Driving in England on the left

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

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

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

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

WE THRIVED!!!!

It was hard.

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

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

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

Boost Confidence –
Be weak to let others be strong

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

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

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

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

We then created two driver-assistant roles:

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

Both guides proved vital.

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

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

The Unexpected

An unexpected difficulty superseded what I had anticipated as the greatest challenge.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

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

We sure benefited from those warnings:

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

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

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

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

Boost Confidence –
Focus on the Goal, not the Barriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boost Confidence by Overcoming Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

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

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

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

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

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

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

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

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

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are they not listening to instructions?

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

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

Do the toys not have a home?

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

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

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

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

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

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

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

A clean room means

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

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Celebrate performance

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

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

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

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

He made the chrome sparkle.

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

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

That’s a win-win situation!

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

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

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

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

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

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

Build Kids’ Confidence with Chores

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

1 magnetic Chore Chart for parents & kids together
from Ludocatix  

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

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

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

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

Today’s gift helps you transmit these skills to your children AND SIMULTANEOUSLY make life easier for you.  Ludocatix offers you a magnetic chore chart which you and the kids, together, adapt to your home.

PHOTO

Do You Know?

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

What happened?

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

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

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

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

10 Ways Children Benefit from Chores

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

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

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

Chore Charts

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

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

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

“Help! I’m Losing It!” Article from Message Magazine

It’s a delight to share the excerpt of my article from the fall 2015 edition of the Message Magazine.  Enjoy!

Help!  I’m “Losing It!”

“It was automagic, Mom…”

According to my four sons, spilled milk is automagic, so are the bite marks on a sibling’s arm, and so is my teen’s phone battery that runs out just as I call him.

How to respond to kids’ “béttises” (misbehaviors)?  To laugh?  To cry?  To scream!

The 80/20 rule I learned in business school–which says that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of inputs—also applied to my parenting:  the vast majority of challenges were addressed with the same tool: my voice.  I spoke instructions, then raised my voice to unresponsive children, and ultimately just “lost it.”

In the business world, this management practice is called re-investing in a losing strategy.

At home, this behavior was considered “normal.”

Something had to change.  What?  And how?

I first tried to change other people:  to shrink the kids and to tweak my husband.  It eventually dawned on me to try and influence the one person over whom I had a semblance of control:  moi.

It’s like I finally started walking the yellow brick road in the direction of Home Sweet Home, a path I could travel with other “sooper” (phenomenal and perfectly imperfect) parents, where I could gain a fresh perspective on life and success, and we could empower each other to be our best.

When Kids Take Your Life by Storm…Hold onto the Buoy of Positive Discipline!

Has the arrival of kids taken your life by storm (and dropped you in the middle of Paris)?  Join the club.  Maybe the clouds will simply blow away…  Until then, try stepping out of the fury.

That’s the relief I received from Positive Discipline, an approach to building respectful and collaborative relationships.  I took a class, got hooked, and now lead workshops to help parents apply these principles for healthy relationships. Based on the work of Austrian psychiatrists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline is a model for teaching young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful contributors to society. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott adapted these principles into an interactive curriculum, and their books have sold millions …because the approach does wonders to transform home life.  It’s, like, automagic!

With Positive Discipline we first focus on…well, our own focus.  Are we looking for blame or for solutions?  How can we transform recurring challenges into opportunities to nurture respect, resilience, gratitude, love of excellence, and intimacy?

A wide array of Positive Discipline tools empower us to smoothly manage the daily issues:  power struggles, undue demands for attention, sibling rivalry, repetition-repetition-repetition, and more.  Additionally, these parenting “ruby slippers” hit the target with the needs of moms and dads in the Internet-age where our 2.0 youth expect to contribute to and impact their environment.

Positive Discipline works with teens as well as tots of 2.0 years.  Here’s how we applied the Adlerian principle of Firm and Kind to the family job, Get-Out-the-Door-on-Time-for-School-and-Work-With-a-Smile.  Firmness points to respecting the parental structure, such as the non-negotiability of timely departure.  Kindness refers to respect of the child’s perspective, like considering their input in the process.  Part of the Positive Discipline wonder lies in simultaneously respecting kids, mom & pop.

Positive Routine Tool for Parents & Kids Together

Positive RoutinesWe created Positive Routines, a photo-reportage of the priority tasks for leaving on time.  At work this would be called a job description communicated via Power Point.  At home, we call it fun, practical, and empowering.  It’s the process that renders the tool so effective.  First, we sat down to enumerate the multiple tasks needed to get done before walking out the door.  Deep discussion ranged from, “We gotta wake up!” to “Make our beds ?!?!” and “Brush our teeth…No, I already do that at night.” This is brainstorming time; let the ideas flow…especially from the children.  They know what needs doing; they have heard you say it over and over again.

Next we decided together which tasks NEED doing in the morning, when we feel groggy and possibly move slowly, and which ones can be completed the night before.  We classified “Getting parent’s signature,” “Getting school stuff ready,” and “Choosing clothes” among the evening jobs.

Finally, we put it into practice.  What liberty for me!  When the tykes came complaining that their bathing suits were still wet (and now smelling) from last week’s swimming class, I could truly sympathize AND remind them that we wash swimwear the night before.  Discomfort is a bummer, but not the end of their world.  Repeating myself again and again is the end of my sanity.  You bet they remembered the following week :).

These Positive Routine Picto’s also helped my husband and I coordinate our messages.  At first he questioned this process…until the week we had several morning signature requests.  The kids turned to their Dad for these because they knew I merely pointed to the Positive Routine Picto and gladly accepted to sign their paper that evening.  Finally he burst out, “No more signing in the morning for me either!”  The kids accepted it.  After all, these were their rules too.

These Positive Routine Picto’s were such a success that I developed a workshop specifically to bring parents and children together to create their own.  In these photos I love how one child revels in the full attention from all of the family members and how the boys and girls proudly display THEIR routines.  Parents shared delightful feedback.  One girl was showing hers off to a friend, who then told her mom, and the friend’s mom requested to take it home.  Another shared how, after the good-night routine, she noticed the light switch back on in her 3 year old’s room.  “Mommy, I forgot to choose my clothes for tomorrow.”

Our boys are now growing up and leaving home.  It’s a thrill and a solace to see them go forward with the life skills they need to make a life and a living.   And they tell it to me straight:  “Mom, when you stopped trying to be perfect, that’s when you were a great mom.”

May you and yours keep growing and growing together.

 

Denise Dampierre is the author of www.home-is-fun.com blog, a Harvard MBA, the mother of 4 boys, a trainer in Positive Discipline, and an American still married to a Frenchman after 20+ years!  She would be delighted to answer your questions on Positive Discipline (denise@home-is-fun.com).  You can also find out more on the associations’ sites:  www.positivediscipline.com in English and  www.disciplinepositive.fr in French.  This fall, Denise will be leading parenting classes in both English and in French.  You can also find her training professionals on building healthy relationships using these same positive principles.  After all, “People make the world go round” both at home and at work.