API Reads Reflection: Getting better at what we care about

We all want to get better at the things we care about. Today’s reflection from API Reads is taken from a TED Talk video. This 11-minute video touches upon the topic of improvement by explaining it with the use of “learning” and “performance” zones:

We create social risks for one another, even in schools, which are supposed to be all about learning — and I’m not talking about standardized tests. I mean that every minute of every day, many students in elementary schools through colleges feel that if they make a mistake, others will think less of them.

No wonder they’re always stressed out and not taking the risks necessary for learning! 

But they learn that mistakes are undesirable inadvertently when teachers or parents are eager to hear just correct answers and reject mistakes, rather than welcome and examine them to learn from them. Or when we look for narrow responses rather than encourage more exploratory thinking that we can all learn from.

When all homework or student work has a number or a letter on it, and counts towards a final grade — rather than being used for practice, mistakes, feedback, and revision — we send the message that school is a performance zone.” (At the 7:44 minute mark, TED Talk)

Think about that: Is the goal that our children “perform” or that they learn?

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The Most Interesting Things in API Reads this February

I just finished reading the book What Children Learn from Their Parents’ Marriage by Judith P. Siegel. You’ve probably been seeing quotes from the book over the past month as I’ve been reading along.

I am so glad I picked up this book to read. I personally feel it is a must-have resource for every parent.

As attached parents, we focus so much energy on our children. After our focus on our children, we remember that word — “balance” — and try to make ourselves a priority, because we don’t want to burn out on the family. Our marriages may be last on the list, and if so, it begins to suffer.

With this book, the author shows you through research, vignettes, and her writing how you are only doing a disservice to your children when not giving your marriage the attention it needs. Just as the title states, your marriage is a blueprint for what type of relationships your children have when they reach the teen and young adult years:

  • If you are not going on dates, how are your children going to know what a date looks like?
  • If you are not providing affection to each other, how are your children going to feel comfortable in their own relationship to provide it?
  • If you are not talking respectfully and equally to each other, how are your children going to know they deserve this in their own relationships?

These are just a few questions answered in the book that helps you see your marriage in a different light.

I highly suggest reading this book even if you feel your marriage is good. You are, after all, setting the stage for how love feels, looks, and acts in a marriage or partnership.

Weekly Reflection: Voicing your opinion goes a long way

This week’s API Reads Weekly Reflection focuses on the importance of parents voicing their opinions to their partner in a competent way. As you read the quote, take time to reflect on what it means to you, how you can incorporate its meaning into your family, and how it encourages you:

“Children who watch both parents competently voice their opinions realize that both men and women have something important to contribute. Research studies show that when parents are able to disagree without becoming angry, the children are rarely affected in adverse ways. In fact, children from these homes do better in school and have higher self-esteem than do children whose parents’ negotiations of differences escalate into bickering and hostile fights. Children who watch their parents communicate effectively and respectfully are able to more successfully negotiate with peers and have an important headstart in knowing how to resolve differences productively in the intimate relationships they will develop when they grow older.” (Page 136 of 210 in eBook edition)

What Children Learn From Their Parents’ Marriage: It May Be Your Marriage, but It’s Your Child’s Blueprint for Intimacy” by Judith P. Siegel PhD


API Reads Monthly Top 5 for January

“API Reads Monthly Top 5,” is a new series from the API Reads program, where Attachment Parenting International will post our top 5 quotes from a compilation of resources currently being reviewed by the team.

Editor’s Note: Even though these quotes have stood out to the reviewers, the resource is still under review. Please use your discretion when reading these resources on your own. We cannot guarantee that there are no conflicts with API’s philosophy, mission, or principles until the resource has been completely reviewed. Be sure to check APedia (soon to be launched) at a later date to see the final summary from the reviewer.

Each of this month’s Top 5 quotes from from the ebook, What Children Learn From Their Parent’s Marriage: It May Be Your Marriage, But It’s Your Child’s Blueprint for Intimacy by Judith P. Siegel PhD.

1) Page 2 —

“The truth is, most children are aware of many ‘private’ exchanges their parents assume are beyond their comprehension — a small gesture of comfort, a hostile glance. While your children may not be talking to you about what they are learning, they are drawing conclusions about ‘what happens’ to people who are married.”

2) Page 7 —

“Even when a person is exposed to a different environment in adulthood, he or she continues to hold on to the beliefs, values, and expectations acquired in the childhood home.”

3) Page 36 —

“Sleep deprivation usually adds to the mother’s experience of being exhausted and overwhelmed. Because the baby’s demands are real and urgent, it is normal for her to put her own needs second. But learning how to prioritize and balance her husband’s need for her is complicated and stressful. Although most new fathers are thrilled with the addition to the family, they are not prepared to lose their intimacy with their partner. If the couple is not able to find time to be alone together, the relationship suffers in important ways.”

4) Page 42 —

“Children and teens who are overly involved with a parent have a harder time growing up. Problems persist into adulthood, and the grown children often repeat their parent’s reliance on self-interests, extended family, or work to bring them happiness.”

5) Page 42 —

“Establishing the priority of the marriage does not mean that all other commitments and loyalties are tossed aside, but it does mean that the partner’s needs are constantly kept in sight. Even when there are competing demands, the partner and the marriage are respected. If parents want their children to find happiness in life from a wife or a husband, they must look at the message they are sending by the example of their own marriage. A marriage that can be protected from the demands of other obligations is not taking away from the children; it is giving to them the expectation and hope that one day they, too, will have a loving partner.”

Weekly Reflection: Children become ready for intimacy through you

This is the second post for our weekly series from API Reads called “Weekly Reflection,” which features a quote from one of the resources in the API Reads program. We invite you to reflect on the quote throughout the week, and we hope the quote will prove to be thought-provoking, encouraging, and inspiring. Enjoy!

“When children are raised in loving, nurturing environments where parents clearly enjoy each other, they develop an appreciation and a desire for intimacy. Because they have grown up watching and experiencing the comfort and support that comes from intimacy, they are more ready to create it in their own lives.” (page 15 of e-book edition)

This was taken from the book “What Children Learn From Their Parents’ Marriage: It May Be Your Marriage, but It’s Your Child’s Blueprint for Intimacy” by Judith P. Siegel, PhD

Weekly Reflection: “For better or for worse” is determined by you for your child

api reads logoThis is the first post for a new weekly series from API Reads called “Weekly Reflection,” which will feature a quote from one of the resources in the API Reads program. We invite you to reflect on the quote throughout the week, and we hope the quote will prove to be thought-provoking, encouraging, and inspiring. Enjoy!

“Children also tune in to the emotional climate and the sense of well-being between family members. Children watch how you and your partner interact and handle situations together. They then draw conclusions about how married people treat each other, for better or for worse.” (Page 3 of e-book edition)

what-children-learn-from-their-parents-marriageThis was taken from the book “What Children Learn From Their Parents’ Marriage: It May Be Your Marriage, but It’s Your Child’s Blueprint for Intimacy” by Judith P. Siegel, PhD.

Kids, Parents, Power Struggles: Ch 2

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We are on Chapter 2 of “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” which talks about Emotion Coaching, a very important connection tool for your child. This chapter makes you think about the long-term goal of your parenting and not being afraid of “building bad habits” and instead seeing the positive results of your connection. Something that was powerful in the chapter to me was the following questions, which helped you examine what you should do in that “discipline” moment.

  • Think about a significant adult in your life, someone who has helped you to understand yourself and to develop your strengths. What were his or her characteristics? — For me, this was my English teacher in high-school who encouraged and believed in me; who felt I would become something valuable as I became older. I also was greatly influenced by the social worker who saved me from being homeless and provided me with a second-chance at life. What was the significant adult in your life who made positive impacts?
  • Now tell me about an influential adult you disliked. Someone who to this day the mere thought of can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. — For me I had too many to think of but the qualities they displayed was a taking away of innocence, anger, sarcasm, punitive behavior, rough, quick-tempered, and critical. What about you?

A few good questions to ask when you are about to discipline your child are:

  • Does this strategy connect with my child, empathize with his feelings, and build a relationship with him?
  • Or does it disconnect us, negating or even punishing him for his emotions?

I think those questions are the most valuable to ask in the moment. Might even be worthy as a reminder to put on your refrigerator. To leave you with information on how different emotion coaching is and the results,  here are some key endpoints at the end of the chapter.

  • Connect instead of disconnect.
  • Assist instead of taking over.
  • Listen rather than lecture.
  • Stop firmly rather than grabbing or jerking.
  • Help instead of abandon.
  • Explain instead of force.
  • State rather than shriek.
  • Smile more, frown less.
  • Think about your relationship in the long run.
  • Start with a single step.

As always, you can start your own discussion inside our online book club, GoodReads. Happy reading everyone!

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles – Chapter 1

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Pg 12: “Emotion coaching doesn’t imply that you always say yes… it doesn’t mean you constantly negotiate… It doesn’t mean that you give him free reign on his emotions. You don’t. Emotions are never an excuse for hurtful or disrespectful behavior. It means that you will listen, trying your best to understand your child’s point of view, label his emotions for him, enforce clear standards for behavior, and teach him what he can do to express them respectfully. As a result, your child will learn that he can trust you and be open to your guidance, leading ultimately to his own sense of self-control.”

This is a book that made such a difference to me in my daughter’s younger years and I hope it does for you as well. As I began re-reading Chapter 1, I realized that it still applies to her even though she is now 12-years old. The first chapter was a great reminder and for those reading the book for the first time, I hope it wet your appetite as to why you should be reading this book to help in reducing those power struggles. Notice I wrote “reducing.” I like how the chapter indicates that most of the time it will be smooth sailing when following the strategies/information provided in this book but sometimes you are still going to experience an occasional power struggle. It is human nature… our children and parents can’t be perfect all of the time.

Chapter 1 really covers why emotion coaching is so important and gives you a brief glimpse into what it is and the research behind it. The chapter explains how the book is divided up: building connections so that your child works with you because they want to; knowing yourself and your child by understanding temperament triggers, stress, and medical factors — all impacts behavior; and lastly emotional development. As you can tell, lots of good information… I’m especially looking forward to re-reading the temperament triggers.

Two passages to leave you with:

Pg 13: By changing your reaction you can change your child’s. Even in the darkest moments when you feel totally inept and out of control, you have the power to stop and change your behavior. It is possible to learn how to keep your cool even when your child is losing his.

Pg 14: You can learn about yourself as well as your child. The exciting thing about emotional intelligence is that it’s predominantly learned behavior. The lessons don’t stop in early childhood. They continue throughout our entire lives, and we get to reap the benefits in all of our relationships — at home and at work.

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