Visit The Women of Gloucester County Magazine at the link above and read Closing the Gap Between Parents and Teens!
SEE WHAT GREAT THINGS THE MAGAZINE HAS TO OFFER!
Visit The Women of Gloucester County Magazine at the link above and read Closing the Gap Between Parents and Teens!
SEE WHAT GREAT THINGS THE MAGAZINE HAS TO OFFER!
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A WHOLE CHILD APPROACH
©2011 by Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF
How to handle toddler temper tantrums has always been a hot topic among parents and experts. Kicking feet and flailing arms can fray a parent’s nerves and flip the balance of your day topsy-turvy. When you are standing in line at the super market and your toddler is throwing a royal fit over a piece of candy you want a solution that best meets the needs of the whole child. Don’t lose your cool!
Here are three ways to successfully meet the emotional needs of your toddler, model internal self-regulation, and transform those terrible tantrums.
1. Transform tantrums by being attentive to your toddler’s needs.
Your toddler’s strong reaction is the measure of his internal frustration or confusion over whatever is happening to him. These reactions are common toddler behaviors. He needs your attention and gets it the only way he knows how.
Attention seeking behaviors at this age are never about cognitive pre-planning; rather, all behaviors come from underlying unmet needs. Gaining a better understanding of what your child really needs will help you address the problem appropriately and restore his sense of feeling safe and cared for once again.
ACTION: Ask yourself what is driving the behavior? Finding the unmet need is the first step to filling it. Is your child tired, hungry, and overwhelmed by the tantalizing sights and sounds of the supermarket, playground, or other environment? It’s easy for little minds and bodies to confuse being tired with being hungry. Adults do that all the time. The sweet red taffy just beyond his reach has now pushed him beyond his level of tolerance.
2. Transform tantrums by calmly acknowledging your child’s feelings.
Toddlers do not have the ability to accurately verbally express how they feel and often will let you know through their emotional upset and crying.
ACTION: You can hep diffuse difficult behavior by ‘describing’ or ‘naming’ what your toddler is feeling. This action will let your toddler know you care about what he feels and you are capable of helping him feel better about it.
EXAMPLE: “I see how upset you are because you want the candy so much.”
Or, “I can see how angry you are right now. I understand how hard this is for you not to have candy.”
Or, “Wow, this is a noisy place. I don’t thing you like all this noise right now. Help mommy finish shopping so we can go somewhere quiet and have fun.”
3. Transform tantrums by creating a positive response to a negative reaction.
It is more productive and effective to provide your child with choices of what she can do or have, instead of focusing on what you do not want her to do or have.
ACTION: Seperate the child from the cause of the upset while lending emotional support. This might mean heading down a different isle, redirecting her attention to something else, or, in extreme cases, leave your basket at the customer service desk while you and your child get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Always reassure your child they are going to be okay.
EXAMPLE: (Describing) “We have been out for a long time this morning, Sam.”
(Positive choice and outcome) “Pick out your favorite cereal so Mommy can get you home quickly and you can have your nap.”
(Reassurance) “Next time we won’t be so long.”
Points to Remember
* A toddler’s ability to regulate their emotional and impulsive reactions is experience limited. They are navigating their rapidly expanding world for the first time and can become easily overwhelmed and frustrated.
* The goal is to help your toddler master his internal and sometimes unruly emotions that lead to less than desirable behavioral displays. Your toddler will need a very patient caregiver to help her learn these lessons well.
How a toddler eventually internalizes self-regulation will depend upon the models they have available from a loving family, friends, pre-school or other caregivers to the community in which they live. All young children need nurturing guidance and lots of patience. Parents who respond to tantrums in calm, consistent, and positive ways meet deep emotional needs in their children. Meeting needs at this level secures your toddlers positive self-esteem.
Once you have mastered all these skills, parenting through the tween years should be a piece of cake! Or, will it? See you then. 🙂
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GOOD STUFF IN – GOOD STUFF OUT!
(c) 2010 By Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF
Healthy children need healthy things from their parents. Just as the ol’ saying goes: Good stuff in – Good stuff out; and, well…you know the rest. What is this ‘good stuff’ you ask? Here are a few hints.
Ready, set, here it is!
GOOD STUFF #1 – THE WORDS PARENTS SPEAK
The words parents choose to speak to and about their children have great power over a child’s young mind and heart. As parents we want to teach our children to speak well of themselves and others. We want our children to learn respect. They will be able to do this when they experience their parent or caregiver speaking well of and to them. Remember: Children learn by hearing.
GOOD STUFF #2 – THE THOUGHTS PARENTS THINK
The quality of thoughts a parent may think about their child will influence the quality of connection and response the parent receives from their child. When the parent is in the habit of thinking negatively concerning their child this creates negative reciprocal emotions between parent and child. Both parent and child become locked in a repeating and self-propagating loop of negative interactions. In this case the child feels the negative space between him and his parent. It is not a place of love or support, and he knows it! As a parent then, you get what you give.
Effective and loving parents will support their growing child through positive internal thought. Parents Beware! It can be contagious! Positive thoughts about your child will become evident to him in the way in which he is treated. He will feel your love and care and become more willing to spend time with you and communicate. Yes, even teenagers! It is the confident and connected child who responds in kind to the parent whose positive thoughts empower and enrich his self-worth. Remember: Children learn through feeling.
GOOD STUFF #3 – THE LOOKS PARENTS GIVE
A parents ‘look’ in the direction of a child often depends upon the child’s current attitude and behavior. Consider that your child is new to life. Each experience and blunder is hers to make and learn from. Isn’t that how we all grew to be so wize? Soften your looks toward your child when they are less than perfect. Remember: Children learn through watching.
GOOD STUFF #4 – THE ACTIONS PARENTS TAKE
Dear Parent. How we live, work, play, think, speak, listen, understand, direct, choose, influence, interact, love, and guide ourselves, others, and most importantly, our children, is within their astute observations. They see it all and ponder it carefully. Soon, they too, live, work, play, think, speak, listen, understand, direct, choose, influence, interact, love and guide themselves in exactly the manner in which they have been taught. Remember: Children learn through modeling.
Healthy children need healthy things from their parents. Continue stepping up to the plate parents! Your children are learning!
Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF is a Certified Coach serving Families throughout Gloucester County, New Jersey, Delaware County and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Deborah is an author, presenter, and regular contributor to The Women of Gloucester County online magazine. She works with biological, adoptive and special needs parents via phone coaching and in-home services. She specializes in helping families repair relationships, manage stress, and implement successful solutions to raising children with behavioral disorders. Deborah is the owner of Together At Last Family Support and is now accepting registrations to her local Fall Parent Enrichment Courses. For specific course information contact Deborah at: www.HowDoesYourChildGrow.wordpress.com and click on the Events Calendar page. Or Call Deborah at: 609-970-1100. You are not alone, help is as close at your phone!
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FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION – PART 4
POOR ATTACHMENT BY ANY OTHER NAME
TRANSITION, TRUST, and LOVE
For children adopted privately or through a foster care system, transition, trust and feeling securely loved are issues they may struggle with into adulthood. It is important to remember, not all children are affected equally by the experience of tramatic events in their lives, but all are affected. The foundation of your parent/child relationship will strengthen according to your knowledge of:
In my experience, parents approaching issues of transition, trust, and emotional security with sensitivity, empathy, and right information will make all the difference in your new relationship with your child. You, the parent, are responsible for creating an optimal environment promoting bonding and attachment enabling your child to experience, perhaps for the first time, the life calming comfort of permanence.
“Home… Hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one.
“Home…I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the hurt is.” U2
Transition means a passage from one form, state, style, or place to another. For our children, regardless of age, this may have meant multiple moves from one home to another repeated many times. The moves result in loss of toys, a familiar bed, caregivers, parents, siblings, or a special smell of a bedtime blanket left behind.
Even infants experience deep loss and depression. Having been only briefly united with their birth mother a newborn already is familiar with their mothers heart beat, smell, and voice. The loss of a parent this early in life is often called a primal wound. It strikes a blow at the heart of attachment between child and caregiver. Just as a widow or widower will resist washing their spouses pillowcase or favorite shirt to maintain some form of comforting physical presence in a time of grieving , an infant or child experiences this same deep grieving through the loss of a former caregiver.
To understand this child an adoptive parent must be more attentive to suble behavioral cues. A caregiver may notice aversive or poor eye contact. The infant or child may react negatively to touch, textures, food, water, or sensations of cold or heat, by suddenly withdrawing a hand, grimacing, or stiffening the body. He may appear to have a ‘flat affect’, that is he fails to smile or become excited upon seeing his parent. The result is a plain or flat facial affect. He may not take delight in discovery as other infants of similar age. A parent may notice periods of prolonged crying or fussy behaviors hard to comfort, and for which there is no other discernable cause. This can be misinterpreted as colic. The depressed or stressed infant and child may display unusual sleeping patterns as in an infant who sleeps more than the 16-18 hours considered normal, or less than what may be needed for good health. All of this parenting uncertainty and turmoil can wear hard on parent, marriage, and family life. The parents may begin to believe they are not able to parent this child, or that they are “doing something wrong.”
One mother shares her young child’s journey.
“When my child was four days old, his mother left the hospital. He remained in the NICU for the next 10 days. Although the nurses tried their best in making time to hold him, I know he did not get what he needed to feel safe and connected. By the time he came to us at two months he had been in two other placements, making us his fourth since birth. It was a difficult transition for both of us. Even at three years old he remains very clingly and has many fears surrounding separation and sleeping that are much more intense than one might be prepared for with a child.”
Another parent relates her story.
“My daughter came to us when she was 8 years old. Her history stated she had been in six foster placements prior to coming to us. She would stuff all the food she could into her mouth at one time. She also would think nothing of reaching into your plate for whatever she wanted. She is very inflexible to changes of any kind. A trip to the park can be a terrifying event for her. If she believes she misbehaves in any way, she gets her coat and waits at the door prepared to be sent away. Much of her behavior didn’t make any sense to us. Over time and with further education we understood the behaviors as a manifestation of her earlier traumatic experiences. The repeated deprivation and loss of everyone, place, and thing in her life had impacted her so deeply. She always felt she had to fight for her life. When I began to realize what she had gone through, I understood why she seemed afraid to trust us. She couldn’t know what permanent meant. She couldn’t know for certain when she was taken somewhere that she would be able to return. It has taken years of reassurring her.”
It is clear what our kids go through in their young lives is sometimes far beyond our personal experience and understanding. It is also clear that it is beyond their control. These experiences have shaped their understanding of life, home, family, and relationship. What can you do to ease the process of transitioning your child into a permanent home?
Establishing trust between you and your child will go a long way to heal past hurts. But don’t expect it will happen overnight. Remember, each time your child has been moved in the system, she has left bits and pieces of her life, belongings, family, heritage, and culture behind. Even at very young ages, our children have experienced relationship and family as broken and painful. This type of loss is a deep hurt that heals very slowly. But you CAN heal it.
Children need to know they will be safe. They need to know you will be safe. They will only learn it if you model it for them, again, and again, and again. You will be the parent who shows this child what it means to have a parent’s limitless love for him. He learns to see his value mirrored in your eyes and in your words. It is then, that his heart will open and painful cracks left by past trauma will begin to fill.
Children do well when they can trust that all of their needs will be consistently met by the adults who care for them. What do children need?
This passage from the well-loved Winnie the Pooh series sums up the needs of all children for trust.
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” He whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.” A.A. Milne
Children can experience love as a condition of care or attention. “If I am ‘good’, perhaps I can stay here.” “If I do what they want, maybe they will love me.” They have neither had opportunity nor ability to understand the events of their lives. Alternately, children may display destructive behaviors in an attempt to keep from being hurt again. “If I make them send me away now, I won’t have time to let myself like them.” While some children may consciously construct negative situations to protect themselves from further emotional pain, many hurt kids act out from an unconscious place of primitive self-survival.
What do you need to understand?
When a child has a skewed perception of parental love because of early experiences, it is the knowing parent who effects positive change in a child’s thought, and uncovers the truth in her heart. Your clear destination is in front of you. What will happen when parents and child connect? One wonderful word: FAMILY.
For more information and classes in these topic areas, go to the Events Calendar of this site. Or visit www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com for payment online and registration. New classes are forming NOW for September 2010! Conveniently located in the S. New Jersey/Deleware/Philadelphia area. If you prefer a private or group telecourse, please contact me above or at DeborahBeasley20@yahoo.com
FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION – PART 3
POOR ATTACHMENT BY ANY OTHER NAME… TRAUMA
© 2010 By Deborah Beasley, ACPI CCPF
In the last two decades more attention has been focused on children and trauma than at any other time. New scientific understanding of the brain emerged which shed new light on how trauma changes the brain and interrupts healthy development in a child. Trauma has been defined as “any unexpected, overwhelming, or prolonged event which goes unprocessed, unexpressed, and misunderstood.” Dr. Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger Healing Trauma states that, “Trauma is not in the event itself; rather, trauma resides in the nervous system.”
What is Trauma?
Trauma is more than a catastrophic event. Trauma can happen at any time, or at no particular time. It damages some and leaves others untouched. It can occur though the person is not physically present at the time of the event. It can leave its dark imprint through hearing, seeing, smelling, or the feeling of it. Examples are broad and sometimes not what we might expect:
Trauma has the potential of occurring whenever the body/mind system is triggered into believing it is in a life threatening environment. Many have experienced being at home alone, perhaps late at night. Everything is quiet; most of the lights are off. We hear a noise from another room, or we think we hear something. All of our senses swell in heightened alert. We feel changes in our bodies. We may become aware of perspiration, rapid shallow breathing, and thumping heartbeat. Our eyes grow wide trying to take in as much light as possible. Our hearing becomes acute to every sound. Internally, our blood rushes away from our digestive organs and pushes into our extremities. We are preparing to run…or fight, if need be. This is who we are at our deepest functioning level. One moment calm, the next triggered by a small sound into full survival mode. Fight, flight, or freeze. But, wait! We discover only that the sound was the refrigerator turning on, or the dishwasher we pre-programmed earlier, or the normal sounds of a settling house. We believed ourselves to be threatened and in danger of our lives. This example sends home that , “What we perceive to be true we believe to be true.” Our brain does not distinguish the difference.
In 2001, the horrendous tragedy of 9-11 brought renewed attention to how children (and adults) experience traumatic stress and its effects on their lives. According to the New York School of Medicine 1.2 million children from New York City alone were directly affected by the 9-11 attacks. Prominent scientists, neurologists, and psychologists throughout the United States began intensive studies on the affects of trauma on these children.
The study focused on school-aged kids from 6-18 years. Children with no prior psychopathology developed significant life crippling fears with diagnosable psychological and behavioral disorders after the 9-11 events. Some of these developed within one month. One year after this study, 1 in every 6 children continued to experience nightmares, bedwetting, fears of losing parents, fears of going out, and school bus aversion. There was a notable increase in risk taking behaviors among this groups teenagers disproportionate to the general adolescent population. Rises in cigarette smoking, drug and alcohol involvement, and oppositional behavior were prevalent, along with marked decline in academics. The sudden and catastrophic effects the experience of traumatic stress leaves on the mind and bodies of children was understood clearly as a result of this and other intensive studies following the 9-11 attacks.
Trauma at the Body Level
The old adage: “Time heals all things” no longer applies in these and many other cases. We used to believe kids would ‘just get over it.’ We used to believe the younger they were the sooner they would forget. After all, we know the plasticity of the brain and kids are born to be resilient. The prevailing thought was that much of the infant and child’s brain was not yet functioning to full capacity. The child was then not aware and therefore suffered less from the negative effects of life. How far from true this is! “The event may have disappeared from conscious memory, but the body does not forget,” Dr. Peter Levine. Trauma, which goes unprocessed, unexpressed, and misunderstood, then develops at the cellular level and in the deepest sensory memories stored within the brain.
The brain suffering the psychological and emotional insults and injuries of trauma was incapable of being healed; so was the prevailing thought little more than two decades ago. We now know that healing the brain is possible. Dr. Susan Bradley, author of Affect Regulation and the Development of Psychopathology states; “It is through the sensory pathways that the damage occurred- and it is through the sensory pathways that healing can happen.” Relationship is the key to healing. A child’s relationship with a loving and supporting caregiver can create many opportunities for healing past traumas in a child’s life. The work is hard, and demands draining commitment and parental dedication.
Tell me…are you up to it?
Look for my next installment…