184: Gifts and talents are always in training (even for adults!)

Youth begin the training for adult life in childhood. That is, a major goal in childhood is to have enough quality experiences for the young person to begin discovering and maturing their identity, their talents and gifts, and their calling in life. Childhood is the training period for establishing fundamental values and character traits. Have you thought about how your childhood influences many of your fundamental ideas as an adult?

I sincerely believe we all are born with a longing within our hearts, sometimes referenced as a purpose or calling. We also come into this world with a hidden set of talents and gifts that need to be developed so that we may serve our purpose in life. We are fully equipped to become someone needed in this time and place. This largely depends on how you learn to approach challenges in life. Do you keep sculpting yourself or do you give up?

How we approach challenges in life has much to do with our experiences in childhood. Who was there to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love you? Did they T.E.L.L. you to keep sculpting and discover who you are? Did you have lessons that allowed you to mature your talents and gifts deep within you?

Childhood is the training period for life. The way care-givers interact with youth during this critical time will largely determine how the youth discover and mature into their identity. During childhood, they begin to explore, notice, and mature personal talents and gifts deep within?

When a younger person is in your care, how well do you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love them? Do your words and actions support and help them grow up stronger, or weaker? Do your words and actions support and help them identify and mature talents and gifts so they may be able to share this with others some day? Do you look for opportunities to support and help their training?

Truth be told, aren’t we always in training? Aren’t we always trying to mature our identity, gifts and talents, and our calling in life? Though much of our foundation does begin in childhood…

A question for every caregiver to contemplate is, “how can we help the youth mature while they are safe in our care?” How can caregivers – parents, close relatives, and teachers – provide support and guidance when a younger person fails and needs to rebound? Aren’t these moments they need to mature?

T.E.L.L. them to rebound! Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love the younger person to rebound when they fail. Just thinking and asking ‘how must I T.E.L.L. them?’ provides valuable training – for them and yourself!

You came into this world with a longing within your heart. You have hidden in you a set of talents and gifts needing to be developed so that you may serve this purpose in your life. Mature your gifts and talents – and help those around you to do the same. As you T.E.L.L. yourself, you will be better able to T.E.L.L. a younger person!

Every day, pray for your gifts and talents to mature, that your calling come to light. While you’re at it, pray the same for the young people in your life – and that you may be someone who can impact this maturity.

 

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183: Living perfectly as adults and children!

Living to be perfect? As an adult, one of my grand lessons has been about not trying to be perfect here and now, but instead to see experiences as moments for perfecting who I am and what I can do.

That is, I am trying to shift my focus from trying to be flawless in every detail, and focus on completing and maturing in the detail! This is a grand lesson. I’m still learning! The T.E.L.L. message has been a valuable resource.

I’m trying to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love myself better when I feel I am in imperfect situations. That is, those moments where I want it to be perfect but there is a stumbling block. I just don’t know how to show up in this moment. Sometimes it’s because there is too much of a discrepancy between what I am right now and the more perfect image of what I wish in this situation.  Sometimes it’s an unexpected challenge thrown into the situation.

I am T.E.L.L.ing myself to shift my focus. If I remain focus on the perfection, I will feel discouraged and drained by the limiting thoughts. I will stay stuck in thoughts such as, “Not perfect! Not good enough!” My lesson has been to live and learn through the current – and temporary – imperfection. Focus on completing and maturing in the process. Don’t stay stuck in the excuses of limitation; go for forward progress and mature along the way.

Progress depends on our daily walk. Our notion of perfection depends on our daily walk. Certain times in our life we progress and mature more than at other times.

During childhood is one of the most influential times of progressing and maturing. The youth need caregivers who Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love them to live perfectly. That is, by not focusing on the ‘not perfect’ thoughts and instead focus on completing and maturing in the process. Interact with them by helping them show up in imperfect moments. Guide them through the challenge and point out the improvement. Living perfectly should mean progressing and maturing and improving throughout life!

 

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182: The power in words and actions – are you aware?

There is a difference in knowing the facts and applying those facts to life. We all know to Teach,
Encourage, Listen, and Love our youth so they may grow up to become healthy, resilient adults. It just makes common sense. But, do we consistently apply this idea when we interact with our children?

According to researchers in interpersonal communication, “Ordinarily, we take notice of our own or someone else’s interpersonal skills when they are exceptionally bad, exceptionally good, or simply not at all what we expect. The rest of the time, interpersonal skills occupy the status of ‘scenery’ to our everyday experience.” Our tendency is to not think about our everyday interactions at all. We reflect on our interpersonal communication only when it catches our attention. We think about our talking about as much as we do our eating and walking!

One major problem with adults only thinking about their interactions with the youth when the exchange is extremely good, bad, or when something unexpected occurs, is the youth tend to think more about the daily interactions than the adults. This is because for the younger person, there is often something said or done they did not expect. This catches their attention, and they think about what they just saw and heard, trying to make sense with the knowledge they have accumulated so far in life.

Take, for example, a story a friend of mine shared about her daughter Sarah who was 4 or 5 years old at the time. They were going through a fast-food drive-through line picking up drinks for everyone. My friend hears her daughter crying and asks, “What’s wrong, Sarah?”

“Mommy don’t buy the tea; I don’t want you to go to jail.”

“What?”

“Don’t drink and drive, mommy.”

The young Sarah had overheard an adult conversation about someone who had been arrested for drinking and driving. She could only think about “drinking and driving” from her young point of view.

Sure, this is a cute story to show how children are listening and thinking more than we realize. The younger people are processing and trying to make sense of the world as they observe and listen each and every day.

There is a serious side to this, though. Our children are watching, listening, and thinking… more than we realize. It matters how our words and actions T.E.L.L. them along the way.

Our mission at Tell Our Children is to inform more caregivers – namely parents and close relatives as well as educators – in the power of their interactions with youth. The Show & T.E.L.L. blog is the first resource we have created to share our message.  The Board of Directors are actively working on more resources to promote the T.E.L.L. message so more caregivers are better able to T.E.L.L the youth.

If you agree, please share our Show & T.E.L.L. Blog with others. Consider donating funds (or your expertise) to support other new promotional items in development such as the T.E.L.L. video message, T.E.L.L. booklet for new parents, and a brochure for parents & teachers working together to T.E.L.L. the youth in their lives better.

The more caregivers we get involved, the more adults we have thinking about T.E.L.L.ing our youth. Your support is welcomed, needed, and appreciated.

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181: Younger and older perceptions vary – just ask a child!

I was at the pool one day with friends. One of the friends had a 3-year-old son named Jeffrey. Jeffrey was thrilled to be at the pool. He jumped in over and over again. We all smiled and laughed with him. His enjoyment was contagious! At one point, though, his jump splashed water all over a woman. Jeffrey’s mother quickly responded, “Jeffrey, be careful, you just splashed that woman, tell her you’re sorry.”

“Sorry,” he replied. He continued to jump again in the pool and again splashed the same woman. “Jeffrey, stop that, I can’t believe you did it again.” Jeffrey said quickly “Sorry.” Jeffrey ran to the other side of the pool and jumped in splashing someone else. “Sorry,” he told the man.

Jeffrey’s mother, feeling irritated, ran over and told her son he was now in trouble and had to go in time out. The young boy burst out crying because he wanted to keep playing in the pool. She told Jeffrey once he stopped crying and was done being in time out, he would be able to get back in the pool as long as he behaves!

His mother and I started talking, and I asked her if she was sure Jeffrey understood why he was put in time out. She was pretty confident that he did. She walked over to him and asked “Honey, do you know why mommy put you in time out?”

Jeffrey replied with his teary eyes, “Because I forgot to give you a hug?”

His response initiated a whole new conversation between the mother and son.

In Jeffrey’s mind, he was just jumping in the pool, and it was fun! We all gave him signals that it was enjoyable for all. In the process, he was led to believe it was okay to splash as long as he said sorry – he was doing exactly what his mother had told him to do.

His mother had to explain jumping in the pool is a lot of fun but he had to pay attention to others in the pool, too. When he splashed someone it was good he said ‘sorry’, but he must also know these people did not want to be splashed.

To which Jeffrey asked, “Why?” This surprised Jeffrey because he was having fun jumping in the pool. He did not understand why it would not be fun for the other people, too.

Jeffrey was not able to connect all the obvious thoughts his mother had in mind. He was only 3 years old! Every thought is based on how Jeffrey feels. Children at this age – and through much of the teenage years – think according to how they feel. They feel good; they think good thoughts. They feel bad; they think poor thoughts. Their thinking is relative to their emotions.

When interacting, pay close attention to how your child feels. Notice how the thoughts are connected to how the child feels.

Also take the time to ask what a child is thinking. Really listen to the ideas being shared. Ask questions to hear more detail. My experience has been, more times than not, I hear something from the younger person I did not expect. Their perception of the moment is usually quite different than my own. Besides learning more about the child, these interactions also build your relationships. A child wants to share time with people who care about them, and asking about their ideas is one way to show you care!

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180: Awareness initiates improvement

Wisdom says awareness is the first step in improving anything. Since the Show & T.E.L.L. blog posts are about improving our interactions with youth, I thought I’d write about how we can become more aware of the messages we T.E.L.L. children in today’s post.

My experience has been, the more you pause and think about how your words and actions Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love a child, your understanding of the practices associated with positively interacting with children grow deeper and broader.

To become more aware of how you interact with children today, start by asking questions that allow you to evaluate the quality of your current interactions. That is, become aware. Consider questions such as the following:

#1 – How often do my words and actions have a positive influence on my child’s thinking, feelings and/or behavior? On the other hand, how often do my words and actions negatively influence how my child thinks and feels?
#2 – Do I tend to react without much thought, or do I communicate with good intentions? Do I genuinely try to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love my child more times than not? How often do I remember? How often do I forget? Why do I remember, or forget at times?
#3 – How do my words and actions make sense to the child? Am I assuming I make sense? How do I know?
#4 – Whose point of view dominates our conversations? Do I allow my child to express his or her thoughts and feelings?

The answers to these questions can help you become more aware of the everyday interactions you have with children. Learning to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love (T.E.L.L.) your child using words and actions may seem simple, and to some degree it is. However, my experience has been it takes time and attention in order to really improve in this practice.

Wisdom says awareness is the first step in improving anything. You will improve your interactions as you become more aware of your interactions. As you become more aware, you begin to notice, apply, and practice better ways using the knowledge and skills you gather in the process.

Some people I work with find they need to think more deeply about not reacting (question #2) or only allowing their point of view to be part of the conversation (question #4). Others realize they need to be more encouraging or loving, especially when they are feeling tired and frustrated (question #1).

Begin to improve how you T.E.L.L. your child daily by becoming more aware of how you communicate with your child today.

Some of you may say, “my child is too young for me to consider these ideas.” A woman once said to me, “this makes sense once my child reaches about 4 or 5 years old.” This caused me ask another question: “Doesn’t it always matter what we say and do, even when our child can’t talk back?”

From a child’s first breath, he or she begins accumulating experiences. What you say and do does influence how a child, even an infant, feels and your interaction does influence what a child learns to expect from you. Sure, an infant may not be able to make sense of your actions or express his or her point of view; however, you might ask yourself “Am I allowing this baby to see how I wish to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love them today and every day?”

Start today. Ask yourself questions that will allow you to think broader and deeper about your current interactions with children. What do you do well? Where can you do better? Become more aware of your interactions is the first step in improving them.

There is always room for improvement, and wisdom says awareness is the first step in improving anything!

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179: Interact for NOW, not the future

Can you recall holding a newborn for the first time? As I write these words, I remember holding each of my children for the first time. Looking at them, marveling and wondering about the possibilities that lie ahead for the child, and me as their parent. Who will they become? What are their gifts, talents, and purpose? How will they contribute to the world, make it better? What will this child need from me? How can I best provide for this child? I have to believe the majority of parents can relate to these types of questions in the beginning.

Before you know it, the child gets to be an hour old, a day old, a week old, a month old, a year old, five years old, thirteen years old, etc. Some of these questions get answered as life is lived – by you and the child.

Each moment your child collects new experiences, living and learning new ideas. At the same time, you and the other caregivers for your child are experiencing the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year, five years, thirteen years and so on. We all accumulate more life experiences.

Though children and caregivers experience moments together, how they each experience the present moment is always going to be different. Naturally, the younger person hears, sees, and thinks differently than the older caregiver. What the caregiver hears, sees, and thinks is based on much more – and different – life experiences.

It just makes sense, doesn’t it? How could a child possibly have the same thoughts, or even similar thoughts, as an adult who in this moment has experienced more and a different life?

Yet, how often do we, as the caregivers, assume – and expect – the younger child to understand us? How often do we assume – and expect – the younger child to comprehend and just obey? How often do we assume – and expect – that our speech makes sense?

We have to stop assuming and expecting and believing children will figure things out now or someday. “Someday you’ll understand why I am saying – or doing – this.”

Truth is, this logic is stopping too many children from learning about themselves and about life in that moment. We assume and expect much more than they are capable in the current moment.

Today, take the time to think about your interactions with the youth in your life. When you interact with them, are you assuming they will understand you now or in the future?

Also think about whether your interactions encouraging – or hurting – their learning in this moment. Are you informing – or limiting – their learning in this moment? Are you constructing – or destructing – their learning in this moment?

They are learning from you in this moment. Speak life into them. Speak encouragement. Speak good information. Speak constructive thoughts for the sake of their learning right now.

Just as when they were newborns and being held for the first time, continue marveling and wondering about the possibilities that lie ahead for them, and you as their caregiver. Who will they become? What are their gifts, talents, and purpose? How will they contribute to the world, make it better? What does this child need from me? How can I best provide for this child? What might I say today to T.E.L.L. this child he or she can change the world for good?

T.E.L.L. them … Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love an empowering message that the child not only understands but that helps them learn about themselves and life!

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