What signs are you looking for in your kids?

You and I find what we seek.

What if we’re looking for the wrong things?!

We sure looked hard for the right signs during the journey along the Camino Trail from Notre Dame in Paris to Chartres Cathedral.  Discover how this also relates to parenting.

 

Eight of us set out for this 100 km hike over five days.  We held high expectations…without really knowing what to expect.  Sounds a little like parenting too!

We did know what to look for: the blue and yellow symbol of a shell which led us to Chartres Cathedral.  Step. By. Step.

Chartre Cathedral and pilgrims
We made it…following the blue & yellow signs.

Following the Signs

We came across loads of other signs along the way too, including

Restaurants – Tourist attractions – Highways – Danger of Death (!) – Rain ahead (dark clouds in the sky) – …

Dampierre town, namesake
“Wrong” sign. Did they name the town for me?! (My family name is Dampierre)… Still miles to go to Chartres.

All of these indications were true and real.

Only some of them lead to the desired destination.

When it way my turn to head the group, I kept a close watch for the blue and yellow markers.  We had (barely) enough energy to get to our destination.  Getting lost or sidetracked were not options.

Follow the Yellow (and Blue) brick road.

 

Signs for Parents

What do you and I look for in our kids?

Do these indicators enable our children to have a wonderful life and make a living?

Are these the pointers that make parenting easier and more fun?

In my parenting classes I hear two general messages from parents:

  1. I want the kids to be happy
  2. I wish they behaved differently (!)

 

Parents Desire Signs for Happiness…

As we uncover these desires, parents agree that happy kids espouse positive attitudes and acquire social and emotional skills.

How do children learn these?  Like everything else.  Either they learn it right the first time or they have to re-learn.  And that often requires correction.  Parents in my coaching call this “policing” – (verb) the need to check that kids’ undesirable behavior is not being done! 

And it’s NO FUN.

 

…YET Mom & Dad are On-the-Lookout for Trouble

Much of family change management (a sophisticated term for parental discipline) is focused on fixing what’s broke.  We look for the problems and then solve them.

We look for problems!

What if WE LOOK FOR POTENTIAL STRENGTHS?!

It’s a revolutionary paradigm shift!

We begin to look for different signs.

 

Instead of focusing on the child's problems, why not seek out his potential strengths.… Click to Tweet
Check out these examples:

(This inclusive, strength-based approach is called Appreciative Inquiry and was developped by David Cooperrider at Case-Western University.  Here is a story-telling video by Jackie Kelm, author of Appreciative Living, which clearly describes the inspiring principle.  Appreciative Inquiry works in groups as large as the US Army and as intimate as your and my family.)

The Angry Child

Problem Sign = Trantrum

Potential Strength Sign = Calming Down

What helps her calm down?  Where is your daughter most calm?
When was the last time your son was able to overcome anger?  What happened that made this possible?

 

The Disrespectful Child

Problem Sign = Does not listen.  Parents repeat.  Repeat. REPEAT.

Potential Strength Sign = Showing Interest

When was your daughter passionate about something?  How was your exchange:  were you a know-it-all or was she discovering answers on her own?  Did you speak in statements or through questions?

 

The Whining Child

It’s the season of Thanksgiving.  During family reunions, when remembering folks with gratitude, whining is a Problem Sign!

Gratitude endears both the one being grateful and those who are appreciated.

 

Finding YOUR Child’s Potential Strength Signs

Can we help you find the Potential Strengths Signs in your children?

Parents often come to us when they’re discouraged.  The Problem Signs tend to be the most glaringly visible and it’s hard to see anything else.

It can even be a challenge to know which qualities are most important for YOUR family.

Let us know which of these qualities is most important for you to build up in your child

Which quality is most important to build in your child?

 

Trying to transmit all of these SIMULTANEOUSLY is a daunting task.  So break it down into do-able tasks. 🙂

That’s where SoSooper can help you to

  1. Identify the qualities you desire to transmit to your child
  2. Identify the signs that indicate you’re going that way (or not!)
  3. Create paths to intentionally PREVENT (vs. correct) getting side-tracked or feeling lost

 

Talk soon.

Angry Zax screaming

Stop anger-gangrene:  Love vs. Be right

Angry words.

“This food is disgusting!”

And, just in case the entire dinner company had not heard the announcement correctly,

“THIS FOOD IS FOR PIGS.”

Earlier in the day, this mother and her son enjoyed an outing at the neighboring pick-your-own farm where they harvested fresh corn.

Golden and shining with butter, the corn-on-the-cob now lay steaming on their plates.

Girl eating corn on the cob

“Yummy” to most of the family.

“Yucky” to one…

…who decided that if he had to suffer, then everyone would too.

My friend looked at me dolefully as she shared the story.  Then admitted, she wished it had been a child speaking.

The anger-spewer was an adult.

 

Being Right Fuels Anger

School of Etiquette 101 teaches that insulting the cook is impolite and wrong.  School of Life teaches that if you want food for dinner tomorrow, talk nice.

From the school of Mom-of-4-Boys, I know how much sweat, elbow grease, time, money, AND LOVE go into meals.

Planning.  Shopping.  Preparing. Eating. Teaching table manners. Cleaning.

And over again.

Rude comments à table just slice up the atmosphere.  Conversation is chewed up.  The mood and the food lose their spice.

I understood her anger and feeling of justified ire in the face of purposeful insults. ESPECIALLY from an adult.  Aghhh!  Those repeated times trying to set a good example being swiftly undercut!

My friend poured out her frustration and fury.  She was RIGHT.  The other one was wrong.

 

And yet…I wonder if the other person felt justified in spouting these purposeful insults too.  There usually is another side of a story.

My friend was not ready to hear that.  Not while she relived the feelings of being shamed in front of her children and of having her parenting efforts dismantled.  So, I stayed with her.  Just stayed…until she readied to move out of…reliving the pain.

Our feelings don’t just linger as emotions; they lead to decisions and actions. 

Often hurt leads to revenge.

Often hurt leads to revenge. Click to Tweet

Yet, what a cost.  When the sh__ hits the fan, there’s LOTS of clean-up.  Too much for my taste!

 

My friend’s issue centered on corn-on-the-cob comments.  You and I will have another.  And we will ALL face the same choices:

  • To focus on the behavior…or on the relationship?
  • To choose to be “Right” …or will I choose to love?
  • To try and change other people…or to venture to grow ourselves?

I choose to change me.

It might sound easy.  IT IS TOUGH.

 

When Being Right Means Being Stuck in Anger

In no way do I condone disrespectful comments or inappropriate table manners.

At the same time, I don’t want to be a Zax either.

In this Dr. Seuss story, the South-going Zax and the North-going Zax met up and neither will budge.  They “reason” (a.k.a. argue). “Discuss” (a.k.a. butt heads).  And stay stuck, arms crossed, faces frowned.  Meanwhile life progresses around them.

Angry Zax screaming
“I’m right.” “No, I am Right.” ” NO!!! I AM RIGHT (bleep)”
Angry Zax stay mad
The two stubborn Zax stuck in their tracks…

If a relationship has a chance, someone must make a conciliatory move. 

And the only person I can control is me.

 

I remember when I tried to mend a bruised relationship.  I used “I statements” like, “I felt hurt when you _______ (spoke meanly about the food) and I would like to hear you recognize that ______(those were mean words).”

The person stormed out of the room.

I tried again a day later.  “You have to learn to let go,” I was told.

 

Choosing to Love

That response hurt.

And part of me wanted to let the relationship go.

Yet I choose to stay connected.

It means choosing to love even still…

Nelson Mandela is reputed to say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

I want to live.  Richly.  Fully.

Not feebly in between sips of arsenic.

LEARN TO LET GO!

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person.

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person. Click to Tweet

 

Loving above & beyond Anger or Hurt

Here’s what helped me let go.

Look at what to hold onto

Not focusing on the hurt is like not thinking of the pink elephant.

Every time you try, it looms LARGE.

Instead choose to concentrate on something positive

  • To define respect in your home
  • To heal the other’s wounds
    (Those who hurl revenge often harbor hurt)

 

Focus on the issue (vs. taking it personally)

If there were no grain of truth, an insult would have little hold.

An offense aims to distract from the issue to the person.  We all mess up.  It does not make us a messed-up person.

Go on a treasure hunt to identify the underlying grievance.  Does it concern your behavior?  Might it belong to the other person?

It could be their need to feel loved, belonging, and able to contribute.  We humans become superbly AWKWARD in expressing our deepest needs!

Maybe your and my vision is blurred.  Our “attacker” untucked a hidden issue (like, “you take care of the kids but not me”).  We would have trouble hearing the message even if it were kindly said…

Is there a “right” person or a “good” way to learn DIFFICULT lessons?!

 

Get encouragement elsewhere

Airplane security guidelines ALWAYS indicate that in case of turbulence to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

How are you and I getting that required boost?

Schedule self-care.  Make time to do one thing that makes you feel better.

Do it before the crash!

 

In an ideal world, we might commune over every topic with our spouse.  We don’t all live in Utopia at every second of the day.

It’s too much to ask of anyone to completely fill our emotional needs.  Could you do that for others?  (I cannot.)

Give your partner a break.  You and I will need them to let go for us too.

Bon courage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

[bctt tweet=”I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.”]

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.

[bctt tweet=”Children misbehave out of discouragement…and parents get more annoyed at the kids!”]

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 🙂

Cover photo from KiddyTrend

 

 

Harvard Business School New Venture Competition

SoSooper is a finalist in Harvard Business School NVC Europe

Sooper Exciting News

Our mobile app for parents has been selected as a finalist in the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition Europe!  There were 26 contestants for 5 places.  We made the cut!

We will be pitching to 100+ business folk about being the best parent we can be.

We are honored to be present, knowing that the discussion will cover both business issues (how will we generate income) as well a matters touching our ingrained beliefs:

  • Are “good parents” born or can leadership in our homes be learned?
  • How to accompany parents AND allow freedom to create their own, unique family culture?

As my sister says, “Exciting, invigorating, intimidating, energizing, challenging, exhilarating.”

Many thanks to all who support me so well.

SoSooper is finalist for HBS NVC
European finalists for 2017 HBS NVC Europe

The Story behind SoSooper

A Mom in Need

As a young mom seeking help to manage four boys under seven years old I wondered:

“Folk can go to a bank or a financial counselor and expose very private information regarding money and request advice and this is conisdered intelligent.

Those same people seek advice regarding relationships…and they have a problem.

Humm. I hope someone will do something to remedy this discrepancy.”

And, today, maybe that someone is…me.

Insights from Cosmetics

When I worked in cosmetics, one brand introduced beauty advice on an iPad.  Customers appreciated the anonimity of these tools.

They found it more pleasant to admit skin problems to a machine than to a  made-up beauty who agrees you have blackheads on your nose!

Might the same be true with personal issues?

A New Child

SoSooper, my fifth child, is born. This mobile app helps parents navigate – positively and quickly – challenges with kids.

  • Provides parents with solutions for their Need. NOW.
  • Connects parents with parenting experts and other moms and dads like them
  • Is available on their phone.  Anytime & anywhere.

Read more.

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

Girl doing laundry

When chores help build strong relationships

Today, the Louvre museaum exceptionally closed its doors to protect its treasures.

Rain, rain, go away.  It’s been raining in France for weeks.  The Seine river is overflowing, and muddy water oozes into homes…and even into the treasure-storing basement of the Louvre Museum, the most visited museaum in the world.

There is a parallel for our families:  How could we parents protect our emotional treasures such as our relationships?  

This family built strong relationships by turning “Chore Time” into “One-on-One Time” and generated more “Free Time” for everyone to enjoy together.

Relationship warning signs

What are your and my family treasures? How are you and I preserving them?

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

But let’s be practical.  There are 24 hours in a day and too much to do in that limited time.

And the most tension-filled moments often involve the kids!

  • Getting them out the door in the morning
  • Managing bath, homework, and cooking dinner simultaneously
  • Tucking the children into bed when I’m exhausted myself

Oh, oh.

Beware of tell-tale signs of flooding of feelings when tears flow hard and anger spurts in spouts.

Feelings overload
Feelings overload!

It’s O.K.  What if these moments when we feel close to failure are really invitations to step back and re-assess?

I realized I was doing all the work around the house while my husband was still in the office and the kids were playing.

How could this change?

The easiest fix lay in delegating chores to the kids.

Chart with chores for kids
Simple chore chart with pictures of children doing their chores. Clips with initials indicates who does what & rotate every week.

Create a Chore Chart that Works for YOU

We set up a simple system using a chore chart to facilitate communication and accountability.  We selected four tasks, one per child, to be completed daily for one whole week.   Then the children rotated jobs.

Four boys = Four delegated chores.

(Read more about Chore Charts and how to make them work for you here)

Quality One-on-One Time Doing Chores

To my utmost surprise, chore time presented myriads of opportunities for one-on-one exchanges.

As the mother of four children I often felt guilty for not spending time with each child on a regular basis.  I couldn’t find the “extra” time.

By delegating chores, 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  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.  Please come back later.”

The other kids left us alone, knowing that as they honored the sibling’s “Rendez-Vous”, they would benefit from the same respect in turn.

Opportunities for Gratitude and Encouragement

Inspecting our children’s work presented another opportunity for relationships boosting.

Are you too the type of parent who asks the kids to do things…and forgets to mention anything when the children follow through?

When I began to intentionally check on the quality of the children’s chores, our family grew both in appreciation of each other and in jobs well done.

“I noticed you emptied the trash without my having to remind you.”

“This table is so neatly set.  It looks welcoming.  Thank you.”

[bctt tweet=”In verifying the children’s efforts, I expressed gratitude and my behavior became a model for them.”]

We also engaged in conversations about “quality of work,” noting the difference between emptying the dishwasher carefully or breaking plates in the process!

In checking chores we FIRST noted what was done well…as the children warmed up to chores they openned to learning how to improve. Together, we sought the best for everyone.

More Free Time

Less chores for mom translated into more time for playing cards after dinner and reading stories at bedtime. 🙂

Mom playing cards with kids
Work together more. Play together more!

Keeping Relationships Precious

How are you making time to bond with your child?

You might not need additional hours to your day…just another way to use the hours you and your children share together.

Your attitude sets the mind frame of your children.

“Chores” can have many definitions.  It can mean work.  Chores definitely signify sharing, quality time, gratitude, and encouragement.

Discover here Home Is Fun’s ways to get children to WANT their chores!

 

Cover photo by Nik MacMillan & emotionas by Cassidy Kelley on Unsplash.

Mother and child

Get the Mother’s Day Gift Money Cannot Buy

YOU are a Gift

We’ve prepared a gift of encouragement for you to remind you that YOU are the best mother your kids have.

You are special.  Probably not perfect.  But absolutely precious.

Our Gift to YOU

Discover this gift below… (or click here if you have difficulty viewing it).

As a 24/7 on-call mother, it is hard to stay in touch with that magnificent purpose we felt when we first cradled our babe in loving arms.  We promised to give that child our best.

And we did.

Then came

“No”

 

“GIMME”

 

“MORE”

 

“NOW”

And somehow it feels like those children know how to bring out the worst in us.  They push our buttons and we mothers “loose it.”

What happened to Home Sweet Home?

There IS sweetness in your home.  (So what if there is other stuff too…  Challenges might hide the treasures but they don’t erase them.)

This short quiz helps bring that mother-wonder back into focus.

Enjoy.  Because you’re worth it.  Just do it.  You’ve come a long way, Baby.*
* From some of my favorite “philosophers”:  l’Oréal, Nike, and Virginia Slims.

Click here for the survey.

 

Cover photo by journey cloud on Unsplash.  Online survey powered by Typeform

Creative 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 as L.A.U.G.H.
Love as L.I.S.T.E.N.
Love as L.E.A.R.N.

Love 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 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.

[bctt tweet=”When I (parent) speak less, the children share more. Love is spelled L.I.S.T.E.N.”]

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 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?

THAT is THE question!!!!

 

Cover photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash