225: Life is a series of interactions, for better or worse.

I’ve come to see life as a series of interactions. Depending on the quality of our interactions, the quality of our life will be determined. Every day we share our heart, mind and will with one another by the way we communicate. Basically, the heart is our emotions, mind our rational thoughts, and will our desire.

The older I get, the more I am aware of the emotion, mind, and will others are communicating. (I am also more aware of the emotion, mind, and will I say to myself, but that’s another post!)

I’ve realize how important it is to discern whether an individual is interacting to construct, or destruct, the relationship or circumstances. Is the overall message to improve, or make matters worse? Depending on the answer, I must choose whether to engage or not engage in the interaction. I must discern whether my words will be heard, or if the interaction is about only hearing what the other person thinks. And, if it is a 1-way communication, I must decide whether the heart, mind, and will of the person are constructive, or destructive for the relationship or situation.

How we interact with one another matters. How we interact with the youth in our life really matters. Every day we are influencing their heart, mind, and will in that moment and possibly future moments.

Have you thought about the way you interact with a younger person? How would it be if we all started to speak in ways that benefit a younger person’s heart, mind, and will? How would it be if you started today paying closer attention to your own heart, mind, and will? Constructive, or destructive? Improving, or making matters worse?

Give time each day to evaluate your feelings, thinking, and desires as overall positive or negative. If negative, be more sensitive about how you are projecting your words and actions toward others. Can you find healthy ways to shift your focus to be more positive? Consider how your words and actions are being influenced by your current feelings, thinking, and wanting in this moment.

When you are communicating with a younger person, recognize that your heart, mind, and will are more than likely different than theirs. Diligently seek ways to communicate to ensure their heart, mind, and will are being heard.  Do not just speak what you think. Periodically pause and ask yourself questions such as “How is this younger person feeling in this moment?”; “What is he or she thinking in this situation?”.

The words and actions you choose today will influence the younger person’s heart, mind, and will in the moment and possibly in the future.

The better you understand your own heart, mind, and will, the better you are able to support and develop someone else’s.

In every interaction, the words and actions chosen reflect the current heart, mind, and will of all those involved. #TELLforGood

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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224: TELL the youth to keep sculpting a life story

Recently I was speaking to a group of high school and middle school students about the stories of life they TELL one another.  My message was intended to inspire them to seriously think about the stories they Teach, Encourage, Listen to, and Love at this point in their life. The stories they TELL today may sculpt who they become.

The great artist Michelangelo was once asked to explain how he created such amazing, perfect sculptures. His response was quite telling. Michelangelo spoke about the perfect statue already being inside the marble, all he did was get rid of the excess marble. All he did was keep sculpting away until the perfection was on display for others to enjoy.  Look at Michelangelo’s The Pieta.  He sculpted this in 1499 at the age of 24.  He merely removed the excess marble!

Michelangelo'S Pieta

I shared this story about Michelangelo with the youth. I wanted them to know there was also a perfect expression deep within them.  Every one of them have a perfect gift and talent to contribute and share with others. They may not realize it right now, or maybe they have some ideas, but the purpose of childhood and schooling – and living life – is to keep sculpting to reveal the gifts and talents within. Just keep sculpting!

We talked about how some of them may already be thinking about the story of their life, or at least something beneficial for their future. If there is a great story they want to TELL later in life, start sculpting that story now.  At this point in their life, there is more marble to remove, and the mistakes are less costly. There is time to try different things without harm, just keep sculpting.

I wanted to inspire them to imagine what could happen later in their life if starting today, and again tomorrow, they challenged themselves to keep sculpting their gifts and  talents.  What if every day, they would think about who is TELLing them to keep sculpting for their good?

A young man, junior in high school, came up afterwards and shared how he was just going through the motions every day at school. He was only thinking about graduating so he could move on and play college football. “Now I realize I have more to TELL myself and others who are my teammates. I need to think about how I can TELL stuff so others can become better at football. I also have a lot to learn, or should I say sculpt.”  I was so inspired by this young man, as well as the other teens in the room!

Please keep him and all the younger people in your prayers, that they have at least one person in life who TELLs them unconditionally. We all need that someone who will Teach us, Encourage us, Listen to us, and Love us…. unconditionally.

The youth today need to see and hear from adults who are actively sculpting life. As you interact with a younger person, consider what you might say or do to help this individual sculpt a future and reveal the unique gifts and talents within.

Ask yourself…  How might I…

Teach this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Encourage this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Listen for this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Love this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Today and tomorrow, and beyond…. #TELLforGood

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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223: Will you TELL a younger person something desirable, or undesirable?

It saddens me to hear adults sharing stories about how unsuccessful the youth are today. The other day I listened to an hour-long show where adults discussed how unsuccessful the youth have become and they debated possible explanations. According to these adults (and many other adults, I may add), too many of the youth today are undisciplined; disrespectful toward people and things; lack perseverance; are lazy; do not want to think; are impatient; need instant gratification; and lack good communication skills, meaning they can’t write or speak properly.

I’m not here to agree or disagree with these observations. I am wondering how the youth became so unsuccessful? Certainly there are many youth who are amazing!! There are many of them who have self control, are respectful, etc.

The whole conversation makes me wonder why so many of the youth have learned to display such negative traits that now others label the entire generation this way? The youth today were not born being undisciplined, disrespectful, lazy, etc. It matters who has been there in life to TELL them how to act and be. People learn successful behaviors, and they learn unsuccessful ones.

Below is a list of the unsuccessful traits the adults mentioned above, compared to an opposite more desirable (or beneficial) trait.

Limiting trait More desirable trait
Undisciplined Disciplined (self-control)
Disrespectful Respectful
Lacks perseverance Willing to persevere
Lazy Hardworking
Does not want to think Learner and Problem solver
Impatient Has patience
Poor communicator Effective communicator

In more than two decades of studying adult-children interactions, I have never experienced a child, even a teenager or a 20-year-old, who thinks “I am disrespectful toward people and things,” “I lack perseverance”, etc. They may believe and state: “Why should I show respect to someone who does not show it to me?”; “If I wait long enough, someone else will do it for me,” etc. The  youth can clearly justify why they say and do whatever it is they are communicating. From the younger person’s point of view, there are valid reasons for thinking and interacting the way they do. Much of their rationale is based on the experiences they’ve accumulated so far in life. Isn’t that also true about you?

If adults want a younger person to become disciplined, respectful, willing to persevere, hardworking, etc., someone must be there to TELL them about these character traits. The adult noticing these limited behaviors is the perfect person to teach, encourage, listen, and love the younger person to change and become stronger.  To clearly TELL the younger person means to interact and point out as well as celebrate the positive, more beneficial, trait.

When the youth in your life are being disrespectful or impatient, you can use this as an opportunity to help the adult-in-the-making develop a more favorable trait. For example, when a young child is impatient, you can put him or her in your lap, do whatever it is together, show the child patience.

For the older child who is disrespectful, you can model respectful interactions by being respectful, kindly asking the child to share why he or she thinks that behavior is appropriate. Hear the explanation and challenge or correct the child to consider a better response. Together the two of you can figure this out in a respectful manner. Together you can build a better way to be.

In summary, the youth in your life need you to show them patience and respect, or whatever behavior you want the child to exhibit. Be a role model and demonstrate the trait or behavior, especially in those moments the younger person is exhibiting a less desirable trait. Give the moment to TELL the desired behavior. Teach it, Encourage it, Listen for it, and Love it!

Today aim to be a positive role model during at least one interaction with a younger person. Explicitly model at least one of the positive traits: self control (disciplined), respect, patience, perseverance, or effective communication. Avoid interacting and expressing any of the less desirable traits, especially when a younger person is watching. Today, aim to #TELLforGood.

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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222: Feeding the youth unhealthy food? How about unhealthy thoughts?

Is it not true that our bodies grow weaker if we consistently feed it unhealthy foods? If we feed our bodies trash, aren’t the chances slim that we become stronger and healthier? Isn’t this also true in relationships? If you continuously speak unhealthy, or trashy, with someone, the relationship you have with that person cannot possibly heal and grow stronger.

Now think about this…

Our youth are seeing, hearing, and experiencing a lot of trash these days. Think about some of the Hollywood movies, music, video games, television, social media, or Internet material children are fed on a daily basis. How can they grow stronger unless they see, hear, and experience healthier ideas? This is one of the fundamental reason why TELL Our Children is promoting the TELL message. We want more adults to begin noticing and practicing TELLing our youth better ideas. There is a lot of trash out there in the world, much more than when many of us were growing up.

First thing is to be honest with yourself: what and how do you speak and act around the youth in your life? Do you talk trash or healthier ideas? Speaking trash is not just putting them down or using poor language. It’s more about the quality of your interactions, the ideas and feelings you share with them. Are the feelings and ideas healthy? Do your interactions cause your relationship to grow stronger and heal internal wounds? Allow the younger person to mature thoughts, become wiser? Or, is it more trash for the child to process?

Are you TELLing the youth in your life beneficial, healthier ideas? Everyday, what and how do you

Teach

Encourage

Listen

Love….. healthy living and learning?

Challenge yourself today. At some point aim to have one interaction where you can intentionally say to yourself ‘I am feeding this younger person a positive and healthy idea for living and learning’. And then continue the challenge tomorrow, one day at a time, one interaction at a time.

The unhealthy trash will always be there for the youth today. You can either add to it or empower the younger person to see, hear, and experience stronger, more beneficial and healthier ideas. Start today; aim to intentionally TELL the youth in your life a healthy and beneficial idea. Then aim again to do this tomorrow, and the next day….. #TELLforGood

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellforgood.com or denise@tellourchildren.org.

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