Positive Parenting Tip: How to Empower Children with the Word NO!

October 17th, 2011 7 comments

Many parents, especially those with toddlers, can feel very conflicted when their child tells them “no”.  As a mother, I remember many days when I felt like all I heard from my toddlers was this negative word.  After watching a family member with her children, I began to realize the word “no” can be empowerment for children of all ages.

My husband and his siblings were raised in a “children should be seen and not heard” family. The word “no” was a punishable offense.  When my honey and I began our journey of child rearing, we decided to take a different tact.  Rather than feeling like the word “no” was a slap in our face, we decided to take a more laid back approach and not take offense at this word.  We decided we would rather teach our children how to say no, thus showing them how to take responsibility of knowing their own mind.  We believe this is how kids learn.  We decided to reason with our oppositional child.  Not a popular tactic in his family.  We were considered the “marshmallow” parents.

My sister-in-law on the other hand, took the word “no” as a battle cry.  It took her until her children were 5 years old to whip them into shape.  They became docile and obedient children.  The family felt, hands down, she was the better parent.  My children, on the other hand, said “no” when they felt like it and were considered “head strong and strong willed”.

Fast forward 10 years, all the children became teenagers.  The docile 5 year olds who had learned saying no was a punishable offense became docile and compliant teenagers to not only their parents, but to their teen peers. A docile teenager sounds inviting, doesn’t it?  But, is it?

We all know, the teenage years open up a new vista of temptations.  The obedient docile children who never learned it was okay to say no had a very hard time saying it to the temptations of youth.  They suffered from guilty feelings if they said no to their friends.

Our kids, on the other hand, knew how to say the negative word with impunity.  They still faced the same temptations as any other teen, but the lines of communication stayed open with us.

We had to deal with tough subjects like any other parent.  Did they run wild and have no sense of self discipline?  No, on the contrary.  They came to us as sounding boards.  Many times, instead of being a good listener and confidant, I would have rather stayed “down by the river of de-Nile” than to discuss those sensitive issues with them.  But, when the lines of communication are open, I couldn’t sneak down by that river and park my van and take up residence.  I had to buck up and handle honest teenage situations with love and guidance.

When you are faced with a head strong toddler with the word “no” constantly on their lips, realize it’s okay for them to voice their challenge to you.  Instead of pulling out your hair, smile and know you are protecting your child.  They are learning life lessons from you which will serve them for many years to come.  The word “no” can be empowering.  When your teenager needs to say no, help them learn how to do it.  Keep those lines of communication open, even when you’d rather be down by the river.

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9 Things That’ll Put the Smack Down on Your Leadership Style!

October 14th, 2011 12 comments

We all love success stories!  Stories about people who have beat all the odds and have won the prize of doing something extraordinary with their lives.  In the days of old, ballads would be sung of their successes.  We, as leaders, may not be going for the rousing lusty  ballad, or the cover of Newsweek magazine.  We are looking to lead a group of people to accomplish a worthwhile goal.  When the leader does it well, it can lead to some exceptional things.

Why does one leader accomplish so many great things, and another flounders along with their team?  What are excellent leadership characteristics which make a strong leader versus a mediocre leader?  I don’t think anyone takes a leadership role wanting to fail their team.  I believe there are 9 things which can trip up a leader and get them traveling down the wrong path. If we have any of these things going against us, an adjustment of thinking and action can increase our good leadership qualities and we can become a stronger team leader.

Let’s take a brief look at these 9 things:

1.  A ineffectual leader disengages from actively leading their team.  Instead of having a participative leadership style, they become managers who study reports and relegate themselves to pushing paper.

2.  They no longer have their finger on the pulse of their team.  They become dictators and force their issues upon the team without regard to what is actually happening within the team.

3.  They treat their team as if it was a democracy, wanting everyone’s input.  They watch their poll numbers, so to speak, and can’t call the unpopular shots.

4.  They make decisions based on individuals instead of the team.  These decisions erode the teams well being.

5.  They look out for only the well being of the leader, spiraling down into self servitude at the cost of the team.  This includes making decisions by their own pocketbook and not for the good of the group.

6. They don’t reward the innovators.  The leader believes they are the only ones with ideas worth pursuing.

7.  They are jealous or intimidated by strong leaders on the team.  They squelch leadership tendencies instead of rewarding them.

8.  They are unable to use self discipline.  An undisciplined leader can’t lead a disciplined team.

9.  They have no idea what moves their team.  They don’t know their individual team members goals and dreams.  Most people will do extraordinary things for something or someone they hold dear to their hearts.

We, as leaders, may never have a ballad sung about us.  But the ability to effectively lead a great team is an accomplishment.  Avoiding the 9 pitfalls of leadership is a start to great team leadership.

Effective leaders always strive to learn more about leadership. Leave us a comment and let us know something you have found to be effective or something that doesn’t work.  As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

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Positive Parenting Tip – How to Super Charge Your Child’s Self Esteem

September 12th, 2011 23 comments

Positive parenting can be a confusing subject.  I believe most parents truly care for their children.  They want to raise their children to be self sufficient and productive members of society.  What we do in our homes sets the pace for our kid’s future successes in life.  If we do it right, we raise children with positive self esteem.  Done correctly, we give our kids the tools it takes to survive and thrive in the world.

Let me illustrate this with a true story.  Some years back, our company decided to create a day for the children, and the parents, of the people who worked with us.  Each family was encouraged to bring their grandparents, also.  It was to be a fun family day.

It took many months of planning.  We had games set up to play and lots and lots of prizes!  The unique feature of the company was their belief in positive recognition.  We wanted a chance to give the children a good dose of positive recognition.

We designed a t-shirt especially for the event and every child would get one in their size.  We printed up some certificates which had their name printed on it and said “is an awesome kid!”  Since I headed up this team of people, I got the honor of awarding the certificates.  When each set of parents came to the registration booth, I was there to ask them to write on a 3 X 5 card 2 things they loved about their child.

This wasn’t a difficult task for a few.  Sadly, the majority of parents’ reaction was either their eyes glazed over and they were completely lost on what to write, or they got the “deer in the headlights” look.  They had no idea what they liked about their child.

I was surprised by a few comments about how their child didn’t really do anything right.  Come on folks!  You have a beautiful living, breathing, child and you can’t think of anything you like about them?  Did they wonder why their children acted naughty?  When their children misbehaved, was this the only recognition they received?

With these parents, I really had to probe them with questions.  I had to use the best deductive reasoning I could come up with.  Many of these children I knew personally and I was able to embellish their parents comments.

What a huge success!  Each child had something said about how special they were when I passed out the certificate and the t-shirt.  I made sure to say, “Mom and Dad say” before each special thing they were recognized for.  The biggest effect took place with the children who’s parents had a difficult time coming up with something good to say.  These children lit up when they received the kind words and certificate!

This exercise opened my eyes!  How different would our children’s self esteem be if we could look them in the eyes once every day and tell them something we like about them.  How often do we do this?  A daily habit of saying, “I love you” is very important.  Just as important is the habit of letting them know, sincerely, what we like about them.  It’s fun and rewarding to see them stand a little taller and get a gleam of pride in their eyes when we are sincere about our compliment.

I have talked with many parents of young children who love to tell their child’s “naughty stories” within ear shot of the kids.  What does that tell the child?

There are many parenting styles.  We aren’t all alike.  Most of our parenting styles is learned by winging it and making it up as we go along.  The sad fact is most schools don’t teach parenting.  They may teach our kids how to earn a living, maybe how to manage their check book, but not much on how to raise children.

we spend millions of dollars on education, self improvement and other self help subjects. We’ll learn many things to help us succeed in our careers, but not much about how to succeed in our families.  It usually takes a crisis to wake us up to seek out family counseling.

Parenting isn’t always easy.  Each child is different.  There aren’t any cookie cutter ways to raise kids.  I know it has made a difference in my family and my kids to tell them what I like about them, every day if possible.  What we focus on grows.  Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the positive things our children do rather than the naughty” behavior?  How could the world be different if we practiced this one parenting tip?

Leave me a comment and let me know how you feel about this subject.  What do you do in your family to increase your children’s self esteem?

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Leaders – How to Get Your Team’s Motivation to Go Viral!

August 8th, 2011 10 comments

There are different types of teams in the world.  Each team is lead by a leader.  Some teams are wildly successful.  Everything they touch turns to gold.  While other teams seem to wallow in mediocrity, never rising above the norm.

What makes teams so different?  One difference is the level of motivation.  The successful team appears to be brimming with motivation.  Get out of their way, because they are steaming towards their goal!  While the other team seems to be only going through the motions.

I’ve heard it said that motivation comes from within.  This is true.  The sign of a great leader is one who will find this motivation lurking inside each individual and pull it out of them with gusto.

I’ve had leaders ask, “how can I reach this motivation.  I’ve tried contests and money rewards and I can’t seem to get them motivated.”  Contest and money doesn’t work for everyone or every situation.  Some occupations work better with these kinds of rewards.  Some personalities respond better to competition and fiscal rewards.   If you have competitive action personalities on your team, they are more likely to work for those kinds of incentives.

The more creative the project, the less likely contest and rewards will work.  For these creative projects, we need to roll up our sleeves and use a completely different approach.

Get your team actively involved in the crusade

The most successful people in business and life are those with a cause.  Something they can believe in and commit to.  People will work harder for a crusade or cause then they will for money.  The great leaders have discovered their own crusade and how it’s going to make people’s lives better.  It could be righting a wrong, or they’re working to make the world a better place.

A great leader figures out the crusade and then gets their team’s emotions involved with this crusade every day.  Great leaders understand that people respond to directing their own lives.  These leaders, also, recognize and respond to their team’s individual initiatives in moving the crusade forward.  Everyone wants to be a part of changing the world.  People will work harder to be a part of history.

Leaders must be in touch with their own dreams and goals.

The leader should recognize each member of the team’s strengths and how these strengths can fit into the big dream.  The leader should know the steps it will take to reach the dream, but never discourage anyone on the team’s contributions.  Individual initiatives may even discover a better way to accomplish the goals.  The dream needs to be big enough for everyone on the team to have an active part in it.

Everybody wants to be somebody.

Not only do they want to be somebody, but they have the desire to get better and better at something that really matters.  Everyone wants to be remember in the history of the world, at least in their world.  We must never forget this desire when we lead our teams.

To create an explosion of  viral motivation, we will need to inspire those around us to reach inside of themselves and pull out the best they can be.  People’s desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves and fight for something they believe in is a strong motivating force.  We can look for the best in our team and encourage them to make a difference each and every day.

I have a video of Dan Pink’s talk at Ted on motivation.  He brings some surprising things to light.  They are controversial things which most business don’t believe or don’t know about.  I’ve worked in sales fields where we were compensated monetarily.  At first, I didn’t agree with him (as if my research department is bigger than his). After contemplation, I can see how this fits. Leave me your comment and let me know your thoughts.