What Do Your Kids Really Need From You?

What do your kids really need from you? Is it to have a nice house and a day full of activities? Is it to have healthy food and holiday celebrations? Is it to have regular vacations and nice clothes? Is it to have new technology and spending money? This is what today’s world tells us “good parents’ do for their kids.

Let me offer some ideas in a new direction:

  • One-on-one time with each child at least once a month.
  • A willingness to listen, talk through things and ask great questions.
  • Guidance in how to sort through the options in today’s world for those that fit each child.
  • A willingness to learn who each child is and the patience and support to let them be who they are.
  • Be really interested in them as people – what they think, like, are good at and what matters to them.

I like to share with my parent audiences that a parent’s role is to guide, support and coach their kids into discovering, developing and living who they really are. That what our kids need most from us is for us to pay attention to learn who they are so we can translate and interpret the world to help them make sense of how to connect to the places in their world that need what they do and love best. Sure, they need food and a roof over their heads. But even more, they they need someone who is vested in their success in life – who is committed to helping them see what is unique, amazing and different about them and to appreciate and value it to define what success in life means to them and how to achieve it.

A world filled with stuff

As we fill our kids’ worlds with stuff, we create distance between us – the things get in the way. If a child has so many great things to play with, the objects become the attention, not time with family and parents. What if you intentionally limited the “physical generosity” (gifts) for your kids in favor of more “attention generosity” – more intentional and mindful time with your kids? What might you find out about them? How might they better connect with you? How might you use this time to help them really get ready for life?

Many times we have to stop listening to our loud and pushy world that tells us that spending on our kids is how we show our kids we love them. We are conditioned. They are conditioned. All that really happens is we get further from each other and fill our landfills with stuff.

What do kids really need from their parents?

Focused attention. Focused interest. Focused care. In these moments, two heads and hearts can connect – trust is built, relationships are established and guidance can be provided.

Check in on how you “love” your kids. Do you love them with things or do you love them with “you?” When you look back in 10 or 15 years, you will see that all they ever really wanted was time with you.

How to Deliver Meaningful Feedback to Your Kids – or to Anyone

Most parents think their role is to correct – to watch for the places that their kids miss the mark and get them back on the mark. So if the greatest amount of communication your kids hear from you is correcting or criticism, how likely are they to want to tune in?

It is the same for the workplace. If your communication as a manager is primarily critical or corrective, you will disengage your employees. It isn’t that they don’t and shouldn’t get corrective feedback, but if it is the only feedback they get they will soon just tune you out. And throw out the term ‘constructive criticism’ – who even pays attention to anything introduced by this oxymoron (constructive – build up, criticism – take down). Lose that term and just give focus on feedback.

Feedback is information. That means as much as it can be corrective, it can also applaud and be supportive. Its sole purpose is to share information in this moment, about this person’s behavior, in this situation – to make the next moment better.

How to deliver feedback to your kids – or to anyone

  1. Show up present and aware to your situations. You can’t offer feedback – supportive or corrective – if you have no idea of what is going on. Most of us are so mindless that we only notice things when they go really wrong. That means most of the time we are missing the things that go right – all worthy of supportive feedback. Tune in. Pay attention. You can’t guide, support and coach if you don’t know what is going on.
  2. Make feedback only supportive or corrective. Supportive means you identified something done well that deserves praise or acknowledgement – to encourage it to be repeated. Corrective means the action missed the mark and needs to improve or change. Feedback is done only to be productive, not so an angry parent or manager can vent. Vent if you must, then get on to feedback.
  3. Make feedback only about behaviors. Feedback is information on how someone acts or acted – not who someone is. You may be upset at the actions of your 5 year old or your 20 year old (or your millennial or boomer employee), but that doesn’t make them bad, horrible or awful. Their behaviors may be off the mark, but who they are at the core as people, is still unique, amazing and awesome. The same with supportive feedback – it is supporting or applauding the behavior. Reconnecting to their core greatness is one of the purposes of powerful supportive or corrective feedback.
  4. Deliver feedback in a way that the other person understands it. Feedback has two parts – its content and its delivery. Be sure both of these align to who is receiving the feedback. Big explanations to someone young or raising a voice to someone who is timid and shy will guarantee that you will not be heard. You will be tuned out. Choose what to say. Choose how to say it. Be intentional.

Our job as parents is to guide, support and coach our kids to discover, develop and live what is best in them. This is one enormous feedback exercise. Our kids experience their world, get feedback and make adjustments. In fact we all do. Imagine how much clearer and easier this process would be if we were better at delivering meaningful feedback.

How will you change your feedback to be more current, more supportive or corrective, delivered in a way that matters, limited to behaviors and done with care, interest and concern? You can inspire anyone to keep doing what is going well and correct what needs improvements with great feedback.

When You Are Feeling Down, Do This One Thing To Turn Things Around

Face it, we all get to places and events that seem to take us down:

  • We get tough news about our health or the health of a loved one.
  • Our kids get into trouble outside of the house.
  • Relationships get challenged.
  • Jobs get lost and money gets tight.

Each of these can take us down. And sometimes it feels right to pull the covers up and feel sorry for ourselves. Or, it feels right to lose our cool and get angry. Being a victim or getting angry are the default behaviors for some of these life situations. Visiting these negative emotions is fine, but don’t move in.

Focusing on the negative brings more negative

When we dwell on a tough situation, it can take the joy out of every other part of life. Feeling down or sad about a situation you cannot control just brings these same feelings to the other parts of your life. We all have met or had to deal with people who were upset about something and then let it ruin every other part of their day (we’ll start to see it now as another election cycle happens).

So the question is, when you are feeling down, what is something you can do to turn things around? That one thing is GRATITUDE.

See, even in the worst of times, there is always something to be grateful for. In the moment of shifting out of victim or anger (both show up when we are down), we create a new energy – a positive energy – one that can help us reframe what we see, create optimism and encourage new solutions.

Gratitude changes the energy

Research shares that one of the greatest abilities to heal ourselves and to stay healthy is to live with both a positive outlook and with gratitude. It changes the chemicals in our brains which then positively influences our body chemistry.

If you are dealing with a challenging teen or young adult who has gotten herself in trouble, you are much more capable to handle the issue, help the young adult realign and keep a family together if you keep your mind focused on solutions and stay positive. Using your energy to be angry limits your ability to see the situation clearly, solve it wisely and build a more solid relationship. But with the awareness to shift to a little gratitude, opportunities to successfully resolve become more apparent. After all, what you seek you find.

Studies show that being angry or acting the part of the victim are life’s defense mechanisms; they are designed to keep us safe (notice the brain’s defaults are about safety, not happiness – we own creating our happiness). To (stop and) notice these feelings can help us shift to make sounder, wiser decisions.

Try this everywhere

We can do it face-to-face with our kids – when we focus on what is great and amazing in them. We can do it as money gets tight to see that we have support and help from others, or our health, or a loving relationship. We can do it when we are frustrated in the workplace by choosing to focus on something remarkable about the job or the people. We have to choose (on purpose) to stop and notice the good things when the bad things seem to have our full attention.

Don’t let the downs make you miss all the ups of life. The ups are more powerful than you think – they can completely dissolve the downs. Remember that “be happy” and “be down” can’t coexist – they are mutually exclusive emotions. Focus on the ups and they will help you provide solutions and responses to your downs.

What are three things you are grateful for, and how will you focus on these when life send you things that get you down?