Boys hiking in canyons

Challenge Builds Self-Confidence in Kids

Self-esteem.  Self-confidence.

THAT’s what I want for my children!

How do kids grow in self-confidence? 

One sure way is to

  • allow them to engage in difficult activities,
  • give them a role in the decision-making process, and
  • celebrate the achievement together.

When I change my behavior (less control, more appreciation of each person, and enjoyment of the moment), the kids grow more confident!

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Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

The Family Feedback: kids share and parents LISTEN. Click To Tweet

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

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with tots

Click here

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SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Happy New Year tiara for girl

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Cover photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

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.

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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.

Does my child believe that “Smart people don’t ask for help.” It’s false. And it’s debilitating. Click To Tweet

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!

Happy Birthday Wishes – Million $ Dollar Birthday Chair

One of our favorite Happy Birthday wish is to seat that special person in The Birthday Chair.

High Bang for Buck Happy Birthday Wishes

Boy blowing up balloons for birthday party
Wishing himself a Happy Birthday! “Can I help decorate the Birthday Chair?”
Happy birthday chair
Happy Birthday Wishes for ME!
Brother giving happy birthday wishes
Happy Birthday Wishes serenaded with the kazoo!

This balloon-decorated chair gets big bang out of little time, energy, and funds…and it does it every year. For less than $1, your precious child feels like $1 Million!

Decorate one chair BIG TIME: at least 6 balloons and as many streamers. The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (of all ages) gather for the presents.  At Birthday Cake time, he gets the star seat.  It’s the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Telling.

Make it ultra special by kindly yet firmly reserving it for the birthday child; it’s part of letting him know he is one precious kid.

Happy Birthday Wishes – Telling the Birthday Story

Do you know what happened the day you were born? Loads of people—and surely your child—want to know about theirs.

Regale your precious one with nuggets of news.

“Dad admired you first. Mom could not see past her tummy!”

“When I took you in my arms, I discovered an additional love. It wasn’t sharing the love I had for others; it was MORE.”

“You were almost born in the taxi!”

Easy Peezy Happy Birthday Wishes

– Tie up balloons into bunches of three.

We use extra-long strands of ribbon and curl the edges…à la gift wrap.

Why 3’s? One three-balloon group has LOADS more impact than three singles. Try it; you’ll be convinced too.

By the way, florists recommend displaying flowers in odd numbers (think 13 red roses, but not next to the balloons).

– Use multiple colors, sizes, and shapes of balloons.

(If you’re using long balloons, include two long ones in your bundle of three, and choose your colors intelligently. Word from the embarrassed wizened!)

– Tie the bundles to the chair so that balloons are visible from all angles…think photo opportunity.

– Throw curly-cue party streamers on top of the concoction…even better, get the siblings or your child’s friends to do so. The Birthday Chair will gain in precious-ness.

The kids revel in the Birthday Chair every year. Grandma does too.

Birthday_Wishes_Grandma_3
Grandma, in her Birthday Chair, sharing her happy wishes…at the liberation of Paris after WWII!
Birthday_Wishes_Grandma
Oh, the Happy Birthday fun for kids of all ages in the Birthday Chair.

Watch what your thoughts. They can bring parents and kids up…or WAY DOWN

Positive beliefs can propel us forward.  And looking at the world and ourselves through a negative framework hinders.  Weighs us down.  Immobilizes.

I saw this with one of my teen sons.

The challenge for a parent is that our children don’t wear their beliefs on a sleeve or present them to us on a silver platter.   Our thoughts about our value and our confidence in our abilities are revealed in our actions.

Yep, beliefs impact behavior.

So, what attitudes and actions revealed my son’s negative beliefs?

They relate to school, his efforts, and results.

  • Giving up quickly when he encounters a difficulty
  • Mocking effort
  • Avoiding work and seeking play

 

Handwrestling with mom

Fishing into the night

Dangerous sea

Dangerous sea

Boys bury brother in sand

Out of order

One HUGE hike up

Crooked_building

Watching TV. No talking

 

Of course, my husband and I these behaviors and tried to encourage him.

  • “Honey, you can do it. Your math exercises last week were similar to these.  Review them and you’ll find some hints.  If you need more help, we’re here.”
  • “I reread them and it did not help.”
  • “It’s math, darling. Did you try re-doing the exercises?”
  • “That’s worthless….”

or

  • “How long did you spend trying to work out this problem? What have you tried? 
  • “I sat down at my desk and worked. L
  • “What else can you try?”
  • “Dunno…”
  • “What specific questions do you have? Who can you turn to for help?” 
  • “I asked last week and it did not help…”

And yet, when we explore fun subjects, he brims with creativity, energy, and charisma.  Is this the same person?!

So, last night at dinner we spiced up our regular conversation with what-would-you-do-if questions from a “question book” and enjoyed lively and engaged discussion from all, including from Mr. Dejected-About-Schoolwork.

It was a relief to witness his relaxation and enjoyment and even feeling of value and belonging.  And that’s when it became clear to me that his negative beliefs about work are making him miserable.

So, after the meal, I sneaked into his room for a Rendez-Vous, a one-on-one discussion.

“Hi darling, do you have a moment?”

“Hu…”

“May I share an observation?”

“Errr…”

“Sweetheart, I wonder if you have some beliefs that are making you unhappy.  What we believe impacts what we think about ourselves, about the world, and about our place in this amazing cosmos.  And I wonder if you recognize yourself in these two beliefs:

  • Hard work is no fun
  • If you can’t do it perfectly, it is not worth doing.”

“Yeah…”

“I invite you to challenge those beliefs.  Look around you.  Are these REALLY true?  I have asked myself those same questions and came up with an opposite conclusion.  You want to hear my stories?”

“Go ahead…”

And I shared about the time in college when Miss-Good-Student (that was me) got a “D” in Material Sciences.  It was a required course in my engineering studies where we discover the qualities of varying materials and the implication in construction and utilization.  In our final project, most students reported on some bridge and how it was designed for resistance and sturdiness.  I wanted to explore the thickness of the cast bronze in a Charles Remington statue of a bucking horse.  All the weight of the bronze is on one horse hoof.  What’s the torque?  How does the thickness of the bronze impact the width of the horse hoof?… We did not have access to the Internet in those days, and after fruitless searches in encyclopedias and scientific journals, I gave up and retreated to a report on yet another bridge.

Mom and son Rendez-vous

Remington Bronze statue

frustrated mother

My performance snafus in Material Sciences got me questioning my value.  Am I a loser?

And I described how I went out to a lonely place and debated with God.  “God, if I believe in You and believe that You are perfect, then You did not make a mistake with me.”  (Note the engineering logic patter:  if…and…then!)

Then, I invited him to look at people we know.  Some are under-employed.  How satisfied are they?  If his believe that “Hard work is no fun,” these folk who are not working hard should be having the time of their lives.  And yet, they are filled with worry, question their value, and lack hope for the next steps.

And what about him?  What are some of his most significant lasting memories?  Was it playing a video game, once again?  Or does he thrill over having mastered powerful waves, climbing cliffs, or getting a 20/20 on his group project?

Jumping on sand dunes

Boy riding horse backwards

 

I caught a fish

Boys showing off

Riding_backwards

Handwrestling with mom

Fun and work

Well done at school

Congratulations. Getting diploma

“Yeah…”

“Sweetheart, I love you.  You become what you think.  When you are down, it just might be that you have some negative AND MISLEADING assumptions about you and life.  Remember,

  • ‘You’re worth it’… and l’Oréal asserts it (that tweaked a smile from him)
  • And, as Nike says, ‘Just do it!’” (By now he’s downright smirking and rolling his eyes with humor.)

“Thanks, Mom.”

Family Feedback from Kids

Do you know what your kids LOVE about your family?  When did you last ask and really listen?

How about the ONE THING that would hugely improve family life for them?

We often get their feedback through passing comments like:

“Thanks for the cookie.”  (aaah!)

“Brush teeth?  I did it….yesterday.”  (huh?)

“Dad, you just don’t get it.”  (ouch…)

These tidbits contribute to your relationship in tiny bits.  Kids’ Family Feedback creates the time and the conditions for positive give and take.

Parents will learn

  • ONE GREAT BEHAVIOR:  what each child thinks you do well and wants you to keep doing
  • ONE BEHAVIOR TO TWEAK: what bothers them, why that is important, and what they wish would happen instead

Kids THRIVE on being heard.  They get center stage with a mission to make family be its best.  It’s a responsibility.  The SOSOOPER online seminar helps them live up to it and coaches them in giving feeback respectfully and positively.

What you gain

  • Proof that kids know your weaknesses AND love you still
  • Clarification of the life-skills your kids want you to model for them.  Phew.  You need not be perfect everywhere simultaneously!
  • Increased trust as children hear you listen attentively.
  • Practical solutions to family challenges
  • Great memories that Home is indeed Sweet Home

What is it?

It’s ½ hour of time well spent.  Transform weeks of nagging about school work into succinct responsibility-building reminders to help kids be motivated to do their best.

With whom? How?  When? How much?

Our online seminars are for parents AND their children.  These facilitated family discussions are led by Denise Dampierre, founder and CEO of SoSooper Families.

  • Join a group online seminar. See our Calendar for upcoming dates.  Participation is $20 per family.
  • Schedule an online seminar just for your family. Send your request and date preferences.  We’ll work it out.  Personalized seminars run $40 per ½ hour.

Sign up for our Family Feedback from Kids online seminar to help family grow and thrive.

Family Feedback Peek-a-boo—2

Family Feedback over mealWe’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 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?”

The Run Down

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.

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.

My turn?”

Family Feedback over mealBrothers:  “Yeah, let’s move on.”

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.

Here is what you can 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.

(“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…

 

In this series:  Family Feedback Peek-a-boo

Enjoy the whole shebang!

  1. 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.

Family Feedback How To’s