As John Gray, PhD, so famously states Boys are from Mars, Girls are from Venus and all Children are from Heaven. Societies throughout the world are currently undergoing a global shift in consciousness to the possibilities that lay ahead for us when we focus on relaying positive messages and reinforcing positive behaviors.
When we focus our attention and are intentional in making our interactions with others positive, then we get more of what we do want. This type of positive, intentional interacting is not limited to adults. In fact, if we can model and teach our kids how to engage in this manner, there will be more time to enjoy each other as a family. Time outs, temper tantrums, and power struggles will diminish and be reduced the more we convey to our children the following five positive messages.
In the last few weeks of summer vacation, now is the perfect time to re-establish the school routine. Speaking with our children in a positive manner now will create structure for them where they will rely and expect to be buoyed up at home as they deal with resolving conflicts with friends, standing up to bullying, academic and testing stress, and discovering their independence.
- It’s Okay to be Different
It is rare that everyone in the same family has the same personality or temperament. Likewise it is not often family members have exactly same proclivities out of the 8 intelligences, 4 ways of learning, or 3 learning speeds.
- Common Sense
Ways of Learning
3 Learning Speeds
By identifying, allowing, and encouraging your children to thrive in their primary intelligence, way of learning, and learning speed you may be surprised at their inquisitiveness and natural ability to learn and grow beyond their primary modes. Instead of fitting a square peg into a round hole, by allowing children to be different and uniquely themselves, they then gain the confidence to branch out beyond their comfort level, because they experience daily successes.
2. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
It is natural to make mistakes, and children are hard-wired to self-correct. This means it is important to acknowledge your own out-loud, but to also not place a lot of emphasis on their mistakes. Negative responses attract negative behavior. Positive responses attract positive behavior. “Catch” your children doing something good. At our house, this often takes place over supper, when we tell my husband the good things I noticed our son doing that day in interfacing with adults, helping another child, picking up toys, using his manners, etc.
3. It’s Okay to Express Negative Emotions
Shame and punishment subdues children’s passions and breaks their wills. Our son is allowed to be upset. We do not give him time-outs, but we do provide a safe location (which is the foot of our stairs at home) for him to express himself fully, and when he is ready to come back, then we hug, identify what emotion he was feeling, and the more appropriate way to ask for what he desires. He now asks us for hugs, rather than go sit on the stairs, because he prefers to feel better, and work through the emotional upset faster, rather than let it become a full-blown episode. If he is sitting on the stairs, we continue to talk calmly from the other room saying, “honey, we’d love to have you back in here so we can continue doing ___ together. Are you ready?” We often sit with him as well in the safe place, to reassure him he’s in control of his emotions, and to demonstrate empathy and caring. It is also helpful to share stories from our past, rather than share our out-of-control emotions. So our kids manage their emotions, we must also show them how we manage our feelings too.
If you choose to give time-outs, then an age-appropriate one is by adding 30 seconds plus their age. For example, if you’re dealing with a one year old, then the time-out would be between one and one and half minutes.
Many of get stuck in anger, it is very helpful to teach children that underneath anger there is always another emotion whether it is embarrassment, hurt, jealousy, frustration, fear…if we can get our kids to articulate and label their emotions, then we help them move from a fight or flight response into one that is based on logic. This skill is invaluable, because it teaches children how to use their feelings as tools, rather than as things to react to without forethought.
4. It’s Okay to Want More
Giving children permission to ask for more sustains enthusiasm for life, learning, loving, and growing. You do this by teaching them how to negotiate. When they are asking for more make sure you listen with an open mind. This allows you to consider changing your position, or to stay comfortable saying no. For example at dinner our son eats the raw vegetables we put on his plate. If he wants more of a starch or dessert, then he typically negotiates whether or not he has to eat all of his couscous or protein in addition to his vegetables. Our decision is usually based on everything else he ate during the day, and whether he has had enough protein, while he also learns how to ask for more. In this example, we are clearly setting a limit to maintain control, but we are also able to go into command mode, because these are the guidelines for healthy eating in our home.
In a consumer culture, teaching both adults and children impulse control is critical to leading a life independent from debt. Delayed gratification is in the top 3 skills client’s come to me to learn in their own lives. I’ve also seen them successfully teach this to their children as well.
5. It’s Okay to Say No, but Mom and Dad are Boss
Boys tend to act out, and girls tend to internalize inner turmoil. At young ages children are still learning how to reason, so their requests can be unreasonable. It’s our job to help them adjust what they want, not suppress what they want. When we give kids permission to resist, it gives us parents more control, because we are teaching them how to set and enforce age-appropriate boundaries. There are three 9-year stages of maturity: 0-9 complete dependence, 10-18 increasing independence, and 19-26 becoming autonomous.
A positive parenting approach means our relationships are love-based rather than fear-based. It also allows a parenting style to emerge that is strong-willed and cooperative, rather than enforcing conformance and obedience. This is because we model and teach compassion rather than reward or bribe good behavior. If you’re interested in learning more, then ask a local Mars Venus Coach to facilitate the Children are from Heaven Workshop, or click on our online version here. With a positive parenting approach children will become confident and independent rather than submissive and dependent. This type of parenting teaches children to reason, to understand all of their emotions, and to make decisions based on their values, rather than reacting from emotions. Here’s to using the 5 positive messages and capitalizing on the precious little time in between after-school activities, sports, hobbies, and homework you’ll have together once the school year starts.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
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