Holiday Pressure and Kids

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Imagine your boss was watching you 24/7 and evaluating whether you have been “good” at each second of the day.  Based on this vigilant watching, your paycheck would arrive or not arrive.  You weren’t sure.  Was it ok if you chatted for 2 minutes on the phone with your partner about what was for dinner that night?  Or grabbing a coffee on the way to a meeting?  Does that count as “naughty?”

Those questions could pose some serious pressure.

Now imagine your brain isn’t fully developed enough to be able to reason the way our adult mind can.  Imagine people were reminding you everywhere that “your boss is watching!”

The stress for some could feel unsurmountable.  You might eventually breakdown: lying, tears, fits, self deprecation, illness, fatigue.

I paint this picture to give you some insight into what it can be like for many children around the holidays.  It’s an amazing time of year but with it comes the stress of being perfect and being watched.  Yikes!

It might be worthwhile to give your child some room to make mistakes and to empathize with the pressure they may be feeling.  Here are a few things you can say when your child is making some poor choices this holiday season.

  1. While Santa may know when we are naughty or nice, he also knows when we do the right thing even after making a poor choice.  And it matters to him.  Let’s see if you can do the right thing starting now!
  2. I know it can feel hard to do everything right over the holidays with our Elf (name) watching all the time.  But I want you to know, its ok to not be perfect.  Let’s just do our best to treat others the way we want to be treated.  How do you want (person’s name) to treat you right now?  Ok, let’s work on treating them the same way.
  3. Did you know the elves sometimes get angry when their toy making doesn’t turn out the exact way they had hoped?  Sure do!  They have a few tools they use to calm themselves down.  They have a special breathing tool they use and I learned it once when I was a kid.  It’s called the Santa Belly Breath.  First you breath in making your belly as round as Santa’s.  Yes, that’s it!  That big!  Then they hold their breath for a second and slowly let it out…..

Be playful, kind, and loving with your interventions.  The way we approach a situation could really make a difference.

Back to the boss analogy for a moment.  Let’s say your boss came to you and screamed in your face that you better knock it off!  There was no paycheck if you kept it up!  You might feel ashamed, extremely worried, and stressed.  Would you want the same for your child?  Probably not.  You probably want them to stop the behavior or have some remorse.  But shame?  Not exactly.

I ask you to remember to have empathy for the pressure those little people feel and treat your children the way you want to be treated.

Wishing you and your family the very best this holiday season!

AFFIRMATION

I am kind, loving, and playful with myself and those around me.

 

Sierra in the Spotlight

I wanted to share a recent article about me featured on Simple Practice’s Spotlight Series.  Check out this article to learn a more about me and the work I love to do.

Anxiety About Parenting? Check This Out!

 

A Few Things About Anxiety

1. It is a trickster.  Anxiety tricks people into being anxious about being anxious. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  It does unless it is happening to you.  Many people report feeling anxious and not knowing why.  

2. It takes over the whole house.  It is common for patients to talk about how one person’s anxiety is reeking havoc on the whole house and/or relationship.  Anxiety demands lots of attention and reassurance not only from the person experiencing the anxiety but those close to them.  It can be exhausting for everyone.

3. It can make you feel awful when you were just feeling good.  Anxiety can seem to blindside us and come out of nowhere.  Walking down the street feeling fine and then….

4. It can make you feel sick.  Stomach aches, headaches, digestive issues, fatigue.  While these symptoms are real, they can be linked to anxiety.  It is good to talk with an MD to rule out if it is anything more than anxiety.

Ready for the good news? 

5. You don’t have to qualify for a disorder to get help.  Whether you meet the DSM-IV criteria for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic, Generalized Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, etc., if anxiety in any form is getting in your way, you can get help.

6.  Anxiety is extremely common to experience and highly treatable.  Millions of people suffer with anxiety.  Many don’t get help despite the variety of options available.  The psychological community recognizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as one of the key approaches.  Other approaches are Individual Psychotherapy, Group Psychotherapy, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Nutrition, Medication, Mindfulness Practice, and the list goes on.  

7. The internet is full of resources to help you learn more about anxiety and how to treat it.  Check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, The American Psychological Association, and AnxietyBC.

8You have local therapists, holistic practitioners, and tele health services available.  Help is at your finger tips.

You can start feeling better.  Please feel free to contact me to discuss treatment, options, recommendations, and referrals today.

Wise Girl Workshops August 2016

Wise-Girl-LogoJune 2016 kicked off the introduction to Wise Girl Workshops.  We had a fun morning of learning about one another and a ton of easy arts and crafts, activities, and food to help guide us through creating goals and intentions for ourselves, handling sticky social situations, as well as learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping skills.  Each girl left with a bag full of goodies to help remind them of their work and keep them motivated.  Most of all, we had fun!

The girls left eager for me to host another workshop, so today I am introducing another round of Wise Girl Workshops in August 2016 to help girls get their school year moving in the right direction.

Click here to learn more about dates/times offered.  You’ve got questions?  I’ve got answers I would love to share.  Click here to email me.

Looking forward to another awesome round of Wise Girls!

5 Tips For An Amazing Summer With Your Family

1. Eat Outside– I am so nostalgic for picnic tables and grilling. Growing up on the East Coast, my family relished being outside when we could. Meals outside bring us closer to each other and to mother nature. Eating outside is a whole new way to enjoy your meal. Make it easier by enlisting everyone’s help and get yourself a good tray to hall stuff out.

2. Play Games– Instead of hunkering down for the night in front of the tv to wind down or keeping them fired up as they run outside looking like a chain saw running out of gas, bust out some games that are fun, not over stimulating, and fit into the amount of time you had in mind. You can even make a little bet. Today I am making everyone’s beds due to the loss of UNO in last night’s match. My kids are loving it! It teaches them good sportsmanship when I can keep it positive despite the loss and through modeling behaviors.

3. Get Enough Sleep– I know summer is here and the days are longer and energy levels are higher but it is still crucial for your children to get enough sleep. Not only is it important for their developing brains, it is extremely important for having a good next day. When kids aren’t well rested, the next day can be a disaster. Or what looks like a good day can widdle down to meltdown zone by the afternoon. And then what happens to you when your children are being grouches? Yep, better to get them to bed at a decent hour.

4. Be Active– Get you and your children outside. Swim, jump, bike, hike, explore. Be mindful of how much both you and them can handle time and distance wise. If you aren’t in the greatest of shape, push you edge a bit. If you are in great shape, be mindful not to push the kids’ edge too far.

5. Spoil them with love, not stuff– The weather can make us feel good. So good we may think we have more money than we actually do and/or so good we feel like spoiling our children because it’s summer. And while all “spoiling” isn’t a bad thing, I encourage you to be mindful of your spending for not only your finances sake but for the emotional sake. Giving kids everything they want just because they want it and because you can could create a host of other behaviors like acting spoiled, ungrateful, demanding, expecting, and overall brattiness. Instead of giving stuff, spending your love, time, knowledge, and energy with them is just money in the bank for their minds and spirits.

Wishing you all a very joyful and satisfying summer. Remember, we only get them for so long. Be patient and compassionate with yourself when you are struggling. Our feelings are ever changing. Enjoy the ride!

Out of Control: The Psychology of Chickens and People

IMG_1453This is Crosby A. Tinkleton.  He is one of 6 chickens gallivanting around my yard.  Crosby is a rooster and a bully.

I would like to tell the other chickens to steer clear of Crosby.  To not let him do the things he does. To make Crosby go away when they want to eat in a particular spot or make him crow loud on a different part of the property.

The thing is, the other chickens can only control themselves.  They cannot control Crosby.  And I cannot control any of those chickens.

The same is true with people.  We can only control ourselves.  We can try and make others do what we want.  We can put in effort with manipulation or force.  Ultimately though, the only control we really have is over ourselves.

That can be a tough pill to swallow.  Whether our significant others, children, friends, family, our children’s friends/classmates, or their parents.  We may want our children to do exactly what we want.  We may want kids at school to treat them better or let them into a certain group.  We may want people to change.  Our spouse to be a particular way.  But we cannot control any of them.

The good news is if we only have ourselves to control then we can take some pressure off in having to make everyone into the person we want them to be.  We can open ourselves up to a sort of loving kindness about who they are and who we are.  We can also decide how we want to be in relation to them.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say their is a parent who feels their child is being left out.  Left out at school, left out socially.  You can try and control the other children. Encourage them to them to include your child.  You could call the other parents and let them know your feelings and request they speak with their own child.  You could talk with the teacher about your concerns.  You can put in all your efforts until you’re exhausted.  The fact is though, you cannot make anyone do anything else.  It will be up to the children, their parents, and their teacher to decide if/what they are going to do help.

No matter what happens in that scenario, what we are left with is the question, “How do I want to be in relation to my child and this circumstance?”  Do I give a forum for them to voice their feelings without judgement?  Do I hold them close on my lap?  Do I offer to take my child and a friend they want to have to the movies Saturday?  Do I point out their strengths and validate how being an individual is awesome?  Do I play catch and show my love through my actions?

Only you can control what it is you decide to do.  If we can do it with patience and love, even better.

Those 5 other chickens in the yard are what appears to be patient with Mr. Tinkleton. I am sure somewhere there is a whole chicken psychology I am unaware of.  All I know is I cannot control those chickens.

AFFIRMATION

The only thing I can control is myself.  I let go of expectations of how I want others to be.

Thank You To Veterans and Their Families

I wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to our Veterans and their families on this special day. I am grateful for your service and dedication.

Healing

I have had the opportunity to witness the most tender side another human being has to offer.  Where they get touched so deeply in their heart, a look of humility tends to their face, and an acknowledgement occurs.  This is a place where healing happens.

It is in these moments the work is happening.  And I believe it works because of the relationship WE have created together.  Without the relationship, we can never get to this place.  The recipe is building a relationship, building trust, and then time.

Therapy takes time.  This place within us is not to be rushed to.  We need to trust whoever we take to this place will be able to sit in this feeling with us.  To see what is really there. To see a piece of who we really are.  To be gentle with us.

We can quantify certain aspects of the human condition and come up with scientific based approaches for certain symptoms.  I am convinced though that the human spirit is unquantifiable and is more than science could ever show us.

I am grateful daily for the work I do and for those who allow me to enter into those dark caverns of their heart and mind and explore together.  

Namaste.

5 Tips for High School Teen Success

    1. Show up to class….everyday.  I know class can be boring and you have better things to teen girl in white tank top and jeans standing in front of oceando with your time.  But falling behind can lead to a never ending tunnel of doom.  Many concepts build on one another, so if you miss one thing, it may be hard to catch up.  Plus you can become an eye sore in the eyes of your teacher, who would be better to have as an ally than an enemy. 
    1. Get some sleep.  Transitioning back to school is tough, especially if you are someone who was going to bed in the morning and waking up in the late afternoon.  Being exhausted at school can make it feel extra dreadful.  Aim for at least 7-8 hours, if not more, of sleep.
    1. Eat during the day.  I know there was a time in junior high when it felt uncool to eat but it’s high school now and your brain needs fuel.  Try and eat something small yet substantial every 2-3 hours.  Almonds, granola bar, yogurt, etc.  It will not only help your ability to sustain attention but can also keep your mood more positive. 
    1. Schedule yourself.  You can get overbooked with activities and things you want to do.  Make sure you have enough time to do not only the things you love but also the things you needs to.  You will feel accomplished when you got it all done and no one is on your back about it.
  1. Ask for help.  From friends, parents, teachers, friend’s parents, school counselor, family members, etc.  We all need support around academic, social, and interpersonal feelings and events that arise.  Use your support network to get relief, guidance, understanding, and clarity around whatever is ailing you.