San Diego Parenting Therapist Talks about the Importance of having Family Meetings

By: Valerie Holcomb, MFTi

 

Have you ever wondered why your child is acting out? They want attention and as a parent you might feel like these demands never stop (for more info on that, click here). In situations like this, teaching your child limits and making some time to spend with your child can make a difference. Having a family meeting once a week can allow your attention to be on your child. Family meetings, especially in families with young children, can facilitate a space for you to speak openly and briefly with your child(ren), which is often best for addressing behavior problems.
Having a regular family meeting is a good way to help your child learn cooperative skills. You will not only learn to solve problems together, but you and your family will be able to :
• Share positive feelings
• Have fun together
• Make decisions about family issues
• Provide encouragement
• Talk about problems
Family meetings can also benefit each of your family members. For example, you might have a grandparent living in your home and they need to be part of the family meetings too. But remember, although extended family/household members may be present t the meeting, your child needs you to do the parenting. Setting healthy boundaries and making it clear that the discipline and final decisions are up to you allows your child to accept structure, rules and consequences for actions in a healthy setting.
Family meetings work best if the focus is on one issue and one solution. Maintaining consistent family meetings will help your child learn to follow agreements over time. Most importantly, have fun as a family and enjoy working together. Share past highlights, positive experiences or behaviors you have observed and talk about new issues that have arisen. Together you and your child are learning new skills and through your influence, you can make a relationship that your child will learn to respect and love as they grow up.

Positive Solutions For Misbehavior

                                                                                               Written by: Valerie Holcomb, MFTI
Often, your child’s misbehavior is not as intentional as you may think.  How parents respond to the behavior can influence how often and in what way children repeat that behavior. How a parent reacts to unintentional misbehavior may determine whether that behavior will be repeated as a way to achieve one of the four goals of misbehavior: attention, power, revenge, and displaying inadequacy. following are some quick but impactful positive solutions for the misbehavior.


Here are some cooperative strategies to help you help your children feel encouraged and empowered by addressing the above misbehaviors:


• If your child’s goal is to seek attention, then try redirecting by involving your child in a useful task that is age-appropriate to gain attention. For instance, say what you will do. For example, have faith in your child to sit with his or her feelings, don’t rescue. Finally, plan regular special time together.
• If your child’s goal is to be the boss or have power then try redirecting to positive power by asking for help. Offer limited choices and don’t fight or give in. You can be firm and kind, and decide what you will do.
• If your child wants to get even or has revenge then acknowledge his or her feelings. Avoid punishment and instead build trust. It’s okay to share your own feelings and try to make amends. The point is to show that you care.
• If your child wants to give up or displays inadequacy then try breaking the task down to smaller steps. Refrain from criticizing and encourage any positive attempt. This is an opportunity for you to have faith in your child’s abilities. This is a chance for you to teach your child by showing how, but don’t do it for him.
Remember if your child is having a hard time, interrupting, throwing tantrums, being rude, or simply not trying, this doesn’t mean you are an unsuccessful parent or that your child is unruly. It means that it’s most likely a time to begin aiming for solutions to solve the problem and modeling the cooperation and respect that your child deserves.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Child’s Potential

One of the most difficult jobs people have today, is raising a child. Parenting a child is

challenging and there are no rule books or manuals on how best to raise an emotionally healthy

child or teen. How can parents respond in ways that foster a child's self-esteem and promote a

positive self image? By identifying a child's strengths and altering one's parenting style to

facilitate the growth of these strengths, children and teens will develop self-confidence, values,

a secure sense of self and will allow them to reach their maximum potential.

 

1. IDENTIFY YOUR CHILD'S STRENGTHS

Strengths are identified as tasks or actions that we do well. These may include talents, abilities,

or skills.When identifying your child's strengths, look at your child's natural talents. Identify

which activities or environments that they're drawn to. Are there particular skills that they learn

easily or do them become engrossed in certain activities? Are there activities your child

participates in that is met with joy and enthusiasm? Once you can identify your child's strengths,

then it's time to develop them!

2. FOSTER THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR CHILD'S STRENGTHS

Facilitating the development of your child's strengths is most easily done when parents are

focused on what their child does well, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. When

developing a child's strength, parents should encourage a child to pursue what they're good at.

Accepting and celebrating a child's unique strengths is key! This can be especially hard for

parents if their child's strengths and natural talents are not what we thought they'd be.

3. AVOID USING NEGATIVE LABELS

It can be especially challenging for a parent to point out strengths when their child misbehaves

or violates a parent's trust. However, during troublesome and complicated situations, children

and teens need to be supported in order to gain insight into the situation and develop strategies

to effectively manage similar situations differently in the future. Parents can be supporting during

these distressing times by REFRAMING problematic situations by identifying which aspects

were positive, PRAISE positive choices made by your child, and REVIEW the situation and

allow your child to explore ways in which they could have handled the situation differently in the

future to ensure a better outcome.

4. BE UNCONDITIONAL

Accept your child's positive attributes as well as their weaknesses. Each child is unique and

differences should be celebrated!

5. IDENTIFY YOUR OWN STRENGTHS TO BECOME A BETTER PARENT

Developing your child's strengths is best facilitated when parents know their own individual

strengths. This provides a framework for parents and children alike to learn and grown in a

unique and specific manner.

Strength based parenting can be challenging at first and requires on-going learning. However,

once you learn the technique that is the best fit for you and your child, then it becomes

exponentially easier. For more information on how to utilize Strength-Based Parenting visit:

https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Home/en-US/Parenting

Musician and Entrepreneur Bennett Sullivan

bennett sullivan
Bennett Sullivan

 

 A Shout Out to Bennett Sullivan

from The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast

Here at the Coaching Through Chaos Podcast, we are really thrilled to give a shout out to Bennett Sullivan on his budding success. If you’ve been listening all the way to the end of our episodes, you’ll have heard me say, “I want to thank Bennett Sullivan Music for my theme music”. Bennett took an idea we had for theme music and made it come to life for us. For those that don’t know, Bennett is an up-and-coming professional banjo player. He has been teaching banjo and creating apps for those wanting to learn how to play (banjo & guitar) for several years.  The apps are called Listen & Learn and you can find them here. On stage, he’s been playing professionally with bands and in shows since he was a teenager.  He recently played banjo  on stage with Elle King for her performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Currently, he is a part of the cast of the Steve Martin & Edie Brickell play “Bright Star”. 

From the Bright Star website:

“Directed by Tony® winner Walter Bobbie, this wholly original new musical tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ‘40s. When successful literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past – and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. Inspired by a real event, BRIGHT STAR is a rare and uplifting story about embracing the truth of who we are, even when it’s not what we envisioned.”

I had an opportunity to see Bright Star when it debut in its initial run here in San Diego. Bright Star opens on Broadway this month. In addition to this, Bennett has started a video series interviewing musicians for his membership site BennettSullivanMusic.com.  In addition to the paid membership, Bennett offers so much great free information on the site too! Here’s the first video to give you a taste of what you’ll find. Bennett is interviewing Steve Martin – they even play a bit together! Check out BennettSullivanMusic.com for more information about what he has to offer. Way to go Bennett!! Keep up the great work!!

 Bennett Sullivan Interviews Steve Martin

 Apps

Pocket Lick Banjo

Pocket Lick Guitar

Listen & Learn Banjo

Tune Fox

The Dysfunctional Family Holiday Survival Guide

Navigating  family relationships can be tough during the holiday season…

Johnny gets along with Sally but doesn’t get along with Sally’s husband. Your mother always makes your skin crawl when she asks you when that grand-baby is coming and you haven’t even had a date in 3 months, let alone a relationship with a man worth procreating with. You had a fight with your brother 6 months ago and haven’t spoken since, but you’ll all be sitting around Mom’s table for Christmas dinner. It can be crazy-making! For as much as you might love your family, when there are stressed relationships, the holidays have a knack for bringing out our best and worst behavior.

As with the rest of the year, you won’t be able to control what anyone else says or does, so I want to help you take care of YOU during this stressful, uh, joyous time.

How to take care of YOU this holiday season:

1. FOOD

You might want to indulge in comfort eating, but truly, next Christmas will be even more stressful if you are still carrying around the 10lbs you gained this holiday season (lol….I’m kidding!). In all seriousness, it’s important to be mindful around food when you are dealing with emotional triggers. Stress can cause us to go into auto-feed mode and it can be easy to eat our weight in Christmas cookies or Hanukkah latkes as a way of reducing our stress levels. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not full. Give yourself some extra allowance for tasting the good food – but when you find yourself not noticing what you’re eating, slow down to get back into a mindful, conscious eating experience.

2. ALCOHOL

Drink until you’re singing Christmas carols with abandon! Uh, no, I didn’t really mean that.

LIMIT YOUR INTAKE Please be careful of your alcohol intake in potentially stressful family situations. It can be easy to over do it, thinking it will make the time more tolerable. In the end, alcohol is a predominant precursor to family feuds, so it’s best to keep intake at a minimum.
GET HOME SAFE The holiday season (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day) is the deadliest on the roads for DUIs (you can see what I had to say about that in this HuffingtonPost article here ). Make sure that if you are going to socially drink that you take precautions to get yourself home. In addition to taxi’s there are now services like Lyft and Uber to get you home when you have imbibed.
RELAPSE PREVENTION PLANNING For those living a sober life after a battle with addiction, holiday family experiences, especially when stressful, can be particularly triggering. If you have struggled with alcohol or drugs and know that the holidays or family relationships can be stressful on you, there are things you can do to help you stay sober. Bring a “sober buddy” with you. This is someone else who is also in recovery and will agree to hang out with you and be by your side if emotions get strained and you feel tempted. If you participate in a 12-step program, you can arrange to call sober friends or your sponsor throughout the festivities. If you’re traveling, you can arrange to attend an AA meeting in the community where you are staying so that you feel close to your recovery.

3. MONEY

I personally love buying gifts for others and this is the one area where I have really had to set some limits for myself because I can easily over-spend when I see something I’m just sure someone I know will love. I bet some of you can relate. The best thing you can do for keeping you sanity when it comes to money stress during the holidays is to set a budget. You can find some great holiday budget-setting websites this time of year. Make your budget and then STICK TO IT! For as much as we might want to buy our sister that perfect pair of earrings, save it for birthday time when your budget may allow you to be more flexible. You might even get creative and make something for your family – a pretty tin with some home made cookies or chocolate can go a long way when you have many people to buy for. Whatever you do spend, remember that it is about the giving, not the getting, so buy and give gifts only when you truly want to. The holiday time is about love, connection, relationships and religious traditions. There is nothing written that says you must buy everyone at the party a gift. Be kind to yourself and respect your budget.

4. FAMILY VISITS

Do what feels right to you, not what you think you “should” do.
STAY ONLY AS LONG AS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE Especially when traveling to visit family during the holidays, many people plan to stay, or invite guests for longer than they really want to. They think, “Well, it’s the holidays, I should stay the whole week”, or “I’m traveling all the way there, I should make a longer visit out of it”. No – if you know you can only tolerate 48 hours with your extended family before you feel overwhelmed, don’t plan to stay longer than that. (See item #6. “Self Care” below for tips on taking care of yourself no matter how long the visit is.)
ACCEPT YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS FOR WHO THEY ARE, AS THEY ARE If you go in thinking, “This will be the year things will be different” you will inevitably be let down. A lot of family stress happens because we don’t accept our family members for who they are. When we come from a “dysfunctional” family (and quite frankly, who doesn’t these days?) we often wish for our relatives to be “more loving”, “less crazy”, “more like me”, or any other thing they haven’t been in previous years. This leaves you longing for a different emotional experience. If you took those glasses with the “if only” lenses off and put on the glasses with the clear, accurate lenses, you would see your family members for who they are as other human beings, rather than as relative to your existence. I promise you, this will enhance your visit because when you clearly see people for who they are in the life they are living, you can understand them better. When there is understanding, there is acceptance.
KNOW WHEN TO NOT VISIT There are definitely families in which getting everyone together does no one any good. There may be high conflict or you may truly have family members who are unhealthy to be around (emotionally abusive, neglectful, narcissistic), or there may be dysfunction in the form of active alcohol or drug addiction among family members. Respect how you feel. If you visit knowing that you would really rather not, save your money and time – you will end up resentful and that will add to the stress of the visit. For the family members you would like to see, make polite apologies about not joining them this year, then make plans to see them sometime soon after when you can genuinely appreciate the time with them.

5. FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY THE HOLIDAY TOGETHERNESS BUT CAN’T BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES

I live in San Diego and I learned in my first 6 months here that there are a lot of us transplants here (the majority of my family is in New York and other eastern states). There have been many years where it was not feasible to travel to visit on both Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I personally LOVE the holiday season- I love the lights, the parties, the gifts and I know many people reading this do too. There are a couple of things that can bridge this gap to allow you the experience even if you can’t be exactly where you want to be.
VISIT VIRTUALLY Between FaceTime and SKYPE, it’s easy to feel
like you’re right there with your loved ones. No, you may not be able to taste Mom’s pumpkin pie, but you can see everything and say “Hi” to everyone when they are all together. If you’ve got kids, you can plan the virtual visit with the grandparents when the kiddos are opening their presents so that they can feel like part of the excitement.
START YOUR OWN TRADITIONS Many of the transplanted people I know, including myself, have standing holiday traditions that don’t include our families because of the time or expense of traveling for more than one holiday. By now you may have heard of “Friendsgiving” – that’s when a group of friends get together and have their own Thanksgiving dinner even if they are not family. My husband and I have a small group of friends we’ve been doing this with for the past 4 years. If you’re facing being alone and don’t like that idea, don’t be shy – let your friends and co-workers know that you really miss the Thanksgiving experience since your family is not around. You’ll be sure to be invited to someone’s house. Better yet, if you like entertaining, start your own tradition and hold the dinner at your place. There are so many people who are missing the family experience this time of year, they will be happy to get your invite. Many people invite active military service members to their home for a holiday meal. You can check out this page to see about opportunities for helping military families this holiday season.
MAKE A PLAN FOR BEING ALONE Many people end up alone over the holidays – sometimes it’s geographical hindrances, other times its due to social isolation or other emotional factors. It can often feel like you’re the only one alone as the whole world seems to shut down. This can be a great time to have a day that is strictly for comforting you – make yourself (or pre-order from your favorite restaurant) a great meal, take a bath, pick out a book you’ve been putting off reading or plan to watch a great movie. Then, of course, you can always volunteer somewhere to serve others during the holidays to brighten your spirit. In the end the holiday is just another day – 24 hours just like all the rest.

6. SELF CARE

It’s such a buzzword these days, self care, but it is essential, especially when your family stresses you out. Taking time out to tend to you will help you have a more positive experience.
PLAN IN “ME TIME” Maybe you enjoy your family, but you’re a person who is used to “Me Time” or just needs to be alone. Respect that and plan it into your visit. Just because you’re visiting for a week doesn’t mean you can’t get out one night to a movie by yourself or steal away for a coffee break alone. When you respect your needs, your visit will be more fulfilling.
EXERCISE Exercise can be one of the best stress relievers and it’s universally affordable. If you’re in a regular exercise routine before the visit, make sure to schedule it in during your stay. If you are not in a regular routine before the visit, just taking yourself for a 20 minute walk can help you feel less stressed. You’ll get some fresh air, quiet time and feel like you’re doing something healthy for yourself amidst all the food and festivities.
STAY CONNECTED WITH YOUR LIFE Break up the visit with a call to a good friend back home. Check in with your life (occasional email/social media/watch your local news online). It can help put things back in perspective especially if family stress is starting to pile up. Remember, you’re only visiting, you’re not moving in.

Now go and enjoy your lovely and dysfunctional family holiday! They’ll be happy to see you and if you stay mindful of the tips I’ve given you, you might even enjoy it more than you planned. Happy Holidays!

 

Happy Holidays from Coaching Through Chaos