Slow and Steady Wins the Race when it comes to overcoming anxieties and phobias. Too often it is hard for us to slow down and be empathetic with our children and their fears. And sometimes we are so afraid of upsetting them that we do everything we can to avoid the situation that triggers the fear. As with so many things, that answer lies in the middle. Help your child take baby steps towards mastering his fears. That way he will feel supported and seen and heard ; and at the same time you help him develop the skills and persistence he will need so much in life.Read More
Joyful Musings--a weekly blog
Joyful Parenting Coaching is focused on clarity, consistency, connection, being an effective parent, finding balance as a parent, and above all being a confident and joyous parent. Topics include communication, having difficult conversations, having constructive conversations, chores, routines, family meetings, I teach parent education and parenting classes because parenting is a skill—not something we are born knowing. Get the parenting skills you need today!
Filtering by Category: Trust
Feeling that you are the primary parent is a significant challenge that seems to fall mostly to moms— even today. Part of that is still a vestige of time when women being in the workforce was the exception not the rule. And part of it is that the role of perfect mother has so been put on a pedestal that women feel enormous pressure to be responsible for everything in their family—even when they have full responsibilities at work.
Feeling like or being the primary parent adds tremendous stress to already stressed families, and it is worth it to find more balance in taking responsibility for the running of the family and household. Read on to find out ow I support parents with that.Read More
Every once in a while I publish a guest post—either because the person’s expertise in a given area is much more sophisticated than mine or because they offer a perspective I cannot. In this blog, dad Tyler Jacobson shares how he handled it when his 13 year old daughter broke some big family rules. I especially love the understanding he shows his daughter as well as the problem solving, all while keeping her accountable for her poor choices.Read More
Are you concerned that you are a helicopter or lawn mower parent? Do you know that you are one but don’t know what to do differently? One of my favorite techniques for giving our kids some space and encouraging some independent thinking is What’s your plan for that? Instead of mapping out how our child should tackle a homework assignment or chore or even a conflict with a friend, we give the problem to them for consideration. Of course, if they are floundering too much, we step in and help with some course correction (but resist the urge to take over!)Read More
Last week I wrote about how anxiety is affecting parenting by sharing the shift that I have seen in my 30 years of working with families. This week I want to outline what I think are some key buffers against parental and (by extension) kid anxiety. In light of the shootings this past week, it feels like I should be addressing the topic of how do you reassure children they are safe, but I still go back to my observation that the younger the child, the more the fears are the old ones that have always been there—being separated from one’s parent, fear of the dark and later fear of being made fun of. Addressing children’s fears is an important topic, but today I am going to stay focused on keeping your own parental anxieties at bay.Read More
You've Got the ABC's Covered and the 123's Down. But Increasingly, research shows the importance of Emotional Intelligence--and you are the person best suited to teaching it.
Emotional intelligence is being able to recognize a wide range of nuanced emotions, and recognizing them, being able to regulate them and put them in perspective in a way that helps the individual move through life more easily.
In my long experience in working with children, emotional intelligence can absolutely be developed. The most important way in which it is developed is through interactions with thoughtful adults who are modeling and guiding kids in dealing with their feelings.
This blog shares some common behaviors of parents whose kids display emotional intelligence.
AND IF YOU ARE CURIOUS ABOUT HOW TO BOOST YOUR OWN EQ, CHECK OUT THIS BLOG ON "How can we use NLP to build Emotional Intelligence?"Read More
At the end of the day, family is about being together and feeling like a connected unit. With very little time in the week left over for parenting and family time, it is essential to be deliberate about the choices you make for your family--both by protecting the time you do have together and by making sure that time is quality time. Here are some tips on how to do that.Read More
Tyler Jacobson, today's guest blogger who writes about the struggle to find the balance between protecting our kids without falling into helicopter parenting, is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter | LinkedinRead More
Knowing our kids are happy at school allows us to drop them off with confidence and get on with our day. When our child refuses to go to school, then we are filled with doubt and insecurity and our hands feel tied, knowing it is not as simple as changing schools or teachers. What can you do to help your child feel good about his teacher?
11 teen suicides in 9 years. In one community. In my community.
How does that happen? Your first answer might be to blame the parents. Where were they? Didn't they know they were putting too much pressure on their son? Why didn't they do something?
But it's not that simple.
Sure, it is your job to protect your children? But are you being too over protective? And if you are, what is the cost of that to both your younger kids and to teens? And what can you do about being overprotective?Read More
Even many adults don't learn the skill of having difficult conversations effectively. Most people just want everyone else to be happy. Certainly, no one modeled for me how to stay present even when conversations got uncomfortable. It was so much easier to just give up or give in. Now, of course, there are times when going with the flow is the name of the game, but if you want your kids to learn the balance between keeping the peace and learning to advocate for themselves in a constructive way, they are going to learn that much sooner if you teach it to them explicitly.Read More
Most parents understand and are comfortable with this when it comes to safety. Your two year old may want to climb the wobbly ladder by himself but you know that the risk is too great, so you offer a compromise--she may climb it with you hanging on to him tightly or she may climb her toy slide by herself. He may not use the big knife to cut onions but he may use the plastic knife to cut bananas or to spread butter.Read More
The first question to ask yourself, when considering how to keep your teen from rebelling, is what am I doing to help foster my kid’s independence and sense of autonomy?Read More
How did we get to where we are today?
The trend for highly supervised playdates grew over a lot of years, and there are some reasons that even if they change back, they won’t ever be quite the same.Read More
Both as a teacher and as a camp counselor, I have dealt with plenty of separation anxiety in older kids.
In early elementary kids, it is still common to have a transition period as a child enters a new classroom. Even if the child was perfectly happy in the classroom next door the year before, he may spend the first couple of weeks crying in his new classroom. Intellectually, he knows he was happy the year before and will probably be happy again, but in between then and now, he has spent a lovely, long summer in the bosom of his family. For him separation anxiety is wrapped up in feeling uncomfortable with a new routine. Once he has cycled through the weekly schedule a couple of times and feels he knows his teacher, he is fine.
Separation anxiety is a normal stage for kids to go through. It starts around 6 months and usually tapers off around 2 years old. During these months a baby is first gaining the cognitive recognition that you still exist when you are not there, which means baby can now miss you when you are not there. The problem often intensifies because at the same time baby realizes that her primary source of food and comfort can leave her, she is also testing the ways in which she is an individual. That's scary! A lot of separation anxiety is about finding that fine line between growing more independent and at some level still knowing she is fully dependent on you for survival.Read More
This blog is in response to a letter a mom sent me about her son:
I am so angry and mortified. My 10-year-old got caught shop lifting, and I am afraid this is a sign of much worse things to come.
Upset and Worried in TulsaRead More
EXPANDING THE PARENTING CIRCLE
I LOVE THAT I AM MOM. My daughter once pointed out that she holds the special spot in my life of being the only child to grow in my womb. That does give us a bond that says I am her primary parent. I love being her primary person.
But her dad and I have been divorced since she was three, and her stepmother has been in her life almost as long (and her stepfather a few years after that). That means that while I am her primary parent, Julie has a lot of other parents. And a lot of other parent figures.
Now, that could feel threatening to me. But it’s not. Instead, it is a source of supreme comfort. Seriously. Parenting is a lot of pressure. I can think of dozens of ways—mostly small but some large, too—that I have messed up. On the other hand, I can also think of ways that Julie’s stepmom or aunts or grandmothers or good family friends have gotten it right. They have been able to provide what I wasn’t at the time Julie needed something.
The biggest example of other adults providing help where I couldn’t was when I got remarried. Because I got married in India and didn’t know I was getting married (long story!), that meant that a) the kids were not with us and b) we did not prepare the kids for our marriage in the way that I normally would have. You can imagine the guilt I have felt over that—guilt that was reinforced by how long my daughter stayed mad at me. Thank goodness Julie had my friend Leslie during this time. Julie spent lots of hours at Leslie’s (supposedly to play with Leslie’s daughter, but I know that she saw Leslie as someone who absolutely understood and who (unlike my family) didn’t take my side but just kept agreeing with Julie that having your mom remarry must be really hard).
Think of who the special adults have been in your life. Middle school is a stage where kids begin to examine the world through their own lens. Up until that point, they follow their parents’ views on things pretty closely. I was miserable in middle school. But my school librarian was a big help. She seemed to get me. She was ready to listen to me without lecturing. Even when I complained about my mother, she acknowledged my feelings but didn’t make me feel bad for feeling them. At that stage in my life, I was busy trying to pull away from my mother in order to get some space to figure out who I was. No matter how much she wanted to, she was not the person who could help me at that point. It took an outside, caring adult.
It was just lucky that I found Mrs. Anderson, the school librarian, but I also had my godmother. She was someone my parents had deliberately chosen to be an extra adult in my life. She loved me and cared deeply for me, but because I wasn’t ultimately her responsibility, she could love me exactly as I was. Unlike a parent whose job it is to civilize a child (to set expectations for him, to hold him accountable, to push him beyond what he can see for himself), a godparent’s job is mostly just to be there as a wise advisor. The godparent can give counsel, but the child has no obligation to follow it. That means the child is much more likely to listen (even if the message is pretty much what the parents have been saying al along. Whereas my godmother clucked over her own boys like a nervous mother hen, with me she could be supremely confident that “only nice things could come to such a nice girl.”
Parents can do much to extend the family circle beyond the nuclear family. Obviously, how you interact with adults around you will signal to your child how comfortable you are with particular adults as people. You can go one step farther, though, by helping your children to connect to potential caring adults. Point those people out. Guide your children when they might have an interest in common with a caring adult. Maybe you find out that a teacher at your child’s school exhibits her own art. You yourself don’t know Jackson Pollock from a Kindergarten project. By suggesting to your child that she show the artist teacher her work, you are telling your child that you honor her interest in art even if you don’t know anything about it.
Populating your child’s life with a circle of adults to love and support her is an excellent example of being the architect of your family. You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself, but the design will be yours.
WE CARE SO DEEPLY, IT IS HARD TO SHIFT OUR POSITION
Ideally, spouses will agree with each other. Indeed, were the world ideal, that would be easy. Parenting is so personal, however, that it really is hard for parents to have worked out ahead of time what they want their approach to be. Parenting decisions are arguably the most important you'll ever make! Talk about pressure. It is hard to give up your own point of view.
FIND AREAS IN COMMON AND HAVE EACH OTHER'S BACKS
I find it helps when parents focus more on what they agree on than on what they disagree on. The first key is that the core values are the same. I find it very constructive when parents narrow in on 3-4 absolutes. For example, “In our family we are kind” or “In our family, we take care of our things.” Which values parents focus on is less important than the power of a consistently presented message around agreed upon ideas. If parents have a lot of agreement and emphasis on the biggies for their family, there will be less need to micromanage each other. I coach most parents to give their partner more space to parent the way each wants to.
The second key is that at least there is an agreement in place to support each other. In my blended family, my husband and stepchildren agreed to eat at the table with the t.v. off when I was there. Nights I wasn’t home, they ate in front of the t.v. When my younger stepson asked why they didn’t when I wasn’t home, my husband said, “What matters is that Elisabeth cares, so when she is home, we do it for her.” In this case, my husband didn’t share the value of sitting at the table, but he did have my back. I, for my part, let go of trying to convince him that I was right or even why it was important to me. It was enough that he supported me. By each giving each other some space, we both kept peace and presented a united front.
ACCEPT DIFFERENCES IN THE LITTLE THINGS
As long as the core values are in place, it is okay for parents to have different approaches. If Dad is supervising homework and he says yes to 15 minutes of shooting hoops before getting started, Mom should walk away, even if she has a problem with it. In the same vein, if Mom is happy to have all the toys thrown into one big bin, Dad needs to wait until he is in charge to have kids sort the toys into separate bins. Kids can handle two standards to some extent. That being said, I do find it useful for spouses to have a rule that says kids have to take the first answer they get. Of course, sometimes this will just mean that kids will go to the parent from whom they can get the yes. In my own family growing up, that meant that my father always defaulted back to, “Ask your mother” or “Yes, if Mommy says so," but what is really important is that one parent's yes cannot fall to the other parent. In other words, if mom says yes to a sleepover at Annie's, she cannot now expect dad to drop what he is doing to drive their daughter to the sleepover--or to be the one to pick her up in the morning. Or if dad says yes to watching a movie that will keep kids up after bed time, it is not fair if mom is the one dealing with rude, grumpy children in the morning.
MAKE SURE THE DOWN SIDE OF YOUR PARENTING DECISIONS DON'T FALL TO YOUR PARENTING PARTNER
Similarly, for parents co-parenting from two separate households, I like the rule that dad cannot say yes to something that is on mom's day. If my daughter wanted a play date on my weekend, she had to call and ask me. That made it simpler as for the most part as we didn’t have to agree. On the other hand, we had little control over what the other spouse did—and sometimes that made it really hard for me to hold my tongue. For instance, my daughter's dad said yes to her going rock climbing with friends. That freaked me out, but in the short run a) it was too late for me to do anything about it, and b) it was more important to back up my trust in her father than to make a big scene.
IN MOST CASES, RELATIONSHIP SHOULD TRUMP PARENTING STYLE
The bottom line here is that the relationship between the parents is usually more important than a particular parenting decision. Children can thrive with a wide variety of parenting styles as long as they feel safe and secure. They get that from having their parents on the same page.