Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Three Little Bears

She opened her eyes and took in the state of her room. Toys were strewn about from yesterday's playdate, clothes lay on the floor, and sunlight was just beginning to peek through the curtain at her window. Over her bed, her dad was pulling the covers off going on about her needing to wake up and that she was going to be late.

Slowly, she jumped from the bed to the floor and sleepily put on the clothes laid out the night before. The cat was meowing constantly waiting to be fed. The birds chirped outside and the spoons from the cereal bowls clinked incessantly as her older brother and sister went through the morning rush.

After throwing in her folders and lunchbox, it was off to the bus. Along the way the neighbor's dog barked viciously at her as she passed. She skipped a little faster to catch up with her sister. Cars headed off to work zoomed by and landscaping trucks rumbled through leaving an air thick with gray smoke from the burning diesel.

The yellow bus arrived with a screech and a squeal as it lumbered to rest before her feet. From there it was three steps to her seat where she could sit and relax.  Only, her ears are bombarded with an explosion of sound, mostly talk but filled with laughing or the occasional boisterous singing. She's only on her way to school and so much has happened already.

Have you ever asked the kids what they did at school today and heard a "nuthin" though you knew it wasn't true? Your taxes are definitely going somewhere and you've seen how prepared the teachers are at parent-teacher night.  So why are kids so reluctant to share what has happened during their day?

Part of the problem is the questions we are asking. To get kids to respond, we have to think like teachers and guide them towards what an appropriate response might be. It's the difference between giving our students a standardized test versus an exploratory essay. You'll never truly know a student until they explain to you who they are through their words of choice. It's the very same reason authors are not all the same.

Some of the best things our kids will discover and say will happen in school and the simple fact is we aren't there to hear it. But put ourselves in their shoes for a moment and think about every detail of your morning. What you may come to realize is that it is overwhelming.  So when we ask our children a vague question about what they did at school that day, we are leaving it too open ended for them to process it.

Instead, start a conversation after school while it still is fresh with their favorite snack. Sustenence always makes me feel instantly better and more willing to share about my day. That's why my wife and I have used what we call the highlight and low-light discussion.

We ask our children to name a highlight (something great that happened) and a low-light (something not great) to highlight that life is not perfect and that we can learn from our mistakes. These are teachable moments you shouldn't pass by.

But don't conduct an interview on an empty stomach. Crack open a pack of Teddy Soft Bakes, a tasty soft snack with chocolate or vanilla filling and have them act out their day with Teddy. Teddy Soft Bakes are made with no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors or colors and can give your kids a great after school snack and some time to decompress and think about their day.

Conduct your own interview using reporter Teddy and interview them with follow up questions like: "What made you laugh today?" or "What is one thing you did with a friend today?" Being specific instead of vague gives you the answers you are looking for from your kids and avoids the shoulder shrugs and "I dunnos". What you are essentially teaching them is how to effectively communicate with you and other adults.

More importantly, respond to their answers so that hey understand that you are listening to them.
The success of any relationship is based on effective communication and the way we interact with our children is no different.

Because of technology and smartphones, many youth today don't know how to make eye contact or hold a conversation with an adult. They are used to looking down at tablets and cellphones and avoiding interaction.  Practicing these techniques together can help children define their own story about themselves and help you to understand them better. You can help make their story a happy ending and that's no fairy tale.

Three Tips for Effective Communication with your Child

1. Don't talk on an empty stomach especially right after school.

2. Ask specific questions that lead to things you want to learn. 

3. Respond to their answers and affirm to them what they just said. 

I'm sharing Teddy Soft Bakes in my life as part of a sponsored series for Socialstars™  #myfirstTeddy #discoverTeddy 

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