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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

So, if my postings have been a bit sporadic the past few months, it’s with good reason. Much to our surprise, after 8 years of unsuccessfully trying to add child #4 to our family, I seem to be very much pregnant (due in March if you’re curious).

What’s the connection between that and a flutter of anxiety? Imagine my surprise when, instead of feeling overjoyed with the discovery, I instead promptly had a massive panic attack.

Dr. Heitler, my office-mate (and yes, my mother) has a very helpful technique for figuring out what was going on that triggered that anxiety — and where my husband and I needed a pow-wow to get on with being excited about this new development.

Dr. Heitler posted a blog this week at PsychologyToday with a very nice description of the process I found so very helpful. The one sentence summary — trace back to find the “butterfly” thought that in some sub-conscious way, triggered the anxiety.

Curious what my “butterfly” was?    Seeing our camping gear ready for a weekend’s adventure “butterflied” me to concerns that a new baby would mean we would no longer be able to do this kind of family adventure. The solution — lots of fun ideas for how to tote a baby along on family outdoor adventures — and plans for leaving baby-to-be with the Grandparents as well!

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I’ve been working with a Mom whose son is being bullied.

This poor little boy survived a horrible school year of taunting, teasing and behind-the-adults back general nastiness, only to be so happy to go to summer camp and discover that the bullly was in his group. It’s no fair. No one ever should have to put up with being treated that way.

I kept thinking that bullies don’t stop in elementary school — bosses sure can be bullies, so can co-workers. And, far too often it’s one’s spouse who can be a bully. And in all these cases –it’s not ok.

So, how does one handle a situation where someone is name calling, taunting, plotting-against, teasing or worse? Here are three Power of Two Principles.

1. Leave a situation that gets too heated. If someone or something is not treating you right, exit. Exit early — no need to stick around for more taunting. Go to a different part of the playground. Help a child find a different bully-free activity. Suddenly develop an urgent need to get some water. And all the more so if it’s your spouse who isn’t sticking to the rules. Help your spouse stop bullying by leaving the situation before it gets unpleasant. (BTW, between adults one can and should then come back to the person/topic to try to address things in a more productive manner).

2. Be better than the bully. That is, be a better person than someone who thinks being nasty is ok. Take the high road. While it may never change them, it will change you. You’ll become a better and stronger person when you handle tough situations with calm, clarity, poise and grace.

3. Be positively proactive. While there’s a time to turn the other cheek, it’s for sure time to get a better plan. Instead of getting blinded by a desire for revenge, look down the road. What can you do to set-up a better situation in the future? How can you learn new tools for calmly standing up for yourself? How can you change the situation to reduce the odds you’ll be facing bullying behaviors? Keep the focus on what can I do. Be very wary of how can I get back at the bully.

Want more information on relationship safety? Check this out — http://poweroftwomarriage.com/actions/action/special_topics-safety-dv_flash/.

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I just got back from a conference.  The conference was pretty unremarkable.  The article in Southwest airline’s inflight magazine however, was first-rate.  Find the article here.

Camp Do It Yourself.  Here’s the idea.  Find a first-rate, energetic, spunky high school or college student.  Find a handful of kids your kids like.  Put sitter and kids together for a summer of low-key, creativity, informal sports, art theater and lots of relaxed create-your-own-fun.

As I was feeling the pressure to add this camp and that activity to the plate for our kids for this summer, I found this article so refreshing.    Let summer be summer.  A time to move at a slower pace.  A time to learn how to entertain oneself instead of to be entertained.  A time to lie in a hammock curled up with a book and nowhere to race off too.

Now that is a true summer gift for any child.  And for us adults too!

The article also got me thinking about how easy it is to assume that a professional is the best person when you need help for your kids.  Actually, often DIY therapy, tutoring etc also works great.  Here’s the basic idea.

Therapy/Tutoring Do It Yourself

1.  You, the parent find a professional to coach you and your wonderful high school or college student “coach” about how to work with your kid.  Schedule a first meeting with the three of you to create a plan for what your “coach” will do with your child.

2.  You watch out of the corner of your eye while your kid and “coach” work together.  Take notes to review with your professional.

3.  You and the “coach” follow-up with the professional.

4.  Repeat as many times as need :)!

You save money.  Your child gets more services from someone who is likely to be more on their level and way more fun.  Your “coach” gets a fabulous learning experience.  Everyone wins.

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When I used to teach middle school, springtime may have meant flower blooming and sun shining.  And, it also brought the terror of parent-teacher conferences.  I’m not sure how I escaped graduate school without even one word of advice on how to keep discussions with parents running smoothly.  Likewise, these tips can help to build smoother consultations with parents about their children’s treatment.

Here are a few tips I wish someone had shared with me!

Have a plan– Share the plan. It helps to have a plan of how you want to use your time together, to share that plan at the beginning of the conference and to use a clock to  help you stick to that plan.  “Hi Mr. and Mrs. Adams.  It’s such a pleasure to meet with you today.  We have a 15 minute conference slot scheduled.  What I’d like to do is take about half that time to hear from you how the year has gone, then I would like to look together at a few pieces of Amy’s work.  I’ll send you home with a sheet about what we’ve covered in class this year and a folder of other work she has done.”  Then use the clock to stick to this plan.  Tempting as it is to let timing be a bit lax, parents appreciate when conference start and stop on time.

Be a HOW/WHAT detective. I used to think that the most important part of a conference was to prove how much I knew about each child.  I thought a conference meant I needed to prove just how professional and on top of things I  was.

In fact, conferences are a unique time to ask questions of parents and to help them feel like they are a part of the team.  Placing the focus more on understanding how the parents see things can be eye-opening as well as incredibly soothing for parents.  “What has been best about this year from your perspective?”  “How do you feel about Sally’s math skills?  “What will Jonah be doing this summer?”  Somehow it’s almost more reasurring as a parent to be asked the right questions then to be given the right answers.  Especially, if the right questions are followed with a nice clean work portfolio to bring home and review.

Be a YES . . . AND AT THE SAME TIME Ninja master. Your job, no matter how off-the-wall, annoying or otherwise opposed to how you see things a parental perspective may be, when talking with parents your job is to always start by figuring out how they are correct– and then to go on to really chew on what what you’re learning from them.  “YES, Mrs. Smith, I can totally see how it seems that Andy gets lost.  There are lots of kids in our classroom, and I do have to rely on the kids to work independently.  He also is such a sweet and calm child, he really never draws attention to himself.”   Then, once a parent feels you really get their concerns, the door is open to add yours.  “AND, AT THE SAME TIME one of the most important skills at this grade level is for children to begin to do much more independent work.  I actually try very hard to step back and give the kids quite a bit of independent space so they can begin to learn how to organize their work on their own.”

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Duh.  Of course Dad is important.

At the same time, when one is encouraging a Dad to be more involved (or helping a Mom who may not be on great terms with Dad to keep him involved) with his kids, it can be helpful to have a few facts at one’s fingertips.

Here are two of my favorite research findings brought to you courtesy of http://www.fatherhood.gov.

  • Research shows that even very young children who have experienced high father involvement show an increase in curiosity and in problem solving capacity. Fathers’ involvement seems to encourage children’s exploration of the world around them and confidence in their ability to solve problems.
    • Pruett, Kyle D. 2000. Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child. New York: Free Press.
  • When non-custodial fathers are highly involved with their children’s learning, the children are more likely to get A’s at all grade levels.
    • National Center for Education Statistics. October 1997. Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools; National Household Education

In other words, does Dad want a smart kid with great grades?  Then be there to play, go hiking, listen to music and toss a football!  Oh yah, and come to parent-teacher conferences as well!

P.S.  Want an inspiring and  fun resource for dads looking to get serious about spending time with their kids?   Check out this blog — http://www.AdventureDad.org

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