Braden gave me a calendar for Christmas (he wanted to make sure I mentioned that). It was the Paper Airplane Fold-A-Day Calendar by David Mitchell and Kyong Lee. Today we did the January 12 & 13 page. Arrow, as the design is called, was our fastest plane and best flyer yet.
This calendar is brilliant. It only costs about $15.00 and is a ready go-to activity for playing at home. The image above shows how it looks. You follow the directions on the current day’s page to fold the previous day’s page. Each page is printed with fun colors and neat designs that make the final airplane look really cool.
The image and the link above go to the publisher’s website, but it is also available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Incidentally, the publisher, Accord Publishing out of Denver, CO, looks like the have lots of really neat titles for children.
Here’s what Braden had to say:
Me: What do you like about the calendar?
BK: That you get to make paper airplanes.
Me: Anything else?
BK: That we get to do it together.
Me: Me: Anything else?
BK: It was a Christmas present from me.
Me: If you were going to tell somebody else why they should get one for their dad, what would you say?
BK: Because it’s a nice and quiet thing to do. It’s relaxing. It’s good to do when someone is napping like your little brother so you don’t wake ‘em up.
It’s important to be able to stay in the “parent place” when it happens. Here are some tips and insights that help me.
First, (as always) be self-aware. I use Daniel Siegel’s C.O.AL. acronym for this.
- Curiosity: What feelings am I having? Why did he say that? Did I ever say that as a kid?
- Openness: Can I respond with humor, insight, compassion, silence etc.?
- Acceptance: His emotions are valid. My emotions are valid. I can’t change the past. The future will be fine. Stay in the present moment.
- Love: Connect with my heart. Follow its lead.
What it feels like “I HATE YOU” means:
- He hates me.
- He doesn’t appreciate everything I do for him.
- He can’t handle his emotions.
- He’s going to grow up to be a violent kid.
- Him and his brother will never get along.
- If he says that here, he’ll probably say it in public.
- He’s depressed.
- I’m depressed.
- The list goes on.
It’s important to note that many of my automatic emotional reactions above are fueled by fear, anger, or sadness.
What “I hate you” REALLY means:
- I don’t like the boundary you set on my behavior (even though that’s what I thought you’d say).
- I’m sad (mad, afraid etc.) and don’t have the words to say it another way.
- I need to save face, so instead of crying I’ll be angry.
- Will you always love me, even if I say this?
- Since you can read my mind, I know you’ll understand what I really mean.
- I feel powerless, and saying “I hate you” gives me the power fix I need right now.
- I want attention, and this usually gets some.
- I’m having a testosterone surge and it’s making me crazy.
- My brain can’t process emotional data fast enough, and I need to say something NOW.
Responding during the situation:
- Keep your cool. By keeping my response calm, I stay in the parent role and model for my boys the best way to handle strong emotion and maintain their dignity.
- Remove energy from “hating.” By responding with as little energy as possible (not yelling, jumping up, making faces etc.) I send a message to my son’s brain that there is no reward for that kind of behavior here. For more info on the energy match, check out Nurtured Heart Approach and Present Moment Parenting.
- Validate his emotions: “It sounds like your frustrated.” “Is it a tough day?” “I know this is disappointing.” By acknowledging his feelings, I show my son that it’s okay to have emotions and that I have respect for what he’s feeling and processing.
- Use non-verbals. Observe his body language and subtly mirror it by being calmly present with a similar (appropriate) posture, position, or action. If he needs space, move away, but don’t disconnect. Give a pat on the back, or just sit. These nonverbal often communicate better than words that I care, I understand, and I’m here for you.
- Use humor. No demeaning sarcasm, but don’t miss the chance to lighten the mood if you can. “You hate me? Well I HATE MUSHY PEAS!”
- Do something unexpected. This is one of my favorite Adlerian Child Guidance Principles. Have fun as you tailor it to your own style and relationship. For instance, I might start singing loudly “I am Henry the Eighth I am. Henry the Eighth I am I am. I got married to the widow…” If he says, “SHUT UP, I HATE THAT SONG,” then I might say “Well, at least you’re not hating me now.” Start throwing popcorn in the air and catching it in your mouth. Do the cinnamon challenge.
- Delay teaching and lecturing until later. When emotions are high, the lizard brain is in charge. There’s not much higher-level thinking, learning, or emotional processing going on. Wait for calmer times to do your instruction.
Responding after the situation:
- Especially for boys, set up teaching moments in the right container. Doing some kind of physical activity, eating, or driving often works well. Barry MacDonald has great resources on Action Talk.
- Teach feelings language. For boys in particular, avoiding phrases like “I hate you,” requires that they be given the right words to use. Help them think about what their feelings really were and what shades of emotion best describe it.
- Make a plan. Think together of a couple different ways he could respond to the things that stress him into hating. Give him some of the basic strategies like deep breaths (for younger kids I use snake breaths), positive self-talk, or taking a break. If I don’t use these techniques often enough myself, I start modeling them.
- Practice other responses. Actually play out a situation or two and have him practice the new response. It’s amazing how powerful and effective this is. This can even be done with older youth, especially if points 5 and 6 from above are used.
- Try using the Incredible Five-Point Scale. Talk about what it looks and feels like when emotions are at a 5. What it looks and feels like when they are at a 4, 3, 2, 1. Collect ideas about how to move down a step. Then, during heightened moments say, “It feels like a 5 right now, and I’m going to bring myself down to a 3.”
- Provide healthy opportunities for power. If “I hate you” gets an angry response, it’s a real power trip for him or her. Learning to get power in healthier ways reduces the need to automatically to hating. (See the Adlerian Mistaken Goals Chart for specific ideas on this).
- Provide healthy opportunities for attention. Similarly to the above point if the mistaken goal of saying “I hate you” is attention, consider healthier ways to meet the need for attention.
- Give energy to success. Whenever I see my son managing emotions, I always recognize it and let him know he’s using his skills. In fact, even if I know he’s likely going to need to manage emotions, I try to set him up for success by reminding him of how much I appreciate it when he uses his skills. This is a proactive approach from the Nurtured Heart Approach and Present Moment Parenting. After all, why should negative behaviors have all the fun! Right?
Here’s a video from this morning. Love it when the boys make up songs. Cullen is notorious for it. Not exactly sure where the idea came from, which is what makes it so fun.
The importance of a secure parent-child attachment is not a new revelation; this is what sets the foundation for all future relationships a child will have in his life. But there is also something to be said for security between siblings. A connected relationship between brothers and sisters also provides a foundational context. It is an opportunity to develop the groundwork for peer relationships in a child’s life.
I’m an idea guy. Good ideas are exciting to me even if they’re unrelated to my work or interests. I’m also passionate about parenting and child nurture, growth and development. I’ve observed that some people become very ideological about parenting approaches, almost like a religion.
What do I mean? People frequently attach themselves to a certain philosophy, technique, style or personality. Once we find our guru or ascribe to an approach, we evaluate everybody else through that lens.
At this point, we are still on the edge of being thoughtful and reflective parents, caregivers, practitioners. What we do next determines whether or not we go down the rabbit hole into ideological wonderland or stay on the path toward healthy child development.
A contemplative approach to parenting keeps the door open. It appreciates the value of every approach. It rigorously filters the flash of gold from the mud. It recognizes that what triggers aversion likely irritates the raw nerve of our own exposed shadow. That’s often where we will find our learning edge or, more importantly, a wound waiting to heal.
The reflection I read stated: “A great disappointment in our time is that organized religion itself has become more ideological than transformative.” The same can be said for parenting approaches.
We’re at our best as parents when we do our own work first. Helping our children overcome challenges and gain strong life skills follows naturally. It’s a journey toward mutual transformation. When this is true, no single philosophy, approach, or technique will be an exclusive, comprehensive or permanent fit.
It is a happy talent to know how to play.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a
tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.
- Henri Matisse
The true object of all human life is play.
- G. K. Chesterton
Men do not quit playing because they grow old;
they grow old because they quit playing.
This morning was kind of stressful getting the boys ready and out the door. I feel sad about the less-than-happy energy that we had, so I want to prep something fun for us to do this evening. I have the idea of a scavenger hunt with clues that lead from one place to the next with a surprise at the end.
Since my oldest is in kindergarten and just learning to read, I will use pictures instead of words. I just walked around the house and snapped close-up photos of different locations in the house. I figure that five stops will be enough to make it fun, yet not too long. Also, since it will most certainly destroy the fun factor if my youngest is left in the dust by his older brother, I will prepare two different hunts.
I’ve got my ten photos printed on plain paper, and am about to tuck them in their locations. I’ll show them the first photo. Then they will find that place in the house. Once they get there, another photo will be waiting, and they will go to the next spot. When they get to the last spot, their prize will be waiting for them.
I haven’t decided what the prize will be yet.
Check back to find out how it goes. I’ll report later this evening…(time passes)…
SUCCESSFUL HUNT!! The boys had a blast. Fun to notice the difference between how a six-year-old and a three-year-old recognize places in the house from the photos. It was challenging for little brother. Next time, I’ll use some written clues for our kindergartener.
I watched Star Wars with my oldest son yesterday afternoon after days (maybe months) of requests to do so. Of course, he wanted to play “lightsabers” afterward. I’ve moved past the debate about whether or not this kind of media and follow up play teaches kids to be violent. The jury is in on that topic, and the verdict is: wake up. Children’s physical, social, and emotional development is much more complex than that.
During our follow up light-saber battle (which was postponed until dinner was eaten, dishes were done, and rooms were tidied) I tried to follow my son’s lead as much as possible. I wanted to see where he would go with it. We used Nerf™ brand foam swords, which I love, because they let the boys experience the painful natural consequence of hitting too hard without anyone getting really hurt. Truthfully, there are very few more effective ways to teach gentleness.
If one of us maneuvered past the other’s blocks and made contact with a body part, the “injured” player had to stop using that body part. To get the use of that body part back, we designated the basement step as the goal. We had lots of laughs watching each other hop, creep, slide, and inch our way over to the step.
Tiring of that, my son made a new innovation. After making contact and “cutting off” an arm, leg, butt, etc., the swordsman had to flip the sword over, grab the blade, and “heal” the other player by touching him with the handle of the sword. After being healed, both players resumed full “health” and participation.
How profoundly this one simple rule of play demonstrated the difference between violence and rough-and-tumble play. Violence is vicious, self-serving, and hurtful. Sport and rough-and-tumble play recognize the importance of caring and keeping all players in the game. The wisdom of many traditions teaches that our wholeness is often, sometimes only, found by being wounded. Even more so by healing and being healed.
Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer at the National Trust, on why snowy days are a great opportunity to spend time outdoors.
Whenever it snows I think back to my childhood. Hours spent in the freezing cold with my fingers tinkling as we built snowmen or had snowball fights. Those were the days when memories were made that would last a lifetime.
I was reading Richard Rohr’s Saturday meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation today and was impressed by how well it complimented what we know to be the best of “current” parenting. Should I be surprised by this? I suppose not since over and over again I’ve found the parallel between the ancient and timeless contemplative wisdom and what we think of as the “new best practices.”
In his reflection “Moralism Instead of Mysticism” Fr. Richard points out that moralism tells us we need to change and “do things right” in order to be loved and accepted. Many of us were parented this way and heard this message in church, school etc. It’s easy for our own children to get this message from us (even if we don’t mean to send it) and the world in which we live, work, and learn.
The contemplative perspective is inspired by the mystics who tell us that “what empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself. This is the engine of change.” Fr. Richard continues, “when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change.”
It’s not much of a stretch to paraphrase the message above and hear the voice of what I’ve come to call contemplative parenting. When we immerse our children in generous acceptance, love, and encouragement, they gain capacity to change, grow, thrive and overcome all of the challenges they face. To use the language of the Nurtured Heart Approach, we nurture their greatness. Present Moment Parenting would say we are downloading positives into their heart. The foundation of the parent coaching I offer, both of these approaches are INCREDIBLY effective with challenging behaviors, including ADHD.
Even parenting approaches that emphasize natural and logical consequences, boundaries, and an authoritative stance are most effective with a foundation of unconditional love, acceptance, and positive regard.
Get in touch if you’re interested in more information about personal or parent coaching.
I had one of those life experiences yesterday that nobody likes to have but we all need to go through. One of those times that punches you in the gut. When the floor falls out from under you. I was hit from the blind side. Hopes were dashed and my emotions were left raw. In hindsight, I see how I set myself up for what happened. I don’t blame anyone (other or myself) for how things played out. It just is.
However, I am acutely aware that I go through these kinds of experiences for a reason. I could get really abstract, but I’m going to keep my feet on the ground for now. The reason I’m focusing on is simple: My sons will go through experiences like this.
In fact, there are probably situations that have given them similar emotions in proportion to the life they’ve lived so far. When you haven’t been around as long, your little world can be rocked when something new happens. In addition, when you’re growing up the wild hormonal and biochemical changes can significantly raise the magnitude of emotions.
As I get older, I can forget how that feels. I learn to handle experiences in healthy ways, and sometimes I become calloused and jaded (less healthy responses). Being mindful in the midst of my storm reminds me of what it sometimes feels like to be young. Feeling my emotions increases my compassion for what my boys will sometimes be feeling.
There are a couple contemplative practices that I am finding useful right now in addition to my regular practice of Centering Prayer. Welcoming Prayer and Active Prayer have revealed new gifts during this time. For details about what these practices are, follow the links Contemplative Outreach.
While afflictive emotions are unpleasant, trying to “get through it” and let them go too quickly is equivalent to counterproductive “stuffing.” To gain the full therapeutic benefit of an experience, not only the current emotions need to be felt, but also the old emotions that are dredged up.
Many people appreciate the usefulness of that opportunity, even if they aren’t ready to get on board with the idea that a higher power leads us through life events for the purpose of divine therapy. In this present experience, practicing Welcoming Prayer allows me to be present with my emotions, gently keeping the wound open to draw out all of the toxin. At the same time, for me, this practice welcomes healing to penetrate deeply.
During times like what I’m presently going through, it’s very easy for automatic, repetitive thoughts and emotions to take over. Born of past hurts and nursed by bad coping habits, these thoughts and emotions are prerecorded tapes in my subconscious that take over in times of stress. Fretting, panic, victimization, cynicism, and anger they can come in all shapes and sizes. None of these are truly who I am, but when stinking thinking takes over, it’s easy to get confused. Welcoming prayer turns off the tapes and opens my ears to the voice of truth.
My boys are a little young to get contemplative practice, but they certainly feel the difference between a dad who is lost in his own emotions and a dad who is mindfully present with himself and with them. Eventually I’ll need to teach them to use these tools themselves, so I’m thankful for practice I’m getting now.
I’ve been taking an online Eager to Learn professional development workshop through the Minnesota Childcare Resource and Referral Network. The name of the course is Stop It Now! Understanding and Responding to Children’s Sexual Behaviors can Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. Stop It Now! is an organization that has developed an innovative approach and many resources to help adults stop child sexual abuse. One of the hallmarks of their program is shifting the responsibility of child sexual abuse prevention from children to adults.
It seems strange that it would be necessary to CHANGE the focus to adults when it comes to preventing sexual abuse. Isn’t that where it should have been all along? On the most basic level, is seems to almost go without saying that it is the job of adults to protect children. But when we think about what has been done in the past, we have been putting a lot of responsibility on kids:
- Don’t talk to strangers. (Except police officers, doctors, your new coach, rarely seen relatives, anyone your parents seem to be embarrassed in front of when you don’t talk…etc.)
- Say “no” if someone touches you inappropriately. (What does inappropriately mean?) In your private area. (Why would they want to do that?)
- Tell an adult if someone does something that makes you feel uncomfortable. (You mean like when Grandpa passes gas?)
It’s the job of children to play, learn, be curious, pick up their toys, do their homework, help around the house. The job description for being a kid should NOT include the responsibility to figure out how to stay safe from confusing, unpredictable, strategic assaults from under-cover individuals who are disguised as people they love and trust. Can anyone think of a better recipe for child anxiety? It’s absurd almost to the point of daftness to tell kids that there are people out there who we don’t understand that want to do things to them that they have no context or developmental capacity to comprehend, and that it’s their job to know how to be safe.
Somebody will say to me, “Hang on there! Don’t we want to teach children how to be SAFE? We don’t want them to be getting in the car with strangers.” Of course we don’t. But it’s not strangers in black vans baiting children with candy who are the problem. Lets face it: If “those people” have a bead on your kid, they’ll probably succeed. Just ask Shawn Hornbeck, Ben Ownby, or the families of Jacob Wetterling and Johnny Gosch.
Over 90% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by the respectful, helpful, caring friends, relatives, and neighbors that we come in contact with every day. As much as 30-40 percent of it is perpetrated by other children and youth. Our children’s playmates. Sorting all that out isn’t a job for kids. It’s a job for all of us.
One of the most innovative things about Stop It Now! is the focus on talking to adults about their own sexual feelings and behaviors. As difficult as it might be for us to accept, there are clearly many adults who are sexually attracted to children. Many of them never act on their feelings, and some do. If we truly want to prevent the sexual abuse of children, adults need to let go of naïve denial and start talking to each other about the complex nature of sexual attraction and how to be individually and socially responsible.
If adults don’t have the experience and tools to handle this issue, how can we expect children to have them? If adults find child sexual abuse emotionally uncomfortable and mentally challenging, how must children feel when we tell them to be safe? How confusing must it be for a teen who feels sexually aroused by children who are younger than him or her?
Adults who abuse children have years of experience figuring out how to hide their intentions and desires. The time they have spent living in society and thinking about their desires makes them a predator far overmatched to its prey.
Sniffing out suspicious behavior and intentions is the job of adults who have at least had enough experience to know when something is a little rotten. Taking advantage of Stop It Now! resources can help us to be even better at spotting problems early and responding in a way that helps ALL parties.
I found a great post from a blog called Parenting from Scratch. It hits all the keys that are important to me: brain science, an Adlerian perspective, and most importantly being intentional about parenting in the face of social/peer disapproval. I’ll let you read it from the author by following this link to It’s OK to Cry. One of the thing that I love the most about this perspective is that it doesn’t pamper children, but gives them credit for being able to solve their own problems and the room within which to do it.
Thanks for your great thoughts, Kelly Bartlett.
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
a hundred worlds
a hundred worlds
–Loris Malaguzzi, from No way. The Hundred is There.
My brother-in-law,Ryan, tosses scoops of sand into a mound at the wooded patch we call a beach on the shore of a small lake in Northern Wisconsin. It’s an overcast day at the cabin. Occasional raindrops dot my page, and when they hit the water they make patterns that remind me of solar systems with concentric orbits expanding from the center. It may not seem like an ideal beach day at the cabin, but the water feels warmer than the air, which makes it perfect for digging, packing, building in the sand with our four kids: my two boys, three and five-years old, and their two cousins, girls, also three and five.
There are some clumps of grass in the mound of sand, and my oldest is patting it with a short canoe paddle. “What are you making?” I ask.
“Tell me about your castle.”
“It’s an underground castle ’cause, see, it has grass on it.”
“Wow! I want to hear more about the underground castle.”
“They’re really, like, strong because they are underground. Underground castles are really important because they can’t get broken easy. Water and force fields protect them.”
“Who lives in underground castles?”
“Water people,” he says pointing to the puddles seeping up to fill the bottom of the trench Ryan is digging.
Turning to my son’s oldest cousin I ask her what she thinks about the castle. She tells me that she was thinking it could be a castle for Barbie and Ken and Jasmine and Ariel (you know that Ken, he’s such a lady’s man). As they played, they worked out the dynamics of melding Anya’s ideas with Braden’s. It became a castle that worked for both of them.
I’ll wrap this up with the words of Jerome Bruner taken from the preface of The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation.
Here we were not dealing with individual imaginations working separately. We were collectively involved in what is probably the most human thing about human beings, what psychologists and primate experts now like to call intersubjectivity, which means arriving at a mutual understanding of what others have in mind. It is probably the extreme flowering of our evolution as humanoids, without which our human culture could not have developed, and without which all our intentional attempt at teaching something would fail.
To cultivate it requires an atmosphere of reciprocal respect and support, the type of respect that distinguishes schools that achieve success–like the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia.
I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from Centering Prayer in the past, both for drawing closer to God and managing the stress. I thought I’d share a couple practical benefits I’ve experienced since starting the 40 day immersion journey (part of the Contemplative Life Program).
First, there’s a time in the evening after Cullen gets up from his nap and before dinner, bath and bedtime when the boys are pretty crazy. I’m prepared for this, and try to be intentional about my response. Sometimes I’m more successfully than others. Yesterday I noticed a new level of control, patience, humor, and grace with the boys.
Second, this week we’ve had a perfect storm of events between getting ready for visits with extended family, preparing for pre-K graduation, jobs for both parents, and my wife’s VERY busy week with the National Lutheran Choir and Chorus America. There were several times when I was surprised by my level of composure, grace, and presence with everyone in times of stress.
When I say I was “surprised by my level…” I’m not taking credit, but rather noticing how the added time in prayer helped me carry that presence into my life and be a better dad and husband.
Many people who practice meditation report the same kinds of results, and there are certainly many similarities between meditation and centering prayer. There are also some important difference, but more on that in another post.
I took the boys to “Free Comic Book” day at Source Comics and Games today. For those unfamiliar with the comic and gaming subculture, this is a big deal. The event has its own website which describes the day like this:
Free Comic Book Day is a single day – the first Saturday in May each year – when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE* to anyone who comes into their stores. *Check with your local shop for their participation and rules.
My brother-in-law introduced me to this event. He’s the geek that I never had the courage to be when I was a kid, and my sons are lucky to have an uncle that’s got the inside scoop on everything super-hero and comic related. I’ve come along for the ride and am getting pretty into the whole adventure. Braden and I have “Justice League Nights” every Tuesday and have watched the complete series a few times by now.
When we arrived at this event, I wasn’t expecting the crowd, and was really surprised by the reaction of my boys. Normally, they’re pretty outgoing and it’s hard to keep track of them. This is even the case with big crowds like at the Minnesota State Fair. But when we hit the ground at Free Comic Book day, they both changed. I wasn’t sure if it was the four-block walk from our eventual parking place or the full-sized real-life superheros that were gathered for pictures near the door, but both of my guys were suddenly very shy. Braden didn’t want to leave my side to take pictures, and Cullen didn’t even want me to put him down. Something had frozen them up like a blast from Iceman.
I noticed that many of the other kids were the same way, and then it hit me. They were star-struck. Sure, if I’d have said “Wow, I think that’s really Wolverine” my five-year-old would have set me straight right away. Even though his experience with the complex kid-social structure is still at the pre-K level, he’s already got an edgy “I’m exasperated with my parents” tone of voice down pretty good. I can almost hear it: “Dad. Come on. It’s just a costume.”
But in spite of that, for this moment, in this place, both of my boys were so nervous that they didn’t even want me to suggest that they get their pictures taken. Sure, they weren’t REAL superheros, but if you get to dress up like one, there must be something pretty awesome about you. On our way to the back of the store to pick up our free comic books, we passed Storm from X-men, Superman, Batman, Loki, Wolverine, Thor, Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, Princess Leah, a Storm Trooper, Anakin Skywalker, and Spiderman in the black suit.
On our way out, Braden mustered up the courage to get his photo taken with Wolverine. It was at that point that I saw through the crowd, the long walk, the waiting in lines, and tired kids to the blessing that was being bestowed on me by the geeks dressed up in costumes for this event. They made it possible for my boys to understand that it’s okay to keep wonder, imagination, and playfulness alive in a world that forces kids to be grown-up way too young. They were giving my kids the chance to muster-up the courage to have a picture with an imaginary hero. These guys were embracing their own sense of wonder and playfulness to provide something that I couldn’t ever reproduce for my kids. Thanks Wolverine.
When I was little my Dad would tell me “as long as you’re proud of yourself, those that matter will be proud of you also.” One of our daily chores was to do something that made us proud of ourselves, and we talked about it at dinner. Now we do this with our kids.
This idea struck me as a powerful way to help kids learn an internal locus of control. Kids who rely on others to tell them when they are doing a good job don’t develop authentic confidence. Instead, their confidence is always dependent on the praise and affirmation they’re getting from others. Any sense of achievement they get can be stolen if somebody else puts it down or doesn’t affirm it for them.
We want kids to know in their own hearts who they are. While data from outside sources plays a part, they should be their own best critic and encourager. The idea above is a great family ritual that can help kids develop the intrapersonal intelligence and skills necessary to be healthy and confident.
Mommy was out of town, so I and boys Braden (4) and Cullen (1.5) were on our way up to the Shoreview Community Center, which is our favorite place to blow off a bunch of pent-up little boy energy during the winter months. We like to go the big indoor playground since he gym is usually full of too many stray basketballs to make it safe for Cullen to play freely. The boys were getting excited as we drove, and then we passed Flaherty’s Arden Bowl.
“Look Dad, it’s the bowling alley,” Braden observed.
“Yeah…” I started to say and then an idea hit me. “Would you like to go bowling?”
“Do you mean now?” He said, not quite sure what to make of this novel idea.
“Yeah, we could go bowling for a little bit and then go up to the community center.” Braden was kind of shocked in good way. He couldn’t believe I was being so spontaneous. He has only been to a bowling alley once, with all of his older cousins, so the experience still held a lot of wonder and excitement for him. After putting on some cool looking shoes and being given a special 6 pound kid ball, he was ready to go.
We had a great time. Sure, it took his ball a good 5-10 seconds to get down the lane, but he still did a little happy dance every time he knocked a few pins down. Because there was too much room and two many heavy, toe busting balls around to let a one-and-a-half year old go free, I had to bowl with a toddler in one arm and swing a 15 pounder (ball, not kid) with the other.
My score was only slightly higher than Braden’s, but there’s nothing better than having your four-year-old yell, “NICE SHOT DAD!” and give you a high five.