Tip of the Week
Insurance Against Mediocrity
What it is? To “make” is to create something new by
combining or reshaping other things. To make “sense” is to create understanding out of another
person’s idea or experience. Consider the
analogy of a ham sandwich and your idea of
Making a ham sandwich takes
ham, cheese, and bread
Making sense of your idea
about appreciation takes vocabulary and experience
Important: To influence a child, the child must be
able to make sense of your messages.
The Problem: It's difficult to
explain to kids abstract value ideas that took us years of experience to understand ourselves. There are two “duh” ideas to
#1: All the
resources must be available. To make a ham sandwich you’ll need the right ingredients. To make “sense” of
appreciation you’ll need the right vocabulary and your child will need the right experiences.
must be recognizable. You’ll need to be able to identify the ham, cheese, and bread as ingredients for a ham
sandwich. To recognize them will mean that you’ve experienced ham, cheese, and bread put together in a
You would have
experienced a ham sandwich.
The same holds true for your appreciation
message: a child will need to understand the words you use—to have experienced the
words—in the context of appreciation.
The child would
have experienced giving and appreciating
making sense is really creating new understanding by combining words you already know and experiences you’ve
Consider the wisdom of Ben
“Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Ben is saying that, greater learning and
understanding is a by-product of greater physical involvement. In this context, “making sense”
includes making an idea physically experienced through a person’s
physical senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.
The more involved the senses
The more something makes
Create a Giving Experience
One of the promises I’ve made
to my boys is to teach them how to be happy by choosing to do things that make them happiest.
Giving is a happy endeavor as long as you know what to expect—or not to expect. Try creating a giving experience
and then be ready to debrief the result.
Step 1: A Labor of
Love Pick something that your child has a talent or fondness for doing, such as cooking, drawing a
picture, cleaning, laundry, etc. Just make sure that whatever your child chooses to give isn’t something your child
can buy with money or that he doesn’t like to do. You can read about my son Jack's experience in Good Deed
Step 2: Surprise Someone
Special! Plan to surprise someone with the gift.
Step 3: Debrief Regardless the appreciation expressed by the recipient of the gift, chances are
it won’t be as great as the built-up expectation your child anticipates receiving. In other words,
disappointment may be part of his reward. This is your golden opportunity to help your child make sense of giving
Not everyone will appreciate
the time and thought that went into a labor of love so when sharing something like this, make sure to choose
the recipient wisely.
Know the difference between
giving and trading: If you expect something in return then you’ve initiated a trade not given a
gift. Both are fine, by the way, just know what which one you're doing.
Benefits: It Makes
Influence – Now
that you’ve established understanding, you have a common ground from which to
Appreciation – All the gifts that you’ve given will be valued differently—yes, even
the time you’ve spent doing laundry.
Leadership – Your child will begin to prioritize his time and effort for the best
Happiest – Trading and giving are different and both are great. Now your child
has the ability to choose which will make him happiest in any situation.
Choice – Consciously choosing whether to give or trade means your child will receive
less disappointment in return for his labors of love.
Freedom – Knowing the difference between giving and initiating a trade, your child
will feel less obligated to other people from whom he or she receive gifts. One extreme example: Boys
sometimes initiate an unspoken trade expectation when they buy girls dinner or other
things. Recognizing a “trade” like this frees the girl to make a trade or to simply
appreciate the gift.
Related Articles: Good Deed
Frustration, Communication Part 4 –
Related Tip of the Week: Articulate, Change, Powerful
Listening 1, Not Nice, Accept vs. Agree