Tag Archives: challenging children

The Etiquette of Touch: Good Hugs Bad Hugs

As a child, I hated being swooped up in one or another relatives’ arms and hugged. They may have loved me, but I hated their unwanted hugs.hugs

At the same time I love  hugs and hugging. But it is tricky.

Because I worked as a mental health professional with children, I was written up once for hugging a child. She was five, we had worked together for several weeks. When she saw me at a support group my boss was attending, she rushed up to me gave me a big hug and clung to me for a few moments. My boss frowned and wrote me a memo saying it was against agency rules to have physical contact with patients.

Did I stopping hugging the kids or grown ups who came at me with open arms. No. I only obey reasonable rules applied reasonable. The “No touch” rule for professional has its merits.  However, rejecting someone who wants a hug is hurtful  and good therapy seeks to help not damage.  What to do? Here are some tips.

Parenting Tips

Tip one: All unwanted touches are bad touches. 

Normally, I want hugs from David. But if I am angry I do not. He had to learn that lesson and has. Children are much the same. When teaching time out, the younger the child the more they seem to want a hug when it is over. Not always.

One of my foster children stiffened when I tried to hug her. A clear sign, she did not want my hugs. I noted her response and apologized.  She explained she had been sexually abused and it started with hugs.

Tip two:  Be aware of sexual feelings hugs and other touches created in you and others. 

If you are a parent, you know that sooner or later the hugs and kisses your child once delighted in will  turn a bit sour.

When that happened to me, I communicated my new attitude toward hugs by meeting my father’s attempt to hug with the sideways hug. In time he got the message.

Understand: my father did not think of our hugs as sexual. They were not, but felt that way to me. Nor was I absolutely clear on why I no longer liked them.

Tip three: Handle inappropriate or unwanted touches,  but do not over-react.  

When a girl tried to unzip David’s fly he called loudly for me. The girl fled.  She was told to discuss the incident with her probation officer and that we would report it so talking about it was not a matter of choice.

When hugged too long by one  boy I pushed him away and said “Those kind of hugs are for grownups who want to be hugged that way.” He was also told to discuss this with the professionals involved in his care.

Then there was the medial intern I met in an empty hall when I was young,  apparently attractive, and working in a hospital. He spread his arms and came toward me obviously intent on give me a bear hug. I looked as if I was going to accept, but at the last minute ducked under his arms and said, “Thank you but no thank you.”  He never bother me again..

Whistles and cat calls with no intent or ability to touch is  not the same as actually being hugged. The feminist movement has made a bit too much oof these; I have been told by a number of young women they feel raped by such behavior. Awfulizing and denigrating of actual rape victims.

Men working at a construction site are not going to leap over the fence and rape you.  They are bored and wanting some distraction. You can take the whistles as a compliment or an assault. Seeing them as assaults is over-reacting.

I assumed the men were paying me a compliment. I usually dropped a small curtsey, smiled and kept walking. Got some laughs and we both felt okay.

Now as a subway rider, I got groped and eventually found that either stomping  on the not-gentleman’s  or saying loudly “Keep your hands to yourself” worked. I didn’t need to try the knee in the groin, but assume that might also convey the desired message.

Younger children might try something they see on the media or see their parents doing. Deep kissing for example. That is best handled, by noting such kisses are grownup kissed and only for two grownups who both want such kisses.

Tip four: Set your child free to reject hugs. Never say “Give Aunt Rosie a hug or a kiss.”  I cringe when I hear parents saying that. My tactic is always to say,  “Only if s/he wants; otherwise a hand shake or “Slap me five” will do.”

Lots of times I get the handshake and most of the time a “Slap me five.” When I get a hug is freely given and that delights me.

Don’t like this tip? Remember most sexual abuse directed toward a child comes from relatives or family friends. Your child needs to start owning his or her body early on.

If you have other tips that might help parents, feel free to share.

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.

Katherine

This post was not inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt  I Can’t Stay Mad at You;  Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget?

Practice forgiveness is one of the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises.  It does not involve forgetting.

how to forgive

LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)

 

Use Rating Scales to Teach Your Child What Matters

Knowing what matters keeps decision making on track. Teaching children how to rate things keeps them on track.

Rating scale poster

How to practice  Emotional Fitness Training’s Rating Exercise: Every time you feel tempted to complain, rate the complaint: Trivial is one; Life Changing trauma is ten. Hurts but not for long is five.

parent advice

The younger the child, the more s/he lives in the now and what matters is feeling okay or good.  Rating scales can be taught to a child as soon as he or she begins toddling. Why then? Because the child is getting a few bumps and bruises, but also because s/he is acquiring language. This age and stage lets you teach your child to rate pain:

  1. “Big hurt”  if the child is crying inconsolably.
  2. “Hurts” for small weeping moments.
  3. Tiny hurt for when child complains but seems able to comfort self.

For the big hurts, keep saying “Big Hurt” as you comfort the child.    For the “Hurts” repeat that one word and when the child stops crying, smile, hug,  and say “Good job.”

For tiny hurts, ignore or say “Tiny Hurt, well handled.”

By the way, some experts say there are only two emotions: pleasure and pain. Makes some sense by also important to realize that as we grow what feels pleasurable or painful becomes personal.  Need an example? Here’s one based on my experience as a foster parent.

Many of the children who came to live with us, had been abused or seriously neglected. The logical assumption  would be that living with foster parents who were not abusive would be pleasurable. Not so.

As one young man said, “Please beat us once in a while. You treat us better than our parents and that hurts.”

Fritz Redl and David Wineman in their book Children Who Hate called this inability to tolerate good enough parenting “Treatment Shock.”

In my work and life, I have found three elements working in terms of pleasure or pain.

  1. Deprivation of basic survival needs leads the list. And sexual deprivation is included as a basic survival need, although survival of the species not the individual.
  2. Physical pain.
  3. Emotional pain including uncertainty and fear of pain.

As children grow, each of these three elements can be rated.

  1. Survival needs are rated in terms of their impact on the body. Water needs? A bit thirsty vs dehydrated; Food needs? Mildly hungry vs near death from starvation. Sexual needs? No sexual tension versus aroused enough to violate safe sex rules including forcing sex on someone.
  2. Pan has already been discussed. but useful to think about uncertain and fear of pain in the following ways.
  3. Emotional pain?  Rate on tiny hurt, hurt, and big hurt scale. Think about uncertainty in terms of  mildly curious to disruption of core beliefs enough to act violently to those who believe differently. Fear of pain? Reasonable caution vs immobilizing fear.

But it all begins with teaching a toddler to rate pain.

What to do if your child is past the toddler age? Once a child is in school, you can take a direct approach. Again your response starts the process. Look for when a child is “awfulizing” a trivial hurt.

What’s awfulizing? Albert Ellis founder of the Institute for Rational Living coined this  word. Most simply put it involves  making mountains out of ant hills.  Think of the teen who won’t leave the house because of a pimple you cannot see.  Or the Little League who drops a fly ball and acts like he or she lost the World Series.

You have a number options, but the best is simply to ask the child to rate how bad it is. You can do that by saying, ” suspect by  next week you won’t feel so bad, and by next month you will hardly remember feeling so bad and by next year, you will have forgotten this entirely.” I usually add, “Life goes on.”

My mother’s response to awfulizing  took these three forms.

  1. “Suck it up Butter cup.”
  2. “Be glad it isn’t worse.”
  3. “Life goes on.” Which is where I got that one.

Many of today’s parenting gurus would find my mother’s edicts hurtful. These tend to suggest if you cannot praise, say nothing. I disagree. Part of being a parent is preparing your child for the realities of life. Hurt is a reality and learning to rate hurts realistically an important life skill.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring.  Thank you.

Katherine

P.S. This post was partly inspired by today’s WordPress Daily Prompt.

Ripped from the Headlines! Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

I thought about the controversy over Starbucks Christmas Cups. Stupid to waste time on something so trivial. Well, at least in my Cranky Old Lady’s Opinion.

LINKS OF INTEREST

How to Use Shame as a Parenting Tool – Six Tips

You or a child doing something really bad? Shamed? Shame is designed to get you back on track. Sadly, it doesn’t rate what is  worthy of shame.

Shamed by dropping a lunch box.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tells this story about shame in his book The Little Prince:

“Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince.”

“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.

“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who was already sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.

“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.

“Ashamed of drinking!”

If drinking is leading to self harm or violence toward others, it is worthy of shame. But the shame is useless if it does not lead to a change in harmful behavior. Like most feelings shame is a signal that needs decoding. The stronger the feeling, the more decoding is necessary.

Leading Harvard researcher Jerome Kagan, views shame as nature’s way of keeping us from doing the unthinkable. He points out that shame develops when a child has become powerful enough to kill a troublesome younger sibling.  For the very young child,  a strong painful emotion needs to come into play to prevent the Sin of Cain. Shame develops naturally and is nature’s teaching tool.

Shame is considered toxic by most parent advisers. Not true.  Parents are also seen as the major reason shame becomes troubling to someone. Also not true, as Kagan points out. 

Parents need to spend less time trying to avoid a child’s feeling ashamed and more time teaching the value of shame as a warning to think about what matters. Moments of shame should be teachable moments.

PARENTING TIPS  

Shame is only a useful  emotion only when it  keeps a child  from doing the unthinkable.  Part of every parent’s job is to teach right from wrong. Shame opens the door on teaching what is unacceptable behaviors. Here are some tips for how to shame in ways that help your child.

Tip one:  Be alert to unthinkable behavior in your pre-schooler. Doing so is easy –  no hurting people, including yourself,  or animals,   That is what nature intended shame to stop.

Tip two:  Come down hard enough so the child gets the point  what s/he is doing  is not acceptable. A loud “No hurting” or “No hitting” works. If the unacceptable behavior continues a time out is in order.   

Tip three:  When the behavior has stopped and the child has served his time out, if that was necessary, use the CARE Plan to make it clear the behavior was wrong, but the child is loved.

The CARE Plan

Making amends after losing control.

Tip four:  Teach the child to rate hurtful behaviors.  Why a rating scale? It jump starts critical thinking. Critical thinking is essential for dealing properly with life’s hurts. Critical thinking also reduces the power of lashing out at others when you are hurt.

A five point rating scale for physical hurts can start the toddler off.

  1. Five = life threatening
  2. Four = needing medical attention
  3. Three = a crying hurt
  4. Two = a big ouch
  5. One =  a “Suck it up buttercup ” hurt.

Most physical hurts are a three or less.

Starting when the child is four or five, emotional hurts can be rated on a three point scale”

  1. Three: Crying hurts mostly from being seriously bullied in one way or another,
  2. Two: Nastiness that leads to or comes from fighting and name calling,
  3. One: Suck it up stuff like not getting your own way, losing a game.

Tip five:  Teach the child self-defense skills.  

Just as I think all children should be taught to swim, I think all children need to learn basic self-defense skills.  I advocate for karate that emphasizes avoiding conflict when possible but know how to stay safe when trouble cannot be avoided.  Seek out a Peace Dojo and take lessons as a family.

Tip six: Defuse the hurt of shame.  Use the Care Plan. But also had  with self soothing skills which should be everyone’s armor against shame and hurt. For the younger child, this Breathing Buddy Video by Daniel Goleman  starts that process with a three or  four  year child.

The OMM found here works for both adults and school aged children.

Pre-teens and teens can be encouraged to think about what matters, another important Emotional Fitness Training Exercise.

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult, but exercises like this one lets me find the good.

Katherine

This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt  Connect the DotsScour the news for an entirely uninteresting story. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that. 

The stories that lead to this post are horrific ones: school shootings and terrorist attacks for I believe toxic shame plays a part in such behaviors. Most of those who shoot up schools struggled with learning or social relationships and ended up feeling shamed but also angry enough to want to kill those they blamed for shaming them. Terrorists share a cultural shame of one sort or another.

LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)

WHEN NOTHING ELSE WORKS WITH A TEEN – 10 TIPS

Parenting a teen whose behavior is unacceptable? Nothing working to improve things? Not even hugs?  Laugh if you can and then read on.
hugs

This does not mean letting go of concern or love for the child. It does mean stopping as many efforts to control as possible and working to influence instead.

If you feel this is the course you must follow, the following tips will help.

Parenting Tip One: Is it as bad as your think?   Use this five point scale to decide just how out of control your teen is.

5  Your child has been arrested for a felony, has run away more than once; drinks or drugs; has no friends; dropped out of school; threatens suicide; harms self with cutting or head banging; beaten up by others or has unexplained bruises.
4  None of the above but has been stealing from you, lying, breaking curfew and out all night; possibly having unsafe sex; travels with peers who have been arrested or are known drug users; diets although not fat; sullen and depressed most of the time.
3  None of the above, but lies: at least one friend doing drugs or arrested; breaks curfew and has been out all night at least once; won’t tell you where going or what doing: appears depressed half the time; school problems.
2  None of the above, may tell white lies; needs nagging to do what needs doing; rude to you; depressed some of the time; some school problems, but passing most things; breaks curfew, but never stays out all night; has only one or two friends.
1  You are worried but after taking the test realize you child is basically okay. This may be a sign you are over worrying. Start working on you. Get my eBook Parents Are People Too.

Parenting Tip Two: Make sure you have done all you can do, then let go. When  you have done all you can do and a child  is continuing to spiral out of control, adults must stop trying to control.  That is what is meant by “Letting go.”  This does not mean letting go of concern or love for the child; it does mean changing course.

Parenting Tip Three: Get support. Letting go is not easy and once you start making the necessary changes, the child will  become even more difficult as a way of testing your resolve. You will need lots of help from people who care for you and the child. Some of these service providers may want to serve on the team and this is acceptable only if you feel they are supportive of you as well as the child.

The best way to garner support is to create a Child and Family Team.  Such a team should be made of family, friends, various service providers, professionals, and any one else who knows the child and will support you.  Any school counselors, therapists, or social workers working with child should know you have formed a team and be kept informed of it’s actions.

You might also want to tell the principal of your child’s school.  Why?  The child may complain and try to get you reported to the child abuse hotline.

If the child appears to be engaging in criminal behavior outside the home, adults should befriend the local community affair’s police officer and tell him/her of the above plan.  It would also be wise to share your concerns that the child is engaging in criminal activity, although some parents and care-givers will be reluctant to do so.

Parenting Tip Four: Be very clear about what matters: safety and respect  lead the list. An out of control child is not safe, endangers others,, and has no respect for self, others, or reasonable laws.  Worry when these rules are broken, worry lots less about the smaller rules.

Parenting Tip Five: When rules that matter are broken, strip away a  privilege.  No money even for lunch at school;  no use of telephone including cell phones; no house key; no use of no goodies in his/her bedroom—radio, tv, games.

No listening to explanations, which is a privilege to those who respect others.

If you have been doing the above to no avail, move on to the next tip.

Parenting Tip Five:  Write and deliver a Declaration of Emancipation.  Such a document  give the child freedom from your rules, but make the child fully responsible for her or his life. Detail the  responsibilities you will be turning over to your child. Say something like:

”You seem to feel you are old enough to set your own rules.  I am granting you that right, but know that as an adult you will have to take care of your own needs and accept whatever consequences life hands you.”

 “Because you are not yet eighteen, I am obligated by law to provide you food, minimal clothing, and shelter.  I will not do anything more, including bailing you out if you get arrested or caring for your child should you get pregnant or get someone else pregnant.  You also need to know I will contact the police if you bring any criminal activities into the house or engage in criminal behavior while at home.”

 “I will provide you with life’s necessities, not only because it is required, but because I do care about you. I cannot support some of your behaviors, but  I will always work with you when your requests and behavior are responsible.”

 “I do have to lock the door to stay safe, and I will let you in when you come in at my set curfew or if I hear you, but as you know I sleep soundly.  Also know that the neighbors have told me they will call the police if you create too much noise in trying to wake me.  I understand Covenant House has a shelter that will put you up if you can’t get home by my bedtime or you might sleep  out at a friend’s house.  Do keep yourself safe.”

Use you Child and Family Team to plan when and how to deliver this to the child.  Do not do it alone, you  need  team members with you when you deliver the Declaration to your child.

Parenting Tip Six: When ever the child says s/he will straighten up, do not cave in too quickly. Privileges need to be earned back one by one. Have the  child meet with one of the other adults on your team and draw up a plan for winning and keeping your trust.

Schedule a time for you to hear the plan within a reasonable time frame. Meanwhile, the child must continue living as an adult.

Parenting Tip Seven:  Show you care with small  “niceties” such as:

  1. Cooking a child’s favorite food once in a while. Saying, “I thought you might like this.”
  2. Putting  on child’s type of music or TV show once in a while.
  3. Leaving small and unexpected presents on his/her room on the bed.
  4. Inviting to movies or other family outings.
  5. Celebrating birthday and other holidays as if the child was behaving.
  6. Considering a very small “love allowance.”  Such allowances are given no matter what the child’s behavior.

Parenting Tip Eight: Consider having the child live somewhere else.  

  1. If you and the child’s other parents are not living together, and the child has been living with you, vesting custody with the other parent might work, particularly if that is what the child would like and the other parent agrees and has not been previously found to be a child abuser.  If the child wishes to live with the other parent and the other parent does not agree, don’t get drawn into a fight.  Just tell the child to discuss that idea with the other parent.
  2. A relative who wants the child and the child wants to live with; a friends family.
  3. If you are wealthy, try a private school or a good camp or wilderness experience.  Proceed with caution, as many are unregulated and sometimes abuse their residents.
  4. Placement in a private psychiatric facility – insurances including Medicaid often cover the costs.
  5. consider a drug rehabilitation program if a child drinks or drugs.   The child must admit to using and to be willing to go.
  6. Job core has worked in some situations.
  7. Child welfare agencies might provide  placement. TThe downside? You might be  found to be neglectful, but that is preferable to allowing the child to continue to rule the roost in your home in dangerous and unacceptable ways.
  8. If the child is arrested and in detention, most often Juvenile Justice authorities will want you to take the child back home.  You will need to be in immediate contact with the discharge planning staff.  Make it clear that without lots of support from juvenile justice, you do not feel you can keep him/her out of trouble. With the support of the court and fear of detention, some youth straighten up.
  9. Make the probation department part of your Child and Family Team.
  10. Some children want and can be declared emancipated minors. They can seek help from a legal aid lawyer if this is their choice.

Parenting Tip Nine: Control your feelings.  Out of control children are comforted if you show upset. Some even want you to blow and get abusive. Why? It lets them rationalize their behavior. If you are crazy or abusive then their bad behavior is excusable.

Staying calm when a child is defiant is not easy. My eBook Self-soothing to Create Calm is full of quick and easy exercises that properly learned and practiced keep you from blowing your cool.

Remember you can read Amazon eBooks on any of your devices by using this free application.

Parenting Tip Ten: Not sure this is what you need,  but still worried? Remember this is a last resort. You may not need to follow the advice given above.

However, I suggest taking  what might be helpful and keep the rest for future reference. Hopefully, you won’t need to go the whole ten yards.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.

Katherine

This post was inspired by this a WordPress Daily Prompt, Only Sixteen – Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.

When I was sixteen, I was a Miss Good Two Shoes. Then I fell in love with a bad boy. Drove my parents crazy, but they knew enough to let the romance die a naturally death. It did several years later.

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

LINKS OF INTEREST

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Please rate this material. Doing so helps me. This is what your stars will mean to me. No stars – Not helpful; One star – Reinforced my knowledge –  Two Stars; New information –  Three stars;  New useful information; Four stars – Very good; Five stars – Excellent.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.

Katherine