the winning family: increasing self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are delving into Chapters 19 and 20 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

Chapter 19 is titled, “Obsession with Perfection.”  This chapter opens with a description of the author trying to be a perfect hostess but not enjoying herself or her guests.  She writes: “When I realized how much my perfectionist expectations were inhibiting my lifestyle and cramping my self-expression, I decided to make some major changes.  I gave myself permission to attempt things I never thought I could do and enjoy myself more.  In doing so, I have taken more risks, made more mistakes, and gained more wisdom.  From the vice of perfectionism, life is much more fun and a lot easier – page 179

I love this, and I think many of us can relate as recovering perfectionists. Being a perfectionist essentially means we are looking for what is wrong, for meeting unrealistic or impossible expectations.  Perfectiontists see the world as black and white – it is good or it is bad.  One thing wrong, one mistake, means things are bad.  Perfectionists often cannot accept themselves or others. Making decisions turns into anxiety – because what if it is the wrong decision?  It also turns into the perfectionist overworking, because no one else can do the work correctly. Children who are perfectionists often have all of this ahead of them.  Help tame your own perfectionism, and that of your children’s with the tips beginning on page 183.  In addition to these tips, I urge you to look at all the work and resources around growth mindset.

Chapter 20 is about “Cultural Barriers to Self-Esteem,” and begins with a description of codependency.  Major symptoms of codependency include low self-esteem; being a people pleaser; feeling like a martyr;  having poor boundaries; seeking outside distraction from feelings such as food, work, sex, alcohol; feeling addicted to and trapped in damaging relationships; feeling powerless the change relationships; being unable to express true love andintimacy.

Perhaps the very first step toward overcoming these things is our own self-talk.  Then we can listen to how we talk to our children. We should not speak negatively of ourselves or others, and we need to look at the good things about ourselves and others.  If indeed we must “love our neighbors as ourselves,” which is tenet of nearly every major religious and spiritual core, we must begin with loving ourselves.  We must learn to take good care of ourselves, and in this way we can take good care of our children too.

There are great sections in this chapter on always pleasing others (do you have a permanent smile because you are happy or because you want everyone to like you and you don’t think your feelings count?); assuming you are responsible for everyone else’s lives (news flash, people are responsible for themselves and you can’t control what other people do); that our bodies are okay the way they are; avoidance strategies and dualistic thinking; comparison traps and more. This is a great chapter full of practical advice!

We have five chapters left and then on to our new book!  I have gotten a lot of email that so many of you have really enjoyed this thought-provoking book!  Let me know what you think!

Blessings,

Carrie

the winning family book study: increasing your self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are up to Chapters 16, 17, and 18 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

So, off to Chapter 16- “Touch.”  The chapter opens with “the recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.  Touch is vital for life.”  We have all heard stories of babies who were deprived of touch and died, and have seen the importance of parents, caregivers, and volunteers who cuddle infants born prematurely who have to stay in the hospital.  Touch disorders – neglect, abuse, incest – are all trauma that needs to be healed.  Touch is not just sexual; it can be warm, affectionate, nonsexual.  This can be a hard thing for people to learn. There is an exercise in this book on page 153 modeled from a program in New Zealand; try it out!  There is an entire section of this book devoted to child abuse.  Sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse needs to be discussed and healed in order for us to parent effectively.  Behavioral patterns are handed down from one generation to the next, so sometimes we have the first opportunity in our family to choose to break the cycle.

Abuse may have some common background traits: a history of battering the belief that beating is the “right way to discipline”; a view of the child as inherently bad and deserving of punishment; unrealistic views of childhood development; exepctation that children will fulfill the parent’s needs; lack of warmth; a negative focus; poor communication skills; abuse of power (the child “must be taught who is boss”); overpunishment for small things; isolation.  The author gives suggestions and examples from parents who have overcome this cycle.

Chapter 17 is about “Beliefs.”  Most of our beliefs are not conscious, and were handed down to us from our parents. We create this belief pattern and system and use it in our lives, even if the pattern becomes outdated.  On page 164, the author offers up some questions to look more closely at belief systems – what do you believe about life? what do you believe about children?  what do you believe about parenting and family dynamics with a partner?  We also carry expectations, attitudes, judgment, and self-talk, and then we behave as if our map of beliefs is true.  Therefore, in order to change our own behavior, we must change our beliefs.  And, we must be careful what belief system we are instilling in our children – this, to me, is the true power of inner work for the family. We must constantly weed and prune out the beliefs that are not good for our lives.

Chapter 18 is about “Self-Talk.”  Our internal dialogue (self-talk) becomes our beliefs, which creates our feelings, and our feelings become the basis of behavior and our behavior becomes our concept of self.  Self-concept is how we view ourselves at any given moment, and self-image is how we imagine ourselves to be.

Affirmations can help us flip our self-talk, that internal dialogue.  I rountinely use affirmations and visualization. Dr. Hart writes on page 172, “We tend to act out feelings – with words or behavior.  If we feel like winners, we act like winners – working hard, thinking clearly, an ddoing what we need to do to win….Over time, we tend to become what we think about the most.”

Our worst thinking may be polarized (black or white, either or, no middle ground); taking everything personally; projecting what is going on in our own self-talk to others; catastrophizing (imaging and expecting the worst); blaming; overgeneralizing.  Affirmations that you can repeat 20-30 times a day can help.  One affirmation story noted in the book is,”I am a loving and effective mother.”  I think more mothers I know need to hear that, internalize that, and believe it!

Change your mind, change your life.   As an aside, if you skip ahead to the appendixes, there are many valuable tools there, including “100 + ways to praise and encourage a child,” my very favorite “New Rules for Kids,” leadership styles chart, locus of control charts, more resources for parents.  The appendixes are great!

I would LOVE to hear from you.  Do you use affirmations? Have you had an abusive past and how did you overcome it?  As always you can also email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you need help getting your family life together via phone consultation!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Guest Post Book Review: “A Gift of Wonder”

My wonderful friend Amanda Evans recently read the book “A Gift of Wonder:  A True Story Showing School as it Ought To Be,” written by teacher Kim Allsup, and kindly offered to share her impressions and thoughts here.  Thank you, Amanda!
A Gift of Wonder Review
Home education is such an interesting journey. The reasons that lead us to embark upon it, and the reasons that cause us to stay, are unique. There are, however, a few major themes that seem to beckon most of us to undertake the journey, and I believe one of those is to cultivate a wonder-filled childhood for our children.
Kim Allsup’s new teaching memoir, A Gift of Wonder: A True Story Showing School as it Ought to Be”, invites us to consider the points where childhood wonder and education intersect. While the book reflects Ms. Allsup’s journey as a Waldorf classroom teacher, I found it spoke to me as both a home educator and a parent, and I feel that her story is worth pondering for anyone involved in education. Certainly those committed to the Waldorf method will find it pedagogic. I feel it will join Torin Finser’s “School as a Journey” and Marjorie Spock’s “Teaching as a Lively Art” as a “must-read” Waldorf teaching memoir.
Each chapter of the book cradles a pedagogical lesson within the comfortable embrace of a well-told story – quite perfect for a Waldorf teaching memoir. Even adults learn better from a story. This made the book a breeze to read – a boon for any busy homeschooling parent, to be sure!
What I found particularly remarkable is how the lessons shared throughout truly transcend the vehicle of learning, whether that be through a traditional classroom setting, or a homeschool. I found myself nodding along in understanding as she shared about learning the dance between keeping order and being spontaneous, and realizing that we are, in fact, students of the student in this endeavor. I felt excitement with her when she experienced afresh that the key to effective teaching *truly is* meeting the child at their developmental stage – something that is foundational to the Waldorf approach, but never ceases to be incredible when we see it in action, right in front of us.
As I read the introduction, it dawned on me that what I was reading is, in fact, at the core of why many parents choose to homeschool. “It is impossible to underestimate the value of wonder in childhood. It is the mother’s milk of the soul, the human foundation for a lifelong worldview that affirms our joyful existence in the web of life. When we experience the condition of awe called wonder, we are lured outside ourselves and the soul is stretched and is irresistibly drawn to become one with a piece of the universe previously outside of our awareness.” (Intro, xv)
While I agree with the premise of the title, that school should be a habitat for developing wonder in its students, in practice, many of the available educational options fall short of that purpose. And often, those institutions that embrace such values are beyond the reach of families due to finances or extensive travel commitments (or a plethora of other reasons). So, when the school system cannot offer a space for our children to inhabit wonder as described, many of us elect to come home.
I took heart later in the introduction at a beautiful description of the role we play as adults, which I feel is the essence of a living education at home. “If the offerings of parents and teachers and their own encounters in the natural world are beautiful or significant to the child, his or her experience of an ever-evolving symphony of wonder can be almost continuous.” As we feed our own wonder, we can walk together with our children as they also feast on the wonder around us, and we spiral in and out as the glorious world around us unfolds. And in doing so, we’ve given both ourselves and our children a remarkable gift. Coincidentally, Ms. Allsup chose one of my favorite quotes to open her first chapter, which illustrates this quite beautifully: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live
in.” (Rachel Carson)
As someone who loves Waldorf education, the book provided a wonderful window into how a Waldorf teacher connects with her students, and how she considers their needs on a daily basis. The mixed-grade progression of her class from first grade to fifth grade (when Ms. Allsup had to step away due to family illness) gave me much food for thought. When she wrestled with the content of certain blocks meeting the children, and for some, needing to patiently wait for them to engage with the material, I felt encouraged because I, too, have had to wrestle and wait for a child of mine to be ready for material. When she had to ditch the “plan” in order to provide a hands-on experience the students needed to understand a certain concept, I felt a sense of solidarity, for when you’re a homeschooling parent, making adjustments to the “plan” often seems to be your main job description!
“The world will never starve for want of wonders,” said G.K. Chesterton, “but only for want of wonder.” Here in America, we celebrated “Screen-Free Week” a few weeks ago. At this point in humanity’s journey, we have the greatest access to information there’s ever been. We can walk outside, find a plant, google what it looks like, and discover every detail and facet about it. Yet, information is not an education. While the world is at our fingertips, perhaps we are losing something more valuable in the process. Reading “A Gift of Wonder”  left me more committed than ever to the pursuit of education in the context of the child – whatever educational approach we take, and whatever choices we make at home to support that, the child’s capacity for wonder is paramount.
Thank you so much, Amanda!  I am really looking forward to reading this book, available at Amazon.
Many blessings,
Carrie

the winning family book study: guidance in the age of TV

Every culture has teachings that are transmitted from parent to child.  American parents don’t usually have to teach their kids how to deal with rhinos, but they do need to guide them in many other ways.  Parents need to forewarn their children and protect from the numerous hazards that prevail in urban, suburban, and rural environments.  There are poisons under the kitchen sink and in the medicine cabinet, pollutants seeping into the water, and escaping into the air.  There are toxic waste dumps that should be avoided.  Likewise, there are mental poisons parents must be alert to, many of them running loose on the TV set.” – page 131-132, “The Winning Family” by Dr. Louise Hart

Of course, today’s parents have much more to deal with then just television.  However, screens are still a prevelant force in our society.  Many households have computers and televisions sets on all day.  The author asks the reader in Chapter 14 to think what role TV (and i would substitute screens) play in your household?  It is a family activity or passivity? Is it a companion, lifeline, babysitter? Staring at a screen is different than real-life activities, and it may generally discourage interaction or communication with others.  TV generally doesn’t intent  to teach values or skills, but children often assume what they see on a screen is what real-life is about, or are they are influenced by commercials designed to sell products. 

The author contends that the child should be looking to the parents first in order to learn values, behavior appropriate for the culture, skills.    One can ask oneself what the computer or television shows are teaching – much of revolves around consumerism and violence.

So, what can a parent do? (and I use the term “older children” a lot here, because I feel no media for little ones is best, but of course, the portal to screens opens slowly over time)

  • Monitor your children’s media and screen intake.  What are they watching?  What is the message?
  • Limit viewing time.
  • Use what you do watch together with older children as a springboard for discussion.
  • Keep guiding them in all the moral, ethical, emotional situations that your older children find themselves in.

Chapter 15 is called, “Problem Solving,” and this chapter talks about teaching our children to solve their own problems.  Problems and conflicts are natural in life, and what many of us learned when we were growing up was to either placate people in a pleasing way or to blow up in order to get what we wanted.  We need to teach our children strategies that bring about connection and resolution of conflict.  

Asking ourselves “whose problem is this?” can be very helpful; especially with those 10 and up.  Is the problem this child is having yours to carry and solve? Or can you empower your child to start to solve their own problems?  Children need to learn to deal with disappointment, conflict, problems, loss, pain – and overcome these things and be resilient. Children who have been overprotected will not function well in life. 

Let’s encourage and support our children through their struggles, but not solve the problems for them. Children need to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  We can share how we handle disappointment or failures in life.   When all we teach our children is to run away from a problem, throw money at a problem, threaten our way out of a problem – we are not teaching skills.  We are teaching dysfunction.

The author lists all the barriers to problem solving:  denial, drugs, distraction, storing up pain and anger and stuffing it down and then letting it explode, blaming, rejecting people and cutting them out of our lives, fighting or withdrawing, attacking someone personally, rationalizing the situation, or just feeling defeated.

So how do we solve problems?

  • We believe the problem is solvable.
  • We figure out who owns what piece of the problem.  We can dissect the problem.
  • We don’t blame because we are in it together.  No judging. It doesn’t help.
  • Is the problem certain important to you or not?
  • Use phrases like “I want” “I feel”
  • Listen to the other people in the situation
  • Express our own values and truths.
  • Read between the lines a bit – what is the other person not saying
  • And many more techniques are mentioned in this chapter!

The problem-solving steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • Brainstorm for solutions
  • Evaluate all the solutions
  • Work together and choose the best solution
  • Implement the solution and follow-up with an assessment of why the solution worked or didn’t work.

All of this sounds so simple, and we probably all know these steps, but it is so easy to lose sight of this process when emotions are running high!

What did you all think of this chapter?

Blessings,
carrie

the winning family book study: discipline without damage

This book, by author Dr. Louise Hart, was first published in 1987, but has had a profound effect on my parenting, and I am so grateful I get to share it with you!  If you want to catch up, we have been slowly going through the chapters this school year – the last post, about chapter 12 (“Parenting and Empowerment” is here)- but we will be moving through the remaining portions of the book a little more quickly so this summer we can tackle another one of my favorite parenting books.  Our new book will be “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for summer!

Today’s chapter in “The Winning Family” is so powerful!  It is called, “For Your Own Good:  Discipline Without Damage” (Chapter 13). The opening is a  look at the traditional saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and how this has been entirely misconstrued.  The author adds:

Children need to be guided. If they are not guided – or are misguided – they will be “spoiled.”  If an adult overindulges a child without giving guidance, this will be detrimental to the child’s character. But children cannot be spoiled by too much love! They are spoiled by a lack of love and guidance.  

Remember, the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple, meaning pupil or learner.  Discipline is about teaching and guiding children, not punishing. We guide children until they can take it over with their own internal system of guiding themselves.  This is the tallest order in parenting and comes little by little over the years, beginning with the small things.  We protect our children from hurting themselves and others, and help them develop resilience and problem-solving skills.

When children misbehave, they are showing an expression of how they feel about themselves (or, I would add, the circumstances and how they deal with circumstances). Children need adults involved in their lives in  order to learn this through adult guidance and natural consequences.  If an action doesn’t have a natural consequence, then we use a logical consequence.  The consequence needs to be respectful, related, reasonable.   The goal is mutual respect, mutual responsibility for all parties, not just the child. 

However, in order to do this we must develop reasonable expectations. In today’s fast-paced world, we often expect far too much of tiny children.  So our expectations and our logical consequences must fit a child’s age.  We also must not rescue our children from situations that are appropriate for their age and the maturity level of the child.

There is a whole section regarding “Creative Family Management,” and I love this section as it has healthier options for working with children.  There are pages of options in this chapter!  My top three favorites in working with my own children or other people’s children are  offering alternatives, planning ahead, and choosing my battles carefully.

Tell me your favorite positive discipline guiding techniques! I would love to hear them!

Blessings,
carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

“When I was a child myself, however, I was told and thus believed that my purpose in life was to be a nice little girl.  When I grew up, I found I was a very nice lady.  By being “nice” I avoided situations that called for much power and yielded to others to avoid power struggles…..Luckily, my children have taught me differently.” – page 105

This chapter is all about empowerment and the need for all human beings to feel confident and competent. Power comes from the Latin word poder meaning “to be able.”

We cannot have a winning family if it is constantly about power, in a negative sense, where there are attacks and counter-attacks so someone in the family wins and someone in the family loses. This is essentially what the author calls “power taking”- when people try to dominate or disempower others.  If this happens within a family, someone in the family will be victimized.

A winning family will “power share” – power is cooperative, mutual,nurturing. People share power within the family, and with this everyone’s personal power is expanded.

Power plays out in four different personality types:

  • Powerless – the person is helpless, dependent, insecure
  • Powerful – confident, capable, in control,
  • Empowering – supportive, encouraging, challenging
  • Overpowering – dominating, manipulative, arrogant, pushy

The author asks the question that if these were four people standing in a room, who would be attracted to each other?  Who would avoid each other?  This sort of reflection can help one look at the balance of power in the home, and look at the power distribution between the adults in the home and the relationship between the adults and the children.

The author  also talks about how in general society has become a place of disconnection and competition and how the easiest way to reclaim the power by being divided and conquered is to unite with others who share the same common experience. There is a section about violence and how this impacts women and children as the primary victims and how children who are raised in violent homes also become victims. Instead of wounding our children and perpetuating the cycle of violence, we can learn to heal ourselves.  The end of the chapter tackles gender and violence, and then has a section on “Family Empowerment.”  Under family empowerment, the author lists things to teach our children:

  • To be respectful of themselves and others
  • To be responsible for their behavior
  • That they have personal body rights
  • To be assertive
  • To be sensitive
  • To be nonviolent
  • To avoid dangers but to fight their battles
  • To have high self-esteem – people who value themselves and others do not tolerate abuse

The chapter ends with, “Our homes can be a refuge – a haven of love and safety, a source of strength and support.  You have the power to create a supportive and peaceful family where people are for, not against, each other.  Children need to feel safe at home. So do you.”

The next chapter is about discipline without damage, and you won’t want to miss it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

This is a fantastic book by Dr. Louise Hart with lots of solid advice for creating a peaceful and productive family life.  You can see back posts regarding Chapters 1-10; today we are looking at Chapter 11, which is entitled, “Parenting Leadership Styles.” One of the very first blog posts I wrote in 2008 back when I started writing was about gentle discipline as authentic leadership, so I was excited to delve into this chapter.

The chapter begins with asking the basic question:

  • Were you raised by tyrants?
  • Were you raised by not being raised?
  • Were you raised by leaders who balanced their powers with freedom and caring?

In an autocratic (tyrannical) parenting style, children often want to be told what to do because they are trying to avoid punishment and they want to please their parents. Children raised in this style often lack a sense of personal responsibility and distrust their own feelings.  They may be compliant or they may become rebellious and defiant over time.

In a permissive parenting style, parents give up any power at all and may be checked out due to substance abuse problems, their own baggage and woundedness, illness, or disinterest. In these families, because there are no rules, children don’t learn any boundaries at all, have trouble with limits, feel they have the right to do whatever it is that they wish, or may take on a role reversal with the parents.  They may eventually become violent toward their parents or seek out highly structured groups as an adult.

In a democractic leadership style, everyone’s needs in the family are considered important. Parents offer choices and treat their children as capable beings who can make decisions. They teach children how to take responsibility.  They provide structure.  Children learn to respect rules and become responsible, and how to become capable.

Some families have a mix of styles between parents – one may be very permissive and the other very autocratic and rigid.  This happens frequently, but by realizing this and talking about this, even by employing family meetings, different choices can be made.

When children are small, we have to assume control and provide boundaries and as children grow, we can provide a framework for freedom with responsibiity and good choices at the forefront.  We provide a sense of teamwork and empowerment. In Appendix C of this book there is a helpful table summarizing the information in this chapter.

More to come!

Blessings and love,

Carrie