one “give” time?  How can one make it feel like a present?

That’s why we created these Gift Certificates.  Personalize with your child’s name and you signature, et voilà!  You have a valuable stocking stuffer you and your children will cherish.

Click here to download Gift Certificates.

Kids and Parents Learn Through Play

Play teaches children how to overcome boredom, to follow rules, to win and lose well.

Let kids direct the play (that’s your gift). You’ll discover them WHILE helping your child learn life-skills.

You thought your daughter was impatient? She spends ½ hour dressing and undressing a doll! That’ll stretch the fortitude of many adults.

One Mom’s Story

The first year I offered these gifts to my sons they all invited me to play their favorite video game.  “Oh, no! Wrong gift!” I thought.

These shared screen times taught me so much.  This time was “extra video time” for the children and since the intent was to share a moment together, they willingly spent 30 minutes teaching me why they like this particular game, what makes it exciting, and how to win.

I observed their skills (or lack of) in anticipation, in strategizing, in concentration, and more.

And the following week when they struggled with homework, we applied ideas from the game to help concentration.  “Let’s create levels.  When you finish your first math problem, you reach level 2!”

The next year, I gave each child two gifts of time. One could be used for games on screens. The other was for something else of their choice.  One child wanted to learn more about his bank statement.  Another wanted to go shopping.

I kept doing this for years, even when our eldest was in high school.  He asked for a visit to the ophthalmologist to see about contact lenses!

You Don’t Feel Like It

Screen games or doll dressing isn’t your cup of tea? Is homework theirs?

Look to the bigger picture.  You’re creating memories, proving their importance, and connecting on their level!  You’ll be amazed how that encourages them to seek to connect on issues of importance to you…like picking up their bags and coats in the front hallway.  Seriously.

The Children Don’t Feel Like It

Kids might act like they don’t want to play with you.

“Children often resist love when they need it the most,”

assert Dr. Scott Turansky and nurse Joan Miller, authors of Parenting is Heart Work. Be creative and kindly insistent. They might be testing the sincerity of your offer.

If the kids don’t want to play, consider admiring them for 15 minutes. No words. No judgement.  Simply seeking to understand them in their environment.

Say “Thank You”

That magic word for all ages concludes your time together on a positive note.

The Biggest Kid of Them All

How about playing with your spouse……! We’ve got a gift certificate for them too!

Gift Certificate for couple's romance
Gift Certificate for couple's romance

To receive Gift Certificates click here.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash.com

Girl enthralled by candles

Spend a Moment in Wonder

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

A Candle for Relaxation and Well-Being
from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

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.

Une parenthese bougie
Today’s gift. A scented candle for relaxation and well-being from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

Candle Wonder

There is something wonder-full about candlelight.  For kids of all ages!

Is it the hypnotic way the flame flickers?

Or the association of candles with memory-filled events

  • Birthdays
  • Fancy meals, like at a restaurant or with the “grown up plates”
  • Visits to churches where candls flicker and light strwons through the color-filled stained-glass windows
  • And Christmas or Hanukah!

And it might be with the way adults treat fire with such care.  “Darling, CAREFUL. Your can get burned.” Literally.

Love flickers like flames too.  A spark enflames and warms or burns. Figuratively.

Candle magic for children

 

Children’s Questions – What do they wonder about?

Children have questions about fire and love.  They have been hurt or seen others in pain.  Why? How come?

How to answer their queries…when we hardly have answers ourselves.

What if activities with candles could help shed light on your children’s searching for answers about loving others and about being loved.

Questions like

  • “Do you love me more than _______?”
  • “Does love stop?”
  • “So many bad things happen.  I’m so small.  Can just a tiny bit of good make a difference?”

“Why be good when there is so much bad?”

Children sure do have a knack for asking Some. Tough. Questions.

Do you or I even have the answer to this one?  If we did, could we express such complex responses in words that our children can understand?

Candle Activity

Here is an activity that conveys the power of hope in the face of just a tiny bit of light.

How to:

  1. Take your children into a totally dark room.
    Sometimes the only place is a windowless bathroom.  One friend spoke of taking the children into their WC (in France there is a room with just the toilet seat).  What unique memories they cherish!
  2. Bring along one candle and a match or lighter.
  3. Notice the blackness without making it scary.
    “I can’t see anything!”
    “How many fingers am I holding up?”
    “Let me try and find your nose…oh is that your ear instead?!”
  4. Ask the kids how they feel…and how this makes them want to act.
    “I feel alone so I want to talk and have you talk to me so that I know I’m not alone.”
    “I feel lost so I’m scared to move. I don’t want to hurt myself.”
  5. Light the candle.
  6. Notice that it is one-small-flame in One. Whole. Room.
  7. Now ask how they feel and how this makes them want to act.
    “I see just enough to move and not hurt myself. I can move.”
    “I see you and I know I am not alone.  I can find your hand and we can be together.”

The children just EXPERIENCED the answer to their philosophical quandary.  One small light makes a HUGE difference. “Be a light, darling.  Be kind even if others are being mean.”

Child holding candle

“Does Love Stop?”

What happens when grandfather dies?  Or when couples separate? Or when friends move to another city?  Does love stop?!

This question surely benefits from answers in layers.  A few words one day.  A different approach a next day.  Reading a book together about the subject.  And possibly this activity with a candle.

Candle Activity

What you need:

It works best with a candle, something to light it, a cup to turn upside down over the flame.  A transparent cup or glass makes this even more dramatic.

How to:

  1. Gather the children around the lighted candle on the table.
    Admire the flames and it’s lively flicker.
  2. Notice together how this candle is like love, burning and warm.
  3. Cover the candle with the cup turn upside down over the flame. Allow a bit of smoke to gather inside the cup before smothering out the flame.
  4. Remove the cup and notice how the smoke is visible and rises from the still glowing wick. It rises in a clear ribbon of smoke and then diffuses into the air and throughout the room.
  5. Notice how we even breathe in tiny bits of the rest of the flame and carry it in our bodies!

In a similar way, the love for the child remains when someone dies or distance separates.  Love takes on a different form, one that can travel far.

Even when we do not see the flame or feel its warmth as we did before, the love is still there.

“Do you love me more?”

We do this activity in our Positive Discipline classes.  We”ll discover it together in person.  Ask about upcoming classes here.

 

Wishing you peace AND growth as we all struggle through understanding and living out Love.

Contact (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

Construisez la Confiance de vos Enfants

“Quelles compétences voulez-vous transmettre à vos enfants?”

Ludocatix chore chartC’est ainsi que nous commençons nos ateliers de Discipline Positive et les parents partagent une liste de qualificatifs comme celle-ci:

– Responsabilité
– Autonomie
– L’amour de l’excellence
– Empathie
– Le respect
– Le travail en équipe
– …

Le partage de tâches ménagères vous aide à transmettre ces compétences à vos enfants ET, SIMULTANÉMENT, vous facilite la vie. Ludocatix vous propose un tableau de corvée magnétique que vous et les enfants, ensemble, adaptez à votre style de vie.

Le Saviez-Vous?

Dans un sondage paru dans les Wall Street Journal et mené auprès de 1001 adultes américains, 82% ont déclaré qu’ils avaient des tâches ménagères lorsqu’ils étaient enfants mais seulement 23% ont indiqué qu’ils demandaient à leurs enfants pour les faire.

Que s’est il passé ?

Beaucoup de parents ont l’impression de charger leurs enfants de corvées et de se sentir coupables. Ou ils craignent que les corvées puissent avoir un impact négatif sur leur relation avec leurs enfants. Pourtant, la recherche démontre le contraire.

La recherche indique que les enfants qui font des corvées ont une meilleure estime de soi, sont plus responsables et font mieux face à la frustration ce qui contribue à une plus grande réussite scolaire.

Est-ce que ce ne sont pas les compétences que les parents veulent transmettre à leurs enfants ?

Le cadeau du jour est un tableau magnétique que vous pouvez créer avec vos enfants afin de les aide à se souvenir de leurs tâches ménagères de façon amusante et colorée.

10 Façons dont les Enfants Bénéficient des Corvées

Voici 10 raisons pour lesquelles les corvées sont bonnes pour les enfants … et donc génial pour vous aussi.

  1. Pour aider les enfants à se sentir nécessaire
    Comment définissez-vous votre famille? Que faîtes-vous pour que vos enfants sentent qu’ils font réellement partie de la famille ? Dites aux enfants qu’ils ont un rôle à jouer pour contribuer au bien-être de tous.
  2. Stimuler le gout de l’excellence
    En ce qui concerne les corvées, les parents peuvent voir la qualité du travail et fournir une récompense. “Chérie, est-ce c’est du dentifrice rose que je vois dans l’évier de la salle de bain ?Un lavabo propre est un lavabo brillant et blanc. Montre-moi comment tu l’as nettoyé la dernière fois et nous trouverons une chose que tu peux faire différemment pour faire briller l’évier!”
  3. Ne pas traiter les parents comme des serviteurs
    Lorsque les parents font toutes les corvées, les enfants ont tendance à traiter ces derniers comme des serviteurs dont le but est de satisfaire leurs désirs. Quand les enfants participent aux corvées, leur respect pour leurs parents grandit. Ils ne vont pas traiter maman ou papa comme des serviteurs, parce qu’ils font la même chose! “Chéri(e), nous sommes une famille.  Tout le monde participe.”
  4. Pour enseigner la responsabilité
    Le lave-vaisselle se vide tous les jours. Les déchets sont retirés plusieurs fois par semaine. Nous passons l’aspirateur régulièrement dans le salon. Les tâches ménagères sont des tâches récurrentes et les enfants apprennent l’importance de faire des efforts.
  5. Gérer le temps
    Les corvées nécessitent un peu de temps. Cela prend 5 minutes de mettre la table. 10 minutes pour nettoyer le couloir. 10 minutes pour passer l’aspirateur sous la table à manger. Une corvée régulière nécessite un enfant afin d’intégrer ces corvées dans leur emploi du temps quotidien.
  6. Améliorer les résultats scolaires
    La performance à l’école est souvent liée à des efforts continus et réguliers … tout comme les corvées ménagères. La maîtrise d’un sujet se développe peu à peu avec la pratique quotidienne. Les corvées donnent des résultats immédiats et renforcent ainsi la valeur de cet effort quotidien.
  7. Pour construire l’empathie
    Nous faisons des corvées au profit de tous les membres de la famille, pas seulement pour nous-mêmes. À un âge précoce, les enfants qui font des corvées apprennent à penser et à agir pour les autres.
  8. Construire l’espoir pour leur avenir en tant qu’adult(e)
    Les corvées deviennent vraiment du travail quand elles sont faites seules. Quand les enfants voient leurs parents toujours occupés avec les tâches ménagères et jamais disponibles pour eux, ils créent une vision triste de l’âge adulte : que du travail et pas de plaisir. Pourquoi sortir de l’enfance pour devenir l’esclave du labeur?
  9. Devenir un partenaire plus attractif
    En tant que mère de quatre garçons, je leur rappelle souvent : “ Si vous voulez attirer une femme de valeur, vous ne pouvez pas la traiter comme une servante. Traitez-la comme une femme de valeur! “ Et cela signifie faire votre part des corvées.
  10. Pour être apprécié et reconnu
    Le résultat des corvées est immédiat. Soit la table est mise, soit elle ne l’est pas. Et tout le monde dans la famille sait à qui c’est le tour de mettre la table à manger cette semaine. “ Chérie, c’est un très beau travail de plier les serviettes de cette façon. Je t’en remercie! ”

Finalement, nous n’avons même pas mentionné que les enfants préfèrent une maison propre, ils testent les compétences de négociation (“Est-ce que tu peux  faire la vaisselle pour moi aujourd’hui et demain je passerai l’aspirateur dans l’escalier ?”)

Tableau des corvées

Comment passer de la théorie à la pratique ? Un tableau des corvées aide certainement. Et les cartes magnétiques colorées de Ludocatix le rendent plus facile à utiliser.

Les enfants et les parents travaillent ensemble pour décider qui fait quoi et quand.

Et à mesure que les enfants grandissent que leurs capacités évoluent et que les besoins de votre famille changent, eh bien, déplacez simplement les aimants pour mettre à jour le tableau !

Photo de Frank McKenna sur Unsplash

Boy mopping floor doing chores

Build Kids’ Confidence with Chores

“What life skills do you want to transmit to your children?”

Ludocatix chore chart

This is how we begin our Positive Discipline parenting workshops and invariably parents share a list of traits Thtlike these:

  • Responsibility
  • Autonomy
  • Love of excellence
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • ….

That’s why we love getting kids involved in chores: to transmit these skills to your children AND SIMULTANEOUSLY to make life easier for you.

Check out Ludocatix which creates magnetic chore charts which you and the kids, together, adapt to your home.

Do You Know?

In a survey of 1001 US adults, 82% said they had regular chores growing up but only 23% indicated that they require their children to do them, reports the Wall Street Journal in their article “Why Children Need Chores.”

What happened?

Many parents feel they burden their children with chores and feel guilty.  Or they fear chores could negatively impact their relationship with the kids.  Yet research demonstrates the opposite.

Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.

Aren’t those the skills parents desire to pass onto their children?!

Today’s gift, a magnetic chore chart you can create with your children, helps them remember their chores in a fun and colorful way.

10 Ways Children Benefit from Chores

Here are 10 reasons why chores are great for kids…and therefore great for you too.

  1. To help kids feel needed
    How do you define your family?  What helps the kids know that they BELONG.  When a child has a regular chore, the other family members COUNT ON HIM.  He is needed; he has a role to contribute to the well being of all.
  2. To build a love of excellence
    Parents get to encourage quality in work as they observe how well a chore is completed.  They are also able to provide immediate, usable feedback.
    “Honey, is that pink toothpaste I still see on the bathroom sink?  A clean sink is shiny and white.  Show me how you cleaned it last time and we’ll find one thing you can do differently to make the sink glow!”
  3. To not treat parents like the Maid of the Butler
    When parents or house help do all the chores, kids tend to treat those who clean up like…servants whose purpose is to fulfill their desires.  Parents have a higher calling!  When children participate in chores, their respect for parents grows.  They’re not going to treat Mom or Dad like servants, because they do the same thing!
    “Darling, we are a family.  Everyone helps.  It’s what we do.”
  4. To teach responsibility
    The dishwasher gets emptied every day.  The trash gets taken out several times a week.  We vacuum the living room on a regular basis.  Household chores are recurring tasks and children learn to the importance of ongoing maintenance effort.
  5. To manage time
    Chores require a little bit of time.  It takes 5 minutes to set the table.  10 minutes to declutter the front hallway.  10 minutes to vacuum under the dining table.  A regular chore requires a child to integrate these few minutes into their daily schedule.
  6. To improve school grades
    Performance at school is often related to ongoing, regular effort…just like chores.  Mastery of a subject grows little bit with daily practice.   Chores show immediate results and thus reinforce the value of this daily effort.
  7. To build empathy
    We do chores for the benefit of everyone in the family, not just for ourself.  At an early age, chore-doing children get to learn to think of and act for others.
  8. To build hope for the future
    Chores truly become burdensome when they are done alone.  When children see their parents always busy with household tasks and not available to play, they create a sad vision of adulthood: all work, no fun.  Why grow out of child-like behavior if it’s to become a slave to toil?
  9. To become a more attractive partner
    As the mother of four boys, I remind them, “If you want to attract a woman of value, you can’t treat her like a maid.  Treat her like a woman of value!”  And that means doing your share of the chores.
  10. To be appreciated & affirmed
    The result of chores is immediate.  Either the table is set or it is not.  And everyone in the family knows who’s turn it is to prepare the table for dinner this week.
    “Sweetheart, that’s a lovely job folding the napkins this way.  Thank you!”
    “Today we can thank Joe for the clean hallway.  Thanks, darling.  I really appreciate not tripping over backpacks.”

And we have not even mentioned that kids enjoy a cleaner home, they learn motor skills, they test negotiation skills (“Can you do the dishwasher for me today and I’ll vacuum the stairs for you tomorrow?”) and soooo much more.

Chore Charts

How to move from theory to practice?  A chore chart sure helps.  And Ludocatix’s colorful magnetic charts make it easy.

Children and parents work together to decide who does what when.

And as the children grow and their abilities evolve and your family needs change, well, just move the magnets around to update the chart!

Photo by Frank McKenna on Unsplash