Archive for category Parenting Help
One thing that parents and kids have in common is stress. While the sources may differ and reactions may vary, everyone, at some point, experiences undue anxiety. Stress is an inevitable part of life created by a physiological reaction to an uncomfortable situation. In fact, if one never experiences any anxiety, that is actually a bigger problem than having anxiety.
Interestingly, stress also can be a positive emotion. Good stress motivates and energizes kids, often pushing them to do better, and a little ‘fear’ can cause kids to work harder and study more. To understand how stress is impacting your child, it is important to recognize the different types of reactions that one may have.
Acute stress is a short-lived response to a particular event such as a big test. It is a very common feeling and, in some cases, can be interpreted as bodily excitement such as the nerves associated with starring in the school play. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is ongoing anxiety that continually taxes one’s body and mind. It is not exciting or motivating; rather, it wears on the body and can cause a mental meltdown. If a child is experiencing a high number of acute episodes or is in a persistent, chronic state, it is a problem that needs professional assistance.
It can, however, be difficult to decipher between problematic behaviors and developmentally appropriate responses because children of different ages react differently to stressful situations. A preschooler may excessively cry, tremble with fright, or run aimlessly. During the elementary years, an overly anxious child may demonstrate regressive behaviors, develop irrational fears, or have persistent physical illness such as head and stomach aches. An overly angst-ridden teen may become socially withdrawn, act out, or appear frequently confused.
Ignoring stress will most likely cause increased anxiety for your son or daughter. However, knowing when to approach your child and what to say might strain your parental nerves. Observe and learn when your kids might be most willing to talk. Is it before bedtime, after diner, or during car rides? Initiate a conversation but avoid flinging questions. Also consider creating a ‘covert’ activity such as a weekly donut date where conversation is actively encouraged. Availability provides opportunity for your child to speak with you about any topic.
When your child does finally decide it’s time to dialogue—listen. Stop what you are doing and provide your full attention. It can be difficult to avoid strong reactions, but parents should respond with empathy and focus on the emotional content of the conversation. Parents who minimize their offspring’s feelings shut the door to future problem-solving sessions.
Unfortunately, anxious adolescents turn into anxious adults. And while encouraging conversations is an important component of stress reduction, kids need to learn ongoing ways to reduce life’s tension. Distraction is an excellent way to provide regular relief. A physical activity or an engaging hobby will take individuals of any age away from the daily grind. Having fun is a powerful mood enhancer.
For ‘in the moment relief,’ kids, especially younger ones, need to learn how to ‘just’ breathe. An anxious person takes small, shallow breaths using their upper chest. To reduce stress, air needs to flow smoothly from the abdomen. Model this for your children and they will quickly learn this easy to implement strategy.
Kids have a lot to worry about, despite the carefree lifestyles we adults think they may lead. Interestingly, the one thing kids do not worry about is their parental relationship. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association noted that only 8 percent of surveyed children and teens cited mom and dad as a source of their stressful woes. Doing well in school and family finances topped the list of major worries.
Whenever there is change, it is important for parents to understand that situational stress is an appropriate and reasonable reaction. If you feel, however, that your child’s anxiety is too intense, lasts longer than it should, or occurs more frequently than is typical, trust your parental instincts and seek further assistance. Your school’s counselor or family pediatrician is a great place to find guidance and professional recommendations.
Teenage Suicide. It seems that every year, we hear of the tragedy of someone who takes their life. At times, they do so by taking the lives of other innocents with them. Our hearts are heavy and our nation mourns each loss of life. It makes us wonder. Is there something we could do to prevent, to help?
Recently, at a Jr. High School where my son attends, a friend of his took his life in a very public way. Many students, teachers and family members were shocked and left wondering what happened. Wrong or right, these stories make headlines. In someway, we all seem to be asking, “How did this happen?” What went so wrong?
In this podcast, I am joined by my friend, Mike Ruoho. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and oversees the girls program at West Ridge Academy. Mike and I hope to add to the understanding of teenage suicide. We will talk about the signs and the warnings, and the real illness of depression. While we join in mourning, we also hope to help. God Bless.
Another great article by Jeff Murdock in the Meridian Magazine.
Entitlement versus Gratitude- Written by Jeff Murdock
While much of the information is directed towards today’s youth, please do not assume that the issue of entitlement only applies to them.
|Being a parent certainly has its challenges, but if you are an adult suffering from ADHD it can be even more difficult. ADHD symptoms in adults often manifest themselves as issues with time management, organizational skills, and goal setting. However, as Dr. Hyken discusses on Fox News, having ADHD does not make you a bad mother. Rather, having ADHD gives you the ability to empathize with your children, think of creative solutions for problems, and create a home for your family that is loving, nurturing, and exciting.
Click here to see the video.
Narcissism is growing in our society. So, what’s the big deal? Is it even a problem and if so how much of a problem?
In this podcast, Steve Murdock, M.A., joins us as we discuss narcissism in more depth. We learn that narcissism can lead to many disasters in relationships. About half way through this podcast, Steve tells us that by the time an adult develops narcissism, they rarely change. The time to catch it is before the personality is fully developed, or in other words; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is the first podcast in a series aimed at understanding and preventing the development of narcissism.
This podcast is a follow-up to a few articles which are posted in the West Ridge Academy parenting help section.
The first time the word “no” slips from the mouth of an infant, we clap our hands and sing the praises of what we claim to be our incredibly intelligent and talented offspring. In quieter moments of reflection, we find ourselves mesmerized by the mystery and wonder of our very own child’s rapidly increasing development. Then the cute, intelligent little one develops into a teenager. What happened to the child who constantly sought their parent’s attention and company? When did an adult’s opinion and approval cease to be more important than that of their friends and peers?
To be a member of a peer group is the primary goal of most teens during adolescence. The desire for a feeling of belonging and social acceptance is very strong at this stage of a teen’s development. This is why peer influence plays a huge role in steering the experiences and interests of teenagers.
Remember, you went through this as a teen and each of our kids will go through it, too. It’s all part of the plan.
I am a Teenager and I am Normal
Questioning authority, developing independence, and separating physically and emotionally from parents are normal, healthy parts of adolescence. In early childhood, your son or daughter views himself or herself as an extension of you. In order to progress into productive adulthood, they must embrace the reality that they have their own independent identity. They do this by pushing you away and gravitating towards their peers. The peer group then becomes the main influencing factor in your teen’s life as they attempt to evaluate and develop their own set of values. This can be an intense time of pressure for all involved.
Pressure vs. Pain
We all know that when the doctor tells us there is going to be a little bit of “pressure,” he usually means a little bit of pain. In the same sense, peer pressure may be more accurately referred to as “peer pain.” Teenagers experience intense pain associated with being disliked, unpopular or lonely; feeling embarrassed or made fun of; hurting other people’s feelings; missing out on what everyone else is doing.
Any teenager who doesn’t give into the pressure to “conform to the norm” is going to face this potential hurt, making the avoidance of giving in much less enticing. It is easy from an adult perspective to minimize these struggles, however. As a result, the first step to helping our adolescent deal with peer pressure is to empathize with them, especially when they face peer-related challenges. The second step is to start early and provide children of all ages with opportunities to develop conviction, confidence and creativity.
1) Teach by example: From the time a child is young, they need to know with certainty what their family values are. This must not only be taught, but lived in our own individual lives. Hypocrisy will weaken your child’s conviction and will lead to pain when they encounter the world’s pressure. To teach this, you must be consistently present—physically and emotionally—in your child’s life.
2) Values vs. behavior: When our values and behavior do not match, we experience unhappiness. Help your child understand the dissonance between their values and their behavior, and give them concrete examples of things they can do to decrease that distance.
3) Think ahead: Teenagers do not naturally think ahead to the future; instead, they are focused on the here and now. Talk to them about the potential consequences, negative and positive, of the choices they are or could be making. Teach them to ask, “Is it too much? Is it too early? Is it too risky?” (www.thecoolspot.gov)
4) Understanding “the why”: Most teenagers can tell you what they should or should not do, but many cannot tell you why. The world teaches our children daily why they should not conform to traditional family values, so we must be prepared to combat this oppositional and powerful influence. This means we, as parents, need to be well versed in “the why”. You cannot teach unless you understand. Put great thought, study, and prayer into better understanding “the why” behind why you do what you do, and take the time to share this with your children throughout their development. True understanding—spiritual understanding—creates conviction. Conviction is the strength required to endure any kind of pressure.
1) Praise your child’s accomplishments and abilities. Do not demean them, even in teasing. Children who grow up feeling confident are more likely to take that confidence with them into their teenage years.
2) Let your child make his or her own age appropriate choices. Teach correct principles, give your child direction, and assure your child that they can make wise decisions on their own. Allow your children to experience consequences for their own choices.
3) Know your child’s friends. Encourage your children from a young age to associate with positive peer influences. Confidence increases when your child’s friends say “no” to dangerous behavior. Negative peer pressure decreases among friends who have similar high standards.
There are lots of ways to teach our children to say “no.” Teach them to be creative—make a joke, explain why, make an excuse, do something else instead, ignore the suggestion or walk away. Or, just say no. It really can be that simple.
When to Conform to the Norm: Positive Peer Pressure
From early on, get your kids involved in positive social experiences (e.g. sports, student government, and other extracurricular activities). Such involvement increases confidence and applies “pressure” to conform to a healthy, happy adolescent norm.
Empowering Aspect of the Atonement
Most importantly, teach your children that you know the empowering aspect of Christ’s Atonement is real. Christ knows what it’s like to be alone and He knows how to help your child to be strong through this necessary aspect of human development. A testimony of and trust in the Savior is a greater gift than any conviction, confidence, or creativity you could instill in your child as they prepare to face the pressures ahead.
Our Home is a…
Safe fallback alternative if child’s activity isn’t appropriate.
Welcoming place where child brings friends–having snacks & drinks available helps.
Place of wholesome activities to observe and get to know child’s friends. Negative peer pressure is minimized when friends share similar values or standards.
Center of games and activities. Make it appealing.
Positive, busy, active and engaging place.