Don’t Miss Life’s Teachable Moments

As a parent, it is our job to watch for  and use life’s teachable moments – those moments that life has something important to teach our kids. It is in this constant learning that they discover how to show up happy, successful and responsible in life.

Too many times we are too blind to see or too busy to use these teachable moments. We miss an opportunity to help our kids learn how to develop the virtues and behaviors to live a life of impact and quality. We are their teachers, helping them learn how to successfully be in our world, to discover and live what makes them unique and to be happy in the process. This is lifetime work, and as such, requires us to on the watch – to be ready and willing to translate life’s situations and our kids responses to it into meaningful life lessons.

So what do teachable moments look like? Here are some examples:

The time your kids are wrestling with a toy, neither one willing to let the other play with it. Teachable moment: teach sharing, sacrifice and patience.

The time your son or daughter is critical of someone who said or did something to them at school or criticizes someone who is different. Teachable moment: teach kindness, respect, acceptance.

The time your son or daughter fails at something (important or unimportant) and continues to be negatively affected by it. Teachable moment: teach empathy, forgiveness, resilience.

The time your son or daughter deliberately disobeys you or treats you poorly. Teachable moment: teach respect, caring and kindness.

The time your son or daughter receives a gift from a family member and makes no effort to say thank you. Teachable moment: teach gratitude, appreciation and kindness.

The time your son or daughter got caught driving without permission or drinking at a neighborhood party. Teachable moment: teach self-respect, honesty and integrity.

The time your son or daughter is ready to give up on a school project, sport, music lesson or homework. Teachable moment: teach determination, creativity and accountability.

The time you and your son or daughter are working on things together and life is fine. Teachable moment: teach joyfulness, helpfulness and love.

These moments happen constantly in our lives (for us to learn from) and to use to teach our kids. Stop and notice these moments and tap into the virtues that drive lifetime success behaviors to help your kids show up happy, successful and responsible in life.

Teach Your Kids How To Choose A Different Thought

You see someone that others have told you is a jerk so you share a negative comment about the person with your friends.

Someone makes fun of something about you. You make up something hurtful about them and spread it on Facebook.

You look in the mirror and are disappointed with the way you look.

You look at someone who is successful and wonder why you aren’t as successful.

Choose a different thought

Thoughts go zooming through our heads. Millions of them. They come from our past. They come from what we were taught in school, from our parents and family. They come from what we hear on the news, read on the web and what our friends say. Not every thought is valuable. Not every thought serves us.

Sometimes our thoughts tell us to get even with someone. Or, sometimes our thoughts tell us to argue with others or find fault with them because they don’t agree with us or are different from us. Sometimes our thoughts tell us to blame others for something that happened to us, our family or someone we care about. Sometimes our thoughts tell us we aren’t popular, attractive, smart, creative or loveable enough.

Thoughts. Just thoughts. As they zoom through our head, we have the ability of choosing only those that serve us – those that can make us and our world better. How can we train ourselves and teach our kids to choose another thought?

See things instead from a greatness perspective

I love the word “Namaste” – it means “may the divine in me acknowledge the divine in you.” In other words, may what is best in me see and acknowledge what is best in you. What if we each had this perspective as the thoughts went racing through our heads? We could in fact choose not to allow the thoughts that put down, critique, find fault with or intimidate others. We could choose not to allow the thoughts that bully, insult or get even with others. We could choose to see what is great about us, not what is wrong with us. We could see the potential in others and in ourselves. Imagine how this would not only change our thoughts, but our lives.

So, the next time your immediate reaction is to say something critical about someone or yourself, choose a different thought. Choose one that sees potential, possibility and greatness instead of fault. Be the master of your own thinking and help your kids master their thinking, regardless what influences the world provides. Seeing faults is a choice – but so to is seeing greatness.

How much better could our world be if we would learn to choose a different thought?

Use Valentine’s Day To Teach Your Kids About Love

When we think of gifts, many of us think of things. Go to the store. Buy something. Maybe even make something. Wrap it. Give it. Done.

Gifts seem to need to be tangible – something you can open, hold, use, eat, collect, put on shelf, wear… But what if there were a different way to look at this?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, gifts are back in our mind as the holiday reminds us that the way we show people we love is with “something nice.” Something physically nice. What if instead of buying something nice we tap into what is best in us and do something nice for those we love. What if we were the gift?

As a parent, the gift you give your kids to show them you love them is your time, interest, attention, care, love, concern, support and guidance. These are pretty amazing. Nothing to buy. Nothing to wrap, but still a gift – an amazing gift. You are their gift.

It is the same for your partner, spouse or significant other. Gift the gift of attention, awareness, interest, support, patience, understanding, respect, fidelity, compassion, cooperation, helpfulness, sincerity, openness, perseverance, sacrifice, strength, understanding and humility. These are amazing gifts – they come from you. Think how your relationship changes with these gifts.

The gift of you is priceless

There is one more important thing about this perspective, particularly with our kids. See, the more we see how valuable and “priceless” we are to the others in our lives, the more aware we become of our own value. So many times our world provides the metric we use to measure or worth or value. Most of the time, its metrics do not include our connection, care, love and support of others. It measures the degree of love based on tangible gifts.

We know that what we all want most in life is to love and be loved in return. These are feelings, not things. Valentine’s Day provides a great teachable moment for our families that in providing the love, care and interest in another, they learn that they are valuable, they are significant, they are worth it – to others and to themselves. They learn to give of themselves and This kind of gift has lasting impact.

So, challenge the messaging you get from your world. Develop your own beliefs that reflects how you want to live and what lessons of what love is you want to teach to your kids. We don’t have to give gifts to show we that or how much we love. We can instead show up differently to the people in our lives – to choose to see that we are gifts to others – as they are gifts to us. Imagine what kind of  family, community, nation and world this could create.

How To Improve Your Parenting Self-Talk

Our self-talk is the internal dialog we have with ourselves. Sometimes it keeps us paying attention, reminds us of things we need to remember and even sometimes it applauds ourselves for something well done. However, most of the time our self-talk is negative.

So many times the conversation going on in our heads is how terrible we are as moms and dads. We miss one of our kid’s dance recitals, we don’t help with a school project, we don’t chaperone a trip to the science museum, we don’t coach our son’s soccer team – and we remind ourselves that we have failed our kids.

We frequently create such extreme expectations of ourselves as parents that we can’t help but miss some of them. And when we do, we launch into our negative self-talk. It is hard to stay positive, present and upbeat when we have so many negative thoughts running through our heads.

But with some attention we can shift this self-talk – we can improve its focus, messaging and its tone. Here are some ways:

  • Stop and notice your parenting self-talk. You can’t improve what you don’t know. You can’t start to shift the self-talk until you see where it is and why it is there. Most of us are in the habit of negative self-talk but stopping and noticing how we talk to ourselves will help us see when and how it is happening. This is key to making a change.
  • Remember being a parent is way more about being present, interested and loving than being perfect. Our kids know we don’t always get it right – that comes with being human. Focus less on being perfect and more on doing the best you can in the moments with your kids. This will help you help your kids stop their negative self-talk – after all, our kids model more of their behavior from what we do than from what we say.
  • Work on using kind and supportive words with yourself. Once more aware of your negative self-talk, start to cut yourself some slack. Notice your successes instead of just your failures. Give yourself praise when you do something great like manage your temper with a toddler in meltdown mode, have a constructive discussion with a teen about a low grade or pull together a healthy and good meal at the end of an outrageously busy day. We do far more good than not good in a day. Notice it. Comment on it. Celebrate it. This change will ripple through everything else you do.

It is a hard job being a parent – none of us is consistently exceptional at it. Our kids constantly change which means our parenting must change. How can we always get things right in a world that is constantly moving? So shift your comments to focus more on your effort – on your emotion and affection – on your resilience and energy – on doing the best with what life send you at this exact moment. . Improve what you need to improve, but balance your self talk with applause when deserved. comment on your effort.

“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle,” is how the quote goes. Life isn’t easy. You know it. I know it. Your kids know it. Why make it harder by lambasting yourself every time you act like a human. Instead, be aware of how you talk to yourself and shift to being positive, constructive and supportive – make it your friend. Good friends offer wise and helpful advice – they don’t constantly dump on you. If they did, they wouldn’t stay your friend.