Tag Archives: Staylistening

Upset teen girl sits, head hidden, blocking us out.

A Little Bit of Special Time Goes a Long Way

It’s easy to put off Special Time.  After all, family life is busy, and in some ways gets oddly busier when we have older children.   But Special Time it brings rich benefits when we do it.  Most importantly it builds emotional safety.

Even when it is “pretty basic”, as this mother puts it, Special Time refreshes and renews our children’s sense of our confidence in and for them, and reassures them of our love for them.  This is what our children need in order to begin offloading the emotional backpacks they are carrying around.  As they get older, those backpacks are more tightly buckled down that they used to be.  Our children learn to “suck it up” and hold it in for fear of social death if they let their feelings show.

So after Special Time, this mother finds her 11 year old daughter’s grumpy mood dissolves, and out rolls a big upset.  It can be hard to know whether to go or stay when our children tell us to go away.  At least sometimes, however, it’s worth staying, and listening it out… Continue reading

Tween using mobile phone/cell phone to text. Photo by Carlssa Rogers, https://flic.kr/p/9qQCYc

When she must have a phone…

Sometimes, holding a limit on something – so long as we are pretty sure the limit is reasonable –  can open up a whole lot of feelings about other things. This is as true of our pre-adolescent and adolescent children as is is of our younger children. In fact, as young people internalise the message that they shouldn’t show their feelings, a well-held limit can provide just the opening. Here’s how it worked for one mother and her daughter: Continue reading

Helping Your Angry Pre-Teen

More on the topic of Pre-Teens.  If you have Pre-Teen children, you will know that things start to change.  Special Time can be a great tool for parents and children to stay connected through times of change, including times when we don’t feel we really understand each other.

Special Time – a dedicated period of time where we put aside our pre-occupations and concerns, pay full attention to our child, and delight in them – begins to change as your children’s interests change.  But the magic that it works still applies:  it builds emotional safety into our relationship with our children at a particularly important time.

And when we do this, children will start to show us their upsets.  By the time they are 8, 9 10, some of those upsets will be about us, and much will be about what it has been like being a young person for 10 years or so, in a world that does not treat young people with much respect.

We need to listen warmly at these times, giving our children all the attention we can muster.  Inevitably, the upsets will tend to be scrappier and less direct than using the process with younger children.  When they were little we could being them onto our lap and hold them as they sobbed out their sorrows, but now they are more “defended” and their sorrows have hardened into anger, and we are working hard just to keep our foot in the door, before it slams (literally and metaphorically!).

But every bit of warm, non-judgemental hanging-in-there with our Pre-Teens makes a difference.  They notice EVERYTHING we do, and it all still matters to them.

Here’s a great article by Hand in Hand  Founder, Patty Wipfler, on just what is going on for our Pre-Teen children, and for us:

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/helping-angry-preteens/

 

What Is Homework Good For?

School has settled in and I am finding myself having conversations with other parents about homework.   It is a huge issue for many children and their families.

The Problem: Sometimes, children come to homework happy to do it and keen to share what they are learning with us. However, many children regard homework as an unwelcome chore after a long day at school. If there is not unpleasantness and fighting about getting down to it, then once they start, it often seems to bring up big feelings.

And you? You are trying to get the dinner on, the baby bathed, and get your head around the maths problems your child is working on. You feel confused and unsure how to help, and before long, your child has exploded into yelling, tears and pencil throwing.

Get in touch with the teachers: If homework is a problem in your house, it is important to go and see your child’s teacher and see if there is something that can be done to help. Teachers generally welcome feedback on how it is going at home, and it may be that they can help find ways of doing the work which will make learning easier for your child. But in the end, you will probably find yourself having to deal with at least some homework coming home.

What is homework good for? There are many issues raised by homework which I won’t go into here except to say that few of the claims that are made for homework are well supported by research.*1 But I can tell you one thing homework is good for: upsets. Continue reading

Who Is Starting School??? Here is our January Newsletter

Children sitting in playground with backpacks

School Children, by Madeleine S Winter, CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 INT

The end of holidays and start of school can be a stressful time.  We grown-ups might be looking forward to a bit less time spent parenting, but our children are likely to be having feelings about leaving us, and about starting something new.  Go gently over the next few weeks!  And good luck!

 

 

 

‘Who Is Starting School???” Parenting by Connection January 2015 Newsletter

Singing Up A Storm

young-boy-singing cropA mother came to a talk that I ran earlier this year on “Helping Children With Their Fears”. Later, she told me this story:

“My son, who is 9, is a good singer, had gone through an audition process and been selected to sing a solo part in a choral concert at the Opera House.  He was extremely anxious about this.  He is really smart, but tends to be very sensitive.  Before the concert, he developed a tic in his eye and was having bad dreams at night, waking up screaming.

Continue reading

‘Tis The Season To Be…Disappointed!

Pencil HeartI can’t believe that the shops started
putting up Christmas decorations and playing Christmas carols at least a month ago. I always feel that it has come around too soon.

In this country, also, Christmas coincides with the end of the working year and summer holidays. It is often an intense time, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. Everything just seems to wind up into a big frenzy.

The truth is, despite how eagerly our children look forward to all those presents, or feel that they will miss out because the family finances can’t stretch that far or your family does not celebrate at this time of year, it is your presence that makes the real difference to them. Continue reading