Self Worth

26 11 2012

How do we develop our children’s self-worth in a society that is so externally referenced?  How do we measure our own?

It is no secret that we live in a society that focuses heavily on the carrot and stick model for rewarding people.  We are constantly bombarded by promises of rewards and compensation for behaving or performing in a certain way.  For our children, it is not only there academic performance that gets measured and “graded”, even their “good” behaviour is subject to reward or compensation. 

I’m all for focusing on and highlighting positive actions.  At the same time, I wonder, how much praise is too much.  When our children are rewarded for keeping their desks in order, listening to the teacher, completing their homework, showing up to school on time, etc. what are they really learning?  Are they valuing the extrinsic reward or the feeling they get in doing what makes them feel good about themselves? I’ve seen more than one child upset and disappointed because :

  • their friend got a special compensation for raising their hand to ask a question but they didn’t;
  • even though their project was the best, they didn’t get the highest mark;
  • they didn’t get first place in the dance recital and they feel they are the strongest and hardest working dancer in the group.

As adults our performance and behaviours in our work environments, volunteer committees, professional organizations, academia, politics, religious groups, etc. earn us special titles, preferred parking spots, salary promotions, certifications, media publicity and other material or social status symbols.  Although we are subject to similar carrot and stick reward systems as our children, we also know the feeling of gratification we get from external rewards is not sustainable through material things alone.

As a parent, I’ve learned that I can coach my children to  nurture a healthy sense of self worth beyond external material barometers.  I know how I feel when I am in alignment with my values and in purpose with my goals and my children are capable of connecting to the same feelings within themselves.

The next time your child is upset by not having been “fairly rewarded” for their effort consider asking the following questions:

  •  How do you feel about what you did?
  • What makes you most proud of the choices you make?
  • When you feel good about yourself, what else is possible?
  • How do you know when you are doing your best?
  • Who else happens when you do your best?
  • How are you a better person when you respect/credit/acknowledge/are true to yourself?

I know that as I continue to learn to honour and build my self-worth through my choices, I model what is possible for my children too.

Shhhh – listening to our bodies

19 11 2012

Do you listen to your body?  I am keenly aware today of how I have unconsciously and at times consciously disconnected from my body, as I’ve grown older.

When my kids were younger, in amazement and awe, I marveled at how they were totally in tune to their bodies’ cues.  They immediately responded to the sensations they knew to be hunger, thirst, pleasure, discomfort, fatigue, warmth, cold; through whatever means of communication they had as they sought to have their bodies’ needs met.  Although I do not have clear memories of my own infancy I do recall earlier times when I did not ignore my headaches, stomach gurgles, fatigue and need to go to the bathroom!

So what happened?

As I’ve grown older I found it more challenging to honour my bodies cues in lieu of other more urgent “priorities”.  I learned to put others’ needs before my own, and to “toughen up”, “be strong” and ignore my body’s natural cues and signals.  I learned that it was admirable to have a high threshold for pain! After years of conditioning myself to push through even when I was tired or sick or hungry and after some not so subtle setbacks, I know how dangerous this pattern has become and am acutely aware that it is not the legacy I want to leave my children.

In the past couple of years, I’ve begun to re-awaken to my bodies cues through breathe and observation.  This past weekend I had the joyful pleasure of participating in a Nia class with my daughters.  Together we were able to lose ourselves into our bodies unique rhythms as we swayed and flowed and shouted to the music that surrounded us.  For me this experience was a wonderful way to centre myself – mind, body and spirit and just let go!  Doing this with my girls also empowered me to model for them what it looks like to honour my body as everyone in the class, adults and children alike, moved differently in alignment, respect and integrity with themselves!

I used to live by the expression “no pain no gain” a deep routed belief I carried for years – girls, BREATHE –  Mommy’s awake now… and if you notice that she ends up taking a nap every now and then, you can give her a gentle poke 😉

For more information on reconnecting to your body through Nia visit !

Coaching vs. micromanaging

5 11 2012

Coaching is about asking powerful questions.  How do we recognize the difference between “me” questions and “them” questions?

 Let me explain, recall the discussions that take place in your home after school.  Does the following sound familiar:

–              What did you do at school today?

–              Who did you play with at recess?

–              How did the test go?

–              What mark did you get?

–              Where did you go with friends after school?

–              How was your presentation?

–              What comments did you get from the teacher?

–              What did your friend say when you gave him the invitation?

–              Why didn’t you eat your lunch?


Consider these “me” questions since most of them are asked based on own need to know what’s going on in our children’s lives.  Depending on the answers and whether or not I feel good about the responses I get, these questions typically evoke an action, or response from me based on how aligned I feel with my own behaviors, beliefs or values.

Now consider the following questions, what I refer to as “them” questions:

  • What was the best part of your day?
  • How did you feel after the presentation?
  • If there was one thing you would do differently what would it be?
  • What did you notice after you completed the test?
  • How do you most enjoy spending time with your friends?
  • What’s possible when you do your best?

Everyone, and our kids especially, can sense our energy and presence when we communicate with them.  They can also sniff out when we are wading into “micro-management” vs. an open minded interest and trust in them.  They know the difference between genuine curiosity and when we are feeding our own need for control.  In turn, I’m also getting better at detecting when my kids are telling me what they think I want to hear vs. the truth of their experience without filters.

Trusting my own instincts teaches my kids how to continue to trust theirs and when we trust our instincts micro-managing becomes obsolete – and let’s face it no one likes to be micro-managed!


%d bloggers like this: