A – Acceptance
You have already ‘accepted’ them into your life, by having them. When you accepted that tiny bundle of joy into your life, you were also accepting all that he or she would bring with it, you just couldn’t know than what that would be! I don’t mean accept anything they do as alright, there has to be boundaries and consequences if they are broken. You can still accept them even when you do not accept their behaviour. It is really important to let them know that it is their behaviour that you do not like or approve of and not them, there is a big difference. When talking to a child, be aware of what you say to them and how you say it, what is said to a child has a massive impact and can stay with them the rest of their life. Keep their behaviour separate from who they are. When they have done something you think is silly, or even stupid, be clear and say “That was silly” not “You are silly”. There’s a big difference in telling a child, when talking about a specific incident “that was mean” and “you are mean”. When a child hears something negative over and over again, insecurities and limiting beliefs are formed. Labels stick.
C – Confidence building is crucial
Encouraging self-confidence and self-belief will help them achieve what they want to. Not to encourage arrogance, just a way of letting them know you believe in them and that they have all the resources inside that will help them do what they want to. I believe there is infinite potential inside everyone, and it just needs releasing and realizing. As parents or teachers, it is sometimes quicker and easier to do things for children when they are actually perfectly capable themselves. The sooner we let them have a go at something the sooner they will be able to accomplish and achieve it. When someone has a ‘confidant’ that’s someone they entrust with secrets, share things with, someone they trust, and self- confidence is trusting oneself. We need to encourage our children to have self- trust and grow in confidence. When they get something wrong that they’re having a go at, find something they did well first and praise that. Then add the’ what could be done better’ bit! e.g. the first time one of the teenagers I had living with me attempted making a smoothie it was messy. Too much fruit, hard fruit that wouldn’t blend and no liquid! I wasn’t present at the time; I came into the kitchen to find what she’d done. I had a choice in how I dealt with it. React, criticize, and complain or respond and find what was good about it! I used the ‘feedback sandwich’ that’s when you say something positive first (your first slice of bread) put in the filling, the how to improve it, make it better next time bit and then put the last slice on, finishing with an overall positive or compliment. So, my saying “Oh good, glad to see you’re having a go at making your own smoothie, that’s a good choice for breakfast. It works much better with soft fruit and when you put some fruit juice or milk in too, so you can do that next time. Still tastes nice (it did) well done for having a go” is going to fill her with confidence and encourage her to try new things. If I’d gone mad at the mess, said she’d used the wrong fruits used too much, not added liquid, got it wrong, that wouldn’t have helped. Hearing this kind of thing often enough from the adults in their lives has an adverse effect on children, young people, anybody actually and eats away at confidence and leads to low self- esteem and confidence.
E – Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm for what they are doing, even when you may not be so convinced it’s a really good idea or may not work very well! If they’ve come up with an idea and are willing to share it, be positive about it first. Give them credit for at least thinking about it and coming up with something before adding any concerns you might have. When they have a ‘great’ idea (even if it’s only great to them) share in their enthusiasm. En ‘theos’ relating to God and goodness.
G - Giving
The most important thing to give is love and time, not always easy, I know. We live in a busy, often hectic world where quality time to spend together is difficult. Family time is important, family meals are a great way of spending time together and talking. It’s often where I hear things I wouldn’t do otherwise, not only the things my boys are telling me, also the conversations they are having with each other teach and enlighten me also. I get an insight into things I didn’t know they liked, or were interested in, knew or thought. I hear their opinions on all sorts. It’s very educational! Even when your teenagers are in the house and don’t necessarily want to be in the same room as you, they still benefit from having you around somewhere. I learnt this from my boys, even though they would often be upstairs in their bedroom watching TV or playing a game and not interacting with me, they told me it felt different when I was out, and even if we weren’t doing anything together, just knowing I was in had a different feel to it. They liked just knowing I was there. Make it a habit also to encourage them to watch a TV programme with you or a film and I used to make the effort to watch something they liked with them, not for the programme, just to spend time with them. In silence as I sit with them, I send love from my heart out to them consciously and know it makes a difference. I practice Ho’oponopono (Hawaiian practice of releasing negativity) I love you, thank you, I’m sorry please forgive me. Parents often feel they have to give their children things, possessions and do so sometimes as a way of relieving their own guilt for not being able to spend as much time as they think they should with their children because of work pressures, or just life’s heavy demands on their time. Parents can often feel pressurized by their children and society into providing the latest gadgets, phones, etc. this doesn’t build the same bonds and relationship as giving of yourself does.
I - Inspire
Be a source of inspiration. Be a great role model. Your children learn from you. The word means to be in spirit. Do whatever you’re doing in good spirit. Lead the way for them in how to behave. Show them the way you deal with people, politely, considerately and always in the best way you can. In your actions and your words. Remember all the tips in this book for the best way to communicate and get best outcomes in situations, when you adopt this way of being you are naturally inspiring your children to do the same. Inspire them to follow their hearts, their dreams, to believe anything is possible and to make the most of their life.
K - Keep it simple
When explaining things, only impart as much information as necessary. Say what you want to, make a point and then leave it. Keep it simple, no over long or drawn out explanations are needed. No nagging or going on and on.
M - Move
Movement is so important. Exercise, it doesn’t have to be a structured class, just something that is exercise for the body. Get outside, walk, take your children to the park, walk in the woods. It doesn’t matter what the weather, dress appropriately and enjoy. There’s not bad weather just inappropriate clothing! They won’t be motivated to move or exercise if you don’t make it part of their lives.
O - Openness
Be honest with them about as much as you can. Share your feelings, what you are going through. We underestimate what they can deal with. If they have done something we’re not happy with, explain that to them. Talk to them about how you are feeling because of that. If something is happening in the family, a close member has a serious illness, if age appropriate, find a way of sharing this, rather than keeping it a secret. They’ll pick up on something being wrong and if we deny it and say it’s nothing, they’ll know that’s not true.
Q - Quiet time
This is important for both you and your children. Incorporate meditation or quiet time for you into your day. Create some quiet time for the family too, especially in the evening. Wind down before bedtime, rather than expecting them to go straight to bed after jumping of a game or viewing a screen, they need time, to start to get their brain waves to slow down. In the morning too, some peaceful time instead of straight up, TV on, or phones or games. Have gentle music on if anything, create a place of calm. Smells are important too, candles or a diffuser of essential oils.
S - Success
Acknowledge all successes and encourage them to recognise them. Find them in the small things. It can be getting through another school day, if that’s something they struggle with. Acknowledge achievements, there are so many every day. It might be they achieved, getting up, getting to school, or for younger children, getting dressed by themselves, brushing their teeth themselves. Tell them, help them feel successful.
U - Ultimatum avoidance!
Be careful with them, in fact avoid them. They can be perceived as demands or threats. It’s important we have boundaries in place and stick to them. When we don’t, we are sending the message we don’t do as we say, this leads to them not being able to trust us. Even if they don’t consciously think this, this is what the unconscious mind takes on board. Discuss the consequences of agreements or boundaries not being kept, so they know what will happen if they are not adhered to. Ultimatums don’t offer choice, it’s a case of my way or the highway and that’s not useful..
W - Welcome their ideas
Welcome their ideas, consider them, encourage them. Give the time to tell you what they are, let them explain fully, without shutting them down before they’ve finished or dismissing them off handedly. Then discuss the pros and cons. Have a discussion, consider from all angles.
Y - You
Make time for you, do something to nurture yourself, refill your bucket, re-charge your batteries. Satisfy your soul. Be the best you, then you will be the best parent you can be.
B – Believe in them
There can be a lot of negativity around our children. We are living in a world where there is a lot of bad news and they are exposed to it. Newspapers, news programmes, even listening to the majority of people’s conservations, focusing on the negative and what’s wrong in the world, missing so much of what is actually good. If we as the adults get sucked into this, we can influence them too, believing it’s hard to make a living, hard to find a job, hard to be happy. We need to set a good example and let them see we believe it is possible to experience good things and positive experiences. So often children are put off doing things because adults tell them, that won’t work, or you can’t do that, that’ll be too difficult.
D – Dreams
Encourage them to have some. Not the kind that we have when we’re asleep, the ones we have in waking hours, Big dreams, hopes, aspirations, goals whatever you want to call them. When we get clear about what we want, get focused, think about it, make plans for it, spend time imagining it, we are actually helping to bring it into existence. Quantum physics explains how everything is energy, everything, just vibrating at different speeds and is made up of molecules, particles. Thought effects particles and draws them into your experience. What you spend your time thinking about will show up in your life, so think about what you do want, not what you don’t want. The unconscious mind doesn’t process negatives directly so even when you’re thinking I don’t want to be broke, I don’t want a headache, I don’t want to be late, you’re by passing the ‘don’t’ bit and focusing on being broke, having a headache, being late all the things you don’t want because you have to think of them to then not think of them! Flip it, think about being wealthy, healthy and on time. children to identify what they really want to do and when you nurture a supportive, encouraging environment there’s more chance they’ll believe they can achieve whatever it is they want to. Just because a child isn’t academically gifted doesn’t mean they don’t have other talents that are as valuable and needed. There are many styles of learning and we all have our preferences. They are not even consciously chosen, just the way we’re wired. I learnt about learning styles when I did my NLP course and I realized that my youngest son who was labelled with dyslexia and ADHD (also with Asperger’s syndrome) was struggling with learning to read and write because he was a kinaesthetic learner (Using the body). Often athletes, sports people and creative, artistic types who are good using their hands or bodies are kinaesthetic learners and struggle with learning the ‘traditional’ talk and chalk way. Talk and chalk is still the predominant way of teaching. Teacher standing at front of class speaking and writing on board or flipchart, meaning students need to learn through visual and auditory means. This is difficult for some people, they learn better through other methods, doing, hands on experiences.
F - Forgiveness
There will be times they do something you would much rather they hadn’t done. Depending on what that is, there will be different consequences. If it’s a simple accident, forgive easily and quickly. My mother didn’t find this easy. I remember breaking a glass bowl that had been my nana’s, my mum’s mum’s and my mother went on and on about it. I felt bad enough for breaking it, it was an accident and yet my mother’s reaction and going on about it made me feel worse. I remember my youngest son, Eden bringing a boy home for tea once who knocked his glass of orange juice over, he flinched and looked at me quite terrified and waited with bated breath to see what would happen. Eden reassured him, “my mum doesn’t shout when it’s an accident”. It made me wonder what kind of response that child got at home or elsewhere.
Even when they have done something intentionally that you do not approve of, decide on what actions you are going to take, what the consequences will be, calmly (or as calmly as possible) tell them and carry it out. Then leave it and carry on as normal. Make sure they know that you still love them, just not their behaviour on this occasion.
H - Happiness and Hugs
We want our children to be happy, we all want to be happy. Parents often buy their children’s happiness, or the things they think will make their children happy. Happiness can’t really be bought. Money can’t buy you love, as the Beatles said, though it can go towards buying things that can help. Happiness is a feeling and if we continue to be only happy when we’ve got the latest new gadget or shiny thing it won’t last. We only want a thing to give us a feeling. Happiness is truly within. Think of how happy a baby is with the simplest of things. Toddlers are often content and happy enjoying a cardboard box, rather than what it contained. They can get hours of entertainment and enjoyment playing make believe with home-made rockets made from boxes or furniture and sheets making tents, igloos, dens and hideaways. Their happiness is internal. They really benefit and grow when we can give them our time and be with them, fully present. The best present you can give them is BE it. Remember the energy that you are emitting is palpable and your child will feel that. They need hugs, positive physical contact. They are sensitive to your vibration and can read your energy. Be a Happy vibration to influence them.
J - Joy and Just Join in
They’re not children for long, time passes so quickly, join in with their fun. You have got time to play with them, read to them, maybe not always, still you can ‘find’ the time when you know how important it is. We all have 24 hours in a day, it’s up to us how we use them. Join in when they are making a mess, whether it’s painting, baking, making mud pies, be in the moment with them. My mum missed out (as we children did) on not wanting us to bake or paint because of the mess. Getting paint on a table or the walls isn’t really such a big deal, it can be fixed. The missed opportunity for fun, exploration, joy and togetherness can’t be. Remember to say “Yes” more often, rather than “No”. Think of how to rearrange your sentences so they don’t hear No as often e.g. if they ask to go to the park, rather than saying “No” first and then offering the reason, be enthusiastic first say something like “Oh what a lovely idea, I’d love to and we can go tomorrow or perhaps later today.” It’s not “Yes” and it’s not “No” either. Children hear the word “No” so often it has impact on their self-belief and self-worth.
L - Listen
Take time to listen to them and what’s more, hear them. Give them your attention when they are talking to you, if you can. Know the time when you are able and prepared to listen, if not tell them that, we always want to have boundaries in place and show them that we stick to them. Though if we are almost always engrossed in looking at our phone, scrolling, or on a laptop transfixed to the screen when our children want to speak to us, they soon learn (in their mind) they are not as important. I’ve seen it so often, a parent, who answers, well barely answers, a child without taking their eyes of the screen and might say something like “Hmmm …” not an encouraging or engaged way of replying is it? If possible. Stop, look at them, acknowledge them and listen. Reflective listening is important too, say back to them what you think they’re saying, or what you think you’ve understood. Get them to do this when you’ve spoken to them too.
N - Nurture them
Support and encourage them to develop in all areas of their life. Nurture a healthy mindset and way of dealing with emotions. Appreciate what they can do that you can’t and ask for their help and appreciate it, this helps to nurture self-esteem and self-worth and confidence. It teaches them how to appreciate that too.
P - Patience
It’s Important to give our children time to do things rather than get anxious they’re not potty trained yet, or reading yet etc. When we are anxious or worried we pass on that negative energy. When you are looking after yourself, you can be calm and respond to things rather than react. You can keep your emotions better in check and exhibit patience.
R - Respond not React
We want our children to talk to us, tell us what’s going on for them, share what’s happening in their world and they are more likely to do this when you are a ‘response-able’ adult, rather than a reactionary one. If you fly off the handle when they tell you what they’ve done e.g. lost their school bag, phone, wallet or whatever it is, they will avoid telling you things in the future.
T - Thanks
Give thanks for all you have, for them and all they do. Tell them what you are thankful for and say “Thank you” to them for what you appreciate in them. Thank them for being generous, thoughtful, kind, gentle, for making you laugh, doing something for you. There are lots of things they do you can find to thank them for.
V - Vocalize
Vocalize what you want and are thinking. Your children are not mind readers and often we tell them what we don’t want them to do and not want we want them to do, tell them what you want, you’ve more chance of them doing it. Tell them what you are thinking, share as things are happening and occurring to you don’t bottle it all up and then blow.
X - is for kisses
Be expressive and demonstrative in showing how much you love them. We can be physical with hugs and kisses easily when they are little. Be aware there will be a time they go off this idea, respect that and still tell them and show them. Notes around the house, in unexpected places, coat pockets, lunch boxes, inside their rugby socks!
Z - Zzzzzz
Sleep well knowing you’ve put all this into practice.