11 February 2007

Hanging on and letting go

It might sound funny, but as your teens navigate through the waters of high school, you'll find it easier to accept their behavior if you watch for the "hanging on and letting go," and learn that it's just part of the normal growth of a teen.

So many times we wonder where our little kids went. You know the ones who wanted to snuggle up beside us on the couch and watch a movie? Well, if you watch closely, you'll see that they're still beside you, but not quite as often.

I watch as my 16-year-old regularly runs to the family room in the basement to watch one of her favorite evening TV shows with her 14-year-old sister. As she heads off, I think hmmm, I wonder if she remembers who I am? Then about 15 minutes before bedtime, she'll yell "Hey mom! Are you coming down here to snuggle up for awhile?" That's the "hanging on and letting go."

The next day she comes home and wants to bake cookies together or make dinner for me. The night after that she says, "Mom, can I go to Brooke's and sled after school on Friday?" Knowing that she'll be at her dad's house all weekend, I say "so I'll see you on Monday?" and she replies, "Yep!" as if it doesn't matter if I exist again. That's the "hanging on and letting go" again.

I like labels, because it makes it easier for me to understand human behavior. When I know she's hanging on and letting go, I also find comfort in the fact that she IS growing up to be an independent and beautiful young lady, and at the same time, she still loves me enough to request my presence during her favorite TV show or to make cookies.

It's ok if your teen is hanging on and letting go. He or she is just trying to find the same balance that we tried to find when we were working our way toward adulthood. It's a process. My daughter loves me and I love her. And ultimately, that's all that matters.

When you notice the letting go, take time to find the hanging on part too. They always reside beside each other... Just sometimes the hanging on part is harder to identify.

Love and light!

Coach Julie

07 December 2006

Parenting Teenagers - It's Not About You

Hello Friends,
One of the most profound perspective shifts I've ever made, was directly related to parenting my teenagers (of which I have four right now).

I was in a coaching class learning about the fact that when our clients come to us and bring us their concerns, challenges and emotions, we need to keep perspective that all of what they share is about them, not us. I thought this was rather simple thinking and that it made sense to me... after all, why would their problems be about me?

So within a day of that class, I had a very crabby teenager on my hands. She had not gotten enough sleep, had been pushed a little too far at school and was home taking it out on her family (me specifically).

At a point where I began feeling very defensive and was just about to say "look young lady, enough is enough, if you're in a bad mood, you can just go hang out in your room," something hit me for the first time ever. This wasn't about me. This was about her. It was about her tiredness, her bad day, and her irritation with HER life. I could make it about me if I chose to do so, but it was really about her.

At that moment, instead of yelling at her for yelling at me, I shifted my perspective from "I don't like the way she's treating ME" to "I think she's trying to tell me that she needs something." So I asked her: "Hey honey, what do you need?" in a mild, non-defensive tone of voice (because I wasn't feeling defensive now that I knew it was really all about her). And she told me.

The anger was gone in a flash and the night turned out to be a relaxed and enjoyable one.

I keep my new perspective in my pocket now, because it's just an amazing tool for handling the ups and downs of, what can be, some rather rough years.

- Julie Fisher
Complete Well-being Coach


08 November 2006

Gaining and Building Respect from Your Kids

This is a challenge that every parent faces at some point in the raising of a child. Many parents feel it most strongly during the teenage years because kids are starting to try to figure out how to separate themselves from their parents and some of their techniques are less than friendly to parents. But this can happen at any age once a child begins to talk and understand how their behavior impacts others.

There are several things to consider:
One is the means by which your children show or display respect: It may be that they don’t show respect in the very same way that you show respect to others. If this is the case, you may already have their respect and not even know it. If it is the way in which they show respect that throws you off, your mission is quite easy. You can talk to them about how you perceive their behavior as disrespectful and talk to them about how the two of you can work together so that you are feeling the respect. This might sound odd, but your child simply may not understand how you expect them to show their respect.

For example, if you expect that your child will immediately pop up out of their seat to help you when you call their name – and yet when you call their name, they don’t, you may want to explain to them that this behavior seems disrespectful to you. A short discussion about your expectations may go a long way towards you seeing the respect.

Your discussion may include both sides of the story – yours with regards to your expectations – and theirs with regards to what they think about your expectations. For example, your child may need a moment to finish something when you call (and they think that you wanting them to immediately pop up is unreasonable in every case) and so they think they will not be able to always come running immediately when you call. If this is the case, you could compromise with them by having them confirm that they’ve heard your request and by requesting that they simply you how long it will be before they’ll come to help you.

I know that when I call my kids to come help, some come more quickly than others. And the ones who come more quickly end up having to do more of the work. So I am not good about providing incentives to them to come quickly. I should occasionally give the first one to come, the time off. Simply let them go and rest while the latecomers do the work. I bet if I changed my behavior with regards to this, their response would change too.

If you’re certain that your child truly doesn’t respect you, then next you should ask yourself whom you respect and how you show that respect to others. It may be that your kids don’t see you at times that you are being respectful (that doesn’t mean that you’re not respectful, but that the situations that provide opportunities for you to role model, have not been frequent enough). These opportunities may be present at work or in a volunteer position at times when you’re kids just don’t see you and how respectful that you can be.

If you’re in a relationship (have a husband, wife or significant other) it is critical that you model respect toward each other. If mom doesn’t respect dad (even in subtle ways like talking badly about him when he’s not around), or dad doesn’t respect mom, it will be very difficult to teach your child to respect you (difficult but not impossible). What he may have been taught without you knowing it, is that teasing, ignoring, or badmouthing are perfectly acceptable ways of treating other people.

At times when you see your child being disrespectful to there other parent, you should immediately support the other parent and tell your child that disrespectful behavior is not acceptable in your home — even if the disrespect is towards an ex-spouse. If they reply with “well, you do it.” Then it’s the perfect time for a family talk and some honesty with regards to everyone working on positive change.

Family talks are great because they are a way for each person to express their own individual opinion about the way things are going and they can be very enlightening.

31 October 2006

Intuition and Your Child

I just finished reading an article on the power of intuition. Not intuition in the magical mind-reading, future telling sense, but intuition in the "knowing" sense.

Recent studies have found that people who actively use their intuition make accurate assessments of people, surroundings and events in mere moments. And studies have further shown that the assessments made, when evaluated, are quite "dead-on."

So, what value does this serve for you? Well, as your children grow and have what I would call "instinctive responses" to certain things, instead of questioning those feelings and pushing your child past them or through them, teach them the value of listening to that inner voice.

We're taught that we should learn, memorize, use common sense, and use other people as guides to making decisions, but I think we've all made decisions we've regretted by using these guides. The reality may be that we already know the best route, safest way, or who to trust by tapping into our own intuition.

So the next time your toddler, school-aged child, or teen has a strong feeling about something, teach them to trust what they're feeling. There's a really good chance that it's very in-tune with what's really going on. And by building and supporting them to trust in their own intuition, you provide them a great gift: the gift of self trust and strengthened intuition.

Build that, and you're starting something really great!

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29 October 2006

Autumn Fun

This time of year is great for frolicking in the leaves. So take your little high-energy bugaboo and let him play in a big pile of leaves. It's not only a heck of a lot of fun, but the cooler air and all that wild playing will get him ready for a peaceful afternoon nap.

Then, mom and dad, you should put your feet up and enjoy the change of seasons. Soon, you'll be more housebound so enjoy it while it lasts!

28 October 2006

Parenting the high-energy child — Part 2

My two-year-old child has two nicknames: Herc (for Hercules) and the white tornado (he's a blonde with wild curls that remind you a bit of Einstein). There's a reason for these nicknames... The first is that on a good day, he's simply incredibly strong. Today he tried to pick up an oscillating fan that weighs close to what he does. There was no struggle, just a heave-ho and up it went into the air. My husband was standing right beside him and I thought that my hubby had helped him hoist it up. On the contrary, dad was proud that he could lift something so big and had not helped one little bit.

On a bad day, well, the white tornado says it all. The little guy can tear through a room so fast that you don't know what hit you. There will be books scattered, drapes thrown aside, food smashed and chairs tipped over. You can see the younger cat peeking out from under the sofa with her tail fluffed and the old one offering a wicked stare that says "touch me kiddo, and you're going to feel the wrath."

I'm getting older, so mostly I just grin and wonder where all this energy comes from. It's not what he eats, because he doesn't really like to eat. Eating takes patience, and he has none. So it must be heredity. However, I have been told that I was quite a calm child — so I'm not taking the blame on this one.

I try to use some practical strategies with him. One strategy I find extremely helpful is called "wear him out." I begin with a good tickling by blowing on his belly or nibbling on his neck. Then we roll around on the floor a bit and I ask him if he wants to kick the ball. It's a small ball, so it does little extra damage, but it gets him moving his little legs and running around the living room. Sometimes I can get the older kids to do this, and they're good at doing it until he's ready to fall to the ground in exhaustion... which is pretty much the purpose of the plan.

At this point I can feed him, or read to him, or get him to sit still long enough to trim his little fingernails. And you moms and dads know what I mean about that. Ever try to trim a high-energy kid's fingernails when they're hyped up??? Best of luck to you.

Try the ball-kicking activity. Your chances of success with nail trimming or accomplishing much of anything with your child will increase substantially after he's well exercised.

Take care! And get some rest!


26 October 2006

Parenting the high-energy child

Wow! I have a two-year old son that just never stops. And regularly I get asked how to parent a high-energy child. It's funny, because there's no magic answer (there are several tricks, but no magic unfortunately).

From experience, I automatically respond, "get as much sleep as you can." And that answer is followed with laughter. But I really believe it's true, a well-rested parent is much more likely to have good responses to a child who just seems to never, ever stop.

I have seven kids, and my youngest is the high-energy kid. You'd think God would have cut me some slack and sent the busy-body when I was younger, but I'm convinced that he's got a sense of humor and decided to wait until I was far more tired.

The good news is that I have some older children who can help me chase the little guy around. The bad news is that the other kids think he's quite a riot and so they feed his energy.

Some things that help parents in need? Well, I know that a schedule helps immensely. Try to keep your child on a solid schedule. Tired, high-energy children are far more difficult to handle than well rested ones. You might think they'll run out of energy if they're tired, but experience tells me that they just get cranky and use all that energy for destructive behavior — and that's when you're really in trouble...

So, as the loving tough-love mom and coach that I am, I'm suggesting that you schedule yourself some good sleep time, keep your toddler or pre-schooler on a tight schedule, keep the healthy foods going in (for you and your child) and don't wait for him to get too tired.

Last night my toddler decided to throw a ceramic plate off the table because his food wasn't ready yet. The plate didn't make it. The floor was ok. And I learned to get him strapped into his high chair sooner, rather than later.

Happy chasing!!