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Are you pushing your ambitions onto your children?

The idea that parents try to live out their dreams through their children goes back at least as far as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, both of whom theorised about the phenomenon.

The psychologist Tanya Byron stated that when parents put too much pressure on children to succeed at a young age it will lead to a rise in levels of teenage stress and anxiety.

I was interviewed in 2012 by The Sydney Morning Herald for an article headlined, ‘Clone complex damages children, experts warn’. Unfortunately the dangers are just as real and happening today.

I believe, parents must recognise their children as individuals in their own right. Our children are not moulded in our image, they are not driven by our desires or fears, our likes and dislikes, and they do not necessarily have the same natural talents or interests we do. There may be similarities, however, our children are unencumbered by our experiences, life rules and limitations. This is to be embraced and explored – not exploited.

Susan Newman Ph.D said, “Parents work exceedingly hard to point their children in one direction or another to help them excel. In doing so, we have taken much of the fun out of being a parent and lost sight of what might make our children truly joyful.”

I suggest you can begin talking to your child today and find out what they like to do best. Once you know what is meaningful to your child arrange activities, conversations and tasks around this.

By listening, by being interested in their point of view, by taking time to understand their developmental needs – whilst keeping our feet firmly in the now – we are more able to achieve exactly what we are aiming for. And, what is it most parents aim for? The moment when we proudly reflect on being a part of the life of a happy, healthy, caring and satisfied adult. A person who has found success and comfort that is meaningful for them, that child you helped raise and nurture.

What are your thoughts? How do you support your child’s dreams?

Kirsty 🙂

Images: Pixabay

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Become a Master Blender

blending

I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting

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THE 6 P’s TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_mFuZncR734

If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. Most people procrastinate to some degree.  Is procrastination stopping you fulfilling your potential and unsettling your life?

You procrastinate when you put off things that you could be, or know you should be, focusing on right now, usually in favour of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.

Putting off an unimportant task isn’t necessarily procrastination; it may just be good prioritization! If you have a good reason for rescheduling something important, then you’re not necessarily procrastinating. However, if you’re just “making an excuse” because you really just don’t want to do it, then you are.

The key to taking back control is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better. To have a good chance of conquering procrastination, you need to be aware straight away that you’re doing it. Then you can identify why you’re procrastinating and take appropriate steps to overcome the block.

Here are my 6 P’s for creating a new habit of action rather than non-action or avoidance:-

  1. PAY OFF – Establish and brainstorm what are the great things      that you will get once this is done.       WHY is it important to you?
  2. PEOPLE TO TELL AND PROMISE – Name your task and put a deadline      on it, then tell someone or a group of people and promise to have it      finished and ask for their support.       This creates an atmosphere of accountability and is a psychological      incentive for you to complete what you have been putting off.
  3. PREPARE AND HAVE A PROCESS – Prepare all that you need to get      this task done and have a list, diary and a process.  Are you going to do it all, in what      order, or are you going to break it down into smaller tasks?
  4. PAY ATTENTION – Be completely present with this task, no      breaks, no interruptions, and no distractions.
  5. PRACTISE – just keep following this guide on all tasks you      feel overwhelmed by or struggle to complete.  You don’t have to get it perfect,      practise will allow you to just do it and create a new habit of work/task      completion.
  6. PRAISE & CELEBRATE – Give yourself a big pat on the back      and reward each time you achieve your goal.  This will encourage you to keep going      forward.

One of my most favourite action steps is to aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day; which means conquering your hardest, least desirable task first thing in the morning so you don’t have to carry the load in your mind around with you all day.

Get started today and kick procrastination to the kerb! Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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Picking your state and intention for the day – YOU GET TO CHOOSE!

Do you just get up every morning, head hung low, would rather be back in bed? Do you just get up and start going through your morning routine, putting one foot in front of the other? Do you wonder where your motivation,let alone inspiration have gone?

I have realised that beginning the day with no clear direction, no high expectations and on automatic pilot does not get me the results I want or need. I am going to share with you a couple of tricks to get you feeling more energetic andinspired each day.

Know your overall picture/goals for the next couple of years. It always brings more meaning to your life when you know where you are headed. Where do you see yourself in 2 years’ time? What is happening? Who is with you? How are you feeling? What are you doing? Remember, it’s not what you don’t want, it is what you would like to work towards and where you want to be.

Once you know where it is and what you want, pick a state that suits this part of your life. Is it happy, healthy, open, engaging, pumped, peaceful, in control,respecting and respected, grateful, confident, valued, or the like? Once you know the state that feels right, get in that state from right now. Remind yourself constantly I am……. today.

Set your intention for each day. What do you intend to do, to be, to achieve,to overcome, to create? Know this, write it down and begin.

Try this for the next month. I will guarantee you will see your life become more enjoyable, you will get more meaningful things done and you will move away from what you don’t want because you are too busy getting what you do want and enjoying yourself!

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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