On this special day, I celebrate and give thanks to my SOULMATES, my beautiful children, Nitasha and Navin.
On this special day, I celebrate and give thanks to my SOULMATES, my beautiful children, Nitasha and Navin.
I recently came across some award-winning work published by Warren Bennis, the leadership pioneer and the founding chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. Bennis wrote. “The manager has a short-range view, the leader has a long-range perspective.”
This reminded me of our role as parents. Interestingly enough, we play both roles in our children’s lives.
As managers, our short-range view helps us do it all: get homework assignments done, pay attention to projects that are due, get them to their committed activities, make it to school events, get meals ready, and of course the list goes on and on. We are right on target as managers as we groom our children’s intellectual, social, and physical well being.
However, in more way than one, we are also our children’s leaders. We lead them through their challenges, we help them get back on their feet when they fall, we teach them the importance of good character and values, and we lead them back to good health when they are ill. This is how we nurture their inner well being; their emotions: through compassion, empathy, and kindness.
Yes, our children are happy because we help them manage their day-to-day lives but it is truly our leadership role that teaches them how to face life’s challenges and recover from the bigger, more important lessons of life. Our leadership is what adds the irreplaceable element of the long-range perspective of accomplishment and joy to their day-to-day happiness.
So in order to be effective parents, remember that we need both a manager’s short-range view and a leader’s long-range perspective. Better yet, while you are managing their day-to-day issues, lead by keeping the long range perspective in mind, every day. Be compassionate, empathetic, and kind while managing daily life. These are exemplary Tools of Growth to Raise Kids to Be Happy, Think Positive, and Do Good!
The week after my daughter, Nitasha, went off to college, I had lunch with a friend whose son was exactly the same age as Nitasha. Over lunch we talked about how much we missed them, Then all of a sudden, my friend went quiet and said, “I wonder if I did a good job? I wish I had spent more time with him. He acted like he couldn’t wait to get away from me. All these years…I never realized they would go by so fast.”
You see, when we are in the midst of our parenting years, and we ask ourselves questions filled with doubt or guilt—Am I good parent? Do I do a good enough job? Do I spend enough time with my kids—we can actually do something about it. We can focus on making a change. However, when the kids are gone, so is that possibility. Since it’s impossible to travel back in time, if we cannot justify our worries, doubt, and guilt, those destructive emotions eat at us and are reflected in our relationship with our kids. That alone should make spending quality time with the kids now, oh, so important!
Spending quality time NOW is that ingredient that can allay doubt and guilt in the future. Just taking even five quiet, uninterrupted minutes a day with your child/children can do the job! And staying consistent will help keep the doors to communication wide open, while nurturing trust.
As my kids are getting older, I feel like I’m getting more and more inconsistent with following through on groundings. At least once a month, I’m either forgetting or overriding my own command due to some pressing school or sports activity or event. I feel so guilty. Am I sending the wrong message to my kids?
Dear Busy Mom,
As kids get older, parents get busier — this is a fact. When you are moving at the speed of light, it is challenging to remember everything, especially since groundings are not something most parents put on their to-do list, or their calendars, or have reminder alerts for! So I totally understand where you’re coming from because you are not alone. EVERY parent has done that! It is impossible to stay on task with EVERYTHING in this ever-changing and ever-evolving world of parenting. Every minute, you are changing, your kids are growing, and situations are evolving. That’s just how life is designed: to move forward.
Now if you were doing this once a week, we would have a whole other issue to discuss and yes, it would be much more likely that you would be sending the wrong message to the kids. I like to go with the guidelines that if you are following through 75% of the time, you’re fine and so are your kids.
That being said, I applaud you for your efforts in reaching out. When you put guilt in perspective, you make room for growth which helps you to evolve as a better parent.
So let me help you spin that guilt into some valuable learning lessons for your kids:
When you do forget or override your own grounding, make sure you have a quick discussion with your child about it. Honesty is the best policy. Let them know that you had a busy day and that you are sorry that you forgot or had to override it due to whatever reason. Tell them that you will let it go this time, but do discuss with them what the purpose of this grounding was so that you reinforce the lesson thats needed to be learned. They will surely respect you for it. If you think that they are going to forget, you’re kidding yourself and setting yourself up for failure. If they are old enough to understand the logic behind groundings, trust me, they will remember (even if they pretend that they don’t!).
As you adjust, be okay with it yourself, and follow the steps of discussing it with them. You will have taught your kids by example, and with that there are many hidden lessons:
1. Open mindedness: adjusting to change even though we might not like it.
2. Emotional intelligence: dealing with the feeling of guilt by addressing it and putting it in perspective.
3. Communication: discuss the issue with them so that they can put it in perspective.
4. Strength of character: apologizing.
5. Respect, trust and confidence: when you stand behind your own word, by justifying honestly why you didn’t follow through, you exemplify consistency and follow-through which strengthens respect, trust, and confidence between parent and child.
So be nice to yourself. Instead of wasting your much needed energy and valuable time on feeling guilty, tell yourself, “It’s all good,” take the necessary steps, and go from GUILTY to GUILT FREE, which most definitely ups the family happiness index and helps you Raise Kids to Be Happy, Think Positive and Do Good!
Needless to say, we all learn from our kids almost as much (if not more!) as we teach them — which is why Learning is the primary pillar of our TOG Philosophy! One of the most important things that we can learn from our kids is the frequency of laughter. Did you know that:
- Kids laugh approximately 300 times per day!
- The average 40 year old adult laughs only about 3-4 times per day!
Think about it—kids learn to laugh much before they learn to talk. Perhaps this is why kids are generally happier than adults.
Laughter researcher and author of Laughing-A Scientific Investigation, Robert Provine, calls our attention to notice how loud laughter activates many parts of our body: our facial expressions, sounds, arms, legs and our trunk. Laughter even changes our breathing pattern and our moods.
Research at Mayo Clinic also proves that laughter is truly the best medicine-a mood lifter, stress buster, immune booster, pain reliever and happiness inducer.
Need I say more? Mimic your kids and laugh, giggle, chuckle, tickle and usher not just happiness, but JOY into your lives!
Here’s a little TOG gift to get you started:
All parents are driven with the common intention of doing the best that they can for their children. From the minute they awake to the minute they fall asleep at night, parents’ schedules revolve around their needs and wants. Why? To put it simply, parents love their children like no other. As parents, this unique love inspires us to function beyond our expected intellectual, emotional, and physical capacity. And yet, we do it all willingly and tirelessly. Well, for the most part.
However, It is only when we are faced with dilemmas that challenge us do we sometimes lose our footing and our sanity. When we find ourselves in such a situation, there is that one tool that can help us to rise above and showcase our love and save the day despite the circumstances.
That savior is KINDNESS.
When parents remind themselves to be kind during the storm, it helps keep guilt at bay for the parents and lets their child know that they are loved no matter what, thrusting them into a defenseless, constructive, learning mode. If a discussion is necessary, parents should coat their message with kindness and if discipline is called for, parents should deliver it with kindness. too.
Kindness is simply an attitude and a tone of voice that echoes the love that we feel for our children. Kindness truly is the home where love lives.
By being kind, we are actually acting out what Daniel Goleman, award winning author, psychologist, science journalist, and the Father of Emotional Intelligence calls “compassionate empathy,” which research proves can immediately improve your life while improving your childs’.
Here are some 3 quick TOGs (Tools of Growth) that advocate kindness and accelerate communication:
1. Use terms of Endearment : Opt for “What’s the matter, love?” (which will immediately open up their minds and their hearts) instead of terms of enfearment like “Whats wrong with you?”
2. Back that up with a calm and kind tone of voice, which will help keep the child’s defenses down.
3. The power of touch during challenges has limitless potential. A gentle stroke, a kind rub on the back while using a calm tone of voice and terms of endearment can help pacify the child and take the edge off, encouraging communication and helping you to speed up to a resolution.
Tyler and Nathan got into trouble at school. Being 14-years old and living in a body of fired hormones, it was bound to happen. Impulsive, impatient and impolite, both boys were imp-ing for trouble! They had it coming! All in one month, together, they had:
1. Hidden Careen’s backpack on the football field.
2. Snuck into the girls bathroom and planted a time-released cockroach jar explosion.
3. Reprogrammed the school bell 30 minutes ahead.
Surprise! Life catches up with you. They were busted and ended up in the Head Master’s office where they had another surprise waiting for them: their parents. Both were delivered their sentences of a three-day suspension. Wow! A reward of no school! But here’s what the home scene looked like:
On arrival at his home after a silent car ride, his father took the lead and asked:
"What prompted this behavior?"
"Just silly fun," responded Tyler with his head hanging.
"Did you not realize where this would eventually lead to or did you just assume you’d get away with it?" nudged Dad firmly, yet calmly.
”I don’t know, I didn’t think about it.” replied Tyler, still avoiding eye contact.
"I know your brain is developed enough to know what happens when you do things without thinking. But I guess it’s up to you whether you choose to use it or not," his father responded.
"I’m sorry, Dad. Are you also going to punish me?" Tyler asked in a low toned voice with his head still hanging and fingers interlocked.
"You’re going to type up a ten page research paper on the two hemispheres of the brain and identify which one you used and why, and which one you should have used and why. Your verbal presentation of it will be due on Saturday morning right after breakfast. It’s Wednesday and since you’ll be home for the rest of the week, you have plenty of time."
In the car, both parents took turns screaming at Nathan:
"We were so embarrassed," started the mom. "How dare you do stupid things like that and make all of us look like idiots!"
"What the &^*% were you thinking?" joined in the father. "I’m sick and tired of your behavior. In my day, a good beating could have fixed this."
"I’m so sick of you guys talking down to me," Nathan lashed back.
"No, we’re so sick of you behaving like a fool" said the dad, "That’s it! You’re grounded for a month. No friends, no movies, no hanging out. To school and back you’ll go. That’s it! Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes," muttered Nathan, mad and sad.
These are two completely different parenting styles. One encouraging intellectual resolution by using common sense reasoning, logic, and understanding as a “punishment,” contributing fully toward the teenager’s growth. Whereas the other left behind yet another trail of unresolved and senseless emotions hindering growth.
Through logic and reasoning, parents can teach children to understand themselves. And understanding one’s self is the most important step toward independence. Is that not what we all want for our children? To be independent and responsible?
"A man who does not think for himself, does not think at all." — Oscar Wilde.
Reasoning teaches our children to do just that: think for themselves. Reasoning helps children learn from their mistakes and grow. Now that’s a gift every parent should give their child every opportunity they get. Don’t you think?
A good friend of mine, a Mom to a beautiful two year old, recently moved into a new home. The anxiety of loan approvals, walk throughs, packing, remodeling, and unpacking is in full swing. Princess’s response? Throwing food, hitting, hearing but refusing to listen, and open forum public meltdowns! “How can we not lose our cool? How do we stay consistent when we are not in the comfort of our own home?” asked this concerned mom.
I’m a big advocate of approaching issues with an educated and intellectual approach through understanding. That always helps put things in perspective. Putting things in perspective is what ushers in patience to handle situations. But when parental emotions are flying all over the place, it is challenging to engage the intellect to participate. Emotions always roadblock understanding. If we don’t address the emotions, the intellect and understanding will not kick in. Period.
So, step ONE:
Dealing with the Feeling — this is a two-parter. Spot it and say it.
1. Spot the feeling that YOU are feeling and say it out loud. “I am frustrated!” “I am annoyed!” “I am angry!”
2. Okay it: Tell yourself that you have good reason to feel the way you are feeling. Feelings are what they are; they are neither right, nor wrong. All feelings are acceptable. By doing this, you are not fighting with the feelings, but accepting them. You would be amazed at how putting feelings in perspective helps you, the parent, completely relax.
Think of what happens when your brain is bouncing from place to place, name to name, scanning to remember the name of a familiar face you just saw at the grocery store. It can bug us for hours.
"What was her name again? How do I know her? I can’t figure it out!" This can go on for hours and sometimes days. And then, VOILA! The minute you remember the name, your mind frame changes. Why? Because there is a disconnected link in the brain that is trying to identify this person while agitating feelings.
Similarly, spotting and saying (identifying or naming) feelings and then okaying them (validating them) helps you first put your feelings in perspective so that you can think intelligently and with understanding and patience.
Dealing with your child’s feeling: Spot it, Say it and Okay it.
1. Spot it, Say it: In this case we are dealing with a two-year-old.
a: Let’s assume that you already know the benefits of Emotional Intelligence and have been building your child’s emotional vocabulary. This really puts you at an advantage to walk him or her through those feelings: “Can you tell me what you’re feeling?” or “Are you angry?” Your child’s tantrum is simply a cry for help to identify the feelings. If your child does not have an emotional vocabulary, then you will have a tantrum on your hands 100% of the time. If your child does have an emotional vocabulary, then the tantrums will get cut down by half! Words help us make sense of things. Naming feeling with words helps us identify them, and recognizing them helps calm down the emotions. Now when you are moving to okay-ing their feelings with acknowledgement like “I understand how you are feeling. I would be angry too,” you have validated and respected those feelings. This is empathy at its very best, which is a huge driver of communication between parents and children.
b. Let’s assume that your child does not have an emotional vocabulary. In this case, walk your child through his or her own emotions: “I can see you’re angry or sad or mad,” and see if there’s a response. If your child does not respond and the tantrum continues, it is purely because he or she is unable to express the feelngs. In order to put tantrums in perspective, it is a must that parents put in the time and effort to raise emotionally intelligent children.
New research indicates that Emotional Intelligence (EI) enhances a child’s social and emotional skills, which is a determining factor of a child’s academic and social success. But in the mean time, you will just have to let the tantrum pass. But when timing is right, you MUST practice “dealing with feeling” to minimize the tantrums. Take the time to explore EI building products and toys on the market for children and see what will work best for your child. You will see a little bit of effort and practice will take you a long way toward building good communication habits early on.
New research is even pointing to the fact that “terrible two’s” are a misnomer. Children at 20 months go through a big growth spurt where they are starting to understand their own individuality and their place in the world. They are beginning to explore their inner dependence, their in-dependence. The first big steps of walking and talking (or saying words) independently is their declaration of independence. As they explore this independence, they are also reminded of boundaries by their parents. “No” becomes our most commonly used word. Does it not seem a little daunting to be them all of a sudden? They see the playground and other children at the park. They have experienced how fun that can be. Yet, as they gaze out of their car seats wishing and asking to go the park, their little brains cannot put into perspective that now is not the appropriate time to visit the park. Cue the tantrum.
This is step THREE if you are able to calm the child’s feelings down and step TWO if not:
Think with Empathy: As you calm your own emotions and put your best foot forward to calm theirs, understand their perspective; understand their age, phase, and stage of development and ability to understand. Think about the situation at hand with empathy and resolve the situation with empathy. When parents help children validate or okay their feelings, that is empathy, too. And there is no better way to teach your child empathy than by teaching by example.
Also remember to be empathetic with your own phase and stage of life. If you are moving, chances are that you are burning the candle at both ends in which case, do not pressure yourself or your child into stellar behavior and responses. When busy-ness is the need of the hour, know that it is a new and unexpected chain of events for the family; emotions are bound to flare up. Be okay with it. I’m not saying expect it. But when they show up, be prepared to accommodate for them by simply taking some time out or just allowing them to work out the emotions. Taking five deep breaths and drinking water can definitely calm the pace and the emotions, which will also buy you some time to think things through. The key is to respond instead of to react.
As for public meltdowns among strangers: don’t worry what others think or say. If you are at a grocery store, chances are you won’t see those people ever again anyway. And if you’re among friends, know that EVERY parent has been through this many times over and that they understand. And if they are making you feel bad, find new friends to hang out with and/or deal with your own feelings and you will be able to handle theirs! Remember, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
"I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work part time so that I could dedicate more time and attention to raising my two beautiful kids. However, I now have to go back to work full time. As the day approaches, I am having such a hard time with this decision and the guilt is now getting the best of me. Help!"
This is a common and big dilemma for parents and most of the time, it is unavoidable. The sooner you roll your sleeves up and put it in perspective, the better it is for you and your family. So here are three winning suggestions:
1. Accept and respect: If you start to make room for guilt because of a decision that you have had to make, know that it will affect you first and your family next. Sit with yourself or your spouse and evaluate if you have entertained all the options (which I’m sure you have). If so, accept your decision by affirming the following: “I am a great parent and under the circumstances, I am doing the best that I can. I accept and respect my decision.” This is guaranteed to help you move forward.
2. Discover and recover: Talk to your children and let them know how you are feeling in an age-appropriate manner, of course. Ask them to help you plan and organize the week so that they, too, know what to expect. Together, come up with new ways of spending family time in the evenings. This will help you uncover a whole new talent in your kids. Keep in mind that kids are very resilient and involving them in the discovery process will help you recover from the guilt.
3. The gift of presence: Before the kids go to bed, dedicate five to ten minutes a day to just hang, doing no-thing. Let them know that that will be special time to share the day about the day. Put aside laundry, chores, cooking agendas, and to-do lists, not just physically, but also mentally, during that time. This is what being “present” is all about —dedicated, undivided, uninterrupted, shared time which will allow communication to stay open as you get busier. The gift is renewed parental confidence that will slowly negate self doubt, guilt, and fear.
The more you practice making a habit of this, the better you will feel. The better you feel, the more adjusted you and your family will get to the new lifestyle. By modeling resilience, you will teach your kids self reliance as well. Also, know that change brings about tremendous growth in both adults and children.
And during turbulent, doubtful, guilt-ridden moments, bring yourself back to center with this reminder: ”I am a great parent and I am doing the best that I can” and take some “YOU” time to refuel and refresh. Raising Kids to Be Happy, Think Positive and Do Good is not just a privilege for stay at home moms. It is an attitude. And as long as you keep that positive attitude, both you and your kids are good to go!
Through a recent article by Dr. Jay Kumar, titled "How Nature Makes Us Happy and Healthy," I was introduced to the term "Nature-Deficit Disorder." Although the term might seem quite self explanatory, I was intrigued by some of the common sense facts and the supporting science behind it. Dr. Richard Louv, author of national bestseller, Last Child in the Woods, coined this term and has sparked a national debate on this topic. In his own words:
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
Needless to say, all parents know intrinsically how happy kids become when they play outdoors. But the big question in today’s, fast paced, sensory-overloaded life is: How much time do kids really get to play outdoors?
Obviously, only you, the parent, can answer that, but here are two convincing reasons to make sure that they do :
1. Nature can enhance a child’s natural ability to succeed in every walk of life:
Voluntary or direct attention actions like reading, writing, studying, or playing on electronic devices produce beta waves that help sharpness and clarity. But when the brain spends too much time in this beta wave state, it puts our children’s brain on overdrive, creating stress and diminishing attentiveness through the production of "stress hormones," like cortisol and norepinephrine.
On the other hand, involuntary or indirect attention actions like playing in the park, getting “down and dirty” in the backyard or hanging out at the beach, produces alpha waves which are healing waves that help the brain release endorphins like dopamine and serotonin, also known as "happiness hormones."
And does happiness actually lead your kids to success? Yes, most definitely. And no one can explain that better than happiness expert, Dr. Christine Carter. Click here to hear her well-researched conclusion.
2. Nature can enhance a child’s natural ability to be healthier:
Besides alpha waves helping in healing, we all know the benefits that sunshine and vitamin D have on our immune system. And here is Dr. Jay on his radio show enlightening us on how sunshine can make us healthier AND smarter!
In conclusion, your child is only prone to Natural-Deficit Disorder if they are not spending enough time hangin’ in and hangin’ out with nature. Just an hour a day can help bring the brain back in balance!
Go ahead, parents: use nature to tip the scale and this summer, nurture your kids to be healthy and succeed. What a simple TOG to Raise Kids to Be Happy, Think Positive, and Do Good!