228: Do you TELL with eyes open and ears attentive?

It just makes sense, if you want to build positive relationships and improve situations, it matters what you say and do. Especially in difficult situations, where you and others may not see eye to eye, your words and actions really matter. Every person is merely TELLing a point of view. You TELL whatever you see, hear, and pay attention to in a given moment.

The TELL message has made me realize if you genuinely want to TELL for good – build stronger relationships and improve situations…

You interact with open eyes and see beyond yourself. You really look with your eyes to see the other person; you notice body language; you look to see them. You look at them kindly, softly and with curiosity.

You listen and hear with attentive ears. You realize what is being said to you is more important than what you have to say.

You pay attention to the other person. You notice what may be happening in the other people’s lives and recognizing/accepting it may be different than your own life. Somewhere I read, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” So true… when we pay attention to others, we are being generous by looking for their needs, who they are, and where they are coming from.

We TELL everything. We teach and encourage depending on how well we see, hear, and attend as we interact. We demonstrate how well we listen depending on where our eyes, ears, and attention are focused. It isn’t until we have eyes open and ears attentive that we show someone love and care.

To build strong relationships and improve circumstances, it requires seeing, listening, and paying attention in the ways described above. Of course, the best case is when everyone interacts with a set of open eyes and attentive ears, but my experience is that is often not the case. However, each person can choose for themselves to TELL with eyes open and ears attentive.

Isn’t it true that our strongest relationships are with those who interact with open eyes and ears attentive? Especially when faced with a difficult situation where we don’t see eye to eye, or like what we hear… opening our eyes and ears to each others’ point of view is how we get through situations and grow stronger relationships. These interactions make us stronger.

So now, I can’t help but think about the younger person in our lives. The youth and adult will seldom see eye to eye about situations.  The younger person does not have the life experiences to possibly see most situations the same way as an adult. We as the adults have so much to TELL them, and we want to have a strong relationship with them. Yet, too often the youth are expected to do more listening and paying attention to adults. What they really need are adults who see, listen, and pay attention to them.

When we don’t see, hear, or pay attention to another consistently, chances are likely this relationship is not getting stronger. When we do see with open eyes and hear with attentive ears, we are more than likely building a deeper relationship with that person.

Today, can we all put a little extra effort into seeing, hearing, and paying attention for good….especially towards the younger people in our lives?  #TELLforGood

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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?


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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039: What’s in it for the child?

The last two Show & T.E.L.L. blog posts focus on evaluating interactions as positive or negative and how experiencing both positive and negative are important for a child’s personal growth. The posts explain how a positive or negative interaction depends on how your words and action impress upon the child’s mind and personal development. If you ignore or focus predominately on the negative behavior, the evaluation is negative. If you redirect a child’s thinking or behavior, or you focus on the positive behavior, the evaluation is positive. Every interaction is positive or negative; your words and actions will favor the positive or negative direction. If you want to read more about positive and negative interactions, you can link to the posts below by clicking on the title.

Your interactions are positive or negative depending on how you t.e.l.l.

Continue learning and knowing more about positive and negative interactions

Today’s post will focus on considering the types of consequences you offer when interacting with a child.

We have a tendency to think about consequences as punitive. I often hear adults speak of children needing consequences for doing something wrong. Of course, consequences can be in the form of a punishment. But consequences can also be in the form of a reward. Either way, consequences help reinforce behavior, and a consequence makes the interaction more real for a child.

Children need to know and understand how the behaviors they are demonstrating are beneficial (or not). They need to know and understand how they can do better. Consequences can also be the rewards based on which behaviors you want to embrace and advance in the child’s personal development. It does not have to be complicated.

Today, start thinking about the consequences you use to make your interactions more real for the child. Begin asking yourself, “‘What is in this for the child?”

Begin recognizing that you can huff and puff all you want about the desirable behaviors you want your child to demonstrate, but when it comes to whether (and which) behaviors are desirable for your child’s personal growth, a consequence can make it concrete and real. When you include a consequence that a child clearly understands, it speaks louder than a hundred speeches.

I was in a grocery store the other day when I noticed a father with two children, a son and daughter. The daughter was older, probably around 4 years old. The father was rushing to get the groceries and the children were trying to keep up behind him. While he was looking for something on the shelf, the young girl must have done something to her brother. I see the father grab the young girl and start smacking her on the behind, saying “I told you to leave your brother alone, quit picking on him.”

The young girl stopped for a moment and gave her dad a blank stare. Within a minute, she poked her brother again. Dad didn’t even notice.

Do you think the young girl understood her father’s words and consequence? Do you think she understood why her father smacked her for poking her brother? How real was this interaction for the young girl? Can you think of a better way to handle this situation? What could the father say and do to make this interaction more positive and beneficial?

Consequences do not have to be complicated. I will continue addressing this in the next blog post. Today, start thinking more about the consequences you use to impact your child’s thinking and behavior. What is in it for the child? How do your words and consequences relate, and how does it help the child think and choose better?

Realize this fundamental precept for T.E.L.L.ing a child:

#5: Interact with consequences in mind. Proper consequences can make the interaction more real for the child. Choose consequences the child understands so the child is better able to choose beneficial behaviors over limiting ones.

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038: Continue learning and knowing more about positive and negative interactions

In the last blog post, I introduced the idea of a positive and negative interaction because:

#4: Every interaction can be evaluated as positive or negative, and both types of interactions are needed for personal growth; however, it is critical that children accumulate a favorable balance of positive interactions over negative.

Did you begin to notice and evaluate your interactions as being positive or negative? Did you think about whether your words and actions were leaving a positive or negative impression on a child’s mind? Read the previous post here.

Before going on with the next point in evaluating whether our interactions are effective, I want to emphasize the idea that both positive and negative interactions are needed for personal growth. Many may think the goal is to experience only positive interactions. Besides the fact that this is nearly impossible, even if it was, having only positive interactions would cause a developing child to have a limited and naive perception of living life. It is important to realize an evaluation of positive and negative interactions is not an evaluation of good or bad; it is an evaluation of the child’s mental impression in the moment.

My daughter grew up playing soccer. Around the age of 12, she had a coach who would constantly pull her and her teammates aside and focus on (yell) what they did wrong. My daughter would often come to me very upset about these conversations. I recall many of the parents feeling the coach should be more sensitive when communicating with our 12 year-old, going through puberty, daughters. However, as I continued learning and knowing more about positive and negative interactions, I realized these negative interactions are what allowed her to play soccer at the next level. Without his coaching, his feedback, she would never have been able to play as well and as long as she did.

These were not ‘bad’ interactions; they were negative interactions because the coach would focus on what was wrong. The coach made sure the girls understood how they were lacking in their game. Seldom, if ever, did he say what they did well unless it was an exceptional play.  I can imagine him saying, “the girls should know what they are doing right, my job is to make them better.”  Many of the interactions in the moment left a negative impression in the girls’ minds; however, it was because of these negative impressions, my daughter developed perseverance and became a better soccer player in the long run. She had to take the critical criticism and learn better ways. These negative interactions ended up being favorably balanced with positive interactions. Her teammates would compliment one another and she herself would notice the improvement in her game. And, every once in a while, the coach would throw out a compliment. The girls who did not experience, or feel, the favorable interactions usually quit the game at some point. Only a handful of them went on to play in college.

The problem is when children experience continual negative interactions at school, home, and socially. Especially at a young age, these leave lasting negative impressions. In the above example, my daughter was 12. If she was much younger, these critical conversations would have been less effective, even detrimental. When children experience continual negative interactions, they start to develop negative beliefs and attitudes about themselves, others, and their circumstances. Then they begin to develop insecurities, self-centeredness, or learned-helplessness. Can you think of anyone you know who may be an example of this scenario? Can you think of maybe a situation in your own life where enough negative interactions caused you to give less of yourself or give up?

This week, continue to:

Reflect and evaluate your interactions. Ask if you are leaving a positive or negative impression. If it is negative, think about what can you say and do to redirect the child’s thinking in the future. Is there something positive you can add to the interaction to help move it in a favorable position? For the younger child, try making this shift sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that the child is rapidly accumulating life experiences that he will use to think and act in the moment and in the future.

As you practice asking these questions and reflecting on your interactions, you will continue to learn and know more about positive and negative interactions. You will also continue to learn and know more about T.E.L.L.ing a child. You will realize the impact you can have as you teach, encourage, listen, and love.



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037: Your interactions are positive or negative depending on how you t.e.l.l.

In the current series of blog posts, we are talking about foundational precepts to think and act upon when communicating with a child. The first three posts introduce why interactions with a child are important. That is, in every interaction you are T.E.L.L.ing your child something. You are informing your child’s thoughts, words, and actions not only relative to the current situation, but possibly in a future event. You are also providing the child with information about how to act when communicating with others. The bottom line: every interaction you have can be an informative experience for the child.

mom and toddler

Understanding and accepting your responsibility for the words and actions used in any interaction is the first step before you can begin improving your interactions. We have to accept the responsibility for our words and actions, especially when the other is a child. A child cannot be the one responsible for your choice of words and actions. If you would like to read any of the first three blogs, you can link to them below by clicking on the underlined text.

#1: In every interaction you are mentoring and modeling for your child.

#2: In every interaction, the words and actions chosen reflect your current heart, mind, and will.

#3: The words and actions you display today in an interaction are a collection of your past accumulated life experiences.

The next group of blog posts in the “How can I T.E.L.L.?” series focus on evaluating whether your interaction is effective. Have you ever thought about what makes an interaction effective? Have you ever thought about whether you experienced a positive or negative interaction?

Think about the last interaction you had with a child, or anyone for that matter. Would you be able to evaluate whether it was positive or negative? Don’t be surprised if you answer that question with a “No, not really.” The majority of people only think about their interactions when it was either extremely good, extremely bad, or something happens that wasn’t expected. Otherwise, it’s human nature to just continue thinking and going on with our business… not giving our interactions a second thought.

Today, try and give your interactions with children a second thought. Begin asking, at least periodically, “Did I interact positively or negatively with this child?”

#4: Every interaction can be evaluated as positive or negative, and both types of interactions are needed for personal growth; however, it is critical that children accumulate a favorable balance of positive interactions over negative.

So, what makes an interaction positive or negative?

In general, a negative interaction is when

1) you choose to ignore something important or

2) your words and actions focus only on negative thoughts and feelings.

For example, you notice your child taking a toy away from another child. You know this is not how you want your child to behave, but you choose to not bring it up. You may have your reason, and it may be a good reason to ignore the interaction (or confrontation) in the moment. It is negative because not addressing it now means the child may continue to think there is nothing here, and may continue to think and act this way in the future.

It is also negative to only focus on what is wrong in the moment. For example, in the situation above with the child taking a toy away from another child,it would be considered a negative interaction if you go over upset and only talk about how your child did something wrong, saying they were “bad.” Negative interactions leave a negative impression in the mind of the child.

You want to interact in a way that leaves a positive impression in the mind of the child. A positive interaction is where you intend to

1) redirect the child’s thoughts and actions to become better or

2) emphasize the positive thoughts and feelings. 

In the situation with the child taking a toy away from another child, it would be considered a positive interaction if you patiently and kindly directed the child to give the toy back with an apology, saying something along the lines “You made Sara sad by taking her toy, let’s give it back to her and say sorry.” The intent is to redirect the child’s mind to more appropriate and beneficial learning. Impress the child with ideas that help her in the future in similar situations.

Emphasizing the positive is to reinforce the thinking and actions you want the child to continue. For example, after the child returns the toy and apologizes, you may follow up with “I’m proud of you for returning the toy and saying sorry.” Focusing on the positive allows a child to hear and think about what she is doing right.

This week:

Begin to noticeand evaluate – your interactions with a child. Ask yourself periodically, “Did I have a positive or negative interaction?” Recognize we all have negative interactions. We all have times where we ignore or emphasize what is wrong. It’s human nature.

Here’s the good news: once you are aware and can evaluate an interaction as negative, you can always try again and redirect and/or emphasize the positive ideas you want a child to think about or act upon. Or you can accept you just had a negative interaction, and look for a future opportunity to have a positive interaction. In the long run, what matters is the child experience more positive interactions than negative ones. Make it your goal today to allow a child to accumulate a positive interaction, one that leaves a positive impression on how to think and act.

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