Positive Reframe on Risk-Taking

“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~Alfie Kohn

I ran across this article from NPR Is It Time To Bring Risk Back Into Our Kids’ Playgrounds? and I say ‘Yes’ and not just at playgrounds but in life! Risk-taking is a healthy, life-long skill which builds confidence and competence, especially when kids are younger as their brains are doing the most development and the consequences are typically smaller. Overprotecting inhibits natural growth and resilience. How are kids suppose to learn if they can’t experience the decision-making process and the consequences of those choices? There is also no need to punish or add more shame to these experiences like the sadly common reaction of lectures and “I told you so” or “You should know better”.

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My daughter rock climbed to the top.

Children learn when allowed to feel the full range of emotions and natural consequences of the experience and have the presence of a nurturing and responsive adult who can hold space for them as they process their own thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as gently guide the child to their own wisdom. I also recommended ‘scaffolding’ whereby you break new skills into manageable and reasonable steps as well as creating opportunities that are just out of their comfort zone yet within reach of their skill level and have supports in place. Even knowing this, I still get tripped up and my fears make me overreact. My interference sends the message that I don’t trust my kids and that I can’t handle my emotions.

Fortunately, my kids and I have such a secure relationship that they can tell me when I am interfering and I back off and trust them. They really know what they are capable of and want to learn. And when they ask for help from me on things I know they are capable of but are frustrated or unmotivated, and I am in a regulated state, I say, “I trust you to work it out and I wouldn’t want to rob you of the joy you’ll get when you figure it out:)” They don’t always like that response yet they have been able to experience the joy and trust so accept it. They also know that I would be right there for them when they truly need it. If I am in a dysregulated state, then I tend to go off on my emotions to which they reply, “You can just say ‘No’ mom. I don’t need to hear all that.” If we are both dysregulated, then we each react out of our own stress response and unable to connect until one is calm enough. Deep breaths, baby steps and enjoy the ride of parenting and embracing the child within ❤

Here are some related resources:

https://www.backwoodsmama.com/2018/02/stop-telling-kids-be-careful-and-what-to-say-instead.html

http://childnature.ca/when-you-want-to-say-be-careful/

https://1000hoursoutside.com/1/post/2019/03/the-hidden-risks-of-avoiding-risky-play.html

Here is a link to a free download of the book No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society by Tim Gill  https://rethinkingchildhood.com/no-fear/

Take Wonderful Care of Yourself and Family!

Debra

Positive Reframe Online Services 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 Illinois, USA

Children are sages…

After observing and working with hundreds of children as well as having my own, I have discovered:
1) Children are sages. They are naturally present and connected to their innate intelligence as well as have less negativity and filters that block their senses or distort their perceptions. They are also operating at different brain frequencies due to their developmental stage.
 
2) Due to their heightened sensitivities and lack of filters, any negative energy directed at them is often perceived as threatening and often unconsciously labeled as “YELLING at them” because that is how it feels to their being. This will naturally trigger the fight, flight or freeze stress responses (fight doesn’t kick in until about age 2).
 
3) “I’m bored” typically means that they are experiencing negative or uncomfortable feelings that they are unaware of and cannot identify.
 
4) “It’s weird” usually means that are aware of some negative or uncomfortable feelings but don’t know what they are or how to describe them.
 
5) All negative behavior comes from a state of stress and/or unmet need. Most often they are physiologically or emotionally uncomfortable and unable to identify or communicate their feelings/needs, as well as lack the skillset to get their needs met effectively. Even if they should know what to do because you’ve said it 100 times, when triggered into a state of stress, they are unable to access that part of the brain till they feel calm and safe.
 

meditation

Please treat children how you wish you were treated when you were young. It really makes a difference as you are programming their brains for love or fear and what is done to them, they will do to society.
 
Check out my post summarizes common stressors and Enriching Resiliency & Connections as a family.
 
Take Wonderful Care,
Debra
 
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 Illinois, USA and provide online counseling at WeCounsel.com
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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 The 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 he feels my dread and it brings him down. I know it is not fair so as I practice what I preach, I chose to ask my son this morning as I was acknowledging how he was right about feeling my resistance, “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

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.

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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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/

Conflict Reframe

Conflict, or times of significant stress, can often be the greatest opportunities for connection, healing, and growth when you learn to embrace the negativity and trust the journey. It is scary to be vulnerable and even though I have experienced the benefits of this experience, a part of me still gets triggered to fear and naturally wants to resist and that’s OK. It matters more how we choose to respond, to love ourselves and everyone else through. ~Debra

“Conflict can be a sign of where we are in conflict with ourselves: It can signal an unmet need that we’ve ignored for too long. It can give us a clue to where the fire’s burning so we can find ways to put it out instead of letting it spread and destroy us. It can point to where we’re stuck in our lives. It can invite us into awareness and reduction of stress. It can alert us to the first symptoms of illness. Conflict also can help us cultivate deeper connection: It can show us what’s unresolved in our hearts that keeps showing up in our lives and in our relationships until we confront it. Conflict resolution is a way of being rather than a method of getting along. When we practice being conflict resolutionaries, our children learn to embrace conflict as safe, fleeting, and a compassionate window into our humanity.” ~Lu Hanessian

Vital Needs

We are all born good and connected which gets disrupted when vital needs go unmet. Every interaction is an opportunity to connect, nurture, heal and grow… 

Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov
Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov

Human defense mechanisms intrigue me (i.e. passive/aggressiveness, distortion, projection, denial, fantasy, rationalization, minimizing )…They protect us from absorbing too much pain at once so that the body/mind/heart can prepare to process the uncomfortable, hurtful, and overwhelming experience in order integrate and transcend but if we depend on these mechanisms or use them too long, they harden to bricks that build a wall. You might feel the illusion of safety behind this great wall, but the build-up of toxins, the natural consequences and negativity will delude you. Connection, being able to touch another’s mind/body/heart is one of our vital needs. Many of our other needs are cultivated within safe, well-connected, mutually satisfying and respectful relationships. Unfortunately, what we need the most to heal, few have ever truly received or witnessed. The unknown triggers fear as it is perceived as a threat. We then end up learning to fear and mistrust what we need the most.

When I reflect on my life, I took risks to allow people behind the wall I had built to protect myself. Of course, a few of these people I trusted backfired yet they all helped break down my wall.  My need for these defenses continues to decrease as I find more pro-active and responsible ways of getting my own needs met. I am unsure if it is possible to rid them completely, after all, we are human. Yet as I become more aware of my use of defense mechanisms and triggers, I am better able to embrace the value and those around me. I can love myself and everyone else through the hurt even though I may be running into their walls.

Below is my favorite list of needs from the book, Healing the Child Within by Charles L. Whitfield. It is difficult to move on to getting another need met if the one before it is unmet or threatened. Sadly, I witness too many stuck and fighting at number two… 

Hierarchy of Human Needs 

  1. Survival
  2. Safety
  3. Touching, Skin Contact
  4. Attention
  5. Mirroring And Echoing
  6. Guidance
  7. Listening
  8. Being Real
  9. Participating
  10. Acceptance
    1. Others Are Aware Of, Take Seriously And Admire Real You
    2. Freedom To Be Real You
    3. Tolerance Of Your Feelings
    4. Validation
    5. Respect
    6. Belonging And Love
  11. Opportunity To Grieve Losses And To Grow
  12. Unconditional Support
  13. Loyalty And Trust
  14. Accomplishment
    1. Mastery, Power, Control
    2. Creativity
    3. Having A Sense Of Completion
    4. Making A Contribution
  15. Altering One’s State Of Consciousness
  16. Sexuality
  17. Enjoyment Or Fun
  18. Freedom
  19. Nurturing
  20. Unconditional Love

(compiled from Maslow 1962; Miller, 1981, Weil, 1973; & Glasser, 1985)

light waitalk

Below is a talk I gave on how getting vital needs met lead me to my Light…

https://soundcloud.com/waitalks-1/light

Who’s the Boss?

Many systems operate from the assumption that there needs to be a hierarchy, someone at the top, a boss to lead, to have power over. When my son was younger, he would sometimes say that it felt like I was the boss of him and he has to do what I say. I reflect back that yes, it does feel like I am telling him what to do a lot. I tell him that I don’t want to boss him around and that I want him to be his own boss.  I do know it is my job to protect and teach him healthy behaviors so when he does things that jeopardize safety or health, I tend to interject. But upon great reflection and listening to my son, I stopped my re-directions, lectures, scowling, and controlling reactions etc. I began to reflect what I was seeing, identifying feelings and trusting him to figure it out. It might take longer, things break and get messy, and he will get hurt, yet he learns what he was meant to learn every time I “let go.” I am amazed and feel great relief every time I do it. Of course, when the threat is of imminent loss of life or limb, I will still jump in but really how often does this happen. I choose to live my life in trust, not fear.

For example, once when he was playing a video game on our computer. I realized that I could not listen to my music on the computer while he was doing this. I felt irritated and entitled to be able to listen to my music on my computer. I snapped at him that he now had a shorter time to play. I felt the negativity tighten my body and heard the shrill in my voice. I stopped myself, apologized to my son for being grumpy at him, shared my feelings in a neutral tone about how I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t listen to my music because he was using the computer. I let it go and started another conversation with my partner. Within moments, my son turned the sound off his game then opened up our music files and asked what music I would like to hear. All of this happened in less than five minutes and he was five years old.

I could cite 1000 interchanges like this where my children teach me about the power of love and trust, but honestly, this is something one must brother gently leading the wayexperiment with and experience the connection for themselves. Personally, my children get me to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy life to its fullest when I am open to accepting their influence. I welcome my son’s so-called “back talk.” He makes valid points and gets me to change fear-based habits. I believe we were all created equal, this includes children. I even think children have greater insight and personal power because their body/mind/souls have absorbed less negativity or interference and are more connected. I work every day to embrace fear, let go, and love and trust more. To lead by example and use power-with instead of power-over. It is hard to let go and can be scary due to life’s unpredictable nature and the fact that many of us are completely unfamiliar with it.

This may help, imagine having a controlling boss, the ones who would like to dictate everything and seem to never be satisfied, focuses on what you do wrong all the time… Now how happy and well adjusted would you be if you lived with that boss 24/7?

If you’d like support on how to lead and guide your children with respect and confidence, you can learn more about my services by calling me at 847 603 4677 or check out Debra Wallace MS LMFT profile at WeCounsel.com

Take Wonderful Care,blog signature

P.S. Here’s an article on how Kids who talk back become more successful adults

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. This 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 seeking referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

Easter and our opportunities to rise 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 and shame about his choices and behaviors.” It hurts me tremendously to hear him share these deep negative core beliefs as they are the same ones I have battled through trans-generational trauma and sadly often triggers me into a negative 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. 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 stressors.

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. How I will keep working on improving myself. I shared how I woke up early yesterday and caught a glimpse of the intense orange from the sunrise.  I was reminded of 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 symbols of the gifts God gives us every day. 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!” He gave ave me a kiss and popped up exuberantly. He hugged and expressed gratitude to 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 I Believe In Me.

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 everyone to see the beauty and miracles given every day 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.

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