Parenting Coach

Your Guide to Better Parenting

How do we foster independence in our child?

We need to provide our children the practical skills that will enable them to be self-reliant and independent. And preparing our children to be happy, productive and contributing adults starts with us- how we model ourselves to them.

Lets start with our language- do we say things that reflect our faith in them? Do we become more focused on our own inability instead of what they are truly capable of doing, so much so that we find it difficult to have them handle a particular task successfully? What are some example of these phrases & how can we make it sound positive? ” That won’t work”- say “It’s worth a try”, ” You can’t do that by yourself”- say ” I can help you if you want”, ” You won’t be able to reach that”- say, ” Let me know if you will need help”.

How else can we foster independence? By providing him with the responsibility that goes with the task. For example, cleaning up after a project.

When you see your child capable of doing something and yet may seem reluctant to do so, encourage him/her with words of support & let him/her know that it’s perfectly okay to mess up . Stay focused on the positive things that went well with the task, even if he/she failed to successfully complete the task.

Children learn by doing a task rather than by observing it being done for them In her book ” Raising Everyday Heroes” by Elisa Medhus,MD,( http://books.simonandschuster.com/Raising-Everyday-Heroes/Elisa-Medhus/9781582700960) Dr. Medhus, talks about remaining to be the ever-supportive spectator, restraining ourselves from rescuing our child from a project by taking over. Instead, she recommends acknowledging our child’s feelings: ” I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time sweetie. I can see how—-could be so frustrating.In fact, I’m so amazed how far you gone in completing the project!” Then, you can offer a suggestion like taking a short break from the task  and showing a different method after, to help her speed up things.

To help our child develop the skill, persistence and frustration tolerance, try to work on some of the projects together as soon as he is old enough to contribute.

Hold high expectations, but reasonable ones.Encourage your child to have his/her own healthy expectations for his/her performance.And please- express these expectations not as demands, but as loving messages of your faith in your child.

To your greatness,Mom!

The value in Modelling

Today, I shall talk about  a friend of mine named Gary. Gary was my friend for more than fifteen years.Gary is now 60 years old, once divorced and close to being divorced once again. Throughout his married life, he would be physically and verbally abusive to his wife and children.

Gary’s growing up years were mostly with his mother. His father was often out of town and whenever he would be home, he would be physically and verbally abusive to his wife and children.  All throughout the years, this was what Gary and his sisters saw and learned most at home..

Gary never knew the meaning of affection, empathy, compassion, appreciation and love. He was never kissed more than once a day by his mother, frequently spanked and told to shut-up and stop crying after, humiliated in public by his own mother and told that he was wrong most of the time. He was never given a voice in the home and was often told that he was not as intelligent as his sister.

Sometime ago, I asked Gary what he thought was the cause of all his failed relationships, and why practically all his relationships were unhappy ones. He assumed that most of his relationships were bad because he was verbally and physically abusive to his girlfriends and that he was told that this was the cause of his failed marriage. I also asked him if he actually knew the meaning and the feeling of  appreciating and being appreciated. I was stunned to hear him say that he did not know what appreciation was, how it felt and how it is done.

Sometimes, we go through life using words we don’t really know the meaning of, or the feeling it entailes. This is one such example. But moreover, I believe that how our parents modell love and the many other virtues necessary to make us loving and lovable human beings actually plays a very, very big role in our life, up until our adult age. Gary is one such example.

I wished that as parents, we would take the time to really reflect on ourselves and be conscious of our thoughts and actions when we are with our children. And offten ask ourselves, what will my child be like when he/she sees me behaving and talking this way.

I, too, have made many mistakes as a parent and I continue to learn and improve to this day. We all make mistakes, but what is important is that we move towards making each day an improvement. Baby steps.

What is Reflective Parenting and what does it do to you and your child?

Reflective parenting is interacting with your child while keeping a close eye on his/her state of mind and emotions, as well as yours. It is a skill by which a parent thinks about and explores the meaning behind their child’s behavior, as well as what triggers their own reactions to their children.In the book, “Beyond Smart ” by Linda Morgan, (http://linda-morgan.com/) she talks about her interview with Yaffa Maritz, who is a psychologist and clinical directror of Listening mothers and Reflective Parenting Programs.

The practice of this skill heightens the awareness of both the child’s emotions and feelings as well as the parent’s own emotions and feelings. When a parent reflects on his/her feelings, it leads to his/her ability to regulate and manage feelings. This skill also helps the parents gain a greater understanding of his/her child and an awareness that his/her child is an individual gifted with his/her own uniqueness and therefore, his/her desires, emotions, and motivations are all his/her own. And when we accept our child as he/she is, this helps us respond to him/her with more sensitivity. And, as we, parents, venture into this journey of discovery, our children will follow. We will learn to have more empathy for our child’s struggle with ‘doing it right’ all the time.

Why is this important to the child? Our children are born with a sense of empathy and compassion. And when our children grow up in an environment where our children’s feelings are recognized, his/her emotions are acknowledged and not ignored or dismissed, our children will grow up to  learn to express their emotions, instead of shutting them off. They will grow up with the ability to feel compassion for others.

How can we create this culrure of calm and reflection in our home? Give our children even just fifteen minutes a day of undivided attention. In this fifteen minutes, remove all forms of distractions ( cell phones especially). Spend this fifteen minutes doing something that your child chooses. During this time, do not teach, correct or make any judgements of what your child is doing. Try to use this time being conscious of your child’s feelings and emotions, as well as yours.Try this- the pay-off is great!

In addition to paying attention to your own emotions, it would also be good to talk with your child about emotions- yours and his/her emotions. Acknowledge both your emotions. When their is an emotional situation, describe and discuss these feelings with him/her.This will give him/ her more a sense of self- control.

I invite you to a session of discovering yourself and practicing this skill.

Any improvements we can do on ourselves will always be an improvement on our own children. For our children are worth all these!!

Feeling from a child’s perspective

Today I had a wonderful session with one of my coachees- a dad with a 2 year- old son.
Tony ( not his real name) mentioned often in the sessions, how, as a little child, he would look forward to seeing his dad come home from work; how the very presence of his dad meant so much to him and how, to this day, he wished his dad had spent more time with him when he was a child.
This also reminds me of the interview Oprah had with President Obama when he was asked what his daughters said when they were asked ” why I love my daddy.” Pres. Obama replied ,” the one that touched me most was when Malia said”, “When I smile, you smile, and when I cry you cry, and when I’m happy , you’re happy.”
I would think that many of us, parents, and I am not an exception , don’t take even a moment in a day, to reflect on how much our children look up to us, how much they value us and how much we mean to them. We forget that they need us to be their leader, their navigator, their shining star. We forget that we are their best source of inspiration and that we are their best cheerleaders. And many times, we fail to see that sometimes a tanrum,or a whine is just a signal asking for our attention, or a hug or  just an appreciation- or maybe even just an acknowledgement that I am here.
We are so busy trying to make our life and our children’s lives very comfortable and provide them sufficiently so they are, at least, at par with their peers, that we completely fail to remember that our children need us even more than anyone else.
Now, as I become more and more aware of how and what makes a child strong and brave and confident, I see that it really is all about us, parents, being mindful of who our child is. It is taking the time and being conscious of knowing her/his strengths,and limitations, what triggers her/him to anger,and what makes her/him happy. Mindfullness- really being in the present moment with her/him, feeling what she/he is feeling, thinking what she/he is thinking and actually connecting, spending that moment each day just making it her/his time , and rassuring her/him in all ways that whoever she/he is, is okay by us. It is simply rejoicing in who she/he is , embracing everything about her/him- all her/his gifts and flaws.
When our child is having a tantrum or misbehaving, instead of shouting at the top of our voice and trying to take control of the situation, it would help to pause for a moment, take a deep breath and think, ” What is my child feeling or experiencing that is causing her/him to behave this way?” What are my intentions? Is my goal to convince my child that she/he is wrong and and I am right, or is it to trully understand how she/he is thinking and where is the emotion coming from? Shall I be with her/him in this particular problem or at her/him?  What do I want my child to take away from this experience?When our child sees and feels that we can be with her/him without judgements during her trying moments, this gives her/him a sense of stability and somehow lessens the fears that surround her/him during that time.
When we try our best to really LISTEN to our child, we will be amazed at how wonderful she/he is; how many great ideas she/he has and how contributory she/he can be, no matter how small she/he is. And the best part of it all- it will fill your heart with this beautiful warmth of affection,knowing that this little angel is with us, without judgements, no matter what our decsions may be. I remember one time when my daughter was 5 years old and she saw me pondering on my desk, anxious over whether to move to a new job or stay in my old job, and continue to be unhappy. She looked at me with questions in her eyes. I could sense she felt how I was feeling at that moment. I told her my concern and why it was important to me to move to a new job and also expressed my fears of being in a new environment and people. She merely hugged me and said, ” whatever you choose, mom, for as long as you are happy”. I could never forget that feeling of relief and consolation. That hug gave me  the strength to move forward  and not look back.                                                                          I encourage you, today, to take your first baby step and give your child that moment all to her/his own. I encourage you to ‘feel’ how it is from her/his mind and give her/him that same warm affection that she/he is in a safe, trusting place, without any judgement, no matter what. I encourage you to not waste time to try because soon, your child will be a grown-up and this one tool will be the very tool that will help her through the turbulent times.

How I did it- without any struggle

Our children oftentimes become so engrossed with their activities that when we ask them to do something, it just does not seem important to them, and this is where the struggle begins.
I would like to tell you a wonderful experience I had with my five year-old grandaughter.
Usually, upon getting home from school, she would go straight to her room to play some more while I prepare lunch.
Just like any other child, she would get very busy with whatever she is doing and would oftentimes not wish to be disturbed.
Before she entered her room, I sat her down on my lap, looked her in the eye and said, ” Lunch is at 12:30 o’clock”. I showed her my watch. ” When this big hand goes to ‘6’, that means it is 12:30. Right now, it is only 12:00, which means that you have 30 minutes to play. And 30 minutes is a long time to play. Would it be alright if I call you five minutes before 12:30 so you can be prepared for lunch?” I looked at her to make sure hat she was paying attention and asked her if she understood. Then she said yes.
When I tell her that it is time, she would go the table without me having to drag her out of her room. Our lunch times were smooth and story telling times.
I tried this for many other situations like asking her to get dressed at a particular time. And it always worked everytime.
When we take the time to be calm and respectable of our children, we are able to prevent the struggles and the arguments, the shoutings and most of all, the stress.
Try this- it works!

Giving your child the gift of power

Do you remember a time when your child influenced you? She came up with an idea that actually changed your mind or even just showed you her point of view.

In the book,`How We Love Our Children`by Milan and Kay Lerkovich, it states: All children need to know they have the power to influence others, and as a highly influential and respected adult in your child’s life, you have the power to affirm that in her. With the security of firm, consistent boundaries, a child can be trained to confidently affect decisions and outcomes.

The four ways to help your child gain the gift of power are:1. Provide choices 2. Listen to their opinions 3. Ask their opinions 4. Say YES to requests to pretend and role-play.

Asking for your child’s ideas, opinions and reasoning provides opportrunity for your child to articulate critical thinking and develop the skill of persuasion. However, these skills must be encouraged and taught. As a parent, questions that begin with what and how are great tools to use when talking to your child. Another tool would be to do role-playing or even just asking your child ,”how would it feel if you were in her/his shoes?” Role-playing can be used if your child is struggling, in making friends, saying no, setting boundaries or confronting a problem.

Pretending and role-playing are great ways to have fun whie teaching a variety of tools.Playing is how you, as an adult, can enter your child’s world.Playing teaches our child planning, prediction, sustained attention, impulse control, cooperation, taking turns, symbolic thought , organization, self-direction, patience and many other skills.

You know if you have done well when you see your kids at an older age, making good choices, exercising influence, and taking control in positive ways.

As parents, when we diligently take the patience and be conscious of this new way of thinking and behavior, our children will have developed good critical thinking skills, can say no and set boundaries, and make decisions that will empower them when they leave home for the adult world.

True-to-Life Result of Good Parenting

Today, I would like to share with you the story of one of my coachees. I shall name her Jay ( not her real name).

I have been coaching Jay now for a few sessions, as part of her curriculum in her coaching school. In all of our coaching sessions, Jay always spoke of her parents as the structure that has made her the woman that she is today.

Today, i can describe Jay as resilient, strong natured, not afraid to make decisions, caring, mindful, and loving. And, of course, intelligent.

This is how Jay describes her home life: ” My family is most important. We are closely knitted. We always have dinners together and we talk about how the day went and how it all felt”. She would often talk of how her father and mother guided her through life and  how they gave her inspiring wisdom as she was growing in age and maturity. She once said,” My dad’s wisdom is : “Everyone would be so much happier if people let go of the ‘should’s.” At another time, she said, when I was contemplating on quitting my job, my father said,” The day you feel that you cannot leave your job is the day you have to leave it.”

Most remarkable was when I asked her, ” what are the top 3 things you cherish and want to follow about your parent^s parenting style?” Her answers: 1. They treated us like we matterd- that we were partners and that we are building the family together. They made me feel important.2. They are very loving towards us. They never spanked or hurt us when we were kids. They respected us. They talked to us instead of scolding us. They never fought infront of us , but rather, showed affection towards each other. She goes on by describing her own feelings, ” to me, its a very peaceful feeling as a child. Its unsettling to see that my mom is at odds with my dad. It built my belief in goodness & love. Their modelling was good.”3. Their love was unconditional. They always made me feel that they loved me- no matter what.

So inspiring!!!! Here is a true-to-life creation of good parenting!

When you read through this, certain emotions would strike you. Words like `They respected us`, They made me feel important`, They treated us like we mattered`.

Imagine yourself being treated this way. Its a beautiful feeling, isn’t it?

How much would it cost you to give these to your children? And how much, do you think, will your children gain from these?

And, when your children have grown up, how would you like your own child to decsribe you?

The Olympics

I was watching the Olympics last week and marveled at how good all the athletes were. Thoughts were pouring into my mind- what gave them the motivation to keep improving? I am sure that there were days when they must have felt like giving up because training was getting very hard. What gave them that determination? What inspired them to keep going? What was going on internally in them?

Then, even bigger thoughts came- what did their parents do to them that gave them this big desire to do their best? How did their parents do it?

What did it take for the parents to support their child 100%?

When faced with the challenge of having financial limitations, it is not easy to choose between providing opportunities to maximize your child’s gifts and your everyday subsistence, especially if there are still other children to be fed.

However, providing this opportunity to our child gives her/ him the message that we believe in her/him and in her/ his ability to do her/his best. It tells her/him that we trust her/him in her/his decision and that we support that decision- whether it be a bronze,silver or gold medal, or even no medal at all!

For me, it is all about believing in my child, without any doubt, that she would be successful in her undertakings. Whether it is gold, silver or bronze, it would not matter. What would matter was how she felt about herself/himself and what the experience would bring to her/him that would support her/him in her/his life’s decisions.

When we give our children ‘ownership’ of their decsions, we  move them into becoming responsible adults.

 

Ways to equip kids for life

When I became a single mother, the first fear that entered my mind was what would happen to my daughters if anything should happen to me?! My mind went immediately to ‘urgent’ mode and i started planning ways on how I could actually equip my daughters.

Here are the different wasy we can help our children be prepared for self-reliance:

For Nursery School( Ages 1.5-3): Put dirty clothes in hamper, brush hair without any help, undress self, pick up toys. match socks, flush toilet without help, wash hands. For Pre-school ( ages 3-4): feed pets, sort recycling, fold towels, help shop and put away groceries,polish shoes, water plants with supervision). Kindergarten ( ages 5-6): choose appropriate dress and dress self, bathe self, pour own drink, put toys away consistently, make bed and clean room, take out garbage- For ages 6-9: Learn cooking ( but supervised), get up and go to bed by themselves, take simple phone messages, help others with work, shop with mom and select their own clothing,  change clothes, manage own study and homework times with supervision, set the table, rinse dishes, put food away after meals, keep room clean, help younger siblings get ready in the morning,fold laundry, understand emergency numbers.

Once we motivate our child to do these simple tasks, you will notice how your own life will start ‘easing’ up.

Keep going!

How can we make our child feel valued?

What happens when we make our children feel valued? Try to recall an instance when someone made u you feel valued. It made you energized, motivated and enthust, right?

One of the ways i made my children feel valued was to include them in the decision making of a major problem. I remember once I had this problem of whether to change jobs or continue to stay on a job I no longer enjoyed just because I had to earn in order for us to survive. My children and I processed the pros and cons and they contributed their own ideas, one of which, to my amazement, was to look for a new job while I was still on the current job.

This process, I felt, made them feel important, valued and respected and in turn, it made me motivated. It gave me the confidence that I was not alone in my problem and that there were 3 loving people on my side, cheering my every step. It gave me the strength to try; it took away the fear of failure because I knew my children loved me no matter what. In turn, I saw much cooperation from them.

In the book,’Raising Everyday Heroes’ by Elisa Medhus,M.D., she states that when we want our child to learn a new skill, present it as a sincere request for assistance rather than a requirement she must meet to gain experience, develop independence, and become responsible. A good example would be ,” I cannot find my eyeglasses anywhere. Can you please help me look for them, since you have a much clearer vision than I ?I could really use your help.” This will make your child feel taht she has a meaningful and contributing role in the family.

What other ways can we make our child feel valued? I’ll talk more about this and give you more specific examples in my next post.

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