Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reflection #2: Words of encouragement...

The second  3 minute video clip from the Nurtured Heart free online Class focuses on this quote:

"Realize that all the less energetic words of approval like "good job," "way to go," and "thank you" and such, do not begin to touch the realm of greatness. They energetically barely scratch the surface compared to the energy we give to what's wrong. We need to go to the level of "radical appreciation" in order to leave a lasting impression of the greatness we wish to cultivate. ~ Howard Glasser 

As a teacher I spent significant time focusing and working on my teacher language.  It is hard to change your language because it often comes from your heart and from habit- naturally.  But as a parent or teacher, when you interact with children your language, tone, and body language can impact so much of the message that your child receives.   

Mr. Glasser points out that it is easy to feel so much energy and passion when we deal with our children during times when they are making choices that aren't ideal.  And it is easy to use simple words like "Thank you!"  "Good job!"  "I like that"  when they do well at something.  But those phrases are so common and simple and because they take very little energy to say them...the children also hear that lack of excitement and passion and don't see the greatness in the good choices they are making in life.  

Looking at a simple scenario....your child is coloring and brings you a picture.  How easy it is to look away from the meal you are preparing and respond with "Good job."  "That's great."  But kids can tell that there is very little energy in that response.  They also know if their big brother across the table is drawing much better and that their's isn't "great."  So instead.....respond with ....

"Tell me about your picture."  This allows them to take control of their greatness conception.

Point out specifics and emphasize a description rather than your personal opinion.  So instead of saying "I like how hard you worked.  I love it."  Be specific and leave your personal opinion out.  "I noticed you worked really hard.  You sure used a lot of red.  You really stayed in the lines.  The eyes are so blue." etc.  From the tone and time you took to notice and share these details will come a child's realization of how special their work is.  

When we include our personal opinion we are teaching our children to think that pleasing us is what is important.  And we want children to choose behaviors for the sake of themselves...not ours.  And when we describe behaviors that we value and see important, we will naturally give off a voice, body language, warmth and caring message that will outlast the "great job"response.  

THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE SHOULD NEVER TELL CHILDREN WE LIKE THEIR WORK OR BEHAVIOR.  There are times when this is the most appropriate response.  The goal of the communication has to be considered.  

It is a really hard challenge.  I remember as a teacher I would post a list of statements and sentence starters up by my desk as reminders.   Every once in awhile I would pick one and try to use it a few times and after awhile I realized some of them were rolling off my tongue naturally.  

So, as the week has progressed I can TOTALLY admit that I don't recognize the greatness going on here a lot of the time.  I DEFINITELY notice it and even email my sister and say "All three are playing together or Sydney sat in her chair and ate her breakfast today."  But I don't take the time and energy to let them know I noticed that they hung up their backpacks, helped each other, took off their shoes when coming in from outside, or cleared their breakfast dishes.  My mind settles on the moments we struggle.   Takes the opportunity to use my voice at these times - to try and teach a lesson that might otherwise have been taught in a more positive moment.   I engage with my children more often when they are whining, arguing, or making poor choices.  

So I am gearing up to pay closer attention to the good choices.  The moments that deserve more energy.  And using my energy to better show my children that I notice them.  Here are just a couple ideas I came up with to have on the tip of my tongue...These are all starters.  The more details you add ...the more energy you are giving to these thoughts.  

I noticed  _______.
Our family does hard things.
I can tell _____.
Thanks for______, that made a big difference.
Thank you for your help with _____!
You worked really hard on ______.
You should be proud of yourself!
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
Wow! What makes you proud?
Wow!  What do you like best?
What part was tricky for you?
Look at your improvement!
That shows a lot of hard work!

The time you’re putting in to _____, is really paying off.
That's great teamwork.
Those words make smiles happen.
That’s coming along nicely.

You seem to really enjoy _______.
Your hard work paid off!
You really worked it out.
Look how far you’ve come!
I trust your choice.
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!

A friend also had a list of positive traits we want our children to embrace as they go out into the real world hanging on her fridge...things like...honesty, perseverance  smart, calm, kind, nice, diligent, strong, respectful, responsible, hard working, teamwork etc and she is able to glance at that for reminders of words she can use when she points out the good going on around her house.  By naming it she is taking a positive moment to teach a valuable life lesson. (Don't forget to send it my way Amy!)
Giving more energy to celebrating the good things going on around here is a goal of mine.  It is so easy to launch into the lectures and explanations when the choices aren't as they should be. It is easy to feed the fireball  of energy put into dealing with poor choices taking place.  When  ideally it would be great to step back and react without yelling, lectures, repeating...all big energy suckers.  And save it up for the bells and whistles that should be rung and blown when things like respect, honesty, patience, kindness, and safety are acted out by our children. Don't they often tune us out when we get yammering about all the shoulds and coulds anyways.

 Filling up their cups with a touch, a hoot of excitement, one on one attention, eye contact, detailed responses, etc...will most likely have them searching far less often for our attention with less appreciated behaviors.  Because ultimately, our children just want us.

What are some characteristics or traits you hope your children learn from their time in your home that you could post on your fridge so you are reminded to use those words more often?


Heather (One Take On Life) said...

I remember reading about this awhile back and it stuck with me, I have been working on using this skill since then but it so can be hard in the moment when my hands are busy cooking or my mind is side tracked.
Love the list of prompts

So do you watch a video a day or when you feel you want to?

Anonymous said...

I like important. I try on this but can tell Eli knows when I'm really noticing and excited for him. Thanks for all the ideas. You are good at this! Rr


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