| from Dr. Kathy Koch |

Being other-centered changes people and cultures. I’ve talked about this for years.

Being self-centered is easy. Putting others first takes more thought. It takes a bigger heart.

If your children are struggling to make friends, observe to see if they’re self-centered or other-centered when going to school, children’s church, and youth groups. (If you’re struggling, you can think about this, too, of course.)

How would you describe your children? Are they “There you are!” people or “Here I am!” people? When they enter a classroom or arrive for their sports or dance practice, do they notice others or want to be noticed? Do they ask others questions or start talking about themselves?

“There you are” people honor others and enjoy getting to know new people. They also enjoy introducing people to others. If you like it when some of your friends meet some of your other friends, you’re probably a “There you are!” person.

“I’m here!” people are most comfortable talking about themselves. They may want to meet people and they may want friends. But, by making themselves the focus, they may not be as successful. And, in some cases, they’re not interested in friendships. They’re just interested in being known.

Imagine arriving home from work or running errands and asking “Who’s home?” rather than announcing “I’m home!”

Sometimes “Here I am” people need help with conversations so they can become “There you are people.” You could suggest a few questions your children could ask peers so they can get to know them and perhaps become friends. The questions aren’t enough, though. Often, children need help knowing how to continue the conversation beyond the first answer the peer provides. For instance:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Or, do you have any hobbies? …

That’s cool. What’s your favorite thing about it? Or, I enjoy that, too, because ….

  • Hi, I’m ____________________  and I’m new here. I was wondering what you like to do. I like to …. What about you?
  • I’m ____________________. I’m new here. Have you been coming a long time? What do you like about this group? … I hope I’ll like it …
  • Do you play sports? I like soccer best. What about you?

Think about your children. If you suggest questions related to their interests and strengths, it will be easier for them to follow-up and have meaningful conversations. It’s not that the conversations are about them, but it is about giving them opportunities to be confident and successful as they risk reaching out. What could you try? When will you have this conversation with your kids?

Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”), is the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in 30 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, banquet talks, and other events. She is a regular speaker for Care Net, Summit Ministries, and Axis. She also speaks for other organizations, churches, schools, and pregnancy resource centers. In addition, she hosts Celebrate Kids conferences through their Ignite the Family conference division. She is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio, she was featured in Kirk Cameron’s movie, Connect, and she has written and published five books with Moody Publishers, including Five to Thrive, Start with the Heart, Screens and Teens, 8 Great Smarts, and No More Perfect Kids (with Jill Savage). Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University.