Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt.
This is the second episode in a two-part series. Listen to part 1 >
In this episode Jodi continues explaining why it is so important to teach your children about the power and responsibility of their choices. The pattern of choice and outcome / consequence is the most powerful way we learn as humans. Our choices and their outcomes have the power to teach us to empathize, connect, and develop depth and love. If this pattern of choice and consequence is interrupted (i.e. by co-dependency or care-taking), children are handicapped in the process of learning to empathize.
This topic is profoundly important, because children who grow up without experiencing the natural / appropriate consequences from their choices become narcissistic—they do not feel empathy. And this style of narcissism is reaching epidemic proportions in our world.
Episode 95: Teaching Children The Power of Their Choices (Part 2 of 2)
Welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. We are so excited to introduce to you the opportunity for you to join us in a classroom setting where you will be taught the principles of connection. For those of you who have already joined us on the podcasts, and for those for you who have not, you are now ready to step into an extensive, hands-on, all-star classroom experience to better understand why you are experiencing and interpreting life the way that you do.
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This is a 12-week intensive course that consists of meeting one time a week for two hours. You will be given six workbooks. In each workbook, instruction will be given to you on core concepts of how to live your life from a position of emotional honesty, Reality, Truth, boundaries, validation, being able to recognize your distortions, and how choice plays a central role in all of your experiences and emotional outcomes.
Some of the concepts covered inside of the classroom include: what validation and vulnerability are and how to animate those principles your life; how to live in Truth rather than distortion; how to recognize your distraction and your controlling behavior in your relationships; and how to live a life of peace rather than pain. Powerful concepts that change lives, beginning with yours.
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Let’s pick up with talking about shame and the two different what I like to call flavors of shame—self-adulating and self-denigration. So, if you imagine a line and on side of the line to the extreme part of the line is self-adulating and on the other end of line is self-denigration. The line represents dishonesty, it represents shame, it represents distorted thoughts and false beliefs, which all mean lies.
So, there are two great lies. The first one’s called self-adulation. So, let me just educate you on what self-adulation is because when we go into distortion/shame, we go into one or the other of these two lies. And so, as I share this with you, I want you to think about which side you typically go into because the Truth is, is that you go to both. However, most of us have one flavor that we’re more prone to go into than the other.
Self-adulation shows up as selfishness. Selfishness is the destroyer of connection. It’s the destroyer of vulnerability, validation, and compassion towards self and others. Though it is appropriate and loving to focus on self in order to give to self, and take care of self, and love self, yet selfishness only thinks of self.
So, self-adulation – here’s the lie. Selfishness states that fulfillment, love, connection, and satisfaction are available by focusing exclusively on myself and only on what I want. That’s the lie. Selfishness states that in order to be okay and fulfilled, you must seek out whatever you want and defend yourself from others, or be better than others, or hurt them before they hurt you.
Selfishness also tells you that you don’t need others, and that “it’s all within you.” When you are in a self-adulating attitude, you will often not realize it because you manipulate, you control, you have anger, and fear, and motives that are self-serving. Those motives will keep you reactionary and distracted from the Truth of how you’re affecting yourself and others. When someone behaves in this angle of, “What I want, when I want, because I want, I deserve to get what I want,” they will be in a self-adulating position and therefore cannot accurately or authentically love oneself or others.
So, here’s how self-adulation speaks: “I’m perfect, there’s no way to change, don’t question me, I don’t care about you, I’m right, I get everything that I want, do what I say, don’t you wish you were me, I don’t what’s best for you, I’m better than you, you don’t know, I do, I was born this way.” It is me looking at me with a desire to get you or the other to do, be, act, or become what I want. When I focus on what I want, what I think, what I desire, feel entitled to, or what I believe is mine or should be mine, and do not think of others, or have empathy, or compassion for anyone else, I am choosing to behave with selfish motives and desires. This is called self-adulation.
It’s also been known as pride. A person can never give love towards self or to another when they are in this mindset of me, me, me, me. You cannot love yourself and hence you cannot love others. It may appear that the things you are doing are loving, but underneath the surface lies the true motives of your heart and those motives reveal your true character. When you are in self-adulation, your character will always be interested in the question, “What about me, and what I want, what I think I’m entitled to?”
Living in self-adulation will corrupt and taint anything, anyone, or any intention that you desire to be pure, connecting, and loving.
Oh, it’s so sad. Self-adulation.
Let’s look at the other side of that spectrum – self-denigration. The other end of the continuum is self-denigration, which is seen by many as healthy, thought it is not. Self-denigration focuses on the “other” to the exclusion of the self. This pattern of self-denial has been highly reinforced, especially among women. Sometimes, it’s been called “selflessness,” which is self-denigration. Self-denigration has been seen as a desirable characteristic and necessary in order to be virtuous and a loving person. In Reality, however, self-denigration is based on the great lie of “selflessness,” like drop yourself, don’t think of self, self doesn’t matter.
Self-denigration states that fulfillment, love, connection, and satisfaction are not available to you unless and until you give and give all of you to others, to meet others’ needs, others’ wants, others’ demands, and desires. You need to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of another. You don’t/can’t experience confidence, joy, or peace because you are bad, unworthy, and not enough. You don’t/can’t speak how you feel because it might upset someone else. You are responsible to make others happy and you’re not doing a very good job at it. You never do things right, you must work harder, give more, deny yourself more, neglect yourself more until you become better and perfect. You don’t deserve to have love, relationships, money, and so forth until you give and serve. You should be more selfless, wear yourself out in the service of others and then you’ll be ok. If you just give one more, if you’re just better, then you’ll finally be enough.
How exhausting—in Reality, self-denigration is just as destructive as self-adulation. Self-denigration is based in distorted thoughts and false beliefs. It is the idea that I must “give myself away” to others in order to be good enough. Self-denigration is personally irresponsible and highly self-neglectful. It destroys connection, validation, and compassion towards myself and others. And if I continually engage in it, I will actually create intense feelings and behaviors of fear in the individual who is choosing to engage it. So, if I continue living in self-denigration, I will keep fear around me.
So, here’s what self-denigration says: “I don’t deserve, I’m bad, I’m unworthy, you’re better than I am, you’re always right, I don’t know what’s right but you do, your needs are more important than mine, I don’t have needs, my needs won’t and can’t be met, I’m not good enough, I never do anything right, I can’t…” That’s how it talks.
Pretty aggressive, those two. So, I just gave you a quick glimpse at self-adulation and self-denigration. Both of those are on the side of disconnect, shame, distortion, and false beliefs. So, when I have an experience and I make the choice to respond to the experience, and I choose it in distortion, I will go into one of these two extremes: self-adulation or self-denigration.
And what I need to learn how to do is make a choice so that I go into Truth instead of one of these other two extremes, because as long as I keep choosing and I make choices that have outcomes in distortion, then I won’t be able to feel the connecting power of love, and my relationship, and I can’t be vulnerable, and I won’t know how to validate. I’ve got to make choices inside the angle of Truth because Truth is where connection is. And in order to choose Truth, it means I have to have the outcomes of my experiences. I have to feel the emotional response, whatever it may be. Whether they are pleasant or unpleasant emotions, I must feel that emotional response that’s connected to my experience. If I don’t do that, I will never be able to have connection in my life. I have to feel the consequences of my choices—I have to. So, please, please don’t take those from your children. And teach them that when they choose something or when they have something “happen to them,” that they get to choose how they’re going to respond. And be there with them, kind of like a cheerleader on the sidelines coaching them, validating them, seeing them, witnessing them—but DO NOT take their consequences away from them. Do not. It will harm them in such an immense way, that they will not be able to grow up and become mature, responsible, emotionally honest and vulnerable, validating adults if you do.
So, when children are born, they start off just emotional. They just sense things, they perceive things, they perceive experiences as safe or unsafe. They sense if they can have confidence in their environment, if they’re safe in their environment. And at the same time, they’re very ego-centric. Everything revolves around them because they’re very emotional. And they’re always checking out their world to see if it is safe or if it’s unsafe according to what they perceive.
And then, as they get a little bit older, from two years to about eight years, they start getting more concrete, so they more from sensing their environment into concrete. They move into right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, those kinds of things. And the world still revolves around them, they still are very ego-centric. And they’re learning how to desire autonomy and they’re wanting to act independently because they want to have a sense of self-control.
And so, that’s where they’re at between the ages of two and about eight or nine years old. And then, between nine and eighteen, they start learning how to abstract. And they start learning how to include others in their world, like oh, you’re there too? I didn’t realize that, I just thought it was all about me. And they start appreciating complexities, and nuances, and angles. And they start recognizing that they have intuition and they can make and follow through with commitments, and they see themselves as a separate entity.
So, kids go through this whole developmental span and the things that are constant that they need, is they need adults around them—specifically parents—to teach them about vulnerability, that inside all of those developmental processes, they are vulnerable. They are vulnerable, which means that they are raw to experiencing life. They have choices that they make or choices that other people make that affect them. And so, they need to experience the outcomes of those effects, so do not, do not take those away from them.
Like I said, you can support them by saying, “Yeah, I see that you’re upset.” Or, “It really is uncomfortable to wake up and have a fever, I know how that feels. I’m so sorry. Let me see if I can get you some medicine.” Or the child says, “Can you take this away from me?” You’re like, “I’m sorry, honey, I can’t. It just means your body is sick, and I can make you comfortable but I can’t take it away.” Or if the child comes to you and says, “I don’t want to make my bed and I’m mad I have to make my bed.” A parent who is trying to teach their child how to grow up and be a mature adult will say, “I know you don’t want to make your bed.” You’ll validate them. “And this is the thing that we do in our house, is that we make our beds. And so, I’d be more than happy to come in and sing to you while you make your bed, or I’m going to stay here in the kitchen and finish your lunch while you make your bed, and you need to get your bed made or there will be an outcome if you choose not to do that, like you won’t be able to ride your bike tonight or go to a friend’s house.” Or whatever the consequence is. And the kids like, “Oh, I’m all upset and now I’m even now more upset because now I can’t ride my bike.” But they learn.
So, when they choose not to make their bed, the parent that’s trying to raise a mature, healthy, emotionally honest adult from a child will say, “Sorry, Toots, you’re not able to ride your bike tonight. I’m sorry that you chose not to make your bed. Hopefully, you’ll make it tomorrow so you can ride your bike tomorrow night.”
So, these choices that kids make will create these outcomes, and these outcomes need to have consequences. So, I’m going to just list off a whole lot of things.
Here are the things we need to teach our children.
We need to teach our children to not only trust us, like their parents, their environment, but also themselves. To trust themselves. “I don’t know how to make my bed,” the child cries. And you say, “Well, give it a shot. I’ve shown you how to do it. I’ve modeled how to do it several times. You just give it a shot and let’s see how you do.”
You’re teaching them that they can be capable, that they’re competent, that they can follow through, that they know how to do things.
Teach them that every time they choose, there is an outcome. The outcomes are their teachers of their choices. Don’t interrupt those choices. Don’t enable their choices. Don’t confuse their choices with thoughts, beliefs of this isn’t fair, or you don’t deserve this, or this isn’t right, don’t bring those distorted messages into their choices and their outcomes. And don’t interrupt their choices or their outcomes. Don’t enable their outcomes. Don’t confuse their choices and outcomes with “I remember when I was their age, this was so hard, so I’m going to do it for them.” Don’t do that. Their life is not your life. It’s very different.
Teach them principles and let them govern themselves. And let them have the outcomes, the age appropriate outcomes. Don’t allow them to do something that will hurt them when they aren’t mature enough to manage the experience i.e. don’t give a two-year-old a knife to cut his or her own apple. So, you want to give kids outcomes, you want to have them choose and have outcomes, but don’t have them have outcomes that are actually going to hurt them somehow. And I mean like devastatingly hurt them, like cut off a finger or something—hurt them. Not “hurt them be uncomfortable,” let them be uncomfortable. Teach them how to work and then model how to work for them.
Teach them how to work by you modeling how to work. When my kids were growing up, I would go out with them all the time and say, “Here’s how you do this, here’s how you mow the lawn, here’s how you weed the yard, here’s you prune the bushes, here’s how you pick up the dog poop, here’s how you wash the car, here’s how you clean the bathroom, here’s how you make a bed.”
Teach them how to sacrifice and give of self. Teach them how to be gracious and thankful for their life and everything that’s in it. Teach them how to be compassionate towards others. Teach them how to acknowledge things that are greater than they are. Teach them how to respect themselves, others, and things, and life. Teach them how to be respectful of everything.
Teach them how to clean and keep things organized and ordered. Teach them how to disagree without being aggressive, rude, or disrespectful. Teach them how to share ideas, thoughts, and feelings appropriately. Teach them how to be honest, teach them how to be emotionally honest with themselves and others. Teach them how to ask for help, teach them how to assert them themselves, and how to not take offense. Teach them how to be sensitive. Teach them how to validate themselves and others. Teach them how to be vulnerable and how to risk. Teach them how to repent and be thorough—like a thorough repentance process, so there are some podcasts on repentance. Repentance isn’t just “sorry.” There is a thorough process of repentance. There are like 10 steps and I would encourage you to go and listen to the repentance process, like go through the whole thing.
Teach them how to forgive and how to surrender. Teach them how to be humble, and willing, and open, and transparent. Teach them not to react to things. Teach them how to respond to things. Teach them how to be empathic. Teach them how to be wrong and not go into shame. Teach them how to be humble be able to accept their consequences. And teach them how to love and respect themselves and others.
That’s a lot of things and there are many, many more. Those are just a small sampling of what kids have to learn because if you don’t teach them, they’ll just kind of piece things together. They need to be actively taught and parents will say, “Well, when do I teach them all this stuff?” It’s like oh my goodness, every second of every day is an opportunity for teaching, if you can see it.
So, I remember raising my kids and let’s say that they were taking a bath and they’re playing in the bath, they’re splashing stuff all over the place and then we got done and they got all dressed, I brought them back in the bathroom and had them wipe up the floor with their towel, so they cleaned things up. Now, I could have done that myself really, really easily but I wanted to teach them to be organized, and cleanly, and how to leave the spot that they just used clean.
And so, they would do that. And they’d always put the shampoo in the spot where we kept the shampoo, so the bathroom looked clean after we got done using it and they were the ones that cleaned it up. And they put their clothes in the hamper and then I’d have them sort them clothes. I mean, there’s always an opportunity to teach them about these principles.
And the Truth is, is that when children have these kinds of outcomes, they feel good about themselves. Their spirit delights and desires to be inside Truth, inside connection. Their soul likes order and cleanliness. Their soul likes to be respectful. Our spirits do really well when we’re honest and accountable for ourselves.
So, as children grow and develop, they’re ready to learn more and more skills to mature and prepare them for their lives. The minute they are born, you are working your way out of a job of them needing you. You want to support them to not need you, so they are ready to rely on themselves, and others, and on their own wisdom that you have taught and imparted to them, so they can continue to learn from their own life experiences. Depending on the culture you are raised in, the years of adulthood vary. Either way, children will physiologically become adults and need to be ready to enter into that phase of life, and we as parents need and have a responsibility to prepare them and get them there. We need to teach them about the power of their choice and their outcomes. Choice is a gift, we need to teach them that it’s a gift. Choice creates experience. Experience is necessary for us to continue in learning, and growing, and maturing. Choice is a power that yields outcomes, that teaches, and therefore progresses us through life. Children need you to teach them these principles and stand back and let them experience their life.
Children need and desire accountability. They will feel empowered if they’re held accountable. If they behave irresponsibly and are not held accountable, they will feel afraid because they know what they have done was wrong and that they didn’t account for it, they didn’t clean it up. Children are free agents and for the most part, children are not as negatively impacted by shame because they haven’t had as much time interacting with it as adults have. Therefore, children respond to consistent, clear, firm boundaries and bottom lines that parents give them, that quickly follow their behavior. Children need to experience outcomes attached to their choices. When they behave inappropriately, the outcomes and consequences can include losing items or privileges or doing or working for others, or simply the natural consequences that come from the choices.
All inappropriateness, verbal and behavioral, needs to be followed up with a thorough process of consequence/repentance. As their parent, if you will be consistent and thorough on the front end of their poor, inappropriate choices, they will learn and practice principles of Truth on the backend. As they mature, they will have the skill set to recognize causality—their choices cause their outcomes—they will recognize and empathize and clean things up if and when they choose to. And if your children are older, it is never too late to start. Every human being must learn these principles of Truth and any of us can learn them at any age if we’re willing to choose that.
Children need to be held accountable. Children need to be able to choose and they need to be able to have outcomes. You can validate your children, you can hold them, you can cry with them, you can talk with them but don’t alter their outcomes. Don’t take those away from them. Teach them that this experience is here to teach you. Walk through it with them. And if you don’t know how to walk through it with them, then find someone who can help you.
[26:45 The RAISE Process]
“R”—Recognize Feelings / Triggers: So, the first thing you’re going to do when you walk through experience, is you’re going to feel the experience, you’re going to identify the triggers.
“A”—Ask for Validation: After you’ve done that, you’re going to validate them in the experience.
“I”—Invite Feedback: Third, you’re going to explain why, if you can, like why it’s happening, and give them feedback.
“S”—Spot Distorted Thoughts & False Beliefs: Four, you’re going to identify those distortion and false beliefs.
“E”—Engage Truth: Five, you’re going to make Truth Declarations with them.
And six, if you need to, you’re going to repent and clean up your part and show that you’ve affected others.
Seven, you’re going to sit with those people that you’ve affected and feel the pain you’ve caused, if that’s necessary.
And then eight, you’re going to make a plan not to repeat it.
And nine, you’ll make restitution with them.
And ten, you will not break your plan. You will follow your plan and apologize again to the person that you’ve injured.
Now, all of those steps—one through ten—there are podcasts that go with each one of those. So, one through four where it says one is identify the triggers, two is validate the person, three is give feedback, and four is identify the false beliefs. There’s two podcasts called the RAISE process, podcasts 68 and 69.
And then, steps five, Truth Declarations, there is a podcast number 70 for Truth Declarations. And then six through ten is the repentance process. And there’s a podcast for that, too, podcast number 14.
So, I have talked a lot about the power of choice and what consequences do for children to teach them how to grow up and be empathic, loving, caring, compassionate, honest, responsible, humble adults. The power of choice is, I believe, the greatest power we have as humans. We can direct our lives in any direction we choose. And it’s my assumption that all of us desire to make choices that would create connection, yet connection is governed by particular principles that you must choose to live by. No one can demand connection.
[00:29:19] The Principles of Connection
I was just talking to you about the Principles of Connection. The Principles of Connection are honesty, responsibility, validation, being vulnerable, being humble. Those are the Principles of Connection. Those characteristics are the governing powers of connection. You may choose to live in those or you may choose not to, but either way, you will be responsible for what you choose, whether you choose to go into distortion—which is shame, self-adulation, self-denigration, distortion, distorted thoughts, false beliefs—or whether you choose to go into Truth.
And you also get to choose where you live, so you are responsible for what you choose and where you choose to live. And it is my hope that you will choose and teach your children to choose connection. Let them choose their choices and let them have the outcomes that follow. It is the greatest gift that you will ever give them, because it will cause them to become connected adults.
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