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Rude vs Mean vs Bullying Behaviors
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Singe Whitson, a child and adolescent therapist, spoke about the importance of identifying rude and mean behavior compared to bullying behaviors. It can be easy to categorize bad behavior as bullying, but it is important to not overgeneralize this term. Although a therapist never wants to minimize a client's situation, we all must learn the difference between these terms in order to not simplify the term "bullying". In reality, bullying is a very serious issue.

Whitson defines rude as, “inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else". These may be seen as social errors such as, burping in someone's face, cutting in line, or kicking a ball at someone. The problem with this is that rude situations are often spontaneous. A child does not mean to burp in someone's face, but without meaning to do so, they are hurting someone else. 

Being mean involves “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Whitson explains,  “mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone….Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.” Although both mean and rude behavior needs to be corrected, it is important to understand how they are different from bullying. 

Bullying is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power….Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse -- even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.” There are many different forms of bullying including, physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying. The reason bullying is worse than mean or rude behavior is because of the repeated actions that leave the person being bullied feeling helpless. 

Although bullying has become a topic of greater interest, it can never be talked about enough. Bullying has many long lasting effects on children and adolescents. It is important for parents to be aware of the signs that your child is bullying someone, or being bullied. Preventing bullying will make a difference. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who are suffering from bullying, people who may have lasting effects such as anxiety or depression, or for help with children who are struggling.

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

Reference: “A Mighty Girl.” Www.amightygirl.com, 16 Apr. 2018, www.amightygirl.com/?https=true.

 

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.

No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 2

In my previous article “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1,” I began to discuss the three principles of parenting as created by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson in their book “No Drama Discipline.” This week, I will continue to discuss the first principle, Turning Down the Shark Music. Please refer to the previous article for an introduction of the concept. Last article, we looked at a family scenario and discussed what parenting with shark music may look like based on the children’s previous behaviors. Now, let’s look at this same situation from the perspective of a mindful parent, absent of shark music clouding one’s judgment.

A parent has two children: Jessica, 17, and Daniel, 15. The parent checks the children’s grades at the end of the quarter to find both are not doing well. For Jessica, this is typical. However, for Daniel, the once straight-A student has mostly B’s and a D. The parent takes a second to stop and think about how he or she will react to each child. The parent approaches Daniel first, and states the following, “Hi Daniel. I was looking at your report card today. It sounds like this was not a good semester for you. I understand that as you get older, your grades may not be what they used to be. Unfortunately, based on our house rules, I am going to ground you for three days. How do you think we could increase that D to a C-?”

The major part of being a present, or mindful, parent is the ability to be flexible (response flexibility) and the ability to empathize and connect during discipline. In the above situation, the parent addressed the specific needs of Daniel, an individual child, without comparing him to his sister (as seen in our previous article). Furthermore, the parent looked at this specific situation with the current facts (i.e. acknowledged the D in chemistry instead of yelling at Daniel for being irresponsible) instead of clouding the situation with past expectations for Daniel (i.e. knowing he was previously a straight-A student) or the parent’s own future fears (i.e. the parent fearing Daniel will not go to college).

Being a mindful parent can be challenging, and some days will be better than others. It’s important for a parent to become aware of the shark music blaring in his or her ear before interacting with the child. Furthermore, a parent needs to remember to adjust expectations and understand that a child may need more time to develop. Part of parenting is teaching and guiding children to be successful in the adult world. Sometimes, especially when there are multiple children in the home, a parent may get stuck in assumptions around comparing siblings and/or comparing the child to the parents’ own successes or failures. It is not uncommon for a parent to project his or her own life path and/or choices unto the child. But remember - the child is an individual. It is vital to view the child with a blank state in each and every situation so the parent can act in the present and not base discipline on an emotional trigger of the past and/or worry of the future.

If you feel that you could use more information about parenting, or would like to create a space to discuss your own upbringing, therapy can be a great place to start. If you are hesitant to start therapy or have any questions about it, please contact us at Hilber Psychological Services. You can also visit our FAQ for any general questions you may have.

Tune back next time as we begin to examine the second of three principles, Chasing the Why, based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1

For the past few weeks, I have discussed the foundation for a parent to be able to connect with his or her child during discipline. In the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 1” and “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 2,” I defined the terms “response flexibility” and “mindful parenting” and provided examples of what that might look like in a given situation. Today, I will begin to discuss the three principles of No Drama Discipline based on the research and book of the same name written by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. The three principles are: 1. Turning Down the Shark Music, 2. Chasing the Why, and 3. Think About the How.

Let’s begin by diving into how to turn down the shark music.

Imagine walking along the beach. The sand grazes your bare feet as you soak in the sand's warmth. A small wave gently rolls in, covering your feet in cool water. A slight breeze cools the warm day. You can smell the salt of the ocean. You feel a sense of peace, of safety, as you continue your walk down the beach.

Now, imagine that same scenario - once again, you are walking along the beach. Suddenly, the soft sounds of the ocean disappear. You hear a song play, a familiar song, but you cannot quite recognize it. Suddenly you notice it starts to get louder and louder. It's the theme song from the movie "Jaws." Panic arises, as your heart begins to beat faster. Suddenly, this once beautiful scene has a whole new meaning, based solely on the sound in your head.

While parenting, it is not uncommon to constantly have the theme song from “Jaws” in the back of one's head. Instead of feeling calm and relaxed, parenting can create anxiety and fear. Whether stemming from worry or uncertainty, fear-based parenting focuses on the reactive self. As a result, a parent is more likely to engage in yelling or making assumptions about the child rather then seeing the situation from a blank slate. This often prevents a parent from engaging with this individual child in this individual situation.

Let’s look at an example of what fear-based parenting might look like.

A parent has two children: Jessica and Daniel. Daniel is 15 years old, an honors student, and wants to go to college to become a doctor. Jessica is 17 years old, is unsure of what she wants to do after graduation, and is barely passing her classes. When the siblings’ parent checks their grades at the end of the first quarter, the parent is shocked to see that Daniel has mostly B’s and a D in chemistry. With the shark music blaring in this parent’s ear, the parent goes to Daniel, and yells at him for being so irresponsible. The parent then grounds Daniel for two weeks and leaves the room before Daniel can say anything. Meanwhile, Jessica has four D’s and a C - the parent does not say anything to her.

In the above situation, what was the parent thinking while reading the report card? How did those thoughts affect the parent’s reaction? What were the parents assumptions in this moment? What were the parents fears? Worries? Expectations? How might this same situation change had the parent been more relaxed?

If the above scenario sounds familiar to you, don't worry - you are not alone. Parenting can be challenging, especially since parents are people too with their own stressors. Be sure to tune back soon as I discuss how a parent can go from fear-based parenting to mindful-parenting, and what that might look like.

Furthermore, if you feel that you could use extra support to manage your own stressors, therapy can be a great option. At Hilber Psychological Services we offer individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy. For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services or contact us to schedule an appointment.