Expanding Your Child's Comfort Zone 3 Tips to Encourage Growth
Are you a lover of all things Fall? This crisp October air reminds me of pumpkins, apple cider donuts and panic attacks over Trick or Treating!
Nothing more spooky than that!😱 My daughter was always a little skeptical of Halloween. On any other day, she loved dressing up, hanging with friends, and eating candy. But wrap all those events into one day and call it “Halloween?” Well, that was just not her bag o’ tricks, if you know what I mean!
And, even though I was aware of this, I still pushed her to participate. I mean, who wants their kid to miss out on such a fun experience that only happens once a year?!?!
So, she half-heartedly dressed up, posed for pictures with her friends and walked around the neighborhood with her goody bag. She did it…reluctantly & cautiously…but she did it. I should have considered that a win, right? Yeah,I should have, buuuuut…
Since it seemed like things were going well, I thought I could push the envelope a littlemore and have my daughter ring some doorbells to trick or treat. Here’s where things went downhill fast.
My daughter stopped dead in her tracks. She made it very clear she was not interested in ringing doorbells and talking to strangers. (And, as a side note, why do we as a society even encourage this?!?! 🤔)
Nevertheless, there I was saying all the encouraging things like... “You don’t want to miss out on all the fun, do you??” “Look at all your friends ringing the doorbells. If they can do it, you can also!” And, one of my favorites, “What are you so afraid of??” As I’m sure you can guess, here’s where the panic mode set in. I pushed her too far.
My daughter, who was working so hard to manage participating in the day’s events, was now pushed way too far out of her comfort zone and was tooootally feeling unsupported! In fact, I probably set her up for feeling unsafe and unsuccessful with all my ‘encouraging’ comments. As parents, we want our kids to be happy, we want them to feel challenged, we want them to have experiences, we want them to learn and we want them to have fun. But sometimes, finding that balance between happiness and trying new things can strike a discord. That risk-taking-growth zone can quickly push them right into the panic zone! Has this ever happened to you and your child? Maybe at the playground? Perhaps joining in at a birthday party? Maybe even trying to learn a new skill, like riding a bike or swimming? Let’s dig into my 3 tips to learn more about what’s happening in a child’s brain when they’re under pressure and how we can shift our adult mindset to truly encourage and support our kids as they stretch out of their comfort zones.
#1 Where does growth happen?
If we look at the Learning Zone Model above, inspired by Lev Vygotsky, you will notice 3 zones - Comfort Zone, Stretch Zone and Panic Zone.
Learning and growing happens when we venture outside of our Comfort Zone and into the Stretch Zone.
How do we get our kids to venture into this zone? We do it by helping them feel safe and secure. Children need to sense that we’ve got them and that they have the tools to succeed.
We can help our kids feel safe & secure by encouraging open communication and validating your child’s feelings. You can build trust by showing up and staying consistent with your rules and expectations. Help your child feel supported and confident by teaching skillsthey’ll need to take that risk.
When a child is not feeling secure enough (under pressure) or has moved beyond their capacity, they may slip into the panic zone where they are met with feelings of overwhelm and stress. This zone can make quite an impression on our kids and cause them to backtrack in their progress. My daughter was in her Stretch Zone for most of that Halloween afternoon walking around the neighborhood. She was participating, involved with a new adventure. Once the expectation moved beyond her capacity, the panic set in!You can see how this can feel like a delicate balance!
#2 How is your child's brain processing information?
I’m no neurologist (nor do I play one on tv), but I do love this brain development model and how it reflects the brain-body connection. Excuse me while I geek out for a moment and explain…I think you’re going to love it. Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model shows how the brain develops from the bottom to the top. As you can see in the image, the brainstem at the bottom is fairly developed at birth, and the rest of the brain continues to develop as the child grows — with thecortex continuing to develop through young adulthood! Information & sensations get processed as they travel from the brainstem and up the brain-train shown here.
With this in mind (no pun intended), it would only make sense that with an underdeveloped brain — especially an underdeveloped cortex (aka ‘the logical brain’, ‘the rational brain’, ‘the part of the brain that handles critical thinking’!) information may not always get interpreted accurately.
Pushing outside the comfort zone is already a stressor to the system. You can help your child feel ready for the challenge by making sure they are fed & rested, monitoring the level of ‘push’ they are about to take on, and helping them keep that emotional brain regulated so they don't get ‘stuck’.
In fact, information may just ‘get stuck’ and processed through the limbic (emotional system) much of the time in childhood. Which would explain all the times our kids get monstrously upset over the way you cut their sandwich or by encouraging them to trick-or-treat for free candy! 😂.
#3 Change your questions → Change your thinking → Change your results!
Looking back on that Halloween, I now know my encouraging, "What are you afraid of?" comment was basically me expressing MY OWN fear. Fear of my daughter missing out, fear of her not fitting in, fear of her never trying. I know I'm not alone here. We tend to think this way because we worry about our child's future. In actuality, my ‘encouragement’ was teaching my daughter to disregard her intuition. It was teaching her that peer pressure is ok. It was sending a message of disappointment.Certainly not what I had intended. It's important to notice what you're asking yourself. Are your questions and thoughts based on assumptions and fears, or are you able to get curious and think about how you can support your child? What messages are you sending your child? What questions are you asking yourself? When you change your questions, you change your thinking. When you change your thinking, you change your results. Here are some reframes to change your questions & thoughts:
What assumptions am I making?
She will do this when she's ready.
What would happen if I let my child trust her intuition?
How can I support my child so she's ready for this challenge?
Halloween is supposed to be FUN! And, FUN can look different for every family! If your child struggles with Halloween, you are not alone! Trust your gut & find what works best for you and your family - even if that means your day looks a little different from what other people are doing. It’s ok to create new traditions and activities that feel right for you!
Here's to more treats and less tricks for you & your child this Halloween!
September can feel like a wrecking ball! We quickly switch gears from 'summer-easy-breezy-anything-goes' mode to 'back-to-school-homework-sports-schedules-and-all-the-things' mode.
How are you feeling with shifting gears and having your kids back to school now? I know I’ve had a combination of all the feels!
I’m feeling sad that time is moving so quickly, and excited about my kids’ journey. I’m feeling lonely without my sidekicks around, and happy to have time alone and get more focused with work and projects.
All the feels are ok! Even for our kids!
I remember when my now Senior used to have the hardest time at the start of each school year. We did all the things to prepare her, but the fear of the unknown and fear of separation were just too overbearing for her.
There were tears and school professionals who’d intervene to get her into the building, and within a small amount of time, I’d receive the call from the principal that things were going smoothly. My daughter had acclimated and was being her sweet, pleasant, happy self for her teacher and classmates.
At 3 o’clock, I would be waiting at the door for my bubbly girl. She would come out with her big ol’ backpack and a bright smile. We’d hug and start walking home when…the tears would start to flow, the complaints of the day would start pouring out of her mouth, she'd become suuuuper argumentative, and there was nothing I could say or do to make things right.
Total dysregulation.(low frustration tolerance, meltdowns, bouncing off the walls, overly physical play, very emotional)
Has this ever happened to your child? They have a great day at school, and as soon as they see you, they completely fall apart?
You are in good company, my friend. ‘Restraint collapse’ happens to so many of our kids - there just aren’t enough parents talking about it!
When kids use a good amount of their resources and energy to ‘hold it together’ and tolerate all the expectations of school, they are bottling up a lot of pressure! So, when they finally get to their safe space, AKA - YOU! The bottle cap pops and releases all that pent up energy!
It’s totally normal, and there are some things you can do to support your child…and yourself…when this happens.
With awareness and practice, you will be able to teach your child how to manage all these big feelings and pressures throughout the day!
Here are 3 tips to help you & your kiddo work through after-school restraint collapse.
1. What is your mindset around Restraint Collapse? This is dysregulation…not a tantrum.The body is in a state of overwhelm. Your child is not trying to give you a hard time, your child is having a hard time. In your mind, try to separate your child from the problem so you can work as a team towards solutions. This is just a moment in time that will not last forever. And, by supporting your child through these tough moments, you will be strengthening your connection and building trust.
2. How can you hold space for your child’s feelings? We all need a safe space to vent when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow your child to vent away while you respond with empathetic phrases and hear and affirm their feelings. That might sound like, “Ugh, that sounds tricky.” or, “It’s ok to be upset, we’ll work this out.”
3. What are some ways you can support your child to help them get regulated again?
Think about activities that may feel calming for your child without overwhelming them.
Tend to their primary needs and fight off the hangry - Consider having a cold drink and snack waiting for them at pick up.
Movement is great for grounding the body - Can you stop at the playground? Can you walk or ride a bike home together?
Keep the questions to a minimum. That little mind is racing! Let them know you’re happy to see them and leave the questions for later in the day.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that your child's dysregulation may feel hard for you to manage and navigate. This is totally normal! Many parents can feel triggered and set off by their child’s big emotions.
Keep in mind, your child is going to need your calmto help them regulate their emotions and feel better…which is why it’s so important for you to have enough calm to share!
Engage in some small moments of self care prior to picking up your children from school each day. This could be as simple as listening to music while driving home or taking a quick walk around the block before getting back in the car with kids in tow.
Take a deep breath, remember this is just a moment, and you’ve got this! Here’s to a successful school year full of growth and connection!
The Ultimate Road Trip: Accelerating towards Family Fun!
Buckle up, parents, because we’re about to embark on the wildest adventure of all — the family road trip! Going on a family road trip can be both exciting and daunting. It's a chance to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones, but it also requires a lot of planning and preparation. I’m here to share some tips, activities, and fun ideas to make your family road trip an unforgettable experience. Whether you're traveling across the country or just taking a short weekend getaway, I’ve got you covered. So, pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure.
Check your Blind Spots! Are you hemming and hawing over the long drive ahead, or are you embracing it as part of the adventure? Let's dig a little deeper with these coaching questions & get you in the right mindset for your adventure.
What's the vibe you're sending? How are you portraying the drive to your family? Is it a chore? A means to an end? Or rather, is it an adventure? Is this where your holiday begins? Kids are so intuitive and pick up on whatever you're putting down. So, why not set the tone for positivity? Let them know how you're looking forward to this stretch of the trip. Which leads me to…
Can you view the challenge as an opportunity? I get it. It's a long time in the car with little people who will have many needs, be bored, need to stop for bathroom breaks & holler ‘are we there yet’ an endless amount of times. …AND… it's also a time that you will have a captive audience and a chance to connect. How can you use this as an opportunity to:
Bond as a family (playing games, listening to music or stories)
Explore new places along the way
Create family memories & traditions
Be a role model -- your kids are ALWAYS watching…if you do it, there's a good chance they will also.
How do you respond to traffic?
Do you avoid distracted driving?
What's in (& out of) your control? If I'm being real here, this is the hardest part of a road trip for me. There are so many things OUT of our control -- traffic & how everyone else will act while in the car for starters!
I find it helpful to know what I can control -- like having good snacks, an even better playlist, being comfortable…AND …controlling my perception & how I respond to problems and things out of my control! There's a good chance those tough moments will turn into fun family ”Do you remember the time…” stories you will all laugh and bond over someday.
Roadblock Safety Concerns! 🛑 It’s always a good idea to be proactive and prepared for any potential issues. Tune Up your Car — Give your car a once over before hitting the road! Check your tires, brakes, windshield wipers & fluids. Pack a tire gauge, tire lock key, fix a flat, and portable battery pack. Don’t forget your important documents like registration/insurance.
Pack a Hygiene Kit - First Aid Kit, wipes, ziploc bags (for soiled clothes or messes that need containing!), hand sanitizer, small shopping bags (for garbage and/or car sickness), travel mouthwash, tide stick, anti-nausea meds and eye moisturizing drops (for contact lens wearers like me!)
Check the weather…for your entire route! The weather may be very different on the way to your destination. Be prepared for any rain/storms anticipated along the way. This could give you time to plan an alternate route or take a food break while the storm passes.
Rest stop hack - When nature calls, consider stopping at a hotel to use their public facilities. The bathrooms are always cleaner than a highway rest stop and rarely busy (and a little safer!). Bonus → There are usually shops nearby for coffee and snacks!
Know your route - Plan ahead to know when & where to take rest stops. You can use apps like roadtrippers or playgroundbuddy to find an area that has some sightseeing or space for a good stretch of the legs.
Cruisin’ for a Wheely Good Time!
Pack a Bag - Have your kids fill a backpack with their own (non-messy!) must haves. Items like crayons, paper, writing tablet, activity/sticker books, wikkistix, a favorite book, and a lovie that can double as a pillow.
What are you listening to? Put together a killer playlist, find a great family audiobook or podcast, we’ve even listened to clean comedians (like Jim Gaffigan) during our drives. It keeps everyone engaged, singing & laughing.
ABC’s of Your Trip - Label a paper A - Z. As you ride along, try to notice something to represent each letter. (ambulance, boat, car wash, etc) You can play this individually, competitively or as a family. For another way to play - on your drive home, create a list from A to Z of vacation memories! Have your kids make pictures to match the memory and make a photo book of it!
More Activities - There are so many classic games to play in the car. You can download my Road Trip Bingo here. I also love so many of the Melissa & Doug games. They have so many great car activities like the license plate game, hangman and scratch art. You can have your kids track your travels on GoogleMaps. And lastly, check with your local library for apps like Hoopla for streaming e-books, audio and videos.
And, that wraps it up, fearless road warriors! I hope these tips and tricks have filled your toolkit with all the essentials for an epic family road trip adventure! Buckle up, stay alert and let the laughter fuel your journey.
So, it turns out I’m kind of a cutting edge groundbreaker! 🤣
I recently saw a reel on Instagram that talked about ‘glimmers,’ and it struck me that I TOTALLY take notice of glimmers — I just never knew they had a name!! Are you curious about glimmers? I was, too!
Dana explained that glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Rather than a cue that prepares your body to take action in order to stay safe (think, fight or flight), a glimmer cues your body for calm and safety (think, rest & digest). Glimmers activate the parasympathetic nervous system and move the body into a feeling of safety and connection.
Why is this important to me??
So many clients come to me struggling with balance - kids, work, daily routines, etc. They feel like they are putting out fires all day long and not experiencing the joy in parenting. And, because of that, their tolerance level is paper thin.
How do we increase tolerance? By lowering our stress levels. How do we lower our stress levels? Well, one way is to allow more joy into our lives…More micro-moments of self care.
This idea around Glimmers is a reminder that there is so much joy out there that goes unnoticed - we just have to look for it!
Your brain is wired to find the challenges and dangers in life. It’s time to retrain your brain to find the good and the joy in your days!
Here’s how I take notice of glimmers -
When I notice myself feeling fully connected with what I'm doing, who I’m with or where I am, I take a mental screenshot. I check in with my heart and my senses to pay close attention to all the sensations I’m experiencing at that very moment — the way the sun feels, the sounds of laughter, the feeling of connectedness with my family, the colors of the sky…whatever it may be, I just pause and allow myself to recognize, process and take it allllll in!
I use this little hack as one of my self-care practices. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t cost a dime and brings me peace and joy.
In the moment, glimmers allow me to slow down and savor an experience. They remind me to delight in the present, count my blessings and remember that all things are passing.
Glimmers also allow me to revisit all those special spaces. When I need a little pick-me-up, I can pause and ‘open’ one of my glimmers. In an instant, I’m reconnected with all those feelings once again!
I’m guessing you could easily rattle off a list of things that trigger you. That would make sense since the human brain is designed to watch for warning signals to keep us safe. Because of this, it takes a bit of work to spy glimmers in our everyday lives. We have to be more intentional to spot them.
Ready to start finding glimmers in your day? Here are 5 tips to get you started!
1- Put down your phone! — Stop occupying every free moment with a scroll. Just slow down and take the time to check in on yourself and your surroundings.
2- Practice mindfulness — When you’re noticing a moment full of joy and connection, pause and soak it all in! Get in touch with your senses to bottle up all those sensations.
3- Break out your photos — Looking through photos could bring you back to special moments and spark some glimmer into your day. I can still feel the warm water and the soft sand as my son and I searched for sea glass during our sunrise walk in the photo above! 4- Essential Oils & Candles — Find a candle or essential oil that smells like the beach or a favorite past vacation. Scents can trigger memories and quickly bring you to your happy place.
5- Challenge Yourself — Try and fill your day finding glimmers rather than triggers. Can you find small glimmers as you go through your day? How can you challenge yourself to take notice of a glimmer in the smallest moments? Maybe a cup of coffee, a friendly stranger, a cozy blanket, or snuggles with your child or pet?
What you focus on grows! If you actively look for glimmers throughout your day, you will certainly be more open to spotting them. Include them into your self-care routine and help bring yourself to a calmer state. What a gift for your parasympathetic nervous system and YOU!
I wonder where will you find glimmers in your day? Happy glimmer hunting!
Can you recall a time you were having a problem with your child?
Perhaps a situation when you were both focused on an agenda — two completely different agendas, that is! (Yours being the more rational agenda, of course — I see you, parents!)
Maybe your particular struggle is sibling rivalry, breaking away from screens or just getting out of the house on time…maybe it’s ALL of these things!
Whatever struggle you're facing with your child, you do your best to handle it. But does it feel like you are just stuck in an endless loop of frustration and yelling with your child? If this sounds familiar, I’d like to tell you that this is totally normal and happens to ALL of us!
Nobody is perfect. Parenting is hard. Kids push all the right buttons at all the wrong times. And yet, there is hope!
If your child’s meltdowns are melting you down, I have a few thoughts and ideas for you.
Separate the problem from your child Your child is not the problem, your child is having a problem. Brain development and sensory integration play a big role in your child’s meltdowns — keep in mind, tantrums are a totally normal part of development! Children don't have the life experience or tools to recognize, anticipate, manage and/or regulate big emotions that can lead to meltdowns. When you separate the problem from your child, it’s easier to see yourselves as teammates ready to work towards solutions together.
Reframe your thoughts Quick tip → The next time you're feeling frustrated with your child, try reframing your thoughts to a more positive mindset.
Why is this important? When you shift your thoughts to a more positive outlook, you work within a growth mindset. Your brain becomes open to creative ideas and solutions rather than getting stuck in feelings of helplessness.
A positive mindset increases empathy and understanding towards others which can help strengthen your relationships. This practice will help you connect with your child.
And, perhaps most importantly, your words matter! They will become your child’s inner voice. Maintaining a positive outlook will encourage you to model words of hope and possibility for your child.
How do I start? Try these three steps: 1) Slow Down! Notice when your mind starts to percolate and engages in negative thoughts. 2) Pause! Is this an emergency or can you pause for a quick calming moment of self care and clarity? 3) Tap into Compassionate Self Talk! Be patient with yourself, you are breaking a cycle here! Can you think of something you would say to your best friend at this moment? What calming words would you want to hear from a friend?
You’ve got this! Reframing your thoughts is not something that happens overnight, it's something that requires practice and dedication. Reframing your thoughts is key to finding some clarity over tough moments. The goal isn’t perfection, it’s learning how to navigate tough situations as best you can. You don’t have control over your children, but you can control the way you see your children, your thoughts around your situation and the way you respond. What will you choose?
Those 5 Dreaded Words: "You're Going To Miss This!"
“You’re going to miss this!” is probably not the encouragement you were hoping for while trying to survive a difficult parenting moment with a shred of dignity and grace.
Those five dreaded words, ‘You’re going to miss this’.
While this phrase may be accurate, these five words can leave a parent feeling guilty for not enjoying every single moment of parenting. (Newsflash, we were not created to enjoy every single moment of parenting!)
Parenthood is made up of many different phases — I like to call them seasons. While every season will stretch your limits and expand your heart, they will also challenge you in unique ways. There will be seasons that will pass by quickly, while others will have you questioning if you’ll be stuck there forever!
You cannot control how quickly you will move through a season, but you can control how you perceive each season. Rather than looking back with rose-colored glasses, you could choose to see the good while living in the moment.
You might be asking yourself HOW? How do I uncover the good while amid such a tiring and stressful season of parenting?
It’s not about sugar-coating or turning a blind eye to the hard moments. But what if you could soften the edges a bit to keep your eyes fixed on what is truly important? All those moments you’ll want to remember and celebrate - the bonding, the smiles, the accomplishments and growth - your child’s and your own!
It is possible for two things to be true: Parenting is hard AND parenting has many joyful moments.
How can you weather through the hard seasons that are constantly changing while being able to enjoy the small moments? As you go through your days, rather than thinking of those five dreaded words, maybe you could consider these five helpful tips!
1. Find the truths. It may feel easier to spot what is hard right now, but where are the other truths? What is also happening?
“This is a tough season AND there are moments of joy here.”
“Understanding a new developmental stage is tough AND I’m a good parent.”
2. Find the opportunity rather than the responsibility. Reframing your ‘chores’ into an opportunity can help shift your mindset.
“I don’t have to have to ____, I get to ____.”
3. Reframe & shift your perspective. Remind yourself this is a season and it will pass.
“We aren’t in a routine YET”
“For now, drop-off at school is hard, and we’re working on it.”
“This is not an emergency. I can let this go for now.
4. Reflect and find the good in your situation. Ask yourself:
What worked well today?
How did I parent well today?
What made my child smile or laugh today?
What strengths are working for me right now?
5. Allow yourself some grace. Things will never be *perfect* Let go of perfection and live in the abundance of *enough*
Stick to your priorities and let the rest go - cut yourself some slack.
What do YOU need to make your day go smoothly?
What resources can you rely on?
These five tips will help you shift your mindset and find the good in the tough moments. Being more aware of those sweet moments will help you fill your ‘gratitude bank’ and help ease the stressors of difficult seasons.
And, while we’re on the topic of shifting mindsets and finding the good on our parenting journeys, I have five other words to offer you. Rather than, “You’re going to miss this,” let’s start saying, “You’re doing a great job!” and “You will get through this!” Because BOTH things are true!
Just Buy The Sliced Fruit 3 Tips to Reduce Your Triggers
It pains me to admit, but I can be a wasteful person…with the best intentions, of course! Each week at the grocery store, like many parents, I buy a bunch of fruit. Not just the simple ‘wash/peel & go’ varieties like apples and bananas, I buy the more high maintenance varieties like whole cantaloupe and pineapple.
I love having these beauties on hand because I want to have healthy snacks for the family, and I feel like I’m getting the best bang for my buck by avoiding the upcharge for pre-sliced fruits.
So, I buy those oversized pieces of fruit, lug them home and set them on the counter with the intention to cut them up sometime soon. And, as you can guess, ‘sometime soon’ is often not soon enough!
I’ll walk past that cantaloupe and think, “Oh! I have to remember to cut that up today!” The next day, I’ll walk past it and think, “Ugh. I reeeeally need to cut that up! Don’t forget!” — Spoiler alert, I’ll forget! Soon that sorry looking piece of fruit will be past its prime and no longer edible. Next thing you know, I’m secretly burying that melon in the trash to avoid having to explain my wasteful behavior to my family.
As I’m hiding the cantaloupe in the trash, I’m overcome with guilt and disappointment. My inner judge goes into hyperdrive: “Why are you so wasteful? You are so lazy! All you had to do was cut the fruit! You couldn’t even find time for that? Just like all the other things you ‘never’ find time for. Way to go…” And, boom! Just like that, I’m in a crummy mood and a step away from snapping at the next person who crosses my path the wrong way.
Then it occurs to me, am I really allowing a piece of fruit to determine my self-worth and mood for the day?!?! Am I going to allow this to get the best of me, leaving my family with the worst of me?
Let’s be honest, the moral of this story is not about cutting fruit. It’s really about cutting yourself some slack! It’s a reminder that it’s ok to reprioritize and let things go in order to make space for what truly matters in your life — your well being and family connections.
Parenting is hard, even on the best days. And on those tough ‘seriously, why me?!?’ days, parenting can feel even harder! When we are overloaded with stress, we just don’t have the capacity to deal with one more negotiation, one more request, one more tantrum. Rather than showing up as the calm, rational parent, on those days there’s a greater likelihood to overreact and blow up.
In the book, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids, Dr. Carla Naumburg encourages parents to take care of themselves so they can show up for their kids with less drama, and more patience and calmness. She believes when parents notice themselves losing it with their kids, it’s usually a red flag that something is going on within themselves. Things like negative self-talk, overscheduling, trying to do it all, lack of self care, not enough sleep, anxiety, chronic pain, disorganization, unresolved trauma, financial worries, life changes…get the idea?
The good news? We can work towards a solution! Naumburg offers three suggestions to help parents get through their day feeling less triggered and more calm.
Step 1: Realization Realize what your triggers are, and identify the moments you are feeling triggered. When you catch yourself, take notice if you are tired, hungry, struggling with pain, going through a life change, dealing with clutter, or have too much on your plate. How do you react when you’re feeling triggered? Do you yell? Slam doors? Become passive-aggressive? Tear yourself down with negative self talk?
Step 2: Acceptance When you realize you are in a state of feeling triggered, allow yourself some self-compassion. Don’t let that inner judge shoot you down even more! Accept that you are triggered. Pause. Take a deep breath and get ready to work out a plan.
Step 3: Action Now that you are aware of what is going on, what can you do about it? Is there something you can change at that moment? Are you expecting too much right now? Perhaps there is something you can let go of? Like I said earlier, where can you cut yourself some slack? Could you consider:
Taking a break
Get to bed early
Putting your phone away
Letting go of perfection and order
Being more compassionate with yourself
Allowing yourself to be more flexible
Learning to say ‘no’ to unnecessary activities that don’t fulfill you
Letting go of the ‘shoulds’
Asking for help and relying on outside resources
Caring for your own needs is necessary in order to take care of others. Self-compassion can help preserve your patience and allow you to be more present for yourself, your loved ones and your priorities.
Moving forward, I plan on being kinder to myself. No more allowing fruit to bring me down, cluttering up my mind with criticism and stealing my patience. No more wasted energy and stress from ruminating on negative self talk. Next time at the grocery store, I plan to cut myself some slack and head straight for the refrigerator section for the sliced fruit!
Where will you cut yourself some slack? How will you give yourself a break today?
Less is More! 5 Tips to Declutter your Words and Reduce Power Struggles!
“My kids just don’t listen!” is something I commonly hear from my coaching clients. Truth be told, I often feel this way myself!
Does this sound familiar? You find yourself talking to your kids in a lecturey kind of way. You get caught up in delivering continuous directions, reminders, rationales and lectures. Nag, nag, nag, nag.
And often, your kids may come back at you with the eye roll or ignore you with that glazed-over look. Sometimes they may reward you with a redundant, hollow 'uh-huh’ as a response. While other times, sass-talk is their preferred comeback.
No matter your child’s age, if your request doesn’t line up with their agenda, kids may just block out the noise. This delicate dance of parental requests and children failing to follow through can lead to a power struggle of epic proportions, leaving both parties feeling disappointed.
This frustration may have us thinking, “My kids just don’t listen” or “My kids are so difficult!” But is that really true? Children may feel difficult at times, but are they really difficult or are we just missing something? What if we made a shift to look at the situation from a different angle? A perspective that encourages us to approach our children with curiosity, empathy and compassion. A perspective that allows us to get to the root of the issue and remove the power struggle.
How would it feel to change the narrative using a positive framework that offers an opportunity for change and growth? For example, rather than thinking, “My kids just don’t listen,” try, “My kids and I are having a hard time communicating well.” This framework identifies communication as the problem, rather than the children.
A constant stream of telling our kids what to do is not ideal for creating independent thinkers, problem solvers and doers. Keeping communication short and sweet may be more helpful. Think of it like the Minimalist movement - Less is More!
The Minimalist movement is more than decluttering your space á la Marie Kondo. The idea of Minimalism isnot to declutter often, but to restructure your mindset to understand that less is more all the time. It’s about shifting your habits and beliefs around how you approach materials like your furnishings, your clothing, your foods, etc.
How would it feel to approach words in a similar way? Creating a shift in your mindset to declutter your language and let the important words take center stage. Communicating in a way that aligns with your values and supports the kind of people you would like your children to become?
Here are 5 strategies that use Less Words to get More Cooperation!
1 - Walk the Talk!! Your children may not hear everything you say, but they certainly see everything you do! And they are pickin’ up whatever it is you are puttin’ down. Think of it this way - a gardener tends very carefully to a newly planted seedling. For quite some time, it may seem as if nothing is happening until one day a shoot finally pops up! There was very important work happening below the soil that the gardener could not see! Be patient with your kids, model what you value and hope to take shape. Your kids are noticing and forming their roots, too!
2 - Connection is Key A child at play is a child with an agenda! It's tough for children (AND adults!) to stop an activity they are enjoying. Expecting your child to switch gears quickly can be tricky. A sudden pump on the brakes may certainly get some pushback! Take a moment to connect with your child before giving a direction or making a request. Click here for 10 Tips for Connecting with your child.
3 - Ask Questions & Get Curious Open-ended questions can help promote autonomy and strengthen problem-solving skills. By asking questions, the child is invited to become a part of the process. Some questions may look like this:
What will you need to do so you’re ready for practice? How much time should that take? What should you do next? How can I support you? What is your plan?
4 - Foster Independence You can reduce your language and promote independence with the following strategies:
Use a timer - You can use an oven timer, an egg timer, the timer on your phone or even a sand timer for visual learners! I love using timers because it lessens the power struggle by taking the parent out of the equation. Here are a few ways to incorporate a timer into your routine:
Set the timer for a chunk of time to complete an activity (For example, ‘2 minute tidy up’ or 20 minutes to focus on math homework, etc.)
Use the timer as a warning that a transition is about to happen. (I’m setting the timer for 2 minutes and then it will be time for lunch)
*PRO-TIP* Give your kids some control of the timer! Consider allowing your kids to help choose how much time they need, choose the sound/music for the alarm, or be the one who starts/turns off the timer.
Use measurable actions - If you don’t have access to a timer, consider using something physical or visual to measure time. For example:
“Three more pushes on the swing and then it’s time to go.”
“When this show is over, we’ll get ready for the tub”
*PRO-TIP* Allow your child some agency. Let them choose how many pushes on the swing before leaving the park; Let them click the remote control to turn off the tv.
Use a schedule - Create a list or picture schedule for simple routines. Children can quickly learn routines and build their independence as they follow along with a schedule. The best part is parents can use very limited language! Simple statements like, “What’s next?” or “Now what will you do?” may be all the prompting you need!
Make schedules for wake-up routine, bedtime routine, or getting off to school. For older kids - after school/homework routine, getting chores completed, etc.
Creating schedules can be as easy as writing a list, creating drawings by hand, using cutouts from a magazine, or utilizing free websites like Canva to print out images.
*PRO-TIP* Laminate your pictures and use velcro to stick them to a surface. Your kids can remove each step as they move through the schedule.
5 - Allow Your Child Some Space Not everything is an emergency or a ‘must do right now.’ Reduce the power struggle by allowing your child some control when appropriate.
Consider giving your child a ‘needs to be completed by’ time to take the pressure off getting something done immediately.
Ask your child when they would like to complete an activity. (“Would you like to brush your teeth before or after you get dressed?” or “It’s your turn to walk the dog. When will you fit that into your afternoon?”)
If using a schedule, consider allowing your child to create the order of the routine. (You need to brush your teeth, put on pj’s and use the toilet before bedtime. What would you like to do first, second and third?)
Take the frustration out of communication. Less is more! Our kids do listen, we just have to speak less so they can hear.
Caught in a ParentingTidal Wave? 3 Tips to Help You Find Your Footing Again!
‘Life’ has been happening in my house, in a very ‘extra’ kind of way. My regular hustle-bustle has been met with challenges outside of my control, and keeping up with it all has been quite the task. I’ve found myself saying things like, “Ok, as soon as I get through (fill in the blank), things will slow down.” I’ve found myself feeling depleted, short-tempered, scattered, and just not feeling my best. You know when you’re burning the candle at both ends? Well, it’s like my candle has been completely engulfed in flames.
I know I’m in good company here. Many of my clients come to me with similar struggles. I often hear comments like, “I feel like I’m just putting out fires in my house!” or “We’re drowning over here.” So many of us are good, busy parents trying to balance everything, feeling spread too thin and then falling short where it really counts.
Many parents I know work so hard just to stay afloat of the nonstop demands, and the constant push and pull of their attention holds them back from feeling successful. These ‘tidal wave’ parenting moments make it hard for parents to find their footing, and nearly impossible to keep up with all the demands.
We operate as best we can in ‘survival mode’ to keep up when we’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed. We may find ourselves making decisions that do not align with our values. We may tend to go against our better judgment. We may feel short tempered, impatient and reactive rather than responsive with our children. Have you ever found yourself caught up in this tidal wave?
I had been treading water for quite some time before realizing I was truly over my head and getting tossed around my own tidal wave. Ideally, I’d like to have this awareness BEFORE getting completely caught up, but we’re all a work in progress, right?
Don’t let that tidal wave bring you down! Here are some tips to help you feel more grounded so you can find your footing!
Check-in with yourself
When you have the awareness that something is off, pause. Quiet the noise. Check-in with yourself. You are a good parent going through a tough time!
Get curious. Are you getting it all done? Are you getting it all done well? Is the pressure triggering you? Who or what may be suffering from your attention being pulled in so many directions?
How can you reframe these challenges and see them as opportunities for growth or change?
Reassess & Reprioritize
This is the great time to check in with your values. How well are you aligned with your values at the moment? Get a copy of my Values Wheel here to help you see where your alignment could use some adjusting.
Take some time to make a list of your priorities, keeping the highest priorities at the top of your list. Those last few items at the bottom of your list, go ahead and scratch them off! It’s ok! Toss the guilt and scratch them for now. They’ll still be there later when you have more bandwidth, or maybe you’ll find out they weren’t that important after all!
Know your resources. Is there a service that can lighten your load? Can you call on a professional for help or advice? (a teacher, doctor, house cleaner, delivery service?)
Reframe the thought “I have to…” into “I get to…” This simple shift in thinking may help you see your ‘must-dos’ in a new light.
Slow down. Allow yourself to tap into all your senses to notice the beauty around you, and indulge in some small moments of self-care.
Take control and be more intentional with your calendar. Buy yourself some extra time by chunking similar activities together and scheduling small moments of self care throughout the day.
Consider asking for help. (I am the BIGGEST culprit here! I find it so difficult to ask for help, but I am working on it! And, you should too.) Your friends and family truly want to help, you just need to communicate that! It might sound like this, “I could use some help and I’m not always comfortable asking.” It really can be that simple.
When I finally followed my own advice, I found that pushing pause on my newsletters and blogs would give back some time and relieve some of the ‘must do’ pressure I was feeling. By reassessing my values and reprioritizing my responsibilities, I gave myself permission to shelf some tasks and direct my focus where it was truly needed — on my relationships with family, friends and clients.
Reprioritizing can be scary at first. It may feel like you’re neglecting something, when in fact, you will actually be focusing your attention exactly where it’s most needed. Reprioritizing allows you to use your energy in the most productive way while still keeping your values intact. Toss the guilt, get clear on your values and priorities, and find your footing!
Are you looking for one small change to help you live a more positive lifestyle? A change that would not only help you, but a change that could benefit your whole family? If your answer is ‘Yes, please!!,’ let’s talk about reframing negative self-talk.
Many of us are familiar with an inner voice that likes to judge and hold us back. This judge feeds us negative thoughts and tries to keep us from reaching our potential. Do you know the judge I’m speaking of? Do you hear that voice right now?
Here’s the big problem with negative self-talk. Aside from it holding you from your potential, negative self-talk models an inner voice for your children. It projects a negative vibe in your home and models what self-talk ‘should’ sound like to your children.
If you want your children to be kinder to themselves, a great place to start is to be kinder to yourself.
Let’s debunk what you may already think about reframing! Reframing is NOT sugar coating. It is not falsely telling yourself everything is fine. Reframing IS about finding the good in your situation to help you see a more positive mindset moving forward.
To me, the best part of reframing is knowing it is something I have control over. I can acknowledge the ‘fake news’ my inner judge is feeding me and choose to find a better perspective. I have full control over how I want to perceive any situation and how I want to present myself to my children and others.
Are you ready to start reframing your self-talk to reflect more positive and energizing thoughts?
Five Tips to get you started - 1. Acknowledge your thoughts When you notice yourself going down a negative path, press pause and take a breath. Realize that your inner judge is trying to sabotage your thoughts — remind yourself you have a choice here! With this awareness, what will you choose to do with your thoughts?
2. Switch “I have to...” to “I get to…” This simple swap out changes an obligation into an opportunity. When you think to yourself “I have to,” your mind automatically thinks, ‘chores!’ and the adrenaline rush begins. By simply stating, “I get to,” you can shift your mindset to see the opportunities within your task.
3. Watch your language! Avoid words like ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘should.’ Using absolute terms like these make phrases seem hopeless. They’re also inaccurate - there is almost ‘always’ an exception.
4. Be more open-minded. Before you decide how the outcome will turn out, why not smell the roses along the way. Try not to jump to conclusions. When we catastrophize our situations, we are fixed on only one outcome, when in reality, there are several ways a situation can go. A fixed mindset limits your possibilities. A growth mindset is open to an array of choices. What we focus on grows! Try to focus on the good and see the possibilities that may come!
5. Show some Compassion. Are you even aware of the words you use to speak to yourself? I‘m guessing you’d see things in a more forgiving light if you were speaking about a friend's situation. What words would you use to speak to your friend? Consider speaking to yourself in the same manner. The goal is healthy self-talk. Healthy self-talk will inspire your child’s healthy self-talk.
Let’s try it! Get a piece of paper, make two columns (or download my journal entry sheet here), and let’s start reframing! What are some negative thoughts you might tell yourself? Now, how would you reframe those thoughts for a friend? Love yourself & treat yo’self right with positive self-talk!
Reframing isn’t always easy, but it’s surely worth it! As it is with many things in life, reframing your self-talk takes practice. With repetition, your brain will begin to generate new neural pathways allowing positive self-talk and thought processes to feel more automatic.
Where will you choose to focus your attention? Will you choose to dwell on the negatives, or reframe and look towards the positives?