Two ideas can help kids learn to expand possibilities

possibilities with kidsKids and summertime. School’s out. Schedules relax. I’m anticipating day trips with my friends and their kids or grandchildren.  This quotation inspires me:

“We help each other grow in our families when we look beyond what we already know and imagine new possibilities in the future. This involves trying new things, going new places, and meeting people,” writes Kent Pekel in a Search Institute study. The study makes the following helpful possibilities to try.

Possibilitiies:  Trying new things

Introduce children to a person, a family, or an organization coming from a culture different from yours.  Visit community festivals, restaurants, and museums to expand a child’s perspective. Explain that meeting people who are different from us can make life more interesting and helps us get along better with others in our world. Discuss ways that this new culture is similar and ways that it is different from your own.

Possibilities:  Going new places

Introduce children to new art, music or activities. Visit a museum or a similar organization without the children and find interesting things for them to see and do there. While you are there, plan a scavenger hunt that the children will lead on a later visit. Give children clues to find the things in the museum. Whatever they find, celebrate the hunt and ask the child what she or he thought about the “treasures” they found. Find a creative way to celebrate the child’s participation in the scavenger hunt and the results—whatever they might be.

I’m hoping to do this with a middle school student, her younger sister, and her grandmother. We’ll go to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.  And maybe stop at the Gift Store for a prize of her choosing.

possibiities in the gardenThe existence of beauty in an art museum is a spiritual quality. Love manifesting itself as loveliness in a botanical garden is a spiritual quality. Life’s spiritual dimension is more prominent than most of us could ever imagine.

Tweetable:  Two possibilities to expand a child’s horizon, involving new places, activities and people. Work even harder to help kids develop relationships away from the allure of their online presence. Click to Tweet

Hear me. Let me help make this decision.

decision of familyHow do we become much more intentional and specific about the kinds of relationships kids need at home, at school, and in other places they spend time? In attempting to bring insight to this question, Search Institute proposes five essential actions in a family’s developmental relationships. A majority of families with children ages 3 to 13 in this study, want help with how to “share power,” one of the five essential actions.

These young people are saying to their parents and adult relatives: Hear my voice and let me share in making a decision.

A family’s reservoir of relational power

decision makingThe following ideas from Search Institute illustrate “that families share power through the everyday ways they interact with, care for, and invest in their relationships together”:

  • “Respect the child’s opinions, even when you disagree.
  • When you’re in a disagreement, take time to understand each other’s point of view.
  • Be open to changing your opinions on important topics based on what you learn from the child.
  • When the child doesn’t understand what you’re trying to teach, try to show her or him in a different way.
  • Create something new together that neither of you has done before. Options could include devising a new recipe, building something, painting a picture, or creating a piece of music.
  • Develop new interests based on things you learn from the child.
  • The next time the child comes to you about a large or small problem, don’t provide the answers or solve the problem. Instead, say something like, “Let’s see what you can do,” and then ask the child to find solutions with your guidance.”

I like this one

One way I share power with kids is to provide them with two positive choices and they make their decision without interference. For example, with a preschool child at the park, I’ve said, “It’s time to go home now. We can walk to the car through the picnic area or we can walk around the swing set. Which is best for you?” With older kids I might offer two different, parent-approved snacks to choose from.

What works in your family?

Tweetable:  Sharing power within a family is not easy to navigate. Evaluate your family against these seven actions as you interact with, care for, and invest in your relationships together. Click to Tweet