All Posts By

Sharon Olson

How To Socialize Children

“Where do you see gaps in our public education system?”

It’s nearing our bedtime and although we’re winding down from a long afternoon of back-to-back classes and meetings, I’m hoping to squeeze in one more thought-provoking conversation in the day.

My son looks at me from across the table. “Children don’t have real-life skills.”

“What do you mean?”

“They don’t know how to do relationships or carry conversations.” His words roll through synapses. My husband sits engrossed in a project across the room, the sporadic tap-tap of keys on keyboard a dull accompaniment to the whir of the furnace in the background.

“You know,” I let the word ‘know’ drawl, “the concept of ‘socializing kids’ is a big deal to parents and educators. What’s your solution?”

“It’s easy. Parents need to choose their own inspiring, growth-minded friendships, and then make sure that their children are around to listen to the conversations. If parents invited their children into their adult conversations, then they’d learn ‘socialization.'”

“You mean that instead of being told how to communicate, they’d learn it in real-time. The training would be organic as opposed to being taught from a curriculum. Rather than coming off as instructional, training to listen, empathize, ask great questions, think, search for solutions and wonder aloud is integrated in the context of relationships.” I lean back in my chair, mulling over ideas.

My daughter chimes in, “Imagine if we put a whole bunch of toddlers or preschoolers together for a long time, with no adult interaction, and we let them teach each other how to talk and act? You know, so that they can be ‘socialized.'” Her visual causes me to both smile and sigh. She goes on, “Mom. This is why I don’t go to youth group. To be honest, I don’t want to learn how to talk and act like my peers.”

She yawns as the conversation ebbs, the three of us lost in thoughts. Ezekiel gathers a small folded pile of laundry from the couch and hugs me on his way to bed.

These conversations are the fruit of years of cultivating communication that’s honest and intimate… raw and real. Communication that challenges us to question the status quo. While far from perfect, I’m grateful that my young adults want to engage in these stir-the-pot and search-for-a-solution exchanges.  So, how did we help our children expand their vision for what’s possible in relationships and meaningful communication?

  • Be hospitable. Invite people into your home. One thing I was adamant about is having everyone around the table together. No “kid’s table” and a separate “grownup table.” And then we were intentional about making sure the young people were seated in the midst of the grownups as opposed to them at one end and grownups at the other end. We haven’t always succeeded at this, but it’s one of our top values. Of course, it doesn’t always need to be dinner. Simply having a friend or two and their children over for a cup of tea is a prime opportunity to include everyone in the conversation.

 

  • Have your young people serve alongside you. When our children were preschoolers, we had them serve alongside us in the Infant’s or Toddler’s room at church. By having them near us, we demonstrated what it looked like to love and care for those younger than them. We were also part of a Parent’s Date Night in which our children had an opportunity to help care for younger children alongside the adults. Whenever possible, have your child with you when you serve and make sure they’re given a role. By nature, we all want to contribute to the world, and there’s no age limitation to this desire. Find ways to foster the servant-heart in your child.

 

  • Demonstrate the value of looking people in the eyes and listening with your heart by looking them in the eyes and engaging fully in conversation with them. Be at eye-level with them. Interact. Ask them questions about what they’re talking about to get them to think deeper about their topic. Which brings me to…

 

  • Use those three magical words, “Tell me more.”

 

  • Be intentional about inviting enthusiastic, visionary influencers into your lives. In fact, one of our favorite pastimes is engaging people in conversations about their career field or their passions. We may not ever be in politics or medicine or the military. We may not compete in Ironman races or the Olympics. We may not become truck drivers or teachers or retail sales clerks or lawyers. We may not write books or adopt children. Or, we might. We never know what conversations are going to spark inspiration. And even if we don’t decide to go to medical school and become a surgeon, it’s incredible to listen to the stories of others and learn more about the world through their eyes.

 

  • Teach your children to go through life with the attitude that they have something to learn from everyone. Again, they learn this best when they see your teachable attitude. When they see you authentically engage, first with them, and then with others with a spirit of curiosity, they’ll learn to value a sense of wonder, too. Yes, we taught our children to use discernment. Some people teach us what not to do. And we taught them that there’s great wisdom in learning from other’s mistakes.

 

  • Eat meals together as a family. We use this time to share our “high-low’s” from the day. To tell stories. What was a story that brought you joy? What was something that wasn’t so fun? Any interesting conversations? Did you learn something new? Anything strike wonder and awe in you? Did something cause you to be angry? (This is a good thing in our family… but that’s another post.) What inspired you? Did you experience something that raised questions for you? Did anything cause you to expand your vision or dream big dreams today? By making these types of conversations a normal part of your relationships, children learn to interact the same way with people outside the home.

 

  • Choose your child’s friends wisely. I know, I know. Society says to teach our children to choose their friends wisely. However, we don’t know what we don’t know. Since leading our children is a stewardship, I’m not going to be haphazard about who they (or we) hang out with. We taught our children the truth behind the saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend time with.” Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Teach your children to exercise the same character qualities that they’re looking for in their friends. Teach them that they can be friendly to everyone but that they don’t need to be friends with everyone. Have them make a list of everything they’re looking for in a friend — and then teach them the value in becoming that person.

How about you? How do teach your children to love others well? What do you do to grow yourself to become someone who loves people well? What are some other ways to develop yourself and those you lead to engage, ask great questions, listen, and build authentic connections?

 

Book Launch Party with FREE Download

Yay for Book Launch parties… virtual ones, too!

What an adventure it is to write and publish a book. I’ve learned a ton in this process, but most of all, (and best of all), going through this process has changed me.Kind of like when I knew so much about marriage — before I got married.

And when I planned out all my perfect parenting strategies — before I became a parent.

I think I know so much — until I actually step out of my comfort zone.

It’s easy to wax eloquent about showing up for our lives and chasing our dreams. It’s a whole different story to step out in faith and take action. Anyone?

We don’t know what we don’t know. How grateful I am that we can be leading learners!

Someone asked me the other day what prompted me to write a book. Great question.

I wasn’t sure how to answer at first and then after some thought, I said, “You know, when we do the thing we’re made for, it inspires people around us to show up for their lives, too. I’ve learned from and been inspired by so many people, it’s time I stepped up and contributed.”

Living Your Legacy is my contribution to inspiring, motivating, and helping leaders recognize their impact and intentionally build cultures of honor. At work. At home. In life.

CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of Living Your Legacy.

Make sure you download the free Kindle version as soon as possible. It’s only free until midnight tonight.

*Be generous and share this LINK with your tribe. 🙂

**And if you read anything inspiring or helpful, will you do a favor for me? Will you click on this link HERE and leave an honest one or two sentence review? It will help the book stay at the top of the rankings. That way, others can easily find the book, too.

And, one more thing… click Reply to this post and tell me what dream you have brewing inside you that might require you to step out of your comfort zone and be a leading learner.

This post was originally posted over at www.eieiolsonfamily.blogspot.com.

Reading Not So Obvious Books To Be A Better Parent

It wasn’t long before I realized that reading parenting books only put limits on gaining invaluable parenting skills.

Today Israel and I were talking about all the books I read. (Again. Yes, this is an ongoing subject in our house. Though, slowly, I’m converting these five people in my world into readers. And I press on toward the high calling…) Somehow we got on the topic of what genre fills most of our shelves.

Interesting, while parenting books fill twice the number of shelves in our home, I’ve read mostly other genres over the past 20 years. Business and leadership. Self-help. Ministry. Military strategy. Books written by surgeons and doctors regarding the health industry. Philosophy. Autobiographies and biographies.

Of course, there’s a plethora of fiction (delicious brain candy) sprinkled throughout — though I have a long-standing policy that the fiction I read has to either 1) be on the reading list of the Book Club I’m in or 2) be recommended by a trusted source. smile.

Here’s the thing, I’ve obsessed — yes, I’m intentionally using that word — over my mission of motherhood. This platform of parenthood in which I take the whole business of training and shaping the character of another human being — yeah, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

So, one of my dreams is to take the books I’ve read over the last 20 years and put them in condensed form.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an engineer, a doctor, a teacher, a receptionist, a real estate mogul, a pastor, the basic principles of leadership, performance, and success apply across the board.

Lest I leave you with the notion that we’ve figured this parenting thing out, let me assure you that we’re very much in the trenches… we’re simply inviting you to join us? As of this afternoon, we are working through several issues… yeah, I promise you, it’s messy over here. But I have this burning passion for whole relationships, authentic connections, soul-deep intimacy. In marriages. In families. In friendships. In corporate settings.

In order to make this project as relevant and helpful as possible, I need your help.

  • What specific areas of (your job) parenting are your greatest challenges right now, (i.e. communication, culture, boundaries, honor, trust, etc)?
  • If we could spend the afternoon together, what would you want to talk about? (I ask that one a lot, don’t I? humble smile. I really, really want to spend the afternoon with you!)
  • What are the most critical initiatives for your family over the next six months?
  • When your children complain, what do they say?
  • What do you expect of yourself this year?
  • What does your family expect of you this year?
Oh! To spend the afternoon with you! (The thought of it lights me up!) To discuss and brainstorm ideas, draw blueprints for implementation…

Stop Pouting. Start Preaching.

You know those days when you wake up wired? When you’re brimming over with excitement and anticipation? When everything just seems to line up and your world cooperates with you?

And you know those other moments… the deep, dark valleys in which you find yourself barely able to put one foot in front of the other? The seasons in which hope is elusive and you’d rather just pull the covers up over your head until it all passes over?
Been there. In both seasons.
And here’s something I’ve learned over the years: I’ve learned to preach. To my soul. Not the consoling, gentle, patient kind of preaching, but the why are you so downcast, O my soul?! Put your hope in God! kind of preaching.
You know what kind of preaching your soul needs. Regardless of the style… Preach! And don’t let up until your soul emerges from the valley.
Sometimes, life sucks. Sometimes, it all just really disappoints. But don’t get stuck there. And, whatever you do, don’t let bitterness get a foothold! Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “If you’re walking through hell, keep walking.”
Not too long ago, I preached long across the pages of my journal. Feeling stuck in a few areas of my life, I pleaded for God to come rescue me from a pit. Psalm 18:1-18 is scrawled in desperate strokes.
Redemption and rescue are His specialties. In fact, He’s relentless in His pursuit. He’ll move mountains to come get you. I know from experience. (Really, I’m telling you, Psalm 18:1-18… preach that to your soul.)
Where are you right now? Are you wired? Excited? Or do you need to preach a soul-stirring sermon to yourself?

“But you will not need to fight! Take your places; stand quietly and see the incredible rescue operation God will perform for you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem! Don’t be afraid or discouraged! Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

~ 2 Chronicles 20:17 (TLB)

Let’s Throw Fuel On That Fire!

The breakout workshop ended and the 60 or so women gathered their notebooks and bags and slowly shuffled toward the back door. A woman had occupied every seat, leaving a handful standing in the back for the duration of the session. Now I watched as the speaker removed her microphone and the wires connected to the small receiver attached to her belt and I waited for a path to the front of the room.
Continue Reading

GET MENTORING

Get FREE Mentoring every Wednesday at Noon, EDT. Join me for a real-time, live conversation. Share your journey. Get encouragement. Be inspired.