Children

My Kids Don’t Clean Up!

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Are You Raising Slobs?

I love when my house is clean and tidy.  It keeps me from feeling stressed and allows me to sit down without thinking about what I should be doing instead.

But, my family is not so concerned about how the house looks.  

It’s a constant warfare trying to get my kids to clean up their messes or pick up trash instead of step over it.  

So, for 2019, I’ve made it their personal goals to learn not to be a slob.  

Yep, this year will be the year they will learn to be more responsible and helpful.  

But guess what, they will not learn it overnight.  And, it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part.  Gasp…

However, it’s very important to me that when they are adults, their spouses do not question their slobbish tendencies.  Because guess what? That directly reflects on their parents. Yep! Guess whose responsibility it is to teach your kids how to keep things tidy and clean?  Yours!

The earlier you start the better!

But you also have to stay on top of it.  You cannot be lazy about this or they will be lazy.  Most kids are not naturally organized and tidy, unless you’ve  been working with them since they were able to clean up their first mess.  

So in the art of training, I have some tips for you.  

There is no right way to do this.  Pick what works for you and your family.  

There is a wrong way...not doing anything and just doing it all yourself.  

Here are a few things I’m going to start doing right now:

#1 They are responsible for clearing the table after supper.

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#2 The kids will alternate  washing dishes after supper while I supervise (for a little while) to ensure they are learning the correct way to do dishes.  

#3 I’m putting up signs throughout the house to remind them to :

  1. Empty the trash before it’s overflowing!

  2. Wash their dishes when they bring them to the sink!

  3. Wipe the toilet seat if they sprinkle it!

#4 I used to do this one and somehow stopped: instill a 10 minute tidy up daily before bedtime.  

#5 I also used to do this and quit (insert eyeroll): what gets left out, goes in a trash bag.  They can a) earn it back in 24 hours or b) it gets donated.

Here are some other tips from Focus on the Family.  I especially liked #1 and #6. I may import those into my plan too!  

And here are some ideas for keeping up with chores that I’ve pinned over the years!

Happy Training!!!

Dayna

P.S.

Do you also struggle with a family of slobs?  Let me know in the comments the 1 thing you want to teach your kids about tidyness.    


My Child Is Cussing at School

 So you’ve gotten the dreaded call from school….

“I need you to come into the office, so we can talk about _____’s behavior.”

“We have a problem…”

Your child has gotten angry at another student and called that student an explicit name…

You are embarrassed—angry—humiliated—scared—frustrated—(____) about walking into that school! 

The use of cuss words today is common and is all around you.  Some people are very obnoxious about their expression through cuss words and others attempt to be respectful of others and choose to only cuss in situations they feel are acceptable.

Children learn new words daily and their vocabulary is growing rapidly.  This new vocabulary comes from parents, siblings, grandparents, peers, television, and the list goes on.  They are bombarded with new words daily.  Children do not usually understand what these new words are or what they mean.  They may use them when they are angry because they heard someone else say the same word in a fit of rage.

So how do you nip this in the bud if your child uses foul language to express himself?

1. Recognize where they are learning this from.

Are they hearing you talk this way?  If so, you may just want to rethink how you are expressing yourself in front of them as you are their primary teacher.  If your child belts out a “bad” word when he drops his ice cream on the floor and his response to you when you ask where he heard that from is “You said it”-be prepared for how you react to this.  If you yell at your child for using a word they are learning from you, then what are you really teaching them?  Instead, let him learn to admit when he’s wrong and correct his behavior by stating

“You’re right.  I did say that, but it was wrong and I shouldn’t use those words.  I’m going to do better.  I don’t want you using those words because they are not acceptable.”  Be honest and admit when you are wrong.

2. Monitor what they are listening to and watching.

If we do not guide their little eyes and ears, no one will.  The things they will learn will make lasting impressions, so give them guidance and ensure they are exposed to age appropriate television and music.

3. Do not laugh.

For some, hearing a child cuss seems funny and cute.  I assure you- a child cussing is far from cute, and laughing only encourages them to continue to do it.  It’s not so cute when you are getting phone calls from teachers because your child is calling them derogatory names or cussing out other students when they are angry.

4. Help them learn to express themselves with appropriate words to label how they feel.

“You are really angry.  Tell me what happened before you said ____________.” Help them find more appropriate ways to label the person they may be name calling.  “It hurt my feelings when……” “It made me angry when…..”.

5. Replace those bad words

Give them other options that will keep them out of trouble. Using funny words can also help to decrease the anger behind it.

6. Set boundaries with visitors.

If Uncle J comes over to watch the ball game, and he tends to get a filthy mouth when his team misses a play, then let him know in your house you would need him to watch his language.  Most people are receptive of this and if not, then you may need to be choosier about who is visiting with your children.

Remember that YOU are the primary example for your child and how they handle conflict and relationships.  Think about this for a minute…

 

*Comment below and share what you will start doing TODAY to be a better example. 

Talk to You Soon,

Dayna Sykes

Licensed Child & Teen Therapist

 

P.S. Share this post with a friend who needs help in this area!

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Avoidance Causes You To Miss Out!

Do you ever avoid situations or people because it’s too stressful or painful to be in that experience? Avoidance is a natural human defense mechanism, but sometimes it can be detrimental to our own growth and happiness.  

Today, I was walking through our freshly cut hay-field to get a message to my husband and father-in-law.  While talking to a family friend who was present, I said “I love the smell of fresh cut hay, but it does not love me.”  I knew for even the maybe 5 minutes I was standing there, I was going to have some discomfort. As I walked away, I noticed itching in my legs.  Then while driving away, I could feel a little discomfort in my breathing.

You see, I am a very allergic person.  But I live in the country where I am exposed to all things I am allergic too.  Now, I could move (but I’m pretty sure I’d have to leave my husband behind), but staying here is more beneficial to me than avoiding.  

 

Not to mention how BEAUTIFUL it is where I live!  

So what is an allergic country girl to do?

Be Aware…

If you know situations cause you discomfort (maybe it’s not an allergy but more depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, panic), be aware of those triggers.  I am aware of what triggers my allergies and am prepared for the consequences of being around them.

Find the Win…

For me, I was able to see God’s beauty in this hayfield.  I took a beautiful picture of it. Being outdoors is so inspiring and calming to me.  It’s worth it to have the experience!

Have a Plan…

So let’s say you are going to be around family that triggers your depression or anxiety…  If it’s not an unhealthy relationship, and you want a connection with that person, then have a plan of how you will combat the negative reactions your body will likely experience.  

  • Know your limits and have a plan of escape.  

When I am around certain people from my past who tend to cause difficulty for me, I make sure I visit them instead of them visiting me.  This way I can leave when I’m ready instead of having them in my home wishing they would leave already and not wanting to ask them to leave.  

If your reaction is anxiety or panic, make sure you have a go-to method for calming your body and mind.  

Sometimes avoidance is good when it’s too overwhelming for you to manage.  But just remember, avoidance can become a very unhealthy way to cope, and you will miss out on some great life experiences and connections.  

Need some assistance in creating your plan?

Click Here to Download a Free Worksheet!

Then, comment below and share with me how avoidance affects your life!  

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Dayna Sykes

Licensed Child & Teen Therapist

Gordonsville Counseling & Play Therapy

 

P.S.  If you have a teen girl who struggles with avoidance and you’ve tried everything to help her break out of this, then Empowering Teen Girls Group may be just what she needs to build her confidence, boost her ability to cope with difficult situations, and learn to connect with others in the process.  

P.P.S  Do you tend to walk on eggshells around your teen and avoid her throughout the day?   Every effort you make causes her to lash out and become angry. Sign up for my free email course, “Learn to Connect Better with Your Teen”, and get 5 days of action steps you can take to better support and connect with your teen.  Just Click Here!

 

Ending the Homework Battle!

We are talking about "Back to School" here on the blog and I wanted to get you thinking about Homework.  I know-I know- who wants to think homework before school even starts?!  Right?  But I guarantee your child is thinking about it and dreading it.  In fact, it may be a reason your child is grumbling about the return to school.

I know for some families, homework is a time of chaos-yelling-tears-and maybe tantrums.  This is one time where the whole family may complain and want to just give up on school.  Let's face it, homework is not going away.  In fact, it's a vital tool for your child's learning.  I can't believe I'm supporting homework!  It is proven that practice makes skills easier and helps your child to retain what they  have learned.  If they can go home and do the work, then they've gotten the hang of the new skill.  So, how do we take the battle out of homework time?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Set a consistent time to do homework----This could be immediately after school or after a break from school.  For my family, we allow some time to play and have a snack.  Especially when days get shorter and the sun goes down early.  Children sit most of the day at school and come home wound up with energy that needs to be used.  It's ok to give them time to move.  This does not mean watching tv or playing video games.  Get them moving!  They may even be able to focus much easier after this.  Do not wait until right before bedtime to do homework!!!!  Your child will be tired and this will turn into a battle!
  2. Have a quiet place set up for homework.---This could be a desk, kitchen table, or in their rooms.  Give other siblings who may not be doing homework a busy activity so they are not bothered.  Make sure there are no distractions like the tv or ipod's around for texting.
  3. Be around for support.---If your child needs help, how do they let you know?  Do they cry out angrily "I don't understand this!!!"  Let them know when to ask for help.  This is such an important lesson to teach early because we all need support sometimes, and often those adults who have high stress levels are those who struggle to ask for help when needed.  Teach them early how to ask for help.  Walk in and check on them after about 10 minutes to make sure they don't need help and talk to them about how proud you are that they are working so hard.
  4. Don't lose your cool!---Homework can be stressful for parents too.  When my son was in 4th grade and common core math started, I wanted to beat my head on the table.  I just could not wrap my brain around the concepts he was learning.  That was a long evening of googling and texting other moms for help.  But I remained calm and it actually became quite funny.  Don't get frustrated if you don't understand and know how to support your child.  Do have some people on backup who may be able to help.  Maybe dad is good at Math and mom is good at Language Arts.   Take turns where your strengths lie or call a friend.  And if that doesn't work, simply use your own coping skills and help them to do their best.  Then, let the teacher know you are unable to help with that subject.  If your child is struggling with it, make the teacher aware so they know they will have to give them some extra support to get it.
  5. Don't allow complaining and whining.  Let your child know before school starts what your plan is to help them get homework done and make it less stressful.  Set up a reward for them to get it done when asked and not whine or throw fits about it.  Celebrate when they finish-look over it to ensure they did it correctly-give them some free-time and maybe a favorite treat to show them how proud you are of their effort and their attitude.

If you haven't signed up for my Back to School series, there's still time.  You will receive 3 emails with tips to make this year a success!  Just click here to get started!

Let us know in the comments what your homework routine looks like!

This is going to be a great year!

Dayna

 

P.S.

If you would like more Parenting Support, sign up here for a Parent Group.  Watch this video about my goal for this group.  Not sure what group is?  Read here for information.

 

How do we teach our kids patience?

Image result for patience is a virtue Checking out at the Dollar Store today, I noticed that a movie recently released was already on DVD for sale.  I commented how quickly this came out and the cashier and I had a quick discussion about "the good ole days" when movies took FOREVER to be released.  Then if you waited to see them on DVD, you had to wait until it was in stock at the local video store.  Of course this sparked a conversation about how kids these days have it made.

They NEVER have to WAIT!!!!!!!

They can have instant access to just about anything they want to do or see.  They have instant access to peers and you through text messaging and social media.  They can stream content anywhere they want and don't have to wait through commercials.

I love this life too, but let's face it, it has some downfalls.

Have you noticed how easily kids are bored and how little patience they have?

I mean, they cannot even wait a minute for your conversation to end.  They want immediate responses to everything.  If you don't respond to a text right away, they start texting you multiple texts:

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Did you know that patience is not a natural human ability?  It is something we have to practice to get better at.  Do not feel pressured to fall into the new expectations of immediately gratifying your kids' every desire.  Teach them patience!  Their boss will thank you one day!!!

Enjoy the process!

Dayna

 

Screen Time Linked to Inattention

Did you know that your child’s inability to focus on tasks may be due to their screen time?  Researchers are finding out that children who have unlimited screen time are struggling to focus at school and have difficulty following through on tasks.  Symptoms of too much screen time can look like a mental health disorder.  That means that some children are receiving a diagnosis for disorders like ADHD, Disruptive Behavior Disorders, Oppositional Defiance, etc----and the culprit is the SCREEN!!!

I myself can tell a huge difference in my own child when screen time is not limited.  Her grades start dropping, and her Math sheet looks like she chooses “1,2, skip a few”.  Her ability to tolerate small frustrations and her overall attitude changes.  That’s when I have to shape up in my parenting and set those limits.  We will stay away from that screen for several days as a “reset”.  Yes, even I struggle sometimes to keep those limits set.  When life gets busy and she gets away with it, she will definitely take advantage of that screen.

It’s scary to me that so many children and teens have unlimited access 24/7.  They are exposed to so much stimulation and not to mention the inappropriate things they accidentally see when there are no restrictions on screens.  So many negative consequences fall from unlimited and/or unrestricted screen time.

If you notice your child suddenly struggling with disorganization, restlessness, limited focus, and behavior changes, try a screen free zone for a while and see how quickly and how drastic they change.  Your child who seems like they are possessed by someone/something else will return to you.

Have you seen a positive change in your child when limiting screen time?

 

Dayna

BELLY BREATHING

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing.  It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear.  This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it.

Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing.

Before you practice this technique, I want you to imagine your belly is a balloon….

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OK—Got it?

When air is blown into a balloon, it inflates.  So as you breathe air in, your belly will inflate like a balloon.

When you release your breath, your belly should deflate as a balloon would when slowly losing air.

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Step 1: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Clear your thoughts

Step 3: Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, slowly counting to 7, while focusing on your belly rising.

Step 4: Hold that breath for 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly release your breath, counting to 7, while your belly releases air.

Step 6: Repeat for 1 minute.

The trick to this technique is that you are breathing through your belly—Not— your chest.

Practice this Belly Breathing daily to build your stamina and increase the number of seconds you are inhaling and exhaling.  Work your way up to increments of 5, 10, 15 minutes of deep breathing.

A relaxed body cannot be an anxious body…

More on how to teach deep breathing to your child in the next post…

DEEP BREATHING FOR CHILDREN

As promised, here is a post on helping your child learn deep breathing techniques or belly breathing.  Deep breathing is a quick trick to help alleviate anxiety and calm worries.

When teaching a child this technique, there are 2 different ways I approach it, depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and comfort.  Most children are open about practicing techniques in front of others, but older children may feel a little weirded out when you start asking them to perform belly breathing in front of you, especially if they already have anxiety.

Trick #1-Teaching deep breathing using Bubbles. soap-bubbles-870342_640

I have a pack of bubbles in my office like this one that I can hand out to children in sessions.  I have the child blow bubbles and discuss how hard/soft to blow to get lots of bubbles or big bubbles.

I then suggest this as a trick to help them fight off their worries or (fill in the blank)-tummy ache, jitters, etc.-most of the time children cannot label anxiety/nervousness/worries.  But they can tell you what somatic complaints they have easily, which is a sign of anxiety depending when and how often it’s occurring.   (Please be advised that tummy aches do not mean your child has anxiety.  If you are concerned your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, schedule an appointment for further assessment with a Pediatrician or Mental Health Professional.) 

 

Trick #2- Teaching Deep Breathing using a stuffed animalbear-678607_640

Have your child lay down on his/her back comfortably and place a small stuffed animal on their belly.

While directing them to slowly breathe in through their nose and out their mouth, guide them to watch the stuffed animal move up and down on their belly.

This will teach them belly breathing, and they can visibly see if they are breathing correctly.  Most times, this is modeled for the child by first doing the technique and then asking them to teach it back to me.  Children love to be the teacher!  I always end a session reminding them to teach their parent what they learned.  This keeps parents involved in progress and helps them hold the child accountable to practice daily.

Alright, that’s it-2 simple ways to help your child practice deep breathing!

NURTURING SELF-ESTEEM IN CHILDREN

Last post I asked you to write down as many positive things about yourself you can think of in 1 minute.  I bet some of you struggled with this…if not great!  You might not need to read about self-esteem.  However, the flip side is I bet you can come up with double or more negative thoughts about yourself in less than a minute.  Right?  And the sad part is that we tell ourselves these negative things all day every day.  We “bully” ourselves!

Kids do the same thing!  “I’m so ugly…I’m fat…I’m stupid…No one likes me at this school…I can’t do anything right…I never do the right thing…I’m going to fail this test/class/grade…no one is going to pick me to be on their team…my parents hate me…I have no friends…” The list goes on.  Now add to those negative thoughts negative perceptions.  

Here’s an example: (I will use a personal experience with you based on my own child who I will call B.)

Me: How did your test go today?

B: I made an 67.

Now I could say: What?!  But you studied so hard!  How could you fail?!  

(My child is a perfectionist, and he always wants to be the best.  If I had said that, he would have burst into tears.) Instead, I try to keep his personality in mind and I respond like this:

Me: Wow that stinks…What do you think you missed?

B: I don’t know, it was really hard.  I’m just no good at math!  I hate it!

Me: It was a hard test, I’m sure you will do better next time.  We can look over it later and see if you understand what you missed for next time.  

Now, this child of mine can go right into negativity if I’m not super careful how I deal with him.  He tends to be very down on himself and expects me to feel the same way when I clearly can see his struggles; but I also see all the great things about him too.

Let’s take another not so great example that’s pretty common:

Mom: (screaming) I told you to clean up your room!!!

Child: I can’t, it’s too much.

Mom: You can’t do anything!!!  You never listen!!!  I’m so sick of this!  I’m going to beat your ________ (fill in the blank)!  

Ever been where this mom is?  Here is what her child with low self esteem might have heard…

“I never do anything good enough.  My mom is mad and doesn’t understand.  She doesn’t like me.  She’s tired of me.  I don’t belong here.  No one cares about me.  I hate it here.”fail-1288346_640

All of us lose our cool at times when we are parenting because well parenting is hard work, and it’s a learning experience.  A lot of times though, we don’t realize the true impact our words have on our children.  Let’s build our kids up, not tear them down.  I’ve heard kids being called stupid, idiots, dumb, fat, chubby, not as pretty as …., annoying, not like here brother/sister, mean, bad even.  Think about what this does to their self esteem and confidence….this becomes their inner dialogue.  This inner dialogue becomes their bully. If you have a child in your home who has experienced abuse, trauma, separation from another parent, then that negativity multiplies because of their perception.

We can set our children up with a healthy self-esteem by nurturing them, talking out issues, allowing them to tell you what the struggle is and problem solving how to fix it or improve.  We don’t need to point out every little thing that is wrong about their situation because they probably already know.

Think about your conversations with your children….Do you need to alter them a bit?  Are your words setting them up for future success?  Are you building them up to be successful or tearing them apart?

ARE WE OVERDIAGNOSING???

One of the biggest challenges I find in my career is the pressure to diagnose children.  With the added pressure of billing to insurance companies and customers wanting an answer to “Why does my child act like this?”, professionals are often pushed into slapping a label on you.  Is it ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Oppositional Defiance……..?  The list can go on.

This has always been a struggle for me.  Not that I’m not prepared to handle diagnosing or know symptoms to treat.  It’s that label.  It sticks around.  It’s often used to excuse behavior rather than change it.  It can leave an impression on a child that “something is wrong with me”.  And the biggest issue I have, a lot of times nothing is wrong with your child.  They are developmentally where they should be.  Yes, I said it.  They are normal.  They are reacting to the stressful events that are occurring all around them.

Let’s look at society today just to make an example here.  Have you ever noticed how high anxiety and depression rates are in adults?  How many people are on antidepressants to treat both issues?  Do you feel life is stressful and over-scheduled?  Feel like there is constantly something pulling you in a different direction, running from place to place, never ahead of schedule?  Our children are right along with us.  And not only can they feel the same way we are feeling, they can’t think through it the way we do.  They can’t tell themselves, “this is only a season”, “things will be better after this week is over”, “vacation is just a week away”, or “I will just take a whole week off next month and reboot”.  Nope.  They are expected to be miniature adults who go with the flow!

When I was growing up, I remember being home most of the time.  I played outside every day.  I had a very active imagination.  It was safe enough for me to roam around our neighborhood unsupervised, ride my bike all around the circle or the subdivision we lived in.  Everyone knew who I was and we knew all our neighbors.  I walked down the road to a small country store and bought honey buns for breakfast along with a papersack full of 5 and 10 cent candy and gum.  We would walk down to the creek and swim.  I road my bike to friend’s houses.  We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but I had no idea until I was older and more mature.  I never felt I was lacking as far as material things.

What about today?  Kids are being showered with toys and candy every time they go somewhere just for being good in the store or to keep them quiet.  They rarely play outside.  They are watching shows that are developmentally more advanced than their little minds are.  Their face is glued to an electronic device of some sort daily.  They expect things to be given to them versus earning it through work (chores, helping a neighbor, etc).  And need I say it, many parents have no set rules in the home or little structure for their children to know what is expected of them.

That in turn leaves us with children who have little tolerance for idle time.  They are easily bored and can’t sit still and be quiet because they are used to constant entertainment of some sort.  Their imagination is lacking.  They have no patience and struggle to wait for reward because they are so used to immediate gratification.  They are disrespectful not only to their “elders” (as we were always taught to respect our elders) and struggle with authority figures.  They are constantly being reprimanded at school.  (I won’t even get started on how the school system’s changes may be negatively affecting this too.  That’s a post in itself.)

Then parents take them to a professional and explain that something is wrong with this child.  He is always in trouble.  He can’t sit still.  She talks back all the time.  I can’t get him to listen!    The parent throws out ideas of ADHD…  A doctor has maybe even suggested Oppositional Defiance.  And then……a diagnosis is slapped on their head for the rest of their life. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes these diagnoses are accurate and helpful (sometimes…), but many times the child is overstimulated, overly attended to, and lacking some parental guidance. So, how do you treat that?

I would like to continue this with a series of parenting tips to help you make some changes where you see the need.  Join me in the next few posts and share with me areas you struggle with the most as a parent.

IS BEDTIME MORE OF A BATTLE ZONE? HELP FOR THE EXHAUSTED PARENT

It’s 7:00 and you are rousing the children up to go to bed.  They are brushing their teeth in protest; taking their vitamins and getting water in protest, climbing into bed and attempting to wrestle in protest.  Although an hour ago, your child was whining and crying over tiny bumps and minor disappointments due to exhaustion, now they claim “I’m not tired”.

Do you leave the room already frustrated when lights are turned out?  Only to hear the common sound of little feet scooting down the hall to ask you for the 4th time, “will you tuck me in?”  Does your child get up minutes later asking for “just one more kiss?”  Do you find yourself biting your tongue because ‘if they get up ONE more time, they are REALLY going to regret it?!!!!’  But then of course, that one more time comes, and you once again go into the room, tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and in a firm voice inform them “STAY in bed or you will: get a spanking/be in trouble/lose a privilege, etc, etc………  The list of threats can be exhaustive at times.

Do you ever sit and think ‘it would be nice to have a little quiet time before going to bed, if the kids would just GO TO SLEEP’.  I’m here to encourage you and myself because this is my house EVERY NIGHT.  This is an issue with consistency and limit setting.  I too feel guilt when I get frustrated and my 4 year old whispers in a sweet voice “mommy, I need another kiss?”  But when the morning after comes, I know this is a behavior not a cry for more love.  She gets kisses all day long.  This is a problem with me and my husband.  We have made it her problem just as we made it her brother’s problem when he was younger.  We struggle with what Dr. Canapari calls sleep association disorder and limit setting disorder.

Setting limits around bedtime and enforcing them doesn’t make you a mean parent who doesn’t want to love on your children.  It makes you a strong parent who knows the importance of your child and yourself getting the rest you need.  Children need 11-12 hours of sleep per night depending on age.  And I presonaly need at least 7 hours of sleep to be able to get up the next morning and function.  Intermittent sleep through the night makes us tired and drowsy the next day.  This is the case for children too, so if you have a child that falls asleep pretty easily but can’t stay asleep, this post is for you too.  There are times when my daughter falls asleep quickly and without the battle (although this is not common lately).  However, she wakes up several times per night calling out or crying for me.  I then wake up, and usually go get her and put her to bed with me.  Because of my need for sleep, I have created another problem for her.  She does not self soothe when she wakes.  She requests to lay with me, rub my arm, or rock in order to fall back asleep.  There are some nights when I am awakened because she is reaching for me trying to find my arm an hour later.

As babies, I didn’t mind the co-sleeping arrangement all that much as long as they would sleep and I got sleep.  However, with a preschooler and grade-school child, sleeping with my kids is less than fun and sweet.  I often wake up to a foot in my face or being kicked in the back.  The other night I was dreaming, and my daughter threw her arm across my face, and I jumped up because I dreamed someone slapped me.  To help encourage you, I am going to share how I am enforcing bedtime limits with my child.  I will be referencing Dr. Canari’s sleep training tools.  As well as “Sleep Sense” by Megan Faure & Ann Richardson. This is a book my children’s pediatrician recommended when my daughter was a baby, and I have returned to it several times during difficult sleep issues.  I would recommend it as a resource to keep on your bookshelf if you struggle to get enough sleep and are not a fan of the “cry it out” method.

As we set out on this journey, I would love to know what some of your bedtime struggles are.

WHY COUNSELING?

I have spent time counseling many different people in different socioeconomic statuses.  Individuals who have varying cultural beliefs and needs.  I have counseled individuals and families who are wholeheartedly involved in the process and see varying degrees of positive results, and I’ve worked with others who are on the opposite end of that spectrum.  Your attitude about the counseling process does affect your outcome.

So what is counseling?

1. Counseling is a process of give and take.  You give of your deepest worries, regrets, beliefs, struggles, fears, problems….  When you give of these things seeking relief, what you get back is support and understanding, empathy, compassion.  Counselors aren’t there to do the work for you though.  We aren’t there to give you advice and tell you how to handle each issue that you are dealing with.  Counselors are there to support you through the process of finding your way of resolving the conflicts you face in a healthy manner.  I find the majority of people know the answer, they are just too afraid or lack the skills to change their circumstances or patterns.  Yes, even children and teenagers often know how to resolve things in their own way, they just need someone to back them up.  When you approach counseling in this way, you get a sense of peace and understanding of your inner self.

2.  Sometimes it just helps to have someone on the outside looking in.  When you’ve tried over and over again to solve a situation with no success, it’s helpful to speak with someone who can be objective.  Someone who does not know you or your family/friends personally.  When we talk to family members or good friends about our problems, they have a personal agenda already…that’s YOU or themselves.  They are there to protect you or themselves.  A counselor doesn’t gain from your problems in any way other than seeing you successfully find solutions.  We aren’t there to judge your actions, degrade your decisions, or jump on the bandwagon of tearing down someone who has wronged you.  We are there to listen….just listen…and allow you to process what is happening in your life and focus on solutions to change what you are unhappy about.  I once had a teen who said to me matter of factly “Everyone needs counseling!”  She was not worried about others knowing she saw a counselor.  As a matter of fact, I think she was proud of herself for her work and dedication to change.

Why Should You Seek Counseling?

1. The stress in your life is beginning to affect your ability to make good decisions.  It’s affecting your family…there is tension in the home around you.  Everyone is walking on eggshells per say.  Your family is acting out due to your stress…children are more clingy/aggressive, parents are arguing over the child’s behavior, one parent is siding with the child while the other is struggling to connect, there is high conflict in the home.  Your work ethic is disintegrating due to burnout, fatigue, lack of motivation because you have so many other stressors pushing you down, or maybe your home life is disintegrating because the only relief you find is at work.

2. You or your child is engaging in self destructive behavior through the use of drugs/alcohol, sexual behavior, aggression, or self-harm.

3. No one seems to understand what you are going through, and you feel alone and lost.  You worry that your life will always be this way.  You find little meaning or direction in your life.

4. Your child/teen’s behavior has suddenly changed.  Grades are dropping, they are no longer interested in sports or activities they used to love.  They can’t maintain their attention in school.  Maybe they are acting out behaviorally at school.  They have few to no friends.

5.  You are experiencing suicidal thoughts.  If this is the case, please contact your local crisis line.   Seek help immediately.  There are several hotlines that you can call and just talk to someone.

1-800-273-TALK (8255), 

National Hopeline Network

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433

Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline

630-482-9696 Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week http://www.spsamerica.org

There are many reasons to seek counseling.  It’s never too late to seek help, and it’s never too early.  I would encourage you to take the step if it’s something you’ve been contemplating.  Don’t wait until life spirals out of your control and you lose relationships that are most valuable to you.  If you feel your child may need counseling, seek someone when you begin contemplating this.  Often times parents worry their teen or child will not talk to a counselor because they don’t talk to them, but if you find the right counselor they will open up about what is going on in their life.  I find teens are often relieved to finally have someone to listen to them and not lecture them about their poor choices.  They are often the quickest to talk in my experience.

You will never regret seeking help, but you may regret never asking for help.