All posts tagged trust

I Am Because We Are

trustAs I sit on the beaches of Fiji, I experience seven children between the ages of five and nine playing on the beach. The tide is going out. One of the youngest children reaches down, picks up a heaping handful of sand, looks around for an unsuspecting target and pitches the sand at an older child standing just a few feet away. Boom. Direct hit. Dirt covers the boy’s shoulders and back. The action stops. Not one parent moves. Instead, they wait. And as they do, an extraordinary thing happens, play resumes. The older child takes a small handful of sand and throws it back at the younger child. The action stops – again. No movement from the sidelines and then – giggles and as the giggles get louder you see sand being thrown by all of the kids at each other. One child finally picks up a stick and begins chasing one of the older kids who deftly runs into the water and dives away from danger. He comes up laughing and taunting the stick wielder. Soon several other kids pick up what can only be described as primitive weapons as they chase each other in and out of the water and throw heaping piles of sand at passing targets. The laughter continues until one child takes it a bit to far and screams in frustration. The action stops. No one moves and then the older kids circle around their frustrated younger friend, check to be sure he is okay, give him hugs until he is laughing again and the play resumes.

This went on for over an hour. Each time a child reached their emotional or physical threshold, the entire group would attend to the child until all was well. Not once was it necessary for a parent to step in and help the children learn to play nicely with each other. They already knew how to do that. What is more impressive is that within minutes they had established the “rules of engagement” and whether anyone else could see what was happening, those amazing and clever kids came to an understanding about how they would play together. Somewhere deep down inside of them were the skills necessary to play together successfully without any outside assistance.

Now pan down the beach about 200 yards and there you will find 15 kids (boys and girls) between the ages of 12 and 20 who are doing exactly the same things as their younger counter parts – only they have added a rugby ball to legitimize their horsing around. The rules of engagement seem to mimic exactly the younger kids rules and once again I see the same deep understanding they all have on how to play, interact, co-exist, call it what you want, without any outside assistance.

What is most remarkable about this scene to me is that I saw it played out over and over again during my time in Fiji. I pondered what it would be like on playgrounds in my own town, if parents trusted more, if kids were given a chance to work things out and establish a common understanding of what playing together meant.

I asked myself what if:

  • parents trusted that they had modeled to their kids respectful “rules of engagement” at home and knew that with just a bit of practice their kids would quickly apply these rules out in their world with their peers.
  • as parents, we trusted that other parents were teaching their kids respectful “rules of engagement”, so that the majority of the kids who spent time in the same classroom and on the same playground, all came with some experience of how to “play” together.
  • And as parents, we trusted our kids to figure out how to adapt the “rules of engagement” when they were with their peers, whether or not those peers were taught similar lessons.

Rooted in Trust
It occurred to me that so much of what I saw was grounded in trust. Trusting yourself as a parent, trusting your kids, and trusting your community.

I promised myself that when I got home, I would do everything I could to Practice Trust First and allow nature, instincts, and the collective wisdom of centuries to lead the way when it comes to kids and play.

Many Thanks

I receive many heartfelt and thoughtful thank you’s each week from parents whom I have worked with, or who have taken my class or read one of my books. The thank you’s come in all shapes and sizes and I love and appreciate each and every one of them. Being a parent is the most important thing in my life and helping others learn to parent from their best and foster deep connections with their children is what I am incredibly passionate about. So to hear that parents are having success with their journey, or that they have landed in a place of confidence, faith and connection with their children, means the world. Thank YOU for the thank you’s. xo V

Angelou

Vicki,

The conversations we have had have been such a blessing for me. I’d like to share some thoughts in hopes that my realizations and reflections might be helpful to another parent out there.

I’m at a point now in my parenting, where I can look back over past situations and mistakes that I have made with a much clearer understanding. Rather that dwell on guilt or shame around past parenting mistakes, I’m choosing to use it all as a learning experience so I can continue growing with each experience and be the best parent that I can be for my children. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but recently I have had many more successes.

Through working with you and learning about your methods and philosophies, I am at a completely different place in my relationship with my children. I am now able to trust my gut. Trust myself. Trust my abilities and my judgement. And most importantly, trust my kids. There was a point where I made all the decisions for them, never asked for their input, didn’t consider their preferences or choices. Now, I trust their choices. Everything we do begins with a conversation so that everyone is heard and feels valuable to the group. No rules are set with out their input. I have a new found faith in my children that I don’t think I had before. I realize that the process is more important than the outcome  so rather than focusing on them doing something “right” or “just so” or how I would do it…I focus on their process, what they are learning, how they are growing, and sending them the message that I am right there with them and see them growing right before my eyes. Some small but powerful changes in my parenting have created a shift in our relationship that feels so much more connected, respectful, meaningful and long lasting.

I think these days I send the message to my kids that, we’re all in this together. You make mistakes, I make mistakes. As long as we have faith and willingness to own our mistakes and learn from them so we can try a different way next time. We’re a team now, and I can’t thank you enough for your support and help in getting us to this point.

11 Ways to Foster Independence

Developing Skills, Grit and Resiliency Through Trial, Trust and Failure.

Foster independenceThis post is inspired by the famous Free-Ranger, Lenore Skenazy, a “Simple School Project” that is basically genius and the notion that kids perhaps, aren’t feral enough.

After reading and agreeing with popular, recent articles explaining how losing is good for kids, that grit is essential for success and that a 4th R – resiliency– has been added to child-rearing, it seemed like the next logical, large scale conversation might be:

  • How do we allow failures to occur naturally in our child’s life?
  • What will it look like to foster independence?
  • Can my child handle what comes along?
  • What can I do to encourage and show trust in my child?

Well, folks, here’s something that Lenore, Joanna Dustin (the teacher implementing the project) and@georgemonbiot -and of course all of you Duct Tape Parents- are onto:

Failures occur naturally when we allow our children to take a more active role in their own lives by providing them with ample opportunities to choose.  Young children, with not much life experience are bound to choose to play with a favorite toy instead of getting their snack or lunch ready for school resulting in a hungry belly at snack time.  The result is a learning experience that provides good information for the following day and a chance to develop resiliency as they experience a minor failure.

As children grow and mature, parents can foster independence by allowing children to  make choices, learn from them, make necessary course corrections, experience failure and success and develop the resiliency they require to tackle any of life’s challenges and obstacles.  As the Buddhist Quote says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Here are 11 Ways to Put Trying, Failing and Recovery into the Everyday

1. Send the kids outside.

Often, we send the kids outside when we’ve decided we’ve had enough.  Enough screen time, enough rough-housing, or enough whining because they are “bored.”  Instead of using outside time as a reaction to enough of something, get creative and spin it. Show the children how you used to make teeter-totters out of scrap wood. Or better yet, leave a pile of wood, nails and a hammer and see what happens. If your child is younger, allow for time to play in a puddle, pile of leaves or muddy zone. There are countless ideas out there.

2. Ask the kids.

As Lenore mentioned, the middle-schoolers are ASKED to identify one thing they have never done, then they are encouraged and enabled to try. The end result is not the goal. The process is! As parents, we can take this “simple school project” and bring it into our homes by asking our kids, What is one thing you have never done but would like to try? Ok, TRY IT!

Then plan how and when, and simply be there without commentary, as they give it a go.

3. Start small.

After we ask, we have to allow our kids to make toast, knowing it will lead to making eggs and pancakes one day. We have to slow down and say, try it. Even if as Lenore says, “Maybe they seem small, even silly, but in a culture that has created mountains of fear around every childhood experience, these kids (who are encouraged to try) have started their climb. Pretty soon, they’ll be ready to fly.”

4. Share stories.

When we look to other people, to our own childhood stories and success stories from other children, it becomes easier to put it all in perspective. For example, Ringo Starr, a surviving Beatle, was chronically ill as a child and never finished school, in fact he spent many years in the hospital. It keeps things in perspective to think one of the most famous, beloved drummers in history discovered his own talent while tapping sticks to pass the time in his hospital stay. This certainly wasn’t a picture perfect- mom-and-dad-will-make-it-happen-route and he turned out pretty successful on his own, don’t you think?

5. Encourage other parents.

Parents talk. Parents want what is best for their children. Avoid showing off what your child can do, but rather encourage other parents to discover for themselves that their children CAN handle more than they think.

6. Identify your fears.

After your child has chosen a task, it’s helpful to write down the fears you have. Once you do this, you can plan for how you will respond if your worst fears actually come true.  (Example: If I let my child pack her bag, she will forget her boots. I am afraid the school with think I am a bad parent. Plan: I will send a note saying I am encouraging my child and if she forgets her boots, we will work on ways to remember them at home).

7. Get the facts.

After writing down your fears, get the facts. If you’re afraid of the bigger, “what- ifs” like abduction, find out the real stats and then plan accordingly. See Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker. Bottom line: instead of putting the axe on an idea altogether, find another way to create the same experience through alternative planning and enabling.

8. Let go.

Here’s where we, as moms and dads, have some work to do on ourselves as we develop the habit of letting go. We can try to control the outcomes and direction of our children while they are young, but as our children get closer and closer to leaving the nest, it is imperative that they learn and practice staying afloat and recovering in the wake of mistakes and mishaps.  If we impede their progress neither you or the child will be prepared for what the real world will deliver from 18-80.

9. Practice, practice, practice.

In order for kids to experience and garner meaning and develop resiliency from the lumps and bumps, the ups and downs, the oopsies and flops that go hand in hand with all learning, kids will need oodles of practice time.  And as parents, we have our own job to practice stepping out of the way and trusting our children.  No parent I know is likely to wake up one day saying, “Alrighty kiddo- this time you’re on your own.” Likewise most kids won’t wake up one day saying, “No problem, I didn’t make the team or I forgot my lunch, I’ve got this,” without some practice. Baby steps and practice it’s good for everyone in the family.

10. Keep track.

When parents keep track of the efforts and outcomes, it becomes very clear that over time, these “simple” tasks add up. They also keep motivation high and evidence in hand that yes, children do benefit from us backing off and staying quiet (grab the duct tape) and showing our kids that we have faith in their abilities to tackle new things and overcome failures.

11. Celebrate!

If your second grader made eggs for the first time (after 4 failed attempts with shells in the scramble), he’s a rockstar because he’s taking on more responsibility and he did it. He made it through the failures, as minimal or as grand, as they may seem to us. This is progress! Have a big breakfast and make it a celebration.

About The Simple School Project

“Every year, Joanna Drusin, an English teacher at a magnet school in Manhattan, has her students, age 11, do a “Free-Range Kids” project. That is, they can pick one thing that they think they are ready to do (that’s legal!) that, for some reason, they haven’t done till now. Once they get their parents’ permission — and some kids can’t, which is why this project is extra credit and not a requirement — off they go to do the kinds of activities that might sound simple or scary, depending on how much local news you watch. Some walk the dog — alone. Some walk to school — alone. One made toast — alone..

YOUR Simple Home Challenge

Parents, let’s extend this into a “simple home project” challenge -and see if you can provide one opportunity to trust your child to do something he or she has never done!

Film it, snapshot it and share it!  You can showoff here– we’d love to see what YOUR kids are doing in their own lives and together, we can inspire other parents! #challengeaccepted

Internal Motivation Infographic

infographic, internal motivation

Click to see the INFOGRAPHIC

Children naturally enjoy doing valuable work and are not afraid to make mistakes- they learn to discover success through feedback from peers, teachers, materials and so forth (not just because they follow rules or get a sticker).

When nurtured, respected and trusted, internal, or intrinsic, motivation leads to the same desired outcome: positive or “good” behavior.

Beyond that, the child has a more enriching experience as he or she discovers the world, vs. discovering how the adult sees the child’s role in this world.

What are your thoughts?

Where have you seen intrinsic motivation in action?

 

Articles: Teens, Trust and Respect

parenting styleThis week we have a few great links to share about shifting your thinking and setting yourself free from limiting beliefs. Here they are…

Think teens won’t talk? Think they shouldn’t be trusted?

Check out this clip by Katie Couric on  Katie’s Take. She shares a conversation with teens that shows us what teens want to hear from their parents, what parents don’t need to worry about and one thing they really want: TRUST.

Expert and psychologist, Wendy Mogel, mentions they also benefit from plenty of space to make mistakes. She says:

“The snapshot of your teenager at any given moment is not the epic movie of his or her life.”

For more on raising teens check out Radicalparenting.com – a website created by teens for their parents.

Question: Do You want to Raise an Obedient Child?

(Hint: No!) This post by @DrLauraMarkham will make you think about what you believe about kids who…lie, defy, talk back, and so on. Obedience for obedience sake isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In a society where bullying is such a big issue, kids who can stand up for their vision of who they are on the planet is a welcomed and well-timed skill. Let’s all think before we demand compliance over the big picture.

“Children who have been responded to, led to believe – in a healthy way – that their voice is valued, that all they have to do is object and action will be taken – they will push boundaries. And this is really healthy behaviour. Compliance? They’ve learned there’s no point arguing because their voice isn’t valued.”– Alison Roy

Talking Back: Why A Teen Who Talks Back May Have A Bright Future

Talking back = bad kid? Not at all. NPR’s take, HERE.

Takeaway: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.

Again. This is training for saying no in the real world! [hr]

Bullying: Governor Shumlin weighs in. The message? “We have a role at home to make changes”

…and we agree! WE ALL HAVE TO STEP UP.

For the vast majority of those experiencing bullying, it will get better — but we all have a role to play in ensuring that they never go through this experience in the first place. – Read on Huffpost!

Follow Gov. Peter Shumlin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovPeterShumlin [hr]

Humiliation Parenting– Wrapping it Up

We know bullying is a big buzz issue and we just want to mention that we are not going through this for hot topics’ sake. There are so many connections to the choices we make at home and what we’re seeing all around us. Just keep going- empowering your children to make decisions, encouraging them to screw up and try again and guiding them to discover who they are– not what the world wants. Also, don’t forget that these pressures to “be like this” or “act like that” don’t stop as we move through our parenting journey! Remember you’re parenting the best you can for your child and nobody else should sway your thinking. We’re here to give you good information so you can continue to grow, learn and do your job!

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Watch Vicki on WCAX wrapping up some thoughts on Humiliation Parenting!

 

 

What Family Meetings Mean to Me

family-meetingsThere aren’t any strategies in the Parenting On Track™ Program that I don’t use with my own family. One strategy that has played a particularly important role in the evolution of my family has been Family Meetings.

When my children were very young, Family Meetings helped us define, at the very core, what kind of family we wanted to “be”.  The result of that early work is seen in the individuals, family members and community members we have become.

Initially, Family Meetings were a way for us to come together each week and invest in the health of our family. It was the place that taught my kids about kindness through appreciations and that their contribution to family work made the whole family run more smoothly.  They learned about money and, instead of fighting when we shopped together, we looked forward to this shared experience. It was only later that I realized the impact that allowance had played in my children’s healthy relationship with money.

As life got more challenging, Family Meetings became a safe place for us to bring both individual and family problems. Because everyone in the family was invested in finding a solution, there was little or no time spent on blaming or sabotage. Instead, my children became proficient at identifying problems and coming up with solutions that worked for everyone.

The older the kids got, the more Family Meetings began to change. Because there were fewer and fewer problems to work on, it left time to talk about vacations, community service, college, travel and other interests in our kids’ lives. Because all five of the kids got along so well (weekly appreciations will do that to a family), they looked for ways to appreciate other people in their lives that might otherwise go unnoticed. Because contributions were a way of “being” and not just doing, they spread their wings and began working outside of the home to bring in money and gain experience that would be useful when they could get “real” jobs at 14.

Without Family Meetings, we might have done what so many other families end up doing—trying to deal with daily life as it comes toward you like a crashing wave. Sometimes you can ride those waves, but sometimes those waves can crush a family of seven. We never had to worry about that with Family Meetings. In a way, Family Meetings became the lifeboat that we traveled in together, navigating both the rough waters and calm seas. The key part was that we did it together, every week at the same time and place, as a family.

Because I think Family Meetings play such an important role in the nurturing of a healthy family, I decided to take the month of March to put out a series of articles about the components of Family Meetings and the role each of those components can play in promoting healthy relationships within your family. So, stayed tuned; next week we’ll talk about Appreciations.

Learn more about Parenting On Track.