Posts tagged Empower Your Child

Help Your Child Learn Better (#2) – A Lifetime of Inspiration

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In my last blog post we talked about how to help your child learn better by keeping learning styles in mind. In this blog post we’ll talk about an even more important step – how to inspire your child to design their own learning situation, to ask for what they need, and to set themselves up to learn what, and how they want to.

Here’s what I mean.

A little while ago, my daughter, age 9, was complaining about learning division at school. She’d been shown a new way to do long division, and as she continued in her complaint, she said, “But I didn’t get it, because he didn’t make us do it ourselves!” Then she asked me to help her with it, and told me how to help her. She had identified that she would have learned the division better if she’d been walked through actively doing it herself, but more importantly, she took charge of the situation, and showed me how to teach her.

A few days later, she was trying to show me how to crochet something, and I grinned at her and said, “I don’t get it – you need to make me do it myself!” She laughed, provided me with my own crochet hook, and walked me through it, while I did it myself. (I crocheted a beautiful flower, by the way, all by myself, under her tutelage!) See the picture – Flower I crocheted!but please note that it looks better in real life.

So, backing up a bit – my daughter decided, from her exposure at school, that long division was worth learning, she knew how she would learn it best, she assigned me the task of teaching her, then told me how. How would this have been different if I had heard her complaint, then decided that she should learn long division, on my terms, in my way?

To do this key step of inspiring your child to design their own learning situation, to ask for what they need, and to set themselves up to learn what, and how they want to, it’s important to earn your child’s trust, so that he or she feels safe learning from you along the way. Here’s how I’ve earned my daughter’s trust over the years – and why she has often said to me (though she loves her teachers!), “Mommy, I wish YOU were my teacher.”

1) I notice what fascinates her, and offer her more of that. When I respect her interest, I encourage her to trust and follow her own inner direction, not to stifle all of her questions and curiousities.

2) I ask, before showing or telling her something. I ask, “Would you like a lesson on this?” or “I have some interesting information about that. Would you like me to tell you?” If she says “no” (maybe 25% of the time) I SHUT UP! If it’s really important, I will likely ask again later, or sometimes, I’ll say, “This is really important. Can I please share it with you?” Because she trusts me, usually she says yes. And, when she wants to learn something new, she often comes to me and says, “Mom, can you help me with this?”

3) I do not pretend to know everything. When she asks about something I don’t know, I connect her with other resources, and, for as long as she’s been old enough, I’ve shown her how to find those resources herself.

4) I respect her different way of learning, and don’t expect her to move to the next step or into a different style until she asks or accepts my offer. When she has many experiences learning at her pace, in her style, she comes to know how she learns, and learns how to set up situations that work for her. I love to learn by jumping in right away. She likes to learn by watching for a long time first, then tentatively stepping in. I give her the space to do it her way.

5) Over and over again, I let go of my agenda for her learning, and instead, I do my best to discover and support her agenda.

I hope this blog post helps you to observe and support your child to discover their own passions and pursue them with gusto! Check out my other blog post on this topic HERE.

If you’re also looking for the schooling environment that will best meet your child’s learning needs, I’d also love to invite you to my next Alternative and Traditional Schooling Options in Calgary class, or to purchase the audio and workbook version of the class.

I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

 

When Will I KNOW That Gentle Parenting Works?

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Most parents these days don’t want to be authoritarian, and they don’t want to be permissive.

Unfortunately, since most of us didn’t have a strong example of what The Other Way looks like – in practice – we sometimes flounder when all of our firm-but-gentleness and consistent respect are met by Resistance (despite our gentle requests!), Selfishness (despite our abundant sharing!), Anger (despite our best intentions!), Mean Words (even though We Don’t Call Names in Our Family!), Ingratitude (despite our giving, giving, and more giving) or a myriad of other Things Kids Do When They Are Growing Up.

Many parents who call me up for coaching say things like, “He was fine until he turned…(3 1/2 or 5 or 12).” Most children, at some point, will experiment with behaviours that you don’t like. Some will start experimenting early, and challenge you all through the years. Others will throw you a wild curve ball somewhere along the way.

So then, when the curve ball comes, or frequently through the years, we worry that Gentle Parenting Doesn’t Work and we try some other stuff, stuff that may not feel good in our hearts.

I want to offer you some reassurance. Often when a parent of young adults hears that I am a parenting coach, and after we’ve chatted a bit about my take on parenting, they say, “Oh! You help parents be the kind of parent I was!” When this happens, I take the opportunity to do an informal interview of that parent. As you know, I also read a lot of books and look at lots of research about specific parenting styles. The interviews always back up what I know. They go something like this:

Me: Soooooo…..how was it? Raising your child? The teen years?

Parent of Young Adult (with a big smile and sparkling eyes): It was amazing! She/He was definitely (15 – with a vengeance), (a little distant around age 20), (a rebel without a cause for a while), but it was great. And it’s even better now. We have a great relationship and we (talk on the phone several times a week), (have dinner together every Sunday), (go on amazing trips around the world together), (have the same parenting styles, now I have grand-kids!), (are best friends), etc, etc, etc.

Whatever your personal hopes and dreams are for your relationship with your kid(s) as they grow up, I want to reassure you that gentle parenting works. It’s not always easy. You will be challenged, again, and again, and again, to choose kindness over punishment, to choose love over power struggle, to choose connection over proving your point, and to think for days about what is the right way to handle the particular curve ball that your child has thrown at you.

So, that’s the delayed gratification answer – you’ll know that gentle parenting works when your child is an adult. Probably not so great to hear if you’ve got a 3 year-old or a 5-year-old that is challenging you right now, so here’s a big slice of shorter-term encouragement….

You’ll get a lot of amazing moments along the way. You will be at the mall one day, and your 5-year-old will see a parent threaten, then punish their child, and will slip her hand into yours, look up at you, and say, sadly, “Mom, I’m so glad you don’t punish me.” Your 7-year-old will call you the Best (and some days the Worst) Mommy Ever – and you’ll know that his judging mind has kicked in, and he’s actually thought it through, compared you to his friends’ parents, and you’ve come out A-OK. Your 8-year old will confront her teacher in a meeting with you, her dad, and the principal, will state her values and ask for respectful treatment, and your heart will beam with pride and respect for her articulate and kind assertiveness. Your 10-year-old’s friend will confide in you, and tell you how much he likes having an adult actually listen to his ideas, and your own child will say, as they walk away, “Yeah. My dad’s awesome at listening.” Your 12-year-old will mobilize her class to earn $5000 for an orphanage in Tibet, then crawl into your bed that night after sending off the cheque and say, “How can I do more?”

And your child will be 3 1/2, and 5, and 9, and 12, and 14 (boys) and 15 (girls), with a vengeance. They will live out their developmental stages, and explore the strengths and weaknesses of their personalities in ways that are not pleasant for you, and you will doubt yourself. You will question your values. You will make mistakes – lots of them.

Parenting in keeping with your values is hard. And, I want to reassure that it will be worth it. You will cry. You will worry. You will wonder if you’re giving your child the skills they need to thrive. You will second-guess yourself. 

And, in spite of all your imperfections, your children will forgive you, understand you, and probably even grow wiser than you.

And one day down the road, you’ll be the parent I interview, and your eyes will sparkle, and you will tell me, that yes, gentle parenting works. 

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If you need support figuring out what your values are, and how to parent in ways that feel great to you, even when things aren’t working, contact me today! I love coaching, and I’d love to work with you, in person, by phone, or by Skype. <3 <3

And please, post below about one of those special moments along that way that gave you a big slice of hope. We’d love to hear!!

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Parenting

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I recently heard someone sigh and say that the word “sustainable” is getting almost a bit cliche. I was a bit traumatized hearing it, actually! Now is the time to maintain, and build, our momentum, towards addressing the things that matter most. I think sustainability is the fundamental lens through which we need to look at our current issues, and it’s a word I want to hear even more frequently, at all levels of culture.

Parenting and sustainability go together, because we love our kids so much that we want their lives to be long, perfect, and full of beauty and love. We know that scary things like global warming, food security, child labour, and war, threaten that vision, and so parenthood inspires people to look deeper and care more about things that may have seemed far away, in place and time, before they were parents.

Sometimes we think that the concept of sustainability means the same as “green” but it’s a much broader concept. Sustainability means that we build systems that nurture themselves, and nurture the things we care about, so that the systems replenish themselves, keep producing the result we want, and self-perpetuate for a long, long, time.

Here are some areas that I hear parents tell me that they think more about since they became parents…

They start thinking more about the Earth and our climate and what we can do about it.

They start thinking more about peace.

They start thinking more about political systems.

They start thinking more about how everyone, around the world, is someone’s child, and they start caring more about things like child labour, war, and famine.

And here’s what I think…three things.

First, parents hold the keys to our future, as they give their children the hope, inspiration, and opportunities to develop the needed skills to solve the problems that humanity has created for itself.

Second, we parents show our children what is worth caring about through our actions and our words. Your children watch you and absorb what they see and hear. Your everyday actions make a profound, long-term difference in your child’s attitudes, perspectives and values.

Third – and this is My Thing – building sustainable relationships is key. Each and every child that knows how to problem-solve with a team and work with others to find solutions that work for everyone involved is a piece of the sustainability puzzle. These are leadership skills, war-ending skills, world-changing skills that matter. These skills and values empower children to build sustainable relationships in their own lives, and to lead others to learn these skills, and sustainable relationships make EVERYTHING easier to fix. To be frank, without sustainable relationship skills, we don’t have much hope. And when we give our children the long-term perspective and empower them to see themselves as part of the solution, we have more than hope – we have possibility.

So, as parents, YES, be green! Be eco-friendly! Be local! But don’t stop there. Focus on the communication and relationship skills – in your family and in your lives – that will tip the scales. The more human beings who can mediate, inspire, find the underlying needs, and successfully create synergistic solutions that truly work for everyone involved, the more hope we have for our collective future.

It’s the only way.

This quote gives me chills…

“The Twentieth Century will be chiefly remembered by future generations not as an era of political conflicts or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.”  ~ Arnold J. Toynbee

The welfare of the whole human race as a PRACTICAL OBJECTIVE!  So much power in that realization. So much inspiration. So much hope to share with our children, and an incredible glowing vision to inspire us, over and over again, to dig deeper, practice more, learn to bypass our triggers, and, over and over again, show our children empathy, respect, and commitment to advocating for their needs equally with our own.

The welfare of the whole human race is truly within our grasp, and each of us is a piece of this brilliant puzzle. I’m inspired daily by you, as we work together towards this big, big dream.

In sustainability,

Lisa Kathleen

 

 

 

 

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