Posts Tagged ‘beliefs’
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.
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.
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:
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.
For children, life is a playground. They love to play. From tiny babies who hold toys and manipulate them clumsily, to school children, who play sophisticated games that require thinking, planning and manipulating, kids just love games. In fact, games are a source of calm and comfort for most. They stimulates the mind and body using a “fun incentive”.
Education in early childhood is very important in building the foundation for happy learning. The early impression children have of learning determines their attitude towards acquiring new knowledge later on in life. Researchers discovered that pre-teen children who called their learning activities “play” were more successful, happier in school and more socially content at the end of adolescence than those who considered their learning activities “work”.
Children play games for many purposes. For example, games can be used to improve social skills. During games, kids must negotiate, share, relate and connect with others. This helps develop understanding, compassion, empathy, acceptance and trust. Later on, this allows healthy intimacy.
Kids’ curiosity is amazing. Sometimes they ask questions that are so simple and so naive that we wonder how we did not ask our own parents these questions.
One of the questions all kids ask their parents is “Why do I go to school?”
You know what? Most parents do not have a good answer. Most of the time they say it is because that is what their parents did, or sometimes, just because “You have to”. Often, no questions are asked. Kids are smarter than that. They can have confidence in their schooling if their parents give a better answer to this question.
Many of the things we do today, we keep doing because we inherited this behavior from our parents and our circumstances. Often, we do not ask the question “why”. We do not try to match the things we do to the right time and circumstances.
As parents, many of us want things for our kids that have traditionally been a necessity, but are not really relevant today. We do not realize that today kids need different skills, attitudes, and knowledge. We need to match what we are teaching them with what they are going to need for life in the now.