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Posts Tagged ‘how to parenting’

Two Parenting Mistakes and Time Management

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Nobody’s perfect. In an age of two working parents, single parent homes, co-parenting, blended families, and just plain normal moms and dads doing the best they can, mistakes will be made.
Mistake number one: Too tired to parent.

This is probably our oldest parenting mistake. Back in ‘the day,’ parenting after a long day hunting and gathering probably looked more like an episode of ‘Survivor’ rather than ‘The Waltons.’ Older siblings were put in charge of younger siblings, children who could prepare food were put to work, while Mom and Dad protected the clan from predatory animals and neighbors. In true Darwinian fashion, children who did not conform to family norms probably did not survive.

Today, well-meaning, tired, parents know they should not ignore misbehavior, yet sometimes it’s just easier to allow the TV and the PlayStation to do their job. Tantrums are met with concessions. Children learn to act rather than ask permission because they know consequences from tired parents can be negotiated away through whining, manipulation, persistence, and even good behavior.

This leads us to mistake number two: I can’t keep up the consequence because now he’s being so good (washing my car, vacuuming, setting the table)! Time off for good behavior only works in prison. In the home, children are in charge of their behavior choices, and parents are in charge of the consequences. If children are permitted to choose the behavior AND manipulate the consequences by acting ‘good’, this can lead to power struggles, confusion, and more manipulation. Kids soon learn tired parents crave love and happiness (and a clean car) and they’ll do anything, including shorten a punishment, if their child rewards them with good behavior and attitudes.

Parenting is not for the faint-hearted and perfection is a myth. Always keep an eye out for good parenting tips and do your best!

Drug Use Among Teenagers

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ are alternated for brevity.

When parents are struggling with their teen using drugs or alcohol, they may choose therapy as an option. After the initial relief, however, comes the surprise at the amount of work placed squarely on their shoulders.

When a therapist specially trained to work with teens who are using initially meets with parents, he has one goal in mind: learn the family rules. This may take several sessions, but it is vital for the therapist to learn what is permitted in the home (respect, compensation for chores, doors locked/unlocked) and what is not permitted (eye-rolling, substance use, failing grades). If the therapist is confused by the rules, it is likely the teen is also.

Next the therapist will ask the parents to identify and prioritize two or three behaviors they wish to change. Of course using drugs or alcohol is the primary symptom, but typically grades, curfew, and respectful behaviors are identified as well. The list is kept short to maximize effort and success.

Finally, the therapist will need to know how the parents plan to ‘parent’ the identified behaviors (design and enforce consequences). This is important because not only must parents have a plan for the other six days their child is not in therapy, their influence must increase while the therapist’s decreases. Failure to do this could lead to the therapist becoming the ‘influential figure’ in the family (“didn’t the therapist tell you drinking was wrong?”) and this will lead to therapy becoming the consequence rather than the place for help and healing.

Leaving a session with a therapist trained to help teens who are using may leave parents confused. The hard work will pay off, though, and parents will have tools to help them help their child be successful, and drug and alcohol free.

 

How Classroom Routines for Children Provide Security in their Daily Education

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

This is the first of a four-part series that examines the importance of rituals in our lives. This article will examine the daily rituals that we all take for granted, as we often fail to recognize their role in keeping us grounded. It is important to know “routine” definition. A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed, or a fixed program. These daily rituals are particularly significant as children start school, when parents adjust schedules to accommodate the changes from a more flexible summer routine to the more demanding requirements of a daily education program.

Our schools are very rich in the usage of rituals. The day begins with morning announcements, the children have certain times and routines for classes, recess, lunch, etc. Have you ever observed routines for children throughout their day at school, including the classroom routines? They know exactly what to anticipate the moment they walk in the door. There is a place for their backpacks, jackets, supplies. They know when they are supposed to take out materials from their desks, open books, etc. In order for rituals to be effective, they have to be meaningful, so the rituals in the schools and classrooms provide a security for the children as they become comfortable knowing what to expect. Have you ever listened to a child explain that they had a substitute teacher? You can tell from the child’s voice that the routine was different. Have you ever heard a child explain that they had music that day rather than PE? It is significant for them, because it is a change in what they expected.

As schools create daily rituals for children, it is also crucial for parents to use rituals in the home to provide that same sense of “grounding.’ Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, reading books together, doing homework at specified times, etc. Children want and need that security that rituals provide them.
Surprise yourself and make a list of all the daily rituals that you have provided for your family.

Next month we will examine those rituals that families create for special occasions such as birthdays.

Anxious Children: How to Ease Anxiety and Treating Anxiety in Young Children

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Jason* (not his real name) enjoyed being at home and could always find things to do. He was highly creative and enjoyed making up plays, playing music, and doing art projects. His mother loved her son and relished his creativity.

The first day of school brought out another side of Jason. The morning started with Jason resisting getting dressed. Finally packed into the car, he told his Mom he didn’t want to go to school. The closer school got the more distressed Jason became. The morning climaxed with Jason refusing to get out of the car in the school parking lot and Mom having to drag him out and into his classroom where Jason hung onto her for dear life.

Childhood anxiety creates problems for the whole family if it is not understood and dealt with appropriately. In helping your anxious child, it is important to remember these things:

1. Your child is not “weak” or “immature.” Your child is struggling with an anxiety issue.

2. Be supportive and loving to your child. It is helpful to explain calmly what he/she can expect during the day and when you will be back for pick-up.

3. Maintain a regular schedule for bedtime routines and morning routines. Post the schedule on the fridge.

4. Provide lots of emotional support and hugs.

5. Talk with the teacher about our child’s anxiety and elicit her support for anxious children.

If your child’s anxiety does not abate after a reasonable time, talk to your pediatrician and request a full physical exam so as to learn the right way for how to ease anxiety. For children with constant anxiety that interferes with their daily life, play therapy has proven to be very helpful. A licensed therapist can provide the support and direction you need for treating anxiety in young children.. It is also important to consider there is medication that can make a world of difference.

Sue Watkins, MA, LMFT, has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Help Your Child Succeed in College with Independence Skills Needed in the Transition to College

Monday, August 20th, 2012

I remember when I was a teacher in the public schools one of my colleagues created a bulletin board that displayed in large letters ‘Life Skills.’ Soon enough the first ‘s’ disappeared and students were entering my classroom snickering because my neighbor’s bulletin board now proclaimed ‘Life kills.’ Yikes! While it’s true everyone’s life has an expiration date (that’s a topic for another article) I believe your teen can navigate adult life successfully with the acquisition of certain life skills. I’ve collected a few your teen might want to practice before they leave the nest or transition to college.

First, your teen should know how to cook five complete meals. This could mean something as simple as operating a microwave and heating up a frozen entre, or creating a complete shopping list and navigating the grocery store. Contrary to popular thought Ramen is not a complete meal.

Second, your teen should know how to use the bank. Most colleges utilize a debit card system for meal plans so allowing your teen the opportunity to use a debit card would be great practice. Teens should also know about the advantages of good credit and the long-term effects of bad credit.

Finally, and most importantly, your teen should know how to stay safe and healthy. Talk with her about safe sex, the importance of staying with a group when she goes out, and what to do if she gets sick. Walk her through the pharmacy and make sure she knows how to use medicine properly, especially if she has special needs like psychotropic medication or insulin.

While this list is not exhaustive, it will help your child succeed in college and independent living with  some important life skills needed when she is out on her own. Have fun with it, listen to your teen, and practice what you preach.
Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Teaching Kids About Money

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It’s August and that can only mean one thing – spending money! A recent survey indicated that moms spend more on their kids during back to school shopping time than they do the entire year. While the jury is still out about whether it is better to give your kids an allowance or make them earn their spending money, back to school shopping is a great time to teach your kids good spending habits, budgeting, and discount hunting.

Sit with your kids and explain that they will have a certain dollar amount that you will spend for school clothes. If they have their own money they can supplement this, but be clear that you will only buy them necessities (no crazy hats or studded belts). Have them put items on hold at the store for your inspection before you use your credit card or cash to purchase the items.

Another great approach to teaching kids about money is to have them go on a bargain hunt the week before the planned shopping outing. Most kids know about checking out the catalogues before the holidays, but explain to them that if they can find good bargains they may be able to get more stuff. Learning to budget is made easier when teens see how much more their money will buy by looking for deals. Teach them about early bird specials, two for ones, couponing, and even vintage clothing stores. For older teens this can be a great time to teach them about using credit cards responsibly for discounts.

You may find as you are teaching your kids about good money management you discover you have some bad money habits yourself. Don’t despair! Use this time to hone your own skills, take a course (we recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University), and get your own budget in shape.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Getting Ready for School

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

About this time of year the talk amongst parents of school age children turns to bedtime rituals, earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for school supplies. Not to be outdone, we at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate an article to the top 10 ways parents can smooth the transition from summer to fall. Supporting your child from a youth mental health standpoint is all about making sure your child is equipped with knowing the ropes Here is the top ten countdown for mentally getting ready for school this fall:

10. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour.

9. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV).

8. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare if the commute is long and the weather is extreme.

7. Create your list of emergency contacts. Schools always ask for them and its good for your child to know who may pick them up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list.

6. Donate to the local backpack/school supply drive while you are picking up your own supplies.

5. Talk to other parents about age-appropriate bedtimes. Everyone doesn’t have to be the same but it will be much easier to get your kids to go to bed on time if everyone in their group of friends has close to the same bedtime.

4. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms have rules about school clothes.

3. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas.

2. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check your own attitude and make sure you don’t seem fearful too.

1. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! Make it a new tradition you and your child can look forward to.

Parent, child, school…success!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

“Just a stage?” Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children, and Defiant Disorder Treatment

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

As every parent knows, kids love to use the word “no.”  It gives them a sense of power and it allows them to perceive they have some control over their endlessly rule laden lives.  While unpleasant, this is a normal part of child maturation and testing boundaries, and it is a normal part of parenthood to continue to be the boundary enforcer. But what happens when a child surpasses normal non-compliance efforts, and their unruliness becomes so severe and so consistent that the parent is unable to regain authoritative control? It may be the child’s behavior is a diagnosable condition.

So how do you know when those refusals to comply have become more than just a little stage?  There is a little known but increasingly diagnosed disorder called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).  If your child is exhibiting the signs below it may be a signal that something more serious is going on and it’s time to contact a mental health professional about a possible ODD diagnosis.

The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder in childeren is a repeated pattern of negative behavior that is “deliberate, spiteful, and argumentative.”  This is not the preschooler who tells mom “no” to bath time or the school age kid who doesn’t want to do his homework.  This is a child or teen who, over a six month period or longer, repeatedly refuses to follow rules, argues with adults, and is easily angered.

The result is often serious disruptions at school or other social settings. ODD is usually recognized by about age 8 and can be diagnosed by early adolescence.  If not addressed, symptoms may become more confrontational and more persistent as the child enters middle school and high school. Treatments include impulse control therapy, cognitive behavioral therapies, and behavioral therapies.

So the next time your child exercises his “no” muscle, have no fear.  It is a normal part of growth and helps him mature, develop decision making skills, and become independent.  If, however, your child’s “no” has become constant, results in discipline problems at school, or appears overly intentional or directed at adults, check with your school or community counselor for a referral.  There are defiant disorder treatment options, and licensed family and parenting counselors will be able to help.

Communication with Teenagers: Tips for Parents

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

It has been said that being the parent of a teenager is similar to that of being a parent of a child from Mars. They look different than you, act differently from you, and speak another language. Yet the parent’s job in raising teenagers should not be neglected, but what’s a parent to do when their own teenaged child seems to be completely “alien” to them?

Communicating with teenagers doesn’t have to be that way. Remember when you were a teenager? It really isn’t too different today. The less your son or daughter tells you about their life, the more independence they feel that they have. They begin to create a new identity. It is part of the natural process of growing up.

Unfortunately, sometimes our teenage youth make poor decisions. They need your help, parents, even if they don’t ask for it. Many of the questions about life that we faced when we were young still exist in today’s youth. What am I going to do when I grow up?  Am I cool enough to be liked? How do I fit in? Am I wearing the right clothes? Why don’t my parents understand me? Does he/she really like me?

The good news about dealing with teenagers: You can help your teenage son or daughter navigate this challenging time in their life. First, it is important to make time to spend with your son or daughter every day. Whether it is doing homework, eating dinner as a family, or talking about school, making time for your child will provide a foundation of trust. Second, focus on the positives more than the negatives. Think 80% positive and 20% correction. Finally, build open lines of communication. Remember, the most important thing that your son or daughter wants is to be heard and understood by you.

Will they tell you everything that is going on in their life? No, not at first. Over time, however, you will see that your teen will trust you and confide in you.

By Jason Davis, MS, 

Jason has over 15 years of experience working with adolescents, and is passionate about helping them with problems such as bullying, depression, anxiety, anger, as well as improving interpersonal communication skills. 

 

Setting Boundaries For Teenagers While Increasing Their Freedom

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

“Sink or Swim.”

If you have teenagers you know what I am talking about. When children reach the ages of 15-17 parents begin to wonder whether or not it is time to let them make their own decisions. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart.

Of course teens believe they know everything and can navigate life’s decisions on their own. With age comes wisdom, however, and parents can set boundaries for teenagers and enforce explicit rules to help teens transition away from ‘mom and dad decisions’ and learn to make good choices on their own. Here are some guidelines you may find helpful:

  • Establish non-negotiables up front.  When parenting teenagers, safety and well-being cannot be compromised. Let your teen know that behaviors such as drinking, drug use, and risky driving will not be tolerated. No exceptions.
  • Discuss rules open to compromise. Household rules such as curfews, household chores, your teen’s financial responsibilities, and homework policies, are most effective when they are established as a result of discussion with your teen. Allow natural logical consequences to follow failures to comply.
  • Pick your battles.  Clothing choices, hairstyles, music choices, and which club or sport to be a part of might be good decisions to leave up to your teen. If that weird band t-shirt or goofy hair style won’t have an adverse effect on your teen’s success, then letting go of the battle may allow her to feel in control of some aspect of her life. Understanding teenagers is to know which of their behaviors are innocent efforts of self-expression, and which ones are rooted in more troublesome activities or attitudes.

If your teen continues to struggle with the non-negotiables, gets in trouble at school, or cannot keep to the boundaries you set, it may be time to seek counseling. Family therapy and individual sessions for your teen can be an effective and safe way for your child to work through difficult issues. A trained counselor can help families work together as a unit to create rules and boundaries in a non-threatening environment.

 

Jennifer Meehan MA, LPC has worked for the last 15 years in public education and knows has experience working with students and their families in dealing with, ADD/ADHD, anger, autism, defiance, conduct disorders, and abuse. www.achievebalance.org

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