problem solving

Steps of Self-Healing from Trauma

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

Parenting by Trial and Error?

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

I wanted to be a parent longer than I can remember. I was the little girl that stuffed a pillow under her shirt and gave birth to her baby dolls on a daily basis. The obsession was replaced with sports for a spell, but when I went to college and started dating more seriously, I wasn’t worried when I couldn’t focus on a major. Being a wife and mother does not require a  college degree.

It took me four years to find Mr. Right. It took us another fifteen years to have our first child. It was a long road of arguments, disappointments, doctors, fertility treatments, and finally in-vitro.  Less than two years later we had babies number two and three (twins). 

I remember bringing our first baby home and learning the first lesson of being a mom. It was two of us learning from each other from the start. I read books and spoke with family and friends. It was trial and error to be sure. After three days of not sleeping I  thought how lucky I was that I loved my job! I couldn’t wait till morning when I got to start the routine all over again. What other type of job lets you say that? Even when my back went out and I was crawling on the floor like Ursula (the sea witch from the Little Mermaid) in order to get my son out of his crib, I never regretted what I had signed up for.

Then I had the twins. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “boy, you have your hands full!” I’m going to let you in a little secret. When you have twins, they keep each other company! They don’t require all of your attention, all of the time. When you are changing a diaper, you already have all of the stuff out, you might as well change two. When you get to the stage when they are chasing each other around in walkers, don’t forget to break out your smartphone or camera. It is hysterical. Grocery shopping is more difficult because it’s hard to find places to put your groceries, but somehow you manage.

I’m realizing as they get older how events occurred and decisions were made and how they have affected their lives. It’s terrifying. In 2011 the twins stuffed their Halloween candy in the toaster and pushed down the lever. What I’ve learned years later is that they saw the toaster burst into flames, got scared and went to bed. Sometime later the fire alarm woke me, I called 911, and my family marched out of the house. We had to stay in a hotel for thee months before we found new housing. This was my childhood home. I spent a lot of time on the phone dealing with my own trauma thinking the boys hadn’t seen anything. They overheard a lot and carried a lot of guilt before they told me the truth years later.

During this time their father and I were separated. We called it the fight that lasted a year. It was a stressful time and once again I ask myself how did this impact their lives? A separation, a fire, living in a hotel. We turned it into an adventure and the boys received enormous support from their school and family…but a mother’s worry never ends.

In 2013 it happened again. My husband and I both got phone calls at our place of work explaining that our house was on fire. This time there was not  a clear explanation as to how the fire started. When I got there the house was in flames and the ceiling had collapsed. Thank Goodness there was no loss of life. Our new kittens were safe, our old dog was still in the back yard and the kids were safely at school. Despite the rise in anxiety and a feeling of helplessness I got the message laud and clear about what was important.

It seemed so easy when they were lying under their arch of toys swatting at the little rainbow in the center. As I look back on it my biggest problem was when I gave birth to the twins and got to introduce their big brother for the first time. He took one look at them and high tailed it out of that room so fast. Not sure what his plan was, but I can tell you it didn’t include either of them!  Fortunately one of his aunts were nearby and raced down the hall to collect him. I look back at parenting then and now and realize that I’m not getting more than I can handle, and that we still learn by trial and error.

This summer my oldest son got to go on an adventure with his grandparents. I felt the most vulnerable I have ever felt in my life. I bought him a special watch so I could watch him with GPS and call him whenever I needed to. He had the time of his life. He came home with so many stories. Whats more, my parents reported that he was well behaved helpful, fun spirited, and a joy to have around the entire trip. They said I was doing a good job!

Lets let that sink in for a while…I am doing a good job. When my kids are with others, they know what to do, they do it, and it reflects back positively on our family. Now that is a good feeling.

Every morning when I take my boys to school I watch them as they run to the sidewalk that takes them to their classrooms, backpacks knocking against their butts and I think how much I love my job, how lucky I am to have them and sometimes I get a lump in my throat.

Take 5

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

Today I’m here to help you be more mindful the next time you are angry with your child and trying to give a lesson in the moment. The problem is that we are tunnel visioned when we are angry and less rational. Why is that a problem? Your child is learning more then one lesson from you during this interaction.

First they are learning how to communicate. They may not yell at you, but they may start yelling at their siblings to express their anger. They may point their finger, ignore whats being said, shake their head, any number of mannerisms that you portray. Kids model what they see. If you want to raise a child who is respectful to loved ones, even during argument, best to cool down before preceding with the lesson. 

Second they are learning about respect. My husband tells our sons they have to respect him because he is their father. In the same conversation we teach them that respect is earned. It is a confusing message. I make every effort not to correct my husband in front of our children, so the only way that I can make sure that I am earning their respect in my conversations with them is to be sure that I am heard and then listen back.

Finally they are learning about consistency. If you allow yourself the time to think about your course of action then you are allowing yourself time to be consistent with your parenting.

It’s easy to fly off the hook when you get angry and yell at your child for something they’ve done. Im just asking for you to stop and think for a moment.  You’re providing more than one lesson in the moments following an event than you may think. It’s worth a five minute breather, to collect your thoughts, get a sip of water and then tackle the problem.

For more parenting tips or information on using positive reinforcement visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com!

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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Positive Reinforcement and Anger Management

By | December 12th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |

Here are some signs that your child may have an anger management problem.  Continue reading for some helpful tips on how to help modify unwanted behavior. 

  1. Is your child argumentative, ready to enter a debate without thought of subject matter or consequence? 
  2. Does your child have problems with impulse control?  This can appear in different forms including verbal outbursts or even physically acting out. 
  3. Does your child threaten harm to self or others as a negotiation tactic? 
  4. Does your child have difficulty accepting responsibility? 
  5. Is your child difficult to calm down following an altercation or misunderstanding?
  6. Does your child appear pessimistic and unable to see a brighter side?
  7. Is your child uncooperative and unwilling to follow directions no matter how straight forward?
  8. Is your child easily frustrated when presented with a new task or problem?

Collectively these signs of anger management issues may indicate that it is time to see a therapist or other specialist in order to reach a proper diagnosis.  The internet is helpful in understanding underlying problems, it should in no way take the place of professionals. 

There are; however, things that you can do at home to help manage your child’s anger.  First of all, acknowledge that anger is a normal emotion.  It is the actions that result from anger that need to be addressed.

The next part is sometimes difficult for parents to grasp.  Although there needs to be consequences for negative behavior, there are times when positive behavior should receive more attention.  Instead of getting frustrated and providing attention when your child misbehaves… use that energy to praise your child when they are behaving.  Be sure you take time to explain why you are proud and happy of their positive behavior.   Be prepared to reward.  If you child is aware of your expectations and they have something to work for then your child is more likely to repeat the positive behavior.  Change takes time and is inevitable!

For more information on positive reinforcement and behavior modification techniques visit me at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.  Breakthrough provides a positive reinforcement parenting aide called Vlinder. 

$5 Coupon Code: VLINDER

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