Parenting Coach

Your Guide to Better Parenting

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

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.

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