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Praise Or Discouragement

It might sound like I’m splitting hairs here… but the way we encourage our kids MATTERS.

My daughter stood on the podium marked 3, smiled and waved at end of her first ever gymnastics meet. Was I happy for her? Sure. Did I praise her as being an amazing gymnast? No.

Attachment-1

What did I tell her when she walked up to her dad and I after the meet, four shiny metals around her neck, trophy in hand, beaming ear to ear? I hugged her and said with an equally large smile, “I LOVED watching you out there. You had this big smile the entire time. It looked like you were having a blast. Honey, we’re so proud of how committed you are to your team. You are learning so much…”

Why didn’t I gush over her getting to stand on the podium? Why not go on and on about the shiny new metals that hung around her neck? It’s because when we praise the child (or the outcome like the “win”) verse praising the child’s effort, their brain holds onto our  praise as conditional and in the end, our praise becomes discouragement.

I think of it this way: praise the child/win/outcome and the brain thinks: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD. So what happens when our kids face something new and hard? Something they are “bad” at? Their brain is left to conclude: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD AND  I AM BAD AT THIS… I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS HARD THING. I AM NOT “GOOD” AT IT.

But praise the effort and waaaa-laaaa, you have a child whose brain is being incentivised to face challenges.

The real win, I want my ten year old to know deep in her heart, is the person she is. The love and respect she shows her coaches. The encouragement she gives her teammates and the girls on other teams, clapping for and watching them attentively. The commitment and focus she exercises, day in and day out, in getting her mom and her twin three year old brother and sister motivated to GET IN THE CAR NOW that she might get to practice on time (where early is on time and on time is late!). The patience and care she shows her body when she decides to sit a practice out because she is hurting even though it kills her to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Understanding the full impact our words as parents have on our kids takes time —but given the research, it’s time worth spending. There is power in the way we praise.

  • Praising the child: “Man you are smart.” Praising the effort: “That was a long assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. That’s great!
  • Praising the child: “You are an amazing artist.” Praising the effort, “Wow. Look at all the different colors/techniques/materials/etc you used to make that picture.” or “What was your favorite part of making that?” or “Can I hang this in the kitchen?”
  • Praising the child: “You are such a great soccer player” Praising the effort, “You worked really hard today at soccer practice.” or “I love to watch you play.”

None of this sort of praising comes easy or naturally to me. After thirteen years of thinking about process over outcome, of working to praise the effort not the child, is it still hard for me?

YES. I do it “wrong” all the time. But that’s okay. I love a challenge.

Food for thought:

  • Are the things we’re saying to our kids inspiring them or discouraging them?
  • Are we helping them take on a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?
  • Are we preparing them for the challenges life will surely hold or are we not?
  • And finally, how do we, their parents, respond to challenges? Both ours and theirs.

Praise the effort, not the child. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

A Curvy Road
Connection and Baby/Kids

Helpful Resources:

Effective Praise

Effort, Praise and Achievement

Children and Praise: Why Certain Types of Praise May Backfire

 

One Voice For Many

Not many films have so palpably touched me the way Generation Rx did.

As a mother, I’ve always questioned.

“You will not be able to deliver twins outside the operating room. It’s just procedure.” But I did, In a peaceful labor and delivery room just down the hall.

“It’s time for your baby to receive sugar water. She’s going to end up with brain damage.” But she did not, latching on to me instead as I cradled her in my arms, wrapped within a special light blanket, her red blood cell levels returning to normal as he body was give the time it needed to eliminate the excess blood cells. (Drinking. Peeing. Drinking. Peeing.)

Despite much fear and many attempts to scare me into parenting decisions, I prefer to question the things I am told, even when they are told to me by, yes, a doctor. Sometimes I go with the advice I am given. And sometimes I do not.

  • Allowing a Hepatitis immunization shot for my hours old baby? No.
  • Scheduling an MRI to rule out other (unnamed but scary) causes for my teens regular headaches? Yes
  • Scheduling annual flu shots for my entire family, introducing a virus in order to prevent it? No.
  • Taking my daily prenatal vitamin? Yes.

And so it was, as a mother who is used to questioning what she is told in favor of doing my own research to add to the recommendations my doctors give me, that I watched the documentary by international award-winning writer/director Kevin P. Miller unfold. Watching. Feeling at once validated and alarmed.

Through master storytelling and critical interview after interview, Miller’s film explores the narrow, largely pharm based treatment options millions with mental health conditions are afforded (our children included.) I watched as story after story told of a generation numbed (at best… at worst, driven further into the darkness of depression and violence.)

Following the film’s release, I was not surprised to learn that Miller received thousands of letters from real people: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers — people who’s lived had been forever scarred by the negative influences of psychiatric drugs. It is from this outpouring the concept for his next film, Letters From Generation Rx was born, a film designed to spur an international conversation about mental illness.

I take heart that in Miller’s own words, his ultimate conclusion after receiving letter after letter, is a hopeful one. And it is this perspective he plans to drive home in Letters From Generation Rx: “There is hope for those suffering, and it may not lie in the toxic elixirs we have come to know by name… There are remedies and therapies being overlooked…”

I share this worthy campaign with you, hoping it starts a conversation in your home. Hoping you too are as inspired by this filmmaker as I have been.

Letters From Generation Rx has 14 days and counting left for it’s indiegogo campaign to raise the funds and go into full production. Join me in adding your voice to the many voices represented in Miller’s films. One voice questioning the system. One voice calling for a more human, holistic approach to mental health. One voice lifting truth and our freedom to question what is best for ourselves and our families on high.

Generation Rx and Letters From Generation Rx. One voice for many.

Voices that might otherwise go unheard.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:
Connection and Baby/Kids

You Are Braver Than You Believe

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

When we are hurting, these words from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh are easy to forget. At some point in our lives, we each need reminding. It is in those moments we find ourselves leaning into another person (a friend or sometimes a complete stranger) who in their compassion and love reminds us.

We ARE brave. We ARE strong. We ARE smart. No matter how fearful, weak or broken we may feel in that moment.

Sunshine After The Storm

Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide For The Grieving Mother strives to do just this, sharing honestly and with compassion the journey of a mother’s heart after the loss of a child , be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss.

The book is free on Kindle until October 17th, 2013 and it’s authors would love to see it in the hands of as many people as possible. Mothers. Fathers. Spiritual leaders. Medical professionals. This heartfelt and inspiring collection is for anyone who finds themselves in the midst of loss.

My essay in Chapter Three, “The Things People Say”, is born of my personal experiences with repeat miscarriages, my struggle to ask for the things I needed, to forgive and to receive. In all, the book offers more than twenty “survival tips” and thirty unique perspectives from moms with both shared and varied experiences of infant loss and healing.

You may never know which of your friends this book is meant for, as in loss, most tend to hold their hurt close to the chest, which is why I am asking you to help us help others feel less alone in loss by sharing this link far and wide.

Thank you from the backside of my healing heart for passing this along, that another mother (or yes, another father) in their loss might feel less alone.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

Miscarriage and Loss

Waiting

“How to explain the inner workings of a mother’s heart who just knows there is another child waiting to be born to her?”

 

Waiting from Generation Mindful on Vimeo.

You do not need to have lost a child to know what it is to question, to doubt yourself, or to hope against all odds for a miracle.

This is my story from the magical day I presented it live in front of hundreds in my home town of St. Louis Missouri, and on Mother’s Day no less. I hope it speaks to your heart in some small way. More than anything, I hope my story encourages you to ask whatever it is that is on your heart, to listen, and to follow — even if (especially if) it doesn’t make “sense” to your head.

What is on your heart today? Do you know what it is to wait? What questions have you been asking and what, if anything, are you hearing in return? I know it takes something to share, but I’d love to hear from you below.

xo

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I write here and on My Mommy Manual‘s Facebook page about the connection we are, reminding myself and others to look inside for instructions. I also write about the spiritual journey that is life after loss at In The Face Of Loss and Pinterest as well. If you are a fan of conscious parenting and education, please join me and others at Generation Mindful and here on Instagram where we advocate for PLAY, and helping the generations to slooooow down and to simply connect.

Related Posts:

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I Don’t Want to do Something Wrong

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Rainbow Babies

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Believe Anyway


“Your baby did not make it.” The doctors said this and left the couple to grieve, baby on mom’s chest, skin to skin. For two hours this grieving mother and this grieving father held, soothed, comforted, talked to and loved on their son.

One hundred and twenty minutes, loving, bonding, tuning in and following their intuition. When their baby started moving and breathing, the doctors brushed the parent’s reports of signs of life off, not even returning to the room, but sending in a midwife to tell these grieving parents something along the lines of, “these things happen, these sorts of breathes and movements, but your son is gone.”

For two hours these parents believed anyway, against all reason or logic, holding and loving their child back to life, despite hours of being told what they were seeing… what they knew to be so, was not to be believed.

Their baby was alive…

The miracle is two fold. That the baby revived to life… and that the parents trusted their intuition over cold, hard facts and medical know-how.

I love this story on so many levels. The power of loving touch. The power of believing. And I am reminded by this miracle baby, this mother and this father, once again, in matters big and small, that I can look inside of myself for instructions. That I am best served (in mothering and in life) when I keep my heart higher than my head, despite what anybody else has to say about it.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:
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Smallest Teachers

I taught baby massage, like I do every Friday, but today, as I loaded up my things in my car, I realized I was leaving class feeling — what’s the word? — lighter.

By lighter I mean something about class today has me walking just a little bit slower, smiling just a little bit wider, thankful just a little bit more.

Why? I’ve been thinking about this for the last two hours, and the only answer I have for you is this:

small teacher

Starring into these eyes. Lying my hand on this ones head as he starred back at me. Breathing. Sharing stillness. Holding and soothing a sweet, little baby girl, just weeks old that came to class, crying from tummy pains/gas minutes into her massage.

These babies.

The peace of the present moment I am pulled into when I am with them. They are to blame, I’m quite certain of it.

Today, if you have little people lying, rolling, crawling or walking around you in the house, take a moment. Stare into their eyes. Breathe. Hold their gaze just a little longer than you normally would. Share a moment, still… together, no matter their age (even if you risk being called weird by your tween/teen.)

I promise you, you will walk away transformed. And likely, they will too.
xo

—–

When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:
Connection and Baby/Kids

Return To Zero: Ready To Grieve Out Loud?

RETURN TO ZERO is a movie based on the true story of a successful couple preparing for the arrival of their first child. Just weeks before their due date, they are devastated to discover their son has died in the womb and will be stillborn.

After their loss, Maggie and Aaron attempt to go on with their lives,  but try as they may, they can not escape their grief. Their lives have been forever altered. They try to cope in a myriad of ways — through denial, escape, and alcohol — but when Maggie ultimately discovers that Aaron is having an affair, she decides to end the marriage.

Just when Maggie believes she has started a new life, she learns she’s pregnant, the baby a result of a last ditch ‘save the marriage’ getaway to Vegas. With the help of her empathetic doctor who had experienced a similar loss years ago, Maggie finally grieves for the loss of her son. Through a turbulent and terrifying pregnancy, Maggie and Aaron reunite to see their child, a daughter, safely into the world.

I am for any movie that deals with grief and loss in an open, truthful way and for this reason, have become a Return To Zero Local Leader.

BREAK THE SILENCE. 

Join me in bringing RTZ to the big screen by simply pledging to see this film opening weekend. Help make an opening weekend for this movie even a reality as the director and producer need to show Hollywood that there is an audience for this film which has already been filmed and stars the talented Minnie Driver.

Stillbirth is a subject that deserves be told in film and in theaters everywhere. Take 18 seconds and make the pledge. Add me, Suzanne Tucker, as your Local Leader on the form or consider becoming a Local Leader in your area. Together we can bring this movie to the world and help others know, it is OKAY to grieve out loud.

Watch the Video and Sign the Pledge 

Become a Local Leader

More Information 

xo

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Join me and other moms on a spiritual journey with grief and loss here, because life’s better when we hold hands.

Related Posts:

My Intention

Hope After Miscarriage

A Mother’s Bedtime Poem

Hadley bedtime poem

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here, sharing the stories of our lives, because motherhood (and life) is better when we hold hands.

Little Ears

colin w mmm logo 5.2013We were driving to dinner and my three year old son asked, “Mom, can I have an E-F-H?”

Dad and I look at each other. “A what???!” “An E—-F—-H…” he repeats in a do-you-pinky-swear-you-won’t-tell-anyone?!?! sorta whisper. And with that, I get it and interpret for my husband. Our child is attempting to spell out a cool-secret-thing he wants, just like he’s heard his big sisters do.

“Mom, can we have some I-C-E -C-R-E-A-M?” or “Mom, can we go to the P-A-R-K when Hadley and Colin nap?”

Things not meant for three year old ears lest they want it too, get spelt out in our home and our little guy had cracked the code. He just didn’t know how to spell. But why let that stop him, right?

They may not always do what we want, when we want… but do not be fooled.

THEY ARE LISTENING.

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here, sharing the stories of our lives, because motherhood is better when we are holding hands. 

The Day My Daughter Shaved Her Head

phonto

It was only a week ago that my 12 year old daughter first asked me, “What if I shaved my head?” to which I immediately responded, “What? Why?!?”

She replied softly, “I don’t know. I was just talking about it with my friends.”

I took a deep breathe and thought about her question for a minute before replying a second time. And though still not thinking she would actually shave her head, I began to feel the question was not as hypothetical as I’d first imagined.

“Well, if you did, you would rock it.” I said, which was received with a smile.

“Yeah,” she said, “that’s what my friend said.”

Over the next few days, the shaving the head idea picked up steam. She asked her dad. She asked more friends. And with each person she told that did not find it to be the craziest thing they’d ever heard of, the idea became more real.

“What if I shaved my head?” quickly became “When can I shave my head?” followed closely by, “Who will I give it too???” Each question brought with it a new google search. Soon she had all her answers.

She saved an inspiration photo on her ipad of a cute teen girl (not a star, just a girl) sporting a t-shirt, killer smile and a buzzed head in all it’s glory.

She found a non-profit that would not charge the child receiving her golden locks on the other end when a wig it became. She read about the organization and the medical conditions that caused children her age and younger to lose their hair. Fuel to the fire.

This. Was. Happening.

I texted my hairdresser for reassurance:

photo 26

We went to the dentist the next day and when they asked us what’s new, my daughter told them, “I’m going to shave my head.” I loved the way they received this news. “It’s only hair!” and “It grows back” and most encouraging of all, these words from the the office manager, “Good for you! Will you send us pictures?!?!” I could see my daughter’s confidence growing.

Once home her google searches still read “donate hair” and “buzz haircut girl” while mine still read “girl pixie haircut.” Evidence of my resistance filled my iphone camera, pictures of longish short hair cuts for girls. I told myself they were for “just in case she gets half way in there and changes her mind…” but they weren’t. They were for me. “Well hey, look at this one of Gwyneth Paltrow with the cute little bobby pins holding back easily five inch long front hair locks. This would look nice.”

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 4.23.58 PM

The day after we’d made the hair appointment, I panicked. Had I been doing my job? What if as “mom” I was supposed to be the one resisting the idea? What if moments after her hair was cut into two 12 inch ponies wrapped in rubber band after rubber band, she looked at me, her eyes filled with disappointment? Disappointment from a decision she’d made without me throwing detours or nary even a road bump in it’s way?

The next day we were alone, driving in the car. Reilly was talking about her future buzz which I seized as an opportunity to fulfill my maternal obligation to offer her pause. I asked her, gently, “What if you don’t like it??? What do you want me to say to you if you cry afterwards?”

To this my daughter, without getting defensive or taking this to mean I didn’t believe in her, answered “Just remind me that it doesn’t matter what I look like. Remind me I helped someone.”

I smiled.

“Okay, sweet girl. But that’s not going to happen, is it?” I thought.

I grabbed for her words, saying them over and over in my head, so I would remember them.

“It doesn’t matter what I look like…”

My daughter knows what is important and what is not, I thought.

The next day, she fearlessly sat in the barber chair with a smile spread ear to ear as long clumps of hair left her head, only stopping to furrow her eyes and scowl at me, now and again for taking too many pictures.

My kids have always taught me plenty, but this time, I felt like I was getting a reminder of not only what is important in this life, but what gives it meaning.

                  “I helped someone.”

phonto 4

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here, sharing the stories of our lives, because motherhood is better when we are holding hands. 

Related Posts:

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How To Be Vulnerable

Listen To Your Mother: St. Louis