Posts by kvalenti

The Three Words That Destroy Your Child’s Confidence

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Blog, Parenting, Thoughts | 4 comments

The Three Words That Destroy Your Child’s Confidence

Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear – Seth Godin Obviously. But take a moment to think about it because this is a really important distinction for anyone trying to raise a brave, confident, empowered child. Why? If you are like every other parent on the planet, at one point or another you have uttered these three words to your child: “don’t be afraid.” (And for the record, I am as guilty as anyone). You (we) did it with the best of intentions, of course. And you probably noticed that it didn’t work. That’s because this is the worst thing you can tell your child if you want them to learn how to be brave, confident and empowered. Here’s why: Absence of fear means that you are not afraid of things. But, there are legitimate things that your child should be afraid of. Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make your child brave, it makes her foolish; it doesn’t make her confident, it makes her ignorant; and it doesn’t empower her, it simply teaches her to ignore challenges. Being fearless is about acknowledging that you are scared, but not letting that fear consume you. Teaching your child to face her fears makes her brave because she develops the strength she needs to face difficulties; it makes her confident because she learns to overcome her challenges; and it empowers her to become the mistress of her own life, regardless of what may come her way. How does this work in practice? Easy, just swap out those three troubling words for these: So, you’re afraid, now what are you going to do about it? * photo credit: Historias Visuales via photopin...

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Why Do Children Cyberbully (and what to do about it)

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Blog, Parenting, Thoughts | 0 comments

Why Do Children Cyberbully (and what to do about it)

Kids share lots of information – photos, texts, emails, videos, links, gossip, lies, rumors… you get the idea. They do it constantly, copiously, and quiet often, thoughtlessly. Rarely, however, are children actually trying to be mean. So then, why do children cyberbully? In this day and age, it doesn’t take much to become a cyberbully. One share can have an almost immediate and powerful effect. And so often it leaves someone else under a deluge of sorrow. The solution, however, isn’t to get kids to stop sharing information. The key is to understand why kids share information so they can better understand their own motives and how to share information in positive and constructive ways. Teach your child to ask themselves two questions anytime they want to share information: why am I sharing this information (i.e. what is my underlying motive)? is this the best way to handle this information (i.e. what is the impact of my action)? Some of the reasons that children share information: Because they want to show others that they are in the know about some secret. Because they genuinely care about an idea and want to support it. Because they want to feel like they belong to a a group and that group happens to be circulating that information. Because they think this information impacts them and the group(s) to which they belong. Because something is funny and they want someone to laugh with. Because something made them angry and want others to share in their outrage. Because they dislike someone and they want others to join in that dislike. Because they like someone and want others to share in that appreciation. Because someone asked them to, and it’s hard to say no to certain people. Because the piece of information is something that they believe in, but they have trouble saying it. Because it’s taboo and it’s cool to show that they have access to stuff they’re not supposed to see. Obviously, there are more, but these are some of the primary motivators. The point, however, is to make children aware of their motives and to help them understand the impact of their actions.  Because maybe that will help them be more thoughtful about what they share and how. And maybe then there will be fewer cyberbullies. And fewer broken hearts.  * image by Kevin Conor...

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Reject the tyranny of being popular: pick yourself

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Reject the tyranny of being popular: pick yourself

The cool kids are the ones that have all the fun, the ones that everyone likes. Everybody else is insignificant and irrelevant. At least that’s how it feels to your child when they’re not one of the cool kids. It’s a social instinct to want to be liked by others, to want to be popular. So, your child seeks out those who are already popular hoping to get their seal of approval – their “I pick you.” Your child makes a few tweaks here and there, changing who they are to become more appealing to those who do the picking. And some changes are not a big deal. But others are, and those are the ones that tyrannize. All of those adjustments and modifications that your child makes can, in fact, be profound transformations and even deformations that turn them into someone who they are not. And no matter how much they permutate, the pickers will probably not even pick them because the pickers are looking for something specific, something that (hopefully) your child does not have. Conformism. Being popular means that you appeal to the greater number of people and that only happens when you don’t rock the boat, when you are just like everyone else. Being popular only happens when you are not uniquely yourself. And so, it’s a good thing if your child is rejected because once they realize that no one else is going to pick them, then they can actually get to work on what truly matters. You see, deep down, that social instinct is not actually about the number of fans and admirers that one has. It’s about the number of people who one can impact in a meaningful way. Once your child understands that there are real problems to be solved, powerful ideas to be shared, and meaningful connections to be made… once they realize that they have the tools and resources they need to create real value, then your child becomes truly significant. And being significant is far more important than being popular. Your child doesn’t need to wait for anyone to pick them. They need to pick themselves. * image courtesy of Kevin Conor Keller. ** This post was adapted from an excellent post by Seth Godin. Sign up for more thoughts and please share this post if you liked...

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The 10 Things All Parents-to-Be Must Know

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Blog, Thoughts | 2 comments

The 10 Things All Parents-to-Be Must Know

You’re going to be a parent and that’s great. And it’ll be full of wonder and joy, and you’ll have lots of moments where you’ll stare at your little bundle in disbelief at what you’ve created. But you know all that already. What you may not know about is the dark side of parenting. Because we don’t often talk about it. Because we don’t like it. And it’s an ugly beast to live with. But, you should be aware of it, sooner rather than later, because it will rear its ugly head and when it does, you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone. So, here are the top 10 things that all parents-to-be should know about parenting. 1. Parenting will not at all be what you expected, it’ll be much worse (and yes, in many ways, much better). 2. Your child will not be the person you dreamed of and they will not behave the way you expect them to. Nothing you do will change that. You jut have to accept it. 3. You will have break-downs, often and of epic proportions. Expect them, ride them out, and know they mean you’re just a normal person. 4. You will be criticized, challenged, made to feel inadequate and dumb. You’ll doubt yourself every single day. Take it all with a grain of salt. 5. Your life pre-kids will immediately cease to exist and you’ll never get that back. That’ll be hard to adjust to and you’ll probably resent this for a while. But, your life is not over. It’ll just be a very different path from the one on which you started. 6. Raising a child will be the hardest thing you ever do and you will have to work on it every day of your life. Period. 7. You will be tested mentally, emotionally, and physically in ways that border on torture. Quite often you will doubt your ability to survive with your sanity and well-being intact. Somehow, you will. 8. Your marriage will be tested. Your friendships will be tested. Your relationships with family and colleagues will be tested. You will discover who really matters. 9. You will be disappointed in yourself, ashamed of some of your thoughts, embarrassed at some of your actions, and angry at many of your failings. Then you’ll move on. 10. And because of all of this, you will want to quit, walk away, throw your hands up in despair. But you won’t. And that is most important thing that nobody tells you about parenting. Yes, it’s the hardest, most thankless and at times grossest job you’ll ever have. But, parenting  breaks you down to the core of who you really are and forces you face yourself with honesty and integrity. What you’ll find is an amazing person capable of achieving extraordinary things. In this darkest and ugliest of realms, you are – in the truest sense of the word – a superhero. * image attribution:...

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Have I Made a Huge Mistake?

Posted by on Apr 7, 2013 in Blog, Thoughts | 10 comments

Have I Made a Huge Mistake?

What do you do when you take a long look at yourself and you decide that a huge parenting mistake has been made? Well, I can’t help but think that I’ve made a huge mistake… Here’s the thing, despite all my efforts to the contrary (and believe me, they are mighty), despite all my thinking and strategizing (which you know is extensive), despite all my attempts at raising children who are thoughtful, kind and respectful towards others… despite this all, I can’t help but feel that I have utterly failed. Why? You see, I have one very, VERY angry child. I have a child whose high-pitched screeches rival those of ancient predatory pterodactyls, who hurls furniture (yes) against bedroom walls in fits of rage, who hits, smacks, kicks, punches, and… even spits. Ugh! I have a child who hurls words like knives (and has also hurled knives). What’s worse, this kind of anger begets more anger which means that at times, I have three children in various stages of utter rage seemingly bent on total destruction. And I am tired. Because, you see, I really am trying. I treat my children with respect, honoring their integrity and autonomy. I read about different parenting strategies, I have done a lot of research on child development, and I am informed about the various ways in which we educate children. I am thoughtful about how I interact with them and really think about the best ways to handle the various challenges that arise in their lives (if you’ve been with me the last few years, you know what I am talking about). And yet… and yet, I can’t help feeling that I am making a big parenting mistake in my attempts to raise intelligent, creative, and empowered tots. I believe (or at least would like to think) that this anger is a sign of a precocious child whose fury stems from feelings that are a larger than the body that contains these feelings, whose rage is a symptom of unsatisfaction, not with oneself but with one’s inability to be fully who one wants to be. But is that true? What if I am wrong? What if I have been mistaken all these years in how I have chosen to raise my kids? What if I haven’t been strict enough in my disciplining (or worse, what if I’ve been too strict!)? What if my efforts of empowering my children have overwhelmed them and it turns out that they are, in fact, living in turmoil and distress because I have given them more than they can handle? What if my assumptions about them being capable of thinking reasonably and creatively are wrong and they feel lost and ungrounded because I am expecting more of them than they are ready (or able) to give? Is it possible that I have misjudged them (and me), giving them more than their youth can handle? There are times when we doubt ourselves and that doubt is to be reckoned with, moments when we need to take a long look at ourselves and the choices we’ve settled on, to decide whether a parenting mistake has been made and hurts are to be mended. Have I made a huge mistake…? This, my friends, is the truest test of parenting. (sigh) K Want more ideas on raising intelligent, creative and empowered tots? Sign up for some smart parenting...

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