Family Day at Tuckerman’s Ravine

May 13, 2011 at 6:34 am | Posted in attitudes | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I went up to Tuckerman’s Ravine on MT Washington with my three younger daughters.  To get there you need to hike with your skis and boots, water and food up to the base of the ravine.  It’s not a really hard climb till you get to the last .7 mile.  Then it is all rocks, snow, and ice.  But we were all very comfortable on this hard spot.

On the way up, Jamie and Jeanee somehow found a couple of cute boys and up they went with them.  They had a great time chatting, which of course makes the trip that much more enjoyable and easy.

Jilly and I were a bit slower, but not by much.  I told Jilly a very long and detailed version of The Little Blue Engine That Could.  I really love telling these kinds of stories while hiking.

This was Jamie’s first real physical adventure since her ACL reconstruction operation last January.  She had her physical therapist’s OK.  She was very strong and actually less tired or stiff than others at the end of the day. (Maybe because she wasn’t allowed to carry anything??? Or because she was actually that strong????- I have to say I think the latter.)

Jeanee climbed up to the top of the left gully, past the choke.  She was the leader of a group of five.  She was amazing.  She just calmly went up- making it up there without any difficulty at all.  The gully had a few snow chutes.  This is where the top snow goes to make a stream of snow.  It’s actually a small, in control avalanche.  So the skiing up there is really tricky!  Jeanee came down with complete control and ease!  BOTH times.

My dog, Lyona, was with us.  She is a small bishon/shitzu mix dog who in the winter has a very thick, long coat of hair.  But she just had her spring shave on Monday so had to wear a sweater yesterday.  It was a nice contrast to see the little “Cutesy” dog running up the mountain just like a dog is supposed to do.  Anyway, she was following Jeanee up the left gully when a skier started down.  She jumped in the snow chute and slid ½ way down. You could see that she was laughing and wagging her tail.  Funny dog!

Jilly went up to the bottom of the rocks and had a good couple of turns from there.  She thought once was enough- not the skiing but the hiking up.

I went to the bottom of the rocks with Jilly.  I loved it.  But for some reason I had this fear take over me.  I skied across for a while and then finally had to make myself do this jump-start to get turning.  The snow and pitch were different than what I am used to but not so difficult that I needed to be afraid.

Then I went up a second time.  I was on my way up the left gully but decided I didn’t really want to go there.  So I climbed across the bowl just above a section of brush and below a section of rock outcrop.  It was an adventure in and of itself.  At one point there was a rushing stream under the snow.  So I had to figure out how to go across it without going deep through the snow.  Then at the end there just happened to be a small 8-foot cliff- and a crevice.  No easy jump off.  I did manage to find a way to hold onto the scrub and crab crawl out.  BUT one of my skis got away from me.

It fell in the crevice!

But ever resourceful as I am- I asked a tall man coming up if he could help me.  He was not exactly overjoyed with the idea, but felt a bit compelled.  Because of his length he was able to fish the ski out a bit so he could pull it out the rest of the way.

Again I had the same stop fear I had the first time.  And this time I knew the snow and pitch.  SO I stood there in the middle having a talk with myself.  Right out there in front of anyone- in particular my daughters.  I really had to ask myself why was I scared? Why was I holding myself back?  Had anything every happened to anyone I knew personally in Tuckerman’s?  Had I known plenty of people who had hurt themselves in very easy conditions?  I had this talk with myself for at a couple of hours- Maybe even the whole day. (In reality it was only a couple of minutes) I began to wonder about myself.  What was wrong with me anyway?  Why was I so scared?  And then I remembered my story to Jilly.  The Little Blue Engine That Could.  I had told this story to Jilly to give her entertainment and strength to get up the mountain and here I was – her 52-year-old mother who needed to listen to the moral of my particular version of the story.

My version the engine finally gets up and over the mountain using her attitude with her whole heart and soul, as well as everything she did to be prepared.

So I knew I was prepared.  I had the skills and strength.  All I needed was my attitude of heart and soul love for skiing.  Once I got myself figured out, I jumped off and had a great set of turns.

There is really something so special about Tuck’s.  The spring songbirds are tweeting away.  The air is soft and cool.  The other mountains are all green and lush.  The water is gushing all around- even waterfalls within the bowl.  It’s similar to glacier skiing but not exactly like it. It’s a very unique and special way to spend the day.

After that we began our descent.  We could ski about 1/3 down and walked after that.  At the bottom we stretched doing yoga.

At one point we were all unloading our packs and putting the skis in the cat when all of a sudden we couldn’t see where Lyona was.  I whistled.  Began to look around quickly when she looked up from the middle seat of the car where she had gone soundly to sleep.  She was saying, “Really more?  I LOVED it but now it time to sleep!”

Great day and, as always, great people we met on the way.

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Motivational Monday: Why Vote

November 3, 2008 at 10:43 am | Posted in dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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Good Motivational Monday Morning

 

Just a quickie today.

You are probably reeling from last week’s entries.

 

I do want to thank those of you who shared GEM Parenting with your friends.

It was great to see the response.

 

Today, I want to be on the bandwagon to motivate you to vote.  It is such an important thing for you to do, as a parent especially.  You are voting for right now, but you are also voting for tomorrow, for your kids’ future.  So on that note, take your time and effort and do it.

 

Another reason it is important to vote is to make yourself commit to something.  These days we have so many choices and so anxiety producing to make a choice we often just go along with the flow, even if it makes us stressed and sick to do so.

 

Let your children know about your voting, take them with you and let them know what a privilege it is to be part of the nation that began this amazing opportunity.

 

That’s it for today. 

And as always,

Parent with Passion, Purpose, and Integrity.

 

Grace

Swing Your Arms And Get Happy

October 29, 2008 at 7:12 am | Posted in children, dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Self Esteem | 4 Comments
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If you are one of the 100 or so people to stop by today, please leave your comment as to why you came and what you want.

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Feature Article

Swing Your Arms and Get Happy

 

As a parent we get so stuck in our routine, our anxiety, our super frustration, it is imperative to bust out of it.  Sometimes you need some new thinking, sometimes you need some new ways of raising your children.  Sometimes you need to be different.

 

Today I am going to have you be different, but just barely.  This won’t really wake up your foot.  (See Yesterday’s entry)  But it will have an effect on you.

 

You have heard plenty of times to breath slowly and deeply, have a yoga breath.  You have heard about meditating.  You have heard about walking.  And you can do all of these to help your moods and tension.

 

Today, I am adding swing your arms.   You can stand still.  You can walk.  You can jump.  You can run.  Guess what?  You can even sit.

 

When you swing your arms you will activate some endorphins.  These are the happy hormones.  And happy hormones push tension, anxiety, and frustration out the door.

 

How should you swing your arms?  Well, you can swing them from hanging down, across at shoulder level, and you can do circles.  The important thing is to do large sweeping motions.  Not too fast, not short and jerky. 

 

The most important thing is to really get into it.  Obviously, don’t swing so hard you hurt yourself.  But have energy and spunk in it.

 

And go ahead and get silly.  You can play games with your kids (or just play them in your head).  You can swim the ocean of life.  Whack all the jungle out of the way.  Fly like your favorite bird. Make whirl winds of energy (The energy can either be your frustrations or tensions escaping, or excited free energy.)

 

There are times when the deep breath and meditation are perfect.  But there are times when we must move.  As a parent you need to do things to be the best you can be and releasing tension is one great thing you can do.

 

When you have endorphins floating around rather than negative hormones you brain can actually think more clearly.  You body uses less energy.  You won’t feel as tired.  And strangely, when you are less stressed your body can let go of the extra weight it is saving for that perpetual emergency you are creating with your tension.

 

So today swing your arms.  Do it as much as you can.  And put in a silly twist -if you can.

 

You will be such a better parent and person with this small little life change.

 

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I want to thank those of you who have taken the effort to refer GEM Parenting to your friends.  And remember if you get 5 friends to sign up for the Pearl Membership I will have a teleclass for you, at no cast.

 

But I am wondering if anyone has even tried to get a podcast, because not one has been purchased.  Are they just totally not interesting to you?  Is six dollars truly too expensive?  If I am going to be able to continue with GEM Parenting I need your support.  I want to give.  Let tell you, I really do.  But living in our culture costs money.  And I simply have to make some.

 

If what I have to offer isn’t appealing for money I will have ot go do something else,  This means of cours my time will spent at that, not helping you.

 

So if you are at all interested in having support from GEM Parenting I need your support now.  Please go and purchase a podcast.

http://www.GEMParenting.com/store.htm

 

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On the opposite side,  if you have the intention to change your parenting, and want to talk, dump your frustration, be anonymous, join Donna L. Johnson and me.  We are going to have a teleconference this Monday at 12 noon EST, 11CST, 10 MCT and 9 PST.  We will talk about your issues, your dilemmas, your problems as a parent, a mom, a woman.

 

This is an open discussion for you.  We will be there to support and guide you.  We will help you bring your spirit and soul into action.  We want to get your sprit and soul out of the box you have been storing them in.  It is a simple phone call for you.

 

It is back to my favorite way of doing things.  Helping you, guiding you and at no cost.

Phone details coming. 

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How do Serenity, Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom and Baseball Empower Your Parenting?

July 11, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Posted in children, dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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How do Serenity, Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom and Baseball Empower Your Parenting?


This is the last day of talking about the powerful Serenity Prayer.  If you are just joining today, please check back to Monday to read everything.  You know that when something has been around for a while it lasts because there is truth in it.  That’s the way it is with the Serenity Prayer.

 

Today we are going to talk about how the last line, “and the wisdom to know the difference.”

First you gained serenity.  This freed you to accept that you are a wonderful parent with little or no control.  Bu t with this freedom you gained the opportunity to have the courage to change what you can.  That is you. 

 

It is you who you have control over.  What you have the most control over is your attitude and your actions.

 

Today you get to have wisdom.  This is an integral part of being a positive parent.  With wisdom you let go of the daily grind.  You reverse the pull of time.  You use a new way of thinking, a new power to bring love and peace to your home.

 

Picture this in your mind-

The wise one-

Doing what they always do-

They are peaceful, tranquil,

Restful, and pleased with their surroundings.-

 

Now give them a cell phone,

Ipod, and appointments.

 

What happened to the wise one?

Did his or her hair stand on end?

What happened to the wise one’s body?

In my case it has slumped, and seems very rigid. 

 

Peace, tranquility, rest, and pleasure with surroundings are all gone.

The wise one does not exist in our minds with all our modern “conveniences.”

 

Now I use all those things.  I am communicating with the web right now.  But to be able to have wisdom and wireless life, I must be wise.  I keep my serenity.  I accept what I can’t change.  And I have the courage to do what is right for me- I am not owned by my web presence. 

 

For you as a parent, keep your wisdom.  Let the image you have of the wise one be yourself as you are right now. 

A wise person does not have all the answers.  But is willing to find them or let go of the need to find answers. 

A wise person does not control.  Life flows through and around them.  They give and receive freely.

 

I am going to put the Serenity Prayer together with baseball so you can understand how you can bring this power energy to your parenting. 

First you need to step up to the plate.  A baseball player will do certain things to get focused, to get other clutter out of his mind, to be serene.

Second, you need to decide to what to do.  With baseball there are two things that the batter does-they swing or they decide to not swing.  This is acceptance of what comes.  The baseball player must accept he can’t pick his pitch.

Third, when you swing you have to know that you are going to hit that ball right out of the ballpark.  Or you know you will bunt the ball.  Or you know you will not swing at all.  As a parent take courage in your decisions.  It is when you waffle that you strike out.

Fourth, no matter what you do there will be judgments, both good and bad.  There are two teams watching, lots of fans will glad and others will be down right mad.  But the ball player is wise to know this play is over.  He must instantly start on the next play- run, dodge, or sit down till the next up.

You see how this prayer can give you such strength to be the parent you are meant to be?

Let yourself have serenity, acceptance, courage, and wisdom as a parent.  As always I am here to help you on this journey. 

The best place to start is by putting in your comment here.  If you would prefer to have a private message then send it to grace @ GEMParenting.com

 

I wish you a weekend filled with love and peace.

Parent with passion, purpose, and integrity.

 

Grace

Can You Accept Being a Great Parent Without Control?

July 9, 2008 at 7:13 am | Posted in attitudes, children, dads, Families, GEM Parenting Secrets, moms, Mothers, parents, Wednesday Wisdom | Leave a comment
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As a parent you need to understand that you are in control of your child and at the exact same time you are as far removed from your child as an elephant in Africa. 

You have an obligation as a parent to set up the most caring home you can:  A home filled with love, positive guidance, and morals and values that you believe in.  But as you know, this is a task that causes great anxiety.  You are so stretched to your limits of parenting that some times you lose sight of how to create this home. And you trudge along hoping everything will be good in the end.

The saddest part of this picture is that often things turn out fine in the end.  But the journey has been so difficult and so arduous that it hardly seems to matte any way.

What you want is to find a way to know the end of the journey is going to be good and at the same time to enjoy and relish your time as a parent.

Yesterday we talked about being granted serenity.  If you have not reached any moments of serenity then you need to think of how you are trying to get it.  If there is any begging, neediness, or whining for it, you are can try being more gentle with yourself and with your eternal energy.

Today we are going to talk about “accepting the things I cannot change.”  Every moment that we are alive we are out of control.  We cannot truly control anything or anyone. 

When you look at life this way you can let go of the things that bug you, drive you crazy, and keep you up at night.  Know that you can not actually change things.  Know that change happens, and reactions happen to what you do. 

How does this kind of thinking change your parenting?  As a parent you may have been trying to set everything up to be just perfect, or even as nearly perfect, as you are humanly capable of doing for your family.  This of course is well and good. 

The problem comes because of all the glitches.  And these glitches, large and miniscule, gnaw at your insides, put overwhelm in everything you do- from breathing to actually reading a story to your children.

When you “accept the things I cannot change” you no longer have to be in control.  You now have the privilege to see yourself as one who influences, who guides, and can set things in motion.  But the weight of perfection is gone.

You are a wonderful parent filled with love and caring.  Remember you have serenity.  Now with accepting that which you cannot change, you have freedom to truly love and cherish your children. 

Loving and cherishing your children is the number one best thing you can do to set the motion for your children live the most fantastic life they can.  And it starts today!

Accept the things you cannot change.  Put serenity into its proper place in your parenting.  And see how the nagging, headache causing stresses that surround you and your children begin to evaporate.

You are welcome to share your acceptance of the things you cannot change and how that freed you to love and cherish your children. 

If you have a major acceptance please share, and if you have something that is so trivial and insignificant please share that as well. 

Everyone needs to hear how you are able to use this information.

As always, Parent with Passion, Purpose, and Integrity.

Grace

 

Terrific Tuesday

June 24, 2008 at 10:02 am | Posted in children, dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Self Esteem, Terrific Tuesday, Tweens | 2 Comments
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Terrific Tuesday

 When you are confused as to what and why you do things with your kids you are very likely to be caught in the product side of parenting.  You are trying to figure out what will be the best thing for your kid in the long run.  You are so confused with all the offerings that are available.  You really can’t figure out what to do.  Except try and see what others are doing and hope that since so many others are doing something that it must a good thing.  But will it really be the right thing for your kids?

 Just writing about this makes me dizzy.  And for you who is in the muddle of it all- Please notice muddle is on purpose- you are more than dizzy.  You are up at nights wondering and worrying if you have it right.  What can you do better.  Which choice should you make?  What is the best for your family?

 

Well, rather than get in this ridiculous bind you are in, step out.  You are in the product mode. You are looking at parenting as a mode to get a result, a product. When you switch to the process mode the answers are easy.  The time in the process is enlightening, and although there are still many challenges in front of you, the challenges are invigorating rather than energy depleting.

Enough of that and onto some of my own personal real life examples of using process rather than product parenting. 

 

One of my daughters is a dancer.  She dances four days a week in lessons and many days out of lessons.  And I have two daughters who love to dance, but not quite to the same extent.  This past weekend we just had their recital. 

 The dancers from age three to twenty were instructed in the joy and beauty of dance through out the year.  The actual practice of the recital dances began in early April for some and not until May for others.  The studio chooses to teach dance rather than recital performance. 

 

 As the classes get done learning their recital dances each class and all parents, siblings, and whoever else is around watches the dances.  This is great fun.  The girls love to watch the other dancers and they love to dance for each other. 

 

 Yes, this takes some time away from the “instruction.”  But it also prepares everyone for the actual show. 

 

 When the actual show happens there is one dress rehearsal on the stage the evening before the recital.  And for the past three years that I have been part of this, the whole time is spent in the splendor of being dancers rather than showing a product that is being performed. 

 

 From the director to the babies, there is an atmosphere of pleasure, excitement, and the love of doing ones best, and of course dancing.

 

 Oh, I completely forgot the costumes.  Each dancer gets a T-shirt.  It is a coveted shirt, with a simple design on it.   The colors have been magenta, teal blue, and this year black.  Yep.  Everyone has the same basic costume.  Then they elaborate with old-fashioned dress ups!!! Or maybe simple home made tie die shirts.

 

 And you know what happens?  The dancers are dancers.  They are not a part of the show.  The dancers are the show.  It seems weird for many of you that not having glitzy costumes and practicing for months on a single performance piece would create anything but second rate dancers. 

 

But let me tell you otherwise.  I have been involved with dance studios as a mother for about twenty years.  And as a dancer myself for about ten years.  That makes thirty years of connections with dance studios.  And this is the dance studio that children- boys and girls- can love to dance.

 

 Why? They teach dancing through the process.  The product of a “show” is not the integral or even important part of the studio ethics.  They teach and dance for the sheer joy of teaching and dancing. 

 

 Although the studio’s main concern is not about the future of the dancers, their desire is to have the dancers love to dance, every year there are seniors who go ff to college majoring in dance, kids who spend the summer at highly coveted places such as The Boston Ballet, The Philadelphia Ballet, and Steps on Broadway.

 

The result of process teaching is to have kids love doing what they are doing AND the result turns out to be wonderful.  Even though t is not the actual goal.

Take the step out and use process for your parenting.  The result, product, will happen anyway, so why not enjoy the journey?  Have peace and know that you are giving your children the special gift of living and loving the moment- With that they will live a life with high self-esteem void of the panic and worry that you have.

 

 Grace

 

 PS the studio is called Ninth State Dance Studio

You can check them out at theninthstate.com

 

I would love to hear about something in your parenting that is process rather than product oriented.  it really helps others when you share!

 

Creative Crayon Club: Activities for You and Your Teen!

May 17, 2008 at 6:24 am | Posted in 1, attitudes, children, Creative Crayon Club, dads, Families, Family Time, Fun Activities, GEM Parenting Secrets, How To, moms, Mothers, parents, peer pressure, Self Esteem, siblings, teenagers, teens, Tweens | Leave a comment
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Teenage Nature Space

 

 What you need:

  • A sacred or special place or path in nature, close to where you live.
  • Paper, pens, paint, a camera, musical instruments, or a local tracking guide.
  • You and your teen.

What you do:

  • Find your special spot that you and your teen can call sacred in a quiet and natural environment near your house.
  • Talk to your teen about a medium of art and exploration in which he/she likes to express his or herself. If it’s poetry, you each write a poem, write a story, paint a picture, take some pictures of nature, write a song. If your child is more physically active, make up a dance or a series of movements that express how you feel, or pick up a local tracking guide and map all the tracks along your sacred path.  Whatever it is, make sure you and your teen are creatively expressing your passion about your experience in nature.
  • Then you get to share your beautiful artistic creation. You will certainly bond over the act of this authentic experience and the vulnerability of sharing it all!

 

 

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Special Outing

 

What you need:

  • Your local newspaper or art guide.
  • Possibly some event tickets.
  • Your teen and maybe their close friends.

What you do:

  • Find a form of art that you and your teen enjoy and take them to a local concert, poetry reading, art gallery, book signing, play, dance performance, etc.

As teenagers are growing up and asserting their autonomy, one way they show their independence is by identifying with various types of artistic expression. It is nice to encourage their passions and interests in these artists to grow maturely by giving them a very special surprise or formally presenting some tickets to them, or making the event feel very special in some way. After the event, go out to ice cream and sit down to talk about the event.

Listen to your children compassionately and take them seriously because this may be a major way they express themselves.

If your child often goes to this type of event with friends, bring them along! Try to make it as authentic, meaningful, and mature an experience as possible.

These activities are straight from my own family- the kids. Whatever you do with your teens be sure to let them understand and know in their soul that you love and cherish them. Mistakes happen, then they pass. Your love is permanent.

 

 

Love your GEM teen!

 

 

 

Grace E. Mauzy, MA works with overwhelmed, stressed parents having difficulty comfortably cope with parenting. Parents learn positive intervention utilizing strategies and tactics to develop high self-esteem in children. Grace is the founder of GEM Parenting – an online community dedicated to parenting with passion, purpose, and integrity. (GEMParenting.com) Through Grace’s professional and personal life experiences, she has a unique ability to understand and empower parents to implement new parenting styles, allowing them to challenge themselves to break free of their destructive behaviors and attitudes. And raise their children with confidence, peace, and harmony. To learn more about her powerful speaking, coaching, and workshops, or to receive Grace’s motivating audio course “The 7 Deadly Mistakes Parents Make That Create Spoiled Brats – And How You Can Avoid Them!” visit http://www.7deadlymistakesparentsmake.com or visit http://www.GEMParenting.com

 

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Teriffic Tuesday: Promoting Genuine Self-Esteem in Your Child

May 13, 2008 at 6:49 am | Posted in 1, children, Creative Crayon Club, dads, Families, Family Time, Focused Fridays, GEM Parenting Secrets, Health, How To, moms, Mothers, parents, relationships, Self Esteem, siblings, spirituality, teens, toddlers, Tweens, Wednesday Wisdom | Leave a comment
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Promoting Genuine Self-Esteem In Your Child

 Promoting self-esteem in children is an ongoing process for parents. By adding just one word-genuine-the focus is sharpened and the process is more clearly defined. Genuine self-esteem is based on true worth and accomplishment, whereas ‘inflated’ self-esteem, the opposite, results from heaped on, baseless praise. Promoting inflated self-esteem is easy. Promoting genuine self-esteem requires a little more thought and planning. Here are three big steps parents can take to facilitate the process: Accept, Support and Respect. As the first two are closely related, we’ll discuss them together.

 ACCEPT and SUPPORT.

 Accept and support your child. As a parent, you are your child’s most important significant other. More than anyone else, you help to establish how your child feels about himself. School personnel, family, and peers have some influence on your child, but yours is the most important. So, how do you help him feel good about himself? By genuinely accepting and supporting your child for whom he is. Here’s how.

  •  DO let your child know you think he’s great. Self-esteem grows through your words and actions. Use language that will build his self-esteem: “What a great idea!” “I’m proud to be your mom/dad.” “I can depend on you.” And, be sure your actions support your message.

 Children use us as mirrors. If we think and convey to them that they are wonderful, they will think and believe that they are wonderful. If we think and tell them they are stupid, they will think and believe they are stupid. Our children internalize our words and actions.

  • DO accept your child’s inherited physical endowments. Nobody, thank goodness, is physically perfect. So encourage your child to accept his or her physical appearance. Children are acutely self-conscious about their physical selves-a girl might be embarrassed by her large nose, a boy about his pimples. Your child might even hate the very qualities you find adorable-his big ears, or her curly hair-so convey your acceptance of his or her physical endowments. You might be quite proud of your child just the way he is. But does your child know this? He needs to, even when nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Remind him every day that you support him, and show him the same through your actions.
  • DO be open and available. Are you approachable? When you are working at home, watching television, or doing housework, is your body language telling your child that you don’t want to be bothered? Or are you showing her that you will listen if she has a problem? Of course, there are times when you are doing something important or taking care of your own needs. You can’t be accessible twenty-four hours a day, and you don’t have to be a problem-solver all the time, but you do need to be someone your child can count on to talk to when the need arises. It will help her just to know you’re there, ready to listen and not judge. If a child perceives that a parent is too busy, disinterested, or annoyed to hear her, then her problems, no matter how trivial they may seem to adults, may overwhelm her.
  • DO recognize and applaud effort. Did your child bungle an art project? Miss a ground ball in a baseball game? Spill a mixing bowl while trying to make cake batter? You know that the effort he puts into the activity is far more important than the success or failure of it, but he probably doesn’t know that. So tell him! Even better than saying, “That’s okay, it’s the effort that counts,” would be to say, “I’m proud of you for trying to make a cake; most kids your age would never tackle that. And you got the ingredients just right!” or “I can see that you threw away the art project you started. I’m sorry you didn’t like it. But I’m proud that you took on such a difficult task.”
  • DO be receptive and helpful with your child’s personal problems, and seek help from professionals when appropriate. It takes only a few minutes each day to ask how your child feels and then listen attentively to what he or she says. Instead of asking general questions about school activities, for example, you could try drawing out your child to see if there are any personal problems you are unaware of. So instead of asking, “How was school today?” you might ask, “Was school better today? Yesterday you said that your teacher kept you in during recess. Did you go out today?” If the answer is yes or no, try to ask more leading questions, such as “What changed today that made things better (or worse)?” and then continue from there. Or, instead of asking, “Did you do your homework?” try asking something like “You said last week that you had a history report due. How is it coming?” If it seems that things are not going well, you may want to offer help or suggest some alternative strategies such as after-school assistance or engaging the services of a capable teenager or professional tutor.
  • DO offer opportunities to pursue individual interests. Your child can’t find areas to explore her individuality if she is not exposed to different activities. When notices for clubs or sports leagues are posted or handed out in school, encourage your child to enroll if she shows an interest. And get her presents that suit her interests. If she is interested in building, why buy her dolls? Children are often scared to try new things. By encouraging (but not forcing) them to try out new activities, we can help them discover areas in which they may express their individuality.
  • DO encourage your child to evaluate the opinions and values of others instead of submissively adopting them. It’s a sign of low self-esteem when a child accepts without question other people’s ideas and values. Encourage your child to weigh each situation instead of mindlessly going along with the decisions or opinions of others. At the same time, encourage him to seek support for his own ideas. This way, your child will learn to determine whether or not a value or opinion is of worth to him, and thereby gain power over his own decisions. This will help his self-esteem as a child, and will serve him well when he is older, when more potentially damaging ideas (such as drug use, sex, or prejudice, for example) will be presented to him.

 RESPECT

 Let’s turn to the third step, respect. Respect your child and she will learn to respect you. This old tale, “The King and His Sons,” says it well.

One rainy day, the king took a walk with his two children. He held an umbrella in each hand to cover and protect each child. A bystander approached and said, “Why are you protecting your children from the rain? You are the king! They should be protecting you.” His highness sagely replied, “If I do not show them respect, how will they learn to respect me? How will they learn to respect others? How will they learn to respect themselves?”

When children are treated with respect, they learn to respect themselves and others. So treat your child as you expect to be treated. Respect that is genuine, and not simply permissive, promotes self-esteem. It satisfies your child’s esteem needs. It makes her feel important-that you hold her in high esteem, and that you value and respect her as a person.

There are many ways you can show your child respect through your actions and words. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

  • DO NOT berate. Berating a child models negative behavior; it does not help her to learn, and it shows her total disrespect. For example, a parent who is helping a child to study for a test might make such berating comments as, “We just did this! What are you, stupid? You’re just not paying attention. Now pay attention!” By the end of the session, usually the child is crying and the parent is screaming. And the child may be heard the next day yelling at her classmate, “What are you, stupid?”
  • DO NOT be sarcastic. Sarcastic remarks are transparent ways of putting someone down, and if directed toward your child, she’ll know it. Many parents don’t realize that the processes of growth and change take time, and their own frustration causes them to resort to sarcasm. But if you show a lack of respect for your child, she will feel unworthy and less motivated to succeed.
  • DO ask your child to do grown-up tasks. There are many opportunities to do so. Asking him to do one at a critical time in his development may be a memorable gift you can give to him. At that moment, he has your respect and trust; he is someone. For example, when the need arises, ask him to answer the phone for you. Even if he forgets to write the person’s name next to the number, let him know that you appreciate his help. Next time the situation arises simply remind him to write down both the name and number. This way, he’ll learn the same lesson without feeling like a failure.
  • DO control your anger. Whether over homework or other issues, many parents become so angry with their children that they end up physically or verbally abusing them. When you get angry at your child, keep this in mind: If you respect someone, do you hit him? Do you curse at him? Do you insult him? Whenever you use physical force or verbal attacks against your child, you show a blatant disregard for his rights and teach him that this is the proper way to express anger and settle disputes. You teach him that it is okay to act on his feelings, when in fact it should be your goal to teach him to think first, and think clearly, before he acts.
  • DO be sure your child is being treated respectfully at school. Not only is it important for you to treat your child with respect; it is also important to be sure that your child is being treated respectfully at school.

As your child’s number-one advocate, be sure she is treated respectfully, both at home and at school. For the most part, teachers and other school personnel are wonderful, hard-working people who care about education and children. But sometimes they too need to be informed. If you see that your child is not being treated with the respect she deserves, call her teacher. Chances are he or she is unaware of your child’s problem and will appreciate your call.

  • DO respect one another. Within a family, parents and children need to strive to develop a mutual respect, which in time extends beyond the family. This is an ongoing process which involves parental role modeling (and usually an endless supply of parental patience and self-control).

Respect is often tested when children slip-up. How parents deal with these slip-ups delivers long lasting messages. Better than flying off the handle on the one hand, or merely shrugging the incidents off on the other, is for parents to deal with each situation, and those involved, in a respectful manner. This involves looking into the causes behind each situation, exploring options, and discussing alternative actions the child could have taken-in other words, maintaining respect. Therefore, when your child experiences some trouble in school, before you begin yelling or punishing, think about what you want to teach her.

In conclusion, in that you as a parent are your child’s most important significant other, you more than anyone else help to establish how your child feels about himself. If you genuinely accept, support and respect your child, and show it through your words and actions, then you are sowing the seeds of genuine self-esteem.

Copyright © 2008 Linda Silbert, Ph.D., and Alvin J. Silbert, Ed.D., all rights reserved.

Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids (Beaufort Books, NY, August 2007) came out to rave reviews by parents, teachers, physicians, and other professionals. The book introduces the “groundbreaking” STRONG method, a proven approach that empowers parents and teachers to help struggling students. By focusing on the six areas of the acronym STRONG — Self-esteem, Trust, Responsibility, Options, Needs, Goals — the reader learns how to identify the actual causes of a myriad of school problems and learn proven techniques to resolve them. This little book will surely make school days and home nights “a whole lot better.” The Silberts are founders/directors of STRONG Learning Centers® in New York. They’ve written over 40 books and 20 phonics games for children of all ages. To learn more about their STRONG method and their books and learning centers, visit their web site at www.oureducationalbooks.com. To subscribe to their free e-zine, send a blank email to: subscribe@stronglearning.com

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