Special father and daughter shared moment

Kids change when parents listen

“Dad, listen…”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in France.  A friend (a mom of teens) shared about her reunion with her parents. “I left utterly discouraged.”  What happened?!

They enjoyed a day full of fun outings:  restaurants, shopping, and culture.  What was discouraging about that?!

Then she spoke her heart. “I shared a video of my work with my dad.  Not even 10 seconds into the video my father began telling me what I did wrong.  Hey, I know the video was not perfect, but critique before listening is not the feedback I need.  I just won’t talk to him about work anymore.”  She’s an entrepreneur; work is her passion.

I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.

I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did. Click To Tweet

Could you and I do that with our children too?  You bet.

(In)Active listening impacts behavior

And when the children act out of discouragement, we think their behavior is their problem.

  • They are too blasé. “Whatever.”
  • They don’t listen to us
  • They criticize their brother or sister
  • Why can’t they just be motivated?!

Irony.

Children misbehave out of discouragement...and parents get more annoyed at the kids! Click To Tweet

My friend is an adult.  “She should know better,” and in a responsible, loving gesture she should go to her father and share her feelings.  But, in her discouragement, she’s opting for “why bother?”

If adults (she’s MY friend.  So, if intelligent, dynamic, and caring adults ????) decide against reconciliation, then what will our discouraged kids choose to do?

Yep.  Our children keep up with that annoying behavior!  And they seek counsel elsewhere.  Aagh!

Father and daughter in conversation. Listening dad.
Father intently listening to his daughter. Body, mind, and heart are all engaged.

What does active listening sound like?

I shared with my friend tips I learned from Positive Discipline about listening styles.

In our classes, we have an activity like the movie “Groundhog Day.”  We get to replay a scene, beginning again as if we were given a fresh start every time.  It’s a roleplay of a child (an adult playing the role of a child) who comes to tell Mom or Dad about his BFB (Best Friend Breakup).

  • Scene 1 – parent is on the phone, distracted
  • Scene 2 – parent criticizes
  • Scene 3 – parent tells child how he should act next time
  • Scene 4 – silence
  • Scene 5 – active listening. “What happened?  What had you hoped would happen?…”

We ask the person playing the role of the child how they feel, what they think, and what they decide to do after each of these scenes.

The first four scenarios generate disengagement in various degrees of intensity.   “I’ll go to my room…I just won’t tell them next time…I’m not good enough so why bother try.”

The Curiosity Questions*, however, built trust between parent and child, helped the kid discover his responsibility in the friendship dilemma, and inspired the child to handle the relationship differently.

(*Curiosity Questions are a tool from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.)

SoSooper “Aha”:  when bloopers help parents become super

These role plays are an Aha! moment.  Oooops.  You mean my kids act the way they do in part because I (the parent) acts the way I do!

John Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to e-motions:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Father and son having fun in the pool.
For every action, there is a reaction. Play (action) leads to togetherness.

It’s stories like that of my friend that motivate me to keep on developing SoSooper, the mobile app that helps parents equip their children to thrive.

Guess how many tips you’ll find to reconnect with kids WHEN you feel like a recording machine because they’re not listening? 

Check it out on the SoSooper app 🙂

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home

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

 

Click here

 

with kids

parents listening to child

Click here

 

with tots

listen-mom-son

Click here

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Ask questions & Tell us how it went

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

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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!”

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

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Boy building blocks

12 + 1 Gifts to build respect and collaboration at home

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  Home sure is more fun when kids (of all ages) act their best.

Speaking respectfully.

Seeking solutions (vs. blame).

Giving a helping hand… Continue reading “12 + 1 Gifts to build respect and collaboration at home”

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“I love you, Mom & Mom loves me. Here is how I know.”

Dear Readers,

Thanks to those of you who answered our Mother’s Day survey.  It was a first and we learned

  • from our mistakes
  • about your challenges
  • how you, mothers, are deeply loved (play with the interactive image below)

As a reminder, we are developing tools to help parents’ life be easier and more fun.  I’ll share how your insights help us move forward.

From bloopers to blooming: learning from mistakes

More than 175 of you began the survey and only 50 of you finished it!  We tried to make the survey cute and pretty…it ended up being complicated!

K.I.S.S.  Keep It Simple Sweetie works at home as well as with surveys.  Good to remember.

K.I.S.S. 'Keep It Simple Sweetie' works with every audience of any age. Valuable & respectful philosophy. Click To Tweet

Home Organization & Chores is ONE BIG PAIN

Even with our small response group, you CLEARLY indicated the challenges of getting life done.  You also indicated that children are not often part of the solution…yet 🙂

We are working on how to help alleviate your challenges in the couple (2nd most stressful) and those with the kids through ways to encourage children to help at home.

“I Love You Mom & I know you love me.”

Enjoy playing with the image below which depicts the ways kids know they are loved and the ways they share their love for you.  These answers are weighted.  Some highlights:

  1. Your son and daughter LOVE going out on outings with you and spending special time with you.
  2. They feel loved (and love Mom back) when they receive your attention.  Being listened to and being seen ranked high in importance.
  3. Love is recognized though smiles and joy-filled expressions.
  4. Kindness ranked higher than hugs!
  5. Wild cards
    • As the mom of 4 boys who spent inummmmmmerable hoooooouuuurs in the kitchen, I loved the tykes who appreciated mom’s cooking 🙂
    • This answer generated a reaction deep in my soul:  when kids knew they were loved because mom trusts them.  Only a sprinkling of families mentioned this.  May our SoSooper tools build mutual trust chez vous and chez moi too.

[av_one_half first]

Discover the kids’
loving thoughts


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Download these loving thoughts

…and post them on your fridge.   Click here.

They’re a great discipline and encouragement tool.

For Discipline

Try it with humor when your child misbehaves.

“Remind me, darling, which way are you tell me that you love me?”

For Encouragement

Let the image be your reminder to share how you feel.

“When you smile and dance, I know you feel loved and THAT make ME feel absolutely marhvelooos dahrling!!!”

[/av_one_half]
With many thanks and deep appreciation for your time on the survey.

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Positive Time Out and Chore Charts in Flooded Grey Paris

Rain, rain, go away.  It’s been raining in France for weeks.  The Seine river is overflowing, and muddy water oozes into homes.  Trendy houseboat dwellers now row home!

There is a parallel for our families:  How can we parents protect our children from flooding emotions and dark moods?

Read below about:

  • Paris greyness and photos of the flooding Seine River
  • The Louvre museum closing.
    How about if family members took a Positive Time Out too?  Find out what it is and how it worked for parents, teens, & kids.
  • Protecting art treasures in the Louvre from the flood.
    How could we parents protect our emotional treasures such as one-on-one time?  Our family did it through chores with the help of Chore Charts.  We are sharing keys to great chore charts and lessons learned from our mistakes.

Enjoy!

Overflowing Seine with debris
Recuperating debris floating down the Seine. Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower hidden in the mist.
Pont de l'Alma during Paris flood
Hit your head under those bridges!
Frigate in Paris during flood
Switch of boats. The ancient frigate is now out on the water while the tourist boats sit at dock.
Quai d'Orsay during Paris flood
No more road. Take a boat to get to your boat!

50 000 Shades of Paris Grey

It’s a grey day in Paris.  We’ve had rain for weeks and the flooding Seine river leaked into the basements of river-side homes.  On June 3 folk still don padded jackets and woolen scarves.  At this time of year Parisian ladies usually strut in bright colors, reserving black for their sunglasses.  Today, the fall garde-robe is back on the street:  chic black from head to toe.

Parisians and tourists alike feel cheated.  This is not the weather it is supposed to be.  Spring, where art thou?  When did Paris become the City of Indirect Light?

The Louvre museum closed its doors today to move their art treasures stored in the basement to a safer spot.   

Only the security guards stood in the queues.  Slow business day for the trinket salesmen chasing the few tourists mulling about the Glass Pyramid and wandering the grand palatial esplanade.

Could parents learn from the Louvre during our times of flooding emotions, debris floating through our communication, streams, and cold fronts settling into homes?

What would our homes be like if we “closed down for the day” and “moved our treasures to a secure place”?

Take a Break…with a Positive Time Out

Pause.

I just did … and was surprised by sounds.  The bird chirping.  A boy bouncing a basketball.  A frustrated driver honking his horn.  Again. Water flowing through the pipes…

Try it.

Our Parisian life is SPEED and BUSY.  It’s a strain on relationships.  It’s tough on adults.  You can bet it’s a challenge to children.

And we wonder why our kids misbehave.

“Children do better when they feel better,” reminds us Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline.

In our home it means this:  my kids will benefit more from learning to unwind than from (yet another)

  • lecture (even a very intelligent one)
  • moment to “think about what they did wrong” (they are pondering on how not to get caught next time)

Brain science reveals that our human brains physically change shape when we are angry.  Our reasoning functions get “disconnected” which leaves us with raw emotion. Hardly helpful to resolve delicate differences.

Dr. Daniel Siegel explains the phenomena clearly with his short video.

Child psychotherapist Jeanette Yoffe enchantingly describes the kid version of Daniel Siegel’s hand model of the brain.  Show it to your children and you’ll gain a common understanding and LOTS LESS STRESS!

Jane Nelsen goes a step further and shows us PRACTICALLY how to create a physical and emotional space for our kids to reconnect and, once again, be at their best.  She calls this a Positive Time Out.  (Check out her sneak peak video and you’ll hear this insightful parenting expert explain it in her own words.)

It works for kids of all ages, from parents to teens to tykes.

Louvre is closed
Parisians dressed for fall weather on June 3, 2016.
Louvre with closed sign.
Fermee means C.L.O.S.E.D. Exceptional closing of The Louvre museum to move art treasures out of flood danger.
Vendors at Louvre
Golden Eiffel Tower sales plummet when the Louvre is closed.
Glass Pyramid of Louvre
No queues! …only on Closed for Flood Day.

Positive Time Out for Parents

Our family enjoys a Family Feedback where the kids give me feedback.  One year, our youngest told me “Mom, when you’re angry, go to your room.”

LOL!

I no longer have to be a “perfect mom” and think of calming down myself.  My kids tell me…kindly.

“Remember what to do when you’re angry….!”  “Mom, is this a good time for you to go to your room?!!!!”  and sometimes even, “I don’t know where you’re going, but, Mom, I am going to MY room. We’ll talk when you calmed down.”

My kids “parent” me.  What a freedom.  I can be human.  And still loved.  And avoid having the s____ hit the f____ and all that emotional clean up that comes along with the ugly scene.

This moment to regain perspective is so vital that Care for the Family even calls their parenting classes “Time Out for Parents” with special focus for Early Years, Teenage Years, and Children with Special Needs.

Positive Time Out for Teens

In France, school is not out yet for the summer.  It’s exam period.  My teens manage their stress and reconnect their brains with basketball, even shooting hoops on their own.

It’s rhythmic.  The ball goes bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, shoot and bounces again.

It engages body and mind.

It is respite.  On the court, Mom and Dad don’t badger them about their study plan!

Positive Time Out for Young Children

In my Positive Discipline parenting classes, one mother shared how Cuddly Corner helped her food-throwing daughter calm down.

They had previously created a space whose purpose was “to help Alice feel better.”  When the peas started flying through the air, Maman asked her screaming princess if she would be happier after a time in Cuddly Corner.  Alice stopped her pitching of peas in mid swing, thrust out her bottom lip, and whimpered, “Yyyyyyeeeeeeesssss.”

(Five minutes later Alice felt better and came to help mom sweep the floor.)

Positive Time Out works just as well in Paris as in California as in Sydney.  I love how fun, Australian mum Nae, blogger on Adventures at Home with Mum.  She writes about her son’s Chill Out Corner.  Nae (mother) and Dimples (son) gave the place a name that means something to them both.  It’s called marketing for your kids and Nae has done an awesome job engaging multiple senses like perfuming the space with Lavender Rice and providing Squeeze Balls to relax tense fingers.  It’s clearly a space where Dimples knows he has value and is loved.

The teachers at Queen Anne Elementary School in Seattle, WA developed a Positive Time Out space for their students.  Under a blue cloud that evokes sunny skies (!) children are invited to take a break, reset their brain, calm down, and find some peace.  There is a “je ne sais quoi” about Cloud City chez Queen Anne which we miss today in Grey Skies chez Louis XIV!

Preserve Treasures…such as Our Relationships

The Louvre museum time out has a purpose:  to save treasures.

empty Louvre Museum
‘Twas the Day of the Flood, and all through the Louvre, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Of course they don’t move. They are made of marble!
Empty halls of the Louvre Museum.
“Hellooooooooo?”

What are our family treasures and how are you and I preserving them?

My most precious resources are relationships and time.  Time flies.  Love lasts.

As the mother of four boys within seven years, I longed to have quality time, even one-on-one moments, with each child.  How?  Let’s be practical.

Quality Time Doing Chores

The solutions came unexpectedly and to my utmost amazement.  These precious exchanges happened doing chores!

Our family (that is, Me, Myself, and I) instituted a system of chores so that Mom would not be the maid.  As the only woman in the house, I conscientiously invest in teaching my future men to respect women.   Allowing them to expect the woman-of-the-house to clean up after their mess modeled the opposite beliefs.

I changed in order for them to change.

Soon my boys and I were doing similar housework.  If I was the maid, they were too.  Amazingly, they no longer thought of me as cleaner-upper!

Make a Chore Chart that Works for YOU

We tried multiple ways of organizing chores, always using a chore chart to facilitate communication and accountability.

Chore charts are like teeth.  Ignore them and they will go away.  To make a chore chart work with kids, parents need to follow through.  Inspection is a gift:  a job well done can receive recognition.

(Have you noticed the number of times we parents request something of a child and then ignore him when he’s done it?!  Would you rush to obey again too?! )

Our first attempt at organizing housework resembles the chart Ashley Langston posted on Frugal Coupon Living.  Like hers, we used images (only hers are much prettier).  🙂    Cute visuals make work more fun for everyone.

Nonetheless, we soon had to change.  “Clean up your room” (one of the jobs listed on Ashley’s chore chart and on mine too) requires verification.

We checked our chore charts before dinner.  Five minutes before mealtime I would go up to the children’s rooms and check for cleanliness.  My eyes hurt from the mess.

“Darlings, cleaning up happens before dinner.”

“It’s clean, Mom.” (!!!!)

“Clean means nothing on the floor and the bed is made.  I SHALL RETURN!”  And off I scurried to complete the finishing touches on the meal.

Five minutes later, I popped my head into their room.   The bed would be made with the toys under the covers…or half the floor was cleared up…or…

Inevitably, dinner was burnt.

If It’s Broke, Change the Chore Chart

So we tried something else.

Helping at home would include tasks that could be verified from the kitchen while I was preparing dinner. 

Opportunities abound:  setting & clearing the table, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, helping the cook, and helping for 5 minutes for whatever.

(To secure clean-ish rooms, we insisted on putting toys away before playing computer games.  Whoever was playing with a messy room was asked to stop playing for the day and was kindly and firmly oriented to his neatening up task.)

Every evening, one child and I would be work side by side for a few moments in the kitchen.  We learned to make them precious.   As Table-Setter-of-the-Week (we rotated chores on a weekly basis) laid out the forks and knives, I would learn about the boxing match during recess…from his perspective.  Between spinning salad and slicing carrots we explored ways to make up with his friend or to avoid bullies.

Another pair of hands might venture into Kitchen Territory during these discussions to be greeted with, “We’re having a Rendez Vous.  Could you come back later, please?”

They did, knowing that as they honored the parent-child-one-on-one-time of a sibling, he would benefit from the same respect during his turn.

A Chore Chart where Children Welcome Responsibility

Tsh Oxenreider’s Chore Chart for Preschoolers includes an added plus:  the kids make it.  She provides the children with the framework and the images (key success factor) of various tasks.

THE CHILDREN DEFINE WHICH TASK GOES TO WHOM.  Half, oops, two thirds of the job of getting chores done is convincing the kids to do them.  This chart enables tykes to choose their chore.

Since they decided on their job, they are more inclined to fulfill it.

This worked for us when my brother and his triplet boys came to visit.

How does ONE woman manage with NINE hungry men?  DELEGATION.

We settled the boys down with a list of chores and they worked out who did what.  Read here how they exclaimed, “I WANT vacuuming!”

Different Special Times for Different Folks

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, President of  The Mother Company shares another feasible example of a simple way to change the way we spend our time to protect and cherish relationships.  In her video on Special Time she share how the first 15 minutes after coming in from work get dedicated to her son.

I used this example in a training for nannies who are mothers themselves.  They come home exhausted with their own children to bathe, feed, and check on homework.  And that’s before attacking the housework.

“How would your life be different if your children ate dinner fifteen minutes later?” I inquired.

After some debate they did conclude it wouldn’t make that a life-shattering change.

“How would your life be different if you had fifteen non-work minutes a day with your children?  You might just sit with them, listen, cuddle, look them in the eye, or play a game?”  Their eyes popped.

One nanny confessed, “I want to tell my kids ‘I love you,’ but most of the time I say, ‘I’m busy.’  These fifteen minutes would be transformative.”  Vive la (Home) Revolution!

 

Signing off….to snuggle next to my sons watching the Roland Garros women’s final on TV.  For this Parisian tennis tournament on June 4, Serena Williams dons leggings and a long-sleeved shirt.

The sun will come out tomorrow…?

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Love, love, and love. Enlightening ways to spell L.O.V.E.

My husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage this year!

What has enabled our union and our boys to thrive?  The glue is called love, in its many spellings 🙂
love love love and laughLove as L.A.U.G.H.

My husband has an amazing sense of humor.  When tension rises, he brings humor into the situation which enables us to communicate respectfully and productively once again.

Laughter gives us just those nanoseconds needed to let steam diffuse before we explode.  Phew.  It’s nice to be nice.  I hate myself when I act and look like a raven pecking at my kids (or something worse)

Learn to laugh at yourself:

What situation gets you M.A.D.?  Imagine you just landed from Mars and saw someone in that exact situation, what would they see, hear, and smell?  Could there be something funny about that?love love love and listen

Love, love as L.I.S.T.E.N.

Soooo much easier said than done.  Through my parent coaching I have become more aware of my own TOTALLY FLAWED behavior.

My most common blooper is to “listen” with my mouth open.  The children call it “giving lectures.”  Yet as tots become teens, connecting with our kids means giving them space to grow.  When I speak less, they share more.

When I (parent) speak less, the children share more. Love is spelled L.I.S.T.E.N. Click To Tweet

Learn to listen:

Write down some of the words you tell your partner and children.  Hand the list to them and ask them to read these words out loud to you.  Stand 2 meters (2 yards) away from them.  Step forward if those sayings motivate you to closeness.  Step back if those words aggravate you.  Compare your ending position to where you started out.

Invite your loved ones to add to the list and try this again.

ONCE you have shown your loved ones how you listen, invite them to “hear with their feet” too.
love love love and learn

Love, love, love as L.E.A.R.N.

Together time gets a boost during vacations.  Our family thrives on physical exercise and some kind of discovery.  It’s one of our values to embrace diversity, to move beyond our comfort zone, to choose being wonder-filled.

We ask our children all the time to stretch their knowledge (learn at school), to stretch their effort (one more bite of dinner, please), to stretch their patience (just one minute longer….)

Discovery as a family enables me to model the attitude we hope to grow in our kids.  As I struggle through my own learning, I also gain in empathy with my kids.

Learn to encourage:

It is also encouraging to cheer someone on while at their side.

Haven’t you done or been in the situation where well-meaning people act like this:  they advance faster than you and turn back to encourage.  With the distance between you, they have to scream at the top of their lungs, “KEEP IT UP.”  Their words shouted in the distance sound fumbled.  Their body language looks angry (we shout better with feet apart and a certain facial grimace!)

When we are learning we are vulnerable.  Encouragement through proximity truly passes on the message, “We’re together in this.”

Which L.O.V.E. will you apply today?

love love love many ways

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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, imagining the trail of accidents I would leave behind due to being in the wrong lane at the wrong time.

To add further spice to our adventure, we rented a manual shift car…and stalled while exiting the car-rental parking lot.   “Mom, are you SURE you can handle this?” my sons inquired.

Driving in England on the left.
Building confidence by driving out of my comfort zone…in England where cars ride on the left!

23 hours later, I glided into our allotted car-return spot and breathed freely once again.  Family and car were safe and sound.  Our memories and confidence shine with robust.

It was hard.

WE MADE IT!!!!

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.
My weakness contributed to our combined strength. Asking for help boosts others' confidence. Click To Tweet

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

Both guides proved vital.

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

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.

Stonehenge English heritage site
Stonehenge: one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
Teen at Stonehenge
“Yes, it is worth the visit. :-)”
Teen having fun at Stonehenge
Looking pretty confident now! Fly high, darling. You can do it.
Countryside and cow by Stonehenge
“What’s the big deal about old stones? Meuhr of the same old, same old.”
Propeller plane
The REAL travel adventure: our flight back to Paris on a propeller plane!

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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.”

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Cease Fire over School Grades – Parent Prep & Follow Up

 

Pop Quiz for Parents:  What does “Report Card Time” mean in your home ?

  1. When I discover a new facet of my child and how (s)he acts in school
  2. When I am overwhelmed with STRESS. Yes, SOSOOOOOOOPER-STRESSED!
  3. Report Card? What’s that?  When I am interrupted in my TV program to sign a useless piece of paper
  4. When I praise my child
  5. When I criticize my child
  6. When I compare the siblings. Sometimes I do it to movtivate one kid to start working.  Other times I compare and feel so guilty about it but just can’t help myself.
  7. When I despair because my kid does not give his best and does not seem to care about it
  8. When I feel like a good parent because my child gets good grades
  9. When I feel like a good-enough parent because my child gets better grades than his/her buddy
  10. All of the above
  11. None of the above
  12. It changes every day and with every kid and I am confused/frustrated/discouraged.

Mom_Teen_Grades_2a

What if Report Card Time could be a moment of deep sharing and mutual learning?

“Euuuuh.  Hello?”

What if your child could admit his concerns, maybe even fears, and open the door to confidence-building opportunities in your family.

What if your kid would experience your unconditional love for him as a person AND that because you love him you have expectations for his efforts.

Cease Fire Over School Grades

Cease Fire Over School Grades does just that.  This online seminar helps parents and children together

  • recognize achievements
  • clarify goals
  • make a plan to reach them effectively

Mom_Teen_Grades_2b

Sample grade self-evaluation

 

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.

We address three issues:

  • Clarify parental expectations
    We initiate a discussion using cooking analogies to help kids understand how parents define quality work. Is eating raw eggs and flour the same as savoring a freshly baked cake?    In the same way, what’s the difference between presence in class and being an engaged student?
  • Listen to students and have them to explain their position
    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Many students feel they are doing “fine.”  We encourage the kids to define “fine” through a self-evaluation process.  Parents and kids get to explore these predictions together at a time when both are calm.
  • Motivate students to progress
    The child’s self-evaluation provides a benchmark. We prepare the youth and parents to interpret the Report Card in light of this guide.  Where should Mom & Dad give their child more breathing room?  Where is the child’s system (“I’ve got it under control.  Let me do it my way.”) objectively underperforming?

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 Cease Fire over School Grades online seminar to get kids motivated to do their best.

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