Posts Tagged ‘acceptance / judgment / tolerance’
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.
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.
In the previous chapter of the choice theory, I explained the controlling and connecting habits—the caring or deadly habits based on William Glasser. In his theory, Glasser explained many of our behaviors as a choice. There are basic beliefs in his theory that all therapies are based on.
Based on Glasser, when we behave, it is a mix of action, thinking, feeling, and physiology. He called it “total behavior,” as they appear in different degrees and in combination.
He very much focused on taking responsibility in order to gain control and it is quite relevant to parenting.
This is the last installment in the “I’m OK, You’re OK Parenting” series. To wrap up, I want to share some beliefs that have helped me as a parent, and also many of my clients, to adopt an I’m OK, You’re OK parenting mentality.
The best way to overcome guilt and shame is to adopt beliefs that strengthen our view of ourselves as OK (I’m OK) and of others as OK (You’re OK) – The I’m OK, You’re OK mindset. There are many ways to identify whether you are in another frame of mind. For example, If you are upset, or disappointed, if you lecture your kids, or want them to do something they do not want to do, if you are threatening them, punishing them, shouting at them or if you want to teach them a lesson, if you shame them, use name calling, or ridicule them, and if you think life needs to go your way “or else”, this generally means you are not in the I’m OK, You’re OK mode. This means your child is also learning this mindset and will most likely not be in the I’m OK, You’re OK mode either.
The choice theory, founded by William Glasser, suggests that all our actions are chosen and driven by the five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.
In relationships, our needNeed for love and belonging for love and belonging is the most important one. Based on Glasser, satisfying this specific need will guarantee our ability to fulfill all other needs. The source of all problems in the world, according to the choice theory, is disconnection. Behavior problems, mental illnesses, violence, abuse, crime, school problems, marriage breakdown, relationship challenges, and depression are all a result of our inability to connect or feel love and have a sense of belonging.
Our relationship with those we care about and care for us depends on our caring ability. Glasser suggested that there are 7 deadly habits that needed to be replaced with 7 caring habits.
In order to convince children that they are OK and good, a parent first needs to know that they are OK and good. Psychologist Thomas A. Harris. suggested four levels of emotional intelligence, that provide a framework for positive parenting. To read about the four levels, see “I’m OK, You’re OK Parenting: OK and EQ”. In an ideal world, parents would always be in an “I’m OK, You’re OK” state of mind. For this, for the parents must agree with the “I’m OK” part – they must first believe that they are OK. Once this is established, it is time to work on the “You’re OK” mindset.
Little boy and girl huggingLike a self-fulfilling prophecy, parents who see the good in themselves and their kids tend to raise kids who see the good in themselves as well. This is a great cycle. By taking care of ourselves, we ensure our children and their children know they are good and “OK”. This mindset can impact for many years even after we are gone.
Dr. William Glasser is an American psychiatrist who developed the Reality Theory, which later on became known as the Choice Theory. In the seventies, Glasser’s work was not highly accepted by his colleagues. While others thought that human behavior is affected by external sources, Glasser believed in personal choice, personal responsibility, and personal transformation. While others considered certain behaviors as mental disorders and prescribed medication for these, Glasser believed in the education and empowerment of his clients to change their choices. He applied his theories on education, management, and marriage.
The Choice Theory states that a person’s behavior is inspired by what that person wants or needs at that particular time, not an outside stimulus. Glasser thought all living creatures control their behavior to fulfill their need for satisfaction in one or more of these five areas:
In an ideal world, we would all like to be in an “I’m OK, You’re OK” state of mind all the time. People in this state are confident in themselves. They know they always do the best they can, and so does everyone else. Unfortunately, it is not always easy. Life has its own agenda and things do not always happen the way we want them to.
In parenting, circumstances make us shift from one emotional position to another. Our aim should always be to keep an “I’m OK – You’re OK” parenting style as much as possible. We may find ourselves straying to other styles, but the idea is to snap back as fast as possible.
In parent coaching we have many techniques for helping parents shift to an I’m OK, you’re OK mode. They all start by making sure parents think of themselves as “OK” first. When you are on a plane, the safety demonstration always tells you that when the oxygen mask is released, you should always put the mask on yourself first before helping your child. It works the same here. Before we can help our kids think they are OK, first we need to recognize that we are good and OK!
As a parent, it is important to be aware of which parenting style you use. The ideal is an “I’m OK – You’re OK” style. What’s your parenting style?
Once you know how you parent, you can slowly shift towards a more positive mindset. According to psychiatrist Thomas Harris, there are four types of parenting style:
- I’m OK – You’re OK
- I’m OK – You’re not OK
- I’m not OK – You’re OK
- I’m not OK – You’re not OK
The I’m OK – You’re OK mindset is important in all kinds of relationships: parent-child relationships, love relationships, family relationships and even work relationship.
Guilt and shame are siblings in the family of feelings. Despite certain similarities, there is a clear distinction between them. Guilt is feeling bad about something you have done, while shame is feeling bad about who you are or a part of you. One is about behavior and can be changed. The other is related to your sense of identity and therefore harder to change.
In the ever evolving phases of parenting styles, the shift from physical punishment to shame was intended to use guilt more effectively than before, in the hope that it would teach children how to behave when their parents were not there. A bit like a GPS. Parents decided “guilt” was better than smacking because it worked even when mom and dad were not there. The purpose was still to monitor and control emotionally, but with good intentions; to create lasting discipline.