Monday, December 7, 2009

G'me, g'me, g'me. Are you raising children of entitelement

More and more I'm seeing parents struggling with children who expect a lot for little in return. T.V., cable, video games, cell phone, unlimited calling and texting, money when they want, and the list goes on with nothing in return. Parents report feeling powerless, helpless and afraid of taking things away because they don't want their children to be angry at them. The kids are in the driver's seat and when mom and dad want them to do something like take out the trash, they balking, sulk, whine, complain and refuse.

As a result parents often felt defeated in their home and powerless to address their children's behavior. Often a sense of entitlement was fostered by the parents wanting their children to have things they didn't and to feel good about providing for them, or to keep the kids occupied, or because they were comfortable not addressing their childrens' developmental need to learn responsibility and the importance of supporting community (family), contributing and working to earn things they want.

There are simply changes that can be made later in the game (teens) and things you can start with little ones (including toddlers). What are your child's responsibilities and the privileges they earn for completing them? Chores and homework come before t.v. time or other electronics for example. If they refuse then they CHOOSE to go without their privileges. This is not a power struggle, it's just a statement of the system you create.

For more information on how to create something that works for your family from the beginning or to modify what's happening in your home with your teens email me at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Texting Harmful for Your Kids?

Although there is not enough research due to the lack of time that has passed with the texting craze, it is apparent that part of parenting means monitoring / restricting use and access to some things including texting.

NY Times reports "The phenomenon is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation."

How do you protect your kids? How do you motivate your kids to achieve their responsibilities by using access to technology as a motivator?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The case for marriage

Research shows that in a two parent household children thrive. This of course means a family where abuse, domestic violence, substance use, etc are not prevalent.

Here is a snippet from this report: for the full report click here.
"Fundamental Conclusions

The authors conclude with three fundamental conclusions:

1. Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.
2. Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.
3. The benefits of marriage extend to poor and minority communities, despite the fact that marriage is particularly fragile in these communities."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parents Impact Change

Nothing can change until the parents change.

All behaviors are learned whether it is your child's behavior or parenting sytle. From the basic concept of Behaviorism a behavior is more likely to re-occur when it is reinforced or followed by something desirable.

The research clearly points to behavioral intervention as the best practices for a number of behavioral diagnosis. If we are to teach our children about being responsible for themselves and their actions we must begin with this concept as a staple in addressing a range of challenges from daily issues to more destructive behaviors.

When we behave as a parent who is able to nurture and yet still set limits we instill a sens of safety and self-trust in our children. Children want and need limits. When rules are set and expectations are clear to children they will also be clear about the result for following or breaking a rule or expectation. The key here is following through with reinforcing what they are doing correctly to ensure it happens again and to avoid the power struggles around something not being done.

This is the most simplistic version of this 'tip' around increasing the behaviors you want to see vs the behaviors you don't want to see.

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Minimize power struggles by using EMPATHY

This is a long one, but a quick read with information that can change your interactions with your children, your partners and pretty much anyone you potentially face a conflict with.

What stops you your tracks? Knowing someone understands where you are coming from? The moment someone acknowledges or recognizes our emotions we tend to relax, breathe and begin to open up.

Empathy is a key skill whether it's in parenting, partnering or other relationships. Empathy is the key to de-escalating your child when they are angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, disappointed, etc. This works not only in helping to de-escalate your child's behavior and to prevent further escalation, but also serves two other functions. One of which is to teach your children to identify and verbalize what they are feeling rather than acting them out. The second function serves to keep you in the parent role avoiding power struggles and helping to keep you objective in a situation where your buttons are being pushed.

Here is an EXAMPLE:
You've just told your daughter that she cannot go to the movies with her friends because she chose not to finish her responsibilities for the day. She begins crying, yelling ans saying what an unfair parent you are, that she doesn't love you and any other button of yours she can pushto get you to feel what she is feeling.

How would you normally respond? How would you feel? Could you follow through with what you say?

Without addressing her statements or responding to her attempts to push your buttons or to engage you in a power struggle, you FIRST check in with yourself.
How are you feeling? Chances are whatever your primary emotion is, your child is feeling that same emotion multiplied by ten.

SECOND, what emotion is your child showing? After checking in then you simply say it out loud.
"Wow, I can tell you're really mad (or name the emotion)."
"I can see how frustrating this is for you."
"You're really disappointed about this."

Any variation that simply reflects what is going on.

You may have to cointually repeat the empathy statement until they have begun to calm and are in a place to talk about what is going on.

They aren't reacting to be rude or disrespectful. They are processing externally or behaviorally and they have not yet learned the skills to express and manage their emotions. Using empathy will help them learn more appropriate ways to express themselves.

This technique is also useful with toddlers and younger children and will teach them the feelings identification skill. "I know this is frustrating, it's not OK to throw toys. Let's try again."

  1. Your children will feel heard.
  2. There will be fewer behavioral challenges.
  3. The duration of tanturms or the like will shorten.
  4. Your child will feel more confident in speaking openly about their feelings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's Not About You

Do you recall ever having an interaction / disagreement /argument with someone where you said / could have said / thought that they were not listening or were being combative? Anything thing along those lines sound familiar?

Think for a moment about this concept "It's not about you." We all come into relationships and interactions with a perspective. Our life experience shapes that perspective, our belief system and our automatic thoughts. Therefore, in it's most simplistic fashion everything that another person says, how they behave, think, etc before, during or after an interaction with you really has little to do with you. Meaning, you are not the cause of their responses (internal or external). You may say something that gets a big reaction or that triggers something but that means you hit something pertinent to them whether you know it or not.

The same of course holds true for you. Your reactions are based on your life experiences. The person you have the relationship with does not 'make' you feel a something based on their behavior. That is simply your response.

The reason I'm sharing this thought is to give you a bit of insight on how you might talk yourself into objectivity during or following an interaction.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The power of intention

It never ceases to amaze me that when I am reminded to focus on what I am thankful for and intend to have in my life how quickly my attitude changes and results occur.

This is the case with my personal and professional life with too many examples to note. This simply reinforces a need to focus on those things which also happen to be in line with Cognitive Behavioral theory as far as shifting your conscious process.

Try it for a week. I challenge you to approach your life from a place of gratitude being thankful for what you do have (or want) as if you will always have it (or already do). It may be a little 'new age' for some and that is not normally my cup of tea. But, your brain is a powerful tool.

Check out the movie The Secret or What the Bleep Do We Know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perception shaping perspective

I work from a Cognitive Behavioral theoretical orientation. What that means is that I help people uncover what is really going on in their mind, to become aware / conscious of what happens in our brains and how it impacts our behavior.

I talk a lot about how we are constantly looking for evidence in our lives that prove to us that our negative automatic thoughts are in fact a fact. That we are justified in believing "I am not good enough", "I don't deserve to be happy", "I'm always a target", "I will always be alone". What ever the message is that drives you actually is responsible for supporting itself.

Here's an example:
If I believe I am not good enough then every relationship that I have will provide me some evidence to support that belief and I will then continue to behave as if it's true. That may mean staying in a relationship that is unhealthy, not getting into relationships at all for fear that they "always fail".

If you consciously choose a new lens to view life through and combat those automatic negative thoughts, you can then begin to behave as if this new version of truth is worth supporting. As you move into this new way of perceiving yourself, you will begin to have a new perspective of yourself, others and your future.