Archive for March 30, 2013

What We Do For Marriage & Family

Last week I read a post by The Romantic Vineyard about “What we do” to keep our marriage strong. I wanted to add some “we do’s” to the list as well. What do we do on a regular basis to keep our marriage strong? Interestingly, most of the things I thought of not only build a stronger marriage but a stronger family as well!


We do humor. I love to laugh with my wife…and I love to laugh with my children. Humor keeps even the most difficult situations running more smoothly. Humor lessens the friction during conflict. Humor draws us into relationship and deepens our intimacy. Some of our best memories involve times of uncontrolled laughter on the part of at least one family member. To laugh with family is a beautiful thing.


We do music. We listen to music and play music. We share our favorite songs. We sing together…sometimes we sound beautiful and sometimes not so much. Still, we do music. Just as music is filled with harmonies and the sharing of melodies, a family that does music together learns to live their life in harmony with one another while taking turns performing the melody.


We do awe and wonder. I love to experience something majestic or awe-inspiring with my wife. As we stand in awe looking over the wonder of creation or enjoy the awe-inspiring music of a concert, time stands still and we spend an eternal moment enjoying the same wonder. Our favorite time of shared awe and wonder comes in the moments of worship…and that worship can be at church singing a worship song or standing silently hand-in-hand on the beach watching the whales play in the ocean. (Check out this blog on the benefit of awe and wonder to a family.) 


We do holding and hugging. What more can I say? We hold hands, share hugs, and walk arm in arm. When we say good-bye, we give a hug or a kiss. When we come home, we give a hug. When we go to bed, we give a hug. An accomplishment gets a hug or a high-five. For no special reason, we share an oxytocin hug . Hugs put flesh and blood on our expression of love.


We do lunch. The work schedules of my wife and I often make supper a difficult time to share a meal together. So, we enjoy lunch together. Lunch has become one of my favorite parts of the day. After all, I get to combine eating with the enjoyment of my wife’s company…what more could I ask for?


We do Church. Going to worship services at church is a time of growing intimacy between us and between God and us. As a couple and as a family we serve together by helping with various projects at church. We have enjoyed mission trips and service activities as a family. We support one another in our individual efforts to serve through the Church. Whether one of us goes on a mission trip without family or plays in a worship band, we support one another and share in one another’s excitement for that service.


What do you do to strengthen your marriage and family?

Get Your Own Life! Leave Me Alone!

Have you ever felt like your child just wanted you out of their life? You want to be a good parent and remain involved with them, but they just seem to want to do things independently…on their own. Let’s face it: they want to do things without you! I know one of the main goals of parenting is to raise a child so they can live on their own…without me. Still, we may feel hurt or even jealous when our children start to choose friends over us, “light up” for their peers but look like a curmudgeon old scrooge around us, or proudly inform us, “No, I don’t want you to go…I want to go by myself.” Here are a few tips to help you think about and prepare for those times when you feel your child say, “Get out of my life!”

·         Children of all ages need their own life. They need a life independent from their parent’s life. When a child becomes the sole focus of their parent’s life, they feel too much pressure to perform. They may fear disappointing their parents by not doing “good enough.” This fear of falling short of a parent’s expectation while always under the parent’s watchful eye will limit their exploration and, as a result, their growth. So, parents do their children a great favor by allowing their children to have a life independent of them. In their independent life, children can try different activities and perhaps even fail without feeling as though they have disappointed the watchful eye of their parent. In practical terms, this means letting your children become involved in some activities without you.

·         Parents need a life independent of their children. Let’s face it: our children only live with us for 18-25 years before they move out and start their own families. Hopefully, we will become involved in their new family, but probably not on a daily basis. We need a life of our own—a life that will continue after our children leave for college. We may raise children for even 25 years, but we hope our marriage lasts well beyond that; so we need to maintain our connection with our spouse. Go on date nights and spend romantic weekends together without your children. Keep your connection with your spouse strong. Also, maintain connections with friends and coworkers. Remember to get together with the “guys” or the “ladies” for a night out. Have friends over to your home for a night of games. Go out for dinner with another couple. Whatever you choose to do, keep the connection with your adult friends and family strong. Strive to become the couple in this commercial (with or without the car).

·         Finally, balance your children’s need for increasing independence with your need to know they’re safe. This can prove a difficult balance to attain. We do not want to over-control or micromanage our children’s lives. Helicopter parents interfere with their children’s growing independence. We really are not our children’s best friend—they generally pick a peer to fill that role. At the same time, we don’t want to throw our children to the wolves either. We have to find a balance…a way to maintain a parent-child connection that allows them to grow independent while we increasingly trust God to keep them safe. We teach them safety skills and trust they have learned those lessons.
With these three patterns firmly in place, we can navigate our changing parent-child relationship as our children grow into independent adults. Together, we will learn to negotiate the balance between intruding and participating, nagging and advising, suffocating and remaining involved.

Bless Your Family With Worry-Free Living

I don’t know about you, but I can let excessive worries run away with me. In fact, I have to work at keeping those nasty worries at bay so they don’t interfere with my marriage, my family, and my life. If you’re not sure if worries interfere with your family life, read Worry Killed the Family…you might be surprised. In the meantime, here are six ways to replace worry with peace, anxiety with joy, and apprehension with intimacy.
     1.      Write 5-7 quotes, scriptures or sayings related to worry on notecards. Carry those notecards with you and read them several times throughout the day. You could read them when you wake up, after breakfast, during a midmorning break, during lunch, during a midafternoon break, after dinner and before bed. If you want the extra benefit of this exercise, invest the effort to memorize these sayings. Each time you begin to worry, repeat one of the sayings in your mind. If you have trouble coming up with quotes or sayings, here are a few:
     o    Be anxious for nothing but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus (Paul–Philippians 4:6-7).

o    In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double, don’t worry, be happy (Bobby McFerrin).

o    Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (Peter–1 Peter 5:6-7).

o    Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength-carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength (Corrie ten Boom).

o    Worry is most often a prideful way of thinking that you have more control over life and its circumstances than you actually do (June Hunt).

2.      Realize the difference between simple concerns that that lead to action and excessive worry that consumes your time and your life. If you have a concern about something fixable, fix it. If it is not fixable, there is no benefit to worrying either. So, make a decision. Is your worry fixable? Then get to work. Invest the time and energy to address the problem.

3.      Practice gratitude. Every day think of three to five things for which you are grateful. Invest some time to think of new things to be grateful for every day. Write your thanks in a “gratitude journal” by keeping a simple list of thanks in a notebook. After a month, you will have a list of ninety to one hundred fifty things for which you are grateful. When you start to worry, take a moment and review your list.

4.      Recall incidents in which circumstances worked out without worry…or in spite of worry. Write these incidents down in your “gratitude journal” to create a memory bank section. If you cannot think of any times like this, take a risk and act in spite of your worry. Enjoy the outcome and write that incident in your memory bank.

5.      Acknowledge the voice in your head…the one that coaches you to worry. That worried internal voice that tells you how you “should” do things; that creates a mountain out of a mole hill by adding “what if’s” galore; that grows worry with absolutes such as “always,” “never,” “every,” and “no one.” Replace that coach with new coach that points out simple areas of improvement. Make sure the new internal coach will voice acceptance of your efforts as well as acknowledging and encouraging your progress.

6.      Finally, enlist the help of your family. Let them act as a voice of reason for you at times. Let them remind you that the “always” is really a “sometimes” and the “should” is really a “want” and a “choice.”

That gives you six ways to begin to address your worries. Really, the motivation to stop worrying is not simply to stop worrying. No, the motivation is to create peace and joy in your life, more intimacy in your family, and greater celebration with your family. So don’t worry, be happy. Sing along now…don’t worry, be happy!

It Takes a Village…Yeah, But How?

“It takes a village to raise a child.” I know that sounds overused and somewhat trite, but it really does take a village to raise a child. Don’t get me wrong, children desperately need their family. The healthier our families, the easier it is to raise our children. No doubt family has the primary place in raising children. Still, the connections our children have with those outside the nuclear family have a tremendous impact on them. When parents encourage their children to build healthy connections outside their immediate family, children benefit. Of course we don’t want our children to develop just any old connections; we want to guide them toward healthy connections. We do that by becoming involved in various aspects of the community as a family. Then, as children mature, they can take those involvements as their own. Here are four connections that can benefit our children.
     ·         Connections with extended family can have a positive influence on our children. Older cousins, aunts, and uncles can serve as role models. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can reinforce various values. Grandparents, in particular, can play a special role in reinforcing values. Many times our children will hear values voiced by the extended family more easily than they hear the same values voiced by us.

·         Connections with community groups such as church, school, or sports. Coaches can help reinforce values and give our children another “ear” to help them solve various difficulties. Teachers can also serve to encourage our children and promote maturity. Church involvement has many benefits. In a church community, children can find adults who encourage and support, elderly who listen and give wisdom, and peers who want to live by similar values. Church also provide opportunities to engage in “responsible” behavior such as watching and teaching younger children, mission trips, camp opportunities, and volunteer opportunities. The church can provide all of this as well as teaching Christian values. Each of these connections can help our children grow more confident and mature. 

·         Connections with more than one circle of friends. This may take some guidance from you, but the benefit is great. Encourage your children to avoid a single clique and become involved with peers from several groups. This may mean becoming involved peers from several different groups at school or becoming involved with peers from church, scouting, school, and community.

·         Connections with other parents. Sometimes our children just need an adult other than their parent to talk to. They need an adult who understands children, but does not have the heavy emotional investment in our children that we do. From this “other parent” our children can get an objective, third party opinion. And, if we have laid the groundwork early in our children’s life, this “third party” will support similar values and ideas as we do.

Having these four connections outside of the nuclear family will help teens gain a sense of connection and belonging. Ironically, this sense of connection and belonging will help them grow more independent. It will also help them mature and grow with a desire to abide by the values of their community…which, by the way, is your community too!

Count It All Joy When Siblings Fight…

Sometimes it drives me crazy to hear my kids fighting (btw—my family says that crazy is only a putt away for me, not a drive). At any rate, I hear one daughter yelling at the other and the other daughter forcefully (albeit quietly) stating her case. It is enough to promote loss of hair. But, sibling rivalry really can produce several positive outcomes. That’s right; sibling disagreements, arguments, and competitions are actually good! Of course I am not talking about out and out, drag down, sock ’em in the nose, hair pulling battles. We don’t want anyone getting hurt here. However, disagreements, arguments, and even some verbal sparring can produce positive results for our children. Here are just a few:
     ·         Sibling rivalry provides the opportunity for our children to practice negotiation skills. They learn to make their point in a convincing and effective manner. They learn that one’s tone of voice can lead to more or less cooperation and certain words or phrases can increase or decrease cooperation. Siblings in the midst of an argument can learn that listening strengthens one’s stance for negotiation. Sibling rivalry helps each person learn how to disagree and promote a point in a way that can achieve the best result.

·         Sibling rivalry provides the opportunity to learn about compromise. Through sibling conflict, siblings learn the art of compromise as well has how to show the honor and grace inherent in compromise.

·         Sibling rivalry builds competence in problem-solving, both as an individual and as part of a group. Whether a person learns how to compromise, how to negotiate, or how to make a strong point, problem-solving skills grow stronger. All parties learn to work out their differences and reach some level of resolution, even if that means agreeing to disagree and learning how to do that.

·         Sibling rivalry helps define individual identities. Each child has to find their place in the family–their role, their purpose, their identity. Sibling rivalry helps each child do that.

·         Ironically, sibling rivalry actually helps to build family cohesiveness. As siblings argue and compete, they learn about one another. They learn to appreciate one another’s strengths and abilities. As siblings learn to negotiate and compromise, they come to respect one another and look out for one another’s interests. When siblings learn to share honor and grace even amidst the rivalry, they learn to love one another more deeply. All of this helps to build family cohesiveness and intimacy.
Count it all joy when siblings disagree, argue, compete and engage in all sorts of rivalry…well, maybe I’m stretching too far there; but, here are three ways parents can influence sibling rivalry for the best.
     ·         Model healthy rivalry in your own relationships. When you have a disagreement with your spouse, model honor and grace. When you argue with your spouse or a friend, let your children observe how carefully you listen before speaking. Model speech and action during conflict with your children that reveal humility on your part as you work toward resolution.

·         Coach your children in the art of disagreement and rivalry. Offer suggestions on how to phrase things in a more honorable manner. Give hints on how speech can influence resolution. Teach your children how listening can increase our understanding of the other person and the problem, leading to a better compromise.

·         Acknowledge each of your children’s strengths and abilities. Do not compare children with one another. Instead, encourage their different interests and abilities. Let each of your children know that they hold a special value in your eyes, a value based on their specific person. This can help limit their need to compete for your attention or for their place in the family. Instead, each will know they hold a special place already.
So, are you ready to ruummmmble? No, just joking. No rumbling please. But, a little bit of sibling rivalry can go a long way in producing mature children, especially when parents model and coach positive conflict skills while acknowledging each child’s individual strengths.

Curiosity Killed the Cat, Worry Kills the Family

“Curiosity killed the cat” but worry kills the family. I know that sounds kind of extreme, but worry really does interfere with family intimacy. Worry becomes a quiet, unseen but powerful rip current that pulls families apart…or a whirlpool of twisting, turning, dizzying emotions that hurl a family into discord and confusion. Consider these ways that excessive worry can kill the family.
     ·         Worry in one family member limits the opportunities for all family members. When one person in the family is filled with worry, they can interfere with other family members’ exploration of the world around them. Exploration is crucial for healthy child development. Family exploration aids in building intimacy. Worry hinders exploration. It prevents family members from trying new things. Worry can even create fear in younger family members (children) who may believe, “If my Mom or Dad worries about this, it must be really bad.” Worry that prevents healthy exploration will lead to family members who doubt their own abilities, family members who lack the confidence to tackle life problems that arise. Excessive worry blocks a family’s growth and development.

·         Worry also creates distance between family members. Specifically, a person who worries will get so caught up in their own worries that they will find themselves unable to focus on other family members’ interests and concerns. Our mind can only handle so much information at a time and worry will consume all our mental space. Worry will drain our emotional energy, leaving us emotionally depleted and unable to connect with other family members. A family of worry becomes disconnected.

·         Worry increases family stress. It robs families of peace and joy. When someone in the family becomes obsessed with worry, everyone suffers. Everyone becomes concerned about keeping the worrier from becoming anxious or agitated. In order to avoid the stress of one person’s excessive worry, everyone “walk on egg shells.” Celebration gets lost in the fear of annoying the worrier and arousing his rage. Peace and joy succumb to confusion and constant vigilance. A family filled with worry is a family without celebration.   

·         Worry increases conflict within the family. Increased family stress caused by worry will lead to more agitation, stress, and arguing. Children will “rebel” against the worrier in an effort to explore the world around them, try new things, and learn about themselves. Some family members will attempt to argue with the worrier to decrease their worry. This will not work. It will only increase the conflict. Other family members may become agitated with the constant barrage of worry and negative comments. They may feel as though the worrier doubts their ability and, in response, they will become defensive, leading to more conflict. Yes, worry will travel many paths, but they all lead to greater conflict.

·         Worry can also shorten your time with the family. Family members may begin to avoid the worrier just because of the stress the worry creates. In addition, excessive worry increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke over the long run. Worry can shorten your life and lead to an early death. If you want to live a long and happy life with your family, don’t worry, be happy.
Worry hurls a family into confusion, drowns them in chaos, and ultimately brings family celebration to an untimely death. So, if you are a worrier…in the words of Bob Newhart, “Stop it!” If that seems too difficult (and if you are honest, it probably does) check out next week’s blog to learn several ways of putting your worries to rest and replacing them with peace and joy. Doing so will add years of joy to your family life!

Cherishing-A Warm Blanket in a Cold World

Many wedding vows include the phrase “to love and to cherish, till death do us part….” That word “cherish” is often passed right over…spoken, but not really heard. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, also tells husbands to “cherish” their wife (Ephesians 5:28-30, NASB). The word Paul uses for cherish literally means “to keep warm,” “to foster tender love and care.” This definition makes me think of a man who takes off his jacket on a chilly night and wraps it around his wife (the one he cherishes) to keep her warm and safe against the cold. The warmth of cherishing stands in stark contrast to the numbing cold of being unloved and uncherished. My daughter took these pictures of the ice sculptures and an ice city during a recent trip. Although these sculptures are beautiful and amazing, imagine living in a real “city of ice” and you have imagined living in a home where no one cherishes the other, a home without cherishing.
When we cherish our wife and family, we wrap a warm blanket of emotional support around them and offer protection from the coldness of the world. Even more, we keep the embers of love alive. Our cherishing actions kindle a warming fire of affection that draws the one we cherish toward us and away from the cold, hard world. We have a high regard for the person we cherish; and that high regard warms our desire to love and care for them. That desire to care for the one we cherish translates into a loving empathy that opens us up to their needs and ignites a compassion that compels us to relieve that need.
Cherishing turns the focus of our life toward the person we cherish and how we might connect with them. It exhibits an unconditional acceptance that calls forth and nurtures the best qualities of the one we cherish while accepting them just as they are. And, family intimacy grows as we cherish one another. Wives are drawn to the warmth of a husband who cherishes her. Children are drawn to the warmth of their parents when husband and wife have learned to cherish one another in their marriage. And friends are drawn to the warmth of the home in which family members cherish one another. I invite you to cherish your family this week. Throw another log on the fire of compassionate love, wrap a warm blanket of emotional security around you and your loved ones, and cuddle up to share a night of cherishing love.

The Gracious Art of Listening

Listening is at the heart of every human relationship, including the parent-child relationship. If we do not listen, we cannot form relationships…we cannot maintain relationships…we cannot grow more intimate in our relationships. Proverbs from the ancient “be quick to hear and slow to speak” to the less ancient (but no less insightful) “God gave you two ears and only one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk” express the wisdom of listening. Yet, when it comes to children, parents often want to jump in “full speech ahead” to give a solution. We have more life experience and more life knowledge, so we tend to listen less and talk more. By talking more and listening less, we send our children the subtle message that our need to be heard is more important than them and our words more important than their words. When we go “full speech ahead” in expounding our solution to their problem, we pass up the opportunity to listen to our children and learn how they think, what influences their thoughts, and what fears and hopes fill their minds…in other words, we miss the opportunity to know them more intimately. If we do not listen to our children, we never learn about the concerns and fears that hold them back, the dreams that propel them forward, the sensitivities that fuel their compassion, or the sympathies within their life that long for creative outreach. We really need to listen. But listening doesn’t come easy. Listening is an act of grace and honor. Listening is an art.
To listen well, we have to give up our desire to say something to make our children see us as wise and intelligent. We have to give up the desire to become their hero, the one who can “save the day” with just the right word. Rather than striving to become the wise, intelligent hero in our children’s lives, we have to take the humble position of listening, sitting at our children’s feet to hear and understand their point of view. In effect, we have to become their student and let them teach us about their thoughts and feelings. When we listen, we use short phrases to encourage them to explain more about a subject. We restate what they have already said to assure them we have heard them and want to understand them. We ask questions about their thoughts and ideas to clarify our understanding. When we have listened enough to see the situation from our children’s perspective, we can empathize with them. Then, after we have listened well and truly understand what our children have to say, we can speak to the issue and share in problem-solving.
When we listen intently to our children, we show them the grace to give up our own agenda…the grace to give up our need to look good and admired…the grace to give up our need to “fix it” for them. We honor our children with a listening ear that reveals a true interest in their thoughts and feelings; and, we honor them by joining them in their excitement, their sorrow, their fears, and their joys. Through this grace-filled, honorable act of listening, we grow closer to our child. We deepen the quiet influence we have in our children’s lives. And, we teach them the art of listening well, which, in turn, they will practice with us!

Nourish the Snow White in Your Life

I love the Disney animation “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”—a classic story of jealousy turned to hatred, the love that battle against that hatred, and the final victory of “true love’s kiss.” Although this classic, an adaptation of an even older Grimm fairy tale, was released in 1937, it is still reenacted every day in our marriages and families. Every day we nourish our family members with a “poison apple” or “love’s true kiss.” Our words and actions either result in an inviting, beautiful red apple filled with poison or the life-giving nourishment of true love. Some words and actions are poison disguised within an inviting red apple. Those beautiful, yet poisonous, red apples cast a spell on family members, making it impossible for them to change, grow, and mature. Through the poison apples of words and actions we control the lives of our children and our spouse. We lull them to sleep. How might we use what appears beautiful and inviting on the outside to limit our family’s life and keep them from living out their authentic beauty? Here are a few ways:
     ·         Controlling what our children can or cannot feel—“you have no reason to be upset about that, now stop pouting.”
     ·         Limiting our spouse’s opportunities to develop friendships.
     ·         Limiting our family member’s opportunities to develop interests and hobbies that we do not like.
     ·         Demanding that our teens and/or spouse dress the way we tell them to.
     ·         Demanding that our family watch only the TV shows we want to watch or listen only to the music we want them to listen to.
     ·         Structuring and scheduling every moment of every day for our family, implying that they cannot manage their life independent of us.
     ·         Sending the subtle message that your family members are not competent (and cannot become competent) by putting in “the final touches” on a job or stepping in to redo a job they did poorly.
     ·         Punishing family members for mistakes such as spilling a drink.
     ·         Name-calling, constant criticism, or expressions of dissatisfaction about jobs they put in the effort to complete.
     ·         Making negative predictions such as “you’ll never amount to anything” (even if said in the heat of anger).
     ·         Threatening unrealistic punishments.
     ·         Abandoning a family member in the midst of an argument or heated discussion.
Hopefully, you do not nourish with poison apples but with “love’s true kiss,” like Prince (or Princess) Charming. Prince Charming wanted to bring life to the Snow White. He desired to bring out her best. His “kiss of true love” animated Snow White, filled her life with love and admiration, and brought her true self to life. He nourished her with a love that brought out her best. Here are some ways you can nourish your family like Prince Charming nourished Snow White:
     ·         Help each family member identify their dream and then achieve that dream.
     ·         Find and openly admire characteristics you admire about each family member.
     ·         Offers thanks and gratitude for things your family members do.
     ·         Learn about your children’s day and your spouse’s day. Show a genuine interest in their lives. Find out what they like and don’t like. Build a map of their activities, interests, fears, and dreams.
     ·         Share time with your children and spouse.
     ·         Discover what brings your spouse happiness and help bring those things into her life.
     ·         Promote your family’s welfare. This may mean offering loving discipline to your children.
     ·         Accept your spouse’s influence.
     ·         Allow family members to explore interests, even if those interests differ from your own.
     ·         Give up what you want in order to let your family enjoy something they want.
     ·         Encourage your children and your spouse. Look for reasons to praise them.
     ·         Share lots of loving hugs and playful interactions.
So, are you more like the Wicked Queen or Prince Charming in your words and actions? Do you carry a basket of beautiful red apples filled with poison or a basket of “true love’s kisses”? It’s your choice. You can choose which basket you use to nourish your family. One leads to pain. The other leads to joy and fulfillment. To me, the choice seems obvious…so, let’s all choose wisely.

Planting the Seeds of Confidence in Children

We want our children to gain confidence as they mature. Confidence allows our children to explore the world around them and find areas of interest. Confidence gives them the ability to bounce back after a rough day or perceived failure. Confidence enhances their social interactions. It gives our children the strength to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities. Confidence helps our children become “all they can be.” So, how can we help boost a healthy confidence in our children?
First, we plant the seeds of confidence by:
     ·         Setting reasonable expectations for our children, expectations that match their developmental ability. Maintaining developmentally appropriate expectations assures that our children have the ability to behave in a way that matches our expectation. If we set an expectation that they, due to age or ability, cannot “measure up to,” we have planted a seed of self-doubt and shame rather than confidence. So, plant seeds of confidence by setting reasonable expectations.

·         Allowing our children opportunities to problem-solve. Opportunities to problem-solve can range from deciding which game to play with a friend to discussing how to manage a difficult teacher in school; or which movie to watch with a sibling to figuring out how to pay for car insurance. Discuss and explore options with your children. Offer guidance and suggestions. Ultimately, whenever possible, let them make the choice and experience the consequences of that choice. When you do, confidence is planted.

·         Catching them being good. Look for polite interactions, kind gestures, loving and/or considerate actions, or any other positive behavior in which you see your child engage. Each time you see these positive behaviors, you see a seed of confidence that you can then fertilize. 
Second, fertilize the seeds of confidence by:
     ·         Recognizing those positive behaviors. Simply acknowledge that you saw their positive behavior communicates that you value them enough to pay attention. Learning that you value them enough to listen intently and observe the good in their life’s actions builds their confidence.

·         While you are at it, acknowledge their strengths and assets. Help them learn how to use those strengths and assets to overcome difficulties. Teach them that their strengths and personal resources allow them to bounce back after difficulties and find success in spite of any setbacks.

·         Offer genuine praise. Make your praise specific. Let them know that even amidst imperfect effort or failed attempts you can identify and acknowledge something they did well. Perhaps you can praise their effort, the difficulty of the choice they made, or some other specific aspect of their action. Whatever you specific thing you praise will fertilize those seeds of confidence.
Third, kill the little pests that contaminate the seeds of confidence and ravage the fruit of confidence. Pests that need to be killed include:
     ·         Lecturing. Lecturing is as sly as a fox. We may think that lecturing gets our point across but it does not; our children just quit listening. As a result, lecturing robs our children of the opportunity to make decisions and learn from their decisions. It builds a wall between us and them. It crushes the seed of confidence by subtly communicating that we have little confidence in their ability to learn from mistakes. So, stop lecturing to nurture the seed of confidence.

·         Focusing on what they do wrong rather than noticing what they do right. Giving all our attention to what they do wrong creates self-doubt. When they put all the silverware, plates, glasses, and napkins on the table for dinner, we can acknowledge what they did well or focus on the missing serving spoon. When they bring home a report card with 6 A’s and a B, we can acknowledge the A’s or “harp on” the B. Don’t get me wrong. We still promote improving behavior and correct misbehavior, even address that single B. However, if we only focus on what is wrong or incomplete, we send the message that they are never “good enough;” that no matter how hard they try, they can never please us. That will kill confidence.

·         Attributing problems to character flaws. Saying a messy room is a result of your child being a “slob.” Or, not doing their homework reflects a “lazy child.” Such name-calling and contempt will ravage confidence.
To promote confidence in your child, plant the seeds of confidence, fertilize those seeds of confidence, and kill the little pests that ravage confidence. Happy confidence gardening.