Those Kids Today

1216 Relax and Succeed - We don't grow when things aren't easyIt’s pretty rare when I reblog and it’s always for a really good reason. With kids back to school, and parents and children struggling more than they ever have, it’s important to focus things down to their essence. Toronto Occupational Therapist Victoria Prooday writes a blog and it’s not surprising that this was one of her most popular.

For those who can see this subject clearly, her recommendations will look like simple common sense. But in a world where parents, teachers and children feel pulled in a million directions by a million marketers, educators, administrators, and websites all saying different things, it becomes difficult to tell what really counts. But if you want a healthy adult capable in the maximum number of situations, this is excellent advice.

Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?

I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my ten years as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.

1216 Relax and Succeed - Victoria Prooday replacement

Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why:

  1. Technology

Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner.  We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient.

  1. Kids get everything they want the moment they want

“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!”   The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our children happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.  To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.

The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.

  1. Kids rule the world

“My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive.  In addition, we send them the wrong message.  They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do.  For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed.

  1. Endless Fun

We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.  When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.

  1. Limited social interaction

We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills.  Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time.  Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!

The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience.  If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!

1216 Relax and Succeed - Parents only have 2 jobsTRAIN YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN

You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally

Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights

Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening

2. Train delayed gratification

Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”

Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games

Limit constant snacking

3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!

Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time

Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.

Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!

Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games

4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”

Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed

Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.

5. Teach social skills

Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others, using “please and thank you.”

From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting. Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!

*****

I see it all the time in my own work. Mental illness and stress are up. What we’re doing isn’t working. This is what will. If you’re anywhere near Toronto and are having trouble with your own children or you’re aware of others who are, considering sharing this and going to see Victoria’s team. Because whatever you see in your toddler or pre-teen will be amplified as they age, and both you and your children will be the ones living with the consequences of any maturing that hasn’t been achieved.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

 

What’s the Difference Between a Justification and an Excuse?

The words are so similar that it’s obvious they will be interchanged. Even native English speakers aren’t certain of the difference if you press them, other than the fact that a lot of them know that lame more often modifies one, while good often qualifies the other. After all, who’d rather offer a lame excuse when they can offer a good justification?

To start with, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of the time most people do not intend to do harm. If they do it’s usually because they feel they’re trying to regain ground they feel they have already lost, so they see it more as justified revenge. But even a retaliation is really a new attack, so it’s really just another aggressive form of blaming someone for over-blaming you. In essence then, harm is another form of blame.

Since blame is an offensive act, the only logical reaction is a defensive one, so we shouldn’t be surprised that justifications and excuses are both defensive terms. The difference is, the justifier believes their reasoning to be valid, whereas in an excuse we generally believe that someone is trying to avoid their actual responsibilities. But if that’s the case, who decides which it is?

Remember from paragraph two; people don’t see themselves as starting problems. They see blame as them making things right. If someone won’t accept our blame then we feel things cannot be made right, and this just intensifies the blame. But what do we mean by made right?

The fact is, most people give justifications but hear excuses, so what your explanation is called is often dependant on who’s naming it. That’s why it’s called being held responsible. It’s not like anyone feels you would stay still for it if you were going to experience blame. Even your dog hides when it feels it’s done something wrong.

This means the sender sends blame, the blamed offer their justifications, and then the blamer either accepts the justification or they rename the justification an excuse. But even if you don’t want to accept an excuse, that doesn’t mean that the person who did it doesn’t feel justified. This leaves us with one act with two definitions, which is yet another clear demonstration that the world is clearly made up of individual perspectives, not one central truth.

In the end there are neither justifications or excuses, there are only the opinions or judgments of those ascribing them. Which begs the question, why do you feel it necessary to offer so many justifications to the opinions you hear? You know when you feel good about what you’ve done and when you feel bad. That should be your divining rod, not people’s random, ever-changing opinions.

Forget making excuses for your life. Forget justifying it. See these words for what they really are: explanations that people will either accept or not accept. How honest you’re being will have little to do with whether they believe you or not, so if the person has power over you through your attachment to either love or money, then accept the fact that until you get out of that situation you may need to live as though you share their opinion when you don’t. But even that is a weighted choice. In most cases you can leave.

People will make judgments about your life all the time. You job isn’t to make them stop or to justify your actions. Your only spiritual responsibility is to do your best to stay on a path where you feel good inside about your reasons, even if they were only good reasons when you made the decision. After the moment it was made in, even your own view of it is just another opinion. And you don’t want to live in that kind of self-talk because trust me, you are far too great a being, living in far too fantastic a universe, for any opinion to ever be able to encapsulate all the wonder that you truly are.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Ageism at Work

Millennials” is the colloquial word that Boomers and Gen X‘ers use, but they mean the very tail end of the Millennials and the first wave of Generation Z. These are the people that are often misunderstood, and so they drive their older co-workers and managers crazy. And rightly so in some cases, but there’s been two overlapping paradigm shifts in our culture and they can confuse these issues if they’re not thought about carefully.

637 Relax and Succeed - WhateverFirst off let’s get the reasonable concerns off the table so we can focus on the more meaningful issues where each group can actually help make each other better. Several generations have seen a steady advancement in mechanization, electronics, computerization and now web-integration. In short: life has gotten easier and more comfortable all while also becoming more time and energy stressed. So kids rarely walk to school even if the weather is terrible, but they’ll also almost never experience true privacy.

School also got easier. I asked a couple recent college classes if they were concerned about their education in any way? A student offered that he felt he had been moved through grades more because that’s what the school wanted, as opposed to it being very focused on whether or not each kid knew the material well enough to use it. Other kids joined in. Sports too—prizes for limited efforts. When I asked how that made them feel, I believe in both cases it was the entire class who agreed they felt insecure and unprepared compared to generations they interacted with that were older than them.

Now a critical area where older generations misunderstand the motives of younger generations is in their values. Character has always been a big thing that defined people. Where are your lines? What defines you? What will pay a big price for? Those are the sorts of questions that arise out a period where there was a war every few decades. But advertising has sold that a lack of effort is a victory and that a life of leisure and wealth is the only value in life that there is. But of course, a beer or a bed always feel a lot better after a day of chopping wood if you get what I mean. So on one hand younger generations were told not to try too hard. Instead of 637 Relax and Succeed - By learning you will teachlaughing at Bart Simpson as the writers intended, people were laughing with him as though Bart was the success of the culture, not the failure. This is a real issue that masks a rather beautiful transition that happened that will benefit us all.

These “kids” watched the most miserable generation in history come home from work and bitch and bitch and bitch. And I don’t blame the parents for bitching. Because my Dad could raise six kids on one salary and he could take his holidays and we had lots of free time. Today people are struggling with at least two jobs per household, their two kids go to schools miles apart in different neighbourhoods and all of their “play” is actually organized training like dance class, hockey, scouts—whatever, and it all costs a lot of money. It’s no longer—go outside and play and Mom was free and clear for 5 hours. Those days are gone. Mom has a cell phone and her boss will send her emails to answer at 8:30pm and night. So the kids watch Mom become a strange kind of slave to her office even within their own house. Bosses and work get talked about disparagingly and work life starts to become so dominant that kids rightfully identified that as a problem. They weren’t go to mimic that and that makes perfect sense—it was, and is, making everyone miserable.

So no, these kids will never care about a company as much as their parents did, because like the French learned that “King” was just a word, a couple generations later learned that “company” was sort of another word for “King.” The bottom line was, this generation does something much wiser than the two before it and they value time more than money. Yes, like all young people they want their cake and eat it too, but that’s no different than any generation. This recent shift has to do with how capitalism actually overtook humanism as the dominant way of looking at how to set up the world. So if a company’s profit went up but it laid off 20,000 people, that was suddenly a good thing. Of course it’s not, because profits exist in our imagination and those 20,000 people have very real appetites and medical needs. But for a time economists had people so mesmerized that they had everyone subscribed to a system that is supposedly kept fair by something as silly and nebulous as “the invisible hand.”

637 Relax and Succeed - Patience and WisdomSo now kids interview the companies too. Good for them. They grew up with recycling and Wall-E was big when they were young. They don’t want to work for companies that make smart tax moves by donating to charity, they want a company that actually believes in supporting the broader world around it because it has a vision much bigger than simple financial profit. Oh wouldn’t that have looked impressive to aliens if they arrived? Hey guys, check out how cleverly we structure debt! No, these kids know there’s a serious problem with the planet. These dates that don’t matter to my generation are when this one wants to be having kids, so the idea that the planet might look like hell is actually pretty important to them. So what they like is companies that give based on what they believe rather than what the tax code would reward. Redditt is getting a ton of credit for giving away 10% of its ad revenue to charity and it’s letting its readers choose who gets the dough. That’s who the smartest people in the new millennium want to work for.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve aged that the one giant mistake I made as a manager was I completely overlooked the enormous amounts of experience I often had working for me. By the time someone’s 50 they’ve met a lot of people and tried a lot of things. I should have been able to figure that they would have a lot of wisdom just by stopping and thinking about it. I count it to this day as the biggest mistake I made as a manager. Age teaches far more than you’d think. But let’s not forget that those with some grey hair should also listen carefully. Because as we age we lose that drive to win or beat others. We get softer and more interested in quality experiences. And these kids want to build a world where quality experiences are more the priority than profits. So I think there are a lot of reasons that people of every age can successfully work together toward an objective like that.

No matter how old you are and now matter how many people you work with, regularly give them a fair and open listen and see if maybe there’s some wisdom there for you to glean.

You guys have an awesome day, okay?

peace. s

Be The Change

The Middle East, Climate Change, pollution, water shortages, wars for profit… etc. And your recommendation is that we should all go have more fun? Can you read? Have you
ever read a newspaper? People like you are dangerous.

signed,
Responsible Adult

Dear Adult,

How can I not love you after that? It’s so obvious that you care about your fellow man and that you believe in compassionate, respectful ideas. You and I are actually far more alike that you realize. And I can appreciate that my prioritization of joy and happiness and satisfaction might 296 Relax and Succeed - We cannot cure the worldlook irresponsible from the outside. But I can assure you that I do care about the things you noted, and I am attempting to have some kind of positive affect—I’m just going about it in a different way.

I’ve worked with a lot of people now and the pattern is unmistakable. If they were merely earnest in their studies with me then they universally became happier and calmer, and that lead to them also having more energy and less fear, and that in turn has lead to them leading much more generous and compassionate lives.

I routinely hear about people spontaneously improving their diets, and a respect for the planet and its beings is an important aspect of that. People start being more interested in their own compelling forms of physical activity, be that team sports, something meditative, or even different types of dancing. They feel less awkwardness and more connection which in turn leads to even more quality interactions on a daily basis. So I know happy can seem like a light and unimportant objective, but when given deeper thought I do believe the opposite is the case. Happiness is a resource to be cultivated.

I can relate to who you’re asking me to be because I was that guy. I was the guy who felt a responsibility to bring up Palestine and Israel at a party. And I did it because I genuinely cared just as I suspect you do. And I honestly felt just like you—that if the people weren’t interested, or if they responded cavalierly, that they were automatically poor citizens.

296 Relax and Succeed - The more light you allowI hope you’ve done better than me, but I never affected a single thing in the Middle East. But there I was living in my own city with my own circle of people and I almost ignored them for half my life. I care just like you. But I also accept that this is the shape of the world right now. And like you I want to push in the right direction. But I don’t want to push with obligation, desperation, sadness or a sense of defeat. I want to embrace the challenge with love and light and energy and support.

My students have a lot more energy available to them once they relax and stop stressing about important things over which they have zero control. So in my world, caring when you’re helpless is more crippling than it is helpful. Better to feel enthusiastic about ones potential and then apply that energy toward making actual changes to the world you do have some impact on. Maybe that is something big on a grand scale like a politician or the head of an NGO—but more often it’s by people like us. And more often than not the difference is made within our own small sphere of influence. But just as the bucket is filled with drops, so the world is filled with collections of small spheres of influence. So as Gandhi suggested, let us all be the change we want to see in the world. Because I agree with you completely. If we remove the culture of ego, I’m confident that we will see a much better world emerge.

peace. s

Kids These Days

I enjoy your blog but my husband and I have a practical problem and I am wondering if you can help us? My children are in high school both will be receiving honours once again this year. But my son he is wanting to work in the music and for my daughter she wants to be writing the plays. It is good I think that my children have these interests but we argue a lot because I am very concerned
about their ability to earn a living. Do you have any advice for us?

signed
Worried Mother

Dear Worried Mother,

Thank you for writing. And thank you for raising such fine children. Obviously they are smart and both clearly have big hearts that they want to share through their work. I understand and respect your concerns. When we’re older and can see how practical later life truly is, it’s easy to see that sometimes people are setting themselves up to climb some pretty steep hills. But let’s not forget we climbed some hills ourselves too. Every life has hills, the only question is which hills?

285 Relax and Succeed - What is successThe truth is there is an entire generation who watched their parents come home from work exhausted, bitchy and complaining about money. Money and work were the two biggest problems in most houses by most kids accounts. So they don’t see those things as routes to a happy life and they’re right. Way too many people over 40 simply aren’t very happy at all so they don’t have much ability to teach their kids how to do it. And it’s actually a healthy thing that they don’t want to follow in our footsteps. It’s not like we did a great job running the world Mom.

We destroyed the environment, we turned war into a profit industry, and we left literally billions suffering in poverty while we let other individuals have enough money for literally millions of lifetimes. That is insane and the kids are right to say so. So far from worrying, maybe you should actually be excited. Because if I were to re-phrase what you wrote, it might sound like “…and my son wants to share his soul through music and my daughter wants to change the world through her storytelling.”

One of the most inspiring parts of my life is my work teaching film to college students. Again this year I found myself in a classroom filled with sparkling, brilliant, unique minds. Minds like your kid’s. And I hope I helped them develop and maintain a healthy respect for what binds human beings together (the emotional sinews that make storytelling mysterious to Mr. Spock), all while empowering their own unique vision.

285 Relax and Succeed - Performance NotesI never want my students of any type to look for how to be great in the eyes of others. I want to them to realize the greatness they already possess. Like Michelangelo who looked at the stone and carved away everything that wasn’t an angel, each year I meet a group of students who possess greatness—all they need is the life experience necessary to chisel some angles into their being. And their art will be the light of their consciousness glinting off those angles.

By delving into the whys of the things they witness, and by representing those through their art-form, they help us to uncover the world around us. They help us to see. This is why radio, TV and film people are the first ones locked up by despotic leaders during a coup. And they’re followed closely by poets, singers and every other kind of artist who dares to play court jester and comment on the behaviour of the King. This is noble work Mom. This was what Shakespeare and Beethoven and Mozart did. Do we think they wasted their lives?

Because I spend time delving into the places from where art comes from, I don’t get why so many adults are concerned about today’s generation. Would I like more of them to know how to grow food, or understand practical chemistry or mathematics? Yes. But they’ve also watched a generation be slaves to their work and often the only place they saw that lead was a life that continues to lack much freedom at all. They actually prioritize their enjoyment of their existence. That might look lazy to their parents and grandparents, but that’s only because those generations were more profoundly bound up by their beliefs.

285 Relax and Succeed - You are not here merely to make a livingBecause of how things were phrased their parents accepted ideas that were otherwise pretty crazy. Things like letting private corporations create money from thin air, and then letting them charge interest on that invention, like the US Federal Reserve does when it loans money to banks that in turn loan it to us. That is a pretty nutty idea. Some guys just create their own money, then they loan it to banks and they get to charge interest for it even though it cost them nothing to get it? That’s just so silly you think it must not be true—but it is!

My generation lived with that crazy idea because we didn’t know that’s where the money came from. We didn’t know it was invented from nothing and then sold for profit! But 90% of my college students have seen the latter two Zeitgeist films about the monetary system. They’re open to things being different. They get that there’s nothing stopping us from sending life-saving medicine to Africa except the thoughts that we can’t. If those dying kids were German, or Japanese, or if 30,000 British kids were dying every day we would have the medicine there in no time. What’s the difference? Thoughts. And because kids can see that they have a different set of priorities. A healthier set.

I like that I see young people shaking things up. Yeah, the group before them came up with some cool stuff like going to the Moon, the Internet, tearing down the Berlin Wall, and freeing Nelson Mandela. But this generation will do likewise. And it will do so by strenuously believing in a different value system. Not one made of words that form borders or ideologies or positions, but one made of love—one that we can feel when we engage with it. We had an Iron Age and an Industrial Revolution and a Technical Revolution and now we’re experiencing a Spiritual Revolution based on the priorities of joy and love and compassion. It’s beautiful.

285 Relax and Succeed - A lot of parentsEveryone keeps complaining about the world. I see some young people shaking some of its foundations and too often they are being called crazy when they should be seen as visionary. Because we have let insane thought limitations prevent us from making the world a much, much better place. We’ve let the ideas of borders and profit and status contort our beings into doing things that are truly inhuman. So it’s nice to see kids questioning that. It’s nice to see them challenging how it’s been. Because how it’s been has been pretty crappy for too many people for way too long. So it’s time to stop thinking about ourselves as individuals and it’s time to start think of ourselves as a Cooperative. Because that is always what we’ve always been anyways.

So join your children in their priorities. Follow your bliss. Question your priorities. Don’t be in such a rush to get to work on time that you don’t hold doors for people. Say please and thank you. Buy someone lunch. Even the new Pope is on board. Hoarding wealth we’ve tried and there’s too many unhappy people. Let’s voluntarily share it because it makes everyone happier—including the people who are rich.

Here’s to the kids. Lead us out of the world of symbols. Stop our worship of false idols. Let’s have love guide our actions. Let’s make our spirituality and our humanity one thing by joining them together as a verb—as an action we take in this universe. Let us nurture our connections because love is what we value most. And may the pursuit of it in its truest form be what all of our futures are made of.

peace. s