Tag Archives: emotional fitness tips

CREATING CALM

A reminder. Create calm. Parenting stresses, but staying calm is possible.

Creating calm poster

When you are calm, your children are free to learn and to grow.  

STAY STRONG

As always, remember what matters, enjoy today that is why it is called the present.  Indulge in some healthy pleasures, , practice kindness by sharing and caring, appreciate beauty, and create calm any way you can.

As always thank you for all you do to strengthen me.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

TEACHING CALM TO KIDS

Meditation calms, but when can you start teaching your child to meditate? The experts disagree on that one.

Picture of baby meditating.

Doing what comes naturally.

Deepak Chopra, Oprah’s guru, says a child has to be eight or nine to learn to meditate.  A great many people say start at three.  I say start as soon as your baby is born.  How? Read on.

PARENTING ADVICE AND TIPS

Tip one:  For babies start with what I call Shared Breathing.   Hold baby against your chest.  Breathe slowly and calmly. Baby, if calm,  will be doing the same.  Catch baby’s rhythm and breathe as s/he breathes.

Mostly likely, when upset,  baby breathes rapidly and with occasional gasps.  Stay with that for a  one or two breaths, then gradually instead of catching baby’s rhythm, with each breathe slow down. Usually, baby’s breathing will match your rhythm.

To add the power of Shared Breathing, rock a bit, and repeat a calming word.  Some just say “Shhhhh as they breathe out.

As the baby grows, use this whenever a child rushes into your arms for comfort.  

Magic? No, but often works to calm baby.  Hypnotists use this when trying to get you into a trance.  They call it “establishing rapport.”

Tip two:  As soon as baby starts talking. Introduce a short calming slogan. Lawence Lashan, author of the popular book How to Meditate,  notes that calming self talk and some sort of rhythmic movement lead the way.  So with shared breathing, rocking and a one or two word slogan.

Tip three:  Once your child has mastered language you can start teaching my Twelve Easy Exercises.  As each starts with Calming Breath you need to teach first.  Don’t know how? Opps. Here is where you can get a quick induction to both Calming Breath and  the Be With Beauty Exercise.  Be With Beauty is  great one to start teaching kids the Daily Twelve. Why?  Because life contains beauty every where.

Tip four: You know the mantra, “Want you kids to learn something, you need to model.  If you haven’t gotten either one or the other of my two lastest eBooks, now is the time.  Twelve Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises  or Self-Soothing – Create Calm in Your Life.   

Tip five: Teaching calming skills to the very young takes a while.  So be patient. Sset aside time each day for a bit joint practice.  Five minutes a day Practicing Gratitude, Being With Beauty, or Observing a Feeling will start your young child on the emotional fitness path.

Tip six: Have older kids?  Add one of the  Twelve to a family meeting.  Don’t have family meetings?  Sure you do, every you meet with a child that is a family meetings.  Eat dinner together? That is a family meeting. Drive somewhere in the car?    Perfect time to hold a more formal family meeting.  Scared of such meetings? Don’t know how to hold one?   Get my How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting. 

Tough sell to a teen?  Yes, however, life is full of meetings adults dislike attending but must.  In time adults will also have to run such meetings.  Given this fact of life, pitch family meetings as business meetings and  practice for adult meetings.  Make them a part of earning allowance and gaining priveleges.

Tip seven:  Here are another  resource for teaching calm breathing to children: www,AnxietyBe.Com .  

STAY STRONG

As always, remember what matters, enjoy today that is why it is called the present.  Indulge in some healthy pleasures, appreciate beauty and as always practice kindness by sharing and caring.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

SCARE THE LITTLE ONES

Okay, I am joking a bit, but not a whole lot. As any child caring person knows, children love to scare and be scared.  Why? fear when conquered strengthens.

Book cover of Where the Wild Things Are

Along with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, this book helped children build courage.

TEN FACTS ABOUT FEAR AND CHILDREN

  1. Fear is an early survival mechanism.
  2. Fear says, “Danger ahead, take care.” 
  3. Fears are useful when the danger is real. 
  4. Fears are not useful: when no real danger exists; when the fear  leads to  shutdown, meaning the person freezes or faints, gives up or gives in; or when it leads to  acting without  thinking.
  5. Fears can spread from something specific to anything that vaguely resembles the feared object. We might get bitten by a dog and not only fear all dogs, but get anxious looking at a picture of a dog.
  6. Fears differ as children grow:
    •  Baby seems to know only hurt, which gets expressed in crying, and contentment or happiness, usually expressed by sleeping.
    • Between six and eight months comes what some call stranger anxiety, fear has been born.
    • By the time a child is toddling about, lots of fears have been added.
    • Night terrors are a sign of that fears have grown.
    • In time, the child  worries about future hurts –  fear has become anxiety.
  7. Temperament plays a big role in fear; some of us are born cautious, some bolder.  Some need calming; some restraining. 
  8. With a bit of parental coaching, most children’s fears and worries can be quieted so the child can face them and grow.
  9. When parental coaching does not help or the fear is interfering with a child’s ability to do what has to be done, a mental health evaluation is indicated.
  10. Fear based disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem. 

six Parenting tips for building courage in kids

Tip one: Remember age and stage: until language develops comfort is the way to go; a hurt or frightened child runs for comfort, those who care for the child need to open their arms.

Tip two: As discussed in the previous post as soon as the child is learning to talk, teach the following words: safe, danger, be careful.

Tip three:  Also discussed in the previous post, teach the difference between real and play or fantasy.  Children do not grasp the difference well, but begin to around six or seven. Starting early to talk about what is real, what is fun fantasy, and what is scary fantasy speeds the learning.

Tip four: Those treating phobias, immobilizing fears, use one of two tools: flooding which means forcing the person to confront the fear.  Afraid of cats? Flooding would have you sitting in a room full of cats until your fear wore out.  Not something I suggest with children. The second tool is Systematic Desensitization. Afraid of cats? First get used to a picture of a cat; when that no longer frightens you, move on to a toy cat, then a cat on a leash and across the room; in time you are loving the cat. Systematic Desensitization is  the way to help children right on up to their teens.

Tip five: With teens, you can do a bit more and might even consider flooding but only with the teen’s consent.

Tip six:  In order to face fears you need strong self-soothing skills.  For a sample go to the my Emotional Fitness Blog ‘s Easy Exercises. For some tips about teaching those skills to children, tune in tomorrow. Then tune in the next day when guest blogger Ryan Novas gets specific with a post about how to help kids deal  when the lights go out and fear of the Wild Things does its thing.

STAY STRONG

Fear and worry come to everyone, however, as Mark Twain said, “I had lots of worries, most of them did not come true.”

To shut down such worries, remind yourself to “Enjoy Now” or “OK today.”   If others are worrying, remind them of the same.

As always, remember what matters, enjoy today that is why it is called the present; share, care, and indulge in some healthy pleasurs.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

CREATING COURAGE

The past week probably scared everyone except hermits living in distant caves. No matter how hard you try to protect your children, your fear  infects them.  So this week, I am writing about fear.  First a poster quote.

Look for the helpers

Comfort for all ages.

parentING thoughts

The above saying went viral after the two horror filled events of the week of April 15, 2013 and with good reason.  I would add to it, “Be a helper.”  All the studies state that being able to help during traumatic events buffers the helper from being traumatized. Something I learned personally while working in NYC before, during, and after 9/11.

As I drove to work that day and saw the tower burning from the first plane; by the time I got to work, the second plane had done its work.

I was in charge of a mental health mobile crisis service.  We were located in the Bronx and so able to do a bit to help than many of  people in Manhattan.  With the help of a state official I was able to get the first crisis help line up and running.  My team was lucky, we became the helpers.

Parents are always helping, but need tools to help effectively. Roger’s quote is a good beginning.  I have a few more tips.

parenting tips 

Tip one:  Make a point of  teaching children what the word safe means as soon as they begin talking.   My eighteen month old grandson and I were hiking around our apartment complex.  He did not want to hold my hand on the sidewalk.  I forced him to, and said, “Safer.” When crossing streets, I made him stop, said “Dangerous.”  Then when crossing, I said “Safe.”  by the end of our little hike, he was stopping automatically and did not object to holding my hand.  Of course, he did not really know what the words meant, but ground work had been laid.

With his three-year old brother, I use consciously use the words “Danger,” “Stop,” “Be careful.”  He is by natures cautious, so when he is being over-cautious, I say, “You are safe” or “It is safe.”

By the time these kids are in school, these words and their meanings will help guide them.  Not magic but a beginning.

Tip two:  The most natural instinct of anyone who cares about a child, is to want to protect them from harsh reality.  Turning the TV off, not exposing a child to scary movies or videos matters. At the same time, a bit of exposure to scary stuff is strengthening.  One key is always in being there. Another is always drawing a line between real stuff to be scared about and fantasy.

I quarreled recently with a parent bragging about her efforts to “Keep the Tooth Fairy alive.  Not teaching reality and fantasy can be just as much fun, but when the child thought processes change, s/he will not feel lied to.  Something that happens when fantasy is made too real.

Tip three: As soon as school starts begin teaching your child several things that will help her or him stay strong.  Karate with a peace oriented teacher.  For teens, a Red Cross First Aid course.  These are skills that make your child safer, but also increase his or her ability in times of trouble to be a helper.

Tip four:  An explanation about why bad things happen buffers all.  How do you explain the evil acts of people and the acts of nature that kill innocents? Most of us have an explanation of some sort:  God’s plan, randomness, karma, the Force, Life.  The healthiest explanations are those that promote kindness for all living creatures.

Tip five: Dampen your own fears and horror.   Two of my newest eBooks are designed to help you do just that.  One: 12 Easy Exercises to Tame Mad, Bad, and Sad Feelings.  Added value? Many of the exercises can be taught to your children. Two: Self-soothing – Create Calm in Your Life.   Either one lasts longer than a MacDonald’s Happy Meal and has more value for you and your children.

STAY STRONG

Tragic events are a fact of life.  The more tragic the event, the more it changes you. Still people survive and go on.  To go on, means you have taken the lessons  from the event, realized that was then and this is now. 

I doubt that anyone reading this lost loved ones in any of the week of April 15th’s events.  Too soon.  Still, those of us here have been affected. Secondary trauma is real.  My advice slow down,  spend comfort time alone and with your family, practice sharing and caring, indulge in healthy pleasures, and  remember what matters.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.