Beyond Ordinary Listening

This article originally appeared on the Support4Change website, and is reposted here.

By Joyce Vissell
Reprinted with permission.

Learn how to communicate so fully that your partner can’t help but pay attention and listen to every word.

The art of listening is very important in life and essential in any relationship. Being able to listen carefully assures that valuable communication is passed between two people. Some communication is so riveting that we can’t help but pay attention and listen to every word.

But what about the communications that do not capture our attention fully. These are slower communications that do not pull you right in and perhaps are harder to keep your focus. It is during these times when you can “listen-plus.” Read More

Enrich Your Relationships With Technology

By Guest Author
Amy Williams

Child with Apple iPad
In the last few years, technology has made it easier than ever before for families to stay connected, no matter how far apart they travel. While there are many benefits available, there are also a few problems you’ll need to stay on the lookout for — and we’ll be covering both of these topics today.

Use Technology to Improve Your Connections With Your Family

Does connecting with other people through technology really help you to feel more social and connected? According to research done by the University of California, Berkeley, the answer is “Yes, to a certain point”. Though they cautioned that trying to have too much of an online presence was often depressing, it was measurably helpful as long as people found a balance between having too few friends and having too many of them. Read More

Happy Being Alone

August 26, 2013

These 13 rules can help you make the most out of being on your own.

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From time to time, the Support4Change Blog will feature guest posts from Tyler Tervooren from Advanced Riskology. Tyler’s inspiring posts advance his mission to “help everyone I can to take smarter and more beneficial risks in their lives.”

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There is great value in being alone. And handling it well is a beautiful thing.

At the very least, it’s a useful life skill. You can’t always control when there will be someone there for you, so being able to happily conduct yourself alone is an important part of being alive.

13 Rules for Being Alone and Being Happy About It

The following are 13 rules I try to live by when it comes to being alone. They add enormous value to my life.

Whether you’re an introvert trying to make your way in an extrovert’s world, or an extrovert learning to become a better person on your own, I hope they add some value to your life as well.

Flower all alone

1. Understand that you’re good enough all by yourself.

You’re a valuable person, and you don’t need the approval of anyone else for that to be true. When you’re alone, remind yourself that it’s because you choose to be. It really is a choice.

It’s very easy to find someone to spend time with, but when you have high standards for the people you allow into your life, you’re telling yourself that you’re better off by yourself than with someone who isn’t a great fit for you.

Read More

Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Kids

June 26, 2013
Four easy ways you can empower your children while staying in charge, and keep peace in the family.
Today’s guest post is from NannyJobs.net, part of the largest network of online care sites in the U.S. You can find a number of interesting and helpful articles there for parents and childcare providers alike.

Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Kids
Guest post from NannyJobs.net

Angry girl (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

It seems like power struggles and raising kids go hand and hand with one another. As much as parents try to stay in control over what’s happening with their kids, the infamous “NO!” is bound to be heard more frequently than any parent would like. Here are some tips on how to avoid these power struggles and enjoy more harmony with your child.

Give lots and lots of acceptable choices. Power struggles often start because kids feel out of control. As kids get older, they increasingly feel the need for autonomy and independence. They want it, they need it, but they’re not sure how to go about getting it. Power struggles are often the result of kids trying to exert their power at the wrong time or in the wrong way. An easy way to avoid this is to give your child lots of choices throughout the day. This doesn’t mean asking an open-ended question and hoping your child will make the right choice. That’s just asking for trouble. It’s not a good idea to ask “Would you like to wear your coat to school today?” when it’s 30 degrees and snowing outside. You know you won’t let him go to school without a coat. Instead, ask “Would you like to wear your down coat or your fleece coat today?” You know you’ll be happy with either of those choices, and this gives your child some real decision-making power while allowing you to stay in charge of the big picture. It’s a win-win situation.

Develop and live by routines. Lots of power struggles can be avoided by simply avoiding the question at the center of the struggle. Those questions often come up around routines. Sit down with your child and develop routines around the issues that cause the most problems. That may be the before school, homework or bedtime routine. By agreeing on how something will be handled ahead of time, you can avoid getting into a back and forth about what you want and what your child wants. The routine is in charge. When your child asks if he can get dressed after breakfast, you simply ask what the routine says. He may not like it, but he’s much less likely to fight over it because it’s something he’s already agreed to. It’s essential that you engage children in the decision-making process when you’re coming up with routines. Simply stating what you feel should happen and imposing it on your child won’t help lessen power struggles. Your child has to have real input into the process and buy into the final result. Once you’ve decided on a routine, take some time and create a chart that outlines it step by step. Using pictures is a great way for pre-reading children to get on board.

Don’t take it personally. This might be the hardest thing to do because it feels so personal. When your child ignores you, tells you no or does the complete opposite of what you ask, it feels like he’s directly defying your authority. This behavior pushes all kinds of buttons. But when children do those things, it can mean a lot of different things. Often it’s developmentally appropriate, meaning it’s a stage that your child is going through because of his age, not because of any feelings towards you. Or it might be a habit. It might be how you and he have resolved problems for a long time and he doesn’t know how to do it differently. Or he may still be learning how to do things differently. Every child master tasks at different stages and using different, more effective tools for getting what he wants may not be something he’s mastered yet. So while there may be lots of reasons your child is doing what he’s doing, it’s usually more about him than you.

Say no to getting involved. It takes two people to be involved in a power struggle. Your child can’t do it alone. Once you’ve started taking other steps to empower your child, stop engaging in the power struggle with him. Offer him choices and stick with those. Develop routines together and follow them throughout the day. When you refuse to engage with your child, the power struggle no longer is a tool that helps him get what he wants or needs, so he’ll turn to the more productive tools you’ve offered. Don’t be surprised if disengaging is hard for you. This tug of war often becomes a habit for both kids and parents and can be hard to break.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Engaging Versus Entertaining the Kids

May 27, 2013
Learn how engaging your child can promote a positive learning environment.

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Today’s guest post is by the Become a Nanny blog. You can find a number of interesting and helpful articles for parents and childcare providers alike.

Engaging Versus Entertaining the Kids
Guest post from Become a Nanny

When it comes to spending time with children, do you spend your time engaging them, entertaining them or doing a little of both?  Before you can fully answer that question, you may need to explore the difference between the two.

Underwater games (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

When caregivers engage children their time is spent being actively involved with the kids.  Engaging children requires active participation from both the caregiver and the child. When caregivers actively play with children, they are engaging them.  Caregivers might engage children by playing blocks with them, dancing with them, playing a game with them, or being involved in dramatic play with them.

When caregivers entertain children their time is spent passively involved with the children. Entertaining children is not interactive. In fact, it’s mostly one-sided with the child fulfilling the role of audience. Entertainment requires observation. When caregivers take the children to the movies or put on a television show for them to watch, they are entertaining them.

The purpose of engaging children is to help focus their attention so that learning can happen. The purpose of entertaining is to create a pleasurable experience. Engagement involves children being creative and solving problems, while entertainment involves children watching others be creative and solve problems.

While some entertainment can be educational, that’s not its primary purpose. For many caregivers, given the integration of technology in everyday life, it often requires some entertaining to get the children interested before you transition to engaging them. And while some learning may come from entertainment, when children are engaged, real and lasting learning occurs.

As you consider how you spend time with the children in your care, ask yourself:

  • Am I actively interacting with the children?
  • How does the entertainment I offer deepen or enhance their learning experience?
  •  Is the activity the children are doing designed to benefit them or me?
  • Am I nurturing the children’s sense of curiosity about themselves and their world?
  • Am I providing tools for hands-on learning?
  • Is technology trumping your relationship?
  • Are we going places more than doing things together?

If your answers lead you to believe the children would benefit from more engagement and less entertainment, consider spending more time engaging the children by:

  • Playing play-dough
  • Building blocks
  • Doing arts and crafts together
  • Playing board games
  • Having a tea party
  • Rolling a ball back and forth
  • Taking part in fantasy play
  • Playing outside
  • Putting on a puppet show
  • Baking cookies.

While having fun is certainly important, providing opportunities for interaction, hands-on learning and problem solving can create an environment that promotes active learning, which will yield lasting results.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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