Thoughts

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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:...

Read More

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...

Read More

10 Questions – Failed Ideas

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in Blog, Thoughts | 0 comments

I recently gave an interview for Idea Mensch, a global “community of people with ideas.” One of the questions was: how do you cope with an idea that has failed? This question seemed very intriguing to me and I think it serves as a good base for today’s 10 Questions. So, here are 10 questions you should always ask yourself when faced with an idea that has failed. As an example, I’ll use my own original “failed” idea that eventually got me to Rock Thoughts, which I consider to be a rather successful one. 1. How does the failure of your idea make you feel? I start with this question because it is the one we most often ignore. We rarely like to talk about our feelings of defeat, let alone acknowledge them. However, unless we recognize the emotional impact that a failure can have on us, it will color our decision-process for everything else that follows. Obviously we will all feel angry or disappointed or frustrated. The key is to give our feelings on the matter an opportunity to vent so that we can then tackle the failure without being moved by the emotion. My original idea was to do a form of collaborative storytelling that could be conducted on-line leading up to books delivered virtually and in print. After over a year of actively developing this concept, I stumbled upon Storybird which is exactly what I wanted to do. I was utterly devastated. I had invested so much time, energy and emotion into my idea and it had already been developed and in a beautiful way! There was nothing left for me to do. I literally closed my computer and walked away determined to sulk my way into forgetting the whole thing. I realized, however, that the sulking emotion was clouding my vision so I gave myself a day to be sad and then moved on to step (2) below. 2. What is the specific idea that has failed?  An idea is comprised of many components, all of which are interconnected but not all of which “fail.” Therefore, it is important to separate that which is still viable from that which you think no longer has merit. The reason for this is that the valid content may be useful in reformulating your idea (see below) and the failed content will be useful to analyze  in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Storybird had certainly captured the bulk of my original idea; however, when I looked more closely at my specific concept, it turned out to be broader than what Storybird was doing and therefore allowed me some flexibility to create something new and different. 3. Why do you think the idea has failed? This is probably the most important question you can ask and it goes to the heart of how you understand “failure.” Perhaps I’m stating the obvious but, how we define failure affects how we view our success. Some questions to ask: are you relying on your own parameters or those set my a social system, are you working off of your expectations or those of others, are you looking at the idea on a short-term or long-term basis, etc? The point here is that we oftentimes deem an idea to have failed when in fact, if we revise our understanding of failure, we will see that the idea may still be viable. I thought the idea had failed because it had already been done and there was nothing new for me to add. However, once I looked more closely at my idea, I...

Read More

Helping Children Cope with Loss and Heartbreak

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Thoughts | 4 comments

Today’s post is the continuation of a series of essays focused on coping with heartbreak. The first part dealt with understanding heartbreak, the second provided some thoughts on how we can cope with our own heartbreak. Today’s piece is a guest post on helping our children cope with heartbreak. I am most grateful to Amy Hillis for sharing her own tale of loss and heartbreak in bringing us this piece. Almost four months ago, my youngest son passed away. He was eight and a half months old. He and I had spent the five months leading up to his death in the PICU of Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Hospital. Five very long months, that I spent away from the rest of my family. I have three older sons at home, Jacob (8), Jonathan (6) and Zachary (3). I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband works nights. It was a difficult time for everyone. The boys were trying to make sense of David being so sick that I needed to be away from them for such a long time. Thank goodness my mother-in-law was able to step in and keep some semblance of normalcy going while I was gone. I firmly believed that their memories of David should be kept to the three months we had him home with us, as a complete family. I did not have them visit David during his hospitalization. I had a room at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital and the boys came to visit me there. Many people thought I should have spent more time at home (my husband included) leaving the care of my mostly unconscious infant son to the nurses. I disagreed. As it became more and more apparent that David would  never come home to be with his older brothers, I spent all my of energy and attention on the youngest member of the family. It was the only thing I could do for him. It’s part of what makes us mothers. The need to take care of our children. It was this very need that drove me in the early days after his death. I had to take care of my other children, regardless of the pain and sorrow I felt. I had to guide my boys through the heartbreak of losing their brother. In the early days, all three boys were very clingy and stayed close to me. Zachary, especially would cry when I left the room and insisted that I sleep with him. I’m not sure how much of this behavior was grief or fear I would leave again. Either way, even at three, he knew our world had shifted and would never be the same. My mother-in-law had told the boys early on that David was sick but that he’d get better. While the older boys understood that David was gone, permanently, Zachary didn’t. He would say things like “Davy’s sick, but he’ll get better” and “he’ll come home when he’s better”. It was those conversations that were the most difficult. Sometimes I couldn’t answer him, sometimes I would try to explain that David wasn’t coming home. I’ve never used the term We lost David or likened death to sleep. I didn’t want my very literal 3 year-old to think this was going to happen to him. Eventually he became less clingy. I no longer need to sleep with him at night and he doesn’t talk about David too much anymore. For a 3 year-old, out of sight is truly out of mind. Jonathan on the other hand, was very matter-a-fact, saying things like “David’s dead, he’s not...

Read More