As a mom, it’s important that I give my boys the best possible shot at setting themselves up for success. It’s my job to provide them with the tools they need to live a life of intention and happiness. Whatever that success looks like to them. I want them to feel like they can achieve anything they set their minds to. I want them to be happy and positive little beings. I want them to be respectful of others. I want them to be proud of themselves. I want them to feel all the feels but not feel overwhelmed. I want them to live their best life.
As parents, we all want what is best for our children but I often have to remind myself, It’s not just what I want for them, but what they need from me to help them live their best life. How can I scaffold that?
Well here are a few ways we do this in our home, and you can too…
I have been momming for fourteen years now, I have also been working with children for almost twenty. In my experience, I have come to learn that children are a lot more competent and capable than we give them credit for. I have found ways to connect with and encourage the children in my life to stop, reflect, breathe, wonder, explore, listen and learn; nurturing them to become more confident and empowered.
Here are some ideas you can do at home
Making Time For Reflective Conversations
One thing we make sure to do is to carve out time, once a week, to have a reflective conversation with the boys. Nothing is considered silly and anything they say, bring up or share is repected and valued. We coach them through a discussion where we ask open-ended and reflective questions. They are in charge of finding the answers or solutions. This usually makes them feel empowered and is a nice way to end their day. We usually do this at bedtime, once a week, instead of a book. It gives us a chance to really connect with our kids. We take the time to listen, and they get the opportunity to be in control and figure out solutions as opposed to waiting for us to give them the answers.
You can easily do this with your three-year-old, ten-year-old or seventeen-year-old. Doesn’t have to be a long conversation; it can be five, ten or fifteen minutes, depending on the age. This is a great time to connect and make it all about them.
Examples of questions: How was your week? How are you feeling? Tell me about some positive things that happened this week or today? What are some ways that you were a great friend this week? Tell me about a challenge you had this week? Can you tell me more about that? How did that make you feel? What are you thinking about? How can you learn more about that? How can you change that? How does that make you feel inside?
Small Goal Setting For Success
This was a more recent addition to my mom toolbox. I pulled this one out at the start of the school year. Goal setting has really helped Anthony most. He was finding it really hard focusing, being organized and all the expectations that suddenly came along with being a tween. I could tell it was overwhelming him and causing him to stress or completely zone out and give up. To turn it around, we talked about setting weekly goals. These small weekly achievable goals completely changed his attitude.
So, how do we do it? Well, each Monday after school, we sit together at homework time and have a goal setting chat. He is in control of choosing two easy achievable goals for himself that week. These goals can be anything he wants to work towards, whether it’s related to school or to his every day. He decides what the goals are, we discuss why he picked them, he shares with me how he will measure the outcomes and we write them down in his school agenda. If you use the school agenda, you can put it in the weekend section, or notes area for that week or you can jot it down and post it in their room or bathroom mirror! Choose a place they will see the goals daily. On the following Monday, we reflect on how his previous goals went and we start all over again. Throughout the week I will also ask him how he’s doing with his goals.
He loves it and is learning how he can control and measure his own success. The beauty of small weekly goals is he can always try again the following week if he didn’t achieve what he set out for himself. Again, I try to keep MY expectations out of the picture. This doesn’t take more than ten to fifteen minutes. This is something you can easily do with any school-age child or teen.
A Twist On Family Dinner Time and Sharing About Your Day
We have all heard about the importance of family dinner and giving our children an opportunity to share about the day. We added a little twist on this at our home. At weekend dinners, for the first couple of minutes, we get the boys to share about their day with the person they sit next to. Then, rather than have them share about their own day, we have them share 2-3 things about their siblings or parents day. Why? Well, it’s simple, they learn to listen when someone is sharing something important. We then give the other family member time to add some more details about their day. This is something you could also do with your littles too! Just partner them up with mom or dad. Give them 1-2 simple things that you did that day, for example, mommy had a wonderful visit with her friends or daddy really enjoyed reading his book. This is something you can try out once a week!
Taking Time to Breathe and Feel
The toddler stage for Stefano was all about the stereotypes. Everything you ever hear about two-year-olds, all of it, was him. He had all the feels, all the emotions, all the big tantrums, all the frustrations, all of it. He felt everything. My other two boys didn’t really go through this stage, don’t get me wrong they had moments and tantrums, but nothing like our little Stefano. He was very much two.
I needed to give Stefano the opportunity to work through this stage. He needed to know that it was ok to feel frustrated, upset or sad. He needed to know that he was safe. He couldn’t communicate these feelings so it was important for me to validate his feelings, verbalize the emotions, set natural consequences if needed and support him through his explosive tantrums when they happened. That’s when we started to work on giving Stefano some tools to help him feel calm and self-regulate.
The whole family was on board in supporting our little Stefano, and because of this, we all learned some new techniques. Here are three ways to introduce breath work as a calming and self-regulation tool. This takes practice and eventually with repetition it will become routine. Your little one will start to use this on their own or tell you when they need to stop and breathe. To this day, Stefano, when frustrated, will tell me that he needs to take a breath and blow out his candles or slow down.
Blow out our five finger candles. Tell your child to take a big inhale through their nose and blow out the candles through their mouth. Countdown each candle as you blow them out.
Smelling flowers. Tell your little one to take three big breaths – They will imagine they are smelling a flower. They will take a slow long inhale through their nose and slowly exhale out.
Breathing like Bunnies. Take three short inhales like a bunny with your nose and let it all out through your mouth. (Stefano’s favorite)
Stef will also practice guided meditations when I feel like he is having a hard day. I will build it into his quiet time. I bought him his own meditation pillow which he loves.
With my older boys, they will sometimes use these techniques at times when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Anthony also enjoys doing a guided meditation at bedtime which helps him to stop, breathe and let go of his day. You can find lots of great guided meditation apps for children and teens. One we really love to use is the Headspace App.
These are just a handful of small techniques you can easily implement in your home. We all want to nurture our children so that they feel empowered and confident. We can do this by supporting them, their dreams, their goals, their everyday.
Do you have any special or unique ways you connect, encourage and empower your child to live their best life at home? Share below! I am always wanting to find new ways to support my boys. We’re all in this parenting thing together.
till the next post,