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Hilber Psychological Services

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Posts in Emotions
Parent's Perspective of the Tween's brain

In the article, “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents,” Annie Reneau described an example of good parenting. There is no true definition of great parenting, but one that comes close to that is someone who is willing to take the time to talk to their child. In order to gain a better perspective of what is going through your child’s mind, both you and your child should both take the time to respectfully listen to each other. This is the time to acknowledge that your child is going through a stage, called puberty, where it is very difficult for your child to control their emotions. This is not a time to yell at your child for being moody, but an instance where you can help your child understand why they are moody in the first place. Maybe they don’t even know what or why they are saying something in a specific tone in the first place.

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All mothers have to raise their child into the teen years, so why not treat the scenario the best you can? A mother of an 11-year-old boy asked a question about parenting on Quora: “How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won’t tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I’ve already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?”

Reneau interviewed Jo Eberhardt, a mother of two, who replied with a solid answer to the common question “how do I talk to my child about their emotions and their attitude towards me when they are experiencing puberty without pushing them away?” Eberhardt recounts a discussion that she had with her 11 ½-year-old son who was experiencing what every tween child goes through, the terrible twos all over again...puberty.

Instead of Eberhardt telling her son you did this because or you did that because, she remembered that is was not her son who purposefully talked to her rudely, but his brain. We forget that it is our brain that is controlling our emotions and changing as we grow and age. She stated that “Not only is your body being transformed from a child’s body to an adult’s body, your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child's brain to an adult’s brain” because at age 5 or 6 it was fully developed for a child but not yet ready to fit an adult body. Puberty is the training process for your brain to get used to your new body and fully develop a sense of who you are.

Certain parts of the brain such as the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls your emotions, also control how much sleep one gets and how cranky one may be in the morning. Eberhardt’s son began to understand how his moodiness could come off frustrating to his mother. Not only did he come to a consensus, but so did his mother who also realized how unmanageable it may be for an adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons at once.

This is the time when one needs to raise their child's spirit and be careful not to break it. Admit to your child that it is not their fault for not having a fully developed amygdala and frontal cortex, but instead, praise them for seeing that their bodies are changing and the hormone changes that come with it.

By explaining the physiological reasons behind their changing bodies, children may begin to understand that it is puberty’s fault that their brain is working the way it does. Eberhardt stated that it is still your responsibility to take ownership of your actions and recognize what is going on and choose another way: “You get to choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you get to choose to apologize for that mistake and make amends.”

Keep empathizing and communicating with your child. This way “when we let one’s kids know that we're going through these various phases together, it's easier to work with them instead of against them” (Ebehardt). As their adult brain is developing, they need to realize that their hormones are ranging and how to control them. At least now they know it is not their fault for being moody and why. Every child goes through this treacherous stage in life, so give them some slack because you went through it too.

Contact us for more information on how to communicate with your child and how your family can function best throughout puberty. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Reneau, Annie. “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents.” UpWorthy. Web. 4 Jan. 2019. https://www.upworthy.com/this-mother-s-description-of-her-tween-son-s-brain-is-a-must-read-for-all-parents

The Best Way To ‘Discipline Without Damage,’ From Toddlers To Teens

In the article “The Best Way To ‘Discipline Without Damage,’ From Toddlers To Teens” written by Andy Hinds, In referring to the book, Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, written by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, the author summarizes how most parenting techniques can be replaced by a more concise list in order to connect with your child. Connecting with your child and understanding their emotional development is key. By using your emotional connection with your child to work out behavioral problems together focuses on your child’s feelings rather than their actions. Your child will respect you and your expectations for what “good behavior” is in your family and be able to follow them more appropriately when they fit their emotional development.  

Tired of putting your child in timeouts, using behavior charts to motivate them to behave better, or rewarding them for not acting out? If yes, then think about replacing your parenting techniques with these summarized skills to make it easier. Begin by recognizing that …

Children Have Needs

Keep in mind that your child has not reached their full maturity; that he or she can not quite grasp control over their emotions and actions at this time in their life at their current brain development. Try focusing less on your child’s behavior and more on your own behavior to see if you are still using imagination, patience, and compassion (Hinds) to create a trusted bond between you and your child. Use your emotional connection with your child to center your attention around…

  • Unfolding your child’s personality

  • Relaxing

  • Knowing that your child needs your understanding and acceptance of your child’s feelings

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It’s just a phase

As a parent, you may have demands, but your child’s brain “might not yet have the capacity to meet them” (Hinds). When this happens, try not fighting against the natural stages of child’s kid’s psychological and emotional development (Hinds), instead, realize that it is just a phase they are going through no matter how old they are. Ranging from 2- 17 years of age, children tend to...

  • Start off with having no impulse control where they can not regulate their meltdowns and frustration (ages 2-3)

  • Like testing their limits and exploring more of what they want to do instead of following you (ages 3-4)

  • Become more verbal and somewhat aggressive (ages 3-4)

  • Become more independent (ages 5-7)

  • Get better at regulating themselves (ages 5-7)

  • Start following their passions and interests in which they may need some guidance (ages 8-10)

  • Develop strong opinions and push boundaries (ages 11-12)

  • Become moodier (ages 12-17)

Now knowing that as your child grows, they will develop into their own individual, you as adults can “Adjust your expectations to your kids’ developmental stage” (Hinds).

How Damage-Free Discipline Works On The Ground

If you are tired of yelling and being frustrated with your child, attempt to perceive how your child feels and what it feels like to be yelled at for doing something wrong. Do you want your child to feel like every time they do something wrong they will be yelled at? Instead, try talking in a calm tone of voice and ask them if they need help with anything where you can figure out their problems together and make that parent-child bond even stronger.

Hinds suggests that parents can

  • Respond with connection: “You look like you are having a hard time,” “I will help you. Come with me and we will figure this out.”

  • Stay low: The more upset the kid is, the calmer you need to be

  • Answer to 5: Give a brief (5-word max) reminder of what your child needs to know at the moment: “Gentle hands.” “Kind words.” “That must stop.” “Put it down.”

  • Maintain Firmness With Kindness: Use a “no/I know” approach. Say no to what they can’t have and then acknowledge their feelings by saying “I know you are or feel …”

  • Give No Explanation: maintain your decision with no exceptions

  • Debrief Once The Dust Settles: Once your child has accepted the boundary you have established or enforced, remind them of the incident and its positive resolution along with what they could have learned from it.

As a result, your child will feel more connected with you because both of you have learned and practiced how to control your frustration, as well as understand where each other are coming from. This understanding and practice make your days go smoother.

If you have questions about children development please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. 

~Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References:
Lapointe, Vanessa. “Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up.” (2016). Canada: LifeTree Media Ltd.
Hinds, Andy. “The best way to discipline, from toddlers to teens.” (2016, October 21). Retrieved from www.fatherly.com.

Healthy Mind Platter
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With technology use increasing day by day, we are faced with the fear of a diminished sense of self. These psychological problems can be related to whether our mind is healthy. The Healthy Mind Platter, created by David Rock and Dr. Daniel J. Siegel provides a baseline metric on what a healthy mind constitutes.

Based off of the concept of a healthy meal plan, David Rock and Dr. Daniel J. Siegel point out that it is essential for us to spend our day doing seven crucial things that will result in optimal brain matter. Doing these seven things will lead our mind to “integrate” which refers to the different parts of our brain connecting. This will, in turn, provide us with optimum mental health as well as stronger connections with people and the world around us.

The seven daily essential mental activities for the Healthy Mind Platter:

  • Focus Time: By focusing on tasks in a goal-orientated way, we take on challenges that create opportunities for us to make deep connections in the brain.

  • Play Time: By allowing ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, we help make new connections in the brain.

  • Connecting Time: By connecting with other people, ideally in person, and by taking the time to appreciate our connections to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.

  • Physical Time: By moving our bodies, we strengthen the brain in many ways.

  • Time In: By quietly reflecting internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts, we help to integrate the brain better.

  • Down Time: By doing something that requires no focus, without any specific goal, and letting our mind wander or just relax, we help the brain to recharge.

  • Sleep Time: By giving the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Feel like you could use a little boost? Contact us for more information on the Healthy Mind platter or for other assistance on Anxiety or ADHD.

~Written by Mahida Saifi and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: “The Healthy Mind Platter” http://www.drdansiegel.com/resources/healthy_mind_platter/

Top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know
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Sometimes suffering from anxiety can be hard to understand if you don't suffer from it yourself. People without anxiety often think "Just breathe and you'll be fine" or "What's the big deal?". But to people with anxiety, it's a really big deal. Here are the top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know. 

1. People with anxiety obsess over the little things. 
Things that seem like little things to you, are actually really big things to people who suffer with anxiety. Something as "small" as being looked at wrong or ignored can be very daunting. Situations like these stick with them throughout the day causing even more problems. So the next time something "small" happens, recognize it can be big to them. 

2. People with anxiety have every intention of going to an outing, but at last minute cancel. 
As these daunting ideas continue through out the day, our decision to go out to the movies or dinner becomes the worst idea in the world. Although people with anxiety want to go out, their thoughts often get the best of them and lead to only one decision, canceling. 

3. We are exhausted. 
The constant thinking and question can take a toll on a person who suffers from anxiety. Distracting thoughts throughout the day lead to staying up late at night constantly thinking. This leads to a lack of sleep and struggle to wake up in the morning. Waking up is a struggle for everyone, but imagine what it's like for someone with anxiety. 

4. Anxiety sufferers replay conversations in our head.
When your mind is constantly thinking and running through every possible scenario, you often start to explain a topic faster than possible. All of a sudden, what you're saying isn't making sense. This can be embarrassing for someone who suffers from anxiety. With that feeling of embarrassment, they often shut down. This doesn't mean they're in a mood, they're just struggling with that moment. 

5. Anxiety sufferers compare themselves to others. 
It's hard for someone with anxiety to understand how easy it is for people to get over things. When they see in person or on social media everything that is going on in other people's lives, they often question why it's so much harder for them. This causing even more of an issue when they begin worrying about why they're so worried all the time. 

6. Anxiety sufferers obsess over mistakes and beat ourselves up over it:
When something goes wrong, they often blame themselves. Therefore, when they make a mistake, they obsess over it. Doing things wrong and believing they're not good enough can lead to bigger problems. It's no surprise they're perfectionists. 

7. Finally: please, please don’t give up on us.
Sometimes, when a person with anxiety has no other option than to give up on themselves, they really need YOU to not give up on them. Although it can be frustrating and hard to understand, don't give up on them. 

People who suffer with anxiety are aware of how irrational they may sound. They know what they are going through and they're trying their hardest. Before giving up on them, try to understand them. 

While this information is geared towards individuals who suffer with anxiety, this same information about empathy and understanding emotions can be used to all individuals with disasbilties. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who suffer with anxiety, learning and expressing emotions, or for help with children who are struggling.

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

Reference: Mazza, Laura. “Top 7 Things Anxiety Sufferers Want Those without It to Know.”Love What Matters.