Thursday, October 30, 2014

Liking the Child That You Love



There is a lot of talk about unconditionally loving our children but perhaps not enough about how important it is to like them. As our sweet bundles grow and test boundaries and stretch our patience, it can become all too easy to fall into the insidious trap of looking at that child through a negative lens. Because we only see what it is we are looking for, we begin to only see the testing, the misbehavior, the whining, the aggression, the child who just will not go to sleep. Then ever so slowly, without us mindfully realizing what is occurring, we begin to feel a pang of resentment – of dislike. At this point, it becomes very difficult to notice the good, to see beyond the faults into the heart of that child which beats with goodness and love and purpose. Resentment is blinding.

While it's true that children need our love to thrive, what we've generally swept under the rug is that they need us to like them, too. They need us to see them, see who they are, and to like what it is that we see, because this ultimately is how they come to see themselves. Therefore, it's essential to the well-being of our children and to the peace and contentment within our homes that we learn to see through a positive lens, even through times of trial.


If you're struggling with feelings of resentment or not liking your child right now, could one of these be the cause?


1.  You were expecting/hoping for someone different, easier, more like you, more like your spouse, a better sleeper, not so intense, etc.


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

5 Things That Keep Us From Fully Enjoying Our Young Children by Erin Leyba

Today, I welcome Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD of parenthappy.org to share her post with us.

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Children are naturally full of innocence, joy, exuberance, and wonder. Just spending time with them can be tremendously healing. They can help us recover the playful parts of ourselves, enjoy the moment, and see the world through fresh eyes. However, there are certain things that keep us from fully enjoying our children.
Trying to pack in too much
In today’s super-stretched culture of achievement, we sometimes pack in too much and end up getting annoyed when our children can’t keep up the pace. Too many work hours, house projects, parties, preschools, basketball classes, ballet recitals, hockey games, and piano lessons can leave us wilted or high-strung. We might take children to Target, the park, and their sister’s play at school in a single morning, which invites power struggles and not-so-perfect behaviors. The slower we go and the fewer transitions we have with children, the more we tend to enjoy them.
Not feeling happy ourselves
After having a baby, lives of both mothers and fathers change completely. Free time, work, and friendships look vastly different. There tends to be a crisis period in which parents grieve the loss of their “old life” and search for new ways to make themselves happy. Research suggests that having a baby can also significantly stress a partnership. As parents negotiate changes in chores, workloads, childcare, and recreation, conflicts arise. If we take proactive steps, such as journaling, going to counseling, talking to friends, engaging in self-care, and communicating, we can move toward wellness. It’s hard to enjoy children when we’re in a funk ourselves.
Lack of awareness of developmental issues
Children’s developmental phases might include: it’s all about me; I’m trying to be my own person so don’t tell me what to do; I’m going to test out my powerful self; mine!; I’m going to determine the boundaries of this place; and I want to do things on my own terms. Children have developmental difficulty sharing until at least age 2 or 2 ½ but really until 5, and true empathy does not mature in children until age 6. It’s great to condition and encourage children to share and be empathic before then, but we may not always be completely successful. When we shift our expectations of how children “should be” behaving, we can create room to be more understanding, patient, and content with them.
Smart distractions
The invention of the smart phone and other intelligent devices has made it easier to bring our work, email, social media, news, grocery shopping, weather forecast, job search, sports videos, and exercise software to the park, playroom, rocking chair, dinner table, and bleachers on the sides of kids’ sports games. Distractions like a smart phone can pull us away from our kids, and they can also cause us to not enjoy our kids as much. With an itchy beeping, tinkling, jiggling, tweeting, dinging, alarming device glued to our fingertips, it can be hard to throw the football around at the park, build with Legos, or cover our eyes for a game of peekaboo. With the world in our pockets, it can be hard to focus on or appreciate the people in front of us.
Not honoring the first five years as a unique, temporary time in life
It’s likely that never again will you be as needed and as in demand by your family as you are when your kids are 0 to 5 years old. As you give baths, change diapers, feed the baby, toilet train, wake up all night, play, read books, and give children more attention than you’ve ever given anyone, you may feel like your family life is pulling you away from the rest of your life. Your house may be messy, your grass long, and your emails unanswered. Remembering that this is a very temporary, very unique time in life can alleviate some of the unsettling feelings associated with changes regarding work, friends, family, or leisure pursuits.
In the blink of an eye, children grow up. Consciously savoring adorable, happy, and playful moments ensures we won’t regret our children’s early, most formative years.
All rights reserved.


Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD, mom to three, is an individual and marriage counselor for new parents in Chicago’s western suburbs. Follow her blog at www.parenthappy.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/www.parenthappy.org
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Solutions for Sibling Rivalry



If you're like me, you dreamed that your children would be best friends from the start. It's both heartbreaking and frustrating when your children fight and squabble with each other, but there are things you can do (and not do) to help build their relationships with each other.

It can be easy to compare siblings. "Your brother was potty trained by now! Why are you being so difficult! "" Your sister doesn't have these problems at school!" Sometimes these statements just bypass our brains and fly right out of our mouths, but they only serve to fuel rivalry. Even seemingly positive statements can have a negative consequence. "You are so much better at this than your sister" may seem like a compliment to the child you're speaking to, but it still encourages a competition mindset. And of course favoring one child over another will always cause resentment. We inadvertently set them up for conflict with these unconscious habits.

If you want a peaceful home, then peace has to be made a priority. This means the children are absolutely not allowed to call names, be aggressive, or be rude to their siblings. When conflicts arise, I propose the peace circle. When 2 or more children argue, they should go to the peace circle (or table, rug, or couch), and here they are taught peaceful conflict resolution.

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