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?
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.
I used to take my children to playgrounds when they were younger. I would do my best to catch them before they might fall. Yet there were times when one of them would fall anyway. I would go over and comfort him or her. Even if it was a mere scrape on the knee, I would go and at least kiss the wound to help make the hurt go away. Of course, when the fall was more severe I, along with most adults watching, would run over immediately and attend to the child.
Most adults react when they notice a child in physical pain. We certainly don’t begin by punishing the child for falling. Our first instinct is try and comfort the child. Maybe later we might talk to the child about why the accident happened and how it could be avoided, but that is not our immediate reaction.
What about when a child has an emotional fall? What about when a child is feeling the challenges of frustration, anger, defeat, embarrassment, disappointment, and sadness? Have you thought about how you respond when you notice an unhappy child? How do you respond when a child falls down emotionally?
You certainly know what it is like to feel these challenging thoughts, to be falling emotionally. However, adults must realize children often do not know how to communicate these feelings. Instead, a child who is falling emotionally may act out by withdrawing, crying, hitting you or others, or talking back, just to name some of the notable behaviors.
This child isn’t acting this way to be mean or to be bad child. The child is expressing an emotional pain. The child is falling emotionally. Just like you don’t immediately begin by punishing your child for falling physically, think about your first response when they fall emotionally.
Help your child by T.E.L.L.ing them in this moment. That is, use your words and actions to Teach, Encourage, Listen, Love to help your child feel better. You do this naturally when your child falls physically. Consider these four ideas forT.E.L.L.ing a child when the fall is emotional.
1. Realize a misbehavior could be a sign of an emotional fall. Don’t begin by punishing the behavior.
2. Do what you can to find out what your child is thinking. Find out your child’s point of view in this moment. That is, understand how your child sees the situation. Try and walk in your child’s shoes. Do your best to really listen and hear the child’s ideas. If your child is too young to share his or her thinking, still try and walk in the child’s shoes in this moment. For example, ask yourself “What could this mean for my child? Could it mean anything else?”
3. Realize your child may be too young to know what he or she is feeling. Try and help the child understand and name the feeling. Teach your child a way to express this feeling.
4. While interacting, try and use your child’s words to help connect feelings with actions in the situation. For example “You’re (emotion) because (action).” We do this because since emotions are influencing your child’s behavior, this connection may not be understood by the child in this moment. In a previous Show & T.E.L.L. Blog post, we talked about how the child’s feelings influence action (link here if you would like to read this post).
Let’s try and remember children fall physically and emotionally, just like adults. Why not catch the falling child when we can? Why not do our best toT.E.L.L. our children?
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 an educational consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning. You can contact her by emailing email@example.com.
This is the last post exploring how results and actions can be directly related to how we think. If you have not read any of the four previous posts, you can link here to the previous post to determine where you must begin.
In this series you can see there is a connection between actions and results; however, when you think in more depth your daily actions are related to your attitude in the moment, and your attitude can be strongly influenced by your values. The example being used throughout these posts is a conversation I had with some students about getting an “A” in class. That was their result, and the students could easily identify what actions would contribute to getting this result. This opened the conversation to think about and talk about why the students don’t do these actions so they can get an “A.” In other words, what obstacles or challenges got in the way? The majority of reasons could be directly tied to a momentary attitude, or thoughts and feelings in the moment that allowed them to not focus on the actions and results.
For example, “I’m too tired; I don’t feel like it.” Asking what controls their attitude led us to consider values. If you find value in a situation — in this case education — you will be less likely to have an attitude that stops you from achieving a desired result. If the student values education and learning, the student will have a tendency to show up with an attitude that supports the needed actions for achieving a result. If the student does not explicitly value education and learning, the student may allow his or her attitude to control the action.
As mentioned in the previous post, 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. You can also T.E.L.L. yourself values.
How? By what you feed your mind or what you say to feed the mind of the child. So today the question is: where does the information you feed your mind come from? Is this information empowering your thoughts, values, attitude, actions, and results in life? Or do you feed your mind with limiting ideas that end up influencing your values, attitude, and actions and therefore the results?
When asking students this question, they would talk about the impact of their friends, watching television, school, teachers, parents, books, and church, just to name a few. They would bring up positive and negative influences on the way they think. Some would make a comment about how they need to rethink from where they are feeding their mind.
Now let’s focus on the children in your life. Are you giving them empowering ideas to think about? You identified possible obstacles for achieving the desired result you wish for them; what input will you provide to address these possible challenges? What will you say? What will you do?
Your words and actions, how you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love them every day and in these critical moments may impact their values, which ultimately may impact whether they achieve the result you wish for them.
There is no guarantee the result will be achieved; however, you can still do your part to T.E.L.L. them. If not you, then who?
In closing, we are interested in hearing your response to these posts about linking results to thoughts. Did you complete the exercises? Please email your responses to us. You will receive feedback!
Within the next weeks we will share the complete responses from the individuals introduced in the beginning of this series: the mother with older children, the mother of a 4-year-old, a father of teenagers, and a mother of an infant and toddler. Maybe through their responses you can learn more about how you might interact with your child. Yet, the better thing to do is for you to do the exercises. That is how you learn to think in more depth about how your words and actions. What you T.E.L.L. your child every day has an impact on developing values, attitude, actions, and results in life.
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.
Clearly, common sense would tell us that you communicate with a one-year-old child differently than a four-year-old, or a teenager. As the child gains experiences in life, the child collects ideas and develops perceptions. What the child understands at a young age is clearly different than what the child understands at an older age.
An effective interaction is developmentally appropriate for the child. The interaction:
- Involves a child’s current understanding
- Encourages a child to make better sense of a situation
- Gives a child an opportunity to express current thoughts and feelings, and be heard
- Is loving, shows you want only what is best for the child in the present moment.
#6: An effective interaction T.E.L.L.s a child in developmentally appropriate ways.
In every interaction, adults are informing a child about something, whether it is about what the child can expect from you, how to speak and think around you, what the situation could possibly mean, etc. There are many things we T.E.L.L. a child whether we realize it or not. A child is constantly seeking to understand. The child can only understand what she is developmentally capable of understanding in the moment.
What is developmentally appropriate can be as simple as making sure you speak and think in such a way a child understands. Or you can make sure you speak and think in such a way you communicate what is best for child’s well-being and personal growth in that moment.
Interacting in a developmentally appropriate way can also mean speaking and thinking more about how children develop physically, cognitively, and socially. There is good information available to help you better understand the growing child. I will be looking at some of these ideas in the next posts.
For now, try and think about how your words and actions are developmentally appropriate for the child. Ask yourself how your words and actions are being comprehended by a child. How do you know a child understands your words and actions? Are your words and actions appropriate for the child in this moment of time? Do your words and actions allow the child to develop for better, or worse? How are you helping the child develop empowering thoughts, skills, and behaviors?