The worst day ever! Why having a bad day is up to you.

Wouldn’t it be great if every day was a happy day?  Sometimes there’s lots of positive energy out there, and other times, not so much.  How you handle the grumpy people and your own moods is entirely up to you.  Remember, you can’t control anyone else, but you can control how you react and respond. Having a bad day, or a good one, is up to you.

You know how you can be having a good day, and then one offhand remark sends you into a tailspin?   All of a sudden it’s the worst day ever.  If you’re human, it’s happened to you.  For teens, it’s even worse.  There is hope and there is a way out.  First, let’s figure out why it’s too easy to stay in the negative space.

It doesn’t matter how well your day is going, all it takes is one little comment to ruin it.  That’s because the brain is hardwired to remember the negative, rather than the positive.  It’s called the ‘negativity bias’ and it’s a survival mechanism.  This emphasis on the negative evolved to help us anticipate and respond to danger, and is in the deepest layers of the brain and emotional memory.

Unless you’re an eternal optimist, odds are you experience it from time to time.  One unpleasant comment or interaction clouds the rest of your relatively good day.  You may feel helpless to do anything about it.  Given the way the brain works, it’s a normal response.  Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson said, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.”  We experience conflict, fear, and aggravation more easily than joy and happiness.

I’ve been there, too. My pattern used to be (okay, sometimes I still go there) that I’d be upset about something, shut down, and focus on my frustration, anger or sadness.  I was miserable, and being with me was no fun.  Just ask my husband.  He used to call me a turtle, retreating into my gloomy shell.

The good news is that you can do something about it.  Recent discoveries suggest that we can overcome the brain’s tendency to embrace the negative.  It’s in your control to determine how the bad experiences affect you.  In other words, unless you’re clinically depressed, having a positive attitude (or at least not being miserable) is up to you.

You are not doomed to be unhappy.  The solution is what Dr. Hanson calls “intention and attention” – sustained intention to make the change, and giving positive events our full attention.

Here’s a process you can use, and teach your teen, to make the shift; however, there are a few important steps before you go for the change:       

1) Become aware that you’re doing ‘it’ — sinking into a negative attitude.       
2) Feel whatever you’re feeling, without criticizing or judging it, or you.  This is what I call “accept and acknowledge”.       
3) Decide ahead of time how long you’re allowed to wallow in it, and stick to that limit.       
4) Process it.  What’s really going on?       

You’ve acknowledged what’s making you unhappy.  Now it’s time to shift to “intention and attention” so your brain can notice positive experiences and remember them in its deepest parts.      

5)  Allow yourself to feel pleasure about the good things in your life.  Gently move the negative thoughts into the background.  (Tell that pesky voice, “Thanks for sharing.  For now, I’m going to focus on something else, and I’ll come back to you later.)       

6) Take a multi-sensory approach.  Do more than think about the pleasurable event.  Touch it, smell it, see it, hear it.  Feel the warm fuzzies.  Let the event become a physical experience.       

7)  Visualize the experience being absorbed into your brain and heart, and into the parts of your body where the stress usually manifests (i.e. throat, chest, stomach, spine).  It takes the brain as much as 20 seconds to register the feeling, so be sure to relax into it for at least 20 seconds.       

8) Verbalize the experience.  Which words describe it?

You’ve now made this a physical, mental, and emotional experience, a powerful experience to be absorbed by your brain and body.

You may be thinking, “I can see doing this myself… but what about my teen?” Your point is taken.  I recognize that intense emotion and drama are normal states of being for teens.  You may not get past step 4.  You might have trouble just helping her understand she has a choice.  But you have to start somewhere.  Pick one step and go for it.  You know your child best, and what she might be willing to hear and try.  Remember that the younger brain is also more elastic, so now’s the time to start this retraining. She’s also watching how you handle negativity in your life.  You’re her most important teacher and role model.

You can reprogram some aspects of your brain.  That doesn’t mean the negative thoughts and tendencies will disappear.  There’s a reason for them, and they will always be there.  But… your brain is elastic and teachable and you can train it to refocus.  When you are intentional and consistent, you and your brain learn new ways of coping and experiencing more satisfaction and joy in your life, and with all the people in it.

 

Boredom on the job? Preparing kids for the real world.

When was the last time you had a boring day at work?  Did you do the boring tasks, or ignore them?  Of course you did them, because it’s all part of the job.  Even the most exciting job requires mundane and sometimes mind-numbing tasks.  This is a message that our kids must hear long before their first job.  Here’s my take.  Be sure to read until the end where I share my frustrations at a previous job as a recruiter (and believe it or not, an IT recruiter!).  (And take a look at the article that inspired mine, “Tedium, kids? It’s all in a day’s work.”)

Every child has said, “This is boring.”  Wait until they show up for work!  It’s not all creativity, fun and games.  (If I had a nickle for every student who asked me to make activities ‘fun’, I’d be rolling in nickles.)  Many are growing up with the expectation that all their activities will be challenging (in the most enjoyable of ways) and fulfilling.  How do you prepare them for the real world?  It’s inevitable that there will be boredom on the job and tedium in life.

We have been over-sending the message that our kids should follow their bliss and find their passion. Of course they should strive for fulfilling work, but finding it is not realistic right out of the gate.  We are all paying a heavy price.  Start with some numbers:  40-60% of college students take five to six years to graduate.   One of the reasons is that they change majors frequently, hesitating to commit.  Some come to the business world with a poor work ethic.  They can’t or won’t plow through the tedium that is a necessary part of work and life. Employers are tired of new hires who are bright, but wash out quickly.  They are losing time, money and productivity with employees who decide after weeks or even days that they don’t like the job, stop showing up for work, and sometimes don’t give notice.

This preparation is part of the bigger picture of parenting:  the molding and modeling of productive, can-do attitudes.  It’s a conversation that should take place at a young age, and be repeated regularly. What are these productive attitudes?

1)  I am part of a family and we all contribute, whether we like the task or not.
2)  I can do this.
3)  If it needs to be done, let’s get it done.
4)  It may not be fun, but it’s important.
5)  Always keep the end in mind.

It begins in the early years.  It could be talking about your own job (I loved the mom who talked to her kids about the difficulty of meeting a sales quota), or bringing it down to the level of cooperation in a family.  Nobody likes to clean toilets, but it has to be done.  The same for doing laundry, taking out the recycling, and cleaning up after the dog.  They all contribute to the well-being of the family, just as the tedious jobs contribute to the success of a business.  Besides, when the chores are done, that opens up the opportunity for everyone to have some fun.

Once they become accustomed to doing what needs to be done, they will be better prepared for the work world.  Employers will be grateful to have them, too.

I talk a lot about sharing your story with your kids.  That includes the challenges of work.  Of course, you’ll tell them about your on-the-job successes. I encourage you to share the difficult situations, too. I’ve worn many hats over the years:  teacher, recruiter, office manager, secretary. My kids heard about a lot of my experiences.  Recruiting especially challenged everything about me, was unpredictable and full of disappointments – the endless cold calling and data entry, candidates who didn’t show up for interviews, placements that fell apart at the last minute… and then back to square one, every day there was square one… cold calling and data entry.

Recruiting was definitely not the right job for me, but it prepared me for other opportunities, and I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses.  That’s an important point:  each experience prepares you for the next step, hopefully one that takes you closer to using your talents in a satisfying way.

Our kids should dream and work towards something fulfilling to them; however, they have to support themselves and be productive while that evolves.  It takes years for most of us to figure out what truly makes us happy.  I discovered my unique potential in coaching at the age of 52.  How about you?  I hope your children find theirs sooner, rather than later.  But when they don’t have their dream job right away, they still need to give their best to the job they have.

How do we prepare them for the not-so-thrilling side of work?  If we are parenting well, they will get the message anyway, be effective and appreciated at work, and find the work they were meant to do.

* What do you think about what you just read?  Share your comments below. We love hearing from you.

Get some holiday stress relief.

There is an abundance of articles and resources on dealing with the stress of the holiday season.  If this is supposed to be such a wonderful time of year, why is everyone so stressed out?

* Black Friday and shopping deals            * Finding the ‘right’ gift
* Kids returning home                                * Toxic relatives
* Unrealistic expectations                          * Depression and other disorders
* Over-stimulation                                      * Incessant holiday commercials
* Traffic and crowds                                   * Eating, drinking, spending, doing too much

Below you will find resources to help you get some holiday stress relief.  The time to read them is now, before the celebrations and people arrive.  A little preparation makes a big difference.

College Corner:  Talking transfers, winter break(Maureen Tillman)

Hallmark Holidays?  3 Steps to Happier Families Over the Holidays   (Fern Weis)

Holiday help for eating disorders  (Christine DeSouza, RN)

Stress, depression and the holidays:  Tips for coping  (Mayo Clinic)

Tips for parents on managing holiday stress (American Psychological Association)

25 ways to fight holiday stress  (Health.com)

Stay sober throughout the holidays  (Seabrook House)

What’s Thanksgiving to the parent of an addict?  (parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com)

Caregiving and the holidays:  from stress to success (Family Caregiver Alliance)

 

TIP: Be patient and kind, because everyone has a story behind the smile.

My husband and I recently spent an evening out with friends.  We had a great time, and did a lot of catching up.  Then I asked an innocent question about a member of the family and WHAM!  We were hit with an outpouring of anger, sadness and loss about that relationship.

Everyone has a story to tell

The point is that you never know what’s really going on in someone’s life.  You may see a pleasant, surface-level picture, or inexplicably bad behavior.  Make no assumptions. The back story, the one you don’t see, is why it’s so important to treat people with patience and kindness.  There is a story behind the smile.  Read on…

I love to see the smiling faces of the people I love on Facebook.  Then someone posts with a concern or bad news, and I have a moment of confusion.  How can they still be smiling with all that going on?  They aren’t, of course. It’s just a picture, a public face.  If they didn’t share the news, I wouldn’t have a clue.

How much do any of us know about the people in our lives?  Only as much as they will show us.  When you think someone has it better than you; that their children are on track and excelling; that they are well off and their future is secure; their loved ones are healthy; and they have lived a charmed life and cannot understand your pain… think again.

Everyone has a story behind their smile, the moments of pure joy and deep despair.  Envy and self-pity have no place here – they will only keep you stuck and feeling alone and disconnected from others.  You have so much more in common than you can imagine, and what’s needed are compassion, understanding, and a willingness to listen and share.

Be open to seeing behind the smile.  Don’t judge the book by its cover, because the story inside is likely to be similar to yours.  Let your stories build community and nurture healing.

 

TIP: End the blame and shame game.

dad_yelling_at_child

Every so often I find myself looking back, trying to understand where my beliefs and behavior patterns come from.  After all, I am a product of my past, and the people in my past.  Awareness is a good thing, and  what we do with it is even more important.  This is your wake-up call to use the past to propel you forward, to a better place.

You’re stressed out. There is no room for rational thought because stress is really fear, and your brain has moved from thinking mode to ‘fight or flight.’  You’re angry, maybe lashing out.  In the end, it hasn’t been one of your finer moments.

“Who was that person?  Did I really do that?” you may ask yourself when it’s all over.  And that’s where the blame and shame game begins, with you. You really did the best you could at that moment.  Let go of the guilt that comes from intellectually knowing better and wishing you had responded differently.

Maybe you learned it from your own parents, who were doing the best they could, and they learned it from their parents.  For better or for worse, we do what we know how to do. It’s a cycle that goes back many generations.

Blaming yourself (and your ancestors) gets you nowhere fast, and can easily become an excuse for those unproductive attitudes and behaviors.  What’s the solution?  Get some help and support from people who have been successful at what you want to accomplish.  When you learn better, you do better.  You hold the power to break the cycle.

The importance of routines for family, sanity, and creativity.

shiny object

Some folks say that routines and predictability are boring.  That may be true, but boring can be a good thing.  In today’s article,  we’re going to explore the benefits of routines for everyone, from toddlers to adults.  Resource links are included throughout the article. I’ll reveal a few of my challenges in this area as well.

Without routines and structure, life is chaotic.  From infancy to old age, we all feel better and function better when there are consistency and predictability in our day.

I am a four-percenter.  That’s world language teacher code for the small number of us who actually enjoy grammar.  Weird, right?  So what it is about the grammar?  It’s orderly and predictable, with a set of clear rules and boundaries.  I sometimes struggle with consistency, so there is comfort in finding it here. Routines have not come easily to me, and I’m not one of those ‘born organized’ people.  Sometimes I can be impulsive, avoiding the tasks I don’t want to do.  This can backfire, causing bouts of chaos.

shiny object

    “Where did I leave that paper?  It was here just a few minutes ago.”
    “What do you mean, someone is stopping by?  Time for a quick clean up.”
    “Is it Sunday already?  I haven’t even brainstormed a topic for my Tuesday article.”

Of course, this chaos spills over into the rest of my life and my psyche.  Procrastination eats up time.  My brain becomes cluttered with what I’ve avoided, and there is less room and energy for creative thinking.

I’ve also heard it called SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome):  there’s something more interesting than what you’re doing, so you drift off (or run) to that more exciting thing.  Whatever you call it, it eats away at your productivity and sense of calm.   “It’s easy to dismiss routines and habits as boring,” says USC social psychologist and professor, Wendy Wood.   “But give some of them credit for keeping you on track amid the uncertainties of daily life, as well as freeing up brain space to dream, to create fresh ideas, to solve problems.  Habits help us get through the day with minimal stress.”

Wood adds this about maximizing habits and routines:  “Think of habits as a way of meeting your goals.  As you reassess your goals, reassessing your habits has to be part of the process, or you’re going to be in conflict.  Turn the less enjoyable parts of your day (your afternoon jog, cleaning out your email inbox) or the ones that you are afraid may be failures (avoiding ice cream) into habits.  It leaves you time and energy to focus on the decisions that are fun to make.”

Now think about your kids. How many times have you heard “It’s boring” from them?  They are impulsive, always exploring their world, and at the mercy of their emotions.  Of course, they’d rather be playing than sitting at a desk, or with their friends instead of doing chores.  The fact is that children need routines and thrive with structure. You know it’s true because you see what happens when they are missing.

There is one more critical purpose for routines:  they help children (and all humans) adjust to change.

We humans cling to the familiar.  The human brain is programmed to stay with what it knows and resists change. The unknown is frightening… especially for children, who lack the knowledge and real-world experience to anticipate what that change really means.

New people and experiences come into their life on a regular, and sometimes unexpected, basis:  changing friends, illness, divorce, failure in school or on the playing field, births, deaths.  Their bodies are changing, along with the intensity of their emotions.  As Dr. Laura Markham says, “Routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.”  Here are some highlights from Dr. Markham’s article about why kids needs routines:

Routines-with-Words

- Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life.

- Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it’s expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine.

- Unpredictable changes erode this sense of safety and mastery and leave the child feeling anxious and less able to cope with the vicissitudes of life.

- Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments.

- Seven benefits of using routines with kids:
    1.  Routines eliminate power struggles, because you aren’t bossing them around.
    2.  Routines help kids cooperate.  We all know what comes next and get fair warning for transitions.
    3.  Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.
    4.  Kids learn the concept of ‘looking forward” to things they enjoy.
    5.  Regular routines help kids get on a schedule.
    6.  Routines help parents build in those precious connection moments.
    7.  Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations.  If everything is a fight, parents
         end up settling and changing rules and expectations

Structure doesn’t have to be rigid.  These routines become the support that makes life easier, providing security and confidence to handle the known and the unexpected.
   

Additional Resources:

Ages 1-6:  Ages and Stages: Helping Children Adjust to Rules and Routines
Designing a new routine:  When do you need one, what makes a good one?

 

Sleep, beautiful sleep… and 16 tips to help you get more of it.

reading on a tablet in bed

Last night I slept for seven whole hours — that’s seven hours without waking up. It’s pretty darned close to miraculous.  Can you identify?  If you’re like me, most nights include one or more of the following:  a brain that won’t shut down, waking up for a bathroom run, or the constant chatter of concerns and to-do lists. Of course, I can’t do anything about them at 3:00am.  Add to that the nights when I just give up trying to fall asleep again, get out of bed, keep busy for a couple of hours, and then try again.  

The truth is that most of us are sleep deprived, and that includes our tween and teen children. Technology, light, food, stress, exercise and more… they all affect how long it takes to fall asleep and stay asleep. You know how lack of sleep affects your overall mood, functioning and effectiveness.  Your teenager, already in the throes of adolescent stress and drama, is impacted even more.  In addition, at the time when they most need more sleep, their internal clock has them staying awake later and going to school earlier – not a recipe for a cheery, enthusiastic child, learner or friend.

This week I’m reprinting from an article on Refinery 29, “16 Evening Habits that Make Everything Better”. Read on and try at least one.  All you have to lose is… nothing much, except for a dragging, cranky you.  Do you have any tips to share?  Leave them below.  We could all use a little extra sleep!

reading on a tablet in bed

Ready to become a morning person?  Since your circadian clock is largely set by exposure to light, body temperature, exercise and food, the following science-backed tips will help you log quality sleep… Your better morning awaits.

Turn off your gadgets at least two hours before bed.
Per the National Sleep Foundation’s “Sleep in America” poll, an overwhelming amount of Americans spend time on their electronics within an hour of bedtime, multiple times per week. Tsk tsk. Within two hours of bedtime, your SCN sends a signal to the pineal gland to begin producing melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle, Dr. Terman says. And, research published in Applied Ergonomics shows that just two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night can suppress the body’s melatonin levels by about 22%.

Cut out blue light.
If you are going to have your computer open, try using the f.lux software, Dr. Terman advises. It tracks the cycle of the sun in your time zone and latitude, and then adjusts your gadget’s levels of blue light to match. Or, you could dim your device. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that dimming the brightness to about 50% keeps blue light low enough to not interfere with sleep.

Chow down as soon as you wake up.
Humans have evolved to switch their day-night cycles according to when they eat, suggests research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Bonus: Eating breakfast fires up your metabolism, and the earlier you get it humming along, the better.

Make your late-night snack carb-rich.
Research published in the journal Cell Reports found that in mice, eating a carbohydrate-rich snack in the evening helped reset the body’s internal clock. Why carbs? Insulin affects the body’s sleep-regulating gene PER2, and since carbs boost insulin secretion, they also help regulate your cycles — so you’re drowsy when you should be. Try cereal with milk (this combo is high in carbs and tryptophan, which converts to serotonin and melatonin in the brain), or cherries (which contain both carbs and melatonin), Dr. Winter says.

Take a bath before bedtimeTake a bath before bed.
This trick is not just to relax. You want to try raising your core body temperature — so that it can plummet when you get out of the tub. The body’s temperature naturally falls come sleepytime, so by exaggerating that temperature change you may sleep more easily, Dr. Winter says. Try taking a hot (like, as hot as you can stand) bath for 15-plus minutes and then get into light PJs.

Exercise at the same time every day.
People who regularly exercise sleep better, but if you exercise at the same time every day, you get even more benefits, Dr. Winter says. Your circadian clock uses clues such as when you exercise to determine when you should go to bed and wake up. It thinks, Okay, we’re exercising now, and we go to bed X-number of hours after working out, so let’s get ready.

Keep your bed cold.
Air temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees are best for sleeping, and cooler body temperatures lead to deeper sleep, Dr. Winter says.  Feel like you’re sleeping in a hot box?  Consider investing in sheets and/or a mattress cover that are designed to keep you cool.

 

The dangers of texting: would you say that to her face?

I retweeted this message from Emily Roberts (therapist and author).  “Parents, ask your kids, ‘Would you say that to her face?’ When texting, pause before you post.”

There’s a big cyber-world out there, where what should be private becomes dangerously public.  Our children are especially at risk of damaging relationships and their own reputation.  A little empathy and awareness can go a long way in helping them maneuver through this world in a more healthy way.

“Would you say that to her face?”  What a great question.  It has become way too easy to type out a message and send it off into cyberspace.  Technology has given us the ability to send information faster and farther than ever before. As a tool for staying in touch with family and friends, it’s great.  As a way to speak your mind, it can be messy, irresponsible and even harmful.  Be careful when you press the ‘send’ button!

What would you say differently, or not at all, if the person was standing in front of you?  This question is for you, parents, as well as for your kids.

teens and texting

Think about it for a moment.  When you speak directly to someone, there are visual and auditory cues coming at you – a facial expression, tone of voice, body language, their immediate response.  This is a living, feeling person you are talking to, not just the faceless idea of someone.  Email, texting, voice mail… in some instances they have become an impersonal way of communicating, one that allows us to ignore our responsibility for what we put out there. It can be the quick and easy way out.  In the extreme, it is dangerous.  Depending on the circumstances, it can also be a form of bullying.

A strategy that comes up all the time is to “take five” before responding so that you say what you really mean.  This is a good strategy for the written word, too.  I have heard stories of people sending off an email to someone they are angry at.  They end up in an email battle, messages flying back and forth, and sometimes irreparable damage is done to the relationship.  (And let’s not forget the risks involved in “reply all”.  When did everything become everybody’s business anyway?)

The dangers for our teens are very real, whether they are on the sending or receiving side of these messages.  Teenagers have far less impulse control and are swayed more by their emotions and their need to fit in.  Encourage your children to ‘take five’ too.  Ask them if they would have the courage to speak their mind, face to face.  This is a real test of their character.  Remind them that once they say something, it takes on a life of its own and cannot be undone.

As always, consider what you are teaching your children.  If you are already aware and careful in how you communicate, bravo!  If you think there is room for change, do it now.  Take a look at what you say, how you express it, and how you send it out into the world.  And tell your kids about your new attitude.  Teach them well and show them how it’s done!

Good intentions… and the road to hell and back.

“If I only knew then what I know now.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from parents (and how many times I said it myself).  We tend to put up with a lot until we just can’t stand it anymore, and find our family in a jam, or worse.  We have the best of intentions, but those intentions can lead us astray, away from what’s really in our family’s best interest.

You’ve heard the expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  There is a way back, and there’s also a way to avoid going there altogether.  Let’s get started.

One of the things I learned during my child’s trial-by-fire teen years was that love and good intentions weren’t enough.  They were actually part of the problem.  It took some work to come to terms with where I had gone wrong, and to accept that I was still a good person.  This quote sums it up:

“Intentions! You can have them. They can be pure and good.  In your mind you will execute them in a very precise manner with the purest of hearts.  Then something happens and shoots it all to hell.  Does that make a person any less good?  I don’t think it does.”  (From the novel, A Paris Apartment, by Michelle Gable.)

Family in crisis

Your family is doing all right, there are no crises looming.  You’re all chugging along. And then one day you wake up and ask yourself, “How did we get here?‘  Now there are some issues:  disrespect, slipping grades, defiant behaviors, drinking, breaking curfew, depression.

How did you get there?  There are many reasons you can find yourself on the bad road of good intentions, such as a desire for peace and quiet (also known as harmony over truth), over-giving to your children (especially when you want them to have what you didn’t have), or excessive pressure about grades.  It can also be difficult to accept that life isn’t quite fitting the image you had when you started your family.  That ideal image is tough to let go.  (I also want to be clear that you are not responsible for everything your children do.  They made choices along the way; however, they had some help from you in becoming who they are now.)

How do you find your way back and do right by your kids?

1)  Pay attention to that little voice or sensation in your body, the one that’s telling you something isn’t quite right.  Ignoring it can get you all in trouble.

2)  Accept that there is a situation or behavior that needs attention.  Not all problems turn into a crisis, but you must pay attention and be willing to look at it.

Take action3)  Share it with someone you trust – a spouse or partner, another family member or a professional who can guide you through it.  I know firsthand how difficult it is to put words to it; to admit that there’s something too big to handle yourself; that maybe you made mistakes; and the embarrassment that you and your kids are struggling when everyone else seems to have it together (which they don’t, because everybody has something they’re dealing with).

I also remember that when I finally found the courage to voice my deepest fears and regrets, they took on a life of their own and became real.  They were no longer my secret.  And once I put it out there, there was no turning back. I had to act… which leads us to #4.

4)  Take action, even imperfect action.  Nothing changes until you do.  If you wait until you’re standing at the edge of a cliff, your options are limited.  So do something, sooner rather than later.  Resist the perfection demon, the one that says you must have everything planned out perfectly, all the steps lined up and ready to go.   Many people get stuck here, and lose sight of the bigger picture of what needs to be accomplished.  You need a first step.  The rest will follow.

This is the way back.  Don’t wait for a little unpleasantness to turn into a big problem.  Be aware and proactive.  Share and take a step to break those unproductive habits and attitudes, so you can all be your best, unique, amazing selves.

Tip – For high self esteem, praise the effort, not the child.

high self esteem

I learned a lot about self-esteem from the program at Hyde School.  Part of it was the lesson that in order to grow positive self-esteem, it’s better to praise the effort instead of the child.

high self esteem

Do you know that praising your child can backfire?  You’re probably trying to boost his self esteem, and make him feel better about himself.  When you praise the child, however, you are filling him with your own hopes and desires about who you want him to be.  He may also feel incapable of living up to that high standard.  But the day will come when you can’t be by his side, assuring him that he is competent, strong and resilient.  Then what?  Who is he without all that?

Self-esteem is an inside job.  It comes from doing good things and from picking yourself up when things don’t go well.  You want to be praising the effort and the attitude behind the actions and naming what you see:

“You wanted to put off doing that assignment because writing is challenging, but you did it first and stuck with it.  That’s real determination.”

“I saw how angry you were when your sister took your toy, but you didn’t hit her or yell.  You asked for help and showed self-control.”

“You were uncomfortable with what your friends were doing.  It took courage to stand up, say it, and walk away.”

Praise the effort, not the child.  Watch your child blossom into the self-confident, independent person you know he can be.