Archive for the ‘Communicating with your kids’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Anger in Parent-Child Relationships

Anger, yelling, shouting, sarcasm, and profanity are not what was intended for the parent-child relationship. However, this is all too frequently occurring in our homes today. Consider this scenario for a moment. You ask your child to simply sit down and complete their homework. You have asked your child three times to sit down and complete their work nicely and then as a parent you lose it and start screaming your head off. Anger is now permeating the room. As a parent, you feel gratified because you now see your child sitting their completing their homework, however your child has internalized the whole experience and is tense and frustrated while completing their homework. Unfortunately, your child is most likely not completing their work to the best of their ability. The parent is usually so angry though that they do not feel guilty about what has happened until they have had a chance to calm down.
The effects of this scenario are the following:
1.) This type of parent-child interaction whether it occurs frequently or infrequently decreases or diminishes the parent-child bond.
2.) The parent has just modeled very poor problem-solving and coping skills to deal with situations that arise. Your child is learning that yelling and screaming and anger will bring about results.
3.) The child now does not want to ask their parent for help in the future because they are anticipating a similar scenario to the one that has just occurred. Anger or belittling comments will bring about avoidance on the part of the child to go to a parent and ask for help or assistance. The child now feels alone and isolated when they have problems and need “to talk” to their parents.
4.) Anger festers and builds and the parent slowly builds an angry child. Of course, the outcome was favorable in as much as you got the homework completed, however the long-term results are poor.
As parents, we need to find other means to get our children to do as they are told. Yelling, anger, and sarcasm are negative means with very negative outcomes. Children respond in a more positive manner when a behavioral management plan is used and consistent boundaries with consequences are given for their behaviors/actions.
As a parent, if you require assistance please consider parent/child counseling as a means to resolve the situation with your child. In addition, there are a number of wonderful books out on developing and maintaining a good relationship with your child/teen.

PostHeaderIcon How do we bring out the best in our kids?

Parents often wonder how to bring out the best in their children in order to produce the best possible child that they can. While consistent parenting, discipline, and communication are all keys to this, here are a few tips on bringing out the best possible child that you can.

1.) Have regular family meetings, dinners, or family game night with your child/children. We have all seen the commercials on T.V. about the importance of family dinners or having a family game night. Well folks, this time that we spend with our kids is really that important. Here is your chance to show an interest in what your child is doing and to ask questions about what is going on in their life. Ask about their friends and what is going on at school. By doing so, parents can often avoid their child later on turning into the quiet; withdrawn or surly teenager that tells their parents virtually NOTHING about what is going on in their life. This usually is not a good thing for parents or the teen!!
2.) Monitor the television shows that your child is watching. Reduce the amount of T.V. and watch for shows that have alot of violent content in them. Set a curfew for your child and always know where and with whom your child currently is. Trouble usually occurs when parents do not know where their child is and with whom.
3.) If you see that your child is struggling with self-control or anger problems, then by all means enroll them in a class on anger management, social skills, or how to make friends. These groups are usually available through schools, churches, or the local YMCA. Anger that is left untreated children, almost always becomes a bigger problem later on.
4.) Try to do things together with your child that your child enjoys. Praise your child as often as possible and by all means encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Ask them how their day went at school. Communication on your child’s developmental level goes a very long way with letting your child know that you take an interest in them. (even when your child tells you that they did nothing all day long at school!)
5.) If you find out that your child is having problems at school in getting along with other kids or in bullying others, then by all means talk to your child and your child’s teacher about their behaviors. Communication and dealing with issues as they come up is the key in avoiding problems later on down the road. And of course, implement reasonable and age-appropriate consequences for behavior as discipline problems come up.

PostHeaderIcon Ways to Praise our Kids

Positive parenting and positive interactions are the key to not get caught in the trap of negativity and yelling that seem to permeate many of today’s homes. A wonderful exercise that promotes praise and increases parents and children’s skills on using “verbal” rewards is Ways to Praise our Children.

The way to start this exercise with your family is to ask each family member to come up with as many ways as they can think of to say, “great job” or “well done.” Verbal acceptance or praise is such an important component in our daily interactions with our children and promotes and increases their self-esteem. Too often, all of us get into a pattern of scolding or yelling at our kids for what they have done wrong, that we forget to praise them for what they have done right.

Each family member should write down on small sheets of paper the ways to praise and be enthusiastic and model it for your kids. Ask each member of the family to keep a note of how many times they have heard someone praise someone else in the family. The goal of this exercise is to get all family members in the habit of taking responsibility for providing positive feedback to their parents and to each other.

Some suggestions for ways to praise are:
Well done
Great
What a great helper!
I love it when you …
You have done really well
I am so proud of you
You have made my day
That is fantastic

and so on and so on. You can make up as many of these as you want and make it fun for your family by being silly and exaggerate your tone or make funny faces, whatever you have to do to make it work for your family. For families that have gotten into a negative way to dealing and talking to others, this exercise will be much more difficult and awkward to complete. When your list is done, post it in a prominent place in your house such as on the refrigerator so there is a constant reminder to everyone that verbal praise should be given regularly.

PostHeaderIcon Why Kids say “I Don’t Know”

As parents, we have heard this as an answer from our children so many times that we have lost count. Why exactly do children give this noncomital answer when parents or adults ask them a question. The reason of course is that kids learn at a very early age that if they say, “I don’t know” or “I am not sure” that they are less likely to get into trouble. When parents are asking questions of their children, they are usually doing so in an attempt to catch them in a lie or are in “attack mode” and kids are aware of this and will give them the safest response that they can give, “I don’t know.” Children constantly have to engage in conversations with adults that are more mature and have a deeper level of thought and children are often scared that they will be penalized if they offer up the wrong or incorrect response.

How do we as parents and as teachers correct this punitive system of correcting our children and ask questions and have a dialogue with our children that is more positive than negative.

The steps to correct this problem are as follows:
1.) Talk to your children with love and respect, even if you are really angry at them
2.) Ask them questions such as What? Where? Why?, these questions do not interrogate them, rather they invite them to have a discussion and it shows them you are really interested in what they have to say and their opinions.
3.) Avoid asking questions such as, “when are you going to?” How come you can’t?, Are you? Why not? Did you? These questions sound like the Spanish Inquisition! When you ask questions in this frame of mind you are automatically putting your child on the defensive and you are going to get a defensive or oppositional answer or not an answer at all.
4.) The key is ATTITUDE! Convey to your child/teenager in your communications that you are truly interested. This is to not to say that you are going to agree with each other or that your teen is going to get their way. You are still the parent after all and you are in charge of things.

Have a dialogue with your kids that is open; honest that conveys that you are open to their view point and are interested in what they have to say. We want to affirm their importance as individuals and offer up acceptance of them as people. Once we are able to achieve this, we will be able to get a definitive answer when we ask a question.

PostHeaderIcon Anger in Parent-Child Relationships

Anger, yelling, shouting, sarcasm, and profanity are not what was intended for the parent-child relationship.  However, this is all too frequently occurring in our homes today.  Consider this scenario for a moment.  You ask your child to simply sit down and complete their homework.  You have asked them three times to sit down and complete their work nicely and then as a parent you lose it and start screaming your head off.  Anger is now in the room.  As a parent, you feel gratified because you now see your child sitting their completing their homework, however your child has internalized the whole experience and is tense and frustrated while completing their homework.  Unfortunately, your child is most likely not completing their work to the best of their ability.  The parent is usually so angry though that they do not feel guilty about what has happened until they have had a chance to calm down.  The effects of this scenario are the following:

1.) This type of parent-child interaction whether it occurs frequently or infrequently decreases or diminishes the parent-child bond.

2.) The parent has just modeled very poor problem-solving and coping skills to deal with situations that arise.  Your child is learning that yelling and screaming and anger will bring about results.

3.) The child now does not want to ask their parent for help in the future because they are anticipating a similar scenario to the one that has just occurred.  Anger or belittling comments will bring about avoidance on the part of the child to go to a parent and ask for help or assistance.  The child now feels alone and isolated when they have problems and need “to talk” to their parents.

4.) Anger festers and builds and the parent is slowly building an angry child.  Of course, the outcome was favorable in as much as you got the homework completed, however the long-term results are poor.

As parents, we need to find other means to get our children to do as they are told.  Yelling, anger, and sarcasm are negative means with very negative outcomes.  Children respond in a more positive manner when a behavioral management plan is used and consistent boundaries with consequences are given for their behaviors/actions.

PostHeaderIcon How to Talk to Your Child about a Mental Health Disorder

What do you do as a parent when your child has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder?  This is a question that has been posed to me countless times as a therapist.  Do I tell him what is wrong or not??  Whether you as a parent have been told that your child has ADHD, Clinical Depression, an Anxiety Disorder, Aspergers, or whatever it is, your child definitely needs to be told about the diagnosis.  In addition, the symptoms of the disorder should also be explained to them.

Talking to your child about the disorder helps to remove the mystery surrounding the problem and it will also help them if you explain the symptoms to them.  In having done so, you as a parent are given them back some measure of control to your child.  I mean, if you really think about it, is whatever you are telling them really that bad?? 

Alot of parents/caregivers feel a sense of relief when they are told what particular problem their child has, however they then feel it necessary to “hide” the diagnosis from their child.  Believe me, children know that their is a problem or something “different” about them and explaining the diagnosis will help alleviate some of their distress and then both you and your child can work towards coping with the situation.  Awareness is the key towards better mental health.

PostHeaderIcon Can you get along with your teenager??

Of course the number one problem in getting along with your teenager is the inability to communicate with each other.  The first thing that needs to be done is to improve the steps in order to talk with your teenager.  Before you begin to have a discussion about anything with your teenager son or daughter, first agree on a few simple ground rules.  If the ground rules can not be agreed upon, than most likely the discussion will go nowhere.  Here are some simple rules in having a discussion or communicating with your teenager:

1.) Please, please remain calm.  Nothing ever gets solved by yelling or through anger.  Take an interest in what your teenager is saying.  There is nothing more aggravating to a teenager than feeling that their parents are “blowing them off”, I hear that all that time as a therapist.  Teenagers will tell me, “my parents think they know everything, they don’t even care what I think or feel.” 

2.) Listen to each other.  If both of you are talking at once and continually interrupt each other, then nothing will get fixed. 

3.) If the problem is a big one, then don’t try to fix the problem in just one discussion, sometimes it will take a number of discussions to fix the problem.

4.)  The discussions have to be a give and take between the parties and remember that no one will win here.  Nobody ever wins in a disagreement, compromise is the best solution.

5.) If you notice that one or both of you is getting increasingly angry or frustrated, then take a break and try your discussion later on.

Problem-solving takes these steps:

First, we define what the problem is and we have to agree upon this.  Be on the same page, otherwise you and your teenager may end up not even talking about the same thing.  Between the two of you, come up with some possible solutions.  Both of you need to be reasonable here.  Evaluate all of your solutions and come up with the best one that will work for the both of you.  Lastly, come up with a plan or course of action to the selected solution.  Solutions mean nothing if you don’t implement it and then continue to follow through.