When teaching second graders, Kathy saw up close and personal how family dysfunction, mixed messages, obsessions with competition, no self-confidence, and the lack of social skills, negatively affected children. Of course, she knew troubled children existed; that’s one reason she was motivated to become a teacher. But her first experiences with 28 of them in one room all day for 180 days taught her a lot and concerned her deeply.
What worked to increase one student’s confidence didn’t work on another. Some students wanted her to call their parents when they were well behaved. Others didn’t want her to. Some were helped by positive praise. Some seemed afraid of it. Some didn’t want to practice math facts or spelling words because “It wont help.” They had already given up and they were just in second grade!
Being a natural cause-effect, comparison-contrast thinker, Kathy began thinking about underlying and hidden causes for beliefs and behaviors when changing none of the obvious and observable things made a difference. She investigated topics like this while earning her Ph.D. and continued to think, read, and teach about the importance of uncovering hidden unmet needs in order to permanently affect children’s behaviors when serving as a Professor.
After studying other models; prevention programs for drugs, alcohol, and teen sex; and teaching about her beliefs, she developed the Authentic Answers Model and has been teaching it ever since.
Dr. Kathy believes all of us have five core needs that must be met. Ideally, they’re met in healthy ways, but when that doesn’t happen, people will choose to meet them in unhealthy ways because they must be met. The order of the specific needs is significant because the links between them are key to problem solving.
Security: Who can I trust? Healthy security is possible when I learn to:
- discern who I can rightly place my security in,
- reestablish security after disappointments,
- trust myself to be right and do right even when no one is looking, and
- not place my security in things.
By establishing trustworthy character and listening to people who I know have my best interests in mind, I can establish a solid identity.
Identity: Who Am I? Healthy identity is possible when it is:
- accurate – honest, current, and consisting of strengths and weaknesses,
- complete – I’m aware of my intellectual, emotional, social, character qualities, physical, and spiritual self, and
- open to change – I must be willing to change my attitude toward the unchangeable things about me I don’t particularly like and I must be willing to work on changing those things I can.
When I develop my positive character and know I’m growing, I’ll have increased self-security. When I know who I am and I’m comfortable being who I am, I’ll develop healthy belonging by attracting more friends and being a better friend to others. If I only know my weaknesses and/or my identity is not healthy, solid belonging will be a challenge. I’ll either not have enough quality friendships to support me or I’ll only relate to people with similar unhealthy characteristics.
Belonging: Who Wants me? Healthy belonging is possible when it is found in:
- trustworthy people,
- interests, talents, and strengths, and
- differences (especially for high schoolers and adults).
When I’m connected with sound people of good character, I’ll know even more about myself as they affirm me and help me grow by lovingly making me aware of my blind spots. In this way, belonging influences identity. Doing the same for them will help me believe I have purpose as I come to understand the benefits of community and serving others.
Purpose: Why am I alive? Healthy purpose is possible when we have:
- hope in our circumstance and in our tomorrows,
- people to serve because we were created to leave the world a better place and that’s most effectively done by investing in others, and
- direction so we can determine how we can uniquely serve successfully.
When we know we’re alive to positively influence the world, we’ll want to develop relationships that matter. We’ll also be motivated to develop skills, attitudes, and beliefs relevant to the ways we want to leave the world a better place. A healthy purpose is very related to motivation, perseverance, resiliency, and personal growth.
Competence: What do I do well? Healthy competence is:
- not the same as perfection; it’s having the ability to be and do what we need to be and do;
- not based on comparing ourselves with others; people need their own competence that fits their own purpose; and
- found in specific skills and qualities and in the general and important skills of decision making, problem solving, thinking skills, and study strategies.
When we work to develop our competencies, we’ll have more belief we have purpose and more confidence in our ability to fulfill it. We’ll also gain security in those who helps us and in ourselves to be able to do what we need to do.
As long as Dr. Kathy can remember, she has known that people need hope. Some give up searching for it and others find counterfeit hope that eventually disappoints them. Kathy found her “Authentic Hope” when she responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading and trusted Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as her Savior and Lord. She founded Celebrate kids, Inc., as an obedient response to His definite leading. She loves teaching others about Him.
Dr. Kathy’s first book, “Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness: Five Questions That Will Change Your Life,” presents the Christian version of the “Authentic Answers” Model. When speaking in churches and at Christian events, she includes how God meets our needs. In public school presentations, she obviously does not.
Kathy believes God completely and wonderfully meets our core needs in His ways and in His timing. For example, here, are brief answers to the questions that define each need:
Security: Who can I trust? I can trust God. He does not lie, His Word is true, He is always able and available to help, and he Forgives me and loves me no matter what. I can trust Jesus Christ because He was willing to die for me and I can trust the Holy Spirit who comforts me.
Identity: Who am I? I am someone God loves, I am complete in Christ, chosen, created in His image, and someone Jesus Christ died for!
Belonging: Who wants me? Because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I belong to God. He wants me because of who He is, not because of what I do.
Purpose: Why am I alive? I am alive to glorify God through who I am and through what I do.
Competence: What do I do well? I can do anything well God asks me to do with His strength, power, energy, love, and wisdom working in me through the Holy Spirit.
Everyone involved in Celebrate Kids believes in and lives out the above truths.
You can learn more about the Authentic Hope Model at the website for Dr. Kathy’s book: Authentic Hope.