Have you ever considered how often you say “no” when a child asks you for permission? What about how many times during a day you say “please don’t do that” or even “STOP!!” when you discover some activity that isn’t appropriate? Our job as adults often boils down to being a sort of warden restricting, in the eyes of children, their freedom and their liberty. We have to. Let’s face it—kids can do some things that really aren’t that smart and at other times thrill in activities that are nothing less than the most annoying things on Earth to adults.
With all of that negativity focused on them throughout their waking hours—at home, at school, in the day care, at church, in the car, at the store, in the restaurant, and everywhere in between—kids, not surprisingly, tend to be negative. How often have you heard a child say “I can’t,” or “I don’t want to?” They are used to “no” being the norm. Consider that most toddlers learn the word “no” as much as a year before they learn the word “yes.”
The result is that our kids do things that we don’t understand. When asked questions, they don’t answer. At school, they underperform, meeting neither teacher expectations nor their own potential. Socially, they may become shy or even withdrawn. Athletically, they refuse to participate and sometimes when they do take part, seem unable to achieve. All of it stems from the fact that we have to tell them “no” so often, leaving them with the feeling that we disapprove of virtually everything that they do and for some kids, convincing them that we disapprove of or are disappointed in them.
There is a movement among some parents to stop telling their kids “no.” They allow their children to do whatever they want, believing that the children will learn from the consequences that will necessarily ensue. It works, in one regard—those children are supremely confident and do not see limitations to their own abilities. The downside is that those same children also tend to believe that they are far better at most things than they actually are, and may resist or even reject coaching or teaching, believing that they don’t need it.
Fabulosokids proposes a less radical solution. We accept as fact that every adult on Earth is responsible for telling children “no” or “you aren’t allowed” an innumerable number of times per day. However, we also believe that by telling children what they can do and by recognizing when they get those activities right, it is possible to not only avoid the negativity that is simmering within most kids but can build a foundation of realistic, goal centered, lifelong positivity that will help to guide their behavior as they transition from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.
Let’s use an oversimplified example to demonstrate what we mean. Suppose a child asks you “Can I have cake for lunch?” Typically, your answer would be, perhaps scoffingly,
“no.” Let’s suppose, however, that today you were to say “Instead, why don’t you make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
If the child has never made one before, shock will ensue. Their response will most likely be “I can’t. I don’t know how,” and then, with suspicion “You never let me do this before.”
Ignore that. Address the “I can’t,” and tell them “Of course you can! Just start at the beginning. What do you need in order to make a PB&J sandwich?”
They will probably know—if not, they’ll know something, like “bread.” No matter how little or how much they get right, tell them “Yes, that’s right. You got that right!” and then remind them of the things they forgot. Don’t make a big deal about it—just tell them “Oh, you’ll need a butter knife too. Do you know where those are?”
Walk through the whole process of making a PB&J in the same way, reminding yourself to acknowledge what is going right, and at the end, after they have eaten their sandwich and cleared their place and washed their dishes and put away all of the components of the sandwich, tell them how proud you are of them, and recount the things that they got right. Don’t even worry about what they got wrong—they’re already aware of it. Then the next day, when instead of asking for cake for lunch they ask if they can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, let them do it. Remember what they got right and wrong the day before, and commend them when they remember some other little piece of the process that they forgot or didn’t know the day before. At the end, always congratulate them for whatever they did well that day, and always affirm that they are good at something—making a peanut butter sandwich, in this case.
“Good at,” by the way, does not mean perfect. They’re going to get a lot of stuff wrong. It’s okay. It’s how we learn.
Every day, there is some activity that you can give a kid that is like making a PB&J. It has to be something that is not easy for them, but that is safe and that will not cause you hours of work to correct. Every day, you have the opportunity to help build a child’s self esteem and independence and are blessed with the chance to foster positivity in a person who will one day be an adult.
Fabulosokids is dedicated to helping you do those things in the most powerful and lasting ways possible. Through our blog, we write about the issues that affect children and adults and that interfere with the path to positivity. Through Twitter and Facebook, we make ourselves available to you in the event that you have a question or comment, or in case you want to vent or to crow about the progress you are seeing in the kids in your life. Most importantly to us though, we will use our commercial site to offer you items to buy that will assist you in making your approval of and pride for your children something that they will be reminded of again and again. All of our products are designed to be things that you can give to kids not in a utilitarian way, but as a part of a conversation or even a celebration when they get things RIGHT. The product line is still being developed, but once we launch the site, we believe you’ll understand completely and will be excited to share what we see as tangible affirmations with your kids.
Fostering positivity is no easy task. It is, however, the most important one for you to learn how to do. Our goal, from the moment the company was conceived, is to find ways to make that task easier and to make the results more concrete. The reason why is simple—an entire generation depends on us to get it right.
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