Reflective Practice for Persons Interacting with Children: regardless of where you live in the world, reflection can benefit you. With today’s challenges of interacting with children—getting them to listen to what you have to say and following direction—it is vital that we have the necessary skills to reach them. This podcast episode looks at how reflective practice can assist you as a parent or teacher in communicating effectively; listening and giving effective feedback.
Many years ago, it probably was easier for an adult to say to a child ‘do this, or do that’. And what happened? The child engaged the task, without even asking, why? But children are at an early age engaging in discovery learning and critical thinking; they are inquisitive. It is true, children still go through the various stages in thinking and development, but being exposed to various media, as well as socialization that take place, they are encouraged to question and to explore different ways of thinking.
What adults are finding is that children no longer simply do as they are told but seek reasons as to why they should engage a specific task.
In some task, because of a lack of experience not all children can engage successfully, unless they receive direction. It is therefore left to their parents or/ and teachers to offer the necessary rationale for why they should engage a specific task and also offer the necessary directions to complete the task successfully.
Stay tuned as today’s podcast discuss this.
More and more the world is becoming a difficult place for young people to live in. This is so as youths are confronted with pressure to perform highly on school examinations, deal with complex relationships, experience body changes, bullying and general uncertainties which come with entering adulthood. In some communities there are increases in the number of young person’s engaging in self harm/self injurious behaviors. It is important therefore, that these children be given the opportunity to learn more positive coping mechanisms as they combat feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem and mental health issues.
As parents, we love our kids so much we want to protect them, help them, and cultivate them into perfect, happy humans. Unfortunately, this overparenting has the opposite effect, leaving our kids unready for the world and life as adults.
“We parents, we’re doing too much,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.” “We have the very best of intentions, but when we over-help, we deprive them of the chance to learn these really important things that it turns out they need to learn to be prepared to be out in the world of work, to get an apartment, to make their way through an unfamiliar town, to interact with adults who aren’t motivated by love.”
Now the mom of two high schoolers, Lythcott-Haims’ a-ha moment came in 2009 after telling parents at Stanford’s freshman orientation to let their kids go and then coming home for dinner and cutting her then 10-year-old son’s meat.
“That’s when I got the connection,” she says. “When do you stop cutting their meat? When do you stop looking both ways for them as they cross the street? These are all things that we’re doing to be helpful, protective and so on, but if you’ve sheltered your 18-year-old all the way up to 18 by doing all of those things, then they end up bewildered out in the world. I realized this was why the Stanford freshman I was working with, however accomplished in the G.P.A. and childhood resume sense, were reliant upon mom or dad to kind of do the ‘work’ of life.”
Are you ready to stop helicopter parenting and prepare your kid for life as a young adult? Lythcott-Haims shares 12 basic life skills every kid should know by high school:
1. Make a meal
“By the time your kid is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care, if they had to,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I’m not saying stop making dinner for your kids, but I am saying you ought to have confidence that they could make a breakfast for themselves, that they could make a lunch.”
While most days you are going to be preparing their meals, you want them to be able to feed themselves if necessary. “When something happens, grandma gets sick and one parent’s got to rush across town to look after her and the other parent’s off at work, you want to know your freshman in high school has what it takes to pack their own lunch, make his own dinner, you know? The more they age, the more they should feel that, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this.’ There’s a competence, and there’s a confidence that comes when we build competence.”
2. Wake themselves up on time
“By the time your kid is entering high school, you ought to have confidence they can wake themselves up and get themselves washed and dressed in clothing that’s clean,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I underscore this because too many of us are letting kids off. We’re their alarm clock and then what happens? They’re late for breakfast; they’re late to school; and we drive them. All that teaches them is, ‘I’ll always be there to wake you up and drive you,’ which is not true.”
Lythcott-Haims recently heard from a colleague at a major university that a parent had installed a webcam in the dorm room of a freshman to wake the kid up. “That’s a parenting fail,” she says. “We’ve gotten ourselves worked up into a frothy frenzy about grades and scores in high school, and further into college, and we sort of treat our kids’ childhood as if every day, every quiz, every afternoon is a make or break moment for their future,” she continues. “We feel the stakes are high, and therefore we must help, but the stakes are low in childhood compared to what they will be in college, and what they’ll really be in the world beyond.”
3. Do laundry
When teaching teens basic chores like laundry, we have to be careful not to be snippy and make them feel bad about not knowing how to do it yet. “If they haven’t learned, it’s because we haven’t taught them,” she says, “so parents need to acknowledge [to their kids] that they’ve been over-helping.” Instead, show them the ropes, watch them do it themselves once to make sure they’ve got it, and then let them handle it on their own.
4. Pump gas
“When they learn to drive, they better know how to pump gas, okay?” Lythcott-Haims says. “I know of college students who have always had their parents fill their tank, whether at home in high school or even in college. The parents just top off the tank whenever they come visit her. Well, one day a 20-year-old student is out driving around, and her tank is near empty. And she says, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get gas. I’ve never done that. But I’m smart, I can figure it out.'” Long story short: She accidentally puts diesel in the car because no one ever taught her what to do. That’s an expensive and unnecessary lesson.
5. Pitch in
“Employers these days are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what is it with these 20-somethings, they just want to be told exactly what to do, kind of step-by-step, and they want to be applauded for doing it,'” Lythcott-Haims says. “If we’ve just served them, if parents have just said their academics and activities are all that matter and we’ll take care of everything else, no chores and no helping out around the house, then they get out into the workplace and they don’t have that pitch-in mindset.”
“Kids need to learn how to contribute for the betterment of the whole,” she says. “Maybe they have siblings and one is stressed out about something, and the other says, ‘I’ll do your chore for you. Because I see you’re stressed out and you need some help.’ That’s building a sense of it’s not just about me. I can do for others.”
6. Advocate for themselves
Most of us have heard the stories of the parents who are calling college professors to complain about their kids’ grades, right? News flash: This needs to stop in high school, too. “If you’re the one throughout high school who’s always got to be emailing the teacher, you basically are teaching your kid, ‘You’re not competent, and I’m going to have to do it for you,’ which is terribly harming,” Lythcott-Haims says.
Instead, teach your child how to have a conversation with an authority figure and advocate for themselves. “So I’d say, ‘Look honey, I know you’re frustrated about this grade or you’re upset about that happening on the soccer team, or you don’t understand this information. You need to be the one to go talk to your teacher respectfully and advocate for yourself.'” she says. “And if they look at you in horror, say, ‘You can do it; I know you can do it. Do you want to practice with me?’ The only way to teach them is to get out of their way and make them do it.”
Also, prepare them to listen well to what the other person is saying and understand it might not go their way. “Many times they won’t get the outcome they desire, and it’s ‘Well, ‘I tried.’ And they come home and they learn to cope with it, because not everything in life will go your way.”
“We’re always putting their stuff in their backpacks,” Lythcott-Haims says. “‘Oh, don’t want you to forget your homework!’ And then that backpack becomes a bag or a briefcase one day in the workplace, and they haven’t learned that skill of being responsible for remembering their own stuff, doing that inventory every morning, ‘What do I need? Wallet, keys, lunch, work, laptop.'”
8. Order at restaurants
While this skill should be taught sooner than high school, if that’s where parents find themselves, it’s not too late. If they’ve never ordered for themselves, say, “Hey, guys, it’s time you started ordering for yourselves. I realize it’s not for me to decide what you’re going to eat, or me to assume you’re going to have your usual order, or for me to order for the whole family,'” she says.
Remind them to look the server in the eye, be polite, communicate their request, and say, “thank you.” “One day before long, they’re going to be out with friends or out with a girlfriend or boyfriend, and they’re going to want to have that skill to not only order food, but to do so respectfully—and not look like a jerk who’s an entitled kid with a credit card, who can pay for it, but can’t really treat the server respectfully,” Lythcott-Haims says.
9. Talk to strangers
“Their life will be full of strangers, if we think about it, but we have this blanket rule, ‘Don’t talk to strangers,’ which isn’t the right rule,” Lythcott-Haims says. “The right rule would be, ‘Let me teach you how to discern the very few, creepy strangers from the vast, vast majority of normal strangers.’ That’s a skill.”
Then, send your children out in the world to talk to strangers—safe ones. Lythcott-Haims taught her own kids this skill by sending them to a store within walking distance of their suburban home to run a small errand and ask the sales clerk for help. She handed them a $20 bill and off they went. “They come back with a spring in their step,” she says.
10. Go grocery shopping
Has your child ever even noticed that the grocery store aisles are nicely labeled with signs hanging from the ceiling? They should know how to navigate a supermarket on their own, Lythcott-Haims says. “Send them off on their own with one of those little hand-held baskets to go get five or six things,” she says. “If you’ve got a 13-year-old, and you’ve never let him or her out of your sight in a grocery store, you’re going to be freaking out; but 13-year-olds don’t get abducted from grocery stores.”
11. Plan an outing
“Whenever the peer group is old enough and ready to plan an outing, let them do it,” Lythcott-Haims says. “I’m the parent who’s very comfortable with my 12-year-old girl going to a matinee movie with friends where she arranged it—you know, one parent’s going to do the drop-off, one’s doing the pickup, but the girls are getting the tickets, bringing money for snacks.”
While you should ask them to walk you through the plan so you know they are not setting off willy-nilly, don’t let your fears for them make them fearful of the world. “Making their way out into the world’ to go to the movie, or to go to a mall, or to go walk up and down the big street in town and then get some food somewhere, whatever it is—they want that,” Lythcott-Haims says. “This is them trying to spread their wings.”
12. Take public transportation
When I travel around the country, people say, ‘Oh, my gosh. I wouldn’t let my 17-year-old daughter ride the metro alone,'” Lythcott-Haims says. “And I’m like, ‘What’s your long-term plan here? Would you let your 25-year-old daughter? Is it even up to you when she’s 25?'”
“Of course, [17 is] old enough! People join the Marines and the Army and the Air Force and the Navy at 18,” Lythcott-Haims points out. “This is just a lovely example of how far we’ve strayed, because no one is yet saying at 18 they’re too young to sign up to go fight for our country. So, we’re fine when [kids choose the military], but the kids who choose a four-year college? Oh, no, no. They need their mom or dad there all the time. It’s a reminder of how absurd it is.”
I am just like any other mom of two children, constantly nagging my children to pick up stuff, to keep their rooms clean, to eat healthy, to stop squabbling, and the hundred other things that moms need to keep repeating – with limited success. And all these constitute the everyday mundanities in every mom’s repertoire.
But then, when I am not playing referee to a sibling fight or yelling to be heard, I do have those moments of clarity. Moments where I see my children in the future as responsible adults, facing life’s challenges. And it is in these moments that I make these ‘simple mental notes’ that I would like to share with my children. The list keeps growing, but here are a few of my favourites.
#1 – Try
My first note would just have this one word. Keep trying, the results are not in your hands, but…
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Sometime ago I was speaking to a group of students at a self development program. The objective was to bring inspiration to them, and so, motivation to achieve whatever they positively set their minds to.
I remembered preparing for the presentation and an interesting question came to my mind. I asked myself, what is the driving force behind achievement?
I took the word GOAL, and create a mnemonic to help them with this.
On a piece of paper I placed the word GOAL (one letter per line on the page) and then started thinking about it deeply. What is it in this word GOAL that can make us achieve, focus, and make us successful in the pursuit of our dreams?
As the creative process in my mind went to work, my hands started writing on the sheet of paper.
I then looked at the letter G. The letter G, stood for get up and get the work done, become actively engaged, get the information necessary to complete this task. It is by means of initiation, a push or pull action that work gets done. Remaining stationary is self-defeating when seeking to bring a dream to reality.
The other letter O, reminded me of being organized. Many times persons may have a vision, know exactly where they need to be or what they need to be doing.
Probably it is an overwhelming action or habit in your life that you want to change or a quality you want to develop. There is a level of organization that must take place.
Person’s dreams, goals or their purpose may not yet be realized, though they know where they want to be in life, but because of failure at seriously organizing themselves, work may not get done.
There are a few electronic programs you can use to get organized. The ones I generally use are: Evernote, Google drive and Google calendar. From time to time I still use a pencil and paper to record an agenda for the day. If you are unfamiliar with the programs or apps (Evernote, Google drive and Google calendar) you can do some research online on them. YouTube has a great deal of information on all of these. Learn how to use them to organize your day, week, and even months. They have great reminders and can sync well with your smart phone and other electronic devices (tablets and laptop computers).
Reflective practice activities
In thinking of our goals and how organization is critical, think about what you need to do.
- Is it that you need to get up earlier to study for a course you are enrolled in?
- Is it that you need to prepare your meals for that diet you have embarked on and will need to get your food containers and meals prepared before leaving the house; not leaving it to chance, believing that you will past by a health food store on your way to work?
- Or is it that you need to pack your school bag or meeting case the night before, so that the materials needed for that class or meeting is ready to be a part of your success the following day?
It is important you ask yourself these questions, as organization is essential for success. The answers you will obtained from these questions may be viewed as simple and something that people already know, yet reflect on your situation for a moment and you may observe something you do not know.
Reflective practice activities
Questions to ask yourself
- If I already have these answers how effective is my organizational skills, given I know what I want to achieve?
- Am I using these skills to the full, as a habit, or am I just using them occasionally when I feel stressed or remember to do so?
To be organized, you want to have access to a personal daily planner book (this book should have the feel and comfort that is inviting to you, as well as the pen you use) for recording your plans for that day—actually, using it each day of the week, and yes even on Saturdays and Sundays.
Most persons have these planners but seldom use them correctly or use them at all.
My encouragement to you is to start recording your plans for today and future days, today. See what you have to do and feel the joys of ticking or crossing them out as they get done.
We live in the technological age. Do you have a cell phone? A number of persons today on the planet will say yes to this question.
Interestingly today, cell phones are not only use to communicate with other people, be it verbal or text. With the use of Windows, Android apps and many other user platforms, games, eBooks, movies, Skype, emails or just surfing the World Wide Web has been made possible.
On a number of these devices, storage capacity is quite enormous. As such, if you already have in your possession, one of these cell phones or tablet devices, use the digital planning programs they come with (or download one, most of them are free) for creating agendas or plans for the day or for the week. This may take a few minutes but the outcome will be great.
NOTE: When you plan a productive day, the feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that whatever we are working towards is getting done, is indeed fulfilling.
A friend of mine asked me once, after a meeting we had.
“How is it that you get so much done and not be stressed?”
I remember looking at my friend with a gentle smile then a slight chuckle, “Well, from time to time I do get stressed”.
“Yes really, but I am never stressed over what I need to do next or where I need to go. I just check my calendar of events for that day on my smart phone and off I’m gone.”
“I need to be more like you,” was my friends reply.
I must admit though that at the beginning of my career, this was not something I was accustom doing.
There was this particular week, I remembered having a series of meetings to attend and presentations to prepare for and students course materials I had to mark, trying to remember client’s information. Not remembering to check the email my boss called and asked me to read and give feedback on. That was a big problem for me. This was a challenging week, this was my disorganized week! So yes, you can say I learnt the hard way but that should not be your experience. So create the habit of being organized by including tools in your environment to assist, and see yourself moving one step closer to accomplishing what you set your mind too.
So to conclude on this point of organization using electronic devices. Remember to take note of what you need to get done on your Smartphone/ tablet and sync the information onto all your other electronic devices. So any one you log onto, the information is there.
Do not be afraid that you may lose your phone or someone will steal it, your information is sync on all of your devices. If you are still concerned, put a pass word on your phone, tablet or computer, and so if you lose your phone, someone else can not steal your plan for the day!
NOTE: Remember that failure to plan is self defeating. Be organized and achieve your dreams.
Preparing for action, to do anything that was not done before can feel like you are lifting a heavy load. Think of any journey a person takes.
It can be one that a marathon runner takes or a trail a hiker is on. Every single one of these people started off at a single point.
I remembered when I was attending primary school. I could have been about seven or eight. I had to walk to school some of the times. My challenge was that, not that I hated walking, but I perceived the distance the school was to be too great and so, mentally I felt like it was too much a challenge.
So what did I do?
Each time I had to walk to school, will looked just about twenty feet in front of me at an object, keeping my eyes fixed on it, and certainly remembering to keep on the sidewalk. As the object came about five feet in front of me, I will then chose another object about twenty feet into the distance. And so it went until the final object I chose to fix my eyes on was the school.
So at the onset of looking at the various six habits, I want you to be aware that at the onset it will appear to be as gigantic steps you are making. Nonetheless I do encourage you to practice these until you have mastered all six.
For me, when I started looking at these six habits years ago, learning and applying them did not seem natural at first, at least some of them. But I remembered each time I worked on one of them, the feeling I received. It was the same as if I was casting my eyes on the objects along the way to school.
Eventually, when these six habits started to become part of me, it was as if they became automatic responses in my life. For this reason I want you to challenge yourself to work on these:
- Use the questions as a guide for your reflection. As you come to various conclusion and discoveries in your live, I want you to take note of them in a personal journal. It is vital that your journal be at hand when reading this book and also have a pen too.
Feel free to also use your phone or tablet or other electronic devices for journaling your response to the questions in each activity or thought or idea that comes to you. It is of great value, when you can look back at what you wrote or thoughts you had at the time and muse over its meaning.
I know for myself, as thoughts come to me I have to write them down. While I trust my mine, and my ability to recall, sometimes with the flow of information coming to me it is not always easy to keep everything to the forefront of my mine. So I do encourage you to always have on hand that small pocket diary or electronic device to transfer thoughts or ideas as they come to you.
This will help you to become a reflective practitioner. This in turn will allow you the opportunity to put into practice what is understood to be of value to you.
- Develop an overpowering voice. It is important that we understand ourselves. Who we are as a person, our likes and dislikes or preferences. In order to experience change it is important to develop an inherent voice spurring us on. Reminding us of the importance of a particular task or activity which can contribute to our goal.
This voice can be viewed as a quality or characteristic that acts as a gauge for us to know what is acceptable and what is not.
This trait, allows us to view persons and situations as opportunities and learning experiences. And this is in spite of the situation being a positive or a negative one.
For learning to take place, sometimes it matters not if the experiences are happening to us or if we saw it happening to someone else.
What we can draw from all experiences, is what matters. This will assist us to know where we stand on a particular matter of our view of a particular event. These views or stands will help us to shape our thinking. Thinking, which would be projected in our personality and our behaviors. As such, we develop a voice in our heads as to how we ought to behave in order to receive a certain result.
- Know you have a choice. As you prepare for action to make the changes in your life, and to develop habits which can promote your success, know that you have made this choice to change. Not only knowing or understanding this, especially when times get rough, but knowing that you made a deliberate effort to become better.
Knowing that it is your decision too, will assist you to safeguard your emotion should you perceive that you are the only one on this part the self-development. Additionally, knowing that you have taken an initiative to go after a dream, should also be a driving force for you. This means that you are capable of starting something. This means that you have looked at your life, made an evaluation and determined that what you are experiencing was not good enough. As such, you had to make a transformation or personal growth.
So by preparing for action, know that you have it within you to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Reading this book for instance is an indication that you have already started on the road to transforming yourself.
- Examine your current beliefs. It is always a good idea to look at what your present understanding or beliefs are when it comes to success. This will help you to evaluate what you think to be possible as well as help you to have a clear view of your true talents, potential, or willingness to work towards achieving this particular goal.
Some persons may want to achieve in the area of small business, art and craft, or maybe in the area of athletics but even before starting their current beliefs already predisposes them to fail.
This failure would then bring frustration which in turn may affect their self-esteem.
As such, there are some individuals who would not even try again at what they may have had a passion for at first. So this calls for some self reflection. Look at what you deem to be true about yourself, not based on what others may believe, but at what you are actually able to do.
It is true that in some instances it is only by doing something we’re capable of recognizing our true potential. Know that our belief systems can affect emotions and our physical. And these in turn our thoughts; if they are positive can fuel us with enthusiasm. If they are negative on the other hand we can feel stressed and wanting to give up, especially when at times get tough.
- Protect your time to work on you. In preparing to take any action either great or small, that will require time.
There many individuals who, at the beginning of the year or some. In their life may create great plans for themselves. And this is encouraged. For plans can get us from where we are to where we want to be. But the thing is, and this is very vital, we must see that to become better at anything, be it parenting, painting, being a better husband or wife, time is needed.
We need to make the time to work on ourselves or our craft. It is important that we experiment with time periods during the day that we would be more effective. At these time periods we want to work when our energy levels are at the highest, and when there are fewer distractions. Therefore, this is the reason why you need to protect the time for you to work on you.
Now, I am not saying that you should be so rigid, that if your child or family member for sick and needs to go to the hospital, but this is the time you carve out for yourself then you neglect them. No! This is not what I am saying at all. But we need to respect that it is only because of time, that we are able to put forth efforts and energies on practicing the thing that pushes us closer to our goal.