Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nurturing oneself - It is for the kids

Nurturing oneself is for your children and the following story explains it well.  A woman went to check out what was happening at her neighbor's home , a young widow her had 7 children. The kids were in the yard , some were crying and the others did not look too happy. The woman went into the house and to her dismay found the mother eating a good meal. The widow explained that if she wants to have the strength and energy to look after 7 hungry kids , she needs to eat well. So we need to be selfish - it is for the kids.

Here is my list

1 Nurture yourself ,consider yourself a person who has needs , relaxation, privacy , rest, exercise, eat well, reading, socializing, learning, being empowered emotionally and spiritually and take out a pencil and paper and plan these activities. Research and get involved with ' wellness'.

2 if you don't consider yourself worthy of the above, your kids will treat you as a doormat and not a real person with needs. Collaborative problem solving means putting your needs on the table as well and addressing them.

3 live your own life , focus on satisfying the needs for autonomy , competence and relatedness. Do things that express your will and autonomy and that are intrinsically rewarding , you get pleasure from doing these things.

4 Meditation, mindfulness , breathing etc – learn how to calm yourself down and relax , lose yourself in whatever you are doing.

5 Deal with negative thoughts. Check out  The work by Byron Katie . Don't fight reality. By accepting the reality , we liberate and free ourselves emotionally so we can deal with situations in a creative way . You need to decide if you want to be happy or right.

6 Remember the CPS mantra – children ( also people ) do well if they can

7 Collaborative problem solving and being empathic helps us to work with children, calm them down , avoid conflict .  We need to be ' Thermostats to calm the situation in the home.

8 When we rely less on others , don't have expectations we are less likely to become angry. If you want your house clean , it is up to you . Getting others to help is an extra and more likely if you do things with joy

9 Don't take issues personally , mouthing is part of the poor coping skills , the kid has a problem , not you. Why double the suffering ! Learn the art of detachment.

10 Be a source of joy, happiness , song and dance . Get yourself a good sense of humor and try to see the funny side of life. When you do things and have fun , kids will join in.

11 Avoid saying No , rather have a discussion , be flexible , Put your relationship with your kids first before getting them to do things. Remember – LEE = low expressed emotion and not Hee.

12 Nurture your relationship with your spouse , spend time together not talking about the kids , best to have  fixed times during the week

13 Let your kids do sleep over's during the week , respite for you and generally they ' think ' better at others and it is a good learning experience.

14 Find mentors, buddy-tutors , family , baby sitters who can spend time with your kids , good for them , respite for you. Get support from local charities , your church , an older brother or buddy from the local school.

15 Understand that education is a process , there are no quick fixes or magic bullet. Patience is the name of the game. But think positively about your kids so that you attract positive forces.

16  Only talk to the few people who understand how stressful parenting a challenging kid is , get support on forums or other support groups. To the others say that your child has certain challenges and that you are following expert advice.  But believe in yourself , that you are moving in the right  direction and have the ability to parent your kids. A mom once said that she does not feel that God has punished her by giving her 2 challenging kids to parent, but she felt it was a honor that she was chosen by him to parent them. It is said that God gives people challenges that they can handle  - one mom replied – I was God would not have such a high opinion of me.

here are some useful links 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math education using Technology - 2 approaches

The fact that we use technology and computers does not mean we are moving away from the traditional transmission model of education to a more constructivist approach.

here are 2  rather different TED talks on the same subject .  Sylvia Martinez explains the differences. The comments are very interesting - maybe we need both approaches but without the rewards etc

Gen yes blog - 2 approaches to teaching math using computers

Chris Sears feels we cannot rely totally on computers for computing and there is still space for pencil and paper.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Limit setting 2 Don't kids want limits and authority ?-

It is interesting how people attribute different motives and give different explanations of the same behavior depending if we are speaking about a child or adult.

The adult has an anger problem, suffering from marital and financial stress , needs counseling and help . Kids are aggressive, defiant, oppositional , attention seeking , trying to get their own way , a difficult child  and imho the worst explanation ' testing limits '.

Our view of human nature and especially that of children will dictate our attitudes to parenting, character education and discipline.  It is usually a dark pessimistic view of kids , viewing them  as self-centered , egoistic , lack self control and  the ability to cooperate with others that focuses on rewards, punishments and consequences.  A Boston headmaster  -  F Jarvis sees human nature as "mean, nasty, brutish, selfish, and capable of great cruelty and meanness. We have to hold a mirror up to the students and say, ‘This is who you are. Stop it" Calling kids behavior  - limit testing '  may be ascribed to this dim view of the nature of kids.

This approach denies the brighter side of human nature , that kids can be intrinsically motivated and act in an altruistic way to help and care for others. In fact we adults have an ally in kids in being able to collaborate with them , solve problems and create a caring community of learners.

This approach also denies the autonomy of a child , that the child may have legitimate needs and concerns , and that we all seek attention and try to get our own way . The adult does not have to try and see things from the child's point of view .  The CPS mantra is ' Kids do well if they can ' and not that kids do well if they want to. Kids have poor coping skills or lack cognitive skills to persue their needs in  an appropriate manner.
Stricter limits won't teach skills.

The explanations we give for a kid's behavior will dictate the type of interventions. Limit testing etc is the perfection justification to set up stricter limits and give harsher punishments , ' doing to kids '.
And there is another justification  - parents and teachers  say '
But Don't kids want authority and limits '  or the kids is crying out for limits.
Kids do want parent's help in setting limits and in hindsight often wished that parents would have been stricter and stepped in.  Kids don't want permissive parenting or authoritarian parenting , but parents who give reasons and explanations, try and solve problems in a collaborative way. When parents act this way , kids are more likely to trust a parent's judgment and accept their decision despite not being so happy about it.
 Instead  ' working with them ' and supporting their autonomy so that they can in appropriate ways ensure that their needs are met and concerns addressed.
We should
“Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.”

Says Alfie Kohn -  

10 Parenting guidelines - Alfie Kohn 

 When we work with kids – cps  collaborative problem solving we not only address their concerns , but we promote learning , cognitive skills needed to persue their interests and we enhance the relationship.

CPS is also a better way to set limits. When parents or teachers put their concerns on the table and these concerns are addressed by a mutually satisfying solution , we are in fact setting a limit which the child now also owns.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The importance of teaching kids - Planning and Reflection

Planning and reflection are important ' executive functions that are crucial to the problem solving process. Kids express their autonomy and competence and relatedness  when they plan and reflect .

In the following article Ann Epstein shows how planning and reflection helps to develop the thinking skills of young kids

'In order to promote child development , young children should be given the opportunities to plan and make choices. However, the guidelines, and in fact most early childhood programs, do not differentiate between these two activities. Planning is more than making choices.

Planning is choice with intention.

 That is, the chooser begins with a specific goal or purpose in mind that results in the choice. First we must differentiate real choices in which teachers offer multiple options (“What colors do you want to use in your painting?”) from pseudochoices in which teachers direct children to a limited number of adult-selected options (“Do you want to use red or blue?”) But planning goes further than selecting from open-ended choices. When we engage children in planning, we encourage them to
identify their goals and consider the options for achieving them. For example, they might consider what they will do, where they will do it, what materials they will use, who they will do it with, how long it will take, and whether they will need help. Planning thus involves deciding on actions and predicting interactions, recognizing problems and proposing solutions, and anticipating consequences and reactions. Most early childhood practitioners also recognize the importance of developing memory skills in young children.
Teachers might ask children to remember something they learned  earlier in the day or to recall an event that occurred earlier in the week. Reflection, however, is more than memory or a rote recitation of completed activities.

Reflection is remembering with analysis.

When we engage children in reflection, we encourage them to go beyond merely reporting what they’ve done. We also help them become aware of what they learned in the process, what was interesting,
how they feel about it, and what they can do to build on or extend the experience. Reflection
consolidates knowledge so it can be generalized to other situations, thereby leading to further prediction and evaluation. Thus planning and reflection, when they bracket active learning, are part of an ongoing cycle of
deeper thought and thoughtful application. '    Ann Epstein

Planning and reflection are also very important in the home.  Choice is something done in the moment , it focuses on one point in time. Planning and reflection give kids a wider time horizon focusing not only on the present but future and past. It helps kids deal with disappointment and frustration by allowing them to see a bigger picture and more opportunities than the present moment can give. We can help kids plan their day , their bed time rituals etc with specific goals in mind.  Kids , with specific goals in mind can make up their own lists and schedules. Instead of parents giving orders or reminding kids of their chores , they can refer to the list , that the child has made. It is not the parent telling the child what to do , but a list or schedule that the child has created. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Edward de Bono - Parallel thinking and other thinkingtools , SDT and CPS

Edward de Bono's principles on ' thinking' contribute the realization of the 3 basic needs critical to a child's self determination and intrinsic motivation - supporting his autonomy, competence and promoting relatedness.

De Bono suggests we use ' Parallel learning and thinking ' rather than argument or debate.
PL  promotes autonomy as people's and kid's ideas are respected and explored. His PMI tool is a great example of this .We look first at the Positives of the idea , then the Minuses and then look for something Interesting that may be taken from the idea. The PMI tool helps us move away from the initial critical thinking. We are good at critizing someone's idea -  we say NO ,or seeing that it maybe validates what we think and we agree with it - Yes. We are not good at taking an idea or a suggestion and exploring it , taking it further and being creative.  Thinking is done in parallel by looking first at the P= positives , then M= minuses , then the I= interesting ideas. So if we suggest that we clean the home together now , kids and their parents can together , in parallel , look at the positives of the idea , then the minuses of the idea and finally taking some ideas from the suggestion. Besides promoting autonomy , this approach is very respectful of other people and their ideas. The PMI tool which is part of the wider ' six thinking hats ' tool is a very efficient way of solving problems and coming up with creative ideas in an organizational setting and also for individuals. It promotes competence.

So the PMI is a great tool to help kids ' hear and explore ' what we are saying , instead of using critical thinking and reject our ideas.

Cps – collaborative problem solving also sees the importance of parallel learning and thinking in focusing on understanding the child's concerns and getting them onto the table, then putting our concerns on the table , defining the problem , then inviting the kid to brainstorm mutually satisfying solutions which are doable and realistic , reviewing the solutions and agreeing to come back and see how things are working out.

here are some Edward de Bono links

Parallel thinking

six thinking hats - Edward de Bono

The intelligence gap - Edward de Bono and SDT - 1

Edward de Bono the creator of the term ' lateral thinking ' says it is important to teach people and kids how to think and not what to think.

Our thinking will be influenced by the way we view ourselves. People who view the self as an object , and rate themselves as intelligent people are usually poor thinkers. Because they are so concerned about defending their positions , they cannot allow themselves to explore and experience the intrinsic value of learning. Carol Dweck says something similar . People or kids with a growth mindset , see themselves and thinking as a process , whereas kids etc with a fixed mindset , see themselves as objects with fixed innate abilities that gets in the way of learning and the intrinsic reward of learning. They are not self determined , not connceted with their true inner selves , and are not intrinsically motivated.

De Bono calls this the ' Intelligence trap'.

'Unfortunately, many people with a high intelligence actually turn out to be poor thinkers. They get caught in the ‘intelligence trap’, of which there are many aspects. For example, a highly intelligent person may take up a view on a subject and then defend that view (through choice of premises and perception) very ably. The better someone is able to defend a view, the less inclined is that person actually to explore the subject. So the highly intelligent person can get trapped by intelligence, together with our usual sense of logic that you cannot be more right than right, into one point of view. The less intelligent person is less sure of his or her rightness and therefore more free to explore the subject and other points of view.

A highly intelligent person usually grows up with a sense of that intellectual superiority and needs to be seen to be ‘right’ and ‘clever’. Such a person is less willing to risk creative and constructive ideas, because such ideas may take a time to show their worth or to get accepted. Highly intelligent people are often attracted to the quick pay-off of negativity. If you attack someone else’s ideas or thinking, there can be an immediate achievement together with a useful sense of superiority. In intellectual terms attack is also cheap and easy because the attacker can always choose the frame of reference. '

From Edward de Bono’s I Am Right, You Are Wrong

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Limit setting - 1 kids' moral development

Setting limits and boundaries is an important part of parenting . However the way we set limits can impact on the moral development of children and set off challenging behavior and the resistance of kids with difficulties.

In this post I share Alfie Kohn's insights on setting limits and the moral development of children.

In other posts I hope to share

1 how CPS collaborative problem solving = Plan B is effective at limit setting

2 how the traditional perspective of children – that they are born to test limits , feel secure because of the limits are myths, and are used to justify more limits and punishment

3 Limit setting should not be used to restrict kids but rather create structure that offers them more freedom.

' The question - Thomas Gordon , the author of P.E.T – Parent Effectiveness Training says is not whether limits and boundaries are necessary but the question is who sets them ? Is it parents unilaterally imposing limits on their children or are parents and kids working together to figure out what makes sense.?

The question then becomes what kinds of limits and boundaries are we talking about - how specific or behavioral should they be as opposed to broadly conceived guidelines that can inform a lot of our activities - a limit on not hurting other people , addressing the needs of others etc

Don't we want kids to derive limits and guidelines on how to act from the situation itself and what other people need ? If so, then our coming up with limits, and especially specific behavioral limits and imposing them on kids makes it less likely that kids will become moral people who say that the situation decrees a kind of a boundary for appropriate ways to act and I will be guided by that my whole life , not just internalized but it's about what's between me and the other I come across.

An example would be the different thinking a kid would have when faced with a bowl of cookies and would love to eat all of them because ' I am hungry and I love cookies '. When the parent imposes a limit – ' You can take only one cookie ' = I cannot take more because mom said I can have only one or else , or where the kid thinks ,' I would love to eat all the cookies but there are others kids around too and they are also hungry so I will make sure that everyone has cookies too.' When parents say ' you must share because I said so' and follow up with a patronizing pat on the head ' good sharing ', the wrong message gets internalized. I am sharing because mom says so and because I will get a verbal reward for sharing. ' AK interview

When we use consequences to reinforce our limits and moral behavior we end up promoting self interest at the expense of others.  The following incident that took place on the school playground proves the point well.  A teacher saw a kid kick a football which  hit a fellow teacher who then fell from the force of the ball and got injured. The kid ran off. When the other teacher confronted the kid about his moral responsibility to go and help the teacher – the kid responded that he ran away so that he would not be caught and be punished.  In a situation where there are no consequences or a discipline code , the kid would be careful not to hurt others , not because of what might be done to him= consequences  , but how his actions have consequences on others. And if he by mistake did injure the teacher , he would in an autonomous manner engage in the moral act of restitution and go and help the teacher and offer an apology

'So when we want to focus on our children's moral development we have to recast the ideas discussed in most parenting books that boundaries and limits are thought of as restrictions that adults impose on children. But shouldn't our goal be for children to refrain from doing certain things because they are wrong? The limits on kid's behavior , in other words , should be experienced as intrinsic to the situation. We want them to ask ' How will doing X make the other kid feel? ' and not- 'Am I allowed to do X ' or Will I get in trouble for doing X' - Unconditional Parenting