Do You Struggle with Self-Esteem?

This week we’re going to be talking about our children’s self esteem.  That can be a heavy subject!

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I would like to know where you struggles with your own self esteem and when you think it began for you.  Our ability to see the good in ourselves begins in childhood and either grows or is stunted as we mature.  Our parents have a huge influence on what we think of ourselves and how much confidence we have in our ability to Be or Do great things.

When you think about self-esteem, you often get an image of someone in your mind that you know…  Who are you picturing right now?  Maybe they have a negative view of their body, they have zero confidence and are really shy, or maybe they never socialize for fear of embarrassment. And on the other side of that, you know people who seem to have a very strong confidence in themselves that seems arrogant and cocky.  I bet you’re picturing someone else you know!

Where is the healthy middle?

Stop and Think—

Set your timer for 1 minute and write down as many positive things about yourself that you believe are good qualities.

Now…how many did you come up with?  If you struggled with this, why did you struggle?

We will talk more throughout the week about how to combat this thing called self esteem and how to set our children up for success in this area.

Please share your experience in the comments and tell me where you struggle with your own self esteem.  Do you know when this struggle began?

 

 

Deep Breathing for Children

As promised, here is a post on helping your child learn deep breathing techniques or belly breathing.  Deep breathing is a quick trick to help alleviate anxiety and calm worries.

When teaching a child this technique, there are 2 different ways I approach it, depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and comfort.  Most children are open about practicing techniques in front of others, but older children may feel a little weirded out when you start asking them to perform belly breathing in front of you, especially if they already have anxiety.

Trick #1-Teaching deep breathing using Bubbles. soap-bubbles-870342_640

I have a pack of bubbles in my office like this one that I can hand out to children in sessions.  I have the child blow bubbles and discuss how hard/soft to blow to get lots of bubbles or big bubbles.

I then suggest this as a trick to help them fight off their worries or (fill in the blank)-tummy ache, jitters, etc.-most of the time children cannot label anxiety/nervousness/worries.  But they can tell you what somatic complaints they have easily, which is a sign of anxiety depending when and how often it’s occurring.   (Please be advised that tummy aches do not mean your child has anxiety.  If you are concerned your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, schedule an appointment for further assessment with a Pediatrician or Mental Health Professional.) 

 

Trick #2- Teaching Deep Breathing using a stuffed animalbear-678607_640

Have your child lay down on his/her back comfortably and place a small stuffed animal on their belly.

While directing them to slowly breathe in through their nose and out their mouth, guide them to watch the stuffed animal move up and down on their belly.

This will teach them belly breathing, and they can visibly see if they are breathing correctly.  Most times, this is modeled for the child by first doing the technique and then asking them to teach it back to me.  Children love to be the teacher!  I always end a session reminding them to teach their parent what they learned.  This keeps parents involved in progress and helps them hold the child accountable to practice daily.

Alright, that’s it-2 simple ways to help your child practice deep breathing!

Belly Breathing

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing.  It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear.  This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it.

Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing.

Before you practice this technique, I want you to imagine your belly is a balloon….

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OK—Got it?

When air is blown into a balloon, it inflates.  So as you breathe air in, your belly will inflate like a balloon.

When you release your breath, your belly should deflate as a balloon would when slowly losing air.

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Step 1: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Clear your thoughts

Step 3: Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, slowly counting to 7, while focusing on your belly rising.

Step 4: Hold that breath for 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly release your breath, counting to 7, while your belly releases air.

Step 6: Repeat for 1 minute.

The trick to this technique is that you are breathing through your belly—Not— your chest.

Practice this Belly Breathing daily to build your stamina and increase the number of seconds you are inhaling and exhaling.  Work your way up to increments of 5, 10, 15 minutes of deep breathing.

A relaxed body cannot be an anxious body…

More on how to teach deep breathing to your child in the next post…

 

Are We Overdiagnosing???

One of the biggest challenges I find in my career is the pressure to diagnose children.  With the added pressure of billing to insurance companies and customers wanting an answer to “Why does my child act like this?”, professionals are often pushed into slapping a label on you.  Is it ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Oppositional Defiance……..?  The list can go on.

This has always been a struggle for me.  Not that I’m not prepared to handle diagnosing or know symptoms to treat.  It’s that label.  It sticks around.  It’s often used to excuse behavior rather than change it.  It can leave an impression on a child that “something is wrong with me”.  And the biggest issue I have, a lot of times nothing is wrong with your child.  They are developmentally where they should be.  Yes, I said it.  They are normal.  They are reacting to the stressful events that are occurring all around them.

Let’s look at society today just to make an example here.  Have you ever noticed how high anxiety and depression rates are in adults?  How many people are on antidepressants to treat both issues?  Do you feel life is stressful and over-scheduled?  Feel like there is constantly something pulling you in a different direction, running from place to place, never ahead of schedule?  Our children are right along with us.  And not only can they feel the same way we are feeling, they can’t think through it the way we do.  They can’t tell themselves, “this is only a season”, “things will be better after this week is over”, “vacation is just a week away”, or “I will just take a whole week off next month and reboot”.  Nope.  They are expected to be miniature adults who go with the flow!

When I was growing up, I remember being home most of the time.  I played outside every day.  I had a very active imagination.  It was safe enough for me to roam around our neighborhood unsupervised, ride my bike all around the circle or the subdivision we lived in.  Everyone knew who I was and we knew all our neighbors.  I walked down the road to a small country store and bought honey buns for breakfast along with a papersack full of 5 and 10 cent candy and gum.  We would walk down to the creek and swim.  I road my bike to friend’s houses.  We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but I had no idea until I was older and more mature.  I never felt I was lacking as far as material things.

What about today?  Kids are being showered with toys and candy every time they go somewhere just for being good in the store or to keep them quiet.  They rarely play outside.  They are watching shows that are developmentally more advanced than their little minds are.  Their face is glued to an electronic device of some sort daily.  They expect things to be given to them versus earning it through work (chores, helping a neighbor, etc).  And need I say it, many parents have no set rules in the home or little structure for their children to know what is expected of them.

That in turn leaves us with children who have little tolerance for idle time.  They are easily bored and can’t sit still and be quiet because they are used to constant entertainment of some sort.  Their imagination is lacking.  They have no patience and struggle to wait for reward because they are so used to immediate gratification.  They are disrespectful not only to their “elders” (as we were always taught to respect our elders) and struggle with authority figures.  They are constantly being reprimanded at school.  (I won’t even get started on how the school system’s changes may be negatively affecting this too.  That’s a post in itself.)

Then parents take them to a professional and explain that something is wrong with this child.  He is always in trouble.  He can’t sit still.  She talks back all the time.  I can’t get him to listen!    The parent throws out ideas of ADHD…  A doctor has maybe even suggested Oppositional Defiance.  And then……a diagnosis is slapped on their head for the rest of their life. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes these diagnoses are accurate and helpful (sometimes…), but many times the child is overstimulated, overly attended to, and lacking some parental guidance. So, how do you treat that?

I would like to continue this with a series of parenting tips to help you make some changes where you see the need.  Join me in the next few posts and share with me areas you struggle with the most as a parent.

Must Read Parenting Book

 

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I’m a little late posting this as I have had my nose in multiple parenting books.  Raising Kids You Actually Like by Sheila Wray Gregoire is a good read.  It’s basic parenting that we all need to be reminded of.  The way we used to be parented has been forgotten and many parents today feel they lack these basic tools to discipline and train their children.  “We have more education and we’ve forgotten.  Provide structure. Provide stability by loving your spouse. Care for your children’s bodies by feeding them and putting them to bed.” (Loc 69)

 

I would like to share a few excerpts from her book…I love her humor and candidness.  If you’ve never read anything of Sheila’s, I encourage you to check out her blog at To Love Honor and Vacuum where she gives advice on marriage, parenting, and sex from a Christian view.

I will let her book do the talking here:

“Power struggles with smaller children are easier to defeat than power struggles with teenagers.  Yet too many parents give up in the early years…” (Loc 101)

“I once read about a dad who dialed 911 when he discovered that his teenage daughter had posted naked pictures of herself on Facebook.  He was desperate, and to him this was an emergency.  The dispatcher, though, wasn’t amused.  She wasn’t in the position to do anything about it, because she wasn’t the girl’s parent.  He was.” (Loc 98)

“…children can’t obey if no rules are laid down.” (Loc 98)

“If we don’t stress discipline when the children are young, then children don’t internalize self-discipline, or values, or even simple politeness.” (Loc 111)

If you need encouragement to remind you that you have the skills and tools to parent your children, then this ebook is a great way to motivate you and remind you that you can do this.

As a parent, we have the job of training, molding, and shaping the lives of our children to become strong, healthy, successful adults.  That’s what we are doing here.  Making responsible adults.  However, if we aren’t disciplining them and nurturing them the way we are intended to, they become irresponsible adults who lack motivation and struggle to develop healthy relationships.  The power is in the parenting.

 

Happy Reading,

Dayna

 

 

Parenting with Boundaries

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It’s important as a therapist to have tools readily available to utilize in our work and to provide resources for clients.  I want to provide resources that I know work, so you can depend on me to give you tools that will help you be successful in parenting.

This month, I am reading through Boundaries With Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  When working with children, it’s important that parents are providing necessary structure in the home.  Children need to learn boundaries in order to grow and develop to become successful adults.

For some reason, it seems as the years have gone by that we as a society have forgotten how to set boundaries when parenting.  I hear older adults respond that “young people seem to be telling their parents what to do”.  Youth today struggle with patience, self-esteem, boundaries.  This is not a new struggle, but it is different from the struggle adults today had with technology so prevalent today.  There is less structure now, less accountability, and fewer parents are monitoring activities.

If you are struggling to develop healthy boundaries with your child whether young or teen years, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of Boundaries with Kids.

Improving Your Life

This year I vowed to improve my health on many levels. Last year I had a bit of a scare and had some tests run leading to acquire a diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease.  Thankfully it’s not as bad as my mind was leading me to fear.  It is something I can live with and make sure I’m taking care of my body so I don’t have to deal with it often.  I have been a little worried about food we eat for a while, and I can often get on a soapbox over nutrition while discussing it with people.  However, I continued on the same path.  Well, all that has changed this year.

January 5th I began a lifestyle change.  I read “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

Although I already knew what we consider food in this country is equal to pure junk for our bodies.  We might as well eat trash.  Most of what we consume is not natural.  I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of it.  I will just say, if this has ever been your worry read about it and make a change.

I began the Whole30 program on January 5th along with a crossfit program called HIIT that I do at home on my own.  You can read about it here.  I thought I was pretty fit prior to this, as I ran regularly.  However, there were still areas I wasn’t seeing change in.  And one thing I’ve struggled with for a while is feeling exhausted from the time I would get up until bedtime.  I’ve never been a good sleeper, especially after having kids.  I knew something had to be wrong because at 34, I still should feel pretty young.  Plus my bloodsugar has been all kinds of crazy this past year due to my hypoglycemia issues.

I’m on Day 21 right now!  I feel wonderful!  I’m committed to this change and I’m not stopping.  If you need a boost in your life and feel you have a poor relationship with food and your body, I encourage you to make a commitment to yourself.  God only gives us one physical body that has to last us our lifetime.  Shouldn’t we want only the best for it?

I will spend the next few weeks sharing my success with you as I count down to the last 9 days of my Whole30 and the beginning of my new life.  I hope to encourage you with my story of transformation!

Take Control Of Change

The holidays are wrapping up and that leads to thoughts of the New Year.  I’m not typically one to buy into the New Year’s resolutions but maybe you are, and that’s OK.  My opinion is that you can start fresh any day.  There’s no need to wait until the New Year to make a change in your life.  I have found in the past that when I have tried to make a “radical” New Year’s resolution, I often failed.  Changes have to start small and need to be intentional.  Before you go about making radical changes, here are some tips on how to set yourself up for SUCCESS.

1.  Make a list of the changes you know you need to make.

For me right now, I need to get back into my fitness routine.  I have fallen back on this due to a recent sickness I was suffering from the past month.  My go to routine is to run every other day, but right now my goal is just to do some sort of exercise every other day as running may not be doable every time for me.

I also need to clean up my diet.  I typically count calories, but I am now ordered to be on a low sodium diet due to recent health changes.  I plan to start eating clean and eating meals at home (meaning I will prepare for times I am out past lunch and bring food rather than grab fast food).

I also need to be intentional about being in God’s word daily, several times a day.  If I’m going to fight the good fight, I must be prepared mentally and spiritually.

While it’s good to have a list, don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to change all these things at one time.  Pick the biggest bang for your buck.  What is going to have the most impact.  Or you may want to start small if you are one who often sets goals and fall short  leaving you disappointed in  yourself and discouraged.  These goals of mine are things I have been doing for a long time, but I need to clean it back up a little and reset my mind and body.

2. Once you have picked a goal, set a date.

Decide when you can start this goal.  If you are working on your diet, and you have a few more holiday parties to attend, you may want to wait until those are over.  You don’t want to feel like a failure in the beginning.

3. Research how you want to make the change.

You need a good plan.  Do some research first.   Is this diet effective in the long term?  Is it short-term, and if so, what is my plan once I reach that goal?  How do I need to set up the routine for exercise?  Pinterest is a great place to find resources.  You can also follow blogs written in your area of interest.  Facebook often has groups for certain interests where you can find a community of encouragement.  Then there is Google when you just don’t know where to start.  Read books.

4. Pray about it.

God knows your needs, and he knows what we are capable of more than we do.  Give this area of concern to him.  Tell him your plans and let him guide you.

5.  Find an accountability partner.

Mine is my husband and a friend.  Find someone and tell them your goal, your plan, and your weaknesses.  Text, call, or sit down with them and talk about your struggles or successes.  If you can get someone on board to do this with you, EVEN BETTER!

OK, so what are you waiting for?  Let’s take control of our lives again by taking one step at a time!  My new start begins today.  I would love to hear your plans!

Is Bedtime more of a Battle Zone? Help for the Exhausted Parent

It’s 7:00 and you are rousing the children up to go to bed.  They are brushing their teeth in protest; taking their vitamins and getting water in protest, climbing into bed and attempting to wrestle in protest.  Although an hour ago, your child was whining and crying over tiny bumps and minor disappointments due to exhaustion, now they claim “I’m not tired”.

Do you leave the room already frustrated when lights are turned out?  Only to hear the common sound of little feet scooting down the hall to ask you for the 4th time, “will you tuck me in?”  Does your child get up minutes later asking for “just one more kiss?”  Do you find yourself biting your tongue because ‘if they get up ONE more time, they are REALLY going to regret it?!!!!’  But then of course, that one more time comes, and you once again go into the room, tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and in a firm voice inform them “STAY in bed or you will: get a spanking/be in trouble/lose a privilege, etc, etc………  The list of threats can be exhaustive at times.

Do you ever sit and think ‘it would be nice to have a little quiet time before going to bed, if the kids would just GO TO SLEEP’.  I’m here to encourage you and myself because this is my house EVERY NIGHT.  This is an issue with consistency and limit setting.  I too feel guilt when I get frustrated and my 4 year old whispers in a sweet voice “mommy, I need another kiss?”  But when the morning after comes, I know this is a behavior not a cry for more love.  She gets kisses all day long.  This is a problem with me and my husband.  We have made it her problem just as we made it her brother’s problem when he was younger.  We struggle with what Dr. Canapari calls sleep association disorder and limit setting disorder.

Setting limits around bedtime and enforcing them doesn’t make you a mean parent who doesn’t want to love on your children.  It makes you a strong parent who knows the importance of your child and yourself getting the rest you need.  Children need 11-12 hours of sleep per night depending on age.  And I presonaly need at least 7 hours of sleep to be able to get up the next morning and function.  Intermittent sleep through the night makes us tired and drowsy the next day.  This is the case for children too, so if you have a child that falls asleep pretty easily but can’t stay asleep, this post is for you too.  There are times when my daughter falls asleep quickly and without the battle (although this is not common lately).  However, she wakes up several times per night calling out or crying for me.  I then wake up, and usually go get her and put her to bed with me.  Because of my need for sleep, I have created another problem for her.  She does not self soothe when she wakes.  She requests to lay with me, rub my arm, or rock in order to fall back asleep.  There are some nights when I am awakened because she is reaching for me trying to find my arm an hour later.

As babies, I didn’t mind the co-sleeping arrangement all that much as long as they would sleep and I got sleep.  However, with a preschooler and grade-school child, sleeping with my kids is less than fun and sweet.  I often wake up to a foot in my face or being kicked in the back.  The other night I was dreaming, and my daughter threw her arm across my face, and I jumped up because I dreamed someone slapped me.  To help encourage you, I am going to share how I am enforcing bedtime limits with my child.  I will be referencing Dr. Canari’s sleep training tools.  As well as “Sleep Sense” by Megan Faure & Ann Richardson. This is a book my children’s pediatrician recommended when my daughter was a baby, and I have returned to it several times during difficult sleep issues.  I would recommend it as a resource to keep on your bookshelf if you struggle to get enough sleep and are not a fan of the “cry it out” method.

As we set out on this journey, I would love to know what some of your bedtime struggles are.