Trying To Get It Right

Over the weekend I had some friends from out of town visit.  We got together for lunch one day with many of our mutual friends that live in the area.  My two and half year old, who is usually a charmer in small groups, was very nervous with so many adults around with whom she isn't familiar.  She whined, and cried a little.  She was clingy, and didn't want to leave my side.  She didn't want to play with the toys we had brought to distract her, and the only thing that seemed to help was watching her favorite show on the iPhone.  

I was thinking about her behavior later.  I was at first frustrated, but as I followed my thoughts I came away with more respect and empathy for my daughter, and some thoughts about maintaining a little grace with her when situations like this arise.  

I realized that in that moment she was feeling shy, nervous, embarrassed, and unsure of herself.  Being so young she didn't have the skills to maneuver this complex social situation without my help and understanding.  Clinging to me was really her best coping skill and defense.  Of course, over time I'd like for her to be better at self soothing and distraction, but that isn't going to happen over night.  

I was surprised (in the moment) that her toys (a doll and book) weren't more comforting and distracting to her.  However, in hindsight, I see that children only play when they are free of distress.  Play is the luxury of a relaxed mind.  

Watching her favorite show on the iPhone, although not something I want her to rely on always, was one of the few things at my disposal that carried a strong enough motivation to allow her mind to be distracted.

So with these new epiphanies in mind and empathy for my daughters experience here is what I wish I had done:

--I wish I had not been blinded by my wish for her to be on her best behavior for my sake (my reputation).

--I wish I had allowed her a few minutes of comfort from me where I validated her fears in the situation and offered her assurance that everything was going to be ok.

--I wish I'd have been more patient.

--I wish that I had been able to help her soothe in a way that allowed her mind to relax.  

--I wish that I had come into the situation with more age appropriate (and individualized) expectations. 

Being a parent is hard.  I think  reflection may be my very best "tool" if I am to get it right next time.  

Bi Weekly Roundup

Welcome back from the holidays!  I took a bit of a break, so this week's list of good reads is pretty short.  Below I give my take on what I like about each article... which isn't necessarily the takeaway meant to be taken.  Read on....

1.  This article summarizes a 30+ year study that looks at how different childhood experiences and parent relationships impact our relationships, social aptitudes, and sense of self in adulthood. Basically, a child's temperament combined with parenting behaviors in the first 3 1/2 years of life do influence a person 20-30 years later.  As a therapist I know that there is an infinite number of emotional, behavioral, and psychological combinations that can result  from a child's natural disposition/temperament, the parenting style/methods, socio-economic status, and life opportunities.  However, I think it is important as a parent to think about how our parenting styles might be influencing our children down the line.  It's a mental exercise that when used often enough helps us to parent "mindfully".  That isn't the point of this article particularly, but that's my personal take-away.  

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/12/19/371679655/some-early-childhood-experiences-shape-adult-life-but-which?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2045

2.  This next article is a nice reminder that stereotyping someone with a drug addiction isn't a helpful to you or the person with the addiction.  

http://beat.drugabuse.com/6-misconceptions-sober-people-have-about-addicts/

3.  This is a nice description of what it's like to have ADHD, an often times misunderstood and over diagnosed condition.  

http://www.tickld.com/x/if-your-friends-ever-say-they-have-adhd-just-show-them-this

Bi-weekly Roundup

Hey all, I'm back with more interesting reads (and a radio program)!  Today you can learn more about positive characteristics of long term relationships, how stress impacts the brain, how to teach kindness and empathy to our children, a few pros to playing video games, and a discussion on surviving and thriving through traumatic experiences.   

 

1.  Want to know what characteristics make for lasting relationships?  Kindness and Generosity.  Based on years of relationship studies done by John Gottman and Robert Levenson at the University of Washington, it was found that couples that are kind and generous in their interactions with their partner stay together, and are happier.  Couples that leave out these core ingredients were found to have higher physiological responses in their partner's company (high heart rates, less calm) and seemed to be in a constant state of "fight or flight".  Their interactions were more often critical, dismissive, passive/passive aggressive/aggressive, and pessimistic.  

What does it look like to be kind and generous?  It means being happy for your partner when good things happen, considering the partner's intentions rather than actions, giving warmth and affection, and responding to your partner's "bid" for connection (showing interest when your partner attempts to share with you).  Read the full article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-2-traits-2014-11?utm_content=bufferdc881&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer  

2.  Did you know stress changes the physiological structure of your brain?  It does.  Parts of the brain affected: the hypocampus shrinks (important for learning, memory, and regulating emotion); the prefrontal cortex shrinks (important for decision making, memory, and regulating impulsive behavior); the amygdala gets bigger (storage for memories with high emotional impact).  

A good antidote for managing stress:  EXERCISE.  I'd also suggest scheduling an appointment with me ;) Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-c-evans/how-stress-is-literally-m_b_6064966.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

3.  Today's first article demonstrates how important kindness is to our personal relationships.  Kindness and empathy (understanding other's experiences) help individuals have healthy happy relationships of all kinds.  This article discusses some ideas for how you can help your child develop kindness and empathy.  It suggests making caring for others a priority (demonstrating in our own lives is important, it teaches responsibility, and helps create balanced individuals), providing opportunities to practice caring and gratitude, expand your child's "circle of concern" (develops empathy at a larger scale), and guide children in managing feelings.  For more details on how to teach/guide your child read here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/

4.  Are you for or against letting your child play video games?  There is a lot of advice out there on this topic.  I personally think that video games have great potential, but parental discretion and overview of content and age appropriateness, time limits, etc should be in place.  This article suggests that some games help kids hone the following skills: focus, problem solving, thinking and reflection (metacognition).  http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/11040.html?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=November

5.  This last addition isn't something to read, but something to listen to!  If you have about an hour, this is a really interesting discussion.  It is an edition of KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny.  Michael Krasny interviews David Feldman and Lee Kravitz on their new book "Supersurvivors".  The book and discussion are about how people survive and thrive post very difficult and traumatic experiences.  David Feldman was a professor of mine at Santa Clara University.  I have only good things to say about him and his work.  http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201411061000

 

Have a great day!

--Kjersti