Emotional Fever? Active Listen

September 18th, 2019

Why is active listening such a big deal? It is the go-to response when you see your child in any kind of stress, difficulty, or emotional pain, what I call an emotional fever. Active listening calms her down and is the balm for her distress. When you are active listening your child, you are conveying your efforts to say back to her what you think she is feeling. You are not judging, not criticizing, and certainly not solving her problems for her. You are conveying to her that you are with her and that you have confidence in her handling her situation well. You get what she's going through and you've got her back. When you see her emotional fever subsiding, only then can you ask permission to share your wisdom with her. This conveys your respect and confidence in her. Active listening is your most valuable communication tool when parenting your children through their inevitable tough times. Active listening is a big deal.

Being Alone in Your Family

September 16th, 2019

     Being alone is a funny thing. Sometimes it's good, renewing, and delightful. Other times it's alienating, foreboding, and unwanted. As parents, we want to understand and allow for all of the moods that our children may experience. He's been in his room by himself a long time now. Does he just want to be alone? Is he lonely? Is something going on? Rather than guess or hope he is okay, check it out. Seek him out and assess his mood in conversation. If he shows signs of an emotional fever, use your active listening to help him calm down. Encourage his participation in family time. Respect his privacy, while also reminding him that he is a part of family. His mood could be a symptom of other issues, such as anxiety, depression, or stress. Use joint problem-solving to help him find tools to address his concerns/issues. This is great parenting that generates teachable moments.

Dealing with Bullying

September 14th, 2019

     You know, as parents, we all want the best for our children. We all want to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bad stuff happens to our precious little ones. Unless you have a protective bubble you can keep your child in, they have to learn to deal with bad stuff. Bullying is the worst. Whether it is physical, emotional, or cyber, bullying can leave a lasting mark. What to do? First and foremost, be there for your child. With younger children, be their advocate with the adults who have authority over the bully, With older children, support their coping mechanisms and strategies for taking care of the crisis themselves. Make sure that they know you have their back if need be. Use your active listening, coordinate problem-solving, help them feel empowered in avoiding/handling the situation. Note, physical confrontations of the bully might feel best, especially if you child prevails, but comes with consequences and fears of their becoming the bully to others themselves. As your child's advocate in bullying situations, you are empowering them and providing a very teachable moment.

Yes, Ya Hafta!

September 12th, 2019

Who's the boss in your home? Of course, you are, right? It's not who's the boss that is in question. It's how you boss that tells the tale. If you are authoritative, then it's "My way or the highway." It's power-oriented. Things get done, but at what expense to the family and to your child? If you are permissive, then it's "Yes, dear. Whatever you want." It's still power-oriented, but your child has the power. Things may or may not get done to your liking. If it's authoritarian, then you confront, active listen, encourage, give rationale, set boundaries, and monitor progress. This sounds like a lot, but raising your child is your first 24/7/365 job, and you want to get it right. Authoritarian parenting happens when you are still the boss, but you parent according to the needs and feelings of all involved. It's not power-oriented, but rather relationship-oriented. And still, "Yes. Ya hafta."

Got Enough Glue?

September 10th, 2019

      All of us get out of sorts sometimes, teens in particular. You know, the go away, get out of my life, leave me alone mood?  Been there, done that. When you are confronted with that mood in your house, try not to slam him for being disrespectful. Rather, draw on your capacity for emotional intimacy, share something personal, relevant, and meaningful with him, and use your active listening when he is ready to talk about his dark mood. He will be shocked at just how much you do understand what he's going through, how much you get him. This well of emotional intimacy is the glue of all healthy relationships.

Life-Enhancing Physical Touch

September 8th, 2019

     It's true. Babies in particular, but also children, teens, and grown-ups all cherish soft, gentle, loving physical touch. Touch is our nonverbal way of affirming the relationship we have with our children. I call it snuggle time. Especially in transition with babies up to pre-schoolers, such as around bedtime, snuggle time eases the transition and calms your child so they can gently fall asleep. Snuggle time is a universal bonding experience. Celebrate your child's victories and console him in his losses. It's what family does where others may not. Snuggle time is a teachable moment where your message to your child is a version of, You can do this. You got this. I've got your back. Yaay, snuggle time.

Good Parent/Bad Parent, Which Are You?

September 6th, 2019

      As parents, we usually don't admit it, but, we all have favorite children. You know, the one you seem to get, to mesh with best, who gives you the least amount of hard time. Nonetheless, in raising siblings, as parents you want to evenly and equally be both good parent and bad parent when it comes to discipline. When the job of discipline falls on one of you, the other has to back up and support your spouse's disciplinary measures. Where this doesn't happen, the family is open to manipulation and dysfunctionality. On the flip side, each of you wants to have positive, fun, engaging time with each of your kids individually. In doing so, you are modelling for your kids that both discipline and fun come with the job of parenting. This helps build character in them.

Me Time Helps Teens Grow

September 4th, 2019

        Just how much "me time" should your teen have? My learned answer is, "that depends."  Teens need me time, to figure out what they like, what they want, who they are. In terms of personality development, we parents are responsible for 80% of the personalities our children develop, and that happens before they are age 5. Between ages 5 and 15, 15% of their personality comes from their peer group, predominantly at school and recreational/sporting events. The remaining 5% of our children's personality is original and develops between ages 15 and 25. They put the finishing touches on who they are becoming as an adult. Constructive me time helps them do that. If your teen is a good student, responsible, accountable, helpful, and engaging, then his me time is well earned and part of his growing process. If these qualities are not in place, and he uses me time to shut out the world, or to enter the mindless activity of gaming, texting, and finding trouble, then confront, active listen, coordinate, and help him out of his hole. Productive me time can help teens find the finishing touches of themselves, and you can be available as a sounding board to advise and consult.

Computer Time: Family Friend or Enemy?

August 30th, 2019

We all live in a cybernetic age. Computers, algorythms, gaming, texting, all just a few quick clicks away. Wow! What a temptation for our children...and for us. Woulddn't it be nice to have some research to back up your concerns. And, let's throw in some practical time management rules, so that our computers work for us, not the other way around. Well, here they are.

Is Your Child Just Too Worrisome?

August 28th, 2019

Too much worry can consume our kids, rob them of fun and friendship. What to do to help them not worry so much. Just saying "don't worry so much" is unhelpful. How about another strategy? When you notice your child worrying, use your active listening skills to help them calm down and be in the moment. Help him reframe his worry as a "what if" question. Then help him change the "what if" question into an "I wonder" statement, and add a positive outcome to his curiosity. Rather than being locked up in worry, you can help him establish a goal toward which he can take steps to accomplish. For example, "What if I fail my spelling test tomorrow?" becomes, "I wonder how well I will do on my spelling test tomorrow?" The what if locks him up in unproductive worry, while the I wonder motivates him to study harder to do better on the spelling test.  Help him practice switching from what if to I wonder with several situations until the change comes second nature to him.

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