Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Do This to Walk the Line: Talking to Your Kids About Natural and Man-made Disasters

Many natural and man-made disasters are in the news 24 / 7 these days.  How can we as parents educate and reassure our kids without completely isolating them from the events?  Let’s take a look at some tips to foster awareness, understanding, reassurance, and empathy during difficult times.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who work closely with children to filter information about the crisis and present it in a way that their children can accommodate, adjust to, and cope with.


Awareness
  1. Consider your children’s maturity levels.  For the really young, you may choose to protect them from the news.  For older children, a willingness to follow and discuss what is happening can inform and inspire curiosity, empathy, and discussion.
  2. Set aside other tasks to really talk.  Your child may come to you with questions or concerns when you are busiest.  Be willing to put other things on hold if they seem to need it.


Understanding
  1. Seek to understand and address what worries your child the most. Listen and ask questions to make sure you really get what he or she is saying and then gently address it on a level they can understand.
  2. Reassure them that you’ll do everything to keep them safe.   Offer love, protection and reassurance that you will do your best to keep them safe.
  3. Put things in perspective.  Put the event(s) in perspective (i.e.  the hurricane was many miles away, we just got a lot of rain.  The authorities are doing everything they can to rescue those in need.)
  4. Pre-screen as much as possible.  Viewing a video clip showing a lot of violence can have a profound effect on a young child. Trust your instincts to guide you on age-appropriate content, avoiding things that may be too disturbing but sharing others that may inform and inspire them.


Reassurance
  1. Let your child know you are concerned or upset, within limits.   It is fine to share your concerns as long as you don’t add fuel to the fire.  Carve out time to check in with yourself and reflect on your thoughts and feelings, reaching out to a trusted friend if needed.  Remember your children are looking to you on how to react and can be easily influenced by your emotions if they are out of control.
  2. Take a time out from all forms of media.  Even when you are ‘hunkering down for the storm’, consider silencing the unnecessary news.  Read, sing songs  or play a simple game of cards to help ALL detach and regain focus. These ‘tools’ in your parent tool kit are always available - just like with a first aid kit, you have to review and make sure the supplies are ready to use.
  3. Turn to a higher source. Whether you hold Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other belief systems, some type of prayer or reflection can calm and reassure you and your child.

Empathy
  1. Ask your kids what, if anything, they’d like to do to help.  Move on to what you can do. This is a great time to foster empathy and giving - what can you as a family do to help those impacted by the event? Participating in a local relief effort can help your child feel they are taking action to overcome feelings of helplessness.  Taking action also helps those in need and deepens your child’s empathy for others.
And finally:
  1. Close by reassuring. When the chat is winding down, check to see if questions have been answered and offer to be there anytime your child wants to discuss it more.  

Taking steps to help your child understand world events without becoming overwhelmed by what is happening is an important life skill for you and your loved ones.  Using these tips as a guide can help you navigate any troubling event.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ramp Up the School Year - AIM For The IDEAL, DEAL With What’s REAL!

Over the past few weeks, we have ‘unpacked’ some key concepts to help your family design goals and take steps to achieve things you all dream about.  We especially talked about taking the Long View and developing personal grit in life.
Investing in your family by keeping the Long View in mind while dealing with the current reality is Fine-Tuned Families’ theme of ‘Aim for the Ideal, Deal with what’s Real’.
In "Aiming for the Ideal", we are dreaming of what could be.  There is room for creativity and possibility here.  That is part of the fun of coaching conversations, and you can start there with your family.  This is the area where great ideas and adventures happen.  Ask questions like "What is possible here?" or "What if we could GO anywhere we wanted?" or "What if we could DO anything we wanted?"
​The second part of the phrase is "Deal with what is real".  Life happens - things come up that get in the way.  Kids get sick, unexpected expenses arise....  That doesn't mean everything is a bust.  If you deal with what's real, you are willing to look for what you can do in spite of the issue at hand.  Plans may have to be scaled back or changed.  You can circle back to the questions above and create new ideas.
Parents make plans (family budgets, vacation plans, savings plans, etc.) for their families. Other examples are having a fire and house safety plan and a plan for what to do when you get separated in a large public spaces.
Some of the plans are:
•            Short Term (dealing with what’s real): how to best navigate a week of rushed and early morning departs form the house, getting everyone to their various after-school activities, etc
•            Long term (aiming for the ideal): how to grow and maintain family closeness—by creating traditions like family game nights, or sharing a holiday with grandparents, or other ‘big picture’ events like college planning (what a student needs to do to prepare for college, not just finances!) etc.
Taking time to plan, make goals, and talk about how you want your family to be even when real life interrupts, requires grit and a willingness to take a long view. And you know, these habits are not ‘instant’. They take time and energy to develop and maintain.
It is well worth taking time to dream, plan and live life while aiming for your ideals.  If you need inspiration, information and encouragement to help you build a family plan that is ‘gritty’ and real, call me. I am passionate about helping your family create SMAART goals for the #family win.

Check out this fantastic offer to move from Dreaming the IDEAL to REAL-izing it:

Click Here to Create and Realize Your Ideals!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The value of Grit and 'being Gritty'

I recently watched this fantastic TED talk on GRIT that is being shared across the internet. It is a video worthy of your time. 
Angela Lee Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania Psychologist defines grit as the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals".  In a blog post by Jenny Williams, she states it "... is a better indicator of future earnings and happiness than either IQ or talent.” https://afineparent.com/building-character/what-is-grit.html )
Duckworth explains her research underscores the need for us all to be ‘gritty’ when helping our kids develop grit.
How can a parent help a child develop grit, you ask?
Duckworth acknowledges that she does not fully know. (Refreshing, right?) A child is unique. Learning is not ‘one size fits all’. We must all learn to learn. How successful you are as lifelong learner is determined by more than just a measurement of IQ or talent.
Learning is a lifelong function and needs a marathon mindset. Learning is not ‘done’ at the end of a grade, or when a project is turned in for a grade.  Learning is not a sprint. Learning is more than memorization and the ability to perform certain tasks and skills. Learning also includes the ability to wait, the ability to reset after failure, and to know that failure is not a permanent state.
Duckworth highlights a ‘growth mindset’, referencing a study from Stanford University, as an important concept to share with students. It actually empowers them to understand what happens to the brain when we learn. The growth mindset concept allows the student to adapt, to wait when needed, and to learn in the struggle. Learning to wait for an hour before playing a video game, waiting your turn in line, waiting to buy something with money saved over time is all part of the ‘growth mindset’ and will ensure a student’s ability to be gritty and thrive.
Duckworth challenges us all to be “more gritty”.

Creating a plan of action that guides our family through busy and demanding times also helps build grit.  It supports a marathon mindset and moves us away from constantly running around putting out fires.

Here is a powerful tool to help your family develop a ‘growth mindset’ and foster grit: