Category Archives for Teaching Our Kids

Teach Your Kids Accountability The Easy Way

It’s not my fault.

XX made me do this.

I’ve done my best. It’s them who screwed things up.

How often do you hear these kinds of defense from your child? Lately, my son’s teachers marked his handbook two times in a row in the same week due to misbehaviour. The first one was because he put pencil crumbs into his teacher’s glass of water, and the second was because he was not paying attention in class. In both incidents, I heard the "you" blame from him rather than the "me" culpability. To be specific, he said that it’s Richard who asked him to put the pencil crumbs into the teacher’s water, and it’s Richard who keeps distracting him in class. I realized that it was time to teach my son the lesson of accountability & responsibility.

Taking responsibility and being accountable are among the most valuable lessons we human beings have to learn in life. If children don’t learn these while they are still young, they’ll have to carry the "blaming" attitude to their adulthood.

Importance of Accountability

Denying one's errors or blaming other people for it is actually an act that diminishes our self respect as well as the respect of other people. It doesn’t only lessen others' trust, it also means you are giving control back to other people.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the concept of taking responsibility is actually a layout in the concept of Cause & Effect.

Example:

- Result: You fail a test.

- If you put yourself at Effect: You think that the exam is too difficult (e.g., I can do nothing about it) --> No further action is taken.

- If you put yourself at Cause (i.e., I’m the reason that led my failing the test): You think of reasons why you failed (e.g., Maybe I haven’t mastered the subject yet? Was I too careless? Perhaps I did not answer quick enough?) —> You take action to improve and do better next time.

So if someone is at Effect, he may blame others for his life in general. He thinks he is the result of something he can’t control, and he deems himself powerless so he has to depend on others. Emotionally he may feel relieved by shifting the responsibility to other people, but realistically, this victim mode is not doing him any good. Believing that someone else is responsible or making them responsible for your life is very limiting and it gives others a mystical power over you.

On the contrary, being at Cause means you are a part of the situation in which you can do something to create a different result. People who are at Cause see the world as a place of opportunity and move toward achieving what they desire. If things are not unfolding as they like, they take action and explore other possibilities. Above all, they know they have a choice in what they do and how they react to people and events.

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Teaching Kids Accountability and Responsibility

A lot of people find the concept of accountability and responsibility a little abstract to teach children. It is not, if you use NLP’s Cause & Effect as a framework.

1. Teach them the cause & effect framework with real life scenarios

Take my son as an example: his misbehaviour at school has actually opened up an opportunity for me to teach him the lesson of accountability. When he mentioned to me that "Richard made me do this," I started by showing empathy – how he feels obliged to follow whatever his friend asks him to do. But then, I led to other possibilities and showed him that he has power over the situation like ignoring Richard, suggesting other more constructive acts to do with Richard, and more. He started to understand that he’s not a victim, but he indeed has choices.

The same thing applies to the issue of him not paying attention in class. We discussed this incident and I asked him to suggest ways so he can pay more attention. That’s when he said he can tell his teacher when he’s distracted, or he can even suggest to swap seats with other people.

Using real life examples to open up our children’s minds is one of the best ways to move them from taking the role of a victim to taking back control. There are other areas that parents have to pay special attention to so that their children are wired to take responsibility automatically.

More real life examples:

- Child spills water —> Let them do the clean up themselves.

- Child breaks a glass —> Help them clean up and explain to them the reason you’re helping is because glass can hurt and you’re protecting them while they’re taking responsibility to their act.

- Child misbehaves —> Review what they have done and explore other alternative behaviours together.

2. Let kids do what they’re capable of doing

· Have you ever seen children of 4 or 5 years old who are still sitting on the pram when they have long mastered walking and even running?

· Have you ever seen parents feeding old kids to make sure they finish their meals?

· Have you ever seen parents waking their children up in the morning so that they won't be late for school?

· Has your child ever broken a toy and you immediately come to the rescue and promise to replace it because he’s crying his lungs out?

All these act of caring parents are actually sending out an unconscious message to their children – a message that the kids are not responsible for their walking, eating, waking up on time or taking care of their toys.

Being accountable is an attitude and a habit we have to build in our kids at a young age. It is what we do in our daily life that helps our children build this virtue for a lifetime. So let our children see clearly the consequence of their actions and let them take care of the result.

3. Do not pay your child for chores

Your children are a part of your family and you need to teach them that helping out at home is their responsibility, just as it is mom's and dad's. Also, letting them do housework prepares them for the future when they will have their own apartment or house – do not wait until your son or daughter is already in college before he or she learns how to cook or use a vacuum.

However, do not give your kids money in exchange for doing chores because: one, they will only help out in the house if they will be compensated; two, this is treating your child like hired help; and three, this is unconsciously educating them that service would be the way to make a living when they grow up.

What we need children to understand is their role in the home, and the importance of them, being family members, to be involved in the maintenance of the family home. Other methods like setting yourself as a good model, acknowledging children’s priorities when negotiating your expectations or designing chores in a way that’s fun and light-hearted may take more time & patience than bribe and force, they are a lot more lasting and they will help your children build up strong accountability.

A final reminder: always lead by example. If you are teaching your child accountability but you yourself do not practice personal responsibility (going against the light, talking about people behind their backs, blaming your neighbors, etc.), then you are already sending the wrong signals. Watch yourself and make sure that you lead by example.

Accept responsibility for your actions. Be accountable for your results. Take ownership of your mistakes.

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Resilience training to kids: Top 3 activities to train kids to be resilient

“Highly resilient people are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in constant change.”

— Lawrence Albert Siebert

Do you want that when your kids are knocked down by life, they can come back stronger than ever? Do you want your kids to have the ability to acknowledge a negative situation, learn from it and then move forward? The level of a person’s resilience will determine not only his level of success, but also his physical health. A long-term study of 99 Harvard men showed that the way people view negative life events predicted their physical health 35 years later.

Though we can only observe resilience in our kids (or the lack of it) when they’re faced with obstacles, stress, or other environmental threats, we parents can always start to train them to be optimistic and to have the ability to regulate emotions when they’re still young.

Resilience can be learned

Resilience training are now widely adopted by army, businesses and schools. Neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown in a research at Columbia that you can actually teach people with negative initial response to an incidents to think differently by reframing the incident in positive terms. Or to train people to better regulate their emotions to handle set-backs better.

Strategy resilient people adopt

    • Resilient people are adept at seeing things from another person’s point of view. They know that tragedies don’t only happen to them but also others. When we empathise with others, we feel less alone and less entrenched in pain. As a result, we recover faster.
    • Resilient people tend to find some silver lining in even the worst of circumstances. While they certainly see and acknowledge the bad, they will find a way to also see the good. They view difficulties as challenges and challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve.
    • Resilient people are able to see an incident as temporary rather than permanent. They believe that the situation can be changed and they have a positive image of the future.
    • Resilient people believe that life is meaningful. Frank in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ realised that if he’s to survive the concentration camp, he had to find some purposes. By setting concrete goals for himself, he succeeded in rising above the sufferings of the moment.
    • Resilient people take care of themselves with a regular routine of healthy habits, the foundation to both mental and emotional resilience. They sleep and eat well, they spend enough time outdoor in nice weather and they have strong social connections with others.

Top 3 Activities To Train Your Kids To Be Resilient

1.  Sharing with your kids real life stories of successful people and what they came across before becoming successful.

There are tons of real life stories of people who bounce back from tough times, from Thomas Edison who invented lightbulbs after over 10,000 fail attempts, to Qian Hongyan who became gold medal winner in different Paralympics competitions after losing both legs in an accident at 4 years old. Telling your kids these stories will help them understand that life doesn’t always happen as planned, but we always have the ability to change our mindset and to think of how we can deal with set-backs. 

List of real life heroes and what happened to them before they were successful:

​2. Start a gratitude journal

Our emotion typically respond to dramatic changes, but a lot of good things that are stable e.g. having lovely kids, good relationship with spouse or a stable job fade into the background. So what you can do is deliberately draw your attention to them.

When adversity strikes, gratitude for the things that are going right in your life helps put tragedy in perspective. What you can do is to help your kids draw attention to the positive things in their life that they may have taking for granted.

Get your kids to choose a notebook they love to start a gratitude journal. Ask them to name or write down few things they’re grateful for in the day before bedtime and review the journal with every month.

3.  Train the brain to ask 'Learners Questions'

The idea behind this game is we tend to ask 'emotional questions' like 'Why it happens to me?' or 'Who's to blame?' when negative incidents strike us.  These kinds of questions don't help a lot nor do they make us feel better.   So the main objective of this game is to train your kids to shift from 'Why' to 'How', from simply expressing negative emotions to thinking of solutions and next steps that move one forward. 

What you need:
- A list of incidents that may happen to your kids, from failing in an important exam to being bullied at school or to have to cancel a long awaited trip because someone in the family got sick. These are just examples and we suggest you to think of something that your kids can relate to.

- Learner questions on colorful papers , one question per sheet.  I use colorful paper to set anchor so that kids can retrieve these positive thinking approach more easily.  We have clear elaboration on what are anchors and how to use them to help us retrieve successful experience and feelings in our 'User Manual For The Brain' Program.

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15 Children Books That Teach Valuable Life Lessons

"In a good book the best is between the lines."

I love to use stories to pass through important life lessons as they turn boring messages into interesting ones and they are subliminal. Here I have selected my favourite ones that I recommend parents to buy for kids or to read to them.

“The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone

Lesson: This book teaches young kids to never fear the unknown. As scary as uncertainty is in life, sometimes not knowing what’s in store for in the future can be a very rewarding and exciting experience.

This book is inspired by the famous children’s TV show “Sesame Street.” The story centres around one of its characters, Grover. We love the hilarious storyline and beautiful illustration, on top of it suggesting a very good attitude to deal with uncertainty.

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst

Lesson: This book reminds readers that for every one bad day comes a series of better and happier days. No matter how difficult and challenging life may be, there’s always a rainbow at the end of the tunnel.

This book is an all time favourite and kids just love them. We like this book because it tackles real-life situations and feelings that can be experienced and felt by both children and adults. It’s a book that’s worth to keep and that your kids can read whenever they come across a bad day.

“The Way I Act” by Steve Metzger

Lesson: This book teaches readers the importance of knowing how children should act in certain situations. It also serves as a reminder that the ways we act affect those around us. Therefore, it is a must to act as a responsible and compassionate individual.

“The Way I Act” has sold millions of copies worldwide. It reinforces the importance of acting in a certain way. We love all the action examples connected with life traits such as friendly, brave, considerate, curious, etc.

“Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh

Lesson: “Harriet the Spy” is one of the children’s stories that can instantly serve as a reminder for children to embrace whatever it is that makes them different. In a world where everyone seems to be trying so hard to fit in, this book challenges young readers to stick to who they really are.

“Harriet the Spy” has been dubbed as a children’s classic and a “milestone in children’s literature.” It is perfect for kids who have felt like an outcast at least once in their lives.

“Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

Lesson: Lindgren’s book “Pippi Longstocking” teaches readers the value of believing in their talents, as well as the other things that they can do. As long as you are using your skills correctly, you can help change the world.

“Pippi Longstocking” is one of the most popular children’s stories of all times since its conception in 1945. These quotes from Pippi will surely show you how much she’s believing in herself!

  • “Don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top.”
  • ‘He’s the strongest man in the world.’  "Man, yes,' said Pippi, 'but I am the strongest girl in the world, remember that.'
  • 'I don't think you have a very nice way with ladies,’ said Pippi. And she lifted him in her strong arms — high in the air — and carried him to a birch tree and hung him over a branch. Then she took the next boy and hung him over another branch.

“Oh, The Places You Will Go!” by Dr. Seuss

Lesson: Dr. Seuss’ book teaches children the importance of being in charge of their future. “Oh, The Places You Will Go” posits that every person has the capability to control his or her own destiny.

This book was the last book that was published by Dr. Seuss shortly before his death. What makes this book interesting to read is the fact that it has several positive themes like controlling one’s life, taking responsibility for one’s actions and always keep moving forward no matter what.

“Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish

Lesson: This book teaches readers that not everything in life needs to be taken literally. After all, every person has a different way of communicating his or her thoughts. Therefore, understanding should always be applied to all sorts of interaction with other people.

Amelia Bedelia is the protagonist in Peggy Parish’s series of books. It offers hilarious storylines centered on the main character. It is also very well-written as it combines a mixture of dialogues, action and illustration.

“Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans

Lesson: This book teaches readers to never be fearful of anything. Even though Madeline is the smallest girl among the 11 other girls at the convent school, she didn’t get scared easily. The book also teaches the importance of valuing education and respecting the elderly.

“Madeline” was first published in 1939 and is well-loved by many. It has been included in some school curriculums across the globe. Bemelmans’ illustration in “Madeline” is very detailed which makes it even more attractive to readers.

“Corduroy” by Don Freeman

Lesson: The book “Corduroy” teaches readers the importance of always being assertive. When something doesn’t go as planned, one should always find ways to make things right again. Additionally, this book also serves as a reminder to everyone that friends shouldn’t be selected based on looks, but on personality.

“Corduroy” follows the life of an adorable bear by the same name. A girl named Lisa wanted to buy him, but he wasn’t in tip-top shape. This book is very relatable since most children have at least one stuffed bear that they love dearly.

“The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf

Lesson: The book “The Story of Ferdinand” teaches readers the importance of understanding that being different from the majority isn’t always a bad thing. When faced with specific types of trying situations, staying true to oneself is the key to solving problems and staying genuinely happy.

“The Story of Ferdinand” has been sold at various bookstores for more than 70 years now and for good reason. We like this children’s book because the tone and the story is very spot on. Not to mention, Ferdinand is very lovable character because of his unique attributes and personality.

“The Sweetest Fig” by Chris Van Allsburg

Lesson: This book teaches readers the importance of being kind to people and animals – most especially those who can’t give us anything in return. It also serves as a reminder to always be careful what one wishes for.

“The Sweetest Fig” is a hilarious book that stars Monsieur Bibot. He’s arrogant, annoying and cruel to both human being and animals. We like this book because it is relatable yet unpredictable. The book’s illustrations also stand out because they are unique and colorful.

“Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld

Lesson: “Uglies” serves as a reminder that not everything in this world should be defined by one’s beauty. Since nobody can be regarded as perfect, imperfections should be embraced and celebrated.

This New York Times best seller book wouldn’t be included in the list if it isn’t well-written, relatable and memorable. Just that the first few chapters may seem quite repetitive (the last few pages are where all of the actions and lessons can be found) and it’s more suitable for older kids of 7th grade or above.

“The Baby-Sitters Club” by Ann M. Martin

Lesson: This book teaches readers that anything is possible as long as you set your mind into achieving it. Regardless of age, there really are no limits to a person’s dreams. In fact, the more you think it, the more you can be it.

“The Baby-Sitters Club” is a series of books written by Ann M. Martin. It follows the lives of Kristin Thomas and her friends who formed a baby-sitter’s club where they took care of young children. Each of the books in the series is considered to be exciting because they tackle new issues and are also set in different locations.

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

Lesson: The book “The Giver” teaches readers the importance of not changing one’s self just to fit in. The book also serves as a reminder to appreciate the world we live in by using all of our senses properly.

This book is a young-adult dystopian novel that was first released in 1993. A year later, the book won the prestigious Newbery Medal. It focuses on the inevitabilities of growing up, as well as the importance of trusting oneself and others, a perfect relatable read to help the growth of young people into adult.

“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Lesson: “The Secret Garden” teaches readers to never be confined by ones limitations. It also reminds readers that even the meanest of individuals have a soft spot and it’s only a matter of time for it to be unleashed.

Burnett’s book is a popular children’s classic that has been read by millions of people across the world over the course of time. We like this book because it is written in a very straightforward manner. However, Burnett didn’t write the protagonist Mary as a bad person even though she had tons of bad qualities.

Teaching kids to delay gratification, the most important factor for success in life

“Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait for what you deserve.”

Do you want to see that your kids are getting their homework done now rather than after watching television?

Do you want that next time when you go to the toy store with your children, they don’t make a scene only to threaten you into buying the next new toy?

And do you want to have the assurance and peace of mind that your children will follow diligently the financial plan needed for secure retirement in future?

As parents, we definitely want to see our kids having the ability to resist the short-term temptations and follow plans that are beneficial for the future.  But the demand for instant gratification is seeping into every corner of our lives.  Videos are streaming in seconds.  Retailers are arranging same-day delivery of products.  Smartphone apps are helping to eliminate the wait for a table at hot restaurants.  All these products and services are designed to improve our lives, but at the same time, they train us to be less patient and to have less self-control.

This is definitely worrying since a Standford psychology professor has already proven in his research done in the 60s that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life!

 

The Marshmallow Experiment

This experiment tested hundreds of 4 and 5 years old kids and followed them for 40 years after the experiment before a conclusion was made.  It started with bringing individual child into a private room and giving each of them a marshmallow.  The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room for 15 mins, and if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, he would give him an extra one as reward.  But if the child decided to eat the first marshmallow before the researcher returned, he would not get a second marshmallow.

Watch a modern version of the Marshmallow Experiment:

In this research, two out of three kids ate the marshmallow before the researcher return.  The research team followed the children who waited for their second marshmallow for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years, and they found that 100% of them were successful in different aspects of lives. They were happy, they had their plans, they had good relationships with others and they were doing much better than those kids who couldn’t resist the temptation.

 

So what should we do if our children are lacking self-control?

First of all, we need to know that delayed gratification is something trained, not inborn. From a twisted version of The Marshmallow Experiment done by the University of Rochester, it is showed that children’s wait-times reflected their beliefs about whether waiting would ultimately pay off.

In this experiment, before offering the kids marshmallow, the researchers divided the kids into two groups.

First group:  this group of kids was exposed to a series of negative experiences, e.g. they received a small box of crayons and were promised to be brought a bigger one but never did, or they got a smaller sticker and were promised to be brought a better selection of stickers but never did.

Second group:  on contrary to what had happened to the first group, kids at this group were able to get anything they were promised, like a bigger box of crayons or better selection of stickers.

So it’s not surprising to find that kids in the first group simply ate the marshmallow instead of waiting for an extra one, while those from the second group waited patiently and happily.

In other words, the ability to delay gratification is actually impacted by the experiences and environment that surrounded us and it is actually something you can train yourself with.

(To access the full research, click here.)

Second, increase our awareness to self-control issue and the benefit of having self-control (why we lack it and why it can be harmful) will actually help us to be more willing to practice delayed gratification.  In another research done by behavioral economists where they gave information about self-control to part of the sample and not the other part, it is found that the group with education is more likely to save and to save greater amount of money than the other group receiving no such information.

delayed-gratification-badge

 

Action plan: 

Building self-control and training our kids about delayed gratification today!

1. Education: explain to our children the meaning of self-control and why it is important for us to resist temptation.

Definition of Self-control / delayed gratification – the ability to resist the short term temptations and to follow plans that are beneficial for the future

 Quote examples to kids:  My son Cayden hates Chinese, be it speaking or writing.  Last Christmas we brought him on a trip to Taiwan and attended some DIY workshops that were conducted in Chinese.  He could barely follow through though he enjoyed those classes a lot.  This skids-learning-chineseummer holiday, we intentionally chose Taiwan again and we brought him to more DIY workshops in Chinese.  This time, he was able to follow all instructions and even answer questions asked in class and won some prizes.  We immediately made use of the situation to highlight the fact that it’s him putting effort the past 6 months and he’s actually learning more and more Chinese bit by bit.  He now understands the importance of Chinese and we never have to worry about him giving up Chinese learning.

So come up with your own story to highlight the benefit of delayed gratification. It can be resonating stories about your kids, or stories of their friends or family members, or even stories from people your kids admire.

2. Training: Build the belief that delaying gratification will result in something good

Set scenarios where your kids have to delay gratification.  First start with something easily achievable, and move on to something more difficult to achieve.  Monitor and make sure you kids are getting positive experiences out of the

 My example:

caydens-lego-carCayden always admires the fact that his friend Jayden is able to make cool cars that can run on motor out of Lego.  But he didn’t remember he’s the one who chose to give up on learning a year ago.  I took this a good opportunity to teach him patience, by helping him set big goal, and then mini-goals that help him reach the big goal step by step.  He is seeing results of mini-goals now (reward) and is willing to give up spending time on other activities for Lego engineering learning (sacrifice).

Final Word:

Remember kids learn from us – do you think your kid will wait for dessert after dinner if we ourselves can’t follow through?  The only way we can really instill the ability to delay gratification into our children is if we’re able to practice it ourselves.

About Me – I Wish I’d Been Taught…

Hello and welcome! I am Tammy Seay, the founder of WishIdBeenTaught.com. Through this online portal, I hope to help parents teach their children essential and powerful lessons to set them up with the right attitudes for future success.

If we observe closely, students spend thousand of hours learning matters that they may never apply anywhere outside school. These include science lessons on how to differentiate between different types of dinosaurs, solving sine/cosine/tangent problems in trigonometry, and even saying and spelling "antidisestablishmentarianism" only because it's one of the longest words in English. The thing is, they do not spend enough time on subjects that will actually help our kids navigate through life more easily, happily, and meaningfully. Worst of all, with the Internet, anyone can search for just about any topic in a matter of seconds. As Albert Einstein once said, "Never memorize anything that you can look up."

Topics that are taught in school are, of course, useful, but they are applicable to different people depending on the profession they want to pursue in the future. While it's good for our kids to get hold of the basics of everything before they decide what they want for themselves, we should always remember the most important skill sets like communicating effectively, asking the right questions, designing a circle of influence, managing time well, among others.

Often, I hear people saying, "I wish I'd been taught this or that." Mostly, it's wishing that they were taught how to not make wrong or foolish decisions. Have you ever had that moment when you learned a new concept and found it so useful that you wish you learned it much earlier? Or have you heard of the saying, "A lesson will repeat itself until it's learned"? Perhaps, you even experienced frustration over and over again until you found the hidden message.

I am a typical example of those people who wish they'd been taught important life lessons earlier, which could have paved the way for impressive achievements at a much younger age. I grew up in a family with the laissez-faire parenting style and in a school that focused only on academic knowledge. Not until I graduated from college that I found companions like Tony Robbins, David J Schwartz, Napoleon Hill, Viktor Frankl, Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar and more, who helped me build the right attitude and set clear objectives in life. I am truly grateful for their influence and teachings.

I benefited hugely from applying what I learned from these big names as well as from my Neuro-Linguistic Programming and hypnosis trainers' training. I have also seen the positive effects of educating my 7-year-old son with all these concepts, helping him set the correct values and the right mindset and attitude, regardless of how this world is bombarding him with all other messages in all sorts of ways.

If, like me, you also want to create a positive impact on your kids and on the world, I welcome you to join me in educating our children with the different life secrets that will change them and the world for the better. I believe parents as well as teachers have a big mission – we are responsible for the future. We are, after all, the role models of the next generation and up and coming custodians of our planet – our children.

We can learn from the rich dad in Robert Kiyosaki's book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" who helped the author achieve financial freedom and retirement at an early age. Robert, in turn, helped many others by sharing his experiences and financial knowledge. Similarly, we can guide our kids and teach them the importance of honesty, confidence, perseverance, self-respect, determination and other valuable qualities in life that will be set as their intrinsic values and the driving force for their development. We can be our children's life teacher!

In this website, I will share effective strategies in teaching life lessons and soft skills that I have already applied on children with amazing results. I will also share tactics, game ideas, and action points so that you can teach your children and, at the same time, have an enjoyable time together.

Remember, the role that we, the parents, play determine the future of our children. Now, I invite you to come on a journey with me for the better development of our kids, the future owners of the world!

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."