Have you ever heard someone say that if you believe something is true, you’ll see it? Or have you read the quote that said, “Believe to see”? This is actually one of my husband’s favorite quotes. The idea behind both phrases is really quite simple; if you believe in something it will happen or you’ll perceive it happening or in the least sense you’ll only notice when it happens.
This realization is beautiful in so many ways, as it really (only when fully adopted) gives you the peace of mind that what you expect will happen. When used in parenting, believing certain things about your child will always somehow manifest into reality, especially if you look at it in the long term. Sounds weird and unrealistic? Let me explain how this happens within the context of parenting;
When you have a certain belief about your children, i.e. they are kind and caring. Your perception of their behavior and how you act upon it, is always filtered by this belief. Hence when they become unkind in certain situations you’ll always use words, responses and even consequences that enforces your belief of them.
How? Well let’s say your daughter refuses to wash her dinner dish after eating, even after you’ve asked her nicely and told her that you’re tired tonight and cannot bother to do the dishes. If you unconsciously had the belief that she’s caring and loving you’d be first surprised as to why is she doing so, then you might ask questions about it or maybe immediately make the assumptions that she is very tired too or not feeling well to do it. What you’ll say and do in this situation then will not involve any shaming, blaming or maybe enforcement but will most probably involve empathy, understanding and curiosity on what would work.
This is not the only positive aspect of a positive belief about your children. Here’s where self-fulfilling prophecy comes in; when your child observes you day-in and day-out of their lives believing that they are loving and caring, they will eventually internalize this self-image. The belief that they are loving and caring will enable them to act in a loving and caring way to you and to others around them.
But self-fulfilling prophecy works both ways; if you internalize a negative belief about your children (i.e. violent, immature, selfish, dis-respectful), your responses and behavior towards them will also be filtered through this belief (i.e. warnings, ultimatums, punishments, strict rules, or even sometimes blaming them for things you’re not 100% sure they actually did) and they will in turn and in the long term (in most cases) internalize this belief about themselves.
My point is simple really, but ofcourse (like any other aspect of parenting) difficult to apply and be consistent about; are you conscious of what kind of beliefs you internalize about your children? If you’re not clear about it, I invite you to question the underlying beliefs of your responses to them in the different situations of life. Pick one situation at a time and reflect on it with curiosity.
Being conscious is a key ingredient of peaceful parenting, being aware of these beliefs will enable you to alter or celebrate them in the way that is in integrity with yourself and your values. It will also be a your way of teaching your children about themselves and their self-concept. Like every parent around the globe, I too want my children to have a loving, kind, resilient self concept that is re-assured my me and my husband day-in and day-out.
A few years ago it hit me while I was facilitating a feedback workshop for one of clients, that as parents we spend almost all of our time giving feedback to our children; don’t eat like this?, don’t yell?, I appreciate you cleaned your room?, I love it when you speak nicely? And lots of other things. But very rarely, if ever do we take the time to ask them, what do they think of us?!.
I mean how else are we going to teach them about being accepting and open to learning from experiences as well as empathy, if we never role-model it for them. What is a greater way to show them that we value their voice better than listening to them talk about us.
Well, when I returned home that day I took my daughter to a walk around the block and talked to her about feedback; I told her that I would love to hear from her what she enjoyed the most about my parenting and what she didn’t, I also asked her about what she enjoyed in our life together the most and what she didn’t. That night I did not get an answer for everything, and I believe I was overwhelming; but then the little information I got was eye opening in a beautiful way!
“Mum, I don’t like it when you promise me something and don’t do it. It hurts my feelings” – I didn’t reject her perception, though I didn’t think I did that at all, but went along with it asking for clarity; “it must be painful when I promise you something and don’t do it. Can you give me an example?”. I realized that day that when things come up and we change plans for one reason of another, I don’t explain things enough to my daughter and hence she created the perception that I don’t keep my promises. We later this week, worked out a way to explain what’s happening and a code that she says when she is really sure she understands why are we changing plans. It was an amazing experience, and since then I have been making it a point that I periodically solicit feedback from all of my children and let them know that I value this feedback and will work on it. I used a number of tools like asking them to write up what they want me to stop, start &/or continue doing as their mother(or step mother) or draw it up or tell me when something comes up – and it has been fascinating every single time.
So plan something this coming week, with your child(ren); take them for a walk in the park or have a tea party in their room or whatever works for them and ask them for feedback and share what comes up!
Please don't forget to vote for me! it will take a minute :D
For ages now, storytelling has been known for its powers over soothing children and contributing to their creativity, learning and growth of important skills like reading, writing and logical thinking.
What I found however, extremely fascinating about storytelling is the fact that it supports children and adults alike in healing from past experiences that were painful, or frightening in some way.
When my daughter was five, I wanted to enroll her in swimming school. She loved water and enjoyed going the beach all the time, and that sort of encouraged me to think that swimming would be a great sport for her. In her first day of training, she slipped while she was walking by the pool – she didn’t slip into the pool (Thank God) but just on the sideway. Like all kids, she cried and whined about it, till she felt it was ok to move on. Then she has her first swimming lesson, which I thought she enjoyed very much.
In three months, my daughter stopped going to swimming at all. It started gradual but she just feared going, and back then I didn’t understand what happened to her love of water.
Until one day, I simply asked, with an open heart to really listen; “honey, you used to really love swimming and playing in the pool. What happened?” – that day for the first time I have deeply listened to my daughters fear of falling down and hurting herself, and to her story of what exactly happened.
But what was even more fascinating to me is how she told the story from her perspective; “I slipped, I was wearing my slippers and they hurt my toes, and my shoulder hurts too – water is always slippery” That was all she recalled from the story.
In allowing her to tell the story, I was able to fill in some important details; “yes I remember, I was standing by your side and I reached immediately to pull you up. Remember?” “Yes, your toes did hurt I remember, but we put ice on them and the pain just went away and you were able to enjoy swimming right?” My daughter didn’t tell me this story once or twice; she told me the story over and over for a few months and I would every time support her by helping her remember important facts of what happened. In time, however she no longer had this fear of pools, actually when she was almost six and half she asked to start going to swimming lessons again and she did, and enjoyed it very much and was very keen on it.
What I have later learned, through my counseling and some resources about the human brain (specially The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Dan Siegel & Tina Bryson) that incidents like this trigger heavy emotions for children coming from one part of the brain without integration with the other part. Which leaves the brain making faulty deductions and conclusion of the incidents.
Enabling the kids tell the story and filling in the gaps for them in a compassionate and understanding way enables them to process their feelings, and correct their thinking process – in a sense it enables both parts of the brain to integrate and work together. Which ultimately enables them to reach closure in a healthy developmental way.
Before you leave, i would enjoy it if you vote for, this will enable me to spread my message across to a wider audience.Thank you
How many times, if ever, did anyone you know talked to you about how they sat and contemplated what are his/her child’s rights? I mean, ofcourse we often as parents have discussion on the importance of good schooling, healthcare and parental care to a child’s welfare but very rarely do we as parents (at least in my context) ever sit and contemplate on what rights do our children have. We often have discussions around their responsibilities towards themselves, their family, school and generally the community. But at least in my case, though I consider myself an aware mother that read lots of books on parenting, studied about family and have a very specific paradigm of parenting, I don’t remember having a conversation with Nour (my daughter) specifically about her rights as a child! We did, however, talk a lot about house rules that included conversation around respect and how it should be mutual and how she at all times is entitled to being respected. Such conversations did include questions around what indicates respect? Does she always have to agree with what I say to be respectful for example or is respect that she listens carefully before expressing her views? Such questions made lots of complex concepts easier to understand for Nour.
A child’s bill of rights is by no mean my idea. It’s the idea and I believe creation of a young author called Max Sindell, who I just finished reading a very good book for called The Bright Side. The book is focused on helping kids with divorced parents go through or actually get through the idea of their parents eternal separation and live a healthy balanced life. I guess the uniqueness of this book lies on the fact that it wasn’t written (like most other books) to divorced parents in an attempt to help them support their kids cope with divorce, instead the book was written to the children themselves, addressing them, their needs, concerns and in most cases their maturing ability to understand complex things like divorce. I personally have enjoyed the book very much and was very much fascinated by its very first chapter “The bill of rights”. Though the chapter focused on educating a divorced child on his/her rights in regard to the context of his divorced parents, I found the idea of exploring my child’s bill of rights captivating. The notion of sitting and having a discussion with Nour about some of her rights and how she can encourage me to help her always have them was very interesting. Hence came this post for tonight, through this post I am encouraging every mummy and daddy reading this to sit together or separately and think about what is your child’s rights? When you come up with some few points, ask yourself if your kid knows these rights? Do they understand them? Do they even know what is a right? I truly believe such a conversation would be an enriching and developmental to both parents and their kids alike. Having such a discussion with your child is your contribution to nurturing the seeds of freedom and responsibility within your kid. By teaching him/her about his/her rights and how to protect those rights, you present him/her with the opportunity and understanding of freedom.
In an attempt of trying to positively contribute to this experience I thought of helping everyone out brainstorm around the below points. Though the points mentioned by Sindell are pretty much geared towards divorced kids, I still think they are pretty comprehensive and are to the core of any child’s relationship with his/her parents.
Child’s Bill of Rights;
1. The right to be safe and feel secure
2. The right of awareness
3. The right to counseling
4. The right to be heard
5. The right to be your own person
6. The right to neutral
7. The right to private communication
My concluding thoughts and prayers are for everyone to always be blessed with awareness and knowledge that would in one or more ways enable their lives. I also can’t skip the thought of having gratitude for being presented with the opportunity to read the book, learn from it and pass on some of the knowledge.
Don't forget to visit and like our Facebook page; www.facebook.com/blossomfamilynvc
Just the other day after delivering a workshop, a mum walks up to me and says “my child lies to me and I don’t know why he does that”. She seemed worried and frustrated, like all mother would in her situation.
After telling me her story, I realized that her child might be very well not lying– he is just too young to yet distinguish between reality and fiction. When he says; I was playing with Maisy (a cartoon character), he was not lying. He is three years and probably thinks he was really playing with Maisy.
This made me want to list in a post some of the reasons children might opt to “lie” in and how to work with them. Here we go;
· (1) Too Young: when children are young their little brains are unable yet to conceive abstract ideas like time, reality and God. So in most cases you would find them saying or doing things that don’t adhere to these concepts. What to do? Teach them about it, in an age appropriate way and slowly but surely they will grow into it.
· (2) They Need your Attention: If your older child is lying to receive praise or appreciation – then this is probably what they are lacking in their relationship with you. Or maybe they simply have a very high need for appreciation and they are resorting to you, their safe zone to fulfill their needs. What to do? Re-assure your child often that they are important, worthy, and that you accept them no matter what. When they fail in something let them know in words and actions that it is ok and it doesn’t make them less.
· (3) Fearful of you: With ache I write this, but this seems to be the mainstream of kids in our societies today. Kids resort to hiding or lying about their actions or behavior because they fear authority figures in their lives; be it the parent or teacher. What to do? Dialogue with you kids over and over again about why do they feel they need to share the story that way? Where is their fear coming from? – And work on changing it
· (4) Role modeling: Yes this comes up every time; children are deeply influenced by role models in their lives; if you or any other care giver lies, they will probably do the same. What to do? Yes, stop lying. At least in front of your kids!
· (5) Peer Pressure: Another sad reality, children are also in most cases influenced by their peers in day care or in school and definitely in high school. If their friends have a certain habit of lying, your kids are likely to experience it at least once. What to do? Encourage your children to good friendships, guide the type of activities they do & make sure you keep them grounded into your family values and their importance.
Hope this has added some value to you, please let me know what you think and how do you deal with your children at home when they lie? And why do you think they do so?
If you liked this post, i would love it if you press the below button and Vote for me! It would bring me a step closer to my dreams! Thank you!
If you are one of the numerous parents I meet everyday, who are puzzled as to why their kids sometimes resort to hitting, shoving or yelling to other people and have deep hopes to maybe find an explanation or tools to support you in managing this behavior with your children in a way that is peaceful and respectful to them, then I believe this article is for you!
I have gathered in this article some of the most popular reasons I found to be behind why sometimes our kids resort to such behavior. I have to point out though that this is not an inclusive list but one that will maybe point you towards the right direction to search more and better understand what’s happening to your child.
So let us start with the simplest and most obvious and work out our way to less obvious reasons;
1- Diet; Yes what your child eats highly influences their behavior and how prone they are for certain actions than others – Food additives, coloring, artificial sugars are all things that contribute to your child’s wellbeing negatively and can definitely influence their behavior in a way that is unfulfilling. I am also aware that for many parents (myself included) it is sometimes very challenging to avoid these ingredients all the time, my recommendation is simply to notice which foods trigger certain behavior in your child and manage his/her intake of it. For example, I try to keep sweets consumption during daytime for my daughter, I know for a fact that when she takes “even a bite of” chocolate at night, her sleep becomes highly affected. Other general recommendations are to replace un-natural, packaged food with more natural/organic foods in a child’s diet. Something that works very well too with younger kids and teenagers are herbal tea’s like anise, chamomile and green tea, these are considered excellent relaxing drinks and very natural.
2- Brain Deregulation; That was one of the things I enjoyed most when learning about how our brain affects our behavior as humans – when a child is going through a situation where they are scared, overwhelmed, shocked, or experiencing an intense rush of emotions, their brains goes into a mode of deregulation. When a brain gets in such a state it goes into a “fight, fright, or flight” mode, which in turn reflects on a child’s behavior. For instance, if you’re in the park with your child and all of a sudden she realizes you’re leaving (without prior warning), the rush of emotions becomes strong and her brain goes into a deregulation state; during this state she is likely to fight (cry, kick, yell) or flight (withdraw, ignore your calling, or be sad silently). During deregulation a child (his/her brain) is unable to reason or discuss things rationally, the executive part of the brain completely shuts down during deregulation making it impossible for your child to listen or reason
3- Lack of Tools; One day my daughter came from school and was telling me how she learned what to do when she gets upset with a friend from class. Her teacher spent some time teaching the class how to count from one to ten while being conscious of their breathing and allow themselves to calm down before doing any action. It was a great tool for a 7 years old girl to learn in school, it actually helped her regulate her brain and calm down before rushing into crying because someone spilled water on her painting for example. My learning here was that my daughter cried when something happened because she didn’t have any other tools to use to channel her emotions in a specific incident. This made me more conscious on exposing her to tools that enable her to solve problems, think of alternatives, and practice empathy when faced with conflict
4- Stressful change/Environment; Children respond to changes in their lives and their environment in diverse ways – aggression is one of them. As a parent notice if your child gets edgy in a specific environment, closed places, super-market, fish market, barber or even an aunt’s house. Another important thing is to take account of whether some kind of change is taking place in your or your child’s life- again kids respond in diverse ways to changes around them. Sometimes the smallest changes trigger feelings for children and hence result in certain actions. Examples of change are changing the furniture at home or even its arrangement, moving to a new house, changing class, changing the nanny, and of course there are bigger types of change that trigger bigger emotions such as parents separation or conflict, family conflict in general, death or having a new brother or sister and/or having a step father come into the picture
5- Modeling behavior; the truth is kids learn a lot of their behavior (especially at a young age) from parents. If you yell, spank, hold your child with roughness they will learn these behaviors too as ways to express emotions of frustration or anger too. Often kids also enjoy modeling their parents as it makes them feel “grown up”- an older brother for example would hit his younger sister as an act of discipline, like mum does. Now as a parent I invite you to give yourself empathy first before going into blame or shaming yourself and when you’re ready I invite you to learn more ways to keep your calm and manage your emotions in a way that meets your needs to contribute positively to your children.
Though these are some of the reasons I found most popular among families I worked with, I still sincerely want to stress on the fact that this list doesn’t stop here. There are diverse other reasons behind why kids sometimes resort to hitting. Some of which are related to their development stage; toddlers for example sometimes kick and bite when excited. Reasons resulting from a child’s needs for security, acceptance, reassurance and/or attention may all lead a child to hitting. I guess the core message behind all of this is to really explore why our kids exhibit certain behaviors than others and what are the feelings and needs behind those behaviors and possibly work with that rather than just trying to change the behavior itself.
Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.