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Teach Children to Overcome Their Anger.
With the help of a few techniques, your child’s anger may be eliminated.

Eight -year-old Peter has had a problem with his anger since he was a toddler. Anytime something doesn’t go his way, he turns ugly. The most recent incident was when his mother went to pick him up from his friend’s house. Peter refused to stop playing with his friend and get his coat on. When his mother tried to take his arm, pull him off the floor, and help put his coat on, Peter starting kicking his mother and screaming, “I hate you. I’m not going home with you.” Twenty minutes later Peter’s exasperated, embarrassed mother was able to extricate Peter from his friend’s house.

Bea is 13 and also has an anger problem. When told to do a chore such as empty the dishwasher or watch her younger sister, she will answer, “I’m not doing it.” When her mother tells her she’s a member of the family and she needs to help out, she often comes back with, “Who cares? You can’t make me.” The last time her mother said, “You’re right, I can’t make you clean out the dishwasher, but you’re grounded this weekend,” Bea marched over to the refrigerator, opened the door, and started throwing everything out on the floor.

Both Peter’s and Bea’s parents reported that their children have never had a problem with anger at school, and, in fact, are well-behaved there. This is helpful for me to know as a therapist. Armed with this information, I explained to both sets of parents that Peter and Bea have the ability to control their anger. How do I know? Because they do so at school. What they must now learn is to control their anger at home.

Things I suggest for anger control:

Have a family counsel. Tell your child that anger is an okay feeling, but using anger inappropriately by yelling, screaming, belligerent acts, or mean-spirited behavior can no longer be accepted. Ask your child for his cooperation in controlling his anger. Also remind your child that you expect him to control his anger at home just as he controls it at school. If you, the parent, have a problem with controlling your anger, chances are your child will point this out at the family pow-wow. Agree with the confrontation and decide that you, too, will work to control your anger.

Writing down how one feels stepped on and abused is often helpful in dissipating feelings. Ask your child to write down why she feels angry. Reassure her that within a half hour of her putting pen to paper, you will read what she has written and write back your response.

Another technique: Ask your child not to allow himself to explode when he feels angry. When he feels anger coming on, tell him to purse his lips tight, set the timer on the stove for four minutes, and breathe deeply until the timer goes off. Once he’s controlled himself for four minutes, he’s won the battle.

A similar technique is to suggest to your child that when he feels himself getting angry, he rush to a chair, sit down, close his eyes, and see himself playing on the playground at school or swimming in a pool. This is called imaging. It helps the mind to calm the body and dissipate the adrenaline that accompanies angry feelings. Suggest that when your child feels furious, instead of gritting his teeth and doing something mean, he should try to sing his favorite song in his head or repeat a favorite joke to himself. I told one little boy this, and he looked at me like I was nuts. But the next time I saw him, he couldn’t wait to report that it had worked.

Invite your child to say over and over in her head during the day for the next several months, “I choose not to get angry.” Repeating this affirmation reinforces the decision not to become angry.

Just as children need help learning to tie their shoes, write a report, iron a shirt, or throw a ball, they need help learning to control their anger. Take the time to give your children this skill– a skill that will serve them the rest of their life.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Having happy children may take some extra work, but the rewards are immeasurable.
Are your children happy?

Even though happiness is genetically linked, only about 50 percent of happiness is driven by genes. The other 50 percent is driven by what happens to a child on a daily basis.

One of the most important contributors to a child’s happiness is doing things as a family. Nothing feels so good as when a family goes biking or hiking or spends part of the day at the zoo.

I know one family who has designated Wednesday nights as family night. This is the night nothing interferes. They have dinner and then play board games. Even the 17-year old participates. “Once you set a night and stick to it month after month, year after year, it becomes the expectation,” says the mother, “and our children look forward to it.”

Another happiness ingredient is working together. Spending four hours cleaning the backyard, the basement, and the house each Saturday morning, encourages a feeling of camaraderie and a sense of being part of the team. We’re a family. We’re in this together. “One for all and all for one.”

Research shows that children tend to be happier when parents set expectations and rules. Children do better when they have a set bedtime and when they are expected to do certain chores each week, pick up after themselves, control their language, and show respect for other family members. When parents have expectations, it conveys to a child that he has worth. And meeting these expectations helps a child feel more in control of his own destiny.

Feeling happy and content is also a by-product of feeling loved. Pats on the back from parents and “I love yous” sprinkled throughout the week are essential. And applause for a job well done recognizes a child’s accomplishments.

Happiness involves living in the present. Everyday should be a time to build family relationships. This means: “Let’s talk as we do dishes.” “Let’s put on a CD and dance.” “Let’s watch a movie and enjoy each other’s company.” Too often parents put happiness till later, saying, “Next weekend when go to your cousins…” or when we go on vacation….”

Children feel happier if they have God in their life. God is someone to talk to when they feel anxious and stressed. Or when no matter how good they try to be, they can’t change something in their lives.

Children are happier if family members get along and are respectful of each other. This means no screaming matches, no name-calling, no constant criticisms. Nor should a parent use a child as a confidante, telling him the other parent is not okay. It also means an older or younger sibling is not allowed to tyrannize the family.

If you want to raise a happy child, ask yourself if you are following these guidelines. And if you’re lacking in some areas, now’s the time to make changes. Most parents want to raise and live with a happy child. Following these guidelines, spells success.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Here are some solutions to problems that may arise when stepchildren are staying for any long period of time.
His children, ages 5, 7 and 10, are coming for six weeks this summer. His present wife works outside the home. He works outside the home. Whose job is it to take care of the children?

He says his 10-year old is very responsible. She can babysit.

The wife says, “No, she’s too young. I will not put that responsibility on her.”

He says, “If you don’t like my plan, you figure it out.”

She says, “They’re your children.”

He says, “You knew I had children before I married you. It was a package deal.”

The wife got quiet and then suggested she find a baby sitter.

Fourteen telephone calls and two weeks later the wife found a sitter and a day camp for the children to attend part-time. Neither husband nor wife is happy with the additional expected financial outlay. But both have agreed not to fight about how much money they are spending on the children. Other issues they still had to deal with:

Whose job will it be to cook, keep the house picked up, and do the extra laundry? Who will take responsibility to tell the children what chores they must do, when to shower, when to go to bed, when to stop jumping on the sofa?

Slowly we worked out a plan whereby she would take responsibility for directing the children regarding showers and eating and helping clean up after dinner. Additionally, she would arrange some family activities, including a week’s vacation at the lake.

He would take charge of everything else — making carpool arrangements, doing laundry, writing up a list of chores for the children with his wife’s input, and then monitoring who was doing what. He further agreed that if his wife wanted him to deal with a particular issue with one of the children, he would handle it as she wished. He would acquiesce.

She agreed to shrug a lot, say “whatever,” understand that the house would frequently be messy, and get away by herself two evenings a week. The two of them would get a sitter so they could be alone on Saturday nights. Over the course of the summer, she would write a list of 100 things she liked about the children and give it to me.

He agreed to give his wife 100 compliments for helping care for the children. He would give me a list of his compliments. He further agreed to do more than his usual share of housework while the children were in town.

I would act as the moderator, with a few phone consults if things got sticky.

I then gave this couple my standard spiel: “The children are not responsible for the divorce or for having a stepmother. It’s something they must adjust to through no fault of their own.”

• Stepchildren are a lot of work and are often ungrateful. In this regard, however, they are no different than children generally.

• It is the responsibility of the parent, not the stepparent, to do the lion’s share of the work involved in caring for the children.

• When a stepparent takes too hard a line with her stepchildren, the marital relationship suffers because the natural parent will not look kindly on such behavior and his feelings will be adversely affected.

• Lead with your brains, not your emotions. Accept that you will sometimes have to give in or take responsibility when you don’t really believe you should have to. Be generous with forgiveness and be determined that you’ll respect each other and the children.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I’ve talked to a number of parents who feel their grown children do not treat them with respect.

Here are a few things parents have said they wanted.

Please say hello and act like you’re happy to see me when I come for a visit. And when I call on the telephone, show some interest in what we’re talking about.

Ask about my life and what I’m doing.

It would be nice if you helped me pay some of my doctor bills.

Respect my right to redecorate and change things in my house. I’m not ready to be buried yet.

Ask before you help yourself to food in the refrigerator.

If I tell you I don’t like something you’re doing, don’t punish me by not seeing me or not talking to me.

Sometimes invite me to one of your parties so I can meet your friends.

Just because you’ve change religions, don’t ridicule mine.

Offer to bring something when you come to dinner.

Accommodate my schedule some­times when we make a date to get together. I have a busy life too.

Once in a while come for dinner and stay the whole evening.

Stop ridiculing me when I tell you about something I’ve read about vitamins, or diet, or changes in the laws. I’m not always mistaken or stupid.

Tell me about your life and the people you’re dating.

Call back when you say you’re going to call back.

Say yes or no to an invitation in a timely manner. Don’t keep me on hold until the last day.

Remember my birthday and on time.

Be gracious and thank me when I give you a gift, rather than acting as though it’s too much trouble to open it.

Listen and believe me when I tell you I’m tired. Don’t push me to go on to one more store.

Invite me to dinner sometime.

Take a little time out of your life to remember to see your grandparents. They always took time with you when you were little.

Be on time for dinner or call when you’ll be late.

Pay back the money you owe me or talk to me about it.

Stop being critical of my taste in clothes.

If you borrow one of my appliances, return it without my having to ask.

Don’t get mad if I tell you I can’t baby sit, and don’t expect me to baby sit every weekend.

Stop talking about what I did wrong when I raised you. Tell me what I did right.

Give me a hug and a kiss when you leave.

Treat me as nicely as you treat your best friend.

Following these requests won’t solve all problems between parents and grown children. But it will certainly set the stage for a more respectful relationship.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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A stepmother went to pick up her stepson several weeks ago at school. When the stepson came out to get in the car, he wasn’t wearing a coat. At that time the temperature was 15 below zero with a wind chill factor of 35 below. It was the coldest day of the year.

As the child climbed into the car, the stepmother asked, “Where is your coat?” The stepson explained that his mother wouldn’t let him wear his coat because she was sure that he would leave it at his father’s and stepmother’s house, and she didn’t want that to happen.

With this piece of information, the stepmother started yelling about this kid’s crazy mother. She then got on the telephone and told the boy’s father what a jerk the mother was. As soon as the father got off the telephone with his wife, he called his lawyer and repeated the story. The lawyer responded, and I quote, “This borders on criminal neglect.” The lawyer then proposed to write threatening letters to this neglectful mother as well as to her lawyer.

That night while the stepmother was stewing about her stepson not having a coat, she decided to run out and buy him a new coat in his favorite colors. She certainly did not intend to be a neglectful parent.

The following morning was Satur­day. Dad took his son to the gym. And behold, the shivering boy just happened to be looking through the lost-and-found articles and found the coat that his mother was unwilling to let him take to his father’s and stepmother’s house.

Smartly the boy confided in his father that he had found his coat. The father now had to quickly call off the lawyer before he sent the letters proclaiming “criminal neglect.”

The moral of this story:

  • Look before you leap
  • Don’t jump to conclusions
  • Think before you act
  • Sleep on it
  • Everything is not always as it seems

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I’m often struck by how many children don’t have the slightest idea of how to behave appropriately with others. They lack manners, they have poor communication skills, and they don’t respect their own or others’ property.

Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your children develop into responsible people who relate well to others.

Teach your children manners.

They need to learn to say “please” and “thank-you.” “Please may I have Julie spend the night?” “Thank you for driving me to the store for poster board.” If your children do not phrase things this way, look to yourself to teach them.

If they ask you to do something and they don’t preface their request with a “please,” tell them to ask again using “please.” If they forget to say “thank you,” tell them to say it. Keep insisting until these words come automatically.

Children should be taught to write thank-you notes. “Thank you for taking me to the show, Grandma.” “Thank you for having me stay overnight at your home.” “Thank you for the birthday present.” Helping children gather paper, pencil, and addresses is a nuisance for parents, but a skill children need to learn.

Another skill you should be teaching your children is to say “hello” and “goodbye”. They should greet people when they walk in the door, when they meet someone or when they get in someone’s car. If they fail to say “hello,” remind them: “Say ‘hello’ to Sue.” When they leave the house or someone else leaves, expect them to say “goodbye”. Hello and good-byes should also be said audibly. If they mumble the words, have them repeat them.

Teach your children to look at the person they are greeting. They should not look down at the floor. After all, they should be giving the other person the attention, rather than inviting the other person to make them the center of attention by not making eye contact.

Respect for property starts at home. If you allow your children to sit with their shoes on your sofa, they will do the same elsewhere. If you don’t expect them to wipe up their spills at your home they’re not going to wipe them up at a friend’s house. If they get by with not cleaning up their mess in the bathroom, you can bet they will leave towels on the floor when they stay overnight at someone else’s home.

It’s definitely easier to hang up your child’s coat than it is to hunt him down and have him take his coat to the closet. You may even have to call him back a second time because he failed to put it on the hanger properly. But if you persist, he’ll begrudgingly get the message.

Now, ask yourself the following:

Do my children say “please” when they want me to do something for them?

Do my children say “thank-you” when I do something for them?

Do my children say “hello” when they first come in contact with someone?

Do my children make a point of saying “good-bye”?

Do they send thank-you notes?

Do they treat our furniture and their clothes with respect?

How am I doing as a parent? Am I teaching my children to be responsible and considerate?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When Mary walked into my office for her therapy appointment, she wasn’t a happy camper. When I asked her what was going on, she said she was furious at her daughter, Alice, who’s seven. In Mary’s evaluation, her daughter is extremely rebellious.

“How so?” I asked.

“If I try to hurry her up, she slows down.”

“If we tell her she can’t go outside to play, she runs out the door anyway. Or she’s supposed to stay in the backyard, but I find her at the neighbors down the street.

“This morning I had a baby sitter lined up. But Alice didn’t want to stay with the sitter. So I decided to let her come along to this appointment, with the stipulation that she would have to sit quietly in the waiting room.

“We were pulling out of the driveway when Alice realized she’d forgotten her book. I let her go back in the house but told her to hurry. Five minutes later I had to get out of the car and go get her. There she was in the kitchen fixing herself a glass of juice. I should have left her at home, but I didn’t.”

As Mary and I continued talking, we heard a little knock on my door and then it opened. There stood Alice. Mary looked at her daughter and said firmly, “You can’t come in here.” The daughter stepped back and it looked as though she was going to leave and close the door.

The mother then added, “I told you before we left the house that you’d have to wait for me in the waiting room.” With this comment, the little girl grinned ever so slightly and stepped into the room. It was evident to me that the power struggle was on.

As an observer, I suspect that if Mary hadn’t said anything more to her daughter after her first comment, but had immediately turned her attention back on the two of us talking, Alice would have closed the door and gone back into the waiting room. But when her mother gave her an additional warning, the little girl must have felt challenged and she reacted.

I saw a similar dynamic take place several days later when I was working with a mother and her adolescent daughter. They were seeing me because the mother was feeling more than annoyed at her daughter’s rebelliousness. The girl talks back, doesn’t come home on time, refuses to do her chores, and helps herself to her mother’s clothes whenever she wants.

During the session the daughter started twirling, lasso-style, a long chain she was wearing with a large polished stone attached to the end of it. The mother looked at her daughter and said, “Please stop that.” The daughter looked at her mother and continued to twirl the chain.

Again the mother said, “Stop,” but this time she said it with a little playful laugh.

At this point a noticeable grin came over the daughter’s face, she started swinging the necklace more vigorously, and the power struggle was on.

Children need to flex their rebellious muscle once in a while as a way to reach independence, and parents need to take on their children to teach them how to behave. Sometimes, however, we parents inadver­tently encourage our children to get into bigger power struggles than need be.

For example, it’s understandable why Mary told her daughter a second time not to come into my office. She already had to deal with several other issues that morning. Too, she was probably feeling anxious about how I perceived her as a parent, and she didn’t want her therapy time wasted.

But sometimes one firm no works better than two. If a parent says no and immediately turns her attention elsewhere, she closes off a power struggle by refusing to participate. One no doesn’t always work -rebellious children are tenacious – but sometimes it does.

In the second situation, the mother might have outsmarted her daughter and said nothing. I’m sure her daughter would have gotten tired of twirling. When children do something that is obviously designed to get them negative attention, sometimes it’s better not to give it to them.

Once the mother decided to confront her daughter, however, she needed to hang tough and stick with the confrontation. The Mother’s little laugh could certainly be interpreted as encouraging her daughter to be rebellious. Or it could signal her daughter that she wanted to stay friends with her. When you decide to take on a child’s rebelliousness, you must be willing to take the risk that a child is not going to like you.

If it seems that you’re struggling over every little issue with your child, it may help to keep the following in mind:

*One forceful no is sometimes better than two.

*Saying nothing, even when you don’t approve of what your child is doing, is sometimes the most effective response.

*When you find yourself in a power struggle, check to see if you’re doing anything to encourage it, like smiling or lecturing on and on.

Your child is not going to like you very much when you take her on. At the same time, her negativism toward you won’t last forever. And confronting bad behavior is a necessary part of child rearing.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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