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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!
 

Do you control your feelings, or do they control you? February 24, 2014

 

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Everything can be taken away from a man but the last of human freedoms-the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one way…viktor Frankl.”

We all have had one of those days, where things don’t go right, the car broke down on the way to work, your boss gives you more assignments on an already busy schedule, or when your best friend stops talking to you. Then you start to feel stressed.

Feelings are neither right or wrong. They do not come out of nowhere as they are influenced by our own thoughts and perceptions of a situation. Holocaust Survivor Viktor Frankl said it best when he stated “in between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and freedom.” When you are connected to your body, you are able to notice when you are breathong shallow or tensing your shoulders. When you notice these reactions, you have the power to decide how you will respond. However, most people run on autopiolt and allow their feelings to be in control.

All to often feelings go unchecked because we allow our thoughts to trap us into strong negative feelings. So for example, if we “feel angry,” therefore we must be angry. If we “feel” sad then we must be sad. But upon closer inspection, we realize that these feelings get their power and energy from what we are thinking. In the world of psychology we call these thoughts “Cognivite Distortions .”

Here are just a few of common cognitive distortions:

labeling : Labels can limit our options and may make us feel helpless, victimized and anxious. Some examples of labels are, “his a jerk,” “I’m stupid,” “i’m not good enough,” etc

Mind reading: This is especially common amongst teenage girls and women. Often times, girls and women will try to read the mind of others based on a simple look, action or lack of action. For example, a friend did not like a picture on Face Book, that must mean she hates me, or doesn’t like me.

All or nothing: This way of thinking is in “absolute,” terms and using words such as every, or never. Thus we often convince ourselves that if we can’t have it all, we can’t have anything. For example, if I can’t be first in my class, why bother studying at all, or if you don’t score perfectly in a competition, you see your-self as a failure. This type of thinking creates expectations neither we nor others can ever meet, and so we are inevitably and frequently disappointed.

Mental Filter: Only hearing what you want to hear which is usually based on our belief system. So if you believe that you are “stupid,” you will ignore all the positive stuff that a teacher is telling you and focus on what is wrong.

Here are some tipson when you feel like your feelings are taking control over your mind and body?

Breathe:  Not only has deep breathing proven to be relaxing, it has also been scientifically proven to the brain, heart, digestive and immune system.  So when you start to feel the heart beat fast, your shoulders tensing and butteflies in your stomach, just take ac ouple of deep breathes.

Learn to become aware of your feelings:  Notice when you are breathing fast, or clenching your jaw, or just wanting to throw up or break down and cry.

Become an investigator:  Ask your-self if these feelings are fact or fiction.  What cognitive distortions are using to validate these feelings? If something bad happens, what does that mean about me?

Move: The energy needs to go somewhere, so get up and move.  If you can remove your-self from the stressful situation.  If your sitting down, stand up and stretch. Go for a walk.

Focus on right now: When people are caught up on their feelings, they are usually focused on past or future events.  So take a deep breath, and take a look around you and name the things that you see in front of you.  This helps your brain to calm dwon and focus on the here and now.

 

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.

 

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!!!

 

A Letter from a Daughter to a Mother September 10, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:20 pm
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As a mother it is normal to want a relationship with your teen daughter and to want her to come to you with her problems. However, this is usually the time the teenager is trying to separate and find her own identity. In my experience, mothers and daughters want the same thing, a close and loving relationship. Yet due to changes, communication gets lost in transit. Below is a letter from a teenage girl to her mother expressing her feelings. This letter eloquently depicts the struggle and turmoil of a teenage girl seeking her mothers validation, while trying to discover her own Identity.

My Mom angers me, frustrates me, and annoys me. But she also makes me feel happy and loved. She made me who I am, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Tomorrow I have an operation. I’m nervous. So throughout the day, my Mom kept telling me not to get my hopes up. I kept telling her that this person wouldn’t let me down, “it’s my operation tomorrow.” I believed that no matter what, he would come. I was wrong. I called my friend crying. Little did I know, my Mom heard me talking and crying to my friend via my baby brother’s intercom. When I finished my conversation, she entered my room with a cup of tea, Oreos, hugged me and then left again. I didn’t need to tell her what was wrong, she didn’t ask, she knew. It’s funny, but moms always know what’s going to happen, they always seem to be one step ahead.

As teenagers, we don’t always want to listen to what you have to say. We moan when you ask us about our life. We say “Stop being so nosey” or “I am allowed a private life.” Then when you don’t ask we say “You never ask about me,or you don’t care”. Truth is, you are never going to win, because even we never quite know what we want. We are indecisive, we are confusing and we are no angels – but the truth is, no child is an angel.

So please don’t be offended, when we don’t want to participate in the same boring talk everyday. You know the one, “how was college” “did you have a nice day,” “who did you hang out with,” etc. Yes we know you are trying to connect, but honestly it can be very boring. So try finding out something new about us every day, or tell us something new. I love being told weird facts like “a cucumber is 97% water” (I think that’s correct) My Mom has never done that, but if she did it would be amazing.

When my Mom is mad at me, I say “One day, you will tell this story to your grandchildren and you’ll be laughing about it” it’s true. Everyone gets mad and moody but as your child we don’t want to hear about our mistakes every day. We don’t always need a lecture!!! We just sometimes need you to listen. We know how tough it is out there. The silent treatment is HORRIBLE, honestly… I don’t think I could ever ignore my children (If I had any), no matter how mad I was at them so I don’t appreciate it when my parents do that to me.

Moms get offended easily, all the time (You’ll probably read that and say “no we don’t!) Haha I am here to say “yes you do.” We don’t mean to offend you, it just comes out or it comes out the wrong way. I have put my Mom through some stuff but honestly, she hasn’t put me through anything negative. I’m grateful for the chores I had to do because now I can look after children, cook and clean which all my other 18 year old friends can’t do. I’m grateful for the curfews because now I enjoy being able to come home whenever I want on a night out, if it was always like that it would just be “normal” not fun. At the time I wasn’t grateful for these curfews. The odd rule will be broken and the odd curfew will also be broken but like I said it’s not the end of the world. So please learn to take a breath. Chores and rules aren’t the end of the world, so don’t be mad if we want to lie in bed all day and only come downstairs for food and pop. We all need a time out. It is our chance to figure out who we are and what we like. We cant do that if we are constantly in motion 7 days a week from 7am in the morning to 10-11pm at night trying to be “perfect. Let us make mistakes.

All moms are different, different people, different out looks on life. One Mom may agree with one thing that you allow your child to do and another Mom may completely disagree with your style of parenting. But it doesn’t matter what other mothers do, because I would much rather my Mom do what she thinks is best for ME.

I think my Mom proved today that silence can speak louder than words, she didn’t have to say a single thing to me to know that she loves me more than anything in the world. Thank you. Moms make mistakes but so do we. Isn’t that how we learn about life?

What I want you to know is this…” knowing that you will be there on every path we take in life is comforting. So try not to worry too much, because in the end, we will eventually find our own way,”

And oh yea…We really, really hate the “I told you so“.