Blog 14–WC Resources & Reflections

As I work with children and families, I continue to be surprised by the missteps that parents make in raising their children. No, most of these are not intentional, yet out of fear and embarrassment or just plain busyness with the stuff of life.  Unless you as parents/caregivers are more proactive in your approach to parenting, you will risk your child growing up with a dysfunctional sense of self.  This distorted sense of self will have a foundation of feeling unwanted, unloved, not good enough and/or of being an inconvenience.  These will then be carried into adulthood and impact how your child functions at home, school, work and the world at large.

You have the power to prevent these negative messages by being more mindful in your approach to creating the structure and nurture your children need to not only survive this chaotic unstable world, but also to thrive. The following are even more ideas of how to do this to create healthier children who will grow up to be healthier adults.

  • Take risks in doing things that might not match your interests or energy level as means of connecting with your child. This might entail getting on the floor to play with dolls or actions figures, playing dress up and matching your voice to the character you are acting out, letting your child wear mismatched clothes because that is part of his/her style.
  • Work at tolerating your child’s quirks or temperament. You can do this by joining in on your child’s sense of humor, ignoring certain noises that drive you crazy, teaching your child about indoor vs. outdoor volume and activities, letting the other caregiver know that you need a break, find something good to highlight in your child’s behavior.
  • Learn to accept that some things take time to do and will promote dependence if you do too much for your child. If your child is learning to tie his/her shoes, to get dressed, to eat, to clean up then he/she needs the time to do this and to not be rushed or disciplined for not doing it right. It takes time to master skills.
  • Invite your child to speak up more to be more clear about his/her thoughts and feelings as well as his/her wants and needs. Help your child learn how to do this in a respectful and constructive manner. These communication skills will be useful in all of your child’s interactions at home, school and community.
  • Teach your child how to cope when feeling sad, scared, overwhelmed, impulsive, angry, etc. to develop emotional regulation and acceptance of being human. You are setting an example yourself in how you role model how to cope with a wide range of feelings. Are you being reactive or proactive in the example that you are setting for your child?

I wish you well as you continue to reflect on your parenting style. I admire your courage as you put these strategies into practice to have a healthier family.

Blog 13–WC Reflections and Resources

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Happy New Year to you and your family. As an outpatient therapist working with children, teens and adults, I am reminded on an almost daily basis of the impact of parents’ actions on their children; some are for the good and some are definitely not.  Unless a parent/caregiver is willing to take the time to reflect on what he or she does or says any given day, a child’s development and future will be in jeopardy.

The following are additional reflections and resources to help you as parents and caregivers to be more proactive and present in your approach to being a healthier family.

  • Acknowledge that life is hard and sometimes it truly sucks (excuse my crassness). Life is not fair and you risk setting your children to think otherwise. And the flipside is that life is sometimes quite grand and can be a most amazing adventure that anyone could imagine!
  • Teach your children what it means to be human; yes, fully human with the tears of joy vs. tears of sorrow, the blood from a lost tooth vs. blood lost from ripped skin, the heart racing from excitement vs. the heart racing from fear, etc. Learning how to live with the wide range of feelings whether comfortable or not are crucial to healthy emotional development for yourself and your children.

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  • Remember that you are NOT alone in learning how to be a parent/caregiver. We are all born into families and experience the challenges of getting along and growing up together. It is up to you to take the risks to seek supports and to be vulnerable with fellow parents/caregivers. It could be a breath of fresh air for you to know someone else knows what it is like to be in your shoes. You might also be blessed with some pointers to help preserve your sanity.
  • Maintain a sense of perspective. All things in life are time sensitive and subject to change. As my mother used to say when feeling out of sorts, “This too shall pass.”

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  • Consider whether you are setting the example of what you are expecting of your children. It becomes a double standard or mixed message if you have a messy room yet expect your child’s room to be spotless, if you use colorful language to express yourself yet expect your child to speak respectfully at all times, if you don’t tell the truth or withhold information yet discipline your child for lying or telling half truths.

What are your experiences as parents or caregivers in putting these into practice? I would love to hear back from you.

Blog 12–WC Reflections & Resources

Yes, it has been over a year since I last blogged. I had been struggling with some personal and relational issues which took my attention.  I have learned that I need to be in a more grounded frame of mind in order to write.

Yes, I have continued to be working in the MH field as an outpatient therapist and to explore other ways to market my book. I am trying to network with agencies or companies in my area to do workshops for parents/caregivers and MH professionals.

I am modifying the format of the next series of entries to be more of a list format of things that I learned and/or observed this past year or so.

For parents & other caregivers:

  • Make an effort to take care of yourself–physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually so you are being as healthy as you can be. Raising children can be draining in the midst of other life responsibilities. Remember that you are teaching your children about taking care of themselves by how you take care of yourself.
  • Keep in mind that “if nothing changes, nothing changes” for you or your family related to whatever areas of life you may be struggling with.
  • Modify your approach sometimes to help your children feel heard and supported by you as they try to figure out who they are in the world.

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  • Try to not take your child’s actions so personally when responding to misbehavior or excesses of behavior. Most likely your child is trying to explore what he/she has control of and/or the limits of what he/she is able to say or do as part of the process of discovering who he/she is as an individual. Your child might also be trying to get your attention to help him/her feel more safe and secure. The world can be a scary place.
  • Build your connection with your child by engaging in child-centered activities on a regular basis. Get in touch with your playful inner self as you do this. NOTE: This does not take away from who you are as the adult. Your actions help children learn the difference between when to be silly and childlike and when to be serious.

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I look forward to hearing about your experience of putting these into practice.