Archive for the ‘overindulgence’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Am I a Helicopter Parent?

Am I a Helicopter Parent?

You may have wondered if you are too attentive to your child’s needs, or if you have been overly involved in his or her relationships or decisions.  And if you have, you wonder how to stop, to keep your child from becoming so dependent on you or your opinions, that he can’t make decisions for himself.

It can be hard to tell how much is too much.  You are caring, attentive, involved, and dedicated to your child’s success … all the things you hear make up good parenting.  And yet, sometimes you get sideways glances from your friends or relatives.  Other times they come right out and tell you that you shouldn’t be so involved in your child’s life.  Or worse, they avoid talking and withdraw from your friendship, leaving you wondering what you did wrong.

“I want the best for my child,” says a client who comes to me with this issue, “but I don’t know where the line is. Should I be checking his grades online every day or every week?  Should I try to find out who he’s texting, who he’s friends with on Instagram, and how the coach feels about his performance at practice? Should I contact the school counselor if he seems depressed or discouraged?”

What IS a parent’s job in this day of over exposure to media and pressure to perform?

First, realize that it’s a totally different world from the one we grew up in. The sheer number of ways that a child can now interact with the world without parental knowledge is mind-boggling.  The news carries stories of Amber Alerts and stranger abduction.  It’s very hard to know how to navigate this territory, and you are not alone.

Here are some tips for healthy monitoring of your child’s life, without overdoing it.

  1. Place parental controls on all your child’s devices. Don’t apologize for doing this. With the Internet’s reach, it’s simply good parenting to eliminate the vast array of potentially harmful sources.  Google your Internet provider + parental controls to get the info you need. Do this today.
  2. It’s not being too involved if your child is struggling in school, and you check the parent portal once every week or two. Your only response needs to be one of offering help if needed, not a lecture on grades. If your child is doing well, it’s his or her business what the grades look like.
  3. If you are paying for the phone, you have access to the texts and social media passwords. I’m sorry to say it’s important that your child not have privacy in this area, because cyber-bullying and inappropriate postings are too easy for developing humans.  They need our guidance, and having access to them, along with weekly checks, is just prudent practice. Keep in mind that some apps (get a good list here) are designed to have the messages disappear after only a few seconds.  If someone posts something inappropriate that features your child, it IS possible to preserve the image by screen-shot, and pass it on on other social media platforms, which means it’s on the Internet forever.  This needs to be explained to your child.
  4. “No screens an hour before bed” (to prevent sleep loss) and “the phone is charged in the kitchen” (to prevent constant availability) are two good rules.
  5. It’s not overly involved to talk about ways predators can pose as 15-year-olds online and ask teens to meet them in person. Be certain that your child’s whereabouts are always clear to you.  Apps on their phones that communicate with yours can locate them, and I think it’s a good idea. Ask your child to let you know where she is, and expect compliance. Be casual about it, but also be firm. The phone is a privilege, and its use depends on this rule being followed.
  6. Being friends on Facebook or Instagram with your child’s friends is usually over the line. Being friends with their parents is a good way to stay connected, so you know what’s happening in their world, too, and can be united for all your children.
  7. Encourage in-person socialization, so that children don’t forget how to relate one-on-one.  Allowing them to invite friends to your home is not overly involved.  Inviting them yourself, or asking their parents to send them over, is.
  8. Monitor sleep-overs just enough to discourage drinking or inviting unwanted guests. Do not “hang out” with your child’s friends in your home unless invited.
  9. Remember that some level of privacy is necessary for a child to develop normally. Invite sharing, but if you don’t get it, stay relaxed. Have an understanding with your child that if something seems really amiss with a friend, you will be in touch with his or her parents. Use compassion, not policing.
  10. As your child grows into young adulthood, take a stance of support and encouragement, while being there as a guide for the inevitable rough spots.If you have questions about this or any other parenting issue, visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching.

 

PostHeaderIcon Holidays with Your Intense Child

Holidays with Your Intense Child

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed.
Copyright  © 2016

Holidays with your intense child can cause a great deal of discomfort.  You’re concerned about keeping things socially acceptable, you would rather not see “that look” on your sister-in-law’s face, and staying home in front of the TV never felt so appealing. But on you go, feeling the pull of family responsibility, not wanting to disappoint people – still knowing you will, because it’s almost impossible to take your child anywhere without a scene.

This holiday season, it’s time to get a handle on visiting others and helping your child maintain some semblance of civility.

Here are five tips for surviving, and even enjoying, the holidays with your intense child.  Yes, it’s possible, and no, you don’t need therapy or medication to get there.

  1. Talk in advance with your child about how it will be at the relatives’ house this holiday. Recall what it felt like last year and take note of how she talks about it.
  2. Consider that sensory issues are at the core of the misbehavior you see in your child.  Too many smells mingling, sparkly things and bright snow, tags in new clothes, sounds of people all talking at once, proximity of other bodies, and the taste of unfamiliar foods can throw a child into a state of complete undoing.
  3. Make a plan to decrease the sensory input for your child. Ask her what would feel good: would you like to go somewhere in the house if it gets to be too much?  How about spending time under mom’s big jacket? What breathing exercises would you like to do to calm yourself?  Focus her on special gift giving, so her attention is on others instead of herself.
  4. Decrease expectations for your child’s participation and ask others to do the same.  Remember that intense behavior such as tantrums come from being overwhelmed.  If you’ve already had a lot of excitement before the big gathering, your child may be simply unable to take more input. Ask for understanding, explaining that “She just has trouble with too much stimulation at once. We’ve made a plan, and I hope you can support us in it.”
  5. Go to her frequently throughout the visit to give her positive statements about how well she’s doing.  “When you take care of yourself while we’re at Aunt Sarah’s, I feel so proud of you.” “When you joined us for that little chat in the living room and gave out your ornaments, I could tell Grandma really enjoyed it.”  “When you were able to play with your little cousin in the den, I know it meant a lot to her.”

These statements help your child stay on a “string of successes.”  She will respond with more successes, as you are causing a response in her body that says, “I am good at this.”  The better she feels about how she’s doing, the more she’ll do it!

This may just be a great opportunity to come away with a successful visit, which you can talk about with your child, strengthening the bond between you along with her ability to cope! Enjoy your holiday with your intense child!

If you would like help with this or any other parenting issue, click here for all the info on parent coaching.

 

PostHeaderIcon Parent Coaching in Madison, WI

We’ve opened up parent coaching in Madison, WI, and we invite anyone in the area to get in touch with Kim Flood, Certified Parent Coach.

For more information on how coaching works, click here.

In-person, phone, and Skype appointments are available.  Why wait for things to get worse?  Email Kim today! 

PostHeaderIcon Self-Care for Parents During the Holidays

Self-Care for Parents During the Holidays

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed.
Copyright © 2015 Center for the Challenging Child

Stressed parent holidaysWho takes care of you during the holidays?  Maybe you have a supportive spouse who shares parenting duties equally with you, as time allows. Or maybe you have your parents, friends or neighbors who are there for you when things get intense.  Or you could be feeling on your own this holiday season, whether as a matter of course, or a recent life change.

Whatever your situation, the gift of self-care is vital for making it through the holidays with some sense of sanity. It’s all too easy to think that parents are the giving machines when it comes to creating good times for their families.  Noble as that thought may be, it’s not adequate, and it could be harmful, as stress will take its toll on you if you don’t care for you.

I’ve recently worked with two parents who are going through tough break-ups, and I emphasized that they need to “put the mask over their own nose and mouth before assisting others.”  They both cried when I said that, so I know I hit a tender spot. The parents expressed that they were just hanging on from moment to moment, trying to hold life together for their kids, and not thinking about their own needs. As much as I am loathe to add another task to their to-do list, I have to.  As their parent coach, my job is to offer support and direction to parents whose lives are feeling out of control. Self-care is paramount if child behavior and parent-child relationships are to improve. There’s no short-cut.

Whether you are in a life transition now or not, self-care needs to be on your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa list. You likely have a job, kids, holidays, relatives, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, mailing, concerts, plays, travel, and oh yeah, laundry, on your plate.  Now is not the time to imagine yourself as Superhuman. The stress associated with doing so can actually ruin the very holiday spirit you are trying to create. Let your children see you put yourself on the caring list. It’s great role modeling.

I remember looking at photos of myself at Christmas when my children were young. I looked exhausted, and was unable to enjoy their joy.  The image of those photos is burned on my memory and it’s what I want to help you avoid.

So say “no” to 40% of the things that offer themselves as holiday opportunities. Make it 50% if you have a large family or friend circle. Each “no” equals an assurance of your peaceful mental state, and should be regarded as gold. You do not want to give your children the memory of a totally stressed parent for the holidays.  Sometimes you’ll be saying “no” to yourself. Be a good steward of your mental state, and promise not to overload yourself.  There’s no competition for “best mom” or “best dad” at holiday time. What kids really need is your emotional presence.

Sit with your children and read a good holiday story.  Buy egg nog and cookies and indulge with them. Play a friendly board or card game. Put on music that brings the season to mind. None of this costs much, but it all serves to preserve the spirit of the season.  If you have a major event such as a play or holiday concert, take other things off your plate. Wrap presents simply or not at all (better for the environment, too), give only one gift to each person, engage the kids in helping with the meal or cookie prep, let the house be a little messier, keep the gatherings to a few hours when you can, and don’t try to please everyone. You can’t possibly succeed, and it just exhausts you. Relatives who put their desires in front of your self-preservation are just misguided about the meaning of the season. Let it go, and do what’s good for you and your family.

With that, I wish you peace in your heart this holiday season.
Sincerely,

Tina Feigal, Parent Coach and Supporter

 

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon My Kids Don’t Listen to My Advice

My Kids Don’t Listen to My Advice

AdviceWow, it’s frustrating when you KNOW what your kids should do, and you tell them directly, but they just don’t do it. What’s the problem?

Maybe it’s that we as parents typically toss out directives without much thought about how they land on their children:

“You need to get off the video game. It’s not good to spend so much time playing. You’ll miss the rest of your life!”

“You need to clean this room. If there was a fire, you would trip on all this stuff trying to get out.”

“You should always pay attention to the assignments.  The teacher gives you instructions, and  you need to write them down.”

“You need to get your education. It’s more important than your interest in music. There are no good jobs in music. Use that as a hobby, but get a real job.”

“Listen to me. I’m your dad (mom).  I know what it’s like to grow up and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I (my brother, my dad, my mom, your sister) made.”

Sound familiar?  If it does, stop and think with me for a minute. If, as an adult, someone gave you these directives, would it inspire you to follow their advice?  Or would you tend to discount them, and do your own thing, grumbling under your breath, “Yeah, as if he knows what’s it’s like to be me.”

Here are some tips on gaining your child’s cooperation, rather than demanding it (which never works in any lasting way.)

1. Think about how you’d like to be addressed, and use that much respect in your tone with your child.

2. Ask instead of command.  “Let’s take a look at your time on the computer and decide together on a reasonable amount for each day.”

3. Use inquiry when talking about life interests.  Hold your own anxiety back regarding your child’s future, and just interview him or her on what’s wonderful about their music, art, writing, sports, math … any interest they show.  You are much better off supporting what comes from the child naturally, rather than trying to assign a future to him or her.

4.  Remember that your child is developing, not fully formed.  They make mistakes, and that’s how they learn. Allow for child development while you create your expectations.  If you need some guidance on this for teens, click here.

5.  For household tasks, express your heartfelt appreciation every time you see helpful behavior around the home.  “When you take your dishes to the dishwasher, I feel very appreciative because it shows me that you care that we live in a healthy home.”  “When you straighten your room, I love seeing how you arrange everything.  You made it so pleasant in here.”  “When you sweep without being asked, I feel so relaxed because it’s one less thing for me to do, and you do a very nice job.”

For help with this or any other parenting issue, click here.

 

 

PostHeaderIcon What’s Quality Time?

Tina Feigal was asked to answer this question for CBS affiliate WCCO TV in Minneapolis.

Here’s the video:

What’s Quality Time?

PostHeaderIcon Happy Valentine’s Day! How Can You Get More Love Out of Your Child?

Happy Valentine’s Day!
How Can You Get More Love Out of Your Child?

Copyright © Tina Feigal 2015

Valentine girlSure, she looks all sweet in the photo, but just tell her she can’t have her way, and watch the smile turn into something you just don’t want to witness. Sound familiar?

If it does, you may wonder how you help a child who can be very nice in front of others, but when it comes to being home with your family, is able to wreak havoc at any moment. Luckily, there are some great ways to handle this.

1. Have a heart-to-heart talk, just the two of you. Say, “Honey, it seems like I see such a great girl out in public. Your teachers just love you, you get along with your friends, and you’re so polite to their parents. And then you come home, and it’s all so rough. I hear demanding, yelling, stomping, crying and slamming. Can you tell me what’s going on? Maybe you don’t want to tell me right now, but if you do, I want to listen.  If not, I’ll get back to you when you’ve had time to think about it.  How about tomorrow at 5?” This gives your daughter time to reflect on what is going on. Maybe she doesn’t even know what her triggers are, but you’ve now respectfully opened the door to her figuring them out.

2. Whether it’s now or later, allow an open-hearted time to just listen.  Maybe she’s upset because something happened at school, but she was too embarrassed to talk about it. Maybe she’s mad at you because she feels like you never pay attention to her (even though it seems like that’s all you do!) Maybe she’s not feeling well, or worried about something. It could be one of these or myriad other reasons, but here’s your chance to get to the bottom of the feelings.  When the feelings are heard, the upsetting behavior won’t be so necessary. When a child feels seen and heard, she loses the need to get your attention in negative ways.

3. Listen without fixing or correcting. Just reflect. “You feel as if I never pay attention to you, and that makes you really mad.” Even if this is a preposterous thought, let it be. It will take some courage and big resolve not to correct her, but the return on investment of your time and attention will be tremendous. You are not seeking the absolute truth here. You are seeking her truth, whether it seems true to you or not.

4. Apologize if it feels right to you. If you have been too busy to give your daughter the attention she needs, say so.  “I’m sorry, Honey. I have been so wrapped up in (work, your siblings’ sports, the house project, my parent’s illness) that I have not been able to talk to you the way I’d like. Let’s make a plan for some one-on-one time this weekend.”

5. If you don’t feel like an apology is warranted, that’s OK. Maybe you’ve given your daughter “the moon” but she still doesn’t seem satisfied. Just probe now, very matter-of-factly. “When I took you to practice last week, that felt like you didn’t have enough attention.”  “When I gave you a ride to your friend’s house, you still felt like I wasn’t there for you.” “When I made spaghetti when you asked, it seemed like I still didn’t care.”  “When I bought you that top on Saturday, it felt like it wasn’t enough.” Don’t defend your actions, just try to get her to think about reasonable expectations.  She may say, “Yeah, you did all those things for me, but I still wanted that new video game.”  Now just hang in there. “I hear you. When I didn’t go out and get the game, you felt as if I didn’t really care about you.” “Yeah.” Then just say, “Thank you for telling me how you’re feeling.”  No lecture on gratitude, no defenses. What you’re doing here is letting your daughter hear the illogical way her mind is working.  This is much more powerful than your telling her, so allow time for it to occur.

6. Just wait a few hours or days. When kids have been out of line, and you give them time to process it, they can “bubble to the surface” with their own insight and apology.  Again, this is much more powerful than your mini-lecture on gratitude. The learning is coming from inside the child and her direct experience, which results in a much more effective lesson.

7. Give her heartfelt appreciation for her insight. “When you think about things and come up with your own ideas, I am really impressed! It shows how grown up you’re getting.”

You’ve just avoided a big scene, which may have turned into an even bigger one. You’ve equipped your daughter to think about her own actions without having to say, “Now think about your actions, Young Lady!”  We all know how well that works.  And you’ve engaged in a type of communication that sets the stage for more openness between you and your child. Win, win, win.

If you would like help with this or any other parenting issue, visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching, and feel free to call 651-453-0123 or write tina@parentingmojo.com for an appointment.

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Parents Tell Us Parent Coaching Works

Parents Tell Us Parent Coaching Works

 

Our Pre- and Post-coaching questionnaires reveal great results!

Updated Parent Coaching Works-From Inception

PostHeaderIcon Parent Coaching: An Innovative Approach to Child Behavior

Parent Coaching: An Innovative Approach
to Helping with Challenging Child Behavior

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed.
Director of Family Engagement
Anu Family Services/Center for the Challenging Child
www.parentingmojo.com
651-453-0123

© 2014 by Anu Family Services. All rights reserved. No part of this presentation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Anu Family Services.

How This Came to Be
 History of parent coaching
 Used with parents whose children exhibit aggressive, hostile, and/or passive behavior

The EAP-Parent Coaching Match
 Limited sessions
 Solution-focused
 Not deep therapy
 Designed to help employees “get back in the game”

The Vision

Before Parent Coaching
 Parents of a troubled or traumatized child need help with parenting.
 Support the family with education.
 Therapy/meds for the child
 Evaluate periodically
 Cycle back to the same issues.

After Parent Coaching
 Parents of a troubled or traumatized child need help with parenting.
 Support the family with education, frequent coaching contacts.
 Help parents help the child feel feelings, avoiding blame, and focusing on healing.
 Behavior improves.
 Harmony is restored to family life.

Present Moment Parenting
 It’s healing for parents and children to learn new ways of interacting.
It’s all about physical and emotional survival.
Ten Basic Tenets of Present Moment Parenting
1. Attunement in the present moment is vital for a healthy parent-child relationship
2. The overarching goal for every child is to feel lovable.
3. With every interaction, parents are either pushing their children away or drawing them near.
4. Staying the in the present moment reduces parents’ fear of past or future behaviors.
5. All behavior is communication.
6. Respectfully addressing the child’s true feelings eliminates the need for punishment.
7. The child’s body is affected by emotional input from the parent.
8. The greatest human need is to be needed.
9. The parents’ role is to support and guide their children as they become capable in their own right.
10. Parents do the best they can with the tools they have.

 Children are Organisms
 Water • Sunshine • Fertilizer
 Unwrapping Child Behavior
A Physiological Approach

The effect of communication on the child’s body
 How is the heart involved?
 According to the Institute of Heartmath, the heart is responsive to emotional input.
www.heartmath.com

 The amygdala responds to stress, and it sustains the response, even when the threat is over.
 “Keep me safe.”
 Adrenaline is more readily triggered with children who have experienced trauma. Also, with ADHD.

 The Adrenal Glands
 Flight
 Fight
 Freeze

 The Fear State
 The child who is constantly alert to feeling unsafe. This creates a “state” of fear, which dictates responses, often overly reactive.
 The child gets blamed for being uncooperative, when she was just unconsciously responding to perceived threat, trying to get back to safety. Fear becomes the default emotion, unless parents know how to reduce it.
Resource: Beyond Consequences

 Join the child in the present moment. Scrupulously avoid blame. This assures safety.
 What Parents Can Do
 Attune to the child to facilitate attachment.
 Help her know herself as lovable.
 Help others understand.

Contributing Resources
Daniel Siegel, M.D. – The Mindful Brain
Paul Pearsall, PhD. – The Heart’s Code
Heather Forbes, LCSW – Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control

 IN GROUPS OF 3 OR 4
 Small Group
 15 Minutes

 When Does Innocence Disappear?
At what age do children start to willfully manipulate adults?
Types of Parenting
 Authoritarian: My way or the highway
 Passive: You don’t listen anyway, so why bother?
 Authoritative: I’m the parent and I accept responsibility for your welfare. I am also including you in the process of life.

 All Behavior is Communication

 Why Doesn’t Punishment Work?
 Punishment has 3 results:
 Temporary stoppage of the behavior
 The need to retaliate
 Fear

 Judge, Blame, Punish Cycle
 When Parents Live in Fear, We Miss the Love.
 No Guilt
 A New Way
 Eckhart Tolle
 A New Role for parents
From Behavior Police to Success Mentors
Strategies
 Set Up Success Opportunities
 Grown-up Tasks
Heartfelt Appreciation: “When you … I feel … because…”

 Opposition to Positive Input
First Family Meeting
Second Family Meeting
 Family Traditions
 When a Tradition is Broken, Employ Do-Overs
 Do-overs are teachable moments
 They avoid “pushing the child away”
Rehearse them at the family meeting.
 Play the scene as it happened.
 Play it again in a way that works better.
 Creates a map in the child’s brain for positivity.
 Give heartfelt appreciation for practicing.
 Do-Overs with Teens
 A casual “Let’s try that again.” If she refuses, don’t push.
 Set an example, and parents have do-overs themselves.
 Successes are the big deal.
 The Do-over is NOT Punishment

 Do Not Encourage Do-Overs Until …
 Family has had the second meeting.
 The family traditions have been posted.
 Do-overs have been rehearsed.
 They’ve switched roles to practice the do-overs.

Dealing with Anxiety
 What are the sources of anxiety?
 Learning disability, ADHD
 Grief and loss
 Trauma
 Giftedness
 Perfectionism
 Illness
 Moving
 Peer relationships
 Parent anxiety

 Every misbehaving child has a degree of anxiety.
 Anxiety Defined: Fear where there’s no real threat

 How do we help him?
 Understand that the child is having a physiological response, not being “impossible,” “picky,” or “looking for attention.”
 Manage your own anxiety, for the sake of the child: relaxation techniques, self-care, and/or therapy. Read Self Compassion by Kristin Neff, PhD.

What Parents Can Do
 Coaches can provide information, and encourage self-compassion, which both reduce anxiety.
 “When we know better, we do better.”
 -Maya Angelou

More on Helping a Child with Anxiety
 Build self-efficacy slowly over time, as trust develops
 Join the child in the present moment, using attunement.
 Reassuring the Child
It’s not reassuring to tell the child over and over how much you love her. Too much telling can give her the idea there’s something to worry about.
 Join her on the feelings she’s having right now. That will communicate love.
 Listen deeply.
 How to Help with the Feelings
 “You’re really worried.”
 “You want me to take you to the store right now.”
 “You’re worried that you won’t get what you want.”
 “Your feelings seem very strong and powerful.”
 “If I guess how you’re feeling, will you tell me if I’m right or wrong?”
 Be willing to be wrong, and just listen. The true feelings will come up. Use the magic of silence.
Avoid Triggering Opposition
 How Questions
 How do you think you’d feel if we did as you suggested?
 How should we solve this problem so that everyone feels OK about the outcome?
 How do you want to limit screen time so that you don’t lose touch with your real life?
 How will leaving the house right now go with getting your homework done?
 Teach parents to use them instead of directives.
 A Better Choice for Young Children
 What Works With Older Kids?

Case Study
 16-year-old boy
 Suburban high school with 80 min. subject blocks
 ADHD
 37 detentions from last year, 16 more now
 Oppositional at home
 Verbal altercation with a teacher
 Unable to sit in class, failing everything
 Running away
 Question: How long ‘til this child feels safe enough to be kind?

Explore Feelings to Express Grief Directly

 The words to use:
 “I see you are upset. Do you want to tell me how you are feeling?”
 “If I guess, will you tell me if I’m right or wrong?”
 Words to Use
 For parents
 Tell me more.
 I appreciate your letting me know.
 It helps me to hear your story.
 Your feelings matter to me.
 and more …
 When you let me in, I feel deeply honored.
 I know it’s not easy to talk about. You are braver than so many kids.
 (Listen without judging or fixing.)
 Consult the Child on the Solutions

 Testing: One, Two, Three …
Mistakes are our teachers

 Case Study
 6 year-old-boy
 Abused and neglected by his low-IQ mom
 Mom’s boyfriend was sex offender
 Mom had TPR
 Grandma and her husband took her in
 He was sexually aggressive with other children
 Verbally aggressive with step-grandpa
 Had rages, took a knife to grandma
 County was ready to send her to residential treatment
 Grandpa does “story time” at night.
 Question: How long ‘til this child feels safe enough to be kind?

 Case Study
 Foster mom who is a healer: has two adopted kids already living with her, 18 (girl) and 13 (boy).
 Two boys, 13 and 11, needed placement after mother died suddenly. Dad was on drugs, mutilated himself.
 Previous foster placement failed; 14-year-old was blamed.
 Family pride in “being an Anderson”
 13-year-old using, stealing, needs treatment
 11-year-old unable to get up in the a.m.
 Coaching the mom helped son do his grief work. Powerful response.
 Truancy became the issue for the court.
 Ordered to residential.
 Mother stayed in the present moment, adopted him.

 Case Study
 14-year-old girl
 New discovery of LD
 Mom panicked, consumed by every homework detail
 Came to coaching, “We’ve lost our little girl.”
 Coaching resolved major issues.
 Backslid to old ways.
 Psychiatric hospital
 Return to coaching
 Question: How long ‘til this child feels safe enough to be kind?

Children’s Sensory Issues
 1. Auditory
 2. Olfactory
 3. Tactile
 4. Taste
 5. Visual
 6. Interpersonal sensitivity

To Help Children with Sensory Issues
 Realize it’s not just picky or bad behavior
 Don’t try to talk them out of their sensitivities
 Make adjustments to the environment
 Seek occupational therapy
 Appreciate the quiet, inwardly-focused child – great work may be happening

 The Power of Now

 Remember: The Power is in the Positives!
 Wrap Up
 Questions?
 Contact Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. for training, parenting coach certification, consulting
651-453-0123
1-888-OUR-HAPKIDS
tfeigal@anufs.org
www.anufs.org

© 2014 by Anu Family Services. All rights reserved. No part of this presentation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Anu Family Services.

 

PostHeaderIcon Time to Get Off the Video Game!

Time to Get Off the Video Game!

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. 

teen video gameAre these fighting words in your home? 

Here are 10 tips for setting up a system that works to bring an end to the conflicts:

1.       At a family meeting, explain to your kids that we now know that too much video game playing is not good for children’s brains, and in fact can damage them.  (See the link to an article about this below.)

2.       Talk about how when your child wasn’t even born yet, you took care of him in the best way you could.  You ate well when you were pregnant, got good sleep, exercised, and went to prenatal visits and childbirth preparation class.  When he was a baby you fed, clothed, held, and bathed him when he was completely dependent on you.  When he started to walk, you made his environment safe so he wouldn’t get hurt.  All along you’ve taught safe behaviors with traffic and strangers, shopped for and cooked good food, provided a home to live in, clothes to wear, and opportunities for fun.  You are not about to stop caring for your child now by saying, “OK, spend all the time you want playing games.  I’m fine with its effect on your brain, even though I know it’s damaging.” You just wouldn’t do that.  Your child needs your perspective on this. 

3.       In light of the fact that you are doing your job as a parent, explain that overuse of video games is simply not an option.  Video games are a privilege.  Just like any other privilege, if it’s abused, it isn’t available.  Give an example from your adult life that illustrates the same concept, e.g., if I abuse the privilege of driving my car, and do so recklessly, my license will no longer be mine. Kids need to know they aren’t the only ones with limits on their activities.  

4.       You may want to use an ice cream analogy: “I don’t allow you to eat a quart of ice cream every day because it wouldn’t be good for your body.”  Same thing.  “I don’t allow you to play unlimited video games because it wouldn’t be good for your brain, which is a very important part of your body.”

5.       Come to an agreement on a reasonable amount of playing time, first inviting your child’s input on what he thinks is reasonable.  You want to show collaboration here, so you don’t lose your child’s willingness to engage in the solution.  From the adult perspective the time playing video games shouldn’t be much, as every minute spent on the game is a minute spent away from nature, people, and physical activity, all of which are known to be VERY good for children’s brains.  Maybe ½ hour on weekdays and an hour per day on weekends.  During the school year, if there’s homework, that gets done first, and then the privilege of playing video games is activated. 

6.       Give your child heartfelt appreciation for talking rationally about this, for interacting with you, for spending time in nature, and for engaging in physical activity.  This is what you want to increase, and you know that noticing the positive behaviors will do just that. 

7.       Limit your own video game use.  Children learn more from what we do than what we say. Get on your bike and explore the world together instead.

8.       Decide together how the “stopping” will happen.  When the time is up, does your child want one of these three options?

a.       You tell him time is up (your least favorite, because he’s not accepting responsibility for ending the playing time, but keeping it on you, which leads to arguments.)

b.      He has the computer timer or a kitchen timer that lets him know time is up.

c.       He watches the time and ends play when it’s up (your favorite option, as you don’t have to get involved, and he’s learning self-control.)

9.       Ending the video game time is something that’s hard when the brain is addicted, which happens much more readily in young brains than in adult brains. Kids need to learn to anticipate “finishing this level” when there’s time to finish it.  So that means that a few minutes before the ending time, they start stopping. 

10.   Rehearse ending.  Go to the computer together, have the child set the timer or show him how  to watch the time.  Have him play the game while he thinks about stopping (this is a new skill, one that he’s likely never thought about.)  Help him anticipate the timer going off and finishing his level.  And when time is up, it’s up.  Help him sign off.  This way he’ll have a map in his brain for stopping appropriately, and you can give him heartfelt appreciation for doing so. 

Read what Victoria Dunckley, M.D.  says about video game damage to child brains here:   http://drdunckley.com/videogames/

Want help with this process?  Parent coaching is available to you, no matter where you live.  Click here for all the details. www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching

Copyright Center for the Challenging Child ©2013

PostHeaderIcon That’s NOT FAIR!!!

That’s NOT FAIR!!!

Upset child
You’ve heard your kids claim this “truth” a million times.  How do you get them to stop throwing fairness up as their inalienable right?  It’s annoying, it feels like pressure for you as a parent, and you have no idea how to deal with it.

Here are five tips for dealing with kids who feel life is unfair:

1. This may seem a little harsh, but tell the kids, “We don’t do fair.”  It’s not a realistic expectation to think that life for every child will be equal and fair, so why hold it up as a family value?
2. Listen deeply to the feelings underlying the claim of unfairness.  “I imagine you are saying that because you feel your brother gets more attention than you do.  Is that right?”  Being comfortable with the tough feeling a child is expressing tends to neutralize it.
3. Remind the child that each person in the family is having his or her needs met to the best of your ability.  We all have clothes, food, a roof over our heads, enough rules, hot water for baths, and lots of love.
4. Comparing “who gets what is a dead-end” conversation.  Let the kids know that their legitimate need for material things will be met, and so will their siblings’, and it won’t always be the same or at the same time.  Give examples of when the oldest got a bike first because the younger ones weren’t big enough to ride yet; the musically interested one got piano lessons, while the hockey player got skates and ice time; the dancer got ballet lessons and the one who loved Karate had lessons, too.  It wasn’t the same (which kids sometimes think is “fair.”)
5. Show your kids how adults don’t live in the world of fairness, either. Every time mom buys a new pair of jeans, dad doesn’t run out and get something of equal value.  You both know you’ll be able to get the clothes you need, but not at the same time, and not necessarily items that cost the same.

Part of this exercise is releasing your own thinking that everything in your child’s world should be fair. It’s an easy trap to fall into when you have more than one child.  But it’s also fairly easy to correct.  Just say, “We don’t do fair, but we do provide for and love each of you.”

If you’d like more information about parent coaching on this or any child-rearing topic, click here for all the details. 

 

PostHeaderIcon How to Parent Well When You Have Your Own Emotional “Stuff”

How to Parent Well When You Have Your Own Emotional “Stuff”

Parents often wonder if they can actually be good for their kids when they are carrying emotional baggage from their own childhoods.  They think, “How do I parent this child well when I have my own emotional stuff?” It’s a legitimate question, and I’d like to answer it from the perspective of having coached a powerful man who conquered a hard upbringing to connect, and connect well, with his grandson.

Adam was raised in a situation where his own parents didn’t take care of him, and he needed to live with other adults.  The understandable resentment for this was a part of the ongoing landscape of his emotional world.  And (who knows how this happens?) during his first marriage he became the step-grandpa to a now-12-year-old boy, fully responsible for him after the tragic and untimely death of his wife.  When I met this fabulous grandpa, he was remarried to an absolute saint, Gretchen, who had never had children.  Together, they were raising a boy who has two living parents, neither of whom took responsibility for him.  Anyone who knows kids understands that this is an extremely difficult situation for a child … having two ambivalently attached parents causes mountains of questions.  Why don’t they live with me and care for me?  What did I do wrong to cause them to reject me?  Why don’t they make it better when it seems as if they could? Why do they keep messing up?  And it also results in (again, understandable) acting out that would try even the most patient adult.  Yelling, screaming, pounding, refusing, swearing, leaving the house … you name it.  Adam and his beloved Gretchen  fielded all of this from Graydon with Herculean grace (and yes, some rough arguments).

Adam repeatedly came to me with his own questions about how to make life better at home.  And as he did this, he listened intently, even at times struggling with his own deep emotions, wanting to control the boy so he didn’t remind him so much of himself.  But the boy would not be controlled by the typical, “Do as I say” approach.  This led to a lot of conflict.

As our time together progressed, I watched as Adam learned to put his own emotions on the shelf, not always, but often effectively enough to build a strong bond between himself and Graydon.  He set limits, which was often painful for both Adam and his grandson.  He created and held healthy boundaries between Graydon and his non-custodial dad and mom.  He spoke of respect, instilled values, and stayed the course.  He skied with Graydon, threw the ball with him, and asked him about his homework.  He limited video game use and access to the phone.  He encouraged friendships and facilitated outings and sleep-overs with his middle school buddies.  He took Graydon on trips to see unexplored parts of the country.  He sat in the stands at his basketball and baseball games, and taught him about teamwork.  When he heard the coach compliment Graydon, he was sure to let him know.  He accompanied his grandson to therapy appointments to help him feel safe to talk about his feelings.  On my advice, he even wrote notes to Graydon, expressing the positive things that were sometimes hard to say between “guys”, but were huge in their impact.  He spent special time with him every evening before bed, connecting with Graydon on an emotional level, even if they’d had a bad day.  All this, with his own wounded childhood, his own feelings of rejection and anger, lurking in the background.  For his grandson’s sake, he dug deep regularly, and simply put Graydon first.

I found myself in awe, wondering where he got the inner strength to parent this often rebellious, oppositional child with such love. We hear about children’s resilience in the literature, but who ever talks about grandparents’ resilience?  Who makes a big deal of someone like Adam who wrestled with his demons regularly and emerged the hero for Graydon, teaching him by example that he could be better the next time?

It’s an honor to share this story.  I write it as I prepare to attend Adam’s utterly untimely memorial service.  Yesterday he died at age 57 with much love left to give.  Adam inspired me, and I will forever feel blessed, having known him at his finest, even in the hardest moments. Graydon got the message of love from Adam, not perfectly, not every minute, but he got it.  And that’s what it takes for a child to grow up emotionally healthy – one truly caring adult who, through his love, frees you up to do, and be, your best.

 

Parent coaching info is available at www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Holiday Gifts Raising Havoc?

Holiday Gifts Raising Havoc?

Are the gifts your kids received for the holidays creating havoc in your home?

Are you at a loss as to how to handle this sticky situation?

Let’s say your child received a new PS-3 or Xbox from well-intended but misguided grandparents. Your child is spending way too much time on it. It’s time for a sit-down to repair damaged family relationships and restore harmony in the home.

Here’s what to say:
“I’m the parent and it’s my job to make sure your growing up time is balanced with fun, family, and contributions to our lives. I need to check on the balance now and then. When I checked today, I saw that you’re spending a lot of time on the PS-3, and less time with us. I also notice that your mood is lower and you’re more cranky when you play the games. So we need to make an adjustment. I want to hear your ideas for how to resolve this issue.”

Allow time for the child to think. He or she may become defensive, saying, “It’s my game and I can play it whenever I want to! Grandma gave it to me!” or “I’m not cranky! You’re the one who gets cranky when I play!”

Don’t defend your point here. Just stay with the agenda, which is to resolve the problem. Say, “I’m not interested in arguing about this. But I am interested in hearing your ideas for resolving it. Do you want to offer some right now, or do you need some time to think about it? Take your time. It’s important and I want you to have a chance to think. Maybe you could come up with a few options that we could discuss next time we talk about this.”

When you call the next thinking session, ask your child what he or she decided. Consider the options carefully, not hurrying, asking clarifying questions. If you can live with one of the ideas, say so and consider the issue resolved. If you need to negotiate, say, “I like number 3 because it’s well-thought-out. What would you say to including it with some of my ideas?” Offer your thoughts and decide together on a solution.

This type of collaboration is vital for making decisions that stick. It includes the child in the decision, avoiding the authoritarian “my way or the highway” approach. It models the type of collaboration you expect from your child. You are always teaching with your behavior, don’t forget.

If your child can’t come up with a solution, keep at it anyway. Offer three or four of your own ideas and ask him to rank order them. This keeps choice in the forefront, still including the child in the solution. Again, offer him time to think. The more you do this, the better the decisions will be.

Once a decision is made, post it prominently in the home where the child gets a frequent review. State it positively like this:

The Becker Family has decided together that 1 hour per week is the perfect amount of time for video games. I pledge to help our family stay strong by honoring the 1-hour limit.

Decide together what will happen if the limit is not being honored. You may evoke the parental right to turn the machine off, which is appropriate. Just be sure this is decided in advance, so there are no surprises. If you encounter resistance, don’t argue. Just do as you all decided, turn off the machine, and engage the child in something else. Your actions will speak loudly, and you won’t have to get engaged in a power struggle.

Peace to your homes in 2013! If you need help with this or any other parenting issue, call us at 651-453-0123 or write tina@parentingmojo.com for an appointment.

PostHeaderIcon What to Give Your Child for the Holidays

What to Give Your Child for the Holidays

by Tina Feigal © 2011


This holiday season, I’m encouraging you to give your child a different kind of gift than the one you visualized when you read this article’s title.

Each year, kids are excited about the gifts they will receive.  Visions of XBOX 360s, Wii’s, iPhones, skis, dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, Legos, and a variety of other gifts float through their heads.  After the holiday, the gifts often lose some of their allure, and kids are back to saying, “I’m bored.” So let’s focus instead on a gift that keeps on giving.

I’m going to suggest that you give your child a sense of himself as a needed person for a gift this year.  It’s something that doesn’t come to most adults during the annual holiday buying frenzy, but it’s a gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime.  So stop for a few minutes and think of ways you can set your child up for feeling really valued, cared for, and yes, generous, during this holiday season.  After all, isn’t that what we all want?  Kids with a strong sense of their place in the world as contributors?  You have the power in this special time of year to create a kid with a true sense of purpose, something he or she will remember for years to come.

To create a success around being needed, take your child into your confidence around a gift you are thinking of giving his sibling.  Ask, “Do you think she’d like the red sweater or this cute skirt better?”  Then take your child’s advice.  It’s more important to build a giving spirit than to get the perfect gift.

Ask what he thinks he’d like to give his sister, and then offer to help him get it if he’s too young to have his own money. Give him heartfelt appreciation when he makes a selection, and talk up his gift before it’s opened.  Say, “I love how thoughtfully you chose this for Samantha. I think she’s gonna love it.”

Let your kids see you giving to people outside the family who may be in need.  If you are donating toys, don’t just take care of it when they kids are in school, but include them in the selection and the dropping off at the collection site.  This way they feel part of something bigger than the immediate family, and remember how fortunate they are.  Or if there’s a needy family in your faith community, be sure your kids contribute some of their allowance to participate in the family’s giving efforts. If you want grateful, generous kids, put more of your effort into fostering their gratitude and generosity than into trying to please them.

Giving doesn’t have to be material.  If you see an opportunity for your child to push the ottoman closer to grandpa’s chair, give him the gift of quietly suggesting he do so.  If you see him spontaneously sharing his time with a younger cousin, be sure he hears how much you admire that.  If she works hard to maintain a good mood when in a crowd of people, give her positive feedback so she sees what you see, a child who makes an effort for others.

The chances to give your child kudos abound at holiday time.  Plan now to tap the present moment to focus on them, and watch him “glow” with a strong sense of his own strength as a giving person.  The benefits are immeasurable, and everyone receives them!

For parent coaching on what to give your child for the holidays or any other topic, contact Tina Feigal at 651-453-0123 or email tina@parentingmojo.com.

PostHeaderIcon Technology-free Play

To read Trae Bodge’s article where she interviewed

Tina Feigal on Technology-free Play, click here.