Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get A Grip

"Grasp the subject, the words will follow."
-Cato the Elder (234 B.C.-149 B.C)

ScreamFree's Take
hal totd
Many times, when parents first encounter the ScreamFree material, they beg me, “Just tell me the right thing to do and then I can do it.” Believe me, I totally understand that desire. But I would be doing those parents and their children a grave disservice if I gave them what they thought they wanted. Why is that?
For one reason, both kids and parents are unique. There is no one size fits all solution out there for any issue. And even if there were, the “right” technique employed for the wrong reason can be just as harmful as anything else. What I encourage parents to do is relax just a bit and take some time to really understand the principles of ScreamFree Parenting. It’s a totally different way to view the world and all of the relationships in it that matter most. By jumping to “what do I say” to my kids before marinating in “how can I be” with my kids, parents are selling themselves and this material short. Parents could simply focus on grasping these principles and they won’t have to try so hard to say and do all the right things. Patterns will start to unfold before them that they never saw and their kids will look less like problems to solve and more like people to love. And once this happens, just about any words will do.
-Hal Runkel, LMFT, Author of ScreamFree Parenting ScreamFree Marriage

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kids and Stress

Stress is a part of everyone’s life even kids and even more so with a new school year just beginning. Don’t think that because they are young that they don’t know what it feels like to be anxious and stressed about situations that come into their daily lives. What they might not know is how to deal with it constructively. That is where you come in as a parent who can help them gain the skills they need to constructively deal with stress and anxiety.

What is Stress?

Stress is our response to situations that occur in our lives. The responses are physical, mental, financial and spiritual.  Many of the physical changes take place involuntarily. For instance, you get stomach cramps when you think about having to deal with a difficult coworker.  I am sure nearly everyday we encounter different scenarios that fall into the stressful category.

It works the same for kids except that they lack the experience to put their feelings and situations into words. For this reason, many parents may think their kids are not experiencing stress at all but may consider it to be something else. But, they don’t have to struggle with bills or a job to have the results of their stress manifest in their young lives.  Today, our kids are bombarded with pressure from peers, school, sports and sometimes even with expectations and situations in our own homes.

How to Help your Child Cope with their Stressors

Learning how to help your child will take a practiced eye on your part. Get to know your child’s moods so you can discern when something is up with them.  More than often a mom has that key intuition that is triggered when something is not right.  Don’t ignore that – ask questions and try to initiate conversation to uncover the stressor.

Think about how stress affects you. Are there sleepless nights? How about poor eating habits or headaches from not eating at all? Are you sick all the time or cranky at the least little thing? Recognize the signs of stress.

No one wants their child to suffer discomfort. If you see that something is different about them, here are some ways to help them articulate what they are going through.

Notice what is going on – This involves telling them that you have noticed they have changed in some way.   Let them know you are concerned and want to help if you can. This could be the doorway that allows them to open up to you.  Be careful to not pressure and nag for them to let you in.  This will only make the situation more difficult.

Listen without judgment – Practice listening to them. Try not to let your emotions show on your face. This is where being a ScreamFree Parenting really comes into play.  Keeping your emotions in check to response rather than react will let them know they can trust you to not blow up.  Let them speak without interruption. Consider everything that they have said before speaking in response.

Help them sort out their feelings – Kids may not know what they are feeling. You can put a word to their emotions so they can better express themselves now and in the future. For example, if they don’t know which way to go then they are experiencing confusion. 

Come up with solutions together – Brainstorm with them about ways to solve the issue they are facing. If one doesn’t work, reassure them that you can try another.  Ask questions to get them into the problem solving mode rather than you just giving them your ideas.

Comfort them – Sometimes nothing needs to be said. They just want their parent to give a big hug. 

Teach coping skills – Burn off steam through exercise or some other activity you can do as a family. Exercise has been known to reduce stress levels.

Kids get stressed – there are many situations they will be faced with that contribute to stress.  As a parent, you can do more to help them than others, so tune in now in order so they may learn appropriate ways to cope with stress.

Susan Heid is the mom behind The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, order and less stress! As a Certified Parent Coach, Family Manager Coach and ScreamFree Certified Leader she enjoys sharing her expertise with moms through workshops, individual and online group coaching.  She is a proud mother of 4, married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the “bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School Blues-Part 3

Back to School Blues-Part 3

In honor of the most wonderful time of the year - back to school, we are concluding our series entitled “Back to School Blues.”  In this series, Kelvin Teamer, ScreamFree Institute Fellow teams up with one of our ScreamFree Certified Leaders, Jessica McKeown to help parents learn how to navigate their way through the minefield of emotions that typically come with this annual rite of passage.  Jessica and her husband live in Fairbanks, Alaska where she works as a Parent Educator.

"I have the power!" This was a statement made by the 1980s cartoon character, He-Man. If you don’t know He-Man’s story, let me fill you in. He-Man was really a mild-mannered prince from a mythological land called Eternia. Whenever trouble popped up and the world needed a hero, Adam would hold up his sword and transform himself into the super strong He-Man. When he changed his appearance, he would then inform anyone that was in ear-shot about his new found power. Maybe it is time parents become the hero in their households and begin using the power that they already have.
When parents stop picking up gauntlets thrown down by their children and begin focusing on their part of testy situations, they can enjoy power that they have previously given away. Using this power can look a lot like this:
Child:  Dad!  I don’t have my science folder!  I need it!  
Dad:  Sounds like you’re going to need to check the house for where you might have left it.
You could stop arguing over homework:
Child:  Mom!  My report for social studies is due tomorrow, but I didn’t start it yet.  You have to help me research it!
Mom:  If you would have asked for help earlier, I might have been able to brainstorm with you.  Its 10 o’clock and I have to wake up early for work.  I hope you get it done.
Can you imagine what it would be like to avoid these conflicts?  You would have so much time and energy!  You would help your children learn responsibility and consequences.  You would be aware of your part in the conflict and could choose to respond differently, perhaps with calm and authority.  The pattern you had been in before - the one that lead to frustration, could be broken.  Think about it,doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different outcome, has been described as the definition for insanity.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to lose my marbles over a squabble with my child.  
One of the most important things to remember as a parent is that you are in charge of your own self and your reactions.  Sometimes we may think our reactions are justified because our child’s behavior warranted such outbursts from us.  The fact of the matter is, no one can make us do anything.  We are in charge of how we participate in conflict.  It’s time for a positive change.  Besides, who has the energy or desire to intentionally allow himself or herself to go insane?  I would venture to say none of us do.
Instead of trying to convince yourself that the start to this school year will be conflict free, convince yourself, or give yourself permission, to change your patterns.  Your part in the conflicts that can surround school preparations can be minimized this year if you allow yourself time to pause.  Keep emotional reactivity at bay by responding to your child, not reacting.