Children who get too much validation for being good find it very difficult to handle the tiniest mistake without feeling they are failures. These children, if they do make a mistake, are apt to lie, or worse, avoid activities that they are not sure they will succeed at to cover the fact they are not perfect.
Is your child being good to win approval? Or are you blessed with a sensible little person who always seems to get it right?
Things to do and say to ensure your child doesn't become an approval seeker:
1. Don't compare. Don't say, 'Look at your sister, she is sitting up well.' Or, 'Why can't you be good like your brother/cousin?' It makes the 'bad' child feel bad and therefore act 'bad' and it puts pressure on the 'good' child to please you.
2. Use encouragement. Notice progress and effort rather than results. Say, 'You are working hard at keeping your room tidy' instead of 'good boy'. Separate the behaviour from the person. That is, keep what people do, separate from who they are, so that a bad behaviour does not make the person bad, nor a good behaviour make a person good. This is very important for self- esteem.
3. Say 'Try again!' to let your children know that it is ok to make a mistake and that they are wonderful opportunities to learn. Create a ritual during car trips/ dinner of having everyone take turns sharing a mistake and what they learned from it.
4. Make sure your children get the message that ANYONE can fall down, but it takes courage to get up and try again.
5. Don't let your children get away with avoiding new activities. Let them know they can decide to stop an activity after at least three or four activities. This will help to reduce the likelihood of your child not taking risks in case they are not the 'best'.
Teach that a mistake is just that, a mis/take. It is impossible to grow and learn without making them..... and that is what being a kid is all about isn't it?
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What's great about this is it can be done at any time. No one will notice. Simply use the thumb of one hand and press around the palm of the other hand. It's very soothing.
By pushing your palms together and holding for five to ten seconds, you give your body "proprioceptive input," according to Brukner, which "lets your body know where it is in space."
It is said that 80 percent of sensory stimulation comes in through the eyes, so shutting them every now and then gives your brain a much-needed break. Highly sensitive people can benefit from staying in bed with their eyes closed. They don't have to be sleeping. Having the eyes closed allows for some chill time and a break from being bombarded with stimulation.
To do this you breathe in to a count of five through your mouth and then you let out a very loud sigh.
Bring your hands, arms extended, in front of you, then bring the arms down. Next bring your arms (still extended) to your sides and then down. Next bring your arms all the way past your head and then swoop down allowing your head to dangle between your knees and hung there for a second. This exercise is extremely effective at releasing the tension we hold in different parts of our body.
Did you know that a ten-second hug a day can change biochemical and physiological forces in your body that can lower risk of heart disease, combat stress, fight fatigue, boost your immune system, and ease depression? You can begin by giving yourself a hug. By squeezing your belly and back at the same time, you are again giving yourself proprioceptive input (letting your body know where you are in space), which can help stabilize you.
Another great exercise to ground kids (and adults) with sensory integration issues, according to Brukner, is the wall push, where you simply push against the wall with flat palms and feet planted on the floor for five to ten seconds. Placing the weight of our body against a solid, immobile surface and feeling the pull of gravity is stabilizing, even on a subconscious level.
If you do yoga, the superman pose is basically the airplane position, except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. Lie on your tummy on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you, and hold them straight out. Extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for ten seconds. It's a great exercise if your child is sleepy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.
Did you know that animals relieve their stress by shaking? Lots of animals shake off their fear after being frozen in panic to escape a predator. So give it a go, get your children to get their shake on!
The Bubble Breath is very simple and calming.
Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.
Imagine you have a wand of bubbles. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop it.
Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.
Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.
Breathe out a large "bubble" though pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.
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Every child deals with some form of anxiety at some point in their life, whether that's monsters under the bed, to failure at school, or being afraid they won't fit in. Although these are usually short-lived and a normal part of childhood, sometimes anxieties can linger and worsen to an extent where they begin to impact a child's everyday life.
Separation, social situations, failure, criticism or tests, getting physically hurt, anxiety about not being perfect, world events, wellbeing of family members.
Some people are more likely to be anxious because it runs in the family (just like eye colour). People can also learn to think and behave in an anxious way by watching others, or by going through experiences that the child perceives as scary. Certain things in a child's environment might also increase the child's chances of becoming anxious for example, if a parent is inadvertently overprotective of a shy child it might help the child in the short term, but can increase the child's anxiety overall, or if the child senses any difficulties that the parents might be going through. Unfortunately, the more anxious parents become about their child's anxiety, the more anxious the child often becomes.
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Listen carefully to your child as she explains what's bothering her. Don't jump to conclusions -- and don't assume that saying "Don't worry" will help.
For children who are reluctant to explain their fears, it may be helpful to have them draw a picture.
You might ask him to rate the fear on a 10-point scale.
Don't discount the worry. Acknowledge the feelings while giving the child information. Age-appropriate books on the worrisome topic can help. A child with fears about storms, for example, might benefit from reading about lightning and other weather phenomena. Sam (named changed of course) was a 9 year old boy who had a fear of sharks. He would cry uncontrollably if he glimpsed a picture of one. His parents gave him as much information as possible about sharks and recently he even watched Jaws! He is currently looking forward to a school trip to Underwater World where he will have the opportunity to feed them.
Books about the worries of other children can be especially helpful. Having your child read about how another child dealt with similar fears can help to foster a discussion about worries.
Your child might imagine writing words on a whiteboard or tablet -- and then rubbing them out. Or he might imagine putting the scary thoughts in a box and putting it on a shelf or burying them in a hole or sealing them in a rocket and then blasting it into space. A younger child might feel better by having a “conversation” with a puppet who offers to take the worries for them.
If your child dreads going to birthday parties for example you could get them to take one of their friends to the party so they don’t have to go in alone, Or you might plan an early leaving time, which can help a child feel that she has some control over the situation.
Yoga, deep breathing, and other self-calming techniques are highly effective.
Some kids have developed their own ways to calm themselves when they feel worried. Ask them what they already do to self soothe. They might hug a pillow, listen to a recorded story or music, play with a pet or favourite toy. Remind them to do these things when worried as they might not realise that they have already devised their own strategies.
A parent that I have been working with recently told me about the following great set of books called Imaginations: Fun relaxation stories and meditations for kids by Carolyn Clarke www.imaginationsforkids.com
Worried No More, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Up and Down the Worry Hill, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
|Posted in: being assertive anxiety dealing with disappointments worried children stressed children|
No matter what, all children will encounter situations which are not to their liking. Knowing how to handle disappointments, stress, overwhelm and worry is a very big advantage when you are growing up as it can greatly assist in developing inner strength (otherwise known as resilience).
Following are some ideas to help children learn to distance themselves from the problem:
1. Stop the thoughts: Say to your child who is becoming overwhelmed by worries or a disappointment to stop thinking about it for a while. You can tell them to put them in an imaginary box for a while, let them know they can think about them again after morning tea or the next day.
2. Help them to start another activity that will distract them: go to the park, get active or read a book.
3. Take a break: If it is study, homework, an annoying sibling or anything else that they can take a break from, let them get away from the situation for a little while and then come back to it later. Help them find a special place to go for their breaks. It could be their room, sitting under a tree in the garden or a run around the yard.
4. Be on their page and be their positive side for them: Let them know that you understand they are feeling bad, and that you know they will feel better soon.
In my next few blogs I will be sharing some more ideas relating to helping children manage anxiety, worries and stress.
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