Category Archives: Relationships

Corona: Discipline, don’t destroy

Discipline is more than a once off intervention. It is an ongoing display of secure boundaries and consistent consequences. In this stressful time, children may be picking up on our anxiety and the changes in routine which may lead to a greater need for these displays of love (i.e. secure boundaries and consistent consequences). Here is a quick review of discipline strategies.

Communicate clearly

So much conflict is caused by miscommunication. Set your child up for success, and the discipline struggles become more manageable.

Make sure you have their attention

Instead of shouting from a different room, make sure you have their full attention. This means stopping what they are doing (put the TV on pause), establishing eye contact (go down to their level), and perhaps even gentle touch (hold hands or cup their face). You can also test if they heard you correctly by making them repeat the instruction back to you.

Tell them what to do (vs what not to do)

Choose your words wisely. It’s the difference between “stop running” and “start walking”; “no shouting” and “inside voice please.” Children are eager to please! Let them know how to please you.

Give them a time line

Much frustration can be avoided by clarifying when you expect a task to be completed. If you expect immediate action, say so (now). Once a child has proved themselves trustworthy, you may want to provide them with more freedom (e.g. do this before supper at 17:00).

Provide them with a choice to give them an element of control

This tip came from Loving on Purpose by Danny Silk. While you are still fully in control as a parent, you can provide the child with some choices.

  • It’s time to clean up: do you want to bath or shower?
  • It’s good to share your toys: do you want to share this toy or must I pack it away?
  • I know you don’t want to sleep, but it’s bed time: do you want to hop to bed or crawl to bed?

Reward good behavior

So often we are on the lookout for poor behavior – no wonder discipline feels extraordinarily taxing. Why not focus on catching them being good! Reflecting on your child’s love language may provide you with useful tips on what to use as your reward currency.

  • Words of affirmation: praise, stickers on a star chart that they can display, love letters, social media posts of pride
  • Non-sexual touch: high fives, exuberant cuddles, back tickles
  • Gifts: let them draw something from a goody bag, sweeties, go buy a special toy
  • Quality time: read an extra story, have a parent-child date, let them choose the next movie
  • Acts of service: bake them something special, do their chores for a day,

Furthermore, allow children the opportunity to learn about the real world. E.g. make them “earn” their screen time by completing chores: 10 minutes for sweeping the floor, 30 minutes for cleaning the toilet. Similarly, receiving payment for completing (extra) chores gives them the opportunity to learn to work with money.

Ideas for consequences

As much as it is a child’s job to challenge the boundaries, it is a parent’s job to enforce them. As a child grows in maturity (this is not only with age, but also in proving trustworthiness), a child is granted greater freedom with weightier consequences. For consequences to be effective, it must be communicated in advance.

“Yes, you are welcome to ride your bicycle outside. I expect you to report back to me at 12:00 for lunch. If you don’t, you will eat your lunch for supper and not get any dessert.”

I have heard many success stories from a consequence jar:

Instead of disciplining in an ineffective way and wasting your precious time and energy, the child creates a list of unpleasant consequences (e.g. chores, cleaning, less TV time, going to bed earlier, etc). The child brings these suggestions to the parent for negotiation (will going to bed 10 minutes earlier might be a dream come true for some, so check that the suggestions will be true punishment!) and setting the weights of consequences.

E.g. disrespect might be awarded going to bed 30 minutes earlier while forgetting a chore might be awarded 10 minutes less screen time.

These consequences could be colour coded or numbered (more learning opportunities for little ones) according to the severity of the offence. Once the consequence jar is set up, the child draws a random consequence from the jar when they have committed an offence.

How to succeed with time outs 

As much as we the adults get over stimulated at times, children become overwhelmed too. A time out can be very effective in regaining composure and also an effective discipline strategy if you follow these steps.

Before Time Out:

  • Choose a safe and boring spot
  • Make a timer available
  • Select a back-up consequence
  • Introduce it to your child: “I don’t like it when you ______, so from now on, whenever you _____ you will have to go to time out for ____ minutes. Here is where you will have your time out. I won’t be able to talk to you while you are in time out. If you get out of time out, then you will _________ (say the backup consequence).”
  • Give a warning

During time out:

  • Supervise out of sight
  • Ignore your child: don’t look or talk to him
  • Deal with screaming: remind the child he needs to be quiet to end time out
  • Deal with leaving time out: enforce the back up consequence

After time out:

  • You may leave/get out when the timer beeps and you are quiet
  • Process the events that led up to the use of timeout
  • Reaffirm connection and love

Don’t suffer alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or need some encouragement, please contact me. 

My Family and Our Romance

Our experiences within our family of origin affects the way we engage in romantic relationships. Have you taken the time to discuss these potential differences with your partner?

Family Communication

Was your family feisty? Or were they quick to sweep things under the rug? How did that affect the family’s expression of affection? Could family members directly ask for what they want? How did your family express anger?

You can learn more about making successful requests here.

Role Division in my Family

Families have their own norms and roles. Roles about who makes decisions, does chores, balances the finances, disciplines, etc. Then there are also expectations about parenting, and gender based independence or privileges.

What was your family experience?

Perhaps there are examples you have purposefully discarded. Perhaps there are aspects that have subconsciously snuck in. There are many ways of doing family and doing relationships. Take some time to learn from your partner. Give each other grace to make mistakes while you figure out what role division works for both of you.

Skill Acquisition in my Family

What did you learn about financial decision making and conflict resolution in your family? And what messages did you receive about enjoying a mutually beneficial sexual relationships?

While comparing notes about your families of origin, you and your partner may learn that you wish to acquire some additional skills. Not just for your benefit, but for the next generation who will be talking about their parents/family of origin one day. Contact me to book your session.

Rules of engagement: Making requests

Do you have a long list of needs that are never met? Do people complain that they feel bullied by you or perhaps, that you are a nag? Do you get mad when people don’t automatically know your needs? This strategy may help you to make a request with more desirable outcomes.  This skill is useful if you are trying to become more assertive, communicate less emotionally, reduce your manipulation of others, or honestly identify and take responsibility for your “stuff.” Continue reading Rules of engagement: Making requests

Resources for negotiating date night

Whether you read research articles or cosmopolitan magazine, you will be familiar with the importance of spending time with your partner. Whether your relationship is new or established, flourishing or estranged, finding creative strategies to spend time together can be a challenge. Here are a few resources that can help you get inspired to engage in a regular date night ritual. Continue reading Resources for negotiating date night

Relational Wisdom Resource Review

 

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Ken Sande rw360.org

Ken Sande and his team present a fabulous paradigm called “Relational Wisdom.” This post is dedicated to review this free resource. In particular, I would like to show you how you could benefit from this resource if you are not religiously minded.

 

Discover your personal values

RW360
Firstly, discover your personal values. The “God” section of the RW360 wheel refers to the guiding principles in your life. Perhaps you could try to identify your top five values from this values worksheet.

The amygdala hijack principle

I would also likAmygdala Hijack Principlee to recommend that you explore his website and pay special attention to his teaching on the “amygdala hijack” principle. He explains the science behind why it is a good idea to slow down: think before you react. It holds many benefits to your relationships (not to mention minimizes the guilt and regret you feel after a rash word).

The value of soft skills

The relational wisdom equation is an apt way to describe the value of soft skills. Ken Sande describes that the value that a person contributes to the group is not the sum of his hard and soft skills. Rather it is a multiplication of effect.

For example:

Hardskills2

  • Person 1 has 7 hard skills and 2 soft skills
  • Person 2 has 4 hard skills and 4 soft skills

If you had to count it together Person 1 has more skills than person 2:

  • Person 1: 7 + 2 = 9
  • Person 2: 4 + 4 = 8

But using the multiplication effect, you can see that Person 1 contributes less value to the group than Person 2:

  • Person 1: 7 x 2 = 14
  • Person 2: 4 x 4 = 16

Discover for yourself

Sign up for weekly Relational Wisdom (http://rw360.org/) blogs to learn the nuances of applying the RW360 principles in every day life. Or download the free self-study manual. The principles are extremely valuable for your interpersonal relationships whether you are religious or not.

Toxic childhood: Book review

A few years ago I stumbled upon a book that speaks to adult children. Entitled Toxichttp://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Parents-Overcoming-Hurtful-Reclaiming/dp/0553381407 Parents (Forward, 1989) it describes various situations where scared/powerless children are stuck inside adult bodies still trying to please their parents. Chapters cover a range of topics (below) and end with recommendations on reclaiming your life (and not repeating your parents’ mistakes). A short summary of this book review:

  • Myth of the perfect parent: realizing that parents make mistakes and it is necessary to take them down from their pedestals)
  • Inadequate parents: where children are triangulated to provide a parent emotional support, invisible children and the vanishing parent, co-dependency, hurt by the things the parent didn’t do
  • Controllers: pretty obvious
  • Alcoholics: the secrets, discussion around the buddy system
  • Verbal abusers: competitive or perfectionistic parents
  • Physical abusers: confusing abuse and love
  • Sexual abusers: the many faces of coercion, insane jealousy

I am by no means a parent basher and realize that all experiences need to be understood in a comprehensive framework addressing the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual causes and solutions for the problem.

Although I do not concur with all the author has to say, I do find that it is useful reading material to aid one in verbalizing or conceptualizing their family dynamics. Especially if you find yourself saying something like “I had a normal childhood – I wasn’t abused, I had good parents. So why do I feel so angry.”

You can order the book on Amazon or try to locate it at your local library.

Book review: Addicted to helping?

“When helping you is hurting me” provides a fascinating read – useful for perhttp://www.amazon.com/When-Helping-You-Is-Hurting/dp/0824521080sonal wellness for those in the helping/social professions as well as persons experiencing difficulties with assertiveness.

Carmen Renee Berry writes that two powerful (and common) belief systems causes the Messiah Trap.

  1. If I don’t do it nobody else will (grandiosity).
  2. Other people are more important than me (worthlessness).

Combining these two beliefs drives us to outshine others in our helping compulsion. This is a powerfully destructive
addiction!

Messiahs hurt when they help others. Love is not the motivation for helping: rather inadequacy, powerlessness, obligation, rage. They use other people to work out their own inner pain. They need to feel other people’s pain in order to feel their own. In sum, they do good things for wrong reasons.

She writes that these “messiahs” can come in many different formats: Pleaser, Rescuer, Giver, Counselor, Protector, Teacher, Crusader. They tend to give others what they desperately need to receive themselves.

In a society that worships its heroes, it’s not unlikely that you could be in the Messiah Trap yourself! Have a look at the clues below:

  • Pleaser: Can’t say no to requests
  • Rescuer: Seems to always attract people in crisis
  • Giver: Constantly gives beyond their ability
  • Counsellor: Recruits people who need to talk
  • Protector: Makes choices for people
  • Teacher: Hides behind the adoration of the group
  • Crusader: Gets frustrated when they can’t bring about change at their desired speed

Berry provides useful tools to assist persons to scape the messiah trap including acknowledging that you are caught in the trap, asking for help, and taking the risk of healing.

Take a look in your library or find it on Amazon. The important bit is that it doesn’t stop on your side table: ask for help. Confess your dilemma to a trusted friend or book an appointment with a counsellor. Let’s be part of a society that helps others for the right reasons.