Posted on

3 Ways to Manage Yourself on Bad Days

Stress is a fact of modern adult life. The energy needed to maintain a career, home, family, and social life can be difficult to gather some days. When your personal reserves are running low, your relationships suffer. In addition to a number of serious physical symptoms, stress contributes to anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression. When you’re overwhelmed with these emotions, the normal antics and issues your child participates in could be just enough to send you into an adult tantrum.

It’s normal to encounter feelings of stress from time to time. However, it’s important to know how to manage the effects so that your negative emotions don’t compromise your relationship with your children.

Your Mood Sets the Tone

Don’t underestimate the power you have to shape your child’s thinking and habits. Numerous studies have connected parental mood to their children’s long-term mental and emotional stability. Children learn their sense of self-worth from the way their parents interact with them. When you are suffering from the effects of stress, you aren’t able to respond to your children with complete loving-kindness. A pattern of negative interactions over time erodes self-esteem. In extreme cases, children can suffer real neurological effects that threaten the development of healthy social skills.

Reducing the Effects of Stress

Parents can use some simple coping techniques to lessen the effects of stress on their daily mood.

Prioritize self-care. Keeping up with your busy schedule wears you down bit by bit. Taking time to relax and make yourself feel good gives you the energy to tackle life’s problems without succumbing to irritability or anger. Make time in your day to exercise, eat a good meal, read, or partake in your favorite leisure activity.
Extend your empathy and compassion to yourself. It is vital that you show yourself the same respect and consideration that you show to others. Give yourself a break when you’re having a hard day. Don’t force yourself to continue trying to fix problems when you honestly don’t have the mental and physical energy. Ask your friends, family, and support system for help when you need it.
Maintain calm, no matter what. If your child confronts you with questionable behavior while you are already suffering from the effects of overwhelm, do whatever works to keep yourself from responding in anger. Excuse yourself to an isolated space for a few moments. Take some deep breaths. A brisk walk around the block, jumping jacks, or any activity that shakes up the body and clears the mind works to keep you from saying something you might come to regret.

The best way to combat the effects of stress on the parent-child relationship is to be proactive. By taking care of yourself on a regular basis, you increase your ability to handle stressful situations. With a mindful attitude, parents can keep their stress from negatively impacting their children’s future.

Posted on

The Friction of the Parent-Child Relationship and How to Overcome It

Before having children, future parents often imagine their offspring will be more cooperative and relatable than those they see around them. Children are, after all, made by combining pieces of each parents’ personality, physical traits, and mental aptitudes. How could you not get along with a miniature version of yourself?

The truth is that, while children may share certain traits and habits with their parents, they are their own people. Their decisions, motivations, and preferences can vary vastly from your own. This can contribute to friction in the parent-child relationship. This state of irritated disagreement occurs at all ages and for a variety of reasons. What causes friction between parents and children? How can parents correct the underlying causes of this dysfunction?

Root Causes of Friction

When friction strikes, it’s essential to find the root cause of the disagreement. This will enable you to formulate an effective plan to neutralize the bad feelings. These are common causes of friction in the parent-child relationship.

When your child isn’t getting the emotional validation and positive attention they crave, they may choose to act out. This cry for attention can come in the form of tantrums, uncooperative behavior, or even violent acts like hitting or punching.
Parents who are pulled in too many directions can have a hard time keeping up with all their demands. Friction happens when your need for rest or self-care is challenged by the needs of others in your care.
High parental expectations can set children up for a lifetime of success. Unrealistic or harsh expectations, on the other hand, have the opposite effect. According to a recent study, when parents set expectations, children are more prone to failure when confronted with unyielding standards. This can add to the buildup of friction between parents and children.

Once you decipher the reason behind the problems, what can you do to fix them?

Addressing Friction

Use these techniques to confront the issues that are causing friction in your home and bring calm to your parent-child relationship.

Check in with yourself. Have you been taking care of yourself? Reduce your own stress levels by engaging in activities you love, going to the gym, and eating a healthy diet. Take care of your own needs so you have the energy to help your child sort through their issues.
Listen to your child. Try to reserve judgment and maintain a calm demeanor when they say things you don’t agree with. Look at the situation from their perspective to gain an empathetic understanding of their frustration.
Make communication a family value. Regular family dinners and special one-on-one time with each child give parents opportunities to talk about issues before they become big problems. Periodic family meetings cut down on discord between family members by giving them a formal time and place to air grievances.

Family friction can threaten the happiness in your home. But with a little patience, empathy, and loving kindness towards yourself and your children, you can restore harmonious relationships.

Posted on

6 Must-Have Parenting Books and Why

 

Like the saying goes, babies don’t come with instruction manuals. New parents are often left to figure things out for themselves, using a mix of personal experience and advice from friends and family. Even practiced parents struggle as they try to guide their children through crucial stages of development. Here are six parenting books that offer trustworthy information and practical solutions for families with children of all ages and abilities.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
This book uses modern neurobiology to help parents understand their children’s developmental stages. It presents 12 ways to encourage healthy intellectual and emotional growth in children.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
Many parenting books focus on the child and children’s behavior, but don’t always address how parent behaviors contribute to family dynamics. Dr. Laura Markham works with parents in this book to identify how they affect each situation, how to minimize reactions in themselves, and how to cope and connect with their kids in a positive way. Approachable and compassionate, Markham and her followers have created a whole community online where parents can find ongoing encouragement, tips, and support.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Positive parenting techniques build trust, encourage independence, and reduce the likelihood that your child will make dangerous decisions. Good communication is a key component of effective parenting. This book gives you solid examples of ways to build effective communication between you and your child by overcoming common barriers.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder Dependence on electronic entertainment has sent the rates of childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, and anxiety off the charts. This book lays out scientific evidence that spending time in nature improves the overall well-being of low-activity children.

Raising Your Spirited Child, Third Edition: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic
Spirited children present unique parenting challenges like emotional meltdowns, defiant behavior, and high levels of sensitivity. Parents learn strategies to help their child build self-regulation skills. This book is great for autism, ODD, and ADD families that struggle with social integration.

Teen Picks
These three selections will help you guide your teen across the bridge from child to adult.
How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk:  Presents advice specifically geared towards older children. These strategies keep the lines of communication clear during these potentially turbulent years.
Parenting Teens With Love And Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, Updated and Expanded Edition is a practical guide to ensuring your child is ready to take on the trials of adult life.
Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World examines the way internet-based technology changes young people’s thinking and presents ways to counter negative or erroneous digital influences.

Parents can sometimes feel alone in their quest to build a better life for their children. However, a trip to your local bookstore is a great reminder that aid is always available.

Posted on

Understanding Limits and Consequences and Their Role in Parenting

Limits and consequences give young ones a solid set of rules to use when making decisions. These concepts are similar but differ in key ways. Knowing these differences enables parents to develop strategies that help their children choose cooperative and mutually beneficial behaviors more often.
Defining Limits
Limits are rules we follow to reduce the possibility of negative circumstances. These boundaries keep us safe from potentially dangerous situations. Use these tips to encourage safe yet independent decision making. Younger children need simple, well-defined limits. As they mature, limits can be relaxed to accommodate their growing sense of responsibility. A five-year-old may be limited to 20 minutes per day of access to a limited range of websites. Teenagers could be given more time and freedom with the same privilege.
Consider your child’s age and ability level when deciding what limits to set. Older children may have rules about vehicle use, attending social events, and chores or job duties. For smaller children, healthy limits include playing with toys in their proper place to reduce damage to surroundings. Rules should apply to all family members. Making rules that only apply to one or two members can seem harsh and unfair. Even if the problem is mainly perpetrated by specific parties, make an effort to include everyone in the responsibility of upholding the family ethic.Limits help keep kids safe until they are able to make their own decisions.
Defining Consequence
Consequences are the natural effects of our actions. If you prick a balloon with a pin, the consequence is a popped balloon. Help children to think before they act to minimize unhappy results.
Irritation makes it easy for hurtful words to accidentally slip. Hurtful language causes more problems than it solves. Maintain your cool when you observe your child breaking a rule. Always respond from a place of loving correction. Give your children space to experience the natural consequences of their actions. If they choose to ignore homework assignments, they shouldn’t be surprised or upset when they see bad grades on report cards. Of course, you should intervene right away if there is a possibility of physical harm or damage.
When your child experiences negative consequences because of their actions, talk with them about it. Discuss the decisions they made that contributed to the situation. Brainstorm ways to avoid a repeat of the circumstances. In your family meetings, define consequences for those who choose to subvert the family rules. Swear jars, extra chores, and repairing any damage are excellent ways to encourage good decision making. Consistency is key to effective limits and consequences. If a child doesn’t believe you will carry through on established rules, they will lose trust in your ability to offer real guidance. Once that trust is lost, it’s difficult to regain your authority. Consistency also reduces confusion and anxiety, which are common triggers for unwanted behaviors.
Limits and consequences don’t limit your child’s potential. Instead, they provide a strong foundation they can use to build a satisfying life.

Posted on

Social Skills – What they are and how to cultivate them

People of all ages benefit from good interpersonal skills at home, school, in the workplace and any other situation that requires a team effort. Children who lack social skills have a hard time relating to others and might struggle to contribute meaningfully to a group. This can lead to social rejection, which negatively impacts the emotional, cognitive and physical health of the child. A study from the University of Arizona found conclusive links between poor social skill development and depression.

Parents can help children develop the social skills needed to make good decisions and create nurturing relationships.

What Are Social Skills?

Socials skills are the mental abilities that allow people to interact with each other in a mutually positive way. There are four main behaviors associated with good social skills.

Respecting the skills and contributions of others in the group and expressing that appreciation.
Exchanging ideas and information in a group.
Following the rules of the group and displaying context-appropriate behavior.
Using different skills and methods to reach the group’s goals.

These behaviors are a combination of verbal and nonverbal actions. Children who master these competencies are popular, socially active and less prone to make harmful decisions. Those who have difficulty with any combination of these qualities can find themselves having problems making friends, keeping upgrades, or following household rules.

Cultivating Social Skills

Social skills can be taught. With some perseverance, patience and positive examples, parents can help children overcome their social deficiencies.

Create opportunities for practice at home. Hold regular family meetings to discuss issues like schedules, vacation plans, or problems that need to be solved. During these sessions, encourage your child to participate by voicing their opinion, taking notes, or assisting in other age-appropriate ways.
Take your child with you to organized social affairs like book club meetings, political gatherings, or cultural events. They will learn to observe the rules of the group and to respect those with opinions, skills, and knowledge that are different from their own. These skills are necessary for finding success in diverse group settings like colleges and workplaces.
Show your child the value of friendship. Talk to them about their friends. Ask them what they like about their companions and how they enjoy spending time together. When a disagreement occurs, talk about ways to repair the damage and reestablish the relationship. Teach children that relationships are not disposable and that there is often good reason to compromise in order to save the relationship.
Teach your children the basics of good manners. Saying please and thank you, waiting your turn and other general rules of group etiquette form the basis of almost all group rules. Make good manners and respect for others a family goal.

The ability to cooperate and work well in a group setting is one of the most important indicators of financial success and personal satisfaction. Your guidance and loving involvement will ensure your child builds a foundation of social skills they can use to build their best life.

Posted on

5 Ways to Help Your Child Build Good Judgement

Judgment is the psychological ability to think critically about life experiences. After evaluating events, encounters and other bits of information, we use our judgment to draw conclusions. Good judgment leads to conclusions that encourage continued growth and overall well-being. Questionable judgment skills can lead us into dangerous or unhealthy situations that stunt our ability to live fully.

Parents can help their children develop strong critical thinking skills and a positive frame of mind. These qualities will lead to good judgments that contribute to success in most areas of life.

Five Ways to Foster Good Judgment Skills

Include these techniques in your family’s routine to improve your child’s ability to make good decisions.

Establish core family values. The values you display will be your child’s reference point in their own decision-making process. What is important to you as a family? What qualities and skills do you want your children to have? Use family meeting time to create a document that lists the issues, beliefs and goals that all members unite around.
Give them some control. Allow younger children to choose their own outfit. Work with older kids to create a schedule for homework, afterschool activities and other duties. Guide their decisions and help identify circumstances that lead to the best possible outcome.
Remind them of the consequences. Any decisions a child makes that violates your family’s rules should have corresponding consequences. Your child may be allowed to choose what time they complete a specific chore, but if they fail to get it done, they won’t be able to play video games after dinner.
Encourage your child to reflect on their experience. When your child brings home a report card with low grades, ask them what they think went wrong. Talk about things they could have done differently. Help them formulate a plan to make the problem less likely to happen again.
Show them your decision-making process. Narrate your day to younger children. Talk about how you fold laundry, balance your checkbook, or fulfill your other daily duties. Plan the menu for a family picnic with your teenager’s assistance. Give them a first-hand understanding of how everyday decisions are made.

Peer Pressure and Judgment

The urge to conform to group standards is an evolutionary impulse. Today, this tendency doesn’t always lead us down the right path.

Children as young as three are influenced by peer pressure. Their natural need to be accepted by a group may contribute to decisions with negative impacts. This behavior is more common in the teen years when young adults are trying to establish their own identities.

High self-esteem reduces the chances your child will give in to peer pressure. When your child makes a good decision, praise them openly. Your opinion of them forms an integral part of their own self-identity.

Your child’s judgment skills are a big part of any potential success they might achieve in life. Give them the tools to choose the right path, even when you aren’t there to guide them.

Posted on

There is no right way to raise your children

There is no right way to raise your children. There is no hard and fast rule about what will work in your home, with your particular family, your child’s unique personality, the circumstances you are in, the luck or challenges that come your way. All the money in the world can’t fix a serious problem. No matter how little you have materially, you can raise an excellent human being if all else falls into place. Consistently teaching your values will usually result in your children having the same values… but not always. Because above and beyond everything else, our children come to us with inherent qualities that we cannot special order, request, or cross off a list as undesirableThere is no right way to raise your children. There is no hard and fast rule about what will work in your home, with your particular family, your child’s unique personality, the circumstances you are in, the luck or challenges that come your way. All the money in the world can’t fix a serious problem. No matter how little you have materially, you can raise an excellent human being if all else falls into place. Consistently teaching your values will usually result in your children having the same values… but not always. Because above and beyond everything else, our children come to us with inherent qualities that we cannot special order, request, or cross off a list as undesirable.
Two of the biggest problems affecting families today are parents being tired and stressed out. The fallout from these issues can be lessened or even eliminated for the most part by creating a family management plan and acting on it. For example: if both parents work, having a plan for dinner and a routine for every member of the family for the evening, reduces stress. Not knowing what is for dinner, and generally trying to get everyone to do what you think they should do is a recipe for chaos, more stress, and unhappiness. It can really feel like herding cats. A plan for managing your family will not be perfect, or create a family system without fault, but it will put into place a structure that every member of your household responds to and eventually come to appreciate.

The management plan should have input from every member.

Posted on

How to avoid the “SUMMER SLIDE”

It sounds like the star attraction at your local playground, but there’s nothing fun about the summer slide.

According to the United States Department of Education, summer slide is the loss of academic abilities during long school breaks. Reading and math skills take the hardest hit. When students return to class, teachers often need to spend four to six weeks reviewing forgotten material.
Learning loss has a cumulative effect. Students may take longer to catch up, leaving them fewer opportunities to absorb new material. The pattern repeats after each vacation period until the student is so far behind that more advanced interventions are needed.
Preventing the summer slide means your child spends more of their class time learning new things. It also prevents frustration and embarrassment, two huge barriers for students with special needs, behavioral issues, or learning disabilities.
Strategize for Maximum Success
Get familiar with your state’s educational expectations. During preparations for preventing the summer slide, compare the goals of their upcoming academic year with their current skill and knowledge sets.Make a list of realistic and measurable goals. If your child is behind a full grade level, it may not be possible to catch them up over a 12-week break. You can, however, read a certain number of books, complete daily practice assignments, or finish a project.
Make Learning an Experience
Learners of all ages benefit from multisensory learning methods. Have younger children practice spelling, phonics, and math by tracing words, numbers, and symbols in the sand, dirt, or salt with fingers and sticks. For older children, online resources with music, games, and video keep them engaged while reinforcing existing knowledge.
Summer is for road trips. Use the car time to play games that keep everyone mentally stimulated on the long drive. Don’t forget to download a couple of educational apps on their tablets and phones before hitting the road.
Have your child keep a daily journal of their summer activities. Set a word count based on age level and writing ability. Provide stickers, colored pencils, and other art supplies so they can get creative.
Make learning meaningful. Buy a science kit, like soil sampling or insect catching, and take it on a hike or your trip to the beach. A child that loves music can learn essential math and reading skills while training on their instrument.
Comfort. Encourage. Celebrate.
A 10-year study by the social research group MDRC found conclusive evidence that parent involvement improves math and literacy skills. Your genuine interest helps your child succeed. Encourage them to try harder. Celebrate their victories, no matter how small. When failures happen, take the time to comfort them.

Your attention, involvement, and unconditional positive regard will help foster joyful creativity and a lifelong love of learning while preventing the summer slide.

Posted on

10 Ways to Make the Switch From Summer to School

Playtime is just as important as classroom time. Researchers have found that play improves memory and encourages the growth of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with perception and reasoning.

If you find the right summer activities for families, your child will continue to learn while on academic vacation and avoid the dreaded summer slide. Here are 10 ways you can help your family switch from summer mode before the first day of school.

Take Control of Time

Get back to a regular bedtime. It could take 2-3 weeks to readjust to schedule.
Re-establish morning routines. Use visual charts to guide children through morning grooming and chores. Make sure everything they need is easy to find for a stress-free day.

Get Ready to Work

Help your child come up with goals for the school year. Goals, like making the honor roll, joining clubs for increased social interactions, or running for a student leader position, can help motivate your child to reach outside of their comfort zone.
Prepare your home for the demands of another school year. Have backpacks, lunch kits, and sweaters ready in a central location. Get your child’s homework area ready too. A quiet, well-lit place to study will reduce distractions.
Re-establish order. What is expected on school days? When and where will homework be completed? What chores need to be done before your child can enjoy free time? Discuss after-school activities, transportation to and from school, curfews, visiting friends, or any other issues related to maintaining academic focus outside of school hours.
Flip flops and cut-offs may be the official uniform for summer, but don’t make the grade for most dress codes. Get your child’s school wardrobe ready to help them dress for success.

Learning Fun in the Summer Sun

If your child found a hobby or learned a skill during the break that they really enjoy, make it part of their back-to-school routine. After school music lessons and dance classes keep children motivated to do their best in all aspects of life. School clubs and teams are another way to indulge your child’s interest.
Wake-up lazy brains with creative learning summer activities for families. Use a nature guide to identify different species of birds or plants during a family nature hike or try some informal physics experiments to spark their interest and get them excited about learning.

The Final Countdown

Send your summer off with a blast! Take a trip before the new school year starts. Whether you choose an epic road trip or a quiet weekend camping in the woods, give your children one last chance to taste the full sweetness of summer.
Take a test run. This is especially important for those attending new schools and visually-inclined autistic students. Drive to the school. Find classrooms, bathrooms, lockers, offices, and libraries.

Boost your child’s chances for academic success with these summer activities for families. Your family will be relaxed, happy, and ready to face the new school year.

Posted on

How to Create a Well-Balanced Summer for the Family.

Being eager about the summer season is a natural, common emotion. There’s nothing like experiencing the bright blue sky, deep green leaves, and endless sunshine. However, all too often in the Electronic Age, kids don’t get the same outdoor activity and restful summer repose that their parents took for granted. It’s easy to spend time looking at computer and television screens instead of discovering fun summer activities for families.

Doing, Doing, Doing

Western culture depends on constant activity. Although relaxation is a big part of why we work, idle time seems somehow wrong, even when on vacation. Researchers have performed studies on why humans feel the need for constant activity. In controlled tests, people were happier when they accomplished something, even for the slightest reason.

Experts believe that the compulsion is rooted in evolution. Because survival required constant foraging, many psychologists conclude that the behavior is ingrained. “If idle people remain idle, they are miserable. If idle people become busy, they will be happier.”

However, destructive busyness can be detrimental. In fact, it can manifest itself in physical ailments. Children become anxious, depressed, have headaches, or lose sleep. So, it’s very important for parents to strike a balance between boredom and too much activity. Finding cool summer activities for families is a good start.

Establishing a Healthy Balance Between Freedom, Boredom, and Doing

Depending on your child’s level of maturity, you can help them maintain a healthy balance between activity and rest. Screen time can lead to more problems, so finding a middle ground during the summer is the key.

Age appropriate guidelines are just that, guidelines, and boredom is not necessarily a bad thing. Spending time alone and recharging is important for healthy development.

Understanding the Importance of Boredom

Overstimulation from electronic devices can have a negative influence on your child’s development. Too much time staring at digital screens leads to depression and anxiety, lower academic performance, and poor sleep.

However, boredom actually helps your brain. It lets you form new thoughts and imagine. Research has confirmed that daydreaming uses the same processes that control imagination and ingenuity. Plus, being bored helps relieve stress in children.

Make Summer Time Fun Time

Your child’s best teacher is you. But they learn better from your actions than your words. Spending time doing summer activities for families demonstrates how important your children are to you. They’ll see your ability to relax, not spend time on the computer, and communicate in the old fashioned way (face-to-face), and will learn to incorporate those healthy practices in their own lives.

Summer is the perfect time to strengthen the bonds of love that bind your family together. Make eating together a priority. One of the easiest ways to do this is scheduling evening meals without media.

Summer is the perfect time to cut back on screen time and build stronger connections with your kids. A well-balanced one filled with summer activities for families will create lasting memories and support your child’s healthy development.