5 Life skills; prologue.

I’d like to give you a short preview of my 5 week series on the life skills I’m trying to impart into my cubs.

I’ve thought long and hard about this one and reflected on their upbringing so far. Eldest cub, for the most part was raised in a semi-stable home and relationship, although the signs that her mother and I weren’t going to make it were already there.

Her formative years were moulded by the dual influences of both parents, even though I worked long hours and my partner stayed at home. Bonds were formed and taught values were reinforced in behaviours I showed daily.

The co-parenting paradigm shifts things onto a more challenging footing, and my son is now away from the dual influences of both parents. It’s difficult to know what effect this is having on his development as you have to allow for individuality in behavioural differences. I doubt that it’s as straight forwards as nature or nurture.

This whole piece wasn’t straight-forwards.

Having the cub’s best intentions in mind, I want to give them the best start in life that I possibly could, without overlooking their childhood by extolling vicarious values. I tried to be objective, with a topic that is hugely subjective, and I struggled to get the list down to 5 life skills. It changed numerous times.

My list may differ from that of others and I’d be keen to see how mine measures up, but when I reflect on the times that I might have stumbled in life, these are the skills that got me to my feet again.

  • Courage
  • Self-worth
  • Determination/fortitude
  • Kindness
  • Humility.

Within each of these 5, I will attempt to explain why I think that the skill is vital, from the perspective of both an adult and a child. I will also attempt to explain how I teach this skill and then reinforce it in my own behaviour.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts and as always, I’d love to interact with you and have a discussion.

Happy New Year!

BSD

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The lessons they learn.

I often wonder about the lessons we teach our children.

I’ve always been mindful of these and as such I’m very conscious of who I am. This is a thought that has grown over the last eight years or so as I got my head around becoming and being a parent. I had to establish an inner integrity that would manifest itself in my unconscious actions.

It wasn’t enough to act like a good person around my kids; I had to be a good person.

A while ago I was in the car park of the golden arched one taking on some empty calories. The day was warm and my windows were down. Another dad was walking briskly back to his car with his son; I could see that dad wasn’t happy. He stopped to talk to his child and the conversation went something like this:

“I’m really p***ed off with the way you behaved in there! you were an absolute f***ing embarrassment to me and if you keep it up we’ll never go there again”

Now understand this; I swear. I like to think I swear appropriately but yes I do swear. I won’t swear on this blog, because I want you to read it and I can articulate myself appropriately without the use of expletives. I will never, I repeat, never swear in front of my children whilst they are in their formative years. In my mind, this is tantamount to child-abuse.

School

 

The son in the example above was about 6 years old. I watched his face as his dad scolded him and it was a horrific mixture of fear and shame. Dad then saw me looking, gave me a look, which I returned with interest, raising him a head shake for good measure.

Understand this.

What this dad failed to understand was that to a great extent whatever action his son was displaying within that restaurant was probably learned behaviour from his most influential teacher, dear daddy himself. Our kids are a mirror of who we are and in this fine example, dad was showing the behaviours that he was berating his child for. Awesome.

Be better

The trick is this; your kids will learn from you by osmosis. Doing what you do daily and unconsciously are the things that they learn. The reason for this is simple; it’s to do with the way that all of us learn things, repetition and reward.

The repetition is the behaviour that we keep doing over and over and over…you get the picture. This could be anything; the language we use, the way we interact with a significant other or the way we treat difference in general. Our children see this behaviour as the norm and they will emulate it.

The reward can be positive or negative. Behaviours that have a positive outcome are usually repeated, whereas those with a negative outcome are avoided. Again, this is human behaviour and learning. We are wired to avoid pain, physical and emotional. If something has caused us pain historically then we will avoid anything like it in the future as long as we’ve learnt that lesson of course. So a child, learning behaviours from a parent’s unconscious actions has no idea whether these actions are good or bad, but if those actions go unpunished (in that child’s eyes) then the assumption is that they behaviour is the social norm and therefore acceptable; that behaviour is then perpetuated.

mum teach

My point

My youngest cub rushed into my bedroom last week and in his broken English, he gestured me towards his room and reached for my hand. I took it and followed.

I had spent the last few occasions telling my oldest that she should make her bed in the morning once she gets out of it.

He proudly pointed towards his bed which was in a state of being made. It wasn’t perfect (it didn’t need to be) but had definitely had something done to it. He pointed to it and looked at me with a look of pride on his face. I praised him both verbally and physically, in the form of a hug.

In his broken English, he then asked for a high five; he got it.

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.2

What is coaching?

Coaching is a way of improving your ability or performance. We tend to associate coaching with athletes but more and more we see it in the world of work and even daily life.

What does coaching look like?

It quite often happens on a one to one ratio (the most effective way) with the coach and the student. The coach will observe a specific act, performance or behaviour, analyse and then tweak that performance through a number of means in order for the individual to improve in some way.

Why are you discussing coaching? A moment ago we were talking about limiting beliefs?

The two are connected.

So what is the connection?

  • Imagine if you had a coach.
  • One who followed you around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • A coach that never takes a holiday, rarely sleeps and better still, works for free.
  • A coach that knows you better than anyone else on Earth; knows your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses.
  • A coach that really, doesn’t care if they upset you or even reduce you to tears.

I think you know where i’m going with this one.

So ok. We have a coach inside our head who sometimes works against us. Sometimes, it thinks it’s being cruel to be kind. Most of the times, it’s not a very smart coach. Always, absolutely always, it’s an effective coach.

Limiting beliefs>internal thoughts>inner coach..

Thoughts become things

I’d love to claim this one but it’s been around for a while. The power of the mind to create the physical environment has long been recognised and quick search of the internet will show you examples.

Have you ever wondered why a day that starts badly often ends badly and vice versa? Let’s be honest; a day is just a day. We will leave a footprint on that point in time and give it a title, in order to categorise it in our memories.

‘Good’ days have a positive effect on us and therefore anything that happens during that good day will be thought of positively. Again, vice versa, things that happen on a ‘bad’ day will be reflected on badly.

But as I said earlier, a day is just a day. We make it what it is and our internal coach has a huge part to play in that.

Success

I apologise for this cheesiness of this pic but, you get it; right?

Part 3 next week, where I do what I say I’ll do.

I’ve also tried something new; sticking this post to the front page. Let’s see how that works.

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting.

Introduction

The human mind is still the most powerful, instantly available computer that we can use. It’s amazing; it’s that simple.

All day, every day, that computer makes billions of calculations and adjustments that keep us alive. We don’t even have to tell it to do that thankfully, otherwise sleeping would be a very brief experience.The problem is, we take it for granted! I mean; it’ll always be there, won’t it?

Accident victims and those suffering mental health issues will tell you differently. Just like any other piece of complex machinery, the human brain can fail.

Accident victims can get help; people suffering from mental health issues can get help, if they’re fortunate enough to get diagnosed correctly; but what if what ails you can’t be seen? Or worse still, you don’t even realise that it is happening to you?

Limiting beliefs

What is a limiting belief?

You’ve probably heard of the expression a ‘glass ceiling’, well think of limiting beliefs as a glass shroud. It’s above you, and sometimes around you. You’ve put it there to keep you safe. What it actually does, is keep you still.

Safe, and still, are two very different things.

Now this is where things get a little tricky – you’ve probably read the last statement and thought to yourself  “I haven’t put any limits on myself! Have I?” The problem is internal limits are seldom that clear.

A limiting belief can also be described as an ingrained thought or thoughts, deep within us that control what we do. In fact, it controls everything that we do. It shows itself in the form of a voice; the one inside your head that communicates with you, constantly.

Let me give you some examples of what that voice can say to you,

  • I can’t do that…

 

I’m never on time…

 

I’m so unlucky…

 

I’ll never get the hang of this…

 

I’m too old..

 

I don’t have time..

 

I wouldn’t know where to start..

 

Silly me…

I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.

Those beliefs then are what mould our thoughts. Every moment of every day and in every aspect of our lives.

With the eight examples above you’ll notice that I never associated those comments with a specific topic. That’s because they can fit any or all topics (and areas of our lives) at any given time.

The thing about these thoughts is that they breed. They multiply like a virus and they will infect anywhere and everywhere you allow them to.

Limiting beliefs>internal thoughts….

So what’s the issue? Where is the harm in these having such thoughts because surely, everybody has them?

This is true; this inner voice is present in all of us, coaching us in our lifetime pursuits. What most of us fail to do however, is to make sure that that voice is working for us and not against us, especially when it can be difficult to know the difference.

Want more? On Tuesday I will explore how to control your inner thoughts with practical examples.

BSD

Opportunity for learning knocks

Post separation I moved further away from everything that I really needed to be near.

It seemed like a great idea at the time but a year later, the novelty has not only worn off but I also fear that the punchline isn’t coming.

However it does afford the cubs and I some time together whilst travelling. Sometimes that space gets filled by ‘Angry Birds’ on my phone for the eldest, or more cognitive games such as I-Spy, What Colour Is? and Spell This. The youngest busies himself by dipping in to the games as he wishes, if he’s not too busy fighting a losing battle with the Sun in his eyes or the wind in his face.

I find that these games are great opportunities for learning and I tend to push her spelling more and more.

I can’t believe that people struggle to spell school!

She calls out as we drive back from a shopping trip (where I’ve just remembered that I’ve forgotten to get loo roll).

Ok brainy; spell ‘Hospital’

“H-o-s-p-i-t-i-l”

Close; one wrong letter; try again. Say it slowly out loud, but this time feel the letters in your mouth before you say them.

I’ve figured out that her dominant learning style is kinesthetic, so the more tactile her learning can be, the more effective it is.

The youngest, now minus a shoe, chips in ‘a’ before going back to removing his sock from the shoeless foot.

Nice one lad. I’m sure it was a coincidence but it was impressive nonetheless.

We now finish the last mile of the journey home singing ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ at the tops of our voices (window’s open) to the tune of nothing in particular.

Make it fun; they will learn, especially if they don’t realise they’re learning.

I knew that teaching qualification and 4 years as a training instructor would pay dividends one day.

BSD