Gottman, John; Goleman, Daniel (2011-09-20). Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
At our office we talk a lot about emotional intelligence in children and adults. We talk a lot about the increased rate of children needing help to regulate their emotions. Recently, I read a book by John Gottman, and Daniel Goleman, which had this very disturbing quote in the beginning of the book. They offer this paragraph to explain the need for their book.
The need may never have been more pressing. Consider the
statistics. Over the last few decades the number of homicides among teenagers
has quadrupled, the number of suicides has tripled, forcible rapes doubled.
Beneath headline-grabbing statistics like these lies a more general emotional
malaise. A nationwide random sample of more than two thousand American
children, rated by their parents and teachers— first in the mid-1970s and then
in the late 1980s— found a long-term trend for children, on average, to be
dropping in basic emotional and social skills. On average, they become more
nervous and irritable, more sulky and moody, more depressed and lonely, more
impulsive and disobedient— they have gone down on more than forty indicators.
Behind this deterioration lie larger forces.
Gottman, John; Goleman, Daniel (2011-09-20). Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I think the reasons for this are probably rather big and far reaching, but the statistics are cited in the book and ring true based on our experience in our office. What do you think? What are the "larger forces" they write about?
I have a lot of things that I am excited to share with you over this upcoming year. But I'm kicking off the school year with a series that I did last year regarding what I think is a dangerous mentality of “everyone wins.” This series is designed to create some conversation on what it means to allow our children to lose and struggle and win. If you read it last year, maybe you’ll want to skip it…and then again you might enjoy it again. If you’re new to these parts maybe you’ll love it…or maybe you’ll hate it. We’ll see. Either way. Here is part three of five.
There is a great scene in the animated movie, The Incredibles. The son Dash is being "encouraged" by his parents. One of his parents tells him that everyone is special. Under his breath he replies, "Then no one is."
We are stuck on this idea that everyone is exceptional, special and a winner.
Of course, if these things are true than no one is actually any of them. Some people are good at math, while others are good at stringing words together. Some people can sing, some can play sports, some can cook and clean. Some people can do amazing things with a pencil, others do amazing things with fire and sand.
Yes, we are all unique. Yes, we are all have skills, talents, and abilities that make us unique. But have we gone to far. Are we creating a generation of people that expect to win just for showing up? Personally, I think the answer to that question is yes.
I have a problem with this mentality. I think it is hurting our society. When I was a teacher, I would hear all the time about the unfairness of life. Student X was upset because she wasn't getting the playing time she deserved. Parent after parent would ask me how their child would get better if he or she did not play in the game. I would get the it's not fair that she or he practices as much as the other person and doesn't get to play.
My daughter played soccer a number of years ago. She loved it. She wasn't very good. It's not a value judgement on her, it is simply a statement of fact as someone who has coached for a number of years. She might be god some day, but the truth is at this point I doubt it. She did not enjoy running, which is a rather critical component of soccer. She has moved onto dance. She loves it. I have no idea if she is good or not from a critical point of view but I love watching her. I love the ways her eyes shimmer when she talks about dance.
What is interesting to me is that she knew she wasn't very good. She still got the same ribbon as everyone else on her team. Just for showing up.
A friend of mine has a son that played on a baseball team. He batted a thousand for the season and scored every time he came to bat. I have no idea what that would make his slugging percentage but I would think it would be really high. You see, he played in a league where every time a batter hit the ball he or she ran all of the bases. Every time, no matter what. At the end of the season he got an award, just for showing up.
He was ill prepared for the next season when three strikes meant you were out.
When I worked as an athletic director, I instituted rules and guidelines for people to earn a letter in a sport. To that point in the schools history, simply showing up meant you made the team and earned a letter. One of my favorite student athletes failed to earn his letter while his older and younger brother did make it. Two girls on the women's basketball team also failed.
"But they really tried." "It's not fair." "He's really disappointed." "I don't like to see him hurt."
Essentially they could have just said, "Look, trying is enough."
Of course, this isn't really true. What about the people who applied for the same job opening that you did and didn't get it because you got it. What about the people who put a bid on the same house that you are now living in. Do you want them moving in because they really wanted the house?
What do you think? Do you think people are being taught that you win just for showing up? If not, why are you still reading this? :) If so, do you think that is a good or bad thing?
In the next post, I'll begin to explain the problems inherent in the idea of winning just for showing up.
Earlier this week, my kids went back to school. I started a new quarter. My wife is finishing one of her quarters. Little man Celli is continuing to prep to make his debut to this world. I decided that I need to ease my way back into this blogging thing. I have a lot of things that I am excited to share with you over this upcoming year. But for this week, I am going to do a repost of a series that I did last year regarding what I think is a dangerous mentality of “everyone wins.” This series is designed to create some conversation on what it means to allow our children to lose and struggle and win. If you read it last year, maybe you’ll want to skip it…and then again you might enjoy it again. If you’re new to these parts maybe you’ll love it…or maybe you’ll hate it. We’ll see. Either way. Here is part one of five.
Does it seem to you like in today’s society, everyone wins? Do you feel like people get rewarded just for showing up now? Have you heard something like, “Hey the other team outscored you by fifteen runs but we want you to feel good about yourself, so you win too!”?
Yesterday I wrote about how I had a professor in graduate school who would often ruminate on this idea. Today, I want to talk about what if he was wrong. What I actually want to talk about is what if he was wrong about the idea that everyone should not win? Should everyone win?
If everyone should win, aren’t there some other things that should be true too?
Obviously, I think he’s right. I think our society is constantly moving towards an everyone should win mentality. I also think it is having negative effects on our children and society.
Tomorrow, I will discuss why I think he’s right. I’ll offer some anecdotal evidence and some clinical evidence.
Today is my kids first day back to school. I start a new quarter. My wife is finishing one of her quarters. Little man Celli is continuing to prep to make his debut to this world. I need to ease my way back into this blogging thing. I have a lot of things that I am excited to share with you over this upcoming year. But for this week, I am going to do a repost of a series that I did last year regarding what I think is a dangerous mentality of “everyone wins.” This series is designed to create some conversation on what it means to allow our children to lose and struggle and win. If you read it last year, maybe you’ll want to skip it…and then again you might enjoy it again. If you’re new to these parts maybe you’ll love it…or maybe you’ll hate it. We’ll see. Either way. Here is part one of five.
In graduate school I had to take extra classes because of the institution that I attended. Many of these extra classes were put together in a string. One of those strings was a connection of three theology classes. Normally, these classes would be have been taught by three different professors. Due to a confluence of events, I had the same professor for all three.
Like all things, this had positives and negatives. One of the consequences of this was the fact that as a student I tended to hear the same rants again and again. Doing an unscientific evaluation of my time, I am guessing that about three hours of my life was spent listening to rants about “everyone winning.”
My professor’s basic complaint was that everyone wins today and that is having terrible effects on our children and society as a whole. He was so passionate about it that often the conversations would spill over into the hallway after class or during break.
This lead to some good questions.
I think this is a worthy discussion for anyone to have, especially anyone who works with kids or has children. There can be little doubt that if he is right, there are consequences. It is reasonable to examine those consequences and ponder their effect on our children.
My next post will deal with the question of what if he was wrong.
As part of our practice, we get Psychology Today every other month. The latest issue has an article in it that I cannot find online but that I found to be very interesting. According to the author, there are five life lessons we all need to learn and typically don't.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Svoboda we need to learn these five lessons.
What do you think of this list on the face of it? I realize it is somewhat unfair to ask you to judge an article without reading it, but I can't find it online yet so you'll have to work with me. Thanks. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
One of things that parents complain to me about is that their kids don’t seem to understand _______________.
Once, I get past the frustration level, what I usually find is that parents are bothered by the facts that their kids don’t think like little adults. They are frustrated because their kids don’t seem to have the ability to think through the possible consequences of their actions. Their children struggle to connect the dots between actions and consequences. Their kids fail to see the value in a hard work ethic.
Often, it seems that the parents assume their kids should see the world they way they do.
But is this realistic? Do you (or they) view the world the same way you did five years ago? How about 2 years ago?
My fundamental assumption about parenting is that a parents number one responsibility is to teach.
Teaching is about helping our kids learn to connect the dots from actions to consequences. Most of the time, they don’t do that naturally. Sadly, most of the time, discipline is about punishment and not teaching.
It may be because of our get everything done now society but too often we fail to teach our children to consider the consequences of their actions and ask themselves if they want those consequences
We assume that they’ve already done this. Then we become frustrated. Maybe we should expect kids to be kids and plan accordingly. In other words, teach them about consequences without getting frustrated. What does this look like in real life?
Well, here’s a few steps to do this right now with your children.
Continuing on with the idea of looking at other people's writings for some conversation fodder. I thought we would visit my friend Dean Dorman's blog. Dean is a local therapist and I have the privilege of calling this skilled clinician a friend.
He has a book coming out in the not so distant future about relationships, resentment and intimacy. Below is a section of the book regarding our focus. Should it be on our kids or on our spouse? Does it matter? This is obviously a hot topic and usually the argument can be charted on an age continuum. Dean's take is fairly plain and in my opinion dead on target. It's long, but well worth the read. Enjoy.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that if your relationship starts to deteriorate you should fill the void with more focus on the children. This feels natural but it doesn’t work. It is at these times that couples need to focus on their marriage. If you love your children you will not focus on them during these difficult times. You need to give them the benefit of two parents that love them; a couple that is there for them. Emotionally and financially supporting a family has never been more difficult.
Two people who are in love and care for each other become the model that the children see for a healthy marriage. They become what their children will remember for how two people should talk to each other and interact. There are a lot of poor models out there that children see on a regular basis. Let your children see two people who are the leaders of the home. Yes, they argue, but they are respectful and resolve their differences. They carve time out for themselves. This is not selfish. This is the very self-‐care that is important in maintaining the integrity of the family. When couples carve time out for themselves, it communicates that each is still important.
Once children sense that you and your mate are intact, you can make difficult parenting decisions. Many of these decisions will not be popular, but they need to be made. I see this in the healthiest couples. They stay connected because they carve time out for themselves. They take vacations without their children sometimes; even if some nay-‐sayers judge them. Look, everyone knows what kind of parent you are anyway. Trust me. People can see if you are selfish or self-‐less by all the other interactions they have with you. Trust yourself. Carving out time for the couple will pay dividends both when the children are in the home and when they have moved on. Work on maintaining the connection and the rest will follow. Your children will see you as a leadership team; not two people who share the same space but whom they can play one against the other. They will know that you’re too tight and too connected to even try that strategy. They know that you talk everyday, several times a day, and that they can’t get anything past you. This holds your children to a different standard. They know that they have to take responsibility for their own behavior because there will be no way to escape or avoid it. And they will realize early on that they can’t drive a wedge between the two of you. And don’t worry if you and your spouse have been alienated in the past. The perception that you and your spouse are “together on this” can still be instilled in one’s children even if there have been periods where the both of you haven’t been close.
Remember, if you are successful in your quest to stay connected, you will stay married. Nothing is more important to the health of your children than staying married. When researchers ask young girls why they didn’t get pregnant or experiment with sex early in their teens, their response is consistent. When girls have a father at home that they have a good relationship with, this keeps them from being needy for acceptance and affection elsewhere. They also say that they would not want to lose their father’s respect, so they make difficult choices to maintain their father’s approval. Carve out time for your marriage; it will pay dividends in the long run. Carve out a date night. Carve out time away from the children to walk or talk. Couples need to maintain communication so that their children know they truly love them.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? If you decide to answer do me a favor and tell me your age in decades (24=20's, 34=30's etc) and tell me how many children you have and how long you've been married.
So I have been unable to get any of my own posts up this week. The good news is that our business is extremely busy and there are so many wonderful projects going on that I am literally running from one project to another.
That coupled with school, coupled with family has meant that my blogging has suffered. I have still had the privilege of being involved with a number of really good and interesting discussion lately on various topics. One of them has been on this blog post.
I confess I don't know much about the author, but she suggests that divorce is inherently selfish. The comments are really interesting. Her reasons for her position are really interesting to me as well. Some of her provocative statements in the post are the following:
I see divorce in every story. For example, as soon as I heard about the school shootings in Chardon, OH, I got stuck on the fact that the kid’s parents had just gotten a divorce and left him with his grandparents. I blame the parents.
I’ve heard those things so many times. From parents who are getting a divorce who are full of shit
This one is really provocative
Divorce is for people who can’t think ahead enough to realize that the cost to the kids is so high that it’s not worth the benefits the parents get.
Because divorce is the ultimate example of just running away. And, while your kids probably will not pull out a gun in the school cafeteria, long-term sadness and a lingering inability to connect to other people is an irrefutable result of divorce. It’s something that you can prevent.
I interact with people in various stages of a relationship with divorce. Some are headed that way. Some are coming back from it. Some are pondering it. Some have lived through it. Whenever the topic comes up, the discussion is usually pretty intense. You can read her whole post by going here.
But then I'd love to hear your thoughts. What do you think about what she is writing? I saw this on a Facebook page and the back and forth was amazing.
P.S. If you do comment there, please don't attack her personally. Feel free to agree or disagree with her position but leave the person out of it.
Occasionally, I run into people who will ask me if I know of "one thing" that will improve their marriage? Isn't there "one thing" we can do that will save our marriage. I almost always tell them no.
Then I proceed to tell them that there is many things that they can do that will improve their relationship. I also tell them there is one thing that often really helps a relationship improve no matter where it is in terms of health.
If you do this one thing, consistently it will work. It's guaranteed to work if you stick with it and do it long enough.
If you want your relationship to improve you need to find positive things to focus on with your partner. You must speak words of affirmation to your spouse regularly.
An ancient writer wrote that the tongue has the power of life and death.
I believe that you literally speak meaning into people. If you focus on your spouses shortcomings, those shortcomings will increase. If you focus on your spouses strengths they will increase. The more thankful you are to your spouse for the things they are doing or trying to do (even if they are not done to your exacting standards) the more they will try to do.
Be genuine in your praise but work hard to find many things that you can praise your spouse for. Don't talk about just what they are or were but what they can become. Share with them why you fell in love with them. Do this regularly. When they do something that is positive, praise it.
Tell them thank you.
It seems crazy, right? But does it? Think about your own life. Are you more motivated by criticism or by praise? Are you more likely to think positively of someone who finds reasons to praise you or someone who is constantly being negative with you. We all make mistakes. We all have shortcomings. Almost everyone is desperately insecure and in need of affirmation.
When you become that source of genuine affirmation you will improve the relationship guaranteed.