It all starts with you
My 5 yr old grandson spilled his orange juice. He started to cry. I said to him, ‘Don’t worry, we will clean it up together, and get you another one’.
‘My drink is all gone’, he cried, getting a cloth.
‘It’s okay’, I said. ‘I will share mine with you’.
I took his empty cup and poured my orange juice into it. I said to him ‘I am being very generous by sharing my drink with you. Oma is so kind.’
He looked at me, looked at the drink in his hand, and held it up to me.
‘Would you like a sip?’ he offered.
‘Thank you so much for your generosity’, I said taking a sip.
He smiled and walked back to his chair.
Solomon, 3, watching, came to me with his orange juice. He held it up and said ‘Share? Sip?’
‘Yes please’, I said taking hold of his cup and sipping. ‘Thank you for your sharing and generosity.’
He smiled and did a little jump for joy as he took his drink back and sat down.
This may seem like a small and insignificant event, but it isn’t. Life is made up of these small events, and every time you create a positive experience out of a teachable moment, it builds emotional intelligence.
As a child, when I dropped things, my parents were quick to anger and to shame. They had both survived poverty and war. I understand that. They were scared by what had happened to them, and, like them, I felt ashamed of making mistakes. It was one of the many reasons I held back and tried to shrink. I didn’t like the feeling of being wrong. I didn’t like being laughed at or scolded. I didn’t know how to cope with those situations so I tried not to try or stand out at all.
Shaming behaviour to create change in children is an old paradigm.
Naming behaviour with a desire to grow self-esteem is the new paradigm.
Learning new skills, and growing respect occurs much faster through acknowledgement.
You cannot teach a child to be generous by holding back.
You cannot teach a child to be kind when you tease or shame.
You cannot show a child mercy by demonstrating harsh punishment.
The fastest and quickest way to grow self-esteem in your children is to grow it in yourself.
Looking into your own behaviour and finding the virtues each time you act will bring you self-esteem, self-awareness and a budding sense of happiness that automatically transcends to your family and colleagues.
One of the many questions I am asked at this point is ‘What about discipline?’ and ‘Wont praise go to their heads and cause them to be unrealistic about the world?’
Naming virtues increases a child’s ability to make healthier choices. It also helps children apologise and repair any hurt they have caused. Children grow into self-responsible people when they realise they have the power to make new choices.
It’s the feeling bad that causes them to run from mistakes in the first place. Everyone makes mistakes - even grown-ups. Even grown-ups with children. Even grown-ups that run countries and big corporations. The biggest tragedy is hiding mistakes and pretending they didn’t happen. The greatest gift you can teach someone is that mistakes are normal, and really, they are just part of life. Why do we even call them mistakes? Why not call them incidents. Incidents happen. Stuff happens. It's normal. It's okay. Let's make a new choice.
Incidents happen because we are growing and learning and it’s okay. Lets clean it up, let’s repair, let’s make up for it and let’s move on.
The other question of ‘wont they have big heads’ is a real concern. We’ve all seen those talent shows where the misguided singer goes on ‘because they are awesome’, and then come away 'angry that the judges didn’t agree.’
We don’t want our kids to be like that, so we keep it real ‘you’re a terrible singer, dancer, engineer, your not good enough; who do you think you are? Get your head out of the clouds,’ and on it goes.
The difference here is – you’re not praising for the sake of it -. You’re not gushing over everything - Your naming virtues.
That was kind (when they demonstrate kindness).
That was generous (when they demonstrate generosity).
I saw you make a new friend today, that took courage (or caring, or compassion – whatever the situation revealed).
You’re not saying ‘you’re the most generous person in the world, no one is as kind as you, that person is so lucky that you said hello to them.
You’re naming virtues.
I saw your friendliness.
That was a caring thing you did.
I appreciate your generosity, it made my day so much better.
Virtues are the small things that make big people.
Begin with yourself. Find your kindness, courage, compassion and acknowledge it within yourself. Be generous with yourself, give yourself the space and time you deserve. Be kind to yourself, eat healthy foods and say nice things in the mirror. Have the courage to ask for the things you want, and make the choices you know you need to. You are a worthy beautiful human who deserves joy and happiness. The moment you bring this gift to yourself, it shines out to the world and everyone benefits, especially your children.
I see you.
Artist, Author & Yoga Teacher
Monica is passionate about education and personal development, She has combined her love of painting and writing into children's books and yoga classes from the beautiful Redcliffe peninsula. Now in their 8th year of operation with regular classes and 7 published titles, Monica and her husband Andreas are moving towards their goals of living a life of purpose and supporting others to do the same.
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I'm a self-employed yoga teacher, author and artist. I live on the beautiful northern bays of Brisbane. In 2008 I decided to stop talking about what I wanted, and do it!
Blogs by Monica
Growing Emotional Intelligence