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Posts Tagged ‘parenting help’

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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As someone who has done quite a bit of work with both children and with parents, I often find myself trying to decide which is the more optimal point to intervene — with parents or with their children.

For example, when a teen is struggling in school,  in part because things are tense at home where is the best starting point?

Certainly getting direct help for the teen is important.  Providing academic support, an open ear, and tools for problem solving about how to keep one’s own life stable and healthy is of the essence.

At the same time, help as close to the source of the problem tends to be quite effective.  That would suggest working with the parents.  Likewise, any professional help is going to have some limited time-frame.  Parents are forever.  Thus, helping parents to get to a place they can provide the kind of help their child needs might have more longevity.

Every time I start to ponder this question, I realize the answer is the chicken AND the egg come first.  Yes, get kids direct help.  And, yes, get parents better resources too.

In the end, I think the right question is  not parent or child, but what for the parents and what for the children.  If all of us working with parents made sure to always ask “what am I also doing for the child?”  And, if all of us working with children made sure to always ask “what am I doing the parents?” maybe we’d have less cracked eggs and more healthy chickens in this world.

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Making it to a first therapy session takes guts.

Really, it is an odd thing to sit in a waiting room wondering about this person, this random therapist you found on the internet or heard about from a friend,  with whom you are about to share the intimate details of your life.  If you’re like most people, these are thoughts and feelings which few people, if anyone, in the world knows about.

I hope this post can alleviate some of that waiting room anxiety.

So what does happen in a first session?

For me, a first session actually starts before the first session.  I encourage my clients to complete a comprehensive welcome packet.  In addition to telling my clients about myself, I have them fill out a pretty long questionnaire about their concerns, past experiences with therapy, recollections of themselves as a child etc.    Why?  Simple.  Because this way I don’t have to spend precious minutes during the first session asking all these questions.  Instead, by the time a client walks in my door, I at least know a little bit about them and why they are coming to see me.

The first thing I, and every therapist, talk about during a first session are the legal and practical details of therapy.  I explain what confidentiality is and its limits.  I make sure that I have explained my fee structure and cancelation policy.

And then it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Often, the next thing I like to do is to create a laundry list— that is a list of all the things that, if they all were fixed, would tell us all that it was time to end therapy.   With couples and with parent/child combos, I’ll be the note taker while the two talk together about what goes on the list.  This gives me a chance to see where their skills are at the same time as we’re making the list.

As we have a pretty comprehensive list, I generally shift to talking some about what it will take to get from here to there.  I might ask how long a client thinks it would take them to resolve everything on the list if they had great help doing so.  Or, we might explore how if magically everything on the list was fixed when they woke up the next morning, how would my client know that everything had been fixed.

Sometimes with couples or parents and children at this point I also like to give each person a few minutes alone with me to check-in if their are any pieces they would like to add to the list which they weren’t comfortable talking about with their spouse/parent/teen in the room.

While many therapists like to use the first session for a lengthy history taking, I prefer to jump in and geting working.  I already have the critical historical pieces on the paperwork.  I’ve found that details relevant to therapy will come out on their own.  And those that aren’t relevant– well, why would someone pay to tell me about something that isn’t going to help solve their problems or leave them feeling better.

“So, which item on the list do you want to start with?” I’ll usually ask.  At this point, I may also have a something to put on the “agenda” for the session.  Perhaps it’s teaching a skill where I noticed a glitch, or perhaps it’s infusing some optimism into what looks like an impossible situation.  With an agenda laid out that incorporates what everyone wants to use the session for, it’s time to get to work.

By jumping in like this by the end of the first session not only have we created a clear road-map for treatment — fix everything on the list — we’ve also actually started helping things. Ideally, I’ve learned a lot about my clients and they are going home hopeful, not on blind faith, but because we’ve actually succeeded in moving forward on something from their list.  Hopefully, as well, clients leaving from a first session are as clear as I am about what we’re going to do together, about how long it’s likely to take, and how this whole process is going to help them.

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