We are currently exploring how results and actions can be directly related to how we think. In Part 1, you were asked to identify a desired result for you and for a child in your life (link here to review this post). In Part 2, you were asked to identify at least 5 action items that support accomplishing the result (link here to review this post). Part 3 had you identify reasons for not doing the actions, answering the question “What gets in the way?” (link here to review this post).
The reason we want to identify the obstacles is because this helps you realize possible learning opportunities – for yourself and for your child. The moment the obstacles appear and come to mind, that is when you don’t feel like doing the needed action, but you can recognize and redirect your thoughts. You can try and see it from another more empowering point of view, one that will allow you to move toward your desired result.
For example, throughout these posts I have been talking about how I used to do this exercise with some students. The students wanted an “A” in class, and they could explicitly describe the actions needed in order to get this result. However, when we talked about what stopped them, such as being too tired to do homework, I could link how these thoughts are what stopped them from making a better choice. When these challenges appear and are noticed, the student can now recognize it and make a choice. The student could either choose to continue this way (not do homework) and now realize they are not doing the actions needed to achieve the result of getting an “A” in class; OR they can choose to redirect themselves, focus more on the result, and work toward overcoming the obstacle facing them in that moment. When you recognize this is an obstacle, or challenge, to overcome, that is when more empowering ideas begin to emerge. You need to make a choice.
In these exercises, you also have a desired result in mind for your child. You have some action, or behavior, in mind – at least 5 – that would demonstrate whether your child was achieving this result. You should also have a list of reasons your child may not do these actions, or act with a certain behavior. Pay attention because these are the obstacles to watch out for. You will be able to recognize them before your child does. These are learning opportunities, the moments you can redirect your child toward a more desirable action and behavior. These are the moments to T.E.L.L. your child: Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love them to know better and make a better choice.
The reason why you want to pay attention and recognize the possible challenge or obstacle in your child is because during childhood these moments are more about attitude. Attitude is the collection of current thoughts and feelings. It is the student’s attitude that says “I’m too tired to do this homework.”
What impacts a person’s attitude? Values. So in the example with students, if the students valued school and believed education was important for their future, they would be less likely to allow the more limiting attitudes to enter their minds.
What must you or your child value in order to achieve the listed result? Is there a value in education, in learning in new ideas, how you treat people? Is there value in not giving up? What value is there in achieving the result? What values do you want to instill in your child?
The good news is values are learned. They are not genetic. A child is not born with values. A child learns what to value depending on life experiences. Adults can T.E.L.L. – Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love – children to learn empowering values.
For now, look at the result you listed for yourself. What is the value associated with this? Why does it matter? Then for the result you listed for your child, why value this result? What value do you want to instill in your child?
The purpose of the current series is to dig deeper in how to develop a mind-set for achieving better results for our children (and ourselves). By doing these exercises – linking results, actions, and thoughts – we are setting you up to better T.E.L.L. a child and yourself.
In the mean time, realize that with every interaction you are contributing to the child’s mind-set. When you tell a child today, turn it into an opportunity to Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love them. In the long run, your interactions T.E.L.L. the child what to value.
We are in the middle of a series to think deeper about why we – and our children – say and do certain things.
In part 1 of this series, you were directed to write down two results, one you desire for yourself and one you desire for a child in your life. Link here if you have not read or done this task.
The next task was to write down at least five action items that would support accomplishing your desired results. Link here if you have not read or done part 2 of this exercise.
The question for this blog post is:
“If you know these action items allow you to get the desired results, then what stops you from doing these things?” You know what you want, and you know the actions that will get you this result, why don’t you do it?
When doing this exercise with students who say they wanted the result of getting an “A” in class, they knew it was important to do the homework, pay attention, ask questions, etc. Can you imagine what they said when I asked “So why don’t you always do these actions? What is stopping you?”
Among the common reasons cited were being too tired to pay attention or having other things on their minds; believing there is more to life than schoolwork; and after being in school all day they just didn’t feel like doing more schoolwork. Some students would talk about knowing they should ask questions, but feeling stuck, not really knowing what to ask or even who to ask at times. All these explanations are reasonable obstacles for not doing the action items known to help get an “A” in class.
It is important for us to validate the reasons for doing or not doing something. In particular, it is very important to ask, listen, and validate a child’s explanation for any stumble or obstacle being experienced. This is good information for any adult trying to help the child develop a stronger, more beneficial mindset. Refrain from judging an explanation as an excuse or limitation in the child – or in yourself.
Now, let’s return to the action items for listed for your desired result. What stops you from doing these actions? Take a few minutes to think about this. Write down at least 2 – 4 reasons for not doing some or all your action items.
Caroline shared a personal goal with you in the last post: To be more patient in all situations and in all aspects of her life. These are the reasons she believes gets in the way of her doing some or all of these actions:
- I don’t take time to see some things from other people’s perspectives, only seeing them from my own, which results in impatience and anger.
- When I can see the way that something needs to get done and know how to do it, I want to do it NOW so I don’t always take time to explore other options or consider others’ needs/feelings.
- At the end of the day, sometimes I’m just too tired.
When you finish listing the reasons that stop you from following through on your actions items, turn to the result you listed for your child. What might get in the way? What possible obstacles might stop your child from doing the actions you listed?
Caroline thought these might be some of the obstacles getting in the way of her 4-year-old daughter making her own decisions and acting independently with good manners and respect for others:
- She doesn’t see others acting that way.
- Adults in her life sometimes make her decisions for her instead of patiently waiting for her to act or respond to a situation.
- Adults in her life fail to see a teaching moment and let it slip away.
For the father who wants his 11- and 13-year-old to become people that contribute to the world, make it a better place, his action items included: volunteer work; they would be polite and respectful to people; they would be into what they are doing, for the most part trying to do good work; they would be helpful to others in need; they would want to keep learning more.
When asked what might be the possible obstacles for his children not doing these action items, he talked about if his children were around people who negatively influenced them and encouraged them to make poor choices. This might cause them to be disrespectful and make poor choices. He added they might also be too busy to do volunteer work because of their schedule in sports and school. He also mentioned they are now teenagers and into themselves, thinking less about others.
Now it is your turn. Take a moment to complete the exercise of identifying what you believe are the reasons or possible obstacles that would hinder your child from performing the tasks you listed. This task may be easier said than done; however, really think about the challenges your child might face that might stop them from achieving your desired outcomes. It is important to do this because these are going to give you insight into possible learning opportunities. You can begin to identify areas to pay closer attention and redirect your child’s mindset.
For example, the father above can now look for opportunities to interact and T.E.L.L. (Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love) his children when he notices someone in need. He can model this for his children so they begin to see and talk about why and how to help someone in need.
He can look for opportunities to interact and T.E.L.L. his children about why and how to give their best, especially when he notices they can do better. When you identify the reasons our children may not achieve this result, it will allow you to think about the opportunities to move the child’s life in the right direction.
The current series of posts are about linking how you think to how you act. To start this series, you were asked to write down two results, one you wish for yourself and another you wish for a child in your life. You were also asked to write why you wanted this result. If you did not take the time to do this, please consider stopping and doing this first. Link here to read the previous post where the questions are explained.
When I asked caregivers around me to respond to this prompt, in particular the result related to their children, some were very general and others were more specific. Here are some of the responses heard:
“Even though my children are grown, I want my son to gain a better understanding of finances before he graduates from college – budgets, credit cards, etc. I want him to budget his money better and be more aware of his spending and account balances. I want him to understand how credit cards work, and how savings accounts can grow.” She wants this because “I wish I had learned more about these things and had developed the practice when I was his age. To know is one thing, to practice takes learning to another level. I want him to know and practice financial responsibility.”
Caroline, the mother of one daughter, 4, and a contributor to this blog, wants her daughter to grow up knowing how to make decisions for herself, how to assess a situation and how others are responding to it and have the confidence and ability to decide her own way and handle the consequences of her actions. “In short, I would like her to be independent. I would also like her to always be mindful and respectful of others, no matter what.” As for herself, Caroline said the result she wants for herself is more patience in all areas of her life.
Nicole, a mother of two daughters, (3 years old and 18 weeks old) said she wants her daughters to grow up respecting their bodies. She talked about how she wants them to learn to say no to drugs. She wants them to respect bodies also when it comes to sex.
A father of two children, ages 11 and 13, said he wanted his children to become people who make the world a better place, to realize they are here for a purpose. “I want them to positively affect the lives of others.” When asked why, “because we are all here for a purpose, to serve and make this world a better place.”
Can you relate to any of these desired results? Maybe the result you listed is similar, possibly different.
Let’s continue the exercise. Now look at the result you stated and write down at least five things you would need to do to get that result. That is, make a list of actions that would help you, or your child, achieve this result. For example, when I did this exercise with students, we talked about the result “To get an A” would include action items such as: do homework, pay attention in class, study for tests, ask questions, just to name a few.
I asked the individuals above what action items would support the child achieving this result. Here are five things the mother who talked about finances said:
He would know how much money he needs for fixed and variable expenses each month; he would know what are his variable and fixed costs!
He would track his spending, monitoring where his money is going.
He would open up a savings account and start depositing in it regularly, for example 10 percent of his income.
He would know credit cards are not free money and the balances must be very low – or zero.
He would understand compound interest.
Here are five things Caroline wrote down as action items for her goals for her daughter:
She needs to see others act independently and successfully, those she learns from most often (i.e., the adults in her life).
She needs to learn about consequences, good and bad, both in theory and in reality.
She has to learn what it means to fail.
She needs to understand there is a time to lead and a time to follow
She must be taught good manners and put them to practice daily.
I’m curious to hear what five things, at least five things, you could do to achieve the desired result you listed for yourself. What possible action items would show your child was accomplishing the desired result you listed? (Again, if you haven’t written a result down for yourself and a child, please stop now and do this! Then you can think about at least five action items to achieve these results.)
Transforming, developing a child’s mindset starts with you clarifying the results you wish to develop in your child – as well as in yourself. In this post you are asked to clarify what your desired results mean by clarifying the actions associated with your result.
Clarity is the start of t.e.l.l.ing your child. Through these exercises, you will become aware of being present so you can teach, encourage, listen, and love your child. For now, write down your list of actions to support achieving your results.
When you choose to T.E.L.L. a child, you are choosing to impact a child’s current thinking for the better. It is not important how well you T.E.L.L., but simply that you think about and just try to T.E.L.L. the child. You are trying to teach, encourage, listen, and love so you transform your child’s thoughts for the better. You do this because the child’s thoughts will inform the child’s attitude and values, and a person’s values and attitude dictate actions.
Have you ever seriously considered how your thoughts, your mind-set, determine your actions now and in the future?
I used to do this exercise with students. I would begin by asking them to identify what results they want to accomplish in this class and in another area of life. Typical responses for the class would be “to get an A” or “turn in all assignments” and the other area of life often focused on extracurricular or life circumstance, for instance “become a starter on the team,” “get a major role in the school play,” or “save enough money for college.” As a homework assignment, I would ask the students to write why they wanted this result in 2-3 sentences.
Let’s try this exercise. How about you? What result would you like to accomplish in general? And, in particular, think about a result you would like for a specific child in your life. Write down the result, and write why you want this result in 2-3 sentences.
Get a few sheets of paper to use for this exercise, or maybe you already have a journal you use to record your thoughts. During the next few posts, you’ll record personal thoughts and action points.
1) Write in the day’s date, and list a result you personally are after. Then write why you want this result. What benefits will you gain by accomplishing this? How will it enhance your life? What would happen if you did not accomplish this?
2) List the child – or children – you wish to focus on in this exercise. State the result you would like for the child(ren). Then write why you want this. Why would this result benefit the child now and/or in the future? How will this result enhance the child’s life? What would happen if the child did not accomplish this result?
Commit to reading and completing the posts associated with this exercise. You may also think about inviting three or four friends to do this exercise with you. Invite them to read this Show & T.E.L.L. blog post, as well as other posts. Have a conversation about the results you want – and the results you want for the children in your lives.
Interacting in a developmentally appropriate way means you consider where the child is on the maturing journey of life. A few of the previous posts have focused on the developing brain and how experiences at a young age create the thinking foundation a child will continue to build upon in life. If you wish to read these posts first, you can link to them below.
Helping a child develop effective thinking patterns is one of the fundamental precepts for T.E.L.L.ing a child. When interacting, you recognize you are teaching and encouraging the child to develop better thought patterns. The thought patterns impact the child’s current and future decision-making and behavior. You are listening for the child’s current thoughts, actions, and feelings so you can recognize what connections must be created, redirected, and built upon. You want the child to build effective thinking patterns and connections. And, you do all this with love in your heart and mind. Children need adults who T.E.L.L. them.
Adults T.E.L.L. children about character. Throughout childhood we want children to develop a sense of humor, empathy, resilience, initiative, acceptance, appreciation, humility, tenderness, perseverance, hope, trust, loving freely, and other characteristics helpful in life. If a child does not consistently experience character traits such as these, the thinking patterns embodying these traits will not necessarily develop. Have you thought about the character traits you wish your child to develop? Have you thought about the experiences you are providing to build these perceptions for your child? Do you look for opportunities to talk about and act upon these traits?
The next time you see an opportunity to bring up and emphasize a positive character trait, give this moment special attention. Notice moments to laugh with your child. Notice moments to help a child work through a difficulty. Notice opportunities to T.E.L.L. your child about empathy, perseverance, etc. Do not neglect the obvious thought patterns. Give the child an opportunity think about and do the work needed to develop these helpful thinking patterns.
Take pleasure in noticing your child becoming better, developing positive character traits. Isn’t this what our children require so they can sculpt the life God intended for them?
The interactions between a child and parent/caregiver are crucial for a child’s development. In particular to the child’s developing brain, the experience can cause the brain to create specific patterns of thought in the moment and for the future. The last two blog posts centered on the idea of building more powerful brain connections in our youth.
This information is based on sound science and research. It is well documented how the brain develops connections from experiences and how this process generally unfolds from birth into adulthood. Those interested can link below to read either of the two previous posts, or if you want to read more scientific information on the developing brain, we have added the link to Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child page on this topic:
Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child – Brain Architecture
Even though many of the ideas I am presenting are based on sound science and research, there is also an art to interacting with a child. The art is the creative decision-making involved when interacting with a child. Knowing the scientific information is one thing, but deciding when to use the information and with whom is another. Quality interactions balance the research-based ideas with the equally vital need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each child.
When you think about T.E.L.L.ing a child in an interaction, besides thinking about what you are teaching and encouraging and how you are listening and loving, you should consider the individual qualities of the child. As the child matures, the child will have developmental limitations and advantages. The child will also have certain weaknesses and strengths depending on his or her unique accumulated experiences so far in life, and the unique passions and gifts the child was born with.
I like to believe that each of us are born with a purpose, that there is someone who needs us to be present at this point in time. We are all meant to help someone in life. When you begin thinking about how you can help a child become who she was meant to be, you are then beginning to practice to the art of interactions. You begin to recognize the unique qualities of the child. You help the child notice and nurture strengths and overcome weaknesses.
A few years ago I heard a story about the great sculptor, Michelangelo. When he was asked to explain how he created such amazing, perfect sculptures, Michelangelo responded, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” He believed the perfect statue was already inside the marble. His task was to get rid of the excess marble surrounding the already perfect statue. If you take a moment to look at some of his work, for example The Pieta that Michelangelo sculpted in 1499 at the age of 24, his explanation seems reasonable.
I started to wonder, how would it be if we considered a similar perspective relative to our children? That is, each child comes into this world with unique gifts and talents that merely need to be sculpted. The gifts and talents are already inside, and the purpose of the life journey is to uncover and bring forth these unique gifts and talents. Slowly, and surely, as the child experiences life, he or she discovers his or her purpose. As the child keeps learning and sculpting, accumulating experiences, the child matures the gifts and talents within.
This story is about one of the greatest artists of all time, but it also gives a glimpse about the art of interacting with each child. What can you do to help the child sculpt a future and find her unique gifts and talents? Do you notice what your child enjoys? What challenges face your child? Those challenges may be something needed for the child’s gift.
Today, try and think about the gifts your child has within. Notice what your child is good at, what she or he wants to become better at doing. Can you help your child sculpt the excess marble? Can you Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love the child to help sculpt and become the child’s best self?