Posts Tagged ‘capability’

Confidence, Competence, Courage & Resilience: Building Success

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 @ 02:08 PM
Author: admin

Parenting has an evolutionary endpoint: at some point, our children will leave the family nest and fly out into the world to carve their path in life. Even as we change diapers, read bedtime stories, or tuck them in,  we know someday, they’ll be on their own.  When that time comes we want them to be ready. How do we prepare them for this independence? Strong family values provide them with a secure foundation. They’ll need confidence, competence and courage. Confidence grows from competence. Competence emerges from practice. We know directly from personal experience that these emerge only through persistence and the ability to learn through failure. We also recognize that it takes courage to learn anything new.

With this awareness in mind, we want to help our kids experience life as a learning conversation, to survive the process. They’ll need to develop a strong sense of resilience. No one begins as an expert, so they must be willing to try new things and keep on trying until mastery is achieved. Encourage their persistence by setting an example. Let them see how you handle the rocky, uphill road to success. Share your strategies for coping through the hard times.

confidence-competence-courage-resilience-building-successMost importantly, when they struggle or falter, be supportive. Be their cheerleader; let them know you believe in them. Be their confidante; listen to their struggles and allow them to figure out the solution. Be a resource: offer help only after they request it. (Language counts here. Ask if they want help instead of asking if they need help. “Want” reinforces their sense of agency and self-determination. “Need” reinforces their lack of sufficient capability; over time this mindset can lead to a sense of learned, chronic helplessness. Be a coach; Stay mindful of the distinction between critique and criticism and always wait for their invitation to offer your perspective.

Take note of their effort and highlight their incremental progress. Connect to your Family Values, e.g.,  In our family …

We respect hard work.

We recognize success doesn’t just happen; it takes effort and time.

We keep trying.

We learn through trial and error.

It’s okay to ask for help.

We value teamwork and persistence.

No goal is worth sacrificing your integrity.

Of course, we hope to raise children who are happy, healthy and, successful. each family envisions a unique version of success. Keep in mind we spend most of our time pursuing a goal than in achieving them. How do we treat others and ourselves as we advance toward success? Remember to nurture their spirits. Value relationships more than being “right” or successful. Make time for joy. Long after we are gone, our words will linger in their minds; speak with compassion, respect, and love.


*Adapted from material    © 2003 Resource Realizations

Both/And Parenting, Making Healthy Decisions

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 @ 02:08 PM
Author: admin

Both/And Parenting.hands in heart.fotolia.giftIn our blogs we focus on the essential need for a Both/And attitude in adoptive families. Both birth and adoptive parents. Both nature and nurture. Each has positives to offer. Each is a permanent and core part of the child. We believe everyone benefits from this inclusive approach which releases our children from the lose/lose expectation that they must be loyal only to us.

When we operate with a both/and presupposition, we free our children from the burden of an untenable choice: care about those who gave them life or care about those who raise them day to day.

We can also embrace a both/and paradigm  in other areas of our parenting to help nurture family harmony. Consider the issue of low level conflict. How might parents propose an approach that allows both themselves and their children to feel heard?

Here’s an example. Dad wants the lawn mowed–now. Teen wants to sleep in. What if they frame an agreement that lets the child rack up the extra zzzs as long as the lawn gets mowed by 6:00 p.m. (or other mutually agreed upon time of completion)? Instead of a battle royale, this could be a win/win situation. Both can get their goal accomplished and both can feel like they’ve “won.”

Both/And Parenting.Fotolia.GIFT.Asian dad son.lectureConsider how often we engage in power struggles with kids because we want what we want, when we want and HOW we want.  Emotions escalate. Parent and child each dig in their heels. Frequently the issue being debated is fairly trivial on the surface. The real point is control. Parents don’t want to lose it and kids want as much self-determination as possible. Both lose in this struggle since the relationship is threatened and no real control truly exist.

Let’s face it, none of us like to be told “No.” The world of a child overflows with refusals, postponements and “Not on your lifes.” To whatever extent possible, allow children choice. Avoid phrases like “Would you like to…” if “No!” is not an option. Deliberately create opportunities for children to practice decision-making. When they are little, it is easy to offer them two or three options–the red pajamas or the blue, orange juice, water or milk, bath or shower–any of which are acceptable. Get in the habit of offering these simple choices.

Be certain that you make a clear distinction between an option and an instruction. If there is not really a choice to be made but rather an instruction to be followed, don’t play “Russian Roulette” hoping they’ll choose the only option acceptable to you. That is not a genuine choice. This kind of deck-stacking damages a relationship. When the child chooses the “wrong” choice (the one included as a sham option but which the parent is unwilling to accept,) they will be angry when the parent breaks his word and overrides the child’s choice. The  phoniness of the transaction blindsides the child. The big lesson they learn is that the parent’s word cannot be trusted. That is definitely not the message parents want to broadcast.

Both/And Parenting.healthy decisionsAs kids get older allowing kids to make choices becomes a bit more challenging. The stakes increase and so does the learning. The only way to become skilled at making good decisions, anticipating consequences and avoiding poor outcomes is by making decisions, living with the results and learning from the process. It is far better to have kids learn the difference between a “good” and a “poor” decision when the life cost is trivial: a failing grade versus a juvenile court record; an ugly outfit versus a hideous –and inappropriate tattoo; an unsatisfying friendship versus an abusive one.

Failure teaches many lessons; it takes tremendous courage to keep trying. Parents must  help kids–and themselves–to focus on learning from the decision not on the expectation that every decision/attempt will satisfy or succeed on the first go around. Be there when your child fails, not with “I told you so” but with curiosity as to how it can be done differently.

Both/And Parenting..healthy decisions.child chooses book

How are you creating opportunities for your children to practice good decision-making?

What are you modeling about your own processes, attitudes, persistence and learning from failure?

Where are you most challenged in allowing your children the chance to self-manages and make decisions.

How careful are you to distinguish between options and requirements?



Positive Parenting–Focusing on Leadership Not Fear

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 @ 03:08 PM
Author: admin

Frustrated mother behind angry daughter in provocative clothingParenting can be very rewarding; it can also bring us to our knees, leaving us overwhelmed, frightened and desperate. Kids with tough starts, trauma histories and strong wills can prove difficult to manage. What parent has not had the frustrating experience of recognizing they cannot compel an uncooperative or unwilling child to do something?  Consequences, incentives, threats, pleading…nothing works. Such power struggles leave parent and child exhausted, stressed and unhappy. Family life becomes mired in confrontation, exasperation and conflict.

So what recourse do parents have? Coaching uses some fundamental presuppositions to develop effective strategies that move families forward through difficulty, for example,  accountability and working/not-working.  Accountability examines how one’s own behavior—to whatever slight degree– contributed to an outcome. This is very removed from either fault-finding or assuming responsibility that rightfully belongs to others.

seamless pattern, interlacing of branches

Accountability helps identify leverage points for future change  because our own behavior is the only thing over which we have total control. By backtracking through the decision tree that led to a given outcome, choice points can be identified that might have altered the result. The purpose is to identify an exit ramp from the chaos. Note that this removes the need to assign blame. Fault is irrelevant. Remember,  the blame-game takes us out of the game instead of keeping us in it.  When we are in the habit of telling our children what they did wrong, we end up alienating them instead of bringing them closer to us. Instead concentrate on making different choices and identifying which ones move the family closer to a mutual goal. This strengthens the relationship. It also reduces anger, shame and resistance, models respect and nurtures capability.

Another important coaching presupposition is working/not-working (as distinguished from the proverbial right/wrong viewpoint.) Right/wrong insists there is only one approach, method or strategy. It crushes creativity, initiative and self-designed problem solving and leaves little room to accommodate individual approaches, patterns and personalities. Right/wrong is more about compliance than competency or cooperationFocusing on working/not-working allows parents to look at strategies and behaviors with neutrality. It keeps the focus on the goal. Success is determined by effectiveness. Was the goal achieved? If not, what can be tweaked? Added? Subtracted? No energy is wasted on insisting that one approach—MINE–is the correct way while yours is incorrect.

Heller weisser Hund traegt T-Shirt mit Aufdruck, im Vordergrund steht ein Spielgeraet, Waveboard

For example, imagine a parent requests a child take the trash to the curb and clarifies the time by when the task is to be completed.  He gives the child room to shape the task to his liking, perhaps adding an element of fun. Pull it on his skateboard? Drag it his wagon? Run a timer to see if they can “Beat the Clock?” You get the idea.   This allows both parents and children to focus on goals, on learning from mistakes and using such experiences as stepping stones to effective solutions and independence. The parents are not dictators giving orders; they are leaders who model respect and raise children who are thoughtful, capable and willing contributors.

Newbie's guideRelationship offers the most reliable path to attachment, cooperation and strong family connection. When kids care about their parents, they also care about parental priorities, values and standards. One excellent parenting book is The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, second edition by Rebecca Eanes. Although not specifically directed at adoptive families, it definitely concentrates on sustaining connection, on parenting via modeling the attitudes and behaviors parents want their children to learn. Rebecca asserts an important distinction: “leading and controlling are very different.” One invites cooperation; the other invites rebellion. One is respect-based; the other is fear-based.

An important mantra guides adoptive parents: “connect before correct.” Positive Parenting includes a commitment to restoration, to repair and reconnect after breakdown occurs in family relationship. Parents must never withhold their love because of a child’s inappropriate choices. Unconditional love is the lifeblood of the family relationship.

Here are a few memorable quotes from the book:

“Positive discipline isn’t about making a child pay for his mistake but rather learn from it”

“It’s about teaching them to do what is right instead of punishing them for doing what is wrong.”

“There is no such thing as an unimportant day when you are shaping a child’s life…Be intentional about what it is you are writing.”

The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting  is an excellent book. that will inspire you. Check it out.

Compassion Is an inside Job

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 @ 04:01 PM
Author: admin

Mother comforts her teen daughter During the previous two weeks, we have explored some techniques for creating connection, injecting playfulness in family life, using meditation and laughter. Sometimes intentional control of one’s body postures and/or laughter meditation will not reset mood. What can you try when these techniques do not create the desired shift? How can you support your kids through difficult events or relationships? (Obviously, we are not talking about severe or clinical depression or the like, which require medical or psychiatric intervention).

One of the most profound gifts you can offer your child is to listen without trying to fix or minimize their feelings. This is more difficult than it sounds because it is difficult to see our kids struggle. The urge to go 911 and engage parental fix-it mode is hard to resist. But, constant parental intervention  reinforces  a child’s feelings of helplessness and incapacity which breeds a dependency for repeated rescues.

Instead, choose to express compassion for them. Stay calm and supportive. Avoid platitudes like “You’re young,” or “This will pass,” or “I know how you feel.” Most importantly, do not ask them to “stop crying” or “stop making such a big deal” about things. Avoid sarcasm or humor; when a child is upset, these will only make him feel worse, unheard and disrespected.

Compassion allows you to be connect with them. Stay silent and listen. Allow your body language to convey empathy, openness, and willingness to listen. Sit close with your arm around them in attentive silence. This will convey that you are strong enough to be “with” them in the muck of their feelings. When they feel acknowledged and validated, they will hear your vote of confidence for their ability to handle things.

Sometimes, they simply need to vent, to think out loud, and to have a sounding board. Some kids think out loud; they need to hear their thoughts before they can evaluate them and take action. Solutions come later; first comes the turmoil. Yes, the pain is real. But they are stronger and can face the hurt to triumph on the other side. Help them to grow compassionate for themselves, to accept that life is a learning conversation, that mastery takes time and is a circuitous path, not a superhighway. Teach them to develop inner self-talk that is encouraging, patient and confident. This allows them to encompass all of themselves with love even when they are in their muck. Help your child to face his issues, create solutions and develop resiliency.

When family members learn to be kind and accepting of themselves, they automatically become kind and accepting of one another. And that is a goal worth pursuing.


Adoptees Are Not Broken

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 @ 02:07 AM
Author: admin

Little asian girl in flower fieldsAdoptees are not broken but they are profoundly influenced by their adoption. Shaped, not defeated, or doomed by it. Being adopted gives rise to unique needs that must be met so adoptees can grow a healthy, confident adult identity. This process requires an appropriately tailored parenting approach. To support children in their life’s journey, adoptive parents must develop special skill sets to meet the unique needs of their children. We must develop a high AQ.

That’s not a typo; AQ stands for Adoption-attuned Quotient. AQ requires a 100% commitment to the adoptive family experience. Once we understand parenting-with-an-adoption-spin, we free ourselves from the patterns and expectations of traditional parenting methods that fail or damage our kids. We care less about an outsider’s judgment of our families and concern ourselves with being the parents our children need. (For a more detailed discussion of AQ, see below.)

Part of AQ parenting is acknowledging our children’s special needs. Accepting the reality of these needs does not exempt children from learning to be self-regulated, productive, and contributing members of the family. It simply means that we understand the path to that destination may be filled with twists, turns, pot holes, and detours. And, it may require a slower pace and increased practice before that lofty goal is accomplished.

Support and empathy do not equate with enabling. They focus instead, on how to grow competencies, attachment, and resilience. This growth occurs under the sunlight of truth: adoption is complicated and includes significant losses as well as significant gains. Our children are not damaged goods but they are like the exotic flower: in need of the appropriate care and environment. The child’s adoption-needs are not denied; they are met. By nurturing in an AQ-rich environment parents provide a custom-tailored approach that supports the actual child-we-have-and-love instead of the idealized child who lives on the greener side of the fence, or the child whose life has unfolded without trauma, neglect or tragedy.

How are you practicing AQ parenting? What are some of the benefits of this parental style? Once the damaged goods view is replaced by the child-with-unique needs approach, how does it benefit the entire family?


*Adoption-attunement Quotient

AQ considers how adoption influences a child and includes:

Adoption-sensitive parenting techniques

Sound adoption language

Knowledge of the attachment process

Consideration of grief and loss issues

Respect for birth parents

Modeling healthy boundaries

Educating family, friends and teachers on adoption

Remembering that a child’s story belongs to him

Recognizing that adoption is a family experience

Encouraging playfulness and good humor as a family value

Integrating a child’s birth heritage