Ask Your Kids, "What attributes do you wish you had?"

conversation starters Mar 09, 2021

We all have people in our lives whom we admire. They could be friends, teachers, or people we don't know well. Regardless, we probably admire them because they have traits we wish we had. 

Maybe you admire Angie because she is a leader, Gabriel because he is always so friendly and welcoming, and Geoff because he makes people laugh. 

The good news is that these are all skills that we can learn, so why not take the time to help your children pinpoint these traits, and then learn how to can incorporate them into their own personalities? 

Resilient people are always growing. They believe that they are capable of impacting the outcomes of their lives, so they take advantage of opportunities to make themselves and their lives better, and this includes changing the way they are perceived, learning new skills, and adopting new behaviors when it serves them to do so. 

When we have people in our lives whom we admire, we can learn from...

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Conversation Starter: "How Much Screen Time Do You Think You Should Have?"

conversation starters Feb 20, 2021

Plenty of parents are unhappy about how much screen time their kids have. We would rather our kids were outside, socializing, or reading.

This is especially concerning during a pandemic, when so many children are spending all day in front of screens for school, unable to play sports or socialize with their friends, and have much more limited options for how they spend their time. 

But here's the interesting thing: If you asked your kids how much screen time you think they should have, it might be less than you imagine, particularly if you help them connect the dots between what their behavior is and the outcomes they want for their lives. 

Instead of jumping right in, though, back into the question. Start by asking them some questions about what they want their lives to look like: 

"Do you want to go through your days healthy and feeling strong and energetic? If so, how much exercise do you think you should be getting?"

"Do you want to have good...

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Ask Your Kids for Their Opinions

How often do kids have to listen to listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, babysitters ... and no one ever asks their opinions?

How often do kids get dismissed because we don’t think they have enough life experience to add anything meaningful to the conversation? 

But, kids have something to say, and if we don’t ask their opinions, they won’t feel seen, and they won’t feel validated by their parents. Beyond that, they won’t have the experience necessary to think through their opinions and refine them. 

When adults do not ask children for their opinions, children grow into adults who feel unsure of themselves. They second guess themselves. They don’t know what to think or how to make their voices heard. 

Asking kids to share their opinions is such an easy thing to do, and it helps children not only build their self-esteem, but it also lets them practice having conversations and thinking through their positions...

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Ask Your Kids: "What Adult Would You Call if You Needed Help?"

conversation starters Feb 18, 2021

Resilient kids have strong support systems. They are surrounded with people who bring out the best in them, and they have people cheering them on, supporting them, and helping them when times get tough.

This includes peers, of course, but it also includes adults.

To that end, help your children identify one (or even a few) safe adults whom they can turn to if they need adult guidance.

Of course, we want to believe that our children will come to us when they need help, but at times, they might be embarrassed or afraid to talk to their parents about certain problems.

Oftentimes, though, these problems are the ones that would best be solved with guidance from an adult.

So who can your children turn to if they need adult guidance, and they don't want to talk to you?

Start a conversation with your children and help them identify these people, which might include teachers, your friends, or other family members.

Give them permission to reach out to someone other than you who can help keep...

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Conversation Starter: "What Makes a Person Happy?"

conversation starters Feb 17, 2021

We all want to be happy, adults and kids alike. Indeed, happiness is a key component of resilience. When people are resilient, they grow stronger and more able to move the needle in the direction of a happy life. 

Happiness and resilience go hand-in-hand. The same qualities that make a person resilient also make a person happy.

Have you ever talked to your kids about this? If they are tweens, now might be the time to start this conversation, revisiting it when the opportunity arises. 

Happiness includes: 

  1. Spending time using our strengths. When we spend time doing things we are good at, we feel good about ourselves
  2. Living in alignment with our values. When we have identified what matters to us, what kind of person we want to be and what kind of life we want to have, and then live in alignment with those personal values, we earn our own self-respect. Remember, though, that your children get to choose their own values. Imposing those will make them choose...
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Labeling Kids, and the Imposter Syndrome

At some point or another, someone has assigned you a positive attribute, and you secretly, shamefully, believed that you fell short.

One of my son's friends is known for being outgoing. When he went away to college, though, he felt shy and insecure.

People used to say things to him like, “It’s so easy for you to make friends!”  

Inside, he felt like he was struggling to find a social group. He thought that maybe he was a fraud—that he didn’t really have this great friend-making attribute that everyone had assigned to him.

When you tell your children that they are something—whether that is a positive or negative thing—you risk simultaneously and inadvertently telling them that they cannot be something else. 

This comes at a risk. A child who is told that she is smart will freak out a little bit (or a lot) on the inside when she cannot tackle a problem, or when she makes an error. 

I hope no one finds out my secret, ...

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