Tag Archives: parenting teenagers

Family Meetings Fizzling? Here’s Help

Well run Family Meetings improve communication, let every voice be heard, save time, ease decision making, and are far too rare.

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Every time I talked about family meetings at workshops or with parents seeking help, three responses predominated. Some parents said:

“Tried that. Didn’t work. No way I’m trying again.”
“Go to too many meetings at my job; all a waste of time.”
The third response would be a facial expression screaming “No, no.”

If I was lucky enough to get a family to talk about why their family meetings failed, the answers were pretty much the same:

“Too much complaining, too much whining, too much venting.”
“Took too long to get everyone to agree.”
“The kids sat silently and later complained we were first class dictators.”

I don’t blame the parents for failing; I blame the parent advice experts. Some of the advice mirrors my own: set an agenda, use go-round discussions, build fun into the process, have opening and closing rituals. Good advice.

However, is a sample of advice that made me screech like someone stepped on a sore toe; it is from an article in Parenting Magazine:

The best approach to planning family meetings is probably to set up the expectation that the whole family will meet to try to make decisions and solve problems together.

Hog wash, humbug and a set up for dissent and difficulty. Mostly a plea for democracy. However, democracy works when there are strong, caring leaders who know what needs to happen, who know what is possible, and who don’t let the kids vote until they are at least eighteen and in many places, twenty-one.

Contrary to popular opinion as reflected in most of the parenting advice floating around, a family run as a democracy does not work. Let me repeat that: A family run as a democracy does not work.

Families work best when parents take on the role of benign dictators. Be very clear, I am talking about benign dictatorships not the ones invested in getting the trains to run on time and the masses bowing or saluting un-elected and cruel leaders.

Here are my tips for becoming a benign family meeting leader and having half a chance of running a successful family meetings:

1. Repeat and believe the following mantra. For two parent families: “Us, our house, our wallet, our rules.” For a single parent home: “Me, my house, my wallet, my rules.

2. Do not work to keep everyone happy, allow everyone to vent, or allow full participation in the problem solving process. Your job as a parent is to  pay the bills, assure children kept safe and properly cared for, not to assure happiness.

3. Make the rules and punishments are clear,  fair, just,  realistic, and work for the betterment of all, are

4. Allows a few decisions to be reached by consensus or vote, but do so carefully, and if dissent arises,  exercise the benign dictator’s right to rule.

5. Do not allow pop-corning. Pop-corning lets participants speak at random. Instead use the go-round facilitation style. The facilitator asks the questions or poses a comment for discussion at the start of each go-round; the others respond one by one. As each person responds, the facilitator merely nods or say “Thank you.”

If during a go-round someone speaks rudely, speaks about another person’s view instead of their own, the facilitator says “Please stay on topic, and repeats the question or item for discussion.

A Reality Check: If you have been following the “Siblings Without Rivalry,” soft love ideas that parents are responsible for their child’s feelings and happiness becoming a benign dictator model will not be easy.

Moreover, the kids will protest. Wouldn’t you if someone instead of focusing exclusively on your happiness, started to tell you a variation of “Suck it up, Buttercup”.

What to do? Announce the change in parenting styles. Reframe it as the next step to adulthood. Say something like this:

“You are at the age, when you need to learn what it means to be an adult and that means attending and participating in meetings like a grown up. We are going to have Family Meeting and I am going to run them like a hard-nosed boss.

Second reality check: If your parenting style has been that of Marine Commander ala The Great Santini, meaning you either don’t have family meetings or use them to issue edicts to your sullen or frightened subjects. You will need to reverse tactics and follow the more usual advice of letting your subjects make more decisions, and giving them more rewards. Your mantra needs to be “Their life, their needs.”

Final reality check: Expect stress whether this is your first attempt to hold a family meeting or a renewed attempt. If switching parent styles is part of the process that will add more stress. Here’s an introduction to EFT’s Self-soothing skills. So a tip or two about dealing with that stress.

Tip one: Keep your expectations realistic. Hold six meetings and then figure out if they are working. If working, take everyone out for ice cream or to the movies as a reward. If not working, think about having a parent coach come and help get things on track be possible?

Tip two: Work to improve your self-soothing skills. Practice my Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Here’s an introductory link. For more on self-soothing, consider buying my eBook, Self-soothing To Create Peace In Your LIfe. It costs less than a latte and lasts longer.

Tip three: If all family times are mad or sad times, consider seeking a competent professional consultation.

Thank you for all you do

Practice kindness. Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Clean.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

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

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

 

Are Your Children Angsting Over the Election Results?

Image by Ad Week

Image by Ad Week

A BITTER FACT: Unless you control your upset about the election, you are passing your feelings on to your children. Not good.

I rarely say parents are at fault, but am hearing far too many complaints about how children are upset by the election. Then there was learning that my grandson’s first grade class held an election and the kids whose candidates lost were upset. Well, no child likes to lose, but no child who is just learning to read knows the difference between POTUS and the man in the moon and the Tooth Fairy.

Do I sound cranky, well I am. I do not like to see children hurt or parents misguided and much of today’s parenting advice and  the  media promote the idea that  children are as wise or wiser than adults. Not true. Children are not little adults and their thought processes are not like ours.

As Thomas Phelon, author of One, Two, Three Magic, notes, “Adults who believe in the Little Adult Assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons in trying to change the behavior of young kids. And words and reasons are going to be miserable failures much of the time.”

Moreover, the younger the child, the more your feelings become their feelings. So if your child is upset about the election, check your feelings and deal with the angst in ways that will not harm your children.

Emotional Fitness Training Tips for Parents

Tip one: Remember age and stage.

Children learning to read are just moving to what some call “The Age of Reason.” Before then their thinking is what Piaget, the leading researcher in this area call Sensory Motor and then  Pre-operational

Pre-operational thoughts are often described as magical. Piaget says they are based primarily on what the child sees and perceives on his or her own. Best example: Children of this age think the people on television are actually living inside your tv.  Dolls and toys come alive during make-believe play.

The next stage is generally entered into as the child’s brain develops enough so s/he learns to read which why many calls it “The Age of Reason, ” but as Piaget notes, thinking is limited to what the child can see and touch.  The child can begin to think about other people’s thoughts and perspective, but this ability is limited; the child’s interpretations are based more on their own thoughts and rarely extend to one or two other possibilities.

From puberty on, the capacity to think abstractly develops. The abstract thinker is no longer bound by the concrete or their ego-centric views. S/he can imagine countless possibilities which is why abstract thinking teen embrace the occult.

Two problems exist with regards to abstract thought.  Not every one gets there. Estimates vary but probably slightly over 50% of all adults are abstract thinkers. More over trauma dumbs down the ability to think abstractly.

The other problem relates mainly to teens or those first acquiring the ability to think broadly, judgement may be limited. Why teens will take risks that thinking adults will avoid.

Tip two: Use knowledge of age and stage to guide you and keep your angst from affecting your child in all the wrong ways.

Do not discuss or expose children under the age of ten to political talk either yours or the media’s.

If the child asks why you are unhappy, or seems concerned about you, do not deny your feelings but leaven them for the child with a comment like the following: “I’m upset about grownup things, try not to be bothered.” Then divert the child with something s/he enjoys. “Lets play Uno, that will cheer me up.” “Lets make cookies, that is always good to do when upset.”

With those moving toward abstract thought, you can say the election results upset you and invite discussion about what they know about who won, who lost and why some people including you are upset.

It is probably a good ides to also admit that part of your upset is illogical, mainly because you are awfulizing (imagining the worse) and trying to predict the future which is not possible.

Tip three: Get involved in one or another civic activity and let your children know you how you are taking action to counter your fears and upset. Doing any of the following strengthens you that helps your children:

  1. Stay informed, avoid faux news, bias reporting. The disputed issues are always complicated.
  2. Stay calm.
  3. Promote calm in others.
  4. Seek support for your views from groups allied with your beliefs.
  5. Offer moral and financial support to groups and people allied with your beliefs.
  6. Condemn violence and calls for violence even when you agree with the source’s political agenda.
  7. Protest by respectfully stating your views via phone calls and letters to politicians  and media sources.
  8. Seek common ground from those who do not agree with your politics.
  9. Stay focused on the common good.

Tip four: Improve your self-soothing skills and teach your children how to seIf-sooth.   My eBook, Self-soothing To Create Calm in Your Life will help you do both. It is on sale not for $3.06. Buy it now.  It will do you more good than a latte and costs less.

Tip five: If you cannot control your feelings enough to do the above, get therapy.  Also my book Parents Are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents strengthen therapy outcomes. Buy it now to read on your computer or kindle.   It is also available for a penny and on up in the used paperback edition. 

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Echo, but by the repeated (echoing) posts and thoughts about how the recent election was hurting children.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

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

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

The STOP Plan – A Giant Tool for Eliminating A ChildBad Behavior

The Stop Plan

Parents need lots of tools when it comes to controlling negative behavior, for as Abraham Maslo noted, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Sometimes, behavior is so unacceptable, it must be stopped immediately.  The STOP plan is designed for those times.  Use the STOP plan when someone is :

  • In danger or putting others in danger.
  • Hurting another including pets
  • Breaking the law
  • Destroying valuable property.
  • Bullying
  • Doing something others would find disgusting.
  • Stepping on your last nerve as a parent or care-giver.

Parents and care-givers have limits.  The experts talk a great deal about boundaries, but mostly in terms of parents not violating a child’s boundary.  Parental and care-giver boundaries also need protecting, and so “Stepping on someone’s last nerve” is included in the mix of unacceptable behaviors.

Here is how to use STOP:

  • S = Say the word stop. Say it loud, even angrily.
  • T = Tell the person what to stop.
  • O = Offer an alternative more positive behavior.
  • P = Physically forcing compliance if necessary, but add a positive even if obeying had to be forced.  Physically forcing compliance if the child does not comply with your command means using you hands.

More examples of the Stop Plan

  • STOP running toward the street, run to me instead.
  • STOP hurting your sister, go to your room and calm down.
  • STOP pulling the dog’s ears, pet her instead
  • STOP crossing the street when the light is red; obey the law.
  • STOP pounding the wall, go to your room and pound your pillow
  • STOP bullying your brother, apologize or go to your room.
  • STOP spitting on the ground, use a tissue instead.
  • STOP making me crazy with that noise,  go outside to play before I really flip out.

Stay In Control 

Behavior that makes it necessary to use the STOP plan usually finds a parent angry, afraid, or super stressed. Having strong self-soothing skills dampens those reactions, so you can enforce the STOP Plan more calmly and easily.

To strengthen your self-soothing skills: buy my eBook Creat Calm in Your Life. Costs  only $2.99 which is less than a latte.

Two Warnings

  1. Use physical force carefully. With the preschooler, just sweeping them up in your arms and giving a gentle hug works. With an older child, try a  hand on their shoulder. With a teen who is bigger and stronger, you may need a second person to help get compliance.
  2. Do not over use this plan. Lots of other tools work better and over use of any tool diminishes its effectiveness.

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post inspired  by the  WordPress Daily  Prompt: Giant.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

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

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

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)