I recently heard this comment from a student, ‘I look around at others and they seem to have it all. Things would be easier if I could be them. I know I would be happier.’
This is what I know: It’s OK to admire others. The danger occurs when kids believe that they would be happier if they were someone else.
People’s lives often look better from the outside. They might post perfect pictures on social media or it may seem that things come easily to them or that they are happy all the time. Reminding our children that everyone has challenges and everyone experiences difficult emotions is essential to their overall well-being.
Instead of envying others, we must model and teach kids to choose to work on being the best person that they can be – to take pride in who they are and their uniqueness. Defining who they are and the character traits that are important to them helps build confidence, self-acceptance and resilience.
Here is an affirmation exercise to help your kids admire and love who they are:
Starting with ‘I am _____________and I am enough’, ask them to fill in the blank with the answer to this question: What do you want to believe about YOU? Some examples of what they could put in the blank are: confident, thoughtful, accepting, empathetic, kind.
Once completed, place it somewhere so that it is a visual reminder of what they want to believe about themselves.
Have your child repeat it daily. This will remind them that they are important, that they are somebody. It will create a feeling of happiness and pride the more they repeat and believe it.
Teaching children to celebrate and be proud of who they are compared to no one else, boosts their self-esteem, self-confidence and will ultimately make them feel capable of navigating day-to-day challenges and emotions.
Until next time…
26 Oct 2022
Thriving through Emotional Chaos
At times it can be difficult to remain calm and thrive through the emotional chaos you might be experiencing. Your emotions seem to be all over the place. You promise yourself you won’t let your emotions get the best of you but then they do…you make a reactive choice from your emotions.
Later regret floods your brain. You wish you had taken a breath and been more self-aware of the emotions you were feeling and handled them differently.
Since emotions fluctuate and change according to the circumstance and mood you are experiencing, emotions are not a reliable place to make all choices from.
What helps me thrive through the emotional chaos so I can remain calm in order to make choices I am proud of, is keeping my character (who I believe I am), at the forefront of my mind. I repeat, ‘I choose to be respectful and patient.’ I even have it written on post-it notes as a visual reminder 😊
I remind myself that I am allowed to feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, upset (so are you). When I take a deep breath and say, ‘Sara, it’s OK to feel that way but your character is Respect & Patience’, it actually shifts my approach. It shifts my choices.
Training yourself to be conscious of the emotions you are experiencing so that you can breathe through them to make character-based choices, is essential to making choices in the moment that you can be proud of for the moments to come.
Until next time…
27 Jan 2020
Praise Effort Regardless of the Results
My husband coaches our son’s hockey team. His coaching philosophy is one I admire and wholeheartedly believe in. Here’s what he shared with the parents early in the season:
“We’ve been praising the full effort of the kids and are less concerned with who scores… not that we don’t acknowledge the goal, we praise how the goal came about.”
I love this concept and think this coaching technique can carry through to how we as parents and educators interact with kids on a daily basis.
Consider doing this: Praise their effort regardless of the results.
For example, your child
or student receives an A on their recent test. Do you say:
A. ‘Wow! You’re really smart!’ or…
B. ‘Look at what you have achieved. You chose to put in the effort and be determined. Excellent work!’
More and more studies show that choice B is more beneficial for kids. Using the theory of Carol Dweck, a psychology professor, choice B teaches our kids a growth mindset, while choice A encourages a fixed mindset.
With a growth mindset, people approach challenges knowing that they have the ability to learn and to improve every day if they put in the effort. With a fixed mindset, people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talent, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. Their goal becomes to look smart all the time. (Wikipedia)
I think there’s more to unwrap here…
How do you teach children a growth mindset and the value of effort?
Let’s use hockey as an example.
When players understand the importance of being open to learning they become confident enough to put in the effort to embrace new skills. They start to realize that, even though they may not have learned all the skills, it doesn’t mean they never will, it just means they haven’t learnt them YET! This mindset gets them ready to take on the challenges of training and development. And regardless of whether they win or lose, they learn to value the experiences.
This mindset will look like this:
‘I will put in the effort’. ‘I like to learn new skills’. ‘I am a problem solver’. ‘I can overcome challenge’.
Praising effort helps kids see the importance of the actions they took. If they know that being determined to go after the puck and staying focused on skating with a full stride helped them score a goal, they’ll know to stay focused on practicing those skills in order to score again. If we tell them, “You’re so talented! Great goal!” how will they know what they need to do to score again? How will they know which character traits they used to get there?
By attaching specific character traits to their efforts we show children that character based choices matter and what their effort and character looks like in action.
How do you shift your words to praise the effort in every day situations?
Here are some
Great job! (what made it a great job?) You were so determined to learn your spelling words!
You’re a good friend. (what makes them a good friend?) You showed generosity because you shared your snack.
Way to go! (what did they do?) You were kind. You held the door open for them.
The more we focus our praise on acknowledging the efforts and the character traits used to achieve the desired end result, we teach children that the journey matters—how they succeed is just as important as succeeding.
Exercise: Start to praise the effort instead of the results with your own kids or students. Pay attention to how you praise and pause in those moments…what character trait could you add?
Want to share how you’ve changed the praise dialogue for your family or school? Tag me on Instagram with an example of how you praised the effort to teach your child/student about a character-based choice they made. Let’s work together on this!