Teaching Children to Have Self Esteem

While it is true that life can dish out some unfair circumstances, we do not need to “prepare” our children for this by treating them unjustly.

Children and teenagers are very aware and sensitive about fairness. It is emotionally and psychologically painful to them to be treated in ways that are unjust.

They need to be heard and validated. If we are to teach them to have integrity and to treat other people fairly, we need to do the same with them.

Children and teenagers do not learn by what we say, as much as they learn from what we do. Our actions are far more powerful that our words.

Children learn what they see and what they experience.

They should have a chance to tell their side of things and to talk about their feelings. We cannot teach them that our legal system offers a fair trial and then turn around and punish them without hearing them out.

Let us treat our children that they matter. Their integrity and self esteem matters.

This is the way they can learn to set boundaries with other people.

They can learn how to explain how they feel about things and why they feel that way.

If a situation arrises that the child will experience consequences then they should understand what is happening and why.  Those consequences should be equal to their behavior and not overblowing what actually happened.

Teachers that punish an entire class of students, for the bad behavior of 1 or 2 students, are not teaching the children that they are individuals with individual rights.

Sometimes there are unavoidable consequences for a child due to something their sibling or their classmate did, but consequences should not be inflicted upon innocent bystanders just to exercise control or to make a point.

Children need to grow up in a safe emotional and psychological environment.

Imagine if you were at work and forced to do overtime without pay, all because of a disruptive co-worker who slowed down the progress of the workday.

You would feel angry and mistreated. How would this affect your feelings about the supervisor that made you work extra hours with no pay?

How would this affect your overall morale?

There is an old saying that you may have seen on an office poster….

“Until morale improves…the beatings will continue..”

You cannot punish people into wanting to behave better. Children and teenagers are people and they need to be able to trust their environment.

This will allow them to blossom and learn. A benevolent and just environment will allow children.  To feel valued as individuals.

The ability to express one’s emotions and thoughts is a learned skill. To be able to present your side of a situation in a logical and understandable manner is a critical life skill.

Let us hear our children and teenagers out. Teach them respect of others and respect for themselves.

Let us celebrate the young minds and remember that those minds can tell when they are treated unjustly.

There is a psychological consequence for every negative experience and there are associations wired into the brain im regards to repeated experiences.

If we want the respect of our children, we need to treat them with compassion and empathy, as best as we can. There is no rule that says the adult cannot apologize if you make a mistake.

It shows the child that you respect them when you admit when you are wrong. It teaches them that everyone makes mistakes.

When you forgive your children for their mistakes they will learn to forgive you for yours. This will help to build their self esteem.

Self esteem is critical for survival. If we bring up children to be adults that cannot self-generate self esteem then they will be targets for predators and abusers.

Children and teenagers that learn to express their feelings and expain their side of things will be better equipped to deal with the people they meet as adults.

 

Hedden Park Photography by my Daughter

park trees lake rockss

bridgeparl trees lake rocks 2

park trees lake rocks

These are pictures that my twelve year old daughter took. She is developing a love for photography. These were taken at Hedden Park which is near to my home in New Jersey.

This is a great quality time activity that costs nothing. It was relaxing to walk in the nature and enjoy the beautiful discoveries together.

Woman Dies in Train Accident Shortly before I was Crossing the Bridge Overhead This Evening

My daughter and I decided to go to the church thrift store this evening. It was supposed to be open from 7pm to 9 pm. We drug our feet a bit and ended up leaving a little after 7pm.

On our way to the church, we have to pass over a bridge that overlooks part of the Dover train tracks.  The train in Dover is commonly used for people coming and going to New York City. It also goes to various other train stops in other New Jersey towns.

As we neared the bridge I could see bright red lights. There were a few police cars and emergency vehicles that could be seen as we drove up the hill. As we neared the top, we could see many more that a few emergency vehicles. At a quicl count I was able to identify 3 fire trucks, 2 ambulances and no less than 8 police cars.

There were people who had stopped their cars and had gotten out to look over the bridge to satisfy any morbid curiosity they had. I continued to drive the car over the road and the section that was the bridge.  My daughter recognized that there must have been a bad accident. She thought that the train may have derailed.

I told her that it was possible that the train derailed and we said a prayer for any people who may have been involved. We went on to the thrift store only to find out that the hours had not been updated on the sign. So, we have to go back on Tuesday.

I told my daughter that we could look up the accident when we got home. It would most certainly be on the news. Well I did not see anything at 7:30 when we got back home. I told her that the accident must have just occurred before we had left the house. It was too soon for them to post anything, especially of they were still investigating.

She popped her head into my room a few minutes ago, to ask me if I knew anything yet. I looked it up and this was the article that I found.

http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2015/05/woman_fatally_struck_by_train_in_dover.html

Apparently the woman was walking along the train tracks, below the bridge. Everyone who lives on Dover knows that the tracks are live and that the train runs frequently. I am not sure what she was doing walking along the tracks.

The train struck and killed her. My daughter thinks that maybe the woman was trying to commit suicide. I suppose it is possible. Or she could have been one of the many homeless people we have living in Dover and she may have been drinking and not realized the danger.

It is sad and it was kind of creepy that we were getting ready to leave the house while this was happening. My daughter is now waiting for me in her bedroom to let her know what I found out.

I will read the news story with her and find out if she wants to talk about her feelings about it. It is always hard to tell how these things will affect a 12 year old. Hopefully she will not have any trouble sleeping over this.

It is almost time for me to go to sleep for the night. I might put one more good night post before I retire for the evening.

Annie

Is There Still Stigma About Single Mothers ?

vSketchpadSingle parenting is hard. There is no way around it. Unless you have a tribe supporting you, there are more jobs that need to be done than there is time.

Life for single mothers is a balancing act, which often leaves us mentally drained and physically exhausted. There is still stigma about being a single mom and it comes at you when you are least expecting it.

You have spent your day off getting everything ready for the kids, so that they will be okay when you are at work. You buy extra frozen food that they know how to make. You organize the house in a way that they can easily understand. You spend any free time you have on your day off with the kids.

You check and double check that they either have someone with them, depending on their ages, or that they can reach someone if they run into a problem. You go over everything in your head, while you are laying in bed, trying to sleep. Will they be safe enough? Is there enough food?

Before you leave for work you check and recheck everything. The babysitter is there, if you need one. The older child has been instructed by you ( if they are the one babysitting), about the last minute things. They have your work number and a family member’s number.

Before you leave for work, you go over the last minute things in a frenzy, as the anxiety threatens to choke your throat. Is the battery charged in their cell phone? Do they know where their shoes are? Is the flashlight accessible in case the power goes out? Do they know where the first aide kit is?

Finally you drag yourself out the door feeling guilty for having to lose this time with them, You would rather not have to spend so many hours working. You feel guilty when you are at work, because you would rather have the luxury of being a stay at home mom.

But the bills must be paid, the kids have to eat and no one is helping you. You even text  the oldest from the parking lot at work. “Just checking that you guys are okay” You remind her that you will check your text messages on your break, so to text you if she needs anything.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. Some woman who hardly knows me at work will come up to me and say…”WHO is watching your kids, while you are at work?”

You hardly know what to say. You were already having enough anxiety about having to go to work. You would rather be home than to  be underemployed at this job.  This woman knows next to nothing about you.

“How did you know I have kids? Do you know how old my kids are?” you ask.

She says, “Well, Tiffany, told me you leave your kids at home when you go to work. Are you sure they are safe?”

Who in the hell do they think they are? They don’t even know how old my kids are. Why would they automatically assume they are small children, and that I have left them unattended?

I am 49 years old. How tiny could my kids be?

The woman is standing there, looking at me and waiting for an answer. I mean, what is the appropriate answer to “Are they safe at home, while I am at work?”

Should I say “OH ! My god ! You are right. They are not safe and the issue of leaving them alone never occurred to me, in relation to safety. I am so glad you reminded me. I will quit this job right now and go home. You don’t mind covering the rest of the shift do you ?”

To make it worse, the woman questioning me is only about 5 years older than my oldest daughter. She could be my daughter, by age.

My 18 year old is home with my 12 year old. I left the food and the instructions. I called from the parking lot to check and now I am trying to be at work.

Do I have to give this person a whole run down of my entire household situation? Come to think of it, she has kids too !

Who is watching her kids, while she is working the same shift I am?

Why does this question apply to me and not her? Because I am a single mother. There are still people that consider single mothers irresponsible.

Like we woke up one day and said to ourselves.“I don’t need any help. I am going to become a single mother and deal with working, childcare, finances, getting groceries, making dinner, homework and everything involved in parenting ..all by myself !…

I am going to have no social life and spend all of my time struggling to survive, just so someone half my age, who is married to a doctor can ask me “Have you thought about the safety of leaving your kids alone?”

So, I asked her “Do you know the ages of my kids? Did the person who told you that they think I leave my kids alone, tell you how old my kids are?

“No, she does not know,” she said.

So, now I am thinking to myself…Ok, so someone who doesn’t know me well enough to know the ages of my children,  told another person who does not know me…that  I leave my kids alone and unattended?

She said “well, we were discussing it and we were just concerned.”

Why were they discussing my childcare choices? They have never bothered to find out anything about me or socialize with me, in any way. They have never been friendly to me..but now, they are “concerned.”

So, I informed her that my oldest daughter is 18 and the youngest is 12. Technically 12 is old enough to be left alone.

But at the current moment the 12 year old is in a house with her 18 year old sister, her grandmother and her aunt and her cousins. And their father is stopping by to eat dinner with them, because it is his mother that I live with.  “Is that okay?”

I am not sure why some of the married women at my job, seem to think that they are more responsible than single mothers are, but it is really annoying.

I could ask her why she is leaving her kids to go to work, when her husband makes enough money that she could stay home…but i didn’t. Why? Because how she deals with her family situation is none of my business !

I Have Been Summoned ! LOL

stop bloggingno really annie

What are We Passing Down to the Next Generation?

When I was 6 years old, I got hurt on a see-saw. The person on the other side suddenly decided to get off. They jumped off in mid air, sending me crashing to the ground very hard.

The shock sent nerve pain streaming from my bottom all the way up my spine. I never got on a see-saw again. I did not let my kids get on them at the park. I simply fear them.

When I was 9 years old, I smashed my finger in a nutcracker. You know the ones… they look like a wooden doll that is a man with a white beard and a red jacket. Yeah, those things. I was playing with it because I thought it was a toy.

I ended up getting my finger smashed and it was extremely painful. To this day, I hate the sight of those things. I won’t let my kids even touch them in the store. I don’t even like regular nut crackers. I buy the nuts in the can that are ready to eat.

When I was 12 years old, I stepped on a tack. It got stuck in the heal of my foot. It was so stuck that it did not come out, even when I lifted my foot, jiggled it or yelled. (yeah, that one was a long shot…)
So I had to pry the stupid thing out of my poor foot by myself.

Ever since then I have not liked tacks. I don’t like bulletin boards that require tacks. When I am someplace that has a bulletin board, I immediately start looking on the floor for tacks. I have never allowed my kids to have bulletin boards in their rooms , even when they asked me for one.

These were physical pains. The memory of the pain is triggered by the offending objects. (ok that was a little dramatic… LOL).

By now you must be thinking “For God Sake that poor clutsy girl. It is amazing she survived to be an adult.

Yes, it probably is!

My father always says he did not think I would survive to be 2 years old because of all the furniture I ran my poor head into. He had to pad every corner, including but not limited to the handle on the kitchen fridge.

So, is this an article about my traumatic childhood. A memoir of how I was abused by inanimate objects? No, but let’s suffice to say it is still an ongoing problem for me. The battle with inanimate objects, that is.

No. This post is about the fears we carry and pass down to our children without really meaning to. Are my children deathly afraid of tacks, nutcrackers and see-saws? No, they actually think I am a little crazy about those things.

But if we carry fear with us about those things, imagine what fears we carry inside about mental and emotional harm that we incurred. It makes you wonder what fears we are passing down to our kids that we are not even aware of.

Not only that, what fears were passed onto us? How many generations can they go down?

Just a thought to ponder.

Namaste,
Annie

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