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Posts tagged coping
9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown With Compassion

Of course you love your children, but aren't they just so good at pushing your buttons? It's easy to get frustrated when your children are demanding impossible requests or continue to do the one thing you asked them not to over and over. Thoughts may cross your mind such as, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out," (although you would never say that aloud). Your first reaction may be to raise your voice and punish your child, however this article will prepare you with 9 sayings to use when your child is having a meltdown that get the point across while still using compassion. 

It is important to reinforce connection, not separation. Vanessa Lapointe suggests "discipline without damage". Based off of science, and the way a child's brain develops, we want to build children who are hardy, not hardened. Children who are hardy have the ability to overcome to struggles of life, while children who are hardened cannot, and instead shut down using poor coping skills. Below are 9 sayings found on Lapointe's Disciple Cheat Sheet to help change the way you defuse a difficult situation with your child. 

1. Instead of: "What were you thinking?" 
Say: "I'm going to help you with this."

2. Instead of: "How many times do I have to tell you?"
Say: "I'm going to do (__) so that it will be easier for you." 

3. Instead of: "Stop it! You're embarrassing me!"
Say: "Let's go to a quieter place to get this sorted out."

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4. Instead of: "If you don't stop that, no Xbox for a week!"
Say: "I can see this is tricky for you. We're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water first."

5. Instead of: "Go to your room."
Say: "Come here, I've got you."

6. Instead of: "No stars on the star chart for you!"
Say: "Let's figure out a better way for next time."

7.  Instead of: "Stop. That. Right. NOW!"
Say: "If you need to get your mad out- then go ahead. It's okay. I've got you."

8. Instead of: *Silent eye-roll and frustration sigh*
Say: *Kindness in our eyes and compassionate hair tousle*

9. Instead of: "You are IMPOSSIBLE!"
Say: "We will get this figured out. I can handle ALL of you. It's all good."

The key to defusing a meltdown is to use different tactics from the Disciple Cheat Sheet. When your toddler does something, such as color on the wall, instead of yelling, begin by maintaining a calm voice and saying "You know we aren't supposed to color on the wall, let's get this cleaned up." If your toddler fights back, stay calm and move to another tactic, "I can see this is tricky for you, we're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water." It may take time, but eventually your child will calm down, and that is when you can show them how to get the color off of the wall. Your child still learns their actions have consequences, but you were able to get your point across without raising your voice. 

Children's brains have not developed impulse control, therefore no amount of yelling will change the brain's wiring. The phrases above work best for young children, but you can use the same idea of compassion to get your point across with older children and adults. When using these phrases, it is important to remain confident, all-knowing, and in charge, in order to avoid helicoptering your child. Although it may take time for the parent to refer to these phrases before getting frustrated, remember that "It's okay. I've got you," may be exactly what your child needs to hear. 

If you have questions about using compassion and the good affects it can have on you and your child or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Porter, Evan. “9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown with Compassion.”Upworthy, Cloud Tiger Media Inc., 21 July 2017.

Reducing Holiday Stress
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One of the best ways to continue living a balanced lifestyle is to reduce stress levels, especially during the holidays. Stress does not only ruin your holidays, but it's also bad for your health. Between shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, we sometimes forget that the holidays are supposed to be a fun, relaxing time spent with family and friends. When stress reaches it's top peak, it can be hard to gather and regroup. Here are some practical tips to help you get through the holidays, stress free: 

1. Acknowledge your feelings- Just because it is holiday season, that does not mean you have to be jolly all the time. If you have lost a family member or are unable to be with loved ones this holiday, it is okay to feel sad and cry. Acknowledging how you are feeling and accepting it can make the hard times a little more bearable.

2. Reach out- If you are feeling lonely, reach out to your community. Volunteering is a great way to pass time while feeling better about yourself and broadening friendships amongst your community. 

3. Be realistic- As years go on and people grow older, it is hard to make holidays perfect and the same as last year. Although traditions are important, there is always room for change. If family members are unable to make it this year, reach out and celebrate in other was to continue the holiday festivities.  

4. Set aside differences-  Try to make the most out of the time you have to spend with people. Accept family and friends for who they are and pick a different time to talk about your problems. Remember that other people are suffering from holiday stress as well. 

5. Stick to a budget- Holidays are not about who spent the most money. Before you begin shopping,  decide on a realistic budget and stick to it. Use techniques such as homemade gifts or family gift exchanges to keep the cost low. 

6. Plan ahead- Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, and visiting friends. Plan out events first then make lists of what you need to avoid last minute scrambling. Reach out to friends and plan ahead for party prep and clean up. Through all the madness, don't forget to save time for yourself. 

7. Learn to say no- Saying yes to every event will only lead to more stress. Friends and family members will understand if you can't participate in everything. If you start to feel overwhelmed, prioritize and take something off of your list.  

8. Don't abandon healthy habits- Eating healthy, exercising, and appropriate amounts of sleeping are all still important even during the holidays. It's easy to get caught up in the sweets every now and then,  but don't forget to take care of yourself.   

9. Take a breather- Spending just 15 minutes alone without any distractions can make all the difference. Go for a walk, listen to music, or read a book are some healthy ways to distract yourself and help with self care.  

10. Seek professional help as needed-  Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. 

Effects of too much stress or chronic stress can exacerbate current problems or create more problems in life. The healthier your family is, the less difficult holidays are and the more enjoyable the holidays are. The more dysfunctional your family, the more important it is to have a survival plan. Use these tips to not only get through the holidays, but to get through everyday. 

If you have questions about stress and how it can affect you or your family's health or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff. “Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 Sept. 2017.

Become an Includer
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Inclusion, along with diversity, inhibits bullying at the core. Inclusion is also a key to raising a compassionate, confident kids. There are only three steps to becoming an includer and fostering a family who includes others. 

  • start with yourself
  • have compassion for yourself
  • model inclusion in early childhood

To begin, inclusion starts with yourself. It is important for friends and family members to be conscious of their interactions with each other. Before reacting, take a moment to think about how you're feeling. Allow yourself to acknowledge and consider all your positive and negative feelings, rather than considering the other person's feelings first. Then choose how you want to respond. After this is done, ask your partner or friend to understand how you feel. By understanding and allowing your feelings, you will have a more compassionate response, thereby including your partner's or friend's opinions.

Children need modeling, such as hugs and "I love you's",  in order to understand compassion. This is especially important to start in early childhood due to their increase in development. By listening to your child and allowing them to have their feelings, instead of problem solving for them, they are able to gain a sense of compassion. Including your child in the process allows them to become more emotionally intelligent. Showing your child how to be compassionate and letting them grow as a person helps them to become an includer too. This can even lead to a reduction in bullying, but it all starts with you. 

Contact us for more information on inclusion, compassion, bullying, or for help with children who are struggling. 

-Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Compton, J. (2017). Want compassionate confident kids? Do this. NBC News Better.

The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 9: Acts of Service

Last week, I discussed the final love language of children, acts of service, based on the book “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. In case you missed it, please follow the links below to read previous posts about the various love languages of children:

  1. Physical Touch (Part 1 and Part 2)
  2. Words of Affirmation (Part 1 and Part 2)
  3. Quality Time (Part 1 and Part 2)
  4. Gifts
  5. Acts of Service (Part 1)

Today, I will continue to discuss the final love language of children, acts of service, to provide some tips, tricks, and tidbits on how to incorporate acts of service into a parent-child relationship.

Love language

It is easy for parents to have hopes, wishes, and dreams for their children. A part of incorporating acts of service into a parent-child relationship is a parent’s acknowledgement that the child is not an extension of the parent, but rather an individual. This means that it is important for parents to allow their children to develop their own skills, abilities, and goals without the parents pushing their own unfulfilled wishes or desires upon their children. A parent’s goal is to help guide a child and give the child room to explore their own autonomy. This does not include giving a child a detailed map stating what the rest of the child’s life will look like.

For children whose primary love language is acts of service, requesting help from a parent is more about creating a connection then receiving the help. Because it is about connection for the child, a parent’s response may negatively impact the parent-child relationship.

For example, an adolescent approaches his mother while she is reading and asks, “Mom, will you cook me breakfast?” Without looking up, his mother snaps to him, “No you know how to cook it yourself.” In this instance, the son was not just asking for food, but to engage with his mother. This response may leave the son feeling defeated and upset. Parents do not need to jump at every request but should remain sensitive a child’s requests and recognize that it is motivated by a child’s need for connection.

Instead of snapping at her child in the above example, an alternative response may have looked more like this: “I’m sorry, I cannot cook right now. Would it be okay if you made something yourself and then we can do something together later?” In this way, the mother is still denying the request, however, she is also addressing her son’s need to connect.

As a parent, when providing acts of service for a child, it is important to help a child regardless of the child’s behavior. For example, some parents may feel that they can only help a child when the child behaves well and may choose not to help a child if a child is behaving poorly. This will ultimately teach a child that love is conditional and must be earned. This is not a message a parent should teach a child - love is unconditional, and therefore, a parent’s role is to support and help a child as needed, whether the child has had a good day or a bad day.

Below is a list of tips, tricks, and tidbits to help parents connect with a child whose love language is acts of service:

  • Children will notice a parent who does things for others out of love, not obligation, and will model this behavior
  • For younger children, have them help with chores or cooking. This will not only show the child skills for future independence, but will also allow parent and child to connect with one another
  • As children get older, engage in the community together such as through volunteering and/or walking for awareness or a cause
  • Respond to a child’s request - not react. If a parent refuses a child, pushes the child away, or responds to a child in a harsh or critical tone, it may impact the child’s emotional tank

And remember, a parent does not need to say “yes” to a child’s every request. However, a parent should try to remain sensitive to a child’s request, recognize it as a bid for connection, and respond in a gentle manner.

If you enjoyed reading about the five love languages of children and would like to learn how to incorporate these languages into your own relationship with your child, therapy can be a safe space to explore these connections. From individual therapy, to family therapy, to couples therapy, there are lots of ways to create connection and explore specific and unique patterns within a family. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.