We’ve heard it before in parenting classes. Not “I am so proud of you” but rather, “You should be so proud of YOURSELF”. That’s the way to do it, apparently. To encourage children to value their own achievements instead of seeking validation from others. I like it. If you’re not already subscribed to blogmeister sans pareil Seth Godin then I recommend you sign up now. His recent post spoke about how validation is overrated. Don’t wait for the praise of others to see the merit in what you’ve done/made/achieved/written/sewn/baked etc. See it yourself! This is good for adults and great for kids who can set the template at a young age. It breeds an independent mind and, if you’re doing it right, a good instinct for self-appraisal. I am starting now.
Going on holiday anywhere nice? Anywhere foreign? Hey! That’s a great opportunity to get into languages – for you, or your kids. Nothing too demanding – they’ve just finished school and exams – but at least teach them the compliment of trying to speak to someone in their own language, no matter how awkward they feel. And teach them a couple of super-useful phrases. And I mean stuff like ‘Good morning’, ‘thank you’, ‘have you got any orange juice?’ and ‘that’s a nice shirt you’re wearing’. People underestimate the goodwill this unlocks when speaking to foreigners. It shows respect, warmth, willingness and a wonderful enthusiasm for the culture you are visiting.
My technique is to get a list of some of the most common words (I like this Spanish list http://wordsgalore.com/wordsgalore/languages/spanish/spanish1000.html ) and pick out twenty to remember. Or be simple and memorise five phrases from a phrase book. Doing this will give your children a great sense of achievement and probably draw looks of admiration from others around them. It doesn’t take long and it opens up a positive attitude to learning languages.
Oh yes, and you can’t go wrong with downloading a couple of songs: Girls Aloud ‘Je ne parle pas Français’ or French classic ‘A La Claire Fontaine’ or the Spanish Gipsy King’s hit, ‘Volare’. Gets the ‘rrrr’s’ rolling!
We watched the Clint Eastwood film ‘Invictus’ the other evening. Have you seen it? It’s a good, thought-provoking film and an interesting one to watch with children (over 11).
What’s the title? It’s a Victorian poem by William Henley, written when he was in hospital, aged 25, having his leg amputated. The last two lines are what stick in the mind
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
Nelson Mandela had Henley’s poem written on a scrap of paper in his prison cell. If you ever wanted to give kids a shining example of someone who was the master, and not the victim, of his own fate, Nelson Mandela has got to be up at the top. No blaming others, no time wasted on revenge. Unlike most of us, he put those feelings aside.
This sense of self-determination reminds me of a parenting course I took once. Apparently the well-meant “Well done! I am so proud of you” – something I say all the time – should be “Well done! You must be so proud of yourself “.