I am in the process of writing a book proposal. I have a question for you. What is it that you look for in a parenting book? Alternately, what would keep you from picking up a parenting book? The book I am writing would focus on low, or no-cost, parent self-care, and self-acceptance and would provide a framework for establishing a loving relationship with your child and others. I plan for it to focus on frazzled parents who feel overwhelmed by their children’s behaviors. Does this sound like a book that would interest you? I would love your input in this process. Please feel free to leave comments or send a personal email to email@example.com and to be completely honest. I want to write a book that will be meaningful to you.
Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C
I am sure I am not the only parent who has used the Olympics to get my children motivated to exercise. We have watched the Olympic swimmers and gymnasts and talked about all the hard work they put into getting to the Olympics, as well as all the times they must have tried and failed in competitions, meets, etc. only to dust themselves off and try again.
This week and last week, I am posting about taming the “nasties” in your child. One major mood stabilizer (better than medication in studies) is exercise. You have probably heard this before- exercise 30 minutes several times per week. I know that is hard as a parent, especially if your children are younger. However, I would like to take this opportunity to illustrate the ways in which we can imprison ourselves with our thoughts. I see many adults do this with exercise, parenting, eating, you name it. We create our own personal prisons, when we read an article that tells us the best way to do something and decide it is the “only” way.
Think of a prison cell with no bars on the front. Then, with each thought you have about the reasons you can not exercise, imagine a bar being put in place. “I don’t have time.” There is one bar in your prison. “I don’t have the right equipment.” There goes another bar. “I don’t like to exercise.” Bar. “I can’t afford the gym.” Pretty soon, if you examine your thoughts about something, then step back, the self-imposed prison becomes quite evident. Again, just because you read an article about the optimal way to do something, that does not mean it is the only way to do it. For example, “I don’t have time to exercise.” Maybe you don’t have 30 minutes strung together. Do you ever get five minutes? Just because 30 is better doesn’t mean five is nothing. Some exercise is better than no exercise. Walk up the steps instead of taking the elevator. Park farther away from the grocery store. When your daughter is practicing jump rope, get a rope and practice too. When you do this, you are removing a bar from your prison. The times you take the kids for sports practice, instead of sitting and chatting in the waiting room, see if the parent you talk to every time might want to take a walk during the class instead. Another bar down. No gym membership? No problem! Exercise is free or very inexpensive if you want it to be. Running requires shoes. I’ve seen jump ropes at the dollar store. Walking in place or up and down the steps does not even require shoes. Similarly, a private dance party with your little ones costs nothing. I am certain that if you decide to be kind to yourself by losing the perfectionistic tendencies that keep you from exercising, then you will see you are moving more, regulating your emotional state better and modeling a wonderful way to love yourself for your children.
Two quick parenting tips:
- When you are in a bad mood, try saying to your children, “I’m in a bad mood, I think I need to go workout so I can be nicer to everyone.” This trains them from early on to do as my children learned: when they see me fussing and getting overwhelmed, they ask if I might need to take a walk so I can feel better. Lots of times we do end up going for a walk and I do feel better. Also, because I model this for them, when they are in a bad mood, I see them doing the same thing. They ask to take a bike ride to feel better, or I find one of them jumping rope outside. Each time this happens, we reinforce each other’s good behavior making great habits that can last a lifetime.
- If you are having a hard time deciding on a type of exercise you would like to try, think about what you wish your child would try. Are you attracted to them doing that sport because it is something you wish you could do? Or, think of the activities you loved as a child. Did you love to go bowling? Did you take dance classes? Did you always wish to be a runner? You don’t have to be training to be a professional to enjoy the movements you always wanted to do as a child. Try them now :).
Today’s affirmation is:
I show my children how to love themselves and care for their body by exercising in ways I enjoy.
- Parent Affirmation Monday- Healthy Eating 7/23/2012 (help4yourfamily.com)
- Taming the “Nasties” in Your Children- Part 1 (help4yourfamily.com)
- Hey Parents, Your Kids Actually Need To See You Exercising (blisstree.com)
Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C
It’s the middle of the summer. Schedules are out of whack and ever-changing. We have vacations and might be spending more meals on the go or out at restaurants. Summer can be brutal to a healthy diet, especially if we take the old approach of telling ourselves what not to eat, instead of focusing on what to eat. It might not seem like a big difference, but focusing on what to eat over what not to eat can make a big difference. Think of it as looking for abundance rather than deprivation. Which sounds better to you? Try this affirmation for the week to see about getting your health back on track or keeping it healthy.
I nourish myself by joyfully eating healthy foods and sharing them with my family.
What does this have to do with parenting? Two major things happen as a result of joyfully eating healthy foods. The first is, of course, setting a good example for your children. Then, when you talk to them about the importance of healthy eating, they are more likely to listen. I have picture up in my office that says:
Children often fail to do as we say but seldom fail to do as we do.
It is so true. Second, eating healthy foods is an important, and often overlooked part of regulating emotions. Have you ever noticed that you were in a foul mood because you were hungry or ate junk all day? Later this week, I will be posting about what to do when your child is acting just plain nasty and take a closer look at some of the ways food can play into foul moods.
One sticking point I know some parents will have with this affirmation is the feeling they have about children who refuse to try healthy food. I have one of these in my home. I am not asking you to pretend this is not a struggle. I am asking you to reframe this issue. Rather than focusing on what your child is not doing, I would encourage you to model what you are doing, eating healthy, feeling good, looking at healthy foods with excitement and savoring the way they taste. By doing this, you greatly increase the chances of your child following suit. If you do not feel excited about the healthy foods you are eating, perhaps you are eating the wrong healthy foods for you. While I am not a dietician, I do try to be aware to these things and I can tell you a simple rule I have learned: if it has been processed and comes in a package, it is not as healthy as something that was picked and sent right to your grocery store, roadside stand, or, best of all, came from your vegetable garden. One resource I have come to trust is the website Everyday Health. If you are looking for more information about making healthy food choices, I would suggest you check them out or go to your family physician for resources or referrals.
What healthy foods do you enjoy with your children? Please share any ways that you have been creative in finding healthy food choices for you and your family.
In my first collaboration with Hay House as a reviewer, I am excited to share my thoughts on a book by Jack Canfield and Pamela Bruner, Tapping Into Ultimate Success: How to Overcome Any Obstacle and Skyrocket Your Results. Because this is my first book review as part of Hay House’s “book nook” program,* I have to admit, I wanted to show you all what a serious book critic I am by finding some kind of major fault or gap in this book. While I have a few things I might have done differently, they are all minor and are more subjective really.
I picked this book to review because, while I took a 3 hour course on tapping (also known as Emotional Freedom Technique) and have effectively used it in my practice and personally, I wanted to know more. What I found was that while the book focuses on tapping techniques, it actually combines three methods I use with my clients routinely, 1. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping), 2. Internal Family Systems Work (mainly connected to inner child work), and 3. Affirmations, with tapping being the star of the show.
This book is chocked full of an incredible amount of helpful, usable information that I do, in my heart, believe could be life transforming for anyone that takes the time to learn and utilize the information. The book comes with a DVD as well that is complementary to the text, and I do believe that when you are learning to tap using the methods, it is infinitely helpful to have the demonstrations on the DVD. On it, the authors selected meaningful topics to help participants work through that are fairly universal to most people and you can get help and practice by tapping right along with the video. One critique I might have is that in the book, the authors suggest that you will be able to supply your own words to describe your issues, but on the DVD, the authors have the demonstration participants repeat after them. I would have liked to see a demonstration where the participant was guided through the process of chosing their own words. If you are reading the book, I would encourage you not to be intimidated about finding just the right word choice. If you are worried about finding words, perhaps you can use that as your first fear or worry to tap about once you get started.
I do have a few other suggestions for anyone who is planning on purchasing (or winning) this book:
1. Do not expect to breeze through the book and video in a weekend. I have actually taken well over a month to read it for review. I hurried myself through it a bit because I wanted to write the review and will start back from the beginning now that I am done. I plan on working myself through about five to ten minutes worth of reading and tapping each evening as part of my self-care routine. At that pace, I will probably finish the book for the second time in about six months. I do believe that will be the pace for most people. I do not want to deter you from picking up this book however, as I do believe much of the work is amazing and with literally only a few moments, that may or may not have some mild discomfort, and using the tapping techniques described in the book, you can transform old habits and beliefs and create a new and much happier life for yourself.
2. Stick with the recommendation of the authors to keep notes about your progress. The issue I have found with tapping in my practice, and which the authors describe in the book, is that it works so well that there are a good number of people who forget the problem they came in for was actually a real problem to begin with.
3. Watch the videos and get a tapping buddy if possible to help you stick with it. A tapping buddy can also help if you worry about pin-pointing the correct words.
4. If you are having a hard time following through with tapping, or you have difficulty finding words to describe the issues you want to work through, I would suggest you seriously consider getting a therapist who is familiar with tapping. Getting a therapist to help work through these issues does not mean the book is not right for you. I believe having the book and going to therapy will shorten the time it takes you to feel better and that the therapy and the tapping will each enhance the other. I have already recommended the book as an adjunct to therapy for several of my adult clients.
I know, if you have ever seen tapping, it looks so simple, and may even seem silly or, when you think about all the time it has taken for you to get through the problem you have, it can seem impossible that a little tapping on your body in specific places will change how you think and feel about issues. All I can say to that is that you need to try it and see.
To help you try it, I am giving away a copy of the book. All you need to do is “like” this review on Facebook. If you have not joined me on the Help 4 Your Family Facbook page, what are you waiting for?! If you do not have Facebook, you can “like” this post on WordPress. I will pick a winner at random from anyone that “likes” this post between today, 7/19/2012 and next week, 7/26/2012. To be eligible, you must live in the United States (sorry international readers). If you do not win, I have added the book to my recommended books on Amazon and you can find it easily by clicking on the recommended books link at the top right of this page. Good luck!
Have you tried tapping? What was your experience?
*For “Book Nook” reviews, I receive a fee copy of the book in exchange for reviewing it on my site. I give my honest opinion of each book and I do not receive any further compensation.
Written by Kate Oliver, LCSW-C
Boundaries are tough for a lot of people, especially if they were not always honored for you while you were growing up in your family of origin. They are also ever- changing. The boundaries you have with your two-year old will be very different from those you have with your teenager. Extenuating family circumstances and developmental issues can also play a major role in the boundaries we set with our children.
What I would like for each parent to take a moment to do this week is to really think about how your child will have many, many adults go in and out of their lives, but very few parents. Your role is so special and unique for your child. They look to you to show them the way to be in the world. They want you to guide them and teach them how to feel peaceful and happy. While it can seem like helping kids feel peaceful and happy means giving them free rein to explore, do and receive as they wish, children actually seek and need you to set reasonable limits for them.
You can see how important boundaries are when you look at children who seem to get all they want. Watch the children you know in your lives that get the toys right when they want them and whose parents take them anywhere they want to go. They are often the most demanding, unhappy children you will see. Parents that fool themselves into thinking that they must meet all of their children’s desires in order to make them happy are actually breeding unhappiness in their children along with a search for more and more and the message that the issues inside can be resolved by “getting something” from the outside. When children feel as though they are safely contained within the confines of a parental relationship where their parents are allowing them to explore in a way that is safe, and where they have limits, they feel better!
The affirmation for this week is:
I maintain healthy boundaries with my children.
- Healthy Boundaries: A Good Practice (letlifeinpractices.com)
- Let Them Climb Trees (and Fall) (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Benefits of Establishing Boundaries (rhachellenicol.com)
- Monday is Parent Affirmation Day at Help 4 Your Family! 7/9/2012
While I like looking at other peoples crafts, I really do not like doing crafts. Whenever people ask me about crafts, I have been known to tell them that glue and I do not get along. Sometimes, however, my job or my own children call on me to be “crafty” and I need to set aside my glue issues and get down to crafting. Since this week is about being unique, I wanted to share a craft with you that my daughter actually made up herself and shared with me when she was five and that I now do with my clients.
The craft is a container in which you can put reminders of happy times together, good memories, or reminders of things that make you smile. My daughter made one for her teacher that had slips of paper in it that said things like “You are beautiful” and “You are a great teacher.” I call it the rainy day jar, my daughter calls it the good feelings jar, but it can be easily adapted for many purposes. The idea is to decorate a container then put slips of paper in it with things that make you smile or personal affirmations that you have made for you. I tend to make one with my clients who are about to be adopted from foster care that they then present to their adoptive parents that contain positive thoughts about their parents or shared memories from before the adoption day.
Before you start, I want to say this can be as fancy or as plain as you wish. I personally believe that each and every one of you is likely to have all the materials you need to make a nice jar in your home right now. There is no need to spend any money on this craft. Also, at some point during this activity, your child, like my child, or you, may think of some fabulous something that will make this project wonderful and unique! They may pull out something that is very special but makes the project much more difficult. Please do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Unless you are crafty, redirect yourself or your child to get it done rather than making it a half-finished project that is going to sit on the table with all the materials out for the next week. I always would encourage you to emphasize fun and sweet over perfect.
any crafty items you have around your house, ribbons, tissue paper, buttons (please use only items that you will not have to clean up later so you get irritated you did the project)
1. Decide who your container is for. Is it for you? Is it for someone else in your family or is it a family jar? Make a vision for your container.
2.Decorate your container using your crafty stuff. I used tissue paper. My daughter used stickers and markers. Remember, perfect is the enemy of good.
3. Write little things that make you smile on pieces of paper.
They can be memories, thoughts, affirmations or anything that makes you smile. My daughter wrote the word “Megatron.” She wrote it to remind us of the time my nephew very seriously suggested to his mother that she name the baby she was going to have Megatron. No one in my family can think of that with a straight face- except my nephew who still has no idea why that is not the best name ever. Notice the misspelling of “Megatron” in the picture. Put it in the jar just like that and smile when you see the unique way your child has spelled their words. You do not have to fill the jar today. You can fill it over time whenever you think of something to put in there. I wrote myself a little note as a reminder of something that helps me feel better.
4. When you are having a parental moment in which you feel like a failure or want to calm yourself down, take a piece of paper out of the jar and look at it.* If that does not work, take another piece of paper out. Make sure to replace them when you are done.
5. Share with the rest of us. What is going in your jar?
*A side note to parents with children who have a mean streak: put the jar where you have control over it so they can not use it as another thing to hurt you with by slipping a mean note in there.
Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C
Most of us have heard that saying about “keeping up with the Joneses.” It refers to our longing to have what others around us have and to fit into our perception of a “normal” family, but what if we all stopped? What if everyone stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses and just worked on being the Smiths, the Olivers, the Mbutus, the Pierces, the Finklesteins, or whatever your last name is? What would happen then? What do we give up when we work so hard to be like everyone else?
I would venture to guess that when we strive to be like everyone else, we give up our own authenticity, our power, and our inner peace, yet, so many people who come through my doors each day struggle with feeling so different from everyone else with the assumption that different equals not as good as.
I am going to propose that different just means different, no more and no less. I bet you can come up with a lot of people you have met who are different. I bet some of you are way nicer about them being different than you are to yourself when you feel different. Every family is different too. Each family has its own eccentricities. Maybe part of what attracts you to the Jones family is the thing that seems to make them unique. It could be that they always seem to have some inside joke in their family, or that they have a family activity they do together like hiking or biking that makes them different. Well, this week, we are going to focus on embracing what makes our family unique with this affirmation:
I love the experiences, values, and principles that make the family I am creating unique. We celebrate our differences.
This is an important affirmation for all families, but I am going to highlight the importance of this affirmation for families with trans-racial adoptees. In those families, or any families where a child does not necessarily look like his or her parent(s), finding similarities or unique qualities about your family that bind you together outside of the way that you look is so important. In my family we have a special hand squeeze that we, and only we know, means “I love you.” If I want to make my child feel special at any time, I give them the special squeeze- it does not embarrass them in front of their friends since no one else knows it is happening but the two of us, and sometimes they give me the squeeze and it always makes me smile.
I hope you enjoy this affirmation this week. As with all affirmations, it is good to say it over and over to make it a part of your everyday thought process.
How is your family unique? Please share.
Do you ever just get tired of saying that word over and over again? You know, that word…no. Now, if you have a really little one, no works. It’s short and sweet for your short, sweet kids. I am talking about the older kids. The negotiators. For the people who see me at my practice, I am also talking about the children who are traumatized or attachment compromised, and for whom “no” is a trigger word. The word “no” for those kids is like a magical word that can instantly build a wall (or tornado) up between you and your child that does not allow them to hear the love that parents intend behind the word “no.”
Before anyone gets all upset that I am suggesting that this word crushes fragile egos and all that nonsense, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating fear of the word “no” for parents, nor am I suggesting that children should never have to hear that word. Let’s not pretend that “no” is never going to be a word they hear. I am thinking you might just be tired of saying it, or you might want another option, or, like I said, for traumatized, attachment disturbed children, I’m giving you a new way to help them learn to love (trust me, “no” is a word they are familiar with anyway so no worries there).
Are you interested in knowing how this works? Here are the conversations as they are now:
Child: Mom, can I go to the mall?
Child: Whhhyyyyeeee? (how do they make why into a three syllable word?)
Child: Dad, can I have a cookie?
Dad: No, not right now. Dinner’s coming.
Child: Just one?
Child: Please? I promise I’ll eat my dinner!
Do I really need to write the rest of that conversation? You already have it playing in your head at this point, right?
Here is an alternative. I got it from the helpful folks who wrote the book Parenting with Love and Logic (find it in my recommended readings at the top right on this page)* and I am going to show you how it can work for anything.
Child: Mom, can I go to the mall?
Mom: Sure you can…on Saturday.
Child: Not today?
Mom: I think we’ll have more time to go on Saturday.
Child: Dad, can I have a cookie?
Dad: Sure, after dinner you can have two.
It’s that easy. Here’s my favorite example because it takes this to the extreme and we can even laugh a little.
Teen: Can I date a 30-year-old man with two kids?
Parents: Sure, you can date anyone you want when you’re 18.
Teen: Can I smoke crack?
Parent: Boy, that would make me really sad, but I guess when you are legally an adult you can make that choice.
I want to point out that I am not advocating that parents change their stance on an issue. I am pointing out that if you are tired of saying that word over and over with the same result, you can theoretically avoid “no” forever, and, because your child is not responding to the “no” you can sneak in a little loving too 🙂
Let me know what you think about this. Does your child have an over the top reaction to “no,” or are you just tired of saying it?
Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C
I recently read a book by Don Miguel Ruiz titled, The Four Agreements. In this book, the author states that one of the most important things we must all do is to “be impeccable with your words.” This week, I want us all to use this as our affirmation:
I am impeccable with my words.
When you are using this affirmation, take a moment to think about what it means. It means that we speak truthfully to and about ourselves and to and about others. When you find yourself saying out loud or internally, “I am terrible! That was awful!” STOP and remember our affirmation this week: I am impeccable with my words. Are you really terrible? Was that really awful? Or perhaps would it be more true to say that you wished you handled something differently? Look at the difference between saying you are terrible and saying you wish you handled something differently.
Many of today’s parents of younger children are familiar with the recommendation to say to children, “I don’t like what you did” instead of saying, “Don’t be bad.” When you say, “I don’t like what you did.” a child hears you tell them something about their behavior. When you say, “Don’t be bad.” a child hears you say something about your beliefs about who they are. Being impeccable with our words is so important for us and for our children. My belief is that many of us work to be flawless with our words with children while we neglect the words we say to ourselves. I really want you to stop neglecting this part! Be precise about the words you say to yourself.
This week, whenever possible, take time to examine the language you use with yourself and your child. Work to be precise rather than over generalizing. Please refrain from using this affirmation as an additional excuse to be hard on yourself. When you hear the same old language come out of your mouth that you are beginning to see is not actually accurate, gently say to yourself “I am impeccable with my words.” and correct the language you just used with yourself or with someone else.
If you are looking for the book I mentioned, you can find it by clicking on my recommended reading widget at the top left of this webpage.*
- Parenting with Affirmations (help4yourfamily.com)
- Monday is Parent Affirmation Day at Help 4 Your Family! 6/25/2012
- Monday is Parent Affirmation Day at Help 4 Your Family! 6/18/2012
- Affirmations and the Parent-Child Well-Being (wholemeprograms.com)
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Happy Parent Tip #1
- Why Sexual Abuse is Never a Child’s Fault…Not Even a Teenager
- Naming Patterns Changes Patterns
- This is your brain on attachment
- Last Chance for Two Great Opportunities
- Mother’s Retreat Weekend- It’s Really Happening!
- Stopping the Parent Shame and Blame Game
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Putting together something fun for you!
- Quick Jobs for Kids
- Staying Strong as a Couple