A Quick Parent’s Guide to Cultivating Leadership in Your Kids

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Did you know that kids can start developing leadership qualities as early as their preschool years?The sooner children learn to use their leadership skills the more opportunities for success they will have.

Consider the follow strategies to help your children take command of their lives and grow up to be more productive and happy.

Understanding the Basic Principles of Leadership

  1. Develop emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the basis for sound leadership. Kids can work on accurately identifying specific feelings in themselves and others and managing them constructively. This way they’ll solve emotional issues more easily, get along better with others and avoid destructive behavior.

  2. Generate compassion. Keep the focus on caring for others. Let your children know that the purpose of becoming more influential is to have a positive impact on society. Life is full of opportunities to serve others and recognize that we’re all connected.

  3. Take charge of your life. Show kids they can take an active role in making things happen. Help them to understand that they create their own outcomes rather than viewing life as something that happens to them.

Leadership Development Strategies for Younger Children

  1. Delay gratification. There are valuable life lessons in learning to plan ahead and work for rewards. For example, help your kids to understand that by going to bed on time, they get a longer bedtime story.

  2. Learn to read emotions in faces. It’s important to become sensitive to non-verbal cues. Play games with your own facial expressions or you can draw pictures. Discuss how someone may look if they were preparing to eat an ice cream cone versus surprised by a loud noise.

  3. Choose your words carefully. Encourage kids to select words that convey their affection for others. Ask them to talk about what they like about their siblings or friends.

  4. Practice teamwork. Demonstrate that it’s fun and effective to cooperate with others. Spend time washing dishes or picking up toys together. Sign up for softball or split up into teams for playing charades.

Mind your manners. Show kids how to act appropriately in different social situations. Praise your kids for mastering basic table manners and acting as gracious hosts when you have guests in your home.

Getting your kids off to a good start with leadership skills can create a better life for them and help them to become a positive influence on others. When children learn to manage themselves and get along with others, they’re better prepared for happiness and success.

And the most important is to be leaders ourselves and teach kids by example!

What are some ways you teach leadership skills to your children? Please comment below.

20 Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

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Janet Woititz, John Bradshaw, Claudia Black and many others have written and taught about issues related to adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) for decades. Nonetheless, as long as there are parents who have addictions, there will continue to be new generations of ACOAs.

Common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

1. Are unsure of normal behavior, therefore, they have to guess at it.

2. Experience difficulty with follow through.

3. Often lie when the truth would be easier.

4. Are their own worst critics, judging themselves harshly.

5. Have difficulty relaxing and having a good time.

6. Often take themselves very seriously.

7. Struggle with intimacy.

8. May be rigid and feel a need to control things, including things that are out of their control.

9. Have a high need for approval, acknowledgement and acceptance.

10. Experience themselves as different from other people.

11. Tend to be either overly responsible or irresponsible.

12. Are loyal to a fault, even when it is not in their best interest or deserved.

13. Tend to be impulsive and fail to consider the consequences of their actions.

14. Spend a lot of time cleaning up their mistakes and beating themselves up for bad behavior.

15. Frequently feel self-loathing.

16. Often feel out of control.

17. May also have addictions.

18. Have problems with relationships.

19. May be overly dependent or independent.

20. Have difficulty with boundaries.

(Adapted from 13 Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics, Janet Woititz, PhD)

Any of these sound familiar? What type of dysfunction did your family of origin have, if any? How did that affect you as a child and now as an adult? Any traits that you wouldn’t want to pass on to your own children?

Please comment and follow this blog for future conversations!

9 Things Emotionally Healthy Parents Do

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You know a few emotionally healthy people. Their relationships seem to go smoothly. They get their work done on time. Happiness appears to be their most common emotional state. They don’t have financial challenges. They maintain a healthy bodyweight.

They don’t seem to any more talented or intelligent than you. What’s the difference? Why do they manage life more easily and effectively than you do?

Emotionally healthy people do things that others do not:

  1. Create healthy boundaries. Successful relationships require healthy boundaries. When boundaries are undefined or unhealthy, the relationship will eventually have a negative impact on your life. Consider where you’re vulnerable and create boundaries to protect yourself.

  2. Delay gratification. Whether you want to finish school, lose 20 pounds, or get your work done before 5:00pm, it’s necessary to delay gratification. For example, eating a cupcake now is more gratifying in the moment than declining. But in the long run, forgoing cupcakes will help you meet your goal of losing weight. Those that act impulsively and can’t delay gratification lack the ability to follow through with wise long-term decisions. If you make life easy on yourself in the short-term, you pay the price in the long-term.
  3. Emotionally healthy people can be by themselves. “By yourself” doesn’t mean sitting on the couch with a pizza and Netflix. You’re not alone. You actually have two companions with you. Can you sit quietly, by yourself, with nothing but your thoughts? Or does anxiety about your life create too much discomfort? How much time do you spend distracting yourself from reality?
  4. They are able to adapt to change. Do you go with the flow or does any change throw you for a loop? Emotionally healthy people are able to roll with the punches and maintain a positive attitude.

  5. Deal with discomfort effectively. Those that can’t deal with emotional discomfort lead chaotic lives. It’s only when the discomfort of not taking action becomes so great that they’re finally able to do something. By then, it might be too late. When you can take a deep breath and take effective action in the face of emotional discomfort, life is a snap.

  6. Love others. Only emotionally healthy people can truly love others in a positive way. To care, trust, and attach to another person honestly requires good mental health. Think about your kids…

  7. Take care of themselves physically. Do you only eat when you’re hungry? Do you make healthy food choices? Are you able to get yourself to exercise even if you don’t feel like it? Do you go to the doctor and dentist regularly? If your emotional health is up to par, you can do these things consistently.

  8. Emotionally healthy people are reliable. Can people count on you to keep your word? Fulfilling your promises and obligations is one sign of emotional health.

  9. Act proactively. Are you able to look ahead and see the potential sticking points and then avoid them? Or do you wait until the wheels are coming off before you take action? Living well isn’t just about skillfully dealing with challenges. Ideally, it’s about intelligently avoiding them when possible.

Are you emotionally healthy? Emotionally healthy people do things that unhealthy people do not. The ability to control impulses and deal with emotional discomfort effectively are two of the most important components of emotional health. Do you need to make a change? Work to create habits that support these areas. While it’s possible to make these changes by yourself, getting professional help can be even more effective.

Please share your thoughts. How do you make yourself feel better? Are you teaching your kids healthy emotion habits, or there is something you think you might need to work on?

Hold on to me, Papa!

Yes, this blog is about Motherhood. Why am writing about Papa? Because having Papa for our children and partner for ourselves is detrimental to our kids’ emotional development. Seeing my son, Noah, giving hugs and kisses to his Papa–my most amazing husband, Chris–and receiving love in return warms my heart so much that I decided to write about that.

Chris works 6 days a week, and he is usually exhausted by the time he gets home. He gets only evenings to relax and Sundays to do anything family related. Noah screams from joy when he sees Papa get home and wants to spend the rest of the evening watching The Jungle Book and The Lion King for the 100th time (lol). Sometimes I get really irritated that all they do is watch movies, but then when I look at them and see how close they are during those moments, it makes me realize how happy and emotionally satisfied my baby is just being close to his dad. That’s all that matters at the end of the day!

I grew up without a dad since I was one year old. My mom raised me on her own until I was about 10 years old. Then she started dating–not father figures. At 12, I met my stepdad who became my new dad, but a dad I would never wish on anyone. I write in detail about him in my memoir Rocky Road to Recovery so I won’t go into much detail here. Seeing my mom going downhill in every way possible, I was really afraid to lose her. She eventually abandoned me emotionally and was consumed by her relationship drama and thought I was old enough to raise myself. Unfortunately, for the longest time afterwards I didn’t know how to be a normal, loving relationship with a man. I just wanted to feel like I am needed and tried to hold on even it was clearly toxic. That was until I started my recovery 8 years ago. Up until this day I am reparenting myself and learning about what a great relationship should look like. Thankfully, my husband and I are very close, and now even closer after having Noah and expecting our baby girl Lydia. I’m truly blessed!

When I first got on a phone with my psychotherapist, and he found out I was raised by a single mom, he immediately said that there was a whole bouquet of emotional problems that typically comes with that. Interestingly enough, until that day, I was in complete denial that not having a dad affected me in any way. It was an eye opener. I yet have to do more research on this subject, and even watching my son loving his dad so much, I can’t emotionally relate because I never felt that way. Kind of sad…

It hurts my heart seeing kids hurting from parental absence or neglect. In one way or another, this affects them for the rest of their lives. Motherhood is tough, but single motherhood is even tougher. That’s exactly why my main mission is to encourage mothers, whether single or not, to take care of themselves and their emotional needs first so that they can raise emotionally healthy children. If we suffer through our healing process (I know no one likes the word suffer!), there will be a lot less suffering for our kids and ourselves in the long run.

Mamas, let’s get out of our comfort zone mentality! Stop reaching for that glass of wine, cigarette, or a piece of cake. Let’s look into what it is that we are really looking for emotionally and find ways to take care of ourselves.. We are worth it, and our children worth it. Hold on to your kids (in a healthy, not possessive way:))!

Love, Ksenia K.