The Halloween Dread Reframe

(I wrote this blog in 2015)

Every Halloween, my son wants to make his own costume. The therapist and educator in me absolutely loves his initiative, determination, creativity, high standards and resourcefulness yet the perfectionist mom in me gets triggered and dreads this. All I see are the barriers, the frustrations, hard work, messes, costs, and disappointment. It happened again this year where my son feels my dread and it brings him down. I know it is not fair so as I practice what I preach. This morning,  I acknowledged how he was right about feeling my resistance and I chose to ask, “How are we going to open this day with joy and curiosity?” I then reframed our day by stating, “I am very curious how we will get this all done and I look forward to the joy my son will feel when his costume is finished.”

I am happy to report that after great effort, we have a 5 foot Salamence costume all ready to be painted and fully assembled in time for Halloween and my son is already filled with joy with the progress. He even volunteered using his own money for the expenses, made the shopping list, went to the store and did most of the work. Salamence and cheetah (2)Here is video of his costume:

Clink link to see video of a past creation that fortunately his father helped him with: Spinosaurus Son

Here is a link to Parenting Resources on topics of Halloween:

https://parenting.nytimes.com/feeding/halloween-candy-rules?

http://www.kidsinthehouse.com/search/site/halloween

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Halloween-COVID-Safety-Tips.aspx

Happy Halloween!!!

P.S. My son also learned valuable lessons which he was able to express through processing and tears. He worked so hard on the costume, yet he encountered many frustrations and disappointments (many which his father and I had foreseen yet didn’t tell him). He says next year he will choose an easier costume and help his sister with something special as he was so appreciative of her support and realized all the drawbacks to huge costumes.

P.S.S. The following Halloween came and he did select a less challenging costume and supported his sister.

Positive Reframe on Aging… “Alive Inside”

I highly recommend watching the documentary Alive Inside. For like a year, I have seen this documentary on Netflix and it was always calling me. Yet because I felt I already knew how healing music is and about human development, I kept scrolling by. But WOW! Even though it was a lot of what I know including brain development and how vital relationships and touch are for life and death, throughout the documentary, I felt elated and when I finished watching it, I was filled with tears of joy and goosebumps.

“One Good Thing About Music, When it Hits You Feel No Pain”- Bob Marley

The concept of music being healing was first validated for me when I read Deepak Chopra’s book, Timeless Body, Ageless Mind. He explained how your cells in your body will actually go back in time to feel how you actually felt during a specific time in your life dependent on the music playing at that stage. Thus, if you listen to your favorite music during your greatest times in life, then you will feel all those same feelings with the same intensity.

Since discovering, whenever someone is sick or sad, I ask them what their favorite music is and play it every time they are around me. When my father-in-law had lost his singing voice after a stroke and came to visit me, unbeknownst to him, I played his favorite music throughout his week-long visit and his voice strengthened. When my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and I was living overseas, I created a YouTube station for him and sent him songs on a regular basis. Although he did die, his wife said he loved the songs and I know that I was able to give him pockets of joy in his last months.

What I also love about this documentary is it highlights how sick and depriving our systems are. Synchronously, I opened up Leo Buscaglia’s book Living, Loving, & Learning and this passage jumped at me:

“Every human being requires conversation and friendship. Why do we assume that the needs of older people stop there? The body may creak a little but there is no arteriosclerosis of emotions. Older people literally hunger for caring and affection and physical touching just like anybody.”

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have focused my profession on children, parenting, and relationships as I want to help rewrite the blueprints we have when the brain is most sensitive and receptive, conception to age 7, in order to best to cultivate a culture whose natural response is to nurture throughout all our stages, especially at times of grief, dis-ease, and stress. Here’s a quote that relates to this and has inspired me immensely:

“[Yet] our babies are starving. Oh they have plenty of food. Our children are starving for touch; they are starving for us. Our children are starving for human interaction and human relationships…We have become advanced in some ways but, at present, our culture is developmentally ignorant. We are a child illiterate culture. We think somehow that it is better for a child to learn letters and words from television than from a parent talking with their baby. We have lost our core child-rearing truths… And there is nothing more essential to a developing child than human touch, infants rarely touched can actually become ill and die.” -Dr Bruce Perry, excerpt from the preface of Move Baby Move by Sofie Foster and Jerome Hartigan

Here’s a description of Music Alive:

“… a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity… chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music… reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HLEr-zP3fc

http://www.aliveinside.us/#alive-inside-theater

Every day is a gift to open with joy and curiosity.

Please be a present to everyone you meet!

Let go, fear less, love more ~Debra

The Roughhousing Trigger

A Positive Reframe I have had to work on is the trigger I have when my children are roughhousing and my daughter gives a blood-curdling scream even when she is having fun. I know and believe in the importance of roughhousing (see link below) yet have also suffered the harsh reality of aggression and violence. As their energy intensifies, I feel terrified and quickly jump to needing to defend and protect which sends a negative and mistrusting message to my son. As I am well aware of this negative cycle, in these moments I am choosing to focus on the strengths of my family by saying:

“I do not need to worry. I have raised two sensitive and caring children who have many skills to handle and resolve conflict.”

I’ll be honest, I do have to say it often yet It is amazing how quickly if transforms the energy. The situation went from triggering a negative reaction which was aggravating and draining for all to a conscious response that builds trust and is nurturing. This seemingly simple change in perception creates a trusting and positive experience for the whole family.

http://theartofroughhousing.com/science/

P.S. I am also very grateful I read the book Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I am utterly amazed by how loving and genuinely caring my children are together.

http://www.fabermazlish.com/pub_viewer.php?Siblings-Without-Rivalry-How-to-Help-Your-Children-Live-Together-So-You-Can-Live-Too-4

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Five steps to a Positive Reframe

We are all doing the best we can with the resources we are aware of or have access to. Negativity (i.e.. negative emotions, unhealthy habits, tension, conflict, symptoms, disease) often comes from a build-up of unprocessed stress, perceived threats (real or imagined), unconscious negative core beliefs, toxins, and/or unmet needs. You need to take time to process, nurture yourself, and send positive messages to your body, mind, heart, and relationships in order to connect and heal.

Here are five steps to a Positive Reframe:

1. Breathe

Put your hand on your heart and breathe deeply. Notice the breath enter your nose and fill up your body as far as your breath can reach, then breathe slowly out through your mouth as long as you comfortably can. Notice the pressure of your hand on your heart and the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. There is no wrong or right here. Your brain and body are working to protect you, so it is normal to still have thoughts or urges to distract you. Keep focusing on your breath. Repeat at least three times as needed. Breathing is like pressing the reset for your central nervous system getting oxygen to all your cells, calming you down, connecting to your heart and body whilst empowering your wise mind. Your breath is also the only automatic nervous system function that you can control. Click here to see a breathing exercise video I made.

2. Give yourself permission

Give yourself permission to just be and feel whatever you are experiencing with compassion, non-judgment, and curiosity. 

Notice what are you feeling? … angry, afraid, sad, frustrated, embarrassed, conflicted, confused, hurt, mistrusted, insecure etc…

Notice sensations in your body, where do you feel tight or heavy? cold or hot? shaky or stiff?   http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/?p=63

What are you needing?…safety, honesty, connection, support, understanding, trust, security etc… Here is a link to the Non-Violent Communication NVC Feelings and Needs shortlist

All feelings and needs are valid. Even though thoughts and emotions seem very real, they are not always true. Give yourself permission to step back, take a break or say “No.” Listen to your heart and do what feels right for you at that moment.

3. Process

We need to take time to consciously & actively PROCESS negativity. Too often we get used to relying on our default defense mechanisms, we ignore, dismiss, avoid, run, hide, blame, fight, or numb ourselves…Negative events, feelings, & thoughts then accumulate affecting every part of our life. Find safe ways to reflect on and process your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and events… like what happened right before feeling a wave of emotions and disturbance? Did you notice any stress signals in your body before your reaction? What reoccurring thoughts or feelings keep coming up? What is the earliest memory you have of a similar event, or feeling this way or thinking these thoughts? What is this part of you most afraid of? What needs do you wish were met then to feel seen, safe, soothed, and secure? What do you want to believe about yourself now?

Engage in an activity that lets you process as well as creates a sense of movement and feedback like talking with someone you trust, going for a walk, journaling, feel your heart beating, hugging a friend, painting, playing music, dancing, exercising… the list is endless and unique to each individual.

If you do not have time to fully process a triggering event, disturbing emotions, or thoughts, at the very least, visualize putting them in some sort of imaginary container (i.e., treasure, chest, suitcase, jar), then put your hand on your heart and take at least three deep breaths. Or you can visualize your favorite place to be where you feel most safe, happy, and free to be you. Go through all your senses while visualizing this place…What do you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste?

If still feeling too overwhelmed (unable to calm down or focus) do a neurovascular hold by placing one palm of your hand on your forehead and the other palm of the hand at the base of your neck, take more deep breaths and hold for 3-5 minutes. 

4. Affirm* what is or you wish to be true

Take time to visualize and feel what you wish to be experiencing. Was there a time when what you are wishing for did happen? Notice how good and true it feels. What positive beliefs come to mind? You can also create personal affirmation statements in the present tense about your abilities, intentions, and desired outcomes. Repeat affirmation statements on a regular basis especially when under stress and triggered. 

“A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.” ~ Stephen Covey

Examples:

“I can handle this.”

“I choose to make positive healthy choices for myself and/or family.”

“I chose a supportive partner and we are both willing to work towards our shared goals.” 

“I can help my kids feel safe by being present and responsive to their needs.” 

“I can find a way to express myself and get my needs met.”

Click here for an example of my personal affirmations…

all is well quote meme

*Initially, saying affirmations may feel awkward or uncomfortable or untrue. I have found that the more uncomfortable it feels, then the more likely this is an area that needs our attention. You may still try it out or create a new one that feels more comfortable and truer to you.

5. Express Gratitude

Yes, life is filled with uncertainty and negativity, yet I have found that difficult times have immense value in our lives and create opportunities. It is easier to see the bright side when your suffering has been genuinely acknowledged and processed fully which can be achieved through the first four steps*. If you’re struggling to find anything to be grateful for, then go back through the steps. Take time to discover ways to appreciate the hidden value for yourself, loved ones, job, or current stressor. For example, getting sick gives you an opportunity to stay in bed and rest which you may not have weaved rest time into your life. Focus your attention on what you feel blessed for and what you want more of like what brings you feelings of joy, peace, connection, and clarity. This becomes more beneficial practiced daily.

I believe that we are all born inherently good and connected to our innate intelligence which is love-based. Those who seem “bad” have more pain to heal, toxins and stressors to process, and vital needs to meet. We often have good intentions, yet we are unconsciously thwarted by our internal suffering, unprocessed toxins, our fears, and negative reactions. Every interaction is an opportunity to nurture, heal, and grow.

*There are many ways to process negativity like some sort of movement, touch, writing, talking and so on. The key is to discover which ways help your unique central nervous system and spirit to feel seen, safe, soothed & secure in that moment specific to the context and your history, and to provide these for yourself as consistently and rhymical as humanly possible.

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you. ❤ Debra

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Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers,  as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Negative thoughts and the gift of rising again

One day, my son was feeling badly about not living up to his potential. He expressed negative beliefs of “not being a good enough, being lazy, stupid, feeling guilty/shame about his choices and behaviors.” It hurts me tremendously to hear him share these deep negative beliefs as they are the same ones I have battled through much of my life and often triggers me into a dismissive reaction. Thus, no matter how much my partner and I told him how much we loved him and highlighted all the good things he does, he could not hear us and resisted our attempts. As a therapist, I know too well that our reactions and attempts to minimize his emotional pain were invalidating and actually making him feel worse. That one must first truly listen, accept, validate the speaker’s feelings and expressions so they may be able to process their pain and move on. Yet being a parent, feeling so responsible and sad for hearing your magnificent child feel so bad is hard to accept and cope with, especially on top of all of life’s other stresses.

After becoming conscious of my own insecurities and triggers, I then chose to respond by cuddling with him and remaining silent as he cried and vented. I agreed how painful this must feel. I apologized for the times my actions have led him to feel this way and that I will keep working on improving myself. I then shared a story of how I woke up early yesterday and caught a glimpse of the intense orange from the sunrise.  I was reminded how blessed we are that *God gives a beautiful new horizon to awake and go to sleep with every day. I thought about Easter approaching and how many are celebrating how Jesus rose from the dead. I told my son that holidays are really just symbols of the gifts God gives us everyday. We have been given the gift to rise every day and try again to be more kind, helpful and align our beliefs with our actions.

My son immediately said “Thank You,” gave me a kiss and popped up exuberantly. He began to hug and say “thank you” to all the many items on his bed: his books; his new big, blue, soft  blanket; his giant stuffed elephant, his fan, his light, etc.  I then read him some stories, the last one was being I Believe In Me. Listening, holding a safe place, using respectful touch, and acknowledging feelings allows negativity to process which naturally leads to calming down and making new connections. The next morning, I was awoken early by my son meditating “Ohmmm, Ohmmm, Ohmmm.” He was inspired to start his day on a positive note.  I wish every one to see the beauty and miracles given everyday and when you don’t, forgive yourself and others, and rise again.

Deep breaths and baby steps,

~Debra

*I believe God is universal and defined by what feels best for you and your family’s belief system.

A glimpse into one boy’s emotional development

When my son was six years old, I had two teachers suggest that my son was “emotionally immature.” Honestly, these complaints were very hard for me to swallow on many levels, especially since I am passionate about emotional intelligence and helping children to cope with emotions.

I, as respectfully as possible, accepted and validated their comments because of course, he is emotionally immature: he’s six years old. I felt defensive, shocked and angered. I just wanted to rip my son away from these people who I had entrusted to care for him. I even home-educate my son because most affordable school environments, in my opinion, are emotionally neglectful and abusive.

I internally chewed long and hard on their statements. I really had to grieve this situation. I typically blame myself whenever negative situations occur and worried intensely if I had messed up somewhere… I felt guilty for adding stress to the teachers; Was I crazy for teaching him to question authority and share his feelings? From their point of view and context, I could see where they were coming from yet it sickened me that this is the mind frame of most.

I want to just shine a bright light on the world about emotional development… You see society tends to think that one is emotionally mature because they handle their emotions. This is true to a degree, but one needs to have opportunities to express their emotions in order to learn how to handle their emotions in various settings and relationships.  There is a learning curve for every new dynamic or experience.

It seems we give kids until about the age of one to three years old to work this out, then we demand they listen and obey us without whining or tantrums. Sadly, what many think as an emotionally mature child is one who is appearing obedient under the guise of actually feeling fear and freezing (like in a state of fight, flight or freeze). They don’t know what to do but have learned that more negative energy will be directed at them if they don’t just stop.  Eventually, this leads to suppressing emotions and even dissociating when triggered in stressful environments. Far worse consequences and dysfunctional patterns develop from here.

Here’s is one my favorite quotes about emotional development and children:

“What is a normal child like? Does he just eat and grow and smile sweetly? No, that is not what he is like. The normal child, if he has confidence in mother and father, pulls out all stops. In the course of time he tries out his power to disrupt, to destroy, to frighten, to wear down, to waste, to wrangle, and to appropriate…At the start he absolutely needs to live in a circle of love and strength (with consequent tolerance) if he is not to be fearful of his own thoughts and his images to make progress in his emotional development.”

-Donald W. Winnecott, The Child, The Family, and the Outside World

https://www.theschooloflife.com/article/the-great-psychoanalysts-donald-winnicott/

Now, back to my sweet, sensitive son… Anyone who knows him well has seen his empathetic, kind, and resilient nature as well as his ability to regulate himself. He started initiating group hugs when he was two and doing the meditative “umm” when he was in pre-school to calm down. He made a dragon from Legos to guard his baby sister’s ashes and deeply mourned the loss of his great-grandma. When I am stressed, he echoes the words of the sage in me. He’s my buddha boy, and this is just a quick snapshot of the gracious qualities he shines upon his family and dearest friends.

During this same period of time, my son was overwhelmed by contradictory messages. He would complain about how come he often sees other kids hitting other kids and their siblings. I validate that it is confusing and may seem unfair yet stress he has learned a special skill and can control himself even when he feels so angry. I describe how many others are still in the process of learning to control their emotions and behaviors and how their brain gets flooded and they can’t get to their loving, smart files.

He also would ask why he cries so much but no one else seems to cry. He agonized about what’s wrong with him and feels stupid that he cries so easily. I validate his pain yet stress that he cries because he has a big heart: he cares so much about what people think of him and the quality of work he produces. That although he appears weak and dramatic by society’s expectations for “normal boy” behavior, he is indeed strong, brave, spirited and willful. Sadly, with so few kids to empathize with him, he was starting to wish he didn’t care so much.

Another sad part of all this is that when a kid, or even an adult for that matter, is being emotional, that can actually be a sign of trust; that they feel somewhat safe to process their hard and vulnerable feelings with you.  Emotional outbursts are opportunities for connection and growth yet we as listeners can’t often handle the feelings. We feel too uncomfortable and just want to contain them as quickly as possible. Teachers fear they are disturbing the learning environment instead of seeing it as an intense learning experience. Even with my successful experiences of utilizing intense emotions, I still get triggered by fear and just want to stop the discomfort and run away. It is also hard to be compassionate and present with an angry child especially when the child in you just wants to fight back.

The next time a child is giving you grief, take a deep breath and give them the gift of your presence, attention, a warm embrace, a shoulder to cry on and listen to. You don’t even need to think of things to say just be still, present and listen. If it feels right, reflect only on what you are hearing them say like identifying feelings.

‎”When children feel understood, their loneliness and hurt diminish. When children are understood, their love for their parent is deepened. A parent’s sympathy serves as emotional first aid for bruised feelings. When we genuinely acknowledge a child’s plight and voice her disappointment, she often gathers the strength to face reality.” ~Haim Ginott

Below are resources on supporting boys:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/04/how-raise-boys/587107/

http://michaelthompson-phd.com/books/raising-cain/

https://www.stevebiddulph.com/Site_1/Home.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/11/17/boys-emotional-support_a_23280737/

Be Worried About Boys, Especially Baby Boys

The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys

Here’s also a video on how important it is to meet emotional needs

Take Wonderful Care,

Debra

Learn more about me and Online Therapy services

lessons from my son meme (2)

Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, and referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

lessons from my son

I wrote this poem about my parenting journey with my son which has been published in the book, Poetry of Yoga  by HawaH

I thought I knew it all

                                          Then you were born.

You touched my soul to no end:

          Your cries burrowed a well

                     Stirred my consciousness

                                   Awakened humility

A collaboration of love and labor in its purest form.

I see my reflection in your brilliance and turbulence;

                 Shadows of the past to heal

                                 Vital needs to nurture

                                              Dreams to actualize

You have much to teach me

                                                        I am ready to learn.

 ev smilesmeditation

Teaching responsibility

When my son was three, he had a small snow globe with Pluto the dog in it. Every time he’d play with it, I would say, “Be careful, it is glass so if it falls it will break.” One night, he played with it intensely, not heeding my warning, he dropped it and it shattered. My plutoinitial reaction was one of exasperation and panic as I quickly removed him from the area. I fought back the impulse to snap, “I told you so… you didn’t listen” but I know he still felt that negative energy as he felt horrible, broke down in tears and was inconsolable. My husband and I both hugged him, and I stated, “It is my fault because I should have taken it away from you. I knew better.” I calmly as possible suggested he go play with his miniature sandbox and he agreed that would make him feel better.

I think many would be taken back that I took responsibility in this situation (and I do this in most parenting situations). I frequently get comments about how will he learn responsibility? How will he learn if there are no consequences? I was first exposed to this response in a training for regulatory parenting. The presenter, Juli Alvarado, gave numerous examples of “taking responsibility” topping with a story about her standing before a judge for a foster child and stating that she will take responsibility for his actions. These stories surprised me because they were counterintuitive to what I was raised to think, but her reasoning, and better yet the progress, sold me.

So I will apply the reasoning to the situation with my son. First off, there were consequences. They were natural and inherent in that specific situation like sadness and grief for a broken cherished item which we never replaced; instant feelings of guilt for knowing he broke the snow globe; added negative feelings from disappointing his mother; time away from his mother whilst cleaning up. Also, I did not take responsibility for him, I took responsibility for my behaviors. To be honest, I have problems setting limits and being firm as well as lacked the tolerance to deal with my son’s negative reaction if I did take the snow globe away. It was not appropriate for me to expect a three-year-old to truly conceptualize the risk and control himself. Ideally, it is the parent who is the one with more knowledge, more experience, more skills, more resources and is responsible for meeting the needs of a child.

By me taking responsibility, I decreased the negative energy (i.e. blame, disappointment, shame) being absorbed by my son as well as calmed myself down. All negative behavior comes from a state of stress (see Stress Model by Dr. Bryan Post ). When we are stressed, we usually react negatively and inappropriately. Scolding, raising my voice, or punishing would only add more stress, which a child (and most humans) can’t handle as well as escalate the situation. It also causes the child to focus on and retain negative feelings about the parent as well as lessen their ability to internalize the actual event and subsequent lesson. When we are calm, we are able to respond gently by becoming aware of as many variables as possible and collaboratively problem solve effectively. I was also role-modeling for my son how to take responsibility.

Teaching Responsibility = Role-Modeling the Ability to identify your role in the negative dynamic & Respond appropriately to get needs met

I believe we all deserve respect and compassion so “appropriately” to me means with respect, compassion, and guidance based on context, skill level, and temperament. There are complaints that there is not enough discipline and kids have no respect anymore. I agree in part as many are behaving how they are treated. I believe discipline means to teach and to control oneself, and that everyone deserves respect, especially children, and our society is extremely disrespectful to children. I think we need more positive, respectful, and responsible role models.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear a parent or adult snap “Don’t you raise your voice to me!” in their elevated and harsh tone, and the countless other times that parents lose control of themselves. Another common parenting contradiction is “Don’t hit her sister/brother!” then threat…”I’ll spank you if…” and then the child witnesses or experiences domestic violence. I once heard Dr. Bruce Perry comment, “If you speak English, you learn English; if you speak rudeness, violence, anger, then you learn rudeness, violence, anger…”How is one able to learn respect and empathy when they are rarely given any? Or only given when certain conditions are met depending on someone else’s mood or power?

I really wish adults would become aware of their power, their feelings, and mood as well as notice all the things they complain about or demand of their child (and partners). Then, I want parents to really reflect on how many times they have committed a similar offense of overreacting with heightened negativity. I continue to do this experiment and I have yet to find a time I have NOT behaved or reacted in a similar, negative way. I then choose to hold my complaint until I have successfully worked on changing my own behavior.  By then, I have gained enough insight and empathy for the person that the original complaint seems hypocritical, unreasonable, and even petty in some cases. A child will learn more positive skills and values from a vulnerable and calm adult who reflects on and changes their own behavior than a defensive and angry person who threatens consequences and dismisses their child’s needs and feelings. I know threats and punishments seem to work, but they work for the wrong reasons and promote more destruction than you can imagine, at so many levels.

So back to my son and the broken snow globe…after about 15 minutes, my son called to me. He said he felt better and asked if I would help put his sandbox away to keep it safe. I did and we went to his room for story time. He immediately went to the spot where he broke the globe and calmly said, “I am sorry Mommy for breaking it.” I accepted his sincere apology and we got back to our bedtime ritual. Reflecting on this event, I wish my response had no shaming tone to it, though I know realistically how difficult it is to have a neutral tone and there is inherent value to have my son experience processing negative reactions from others, especially with people he loves so deeply. Since this event, I learned the benefits of avoiding saying “Be Careful” and to make more specific, related statements. Click here to learn more about what to say instead of “Be Careful”

Parenting is a journey; a portal to growth, healing, and connection and like our best lessons, can only be learned through a conscious and compassionate process of trial and error.  You have no power to change or improve anything if you are not aware of your own role in the dynamics. Fortunately, neuroscience is proving that the brain develops optimally and cultivates positive connections when we are supported by at least one calm, nurturing, and safe caregiver and there are so many fun, respectful, and mutually satisfying ways to achieve this. My son is now a teenager and he amazes me daily with his integrity, empathy, and responsiveness. He consistently role-models responsibility to his younger sister and his peers, he genuinely apologizes and changes his behaviors on his own as well as holds others accountable for their negative reactions. He is the most responsible and compassionate teen I have ever known, and yes, I am biased 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite articles on discipline and natural consequences:

The Word DISCIPLINE Means “to Teach or Train”

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

https://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/natural-consequences

What is meant by “Parenting Beyond Consequences” by Heather T Forbes

Take wonderful care of yourself and family,

Debra

You can learn more about me and my services here at WeCounsel

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Healing Song

I have inherited some devastating negative core beliefs that get triggered easily like when anything goes wrong, I instantly feel that It’s all my fault. When I break something or make a mess, I feel I am a complete failure and utterly stupid. Sadly, I have unconsciously passed this same negative tape onto my son. It has grown more apparent the more I expand my awareness for it. Even though I know they are not true, they still feel very real to my body, mind, and soul and as much I tell myself and my son they are not true, we need to heal and rewrite in the moments we feel them the most.

As we were getting ready to leave the house one day, he boisterously bounced into the wall and a picture frame crashed to the floor. As I am aware that things breaking are one of my triggers, my body viscerally reacted negatively. Almost simultaneously, my son hung his head down saying  ”I’m so stupid.” As soon as possible, I told myself out loud to “let it go” and move onto to next step. Unexpectedly, he went back to the frame to try to fix it and I reacted negatively again as I was afraid he’d get hurt from glass and we were under a time crunch.

His head hung in shame again, he stammered toward the door, muttering “It’s all my fault.”

The next feelings and thoughts poured through me in a matter of milliseconds….At first I was filled with anger and disappointment of how could he feel so bad about himself; how I don’t have the time to deal with this now; how many times do we have to go through this…then feelings of guilt and shame came of  how could I have let this self-hatred seep into my son’s self-consciousness and how come I cannot heal us both and get over it…

I caught the negative tape going wild in my mind and chose to give myself and my son the same love and compassion I wish to give everyone.

As my son turned the door handle to escape outside, I told myself I must not let him start his day this way. I ran to him as boisterously as he bounced into the wall just moments before, pulled his head up and bellowed “Raise your head.” As this was happening so quickly, I could still feel the tension in my hands.  His look instantly told me to get my body, tone, and words to match the message of love I wanted to give. I hugged him and began singing,

I love you no matter what glass breaks.

I kissed him in tune to my melody on his cheek and I looked at his eyes as they began to well up. I continued to sing:

I love you no matter what breaks.

again I repeatedly kissed him on his cheek and as I saw tears beginning to fall, I sang:

You could knock the house down and all I would care is that you were safe and sound.

followed with more kisses, he tearfully said,

“That is the kindest thing I have ever heard.”

I responded that every word of it was true and we hugged. His younger sister who was watching the whole thing then joyfully pleaded, “I want kisses on the cheek too.” We went on to have a great day and I believe some of those negative messages have healed.

Your bill of human rights…

You have the right to be you.

You have the right to put yourself first.

You have the right to be safe.

You have the right to love and be loved.

You have the right to be treated with respect.

You have the right to be human – NOT PERFECT.

You have the right to angry and protest if you are treated unfairly or abusively by anyone.

You have the right to your own privacy.

You have the right to your own opinions, to express them, and to be taken seriously.

You have the right to earn and control your own money.

You have the right to answer questions about anything that affects you.

You have the right to make decisions that affect you.

You have the right to grow and change (and that includes changing your mind).

You have the right to say NO. You have the right to make mistakes.

You have the right to NOT be responsible for other adults’ problems.

You have the right to not be liked by everyone.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL YOUR OWN LIFE AND TO CHANGE IT IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH IT.

I was 18 when I first read a list of rights like this one. I was actually surprised to learn that I had these rights. I had to read it daily for awhile to kick start my healing. It takes on average 21 times to experience a situation the way you WANT  to experience it before our brains can make a secure connection, to FEEL the benefits and to BELIEVE it is real. I use to have to read at frequent intervals when fears and insecurities would try to sabotage what my heart knew and felt. Fortunately, my healing grew exponentially as I accepted & asserted them.

Here’s a video on the history of Human Rights. I guess I was not alone in not knowing them. Please share them with love and compassion and put these rights to action.

https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/