For Lorraine Esposito, author of The Peacemaker Parent, mornings have "such a powerful ripple effect on the rest of the day."
Esposito, a Scarsdale resident, life coach, personal trainer, and mother of two, shared tips on compassionate and powerful parenting at Greenacres Elementary School Tuesday.
She advocates instilling in children "accountability and responsibility," and noted that these traits are often neglected when parents focus primarily on a child's actions.
Esposito decided to change her own parenting approach when her oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD. She realized that his often disruptive and sometimes violent behavior was the action that was ultimately causing his unconscious self to suffer.
Wanting to help her son develop confidence while also finding ways to cope with his diagnosis, Esposito said that they both needed empowerment, one day at a time.
That's why mornings are so important for the Esposito family. Each of the boys has a simple list to check off each morning--tasks like making the bed, eating breakfast, and teeth brushing--which most adults do unconsciously. After about a week using the charts, the boys developed a routine that has become second nature.
"I looked at what I was doing and created tools to do it for me," she said.
Even though every day isn't perfect, Esposito believes that the checklist gives kids the opportunity to ask self-evaluating questions from one day to the next. The checklist is something that her kids can realistically complete, because lengthy sticker charts, which can include outlandish tasks like "clean the gutters," are the "worst."
Asking lots of questions of oneself and the world at large, is essential to this process. "Knowing what you're trying to accomplish first and then checking in with your actions will get you where you want to go," she said.
Esposito believes her technique has helped her oldest over the past few years to develop the confidence he lost when he had trouble controlling his behavior.
Her hope is to empower parents to do the same for their children, giving them the tools they need to become responsible and accountable for their actions and ultimately "create a generation of people who can think for themselves."
This "Morning Peacemaker" technique, "starts out creating a peaceful morning and ends up creating a peaceful lifetime for the child who learns to face life's challenges with confidence and independence."
"Think of how different the world would be," Esposito said. But its not too late for those who now face the challenges of adulthood. Change is possible, but she notes that asking questions and taking responsibility for one's actions takes "courage and support."
A person's success can easily be judged by others based on one's actions, but success, Esposito said, is ultimately "defined by individuals."
"A luxury car may represent success to the person driving it. However, if she's driving the car because it's to look like a success, then the problem isn't in the car, it's in the person's definition of success," she explained.
"If I find that my idea of success is different than I've spent my lifetime creating, I'll need a truck load of courage and support to do something about it."