Breakthrough

Angry in a Flash

By | June 4th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

There is more in a moment of anger than we credit; many different internal and external factors are at play. We have little control over some, but, we always have control over our reactions. We need to remember that when it comes to our children. Everyone has experienced when spilled milk one day is just an accident and the next day it is clumsiness and cause for a stern talking to.  It’s confusing to be a child.

Anger is the result of three things, something happening, how we experience it and ultimately how we react. The parent who experienced the spilled milk and was angry one day but wasn’t the day before had other internal and external things that affected their response. Lets take a closer look at the difference between internal and external factors and how they affect a person’s anger.

As we progress through life events go through our experience filter. It’s this filter that helps us decode how we feel about everything based on past experience, culture, upbringing, gender, race, or religion. Those feelings ultimately direct our reactions, impacts how we respond, even to something as simple as a glass of spilled milk. How would a glass of spilled milk impact you? If it makes a laud noise? If it breaks something? If you are embarrassed in front of friends or family? These are all examples of internal things that provoke anger because it is how we respond to external stimuli. These events alone are not a common trigger. Even though the events are external they are going through your experience filter and your internal belief structure that is impacting how you are relate to an incident.

Other internal factors that are easier to relate to are fatigue, pressure, conflict and insecurity. These have direct impact on how we choose to respond to an event.

When thinking about external factors one must think about the events that he or she experienced and the circumstances under which they occurred. For example think about the things in your life that caused you stress. Did you come up with any frustrations, annoyances, abuses, injustices, harassments, hurts, disappointments, or threats? These are all stimuli that activate your anger. It is clear that not all of us react the same way. A bully might see an insult as humorous from someone smaller; however, if threatened his response would be quite different. External factors are different from internal in that they alone can cause anger. They don’t need to go through your experience filter to stimulate a reaction.

It is understandable that people have different reactions to the same event. No two days are the same and our experiences throughout the day have an impact on how we treat those who cross our path. Understanding the factors that go into anger gives you a tool set to make different choices. Knowing that you are walking into a situation when you are tired and feeling vulnerable should warn you to go easy or to schedule a better time to have important conversations. If your child spills a glass of milk and you feel your temperature rise ask yourself some very important questions.

    1. Where is my stress gauge?
    2. Do I already feel anger about another incident?

These questions might help you from making saying and doing things that you will regret later.

If you have any questions or you would like to look up more information on behavior management, please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. Vlinder is a behavior management game created to encourage communication, cooperation and connection in the family. To learn more visit us here.

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Summer is Here Now What?

By | May 29th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

School is almost over and families everywhere are planning for summer. The last thing you want is to have kids hanging around playing video games. We no longer live in an age where one can say, “Be back before dark”. Where are the days when summer meant lazing around the pool with friends! The good news is that caregivers everywhere can add event coordinator to their resume. I was amazed to find out what that involved.

I’ve done some research on the web and I’m exhausted looking at what parents do nowadays to keep their children entertained. Making daily plans, setting summer goals, finding daycare, camps, daily journals, playdates, outings, daily and weekly activities just to name a few. Alone they don’t seem daunting but none of the websites I found had just one of them…they had all of them. Think about how much this costs. It’s unreasonable in this economy. Many families can’t keep up. Lets not forget about families where both parents work. How do they find the time?  Keeping up with the Joneses is no longer about a white picket fence…

I decided to brainstorm and come up with some ideas of my own.

  1. Mom clubs Plan with other moms to trade off. Your kids will be out of the house a day or two a week depending on how you structure your club.
  2. Hire a babysitter Someone who will be your helper. You can train and learn how to work together the best. You probably won’t be paying them as but as they learn and progress you can pay them more. Perhaps you will feel more comfortable letting your kids have more freedom around the neighbor hood or on adventures, your choice. In the meantime you are helping another kiddo get some valuable skills.
  3. Have a structured behavior chart Explain to your kiddos what you want them to do and reward them when they accomplish it. (www.ourbreakthroughs.com)
  4. Phone Numbers Put up a list of friend’s phone numbers next to the family telephone so that they can call friends during the summer to stay in touch.
  5. Reading Club Start a reading club where kids can meet and talk about the latest books. This would be particularly helpful for the working parent that needs to have their groups held later in the day to stay involved.

I am overwhelmed with the expectations that are put on parents these days. I think when you take one or two of the examples above like playdates and daily journal and put them together for a day that is more than enough.

For the parents that have older kids I would issue a word of caution. Allow your child to be in charge of their own social calendar. Learning how to find friends is an important skill. Finding playdates for your child ends. If they aren’t asking to make phone calls or have people over it may be a sign for problems that you will want to address.

Kids do not have to be occupied every second of the day. If they are having a slow day they still should keep the electronic devices turned off, slow it down and read a book. I’m now sure if our children know how to manage boredom. They are constantly entertained by cellphones and video games. This need for constant stimulation can be damaging, but that is another blog!

Contact me at my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. I would love to hear your comments. Share your ideas. If there is something that you would like to write about then let me know. We can discuss your audience!

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Barriers to Communication

By | May 11th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

We go through life doing our best to be understood. But lets face it, it can be difficult. So many people coming from so many different walks of life. Each person having their own experience filter which has the ability to distort a message. The best we can do is be aware of the challenges of effective communication and do our part. As parents we do a little more by teaching our kids.

Communication is a skill. Spoken communication relies on three personal factors. First, self-concept, which impacts how you organize your world, which in turn affects how you communicate. Second, the ability to give information clearly and finally being able to listen effectively. Without understanding a message communication cannot take place.

These eight barriers to communication impact all three of the above personal factors. As you read through the list think about how often you are the donor or the recipient. Later you can think about how you can do it differently.

1. Perception and interpretation  It is not possible for two people to experience the same thing the same way. We all come from different genetics, backgrounds, education, experience, etc which all impact the way we take and interpret information.

2. Generalizations and bias  We are used to seeing things a certain way and it takes effort to open our minds.

3. Jumping to conclusions  We often get to the outcome before we have been given all of the facts.

4. Assumptions  The idea that perceptions are unique is all but ignored when someone presumes that others thoughts are like their own.

5. Multiple meanings  All messages can have different meanings when viewed from different angles or different perspectives.

6. Dilution  A message loses its intended meaning the more interpretations or people it passes through.

7. Message sent, but not received  This is a selective listener, picking and choosing parts of the message that they want to hear but filtering out the rest.

8. Physical barriers   These are all of the physical and verbal barriers around you every day; noise, delays in transmissions, length of message, restrictions in asking questions, and/or the attractiveness of the message.

We have just touched on some basic difficulties in communication. Look forward to more blogs on communication in the near future. For now take these common barriers and see what you can do differently in your own style to make a difference in the way you hold a conversation with others. In particular the way you speak with your kids. I know I perceive things differently then they do and I certainly jump to conclusions when I hear something crash!

For more information please visit www.ourbreakthroughs.com. I would love to hear your comments.

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Enough is Enough

By | April 23rd, 2017|Tags: , , , , |

How can you tell if you are overindulging your children? That is a tough question. For some, giving what you didn’t have as a child is overindulgence. It doesn’t really matter who is right. I think parents generally are pretty intelligent people and know when they are going overboard. What matters is a pattern of overindulgence can be harmful for your child. Not being able to recognize negative consequences leads to poor coping strategies.

What we do instead is offer reasonable solutions to our children when confronted with negative consequences. Allow them to learn from their mistakes and build strategies to become stronger, wiser and independent young adults. Here are some tips that parents and kids can work on together…

  1. Be grateful for what you have.
  2. Make sure to set and follow through with consequences.
  3. Share how it feels when your kindness is taken for granted.
  4. Work on communication skills between parent and child.
  5. Accept that patterns of over-indulgence can harm a child’s ability to function in life.
  6. Provide a lesson teaching the difference between needs and wants.
  7. Learn how to set boundaries and stay firm.

I believe that we all have the best interest of our children in mind. When we vowed not to make the same mistakes as our parents or that our kids would never “go without” we did not mean harm. But in some cases that is exactly what is happening and it is time to take a look at our parenting plan and rethink some strategies. Patterns that have set over a period of time can be difficult to identify and change. Using the steps above are a step in the right direction. Creating new patterns which don’t include overindulging your children is another!

I encourage conversation on my Facebook support group, Parenting With Intention…I also welcome your comments. For more parenting advice or to learn more about behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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Is Your Child Really Sick? Are They Trying to Tell You Something?

By | March 22nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Does your child fake being sick to get out of going to school? Recently I have been confronted with this challenge. I wish if they are going to get sick they would get a good old dose of the flu, it takes the decision making out of the equation. A fever means staying home quietly with a good book. It’s more concerning to me when my child delivers a performance, feigning illness to avoid the classroom. What is he really saying?

Perhaps nothing is going on. Perhaps your child is in the middle of a good book and can’t wait to finish it. But inventing stories to avoid school could also be a shout out for help. This is a good opportunity for you to ask if there is anything going on with friends or schoolmates. Perhaps he needs help with some homework. It may also be a larger problem such as bullying.

Children worry about life at home. If your child is feeling an unnecessary stressor due to events in the home they may feel like they need to stay close by.  This may be an important time for you to do an inventory on your own home life and reassure your child that they are safe.

As busy parents we often run on auto-pilot and it is good to slow down and look for the meaning behind our children’s actions. Patterns are created because the action works over time. If your child continues to create stories to get out of going to school, better to nip this in the bud early. Discover the reason and solve the problem before it turns into a behavior.

I encourage conversation on my Facebook support group, Parenting With Intention…I also welcome your comments. For more parenting advice or to learn more about behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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Finders Keepers – A Mother’s Search for Reasonable Rewards

By | March 16th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids are given so many “things” nowadays. It seems as though when it comes to Birthdays and Christmas I’ve run out of gift ideas because of all the giving that I’ve already done. I know I’m not the only one. So when it came to creating my behavior modification program it was important to me to find rewards around the house that involved time spent with family, friends, and other social ingredients. Knowing how hard it was going to be to find enough rewards to make up my program I wondered if all of them would hold enough value to motivate.

It proved no easy task. I sat on my couch for hours, with eyes closed, mentally roaming my home, pretending to be my kids and thinking of things they like to do. Different times of day. Different people to associate with. Different animals to play with. I would use all of my senses to imagine what they could earn as a reward that would motivate them to want to earn it again.

The funny thing is a lot of the things I came up with, I would let them do regardless. I decided to do a test run. I was curious how they would respond to rewards like “play with a pet” compared to “30 minutes of electronics on a school night”. Would one reward hold more value and make them work harder than another?

The answer was they all worked the same. Initially I wondered if it was the newness of working with Vlinder, the name of the program. Families that were part of a pilot project reported similar findings, however. Although some rewards held, what were considered a higher pay value, they did not make the kiddos work any harder during the day then cards that had a lesser pay value. Kids reported enjoying the process. They liked understanding what was expected of them (which is part of their task sheets), they liked picking out of a bin, not knowing what reward they were going to get, even if it was a bummer card. They enjoyed carrying out the reward or having the anticipating of being able to carry out the reward. Overall it is a win-win.

Vlinder found the kids motivation to complete any tasks that were put before them on a task sheet. The added bonus is the amount of valued family time that comes with the rewards. I was pleasantly surprised that my kids often choose cuddle time as their reward. I always love it when they get to pick the meal, not only do they pick but they often help with the meal as well. Daddy loves it when they pick Daddy Day as their special Weekly reward. Again we would gladly do it without the game, but with the game we make sure to set aside the time to do it in a timely fashion. The kids have a strong feeling of accomplishment and pride.

It continues to be important for me to bring up to participants and friends that one of the largest learning experiences for me has been that no matter the pay-value of the reward, kids want the recognition. One of the things that Vlinder does an excellent job of is explains to kids what they need to do to get that same recognition. The rewards make it fun, the game pieces make it fun.

If you would like to learn more about Vlinder, Behavior Modification and other parenting advice please come and visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. You can also call us at (707) 773-7654.

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Good Bye Legos

By | March 5th, 2017|Tags: , , , |

When is it time to say good bye to legos? My sons haven’t played with them in years, they are gathering dust on their shelf and they desperately need the space…and yet I find myself asking again when do we box them up and put them away? I’ve been researching this topic for some time. Projects to do with old lego sets. Revamping old lego sets. Setting your lego set. Restoring your lego sets, donating, storing…, etc.  In all of this time I realize that I’m putting forth this effort  because I’m having a difficult time letting go of a “phase” my children went through.  Plus…it has been replaced by the video game phase…and I see no end in sight.

The lego phase was fun and creative. It was interactive and required patience and thought. At the end there was pride in a job well done. There is a large difference between that and now that they have discovered video games. Video games are isolating and often thoughtless. Progress is achieved with skill that is acquired over time. Time that is spent away from friends and family. Although I limit my children’s video time, I compare it with lego time and miss it greatly. Because video time has to be controlled it often involves arguments and tears. Lego time was endless hours on the floor putting together battleships, dragons, superhero space stations, etc.  The only tears were of frustration when tiny pieces couldn’t be found. 

This is more then saying good-bye to legos and re-structuring family life to involve some independent play time.  There have been a lot of phases that I have not given the same thought. Kids grow up so fast. I’ve heard that phrase a lot but today it holds new meaning. Although I don’t find it necessary to eliminate all electronic use in our home, I do have a call for action. I call for more time playing games on the floor, at the table, in the garage…wherever there is space!  There is no use just crying about the end of a phase if you aren’t going to do something about it!  Replace it with something equally fulfilling.  I’m missing time spent with my children.  Done!  And as far as my initial question…I guess I’m going to box them up today.

Some simple steps:

  1. Don’t forget to ask your child – Believe it or not I started the process of deciding when to store their legos months before asking them.  I finally built up the courage and was surprised when my oldest was already on board.   
  2. Have a plan in mind if your child is resistant.  For my younger two we are planning on keeping two or three of their favorites.
  3. Decide how to store and stay consistent. Keep them in their sets or color code. Either way make sure that you keep them in air tight containers. If you are going to go through the process to store them make sure they are usable after you open them again. 
  4. There are plenty of projects to do with mix-matched sets. Research books, websites, etc for ideas if you are not ready to store your legos.

Come visit me on my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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Helping our Children to Understand One Emotion at a Time

By | March 3rd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Feelings are typically difficult for a child to understand. When you ask a child how they feel they will often refer to the event that caused the stir of emotions. Rather then say, “I’m angry” a child will exclaim, ”Johnny won’t let me have a turn.”   It is important to identify one’s emotions. All the more reason for parents to make sure that they are allowing their child to have and to experience their emotions as they occur.   

As parents we often work as problem solvers for our children making sure that they keep the status quo.   That usually means that we like to see them happy. So when our child comes home from school angry with his teacher, we make him feel better by talking about how smart he is. Perhaps they feel sad about a lost relationship so we remind them about their other relationships. The problem is that we are stifling his ability to experience his own emotions and problem solve his own life experiences. What can result is a child that looks to others for their emotional needs to be met.   

There are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your children experience his feelings.   

  1. Be prepared with a list of emotions with explanations or drawings that describe what the feeling means. This isn’t just for the little guys. When we have strong emotions it can be difficult to associate a specific emotion to the event. Especially when there are feelings of sadness and anger combined.
  2. Come up with a sentence that you can use as a family. An example is…I feel angry when Johnny won’t give me a turn because I love to jump rope.  The sentence states the emotion, briefly describes the event and explains why it caused the emotion.
  3. Allow your child to have their own emotions. Your child needs to experience the feeling that he identifies and how to identify them. 
  4. Don’t pass judgement on your child’s emotion no matter how difficult that may seem at the time. Feelings are natural and the ability to express them appropriately is a gift.
  5. Set appropriate boundaries. Remind your child that you will not judge his feelings but his behavior is a different matter. It is ok to be angry, but the actions that are a result of that anger may not be.   
  6. Don’t be afraid of your child’s feelings. Help them to explore what the emotions do to both emotionally and physically.
  7. Ask probing questions to help your children understand their experience.
  8. Help your child to brainstorm ways to manage their emotions and be their to support them as they follow through with their plan. Give them the space to learn.
  9. Lead by example. Remember that your child learns the most by watching you.

Take a moment to explore your own experience with emotions and remember what a confusing time it is for your child. I, for one, don’t know if we ever quite master them. But, if you follow the guidelines above you will be on the road to allowing your child to have the kind of emotional maturity that will serve him well as he continues to age.

For more helpful information please come and visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We offer parenting support, a behavior modification program as well as other much more. 

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Setting Boundaries

By | January 2nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Children crave structure. They appreciate knowing the rules and how far they can push. It is one of the reasons learning how to set rules is important. Learning how to set boundaries can be difficult which is especially true when it comes to children; we want them to have more than we did. A parent told me “our generation has ruined it”. We get our kids what they want, when they want it. When it comes time to give a gift there is little from which to choose. It is time to set some boundaries! Let’s look at five steps for setting boundaries:

  1. Discover why you are setting a boundary. It is important to have a good understanding of the problem before trying to brainstorm solutions. You may miss your target altogether. 
  2. Explore and identify different solutions to the problem. Depending on your need, come up with as many solutions as possible and generate a list. There are no dumb ideas. Sometimes the whackiest idea (or ideas in combination) make a fun and appropriate solution.
  3. Choose the idea you will use. Don’t be afraid to combine lots of different ideas in setting your boundary. If your “problem” is that your child pesters you for treats at the grocery store, then some ideas might be: avoid taking your child to the store or allow them to accompany you, but have them choose to spend their own money.  This combination of options easily becomes: don’t take your child to the store unless he is willing to spend his own money.  Important: Don’t throw away the list just yet. You will probably want to revisit some of your ideas later!
  4. Implement your solution. Using the example above, take your child shopping.  This may appear easier than it is. Make sure to be prepared to allow him to spend his own money. Allow him time to pick the one thing that he can afford. Stick to your guns. Consistency is key.
  5. Evaluate. If your child has stopped pestering you in the store, it appears that your job is done! Congratulations! If, however, they pick their item and begin pestering for more, then make sure you have allowed enough time to implement your solution.  You may need another trip to the store.  If that doesn’t work, then it is time to start from square-one and make sure you have identified the right problem. Revisit your solutions and put another one into effect. This can be a long process. The important thing is being consistent once you set a boundary so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.

You may find that you have to go through the steps several times before you get the result that you want. The point to remember is that your child will be better for understanding the boundaries that you are setting.  The time you have together to visit, plan and perhaps dream will be priceless. 

  For more helpful tips on positive reinforcement and tools to help implement them in your home please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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Are You Listening?

By | December 19th, 2016|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids constantly complain that their parents don’t listen.  How can that be true?  We navigate our children through danger and away from harm.  How can we do that without hearing their stories and demands?  Of course we listen.  We listen to the same story endlessly.  We listen at the injustice of elementary school.  We listen and listen and listen.  The fact is they are right, we are not really listening! 

What many of us consider to be the traits of a good listener, in fact, turn out not to be. How many of these listening habits do you fall under? 

  1. Trying to commiserate with similar stories of your own.  How can this be a bad thing?  All you are trying to do is share with your child that they are not alone and that you have been in the same situation.  Well, fact is that you have shifted the conversation to be about you rather then keeping focus on your child.  Better to repeat the feelings that are being shared and let your child know that they are heard.  Who knows what other details they will divulge as the conversation stays about them. 
  1. Shifting the mood of the conversation to be about happier events or times.  I know you are just trying to cheer up your child.  Parent hates to see their child in distress.  Because of your discomfort of seeing your child sad, stressed or angry you are not allowing them to fully express their emotions.  Sit with them in their sadness, stress and anger.  You will gain more insight as to what drives their emotions by practicing good active listening skills.  Repeat what you hear and allow your child to correct any misunderstandings so they feel fully heard. 
  1. Provide solutions or suggestions on how to make things better.  As parents it is part of our job description to help direct our children through life.  That includes allowing them to learn from our mistakes.  WRONG!  If we are to be good listeners then we need to put the teacher hat away and listen to what is being said.  The fact is while we are coming up with solutions we are missing a lot of important information that is being shared.  Problem solving and working together will come in later steps of the conversation, preferably when your child asks for help. 
  1. Correct misunderstandings or misinformation.  Our children have been telling incredible stories all of their lives.  That includes times of high emotion.  As they are sharing their troubles, no matter how misinformed, without allowing them their truth, their reality, you are not truly listening.  You are putting a stopper in their sharing and telling them that their feelings are not valid.  Listening without correcting is truly a gift and one that your child will benefit from in the long term.  After you finish listening to your child they will have a good example of what to do when it is your turn to share your frustrations.  It shouldn’t be about who is right it is about the gift of listening. 

If you begin to listen to your child focusing purely on their needs are as a communicator, then you will be amazed at what you learn about your child.  Good listening skills include repeating what is heard and keeping quiet you feel some of the above habits creeping in.  Sometimes the only solution to your child’s problem will be to have someone who listens to them 100%, just for them. 

For more information on parenting and behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com or call at 707 773 7654.

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