It is the end of the school year here in Australia and like every year, my kids say goodbye to some wonderful teachers and I get sentimental. Noff (my youngest) is finishing primary school and will be going into high school next year, so we had to say goodbye to quite a few teachers.
As we were making up the end of year gifts, we made a list of all the teachers Noff has had in the last 8 years, and examined their contributions to her life and to ours, her family. Noff had about six teachers she said she really liked. Of those six, two made a significant impact on her life and one was such a fantastic teacher, Noff will remember her forever. She is what you might call a “forever teacher”.
Even just one teacher like that is enough to set your kid up for life. Noff was lucky enough to have this teacher for a whole year and then continued to stay in contact with her in one way or another for the next 4 years.
We, the Baras Family, would like to bestow the 2013 Best Teacher in the Entire World Award to Ms. Kellie Scrogings! Kellie (or Ms. Scrogings, as the kids must call her) was Noff’s Year 3 teachers. She then directed the school musicals when Noff was in Years 6 and 7.
In the previous shyness post, I explained about the three types of shyness: situational shyness (in specific situations), transitional shyness (during transitions or change) and permanent shyness (pretty much in all social situations).
To be able to overcome our shyness, we need to understand the reasons behind it. Here are the four main reasons why shyness occurs:
The first is a need for control. Shyness can start when people feel like they are outside their comfort zone. People who experience this kind of shyness usually know what is socially acceptable in certain situations, they ask questions to be sure, and they are good at thinking on their feet. These people prefer to talk about their strengths and things within their comfort zone, they are well prepared and like consistency. When things are unclear, unpredictable, or when someone pressures them, they worry and become anxious because they lose their sense of control.
The ability to listen is thought to be one of the major components of a good relationship. Whether you want to be a good parent, good partner, a good boss, a good friend or a good colleague, listening skills are your best relationship investment.
It is not as easy to listen as we might think. The common misconception is that listening is just passively lending your ear to someone. It is not. In order to be effective, listening has to be a lot more active than that.
Research suggests that men and women think different about listening. Listening cues like nodding, saying “yes”, “mmmm”, “uh huh” are interpreted differently by each gender. Men think they are an indication that someone agrees with them, while women think that they indicate how involved the listener is. So when women don not hear these cue, they think the man is not listen. When men hear these cue, they think the woman agrees with them.
Most people, young and old, have experienced being shy in social situations. Most people also seem to think they are shier than everyone else. Surprisingly, they are wrong. 98% of people think of themselves as shy. As children, some people lack the skills and lived experiences of coping in social environments, which makes them feel crippled and develop a sense of helplessness because of it.
Shyness can be debilitating. The good news is that it can be changed.
Shyness is a form of anxiety. The severity of the anxiety depends on the type of shyness.
Situational Shyness means experiencing anxiety in certain, specific situations. Examples include, during a test, in a big group, when standing on stage, while having to present or make a speech, when answering a question, having to think on your feet or trying to make a good impression. The main challenge in this shyness is the timing. It never feels like the ‘right’. You never feel ready to tackle the task before you.
As the state director of the Together for Humanity Foundation, I meet teachers and students to promote diversity and good relations and I believe empathy is the key. If we all had more empathy, the world would be a much better place. With more empathy, families would be happier – there would be fewer divorces and fewer problems with children.
In my work with parents and teachers, I am often asked about empathy and how others develop it. I have decided to combine all the suggestions here. If you are working with children, if you in relationship and would like to develop your own empathy, or if you want to encourage empathy in your students or children, I hope you can make good use of this list.
Children will strive with encouraging. If kids were plants, their environment would be the soil while encouragement and support would be the water and sun they need in order to grow.
Children who receive positive encouragement grow up to have very strong emotional stamina. Their emotional intelligence helps them manage challenges, difficulties and failure. These skills form the basis of growing up to be successful people. Parents, teachers and caregivers are those who can give us these skills.
Here is a list of 20 positive feedback starters that encourages kids to keep doing something you would like to support and promote. You can change the ending to suit whatever it is you want to encourage.
“You’ve done a wonderful job at… picking up the toys”
“It was an excellent idea to… make a strong foundation for the Lego building”
“You must be very proud of yourself for… submitting the assignment on time”
Recently, I travelled overseas to visit my family. While there, I spent a fair bit of time with my parents who are both getting on in age. My father is 80+ and my mother recently turned 73. Surprisingly, my dad is the healthier of the two. My mom on the other hand, has been not healthy for as long as I can remember her. First it was high blood pressure, then diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, osteoporosis and the list goes on.
Even though my visit was only for a short time, my mother and her health issues were a drama once again. Thankfully, she is not what you would call “sick”. As in, she does not have a fatal illness or anything like that. She just always seems to be in pain, or complaining about her physical condition. She visits her doctor regularly and often ends up telling them exactly what she wants them to prescribe for her. If you ask how she is, she will immediately start telling you. My sister, who is a social worker, says this is simply part of getting old. That may be, but my dad is older than her and he is not like that. I have met other people the same age, and even older, that were not like that either. I find it hard to accept that this is part of getting old.
Being a mother has been one of the greatest achievements of my life. Each of my kids is an achievement, and they are also big achievers themselves. Some say that it is a cycle. We, as parents, make our kids successful, loving achievers and in return they make us successful, loving achievers.
One of the best descriptions of my feeling towards them is pride. They do amazing things and I am enormously proud of them. I have come up with a theory that I like to call “Pride Therapy”. Every time one of my kids has an achievement, by proxy, I have also achieved something.
In my coaching and presentations, I sometimes ask people to describe their feelings as animals. I find it makes it easier to express these feeling. It does not have to be an animal that represents all your feelings all the time. Each feeling is a different animal. For example, you might be a panther in the office, and a sloth on a relaxed Sunday.
Self regulation is the ability to control ourselves and not do things impulsively. This skill is like a muscle – the more we practice, the stronger it gets. Once it is strong, it is much easier to resist temptation and function according to a “plan”, rather than going with whatever comes your way or whoever applies more pressure.
In the last two posts in this series, I explained the mechanism of self regulation and shared some research on its importance, particularly in parenting. Today, I want to share some tips with you on how to strengthen the self regulation ‘muscle’. It can be easy to find self control and be the role model you want to be for your children.
This week, a client of mine asked about her son’s behavior. Thomas, her 3-year-old son, does not know what to do when kids take things from him. Sharon, his mum, says he starts crying immediately. She is worried that this will be his behavior in the future. She wrote in her email to me, “If a child cries when kids take toys from him, does it mean he will grow up to use crying whenever things do not go his way?”
The simple answer is:
No. Just because kids do certain things do when they are young, does not mean they will do them as adults.
Kids are inexperienced in searching for ways to get what they want. They have had limited exposure to “life” so they use more primitive and intuitive ways of getting things. When they were born, all they knew how to do was cry. And they found it to be an effective way to get what they needed. We all used crying as a method when we were babies, but that does not mean we do it now that we are grown up, at least, not in the same way.