Kids and Cooperation

I’m a big advocate of cooperation. In the process of encouraging cooperation, one demonstrates many other skills too: politeness, negotiation, confidence, courage, clarity of desire. And besides, isn’t life just one big stew of opportunities that require cooperation from others in some way? 

Creating a cooperative environment is a multi-pronged process. Seeing cooperation in action and practicing daily yields many benefits. It’s surprising how many other facets of personal integrity are demonstrated alongside striving to operate in a cooperative mode. Below are a few starter ideas

  • I’ve laid a strong foundation for cooperation as a family and why I think it’s important. I tell the kids “I cooperate with you, and you cooperate with me” and ”you cooperate with me, and I’ll cooperate with you” quite often.
    • I’m sure to not just say it when I need/want them to do something for me in the moment but also when I do something for them that they asked for help with (for example I’ll say, “I’m happy to do this for you because you so nicely did that for me”).
    • I did it lightly in a sing-song voice when they were little. Now that they are older I do it more in a we-are-two-individuals-making-a-deal-that-will-be-good-for-us-both voice.
    • I also do it as a 30 sec value statement periodically when we are just sitting around together. I reflect out loud: “I’m so glad our family cooperates so well. We get to do so many awesome things together, and that’s cool. I’m lucky you are my family.” To which they will invariably say something like “You’re awesome too, Mom,” which is fun.
  • I do a lot of “thinking out loud” when they ask me for something (especially when they were younger), “Well, this is an inconvenient time for me to help make that happen for you but since you were able to blah, blah, blah for me earlier I can change my plans and make an effort to do this to help you now. Give me 30 minutes to wrap up here.”
  • After laying this foundation is when they heard their first “no” from me about things they really wanted. I felt justified in saying, “Remember when you choose not to do blah to help me yesterday? Well, you didn’t cooperate with me, so I’m not interested in making effort to help you with this now.” Very quickly they saw why it was worth it cooperate with me. I only had to do it once maybe twice per kid. Now we talk it all out and come to terms we can all agree with and follow through on.
  • When they were very young I made certain to never deal with a fit thrower. I would say, “Are you throwing a fit? Because if so, the answer is absolutely no. I don’t deal with fit-throwers.” When we were playing somewhere and they didn’t want to leave I would say, “You can cooperate with me now or I for sure won’t want to bring you back next time you want to come here.” Then I would cheer them in the moment telling them they are doing a good job settling down and how that is not easy and how I’m real proud of their effort and that I’ll be happy to blah again if they would like. Also, if they could calmly ask for more time, I would make a deal with them. I might say, “What do you still want to do?” or “How much more time do you need?” and come to an agreement. It’s fun to restate the agreement, tell them they have a deal, and “shake on it” too once they are used to the process.
    • First couple times, my girl would take deep, dramatic breaths and have difficulty getting words out but she kept trying and I kept waiting and supporting. Now that never happens (she is 8). She can say what she needs to say. She can even say, “Well, I really want to blah but I can see you don’t really want to so it’s okay.” Then I can say, “We could blah at such and such a time” or “how about blah instead?”
    • My boy was never so dramatic. He was (and still is) more likely to lapse into angry silence. In our house, it has been established that angry silence and dirty looks and silent treatment are also variations on fit throwing (aka immature communication that one can learn skills to improve upon and thus learn to “use their charm” with much success instead). So in the case of quiet/introverted fit throwing, I still approach with “are you throwing a fit?”
    • For my son, I try to coax him out of it the same way, “Calm yourself and say what you need to say. I’m listening.” He might say, “You will be mad about what I say” then I say, “Give it to me straight anyway, talk with a kind tone and phrase it as nicely as you can while still giving it to me straight and I’ll do my best to keep my cool.” Another thing he might say is “I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” To which I say, “Thanks for letting me know. When you are ready, I’ll listen.” These days, he’s often able to say, “It’s okay, mom. I was mad a second, but I’m getting over it.” To which I say, “Great job!” without asking for further detail because that’s his way of saying “I was mad, but I realize now that it really is no big deal.”
    • I talk to both my kids a lot about how important it is to keep their cool and I hold myself to that standard. When I do loose my cool, I apologize as soon as I can do it sincerely. I also “think out loud” about how it is difficult sometimes. “Ugh, I’m just so frustrated this or that person was rude. Guess they were having a bad day. I’m glad it’s not contagious! I don’t have to be upset too.”
  • As a parent, identify areas of no compromise. For example, one no compromise area for us is about safety gear on bikes and scooters because my son is a daredevil. All I have to say is, “That’s a safety issue.” Then off the kid goes to get his helmet.
    • Another example might be about attending church. If going to church is a family value that you need to be upheld, then you tell your child, “You can go with a good attitude, or you can go with a bad attitude, but you’re going. This is an issue of such importance to me because blah, blah, blah. I appreciate it if you choose to go with a good attitude.” If you need him to go whether he wants to or not, then you are asking for cooperation from him to have a good attitude.

Other personal values are easily demonstrated and practiced alongside focusing on cooperation so intensely. Things such as honesty and the importance of keeping your word and how trust builds from that and the benefits that come from being trusted.

  • For example, a kid says he wants to go to the movie with the family when plans are being made then he wants to back out at the last minute.
    • If he didn’t want to go in the first place but didn’t say so when you were planning then he is not being honest. Being honest about whether he wants to go is important for planning purposes. Does he want you to be honest with him? Then he should be honest with you. So give him an example, if you tell him you will take him somewhere that he really wanted to go but then at the last minute you decide you don’t want to, then how would he feel? Would he feel like you were honest? How would he feel?

Practicing cooperation is valuable. Kids learn to listen closely while at the same time checking in with their own wants and desires. They will be more present in their communication in general. They learn to speak up for what they want in a way that helps them be heard better and have a better chance of getting it.

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The Summer 2016 Olympics starts this weekend. I love the Olympics!

I’m especially interested in watching the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team compete. If they win this year, the U.S. women’s soccer team will not only be the first team to win the gold in the first ever Olympics that included women’s soccer in the regular program in 1996 but also the first women’s team to win gold at the Olympics after winning the previous World Cup. Side note: can you believe it was as recent as 1995 that women’s soccer WAS NOT included in the Olympics main program?! For comparison, men’s soccer has been in the Olympics since 1900. Geez, that’s shocking to this girl who played under 8’s back in the 1970s and club soccer in college. What the heck took so long?

When it comes to the Olympics though, I’ll watch pretty much any sport. I simply love championship athletics altogether: the drama of it, the purpose of training coming to a head, the kinesthetic brilliance on display. That being said, I will be sure to catch archery, judo, wrestling, trampoline gymnastics, fencing, and volleyball too, no doubt.

There are many excellent resources for tracking the Olympics this year. The 2016 Summer Olympics website is good except that you can only favorite three sports. Their scheduling page is pretty handy for the big picture of what is going on day-to-day. There is also NBC’s schedule for Olympics events they will be covering, and you can set reminders to catch what most interests you. There is also a good general list of what sports are being covered by which NBC stations here.

Of course, there are apps to keep up-to-date with news and happenings on mobile. I plan on tapping into Google’s coverage with their app. I like Google Now webpage for Olympic coverage too.

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Books to Read to Dogs

Here’s a quickie for a little weekend fun. A new Goodreads friend told me about books written for the purpose of reading to your dog!

I downloaded one right away and told the kids about it. My daughter settled in on the boulder pillows to read it to her brother’s mini dachshund. Then my son joined them and listened while looking at a beginner’s drawing book. How cool is that? They all (dog included) loved it and both kids wanted a turn to read.

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Learning About Goodreads

I’ve spent a good amount of time orientating and establishing myself on Goodreads in the past ten days or so. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to make some adjustments to my social media activities. This post is about my learning curve and initial impressions.

First of all, it was refreshing to receive a reply from the Goodreads Twitter account when I tweeted that I was joining in. Just when I thought there weren’t many conversations left to be had on Twitter, I see that Goodreads posts some really good stuff there, and they do strive to engage users too.

The reason Goodreads came across my radar is that I was listening to a new book marketing podcast where they were talking about a new book released about Goodreads for authors by Frances Caballo. I grabbed that book for a quick overview, and it did help me assimilate quicker. Goodreads is decently user-friendly but some things seem pretty hidden and Frances’ book help with that as well as providing a good understanding of the culture on Goodreads.

I also found some very good articles online about Goodreads for authors.

From there, I worked on completing my profile and adding most of the books I’ve read in the past decade or so as well as several reviews. I also applied for an author’s page.

Next, I set off to find a few groups to join and, boy did I find some good ones! I settled on three: Audiobooks, Short and Sweet Treats, and, most thrilling to me, a Kresley Cole IAD group (I’m so in that fan club). Finding groups to check out was not the easiest thing, but I learned that using the tags list worked very well for me.

Listopia lists have been a curiosity for me for quite some time. After joining a few groups, I decided to create one about astrology books.

At this point, I had introduced myself on the discussion boards for the groups that I joined and began to contribute to the dialog where I could. I also followed authors and reviewers whose work I liked. So now I had a pretty good home stream to greet me when I visited, but I started to wonder about how to add friends. I hadn’t received a single invitation to connect since setting up my profile, and I was glad, but I also felt a little pitiful with a goose egg on the friend count.

After being on Twitter for so many years and being primarily a reciprocal follower who became a master of the list to see the updates of the people whose tweets I definitely wanted to see, I knew from the beginning that my strategy on Goodreads would be different.

I chose not to auto-invite any of my contacts as Goodreads offered when I initially signed up. I declined for the reason mentioned above and also because I wanted to customize every invitation I sent. That’s just good manners it seems. Instead, I honed in on criteria I wanted for friends on Goodreads before connecting with anyone. Namely, I want to find interesting people with similar reading interests who are also quite active on Goodreads.

I had already met several people fitting the criteria through the groups I joined. So I sent out a few invitations, customizing them, of course, and always checking the “compare books” feature to see if we have similar tastes. People have been so kind to accept the invitations. Several new friends replied right away with a warm thanks and hello. I’ve already discovered many books and audiobooks for my to-read list, and I’m excited about that. In fact, I’ve already read several. For a reading junkie like me, it’s heaven. I also love checking in on my Goodreads friends daily to see what they are up to and encourage where I can.

As a final exercise in jumping into the deep end with Goodreads, I’m doing a book giveaway. It started today and ends in a month on August 23. I have twenty-five paperback books laying around, and I’m so happy to have something to do with them now! A Goodreads Giveaway is essentially a raffle where people who enter can receive the paperback free. I am stunned to see that people have signed up already. It’s the most eyes I’ve had on the little book since it was published in February. Pretty cool!

All in all, I am so glad I took the time to join in on Goodreads. It feels social and interesting, a rare combination. I feel energized after hanging out there and checking in with friends, also rare for me as an introvert. If you enjoy reading and talking about what you read, you might like it there too.

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My New Microphone

I have now completed one entire project and have started two more using my new microphone. I purchased it in celebration after getting a deal for my first fiction audiobook production. I promised an update about it in a previous post so here we go. The microphone along with a new editing technique that I learned have resulted in increased audio quality and more efficient editing, a win-win!

Previously, I had a USB condenser mic. The Samson C01U. It has been an excellent microphone with a very nice sound quality. It was inexpensive so it was perfect when I first started out in audio with tutorials and screencasts. Then it moved along with me nicely to podcasting. But I needed something different for long form audio projects because it picked up everything. It captured breathing and mouth clicks as well as noise from the rest of the house, even outside. Things like the tv downstairs and the neighbors car starting. So I needed to wait for quiet times in the house (really rare) to record and still spent excessive time editing.

In fact, I only used that Samson mic for the first audiobook I released: Freelance Writing Business, which you can hear a sample from below, just click the red “play” circle.

For the next couple audiobooks that I narrated, I used my Roland R-05 Recorder’s onboard microphone. I love that little recorder but rookie move, I now know. They didn’t come out bad though. I even recorded my own audiobook with that setup. Below is a sample from another project I did with it.

At that point, I started studying narration specifically and learned how lame it was to use a portable digital recorder. I thought I wanted to go further with narrating but I needed to be sure before throwing a lot of cash into it. I really wanted to make due with what I had if possible.

No sooner did I start thinking that way and begin settling in to work with what I had, did I get the invitation to addition for my first fiction read. Once I got that deal signed, I knew I needed to level up on the microphone. I also needed voice acting lessons stat! Well, this post is about the mic so more on what else I did in to prepare in a later post.

So regarding the mic situation, enter one of my long-time mentors. Like so many of my mentors, he doesn’t necessarily know he is my mentor specifically. Rather, I study whatever information (blog, podcasts, books, articles, courses) he has created. In this case, I have been following Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answerman for quite a while. He is an expert on podcast development, especially equipment and start-up. I have taken a couple of his courses and can highly recommend him. Anyway, I have heard him mention the benefits of a dynamic microphone many times and decided after much research to take his suggestion and get the Heil PR-40 microphone for myself. I actually ordered mine through Cliff because I wanted the whole microphone package he recommended.

Below is a sample (warning: adult themes) of the first audiobook that I used the new microphone on. So much better, I think.

So there’s some juicy details about my new microphone. I also wanted to share a real good noise reduction technique for Audacity that is part of my regular routine now.

Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement in narrating and editing to go still yet. I’m just getting started! The foundation is good though. Now I have a pretty decent equipment setup and I’m ready to take on the next challenges of learning voice acting technique, microphone technique, and storytelling.

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I’m making some changes in my social media repertoire. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a real long time, but I’m not feeling it is worth my focus any longer. I began to feel recently like it was time to let it go due to feeling rather uninspired there and kinda like it was a chore.

This is different from when I exited Facebook in 2010. That was due to general irritation with what I perceived as a black hat way of doing business. That combined with a general icky feeling anytime I logged in to check my timeline. It got too icky to ignore so I checked out.

I didn’t really have any plan in mind when I deleted my LinkedIn account. I figured I would just stick with my favorite, Twitter. Keep it simple, you know, update things here at my blog more often and tweet. That, I suppose, was the extent of it.

Enter GoodReads. It seems once again that as soon as I let go of something that is kinda feeling haggard, it makes room for something more lovely to enter the picture. So for the last several days, I’ve been getting involved there and I think I may have found my people. Book people, of course! Why didn’t I see that sooner?!

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Audible does this really cool thing to help get the ball rolling once a new audiobook is released. In short, the author and narrator get some promo codes to give away as freebies. So, I have a few to give! Just drop a line and let me know which of my audiobooks you would like and I’ll get back to you with either a code or to let you know I’m out.

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