How to Raise Gifted Children: Switch-Finding Rules

Wall power switchTo help your children find their gifts and talents, it is good to find yours first. Children learn best by example and this will make you a role model for being gifted. Here are my simple rules for finding your switch.

Some people think that if they only push a bit harder, what they want will happen. So they punish themselves for not achieving or not doing something they set themselves to do. But it only makes them feel bad about themselves.

Some think that if they have no way back, this will force them to move forward. So they pay the gym in advance to force themselves to go or they ask me to pay for all of their coaching in advance (which I do not accept). But this just puts extra pressure on them to perform.

If you want to help children, never, never, never punish them for not being able to shine. Never push them to the limit in order to force them to do things. Criticism is a bad force that triggers guilt and shame. Every time you criticize, you are taking your kids away from the light. Force and light do not go together.

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Happily Wealthy Family: No Flights Policy

clip_image004[4]_thumbMoney is very tight in many families. We want so many things for our kids and for our family that it seems like there is never enough. This week, I had sessions with many clients who wanted to improve their financial situation. One of them earned $50,000 a year and owed $42,000. One was a single mother who had spent all her savings on tutoring. Another one spent a fortune on supplements and health professionals, and all the rest told me variation of the same story: money is tight.

Every family may reach a point in life when there is just not enough money to survive the next month. It is inevitable that some life circumstance will change the flow of money that we count on to manage our daily life. If you go over your life and ask yourself when your supply of money was at risk or when it stopped entirely, you are likely to find that it happened a lot.

We were in this situation many times in our life. It happened when Gal’s company had a wave of redundancies, whenever his contract ended somewhere in the world and we had to move ourselves from one county to another (no income, lots of expenses), after September 11 2001, when Gal had cancer and took time to recover and when we had something big and special that ate into our savings, like going overseas to see our families. Every time we stopped working, our family was at risk of not having enough to pay the bills.

Saving for a rainy day was always our solution for those situations, but saving is never enough. Sometimes, a big wave comes along and wipes you out. Gal lost his job twice after we had bought a property. We are not fortunetellers.

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Smoking Parents – Smoking Kids

Man and the benefits of stopping to smokeMy dad was a smoker. He was a heavy smoker, consuming 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day. I remember my older sister having many fights with him over this. She complained, he tried to quit for couple of days and then went back to smoking. I did not have an opinion about it. All the men I knew smoked. It seemed natural to me. My mom was a very silent complainer. She never smoked but could not change his mind. In some cultures, smoking is much more acceptable and is a status symbol. It was a manly thing to do.

One day, my dad discovered that my brother, who was 14 years old then, stole his cigarettes and smoked with his friends. My dad was furious and started screaming at him. I was about 11 and I remember us standing there and accepting that my brother did the wrong thing. But then, while he was screaming his head off, my older sister, who was 15 years old at the time, said to my dad, “How can you tell him he can’t smoke and it’s not good for him if you smoke so much yourself?!” (I always admired her guts). The amazing thing was that he stopped screaming and walked furiously out of the house. It was the last day he ever smoked. Unfortunately, my brother still smokes today, even after he had a heart attack at the age of 45.

Parents who smoke hurt their kids, not only by making them passive smokers, but also by setting an example that they can never take back. Do you know how many times since then I have heard my dad asking my brother to stop smoking? Thousands. Unfortunately, he was too late.

In some cultures, smoking is very acceptable and is even a status symbol, “the manly/cool thing to do”. A few years ago, we went to visit my family and my uncles were there, all of them smokers. One of my uncles asked Gal, “Would you like a cigarette?” Gal said, “No, thank you. I don’t smoke”. Then, he asked, “Would you like a beer?” and Gal said “No, thank you. I don’t drink beer”. My uncle looked down at him and said, “You don’t smoke and don’t drink. What kind of a man are you?”

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Troubled Teens: Terrible Times

Typical teenage boyIn the last three weeks, I gave you a sneak peek into teenagers’ minds. Many parents say to me, “If I only knew what’s happening in their mind…” and I think they have only forgotten what was on their mind when they were teens, or maybe they have forgotten the struggles their friends had during the toughest periods of their life – adolescence.

Here are the last 5 typical teenager thoughts and tips to prevent or eliminate them.

I prefer to be alone

“Thank God they are going away this weekend. I can have the house to myself. I can watch TV as much as I like, play the computer as much as I like and eat whatever I want. Freedom at last!”

What parents can do

When kids reach the teen years, they loves to be on their own sometimes and it is normal and healthy for them to be on their own. Even bringing a babysitter to stay with them (to take care of the other kids, of course) can give them that sense of freedom and it is not a sign of your good or bad parenting.

Having an evening when they can do something different is very attractive to teenagers and as a parent, you need to provide them with opportunities for such time. I remember myself at the age of 15 having the time of my life when my parents were away for the weekend. I did all the same things I did when they were there, but it felt better. On evenings when they went out, we played hide and seek in the dark and I still have wonderful memories of those special days.

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Troubled Teens: Scary Times

clip_image004_thumb[1]This series is meant to help parents of teens and parents of kids who are turning into teens understand what teenagers think and what they go through as part of this tough period of their life. Each “twisted” thought is followed by something parents can do to help their teenagers and everyone else involved.

As in previous chapters, here are 5 things teens think and feel that scare them and make them act weird, and what you can do about them. I hope it will help you find alternative ways to address the issues and prevent them from keeping those thoughts any longer.

My parents are cruel and weak

“I think my parents are cruel. They hate me. They scream, shout and always tell me I’m wrong. They brought me into the world to torture me. They are weak. How can I trust them when I need help if they are so weak?”

What parents can do

When children are upset, they may think that you are behaving the way you do with the ultimate purpose of hurting them. Many parents mistake discipline for power when in fact, abusing your power and yelling, shouting or telling kids they are wrong are signs of weakness and may cause your children, especially teenagers, not to trust you to support them when they need help. This is because using pressure and force is all about you, not them.

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Troubled Teens: Disturbing Thoughts

Teenage boy riding a busBeing a teenager is not easy. Being a parent of teenagers is not easy either, but there are ways for parents to help make life easier for both. Here is a list of 5 more thoughts that teens have, which your behavior and attitude as a parent can change to make the teen years much nicer.

I must be adopted

“Maybe I was adopted. That explains the way they treat me. I’ve heard them saying I looked like Mom, but I look at my photos as a baby and I don’t look like either one of my parents or even like myself today. They could have adopted me when I was just a baby. That makes sense. I think this is why they love my brother more than they love me.”

What parents can do

Every child has this horrible thought at some stage. It is very natural to question your parents’ behavior as that of adoptive parents. There is no real way to prevent this thought from getting into kids’ mind, but there are good ways to make sure it will go away quickly, before it creates any damage.

Talk to your kids about their birth and talk about it a lot. Kids ask question about their pregnancy and birth to check if all the stories match. If Mom tells one story and Dad tells another one about the same birth, that will be odd, but if they tell the stories over and over and everything matches, they must be true!

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Troubled Teens: Confusing Years

Teen girl posingIn the past, people thought that teens’ behavior during the teenage years was directly connected to physical changes they start to experience at the age of 12, which makes them feel strange with their body changes and confuses them. Today, the approach is that adolescence is a more gradual process that starts with the first time children want to try doing things on their own, sometime as early as the age of 3.

If teenagers seem confused to you, it is mainly because they have reached a point in their life when they need to define who they are, what they think, what they like or hate, what their beliefs are and what they wants to be later on in life. These thoughts are tough. I know many adults who have not reached that self-definition yet, so this is not easy for a 12-year-old to do, although they are expected to have some clue about it.

Around the age of 10, beliefs that were part of children’s identity are shattered and they need to put the pieces together to survive emotionally. Kids with high emotional intelligence can do that, but most cannot, so they have to ask for help from those who unintentionally create the problem – their parents or their teachers.

This series will give you a sneak peek into teens’ confused brain and help you understand why it is so hard do be a teenager. I still remember my adolescence, I am raising my second teen, the third one is reaching puberty soon and I have worked with lots of teenagers in the last 25 years, so this list is quite reliable.

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State of the Union

clip_image003_thumbAs a parent, a life coach, a business consultant and a former corporate employee and manager, I have become increasingly concerned about morals. Until recently, I read or heard about people doing things that seem obviously wrong to do, and wondered how they could bring themselves to do them.

Now, I believe I know some of the reasons. Better yet, perhaps these reasons can lead us all towards a solution.

Almost invariably, you turn on the news or read the papers and find out about somebody who was caught scheming, embezzling or downright cheating. These people seem to have no regard for other people’s wellbeing, possessions or money. Sometimes, people are killed over what seems like a minor conflict, because the killer values something else – their wallet, their leather jacket or their girlfriend – over their life.

In response to Ronit’s posts on bullying, many readers have shared stories of workplace bullies who abuse their position, physical size or some weakness of their co-workers in ways that hurt them and ruins morale and productivity. Do these people follow a different value system to the rest of us? Given the rise of bullying, probably not.

So what is going on in the world? Has everybody gone mad? Is there nobody who still does the right things?

In his great book, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely presents a conflict between two modes of living: the “social norm” and the “market norm”.

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Wonders of Creation

Admiring mother and daughterAre your kids the most precious, amazing and wonderful things in the world?

If you are not sure, keep reading.

Parents, like most people, often view the world in absolute terms – “This is pretty”, “This is wrong”, “This smells good” or “How rude!” Naturally, the way they view their children is similar. They break each child down into separate properties, such as looks, math skills, strength and manners, and assign a rating or a score to each one of these important aspects in each child.

The result is disappointing more often than not, simply because nobody is perfect in every way, let alone kids, who undergo big changes and have not mastered every rule in their parents’ book. This is particularly apparent during the teenage years, when even calm and obedient children turn into full-sized, defiant and opinionated creatures. Many parents of teenagers are so focused on what their sons and daughters are not doing (right) they have a hard time remembering how they behaved last year, when they were still in primary school.

But your kids are the most precious, amazing and wonderful things in the world.

Really.

First, consider the odds of any of them being born at all. Out of thousands of potential partners in your life, you have chosen only one to have each child with. That child would not be the same if you had chosen anybody else.

Out of hundreds of eggs and billions of sperm, only one sperm combined with one egg to produce each child. The odds of having that particular child with those particular physical traits and basic character make winning the lottery seem like a sure thing.

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Fathering Adventures

Father and 3 childrenSometimes, the Universe seems to conspire to make us do something. In this case, I think it wants me to write about how important fathers are in the life of their children. We keep focusing on parenting in this blog, but there is a difference between mothering and fathering, which we have not discussed much.

I have a friend who goes on a men’s camp every year. When his boys were young, he went by himself and felt very supported there. As soon as his boys turned 13 and were allowed to go with him, away they went together and spent a great time bonding – singing, dancing, doing physical exercise and watching performances. He has been nagging me to come with him on that camp for a few years now, saying there is something special about the freedom and “safe space” it provides.

So far, I have not gone.

In the past few months, Ronit worked with several boys whose father had died or spent a lot of time away from home. Whenever we talked about them, I kept having the feeling that although they were young (5 to 8 years old), they felt like little men. I felt they saw themselves as somewhat responsible for the wellbeing of their family and had to fill the very large shoes of their absent father.

That was not enough either.

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