147: Improve or not?

When you are criticized, disappointed or angry about something, where does your mind and mood go?

Naturally, it is not a good feeling to experience these negative interactions. But, how do you typically respond? Are you one of those people who tend to beat yourself down and possibly anyone else who shows up in those moments? Does the negative moment remain negative? For how long?

dad scolding daughter

On the other hand, when things are going well, where does your mind and mood go? It’s probably safe to say that in those moments you are not beating yourself down. Do the positive moments remain positive? For how long?

Why not save yourself and others from ongoing negative interactions and instead learn to T.E.L.L. yourself to improve? That is, Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love  yourself toward improvement. Grow, learn, strengthen, build up, benefit yourself (and others) in the moment.

mom and teen daughter

Is there ever a time to beat yourself, or others, down and continue with negativity? Never.

Is there a time to T.E.L.L. yourself for improvement? Always.

Today might be a good day to consider your responses. How well do you T.E.L.L. yourself and others? Are you willing to improve?

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Please note the Show & T.E.L.L. posts are not written to portray guilt or reward to any caregiver. The posts are intended to share a message about interacting intentionally with young people. Tell Our Children is all about uniting, mentoring, and inspiring caregivers to improve communications with the youth. Every post is intended to empower readers to improve interactions with younger generations. Tell Our Children strives to educate caregivers on ways to better Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love – T.E.L.L. – young people. We believe everyone can T.E.L.L. youth better.
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146: Repeat after me?

T.E.L.L. the youth what you desire to hear them say and do. Young people learn by repeating what they hear and see. They learn behaviors from their experiences. The younger people in your life learn from YOU. Be mindful and careful what and how you T.E.L.L. them.

Can you honestly and sincerely say, “Repeat after me”?

Today might be a good day to consider how you interact with a younger person. Are your words and actions ones you want repeated?

happy mom and daughter

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Please note the Show & T.E.L.L. posts are not written to portray guilt or reward to any caregiver. The posts are intended to share a message about interacting intentionally with young people. Tell Our Children is all about uniting, mentoring, and inspiring caregivers to improve communications with the youth. Every post is intended to empower readers to improve interactions with younger generations. Tell Our Children strives to educate caregivers on ways to better Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love – T.E.L.L. – young people. We believe everyone can T.E.L.L. youth better.
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145: A journey begins with a single step

dad baby feet

Today, the quote “A journey begins with a single step” is on my mind. I like this quote because it helps visualize the life journey as a series of stepping stones. I imagine stones, or steps, that are not equal in size or space. I imagine detours here and there. Some hills along the way. There are some steps farther apart that cause the traveler to take a bigger leap. The leap is reachable steps – that is within grasp of the traveler’s current mindset and skillset – the traveler just needs extra effort and concentration to get there. I also imagine steps with wide spaces in between, that are outside the traveler’s reach in the moment. There, the traveler must add a step or two in between so he or she can eventually get there.

Can you see how the life journey traveled can indeed be visualized as a series of steps? So what about today, which step shall this traveler take? Is the step doable? If not, how can I get there?

The stepping stones we take can be set by others or by ourselves. I believe God also has a major part in the walk. Every day, whether we realize it or not, we are taking steps. Which step to take and why? Which steps are doable? Do you have the energy and concentration for a leap today? What steps are others asking you to take today? How do you choose? What are you capable of today? Are there steps you must pave first?

How we answer these questions depends on our current mindset and skillset that we developed through life experiences. During childhood, the stepping stones are often set by parents, teachers, and other caregivers. These adults pave much of a child’s way. The experiences shape the child’s mindset and skillset and become the foundation for the steps chosen, or not chosen, into adulthood.

As I reflect on my childhood, at home my siblings and I helped each other pave our way much more than our parents. Mom was busy working all hours of the day and week to keep a roof over our heads and dad was not there. But, in elementary school, educators definitely paved the way by giving guidance and direction to move one step at a time.  Each school transition, from middle school, high school, and then college, left me having to take more responsibility in paving my own way. I learned to choose my walk, whether to step on a stone someone else put in my path or pave my own.  I can see how these childhood experiences impact my steps in adulthood.

As a mother, I may have tried to provide more stepping stones for my children at home because I remember wanting more guidance from my parents. There are times I wonder if I made the journey too easy for them. Did I give my children enough experiences in paving their own way? Did I give them stepping stones which caused them to leap, put in extra effort and concentration? Or at times did I ask my children to leap beyond their current reach, in other words not consider their current mindset or skillset? How did I impact the steps they now take as adults? How did the other caregivers in their life impact their choices as adults?

I’m seeing now the value in childhood where I had to pave much of my own way, but also had stepping stones provided. I was challenged to take leaps; I tried leaps outside my current abilities which caused me to naturally fail to reach the step I was trying to get to. Though where I landed in my efforts could be seen as my next step and then I could continue to walk in the direction of that once unattainable leap in front of me.  There is value in experiencing paving and choosing which steps to take. Could it be those who do not get these experiences in childhood are challenged by paving their own way in adulthood or choosing their way? Do I help children experiences making and taking steps in their journey?

Double exposure. The child the boy looks from below up. It is combined with the ladder steps leaving up It is isolated on a white background

Do you know of people who expect others to pave their way and blame when the step they need is not set before them? I wonder whether these individuals did not have enough childhood experiences paving their own way?

Do you know of people who wait and do nothing until someone or situation shows up? They are upset about the situation, but sit and second guess the next move? Lack confidence in making or taking the next step? Did they not learn this from childhood? Or maybe they learned to not take steps because too often they asked to take bigger leaps than their current ability, and now they believe “I’d rather not try than to try and fail.”

In adulthood, we are the one responsible for the steps in our life journey, whether we want that responsibility or not. Maybe our childhood experiences did not adequately prepare us to make these choices.

However, maybe as parents and caregivers of younger people we can know better and T.E.L.L. them about making and taking steps in life. Maybe you can find opportunities to have the children in your life take leaps, teaching and encouraging extra effort and concentration. Maybe you can allow the children in your life to choose their next step? Or ask where they would like to step next?

Every journey begins with the first step. Tell Our Children is focused on mentoring, inspiring, and uniting caregivers with steps for improving interactions with young people. Today’s message focuses on making and taking steps in our own life, and helping the children around us to do the same. What steps will you take today?

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144: What is it like to be on the receiving end of your words?

How does a child, or anyone for that matter, receive your words? Do they listen? Should they listen?

Have you ever listened to yourself and asked, “What is like to be on the receiving end of my interactions?”

If you were on the receiving end of the words you speak, would your words cause you to want to run away, to not listen? Or would the words cause you to want and stay to hear more?

What comes out of your mouth? What are you giving? In other words, what are others receiving? Wisdom? Understanding? Knowledge? Or more consistent with confusion, condemnation, disgrace, or foolishness?

As I write this, I am reminded of conversations through the years with my children and with others. I’m remembering times when I definitely did not think about what it was like to be on the receiving end of my words.

For example, there were times my words were not, could not, be received because I spoke beyond their current understanding or interest. I intended to give good advice, but my advice was not received. One simple example is when my son was in elementary school and we were getting ready to address his homework.

I looked into his backpack and saw a disorganized mess. I went on to give him a lecture on the importance of being organized with his school work. As I spoke, I cleaned out his backpack.

But, he wasn’t thinking about his organization, nor did he care about the disorganization in that moment. His mind was elsewhere. My words were going in one ear and out the other ear. After I finished sharing what I thought was great wisdom, my son responded, “Thanks for cleaning my book bag mom, can we read this book now so you can sign my sheet?”

I was talking over his head because what I had to say did not connect at all with his current mood and understanding.

How often do we talk over another’s head by either using unfamiliar language or by providing information irrelevant to the other person? This is not necessarily a hurtful and destructive interaction – though it is probably not helpful and constructive, either!

My son and I may have had a completely different interaction if I had thought to ask, “What is it like to be on the receiving end of my words?” Now I try to remember to ask this question (most of the time)! At least I try to be aware of the look from someone else that says, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Confused child thinking and looking up

So, how does a child, or anyone for that matter, receive your words? Do they listen? Should they listen?

Have you ever listened to yourself and asked what is like to be on the receiving end of my interactions?

If you were on the receiving end of the words you speak, would your words cause you to want to run away, not listen? Or would the words cause you to want and stay to hear more, desire to listen?

If you remember to think and ask these questions, you may end up having a completely different interaction.  You may be able to intentionally give wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that is comprehensible. You may be less likely to talk over their heads.

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143: What does your sign T.E.L.L.?

Around voting time, letters are often submitted to newspapers to encourage voters to pass a certain bill. This morning, I was reading one of these letters. It was discussing two road signs on display in a particular neighborhood. Perhaps unknowingly by the author, her message is consistent with paying closer to what we tell our children. Here is part of her letter that caught my attention…

I drive by two signs paired side by side throughout my neighborhood, as do my colleagues, my students, and my daughters. 

One sign winks at me as I pass, cheering me on to my calling as a fourth-grade teacher in one of our district’s public schools. In it, I hear my community urging me on as I strive to celebrate strengths and meet individual needs and honor potential. This sign is validating. This sign partners.

Another sign knocks me over as I pass, mocking my determination and belittling my purpose, our purpose, as public school teachers tasked to educate our citizenry. I feel my community’s scorn burn in my cheeks even as I contractually serve “in loco parentis,” in place of parent. This sign demoralizes as it demands ever more while providing less and less. This sign abandons.

….

What do these signs in our district’s neighborhoods tell our children as they pass by? Do they show our commitment to their potential? I want to live and teach in a community that tells its young people they are worthy of our resources and our expectations. 

I’m not sure what the two signs look like or how one can wink at you and another knock you down. Though I do appreciate how these signs demonstrate two varying perspectives. The first sign is a message on celebrating strengths and meeting individual needs and honoring potential. A positive message of validating and partnering. This is a message that can make a life better.

The second sign communicates knocking down, mocking, belittling, demoralizing, and demanding more while providing less. This negative message is about abandoning and rejecting individuals. This message is less likely to make any life better.

Just like these signs are set side by side throughout this neighborhood, every interaction we choose to communicate one sign or the other. The words and actions we display signify a validating and partnering message or an abandoning and rejecting message. Whether we realize it or not, this is a choice we make every interaction, every day. Which sign will you choose the next time you interact?

directory-468074_1280

Now, as much as I appreciated the analogy of the two signs in her letter, it was the final paragraph that really caused me to stop, think further, and write this blog post.

What do these signs in our district’s neighborhoods tell our children as they pass by? Do they show our commitment to their potential? I want to live and teach in a community that tells its young people they are worthy of our resources and our expectations. 

Don’t we all want to live in communities that teach, encourage, listen, and love its young people? Don’t we all want to t.e.l.l. the young people they are worthy of our resources and expectations?

What signs do we provide to communicate this message? What signs do the young people see while they live in your community? Signs of partnering and validating or signs of abandoning and rejecting? Or are there no signs?

How does your community – your home – signify that young people’s strengths are celebrated, their individual needs are met, and their future potential is honored? How do you signify this message? Will someone driving through your neighborhood believe children are taken care of in this neighborhood? What signs are there to let someone think this idea?

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Please note the Show & T.E.L.L. posts are not written to portray guilt or reward to any caregiver. The posts are intended to share a message about interacting intentionally with young people. Tell Our Children is all about uniting, mentoring, and inspiring caregivers to improve communications with the youth. Every post is intended to empower readers to improve interactions with younger generations. Tell Our Children strives to educate caregivers on ways to better Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love – T.E.L.L. – young people. We believe everyone can T.E.L.L. youth better.
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142: Help others weather a storm – physical and emotional

beach-768587_1280This past weekend, the southeast coast of our country experienced Hurricane Matthew. If you were directly impacted by the storm, did it cause you to stop and think twice about relationships and how you interact with one another? Even if you were not directly impacted, did it cause you to reach out and check on family and friends? Did you call someone and ask, “How are you and your family? Is everyone and everything around you okay?”

Being that I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and have family who live on the northern coast of Florida, Hurricane Matthew directly impacted us. Now, as I reflect on these past few days while weathering the storm, I can’t help but also think on how the storm connected people. Interactions changed.

Leading up to and during the storm as well as the following day, I witnessed neighbors coming together and sharing supplies. Individuals were interacting about ways to make life in this moment better. “You are welcome to stay here, no need to be alone”; “We have plenty of food, water, as well as flashlights and radios, do you need anything?”; “Come over for breakfast, I have a gas stove”;  “I will drive to my church and get ice for us”; “I hear you have coffee, may I have some?” I received and sent numerous texts, emails, and phone calls: “Thinking about you … How are you and your family?”

clasped-hands-541849_1280

During storms, people intentionally connect and express patience, gratitude, and hope with one another – loving interactions seem to appear in particular while weathering a storm. The messages being communicated tend to be about being in this together. Each person intentionally relaying messages like, “I am here for you”; “I care about you”; “You matter to me”; “We can get through this together”; “Let me know how can I help.”

These messages t.e.l.l. how we all can help and experience a better life in any given moment.

How can we help one another weather a storm? How do you weather a storm?

Maybe we can learn from this physical storm and realize how so many people are weathering personal, emotional storms every day. Everyone’s life has storms – major and minor. How can we do better at helping each other weather storms?

How can we show and t.e.l.l. each other, “I am here for you”; “I care about you”; “You matter to me.”

How do you show and t.e.l.l. yourself, “Where are the skills and tools I need right now?”; “Who can enlighten and empower me right now?”; “Where is that cup of coffee I need to help me wake up and get moving?”

When weathering a storm, helpful interactions definitely make life better in the moment.

In closing, prayers for those who are still weathering the impact of Hurricane Matthew. May you find strength, patience, and hope as you go through this difficult period. May you have individuals around you who are there to help you weather the storm and make this moment at least a little better.

 

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