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Patience for my Blessings

Only a couple days ago, I put this post on Facebook: "That's it...I'm selling my children. Who wants 2 disobedient, mouthy, rude, argumentative and demanding kids? Not this mommy..." Would I really sell my kids...never. However, the responses to my post confirmed what most of us already know...there are lots of parents out there who feel overwhelmed by parenthood, no matter the number of kids, their ages, gender, foster/adopted/birthed, etc. 

Describing my household as "peaceful" would be a complete lie. Most often, my laundry is clean but unfolded and piled three laundry baskets high two or three columns deep, dirty dishes sit on the counter, my floor is dirty due to the mud my kids and dog insist on getting into, filing piles up, beds are unmade, and the dust would put a haunted house to shame. My kids can be found running around, screaming, fighting, laughing, playing, dancing and singing (currently lots of Frozen and toddler songs).

As for me, when I'm home, I can be found cleaning, chasing down kids, cleaning, stressing, cleaning, and trying to find everything I need found. And cleaning. Just because I'm a therapist doesn't mean my children are perfectly well-behaved. I often look back BC (before children) and wonder what I did with all my free time and low stress levels. And I even wonder if all those child development, Love & Logic, SOS, and behavior modification classes were just dreams.

My kids also have a way of pushing my buttons. They test me, daily, and depending on my quality of sleep, stress levels and what they are doing, I handle it like all parents...sometimes I'm all over the techniques I've learned and promote in therapy...and sometimes...I'm not.

Here are a few things to remember. 1) Kids need to make mistakes. If they are perfect or if parents "rescue" them all the time, what do they learn? 2) Don't expect kids to know what we know. They are young and curious. They haven't had our experiences. 3) Time means nothing to them. I always seem to be late...and my daughter always seems to be the reason. She's distracted by everything but she's also learning about the world and how it works. 4) Let them be kids. They are full of life (and energy). Cultivate it. Let them grow (because it can't be stopped). 5) They are blessings. Every person says it "Enjoy them while you have them."

The best thing you can do for young kids is to provide a sense of peace, trust and love within your home. Give them structure and consistency. Give them a safe learning environment and encourage them to learn. When they misbehave, use it as a teaching moment. Use natural consequences when you can (if you don't eat, you're hungry. bummer) and positive reinforcement (hugs, kisses, reading books together, going on walks). Follow through on BOTH positive and negative consequences. Learn from them. They will push your limits because they trust you. Tell them that you love them every chance you get.

And remember this little ditty when you're feeling overwhelmed: ”Give me the patience to deal with my blessings."

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist 

TCarlsonFrom Our Psychologist...
Establishing a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

Our theme for June involves trust and peace within the family. When all is going well, I cannot think of a more peaceful and relaxing time of the day than bedtime. However, for many families bedtime can become stressful, chaotic, and a time of arguing and fighting with children to get and keep them in bed. Although many strategies can help with this, the first step is ensuring the entire family has time at the end of the day to allow their mind and body to shut down. Both adults and children can lead very busy and active lives where much of their day is spent with their bodies and minds going at 110 mph. And, neither adults nor children are good at quickly shifting from “go mode” to “sleep mode.” Therefore, it is essential for all of us to create time at the end of the day to wind down and calm the mind, body, and spirit.

Developing a consistent bedtime routine can help prepare your mind and body to sleep by creating a link in your mind between the routine and sleep. Following it involves setting aside some time each night, but it's worth the effort. To create a good bedtime routine, try implementing the following ideas.

  • A small snack before bed may help, but nothing with too much sugar. A mix of carbs and protein may be helpful—e.g., cheese and crackers.
    - No alcohol—although it may help you fall asleep faster, it is likely to cause you to have more restless sleep and wake up early.
  • Establish a "marker," an activity that signals you are transitioning from your busy daytime activities to your bedtime routine. This can be saying "goodnight" to your children, leaving your home workspace, putting the dog out for the last time, etc.
  • Get your mind prepared to sleep—It may help to write down your worries—makes you feel they will be addressed the next day, and you can forget about them for now. 
  • Read a book or watch a TV show that helps you focus away from anything that is bothering you, but…
    - Avoid TV programs and books that are very exciting and/or remind you of things you find stressful (e.g., the news!).
  • Avoid negative thoughts about sleep—e.g., "It's going to be another one of those nights." Take the pressure off by focusing on following the steps of your pre-sleep routine, not whether it will work.
  • Do something to help you relax - stretching exercises (yoga), soft music, meditation or prayer, warm bath, aromatherapy, getting (or giving) a massage, hot bedtime tea (make sure it is caffeine free!), do a relaxation exercise, possibly while imagining a calming setting
  • Once you've finished your pre-sleep routine, get in bed and shut off the light.
  • Go to bed at about the same time every night. Your body and mind won't be able to develop a regular sleep/wake rhythm if the time you go to bed varies.
  • Your routine should be both pleasant (something you look forward to) and CONSISTENT. Your mind and body can't develop the link between your routine and sleep unless you follow the same routine (or close to it) each night.

If you try the suggestions above and continue to struggle with sleepless nights, know that additional help is available. Contact family resources for an appointment with our Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Carlson, who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine. 

~ Dr. Tabitha Carlson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist


HainATips from our EAP...
Tips for Parenting Teens

Parenting has always been an art and a science, with a bit of luck thrown in. Although frustrating and stressful for many, parenting teens can still be fun, exciting, and fulfilling. Here are a few tips to consider. None are designed to “control” the adolescent and guarantee stress-free parenting, but they can give you a head start at influencing a healthy, happy, and safe adolescent journey to adulthood.

1 IDENTITY. Teenagers seek to discover a positive identity that expresses their individuality. Peers, movie and rock stars, and other persons they value, influence their decisions. Changes in personal appearance are hallmarks of normal experimentation in identity by teens. Monitoring and some rule setting may be required, but ignore smaller battles in favor of bigger ones that affect health, safety, and well-being.

2 PARENT COMMUNICATION. Making changes in your communication style or speaking habits, if necessary, can be tough, but will improve your teenager’s ability to listen. Not effective and likely to reap negative returns: Preaching, sarcasm in correcting behavior, ridicule, put-downs, yelling and screaming,
comparing the teen’s behavior with more successful peers, and not being able to admit when you are wrong or say you are sorry.

3 PEERS. Feeling accepted and part of a peer group are crucial to teens. They feel abnormal when they are different from their peers. But all peer groups are not equal. Some may experiment with anti-social behavior, alcohol and drug use, or seek to dominate members’ beliefs. Talk about peer pressure early to help teens evaluate peer groups later and make choices that match their values. 

4 SEX. It is normal for teens to begin showing interest in the opposite sex. There may be sexual experimentation, but studies show that most teenagers do not have sexual intercourse before graduating from high school. Still, sex education, and giving the right information to teens is important. Starting early to communicate your values and concerns about dating and sexual activities in an open and honest way is better than keeping silent hoping for the best. 

5 SELF-ESTEEM. Teens struggle with their selfesteem. Over-valuation of what peers think, hormonally-driven changes, and the body’s refusal to do the right thing at the right time can make for a difficult period. Help your teen feel valued by giving reassurance that they are loved no matter how they look. More importantly, avoid negative comments that can prey easily on a fragile sense of self. 

6 FREEDOM AND LIMITS. Begin treating your teenager like an adult, but do not always expect adult
behavior. You will need to set limits and establish boundaries. Look for the balance of what you can accept
and what the teen wants. Monitor, and let the teen know you are aware of activities. Be reasonable, practice “letting go,” and decide what are safe risks that promote independence.

7 EMOTIONS. Emotional ups and downs make teen years difficult. Teens may struggle with controlling their emotions and be unable to verbalize how they feel. Empathy, the ability to acknowledge how your teen feels, listening, and offering support are important. Avoid statements that send a message to “snap out of it”, such as “everyone feels that way.” Learning about symptoms of depression can help you determine whether your teen suffers from this illness. 

8 HEALTH & FITNESS. Irregular meal patterns, skipping breakfast and fasting to lose weight are not uncommon with teens. Eating disorders frequently begin at this age, and girls are at the most risk. Awareness about substance abuse and eating disorders can alert you to signs and symptoms. Act early with professional guidance if you suspect problems. Lack of rest is also a hazard of teenage living and contributes to moodiness and irritability. Help make sure your teen eats a wellbalanced diet and gets adequate rest. 

9 THINKING ABOUT LIFE. Teens experience new ways of looking at the world. They apply abstract
thinking to values, morals, issues of authority, empathy, relationships, and justice. They try new philosophies and “think about thinking.” Questioning familiar values may cause distress for parents. Express your personal position about social, political, moral, and spiritual issues, but maintain your established traditions of family, cultural, or religious rituals. Support the positive aspects of intellectual growth. 

10 WHAT THE EAP CAN DO. Every parent’s experience of raising a teenager is different. More parents probably need support than ask for it. If you have concerns about your teenager’s behavior, the EAP can
help. Resources for specific issues you face and general information on parenting are available. The EAP can help you find the answers you seek.

~ Anna Hain, EAP Clinical and Program Specialist

CONGRATULATIONS TO SCORR MARKETING!!!!
SCORR Marketing received a regional award for the design of the Family Resources of
Greater Nebraska, P.C.'s website. Congrats! We love the website!

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