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Your children are watching February 23, 2016

Filed under: parenting,Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 8:50 pm
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Quite frequently I will have parents contact me asking me to “fix “their teenage daughter They will then proceed to share with me why they want me to “fix” in their child. She never listens, she is spoiled, she is acting out, she is refusing to do her homework, she is brat, she is a liar, she is ungrateful and inconsiderate etc.

 

I attempt to explain to parents that while I empathize with their frustrations, labeling their child with negative connotations, screaming at them and sometimes trying to control their with behavior with physical actions can all to often lead to more acting out. At some point in their lives, all teenagers will act out, because research shows that they are biologically wired to do so.  However, this is not to say that the teenager has free rein to say and do what she pleases. While teens must learn to take responsibility and accountability for their behavior, parents must also learn to take accountability for their reactions and behavior.  What once worked when they were little is no longer working, yet parents all to often get stuck in a rut and refuse to change even when things are escalating.

So here are some tips to get your relationship back on the right track.

  1. STOP SHOUTING. I know, I know thats the only way she will listen to me. But ask yourself if that is true?  What happens when you start shouting? Does she shout back? Does it escalate? Or does she shut down?  If you truly want a teen to listen, lower your voice.  There really is no reason to shout other than it is a sign that you are losing control of the situation.
  2. You want to be respected, then teach respect.  Respect is not earned by bullying, demanding, shouting, hitting, calling names etc.  How does it feel when your teen calls you names and shouts at you? No one is going to win. it becomes a battle of the egos.
  3. Pay attention to your body.  Teenagers have a knack of finding your insecurities, so pay attention to your body.  If you notice that your heartbeat is increasing, gritting your teeth, sweaty palms. increased breathing etc, this is usually a sign that you have been activated. Take a breath, walk away because if you don’t it is about to get ugly. Remember your the adult
  4. Connect, Connect, Connect.  Connection is the key that can create many positive changes. Spend time getting to know your teen.  Know there will be times she will be silent and doesn’t want to connect.  Thats okay.  Keep trying. Listen to what she has to say. Does she have a point?  Again check in with your body to see if your reacting negatively because she disagrees.
  5. Catch them doing something positive.  I cannot stress this enough. Teenagers are often reminded of ALL the things that they are doing wrong. Imagine for a second how you would feel if your boss reminded you every day of the things that you were doing wrong. But how would it feel to be acknowledged for the things that you are doing right? You would probably be more likely to work harder.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t correct your teen or guide them to making the right decisions, but also learn to balance it with some positivity or they may look for that acknowledgement in not so favorable places.
  6. Your teenagers are watching.  Thats right just like you are watching their every move they are watching yours.  It is not what you say, its how you say it, it’s what you do.  So if your child is shouting, ask your-self if you shout. If they shut down, ask your-self if you run away from conflict.  They are always watching.  So be mindful!
 

Connection January 28, 2014

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 10:14 pm
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Typically when I see a child in my office it is because of a breakdown in communication. However, both parent and child are usually frustrated and want me to help “fix” the other person.   What they are really to say is that they want a relationship with the other person.  So What i try to teach each person is to be accountable and responsible for their own feelings and actions.

Here are some tips to help reconnect and to take accountability and responsibility for your behavior and actions.

1: Take a break from control:

It is important to remember that being in “control,” does not equal “controlling.” So if you find your-self losing your temper, shutting down, placing blame on the other person for your feelings, feeling stubborn, shouting, throwing things or screaming, then you are no longer in “control.” You are now demonstrating controlling behavior.

2: Pay attention to your own triggers and thoughts.
If you are insecure or have fears of failure , or issues with anger, it can dramatically affect your connection with your child. Do you find your-self shutting down, interrupting or shouting when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do? If so then you need to work on your own issues before you can have any influence over your own child. Look at your-self as investigator. Remember this is not about blame. This is about figuring out what needs to change to make your relationship stronger and better. Your child looks to you to help them through difficult and stormy times. They need parents who are calmly and confidently in control, and to be in control, a parents ability needs to be independent of their child’s behavior or misbehavior. So I encourage you to challenge yourself and to get a better understanding of what your triggers are. Think about a recent incident with your child that did not go well and then answer the following three questions.

1. What was I feeling when my child either ignored me. shouted at me, refused to do something etc

2. What was I thinking before, during and after the incident?

3. Why did this situation bother me

4. What could I have done differently?

3: Ask yourself the opposite of what you expect them to do.
The most common complaints I have from parents are; “my kid is lazy, she doesn’t listen, she is spoiled, she is manipulative, etc.” Lets take the example that “she doesn’t listen.” You could probably easily list all the reasons why she doesn’t listen. From this perspective it can limit the relationship. So instead try asking your-self all the reasons why, your child “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Go ahead try it. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen to her, I dismiss her feelings and tell her she is lying, I get angry when she interrupts, I shout, I blame her for my feelings, I smile when she is crying, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.

4: Learn to stay calm in the storm by not focusing on the incident.
A child is undergoing massive changes and sometimes this can trigger bouts of intense anxiety, anger and sadness. They may scream, hit their sibling, skip school, not do their homework, lie etc. What a child needs at this point is a strong leader. Someone that is going to help them get through this storm. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are no longer in control.

First check in with your feelings and thoughts.

Second ask your-self “the opposite of what you want or expect them to do.” “Why should she skip school ?” Why should she NOT do her homework?” “Why should she NOT talk to me.”

Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture during the storm. You won’t get anywhere and it will only cause a further disconnect

5: Find a connection with your kid:

All to often I will hear parents talk about how they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the friends they hang out with, the shows they watch or even there after school activities, but then get upset when the child does not listen to them or wants to be with them. A child who feels that they have nothing in connection with their parent will feel alone and thus will seek out other people who share the same likes. They are seeking attachment with other like minded people. Think about your interests and your likes. Would you seek out other people that show no interest in what you like? If a child does not form that attachment through sameness, then she will seek it elsewhere and gradually shut out the people who do not share the same interests.
Look at this as a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person. Children always long for a parent’s approval and acceptance and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to celebrate in their unique talents, personalities and interests.

 

Failure is the greatest tool to teach children to succeed!! June 6, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:45 pm
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One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that there child is not motivated to do anything. With the exception of depression I have yet to meet a child who is not motivated.

In counseling the not so motivated child is usually the parents issues.  The child may lack the motivation that the parent wants, but they most certainly don’t lack the motivation of what they want to do.  Parents typically get in the way of their child’s own motivation because of their agenda which can then lead to a power struggle.  Now you will meet a very motivated child who refuses to do what the parents wants.

Parents typically want their child to try harder, to do better, to aim for something bigger than themselves, but when the parents are asked if they have ever allowed their child to fail in life so they can do better and aim for something bigger in life, I am instantly met with a barrage of reasons of why that is impossible.  Parents today are robbing their children of valuable coping skills, by swooping in and taking care of the problems. Not allowing a child to have a skinned knee, or protecting them from a break up or not allowing them to get anything below an A is incomprehensible.  Children have to learn to be prepared for a world that is not failure free.

 Allowing your child to fail is one of the greatest and valuable gifts that you can give your child in life.  Allowing a child to fail allows them to learn from their mistakes, to build valuable coping skills, find solutions to problems, self-respect, and a sense of self awareness.  

New research is showing that teenage brains are wired to take risks.  These risks allow them to find their own identity, their values, passions, and boundaries. They learn from experience. It is similar to a toddler learning to walk.  They learn from their falls on how to balance and within a few hours or days a toddler has mastered the art of walking from experience, risks and failure.

So how can a parent prepare their child to find their own inner drive and to succeed in a world that does not always guarantee success in life?

1.  Don’t reward basics that life requires. If your relationship is based on material rewards,  (ie if you get all A’s I will buy you an I phone). Children will not get to experience  intrinsic motivation that helps them understand the art of self-discipline,  gratification and achievement.  When a child is rewarded with extrinsic rewards it can rob them of their creativity, and ability to solve problems.

2.  Affirm smart risk-taking and hard work wisely. Help them see the advantage of both of these, and that stepping out a comfort zone usually pays off.

3.  Let your child make his own choices and face her own natural consequences: Allowing your child to face natural consequences such as going to the beach without sun cream will teach them the natural consequences of sun.

4.  Slow down on the praise: It might seem that praising your child’s intelligence or talent would boost her self-esteem and motivate her to do better.  But it appears that this sort of praise can actually backfire causing a drop in their self esteem.  So focus on what they can change like their effort or the strategies they use to solve their own problems.  Be especially sincere when praising teenagers and older adults as they become aware of your motives.

5.  Pay attention to what motivates your child.

 

The importance of putting your-self first!! May 15, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 3:34 pm
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Why it’s important to put your-self first!

Whether you choose to be a stay at home wife, go to work full time or attempt to do both, one of the most important relationship you will ever have in your life time is the one you will have with your-self. I can hear the excuses, “ I don’t have time for that,” “that is selfish,” my family needs me, my job needs me, “my children needs me, etc.” Yet, not putting yourself first teaches other people how to treat you. Do you teach them that you have all the answers or that only you can do everything and then you wonder why no one offers to help you? Do you teach people that you don’t have time for friendships and romance because you are to0 busy taking care of everybody else? Do you teach your children that only you can solve their problems and then get frustrated when they screw up?

Ask your-self how you can have a loving and trusting relationship with others if you don’t even like your-self or believe that you are stupid, worthless, ugly, unlovable, or on auto-pilot etc. Having a good relationship with your-self is vital to having a good relationship with other people. It is about taking care of your-self so you can take care of other people. It takes time to get to know your-self and to find your authentic voice. Like most relationships there are highs and lows and questions whether this is worth it, but in order to create healthy and happy relationships, it is very important to take time for you-self

Taking time for your-self allows your brain to recover, allows you to reflect on your strengths and to celebrate your achievements. You are happier to be around because you are relaxed and rested. Putting your-self first reminds you how important you are and how important you are to other people. It sets a great example to those that have children, after all actions speak louder than words. Putting your-self first is one of the greatest gifts you could give your loved ones because you will be present and not off in some lala land thinking of all the many things you have yet to accomplish. In a nutshell putting your-self first will improve every aspect of your life.

Getting to know your-self is not a race to the finish line. It is about endurance. This is about self care. Here are some questions to ask yourself as to why “putting yourself first is difficult.”

1. Why do I not put my-self first?

2. What  excuses do I use for not putting myself first?

3. What do I worry about if I put myself first?

4. How do I teach people to treat me?

5. Do I view asking for help a sign of weakness or strength?

6. How can you be a role model to other people?

 

Whose problem is this? April 19, 2013

Whose problem is this? A parent calls to report that her 13 year old daughter is failing middle school. “She has no motivation to do her homework. I have tried everything I can to get her help? I have had her tested for learning disabilities, I have a hired a tutor, I have even told her that I would pay for private coaches to help her improve in softball and she still refuses to do anything.  I have talked to her teachers and her friends. She is a wonderful kid, but she is manipulative and lazy. You are my last hope, I don’t know what else to do?”

The way this mother was speaking about her daughters problems, it seemed like that she felt it was her responsibility to solve her daughter’s issues. The mother had anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, increasing anger problems and a chronic sense of failure. The mother believed that if her daughter had a problem, then so did she.

Parents today are having difficulty trusting that their children will make good choices. Parents are scared and are feeling pressured to make sure that their children succeed in every facet of their life. They are becoming obsessed with creating the “perfect image,” for their child(ren). They are rushing in to protect their child(ren) from ever experiencing, pain, sadness, discomfort and failure.

They will do everything they can to make sure that their child stay on top, which means their child’s life can consume 100% of their energy and time, leaving no room for friendships, romance or free time. These parents have been known to supervise their homework, chastise teachers when their child gets a “b,” clean their rooms, sign them up for extra classes, hire tutors, help them get a job and get involved in their child’s friendships. Yet what parents don’t realize is, that the harder they work to relieve their child(ren) of feeling any pain or suffering, they are also robbing them of any internal resourceful coping skills and accountability.

Children today are growing up in a world that is more focused on extrinsic goals rather than intrinsic goals. Even teens who are driven to achieve often feel lost from their inner self. Because these teens are so often focused on living up to everyone’s expectations, that they either don’t develop or relinquish their own goals, which is why we have seen teens lose motivation, become bored and empty and a rise in anxiety and depression. Highly involved and controlling parents often leave their kids feeling angry, depressed and ironically feeling like a failure

It is a fact; teens are more stressed out today than they were 50 years ago. Psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, physicians are seeing an increase in teens and their parents for depression and anxiety disorder. In fact an article “Freedom to Learn,” in the psychology today website stated that “five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago” At the top of most parents stress is their child(ren)’s academic achievements. Statements such as; “it’s very competitive out there, I have to make sure my child takes advantage of every opportunity, or else they won’t get into their choice of college, ” have become a part of a parents everyday vocab. Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege,” stated that “research is showing that parents emphasis on academic achievement is linked to their child’s “maladaptive perfectionist striving” Madeline describes “maladaptive perfectionism” as “perfectionism that impairs functioning,” ( feigning illness to skip school, difficulty with sleeping because of worrying about tests, performance etc). “ This coping mechanism is highly correlated with depression and suicide.

So ask your-self the next time you find your-self frustrated at your child for not performing to your standards, or rushing into save them from struggle when they didn’t get that “A,” what you are really teaching them?

 

I know it doesn’t look like it but I’m on your side!! January 28, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:13 pm
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I love working with people and I especially love working with parents and children. I love watching the transformation that take place as their relationships become stronger due to better communication and wanting to become a better version of them-selves. However, sometimes it can take a lot of work before that transformation takes place. Typically parents come in wanting me to fix “their kids,” and the kids want me to fix “their parents.” Both of them on opposites sides huffing and puffing about how mean or frustrating the other person is, yet simultaneously wanting the same thing, “a peaceful loving relationship.”

Here are a few suggestions that you can do to help connect with your child.

1: Pay attention to your own triggers and thoughts. If you are insecure or have fears of failure , or issues with anger, it can dramatically affect your connection with your child. Do you find your-self shutting down, interrupting or shouting when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do? If so then you need to work on your own issues before you can have any influence over your own child.

2: Ask yourself the opposite of what or expect them to do. Think about it. The most common complaints I have from parents are; “my kid is lazy, she doesn’t listen, she is spoiled, she is manipulative, etc.” Lets take the example that “she doesn’t listen.” Ask your-self all the reasons why, your daughter “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen, I get angry when she interrupts, I think she is manipulative so I am immediately defensive, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.

3: Learn to stay calm in the storm by not focusing on the incident. A child is undergoing massive changes and sometimes this can trigger bouts of intense anxiety, anger and sadness. They may scream, hit their sibling, skip school, not do their homework, lie etc. What a child needs at this point is a strong leader. Someone that is going to help them get through this. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are not in control.
First check in with your feelings and thoughts.
Second ask your-self “the opposite of what you want or expect them to do.” “Why should she skip school ?” Why shouldn’t she not do her homework?”
Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture

4: Find a connection with your kid: All to often I will hear parents complain they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the shows they watch or even there after school activities. Then why should your child listen to you if you don’t take the time to get to know who they are. This is a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. I am not a big fan of Hip hop in fact I can’t stand it. However, I will go out of my way to keep up on the latest songs and artists. This allows me to have my input and to steer them away from songs that are truly derogatory. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person

5: It is not about competition: I will often hear parents say something like, “well I stopped nagging but she still won’t pick up her clothes, so why should I change?” “See I was right, she didn’t like that sport.” In order to change your child’s behavior you must change your own first. Okay so she is still not picking up her clothes, does that mean you must resort back to your old behavior to prove a point? This is not about tit for tat. A child needs a leader. They need to know that you are willing to change, to compromise, to be consistent, stable and reliable. They need to see that you as a parent  are on their side and not against them!!!

 

The Race to Nowhere!! November 1, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 9:03 pm
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“Race to Nowhere” is a documentary about the stresses that American children and families face on a daily basis regarding education and being the best. It begs the questions is American education helping our children to be better learners or helping them be better memorizers? The documentary challenges current assumptions on how best to prepare our kids for a better, brighter future.

As a parent of a teen and a tween, I find that I often struggle balancing my child’s needs and the needs that I feel society is placing on them to succeed. As parents, we want what we think is best for our children. So I have often asked my-self are we doing a better job than our parents generation? Yes, we are more educated, but are we more knowledgeable?

There is so much focus on getting “A,s” in school and being the “best” in their sport that there is almost no room to make mistakes, let alone discover who they truly are. I am often met with blank stares from other parents when I tell them that I am okay with my children getting “c,s.” This doesn’t mean I am advocating “laziness,” It just means I want them to know their own self worth. And getting a “c” versus an “A” doesn’t mean they are “stupid or lazy.” Teens not only feel the pressure to be the “best” from their parents but they have also have an inner drive within them-selves to be the “best.”

It is a fact, teens are more stressed out today than they were 50 years ago. Psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, physicians are seeing an increase in teens and their parents for depression and anxiety disorder. In fact an article “Freedom to Learn,” in the psychology today website stated that “five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago”

What I have learned from my work and my research is that teens who are constantly focused on extrinsic goals such as grades, being the best of the best in their sport, being popular, having the best house, car or hoping to be discovered by a talent scout etc; are more prone to being estranged from their inner selves. Even teens who are driven to achieve feel lost from their inner self. Because these teens are so often focused on living up to everyone’s expectations, that they either don’t develop or relinquish their own goals, which is why we have seen teens lose motivation, become bored and empty and a rise in anxiety and depression.

However, if a teen is allowed to be given the chance to relax and discover their own interests, and get to know them selves, as well as have some control over their fate, then these teens are usually more resilient, confident and have better coping skills. But the truth is; Teens today feel like they have less control over their lives and destiny thanks to the generation of helicopter parents.

As a parent I have had to fight the urge of wanting my children to be perfect. But what is perfect? And what are these kids really learning.? Are they learning that anything below an “A” means that they are a failure.? If they don’t win every time in their sport, then they are no good? If they don’t make it into a top university, then there world will fall apart because they can’t think past the rejection letter. If they are not constantly busy, then they are lazy? If they get anything lower than an “A” in a subject, a tutor will be hired to reinforce that the teen is not smart enough. With these kind of messages, how can we expect our children to live up to their potential?

Graduating from a top college and being employed in an elite company is not going to matter in the long run if a teen feel stressed out, insecure or resentful. So as parents we still have a chance to teach our kids about the important things in life, like better coping skills, failure, perseverance, self awareness and setting goals for themselves.

The “race to nowhere” could be the “race to somewhere” if we will just allow our kids to discover their true goals in life.