three parenting dilemmas

We have an awesome opportunity today for your Small Fry Facebook friends with Chrissy Powers MA, LMFT 84340! This San Diego based licensed marriage and family therapist has been so helpful to us with three dilemmas we’ve been toiling over as parents and we love her advice so much. We’ve shared them below if you’re going through similar things, and Chrissy has so graciously offered to man our Facebook Page today to answer your own parenting questions today! Head over to peek in on the conversations.

Jenna:

My six year old has been struggling in school. Not because he isn’t smart, because he’s one of the top of his class, but because he’s too social. He’s consistently in trouble for talking too much and socializing with others during class time. What I love about Quinn is that he’s a friend to the friendless. He is comfortable and at ease with everybody instantly. He also is carefree enough that consequences don’t really affect him. Hey may get upset for a minute but eventually forgets how discipline made him feel & continues forward with bad behavior. How do I celebrate his spirit without crushing it? I understand that in a school setting he should be respectful of his teacher but how do I make school a more enjoyable experience?Class Clown Tips

Chrissy:
Let’s reframe this for a second; just imagine his personality continuing to grow in this way. How do you dream that he might change the world with his personality and ability to love and be social with others? He’s going to do amazing things in this life!
What is his bad behavior after the discipline, is it just that he returns back to being social or does he start to act out? You don’t want to change his ability to be social and loving because this is such a wonderful trait and gift.
I believe any child that feels disciplined for being their “best self” would probably act out more and feel badly about themselves. It’s important for him not feel shamed for being who he is. It sounds like he might be fighting for who he is and standing up for what’s innately in him. Empower him by saying “this is the best part of you and I don’t want anyone to crush that in you”, but explain that there are contexts where he can be this way and other times when he needs to be quiet and listen because that is a strength too. Find areas where his socializing is valued and where his personality can flourish. Find a context for him to use his ability to be social and friendly that can be empowering for him. For example, could he get involved in acting in the school play or maybe choir, art or become a teacher’s helper? Be an advocate for him in school, talk to his teachers to teach them about your child. It’s challenging but work with teachings and authority figures to help them understand him more and collaborate ways he can flourish in the school setting. Often times teachers don’t want to change their style of teaching but the good ones will, so it’s not easy but we as parents can advocate for our children.

Nicole:
My five year old seems to have quite a bit of anxiety. About once daily he will go into a little panic mode. Clench his fists and grit his teeth. Always over different triggers. What are some things I can do to calm him in these moments?Tips for Anxious Kids

Chrissy:
What are you currently doing? I would stop the world when he has goes into panic mode; nothing else is important. Let your child have your complete attention when he is anxious. This parenting thing is so much more work than anything else because children don’t fit into our worlds naturally. Become a person who is peaceful for your child. Investigate and try to pinpoint the triggers to eliminate them or work through them for your child. For example if a trigger is that you child is afraid of dogs then start looking at pictures of dogs online and then move to going to a dog park to watch dogs play. Most of the time we as parents aren’t aware of how we are reacting to our children in these anxious moments so start becoming aware of how you are responding to him and then work on ways you can mirror peace and safety for him.

Emily:
My three year old Cal is a conundrum to me. He is a true introvert, who gets tired from too much social interaction. He retreats and loves having time to himself, or time on my phone if he can’t find a quiet place. Even further, he is generally distrusting of people, I get the sense that he can’t be sure if they’re genuine. He gets his tender feelings hurt often and usually assumes that people (even me!) are laughing at him instead of with him, even when he does something so unbearably cute I can’t help myself. It breaks my heart because I feel like he’s too young to be feeling this way, especially when I can’t recall any situations where he would have been shown or taught that people are untrustworthy and to be wary of them. These two aspects of his personality create a lot of tension in our lives because he can be actually a pretty rude little dude. Giving our neighbor the stink-eye, yelling “don’t look at me” at a smiling stranger in the store. And then also, when he’s ready to retreat if I don’t allow him that it’s usually a fit. I just want him to feel happy and safe in his world and for people to get to see the amazing little boy that he is!

Parenting a Distrusting ChildLindsey Orton Photography

Chrissy:
Kids are so smart and intuitive, they pick up on our anxieties as parents. Start by asking yourself “what’s happening in me when my child is anxious and rude to others”, “how am I reacting”? Emotions are contagious and children are no exception. Another question to ask yourself is “How can I model peace and calm to my child.” It’s difficult not to get angry and yell at our children when they seem rude and socially innapropriate, but this is a great indicator that something is off and they need more understanding from us. You can also help Cal though this by giving him choices that fit within appropriate boundaries while validating his feelings. You as the parent set the boundaries and teach him what is socially accetable within the framework of his feelings. Sometimes children behave this way because they don’t feel safe in the world or in control. Start investigating when Cal acts adversely to others and ask what is happening in this situation to make him react this way. From a parent standpoint realize that your child doesn’t necessarily want to be this way but that there is something going on and that you can be emphatic and loving with him through this. He may never be a social butterfly because his personality tends to be more introverted but you can help him feel more confident in social settings by modeling for him ways he can be friendly that aren’t too far out of his reach of capability.

 

Comments

  1. Jessica:
    on March 13, 2015 at 12:13 am said:

    Nicole, I wanted to share a few more ideas that I’ve learned from my own experiences as a child & in dealing with my daughters anxiety as well.

    Although identifying the triggers and working through the emotions behind the anxiety can be helpful, I’ve found that one of the most crucial things you can do is teach him how to react when the anxiety comes. We can’t always protect our kids from the triggers or feelings that bring on anxiety, and just talking about it isn’t going to make it go away, but you can give him tools to deal with it when it comes.

    A few ideas might be to teach him to take 5 deep breaths, and close his eyes and imagine something that’s specifically calming to him (maybe the ocean, or a favorite stuffed animal, or a special memory with mom). Teaching him to sing a calming song to himself is also very helpful for lots of kids. Some kids also have a lot of success keeping a special item in their pocket to reach in and touch when they’re feeling anxious. It doesn’t need to be anything specific, just something you both choose together and talk about beforehand–be sure to explain that it’s his special thing to touch and hold when he needs to calm himself down & simply tell him that touching it will make him feel calm and safe (he will believe you & his subconscious will do the rest.)

    Lastly, it is NEVER too early to teach your children how to use positive affirmations and positive self-talk to overcome anxiety. This method has been proven time and time again & can truly change a person’s mental state faster than anything else. Sit down and come up with a few phrases together that target the anxious feelings he is having & then teach him to recite these phrases to himself in his head when he is starting to feel scared. Anxiety is almost always caused by negative or anxious self talk, but it goes away when the negative thoughts are replaced by positive ones. The phrase can be as simple as “I feel safe. I feel calm. I feel good.” If you can teach him to react to his anxiety by reciting that phrase to himself a few times, I promise you’ll set him up for a lifetime of being able to cope with & eventually overcome the anxiety. My Dad taught these same tools to me when I was a little girl & eventually I didn’t even have to think about it, changing my thoughts from negative to positive became second nature & now, as an adult, I no longer have any anxiety at all.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Jessica:
    on March 13, 2015 at 12:27 am said:

    Emily, some of the same techniques might help Cal too. Try to focus on giving him tools to use and options for how to react when he’s feeling like he needs a break from others or when he’s feeling anxious from someone looking at him. Brainstorm some appropriate reactions together and come up with a little plan he can implement. For example: “when I feel nervous because someone is looking at me at the store I can: _________” or “when I feel like I need a time out during a play date, my options are: ___________”

    Sorry to high jack the comments, but best of luck!

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