How to Stop Yelling at Children Once and for All, by Jennifer Poindexter

Yelling-at-Children-Main-Image_82673191_M

You are doing it again!

Yelling at your children over big things, little things, and all things in between.

But why?

Why do we parents feel the need to yell when our point isn’t getting across?

Why do we have to resort to screaming to get our kids’ attention?

The reality is—we don’t have to. We are making rash decisions in difficult moments that are teaching our children bad habits.

Janet Lehman, a veteran social worker who she specializes in child behavior issues says:

“When chronic screaming becomes the norm, children are also apt to think it’s okay for them to scream all the time, too. You’re teaching your kids that screaming is a suitable response when you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. It doesn’t teach anything positive, just that life is out of control—and emotionally, you’re out of control.”

Wow—that hits home!

Believe me, I am not judging.

I was (probably) the world’s worst about yelling when my kids did something wrong, wouldn’t listen, talk back, seemed defiant — the list could go on and on.

I was a chronic yeller.

But I had a terrible wake up call when I ended up in the middle of a feud that happened in my extended family. Though this person was totally out of line when making accusatory statements, one thing that was said to me was, “Well, you’re a horrible mother because I’ve heard you yell a lot!”

Ouch!

What could I say? “No, I’m not a horrible mother! I am just human”? But I did yell a lot!

That hit me right between the eyes, and I woke up. I decided from that day forward I was going to work on not yelling.

I was going to conquer this horrible habit I had developed.

Not because this person was wrongfully judging me, and I didn’t want it to happen again. (I mean, no one wants that, but you can’t please everyone either.)

But because I was and am a good mom, and I want a better relationship with my children than that!

So if you are in the same boat as I was, I want to share with you a few tips I used to stop yelling at my kids once and for all.

#1 Know What Sets You Off And Nip It

We all have pet peeves. We are human after all.

There are certain things that happen throughout a day that just grind your gears.

Inevitably, the ones we love most are going to find a few of those gears and start grinding away at them.

You need to start realizing what those things are.

The reason is because those ‘gears’ are what is going to trigger you losing your cool and raising your voice.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

afineparent.com/stop-yelling-at-kids/yelling-at-children.html

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“The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog”, by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. A Book Review and Analysis by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Dog

I found “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” a fascinating read and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in child psychology or who works with traumatised children… or even if you just have a general interest in how our minds (and the developing minds of children in particular) respond to trauma.  The full title of this book is “The Boy Who was raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook, What Traumatized Children can Teach us about Loss, Love and Healing” and the authors are Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, and Maia Szalavitz.

One of the things I liked about this book was that, despite saying that traumatic events can “leave indelible marks on the mind [and the]…impact of PTSD [Post Traumatic Shock Disorder] is actually far greater on children than it is on adults” [p.2], the overall tone is positive and hopeful, both for children who have been affected by PTSD as a consequence of  severe abuse and/ or neglect or due to witnessing horrific events, as well as for adults affected by PTSD.   Bruce D. Perry, a child psychiatrist and Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy (USA and Canada) is the “voice” of this book, which he wrote together with Maia Szalavitz, an award winning journalist who specialises in science and health.  Perry compassionately and respectfully acknowledges the immense importance of “The Forever Years” (childhood) and the importance of investing in and creating a serious strategy of therapy for children  affected by trauma.

As a “lay person” (non-psychiatrist) I found “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” clear and self-explanatory.   On page 21 there is an excellent description of how our human brain develops: …“there are four major parts of the brain: the brainstem, the diencephalon, the limbic system and the cortex.  The brain is organised from the inside out, like a house with increasingly complicated additions built on an old foundation.  The lower and most central regions of the brainstem and the diencephalon are the simplest.  They evolved first, and they develop first as a child grows.  As you move upward and outward, things get increasingly more complex with the limbic system.”

fg 2

Source: “The Boy who was raised as a Dog,” appendix, figure 2, p. 248.

The younger a child is when a traumatic event occurs, Perry says, the greater the affect on the lower and most central regions of the brain.  This, he explains, is “developmental trauma” (as opposed to inherent anxiety or stress disorders caused in utero or by genetics).  Trauma in early childhood causes “altered receptors” or heightened sensitivity to “threat”: an over-exaggerated “fight or flight” reaction, based on triggers which the person may not even  be consciously aware of themselves and which, in others who have not undergone similar trauma, would probably not cause such a reaction.  A clear indicator, Perry realised,  was that children with this “heightened sensitivity” had, even when calm and resting, an accelerated heart rate at a level significantly above that of their non-traumatised peers of the same age and gender.

The responses of traumatised children, Perry explains, can be to create more “chaos”, as this has been their “norm” in the past and brain pathways of accepting chaos as normality have been set up.  Adults who undertake social work or foster care, for example, should be aware of this.  “The responses of traumatised children are often misinterpreted.   …new situations are inherently stressful… attempting to take control of what they believe is the inevitable return to chaos, they appear to “provoke” it in order to make things feel more comfortable and predictable.   …we tend to prefer the “certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty.”  This response to trauma can often cause serious problems for children when it is misunderstood by their caregivers.”  [p.55].

Following from this, Perry says that he and his colleagues recognised that “…the nature of a child’s relationships–both before and after trauma– seemed to play a critical role in shaping their response to it.  If safe, familiar and capable caregivers were made available to children, they tended to recover more easily, often showing no enduring negative effects of the traumatic event.  We knew that the “trauma-buffering” effect of relationships had to be mediated, somehow, by the brain.”  [p.66]

This is where the amazing capacity of our human brains to “heal” and create “new pathways”, even years after traumatic events which have occurred during early childhood (during the first, early stages of brain development) comes into play.

“…we tend to care for our children [and, interestingly, for ourselves as adults] the way we were cared for ourselves during our own childhoods, [so] a good “brain” history of a child begins with a history of the caregiver’s childhood and early experience.” [p.83].  Our “Forever Years”, then, are also effected by the “Forever Years” of those caring for us when we are young.  The diagnosis “failure to thrive” in a child ” (discussed on p.88) can stem from a parent or parents not having  thrived themselves during their own childhood years.   In extreme cases, even  when other, basic needs (such as for food, shelter and clothing) are met, if a carer is emotionally “distant” a child may fail to gain weight or be delayed in other ways (such as speech or other developmental milestones).  This is purely a “nurture” (or lack of nurture) issue, and nothing to do with anything innate in the child.  Perry talks about how until recently, doctors were “...unaware of the damage that neglect alone can do to the brain.  They assumed that something so clearly visible on scans had to be evidence of a genetic defect or intrauterine insult, such as exposure to toxins or disease; they couldn’t imagine that early environment alone could have such profound physical effects.” [p. 129].

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Neurologists say that the sizeable difference between these two brains of two different 3-year-olds has one primary cause: the way that their mothers treated them. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D./Ch Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/chilling-brain-scans-show-impact-mothers-love-childs-brain-size-243328

“Fortunately the positive cycle is every bit as cascading and self-amplifying as the vicious cycle,” Perry says, [p.121] and while emotional scars may always be present, the intervention of a loving, understanding environment can reprogram reactions and triggers.  This is enormously positive  when considering the effect on  future social interactions (including romantic relationships) for traumatised children as they grow into adulthood and becomes parents themselves.  The more relationships are positively retained and jobs and parenting situations are handled in constructive ways, the stronger and more confident the “traumatised child now adult” will become, which in turn further aids healing of old, emotional scars.

Perry doesn’t just put this forward as a vague hypothesis, however.  Throughout “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” he gives concrete examples through case studies of real patients he has worked with (obviously, these children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy).   Each is an example of a child suffering from severe trauma, including the “boy who was raised as a dog,” who gives the book its title.  Through his work, Perry says, he and his colleagues “…only gradually came to understand how the sequential development of a child’s brain is affected by trauma and neglect.  It only gradually dawned on us that this understanding could help us find possible treatments. These insights led us to develop what we call the neurosequential approach to theraputic services for maltreated and traumatised children. [p.125].

I love the “neurosequential” approach Perry and his colleagues take, along with the immense positive ramifications it has for the children they are working with.  The nuerosequential approach works on the basis of assessing which areas in a patient’s brain have sustained damage or neglect from past experiences, and then addressing these one by one.   “We would use enrichment experiences and targeted therapies to help the affected brain areas in the order in which they were affected by neglect and trauma (hence the name neurosequential).  If we could document improved functioning following the first set of interventions, we would begin the second set appropriate  for the next brain region and developmental stage until, hopefully,… [the patient] would get to the point where his biological age and his developmental age would match.”  [p.139].

Just as our brains develop sequentially, then, neurosequential therapy is aimed at addressing “loss” in development (caused by abuse, neglect or trauma) in a sequential manner.  Perry uses the example of a boy called Connor (not his real name), now aged fourteen, who had suffered from severe neglect as a baby.  “In Connor’s case, It was clear that his problems had started in early infancy, when the lower and most central regions of the brain are actively developing.  These systems respond to rhythm and touch: the brainstem’s regulatory centres control heartbeat, the rise and fall of neurochemicals and hormones in the cycle of day and night, the beat of one’s walk and other patterns which must maintain a rhythmic order to function properly.” [pp.139-140].  For Connor, “treatment” began with massage therapy, as early neglect had left him with an aversion to touch which was affecting his ability to even make eye contact with others, and hence affecting his social relationships.

Perry goes on to describe the “levels” or “layers” of neurosequential therapy, each of which respond to and attempt to address a deficit caused by trauma earlier on.

White Layers

Touch

kangaroo-careTouch is, of course, our earliest form of validation and security from our carers.  This is the reason for the importance placed on giving newborn babies “skin to skin” contact and the psychological benefits of this can be seen throughout life.  (See previous articles on this blog about the importance of positive touch in early childhood and throughout life, by following the links below).

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/infant-massage-nurturing-touch-and-self-care-for-the-caregiver-by-erin-e-sonnier-from-nurtured-child-nurtured-you

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/touch-as-nutrition-by-john-tuite/

Music and Movement

Many of us parents take our preschoolers to “Music and Movement” groups thinking that that’s just “what you do” and that it gives us a chance to socialise with other parents and connect with and focus on our children in a child-centred environment.  All of this is true and the benefits of music to our babies and children has been well documented.  (Again, there is a link to follow below if you would like to read an article about the benefits of music to our kids).

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/5-ways-in-which-kids-benefit-from-learning-a-musical-instrument-by-justine-pierre/

After reading “The Boy Who was raised as a Dog”, I came to realise that, beyond being merely “beneficial”, music and movement are essential in brain development, affecting crucial areas such as language acquisition and breathing and heart rate regulation. Music and humanity have been linked since the dawn of time, with every culture having songs and rhymes for children passed down from generation to generation.  They are part of the fabric of who we are.

Play Therapy

mi1_675Perry describes how “play therapy” is used in treating traumatised children and in particular talks about Sandy (not her real name), a three year old girl who witnessed her mother being raped and stabbed to death, before having her own throat slit and being left for dead.  Sandy was alone with her mother’s body in their apartment for eleven hours before being discovered, taken to hospital and having the wounds on her neck treated. [p.33].   Perry discovered that Sandy had a need to role play the scene which had traumatised her again and again.  This involved  Perry himself lying on the ground, in the role of Sandy’s mother, while Sandy attempted to “wake” him and “feed” him, which she had done with her mother during the eleven hours after the brutal attack on them both.  [p.52].  “While she did this [role play] , I had to do exactly what she wanted: don’t talk, don’t move, don’t interfere, don’t stop.  She needed to have total control while she performed this reenactment.  And that control, I began to recognize, would be critical to helping her heal.”  Over the course of manyPlato-play+blue months, Sandy began to alter this re-enactment and, on her own, changed it to a scene where Perry would read her a story book, thus reverting to a positive memory of times with her mother before the attack.  This is not to say that Sandy wasn’t scarred by her extremely traumatic experience.  But “play therapy” in this way enabled her to process what had happened and move towards healing.  Perry says that, with ongoing therapy and encouragement, Sandy went on to lead a satisfying and productive life, despite her horrific early  experience.

The importance of “play” is something for all parents and carers to be aware of.  A particularly useful article on “Attachment Play” (especially beneficial to children being fostered or adopted, who may have attachment issues or disorders, but also beneficial to our children generally) was recently published by Marion Badenoch Rose, here on the “Forever Years”.  (To read it, please follow the link below):

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/an-introduction-to-attachment-play-by-marion-badenoch-rose/

Some other articles on the importance of play can be found at the links below:

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/the-remarkable-power-of-play-why-play-is-so-important-for-children-by-karen-young/

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/let-the-children-play-outside-by-greenlife-matters-the-nursery-and-garden-industry-new-zealand/

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/help-my-toddler-cant-play-without-me-by-janet-lansbury/

Interaction with Peers

kidsplaying-on-playgroundPerry says the next step in neurosequential therapy is being able to aptly interact with peers.  This is a big step, as adults make allowances and try to protect or help a child who they see as having “issues”, but successful peer interaction (and acceptance of and by peers) is necessary to be able to function throughout the rest of life, with implications for all future relationships.  Perry discusses the case of Peter (not his real name) a seven year old boy who was adopted at age three from an orphanage in Russia.  Due to early lack of stimulation and neglect during his time at the orphanage (where intentions were good, but there were simply not enough adults to go around, meaning that Peter and the other three year olds there were fed and changed, but spent all day in cots), Peter, who was an intelligent boy, showed behaviour which was young for his age and, inspite of loving and patient behaviour from his adoptive parents at home, this caused him to be rejected and marginalised by his peers… which in turn led Peter to having angry, bewildered outburts (which only served to further ostracise him from his classmates).

Mandela“The behavior of his classmates was predictable.  What was happening was a small version of what happens all across the planet in various forms every day.  Human beings fear what they don’t understand.  The unknown scares us.  When we meet people who look or act in unfamiliar, strange ways, our initial response is to keep them at arms length.  At times we make ourselves feel superior, smarter or more competent by dehumanizing or degrading those who are different.  The roots of so many of our species’ ugliest behaviors– racism, ageism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, to name just a few– are the basic brain-mediated response to perceived threat.  We tend to fear what we do not understand, and fear can so easily twist into hate or even violence because it can suppress the rational parts of our brain.”  [p.225].

The biggest predator of humans is humans and we have, therefore, a built in fear of other people who seem “different”.  Perry says, “...Peter was intellectually advanced, but socially clueless.  I realised that if he was going to catch up, he was going to need the help of his peers.” [p.226].

choose-wiselyWhat followed was an amazing (and yet simple) exercise in understanding.  Our fear reaction so often kicks in, but the empathy reaction can take longer to activate (in children or adults), but, it has been shown, empathy once activated is stronger than the fear reaction.  To get Peter’s peers “on side” in his healing, Perry (with the permission of Peter, his parents and the school) came along to his class and spoke about the brain… at a level at which seven year old children could understand.

Dr. Bruce D. Perry (author of "The Boy who was raised as a Dog", "talking about the brain".

Dr. Bruce D. Perry (author of “The Boy who was raised as a Dog”, “talking about the brain”.  Source: http://davidsmithsegarra.com/born-love-dr-bruce-perry/

I talked about how they were exercising their “ABC” muscles [of the brain] in school and about the importance of repetition.  I described how they had many other similar kinds of “muscles” in the brain that also needed certain kinds of attention to grow big and strong.  I talked about how the brain develops and what makes everyone’s brain work, emphasizing how the brain changes.” [p.228].

Perry then went on to explain how Peter had had a different and more difficult start in life than the other children in his class.

An orphanage in Eastern Europe. Source: National Geographic.

An orphanage in Eastern Europe. Source: National Geographic.

“When he was a little boy, he spent every minute of every day for the first three years of his life in one crib.  …  Peter was born in another country where they did not know very much about the brain.  … Peter never had a chance to walk around, to play with friends, to get a hug from any loving grown-ups.  His brain didn’t get very much stimulation.  … his new parents came… [then] Peter’s amazing brain started to learn so many things.  Even though he had never heard English, he learned English in just a couple of years. … every day in school, Peter learns things from all of you.  He watches how you do things, he learns from playing with each of you and he learns from just being your friend.  So thank you for helping Peter.  And thanks for letting me come and talk about the brain.”  [pp.228-229].

Perry says that, in the weeks that followed, the children’s “natural goodness” came to the surface and they “included him, protected him and, ultimately, provided therapeutic experiences that helped Peter catch up…. adults have much more influence over the process [of helping children understand those who are different] than they may believe.  When children understand why someone behaves oddly, they give him or her more slack…” [p.229].

tribal-fear-altruism

In Conclusion

The Boy Who was raised as a Dog” has many more examples of the amazing capacity of the human brain to recover from early neglect or trauma, including the story which gives the book its title.  Perry also worked with the children from the WACO Texas cult and talks about his experiences with them in this book.  While Perry’s patients are extreme examples of trauma or abuse, he says an estimated 40% of children will experience some level of trauma before they reach adulthood [p. 233] and that some of our current practices of therapy and childcare are actually causing more harm than healing [p.235].  He advocates for an “infant and child literate society” [p.239] and a nurturing of empathy– which is why we at “The Forever Years” love this book, which fits in so well with our own ethos, of viewing the world “through the eyes of a child”, an ethos which Perry certainly puts into action when treating children who have suffered from trauma or neglect.

Related Links:

Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience

http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2012/08/02/what-americans-dont-get-about-the-brains-critical-period/

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/529-baby-brain-map

http://nancyguberti.com/5-stages-of-human-brain-development/

Ab Collage 11

“Children who engage in deviant acts must receive professional intervention, not just a ‘stern talk…’ By Ginger Kadlec

Sad teenager is scared and abused.

Sad teenager is scared and abused.

My stomach continues to churn as I read report after report about reality star Josh Duggar’s alleged admission of child molestation. Even more disappointing are the details being reported about the adults in his life who, if these reports are indeed accurate, failed to respond as they should.

Allow me to first acknowledge that any parent whose child admits to committing a crime of any type experiences a range of emotions from anger to disappointment to wanting to correct the child while at the same time protect him/her from repercussions of the act(s). While I have no first-hand vision into the Duggar’s lives, I would bet this is just what Josh’s parents Jim Bobb and Michelle were thinking… however, they failed to notify authorities for a year after learning about Josh’s acts. During that time, he allegedly molested again.

So, what can we learn from the Duggars? Here are 4 lessons for every family in this all-too-real-life story.

Lesson #1: The Law Says…

See The Washington Post for a timeline of events in the Duggar story.

In many states (including my home state of Indiana), any adult who suspects or is aware that a child is being abused is REQUIRED to report that suspicion to authorities. Federal statute addressing child sexual abuse predominantly hands authority back to individual states and provinces.

I checked Arkansas’ (the Duggar’s home state) mandated reporting statute... apparently, it does NOT require anyone having knowledge about or suspicion of child abuse to report it. There is a list, though, of mandated reporters including teachers and clergy. My question in the Duggar case is, if these children were home schooled, didn’t the parents qualify as “teachers” and weren’t they then bound by mandated reporting requirements? The Duggars are also the parents of multiple alleged victims in this case. Was it ‘enough’ to get just counseling for them on the side?

Lesson #2: What is normal sex play?

It’s natural for children to become curious about their own sexuality and the sexuality of the opposite, or even same gender. “Ask Dr. Sears” offers a terrific explanation of genital play and what is normal vs. deviant behavior. This website states that many children are “…more interested in satisfying curiosity than in sexual arousal. You can tell innocent sexual curiosity from deviant sexual behavior by these characteristics. Innocent acts are occurring when…”

  • Children are young (under age seven), close in age, and know each other.
  • There is mutual agreement; one child is not forcing the other.
  • There is usually a game-like atmosphere: playing “doctor” or “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
  • Secrecy is part of the game. As if sensing their parents would disapprove, children retreat into a bedroom, garage, or a private place. (This is true for deviant acts as well.) ~Source: Ask Dr. Sears

What isn’t acceptable is when a child, tween or teen coerces or forces another child into a sexual act, one example being fondling a victim who is sleeping, as alleged in the Duggar case.

What isn’t acceptable is when a child, tween or teen coerces or forces another child into a sexual act, one example being fondling a victim who is sleeping, as alleged in the Duggar case.

As a side note, children who are sexually abused sometimes act like they are asleep when they are in fact awake during an assault. It’s a response similar to that of a small animal who is attacked and “plays dead”, hoping its hunter will leave it alone and go away. The child victims in the Duggar case could have very well been aware of what was happening to them at the time of the alleged molestations.

Children who engage in deviant acts must receive professional intervention, not just a “stern talking to” or ‘punishment’ of physical labor to ‘work it out of their system’. This is a primary reason people need to report abuse.1 Depending on the circumstances, authorities aren’t out to put a kid in jail — instead, they want to intervene to help and be sure the child’s issues are addressed so they don’t perpetrate again.

Lesson #3: Protecting Child Victims

Nearly 20% of all child abusers are children themselves.

No family is perfect. But families where any form of abuse exists require intervention… especially, for children in the home. According to data shared by the National Children’s Alliance in 2014, nearly 1 in 5 (18.9%) perpetrators of child abuse were under the age of 18. Many of those were family members, siblings or friends who had ready access to their child victims. When sexual abuse allegations are substantiated among siblings, safety plans should be put in place and monitored by an outside organization or agency that specializes in the safety and protection of children. Again, I don’t have first-hand insight into the Duggar case, but from what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that necessary safety measures were implemented.

A child who commits a crime isn’t a bad person that society should just write-off, send to juvy and hope for the best. Rather, it’s a child who needs intervention, guidance and help. In my experience as a child forensic interviewer, child perpetrators often abuse because they themselves were victimized in some way. That victimization can come in many forms including being a victim of sexual molestation themselves or even witnessing adult sexual behavior/acts which can include viewing videos or photographs that are not age appropriate.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/4-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-duggars/?utm_content=bufferfa8d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

16 funny, poignant, personal resolutions for 2016 from moms and dads, by Laura T. Coffey

Jan 1

Let’s face it: Parenting is a LOT of work every day, week and month of the year, and most moms and dads make adjustments on the fly all the time. Still, there’s nothing like the start of a new year for taking stock of how things are going on the home front.

TODAY Parenting Team logoTODAY

As part of our “Parenting Resolutions” challenge, TODAY Parenting Team contributors opened up about their hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Many of their resolutions are hilarious, many are touching — and all are real and relatable. We’ve compiled a whole bunch of them here.

What goals do you have for your family in 2016? Please join in this ongoing conversation by becoming a member of our TODAY Parenting Team, and stay connected to TODAY Parents updates on our Facebook page. We always want to hear from you!

1. I want my kids to speak nicely and stop saying bad words. (GIT Mom)

Mom blogger GIT Mom and her family

No more potty mouths for these little angels in 2016!

“As our family has officially reached tween-dom and my 11-year old’s world and eyes have been opened up to YouTube and other nasty real world influences, he’s been educating his 8- and 4-year old brothers on the finer points of cursing. Combine the joy of blurting out a first dirty word, with the idolization of an older brother, and these boys are enjoying a master class in Grade A hoodlum. … So, for 2016, I resolve to stop permitting our kids to say all of the following swear words: Dumb; Stupid; I hate you; F#$k; Sh*#. …

“I really believe we can quickly fix our kids’ communication skills. They’ll each get three warnings before they lose their electronic devices for the day. Because of their e-addictions, I know that giving them age-appropriate behavior targets will quickly teach them how to build skills and habits that’ll serve them well into adulthood, while at the same time cushioning my eardrums.”

2. I want to cut back on the amount of TV my kids watch. (Shana Sutton / Technotini.com)

Reward chart for kids. Courtesy of Shana S.

This reward chart could be a key to cutting down kids’ TV time.

“My parenting/family New Year’s resolution for 2016 is pretty simple — cut back on the amount of TV my kids (ages 4 and 5 1/2) watch to just an hour a day … although honestly, I’d be happy if they would just stop confusing the TV ‘on’ switch for a light switch. It’s gotten to the point where they cannot walk past the TV without turning it on! … Since I want to accomplish two things: 1) stop the automatic TV power-on and 2) encourage them to use their imagination and play with their toys, I decided to go with the reward chart route. In the right-hand column I wrote the four basic tasks my kids need to be doing instead of watching TV such as: read a book, color, play with LEGOs, or play with dolls. Then I wrote ‘Did Not Turn on TV without Permission.’ Every time they do one of the aforementioned activities, I’ll give them a smiley face. Once they receive 5 smiley faces, they can have 1 hour of TV.”

3. I want to laugh more with my kids. (Oh, Honestly!)

“I want to stop thinking I need to be so grown-up all the time. I want to ignore the people who might look at me and roll their eyes, and ignore the people who don’t share my particular style of humor, and I want to laugh. Little giggles; big guffaws; the silent ones that are accompanied by tears rolling down your cheeks; the ones that catch you by surprise and shoot snot out your nose. However it happens, I want to LAUGH!”

 

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.today.com/parents/16-funny-poignant-personal-resolutions-2016-real-parents-t63771

How To Combat 4 Strong Emotions In Foster Care: A Proven Path To Moving Forward When the Journey Gets Tough, by Mike Berry

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It’s something you might expect will happen when you begin the foster care journey, but still find yourself unprepared for: Emotion. Strong emotion, in fact. How do you combat the ups and downs, twists and turns, and unending roller coaster ride of foster parenting?

Our first-born daughter was a private adoption and a fairly normal baby, who even began sleeping through the night before she was 3 months old. It wasn’t long before our weariness as new parents began to drift away and we were back to normal, as normal as parenting can be.

Then, 2 years later our first foster placement arrived. A little girl and boy, biological siblings, both cute as can be. Our hearts were full. We were excited. The little girl was quiet, and spent most of the time watching us, trying to figure out what was happening. She was a good sleeper which was a relief to us. Her brother, however, not so much! Not only did he wake up all night long, every night at a year old, he was also the human equivalent of a run-away train. His first move on his first day in our care was to run, not walk, toward the top of our staircase. I quickly reached out and grabbed him before he stepped off the top step. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in shock. After a month or two, our shock mixed with the endless frustration of being told one thing by our case manager, and then having something completely different happen. By month 4 we were overwhelmed, tired, and defeated on more levels than we could begin to count.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever started the foster care journey, excited, only to wind up stuck, or in a state of shock after a month or two? Maybe you’re frustrated beyond belief and you’ve started to regret your decision to foster in the first place.

If so, you’re not alone. And, frankly, the emotions you’re going through are normal and to be expected. That may catch you by surprise. We know, because we’ve been there. Truth is, there are many emotions on the foster parenting journey, and undoubtedly you will face many, some you never thought possible. But for the sake of time and length I’ve narrowed it down to the top 4. They are:

  1. Excitement
  2. Shock
  3. Frustration
  4. Regret

As you ponder these 4 emotions, here’s a deeper explanation of how they play out in our life and our decision to become foster parents…

(Read more by following the link below…)

http://www.confessionsofaparent.com/how-to-combat-4-strong-emotions-in-foster-care/

 

On single parenting and how two is not always better than one, by Lalita Iyer

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So, why haven’t you written about single parenting yet, asked a reader. I didn’t really have an answer to that, except the fact that I write mostly about what I know, and I don’t think I know entirely what single parenting is all about. Because technically, I am not a single parent. This means that I have a spouse on paper, and he does pitch into the financial aspects of parenting, but for the most part, I feel like I’m parenting solo.

I once wrote that I was practically a single parent in one of my columns, and got a rather acerbic email from someone who was one and who told me I had no right to accord myself that status until I was actually one. She was right. But that got me thinking. What made me different? Just a technicality?

We all know what a tedium collaborative parenting can be, although I do know a few people who are winging it. But they are still exceptions. We have seen our parents at cross-wires when raising us. We don’t have to do the same thing to our children. Very often, two-parent households are a sham, a window display for what actually is single parenting.

Okay, pull back those daggers.

Of course raising children alone is tough, but sometimes it may be psychologically tougher in a two-parent household. I often see couples with children at malls, brunches, movie halls and holiday resorts, resentfully going through the motions of parenting while staring at their screens or avoiding eye contact with each other. And I wonder: how exactly do children benefit from this? When I see couples arguing at airports, restaurants, fitting rooms, toy and bookshops over trivial things escalating to big things, I wonder: is it worth it to stay together ‘for the sake of the children’?. When I look at my own friend circle and see robotic marriages and equally robotic kids, I know the togetherness is plastic, because even their shiny happy selfies look unreal. Because life is not Instagram.

It’s better for the children, they say, and stick around, silently killing each other and their children, every single day. When they talk to single parents, they are often looking for stories of behaviour disorders, psychological breakdowns and other lurid details in the subtext, trying to console themselves they are glad they ‘stuck it out”. But they are often disappointed to find out that the kids are alright.

(Follow the link below to read more…)

http://mommygolightly.com/2015/08/11/on-single-parenting-and-how-one-is-often-better-than-two/

How to Be a Positive Parent Even if You Weren’t Raised by One, by Amy Greene

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Do you ever feel doomed to being just like your parents, even though you’re trying hard to do better?

I know how hard it is to try being a positive parent when you’ve been raised in a punitive home.

Like me, you may have grown up in a home where spanking, hitting, yelling, or shaming were the main “discipline techniques.” And now maybe you’re horrified to find yourself resorting to these techniques, too.

I lay SweetPea down on the floor to change her diaper. Immediately she twists her hips to flip over so she can crawl away. Clenching my jaw, I flip her on her back again and try to distract her with singing, but she is intent on reaching her activity center. Unbidden, the image of my hand slapping the soft, tender flesh of her thigh flashes through my mind.  I take a deep breath. I acknowledge my own frustration. I decide she and I both need a break from the struggle. “We’ll try again in a few minutes,” I say as I let her go and she happily crawls away.

My impulse to lash out comes naturally to me; I absorbed it from my parents.  I’ve spent the last 15 years as a teacher and nanny learning how to react differently and overcome these unbidden impulses so that I don’t pass them on to my daughter.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you 15 years to start becoming a more positive parent! I’ll share with you how I healed from childhood wounds and techniques you can use now to re-write your parenting scripts.

Choosing a Better Way

Re-creating the same negativity is not our destiny; we can choose a better way to raise our own kids.

The question, of course, is how?

Despite our best intentions, the things our parents said to us often become the same dreaded words we say to our kids.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/be-positive/what-is-positive-parenting.html

 

The new Disney/Pixar film: “Inside Out”

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It’s something all of us experience- emotion! 

After all, we’re human beings and we’re all one big ball of em! Especially our children. In fact, on the parenting journey, we will experience a lot of emotion, ourselves, but also from our children.

That’s why we love the new Disney/Pixar film Inside Out. It’s a creative and fun perspective on human emotion and how it translates into our everyday life, especially our children’s lives.

(Read more about Inside Out and parenting insights to be gained from it by following the link below…)

http://www.confessionsofaparent.com/4-parenting-lessons-i-learned-from-disneypixars-inside-out/

View the film trailer below…

 

 

How Guilt Over Your Divorce Cripples Good Parenting, by Joel Phillips

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Do you carry around something that you feel terrible about? Maybe you weren’t there for your child at a particular important event. I have that.
Maybe you feel like your child was robbed of a “normal” family life because of your divorce, or that your marriage isn’t healthy. I have that one too. As a parent who has been through the trauma of divorce, I have carried a lot of guilt. It’s understandable. But the unnecessary weight of guilt can cripple my effective parenting.

Divorce doesn’t have to be your source of guilt -it can be lots of things. I have known people who carry guilt because of physical defects and handicaps that their kids deal with. It can stem from all sorts of places.

Here’s how it typically works…

I don’t have my kids all the time, because they live with their other parent part of the time. I felt guilty about this, yet helpless to do anything about it and possibly even unaware of the guilt I had about it.

So when they came home, I wanted to make sure they have a good experience.

I didn’t enforce the rules much. We played a lot. I did the chores when they were gone so we didn’t waste any time. It was a little bit like the lost boys and I was Peter Pan.

Depending on how your family interacted and expressed love, you might cope with this differently; shower them with attention, buy them things they don’t need, or some other attempt to be their favorite parent.

Remember, you are driven to make sure they have a good experience when they are with you. At least that’s been my favorite excuse.

It comes from a good place, but in reality, it’s a trap. You want your children to feel loved and safe and you don’t want your time with them to be burdened by being a disciplinarian. So you let some things slide. After all, they will be going back to their mom or dad’s house soon, you rationalize, and they can take care of it.

(To Read more, follow the link below…)