Raising Confident, Capable Kids in a Performance Filled Culture

Children who come to believe that our love, praise, or affection is contingent on their pleasing us and doing what we want them to do become the most vulnerable of all people.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

I have been silently taking inventory of our culture's and many families' perceptions of performance and raising confident/capable kids. What stands out the most is the unintentional reinforced value that performance has on self-worth. What also stands out are misconceptions of grace and confidence which affect children's perceptions of life and faith.

Before we dive in, you must understand as parents, that it is never too late to make improvements. We are easily caught up in performance based parenting and feeling the shame and guilt of not parenting the way we "should" or the way others do. We equate our parenting performance with our self-worth as a parent. We begin to parent out of fear of inadequacy instead out of grace and confidence.

We grow and change much faster when we shed discouraging thoughts about what we have failed to accomplish.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

To get all of us started in making some improvements, I will be referencing and pulling out pieces from these resources: Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen) and What's So Amazing About Grace? (Philip Yancey).

In today's culture we are bombarded with opportunities and pressures for our kids to perform or to prove their abilities. How do we carve out self-confidence, self-validation, self-discipline, good judgement, and a sense of responsibility in our children? These capabilities can be nourished in young people through  1. networking 2. finding meaningful roles 3. exploring 4. celebrating 5. setting limits, 6. developing self-control and 7. modeling grace.

First let's understand "perception." When we think through our experiences, we form conclusions about ourselves and our lives (perception). Children make decisions about themselves based upon their experiences. They think about what they need to do to survive or thrive. When a child's perceptions are threatened or when their perceptions are not consistent with the environment, their brain reacts, which sends a signal to their body to react. You've heard of fight, flight, or freeze. Read more about brain science and behavior here.

Perceptions are unique. Perceptions are keys to attitudes, motivation, and behavior. Perceptions must first be supported and challenged in order to change.

Glenn and Nelsen in Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World suggest ways of helping children process their experiences and examine their perceptions.

1. Identify: What are the important parts of the experience? What happened? What was the outcome? What were your feelings? What was most important?

2. Analyze: Why was that important to you? What were you trying to do?

3. Generalize: How can you use this information next time? What do you need to repeat to achieve the same outcome?

Nourishing Your Child's Capabilities


The simplest of all networks is friendship.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

People are tribal creatures designed for relationships. We excel when we collaborate, teach, affirm, and encourage each other. Who is in your tribe with whom you can dialogue about the world, about life, and about kids?

Finding Meaningful Roles

Today we need to deal with our young people actively in ways that cause them to believe they are significant contributors rather than just objects or passive recipients of our activities.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

As children find meaningful roles in their family and in their social groups, they develop a sense of importance and personal significance. Focus, direction, a sense of ownership, all help to foster this perception of personal significance. When we listen to our children and take them seriously, we can restore collaboration with them. What are some ways you can offer meaningful roles to your children? How can you incorporate family meetings into your routine? What ritual, tradition, or activity can you devote weekly time?

The need to be needed is often more powerful than the need to survive.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)


Experience, especially one that’s reflected on, is a far more effective teacher than parents could ever be.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

Too often parents or caregivers step in prematurely instead of allowing a child to do for himself or to experience for himself. When parents are too quick to offer an explanation or expertise, the child is left feeling vulnerable or intimidated. They may form the perception of: I am not capable unless they are here. What would happen if they were not there? Rescuer parents rescue children from inadequacy and then enable them to remain vulnerable. 

By helping our children explore their experiences, they will develop confidence in their ability to learn and problem solve.


When we recognize effort and progress, we get more results.  Sometimes we unintentionally set up a trap for our children by steering them to be independent and then objecting to their way of doing things. Instead, encourage children with specific feedback and acknowledgement of effort.

When we praise the performance or praise the results, we lose sight of the individual and her effort and contribution. Examine how you celebrate your own successes or how you evaluate your mistakes. Do you communicate that self worth and self control are independent of external circumstances?

Setting Limits

Setting limits is an exercise in using our wisdom and experience to anticipate possible problems and solve them in advance.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

Too often we wait until after something has gone wrong to decide what we'll do about it. We often react with anger and say meaningless things. Determining limits together with a child before a situation occurs will help your child's sense of control remain intact. Using firmness and respect to communicate and follow through with a limit provides opportunity for your child to honor the limit and exercise self-control. 

Developing Self-Control

Our children's capability to recognize and acknowledge personal feelings directly affects their ability to select an appropriate behavioral response to a feeling.

Once children become comfortable with the notion that their feelings are, as are the feelings of others, a legitimate, worthy part of their lives, they are ready to take the next step-to self-control.
— Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (Glenn and Nelsen)

Developmentally around eight years old, most children are capable of controlling impulses that bring immediate gratification and instead choosing a behavior that achieves a goal.

Philip Yancey in What's So Amazing About Grace chooses the word gratitude for motivation for "being good." We want our children to strive to do well and to have self-control--not to make their parents or God love them (we already do), but because of gratitude and a sense of love within a relationship. 

Modeling Grace

By instinct I feel I must do something in order to be accepted. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.
— What's So Amazing About Grace? (Phillip Yancey)

Take the initiative to model grace by laying down retribution or fairness. Reinforce your love for your children regardless of performance or behavior. Speak truth and life into your children. Speak to who they are becoming. Forgive. Lay down all of your needs for gratitude and compliments.

We are modeling grace when we allow our children to operate from within themselves, to practice self-control, to explore experiences and opportunities, and to practice their abilities. Regardless of performance or failures, we can gracefully communicate to our children through our attitudes, words, modeling, and forgiveness that they are worthy of unconditional love. This sets the stage for them to explore faith, accept spiritual grace, and to realize their greater worth.

Next Steps

You've read through all of this information, now ask your self "What is the most important thing I've come to realize? What behavior change do I want to make? Why is this realization important right now? How can it make a difference in my life or my child's life? Where do I want to first apply it?"

Complete the following statement: As a result of this awareness, the first thing I will do at the first opportunity is....

The Play Project

The Play Project is a public awareness initiative developed by The Playroom Lubbock to encourage play, movement, and mindfulness in our kids' lives. Play is how our kids make sense of the world. Many of you have an impact in children's lives through play. The message we want to send is that play and mindfulness is an integral part of life for communicating, coping, adjusting, and discovering. At The Playroom Lubbock we provide therapy solutions for kids using play based interventions to help them fulfill their purpose in this life.

TShirt Designs by Kelly Martin, LPC of The Playroom Lubbock and Regina Penney of Penney Photography and Design.

Who is our ideal client?

The opposite role of being a helping professional is the private practice business owner role. I am often asked to define, "Who is your ideal client?" Legitimately and appropriately asked, the answer depends on the service I am providing. My general response would be "any child or adolescent, ages 3-17, who is struggling emotionally or behaviorally or who may have difficulties in the future due to a life event or circumstance." These kids may benefit from play therapy counseling or a support/educational group where they have the opportunity to:

Develop responsibility, problem solving skills, confidence, and respect and acceptance of self and others

Learn to communicate, creatively think, express emotion.

Relieve stress, cultivate empathy, enhance social skills

If a child or teenager has difficulty or may develop a difficulty with any of the above AND it is beginning to cause stress within the family or negatively affect the child's functioning at home, at school, at work, or in the community, then it is worth calling The Playroom Lubbock for a phone consultation to see if our services are appropriate for your needs.


The more important question as a helping professional is, "What are the ideal conditions for change?" As a child-centered play therapist, I believe the child, through play therapy, comes to form an appropriate understanding of his world and of himself. I help the parents understand their child's world through collaboration with them. Of utmost importance is the quality of the relationship between the client and therapist. The vehicle of change within the therapeutic relationship relies on these 4 messages conveyed to the child: I am here. I hear you. I understand. I care.

The ideal question for parents is "Who is the ideal helping professional for my child?" Parents should create a checklist of concerns and questions to ask such as: "What's the therapist's background or training working with children? How often do you meet with parents? How long do children stay in therapy? What can this therapy do for my child?" Partnering with a therapist or counselor is ideal. Parents know their child best, and the more information parents can gather and communicate, the better. Therapy for your child is not only a financial investment (of research and evidence based practices), but more importantly, an emotional and quality of life investment for both the parents and child. Therapy requires a parent's commitment to maintain appointments, to partner with the therapist, and to be open to change and to where the child steers the direction of therapy. 

As I mentioned before, our "ideal client" will be different depending on the service. We provide continuing education for professionals and training for parents. We will also speak to groups of kids, adults, educators, or community professionals. In the near future we will be expanding our therapy services to include speech, occupational, music, or art therapies which all address specific needs and all have their own "ideal clients."


It's More Than A Grand Opening...

Why a grand opening?

With each visitor, whether a parent, a community professional, a friend, a neighbor, an educator, a potential client, or a potential therapist, we want to share our...






You probably know of or will know of a child or a family who is going through a tough circumstance or has concerns with a child's behavior, development, or emotions. It is so comforting to have first hand knowledge of a trusted community resource.

We are EXCITED about a one of a kind therapy practice that focuses on childhood mental health and parent/child relationships. We are EXCITED for you to view our one of a kind Play Therapy playrooms, extra therapy rooms, and observation rooms. Kelly Martin, Owner and Licensed Professional Counselor, will be available to share about our current counseling services.

We AIM to help meet the emotional, behavioral, mental health, and developmental needs of children and adolescents.

We HOPE to collaborate with other contract therapists to provide speech, occupational, music, or art therapy.

Share our grand opening date with someone who may be interested. We look forward to opening our doors for you.

Join us August 21 at 11:00am for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting. We will remain open for visitors to tour our building on the 21st from 11:00am-1:00pm.


Just Be

Be Happy. Dream Big. Seize the Day. Smile. Dance Your Heart Out. Love Laugh Learn. We see these messages everywhere from art prints to pillows to advertisements. These messages are wonderful; they really are. Perhaps they are something to aim at, to shoot for, to attain. But here at The Playroom Lubbock, we want you to

Just Be.

Come as you are.



Why Just Be?

When you walk through our doors, the question is not "How can the counselor or therapist treat, cure, or change my child?" The question is: How can the counselor provide a relationship which my child and I may use for our own personal growth? That personal growth (whether it is developmental, emotional, or behavioral) starts with acceptance. We accept you where you presently stand with both your gifts and your baggage. We will see, hear, and value you and your child just as you are and with the potential of becoming all that you were created to be. So, parent and child: just be you. "Being you" creates a pathway to vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.
— Brene Brown

Through the acceptance and safety of the therapeutic relationship, you and your child will hopefully walk out of our doors for the last time ready to: Be Happy. Dream Big. Seize the Day. Smile. Dance Your Heart Out. Love Laugh Learn.

The New Playroom On the Block

Why "The Playroom Lubbock?" Because kids identify with the word "play" based upon their concept of the meaning of "play." And "playroom" to a kid means a room full of play. How great is that?! How is The Playroom Lubbock like any other youth gym or childcare? It's not. At The Playroom Lubbock, we will provide optimal and collaborative therapy solutions to children and adolescents to address their mental health, cognitive, physical, emotional, social, behavioral, or communication needs so that they can function at the highest level at home, in school, and in the community.

Our therapy services will include play therapy counseling, speech therapy, and behavioral interventions. We hope to offer occupational therapy in the future. Licensed therapists utilize "play" techniques in "playrooms." When a parent, caregiver, or therapist says to a child, "It's time to go to 'The Playroom," hopefully the child will feel a sense of comfort and familiarity.

A component of "optimal" therapy solutions is the therapist. The Playroom Lubbock is now accepting applications for office sublease by independent therapist practitioners and to become a part of The Playroom Lubbock therapist team. We are seeking office sublease applicants for Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and Behavioral Specialists with experience with children with Autism.

Interested therapists may email kelly@playroomlubbock.com for more information. Serious applicants may send a resume, references, and a letter of interest.

As the new playroom on the block, we look forward to serving the community of Lubbock and surrounding areas.