I took my 7-year-old son to his first karate lesson. The class was a room of strangers and moved at a fast pace. My son began to withdraw and wanted to leave. He felt like he was going to throw up. He was able to articulate later that he was regretting taking karate lessons because he feels too shy. What recommendations do you have for me to help my son feel confident and overcome these feelings of anxiety in group settings?
The good news is, scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it sooner but it was hiding behind some other genes.
Just kidding, but I have some good advice on this one.
The first crucial step in helping someone change their behavior is making them feel unconditionally loved and accepted for who they are now.
Make sure your child knows it’s OK to feel shy. It happens to everyone, and there is nothing wrong with him. There are actually some interesting advantages to being shy.
Shy people are usually more polite and considerate to others. Shy people often create better friendships because they go for quality, not quantity. Shy people are better at working independently and solving problems on their own. They are also smarter because they think things through more and take caution before they act.
You do want to help your son overcome his fear of social interactions, though, and feel more confident. Here are some ideas to help your child overcome his fear:
When going somewhere new, talk to your child and prepare him ahead of time. Talk about the anxiety he might feel and what he might feel afraid of. Talk about ways he can cope with his fears and calm himself down. Julie Simons, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist, says, “Children are less likely to feel shy when they know what to expect.”
Plan some safe and successful social interactions. Simons also says, “Plan social events with familiar children so your child can have successful interactions. This can provide a foundation for branching out to new settings with new people.”
Teach him social skills. Some children learn social skills on their own but many need parents to teach, practice and role play with them at home. You can teach your child skills like how to introduce himself and start conversations.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” could help you remember some of these skills. Carnegie recommends strategies like asking questions and letting other people do the majority of the talking. This makes people feel important and like you. Teaching children these techniques will empower them to handle any social situation with confidence.
Model healthy social behaviors yourself. Shyness is a highly genetic trait. You must show your child good social skills by example. If you avoid social situations or are nervous around people, you are teaching your child to fear people. Get some professional help with your own self esteem if necessary.
Never criticize your child or embarrass them in public or around their peers. When they make a mistake, help him understand mistakes don't define him. We all make mistakes. He may have made a bad choice, but he is not a bad person. Mistakes are just lessons and nothing to be afraid of.
Teach your child that what other people think of him doesn’t matter. People are usually not paying attention to others anyway. They are focused on themselves. Help him understand that other people’s opinions can’t change or hurt him. They don’t mean anything.
Teach creative problem solving. Don’t solve problems for your child. Ask questions and empower him figure out the answers on his own.
Let your child change slowly. Change is a process and happens slowly, step by step. Help your child set small goals and make a little progress each week. Let him decide what those goals might be. Encourage things like talking to one new person today.
Visualization is a great way to practice social behavior. He can practice handling social situations differently in his head. Teach your child to practice in his mind until he is ready to try it for real.
The best way to encourage another person to change is by encouragement. Tell your child often how confident and capable he is. If you tell him he is strong and brave, he will believe you.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker. She is also the mother of seven children.
I have an 11-year-old. Her body is changing and so is her attitude. I often find myself stooping down to her level when she says "I am not going to do that!"
Once she starts her daily arguing, throwing tantrums, calling names and/or pushing my husband and I away, I find that my husband and I start to argue with each other over the way we discipline her.
I am so frustrated sometimes I do not want to go home. We have tried time out, taking pleasurable things away, spending more time with her and telling her repeatedly that we love her. I am at a loss of what we should do to turn her attitude around and to make my home a place of harmony.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
You and your husband should read the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Fay and Cline. In the meantime I’ll give you a few ideas on parenting teenagers.
Most teenage bad-behavior is motivated by one of three things. It is either:
Once you can clearly see why she is behaving the way she is, you can assess your options for a response.
If she is angry all the time, which is normal for teenagers, she may need a little more space and freedom. If she is asking for validation, she wants you to accept her as she is. If she is creating drama to get your attention, you may need to spend more time as a family.
No matter what you do, you must stay calm and in control when dealing with your teen. You must stay logical and loving. A never-fail approach, no matter the situation, is to have a validating conversation with her.
Ask questions about what she is feeling and what she thinks about this situation. Listen without responding. Validate her right to see the situation whatever messed up way she sees it.
Respecting her right to feel the way she feels — even if she is wrong — shows her she is important and valued. Then ask if she would be open to a little advice from mom or dad? Only give it with her permission. If she says 'no' wait for another day. Respecting her in this way earns respect back.
The best way to validate another human being is by listening to his or her feelings. Teenagers aren’t always in the mood to talk though. You may have to wait for the right moment.
If freedom is her issue, give her the freedom to make more choices. Explain the natural consequences of her choices and then leave it to her to decide.
Remember the desire for freedom is a natural trait in all human beings. It is a fact of life that the oppressed will always rebel. As parents of teenagers we have to find a balance between loving guidance and lots of free agency.
Our children learn their greatest lessons from their mistakes. Don’t be afraid to let a head strong child make more choices on their own. Stay out of their way as much as possible. Care but don’t control. If she is pushing for more responsibility, give it to her. then give her more and more freedom as she ages.
As for the fighting in your home, it takes two to fight.
If you refuse to play it’s not nearly as fun.
You and your husband need to stop blaming each other. You are both responsible for these two relationships but the only thing you have any control over is you.
How can I make each of these relationships better?
How can I step it up and behave more mature, calm and loving?
How can I stop getting defensive and give love instead?
You must get control over your own emotions, if you are going to teach your daughter how to handle disagreements calmly. You must teach by example.
This means recognizing everyone is inherently good but scared to death most all the time. Fear that they aren’t loved and respected drives most of their behavior. Have more compassion for your spouse and child. They are doing the best they can with what they know. They just don’t know everything.
Choose to be the love in these relationships.
Focus on how you can make each other feel safe and validated. Once they feel safe, you can have great conversations about making things better.
I hope this helps.
How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She and her husband are the parents of 7 children. She is a sought after life coach and speaker.
I have received multiple questions from readers on this topic; this question is a compilation of them.
We have a relative of my spouse's living with us. I agreed to let them stay in the short term, to help them out. This person has not been ideal house guest, though. They make messes and leave them for us to clean. They complain constantly. Now my spouse wants to let them stay longer. When do I put my foot down and stand up for what I want? How can I ask them to leave without making my spouse mad at me? How can I at least get some respect and appreciation for my sacrifice?
It takes a great deal of wisdom to find the balance between giving to others and taking care of yourself. This is something we all struggle with. We want to be kind but we don’t want to be a doormat. Let me answer each of your questions in order.
When do I put my foot down and stand up for what I want?
You have every right to express your feelings to your spouse. You have every right to put your foot down and demand what you want — but it probably won’t go well if you do.
A better approach would be a validating conversation with your spouse.
I recommend you put your feelings aside up front and listen to his first. Ask questions about how he feels and what he thinks. Listening to his feelings without commenting will make him feel validated. He will then be more open to hearing your feelings. Show that you understand and respect his viewpoint.
After you listen, then you may want to ask questions like, “Honey, would you be open to letting me share some of my feelings about this situation with you, even if they are hard to hear?”
Permission questions make people feel respected. They are more likely to respect how you feel when you treat them with respect first. Share how you feel about the situation with kindness and understanding. Together you can work out a compromise.
How can I ask them to leave without making my spouse mad at me?
But you can say something like this to your spouse: “Sweetheart, if I was having a hard time living with your relative and was reaching my breaking point, how could I bring that to you in a way that would still show you how much I love and respect you?”
Then be quiet, because you just did it.
You may want to remember this question, because it works in any situation to help you speak your truth with love.
How can I get some respect and appreciation for my sacrifice?
If you really want respect and appreciation, you are going to have to change your attitude. That’s not what you want to hear, but I’m afraid it’s true.
No one is going to shower you with appreciation when they know you don’t want to do this. People respect and appreciate kindness when you do it for the right reason: love. If you do a loving thing out of guilt or obligation, people don’t feel loved.
You probably let the relative stay because you felt too guilty to say no or because you felt obligated to do it. You did not do it because you wanted to.
You cannot hide your true feelings about this. Your spouse and the relative can feel the resentment and negative energy you are putting off, and it does not encourage respect or appreciation.
You have to decide to do this from a place of love if you want real gratitude. You have to start speaking your truth if you want respect.
You can decide to let them stay because you love your spouse and his family and you want to give this gift to them.
Set some limits and boundaries and speak your truth about them, in a loving way. When problems arise, address them immediately by having validating conversations with the guest. This is a mature, strong, loving way to handle it.
Or, you can decide to have a validating conversation with your spouse and ask the relative to leave because that is honestly how you feel and what you want.
Everything goes better when you choose a response based on honesty.
Either love yourself, speak your truth and ask for what you need, or love them, let the small stuff go, smile and get through it because you honestly want to give them this gift.
If you do it for the right reasons, they will love and appreciate you.
I hope this helps.
How do you help a teenager deal with the death of a friend or classmate?
What makes these situations difficult for parents is you can’t make it better. Teens are going to experience pain as they processes through this, and all you can do is be there.
Your teen may feel depressed, angry, confused or anxious during this time. If this is the teen's first close encounter with death, there will also be a loss of innocence. Teens facing this now grasp the reality that people they love die, and this can be frightening.
More than anything, they need you to listen. You can share your feelings, but focus on asking questions about what they think and how they feel. The best way you can offer support is to do a lot of listening.
During this time, some teens begin to feel concerned about their safety. This is a good time to ask questions about situations where they may be at risk. Let them tell you ways they might protect themselves or make smarter choices. Don’t lecture — ask smart questions and let them tell you.
If teens ask questions about the death, give them accurate, simple, clear answers. There is no need to be graphic, but they are old enough to hear the truth. Give honest explanations about what happened.
Teens often ask more questions about life and religion after a death. Be there to listen and help them explore their ideas about the meaning of life. It is normal for them to question their values or spiritual beliefs. Don’t panic if this happens. The best thing you can do is offer a non-judgmental, loving ear. Trust them to work through it.
Encourage artistic expression as a way to deal with their feelings. Many teens find art, music and writing to be a helpful outlet for their feelings.
Some teens may assume an inappropriate amount of responsibility for their friend’s families. Guard against letting teen-agers carry too much adult responsibility for the families of the deceased. Help them to accurately assess what they can and should do to help.
Some teens experience guilt when one of their peers dies. The best thing you can do is talk through what was (and is) in their control and what isn’t. What is their responsibility and what isn’t?
Sometimes teens are embarrassed by the strong emotion they feel for people who die, even if they were not close to them. Help them to understand loving feelings toward the deceased are normal, even if they were not close friends. We all experience a surge of emotion toward people who pass away.
Help them to understand the pain and emotion they feel is a reminder of how much they care about people around them. The feelings of pain are also feelings of love. It is a beautiful thing that they care about other people so deeply, and a death, though tragic, can be a sweet reminder of that love. Encourage them to share those feelings of love and appreciation for the people around them.
It may be helpful to review the stages of grief with teens. This can help them to understand what they are feeling is normal.
First is denial, second is anger, third is depression and fourth is acceptance
Continue to be a source of support, even if teens seem to be over their grief. They may still be dealing with feelings around the incident long after you have moved on.
Here are a few signs that your teen may need professional help with grief:
An unusual drop in grades
Depression or withdrawal from family or friends
Drug or alcohol use
Remember, it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. There are many resources out there from books to counselors to support groups that can provide assistance.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach, relationship expert and speaker.
A comment was sent in about the article “Refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person” that I thought was important to address.
“Sometimes you may think the other person is wrong, even though it is really you with the problem. Don’t we need to take a good look at ourselves, instead of blaming everything on the other person? How do you know if you are the one who is deluded by your perspective or if they are?"
In every situation, you want to make sure you are seeing the situation and the people involved accurately. Universal principles of truth are the best guide to clarity. Here are some simple principles to help you check yourself:
1. Make sure you are seeing the other person as the same as you. Make sure you are not making them the bad guy so you can feel superior. You are both struggling human beings doing the best you can with what you know at the time. You are not better or worse than anyone else. Can you see yourself and the other person from God’s perspective? Can you stop judging them for their flaws and making them out as worse than you? Can you see you are also flawed? When you can, you will see the situation clearly and with compassion.
2. Make sure you are not applying meaning to the situation that isn’t really there. Just because you think or believe something doesn’t make it true. Take out the assumptions and give people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time, they are trying to be a good person as much as you are.
3. Make sure you are coming from a place of love. If you are in a selfish place where your focus is on protecting and promoting you, you are not experiencing love. Before you address this situation, make sure you are not being motivated by your ego’s need to be validated or win. Choose to be a force for love in this situation. How can you heal, inspire, lift or encourage the other person to see and be their goodness? How can you rise to the occasion and be more loving, wise and forgiving? Are you up for that? If not, keep working on you.
4. Clarify what is in your control. Get out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. On one side write down everything that is your responsibility and in your control. On the other side write down what’s not. Once you are clear about your stuff, focus on that. Work on being loving, wise and mature when it comes to your half of the problem. Don’t let the other person entice you to behave badly back. Choose to be a better you.
5. Choose to be in trust. This situation is in your life for a perfect reason. It is here to show you things about yourself, teach you things or to give you an opportunity to step it up. What is it showing you? What is the perfect purpose this challenge is bringing to your life? How can this situation make you better?
6. Remember no one can diminish you. They can think you are a horrible, dumb, ugly whatever, but that does not make it true. It does not change you in any way. They cannot hurt you or take away from your infinite and absolute value. You are a good soul in a perfect and divine process of learning and growing. Your value is set by God and nothing can change it. You are bulletproof.
When you have to deal with people who don’t like you, just smile. It doesn’t matter what they think. Choose to love them anyway. Choose to smile and feel safe.
You can also choose to avoid people who throw darts your way, but if you can’t avoid them, you can choose to surround yourself with a force field of love and let the poison darts bounce off.
One of my favorite authors, Og Mandino, in his book "The Greatest Salesman in the World," writes, “How will I react to the actions of others? With love. For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger.”
When you surround yourself with a force field of love, you can withstand the harshest of comments. They can't touch you. When you need to speak your truth or defend yourself, do so without fear. Speak your truth within strength and love.
Keep working on you all the time.
It’s the thing you are here to do. Assume your conclusions, if driven by ego, are probably wrong. Choose love and trust and you will find the truth.
You can do this — every day is practice.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker and has a radio show, www.lifeadviceradio.com.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.