Practical Help for Families Struggling with Separation Anxiety

Practical Help for Families Struggling with Separation Anxiety

“Nooooo, Mommy, Noooooo! Don’t GO!” screams the little fighting octopus fastened to your legs. It can be heart wrenching and embarrassing to pry your child away from you, and inconvenient when you’ve got a time constraint. (Why is my child the only one who gets hysterical every time we try to leave childcare to go to the church service?)

I have coached numerous parents of kids with separation anxiety, and there seems to be patterns of common underlying issues that feed this challenge:

  • A child’s sensory sensitivities can make busy or less familiar environments over-stimulating, or just generally increase a child’s anxiety.
  • Family stress – A chaotic family schedule or outside source of stress creates insecurity and hinders quality, joy-filled attention from a parent.
  • Parents’ anxiety or guilt about their child’s distress during separation inadvertently sends a message expressed through non-verbals that, “You should be upset. I’m doing a terrible thing by leaving you!”

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard

Three research based tips when you feel stuck

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard (1)Happy New Year! Whether you’ve just found us or we’re old friends, we are excited to journey with you through 2017.

We still remember our early days of feeling stuck in our parenting challenges, unhealthy dynamics, and hurtful habits. So we’re passionate to help all parents who feel that same way! As you think about the year ahead, and plans or resolutions you’re making for a better future, we want to help you with three principles adapted from a research based book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath.

1. Launch from your successes!
Trying to “fix” your failures can cause discouragement that makes change difficult. Focusing on what goes well in your home is a great way to start positive change because you are building on a skill you already know. Looking back on the past year, ask yourself these questions:

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts in 2016!

Top 10 of 2016

We are so honored to serve you and equip you in your parenting journey. Thank you for trusting us! We always welcome your feedback and stories from how you are integrating our resources into your family. We pray there is a little something for all of you to challenge and encourage you every time you read our content.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts of 2016!*

10. Don’t Punish Your Child’s Nervous System – Understand It!

9. Can Family Meetings Really Work?

8. 12 Misbehaviors and the God-Given Gifts Behind Them

7. An Open Letter to the Cincinnati Zoo Mom

6. How I Got My Kids to Obey Immediately…and Why I Stopped

5. When Kids Want it NOW!

4. The New Problem of Entitlement

3. Restitution Consequences

2. Your Kids: Responsible or Spoiled?

1. How a Pipecleaner Can Stop Your Child’s Meltdowns!

*In descending order, based on number of page views on our website.

Christmas… “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?

7 Simple Ideas to Protect the Joy of the Season

Christmas…Like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” While we cherish meaningful time with those dearest to us, these highly charged celebrations often stress parents, over-stimulate children, and incline both to volatile behavior. Seven simple ideas will protect the Joy of the Season, and minimize the likelihood of holiday meltdowns and conflicts. These ideas are anchored in the principle that we all behave better when we feel better! After reading through, choose one or two options that fit your family and focus on them this year.

Copy of Three Secret Ingredients

Anchor the season in perspective.
Christmas is about God’s greatest gift to humans – his son Jesus Christ. This gets all too easily lost in our cultural expression of the holiday. Of all the Christmas preparation, what might not really need to be done? What would it take to build a few extra minutes into each day for rest, prayer, or meditation to delight in the eternal Savior who came to earth to reveal God to us? What’s one simple thing you could do to help your kids enter into this with you? Write your ideas in the comments section to inspire and connect with others!

From Pandemonium to Purpose:

Finding Your Family’s Super-powers

Pandemonium to PurposeSometimes family life can seem like a crazy collision of everyone’s challenges and weaknesses. In our family Jim could get impatient and snippy, Lynne tended to nag, Daniel liked to dominate and demand fairness, Bethany was over-sensitive and cried easily, and Noah sometimes told fibs to avoid conflict. On a bad day it was mayhem! It was easy to get stuck in a negative pattern, making life pretty miserable. But fortunately as we gained insight into what makes for strong, caring families, we learned not to get stuck focusing on our weaknesses.

In this journey there were three important principles we learned.

1.) Each person’s challenge area has a corresponding strength.
Our strengths that corresponded to these weaknesses were:

  • Jim was passionate and expressive
  • Lynne had good attention to detail and follow-through
  • Daniel had a gift of leadership and justice
  • Bethany was compassionate
  • Noah was easy going  

When your child just HAS to have that thing for Christmas…

When Your Child Just Has to Have that Thing

Your little darling comes to you with face lit up, a picture and product details in hand, their logic detailed into a lawyer-like brief, and begs with passion for that one special thing for Christmas. “Ok, I know exactly what I want for Christmas. I’m so excited about it! Taylor is getting one, too.”

This can be a frustrating scenario if you believe the request is either beyond your budget, or not an item you feel will benefit your child. Have you ever found yourself giving in to gift requests when your gut tells you it’s not a good idea – because at the time you can’t think of a really good reason to say no? Or just to avoid the relentless badgering? Or because in the moment your child’s delight is more important to you than what is truly best in the long run?

I recently watched a tween with passion, intensity, and a clear “marketing plan,” try to sell his mom on why he should get a particular, very expensive item – the newest, name-brand “everyone has” shoes. His mom was calm but firm, and responded wisely.

What to do when kids swear or say OMG…

Swearing and OMG (1)

“S#*t,” “Oh My God.” …or “What the _____?” We’ve heard from numerous parents that this kind of language hurts their ears as well as their hearts. If this is a struggle in your family, here’s how you might respond through the Discipline that Connects framework.

“You are SAFE with me!”

To communicate emotional safety while addressing your kids’ word choices means coming alongside them as their understanding helper instead of their judge (can they ever tell the difference!). Are your kids worried they won’t fit in? Do they even know what the words mean?

In the same way, it’s helpful to understand what might be behind your angst when your kids say offensive words. Consider these questions:

3 Steps for Success in Holiday Chaos!

3 Steps for Success in Holiday Chaos

Holidays and other gatherings can be a lot of fun — but they can also be chaotic and overstimulating for kids! Rather than punish your children for misbehavior, be thoughtful ahead of time about how to prepare them for success.

Whether your child loudly proclaims Gramma’s sweet potatoes are YUCKY!, gets out of control when opening presents, or shuts down and withdraws when talking with adults, make a thoughtful plan and weave in plenty of encouragement.

[To ease holiday mealtime stress, read 7 Practical Tips for Picky Eaters.]

With the three simple steps below, you can set your child up for success and create a truly enjoyable holiday gathering!  

Helping Kids Thrive Despite Rejection from a Teacher or Students

Helping Kids Respond to Rejection from a Teacher or Students

It’s tempting when kids experience rejection, to want to protect them and be a buffer to keep their feelings from being hurt. Our blood boils, our God-given Mama or Papa Bear instincts kick in, and we may well go after the offending teacher or student. Sometimes this is a wise course of action, especially if a child is experiencing abuse or extreme rejection. But many times the best strategy is to be thoughtful about strengthening the child instead of protecting them. This prepares them for other inevitable situations in life when rejection threatens to redefine their sense of identity.

Cara’s kids had different classes with the same teacher. Mr. Benson may have been a well-intentioned guy, but the methods he used in his class were laden with shaming, critical messages.

In Jaden’s class, Mr. Benson decided to prepare the kids for the teasing they were sure to get next year in middle school. He projected each student’s picture from school photo day, one at a time, for the class to laugh at. Jaden’s anxious, deer-in-the-headlights mugshot brought a chorus of laughter and comments from his classmates. He ran off the bus sobbing that day, traumatized by the humiliation.

Why safety is crucial to adoptive families – and how it applies to all of us

In honor of November being Adoption Awareness Month, we’ve asked Anna Braasch, our Executive Director and adoptive momma to two, to share practical ways to have safe, connected relationships with your kids – regardless of how they joined your family.

Why Safety is Crucial to Adoptive Families

The foundational principles of Connected Families breathe life into families formed through adoption. I’ve seen it in my own family. In fact, creating an environment of safety is vital for any family who has experienced stress. Isn’t that all of us? 4 messages framework_Aug2016

In the Connected Families Framework, the starting place for our relationship with our kids is the crucial concept “You are safe with me.” The other framework messages -You are loved, You are called and capable, and You are responsible – are all built on this foundation of safety.

Kids who were adopted must know “You are safe with me.” They must experience this safety in their families.  Safety builds the confidence and security to trust and attach to their adoptive parents. At some level, trauma is a part of the history of kids who were adopted, and magnifies their need to experience the safety that all of us need in our families.  These kids aren’t broken. Not to be pitied. They might, however, view the world differently and need extra safety reinforcement and reminders in order to actually feel safe. Their developing, and sometimes tenuous attachment requires the extra reassurance to believe that their parents, and therefore their world, are safe.

Every  parent benefits from the message so powerfully evident in adoption: before children are able to hear and accept they are loved, capable, and responsible – they must first believe they are SAFE.

True enough, but what does this look like when I’m trying to get my kids fed and out the door?

Recovering from one particularly  difficult and tension-filled encounter with my then 9-year-old son, I collapsed into prayer asking God to reveal to me what he needed. I scratched a list during prayer, laid next to him in bed, and read it aloud to him. This list remains. It is a reminder. A reference. A centering-point. A promise.