Your kids are watching you. Constantly. All the subtle messages from the way you live life are being absorbed by their active little minds, even if neither you nor your child are aware of it. During the summer months, there are more chances for together time, as well as opportunities for you to show your kids the kinds of values you hope they will embrace. How you do vacations is no exception. Family vacations can be memorable and deepen relationships with one another. They can also be a wonderful opportunity to teach principles that will help your kids grow in wisdom. Before you plan your summer trip consider being thoughtful about the messages you are sending your child regarding how you vacation.
What is the purpose of your vacation?
In our hectic society, it is easy to either skip vacations because we can’t carve out the time, or collapse in an over-priced luxurious spot just to have rest and ready-made entertainment. But…
I’ve heard a lot of encouraging stories from parents during coaching sessions, but even I was shocked at this one.
“Stay positive.” It’s almost a cliche at this point. But the parenting truth behind this oft-spoken statement is that kids need constructive affirmation and encouragement from their parents.
This might sound simple — but sometimes, affirming our kids can be really hard!
In our coaching session, Krista and Ted were frustrated that they had let their tired daughter, Carlie, go back up the ski hill just one more time at the end of the day.
“We should have known better. The low point of our whole vacation was her huge meltdown on that last icy slope. She kept screaming, ‘I can’t get down!’ Everyone was staring at us!” Krista tried to calm Carlie down (with a fair degree of embarrassment) while Ted followed their younger, more confident daughter down the hill.
“So how did Carlie get down?” I asked as they shook their heads at the memory.
Julia was a spitfire. When she was a tyke, she was ready to take the world by storm. All who knew her mom, Maggie, knew of this little one’s intensity. Creativity, exuberance, a ferocious snuggle instinct, and excellent vocabulary were sometimes difficult to enjoy amidst defiance, meltdowns, sleep issues, and definitely a plan for how she wanted to run the family, even as a pre-schooler.
Maggie wrote, “Julia, you are a little firecracker. You know what you want and how you want it done, and have always been able to communicate that.” Maggie, also a horse trainer, carefully navigated how to train this feisty “filly” in a way that captured her heart and didn’t break her spirit. It wasn’t always easy, to be sure.
Broken bones, scary surgeries, or moving to a new school — all these things can be traumatic experiences for kids to handle. How can parents best help their kids survive and even learn from difficult situations? To answer this question, Chad Hayenga sat down with CF co-founder Lynne Jackson.
(If you cannot see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube or click here to download the transcript.)
The “Whole-Brain” Perspective
According to Lynne, it really helps kids to process difficult circumstances using their whole brain. Here is an overview of the breakdown she gives in the video of how to help kids use all three major areas of their brain:
- Left brain: language and logic. Explain to your child the facts of what’s going on – how to understand exactly what happened in the past, and/or what to anticipate in the future.
- Right brain: emotions. Once you’ve talked about the facts, help your child give words to the feelings that they’re feeling about the situation.
- Frontal lobe: planning. Facilitate your child in making a plan for what to do when they feel those feelings and encounter whatever is ahead.
From this launching point of facts, feelings, plan, you can use whatever difficulties your child is facing to help build in them an identity as one who perseveres, who overcomes tough stuff. In the words of one precocious little girl whose parents Lynne coached, “Dad, I love you. You helped me persevere with a cast on!”
For help implementing these principles with your family, check out our coaching options!
This is the first in a series about a thoughtful and graceful approach to bullying. It’s a little longer than usual. Hopefully you’ll see why.
You learn that your child has been bullied at school. Your blood pressure skyrockets. You want justice NOW! “THIS IS NOT OK! I’M CALLING THE SCHOOL!!” An understandable reaction. It is natural to quickly and emotionally defend your child against harm. But to do so is to potentially miss the great opportunity to find diamonds in the rough of bullying.
Don’t get us wrong. We hate bullying and want to do what we can to make it stop. But let’s be honest. The things people typically do to get bullying to stop aren’t working. Just look at our politicians! Look at our justice systems. Look at our juvenile detention centers. Mean talk and punitive approaches are only leading to more bullying.
Even in our own homes, when parents react strongly and try to take immediate control, they may unwittingly add power to the bullying and disempower their children!
Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian in history. Winning 19 Olympic medals has made him — according to many — “the greatest Olympian ever”.
So what is Phelps’ secret?
Well, it could be his high-altitude sleeping chamber. But we think it has a lot to do with Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, and a somewhat strange coaching philosophy.
Lying in the tent, during another in our long line of horrible weather Boundary Waters canoe trips, I was angry.
We had intentionally picked the “statistically best average weather week” of the summer. Ha. This time instead of droning drizzle, bone-chilling cold, or homicidal mosquitoes, we were pummeled by a ferocious, relentless wind that threatened to blow away our tents, and kept us trapped for four days on the same little island. (We learned later that the days of our canoe trip were the exact 4 days of record breaking continuous straight-line winds averaging 30-40 mph. At least it blew all the bugs away!)
The kids had been amazing through all of this, working hard and creating fun where there seemed to be none. But I was still frustrated. Like many of the writers of the psalms, I freely expressed my frustration at God. “Really? It’s been hot, sunny and calm most of the summer, and we get rotten weather! Again. Why?”