The Lessons You Find in Movies: Frozen 2

Ok, this might be a little corny, but I’m finding some big life lessons presented in movies as I’m watching with my kids.

Let me explain. I’m trying really hard to not resort to having the TV on all the time with everyone home during this quarantine phase. I’ve tried to make it an exciting event (“movie day” with special chairs and snacks in popcorn containers) rather than a normal occurrence. It works, sometimes.

Most recently, I noticed how many questions my kids ask when I turn a new movie on. And I realized they’re not asking questions to interrupt but instead to help them make sense of what they’re seeing.

Movie Day – Frozen 2

So I started answering their questions. All of them. And then I started asking them some questions, too. Before I knew it, I realized there was an untapped opportunity here: if we watch a movie, we have a conversation about what we’ve learned or taken away from it. *Flashback to freshman English class.*

As a coach, I’m sharing some of these big lessons with you to encourage you to have discussions with your kids about some of the things you see everyday – not just in movies – and to always entertain questions. After all, how can you learn new things, or see how things could be better, if you’re not willing to ask a question?

In fact, one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to encourage them to find their own answers. By asking them questions, they can try out their own thinking and practice putting their thoughts together to (ideally) develop into a critical thinking and problem-solving person who can successfully navigate their way through life. But this means we can’t direct and control; we have to guide them and help them interpret what they see so they can learn about life and themselves and how to put the two together.

So here we go: lessons you find in movies. Up first, Frozen 2.

Full disclosure: I put this movie on in desperation for an hour of uninterrupted time to get some stuff done around the house and try to tackle some work. But I mistakenly sat within watching distance and let me tell you: I didn’t get any work done. I was sucked into this movie in a way I haven’t been in a very long time.

I know I’m late to the party with this one, but I was absolutely amazed at the depth of the life lessons shared in this movie. Here are just three that resonated with me.

Lesson 1: This will all make sense when I am older – It’s a great song Olaf sings (check it out on YouTube) as he encounters a variety of things that scare and confuse him.

The Takeaway: Life is big and amazing. But it can also be confusing and scary. And this is ok. Moving through the confusion, the scary parts and the overwhelming moments is part of life, but you can always get through it when you remain positive and choose to see the good. I also can appreciate the sarcasm here because really, when do any of us really have the ability to make sense of why things happen the way they do?

The Communication: This is a great discussion point for your kids if you’re looking for a way to chat with them about our current situation with COVID-19, or any situation they find themselves in that they don’t know how to handle. Whether they’re 2, 12 or 20, they’re looking for a way to make sense of all of this. Their world has been changed, drastically, and it was done seemingly overnight. This will all make sense when I am older could be a great way to illustrate to them that as they gain wisdom that comes from every experience they have in life, they’ll start to recognize when they can and can’t control a situation. And in both situations, they’ll see how they can control their response to the situation. Like Olaf in this song, he chose to remain positive and optimistic instead of cowering in fear.

Lesson 2: Lost in the woods – Another powerful moment, we see Kristoff lamenting that he’s been left behind, forced to make a decision to follow Anna (again) or to wait for her to come back. He’s confused and unsure about what this means for their relationship and he works through it by highlighting his confusion, frustration and undying love for Anna.

The Takeaway: It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to be uncertain of what the future holds. It’s not ok to sit back and wait for the good to come to you. Life is what it is. It’s what you do with what you’re given that makes the difference.

The Communication: When you feel confused or vulnerable, sometimes talking through your situation can be incredibly helpful. Some may choose to journal or draw to get their thoughts on paper for a visual representation of what they’re feeling. Some may choose to talk to someone, like a friend, family member or coach, to hear the words said out loud and get feedback and support. At the end of the day, feeling vulnerable is not a weakness; it’s a sign of self-awareness that helps each of us determine how to act in a meaningful way. It’s a learning opportunity to help yourself understand why you feel the way you feel and identify how you can overcome the feeling of vulnerability. The biggest lesson, though, is that even though there may be times when you feel vulnerable, confused or defeated, it’s what you do in the next moment that matters more: how you choose to respond to those feelings to make the next moment better.

Lesson 3: You’re the one you’ve been looking for – Ok, SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t seen the movie, continue reading this lesson with caution. This is the scene when Elsa learns that the person she’s been waiting for, the person to help her navigate her magical powers and help her become who she’s supposed to be has actually been her the whole time. It’s a powerful scene… who’s cutting onions?

The Takeaway: Sometimes, you can be so caught up in what you think life should be or how you think it should look that you forget to see what’s right in front of you: you. The uniquely wonderful, amazing and very capable you.

The Communication: Imagine what the world would be like if you were able to fully embrace all your strengths, talents and liabilities. What would it be like if you were able to fully step into the person you were born to be? How could you be different? How would the world be different because of you?

What’s holding you back?

Take Action
Frozen 2 is ultimately about learning how to become self-aware and to embrace who you are – all your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers. You are just right as you are, and you have what you need to have a great life. You may just need some help to discover, uncover or access all that you are.

What do you know of yourself? Start to build your list of your abilities, interests and the things that matter for you. And if you want some help, check out The Greatness Zone, a great read while everyone is at home during COVID-19 to learn how to discover who you are and how to connect what is best in you to your world.

COVID-19 or not, you are capable of great things. Use everything around you to help you learn this and ultimately discover what is great and remarkable about you. Then bring it to your life and do great things.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Fills You Up: Finding Your Fit

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A Look in the Mirror

Sometimes, I feel like parenting is a look in the mirror. You see what you’re doing well and you see where things can improve in real-time, all the time.  

We’ve all seen those memes about realizing your kids is growing up to be like you.

And there are those “quizzes” on Facebook that are made up of a short list of questions to ask your kids. One of those questions is, “what is something I [the questioner] say a lot?”

What a great social experiment it would have been to have asked your kid(s) these questions before, during and after quarantine to see how you evolved over the weeks at home. I know mine would shed some light on things…big time.

I started thinking about this the other night when we were watching some home videos of my husband when he was a kid. In one shot, he was wearing his sneakers while sitting on the couch. That’s a big no-no in our house; shoes off at the door. And my 2-year old shot up from his seat and practically shouted, “uh oh Daddy, your shoes are on.”

My husband thought this was pretty funny, but my 2-year old didn’t stop there. He had more explaining to do. “Shoes are for outside. No shoes in the house. Unless they’re slippers. They must be slippers. Slippers are inside shoes, so those are ok. Shoes are for outside only.”

My husband, though laughing, gave me a look out of the corner of his eye.

But me? I was so proud. And horrified. My words not only sunk in, but he’s repeating them.

What else have I been saying or doing over the last month in quarantine at home with my boys that they’re going to do or say?

So I started asking myself: what is something I say a lot?

Here are my lists:

Before Quarantine

  • I love you!
  • Great job!
  • I can’t wait to see what you drew/made/have to show me.
  • Let’s see how much dinner you have before we have dessert.
  • Please slow down/pay attention.
  • Wash your hands, please.

During Quarantine (I admit, I polled the house for this one a bit)

  • I love you!
  • That’s great babe.
  • Can you please just stay still for a second?
  • FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (caps required)
  • Are you kidding me!?
  • WASH YOUR HANDS. This is not something new. WASH YOUR HANDS!

It’s easy to overlook how powerful your impact can be on people, places and things. As a parent, it’s a mixed blessing to have a mirror walking around and talking to you. You can see the things you’re doing well; that reflection is positive and makes you feel good and proud.

But that mirror also shows you where things can improve. Don’t label these as good or bad, or even right or wrong. Instead, see this as recognizing that there are some things you can improve on to be more successful, effective or even happier. You may even see things in you that are now showing up in your kids, like the way they raise their voices when they are upset, or they are always stressed or anxious.

The purpose of all of this is to encourage you to stop, notice and reflect. The mirror is there, showing you what’s working and what’s not. Take advantage of the real-time opportunity for information. Don’t judge it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t berate yourself. Don’t dwell on it. Just see it for what it is. Celebrate the good and figure out how to improve on the other, unproductive things.

Take Action
Parenting needs the mirror. A tiny, walking, talking mirror. It helps you see what you are doing so you can assess what to do more of and what to improve on. Don’t miss the opportunity to keep developing your parenting A-game.

So, the next time you notice something great in your kid(s), applaud them. Celebrate even the smallest of victories. And when you see something unproductive or some questionable behavior, ask yourself what behavior they may be mimicking.

Disclaimer: some behaviors do warrant additional, professional help. If you are unsure if your child is exhibiting behavior that could benefit from the help of a pediatrician or therapist, call your pediatrician to confirm the best next steps for your child.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Double Standard to Accepting Change: Kids vs. Adults

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The Double Standard to Accepting Change: Kids vs. Adults

Some people balk at new situations or big changes in life. In fact, it’s become an inside joke between my husband and me – whenever we need to make a big decision, the joke is that we’ll get back to someone in 3-6 months, once my husband has time to wrap his head around the changes that will result from the decision we need to make.

It’s almost expected, or at least allowed, for an adult to not like change. Our brains see change as different and dangerous and, using emotions, try to guide us away from it.

As a society, we’ve even created labels to help us connect with others who are like us because being different is so uncomfortable. Extroverts vs. introverts. Drivers vs. analytics. The book worm vs. the social butterfly.

It doesn’t matter what labels you use; it helps us, as adults, wrap our heads around how people engage and interact with their world.

But what about kids? I’ve seen such a variety of behaviors in kids, just like in adults, yet it’s almost frowned upon when a kid doesn’t want to jump right into something new. My 3-year old, for example, hates when routine is shifted. He doesn’t like when he doesn’t know what’s happening. He doesn’t like when things seem to be out of his control. He’s not always comfortable in a new environment, at least not right away. He has yet to learn how to understand and manage change.

Whenever someone comments on his behavior, saying that it’s “strange” or “unusual” for a little boy to be so reserved, I calmly remind them that 1) it makes navigating being a mother of three boys a little easier that they’re not all escape artists and dare devils and 2) it’s not for them to worry about.

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Easier said than done, though, right? When you hear a criticism or opinion from someone else about your own children, you start to notice things that may not have been apparent to you before. You see things through a different lens. And then you start to wonder if something is wrong, or if you’re doing something wrong that encourages that behavior.

So I’m going to say it: let’s lift the double standard. Let’s guide our kids to learn how to navigate their world in their own way. Let’s be their guardrails, helping to guide them to figure out who they are, what they’re good at and what they love to do in their own way and in their own time. After all, it is their life. We are just custodians charged with helping them figure out who they are and how to be authentic. Their lives are not our lives. Our lives are not theirs.

Regardless of how well you may roll with the punches, I think we’re all inherently the same: we don’t like to not know what’s coming. We don’t like when things are out of our control. We don’t like to shift from our normal behaviors. When we go somewhere new, we often take a friend with us so we’re not alone. When we try something new, it’s not without nerves that we learn how to overcome.

It’s where the phrase “creature of habit” comes from. I think most of us are like this. We park in the same parking spot. We shop on the same day. We get the same food or drink from our restaurant of choice. I, personally, am a creature of habit. I like my routines because creating these routines helps me feel more grounded and in control in my world.

So let’s help our kids learn how to create successful and grounding routines. Let’s help them see and accept change because they have confidently learned how to manage it in a way that makes sense for them. Change is truly the one constant, so the sooner we can guide our kids to knowing and appreciating it instead of fearing and resenting it, the more capable they will be in today’s world.

DISCLAIMER: Some behaviors seen in children certainly do warrant special attention. If you find yourself wondering if a specific behavior you’re seeing in your child(ren) may need some correction, it’s best to seek professional help (pediatrician, specialist, etc.) for guidance, advice and, if needed, treatment.

Take Action

Stop and notice when your child is resistant to change. Do they shy away from it? Refuse to try something new? Do they lash out and seem angry? Whatever behavior you may see, ask the important question: “why?” This can help you identify what environments are inspiring these behaviors and help them learn how to navigate these and others. In the process you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by quickly and confidently your child learns how to manage their world in a way that matters to them.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Hear What They’re Actually Saying

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Sometimes It Has Nothing to Do With You

I was speaking with a parent who was concerned about their child’s behavior.

“He’s just so angry all the time! I’ve tried everything I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t know what I did to make him like this.”

So I asked a very pointed question: What makes you think it has anything to do with you?

The parent was caught off guard. “He’s so young! I can’t imagine it would be anything other than me making him angry about something.”

So I said, “Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.”

The parent was quiet for some time before they said, “I had never considered that it wasn’t me.”

This was an eye-opening moment. They were able to stop and notice the situation as it was without looking to assign blame or find fault. Each situation has information for us if we learn how to pay attention, without judgement. Part of the process of gathering information is to be neutral so you can stay clear and be able to more intentionally decide what to do. In this situation, the parent was able to focus on the event (child’s anger), what’s happening because of it and how they want things to be. This allowed the parent to see potential options on what could be the next step, options that were not able to be thought of when they assumed the behavior issue was related to them.

Consider these situations: the people whispering nearby; the person who cuts you off or steals your parking spot; the rain cloud that seems to follow you on a particularly tough day. Sometimes what happens has nothing to do with you.

For a child, sometimes their behavior is a direct consequence of something their parents did or didn’t do. Sometimes, it’s a stronger power directing them, like hormones or mental capacity or genetic makeup. Many times, it has nothing to do with you.

So keep rocking on as the best parent you can be. Be open, stay tuned in to your kids and don’t make assumptions. Sure, we all wonder if we’re doing it right but sometimes, it has nothing to do with you. Some kids are just born creative. Some are born with a seemingly unnatural energy. Some are born a little more serious. In each instance, they bring something unique to the world and none of this is because of you.

Consider, instead, that you are your kids’ guide. Be there to understand them and help them understand their world. Your role as the parent is not to tell them who to be; it’s to help them learn how to be in their world. Give them the space to discover who they are and how to find where they fit in life. Help them identify their guardrails until they’re old enough to do it for themselves.

Be there to guide, support and encourage your kids to figure things out, own their decisions and find their way.

Take Action
The next time you see questionable behavior from your kid(s), take a deep breath and ask yourself why it may be happening. Assess what’s inspiring the behavior. This can help you better guide, support and encourage your child through their behavior challenge.  

Sometimes it is you. We all get aggravated, tired and lose our cool. And if it is you, own it. Get calm. Slow down. Make a change.

And sometimes it is just your child working through some things. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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One Size Fits All

If you’re anything like me, one size does not fit all. I’ve never been the person who could wear the hat that fits most people, who could wear the poncho or other decorative item or accessory. One size fits all never applied to me.

This was a hard pill to swallow when you’re a teen girl – high school was hard enough! I couldn’t wear the stuff everyone else did because my body was so different. It didn’t fit. I just didn’t fit.

It wasn’t until I got older (and we’re talking like 10 years older than that frustrated 14 year-old me) that I realized one size should never fit all. We’re not all alike. We don’t all share the same strengths and talents and we certainly don’t share the same triggers. We each have our own experiences in life that make us who we are, a combination of nature and nurture. Since our insides are different, why would we expect our outsides to be the same that one size could fit all?

I am seeing this now, once again, as a parent. What works for me as a mother of three boys with a husband who works long hours might not be the approach for a single parent, first time parents, or even parents with older kids. There is no one right approach to parenting – no one-size-fits-all parenting. In fact, we even parent each of our own kids differently than their siblings because they are each unique. I think everyone with kids can agree there’s at least one of your kids that doesn’t seem to know how to listen, or requires a different set of guidelines that lead to time-outs.

So the next time you find yourself wondering why you can’t act like other parents, remind yourself that your approach to parenting has to fit you and those you parent. Remind yourself to recognize that your unique attributes are what make you you – you are never supposed to be the same as everyone else. Instead concentrate on being the best version of you and bring that best you to all you do.

Take Action
Read the poem “I Am An Individual.” It’s something I was required to memorize in 6th grade and the words have stuck with me ever since.

You are a uniquely wonderful person. The way you look, the way you live, the way you parent, the way you work – it is unique to your strengths and talents. What a boring world this would be if one size truly fit all.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Being Uniquely You

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Just Let Me Be A Parent

Parenting performance is always a topic that ends up making headlines. Are you too clingy? Too distant? Too risky? Too risk-averse? Regardless of what you seem to do well or where you feel like you run into challenges, someone is quick to have a name for it, and quick to comment.

But do you notice how those with comments, who are quick to define what they see, often don’t provide any actionable guidance? Any productive feedback? It’s always little quips about what you’re doing wrong.

Let’s look at a recent example: Shawn Johnson was mom-shamed for flipping her 3-month old daughter.

I admit when I saw that headline (“Shawn Johnson defends her 3-month-old daughter’s first flip”), my stomach dropped a little. After all, what does a doing a flip mean for a 3-month old? But I read the article and I watched the video – and here’s the important part – before I formed an opinion.

We’ve gotten away from the importance of being informed before we decide to share our thoughts, especially when it comes to parenting. We are quick to react and tell you why something is wrong without any guidance on how to make things better. We’re quick to point out when someone messed up. We’re quick to throw our hands in the air and admit defeat when things challenge us and push us past our comfort zone.

Though this applies everywhere, I feel it’s even more present in parenting. Everyone is quick to tell you what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing instead. Why is it that we have to constantly weigh in on what others do? Why is it we always think we know better?

This is unproductive.

At the end of the day, we are each just doing our best to figure out, with our unique personalities, interests and abilities, how to live our lives in this crazy world while being tasked with raising little humans to help guide them to find their way, as well.

It’s hard. It can be exhausting. It can be rewarding. It can make you feel 100 different emotions at the same time. Who would have thought “happy tears” come so freely?

But we’re all there together. It doesn’t matter how others may identify you – a helicopter parent, a bulldozer parent, the fairy tale parent – they are just titles that help box you up into a tidy category for people to judge.

In fact, a term I hadn’t heard of before – “puddle parent” – recently came across my desk. A puddle parent is described as letting “their kids veer off the regular, prescribed path and forge their own way.” Why does this have to be defined? Why can’t this just be parenting? Our role as parents is to help our kids discover who they are, understand their world and find their place in it. Each kid is and will be different. There is not one “right” way to make this happen, but if we are responsive, supportive and encouraging of both our kids and of the parents who show up in whatever way that is with their kids, imagine what we could create.

So, before you share your thoughts on what’s wrong, take a minute to remember we’re all doing the best we can. What works for you might not work for others. What works for someone else might not make sense for you.

Before we can raise our kids to be happy and responsible humans, we have to be that first.

Take Action
Take a minute to check in on how you judge yourself and others. Consider how you could instead assess your parenting and be sure it is helping your kids find their way in their way. And as you look at other parents, find greater patience and less judgment knowing that they are trying to figure out how to help each of their kids find their way. Patience and support is what we all need.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading I Don’t Believe in an Identity Crisis

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Parents: Are You Helping or Hurting?

I love to laugh, so much so that I find I’m regularly sharing memes and funny articles through just about every channel with friends and family. One such recent find was a brief article in The Onion (for those of you who aren’t familiar, The Onion is an online-only satire publication).

The article, titled “Study Finds Every Style Of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults,” actually made me laugh out loud. It calls attention to the fact that regardless of your upbringing, people are generally just miserable. They find the bad, they ruminate, and then move on to find something else that’s not great. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll ask someone how they’re doing and the answer is a sarcastic, “Living the dream!”

But the article? Yup, it’s funny. I shared it with a few friends and my husband. It seemed even funnier to me now that we have three little boys to “raise right” (did I mention we welcomed our third son earlier this month?).

But then I started thinking: this is exactly what I coach.

We all hear about the overbearing parents that never let their kids make mistakes to learn on their own. We hear about the parents who are seemingly MIA in correcting or guiding behaviors, resulting in children who are undisciplined and, quite frankly, hard to be around. And we have special names for those parents, too (check out our full list of parenting styles we’ve identified through our years of coaching).

And the extreme parenting styles are easy to make fun of because they are the extremes.

But what about the parenting styles in the middle? How do you figure out what’s the right one for you and your family?

My guidance as a coach is to think of your parenting style as either productive or unproductive. There’s no good or bad, right or wrong. It’s about what works for you in this moment to raise happy, healthy and responsible humans.

Take Action
What parenting style(s) do you exhibit most? Do you think it’s productive or unproductive?

If you feel like you’re struggling to find the right mix of parenting styles to help raise your children in a productive way, consider exploring our Get Your Kids Ready for Life program. With our unique coaching approach, you’ll develop a greater awareness of what works and doesn’t work in your parenting, and work toward creating confident, productive and happy child(ren) in today’s world.

Contact us to get started.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Hiring a Parenting Coach Doesn’t Mean You’re Failing

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Hiring a Parenting Coach Doesn’t Mean You’re Failing

You might have read it or heard about it. A New York Times article that ran in early July called attention to the increasing demand for parenting coaches, specifically by parents who want to be better connected to their kids, and to do so with significantly less screen time. The tone of the article, as well as other articles that shared this news, isn’t, what I consider, to be positive, or even neutral. There’s an underlying tone of disapproval.

It got me thinking about our world and how parenting today is very different from the way our parents raised us, and how their parents raised them. The lessons we learned from our parents – whether those lessons were “what to do” or “what not to do” – are simply guidelines. Our world changes so rapidly and frequently without warning that parenting has joined the ranks of professions that are far from exempt from evolution. You need to change in accordance with what’s happening around you – and what’s happening with your kids – to ensure you can be the best parent you can be for them.

So let’s stop judging. Let’s stop pointing fingers, reprimanding or even rolling your eyes at parents who are asking for help. We should be applauding them and helping them. After all, isn’t the first step in making any sort of improvement in your life recognizing there’s something that needs to change and then asking for help to go do it?

So, kudos to the parents who realize change is needed.

Kudos to the parents who want to have real and better relationships with their kids.

And kudos to the parents who realize that sometimes an outside, neutral third party is exactly what is needed. In fact, one of the mothers who was interviewed for the New York Times article said, “…it’s just hearing something that’s so blatantly obvious, but I couldn’t see it.”

And that’s what coaches do: we guide our clients to develop greater self- and world-awareness. To see things and remember things that are otherwise not seen, ignored or forgotten. To remind people how to be tuned in, present and engaged in their moments.

It’s a skill that people have forgotten because our world today requires us to operate in a task-oriented mindset, one that’s dictated by efficiency requirements in both time and energy. Very few people know how to be fully present in each moment, gathering information from each of their senses so they can make a wise and intentional decision on how the next moment will be, because they need to just get it done. They need to move on to the next thing. This is where coaching can significantly help parents, reminding them how to be present to themselves and their families. With this expanded awareness, they have access to important information that can improve their decisions, interactions and approaches with their kids, and help them be more responsive instead of reactive.

Take Action
Take 10 minutes to stop and notice yourself and your world. What is working in how your life is? What isn’t working? What would you like to change? Consider what that change could look like and what you want the outcome to be. You’ll be surprised just how eye-opening spending just a few moments to tune out the world and tune in to yourself can be.

If you find you’re struggling with this, consider engaging a mindfulness coach who can help you develop tools and a practice to tune in to you, your kids and the world you are all part of. From that point, you will have better information that helps you make better decisions everywhere.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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Making Memories (and Why Being Present Really Matters)

My mom recently sold our childhood home. It was bittersweet going through boxes of things as my sisters and I helped her pack up the house. Over the course of our time packing things up, we were reminded of so many memories, so many things we did or experienced over the nearly 25 years that this house was our home. Over and over we’d say things like, “oh my God, do you remember this?” and “I can’t believe we survived that!” and “I completely forgot about this…why on earth would we hold on to this?” and “Dear God, burn those pictures… yikes.”

It brought up memories that generated lots of stories and lots of laughs as we relived the experiences we had and shared when we lived in that house.

As I reflect back on that day and the memories it brought back to the surface, I think what was most precious about it was the reminder of how present my mom was in all aspects of our lives. In every one of our stories, my mom played a role. Even in the stories we shared when she wasn’t a key player, she knew about it. She was always there, watching, listening and caring. She was totally present in our lives.

I’m reading a book called Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford and one of the messages the author shares is the importance of being present in everything you do by ridding yourself of distractions. Whether it’s the phone, the TV, challenges at work or something else, forcing yourself to be totally present in the moment is how you make memories. It’s how you build and sustain relationships. It’s how you truly live life.

I often find it easy to zone out and scroll through Facebook or check email at the end of the day as my boys finish dinner and I wait for the next round of dishes to be handed to me, but as they burst into a fit of giggles, I’m quickly reminded that these days of their toddler giggles as they *frustratingly* throw peas across the table at each other won’t last forever. And I’ve put the phone down. I don’t turn on the evening news. I only put some soft background music on that we can listen to, music we all sing along to and dance to together.

Those are the memories I’m making. Those are the memories we’re going to share when we’re uncovering things as we move on to our next adventure. And I’m so excited to relive those memories, and even more excited to be present in each moment so my boys know I’m always there and always listening, despite my repeated reminders to stop throwing food and to stop talking with food in your mouth.

Memories – it’s what makes a most amazing life.

Take Action
What is one thing you can do differently today to ensure you’re fully tuned in to what’s happening in front of you? Don’t miss the opportunity to make memories. They will last a lifetime.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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A Tantrum is a Tantrum

I have two little boys, both of whom are right in the middle of the temper-tantrum-response-to-life phase. I’m going to be honest: it can be exhausting. You never know what will set them off, especially when they’re tired. For example, I gave one of the boys another cracker the other night and the other one had a meltdown (he had his own crackers on a plate in front of him, by the way). And by “set off,” I mean he was on the ground, rolling around and screaming.

For the parents out there, I’m sure you’re chuckling as you nod knowingly. We’ve all been there.

And we get through it because we tell ourselves “they’re going to grow out of this.” And we try to not react to the writhing-on-the-floor-despite-not-being-in-any-physical-pain activity.

But, I bet we’ve all encountered an adult who seemed to miss the memo that we’re supposed to grow out of temper tantrums. Adult tantrums can manifest in a variety of ways: road rage, a meltdown because a coffee order was done incorrectly, the quick-to-anger boss when a deadline is missed.

Though a 2 or 3-year old’s tantrum may look a little different, a tantrum is a tantrum, regardless of age, and it’s never pretty. And mostly, it’s completely unproductive.

As a parent, we’re encouraged to “just ignore the tantrum” and let it pass on its own. By not giving the child the attention they’re seeking, they learn that an outburst is not the way to 1) get what you want and 2) a productive way to communicate.

As an adult, however, what do we do when we encounter another adult who is having a tantrum? Do we walk away? Just ignore it? Jump in to assist the victim of the temper? Try to talk to the person having the tantrum to help them become aware of their actions?

I recently read a paper about childhood tantrums and one line really stood out to me: “Frustration is a perplexing foe of learners of all ages…suggestions…won’t help, because the child’s feelings have overwhelmed his ability to think.”

Sound familiar?

Everyone gets frustrated; that’s a normal part of being human. Sometimes being frustrated can be exacerbated by being tired or hungry, (hangry is a real thing in our house), but it’s the response to the frustration you feel that separates the self-aware from the self-unaware. The self-aware person can recognize that they are frustrated and upset. They can determine if it’s a real emotion or one that is enhanced because of being tired or being hungry. They may take a breath, walk away, ask for help, have a snack or try some other calming method.

The self-unaware person reacts, letting emotions take control. They yell, cry, throw things or start fights. They don’t intentionally choose to manage what they’re doing and may, after the fact, lament their behavior.

The self-aware person responds, intentionally choosing what they will do next.

The self-unaware person reacts, losing control and letting their emotions dictate their behavior.

The next time you find yourself on the verge of a tantrum, stop and notice what’s going on with you and what’s happening around you. This is the first step to becoming self-aware, to wisely choose your next action.

Call it what you want, but a tantrum is a tantrum, regardless of the age. Be self-aware. Be-self-managed. Be emotionally intelligent.

Take Action
Stop and notice how you handle aggravation, frustration and disappointment. How will you remember to pause so you can control what you do next? Notice the response from those around you as you do this; it’s an encouraging reminder to keep doing it.

Though this may be a little advanced for a 2-year old to comprehend (remember the meltdown about the extra cracker for his brother?), an adult with the ability to think logically and with reason should remember to have control over their emotions and the ability to act with intention. Consider this before you allow your emotions to take charge.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading That’s Life

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