family

Avoiding Parent Traps

It’s never too early to teach kids how to problem solve.

As a parent, of course, you want to be there for your child and help them navigate situations.

But the truth is, you may not always be there to intervene when your child is faced with a problem, such as having a disagreement with a friend at school. 

The sooner they learn how to figure things out on their own – the more independent they will become. 

The Parent Trap

What is a Parent Trap?

 It’s a situation in which parents are drawn to solve their kids’ problems.

Even though it’s a natural instinct to assist your kids in every way, there must be some healthy limits in place.

By helping them too much, your child only ends up losing their chance to learn on their own. 

The Solution 

So, what are you supposed to do?

Instead of rushing to solve their problem, you can give them guidance and confidence-boosting re-reinforcements.

So, the next time something does go wrong, they will already have the skills needed to come up with a solution.

Remember – children and adults sometimes have to fall a few times in order to learn how to get back up. 

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Older Americans Months

By: Christina Bein – LCSW 

What does aging mean to you? How does your family talk about it? What does your community say about it? 

In the media, it seems like aging is stereotypically frowned upon. Oh wait, don’t frown because that might cause wrinkles. 

There’s a mainstream obsession with preventing aging that takes away from the beauty that marks a long-lived experience. 

The Administration for Community Living ( acl.gov) is taking a path this year in celebrating Older Americans Month with the theme of recognizing how older adults can age well in place. This takes a look at how older Americans can still engage in participating in their community and living independently for as long as possible. 

EasterSeals Oregon is a local non-profit organization that is celebrating Older Americans Month and offers suggestions of socializing with neighbors, taking a virtual course to learn something new, or offering to teach others about a known skill. 

The emphasis is on seeing the value of building community.

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Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The current events of the world can create feelings of stress for many children. That, paired with the recent history of isolation and a loss of support systems, such as in-person school, has resulted in all kids feeling an increased sense of stress in their lives.  Helping kids deal with the stressors of uncertainty will help them be more successful in managing challenging times ahead.

Big Life Journal has some helpful resources to help kids deal with stress, including printable guides and worksheets. Some ideas for helping kids deal with stress include:

  • Re-frame stress–Stress can lead to growth if children understand that stressful situations will not last forever. These situations represent challenges to overcome and lessons to learn.  Seek to understand your child’s stress rather than dismiss it
  • Shift from a fixed to a growth mindset–it’s not fixed, it can be improved, and you do have the power to influence the situation.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking–do not dismiss their worry. Their concerns are very real to them and there have been a lot of reasons to worry recently.  But help them put words to their fears and focus on what they can control
  • Practice Problem solving–listen, discuss the positives and negatives of a situation, brainstorm solutions
  • Try stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, or yoga exercises for kids.

Although many kids may experience stress, there are also many kids experiencing a higher level of mental health issues.  On May 7th we can observe Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The purpose of this awareness day is to increase public awareness about the needs of children with serious mental illness, provide information on evidence-based practices, and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • One in six U.S. children ages 6-17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety problems or ADHD.‍
  • Half of all mental health conditions start at 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated.
  • The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

It is important to have conversations with your children, to recognize when their mental health issues are more than just expected stress responses, and to get them help. Early intervention can have positive results that benefit them for the rest of their life. Therapy can have a significant impact on a child. And more severe issues can be addressed through a consult with your mental health provider as well as a doctor or psychiatrist if needed. Teaching our kids that it is okay to not be okay sometimes, is an important first step in them feeling like they can ask for help when they are struggling.  Taking care of a child’s mental health is as important as their physical health. We can create a safe space for our children, so they can feel good about themselves. 

Follow the resources below for more:

Virtual Events For Parents & Caring Adults 

What’s in the Guide for Parents: Caring for Kids with Mental Illness

Helping Children Cope 

Need Help? | Kids Help Phone 

Youth Mental Health | Mental Health America

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How To Better Understand And Manage Holiday Season Stress

The holiday season is typically known as “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

Spending time with family, attending dinners and picking out gifts can be a lot of fun – but can also be stressful and tiring. 

Practicing self care is essential 365 days a year. 

However – it is much more important during busy and/or stressful events such as the holidays. 

If you feel like you are taking on too much or need a break, it’s okay to respect your body’s limits. 

Not sure how or where to begin? Keep on reading. 

Accept Your Needs

It’s so important to carve out time for self care.

We are all human and can only go so long without taking a break. 

If a friend or family member asks you to do something, it’s okay to say no if you don’t think you can handle it.

Regularly check in with yourself and think about your needs and wants. 

If a certain activity brings you joy, keep on doing it.

And if a certain activity brings on stress, it may be time to walk away or at least cutback. 

Taking Shortcuts

Believe it or not, shortcuts are absolutely okay and even encouraged in certain situations.

If you feel like you have too much on your plate, you can certainly ask for help or scale back on commitments.

Focus on Your Breathing

Whether you’re feeling relaxed, overwhelmed or an emotion in between, taking slow deep breaths regularly is key. 

Carving out a few minutes a day to sit down and do nothing other than focus on your breathing can help reduce stress and bring on a new sense of calm.

You can practice deep breathing anytime and anywhere. 

The more you practice, the sooner it will become a habit. 

“There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.” —James Carroll

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The Twists And Turns of Parenting a Teen

There is no super-secret manual for parenting a teen, and it can certainly be a confusing time for the entire family. 

Here are a few tips that can help you get through the unexpected twists and turns of parenting a teen. 

Be Prepared

Being a teen is far from easy. Their brain is not fully developed, and everything from school to friendships to dating to figuring out who they are can be very stressful. 

It’s normal for teens to experience mood swings and say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. 

Being prepared and having a game plan ahead of time can be a big help. 

Pick Your Battles

All family members disagree from time to time. Life would be pretty boring if we all agreed on everything, right?

It’s only a matter of time until your teen does something you don’t think is wise, such as staying up too late on a school night or quitting an after-school activity.

Even though you may not agree with their decisions, sometimes the best thing you can do is let them be independent and learn from their mistakes first hand. 

Some of the best lessons happen through experiences. 

Realize And Empathize

Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? 

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. 

Getting into a fight with a friend or getting a bad grade on a test can be quite stressful. 

Now, you know that in a few days everything will be fine and back to normal…

But their mind may be spinning in several different directions, immediately jumping to the worst-case scenario. 

Do you remember what those days were like and how you felt?

When you are upset, hearing your parents say everything will be fine isn’t always enough.

If that’s the case, you can open up and let them know how you dealt with similar events when you were a teen and how feelings come and go.

Knowing that they are not alone can help put things in perspective. 

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Happy & Healthy Relationship Habits

Every couple is unique, but when it comes to maintaining a healthy and happy relationship, some factors do overlap.

Letting Conversation Flow

Open communication is an important part of any relationship. It all comes down to feeling comfortable talking about anything and everything.

Being able to openly talk about light and heavy topics can help you learn about one another on a deeper level. 

It’s all about keeping the communication lines open and not holding anything back. 

Laughter

Amongst mutual respect and acceptance, laughter can help make a couple stronger. Many years from now, you may not remember every activity you and your partner did together, but you will remember the laughter. 

Listening

Everyone deserves to feel heard and seen – and your partner is no exception. 

Paying attention to the small details can make the biggest difference. 

Authentically wanting to listen to your partner is one of the many ways you can show them you care. You may not always see eye to eye, and that’s okay. All you can do is listen and be there. 

Creating a Sense of Comfort 

Being able to relax and be yourself around your partner is so important. You should always stay true to who you are and do what makes you happy. There is only one you, and you should never feel like you have to change your interests, ideas or values to please someone else.

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Raising Confident Children

You can guide your child to believe in themselves and gain confidence by…

Building Self-Esteem Brick by Brick 

None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. 

Reminding your child that we all fall down can help them embrace and accept their mistakes. 

Paying Attention to Your Words

Be mindful of the phrases you use when you’re around your child – especially the words you say about yourself. 

Here’s an example. 

Let’s say you and your child are in the car, and you accidentally miss your turn.

We’ve done that more times than we can count and understand how frustrating that can be, especially when time is of the essence.

When things like that happen, it’s so easy to say things like…

 “I can’t believe I did that. I take this route every day.” 

Or,

“That was so silly. I should have been paying more attention.”

Events like that happen all the time, and in the future, when your child starts driving, chances are they will miss their turn often as well.

Truth be told, there is a very good chance your child didn’t even notice you missed the turn. The best thing you can do is stay calm and laugh it off. 

Missing your turn isn’t always so bad. You and your little one can spend the extra time playing car games or listening to their favorite radio station. 

Letting Them Figure Things Out on Their Own 

The next time your child is trying to figure something out, don’t rush the process and let them take the wheel. 

As a parent, it’s normal to want to jump in and save the day. But children need to learn how to do things on their own – even if it takes them a while.

Remember how excited you were when you read your first book by yourself or successfully tied your shoes for the first time?

Those milestones are very exciting for children and play a key role in building their confidence.

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Talking To Your Children About Racism

Having conversations with your children about racism can be difficult.

It’s common for parents to think their children are too young to fully understand racism, and they are better off waiting a few years.

However, children start recognizing human faces at around 1 – 3 months old. 

The sooner you start the conversation with your children about race and racism, the sooner they will understand it.

Ask Them Questions

If we want to reduce the tension around race conversations, we have to talk about it openly and often. 

You can’t know for sure what your child thinks or feels about something unless you ask them.

Asking them a few open-ended questions can help start the conversation and encourage them to open up. 

Storytelling

There are several books for children of all ages that dive into racism. If you already have some at home that’s great. 

If not, here are some great children’s books you can look into.

You and your child can read the books together, and afterwards, you can talk about it.

You can ask them how the book made them feel, or if you they have any questions. 

Keep Up The Conversation

Talking to your children about racism is not a one-time thing. Encouraging them to ask questions whenever they want can help keep the conversation going.

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Tips for Managing Your Children’s Screen Time

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Screen time is not a bad thing. Texting is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Plus, there are several educational shows out there.

However, too much screen time can do much more harm than good. 

If you aren’t careful 5 minutes of intended screen time can easily turn into 2+ more hours. 

Almost all parents are familiar with the “come on, just 5 more minutes” request. 

Establishing reasonable screen time rules for your children can help them find a balance between time well spent on and off their screens.

Set Technology Times 

It’s so easy to lose track of time while watching TV or texting friends. We’ve all been there and it happens. Setting a timer or coming up with a schedule can help keep us on track. 

Family Activities 

Here’s some family homework. Sit down with your children this week and together come up with a list of fun tech-free activities you can do together. You can bake, play board games, or go on a walk. 

These activities can help remind both you and your kids that you don’t need a phone to have fun. 

No Phones in The Bedroom

Even if your phone is off, having it in your bedroom can be very distracting. We all have those nights where we just can’t fall asleep.

When your phone is right there, it’s so easy to scroll through social media at 2 AM instead of trying to fall back asleep. 

Keeping your phone in a different room while you sleep can help prevent endless late-night scrolling. 

Be Realistic 

Some rules are meant to be broken and everything is okay in moderation – screen time included.

When you’re not feeling well, sometimes the best thing you can do is take it easy and get lost in a movie or two. There is nothing wrong with having a movie night or binge-watching a series once in a while. 

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Teaching Children How to Manage and Understand Anger

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that children, teens and adults experience. 

Here’s the deal though, children know when they are angry. They feel it just like an adult or teen would.

But they can have difficulty understanding and expressing it, which can be frustrating. 

The good news is, healthy coping skills can be learned!  

Here are three ways you can help your child better understand and manage their anger. 

Lead by Example

You are your child’s biggest role model. How you respond to frustrating situations can impact them in more ways than you’d think.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you accidentally drop your coffee one morning, and your entire kitchen floor is covered in coffee. 

We know that is far from fun, but those moments are the perfect opportunity to practice remaining calm even when it’s hard. 

If your child notices you remaining calm, chances are they will mimic those actions in the future. 

Time Outs

Time outs are a great calm down tool for kids.

When you’re angry or overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing you can do is take yourself out of the situation. 

The same tool works for kids. Now, you may prefer going on a walk or reading, while they may prefer drawing or playing with one of their toys.

After a few minutes of quiet time, they may even forget why they were angry in the first place. 

Remain Calm

We get it. When your child is angry and having a tantrum, it’s easy to lose your cool and raise your voice. 

Even though it may be tough, the best thing you can do is remain calm and talk it out with them. 

Sit down and ask them to explain exactly what they’re feeling and what brought it on.

Once you know what happened, the two of you can figure out a solution together. 

The simple act of getting their feelings off their chest can help dial down some of the intensity. 

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