10 Tips For Parenting Through Divorce

Parenting does not come with a handbook and divorce can make parenting even more difficult. Here are my favorite 10 tips to help parents co-parent and support children while separating or divorcing:

          Things To Do:

  1. Think of the co-parenting relationship as something brand new to be built from the ground up.  It’s not the marriage.
  2. Repeatedly assure children that both parents will always love them. Do not assume they know. Tell them again and again.Talk to kids face to face about their feelings about the situation. “Tell me how you’re feeling about our arrangement.  Is anything bothering you?”Let your child talk to you about their positive and negative emotions.
  3. Continue to assure children that they are not the cause of the divorce. Very young children, and sometimes teenagers, believe the world revolves around them and might think they had the power to break up the marriage.
  4. Don’t let guilt motivate parenting.
  5. Maintain as much consistency between homes as possible. (Rules, routines, etc.)Things To Avoid:
  6. Do not say negative comments about the other parent. Do not burden your child with your anger or frustrations.
  7. Don’t have your child send messages to your ex. Anything you need to coordinate or discuss should be done with your ex and not through your child. This will put them in the middle and is stressful for a child.
  8. Never make your child feel like they can not love their other parent. Tuck aside your own feelings and support your child in their relationship with the other parent.
  9. Don’t become overly rigid with parenting time. Be flexible and remember that your child has friends and interests outside of spending time with you and the other parent.
  10. Don’t over-interpret your child’s complaints about the other parent. It is important to listen to your child and to also support them in having a relationship with both you and the other parent.

Adapted by information from Shannon Himango, MA, LMFT ~ Mt. Olivet Counseling Service. Resources: Support Through Divorce by Erickson Mediation Institute and The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons.

 

Parenting: Setting Rules and Expectations

Parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences. At the same time parenting can also be one of the greatest challenges too. Often parents struggle in figuring out how to set boundaries and rules for their children.This article provides you with some basic skills to get you started in setting rules and expectations for your children.

Here are some of our guidelines for what to do and what not to do.

What to NOT Say or Do (Ineffective verbal messages or actions):

  • “It’s time to take a bath, ok?”
  • “Would you just try to be nice once in a while?”
  • “It would be nice to see your homework done a little earlier.”
  • Allowing children to walk away from a mess.
  • Cleaning up children’s messes for them.
  • Dressing children when they can dress themselves.
  • Ignoring misbehavior in the hope it will go away.
  • Ignoring misbehavior when you’re in a good mood.

What to DO (Firm Limits: When No Really Means No)

  • Keep your words and actions consistent.
  • Send clear signals about rules and expectations.

Keep the focus of your message on behavior

  • (Goal is to reject unacceptable behavior, not the child.)
  • Example: “Stop teasing your brother” rather than “You’re  such a pest!”

Be direct, clear and specific

  • Example: “Be home by 6:00 for supper” rather than “Don’t stay out too late.”

Use a normal, matter-of-fact, voice as much as possible

  • “Non-emotional parenting.”
  • A raised voice conveys loss of control; highly entertaining.

Tell Your Child the Consequences of Not Obeying

  • Natural consequences: “Video game off with no arguing when time is up; or you lose your time tomorrow.”
  • ‘You’re not arguing, are you?”
    • “You choose to _argue, you choose to lose ____”
  • Whatever carries weight currently; technology, sleepovers, Verizon, etc.
  • These are privileges to be earned.

 Follow through on your words with action

  • If a child does decide to test, calmly follow through and take the toy/privilege away.
    • “We’ll try again tomorrow.
    • I know you can do it!”

Children trained with these signals understand what parents mean. They learn to take their parents’ words  seriously and cooperate when asked. The result is better communication, less testing, and less fighting and conflict.

What fills you up?

In life there are so many things that zap our energy. Often we become so busy just trying to get things done that we end up forgetting to fill up the engine. Here I am speaking of doing things that give you energy, instead of take it away.

Often we forget to take time to take care of ourselves when there is so much to be done to take care of everyone and everything else. Today I am challenging you to think about what you can do to fill yourself up with energy.

Mental Energy Enhancers

  • Reading a book or listening to a book on tape
  • Spending time with friends and family who are positive
  • Managing your money well
  • Keeping your home, office and care neat and clean
  • Face old conflict and find ways to resolve them
  • Be aware not to become over-scheduled; leave some breathing room and do not overbook yourself

Physical Energy Enhancers

  • Nutritious diet
  • Doing things at your own pace rather than how someone else dictates them
  • Relaxation activities (such as yoga, meditation, massage)
  • A warm bath
  • Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes
  • Hugs

Spiritual Energy Enhancers

  • Say only what you believe to be the truth (speak your truth without blame or judgment)
  • Do each thing with love
  • Practice being grateful
  • Focus on what you have instead of what you do not
  • Spend time in nature
  • Listen to and follow your inner guidance
  • Say no to things that go against your beliefs

There are many ways for you to refuel your energy levels to help support you in living a vibrant life. If you want help learning to fill yourself up consider seeking counseling.

Click here to learn more.

Talking To Kids About School Violence

With the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut both adults and children are aware and thinking about violence at schools. We have heard many parents say they don’t want to send their child to school and kids are worried about it too.

When significant acts of violence occur, it is important to be aware that some children may react strongly to these types of events. For parents, teachers and therapists it is important to be able to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help be prepared to talk to children about school violence:

  • Be honest. Give children information they can understand in their own level. Help them to understand that while bad things happen to children sometimes, most children will not get harmed while at school.
  • Limit exposure your child has to violent video games, movie, TV, computer and books. Research shows the violent information has a cumulative effect in children. Also do not describe scenarios that may further frighten your child.
  • Monitor what information your child is getting or already has about the recent events. If they are hearing rumors or have wrong information, help them to understand the facts.
  • Be there for your child. Listen to what they have to say. Reassure your child is safe and that you and their school is working hard to keep them safe.
  • Work to manage your own fear and anxiety. Avoid letting your child take on your worries.
  • Give your child information on how to maintain safety through their actions. Provide them with information on how their school works to keep them safe.
  • Try to maintain normal activities and routines.

When difficult situations such as these occur, it can be hard to manage our own worries and those of our children. It is important to remember that school shootings and other acts of violence are very rare.

11 Tips for Dealing with Criticism in the Workplace

Accepting criticism from others can be a very difficult thing. Here are some tips for how to make criticism productive because we are bound to make mistakes. The key to our mistakes is to be able to learn from them and find a way to become better in the future.

1. Accept that you are not perfect. If you begin each task thinking that nothing will go wrong, you’re fooling yourself. You will make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them.

2. Double-check your work. After you’ve finished, and before you submit it to your supervisor, be sure you’ve gone over everything carefully. This can help you to avoid silly mistakes and ensure that your boss won’t have to bother you about minor problems.

3. Don’t take it personally. If your co-worker has criticism for you, remind yourself that it doesn’t necessarily mean s/he doesn’t like you, or that you’re not good enough for the job. Your co-worker is simply trying to ensure that you do the best work possible.

4. Listen carefully. If you ignore critical comments, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Take notes and continually remind yourself how to fix the problem. This step is the most difficult, as it can mean that one must “suck up” one’s pride and admit one’s responsibility in one’s work-related errors.

5. Ask yourself what can you learn from this criticism. If you feel yourself growing defensive or getting angry, repeat the question ‘What can I learn?’

6. Agree with part of the criticism. When faced with criticism, most people focus on the part of the negative feedback that may not be true and ignore the rest. This doesn’t solve any problems, and you don’t learn anything. When you agree with one part of the criticism, you become open to learning. You don’t have to agree with everything; even agreeing with one small aspect of the criticism will create an atmosphere of teamwork. The focus then can become how you’ll work together to solve a problem, which will lessen your feeling of being attacked.

7. Analyze and evaluate what you’ve heard. You need time to process the information, determine if it’s a valid criticism and decide what you’ll do to solve the problem or correct the mistake. If this is a complaint you’ve heard repeatedly, you should think about what you can learn from the situation so it doesn’t happen again.

8. Don’t hold a grudge. Staying angry/upset about criticism can affect your future work. Put the mistakes out of your mind and focus on doing the best job possible on the next task.

9. Clear the air. If you’re upset with how your co-worker criticized you, let him or her know as soon as possible, so there are no lingering bad feelings between the two of you. Explain why it upset you, and suggest changes that could be made to strengthen your relationship.

10. Accept the fact that others may see something that you don’t. Even if you don’t agree with the criticism, others may be seeing something that you are not even aware of. If they say that you are negative or overbearing, and you don’t feel that you are, well; maybe you are and you just don’t see it. Allow for the fact that others may be right, and use that possibility to look within your self.

11. Be happy whatever the criticism and do not let the criticism bring you down. It may be that the co-worker has problems at home and is just venting his anger off you as an outlet. Be glad you have at least helped him or her.

Adapted from a handout, source unknown.

Change – Both hard and possible.

Change is hard. As almost all people know, it can be really hard to change! When we think about ways to move towards change, some ideas work well and others not so much. Here is a list of routes to change from least effective to most effective (according to Ann Betz, coach and poet).

Some ways we try to make changes:

Ignore the problem – pretend everything is okay, push the feeling aside…

  • This is NOT effective

Control the environment – make sure you don’t encounter stress

  • Helps a little but most stressors are unavoidable at some point

Name your emotion – short venting

  • It’s great to name the emotion, however we still haven’t gotten to problem solving.

Put attention on what’s important – explore what fulfills you

  • Here we get clear on our intent for ourselves and for our lives, this is important groundwork for the next steps!

Reframing – learn to look at things from a new angle

  • Now we are able to look at problems with a bit more objectivity and find new, healthier ways of thinking.

Mindfulness – learn to be in the here and now, get present

Often with depression, anxiety and other issues we are living in the past or the future. Learning to be mindful involves staying present to what’s going on right now. Until we learn to stay present, change can be hard to come by.

Think about the above routes to change and how you can move yourself towards the bottom few ideas. Using these tools will certainly move you closer to the change you desire to help you in grow.

Individual therapy is one way you can get the support you need to make the changes you aspire for. http://collaborativemn.com/individual-therapy/

Increase your child’s confidence.

Many parents ask “how can I make sure my children are confident and successful?”. At the core of a confident person is the belief that “I am able”, “I can do this” or “I am good”. One of the keys to raising confident children is to help children to develop a sense of self-efficacy.

In simple terms, you build self-efficacy through accomplishing things and doing things on your own. To help build this, never do for a child what they can do for themselves. Never is a strong word but if you err closer to never than always you are teaching your child that they can do for themselves, they are capable and they can figure their own problems out.

Children are always making decisions that shape their personality. Decisions become beliefs. Children are making decisions about:

  • Who they are (good or bad, capable or not capable)
  • What the world is like (safe or threatening)
  • What they need to do to survive or to thrive (based on decisions above)

My challenge to you: Try to draw out children’s own sense of resourcefulness. Encourage them to take risks and try things on their own so they can build up a reserve of confidence from all of their successes!

If you have concerns about your child’s self esteem play therapy with a trained professional can help you and your child learn to foster positive self esteem.

Learn to let go

One of the hardest obstacles in life at times can be in knowing when to let go. Often we have ideas about how things should be or how we want things to be. The trick is in knowing when it’s time to let those wants and beliefs about how things could or should be go.

So, how do you know when to let go? I find that you need to release yourself from those wants when consistently your needs aren’t being met or that hanging on to whatever it may be causes you more unhappiness and pain than vice versa.

Think about the big thing in your life that you are struggling to decide – should I stay or should I go? Yeah, yeah, the song comes to mind for me too! But really, what is it? A job, a relationship, a friendship, an old goal that no longer fuels your passion?

The struggle I often see is setting your expectations for what you want out of whatever it is you struggle to decide to hold on to or to let go of, yet not sticking to those basic needs and desires. Do you need more meaning in your work? Has your relationship become a greater source of unhappiness than happiness? Do you have a friend who has become more of an energy drain than a source of support? Do you have a roommate or spouse who is more of a burden than someone you want to invest time and energy into?

Life seems to sometimes boil down to weighing out the pros and cons. What are the pros or sticking with it versus not? What are the cons of sticking with it versus letting go?

In the end, no one else can decide your right or wrong. No one else can say let it go or stick with it and give it your all.

I encourage you to take the time to weigh out your list of positive versus negative for both options. Often you already know the answer, however sometimes it’s easier to stay complacent. And at the same time, it is your responsibility to get your needs met. If you are in a situation that ultimately is more of a burden than a source of light, often it is time to let go.

Hold your wants lightly. When you practice that, you too become lighter and more able to actualize your best self.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Don’t believe everything you think.

We all have thousands of thoughts each and every day. We can even have several different thoughts within a minute. With this being said we have tendencies to cast things in a certain light depending upon our experiences that have shaped our beliefs about the world, other people and ourselves. We all have tendencies to either view things in a positive way or in a negative one.

I commonly see people saying things like “Life is too hard”, “I am not good at anything”, “I am weak”, “No one really loves me”. For thoughts like these we need to look for the evidence that these things are not in fact true.

Here are some examples of these negative thoughts and ways to shift to a positive perspective:

  • “Life is too hard”
    • Shift to: “Life is hard sometimes and I always find a way to make things work” or “In the end things do seem to work out for me okay”
    • Life is hard sometimes and you are still here to acknowledge that which says you can make through hard things.
  • “I am not good at anything”
    • Shift to: “I am a good [cook, friend, wife/husband, writer, artist]”
    • Challenge yourself to focus on the things you are good at. Each and every one of us has some gift or talent.
  • “I am weak”
    • Shift to: “I am strong enough to ask for help” or “My strength was shown when I made through…”
    • It is human to have moments of weakness and those moments it helps to think back on other times your strength shined through.
  • “No one really love me”
    • Shift to: “My ________ tells me they love me”, “_______ showed me love by being kind to me”, “I love ____ about myself”
    • While there may be times that others can’t show their love to us, most of us can find examples of someone who has been kind, caring or loving towards us. When we really start to pay attention, love is all around us shown by people helping each other and small gestures of kindness in every day life.

Some things are all about perspective. I encourage you to challenge your negative thoughts and those that aren’t serving you. When you find you are consistently saying negative messages to yourself, try looking for the evidence for the opposites of those that increase your feelings of unhappiness.

An unchallenged mind is an unhealthy one. Only you can start to pay attention to your thoughts and work to find new, healthier, happier and more affirming messages to tell yourself.

Begin to work on this by each day writing down one negative thing you said about yourself, others or the world around you. Then write down the opposite of that thought and try to find a few pieces of evidence that it may be true. If you do this practice every day you will begin to stop believing everything you think.

For professional help learning to challenge your thoughts and beliefs, visit www.colllabortivemn.com

 

 

Validate those around you.

Validate those around you.

What is validation?

Validation is when you listen to what another person is saying to you and reflect it back to them that you understand how they are feeling. An important thing to remember is validating is NOT necessarily agreeing with the other person. It also doesn’t mean you like what the other person is saying, doing or believing. You are simply restating back to the person what you hear them saying.

Why should we validate others?

There are many benefits to validating people, including it:

  • Shows you are listening
  • Shows you care
  • Shows you understand the other person’s point of view
  • Is nonjudgmental
  • Improves communication and openness
  • Decreases conflict
  • Establishes trust

How do I validate others?

Validation involves listening to what the person is saying, stating back what you hear them saying to you and then responding to the person’s needs at that time.

For example, when talking to someone nod and make small gestures to show you are listening (e.g. say mmhmm, I see, huh). Then restate what you hear the person saying (e.g. “That really hurt your feelings”, “You didn’t like that”, “That pisses you off!” or “You’re angry!”). Respond by asking what the person needs, they may want space or a hug or to just vent a bit more while you listen.

Be mindful and avoid judging what the other person is saying. Show tolerance for the other person by working to recognize that their reaction makes sense considering his/her life situation, experiences and history even if you do not necessarily agree with that person.

What does it mean to be invalidating?

We invalidate people’s feelings when we minimize or disregard their experience. Some common examples: “Oh, you’ll get over it”, “You don’t need those friends anyway”, “It’s not that big a deal” or “You should…”.

What are the negative impacts of being invalidating?

There are many negative outcomes from not validating others’, including it:

  • Shows you aren’t listening
  • Says you don’t care or believe the other person
  • Shows you don’t understand the person
  • Is judgmental
  • Decreases openness and communication
  • Increases conflict
  • Decreases trust

The next time you are talking to your child, friend, lover, spouse or co-worker consider trying to just listen, reflect back what you hear and ask what the person needs in the moment. You may find it helps the person and also improves your relationship!!

Validation is a strong component of DBT, to learn more visit: DBT in Hudson, WI