Common Myths about Kids’ Learning and Success

Adolescent in graduation gown

Sometimes, kids’ worst obstacles are their own parents’ misconceptions about kids’ learning and success. As a teacher, I have seen many kids struggle on a daily basis to meet the extremely high and unrealistic expectations their parents set for them. These high expectations for children usually go hand in hand with expectations parents set for themselves.

Such extreme standards bring pressure, tension, pain, depression and a great feeling of inadequacy, both for the parents, and the child. Unfortunately, children carry this feeling with them into adulthood, and raise their own kids using the same misconceptions.

Here are some common myths I have heard over the years, about what will bring success and facilitate kids’ learning.

Myth #1: Kids’s learning is improved by pain and punishment

It is true that humans over time have learned through cause and effect. They improve and evolve by seeing the consequences of their actions.

However, using punishment as a teaching tool does not make children learn what you think (not even if you call it “consequences”). They learn to be afraid and to avoid the punishment. The lesson you were trying to teach them is completely lost. This is because the need to avoid pain is stronger than almost anything and they will do whatever they can to avoid it.

The more painful the punishment, the less they will learn of what you are actually trying to teach them.

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How to Eliminate the Top 7 Parenting Struggles

Father holding his young sons

Last month, I wrote about the top 7 things parents struggle with: emotions, social pressure, information overload, money, relationship and physical body. I think that if parents knew how to manage these things in their life, it would be easier and more enjoyable for them to parent their children to be happy, healthy and successful. Here are 7 tips to improve your skills in each area and eliminate the respective parenting struggles.

How to manage your emotions

Whenever you have a strong feeling and feel you are about to burst, stop! Examine the feeling, ask yourself “what is that thing I am feeling now?” giving it a name will slow you down and move you from your primitive brain – the fight or flight mode to the “thinking” mode. It will make sure you are more composed in your relationship with your children.

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15 Parenting Mistakes

Teenage girl looking anxious

Parenting is the oldest and most important jobs in history. Without it, we would not have over 7 billion people living on this planet. Most people want to be good parents. They want to raise responsible, happy, independent and successful kids. Even if we have kids for the purely biological reason of reproducing, we must ensure the future of our offspring, right? So nobody wants to make too many parenting mistakes.

I have been a parent for 26 years. As an educator, I also worked with many kids and had a lot of contact with parents on the way to becoming a parenting expert.

Over the years, I have written over 1,500 articles about parenting, happiness, and education. All my articles focus on the mission of raising happy, successful, friendly, smart, responsible and independent children. The rules of parenting are very clear and there is a variety of things you can do as a parent to ensure that your offspring will survive, be happy, be successful and your bloodline will continue for years to come. What you need to make sure is that you pass on to your kids more than just “blood”, more than just the things that transfers the second you conceive your kids (those genes stored in sperm or egg).

Parenting is also about transferring what is in your heart – your attitude. If you have the right attitude, you are more likely to be able to ensure a good future relationship for you and your kids. If your attitude is bad, you run the risk of being erased from your children’s lives. If you want to know how serious this is, read our post Divorcing Your Parents to see how many people are not in a relationship with their own parents. Imagine trying to pass on your legacy when you are not involved in the lives of your kids and grandkids.

Some parenting mistakes are not easily fixed, but it is never too late to start making a change. Here are some of the parenting mistakes that many parents make that can destroy the relationship between them and their children.

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Stimulating vs. Overstimulating Kids

Overload

It is not easy being a parent. The difficulties often starts as soon as you get pregnant. Some excited parents to be find themselves already feeling anxious about the future while baby is still in the womb. Parents want to give their kids every opportunity to be the best they can be, from playing Beethoven during pregnancy to teaching babies the times tables by the time they turn one. It is a fine line between providing enough stimulation and overstimulating.

I am often asked about the fine line between stimulating and overstimulating our kids. We all know that even our very good intentions can backfire and create overwhelm, both for us and for our kids.

Carl Jung said, “If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves”.

Parenting philosophies are divided on the issue. They are classed into four categories: browsers, crowd-pleasers (populists), stimulators and worriers.

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Life According to the Native American Code of Ethics

Native American Elder

Through my work in diversity education over the past 7 years, I have taken part in many debates and conversations about religion, ethics, morals, values, and our role as parents and educators in instilling them in our children. Many people see conflicts between the different ethnic groups, religious groups, tribes and cultures. Personally, the more closely I look at it, the more I understand that these different groups have more commonalities than differences.

In life, you get what you focus on. If you focus on differences, you will see the conflict between cultures. If you focus on commonalities, you will see similarities and how we are all connected.

Recently, I had a chance to read the Native American Code of Ethics. This code has survived for thousands of years. This is probably one of the oldest cultural codes that still exist today. There is evidence that the indigenous American people migrated from Siberia over 11,000 years ago. Yes, 11,000 years ago! Can you imagine how long that is?!

To put it in perspective, Judaism is about 5,000 years old, Buddhism is about 2,500 years old, Christianity is about 2,000 years old, and Islam is about 1,500 years old. Meanwhile, the Native American tradition goes back 11,000 years. Fortunately, if you go deep into each of these belief systems, you will find very similar codes of ethics.

My work in personal development is in the service of all these codes of ethics. I believe that regardless of which one we follow, if each and every one of us strives to live by them, to the best of our ability, we will have a better world. Striving is the most important part. Eventually, if you keep going in the right direction, you will get there.

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I’m Always Late for a Very Important Date!

White rabbit and his watch

Time is a precious resource. Some say it is the only resource we have. Have you ever missed something important because you came just a bit late? This happens to a lot of people, and sometimes too many times. The outcome can be very problematic.

There are some people I know who are always late. They are rushed, don’t think clearly and are in a total state of chaos. Many kids grow up in such households and learn to be the same when they grow up. Parents who are always late raise kids who do not value their own time and miss many opportunities.

Being late from time to time is very natural. It is a good idea not to be in a total state of panic for being late by one second. It happens. We are only humans. The thing is, what you generally do becomes a habit. After three meetings that you turned up to, late or on time, gives you a label: punctual or always late!

People who are labeled as always late are not necessarily always late, but the attitude towards them is more negative. Can you think of a person you know who is always late? Your level of trust in them goes down. Things are harder for them as well! If they need to start every interaction by apologizing for being late, they are put in an inferior position right from the start.

All in all, being always late is not good for anyone. It creates negative attitudes towards you, which is not something any parent wants for their child.

Here are some tips to make sure you are not an “always late” person and you are not raising the “always late” kids.

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Top 7 Things Parents Struggle With

A family lying on top of each other

I recently did an interview for a radio station about parenting. They wanted to know what were the top things parents struggle with. I have seen hundreds of parents over the last 28 years. If I had to list every struggle, the list would never end – parenting is hard! So, I figured the best thing to do would be to group challenges by category.

Parents today struggle with seven main things. Not surprisingly, parents today struggle with roughly the same things their parents struggled with in the past. Today, they just give it a different name, maybe to feel a bit more modern or advanced. Same struggle, different shape.

Parents need to take on a management role as soon as they have kids. Unfortunately, not everyone is a good manager and parents often struggle with it. If they were lucky enough to learn if from their own parents, cool! If not, they may struggle with it as a parent. Unfortunately, people spend more than 16 years of their lives in educational institutions that are obsessed about teaching them to manage their homework but not any other part of their lives.

School does not teach us to manage our time, our emotions, our friends or relationships, our physical body, our money or a budget. So it is no surprise that people struggle with it in their teens and then they struggle with it as adults raising kids. They then can’t teach their children how to manage any off these things either, because no one can teach what they don’t know.

Here are the 7 main challenges parents experience.

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Character Traits: Swapping the Bad for the Good

Sweet little girl with her doll

In the previous post about bad character traits, I gave an exercise to examine the bad traits parents and kids have. In this post, I will focus more on the good character traits and how to make sure they are “watered” well and kept alive.

Here is the list of good character traits again:

Letter A: Active, Adaptable, Adventurous, Agreeable, Appreciative, Articulate, Athletic, Ambitions, Artistic, Aesthetic

Letter B: Balanced, Brilliant, Brave

Letter C: Calm, Capable, Caring, Charismatic, Charming, Cheerful, Careful, Clean, Clever, Colorful, Compassionate, Confident, Conscientious, Considerate, Consistent, Contemplative, Cooperative, Courageous, Courteous, Creative, Curious, Crafty,

Letter D: Daring, Decisive, Dedicated, Deep, Discreet, Dramatic, Dynamic

This post is part 8 of 8 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

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Teen Life Sucks (or Does it?)

Baby toes

Sometimes, when I talk to teens, they tell me that teen life sucks.

It is sad to hear them say that at a time in their lives that is supposed to be wonderful, interesting and exciting. The teenage years are when they form their identity and it is sad to hear that they came to the conclusion that teen life sucks.

It is sad because if they believe it sucks, they are more likely to feel that it sucks. If they think teen life sucks, their subconscious will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and their life will actually “suck”. It is not the thought that makes it true, it is that subconsciously, the thought will lead to action that will make it true. Whatever you believe, this is your reality.

I love those Buddhist quotes and there is one in which the Buddha said it perfectly, “Wherever you go, there you are”

My motto is that in life, you get what you focus on. If you get up in the morning and you focus on what sucks, you will get exactly that, life that sucks!

Teen life is complicated and involves many aspects. Yes, there are components that do not work the way we want them to. Sometimes, they work to our advantage and sometimes they do not. It is still a far cry from considering teen life as sucking completely.

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Kids’ Personality Traits: How to Change Them with Awareness

Personality traits

If our children are like a garden, we the parents are the gardeners. If you have a garden at home, you know that when you take care of your garden, it looks beautiful and has lots of flowers and grows healthy nutritious fruits. If you neglect your garden or worse, water it with weed killer, no flowers or fruits will grow. Our kids are the same. If kids are the garden, and kids’ personality traits are the plants, we need to water them with great love and care and remember that their early years are critical.

Think about it this way: if wanted to have a big plant of tomatoes, you would water it with water and use fertilizer that that supports healthy tomato growth. It is the same with kids and their traits. If you wanted your child to grow kindness like you would grow a tomato, you need to water with support, not a weed killer, to help it grow. It’s a simple rule and a simple process.

One thing people are often uncomfortable about is saying their child’s personality has “traits”. If you are not 100% comfortable with calling it traits, call it a behavior that is constant or that appears more often than not. I, for example, am not 100% comfortable calling it a trait. That is because I don’t believe a child who is being stubborn on several occasion means that they are stubborn as a personality trait. It is a behavior he/she has learned in some way. If we learn it, we can always un-learn it, or learn a new or opposite trait. This time, I cannot say the process of un-learning is simple. It is definitely possible, but not always easy and simple.

This post is part 7 of 8 in the series Helping Kids Build Character

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