So far in this series of posts, we’ve talked about anger vs. gentleness and leadership in our parenting. Today we’re going to talk about setting goals and the importance of doing so. Having a goal gives us something toward which to go and sets our trajectory. If you aren’t doing this already, what about setting some specific goals? We so often work in generalizations and then wonder why we aren’t getting where we’d like to go. In leading and educating our children, we can begin to get more specific. Write down goals, go over them, and imagine ways to implement and present new lessons (whether academic or character). There is still room to go with the flow, but especially in character lessons–life lessons, a specific goal is helpful.
Next after declaring the goal is to gain focus. We so often lose our focus, get tied up in so many distractions we forget where we are. Focus is important and without it, even the best goal probably won’t be met. And, as in so many other areas, as you decide on goals and keep your focus steadfast until the goal is met, you are modeling over and over these good leadership qualities for your children! You are teaching them good leadership. A good leader is respected because he is actually leading as he would wish to be lead, while standing gently firm, “eyes on the goal,” till the leading is accomplished. Again, focus will help you to see problem times coming and head them off at the pass, or at least recover the incidents with grace.
A few of us tend to overreact and use some heavy-handed correction when it isn’t even necessary–more out of habit. Instead of over-reacting we might try here some wisdom from the corral and use pressure (horse talk) or methods of correction–in phases. That means we use only as much as is necessary–and always the least amount it takes. When you see a positive response, encourage your charge by backing away a bit instead of pressing in harder. These phases (which you increase if there is no response) are true for vocal discipline, as well as physical. In other words we can learn to use softer, less stern voices, when softer voices will work just as well, etc.Another good tool is to really get to know and respect your child. How does he think and react? What makes him happy and what “sets” him off? Actually make some notes on each child, that you can review from time to time and always add new discoveries you make as you see your child develop and grow. This type of listening and looking intently for what your children “need” is true leadership.
A great leader is also one who has put his self out to be creative and imaginative. Creativity shows itself in every aspect of life from tooth brushing to folding the clothes, meals, activities, etc. Imagination is also found in every area including imagining how your children are feeling about some particular incident, or imagining what incredible name you could give to a new one-dish meal, just for fun! For some this kind of thinking comes easily and for others it takes real work, but it is crucially important. Your family will reflect the care you take to see that life is presented with creativity and imagination. As you try to implement more creative ideas into daily life you will find their response makes you indeed, feel like a great leader!
Over and around all of these ideas and methods – being gentle, being a leader and setting goals – should be a covering of praise. Praise should be an automatic way of life, a natural response to children (and pets)–an automatic, from the heart outcry of pure pleasure in seeing something tried, or something accomplished, or any of the many good things that occur daily.
So, if you’re still with me, let’s review the basics:
#1 Accept responsibility of becoming a leader
#2 Set simple appropriate goals
#3 Focus–never take your eyes off the goal till it’s accomplished
#4 Who is your child? Look and Listen – make notes on what your child needs, rather than just quickly imposing your own ideas over him
#5 Maintain a never wavering gentle follow through. You are sure of your eventual results!
#6 Assert only enough firm pressure to attain goal
#7 Presenting a creative and imaginative life for your children
#8 Lots of praise–as a completely natural outcry and attitude of life; joy over right and good things as well as mere attempts at right and good things
I’d love to hear your thoughts, mamas! How have you seen these different behaviors or goals reap good fruit in your life with your children?