Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to School Cool

Making the transition from a holiday to the grind of school routines isn't easy. But it can be ScreamFree.
It is easy to lose our cool during the transition back to school, especially considering that it is roughly the temperature of molten lava outside. If you are interested in your child (and you!) having a cool year of school, it’s time to change your thinking a bit. Here are three points about this particular year’s Back-to-School transition that all parents should consider in order to remain ScreamFree:

1. No one has done this particular transition before.

Sure, you’ve done the back-to-school thing, but each kid and each parent is now a year older, most likely entering a new grade, and largely unaware of what the next year brings. All of that means we parents should take the emotional lead by approaching this time with honest humility and questions, rather than arrogant answers and assumptions. Having a curious attitude about what this year will hold is so much better than jumping to conclusions and ignoring the concerns of your child. What does this look like? Maybe it means actually asking (and then listening to) what your kids are saying about something like school supply needs. Just last night, my daughter and I almost went head to head over this very issue. Thankfully, I was thinking about this article and somehow found a way to pause.
She started begging for a new backpack. Now, her bag from last year looked perfectly fine to me. No rips. No tears. I wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t care so much about looks and that a new one was out of the question, but then I had a thought. Why not really talk to her about this? Why not come to a conclusion about the need for a new backpack through cooperative investigation rather than authoritarian presumption? Why not be ScreamFree about it all? Hmmm…. As it turned out, she wasn’t at all concerned about the look of her bag, but rather the size. She was worried about how many textbooks 6th graders will need. She was actually asking for something far more valuable than a new accessory. She wanted reassurance about her new schedule, her new workload, her new responsibilities. I almost missed a great opportunity because I assumed that we had done this before and I knew what was best. So, I asked questions and she opened up. And for the record, we both came to the conclusion that last year’s book bag will work out just fine.

2. Optimism is most effective when it is NOT imposed.

We all want our kids to have a “great year.” And believe it or not, that’s what ythey want as well. You might not have picked up on that with all of the lamenting they do toward the end of summer, but it’s there. It is our tendency to negate all the fears and complaints our kids have about school starting because we know how important a positive attitude is in determining that “great year”. But that's not our job. Hear me clearly: It is absolutely our job as leaders to lead with optimism about the future. We have to come to a place of maturity and faith to believe that the future has plenty of reason for excitement. But we make a critical mistake when we try to impose that optimistic view on everyone else. Doing so makes us come across as needy and nervous. Whenever we say, "Come on, you should be excited! This is going to be a great year!" we are playing cheerleaders trying to convince our frightened or apathetic kids that everything is going to be just swell. Instead, they hear, “Come on, I can’t handle you being moody or scared or insecure because that means that I have somehow failed. I NEED you to be excited about this upcoming school year or I’m going to feel like a bad parent!” Simply convince yourself that it is going to be a great year and watch their attitudes follow.

Yes, let’s tell our kids that we’re excited and we really believe in a positive future. Yes, let’s tell them this from a genuine point of mature, individual, faith in that belief. But let’s also remember this: what they feel about this upcoming year is up to them—Give your kids some emotional space to struggle with their fears and worries without trying to either minimize or amplify them, and then sit back and watch them soak up your positivity without even having to try.

3. It’s the little changes that prepare us for the biggest ones.

When a transition is clear and unavoidable, there is no excuse for a lack of preparation. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make in preparing for the school year is the last-minute summer vacation, with the whole family arriving home the day or two before school starts. This is an automatic recipe for a very difficult first week of school. Back-to-school is a transition that’s been on the calendar for months, and we all know that even with the best preparation around bedtime and sleep schedules, there are going to be some exhausted kids those first two weeks or so. By all means, use the week prior to ease everyone, including yourself, back into a school-friendly routine. Start cutting back on bedtimes 15 minutes each night until it’s back to usual. Start waking kids up 15 minutes earlier each day, ushering them into a shower and a change of clothes. You can even work with your kids by going online or calling the school to find out when lunch is scheduled for each kid, and begin getting their bodies ready for that meal schedule. Sure, these are little changes, but as in most areas of life, it’s the little changes that prepare us for the bigger ones.

Transitions like going back to school can be difficult, that’s for sure. But they can also be incredible growth opportunities. It all depends on how you look at things. If you’re willing to become more coachable than correct, more optimistic than overbearing, and more intentional than intense these last few days before school actually starts, you and your child are off to one “great year” no matter what lies ahead

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

"What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers."
-Martina Horner, US Educator

ScreamFree's Take
Jenny Headshot
Hi everyone Jenny here. I saw this quote and I had to pipe in on this one because of what just happened today. If you’ll indulge me…
This week, my son Brandon asked me to come up to his school for the annual book fair. I was in the middle of cooking dinner, doing laundry, and trying to fix a broken heel at the time, so I gave him a halfhearted nod and told him that I would see what I could do.
As it turned out, I had a fortuitous break in my schedule the next day and I was able to drive over and make the fair just as his class was entering. When he saw me, the genuine look of surprise and joy on his face was a much better greeting than I had expected. He ran across the room and squeezed me tight for a good thirty seconds. As he pulled back, I asked him why he was so excited. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Because you heard me last night.” He then took me around the room greeting all of his friends telling them, “My mom listened last night about the book fair! I thought she didn’t even hear me, but she did!”
All of us want to be heard. Kids are no different. Extend your respect to them simply by making a little extra effort to listen when they talk to you. You will learn so much more about them and relate so much better to them if you do.
-Jenny Runkel, Co-founder of ScreamFree

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Power of Vision in Becoming ScreamFree

As a ScreamFree Leader and seasoned Lifestyle Coach, I still need fresh tools to be the parent that I can be proud of! One of the latest tools that I’ve implemented is a vision board to help support the feelings of closeness, mutual respect and understanding that I want to experience with my 11 year old daughter.
A vision board is simple. It’s like one of those collages you used to do when you were a teen. However, a vision board is a collage with a mission, purpose, and well…vision.
Here’s how you start. First, identify what it is you want to experience in your relationship with your child. When it comes to identifying wants, it’s often helpful to start with “don’t wants.” Don’t wants pop up easily! These are all the things that push your buttons, drive you crazy and interfere with you becoming ScreamFree in the first place. For example, maybe you don’t want to see dirty laundry on the floor, don’t want to have to wait in the driveway for your kids to come out as they are getting progressively late for school, and you are becoming progressively late for your first appointment. You get the idea. List these don’t wants and let them shine light on what you Do Want to experience as a parent.
Maybe you want to feel close, connected, have fun together, and celebrate. Make a quick list of how you want to feel in your parental relationship. Now, go through the myriad of catalogues, fliers and magazines that invariably land in your mailbox. You can also use an image search engine and print images. The idea is to clip images that portray how you want to feel in your relationship with your child.
On my vision board, I found a mom and a young teen daughter embracing. I felt this paved the way for a future of happiness and closeness with my daughter. Images of “super mom” in flight made me feel happy and light, and filled with self-gratitude. I included that one. I also included an image of a mom meditating by a lake to inspire me to get peaceful and quiet inside. A vision board of this type, does not have to be a depiction of what you literally want. It’s a tool to see how you want to feel.
Now, post your vision board in a prominent place. You’ll want to see it every day. What happens when you see something, it engages the reticular activating system in the brain, and subconsciously you will begin to seek and create these feelings in your life. Move the vision board from time to time, so that it doesn’t fade into the background and become ignored.
Enjoy this project that can be accomplished with an inexpensive foam board and some thumb tacks. Use tacks, not glue, because you’ll be achieving your ScreamFree vision in short order, and will want to create a new vision board to activate another level of success in your life.

Carla C. Hugo offers Key Coaching for Family Harmony and Wellness. She is a Coach U trained coach, EFT Practitioner, Certified ScreamFree Parenting Leader and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Do you believe that Peace on Earth begins at Home? Are you ready to clean up your home life and take your health to the next level? Visit my website and sign up for my newsletter.