parenting, Support

PARENTING IN THE SPRING

While spring is an exciting time of year for our kiddos in and out of school, it is essential to know it also creates increased stress for many. We often think of stress as resulting from challenging things like struggling in a class or relationship troubles; however, even fun things happening in our lives like traveling or reaching a milestone, such as graduation creates stress as it takes us out of our comfort zone and routines.  When under stress, we often return to old coping strategies such as avoidance or burying feelings. So, keep an eye out for natural opportunities to build your kiddos skills.

When we listen to our kiddos often, we kick into problem-solving mode. Remind yourself to slow down and take notice of your own emotions that may drive your response. Actively listen to your child and remember it is frequently not about the content on the surface (“she was mean” or “that was unfair”). It is more helpful to respond to the emotions underneath the surface so we can help the kiddo identify their feelings, learn to sit with them and use some strategies to manage.

Some potential discussion starters could be the following:

It sounds like that was upsetting.

I’m sorry that was frustrating. What did you do or what could you do?

That sounds rough. I know you can handle it.

It will also be important to practice new ways of thinking about things such as learning to expect change and know it will take you out of your comfort zone. Talking about what to expect, including discomfort, and normalizing it will be key to building more successful coping.

Some potential discussion starters could be the following:

What felt hard today?

Did you expect that to be so easy or hard?

I never like it when that happens to me. What did you try to do?

Happy Spring! Embrace change and time for new growth. 🙂

parenting, Support, Uncategorized

A Sad Day

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Today I am feeling sad as a human and as a parent. However, among the sadness and some anger, I can squeeze out fragments of hope for change no matter how bleak things appear. Today is one of those days in my life that I will wrestle with my thoughts and emotions while I work to gather the words to talk with others. These moments come to all of us at various times in our lives, whether explaining an injustice, natural disaster, or a health crisis in the family. Searching for the right time and words to talk with a child when dealing with our own emotions has always been one of the more difficult things I have done as a parent.

At times, I have attempted to speed up this process so I can get the uncomfortable discussion out of the way and have been unsuccessful, as dealing with our emotions cannot be rushed. The only things I know for sure are that I want to be thoughtful about the words I use, and I want to maintain my boundaries. I do not want to overshare my intense emotions. A child needs to know the adults in their life can contain their emotions, so they are free to express their own in whatever form. Holding some space open to carry the weight of a child’s emotions rests with the adult. Lastly, I will allow the child to sit with their feelings and thoughts. I take comfort in knowing this allows all an opportunity to take in something upsetting, contemplate it, feel it and learn from it. I am not the fixer, and I will not promise to be as I know these moments teach us much. We all deserve at least that much on a sad day.

parenting, Support, Uncategorized

A Fall Reminder

As fall marks the end of summer, it brings with it much anticipation too. This is especially true if you have kiddos in your world as the inevitable rhythm of a school year brings excitement and trepidation. The mix of emotions drives much worry and anxiety for parents as they impatiently wait for signs of a child finding their way both academically and socially. This is especially apparent to me at the grocery store on weekdays around 3:00. At that time, I find parents running in for quick pickups of needed items before kiddos come home from school. Most often, I can catch snippets of conversations about how kids are settling into their new routines. The length of these conversations is often brief; however, the intensity is palpable. Fall teacher conferences or mid-term grades will put much of the wondering to rest for some, while others will learn of new thoughts and potential concerns that were not even on their radar.

This can be a challenging time of year for kiddos as well as their parents. I try to remember this each fall and work to be a better friend, neighbor, co-worker, and parent. For me the season of fall serves as a reminder to provide the care and support I would like to receive should I be struggling. Learning to be generous with kindness and compassion for me and others is an ongoing goal.