15 Important Life Lessons to Teach Kids as They Grow by Robin Belliveau (The Intuitive Parent)
In no particular order of importance:
1) Never let anyone bully you into silence. Your voice matters. If you feel passionate about something, don't keep quiet because you are afraid of upsetting someone. If you are stirring a reaction in them, it is they who need to learn why. It's not about you, nor is it personal, even if they are trying to make it seem that way. Their reaction means they are thinking and that's never a bad thing, whether they agree with you or not. There are always people that need to hear what you have to share in a way that will affect them positively. Don't get attached to the outcome of what you say, whether it's good or bad. The intent behind what you share is what matters and shows your own character. Let that speak for itself.
2) Your feelings are never wrong, just be clear about how you feel, and let no one make you feel ashamed for having those feelings. Always check yourself here. Reactions aren't feelings. Get to the feelings behind your reactions then you can share in a meaningful way. If the person you are sharing with has a problem with them, they aren't a safe person to share with. Move on to someone who knows how to listen to your heart and wants to hear and understand you.
3) Never shrink to make others more comfortable. You have a right to live, breathe, be yourself, and be happy. If someone has a problem with it, it's not your responsibility to explain yourself to make them feel better. If they have a problem with your existence, the root is usually jealousy on some level. Ignore them and move on. Don't allow their issues to change how you think, feel, or act.
4) Be ok with alone time. That's the only way to get in touch with who you are. If you need to always be on the go and around other people, there's something wrong.
5) Life isn't about working to pay for stuff that doesn't make you happy. Sure, the instant gratification from getting something new can't be denied, but it's a fleeting feeling. If that's your only source of happiness, you will never be happy. Use your money for things that create lasting happiness. And stay out of debt!
6) Make meaningful memories. If you do many things and have no focus on meaning, you won't remember most of what you did. Make your time count and maintain a healthy balance.
7) Life isn't a competition. Just because you graduate at the top of your class, or are seen as being a great artist at your school, it doesn't mean you are better than anyone. There will always be people much better at those things than you. It doesnt matter. Your family can be proud of you but you are not better than the kid at the bottom of your class. That kid has talents you know nothing about. If you like to compete and enjoy the challenge, do it with yourself. Be better than you were yesterday, if that makes you happy. Don't feel like you need to though either. You are perfect, just the way you are.
8) Let no one use you for their own gain. If it's constant, it will erode your self worth, self respect, and happiness eventually draining you. In the short term, it's just annoying.
9) Bullying is never ok and there is no excuse for it. Don't stand idly by when you see bullying either. Help the victim, tell the bully it's not ok if it's safe to do so, and stop associating with the perpetrator, unless they decide to change how they treat others. Meanness is never ok and don't try to relate to why the person is the way they are. It won't change them. I can't tell you how many times situations like this came back to haunt people I know very many years later! Your reputation is everything! If you bullied, sat back and did nothing when someone was bullied, or stayed friends with one, it can impact your future career, community support, and every type of relationship you can think of. You'll find out about it after the opportunity to explain yourself has passed, if at all.
10) Never victim blame. No one asked to be treated badly and don't try to figure out what someone did to "deserve" being treated badly. That especially goes for judging someone negatively who has had traumatic experiences. They aren't damaged, have baggage, or are hyper sensitive and dramatic because of them, no matter what anyone tries to tell you. You have no idea how these experiences change people. They are in fact more resilient, less prone to drama, know what's important in life, and have more insight than you ever will because you didn't have to go through what they did. Learn from them! They have a lot of wisdom to share!
11) Life is supposed to be fun. There will be pain and heartache. In the meantime, find joy. You can't live without it.
12) Always be honest, but with a huge dose of kindness. Your place isn't to teach people lessons. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. If someone asks for advice, you can give it but do so with kindness and in a way that is helpful. If they didn't ask for input on something, keep your mouth shut. It's very possible that the person you think you know more than has more wisdom into a situation than you do, or much more life experience than you give them credit for.
13) If you see someone who needs help, give it; from opening doors for someone with a baby carriage, to a friend going through tough times. You reap what you sow, but never do it just because you want something back. Your reward is the good feeling you got from helping. If anything else comes out of it, be extra grateful.
14) Always keep growing and expanding. Don't get stuck in a rut. That will destroy your soul. Learn something new and push your boundaries a little. Only you gets to decide what those boundaries are though. That part is very important.
15) You can't change other people. Change is personal and comes from within. No one will change to make you happy or even make themselves happier unless they want to. And don't make someone miserable in order to force them to change. It's cruel, manipulative, and selfish. The sooner you realize this, the more time and effort you will have to focus on more important things. That also goes for you! Don't change yourself to make anyone else happy unless you see the change as good for your own wellbeing. Keep your autonomy.
How do I teach these? Openly talking about them is a great start. Ultimately, if you don't live them yourself, it'll be more difficult for your children to learn them any other way but through mistakes. Adopt them yourself and, if age appropriate, talk about your own experiences and mistakes in trying to live them.
Dear The Intuitive Parent,
I need your help ...
Here's the scenario:
I proceeded to pick up my children as they stay with me regularly and two of my children decided to bring their American Girl dolls, and every accessory they own, to my house. When I questioned why, they said "We don't have homework tonight and we want to play with our dolls at your house." When I say ... every accessory ... I mean EVERY accessory. My youngest was carrying a doll, a wire frame bed for two dolls, all the bedding, a motor scooter and helmet.
Normally I would take them home and make dinner for them but I did not feel like cooking, so I took them to the "golden arches". Yes, I know ... that is a topic for another day. We arrived at my house and I got out and started to corral the children out of the car. Now before I let you in on what happened next ... you should know this ... my children have developed my bad habit of carrying as much as you possibly can all at once to avoid multiple trips out of the car and up the stairs.
I had just exited the car and was emptying the trunk, when I heard a crash and then crying. I went around to make sure my youngest was alright, to see before me her American Girl doll, the wire framed bed and, are you ready for it ... her full vanilla shake minus a sip or two on the road next to my car. As I looked a bit closer I realized that the doll got the worst of it. The shake was all over her, mostly in her hair.
I reacted in the moment and lost it. I yelled, I swore ... not at my children, but at the situation. I was carrying on and ranting and raving like a lunatic. While this was going on an innocent passerby happened down the sidewalk past us. He didn't say a word, but I can only imagine what he was thinking of my parenting abilities. I pulled it together, threw all the stuff that was on the ground, including my youngest' meal, doll, wire frame bed, and bedding into the recycle bin that happened to be next to my car; not because I was throwing them away as she thought and begged me not to. I needed one large container to carry the debacle that was dinner and fun upstairs.
Once I got upstairs and my children situated at the dinner table, I took a deep breath and told my daughter I was sorry. Sorry I yelled, sorry I reacted, and that it was an accident and accidents happen. I also expressed to her that she could have waited and asked me for help rather than trying to carry everything as she unbuckled her seat belt and stepped out of the car.
I am embarrassed by my reaction, by my words, by my actions, and worse of all how I made a bad situation worse. My daughter was already upset and now I was yelling at the situation. And while this was all going on, she said to me with tears in her eyes "Daddy I'm sorry, I couldn't hold it all and they slipped".
How I could have handled this situation so much better in the moment!
I did recognize the error of my ways and apologized for it to my children, but I wish I could have not reacted the way I did in the moment. Every day is a challenge, and I try to improve as a parent. I'm getting there ... but its very slow going.
How could I have handled this situation better?
Before I answer and comment, I want to make it clear to my readers that I am not like a lot of other advice websites out there. I coach through observation and assist my clients in self-discovery and problem solving. And I also disclose that this was submitted for publication, with permission, from a current coaching client.
I would like to start by addressing the language you used about yourself and the situation because it reveals a lot about how you see yourself as a parent.
You stated -
“Normally I would take them home and make dinner for them but I did not feel like cooking, so I took them to the "golden arches". Yes, I know ... that is a topic for another day.”
“I was carrying on and ranting and raving like a lunatic. While this was going on an innocent passer by happened down the sidewalk past us. He didn't say a word, but I can only imagine what he was thinking of my parenting abilities.”
These phrasings jumped out at me right away. It sounds to me like you have a lot of self-judgment, as opposed to confidence in yourself that you are doing the best you can. What do you think of that observation?
I also noticed that you said you pulled it together after the innocent passerby walked by; who you assumed was also judging you negatively. How do you know that? Maybe he has kids and reacts similarly. Maybe he doesn’t and didn’t blame you at all. Or maybe he did. My point is, it sounds like you are projecting your own judgment of yourself onto the perception of a stranger. The fact is, you don’t know what they were thinking if they didn’t share it with you. And that you also stated he was "innocent" tells me you thought that he would be offended by what they heard and witnessed in some way.
Another observation I have is that it sounds like you have a lot of guilt about how you made your daughter feel by your reactions. And you also possibly feel like the whole situation was ultimately your fault because you said, “my children have developed my bad habit of carrying as much as you possibly can.”
Again, you are my client so I do know you well enough to know that you will most likely be more aware of your children carrying too much and potentially creating another situation like this. If you want a practical idea for preventing this, I would suggest going to a dollar store and picking up a few extra large, re-usable bags to put in your trunk.
I would next challenge you to consider looking at your relationship with your children a little differently. I want to go back again to what shifted your perspective: What you perceived the passerby was thinking. It sounds like that was your catalyst for you to shift out of how you were reacting.
Knowing this, if my observation is correct, how can you apply it to a future situation? Do you need it to be an outside force that gives you the wake-up to move from reacting to problem-solving? Is there a way that the outside force could be your own children? Is there a way for you to act in partnership with them so that the next time something else happens that you feel yourself reacting to, they can get your attention, in a mutually supportive way?
I know from my experience with you that it is very important to you that you have a close relationship with your kids. I will support you in finding ways that work for you, and your kids, to accomplish that. I also look forward to exploring with you further, if you would like, how your self judgment may be affecting your parenting in ways that may be keeping you from having the kind of relationship you want.
If you have a situation you would love to submit for feedback, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will only edit submissions to retain confidentiality.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” ~ Steve Jobs
I came across this quote in one of my coach training classes many months ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I started thinking, what if I could apply this not just to projects and business ideas, but apply it to my life?
I have had the longtime habit of living from a place where I avoid what I don’t want as much as possible, and base personal decisions on how I want to move away from certain ideas, habits, and situations that weren’t right for me. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s only half of what I should be doing.
I read this quote and it got me excited! What if the vision of what you really want your future to look like is what gets you excited every day? You are going to start making decisions and doing things, no matter how big or small, that align with that future as much as possible.
While all of my writings about parenting come from personal experience, my personal life, and decisions I have made in it have felt…. well, muddy and incomplete; with no clear intention of what I wanted down the line. I may have thought I was doing well, and I am proud of myself for how far I have come, but through my training, I realized I could do SO much better! When I say better, I mean with clearer intent and clearer vision.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, I have learned to apply my training to my own life. You know the saying - “If you're going to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk”? I have definitely been doing that! Now, instead of having the habitual mindset of only working on problems I wanted to solve, so I can move away from them by getting them out of my life, I have been practicing envisioning what I want for my own future…. a moving towards, so to speak. This has shifted me from only setting goals, to getting excited for the vision of exactly what I want, so those goals could be even more focused.
In this journey, I decided that in order to help other parents with the same thing, I could find a way to inspire you all to create exciting future visions for yourselves. To help with this inspiration, I would love to hear stories from you!
Do you have a story like this to share but don’t have the outlet? Do you have a blog already and would like more exposure? Do you have an “Ah-ha!” parenting moment that is just too good not to share? Have you taken more control over your life in order to set a better example for your children?
Drop me a line if you’d like to contribute stories or have ideas for topics you'd like to see me cover that may inspire other parents.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.