Anxious Child

How do I Help my Anxious Child?

I was recently asked by a parent of a 6 year old, ‘How do I help my child who worries a lot. He’s anxious, but won’t always tell me what’s going on?’ First thing – give him regular hugs and tell him how much you love him – that’s always a good start!

The following will give you some ideas on how to assist your child if they have a tendency to worry or be anxious.

 

Where did the anxiety come from?

It’s always useful to look at the background of the child… the parents, the home and the past experiences. Sometimes there is an overly anxious parent who constantly gives children messages to: ‘be careful’, to ‘watch out’, or ‘you might get hurt’. When children are told this often enough, they start to believe that their world isn’t safe. In regards to the home situation – has there been a trauma? eg a death, a serious accident, or parents separating, where there’s been a lot of heightened emotions – some children tend to make this mean that’s there’s immediate danger to them or those around them – they fear ‘bad stuff’ will happen to them. There are also children who have been affected by alcohol or drugs when in utero. When a woman uses these during pregnancy, they can affect the developing foetus, and may cause brain changes, which can affect a variety of functions, including being anxious or lacking impulse control. Obviously we can’t change what has already happened in the past, so let’s look at what we can do now, and also in terms of building resilience in children.

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Image by Travis Swan via Flickr

Magic Moments

Have you ever had your child calling: “Mum, Mum, come and look at this.” You go and it’s a dead cricket. At that moment in time you have a choice to make…. To either engage in the moment with your child or to dismiss it/ them. You can either talk with them about what they’ve found, ask questions about what they think happened or what they think they should do with the cricket, thereby making it a time of learning, understanding and connection. Or, you can dismiss it with: “Its dead, leave it alone” or “Is that all, I was in the middle of doing dishes!”

 

One way helps the child feel connected with you, that you have time for them, and that what they have to say or show you is of value to you.

The other way – if said often enough- gives the message that you aren’t interested in what they like, and that dirty dishes are more important than them.

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Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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Yellow Daisies and Blue Skies

The Sun Comes Up Again Tomorrow

I remember my mother talking to me as a child, about disagreements within the family – How sometimes my sisters and I would argue about something or other, and one of us would end up saying (like many 7 or 9 year olds): ‘I’m not talking to you ever, ever again’! The ‘injured’ one would be lamenting to Mum about how mean or unfair our sister was, and after she’d soothed us, she would then say: “The sun comes up again tomorrow” – meaning that tomorrow was a new day, a fresh beginning.

When I was older, she talked about how she never went to bed without saying: “I love you to my Dad” – even if they’d had a disagreement – she refused to take the emotion of anger or hurt to sleep.

I was reminded of this last week, when I went to a Joan Baez concert – a folk singer from the 60 -70’s who was performing in Hobart. One of the first songs she performed had a line it it which resonated for me…. it was: Every new day we have is another chance to get it right”. Now it could be many things… your relationship, an assignment you’ve been working on, or a handyman job you’ve been struggling with. I really like these sentiments as it’s a reminder that indeed the ‘sun does come up again tomorrow’, that yesterdays situation is gone and today is a new opportunity to move forward, to get it right. This also has relevance to parenting and the relationships within our families….

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Helle & Sonja – Sisters reunited after 40 years.

The Missing Sister

In honour of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I’m reprinting my personal story of a mother’s love…. my mother x x

I was born as the eldest of three girls to my parents Bill and Marie. Dad was British, Mum was Danish, and they met in Norway while they were both working there. My father then travelled to Canada with his work, and sent for my Mother to travel there to marry him. I was born there as was my next sister, and then we migrated to Australia, where another sister was born.

I had a happy childhood in that I was loved, and had two parents who wanted to provide for us, even though they were starting from scratch here. They bought a house, and we were all settling into our new homeland when tragedy struck – my Father died at age 39 from a cerebral haemorrhage. My mother was left alone in a foreign country, with no family support, three children aged 9 months, 7 yrs & 9 yrs, and at that time my mother didn’t qualify for any Govt benefits as she wasn’t an Australian citizen!

Life was tough – we lived on food parcels and clothing vouchers from charity organisations for six months, until legislation was passed in Govt allowing foreign residents to claim benefits. Even though we had so little, my Mother surrounded us with love and good home cooking. She nurtured us and included us in both fun and work activities around the house whether it was gardening or doing the dishes. People would have said we were poor – but it truly was only in the financial sense. Mum taught us how to cook and sew and do repair jobs around the house. She also made magic happen – putting our food on the plate in the shape of funny faces, or hiding little elf figures in pot plants. For birthdays she’d make a treasure hunt, with clues for us to find our gift. The neighbourhood children also loved her because she loved and nurtured them too with hugs and stories. She was the best mother!

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Setting Your Parenting Intentions for 2018

I’m wondering how many of you made New Year Resolutions – things like giving up smoking, playing more golf, losing weight etc. How are you going with those one month in? If you are like most, the resolutions have gone by the wayside!

New Year’s Resolutions often don’t work because of two flaws …

Firstly most of these vague goals are wishes, not actionable intentions, so that within a few days or weeks that resolution has been broken.

Secondly, they often seem to be stated in terms of what you don’t want, rather than what you do want.

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Motivation, and the Power of Words

Motivation, and the Power of Words

There was once a group of tiny frogs, who arranged a competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very tall water tower. A big crowd gathered around to see the race, and to cheer on the contestants. The race began…

Honestly, no-one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You could hear statements such as: “Oh it’s way too difficult. They will never make it to the top.” And “Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high”.

Some tiny frogs began collapsing off the wall, one by one.

A few others had a fresh burst of energy and were climbing higher and higher… The crowd continued to yell: “It’s too difficulty! No-one will make it!” Gradually more tiny frogs got tired of the effort and gave up.

But there was one who wouldn’t give up and continued higher and higher until finally he reached the top.

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TheYears-Elliot-Bennett

The Years Fly By, but the Days Last Forever!

You often hear grandparents, or parents of older children say: ‘I can’t believe my daughter turns 32 in September’ or, ‘I can’t believe he’s going to be a teenager next week’; and it’s usually followed up with: ‘It’s all gone so fast, it seems like only yesterday they were starting school.’

These parents have noticed how quickly the time passes.

Yet when you’re a parent to an active 6 year old, or a 2 year old who has spent the day having tantrums, the time (till bed-time) seems to pass so s-l-o-w-l-y!

There’s a lot of fun to be had with babies and young children – hugging and smiling, reading books, playing with playdough, building towers, and ‘magic’ things like blowing bubbles or lying on the grass watching the clouds pass by. When this is happening, it’s such a beautiful feeling, and we are strengthening the bonds with our child/ren.

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How do I Talk to my Children about Death?

Death is part of life. It needs to be presented to children in this way also.

We start simply, by pointing our things in the environment which haved died – leaves which have turned brown, the ant that you trod on, flowers you cut from your garden which have now died, the road kill we see as we drive along, and even toys which are broken (ie they aren’t working any more). In this way, you can explain the fact that they aren’t breathing anymore, that they aren’t growing anymore. As the events descibed aren’t ‘close’ to you, death can be explained in an unemotional way. Children may want to look at a dead animal – use your discretion, but be aware that they are coming from a point or curiosity and a wish to understand. It is likely that young children will ask questions, in their attempt to understand at their level – answer honestly and simply.

 

Avoid saying the person has ‘gone to sleep’ as they may lead to fears about sleeping. It’s best to explain that their body stopped working and they stopped breathing.

 

If you wait to explain death until someone close to you passes away, then there is likely to be a strong emotional response in you, making it harder to explain to your child, and to be emotionally available to them.

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Looking after Mum: Me Time

Looking after Mum: “Me-Time”

Many Mums are awesome at looking after their children – nurturing, feeding, loving, playing, educating, disciplining and laughing.

Many of those Mums are also great at looking after their partners – again, loving, caring & laughing.

Why then, when we are the ‘experts’ at looking after others, do we often do such a poor job of looking after ourselves?

This is a concern, on a few levels.

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