209: Nourishment needed

We all need nourishment. More accurately stated, we require nourishment to be alive. For our physical bodies to be nourished, we require food, water, and rest. And, when the the food, water, and rest are healthiest, the more nourished we feel.

It’s not just physical nourishment we require, human beings must also have mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment in order to feel alive and well.

To nourish someone means protecting their well-being. For the parent who nourishes his or her child physically, it means the parent is providing food, water, and rest in order for the child to survive and thrive. Eventually, the younger person will learn to nourish him or herself as well as nourish others.

It’s a similar trajectory when nourishing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Parents interact and provide mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment to the child. Eventually, the younger person learns to nourish his or her own thoughts and emotions, as well as nourish others’ thoughts and emotions.

So, what does it mean to provide healthy mental and emotional nourishment? What mental and emotional nourishment is needed – required – to feel alive and thrive?

The simplest way to describe how we need emotional and mental nourishment is to think about when there is a challenge or sorrow in life. Let’s face it, sorrow and difficulty are facts of life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Truthfully, if we try to evade sorrow, refuse to deal with it, we are just being foolish. Through sorrow and difficulty, our shallowness is revealed, and it is either a chance to grow healthier mentally and emotionally, or weaker. We grow healthier or weaker largely dependent on the mental and emotional nourishment we receive. Our relationship with those involved also grows stronger or weaker depending on the nourishment given and received.

When you nourish someone through a challenge,  you protect their emotional, mental, and physical well being. You protect them while they are hurting; you are there to help them face and resolve the challenge before them.

That’s a rare experience today. It seems more the exception than the rule that a person gets the opportunity to really find and receive themselves in a challenge. In other words, few experience being nourished as they learn to become victorious.  I assume this is because most people don’t know to nourish others. We are brought up to fix and get over it. That’s what most people understand and know, so naturally that is the typical response to others.

Today, will you join me in thinking about nourishing as you help others resolve challenges? Don’t turn away; give respect and time to allow the people in your life to be victorious. Don’t fix them, nourish them. And similarly when you are facing challenges, seek someone who will nourish and help you to be victorious.

You can always recognize a person who will provide nourishment in difficult moments. These are the people you feel comfortable going to in your moment of trouble. You feel safe to share your challenge because you know this person has plenty of time for you. They will protect you as they help you work through your challenge together.

When the going gets tough, the tough find and receive themselves in the challenge. They seek nourishment needed to grow and become victorious. In time, these people also learn to nourish others and get them going towards a self victory. Everyone needs – requires – mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical nourishment.

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208: “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” – Part II

Recently there have been posts on the topic how children biologically respond according to how they feel. In a post last week, it was mentioned how the childish emotional responses at times confuse us, aggravate us, frustrate us, and anger us. Other times the childish emotional responses fill us with love, joy, happiness, comfort, and confidence.

On Tuesday, in Part I of this two-part blog, we talked about how some parents use and believe in the phrase, “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.” I believe the group of parents using this phrase could – and did – provide a strong rationale supporting the use of the “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” mainly because they strongly believe it served them when they were young, and this phrase will also serve their children. But isn’t there more to take into consideration?

Crying is a personal emotional response – there is a reason for our tears, happiness, or sadness. Someone else may perceive my tears as being either genuine or selfish, appropriate or not. For me, in that moment, the tears are always genuine … and to some degree also selfish because my feelings are overpowering in the moment. My personal happiness or sadness is wholeheartedly being expressed by shedding tears. So is it the screaming associated with the child’s cry that parents want to curtail and not necessarily the crying?

When children cry, or, more precisely, when children respond to sadness (or possibly frustration, anger, or another negative emotion), something is happening that is displeasing to them. It may be as simple as a balloon popping or a toy breaking or not getting his or her way. To the more mature adult, this may seem “stupid” for the child to shed tears, but for the child, the crying reveals a momentary emotional reaction.

As an infant, when the child has limited communication skills, crying is an expression we give close attention. We begin to recognize the difference in a painful cry, tired cry, or uncomfortable cry. Do you think an infant cries over “stupid stuff”? Most of us would say no. So, at some point there is a shift from crying to let you know something is not right to crying over “stupid stuff.” Is it when the response becomes obvious to the parent? Can you imagine a child hearing for the first time, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” when his only experience with crying is getting your love and attention like he did when he was a baby?

Another question that comes to mind is what response would you want when you tear up? Someone telling you to get over it right now because it’s stupid for you to be crying about this, or threatening you by saying, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”? Is it any different to say that to a child or adult? Most of us would never say such a thing to an adult. At what point is it no longer appropriate to speak this phrase to someone?

The truth is, even adults cry over “stupid stuff.” Many tears I’ve shed in the past I later came to realize I should not have gotten that upset. I might even think later it was stupid for me to be that upset, but in the moment it did not feel stupid. It was an honest and genuine expression of my feelings.

I would rather someone recognize that my tears mean something. There are reasons for my tears. Someone else may think my reasons are stupid; I don’t. Instead of focusing on the tears, wouldn’t you rather have someone help you confront the displeasure you are experiencing? Help you address what is causing the tears? Or interact in such a way to redirect the sad feeling, make you smile? Two less-threatening responses could be to help shift the mood to feel better or figure out what is behind those tears and understand better.

For the younger child when crying over “stupid stuff,” more times than not I have found it easy to redirect their attention away from the displeasure. As children age and learn to communicate, parents can begin to address the possible over-reacting tears.

It’s a well-known fact that when people confront their displeasures, the sooner they can move forward and know better in similar future situations. The displeasure often invites a lesson to be learned. Here are some other practical benefits for giving yourself or someone permission to cry:

Crying reveals how you really feel. Especially if you are so upset you want to cry, allowing yourself – or another – to be open and vulnerable enough to cry is one of the best ways to grow closer to the person.

Crying in the moment does not mean you can’t be strong and deal with it eventually. Often we need a good cry to find a better way to express ourselves. Permission to cry can lead to being able to better help or inspire others in similar situations.

Tears provoked by stress help your body rid itself of toxic chemicals that raise cortisol (the stress hormone). The emotional downpour is healing to your body.

Tears are not a sign of weakness, but of strength. It takes a strong and heartfelt person to be honest about their feelings and shed the tears.

If a child consistently hears, “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” from a parent, I can’t help but wonder if the child will eventually focus on controlling the tears and not confront a current displeasure in an open and vulnerable way. Will the child be able to learn to evaluate on her own time when to cry, or not to cry, for example over a broken toy? Will the child just think crying means a weakness and must be controlled?

All things considered, is there anything wrong with letting a child cry it out and later, when the child is done weeping, to talk about what happened (if necessary)? Or, taking the child in your arms while he or she is crying and acknowledging he or she is upset because of what happened and then give the lesson you hope they learn about the situation?

For example, “Should we try and fix your broken car?”; “Should we practice sharing things?”; “Your brother is younger and doesn’t know better; do you want to teach your brother to share?”; “Every balloon pops or the air eventually gets out, you can’t change that;” and, for the young child, redirect the mood: “Look here, look what I have!”

When anyone is crying, there is a reason. You can approach them in a heartless way, or half-heartedly, or wholeheartedly. Your response will communicate – T.E.L.L. – a certain message about crying, the displeasures we face in everyday life, and your relationship. These are all serious ideas which means you should think seriously about your words and actions

Here’s to a healthy cry, at whatever age!

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207: “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about” – Part I

Recently there have been posts on the topic how children biologically respond according to how they feel. In a post last week, it was mentioned how the childish emotional responses at times confuse us, aggravate us, frustrate us, and anger us. Other times the childish emotional responses fill us with love, joy, happiness, comfort, and confidence.

A previous post also raises a point about how we were all children once. Which means there was a time when we too were all emotional and reactionary all the time. “Now, as adults, it can be hard to remember a time when crying over a lost balloon or because a toy broke seemed like the only way to communicate about that situation. Now, as adults, we know better, right?”

Recently I was listening to a group of parents discuss how as children they were not allowed to cry over stupid stuff, such as when someone took something away from them or they did not get what they wanted. In other words, they were not allowed to cry over a lost balloon or because a toy broke because this would be considered “stupid stuff.” These parents kept repeating over and over the phrase they heard throughout childhood, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Almost snickering, the parents began sharing stories how they now use this same phrase with their children.

I just had to ask, “So have you thought about why the child is crying? Do you think the child believes the crying is because of stupid stuff?”

Before I could even finish my sentence, one of them responded, “No, of course not” (giving me a look that says that’s a stupid question), “but it is over stupid stuff and they need to learn the difference.  They need to learn when it is OK to cry and when it is not.”

I continued to listen as the group talked about how important it is to tell their children, “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” These parents genuinely believed they were doing what is best for their child’s well-being.

I heard many reasonable points the group was making, such as children need to get tougher, not be so weak and wimpy (since they associated crying as a sign of weakness). Children need to know there is a difference in crying for selfish reasons compared to a genuine cry. The parents seem to agree that genuine cries are moments parents should give wholeheartedly, but selfish cries don’t deserve heartfelt attention because then you are feeding the child’s selfish behavior. Everyone left that conversation in support of using the phrase, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Well, everyone but me.

I couldn’t help but wonder why this response may, or may not, T.E.L.L. children better. What is the message being taught and encouraged with, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”? How about the quality of listening? And love? Could “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” be considered a threat? Is that a loving response? Does this phrase help children mature and become stronger, wiser, more resilient adults?

I believe the group of parents using this phrase could – and did – provide a strong rationale supporting the use of the “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” mainly because they strongly believe it served them when they were young, and this phrase will also serve their children. But isn’t there more to take into consideration?

On Friday, we will dive into some of those things that should be taken into consideration. Until then, be thinking about the phrase, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” and what it means to you and what it means to your child. Does it teach, encourage, listen, and love them?

 

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206: Male role models – Happy Father’s Day!

With the Father’s Day weekend approaching, I can’t help but think about the importance of father figures and positive male role models. What a blessing it is to have men in life who are willing to give the resources for a younger person to know better and be better in his or her life.

Positive male role models have the opportunity to impact so many lives in ways females cannot because of their inherent differences.

For example, my daughter commented to me recently how fathers tend to open doors to try new things, and they tell you to get up when you’re down. However, mothers are there to help you through new doors and guide and support you in the process. They make sure you are OK when you’re down.

Both mothers and fathers have valuable roles when it comes to interacting children, and their roles are unique to them. Despite their differences and uniqueness, both mothers and fathers have opportunities to Teach, Encourage, Listen to, Love youth in their own ways.

Who are the positive male role models around you? Someone who…

  • is committed to making right choices that are in the best interest of others, especially those following his lead
  • is committed to managing his resources – especially his time – to give attention and support to those in need
  • knows how to put into words and actions what is needed to allow others to learn something new, feel worthwhile, feel comforted …. to feel and become better!

In summary, a positive male role model is committed and seeks opportunities to T.E.L.L. those in his life. He teaches, encourages, listens, and loves you more than other males around you.

How grateful I am for the positive male role models who touch my life – and my children’s lives. Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for the great value you add to those in your life. As I write this post, my list of men to honor and celebrate this weekend grows longer.

Who are the men in your life who you need to honor and celebrate this weekend?

If you are thinking about buying a last minute Father’s Day gift with Amazon, please consider shopping at smile.amazon.com/ch/47-1175935. Amazon will then make a donation to Tell Our Children (with no additional costs to you)! Please keep us in mind for all your Amazon purchases so we can fund the new and forthcoming projects!
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205: How do you feel about feelings?

Last Friday’s post, “It’s Important to Pay Attention to Feelings,” underscored the importance of realizing how big a role our feelings play when we interact with others. It mentioned how a child’s mind is still developing as they mature, so a lot of how a child feels is emotional and reactionary to the environment and situations around him or her.

We were all children once, so we were all emotional and reactionary all the time once. Now, as adults, it can be hard to remember a time when crying over a lost balloon or because a toy broke seemed like the only way to communicate about that situation. Now, as adults, we know better, right?

But how can our children know better unless we tell them a better way?

Emotions and feelings of our children sometimes can confuse us, aggravate us, frustrate us, anger us. Other times their emotions and feelings fill us with love, joy, happiness, comfort, confidence. What is important to remember is that we, as the adults, do have control over our feelings. We have learned a better way. It is up to us to teach, encourage, listen, and love our children to that better way.

The next time you have an interaction with your child when he or she is feeling something extreme, think about how you can best TELL your child better in that moment.

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204: It’s important to pay attention to feelings

Your interactions are influenced by your thoughts, and your thoughts coincide with your feelings. If you are feeling great, you tend to have better thoughts. If you are feeling poor, you tend to have thoughts that are more limiting. You respond based on those thoughts.

It is important to pay attention to feelings.

Take, for example, when your child – or any person for that matter – walks in the room and wants your attention. Doesn’t how you feel determine how you think, which will influence your speech? If you’re in a great mood, you typically respond more upbeat. If you’re in a crappy mood, you respond differently.

It is important to pay attention to feelings.

It is especially important to pay attention to feelings when interacting with a child. Because the child’s mind (until around age 25)  is maturing, they tend to interact with emotion first and foremost. Biologically, they are slowly developing the ability to think rationally and logically. Their thoughts are dominated by how they feel in the moment.

It is important to pay attention to feelings.

It is important to consider how you – and others – are feeling as you interact. Feelings impact words and actions.  Today, pay attention to your mood and your interactions; do they coincide? Do your feelings influence how well you teach, encourage, listen, and love?

 

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