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Parenting And Relationships With Children

Forming true relationships 

Probably nothing is more influential in career success and life happiness than the ability to get along with other people. Any parent who has ever tried to get children to share a cake will know this is not always the easiest lesson to learn.

Parenting And Relationships With Children

"Reciprocators" are often happier people. The ability to work with others and to be considerate of their needs - that is, to reciprocate positive feelings - is an important predictor of life success as well as a source of resilience. Similarly, connectedness and a sense of belonging are the strongest antidotes we have to suicide, violence, and ongoing, problematic substance abuse.

It is our relationships with other people that give our lives meaning. An old Zulu saying puts this well: "People are people because of other people."

Teaching children to collaborate and to be sensitive to the needs of others requires them to develop an understanding of right and wrong. This requires parents to be assertively in charge of their families and to teach and keep teaching the one message that probably all the world's religions agree on: treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.

Teach bright kids to control their competitiveness and to promote cooperation with other people. It is also useful to help bright kids distinguish between true and fair-weather friends. Fair-weather friends are people who are there for you when times are good but disappear when times are tough. There is nothing wrong or bad about fair-weather friends, but we become upset - and bright kids become especially upset - when we confuse one with the other. When someone they thought was a true friend turns out to be a fair-weather friend, bright kids can be tempted to use the full force of their personality against that person. Learning that fair-weather friends are not bad people is a very important lesson for bright kids. It means that their friendships can endure and survive the ups and downs of life.

As well as true and fair-weather friends, there is also another category of friends that some bright kids attract: foul-weather friends. Foul-weather friends are people who show a lot of interest in you in times of trouble and need, but as soon as you cheer up or are out of difficulty, they don't want to know you. Help your bright kid understand that there are different types of friends. Share stories of your own experiences. Help him to be aware that not every friendship lasts a lifetime.

Bright kids can sometimes overestimate how many friends other people have, and can then conclude that they themselves are unpopular. In my clinical practice, I often ask children how many really close friends they have; the average is about two.

Tricky Issues
Life is rarely a smooth and even journey for anyone. Most families divide into two debating teams: one team wants things to change, the other team wants things to stay the same. The first team says things like, 
  • "I want to go out more," 
  • "I want more allowance," or 
  • "I don't want to be seen in public with you." 
The other team says things like, 
  • "You're not old enough" or 
  • "It's a school night, so you can't go out." 
For most families, parenting becomes a 28-year-long debating competition.

With bright kids, the debating competition has some added spices and flavors. Even after using the change strategies, there will be ups, downs, and setbacks. Don't despair. There are some ideas for coping with the occasional setback, and also helps you steer your bright kid away from some of the major problems that could confront him or her. To find out more, you can check out Parenting And Relationships With Children.

Creating Fulfilled Life For Children

Helping bright kids create fulfilling lives
Helping young people find, engage in, and persist with activities that give them a sense of flow and happiness is crucial if they are to lead fulfilling lives. This requires slowing down at least some part of life so that young people can gradually engage in an activity over time, so they improve their performance and increase their pleasure. They need to persist with the activity, even though at times the challenges will seem too great. They must continue to challenge themselves when the performance seems to become too easy and, on the surface, boring.
Creating Fulfilled Life For Children

These activities vary from person to person. For some it will be basketball or football, music or art, roller hockey or diving, writing or painting; for others it might be chess or skateboarding. You can't choose the activities that will give your child a sense of flow, but you can expose them to a range of activities and keep a keen eye out for those that absorb them.
While happiness is not the sole key to motivation, it's not a bad starting place. To add to this we need to integrate what we have discussed here about fulfillment, motivation, and happiness.

Staying focused 

It is important to know that life is not fair. For that matter, school is not fair, either. The world doesn't generally, reward you for being equally good at everything. In fact it usually, only rewards you for two or three things you do well. One of the tricks of success in life is to find your strengths and make much of them, and to not worry too much about areas where you are less capable. Here are some general guidelines to help you steer your bright kid towards developing a more fulfilling life:
  • Help your bright kid become aware of her strengths and learn how to play to those. Be aware that your child's strengths may not always be valued by her school. For example, a Negotiator's verbal repartee and jokester behavior may not be highly regarded in third grade.
  • Help her to promote a reputation that highlights her unique or exceptional attributes.
  • Assist her to develop skills that increase her irreplaceability (i.e., a unique set of assets, knowledge, talents, and strengths that make her irreplaceable). 
  • Help your bright kid to seek out groups that most strongly value what she has to offer - where her assets will be cherished. 
  • Help your bright kid to avoid social groups where her unique attributes are not valued. 
It is important to have high expectations of your child's ability to create a fulfilling life for herself, and to also expect her to have high expectations.

The world is going to be a very different place over the next few decades, and young people are going to need to be adaptable. If, as it is estimated, 70 percent of the jobs that will exist in the year 2020 don't exist yet, we cannot teach our children the knowledge they will need. What we can teach them, however, is to be excited and adept learners, and to maintain high expectations of themselves. To find out more, you can check out Creating Fulfilled Life For Children.

Creating Happiness In Children

Generally, research indicates that despite having a level of material wealth that would boggle the eyes of even the wealthiest Indian maharaja of the past, we are, if anything, slightly less happy than we were 50 years ago. While a certain level of financial security is associated with happiness - and there is a tendency for wealthy countries to have more satisfied people - money doesn't have a lot to do with it. Thanks to our ability to adapt to ever-greater fame and fortune, yesterday's luxuries all too soon become today's necessities and tomorrow's garage sale items.

Creating Happiness In Children

Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, people seek happiness. Yet, it is elusive. In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi - Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago - points out that frustration is deeply woven into the fabric of life - whenever some of our needs are met, we immediately start wishing for more. The paradox is that with rising expectations, true quality of life is unattainable. Happiness is difficult to achieve partly because the universe was not designed with the comfort of human beings in mind. The world does not provide happiness. Happiness is created by people.

Contrary to what we may believe, happiness is not mostly associated with passive, relaxing times. We have an idea that whiling away the hours beside a pool at a tropical resort, a drink in hand and an object of desire nearby should be our happiest moment. While I am personally prepared to sacrifice myself to undertake further research in this area, it does appear that our happiest times aren't when we are passively relaxing but when we are being unselfconsciously absorbed in a mindful challenge - that is, an activity that immerses us in the experience so deeply that we forget to some extent about who we are and what our daily concerns are. After such experiences, we look up and think, "Where did the time go?" People often describe this state of being immersed in an experience as "flow:"

These activities are ones where we have the skills to meet the challenge, and where the relationship between the challenges and the skills is balanced. If the challenge is too great, we experience anxiety. If the challenge is too easy, and we don't need to draw on our skills, we become bored. People report a range of activities that they engage in to develop a sense of flow: sports, games, socializing, drawing, art, music, reading, gardening, fishing, walking, playing with children or pets, even work.

The distinctive feature of all these activities is that typically they involve people setting their own goals and providing their own rewards. It is by engaging in these activities that they free themselves from needing to wait for the outside world to provide challenges and rewards.

The knack of finding activities that produce this sense of flow in life is not something that children are often taught in their schools or homes. The pressure upon schools and time-poor parents to provide immediate gratification and entertainment for their children creates a maelstrom of activity that too often robs the young people of the opportunity of getting into flow.
Our young people often experience a rush of stimulation, which may not cause anxiety but certainly increases arousal. Then, when the source of the stimulation is switched off, they wander around the house complaining, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do." Eventually they become passively dependent on the world to amuse and entertain them, and they believe they should always be happy. Invariably the world lets them down, because it is not a very reliable or fair provider of challenges and rewards, so they lose motivation. Even worse than losing motivation, it's all the world's (and that includes their parents') fault! 

This can lead to a type of wistful envy: 
  • "If only we lived in a different area/closer to/further away from school"; 
  • "If only my parents were cool/had a better car/nicer house"; 
  • "If only I had a better group of friends." 

In time, this leads to a reliance on materialism and prevents young people from taking responsibility for creating a fulfilling life for themselves. To find out more, you can check out Creating Happiness In Children.

Methods To Calm Down Anger

Mind clearing (clouds towards the horizon)
It takes time to think nothing. This is a restful exercise that teaches you how to clear your mind. It is estimated that people think an average of 13,000 thoughts every day. Unfortunately, most of those thoughts are the same ones they thought the day before.
Methods To Calm Down Anger

Imagine yourself lying on an isolated beach. You are alone and safe. You can feel the warmth of the sunshine on your skin as the cool sea breeze washes over your body, cooling you and making you comfortable. The sound of the sea moving in and out against the sandy shore is like your breath moving gently in and out, in and out. Notice the sky with a few clouds. Imagine, as you sit restfully, that the sky begins to clear, and as it does your mind begins to empty of thoughts. Just as the last clouds reach the horizons, your mind attains clarity and focus. 

Abdominal breathing

Sit comfortably with your spine straight. Breathe out completely, then breathe in very slowly and effortlessly through your nose, and at the same time push out your abdomen as though it were a balloon expanding. Move your chest as little as possible. After your abdomen is stretched, expand your chest with air (this fills the middle part of your lungs), then allow your abdomen to pull in slightly and your shoulders and collarbones to rise (this fills the upper lungs).
Hold your breath for about five seconds, then slowly exhale through your nose.

Your own personal oasis
Throughout the ages, the oasis - a small patch of greenery in the middle of a desert - has held a special place in the imagination of travelers, who would dream of its cool waters, swaying palms, and beautiful birds in song. Take a moment to imagine your own personal oasis. Notice whether it has trees, and what type. Have you noticed if there is a well or a pool in the center? What other features can you imagine? Colors, shapes, sounds, scents ...

"So-hum" is a yoga method for focusing the mind. It is useful at times of stress and upset. Sit in a chair with your backside to the back of the chair so you are sitting fairly upright. Place your hands in your lap. Either close your eyes or focus them on one of your hands. Breathe easily in and out through your nose. As you breathe in, say silently to yourself, "So," and as you breathe out, say slowly to yourself, "Hum." Try to extend the amount of time the "hum" takes. Some bright kids like to breathe out slowly while thinking to themselves, "One thousand, two thousand, three thousand ..."

Color kaleidoscope
Imagine that the way you are feeling now is a color. Close your eyes and select a color. Notice:

  • what shape it is,
  • what texture it has,
  • if it is hot or cold,
  • if it is sharp or soft, and 
  • if it is close or far away. 
Now reduce the color to a softer shade. Repeat the procedure of noticing, then again soften its shade, and so on.      
Creating happiness 

The search for ways to motivate the "Click and Go" generation has led me to consider what creates happiness. For those interested in pursuing this research further, there is a world database of happiness available on the Internet (

For the "Click and Go's" - with their short attention spans, their focus on immediate outcomes, and reliance on the external - the search for happiness could be a major motivator. But given that the world is a fairly unreliable provider of happiness, the "Click and Go's" reliance on external sources of satisfaction may be problematic. To find out more, you can check out Methods To Calm Down Anger.