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Displaying items by tag: guidance

Randi Zuckerberg and her brother Mark started Facebook together. In many ways she has been accredited with the phenomenal growth of Facebook due to her marketing skills. And she is a parent.

I met her last year (2013) in the USA, and have listed below the Top 5 things I learnt from her during that  conversation on parenting, children and what motivates people. 

Read on...

I was invited to attend a pre-school groups’ ‘camp fire evening’.  The 6 year old group came together on a Friday evening to eat boerewors rolls around a fire and sing songs at school. Each child also needed to bring a torch as the school lights would be turned off later in the evening.

It was a beautiful evening and the children were very excited and ran around the garden exploring the darkness with their torches. Soon enough a young boy came over holding out his torch which had fallen and had stopped working. He was crying.

“Well you’ll have to share with someone else then, Gary.”

“But I don’t want to!” Gary managed to sob out.

“Well, Gary, it’s broken and there’s nothing we can do about it. Crying won’t do you any good, but smiling sometimes does.”

“My mom will be really angry. Its my new torch.”

“Come now Gary, we are going to light the sparklers soon.”

More sobbing while trying to shake the torch into operation.

“Gary, your tears will put the lights out. Don’t ruin our evening. Look, Liam’s torch doesn’t work either and he isn’t crying.”

By now I was about to take the torch and smash it over the teacher’s head hoping to shake her into decent operation.

Later on in the evening, they lit the sparklers. As the children ran around waving the sparklers in the air, one child’s jersey caught alight. She came running over and it was soon put on with no injury.

“Who did this?” shouted the teacher. “Who lit the jersey? Anthony was it you? I saw you were playing close by.”

“No, it wasn’t me. I swear it wasn’t me.”

“Come on everyone. Who was it?”

I don’t know what the teacher had expected to gain by asking that question. The children had been playing around, waving their sparklers and occasionally they bumped into each other. I noticed Anthony looking very uncomfortable. I went over to him and said,

“It looks like it was an accident. Sometimes accidents like this happen easily. I don’t think anyone really meant to burn the jersey.”

Anthony looked at me. He looked a bit surprised but I could see he was sizing me up. He was wondering if I could be trusted.

“It was me, but it was an accident. I didn’t mean it.”

I nodded my head. “Accidents happen, Anthony. It’s okay.”

As your awareness sharpens, and as you find respectful ways to resolve these kinds of issues, it can become unsettling to listen to the communication patterns of our spouses, friends and your child’s teachers. In every workshop the concern comes up of how to convey this awareness to spouses and other relevant people. It brings up dynamics of power, and perhaps new conflict. In the case above, the teacher was the principle of a well-known Cape Town school. Did I feel comfortable in pointing out to her another way of communicating that conveys respect? The thought of it was too uncomfortable.

Published in Guidance

During ‘quiet play’ all the children (aged 4 & 5years) sit on the mat and play educational games or puzzles. Throughout the year I have been nurturing the life skills of negotiation and conflict resolution with the children. It was all summed up in the following incident.

I was building a puzzle with two children with my back turned to a group of four playing a card game. As their game progressed, tension surfaced and accusations of cheating were thrown around.

Pretty soon they called me to intervene. I turned around and said, “Guys, it sounds like that some children are not playing fairly. If you don’t like what is happening you need to speak to each other.” I turned my back again.

I listened carefully as the group of children struggled to communicate their feelings and ideas about who was cheating and how they didn’t like it. I soon realised that the two children who I was building with were as interested in the process as I was because the one soon whispered, “They are negotiating now. They must talk about their problem.”

he other joined in and said, “They are solving their conflict.” The three of us carried on building, aware that the group of four needed to grapple with the issue on their own.

Published in Guidance

Chad was a child who had trouble expressing his anger and the parents informed me that there was a lot of sibling rivalry between him and his younger sister. Chad often hit children and we had already tried all of the skills. There came a day when I took Chad outside, to a quite place.

“Chad it looks like you have quite a few friends and you love playing with all of them. I notice that one of your best friends is Ashwin and you guys play with the cars mst of the morning. At times, it also looks like that some of the other children seem to annoy you and that makes you want to make them go away. It seems that as you do this, some children are getting hurt. We now need to think about how else we can support you to make sure everyone is treated respectfully.”

Taking a piece of paper, we wrote down all our ideas.

Robert: “What do you think Robert should do if Chad keeps hitting other children?”


Robert: “Well, Robert could hit Chad back……..”


 Robert: “We could go talk to the principal……?”

Writing down all the ideas, Chad said, “I could go inside and sit on the mat.”

Robert, writing, “Mmmm, Chad could come inside and find something to do on the mat."
Robert:  “And if Chad keeps hitting the children?”
Chad: “I could go to teacher Lamees’s class”
Robert: “Okay, lets put that down as well. Chad could go to teacher Lamees’s class. Lets look at what we have written. Robert could hit Chad, Chad could go to the principal, Chad could go inside and Chad could go to Lamees’s mat. Let’s cross out what isn’t acceptable. Robert doesn’t hit Chad so we cross that out. How about going to see the principal?”

Chad shakes his head and I cross that out. Sitting on the mat had not proven successful so I said, “I see that Chad still hits other children so we need to think of another thing. How about going to Lamees’s class?”

Chad nods his head.

Robert: “How long do you think you should stay there?”
Chad: “ Two weeks:”
Robert: “Two weeks? That’s a long time. I think two days is okay. What do you think?”
Chad agrees. We then write out on a paper, “If Chad hits other children then he will go to Teacher Lamees’s class for two days. Signed. Robert and Chad.” We both signed the paper and then I photocopied the agreement and gave him the original and I put the copy on the board so we would be reminded of our agreement. Chad restrained himself from hitting other children for a long time after that.

Published in P-solving

We were driving home from school when Cailin wanted her lunch box. When she was finished eating she asked me from the back seat to take the box as she had no space in the back.  I said to her: “Babes, please keep the box with you or find another space until we get home to put it for now as mommy needs to concentrate whilst driving”. 

The next minute this pink lunch box came flying past me as she threw it towards the front of the car.  I pulled off to the side of the road, turned to Cailin and said in a firm voice: “Cailin, this is not on. Mommy is now angry with you for not listening to me when I asked you to keep the box with you for now. When we goe home we can discuss this again when Mommy will be ready to talk to you”.

I continued our drive and after a minute Cailin said: “Mommy, I am ready to talk now”.

I said to her: “Cailin, I said that mommy will talk to you when I am ready”. 

When we stopped at home about 5 minutes later, I turned to Cailin and said: “Mommy is now ready and would like to talk to you about the lunch box incident”.

Cailin responded: “Ok, mommy I am ready too.” I then said to her: “When we drive in the car we need to be safe and Mommy can’t look to the back as I need to concentrate on the road ahead”. 

As I wanted to continue the conversation Cailin amazed me when she passed the lunch box to the front and she put it nicely on the front seat saying:  “Mommy, next time I will put the box like this on the seat, ok?”

I said to her:  “Thanks babes, Mommy really appreciates it when you come up with good ideas.

About 3 days later we were again driving in the car.  Cailin just finished her fruit juice and in a soft voice said to me: “Mommy, see this is how I will put my juice in the front when you are driving”. She then leaned forward and she gently put her juice box in the middle consol of the car.

Published in P-solving

Today, I was struggling to get Tyler and Oliver (both 3 years old) inside the classroom from the balcony, to settle down with some work. After describing that the washing line on the balcony would break if hung upon and that we need to be gentle with it, and reminding them of the groundrules for the balcony, I still had no success!

By this point I was frustrated and losing my patience as this had been going on and on and off for about 15 minutes. Aware of my feelings, I knelt down to their level and looked them in the eyes and calmly yet assertively said: “I feel angry when people do not listen to what I say!”

I wasn’t sure this sat right with me? So I had another go and said: “ I feel angry when my words are not heard!” With that I extended my hand to lead them back to the classroom and they followed.

I have been generalising alot this week (this was my goal), but I have often struggled to find a way of saying what I need to say. I noticed myself replacing “you” with “children” (eg. “I feel angry when children do not listen to me!”). This still did not sit right with me. I have therefore started using “people” since (as in above weekly example with Oliver and Tyler).

I also found that this sentence is so much more powerful: “I feel angry when I am ignored!”

I have also enjoyed using the short and sweet skill eg. “packaway” or “snackmat” etc. I have found it very simple and effective!!!

Published in Guidance

Michelle needed to shower, but had dirty hands which she, being only three and a half years old, wanted to first wash in the basin. The shower was already running and I had wanted her to get in and wash her hands there. (Silly little things one fights about , hey?)

Instead of doing what I usually do, which is to pick her up, kicking and screaming and plonking her in the shower, (and having a distraught child for hours afterwards), I said  " Michelle, I'm cross that I am not being listened to. At the same time washing hands in the basin would waste precious water. So, I'm turning off the shower and going away for five minutes so I can cool down. I'll come and help you shower when I'm feeling calmer.'

Which I did, without confrontation or resentment. Just do something different - very powerful!

Published in Guidance

Do SOMETHING DIFFERENT . That's resonated with my soul, and there have been lots of little chances to implement it.
Adrian, now 7, doesn't listen. Ever. This morning I called him for breakfast, and he ignored me. I called again. He ignored again. Usually I would call another 3 times before my husband would come and shout at Adrian for not listening and I would shout at my husband for shouting at Adrian – I know this is silly, but it is how it has been for us.

Do something different I thought.

So I walked over to where Adrian was, and looked him in the eye and said in a firm voice  " I have called you twice and you haven't come. I need you to come and eat your breakfast now, and to come when I first call in the future."

He didn't fuss or scream like he usually does, but came and ate his breakfast, and my husband didn't need to get cross, and its a much better dynamic. I know as I do it more and more Adrian will come earlier and earlier. There’s light at the end of my tunnel.

Published in Guidance

In the early part of last week it seemed liked there was a lot of conflict in our family and by the end of the day I was feeling quite drained. Negative thoughts and feelings kept coming through. For example, “Am I not learning anything? Or at least am I not using the tools I am learning effectively?” “Why does everything feel like such a challenge?”

But by the second half of the week I started seeing such a change. It became evident that the girls had actually learnt so much from the conflict of the earlier part of the week. With this I realized that there will always be conflict and communicating effectively does not mean that there will not be conflict. As long as we keep resolving things and learning from the conflict situations then we are actually on the right track.

When I went into the ‘From punishment to guidance’ session I found myself feeling so chuffed to realize that in many instances I actually had been doing things in the ways that were suggested. It was so gratifying to realize that what we are learning is becoming a natural way to respond to situations.

Of course I fully expect to have many, much more challenging situations along the way but I am now beginning to understand that it is all part of the journey and that in itself is very liberating!

Published in Guidance

I had to apologise to Lynden today - my more tricky middle, Aspergerish child. On Monday, when it was hot, I had parked quite far from the school and he had to walk a block with no shoes on. He moaned and groaned and moaned and groaned and nothing I said could stop the whining.

I had promised an ice cream or ice bite, but when I got home I said " that's it -  No Ice creams for kids who moan and complain so much". While I said that I noticed that I was really mean and that I felt pure revenge. He was really mad.

Today I apologised to him - told him that I was wrong not to buy him an ice cream without warning him first that that would be a consequence. He appreciated the apology, and I got a hug tonight - quite a rare occurrence.

The course has been so good for us. I'm glad we have done it together as our different parenting styles were a real source of conflict in our marriage and neither of us really knew how to right it.  I've still got a long way to go, but the mood in the house has changed and there is a whole lot less frustration and aggression all round. I didn't think that would be possible.

Published in Guidance
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