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Posts Tagged ‘children’

The most successful teams I have seen, from sports to the workplace to philanthropic groups, are ones on which every participant is working with others doing what each does best.  The teams that I watch fail are those where everyone is trying to be the star and no on wants to play a supporting role.  I was in 3rd grade PE class when I learned that winning was important to everyone.  Not being very coordinated and, quite frankly, caring more about friends than winning or losing, I was never first choice for any teams.  I remember being so very confused that people I thought were friends were choosing others for their team because they had a better chance of winning.  In sixth grade I realized that I was not in the “smartest” class, only the “second smartest” in my grade and I was too young to realize that in my case, changing classes meant going from the top of second to the bottom of first.

To this day I have a problem with competition.  Yes, I realize that competition can push us to be better, give us something to strive for etc., but we are assuming that without competition we would turn into lumps.  Instead, I suggest that in fostering competition we are encouraging a society where there is a hierarchy of abilities instead of a society that recognizes each person for what they are good at. 

More times than not I see children as young as four years old, sad, depressed, angry (note none of these are positive emotions) because they weren’t the best at one or two activities.

Let’s imagine for a minute that instead of competing for one or two coveted spots on a team or in school, each child was recognized for what they are good at.  That every child’s unique contributions to the world were cherished.  Do we really think that under those circumstances our corporate, social and financial worlds would do anything but thrive?  Not to mention what the spirit of collaboration could do for world peace.

I see parents pushing their children earlier and earlier in sports, academics, dance, art….trying to secure a “top spot” in their child’s future.  I also see a lot of kids suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress disorders in elementary and middle school.  It’s not too late to change our world.  Here are a few ways to help foster collaboration and bringing out your child’s unique talents.

1)  Let your child try lots of sports, art and social activities before deciding on which one they excel at.  Don’t tell them how they are doing, praise them for trying and let them tell you how the activity makes them feel.  It is OK to do something just because it’s fun.

2) Do household projects as a family letting each person choose the part of the activity they will enjoy most.  Then talk about how quickly the project got finished and what each person enjoyed most about it.

3)  If you have multiple children, let the kids help each other with difficult homework problems or projects.  Letting them help each other not only lets each child shine, but it teaches the children that one person (the parent) doesn’t have to be great at everything!

4)  Ask for help and let your children see you do that.  In acknowledging that you are not an expert at everything, you open the doors for your children to know it’s OK to do the same.

5)  Let your children see you share your talents with others.  They will then want to share their gifts as well.

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One of the most used tools for punishing a child’s behavior in the last decade has been the “Time Out.”  Companies capitalized on products geared to assist parents with this consequence creating tools that range from Time Out Timers to  Time Out Chairs.  I’m a fan of Time Out myself.  It’s a great way for everyone to regroup, reset and recharge.  But if a child sits in Time Out and stews about the punishment or is uncertain about what they did to land themselves there the Time Out is really ineffective, and more times than not the child will end up right back in the Time Out seat.

This consequence is much more useful if the child has an opportunity to get in touch with what they are feeling and then get to a calmer more centered place.  A child that leaves Time Out calm and balanced is a child that will interact with his surroundings more successfully.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of a Time Out.

1) Choose a time out spot in your home and make it peaceful — Maybe at a window that overlooks the garden or in a space that removed from household noise.  It should also be comfortable enough that the child can relax, for example a chair is preferrable to standing.

2) Play some happy music in Time Out.  Not something that is distracting, but this is a good time to use something like Baby Mozart’s Relax, Daydream and Draw CD.

3) Encourage deep breathing in the Time Out space.  This may mean sitting with your child the first few times and breathing with them so that they understand this is part of the Time Out process.  Deep breathing encourages the physical and emotional levels of the body to relax.  Only once these levels are relaxed can anyone process what’s going on around them.  You are much more likely to get your child to understand their actions once they are calm.

4)  If the child is angry, have them count to ten.  This process helps them refocus their energy and helps to move them out of such a negative space.

5)  Just before they leave their Time Out space ask them to tell you  something they love about themselves.  This reestablishes the idea that consequences do not define them, and they will be in their heart which opens them up to better interactions with everyone.   (Remember ideally it’s 1 minute of Time Out for every year of the child’s age.  A 2-year-old can sit for 2 minutes)

6) My only DON’T suggestion is directly for the parents or caregivers.  Do not end a Time Out asking the child if they know what they did wrong.  This only serves to inject more negative energy into the process at the exact moment that we are asking them to go back to playing or listening to instructions.  We are setting ourselves up for disaster when we do this.  Instead, it is appropriate to tell the child why they are going to Time Out when it is issued, or if the child is older, to ask them why they think they are being sent to Time Out.

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One of the most emotionally challenging things I ever had to do was resign from a position within a charity group that I belonged to. Never in my 39 years had I failed to fulfill the obligations that I committed to or was assigned– no matter what the cost to my emotional or physical well-being. It was difficult to do, but two things happened that day;  1) I really felt free once it was done. I spoke from my heart and I stated realistically what I could do and what I could not. My two month headache disappeared almost immediately. 2) I earned the respect of the very women I was afraid would judge me. After all, I knew (or at least I suspected) that they were as busy as I was, so who was I to actually claim more time for myself when everyone else was carrying equally heavy loads? They were incredibly supportive of my self-honoring.  And in truth, I wasn’t really fulfilling my obligations anyway, so I freed them up to find someone who could help them more. Not only do our children act out when we are overcommitted, but they learn from what we do. If our children see us volunteering at every opportunity, helping every friend in need and operating from an unhealthy place to meet the needs of others then they will very likely grow up to be the same kind of person. So before you say, “Yes,” to that next charity drive, bake sale or PTA position, think about the message you are sending to your children. Saying, “Yes” to You and “No” to others takes some practice. Here are a few tips to ease you into the process. The goal is to only agree to those things that fuel your heart, your passion and your soul.

1) List all your commitments (no matter how big or small). Have a friend or your spouse read them back to you. If any give you a sinking feeling in your stomach or make your heart hurt or you feel like you are being squeezed in a vice…those are commitments that will only drain you. Find a way to get out of them or fulfill the commitment and resign from that job.

2) List 10 things that you can do for you that make you happy. Maybe read a good book, have coffee with a friend, take a day off, stay in your pj’s all day, take the phone off the hook, take a walk, exercise, meditate, get a massage….Whatever those things are, do one everyday before you fulfill any commitments outside of your family.

3) Remember that every time you continue to do a job that makes you complain or feel exhausted you are draining yourself, sending the group negative energy and most important, you are keeping that job from someone who would be very happy doing it.

4) Learn to say, “I deserve to live a balanced life.” Post it anywhere you need a reminder.

5) Surround yourself with friends who also say, “No.” If all of your friends are overcommitters, then it will be even harder to keep balance in your own life. In contrast, if you have friends who have a good idea of how much they can do and still live in balance, then not only will you feel more validated in declining but you will all serve as reminders to one another about what is important.

6) Make family time a priority. We often accidentally fall into the trap of overcommitting ourselves and then it becomes a habit. When we reconnect with the joy of family meals, playing games with our kids or having a date night, we are more reluctant to give those joyful moments up.

7) Ask for help. We assume everyone else is busy and has their own burdens so we don’t ask for help often enough. It is not our place to evaluate what throws someone else out of balance or what fulfills them. Let your friends and family members make that decision for themselves and take any, “Sorry I cannot” replies with gratitude and move on to the next person. Someone will feel very fulfilled in helping you.

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Blurry eyes, hair in a pony tail, coffee in hand and pj bottoms on as you drive the kids to school– Sound familiar?  These are not signs of a lazy parent, these are indicators of a parent who is so busy that self-care has fallen behind (way behind) caring for the family, relatives, work, school, friends…have I missed anyone?  Oh yeah, the family pets too.

When 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time to accomplish everything on the daily to-do list, most parents sacrifice self-care in order to meet the needs of everyone around them.  We know we are not SuperMom or SuperDad, but we look at those around us and if we have a little more time, energy, health or assets, we tend to feel obligated to lend a helping hand.  And we have trained one another to work until we drop.  How many times have you found yourself saying to a friend, “I really don’t have time to bake cookies for the preschool bake sale, but they really need the funds and I would feel guilty if I didn’t do my part.”  Where’s the sign that reads, IF YOU’VE TAKEN CARE OF YOU TODAY THEN WE’D LOVE TO HAVE 2 DOZEN CUPCAKES.  IF NOT, GO AHEAD AND EAT A CUPCAKE, WE’LL CATCH YOU NEXT TIME. ?

Helping and giving are HIGHLY encouraged, but as with all things we have to find balance.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue and Hormone Imbalances are on the rise, and all of these illnesses are heavily influence by stress, nutrition and sleep.  For many parents I know, a balanced meal is eating the leftovers off each child’s plate, adequate sleep is a an uninterrupted nap while peeing and stress management includes enough chocolate consumption to fuel a neighborhood Halloween party for decades.  I will never forget the moment I realized I was not getting enough sleep:  the 20 minutes I was under anesthesia for a routine test were so sound and peaceful that I yelled “YOU’RE SO LOUD,” at the anesthesiologist as he was trying to wake me!

We all know when we are burning the candle at both ends, but what we don’t always realize is that sibling squabbles, cranky children, poor behaviors and obstinate actions in our children are often caused by the over-committing we do as parents.  When we are tired or cranky or always rushing to get to the next thing, our children serve as early warning systems trying to alert us to the damage our actions are causing.  The trouble is, just like the warning to change smoke alarm batteries every month, we usually ignore them.  Oftentimes, if we make subtle shifts towards our own self-care, our children will respond and the family balance returns to a peaceful roar?

What could you give up today?  What actions could you leave to another person?  What could you do for yourself each day that would bring you comfort, joy or satisfaction?

Next week we will offer some tips on how to make easy shifts towards self-care.  Stay tuned….

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The Role of Daddy

by Dr. Frances P. Walfish, Guest Blogger

www.drfranwalfish.com

There are many different ways to be a wonderful father, but for some, it can be a challenge.  For others, it comes easily and naturally.  There are two things that need to be present and in balanced for a man to feel like a successful father: being loving and nurturing and being comfortable setting boundaries and sticking to them.

I find that many fathers are at ease with the first step or the second, but find it a challenge to balance both at the same time.  A great deal of what determines which is more comfortable has to do with the model set by our own fathers and mothers.  For example, a dad in my practice who lacks patience with his children shared that his own father flew off the handle with him.  It was only through gentle exploration that this father was able to take a painful, honest look at his own behavior.  This awareness is the key to breaking the cycle of repetition.

For most dads, loving their child comes easily.  They want to create fun in the relationship so they find ways to engage through play, sports, talking, and wrestling.  But also important to fathering is to setting boundaries, placing limits, saying no, setting up targets.  Many dads are not comfortable with this because it stirs anger, tears, and a little bit of rebellion in the child.  This is where knowing your own history is so vital.  For example, if a father had a harsh disciplinarian father of his own, he may feel that setting limits implies a need to scream at or beat the child.  He may fear repeating the hurt and humiliation he felt with the implementation of rules and boundaries so he instead chooses a loose set of rules.

Let me share an example of a father who, with hard work, changed his own parenting style from that of his parents and grandparents.  This man married late in life and had children at an older age for fear of repeating the mistakes his own parents made with him and his siblings.  His father mishandled the children; he was rough and tough and quick to use the belt.  His mother, who knew no better in raising children, did not intervene and protect her children.  She was busy with her charity and fundraising activities and not very available.  This father decided in his 30’s to invest whatever time, energy, courage, and money it took to turn things around.  He immersed himself in a long term psychotherapy experience.  By the time he married,  had children  and consulted me he knew a great deal about himself.  He came to me when his first child was 9 months old to “prevent” problems.  Because he was open, he took my suggestions, put them into action, and became an exemplary father.  His two school-age children are thriving and doing well.  He has learned how to talk with his children about feelings and behavior rather than responding impulsively.  He is empathic, not reactive.

Tips for dads who have trouble setting.  Remember that each time you set a limit you are giving your child an opportunity to grow.  Meeting the child’s resistance and allowing your child to wrestle with not always getting what she wants builds your child’s strength and character.  Also, when you are able to set a boundary and stick to it without getting angry, you are teaching your child to inhibit aggressive impulses that she would alternatively learn if you screamed and yelled at her.   You are not being mean if you say no.   Your job is to protect your child and to socialize him.

Fun is great!  Disciplining can be a drag.  Fathers must find a way to do both.

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Have you ever noticed that children state something they want/desire/need and within a very short period of time it seems to be in their experience?  It’s because children haven’t forgotten that they are powerful creators!  Children stay so present moment and heart-based that they believe anything is possible.  When my daughter was four she really wanted to go camping.  I could not think of anything less appealing since my idea of “roughing it” is having to stay in a 2 star hotel.  My inclination was to tell her, “No, honey, we don’t camp and I don’t want to.”  Instead, I thought I would cleverly encourage her to create what she wanted — I was underestimating her ability to manifest.  I told her, “If you really want to go camping then you have to create it.”  Two days later my nanny said, “Maggie told me she wants to go camping and you know, my boyfriend has a tent you guys can borrow.  Just pitch it in the backyard and do a camp out.”

I was in the unique situation of wanting to ring my nanny’s neck, torch the canvas tent and congratulate my daughter on her manifesting abilities.  That little four year old just knew what she wanted and brought it into her experience.

It’s only as we become hardened to our environment that we slow down this process of manifesting our heart’s desires.  Having children in our life  helps us remember that anything IS possible!

Sometimes we think the best thing we can do as parents is to prepare our children for disappointment, let downs and rejection.  Have you ever found yourself saying some version of , “Life isn’t fair,” or “You don’t always get what you want”?  Because this is what we have experienced we convince ourselves that we would rather be the bearer of that bad news than some uncaring stranger (like a future boss, teacher or bully).  As Conscious Parents we want to help our children hold on to that beautiful sense of hope and the ability to manifest.  What if you lead your child through a process of staying so in touch with his or her heart that life was filled with the experience of truly creating the life they imagined?  And, on your way through that parenting journey, you will find that you are manifesting more and more of what your heart desires too!

Now for the How To:

1) Set aside time every few months to do Vision Boards.  Using magazines, words, pictures, markers, crayons and your imagination, let every person in the house create a poster (of any size) that includes the things they would like to experience.  Hang the posters in bedrooms or on a common wall and look at the boards everyday letting your heart and mind join in the fantasy of imagining how you will feel to experience what is on the board.  Once you feel complete because you have either manifested most of the experiences or because you have other ones that are more important to your heart, it’s time to do it again.  Doing this exercise as a family helps you support each other’s aspirations.

2)  Talk regularly with your children about what they would like to experience.  Just because it seems out of touch with reality to you doesn’t mean it’s truly unattainable.  It’s important that instead of telling your child, “That’s a nice aspiration but I don’t know that it will ever happen,” say things like, “How do think it will feel to do that?”  “How do you imagine it will be to experience that?” 

3)  Support one another’s dreams.  Talk as a family about what each member wants to experience and dream the dream with them, no matter how silly it seems.  This is one of our favorite things to do on long car trips or while we are waiting for food at a restaurant. 

Manifesting your heart’s desires does not have to take a lot of time or energy and it should always feel light and fun.  The key to manifestation is remembering that the only limitations we have are what our mind can conceive.  So take your mind out of the equation and dream with your heart. 

Oh, and my daughter’s camping experience…we did pitch that tent, but my manifestation was to sleep in a warm, cozy bed with the A/C running and access to indoor plumbing without having to dodge midnight spider-webs.  My husband slept in the tent with her!

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