Ever watch your kids’ moods ricochet like a pinball off the latest circumstance? Ever feel like your own moods are a magnification of whatever is going on in your child at the time?
Charles Swindoll challenged us all with his famous statement, “…life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
How can we each grow our abilities to “make lemonade out of lemons” or learn to persevere through challenges? Answer: focus on our small successes! Even if they are small, when we can value and even celebrate successes, it “fertilizes” them and they grow to become a larger presence for the next challenge.
When our children are cranky, it can feel natural to take that crankiness personally. But in almost every case, we have found that a child’s distance or critical reaction is actually self-protection flowing from their own hurt or fear of rejection.
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!
Parents love to connect with their children. But it’s not always so easy.
Some children (whether tots or teens) respond to their parents’ affection in a way that says “‘Private property, No trespassing’ in this heart of mine.” The child may withdraw into a private world of books, iPods, friends, or media. This may seem like angry, even defiant behavior.
When this happens, it’s common to become disheartened and assume that our children really don’t want a relationship with us. However, we’ve found that more often than not, children desperately want a relationship with their parents. Behind the stiff arm that says “Stay out of my life,” the other hand beckons us tentatively, “I need your love!”
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?”