A real confidence boost for children can be when the parent and child roles are reversed, taking them from the learner/listener role to that of instructor or teacher. The parent becomes the learner, and the child the teacher. This not only gives them a comfortable sense of authority but by including phrases such as: teach/er, pupil, learning etc it also embeds positive associations to learning and school. Which can only be a good thing.
Whilst the scenario I’ll outline is set at the dinner table, there’s no reason not to use this at any appropriate time of the day. And it is as simple as this:
At dinner, ask your children what they learned at school.
Can’t get simpler than that.
Now, this may sound like it has a hint of interrogation about it, but stick with it. Asking without expectation and with genuine interest, you get the ball rolling. The ideal is to look to find something about their day that they can teach you. You can even ask directly, “What can you teach me about your day?”. Getting into this habit helps them reflect on their day. In addition it cements their learning as they retell it using their own words.
This not only puts them in the mindset of a teacher but also gives you a chance to engage through listening. Paying attention to someone is after all a powerful display of appreciation. You will therefore be modelling the behaviour you’d like to see them use.
Another upside is that you may find your child asking you, “How was your day?”.
“Life is so much richer when you begin to re-classify failure as simply getting a result you didn’t expect”
This doesn’t need to be used religiously at every meal time as it becomes too formalised. The idea is to keep it light and conversational.
Here are some alternatives. Test and see what works best for you:
A variation of this is to ask what they failed at in the day. This type of question can net you a different yet no less important result. By being able to discuss failing without judgement allows us to feel safe and more willing to share. It also teaches not to think negatively about failure. If this is an unfamiliar concept, try Wayne Dyer’s quote:
From this mindset, we can then ask a better question “What do you do with the results you produce?”. Learn to re-associate failure to simply ‘producing results’. At least from here we can embark on how to do things differently whereas failure is often associated with termination of testing and achieving.
Read My Son’s First Detention about how I stopped myself from classifying my son’s detention as failure.
Have fun with this little exercise, letting me know what results you get in the comments below.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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