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By Ron Huxley, LMFT
How you feel about yourself as a parent has a lot to do with how you talk to yourself. I’m not inferring that you have mental disorder or that you hear voices. I often tease friends and family members when I catch them talking to themselves if they are answering themselves too. Everyone talks to themselves with little awareness of it. Self-talk is automatic and carried out repeatedly through the waking hours. Hidden behind parents self-talk are their thoughts which are rational and
Most parents assume that events around them produce these feelings. You can see examples of this in young children who say, “You make me angry!” The reality is that events cannot make you feel anything. Situations can
These thoughts get expressed in our self-talk which, in turn, reinforce our thinking. Changing our thoughts, and by that some of our negative feelings and behaviors, can be as easy as changing what parents say to themselves. By easy, I mean, they can be consciously controlled. Like anything, parents must make them a regular part of their daily routine till positive self-talk comes naturally.
Some examples of negative self-talk would be:
"I am a mean mother."
The first examples overgeneralized and focused on the negative part of parenting. It is easy to focus on the problems. Finding solutions and positive reframes of the parenting job is much harder. To help, parents
A self-talk plan empowers parents to look at the positive aspects of parenting or view it in a new light. Parents can identify several situations which usually produce negative or distressing feelings. Next, parents can identify their automatic thoughts and feelings about those situations by listening to what they say to themselves. And finally,
1. Children walk through the house with dirty shoes (distressing situations).
"I am a good parent."
In addition to using these self-talk statements, read books like "Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff" and others that encourage positive affirmations. Daily reading materials, spiritual texts and devotionals, and songs can also change what you say to yourself so that you can change your parenting experience.
People who feel they deserve success are among those most likely to fail when challenges arise, research from New Zealand has revealed.
“People who believe that they don’t need to work for good grades – that they are just entitled to them by right – are annoying, but there wasn’t any evidence before now that it’s actually a self-destructive strategy,” says study co-author Professor Jamin Halberstadt, at the University of Ontago in New Zealand.
The study also supports the notion that people who feel excessively entitled believe that others are responsible for their success or failure, and are less motivated to put in extra effort when required.
“When an entitled person encounters obstacles to achieving an outcome, they feel like they shouldn’t have to work for it,” Jamin says. “In fact, you should see a challenge as evidence that you need to work harder.”
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
They know every excuse in the book: I need a drink of water. I forgot to
* Provide a “bedtime friend.” Michael refused to sleep unless his mother lay down next to him every night. At first, this was a comforting experience for both parent and child. But, over time, it took Michael longer and longer to go to sleep and he would cry whenever his mother tried to get up to go to bed herself. His mother quickly recognized that Michael needed a
Together they went and bought a stuffed animal that Michael found warm and
* Celebrate a good nights sleep. Even the most difficult sleeper has an occasional good nights sleep. Perhaps it was only due to exhaustion that a child didn’t get back up with a bedtime excuse. Celebrate it anyway! In the morning prepare the child’s favorite meal. Sing, dance, or do whatever it takes to give the child positive attention to the basic fact of having a no-excuse, sleep-filled night. Too many parents do their “song and dance routines” at night after the excuses have been given, reinforcing the very problem parents want to stop. During these stress times, ignore the irritating please for water or the annoying claims of nighttime terrors. Instead, redirect the child back to bed with a minimum amount of words or actions. This will rechannel the power struggle and increase the percentage
* Discourage scary stories or television show. Sarah complained of monsters
* Make a bedtime routine. Being a single mother and working a full time job
She arranged to have more time in the mornings before he had to go to school
* Share the workload. Getting Tasha to bed was work! Her mother did everything she could think of to get Tasha to stay in bed but after a long day her mother just didn’t have the patience of the energy for a big fight. And Tasha knew all the right buttons to push on mom to make her mad and
Getting children to go and stay in bed is no easy task. Parents face he limitless excuses and untiring energy of children who know how to maneuver around their parents with amazing ease. In order for both parties to win the pajama game, parents must use some special bedtime tactics to even the odds. But none of these things will prevail if parents are not consistent and provide positive attention to good nighttime behavior. How parents cope with the bedtime disruptions is as important (maybe more) that what they do to get their children to bed.
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
I recently picked up my copy of Tim Ferriss book “The Four-Hour Chef.” The author has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007”, Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know in 2011,” and the wildly successful author of “The Four-Hour Work Week” and “The Four-Hour Body”. Although “The Four-Hour Chef” sounds like another cook book, it is far more than that. It spells out the recipe for how to learn any skill, regardless of your age or how hard the task. The book’s subtitle is “Learning anything, and living the good life.” Who doesn’t want more of that?
The premise behind the Four-Hour Ethos is help you have more control over your own life by doing more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. In the example of cooking, many of us love to cook (and eat, of course) but few of us love to shop for the food, do all the prep work or clean up after. Tim Feriss uses the metaphor of cooking to describe his step-by-step process of “meta-learning”. That’s the real recipe for parents.
His idea of meta-learning refers to the Zen concept: “before you can learn to cook, you must learn to learn.” I think this has a lot of relevance for parents who need to learn how to learn before they learn to parent. Parenting education has been around for some time. You can read attend classes, read books, search the internet, watch programs, and listen to podcasts. There is plenty of parenting information out there but still we strive for more. Or are we striving for the “recipe”? Are we looking for that secret ingredient on how to get a teen to do their homework or stop an ongoing sibling rivalry? Perhaps what really need is to first learn how to learn to be a parent.
One step toward this meta-parenting-learning skill is to ask ourselves: “What is one parenting skill I would like to master today or perhaps, one skill I have given up hope of learning with my children?” Ferriss would then suggest we deconstruct this skill to its simple components and reapplies the laws of learning to truly become its master.
Ferriss describe a deconstruction tool to help us called the 80/20 Principle. This is also known as Pareto’s principle or the law of the vital few and it states that roughly 80% of the effects of an event come from just 20% of the causes. Taking cleaning up the house: 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, probably mom. This applies to other areas of life, such as, 80% of the sales of a business comes from 20% of the clients. Or, 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by 20% of the people.
This economic principle works well in many parenting situations and I have used it for years to describe how 80% of the parenting issues that come up in my consulting office can be answered by 20% of my parenting tools. Most parents have similar struggles: getting homework done or picking up after themselves or talking back or putting their feet on the furniture. There are typical problems that come up by developmental stages. Two year olds and teens are defiant. Five year olds have short attention spans, etc. It is the other 20% that is creates the big challenges and creative solutions. Dealing with a divorce or say, stealing items from a store. These are more serious issues really only occurs 20% of the time but make up 80% of my clientele. Who needs to see a child therapist for not picking up the dog poop or some other chore, really?
As a personal example, I have four adult children and two grandchildren and the skill I would like to master is how to maintain on-going communication with them spread out over various states. I want to do this in a way that feels warm and fuzzy despite the distance. Applying Pareto’s principle to my communication issue, I realized that regularly scheduled phone calls and text messages (20% effort) could result in my perceived sense of connection (80% effect). I also started being more diligent about traveling two hours away to my grandson’s early Saturday morning baseball games. It was a drive and there was a cost of gasoline but the level of connection and my parenting needs were met with this minimal effort once a month.
This was a useful parenting tool with my clients as well. Ten minutes of one-on-one contact in the morning before school and ten minutes on getting home from school dramatically improved many families gauge of the amount of respect and cooperation. Sibling fights and morning tantrums decreased as well. It would seem that there isn’t an extra ten minutes in the morning routine to give to a child but really, how long were those tantrums occurring? How long does it take to make a U-turn back to the house to get the forgotten lunch or homework sitting on the kitchen table? A lot longer than the ten minutes it took to have some one-on-one. And parents and children felt so much more connected all day long.
Another way of getting at this core parenting skills is to ask yourself if I only had 20 minutes to spend with my child each day – you couldn’t see or interact with them at any other time during the day – how would I best spend that time? Do more of that parenting behavior and witness the 80% effect from that minimal parenting activity. I am just guessing but that 20 minutes would be spent doing laundry or watching television together.
Parenting Action Plan:
Take a few moments and ask yourselves these questions above. Start focusing on how to better manage your time with your child this next week. Start deconstructing what makes up the core elements of your parenting day and concentrate on the main ingredients behind what really makes a good family recipe. It is different for everyone so don’t look at the neighbor parenting activities. Start with works for you. Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment or sharing on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox
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An occupational therapist friend of mine likes to ask her kids, when she greets them, how’s your engine today? What she is referring to is are they feeling/behaving fast or slow? Are they a little on the hyper side or sluggish? Manic or depressed? You get the idea…
It is a simple gauge of where she needs to go in treatment. If they say it is running fast then she engages them in activities to bring that engine down to a more resting baseline where she can do more introverted or detailed work. Every try to get a child to sit still and concentrate when thy are hyper? That’s a good way for everyone to be frustrated.
Use this at home by talking about a train engine that can run really fast or very slow. Connect it to stimulating events (fuel) that goes into their engines (mind/body/emotions) or lack of stimulation that causes them to be bored or “tired” or sluggish. Plan some interventions to bring them back to a mid-line energy level. Don’t try to do homework if they aren’t in the “zone”. You will be glad you took the time to modify their energy.
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