Raising Able (…not Cain)

Raising Able (…not Cain)

empowered-kid-520x346You are not raising kids. You are raising adults. You’re raising a friend and spouse, business partner or employee, your grandchild’s parents and neighbors. There’s a thought. No pressure.

What kind of adult are you raising? Keeping the end in mind could help us redirect our parenting mindset. We can choose to interact with our kids so they become successful, able adults.

Imagine a husband, or a coworker…who is unable:

To fix a problem
Avoid risk
Crumbles under stress
Makes excuses or blames
Is incompetent
Is not responsible, detailed or willing to work through challenge
Overly dramatic and passive aggressive
Sees criticism, suggestions, or denial as personal attacks.
Unable to resolve conflict…
Quits
Cannot adapt or overcome obstacles

Actually, the best way to ensure your kids struggle and fail as an adult, is to keep them from experiencing any of those things as they’re growing up. In our zeal to be good parents, we work hard to shield and rescue our children from anything that is challenging, disappointing, uncomfortable or unhappy.  We protect them from anything that is painful or hurts.

In doing so, we disable them. They are not enabled to succeed.

If you want your children to be successful, then enable them to gain strength in the required traits from the beginning.

Let them know what they are able to do. Let them enjoy doing what’s appropriate and theirs to own. Let them become responsible and make choices, developing their own preferences. Let them resolve issues that belong to them; situations either they find themselves involved or consequences of choices they have made. Weigh in and provide insight, but let them make choices on things that aren’t permanent or life altering. Let them define a strong individual identity.  Let them do what they are able to do.

Let them know they are able to take risks. Encourage them to experiment and stretch a little further than is comfortable and safe. Let them experience “safe fails” under your roof where they can find guidance in thinking through the results and managing the consequences in a way that propels them to learn how to make a better decision and move forward positively. Let them laugh at mistakes and feel the rush of accomplishment.  Let them understand how to adjust and move forward.

Let them know they are able to handle future situations. As you have kept a growth mindset that is a perpetual learning cycle, your child will become capable of managing themselves and just about any situation they may face as an adult. They become confident…

Problem solvers
Risk takers
Strong
Responsible
Competent
Self-defined
Self-determined
Successful…adults. They become achievers, influencers, innovators, game-changers, leaders and shapers of the next generation.

Tough parents raise strong kids.

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Why Me? 4 Ways to Help Your Child’s Comeback After Injury

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(Thanks to Tom Hurley for this great post!)

Why Me?

I’ve had a couple of really frank discussions lately about how a simple change in perspective can dictate nearly every choice that one is faced with making. This holds true in both sport and life. And as I pondered and discussed this with some of my friends I kept circling back around to the one critical point that sets us apart (as far as we know) from all other animals on earth; our innate ability to ask “why”.

Using that as my jumping-off point I realized quite quickly that the phrase “why me” is usually fraught with a serious amount of negativity. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard that phrase when dealing with both young and older athletes, especially following a potentially season and or sport changing injury. The “why me” part of the question however, is far less important than the feelings silently inserted between the words “why” and “me”; and it is there, in that simple space, where the champion is made.

You see, the missing link in the phrase “why me” usually sounds something quite similar to this: “why did this happen to me?” and the very instant that those words are uttered, the athlete has created a paradigm where: 1) they are the victim, 2) they have given control away, 3) they have opened a window for the demons of doubt to enter. All three of which are situations that, though incredibly real, can be assuaged with some really simple redirection and mental skills practice.

Of course it is quite natural to have an initial negative reaction to an injury or some other circumstance that threatens your continued involvement in a particular sport or activity; especially for younger athletes who have committed a huge portion of their free-time toward becoming as skilled as possible.

Fear is a primary emotion. That said, when a young athlete focuses on the fear of re-injury it is nearly impossible for them to focus on the prospect of returning to pre-injury play. The fear of re-injury not only inhibits intensity of play, but places the athlete at a higher risk of more injury due to compensatory movement patterns as they avoid using the injured or affected body part. This is the factor most commonly associated with an athlete’s return to full participation, and can be the most frustrating for the athlete to try to overcome.

There are four vital elements that should be considered when dealing with the psychological aspects of all of these injury scenarios.
1) First and foremost it is vital to validate the athlete’s fear as a rational, normal and completely expected outcome of having been injured.
2) Set specific, progressive, reasonable goals for the athlete’s full return to play.
3) Utilize imagery and relaxation techniques.
4) Incorporate positive self-talk.

All of these elements are equally important, however the one that may have to most long-lasting effects, and help a young athlete learn about the importance of resiliency and become more of a process centered athlete is #4. The incorporation of positive self-talk is where we get to redress the initial “why did this happen to me” and change that one critical word from “to” to “for”.

“Why did this happen for me” directly changes the 3 negative components that we mentioned earlier.
1) They are no longer the victim, rather they have been given a challenge, 2) they have accepted that they are in control of how they receive this challenge; 3) they have eliminated a stronghold for the demons of doubt and have given themselves a point of focus. As well, they have given the phrase “why me” an entirely new and positive perspective; one that they may carry with them far outside the world of sport.

I love when a young athlete grasps this concept, in both sport…and life.

 

Raising an Olympian: Why Allowing Our Kids to Fall, Makes Them Stronger.

Last year, I played PE teacher. I hadn’t taught in a classroom since before I had my own kids and wasn’t expecting the cultural shift that had since taken hold of both parents and school administrators. I walked into the gym in September expecting to provide fun fitness experiences and information that would be life-lasting. By October, I knew I had a literal fight on my hands. I had been called into the principal’s office consistently to redirect my plans. I couldn’t infer a child needed to improve their fitness since that would make them feel bad about themselves. As the weather chilled, I could no longer take them outside where they might get cold. I couldn’t use the fields in the morning since it would make their shoes wet. I couldn’t use the climbing rope since they might fall. I couldn’t use the trails because they might trip and fall on unpaved surfaces. I couldn’t insist that a child run, as they MIGHT have an underlying medical condition that MIGHT cause a problem. If a child’s face flushed or they breathed heavily, I was encouraged to have them sit out. I was called into question for children not being given A’s on their report card. It was offensive to suggest Pop Tarts and Lunchables should be replaced with healthier choices. It gave me a window into the environment being created for many kids today. Adults want to give kids a great life and do what’s best for them. They’ve created a calm, safe, easy, happy and….

… incredibly debilitating life for kids.

If I could have at least one do-over in parenting, it would be to have been a much more hard-core mom. In my quest to be the most loving mom, the one who provided as best I could, the one who would protect the hard blows, rescue, soften, make easier, I missed an opportunities to make them tougher. I could’ve strengthened my kids more, not only to handle elite levels of competition, but to thrive in real-hard-core-life.

Sports pyschologists have done research, but it doesn’t take a doctorate to figure out that one “IT” factor of successful people is their mental toughness.

So, do we just get mean? Nasty? Abusive? Is that what it means to be a tough parent?

Come on…. common sense, good judgement and balance…

It means that from the time our kids are toddlers, we need to become “velvet bricks”. It means to love them enough to let them experience the positive and negative consequences of the choices they make and the discomfort of new experiences. We need to allow them to take risks and feel the anxiety; stretch to feel pressure. It means working through challenges, obstacles and difficult things while handling distractions and interference. It means allowing them to feel the pain of falls, the frustration of setbacks, the anger of shortfalls, struggle of work and wrestling to figure solutions. It starts as they wobble across the room during their first steps and picking them up to go a little farther and progresses until they take their leap into adulthood as you smile encouringly. It’s only then, they gain the self-assurance and elation of their accomplishments.

Parents: Tough parents raise strong kids.

Toughness strengthens character, attitude and thinking needed to maximize potential.

Make it normal for kids to take appropriate risks and face challenges, work and figure out solutions to problems, resolve consequences, and make improvements.

Diminish externals and strengthen internals: don’t allow kids to blame or make excuses, but own responsibility for their effort and responses.

Focus on building the child, not the “star”, on the process, not outcome and responding objectively not emotionally as they develop.

Encourage with positive guidance. Help your child learn how to analyze situations and performance, determine how to improve, adjust, and move forward.

Acknowledge when it’s hard, but encourage them to overcome: “I know it hurts”, “I see that it’s hard.” “When that happens, yes, it’s frustrating..” “Yes, you’re sad”
“… but let’s move on and figure out how to make things better.”

When your kids face the hard things in life, to have equipt them with strong character, attitude and thinking helps them not just survive, but thrive in maximizing their potential.

Choking at Championships

Championship season. The pressure is on and tensions are running high. Stress has an interesting effect that can threaten performance. The official term for implosion under pressure is “choking”.

I watched American Idol last night as Hollywood week took place and wanna-be rock stars faced their first intense audition. To some degree it was the play-offs and they faced elimination if they didn’t rise up to the challenge. As practices went on and the show-down ticked closer, the show captured the drama of those who began “losing it”. Certain contestants brought in years of talent, years of practice, years of dreams to shine at this moment. But talent and hard work weren’t enough to keep them from falling to pieces in an emotional puddle. Some shut down and couldn’t think, others cried or became short and argumentative with everyone around them. In a few cases, they snapped and walked out. In every case, it affected their performances and stole life-long dreams of accomplishing something great. So, there’s more than talent and more than hard physical work needed when the intensity is high. There’s a need to harness the mind and make it work for you instead of against you.

Actions=Expectations + Belief
Actions are determined by what you expect and expectations flow from what you believe to be true. If you don’t believe in what can happen and expect to fail, you most certainly will. If you trust and have confidence in yourself, you most certainly can achieve your goals.

1. Believe in your potential
Believe in what you are capable of achieving.
Believe that you can push the limit of what you’ve done. Believe you can be more skilled, stronger, faster, better than you were the day before.
See yourself and believe you can be your best when it matters.

2. Believe in the preparation.
Trust your training and be certain in your readiness.
Be confident in the hours, weeks, months and years of practice you’ve invested. Know you’ve sweat more than anyone else.
Trust your coach and all those who give you direction. Don’t pull back but do what they tell you to do. Just remember, they know what they’re doing and now’s not the time to question what they’re telling you they want from you.
Don’t retreat to what’s comfortable and safe. Let go and unleash. Let your actions show that you expect to achieve your goals because you believe you have done what it takes to make it happen.

3. Believe in the ability to accomplish the goal.
Set goals that reflect what you can control. You can focus, keep technique tight, exert every ounce of strength, be strategic. You cannot control the outcome. Set mastery goals and not outcome based goals. Be certain that focusing on the details gives you the best chance at getting the desired outcome.
Believe you can perform better than past performances and push past prior limitations.
Expect to succeed.