Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What can I do if my child is being bullied? Part 3- What you SHOULD do.

HumpDay Dilemma

I said last week that you should not intervene and try to fix your child’s bullying problem;  however that does not mean that you don’t give assistance to them.  Today I am going to give you some tips on guiding your children through this emotional and sometimes devastating life lesson. 

First, you work to have an open and honest relationship with your children in every area of their lives.  Check out a few of my other posts; Does praise form high self-esteem, Praise, it’s complicated and Teenagers, gratitude and peer pressure.  

·   Don’t expect too much
    When children are bullied, often times they do not want to talk about it.  What they really want to do is forget about it.  Coupled with the fact that your children might be embarrassed about the teasing received and you will likely find they do not want to talk about it right away.  Let your children know you are ready to listen when they want to talk.  

·   Listen before you speak 
    As I said last week if your children come to you to talk about being bullied, do your best to simply listen without immediately rushing to fixing the problem.  Let them tell you the story and how they feel about it before sharing your opinion.  
    Ask the right questions 
    Ask them questions about the situation that will help them draw their own conclusions.  Start with what you notice and then form the next question from there.  I gave a few general questions last week.  Here are a few more examples.
  • I noticed you did not want to play outside this week.  Did something happen that has you concerned?
  • You have been asking me for a ride to school every day this week.  Did something happen on the bus that makes you not want to ride it?
  • You used to really enjoy gym class.  Is there a reason for this change?
·   Your child did nothing wrong 
    Do not imply that they did something to deserve the bulling or that they reacted in the incorrectly.  If you say things like “What did you do?” or “Why did you do that?” your children might assume they are being judged for the event just as much as the other child. 
    Validate your children’s emotions 
    Validate the feelings of worry your children might have and the concern that it will likely happen again.  “It seems like you are concerned this child might do it again.”  Or “It is never nice to excluded from fun things your friends are doing.”  

·   Encourage your children to come up some ideas
    There is a good chance your children already have a few ideas about how they would like to handle the situation.  Ask them to share these with you. 

·   Ask if feedback is desired
    Before sharing your opinion or giving any suggestions, ask your children if they want help.  
    Find the positive 
    Help your children find something positive from the situation. 
    Do your own investigation 
    If your children are not being communicative and you suspect more is going on, you might want to ask a few of his friends or teachers if they have noticed anything going on.  This could be looked at as an invasion of privacy by your children so it is really best to let them know you are doing it before you start.  Asking their permission just might be helping your children to be more open about what is going on, but be careful to not to turn this into a threats.  You are not threatening to go to their teachers if they don’t talk.  You are simply really concerned and want to help.  

·   Don’t worry if you have done things wrong in the past.  Communicate your own mistakes to your children, letting them know that you are still concerned, but you want to build the kind of relationship where they can feel comfortable sharing details without being badgered by you. 

Bullying is a cyclical problem.  Children that bully others are being bullied by someone.  Sometimes it is older siblings, other friends and even their parents.  Bullying keeps happening because it keeps working. A child is bullied, the bully gets what he or she wants (attention, power, etc) and is then encouraged to do it again.  

Stopping the cycle is very difficult but it is possible.  For bullying to stop,  people need to do one of two things.  The first is to ignore the behavior.  A bully will very likely give up when he or she is not getting the expected reaction.  The second is that someone not currently being bullied needs to stand up to the bully.  Bullies prey on people that seem weak and alone.  When someone stands up for the weaker person, they no longer look like such an easy target. 

Bullies are usually insecure themselves. The best advice you can give your children when they are being bullied is to see the bully for what he or she really is: someone that is being pushed around by a stronger person and has chosen to turn it around and push around someone else weaker.  Encourage your child to stop this cycle and instead ignore the teasing and find a way to love or at least like the bully.  It is not easy and it may not immediately stop the bullying.  However, it changes the dynamic of the relationship and therefore changes everything.  

Part 1
Part 2

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hated by a child

Motivation Monday

If you have never been hated by your child
you have never been a parent.

Bette Davis

Your children do not always know what is best for them.  Sometimes you have to seem like the bad guy.  It is often in these moments I feel most like a mom.  

Any News?

A few years ago my husband and I embarked on a journey; a journey in adoption.  I wanted to share that journey with you. 

October 9, 2008

Any News?

We hear this a lot. And in a word we are WAITING!

And we have been for the last 3 months. During the last two of those months we have been completely done with all the paperwork, interviews and classes. And we have been waiting for all the reports to be typed, filled and accepted. Apparently there were some staff issues at Children Social Services. Our social worker was sick, and then there was a change in supervisor. So what we thought would be a 4-6 week period turned into 3+ months. 

There have been 2 difficult and frustrating things about this. One is that we were in the dark as far as what was happening. Each time we talked to our social worker she told us it would be another week or two. So we would wait the period of time she said then call her only to find out that it would be another week. If we would have known from the beginning it was going to be an extra 2 months we could have reconciled to that. But it was like a carrot before a horse. Each time we talked to her she made it sound like it was almost done and would be any day. This whole cycle was an emotional roller coaster; until we realized there was nothing we could do. 

The second frustrating thing was that it wasn’t just a matter of there not being a child in the system right now. It was that it was a person we were waiting on. It’s hard to be patient and let it be in God’s hands if it’s also in someone else’s hands. But in the end, that is what we had to do. Give it up and stop trying to “make”: it happen, then being frustrated when it didn’t. 

Now, its; worth noting that the act of “letting it go” didn’t make anything happen. After that moment where I just gave up, it was still 3 more weeks before there was any movement. But it was a much easier 3 weeks on us. 

Now we are officially licensed as foster parents and are planning on WAITING more. Of a different kind, I guess. Now we really are just waiting for a baby that needs a family. I guess time will tell if that is easier.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Adoption Mission Beginings

A few years ago my husband and I embarked on a journey; a journey in adoption.  I wanted to share that journey with you.  Below are the first few posts and the rest will be along over the next few weeks.

June 21, 2008

That is so great! That is what we have heard from most people when we tell them we are in the process of adopting. Some comment on what a short time we have been “trying” to have a biological baby, but most keep that comment to themselves if they think it. This is probably good.
When Scott and I got married we told everyone, including ourselves that we didn’t want to have children for two years. We mentally believed this but emotionally, I started thinking about it immediately. And so did Scott. That did not happen.  

However, then in June of 2007 I woke at 1AM with the most terrible pain in my side. I thought my appendix was going to burst (the pain was on the right side of my lower abdomen.) Scott rushed me to the ER. After 2 hours in the waiting room and they stuck us in a patent room and did a bunch of tests. The Dr came in and said in a matter of fact way, “Did you know you were pregnant?” “Ah – No” was our reply. He barely gave us the chance to be ecstatic about this discover before he moved on to say that the pain could mean that I was having an ectopic pregnancy. He explained that that meant that the baby had attached itself to the fallopian tube and would not have the room to grow there. He did some more tests and could find no proof of that and said that I must be very recently pregnant. My hormone level was very low and they could see nothing on an ultrasound.
Despite the knowledge that we should not yet get too excited, we did. In fact we told our whole family. Moms and dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins. All were super excited for us. Unfortunately when the pain did not go away the next day I had to run back to the ER. They did some more blood work and gave me the most horrible news. I had been more than a few days pregnant (5-6 weeks) but I was now having a miscarriage. 

The Dr tried to soften the blow by telling me that it is very common to miscarry your first child. It does not mean anything and we should have no problem getting pregnant again. He rattled off statistic that only helped a little. I was devastated. We had gotten so excited and fell so quickly. 

To be honest, I knew something was wrong. I was guarding myself a little, but Scott took the news even harder than me at first. In the short 36 hours that we knew we would be parents, he had gotten very excited. We took the advise of several family and friends that we should name the baby. Shiloh is the name given. It means “It is God’s”. And that is what we did, gave it to God. 

Soon after that I found out that the reason for the miscarriage was Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome – PCOS. It is very common in women and makes it hard for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall. I had VERY low progesterone levels and high blood sugar. My Dr put me on Metformin and a progesterone supplement. The Metformin was started first and seemed to have no effect. 
But when I started the progesterone – the worst “Marcia” came out of me. I was mean, depressed, scatter brained and never at ease. I was always mad with my husband and really angry with my dog. I had little patience with the children I cared for. This was not good and the med’s weren’t even working. 3 days after I stopped taking the progesterone I felt a cloud lift off of me and I could think again. I was able to be happy and I slowly became more patent (though that is debatable if you ask Scott). I decided that I would step up my diet and exercise in an attempt to level my hormones naturally. This proved very difficult for me. Though I am making good progress it may be a few years before my body naturally “resets” itself. 

After another 4 months of hoping for a miracle and not getting the one we expected we were moved in another direction. Adoption.
I have always wanted to adopt. When I was 12 I begged my mom to adopt a baby. Maybe this is why I became a nanny. To “adopt” and care for other people’s children. One of the first serous discussions Scott and I had was concerning adoption and my needing to marry someone open to the idea. He of course was very open with some genuine and wise concerns. So after 1½ years of marriage and 8 months of actually “trying” to get pregnant we decided to start with our plan “B”. 

In truth it was something that we probably would have done eventually. We reasoned that we might still get pregnant later on down the road but we felt we wanted to start our family now. So we would start with adoption and see what happens. I had heard so many stories of women “trying” for years and years only for it not to happen and then spending years and years trying to adopt. Either path we took – fertility and pregnancy or adoption had a path of stress and disappointment. It seemed our path to a child was certain to be a roller coaster. 

So, we made that decision. To some that did not know the path we took to get to that point it seemed rash and fast. But it truly wasn’t. Some might say that we are not waiting for God to act, that we are rushing into this, that we didn’t give it a long enough try. And I believe they would be mistaken. I believe that Scott and I are supposed to be adoptive parents. I know in my heart, I know every day when I pray about it, we are doing the right thing for us.
Arguably the most difficult decision you have to make when adopting is which route to go. There is the over seas adoption, domestic private adoption and domestic public adoption. Check out my blog posts about these options for adoption hereAll have benefits and disadvantages. For Scott and I this decision proved to be quite easy. We completely agreed from the beginning on domestic adoption. We think foreign is a wonderful thing but we know there are so many children right her in our own back yard that need loving families. For us to pay the thousands of dollars for a foreign adoption just didn’t make any sense. We looked into a few private adoption companies but never really felt a strong connection. We attended an orientation for foster and adoptive parents through Children Service Society of Wisconsin and knew as we walked out the door that was our route. 

We were both moved and impressed with the care and compassion of those teaching the class. We met a woman that has been a foster parent for 20 years.  We walked out of the building and I asked Scott “What do you think?” He replied “I think we should adopt though the state”. I said “I agree.”
So that was over 2 months ago and we are now in the middle of our Home Study and taking our 36 hours of classes we have to take to become licensed foster parents. We understand the added risks involved in “Legal Risk Adoption” and know that it may bring heartache. But God never said our path would be easy. We are just sure He said to start on it.
There are two great things about adopting publicly. One, it is almost completely free. We have purchased a lot of things for the baby when he or she comes but have only paid the cost of photo copies for the actual process of adopting. Two, it is very clear that they need foster and adoptive parents in the public system. There are so many children waiting for homes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Read a chapter book together

Family Time Friday

Read a chapter book together

Our kids often times have to read for school but how often do we sit down and read the entire chapter book with them.  I have fond memories of my mom reading books to me.  We would take turns but the bond that formed from that time together as we traveled.  

Choose a book from your childhood that you loved or one that you think your kids would love.  Set aside 10 min a night.  You may soon find that you and your kids want you to keep reading.  The memories you build will last a lifetime. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What can I do if my child is being bullied? Part 2- What not to do

HumpDay Dilemma

Hearing about or watching your children be bullied is one of the most helpless feelings you can have as a parent. For me it brings up memories of my own childhood and the frequent teasing I received.  It is natural as a parent to want to intervene and fix the problem.  You might even feel like a bad parent if you don’t do something to help.

It can be very hard to not act on this impulse to make things better however it is almost always the wrong move to make. 
    1.   Parental involvement rarely does anything to fix the twisted relationship of the bully and the bullied.  In fact it often times makes things much worse.
    2.  Intervening by talking to the bully yourself or even to the bully’s parent seems like a good idea.  However, it really only makes the bully change tactics.  Bullying continues, goes further under adult radar and will often go to another level.  So verbal teasing can quickly become physical because now there is no one around (or at least no adults around) to see it being done. 

    3.  When parents attempt to fix their children’s bully issue, it does not help the children to learn to work through their problems.  They become reliant on adult involvement to fix issues they have.  They are unable to stand up for themselves.  Intervening tells your children that they cannot handle problems they have and that they will always needs your help.  Allowing your children to attempt to work through their own problems, even big ones like bullying, will empower your children and build their self-worth.  

    4.  Although we all want to know what our children are doing at every moment of their lives, part of our job as parents is to give them independence a little bit at a time.  This is why I suggest you  avoid pressing your children with questions about what they are doing and who they are with.  Again, this can seem counterproductive because teens are not known for their “chattiness.”  I am always in favor of being involved in your children’s lives and asking questions.  But there is a not-so-fine line between being interested and even concerned about what someone you love is doing and hounding or nagging them.   

a. Loving concern does not JUST ask questions, it is interested in what is said and listens attentively.

b. It acts and responds in a respectful tone.

c. It means that you respect your children’s opinion even if you KNOW it is wrong.

d. You do not try to draw your own conclusions about what is said. 

e. Ask questions that do not share your opinion: 
               Tell me about that.   
               What happened after that?   
               How did that make you feel?  
               Why was that so hurtful?  
               What do you feel like doing about it?  
               How did others respond?   
               How did you respond?

    5.  Before responding, ask your children if they want feedback. This is really important.  Sometimes all our children need is a sounding board or a safe person to get the frustration and hurt of being bullied off their chests, too.  They often come to us as a shoulder to cry on, and we turn it into another stress on their life.  Don’t be too quick to tell them what to do.  Make sure that is really why they are coming to you before you go into “repair” mode.    

Next week I am going to give you some tips and tools to listen more effectively and to enable you to help your children’s emotions heal from anything but especially the trauma of bullying. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Praise Openly

Motivation Monday

Praise your children openly, reprehend them secretly. 
W. Cecil

How do you feel when you are chastised in front of others.  Not great.  It is no different with children.  As parents we have the obligation to correct inappropriate behavior but there is no reason that we need to do it in public.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

God Found Us You

Family Time Friday
"Oh, yes” Mama said with a smile.  “That is my favorite story of all.  When God found us you, it made me the happiest mother in the world.”
“Just by comin’ home?”  Little Fox asked with a yawn.  “Especially by coming home.”  Mama said.  

This quote is from one of my favorite bedtime books to read to my daughter.  God Found Us You Written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illistrated by Laura J. Bryant.  

If you have read this blog at all you know that my husband and I adopted our older daughter who is now 3 and are in the process of adopting our second child who is now almost 5 months old.  

This beautifully written and illustrated book reflects the longing I felt before our daughters came to us and the joy I have being around both of them today.  I have tears in my eyes ever time I read it and I hope it helps both my girls to understand their adoption to a greater degree. 

Check it out on amazon here.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What can I do if my child is being bullied? Part 1 - Retreat

HumpDay Dilemma

Bullying is not a new phenomenon.  It has happened from the beginning of time and it is not unique to children.  However, today bullying is far more reaching because of the use of computers, smart phones and social media.  The internet is where a lot of bullying happens today and because most children are “plugged in” 24/7, it is next to impossible for them to get away from the teasing and taunting.  When I was bullied as a child I could go home and retreat from the pain.  Now children have to do homework on the internet.  They communicate with their friends via smart phones and social media where both friends and enemies are present.  There are very few ways to retreat from the problem.  

Bullying is a huge issue. Today I will talk about some tips to help your child escape from cyber style bullies.  Over the next 4 weeks I will also give you some tips on how you should and SHOULD NOT attempt to help your children with a bullying problem.  I am even going to talk about what to do if you realize your child is being the bully.  

     1.       Set a “turn it off” time in your house.  Yes, your children have to do homework on the computer and yes they want to talk or text their friends on the computer, but you, as the parent, can tell them at 8 P.M. the computer gets turned off and so does the phone.  I can guarantee that your teenagers or preteens will not like this.  However, it is your way of looking out for their best interest.  By making them put away the technology for the night, you give your children that retreat that they might be unaware they even need.  

    2.       Be on those sites yourself.  Most of us by now have Facebook pages, but guess what.  Kids are gravitating to other sites now.  I could suggest a few but by the time this posts it would be wrong because kids today cycle through this stuff so fast.  As a parent of children online, you need to figure out what they are using and be on those sites too.  Ask them about it.  You can help your child’s embarrassment by promising not to post pictures or comments on their page and you can even give yourself a different name to avoid making them feel awkward.  However, if you do this, you must follow through on that promise.  It can be done with respect, letting your children know that you trust them but that you also care about them enough to want to know and understand what is going on in their life.  Again, they might hate it but I believe deep down in they will respect it.   
     3.       Don’t be quick to judge what they post or what their friends post.  The quickest way to get your children to start sneaking around is to point out every time they do or say something online that you find inappropriate.  Yes, you have the responsibility to correct inappropriate behavior.  But you need to find a way to correct it that does not cause them to hide things from you.  This is a tough thing to do and will be different with each child.  Don’t give up and work to be the kind of parent that your children will want to follow even if they want to follow from a distance. 

Remember to check back next week for our continued discussion on bullying. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hectic World

Motivation Monday

Our children say some of the funniest things. May today's quote make you laugh and maybe even encourage you to stop and take a few minutes each day to slow down.

"As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you’ll have a couple of days saved up."
–Age 7

Found at http://powertochange.com/students/fun/deepthot/

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cook a meal for someone else!

Family Time Friday 

Everyone knows that children need your time.  But as busy parents, sometimes we just don't know "what" to do.  Here's a good one. 

Cook a meal with your kids for someone else.  Maybe you have a family member that is sick.  Cook up some chicken soup.  Perhaps your friend recently had a baby or going through a difficult time.  Work with your children to make a lasagna or casserole.  Maybe it is your neighbors birthday.  Make a cake for them.  

Let your children help at their ability and interest level, explaining to them why you are going out of your way to make this meal for your friend.  Doing this with your children not only builds connection but it teaches empathy and concern, two emotions that many complain are greatly lacking in our children today.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How do I tell my child that his or her nanny is not coming back?

HumpDay Dilemma 

When a nanny or caregiver leaves a family it can be heartbreaking for both children and parents.  A sudden and immediate removal can make the situation even more challenging.  The most important emotional step you can take is to make sure your children get to see the nanny at least one more time.  This may seem counterproductive especially if the nanny has acted blatantly unprofessional or done something illegal.  

However, most situations are not that black and white.  Unless there has been some kind of abuse it may be in the best interest of your child to meet up with the nanny at a coffee shop or other public place in order for your child to see the nanny once more.  

Regardless if the end came quickly, there was an event preventing you from seeing the nanny again or the situation was mutual and positive, you will want to prepare your children for the transition.
Do not underestimate how attached your child is to his or her caregiver.  Children easily become attached to those who spend significant amount of time with them, even if that person doesn’t give exceptional care. 

This relationship can often seem threatening but it is rarely the intention of the nanny to take over and be the parent.  Most nannies are simply trying love and care for your children the best they can.  Because the job of a nanny is to comfort and reassure, this requires a strong connection.  Though it can be very scary for a parent to see this relationship with the nanny evolving, you must try hard to not act threatened.

In my 15 years as a nanny, it has always been clear to me that the children in my care had a unique bond with their mom and dad that I as the nanny could never have.  And now as a mom myself, I understand this bond to a greater degree.  As long as you are working hard to connect with your children when you are there, the nanny could NEVER take your place, no matter what you have seen in TV or movies.  

In order to help your children deal with the transition you will have to have this perspective when you break the news to them.  Honesty is always the best policy.  Avoid telling your children anything negative about the nanny unless there was some kind of abuse in which case I would advise you to tell them you will not let someone hurt them.  Also make clear to them that what the nanny did was not their fault.  

·   Sally loves you very much but isn’t going to be able to take care of you anymore.
·   I know that you have not only loved doing fun things with her but you have also grown to love her.
·   It is going to be hard for us all to not have her in our life every day. 
·   I will miss her too.
·   What are some of your favorite things to do with her?
·   We hope to see her again to say goodbye. (Say this only if it is true)
·   You will get to see her every once in a while but just not every day.  (Again, only if you will get to see her from time to time.)
·   Perhaps we could make or buy something special for her that she can remember you by.   (This can be done even if you will not get to see her again.  It is mostly therapeutic for the child and if you want you could mail it to the nanny.)

You don’t need to give a reason that the nanny is leaving but most children will eventually ask.  When that happens be honest.  You obviously will want to avoid making it sound like it is your children’s fault but they may feel like it anyway.  It is best to avoid distracting them or trying to fix the problem by giving them things.  Instead allow your children to feel sad about the situation and be sure to be transparent with your own emotions in order to let them know it is a normal.  If you try to stop your children from grieving the loss , those feelings will come out in other behaviors.  

Depending on your child’s age and temperament he or she may or may not react strongly at that very moment you break the news.  If your child does not have a strong reaction right then, it will most likely come later or those feelings will come out in negative behaviors.  Be ready for them and be extra understanding.  Let your child say what he or she wants and do your best to not see it as personal attack on your own parenting.  Remember that even if your child has a strong connection to his or her nanny that does NOT mean that the bond he has to you is not even stronger. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

If I had my child to raise over again....

Monday Motivation

If I had my child to raise over again:
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later
I'd finger paint more and point the finger less
I would do less correcting and more connecting
I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes
I would care to know less and know to care more
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites
I'd stop playing serious and seriously play
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars
I'd do more hugging and less tugging
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often
I would be firm less often and affirm much more
I'd model less about the love of power
And more about the power of love.
Diane Loomans

I love this quote because it really focuses on what our children need MOST.  Yes of course they need boundaries, routine and learning experiences but they need US more.  It does not say that you should NEVER be serious, be firm, build the house or correct your children.   

It simply states that we need to do more to connect with our children so that the person they become is shaped by the relationship they have with us.