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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Great Interventions Take Practice (Greg Warburton)

Greg Warburton, Ask More Tell LessFor years, I have been encouraging people of all ages to consider diligently practicing changes in thinking and/or behavior, ideally, with an attitude of mastery. Indeed, great interventions take practice.

We seem to be clear about the value of diligently practicing physical skills and technique in athletics, music and art. At the same time, however, we seem to be much less clear, or even unaware, about the need to practice using different parenting interventions or changes in thinking. Making a decision to diligently practice in these arenas will pay off.

A Need for Change

Let me share an example from my book, Ask More, Tell Less (Chapter Ten, “Drastically Decrease Lectures and Speeches”). Perhaps you have heard a child say something like, “I’m dumb,” or “I’m stupid,” or “I can’t learn.” In lecture mode, the conversation might go something like this:

(Parent) No, you’re not. You can do a lot of things and you’re smart. I don’t want you to keep saying those things about yourself. You know you won’t ever do well thinking that way. Besides, I don’t like seeing you so upset, so stop talking that way. Why do you keep saying such negative things about yourself anyway?

(Child) I don’t know.

(Parent) Well, please stop talking like that.

 

Here the beginning practice is noticing to build awareness; this type of parental communication shuts down the conversation and leaves the child powerless to think and decide for himself? Who is doing the thinking and talking in this example?

Ask More Tell Less, Greg WarburtonA New Framework

To create a framework for practicing in this arena of thinking/belief change, you might think in terms of the work-out language of physically “doing reps.” So one should begin parental practice by thinking in terms of doing thought-and-feeling-watching reps and mental-shift reps just like the reps in physical skill practices. You can decide to notice your thoughts and feelings 10, 20, 50 or 100 times a day, plus whether or not you need to make a mental shift from DON’T lecture unnecessarily to DO ask quality questions. Based on what thoughts your noticing practice produces, you can ask one additional question: “Will this thought/belief work for me or against me in achieving what I want in this situation with my child?”

Quality Question-Asking

As you practice building awareness of the long-term impact of thinking and doing too much for a child, imagine practicing shifting from giving a “lecture” like the one noted above, to practicing what I call quality question-asking. Right now, as you are reading this, practice noticing the felt mental-and-emotional shift when a parent stops lecturing and telling their child what to do and think and begins practicing asking thought-provoking questions like these:

How much longer do you plan to practice believing you’re stupid?

 

Does saying “I’m dumb” and “I can’t” help you make friends or lose friends?

If you stopped believing you’re stupid for just one second, what one new thought might sneak into your brain?

 

Rather than spending a lot of time telling your children what you think, spend the time skillfully asking them what they think. When some different action or behavior is necessary, begin by asking them what they plan to do.

Time to Reflect

Take a moment to practice reflecting. Here are some questions to get you started:

Can you imagine making this shift from telling to asking?

Can you see the efficacy of asking a single question which replaces the typical lectures children are given when the desire is for the child to change?

Can you see how this question-asking practice takes some of the pressure off of the parent who is anguishing over figuring out the just right thing to do or say?

Are you the kind of person who sticks with new practices or do you notice you give up and revert back to old, known ways? ###

Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

 

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June 30, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiving My Father … Again (Keith Zafren)

Keith sent in this article some time ago. I asked him if I could save it for a Father’s Day piece on The Changing Behavior Network. It carries a powerful message that needs to be shared. Thanks, Keith for your willingness to share something so close to your heart. We present, “Forgiving My Father … Again.” –JDS

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Keith Zafren, The Great Dads ProjectIn my book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had, I wrote a chapter on “Forgiving Our Fathers.” It was an emotionally moving chapter to write because I have spent years (and thousands of dollars in therapy) working out my painful relationship with my dad, learning to see him as a man in pain himself, owning the good that he did bring to our relationship, growing in compassion for the life he lived—and endured—and forgiving him for the many things he did and did not do that hurt me.

Jack Called It

A few years back, I completed Jack Canfield‘s year-long Train the Trainer course. During one of the training weeks, I asked Jack in the public session a question about my business and an issue I felt frustrated by. I was looking for some business advice. I got way more than I bargained for (as is often the case with Jack).

He “processed” me in front of the group about this issue that actually led right back to my dad’s rejection of me. I had no idea when I asked my business question that the situation I felt frustrated and a bit angry about was in fact also an emotional trigger of a past experience with my dad.

It was my final experience of my dad—the day he told me he didn’t want to be my dad. Those were the last words I ever heard him speak to me.

Keith Zafren, How to Be a Great DadLingering Pain and Sadness

We had no contact after that for over a year. Then I received a phone call from his landlord informing me my father had been found dead of heart failure in his apartment.

He was alone.

After twenty-three years of working out my pain and forgiving him for so much, I now realized I had not yet resolved that last rejection. Because it was so painful, and perhaps more importantly, because it turned out to be so final when my dad died, that rejection got stuck in my psyche as somewhat of an independent rejection, somehow split off from all the other pain associated with missing my dad and feeling his repeated rejections of me.

It was as if those final words were frozen in time.

Even after fourteen years since his passing, those words touched a place of deep sadness in me. I had allowed his words to define me as a fatherless son, and my heart still ached.

Time to Do More Work

Jack asked me questions that led me to see that it was me, not my father, who was still causing the ache in my psyche, telling myself that I was somehow not okay, that I wasn’t a good son, that I must have done something wrong that contributed to—or even caused—my dad’s rejecting tone and words.

My dad was gone, but I had kept his voice alive in my head and heart all these years around this final interaction.

When I encountered other men since then who disapproved of me in some way, even if I just perceived that disapproval, it would often trigger this same feeling of sadness and anger I harbored deep within me toward my dad due to his final disapproval. And I would sometimes respond to the man triggering this feeling with some of the emotion I still felt toward my dad.

Jack helped me see it was time to let all this go. It was time to release my dad from the judgment I felt toward him for not wanting to be my dad, and the judgment with which I viewed myself (that I had done something wrong). It was time to forgive my dad for rejecting me, and to forgive myself for judging my dad for doing so.

I chose to forgive—to finally let this rejection go as well. I chose in that moment, and the days that followed, to release my dad, and to release myself, from judgment.

The Difference It Made

The freedom has been remarkable since. I feel at peace—finally. I’m not worried any longer about the disapproval some may feel towards me, at times. It’s no longer tied to nor does it trigger pain I’m harboring inside me. That pain has been healed through forgiveness.

I’ve let my dad rest in peace.

And I’ve been living in peace from that day forward.

I see what a difference it makes for me in being more present to my kids as well. Because I am at peace, because I am not feeling my dad’s rejection, I am more free to fully give myself to my boys, to love them the way they need me, and to not worry about anything.

I had no idea my lack of forgiveness was affecting me as much as it was. But I can see it now because of how free I feel to love my boys.

Remember, great dads shape great kids.

Great dads let go of the past to be more fully engaged in the present.

Be a great dad today.###

 

Keith Zafren is the founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids. Check out his FREE video training course.

June 23, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Counselors, courage, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Habits for Connecting with Your Kids, Even in Conflict (Kirsten Siggins)

Thanks go out to Kirsten Siggins for this excellent article. It captures the essence of the sort of authentic communication that can build strong connections of communication with our children. Here is “Three Habits for Connecting with Your Kids, Even in Conflict.” –JDS

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Arguing and kids often feel like they go hand in hand:

That’s so unfair!

You never understand!

I hope you are happy because I am NOT!

 

Kirsten Siggins

Such a flurry of these “conversations” seems loaded with resistance rather than respect. These conversations are exhausting, frustrating and leave everyone feeling drained or annoyed. It is also the time when parents often say and do things without much thought, those knee jerk reactions to make a point or seek completion faster. Almost all conversations begin with good intentions and possibilities, yet, when heated, they turn into arguments that shut communication down and end with judgment, blame, or even shame, all of which lead to conflict and fractured relationships.

We’ll look at three ways, or habits, for connecting more effectively and authentically with our children.

#1: Be Who You Want Your Kids to Be

Research is showing that effective communication is the most important skill we are failing to teach our kids, particularly when conflict is involved. Kids do what parents do, not what parents say, so effective communication begins with you. How you approach each conversation is going to model what competent conversations look and sound like to your child. If you find yourself constantly arguing with your kids, that will become their communication norm, and they will approach each conversation the same way.

The good news is, it isn’t too late to change that impression. Rather than butting heads and talking at each other, pause and take the time to stop what you are doing and actively listen to what your child has to say, what their needs are, and what their experience is like. This doesn’t mean you have to like or even agree with their comments, but it does mean you will have a better understanding of what is going for your child. It also models to your child what listening looks and sounds like so they learn how to actively listen.

#2: Be Curious; Don’t Judge

Parents love to fix and solve everything for their kids. It is faster and easier than having them figure it out themselves. Unfortunately, this approach robs them of learning, skills development and accountability. It sends the message that your way is the “right” theirs is “wrong”. Argument then enters the picture. Arguments begin when the focus is on self, wanting to prove points, be right or share wisdom and expect others to agree with you. It amounts to judging others’ thoughts rather than being open and curious to explore and learn about them.

Argument: a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong. (Google)

Rather than tell or solve, ask questions to learn what is actually going on for your child and explore possible solutions they propose. This builds confidence and send the message that you believe they are capable of solving their own problem, trusting they can find effective solutions.

The Power of Curiosity, Kirsten Siggins, Kathy Taberner3: Questions = Connection

Neuroscience has found that, when we enter into a conversation with another and we become curious by asking an open question, dopamine is released, making us feel good as it creates a mind/heart connection. As we continue to ask open questions to better understand and collaborate, we continue to feel good. We have found this happens even when we feel emotional, even “edgy.” Using curiosity, our emotional tension starts to dissipate and wash away, allowing us to be present and connect with our children, rather than disconnect in conflict. With each open question asked, you are able to shift from conflict to connection, making even the most challenging conversations manageable and drama free.

Any time you find yourself entering into an argument, pause and put a “what” or “how” in front of your thought and LISTEN to what your child has to say. This will help you stay curious and connect with your child by better understanding them. It will keep you cool when things heat up AND it will model to your child what confident, competent conversations look and sound like. ###

Kathy Taberner & Kirsten Siggins are a mother/daughter communication consulting team with a focus on curiosity and founders of the Institute Of Curiosity. Their book, The Power Of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding (Morgan James 2015), gives parents or leaders (or both) the skills and the method to stay curious and connected in all conversations, even in conflict. [website]

 

June 16, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Be Patient with Me …” (Dr. James Sutton)

Dr. James Sutton“Be Patient with Me …” Growing tomatoes in south Texas can be a challenge. You have to get most of your harvest in the spring, as the blistering sun will cut them down in July.

“This one’s finished,” I said to myself, as I prepared to yank a plant up by the roots and throw it into the compost pile.

It was then my fingers, not my eyes, discovered it: a perfectly formed, fist-sized tomato. Fastened near the bottom of the plant, it was green and growing, resting against the picket fence where it had been shielded from my view.

Be Patient with Me“Be patient with me; I can still contribute,” the plant seemed to be saying to me. I left it.

In that moment I was struck with the notion that people sometimes are like that heat-battered tomato plant. It could be the student who is painfully shy in the classroom. It could be the hard-working immigrant who struggles to learn a strange, new language. Or it could be the kind soul who must live out her days in a nursing home. Circumstances differ, yet the message remains the same:

Be patient with me;
I can STILL contribute.

Only the Master Gardener has all the answers.

“… For man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
I Samuel 16:7b (KJV)

 

The Changing Behavior Book, Dr. James SuttonDr. James D. Sutton is a (mostly) retired child and adolescent psychologist. His most recent book is The Changing Behavior Book, and he is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. [website]

 

 

June 10, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Compassion, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , | 1 Comment

Introducing … THE SPEAKERS GROUP

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Note: We are posting this announcement in support of our partner site, The Changing Behavior Network. (When “this page” is mentioned, it refers to the Network’s site.) —

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am excited about this! After a couple of months of planning, The Speakers Group is now a reality. I thought starting The Changing Behavior Network five years ago was a great experience, but this one tops it.
We will continue to add to this distinguished group, but I’d like to offer special thanks and recognition to the following authors/experts. Through the years, they have been my guests on the Network. It was their faith and confidence that made this “debut” possible in the first place: Mike Ferry, Alison Kero, Dr. Laurie Hollman, Judge Tom Jacobs, Natalie Jacobs, Terry Lancaster, Christy Monson, Peggy Sealfon, Rosalind Sedacca, Kirsten Taberner Siggins, Kathy Taberner, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Dr. Larry Waldman and Greg Warburton. –JDS

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The Speakers Group, The Changing Behavior NetworkThe Changing Behavior Network announces a new component to the efforts of encouraging and supporting children, teens and their families in what many consider difficult and challenging times: The Speakers Group.

What Is It?

The Speakers Group is made up of guest authors/experts that have been interviewed on The Changing Behavior Network. They can provide a number of services for you or your organization, including ARTICLES for your blog or newsletter, INTERVIEWS and BOOK SIGNINGS, CONSULTING (including coaching), PRESENTATIONS, TRAINING and CONFERENCE keynotes or break-outs. These individuals make up a strong collection of resources … so use them!

(Using the “Free Materials from Our Experts” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see that these folks also have provided excellent complimentary materials on their particular specialty.)

Two Things

Two things are especially unique about these listings in The Speakers Group. First, each one of them contains a “Listen to an Interview” audio link to an actual Changing Behavior Network interview with that person. This enables you to “sample” their expertise without even leaving the page. And second, since The Speakers Group is a listing and not a booking agent or a speakers bureau, you will be able to communicate directly with each group member or their staff. That’s a BIG benefit.

A Great PLACE to Start

Consider asking one or more of these experts for an article for your blog or newsletter in exchange for a byline about their work, book and website. What better way to start a great relationship?

To go straight to The Speakers Group page, CLICK HERE, or use the tab at the top of this page.

For information or questions about The Speakers Group, email us at:

admin@thechangingbehaviornetwork.com

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment