Mindful Parenting Groups (MPG) is an interactive group workshop designed to enhance parents’ capacity to “read”  babies’ and/or toddlers’ cues and communications.

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Reflective Care Program (RCP) offers tailored trainings to enhance relationships amongst providers and within systems targeting optimal child and family outcomes.

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Reflective Parenting Program (RPP) is an innovative workshop series that engages groups of  parents in an in-depth experiential learning process.

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Being a Reflective Parent with Anxious Teens

Jessica Borelli,Ph.D. ( director of the UCI THRIVE Lab)  is a researcher whose work I admire. She studies the links between close relationships and health. As she is an expert on this subject, I asked her to comment on a recent article in the NYT about the increase in serious anxiety amongst teens.

Here is what she has to say.

“The saddest part of this article for me was how alone the teens interviewed for the story felt. This isolation is probably partly the result of the intense focus that anxiety and depression seem to command — this is a self-focus that is nothing like grandiosity or egocentricity, but rather a loathing self-focus that views all of one’s own real and imagined flaws magnified by a factor of 500. This hyper-focus on the self deprives the individual of so much, including a broader perspective on their problems and also an awareness that others also struggle and that they are not alone. In my work with anxious youth, I’ve also found that it means a lack of social connections, particularly the types of connections in which teens reveal these ‘shameful’ parts of themselves. This is truly unfortunate because the social connections have the potential to ameliorate the shame living at the core of the anxiety, which at times can resolve the problem.

Some ways to translate her wise comments into something helpful to do: It is a complex problem. There are no sure fixes. As a reflective parent here are some ideas to consider that can help to reduce the pressure, the aloneness and the shame.

  • Communicate acceptance: that no one is perfect; it is ok to not always get A’s or be the best.
  • Counteract disaster thinking:  that even if your child does not do as well as hoped, whether in school, sports or with a friend, that life is not ruined.
  • Empathize with their upset, but role model optimism: that set backs and difficulties can be managed and dealt with in a positive way.
  • Do what you can to encourage talking about it, not to keep it private. It is good for them to talk with you, so certainly always be available and to listen without judgement. Kids often want to talk at the most inopportune times, late at night, just when you are leaving to go for a run or have lunch with a friend, or even when you are about to go to work. Take the time when they offer it to you- even if it is not convenient. It pays off in the end.
  •  But also, when they are teens they need to talk with their friends. Even as you try and limit social media, you still want to encourage them to talk about their pressures and self-criticisms with their friends. Friends are usually way more accepting and supportive of them, than they are of themselves.

Credit: http://reginapally.com/advice/teens-and-anxiety/

When Kids Misbehave, don’t blame them for your reaction!

You are at a restaurant with your closest friend and Carson your 7 year old son. Carson starts to misbehave. First, he tries to get up and leave. You bring him back. Then he starts to scream and bang his fork and spoon. It is embarrassing and it is disturbing your conversation with your friend and other diners sitting nearby. Carson asks for your phone to watch a video. At first you refuse. Carson keeps up the demand for the phone.

Fortunately you are prepared. You take out paper and crayons. That does not work. You then take out a few favorite little toys. That does not work. Now you are annoyed at him. But finally, with a sigh of resignation you hand Carson your cell phone to watch a video. That immediately quiets him.

Uh-oh, now you feel guilty and defeated. You have been told not to allow too much screen time.

Then you reflect and eventually decide it’s OK. Here is your reflective thought process…..

You recognize you can’t both talk to your friend and pay attention to your child. You must choose. You realize your child is not being difficult. It is the situation that is difficult for your child. He’s probably bored and having a hard time sitting there for so long, so he is just trying to get your attention. You also reflect on the reason for your behavior. It might be your friend really needs you today to talk about a problem she is having, so you want to give her your full attention.  Or it could be you need to just have time to relax with your friend and have a break from your child.

The scene here is a restaurant. But similar misbehavior can happen anywhere– in the car, in the supermarket, when visiting relatives or when you have an important phone call.

What should you have done? There is no right answer. Choosing to give your phone or not give your phone are both fine options. In other words, it depends.

Reflective Parenting gives you choices. Choose what is going to work best for you, for your child and for the situation.

But no matter what you choose to do, the point is to be honest with yourself. Take responsibility for your actions and your reasons for taking those actions.

Here is what I mean. Often a parent’s choices are based more on the parent’s needs and feelings than on their child’s. In such cases your role is to recognize that what you are doing is about you and not about your child.

The benefit of being honest
 is that you can turn a situation like giving in about the cell phone into a reflective learning experience for your child.

  • At the restaurant you might say, “I know it is not good for you to watch too many videos, but in this situation, I can’t pay attention to you, because I want to talk to my friend.”
  • In the car you might say, “I am having a really hard time focusing on my driving while the two of you argue in the back seat. That’s why I am going to give you my cell phone to watch a video. I don’t like to give you my phone just to have you be quiet in the car. But this time I’m doing it to keep me calm.”

Wow! What a gift to your child. This kind of reflective language with your child is critical to your child’s social and emotional development.

 

See the full blog post on Regina’s website: http://reginapally.com/advice/parenting-tools/when-kids-misbehave-dont-blame-them-for-your-reaction/ 

Children & Anxiety

CRC’s Co-Director and Founder, Regina Pally, talks about a recent article on children & anxiety from The New York Times…

If you have a child with anxiety you are not alone. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. For some children however, anxiety can become excessive, and interfere with daily life. And what’s tricky is that kids often don’t say they are anxious. They say things like “I hate school. I don’t want to go.” Or “I have a stomach ache” Or sometimes they are very demanding or uncooperative. This article talks about why anxiety is on the rise in teenagers. Even though this article focuses on cases of extreme anxiety in teenagers, it is worth reading for any parent who thinks their child is anxious. One of the best points is that once you realize your child is not a demanding and uncooperative child, or is not just lazy and trying to get out of going to school, you will be in a better position to respond in a helpful way. Also, it will remind you that anxiety has many sources and that there is never just one right way to treat it.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.amp.html