A new year

So the school year has begun.  Lots of new starts and experiences happening all at once.  Kids coping with change, adults coping with change and together supporting each other by listening and ‘being there’.

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During the holidays I drove past a surf shop that had a black board out with the words
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”

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Having a car load of kids as we drove past, all at varying skill levels of surfing this was such a great encouraging statement.  Then, as we talked about it, we realised that it wasn’t  just about surfing, it could be applied to most areas of life.
Sure, life is not all about fun, but it can be very easy to get caught up in the seriousness of life and miss the fun moments.  It can be very easy in life to get caught up in the competition and comparisons of life and miss doing things because of fear of failing.

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The ‘best’ Mum – or Dad or sister or brother or grandparent or friend- may be the one having the most fun.
The ‘best’ musician – insert any musical instrument here –  may be the one having the most fun.
The ‘best’ sportsperson – insert any sport here – may be the one having the most fun.

Really the list could go on. As school and extra-curricula activities start, may you be encouraged to give things a go and have fun doing it.

“The best surfer is the one having the most fun!”

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Photo Credit: jongordon.com

 

a reminder to have a growth mindset

Last night my 10 year old was struggling with his homework. “I cannot do it, I will never be able to do it” was his cry.
On the other hand, a few months ago my 16 year old was joining a music band of older, more experienced players. I felt nervous for her and could not imagine doing what she was doing. When I asked her about it she replied “I love playing with them, I learn so much from watching them play and I think ‘one day I will be that good!’”

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The school has been learning about what it means to have a ‘Growth Mindset’. A growth mindset looks at a problem as a challenge, as something that is exciting to solve, as something they may not be able to do … YET. That word ‘yet’ is very important. It changes the way a problem is seen. It is a magic word to add to the end of sentences.

So, to my 10 year old I say “you may find it hard, and you cannot do it…yet. Keep working and asking for help and it will come.”

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A growth mindset does not always come easily to me, it is something I have to work at. But, now that I know what it is and the difference it makes to learning and life, it is something that I want to teach to both my own kids and those around me. A growth mindset:
*helps us to see challenges as good things
*it allows us to develop grit and determination
*it helps us to bounce back from set-backs and have another go
*it allows us to see possibilities
*it takes away the fear of failure and sees failure as a part of life and growth.

What great things to be able to help our kids learn. I am working at my growth mindset, I am just not always there …YET!

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Thought for the weekend – our response matters

I thought I would share the quote that has been sitting on my desk this week. I found it helpful as an adult, and yet it is something older kids can ‘get’ too.

“Everyday, each of us faces the difference between how we want things to be and how they really are.  What makes us succeed or fail is how we respond to those differences.”
Jeff Goins

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Self-compassion is helpful

This evening we had the opportunity to sit down and speak to each of our boys’ teachers at an informal parent – teacher interview. We really enjoyed the insights they shared about our children.
One of our brood can sometimes take a while to start a task and has learnt to quietly slip away and avoid the task. I wondered if he was afraid of hard work? The teacher suggested another slant, maybe he is afraid of failure and thus puts if off?

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Photo credit: hongkiat.com

I was quite delighted to later stumble across some research that offered an explanation. Below is my ‘nutshell’ summary of the article, followed by some copy and paste quotes that really stood out to me.

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Photo Credit: modenus.com

There is some research, in its early stages, suggesting that when people procrastinate it may be because they are afraid of failing. When this happens people then are unkind to themselves with their self-talk. This then starts a downward negative spiral that stops them from attempting the task.

I am seriously wondering if that is what is happening with my boy?

The antidote suggested is that people need to be kind to themselves and show some self-compassion. Tell themselves it is ok to feel this way, acknowledge the situation for what it is and have a go. When a person has a higher sense of well-being then the fear of failure is reduced and they are more ready to have a go.

I can see and hear a conversation happening with my boy – soon! What a gift it will be to give to my children, the ability to show self-compassion. I know it is also something that I need to be better at – we can learn together.

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photo credit: austinmindfulness.org

 

Below, for those interested are the ‘copy and pastes’!

“Why do we procrastinate?

Often because we fear failing at the task and dread all the negative self-evaluations that might result from that failure. Unconsciously, feeling okay about one’s self becomes more important than achieving the goal.

I’ve witnessed so many times how paralysis in the face of a task or problem can lead to escalating levels of self-criticism and self-depreciation, a self-perpetuating downward negative spiral.

Most procrastination-fighting techniques focus on ways to change a person’s behavior: just get started, take action, any kind of action. But a recent study suggests a different approach: being kind to yourself.

People prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress. Further analysis revealed that procrastination might increase levels of stress—particularly among people low in self-compassion.

Interventions that focus on increasing self-compassion may be particularly beneficial for reducing the stress associated with procrastination because self-compassion allows a person to recognize the downsides of procrastination without entangling themselves in negative emotions, negative ruminations, and a negative relationship to themselves. People maintain an inner sense of well-being that allows them to risk failure and take action.

Her study found that students tend to procrastinate more than adults, possibly because they seem less able to regulate their negative emotions and negative self-evaluations.”

To read the whole article click here .

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Photo credit: fearmastery.wordpress.com

Failure and kindness

I am having problems with my edit page – I have not been able to get any pictures into my blogs! Ironically I had written a blog about failure and that we should be taking risks and not afraid to failure. There was this great quote in Todd Henry’s Newsletter.

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

– Ed Catmull, President of Pixar/Disney

 

The blog was all written but it did not look right without any images!

Then I saw this Youtube clip that I have posted once before, but it has been updated, so I thought I would post that instead, but it can only appear with a written link!

So, with the risk of failure as the blog looks very ‘wordy’, may you be encouraged to not be afraid of failure and encouraged that there is kindness in the world around us – become a part of that ‘paying forward’. Enjoy the weekend friends. R x

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJhZ64BvvFU

 

Grit, change and stories!

The first week back at school is always exhausting for parents and children. There are new teachers to be met, new routines, the brain needs to click into a different gear and everyone has to be out the house early in the morning!

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Photo Credit: youcanbeatms.com

Thus, it was no surprise when my 8 year old had a major melt done last night. It was that extra 30 minutes in the pool that tipped him over! After the tears were shed that mercifully produce the endorphines that help the body feel better we had a conversation that was so interesting and exciting for me.  I came out the room and informed my husband – “this positive psych stuff really works”!

Thursday I was listening to a great TED talk by Angela Duckworth on grit. (If you have time take a listen, it is 6 minutes long.) I have written about grit on a number of occasions as researchers are finding out that it is a big indicator of success. Unfortunately little is know about teaching grit, but they do know that young children can be taught practical things about how their brain works and this helps. At times I share with my own kids what I am reading and how it plays out in life trying to help them make links in their brains.

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My 8 year old, after his meltdown mentioned that he wanted to change. He didn’t want to feel frustrated and upset at bed time anymore. It had just happened that I had recorded what I thought was a great quote to be retrieved when needed and here was the moment –

“transformed – not in Hollywood ways that we sometimes expect,
but quietly and slowly as most change occurs” Jeff Goins

The 8 year old nodded in understanding, but it didn’t stop there.
“Mum it is like that story you told us about the English cycling team where they decided to change everything by 1%. They changed small things like the food they ate, bits of their bikes and then it worked, they had success.”

I was stunned. That story had been told weeks ago by James Clear on his blog, but somehow the links were being made in this little boy.

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Photo credit: kelly-waters.me

So, what a great encouragement for me and you.
Let’s tell our classes, our own kids about interesting brain facts.
Let’s tell them that change is often slow but that is ok.
Let’s tell them that along the way we will need grit and that grit is worth ‘gritting’ for.
Let’s tell them that failure is not permanent and we keep going.
And, let’s tell stories that have meaning. Stories are so powerful!

 

Practise what you preach…

“Do you practise what you preach?”  was the thoughtful question my gorgeous sister asked me last night as we ‘vibered’ back and forth from Australia to Ethiopia.

“Great question” was my response.  “You have made me realise that the reason I believe in my blog is because I have been trying to practice what I preach and it has actually made such a difference to me, my kids and my teaching. So, even when I wonder if I am doing the right thing and check how many followers I have or even share my blog address with someone and the result is a blank face, I keep blogging because I know it makes a difference”.

My sister then wanted to know “What things have made the biggest difference? I am really interested.”

So, today my blog is the answer to that question.

*Searching for treasure.  At different times we now stop to ask ‘What treasures have we experienced?’ (‘Hunting the good stuff’ is the other term) This is not just done at the end of the day but even when driving in the car.

*Living for the moment.  We have noticed our surroundings a lot more. Things like clouds, blossom, trees…that refocusing amongst the busy times and pace.

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The roses and clouds I saw as I ate my lunch in the backyard
photo credit: rebekah bleby

*We have all realised the importance of play and at different times slot in small moments to enjoy. The Uno cards have made a big come back in our home.

*The reiterated knowledge that relationships are really what it is all about and that in this techno world we need to disconnect to connect.  One  way of doing this, is that as Spring has sprung we have together as a family walked to feed ducks together and be.

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photo credit: rebekah bleby

*Undivided attention. This has been a lot harder than I thought, but the desire and the effort is there to listen more carefully to conversations and those comments that kids give when they are actually giving me a privileged window into their world.

*I think a lot more about positive emotions, what they are, how they look in everyday experiences, especially when things go wrong or are difficult.

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My 12 year old painted this for me to put near my desk! (spelling error and all)

*Life is not always about succeeding and taking the safest option, but it is also about experimenting and being willing to explore options. It is about having grit when the going gets tough.

There is much more than this, but enough for now.

Overall, my writing and sharing on this blog has brought an awareness of the way I am perceiving things and it seems like my thoughts are slowly being rewired in a more positive way. But, not just me. My family are reading the blog, they are taking it on board, they give feedback and at times quote it back to me!! I love it and just want to share it with others and help make a difference.