One parenting chore we face at this time of year if getting the children out the door and to school without the chaos. Is this possible? Yes indeed. School mornings could be a good plan gone asunder, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone in the household can give both to the problem and to the solution, and it takes a collective effort to create a relaxed and efficient environment in which the household starts the school day. Parenting stress doesn’t have to be a side effect either.
Timing is the most relevant reason for preparing to start a school day.
. If timing is off, parenting becomes stressful. The household has to work like a well-tuned orchestra, whereby every instrument is tuned, everyone is in his or her place, and the maestro is on the stand.
The following parenting tips are gentle reminders to prepare and enjoy your day!
Organize and develop a morning and evening plan. Let children offer their comments and have a trial run to test it. The plan should include such things as:
Preparing the breakfast table as much as possible i.e. set out cereal bowls and cereal boxes.
4. Plan to complete some morning activities before school. Morning activities and duties should include:
Breakfast together as often as possible
Hygiene/bathroom time for each person as previously planned
Review of the daily calendar, and confirm any activities scheduled for the day
Being in a good mood where everyone is happy and determined to have a great day
5. Parents must set the morning mood and control the chaos.
Organize your routine to support the family plan.
Be ready for surprises, such as a forgotten backpack.
Stay in touch with your child’s obligations by reviewing daily activity and homework schedules.
Keep calm and muster a positive attitude. If you get rattled, everyone else will follow suit.
Take enough time to talk about any afternoon or evening activities that the child can look forward to such as a special meal or extra free time.
Preventing chaos in the morning is a family affair. By investing parenting time in planning routines and enforcing the rules that come with it, everyone gets his or her day off to a better start. Failing to invest that time leaves the door open to disaster - and it will come! Try implementing some of the above suggestions and keep that door closed.
By changing parenting responses to sickness, we can support healthier children. My daughter had three bouts of strep throat in first grade. In second grade, she was starting on her second round of throat infections when we sat quietly in the doctor’s office and held hands. My daughter looked up at me with tears in her long lashes and said, “I’m sorry I’m sick, Mommy. I promise I’ll get better.”
Her words hit me hard in the gut. I wonder how she thought her illness was an inconvenience to me – another problem in my day. Her words made me review what I had said, as well as my non-verbal language and my actions about being healthier. How was my parenting a message to feel guilty about being sick?
Reduce Parenting Tensions
The evidence of my stressed parenting was easy to find: the scowls about missing another day at work; the rush to find a babysitter; the trip to the drug store. My daughter soaked up these tensions and words. Certainly, my parenting worry made her feel worse, and it led me to understand how I could help my daughter be healthier.
I could reverse her feeling needlessly guilty while also helping her reduce the likelihood of being more stressed.
1. Smile - I realized that when I approached my daughter when she was ill I looked worried or concerned. This contributed much to her feeling worried. By simply smiling at her, I eased her tension and created an attitude of healthier instead of sicker
2. Use Positive Phrases - You already know how your sick child feels. Rather than repeatedly asking the obvious, try saying, “You look good,” or “You’re doing better.”
Asking “What’s wrong?” forces a child to think about that. Asking “What’s good?” or “What’s right?” or “What’s feeling better?” or “What’s improves?” encourages positive thoughts about feeling healthier.
3. Touching and cuddling - Yes, we’re all busy and yes it is easy just to park a sick child in front of the television. But that does nothing to lessen the child’s awareness of what a burden he or she is for you when sick. Children feel safer when we can touch, bond, and hold them when their world seems dreary. Studies show touching and bonding strengthen the immune system, literally. Sit and hold your sick child for some of that TV time. Put him or her on your lap and read a story together.
4. Do quiet time activities together - Undertaking quiet time activities together helps make both your child and you feel better. When my daughter was ill we drew pictures, colored designs, played card games, and watched the birds at the feeder through her window. These joint activities, rather than her illnesses, are times that she still remembers when we speak of childhood memories
5. Envision healthier children – Another quiet activity that we enjoyed was closing our eyes and pretending that our eyes had x-ray vision like Superman. My daughter would scan her body with her x-ray vision and tell me what parts felt better, what the tummy would like to eat, and how she was improving. It may sound like a silly activity, but recent studies have shown that for patients with serious illnesses, including cancer and immune system disorders, very similar healing imagery has a positive effect. Thinking about being healthy can actually help our bodies be healthier, and that’s exactly what we want for our healthier children.
6. Listen - Stress weakens the immune system, and yet the things causing stress in our children’s lives often go unnoticed until they erupt into tummy aches, headaches, an accident, and more. Simply asking, “What’s happening at school?” or “How are your friends?” or “What seems hard in your life right now?” can make a difference. As parents, we don’t have to fix it or make it better. Often, listening is enough!
There’s no avoiding exposure to the viruses and bacteria that can lead to the common childhood illnesses. But we can protect against them. Giving our kids a healthy diet and making sure they get plenty of rest are some ways to do that. As important is providing a loving environment and minimizing stress. And if illness should strike, letting your child understand that your main desire is his or her good health, and not simply ending the inconvenience of having a sick child, can help make the process of getting well easier and quicker.
Intuitive Parenting involves wanting to follow our natural, hardwired knowing about what our children need compared to the schedules, parent-speak, and strategies we learn when searching for parenting tools and philosophies. The intuitive parenting types are usually empathic, heart-oriented, creative, and highly influential. We feel what our children feel and we can soothe them. Our basic tendency is to follow our inner GPS and sometimes that is hard.hen
“Discovering my temperaments was a precious gift for understanding that it was okay to be me, the intuitive parent.“
Can’t Deny Intuitive Parent Traits
Honestly, in our rushing about or focusing on work-related projects, we spend much time in the logical part of our brains. Yet, intuitive intelligence can speak louder if necessary.
An intuitive parent’s knowing when centered on a child, has rarely not identified the needs, situations, or conversation that need attention.
We HAVE TO understand how our intuitive parent nature presents for our children & how to apply it to real life. Christopher, a dad to Jason, 16 years old, had an intuitive sense about Jason when first held him after birth.
Christopher explains: “I was holding my newborn son when my just broke open with torrents of love. Along with rush of feelings, I saw images of my when he was older. The scenes were a car accident at age 5, training for football at the high school, Jason on the swim team, and several other imagesas Jason moved through his teen years. I held these images close, and they were always in my consciousness. For example, when Jason turned five years old, I remembered the scene of a car accident. I wasn’t afraid of the scene, but I was aware of my caution when driving with Jason in the car. On satuday afternoon I was driving home with Jason. My body sped up to get through an intersection with a yellow light, and my gut felt turned upside down. Talk about really feeling intuition! It was so odd. I drove the car through the intersection at just below the speed limit, and immediately parked the car on the right side of the street in front of a restaurant. Within seconds a large garbage truck sped through the intersection and ran a red light in the process. The truck hit a spot of gravel in the intersection and swerved sideways before moving straight ahead again. I have no doubt that the huge trick would have hit my car and Jason and I might not have survived based upon the spped and weight of the huge truck.
“What I like about being intuitive is that I just know some things to be true. If my instinct was to get through the yellow light turning to red and park the car, I don’t have to think about it. The primal instinct of survival is in all of us. I don’t want to know why I had that instinct to act.”
One of our most influential tools for parenting is the power of our intuition, our inner sense sometimes called inner voice or wisdom. Much has been said about a mother’s intuition, and we thought you would enjoy these brief stories.
One of our most influential tools for parenting is the power of our intuition, our inner sense sometimes called inner voice or wisdom. Kathy explained that she was an intuitive mom. She often enjoyed her end-of-the-day routine after putting her three children to bed. She liked to sit alone at night, read a good book and enjoy the solitude. One night, she felt something touch the back of her neck. She turned to see what it was when a voice in her head told her to check her infant son. She got up immediately and went to his room to see that as he lay in his crib he was not breathing. Later at a symposium, she learned that her son was a prime candidate for SIDS. Sudden Infant Death would have claimed another life if she hadn’t trusted the voice she heard and taken action. The intuitive traits that Kathy showed were
Being self-aware of feelings and perceptions,
Trusting instinctive feeling–even when the outcome was unknown by the logical mind,
Feeling connected to the feelings of others.
“Intuition is more than knowledge, and truth comes pure from the heart.” ~ Don Bradley (Angels in a Harsh World)
A Mom’s Intuition
Jenna’s daughter, Liz, was only seventeen when she graduated from high school earlier than her peers in order to take a summer and fall internship at a language institute. Jenna used her mother’s intuition to advise Liz on courses or the big decisions that Jenn had to make about her future at college and work. Right now, Liz was on a fast track to a prestigious interpreter’s position with a large company, and she had to attain specific training hours. The morning of her departure arrived. Jenna and Liz shared a quiet breakfast together before loading up her car and driving off. Jenna realized how long she had waited for her time to graduate and leave home. She felt enthusiastic and also sad. Her route through the desert to get North was awesome as far as beauty, but also the road was empty. Where were the other cars?
No worries Jenna thought. Relax and enjoy the ride. About two hours down the road, Jenna heard a pop and the car swerved slightly. A flat tire? Jenna got out of the car and did see a bad blowout. She made attempts to change the tire herself, but she didnt’ quite have the strength to ensure the lugs were tight.
Well, there was no one to call with no cell phone signal. She would wait for another car. Surely, one would come. Liz felt comfortable for the first hot hour in the afternoon. But lack of traffic and a way to communicate with any one left her confused. Should she stay with the car? Should she start walking to get some help? Would she find someone’s home so she could use their phone?
Mom Felt Her Fear
Jenna felt her daughter’s anguish, and if she felt it out of the blue, that meant that Jenna must be overly tired or frustrated. Out of the anguish she felt in Jenna, Liz called the state highway patrol. She apprised the officer on desk of the situation and asked that a patrol car in the area find her daughter’s car and please report back.
The officer on patrol did find Jenna and had her car towed back to a local gas station for service and a new tire. Liz had sent her mom a mental S.O.S. out of desperation, but was only a little hopeful her mom might sense her situation. Thanks heavens she had.
Learn More About Becoming an Coach for Intuitive Parents
Everyday your life is filled with goodness through kind gestures and through kindness from your family. This family coach tool is a gentle reminder…everyday there is an opportunity to see the uniqueness of one family member and to show how you appreciate his or her affect on your life. Often I tell my children how I appreciate a specific strength or how I noticed a kind act. Showing appreciation is truly a heart-connector.
The following 4 tips offer suggestions to help you demonstrate appreciation for that special person.
Count your blessings. After you awaken each morning, count your blessings of the one family member you are appreciating. Write a small “appreciation note”or verbally offer your appreciation with a hug and a smile.
What a kind way for both of you to start your day. The Institute of Heartmath® demonstrated that love and positive feelings stay in the cells of the heart, muscles and organs for up to 7 hours.
Create a Gratitude or Appreciation Corner. Thisfamily coach tipis so appreciated by our children. This corner could be your creation or created and used by the whole family. The gratitude corner is stocked with different colored pens, sticky notes, and index cards. You write whom you are grateful for that day and why. Invite other family members to do the same. Even a selfie can be used. Post on a poster board or cork board as reminders.
Say “thank you” every time is an important family coach tip for modeling gratitude for other family members, whose kind act or gesture is shared with you. Even better, using positive I-statements reassures a child, partner, or parent that you noticed and do not take their actions for granted.
I like what you did so much.
I feel so loved.
I appreciate you too.
I am going to do that for you one day as a surprise.
I think you are so thoughtful.
Leave “Thank You” notes. Few people give thank-you notes anymore, yet this family coach tip is such a well-received token of appreciation. We forget how nice it is to get a handwritten note, knowing that someone who cares for you took the time to personalize their thoughts and thank you for something that was special to them.
As you can see, there are many ways to show gratitude and appreciation to the people who are important in your life. Not only will they be grateful, but these acts of kindness make you feel good too. Putting a smile on someone’s face and some joy in their heart is the best family coach tip yet!
In our culture, we have few role models for healthy relationships. A relationship is capable of bringing into your life both joy and sadness, delight and suffering. Indeed, healthy human relationships are very odd things. But you can change that.
Human relationships are strange psychological entities. They are very much like a tennis match. You can’t create a match alone. You never directly experience the quality of a match. Rather, its quality is based on your interpretation of how each of you play the game. You contribute only 50 percent to the nature and quality of the match. You have 100 percent of the power to stop it, merely by leaving the
court and not interacting anymore. You have to remain on your side of the net in order for the match to continue. You can control only how you play, never how the other plays. Healthy relationships are capable of bringing into your life both joy and sadness, delight and suffering.
Indeed, human relationships are very odd things.
Few Healthy Relationships Role Models
In our culture, we have relatively few positive models for healthy relationships. We see, and often experience, people interacting in unhealthy ways. Self-abuse, abuse of partners, ignorance of healthy interactions, violence and hurt, and fear and distrust all seem to be what is highlighted in our lives. The news is rarely about healthy actions and relationships. Even our chosen leaders demonstrate few healthy interpersonal skills when relating to their perceived adversaries.
People break up relationships and leave the relationship court for many reasons. Some keep grudges and resentment over past events. Some fear the consequences of a continued relationship. Some simply stop talking to one another and the healthy relationship withers. Some are focused only on themselves and ignore their impact on the relationship. Some fear commitment to any relationship. It would seem that we have little education on what elements make up a healthy relationships. We seem to have even less knowledge about how to behave in ways that create healthy and satisfying relationships. I know many people who go through life feeling alone, empty, and lonely because they were never taught effective relationship skills, or
choose not to use those they were taught.
Relationships are born, grow, thrive, and end. They pass through phases of development. Some are brief in time. Some last a lifetime. Some are still-born. Some are destroyed intentionally. Some slowly fade due to neglect. Some thrive and deepen. Some enrich our existence. Some drain us of energy. Some fulfill our needs. Some remain barely noticeable.
8 Action Steps to Healthier Relationships
Here are a few suggestions for developing satisfying, healthy relationships to your fellow human beings.
Let relationships grow slowly. Permanent healthy relationships
aren’t based on emergency need fulfillment. They must be nurtured and
attended to over time.
Accept yourself as you are and share that with another. Accept that
others are never exactly like you. Differences are not bad or wrong.
They are the elements that enrich relationships.
Choose to trust yourself and your partner. Trust is a choice you
make. It is never “earned” or “deserved.” It is a free choice only
you can make. You set the criteria for choosing to trust.
Develop “intellectual intimacy” with each other. Share your
thoughts, ideas and opinions spontaneously and without fear. Talk
with one another. Have discussions, even if the content is
Risk emotional closeness. Sharing feelings are perceived as more risky than sharing ideas and thoughts. To have emotional closeness, we must reveal to each other what we feel. Emotional revelation invites emotional closeness and is the foundation for building healthy relationships.
Forgive one another. Forgive yourself. Blame, criticism, resentment, fear, cynicism and negative memories cripple relationships. Letting go of these qualities through forgiveness refreshes and invigorates relationships. Become comfortable with the words, “I’m sorry.”
Make no assumptions and keep no secret expectations. Assumptions are rarely accurate. Unspoken expectations are more rarely fulfilled. No one can read your mind or heart.
Hug and touch. No relationship, indeed no individual, can survive without physical contact. Everyone needs physical expressions of affection and caring. Make a distinction in your mind between physical expressions of affection and sexuality.Heathy Relationships! We can’t survive without them. We all need to know how to create, contribute to, and enjoy them.
Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life coach. He serves on the faculty of the International University of Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams) the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton 2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.
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A recent question from a family coach asked if ACPI Coaches use positive self-talk as a tool. I thought all of us would enjoy knowing more about self-talk, because how I have seen coaches use it (including myself) is not always the best way.
“Positive self-talk” refers to the voice in one’s head. We can observe in a child what the inner voice might say if a child makes comments to him or herself when playing, when disappointed, when exuberant.
In reviewing some of the research on positive self-talk summaries showed good evidence for how the strategy works, but mostly through association and when paired with an activity.
Recently, my six-year-old grandson decided his summer activity would be soccer. Last Saturday was his first game, and he was nervous. I started singing affirming statements, a strategy we started together since he was about two and went through a hearty “no” stage. Basically for Calvin, he just needs a reason to do things. He never asked why? very often, just said no. A little explanation brought the light of reason and “Oh, okay, let’s go.”
Eating lunch before the game, we sang, “I am eating all my lunch. I will have a bunch… of ENERGY for my soccer game.” On that note, singing or rhyming works much better with children than just saying the words.
It has to be realistic. For example, Calvin was never a kid who could just say, “I play soccer well.” His rhetorical question at age five was, “But I don’t. So why say that?” The “fake it til you make it” way of using positive self-talk simply doesn’t register in the emotions or the mind. In fact, it can be detrimental if a positive parent pushes this point, “If you do it enough you will feel better.” Well we now know that is not true.
It has to be associated with an event, a task, or a behavior so it sets like concrete in a child’s brain, or in adult’s brain for that matter.
A study published by the American Psychological Association shows that if there is a disconnect between one’s positive self-talk and one’s actual behavior (e.g., telling yourself you did a great job when, in fact, you didn’t), then one is more likely to feel depressed and dejected, not upbeat.
Coaches can introduce the POWERFUL tool of self-talk, but in a specific way…otherwise it is NOT EFFECTIVE.
Positive self-talk has a more positive effect during a performance. This becomes more evident when associating positive self-talk and a sports skill. The child who models the positive self talk as taught to him or her during a soccer skill of dribbling with feet, is talking and practicing at the same time. This enhances learning and retention, and consequently BELIEF IN SELF! This example is exactly like asking a child to read out loud so more sensory cues receive and process information.
For tasks like completing homework or chores, learning a new skill like riding a bike, or for a smooth transition to going to bed, positive self-talk can keep the child moving forward and eventually gain enthusiasm when seeing how an adult can do the same in modeling for them Here are a few that I use:
For a child who is grumpy in the mornings: I am moving out of my bed. I sit up and stretch my arms and head. My feet are on the floor. I love a new day. I can learn and I can play.
For a child picking up toys…provide an incentive: I pick up my doll, and place it against the wall (or on a shelf or in a closet) so the dog won’t chew on my toy. Oh boy. I feel great. I love to pick up toys and make my doll happy too.
For a child who hates going to school: Today is Monday, a great day, a glad day, a happy day. I like Mondays.
Positive self-talk is especially helpful when starting a new project or job, meeting a new date, or learning a new skill, as if you inner parent voice was your best coach!
“Help! I will have a house full of relatives this Christmas. I know exactly what will happen and I don’t know what to do about it. Everyone will shower lots of attention on my daughter with special needs and basically ignore her younger sister. It makes me so mad! Any ideas?” – Mom of a child with developmental disorder
“My five-year-old son had to go to the hospital and I stayed with him. His older sister was so angry at me for leaving her that she wouldn’t even look at me when she came to visit the hospital. What can I do to get her over her anger?” – Mom of a child with cystic fibrosis
Special Needs Siblings
Special needs kids face plenty of special challenges and so do their siblings. According to Don Meyer of SibShops, much of the medical world is focused on the affected child and siblings are often forgotten. Don points out that brothers and sisters are too important to ignore because they will be in the life of the special needs child long after parents and other caregivers are gone.
So how can parents nurture the sibling relationship, take care of the affected child and manage to squeak in a little time for parental self-care? It’s not easy, but understanding a little bit about relationship dynamics and having a good parenting toolbox can go a long ways.
When healthy children live with a special needs sibling, whether that child has psychological, neurological or medical problems, they naturally have an understandable potpourri of feelings that swirl within depending on the situation, the family culture and their mood at the moment. Such feelings may be love, resentment, protectionism, feelings of helpfulness and hopelessness interspersed at times with “just wishing my sister would die!”
Parenting Children With Health Issues
Surprisingly, although children “lean” toward one feeling or another, parents consciously or unconsciously validate certain feelings and those are the feelings that become most habitual or primary. In our book “Parenting Children with Health Issues,” we note that there are various ways parents, without realizing they do so, validate dysfunctional or unhappy feelings in the healthy sibling. We can look at one example here:
Understandably, parents may vibrate feelings of guilt about the time and energy they must spend on their special child. This encourages blame in the healthy sibling. So a mother might respond to an upset sibling with: “Paul, honey, I’m sorry, but Nate needs a lot of my time now.” Especially if this is said with a tone of slight plead, the response of most healthy siblings will be, “Well, it’s not fair! You should be spending more time with me!” How different this is than when the parent says, with love and understanding, “I understand that you’re frustrated. And I appreciate your understanding about the time Nate is taking now. Not every kid could handle it so well. Thanks.”
When confronted with a child’s upset feelings, there are two common mistakes parents make: They confirm the child’s upset by responding with too much sympathy or defensiveness or they invalidate the child’s feelings by dismissing their concerns. The solution? As shown in the example above, respond with empathy and acceptance of the child’s feelings while not giving approval of “acting out” behaviors and giving the child the “you-can-cope message.”
One of the best gifts a parent can give any child is the ability to cope well with the challenges life throws their way. As adults, we know that life will always have problems and frustrations but it is how we handle them that will ultimately decide the quality of our lives.
When children have the experience of coping well with problems, they are confident and they take responsibility for their lives. It is too easy for siblings of disabled kids to take the victim position: “If it weren’t for John’s illness, my life would be easier” or “If it weren’t for Susie’s disability, I’d be happy,” etc.
Parent Coaching Tips
There are some ways that parents can help the healthy siblings of a special needs child to cope:
Parents need to spend some personal time with the healthy child. Parents may need to play tag-team to do this. Even a quick dinner at McDonald’s can be a time of important one-on-one connection.2. Expect (with great appreciation) that the healthy child will help with some of the necessary routines concerning their brother and sister and other jobs around the house. Chores are an important way for all kids to contribute to the family and human beings love what they contribute to. But be sure to pay a child for special duties above and beyond what is usually expected and keep expectations reasonable.3. When and if the child expresses negative or angry feelings listen with acceptance, not necessarily approval. Everyone needs time to vent and wants his or her feelings to be accepted but that doesn’t mean parents have to agree with the content of the complaint. Words that show acceptance without necessarily agreeing with the feelings are:
“Thanks for letting me know how you feel”
“I appreciate your telling me these things.”
“I can understand that you feel that way….”
4. After listening, questions may help children move toward resolution:
“How long do you think you’ll be upset about….?”
“What is your plan for handling…..?”
5. Special needs children may need more than average physical contact from their parents and siblings are sure to notice. Make sure you give the healthy child equal touch, hugs, and eye-contact.
6. Be sure siblings are getting accurate information about the disability or disease. Where there is a lack of information, kids often fill in the gaps with misinformation or they might blame themselves for causing the problem.
7. It is helpful to educate extended family members, schools contacts and close others about the siblings’ special challenges and needs. But be sure to talk this over with the sibling first- especially an older child. Make a plan together ahead of time about the best way to handle those family members who are coming for the holidays! This will reduce stress and hard feelings.
8. Make the effort to find out what your children need as individuals; there many good books on personality styles. By becoming aware of your child’s personality style, you will be more able to respond effectively to the behavioral or emotional challenges that come up. You might think that the sibling who is spending time all alone in his room with his books is depressed, and that might be the case. Or it might be that your child is an analytical introvert who simply prefers books to people! Take the time to understand who your children really are.
Modeling The Coping and Conflict Resolution Skills
So, as you navigate the ups and downs of family life with a child who has special needs, keep these tips in mind:
Remember that the siblings of special needs kids are kids first. Before “blaming” sibling problems or family issues on the challenges around living with special needs, first see if there is another reason that is unrelated to the special needs. Maybe the sibling is acting out because he or she is having a hard time at school or a problem with friends or a girl/boy friend. Look at the whole child first, before assuming that it is the issue of special needs that is causing the problem. Again, when parents feel guilty, the situation is more easily confused.
Parents set the model for good problem solving, conflict resolution and coping skills. The children will learn to cope with hard times and the sibling’s special needs by watching and learning from the parent. Does a parent whine and complain about the situation? Is a parent angry and frustrated? Do the parents fight with each other over the problems? Do they “blame” the ill child for their financial, marital, and relational problems? If so, you can bet the siblings will, too.
Parents must take good care of themselves. Not only is this important to avoid burnout but again, it sets the model for the children. This means that parents take the time for date nights and self-care time. This also means that parents do not tolerate disrespect from the children (or each other). They set healthy boundaries around the many demands that come with raising a disabled/ special needs child.
Focus on thankfulness and the positive. Foster a spirit of helpfulness, cooperation and appreciation for each other and the blessings that are present. Make it a practice to count your families’ blessings together each day: jobs, a roof, food, medical insurance, freedom, friends and family, resilience, compassion, depth, love, faith and hope.
Learn effective parenting skills. Parents must have good, effective parenting skills to rely on. There is no substitute for knowing how to defuse arguing, setting limits without causing power struggles and communicating about difficult issues.
Don’t always make ill/disabled children the focal point of the family. They are a part of the family, not the family. Don’t define/ label yourselves as parents of a child with a disability. We are all people, first, with hopes, dreams, fears, needs and gifts.
Don’t overcompensate for your guilty feelings of not being able to spend enough time with the siblings. Some parents try to “make it all better” with material things and not setting limits when it is appropriate to do so. This creates more problems than you actually solve. Entitlement (aka “spoiled child syndrome”) can become a real danger in homes with special needs kids because it leads to kids who become hostile-dependent. This is when people think they are entitled to something and when they don’t get it become angry, resentful, blaming and bitter. We’ve seen far too many relationships destroyed by these sad responses.
It is true that in the end, siblings will be there long after parents are gone but a parent’s influence, both positive and negative, can last generations. By purposefully nurturing relationships and responding effectively to the challenges that arise, parents can leave a legacy of children who grow up to be responsible, resilient, independent, and supportive.
From the book “Parenting Children with Health Issues: Essential Tools, Tips and Tactics for Raising Kids with Chronic Illness, Medical Conditions and Other Special Needs” by Foster Cline, M.D and Lisa C. Greene available online and bookstores. Dr. Cline is a well-known child psychiatrist, author, and co-founder of the popular Love and Logic parenting program. Lisa is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a certified parent coach. For free audio, articles and other resources, visit http://www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.com.
Copyright 2008 by Foster Cline MD and Lisa Greene. All rights reserved.
Sensitive children in families can have challenging experiences in childhood. You might have been sensitive to household noises like blenders and dishwashers or motorized toys if you were the sensitive one. A parent’s tone of voice or criticism might have felt harsh. The emotional atmosphere of a childhood home could have made you wary. The gift of sensitive children’s childhood is empathy and sometimes the desire to support other sensitive persons.
A Sensitive Parent Coach for Sensitive Parents & Children
Your temperament and experience are the exact reasons why a nurturing profession as a life coach for parents or families could work for you.
You work from home. Your awesome natural traits of listening and empathy are monetized in a coaching field where you value another person’s sensitivity.
In turn, a sensitive adult feels valued by one who understands that sensory information is processed more deeply because of how one is hardwired. Oftentimes, the feelings of information overload or confusion at being sensitive overtake a co-worker’s ability to complete a task. Sensitive children fell guilty for their sensitivity. A sensitive parent may have difficulty relaxing and enjoying family time.
As a sensitive yourself, you can know how easy it is to be shy or not reach out, and then feel guilty about it. Yet connection with another supportive person is how to accept and deal with sensitivities.
Coaches for Sensitives Can…
Coaches for other sensitive parents can empower each other to create supportive lifestyles, deal with energy overload and overwhelm. But the most awesome part is learning and using the gifts of being sensitive:
Listening to your knowing about others- you know their energy, their vibes, their needs and you can even feel their fears.
Feeling empathy for another emotions and thoughts
Living a mindful lifestyle comes naturally to Sensitives to Intuitives. One experience of roller coaster or attending a jam-packed loud concert is enough. Blaring negative news from the television isn’t useful.
Of the four core temperaments, two temperament types include the trait of sensitivity to the environment: the Nurturer/Supporter and the Observant Thinker.
Supporting Sensitive Children
The Nurturer-Supporter are heart-oriented children and natural helpers.
Supporter children see most people as nice and could have a blind spot in that regard. As children of heart, they give people the benefit of the doubt. As a sensitive child, they don’t understand the bullying child. Yet, the bully might choose the sensitive child as a target.
Another temperament trait is empathy. So the empathic child is easily overwhelmed by emotional negativity, spankings, anger and the hurt that others feel.
Environments that nurture this sensitive-child are calmer emotionally, and support family qualities of togetherness, playfulness, closeness, compassion, conversation, or sharing. The Family Coach can mentor, suggest, and plan these activities for the family.
Strategies for Nurturing Sensitive Children
Cite the talents of being a sensitive child, which could be in creative areas of music or art, or in the heart-oriented talents of intuition, writing, and being involved in school plays, or personal activities that encourage self-expression like writing in a journal.
Encourage the strength of the trait sensitivity in honoring the child’s knowing. A sensitive child of nurturing temperament has a unique ability to “read” people. The knowing is an empathic sense of their feeling, interests, or even how best to communicate with another.
Personal connectedness is a way to help a supporter child feel safe. Whether a child feels most connected to one parent, a sibling, a family friend, or a teacher, the intent of the mentor or connection os to be there for the child and help process the overwhelm of negative environments. A Family Coach can serve this role. Moreover, the connection serves as a safety net to encourage a child to understand the blind spots that he or she may encounter as a sensitive child.
Parent Coaching tools provide an active coach with an array of possible informative and educational options for parents. If you think a parent coach only helps solve is discipline issues, read on to update your viewpoint. First, parents are people with stress, fatigue, in need of a few good menu ideas, and parent coaching could help parents with managing stress or finding gluten free resources. In addition, sometimes a lonely, hard working parent needs another viewpoint, a listening ear, and an understanding heart. That is why ACPI parent coaching is about listening skills.
Understanding the client’s idea, then offering the concept back to the client confirms the parent coaching idea of deep listening. . Reflecting does not suggest agreement, and it does invite the person to speak freely in a session, even on the phone.
Mirroring the mood of the speaker, reflecting the emotional state with words, voice tone, and nonverbal communication. This calls for the parent coach to quiet his mind and fully focus on the mood of the speaker. The mood will be apparent not just in the words used but in the tone of voice, in the posture and other nonverbal cues given by the speaker.
The parent coach is looking for congruence between the thoughts and feelings of the client.
Reflective Listening Principles
Listen more than you talk.
Deal with personal specifics, not impersonal generalities.
Decipher the feelings behind the words, to create a better understanding of the issues.
Understand the client’s frame of reference and avoid responding from your own frame of reference. (Frame of reference means the views a person has on an issue based on their own subjective experience of it.)
Dealing with personal specifics means that the parent coach chooses to explore the client’s feelings. If a client is worried about losing their job or a the effects of a pending divorce on the children, the parent coach focuses on that person’s fears first. What reflective listening provides, is the chance to let the client express their fears and concerns freely, knowing there will be no judgments.
Emotion is normally the first focus of reflective listening.
When the parent coach responds on a personal level, the conversation remains at the level the client needed, and allows one to further explore their feelings, improve their understanding of the situation, and perhaps attain a healthier attitude.
Reflective listening is concerned with responding through mirroring, which underpins all effective communication. It is not about leading the speaker in a direction chosen by the listener because the listener believes this to be the best course of action based on their own frame of reference. The responsive listener addresses those matters that your client is currently discussing.
Reflective Listening Process
“Listening looks easy, but it’s not simple. Every head is a world.”
The reflective listener must evaluate not just the words spoken, but all the emotion conveyed through voice tone–strong, soft, loud, timid
quality of speech - hesitant, blundering, bold, assertive
their body language - tense or relaxed
facial expressions - stressed, relaxed, eyes bright, eyes dull, smiling, brow furrowed, eyes moving left or right, or staring off.
All this will provide the best interpretation of the client’s true emotional state. When a client feels that they are understood at an emotional level, that’s the moment when they feel they are truly understood.
Remember that the emotion you read in a person’s expression may be completely at odds with the content of their spoken message. Content refers to the ideas, reasons, theories, assumptions, and descriptions that are expressed verbally by the speaker.It is vital to learn to think reflectively. This is a way of thinking that accompanies good reflective listening that includes interest in what the person has to say and respect for the person’s inner wisdom. Its key element is a hypothesis testing approach to listening. What you think the person means may not be what they really mean.
Listening breakdowns occur in any of three places:
• Client does not say what is meant
• Parent Coach does not hear correctly
• Parent Coach gives a different interpretation to what the words mean
Since many people do not state their emotions explicitly within such content, the listener will need to respond to the implicit emotional tone. A simple example would be if you asked how a friend was doing, and they responded in a monotone and with pain in their eyes: “I’m doing great”. Which message would you take as real?
The reflective listener responds to the evident sadness and distress in their friend. This is a crucial skill to master: the ability and willingness to confront negative emotions and deal with them constructively. This may involve the listener in a long conversation and responding from your own frame of reference: “You know that the last time I saw you look so miserable, something terrible had happened, so I assume that must be the case now.
“I am okay,” the client says.
The only way to establish the deeper emotion you sense would be to respond with a gentle challenge: “Are you sure you’re feeling all right? You look like you’re suffering.”
Reflective listening is meant to close the loop in communication to ensure breakdowns don’t occur whether through a challenge, paraphrasing, or mirroring the feelings.