Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thank you for following

For the followers of my blog,

Thank you for the conversation, support, and enthusiasm you have shown my blog. I started Fresh Start Parenting a year ago with the hope of developing a parent coaching business in Wakefield, MA. As with other times in my life, I thought it was my new dream and my next step.

It seems, though, that the Universe is choosing to send me in a new direction. While my business venture never really took off, my writing venture did, most unexpectedly.

Having been someone who was dragged into blogging kicking and screaming, I found that once I started writing, I couldn't shut up and found a new passion--writing and editing for The Good Men Project. My first article about supporting dads led to an interest in supporting men more directly. Dads still aren't getting the good press they deserve and mental health discussions online are still largely geared toward women.  I am committed to being a part of a movement that is changing that.

Ironically, my writing has also brought me home again to the idea that I am a clinician at heart. Connecting with people on a deeper level is what I am meant to be doing, be it through writing helpful articles or sitting with people in their pain.

Now that I am finding this acceptance, it's time to close the page...literally, on Fresh Start Parenting.

There are so many blogs out there to read. Thank you for choosing mine in this past year. You were a part of my journey.

With gratitude and appreciation,
Heather Gray

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not Every Parenting Moment Has to Be Mindful

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?  

Admittedly, I've been a bit obsessed. There's been A LOT of Olympics watching in my house. The stories of these athletes are great, aren't they? So many people overcoming adversity, families coming together, 4 years of hard work coming down to a mere 4 minutes or hundredths of a second. 

It's been exciting and by the time you read this, they'll almost over. That quickly. Two weeks and done.

I read a really great blog recently about how to create teachable moments out of the Olympics. Honestly, for a second, I thought to myself "Damn. Why didn't I think of that?" It was a good idea and I am sure it helped a lot of parents.

Here's the thing about posts like that, though. They really annoy me! The Olympics are such a great time for families and they happen organically, naturally, and without thought. Families I am working with are having "Olympic parties". One family held a "Minute to Win It Championship."

Such good stuff! Fantastic memory making. Solid family time.

Love it!

But you know what? They didn't think about it at all. They just did it. They lived in the moment, had a heck of a time, and were a family.

That's what I think parenting is all about. I don't like the titles I am seeing on parenting blogs these days talking about mindful and intentional parenting. That, to me, reads as pressure. It implies that parents have to think about parenting Every. Single. Second.

No wonder why there are so many mommy wars and we keep hearing about parenting guilt. If parents are told they should be thinking about their parenting every minute, they are always checking to see if "they're doing it right." I absolutely hate that.

Yes, parents need to know their values. They have to think about what they want to teach their kids. Absolutely.  However, there is a difference between knowing your parenting style and feeling like you can't ever just be with your kids.

Here's the thing about just being with your kids and having a fun time watching athletes--- they'll likely learn the lessons anyway.  They're sitting right next to you watching those athletes get up after a fall. They're seeing the grace and sportsmanship athletes that haven't won are showing. They're experiencing family time right along with you.

They don't need you telling them and pointing it out. In fact, they prefer you not to. You pointing it out will likely ruin the moment for them and the "lesson" will fall on deaf ears.

Just be, parents. Spend time with your kids. Have conversations. Be present. Show up. Yes, you have teaching to do. Yes, there's discipline and accountability involved. However,  at the end of the day, you are a member of a family. Be in it, not on the outside wondering how you can turn your time into more effective parenting.

Just be the parent and be in the moment.  Trust that everything else will follow.

Until next time,


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Your Child Struggles Socially

When I was in the seventh grade, I told a big whopping lie at school so that the smart and popular girl would like me and think we had something in common.

It worked for a while...until a family night where her mom happened to talk to my dad and my lie was exposed in the worst way.

In. Front. Of. Everyone.

Traumatizing for me at the time but not unlike any story we hear of kids and teens today. The social scene is a landmine of challenges for kids and it can be hard for parents to navigate or know how to respond and teach without shaming or blaming.

I got lucky.  My dad was graceful and let me leave, knowing that exposure was a natural consequence and I'd still have to pay the price even more when I returned to school.  I was too besieged by my own embarrassment at the time to think about it but he was probably pretty embarrassed, himself. My lie didn't make me, or my family, shine particularly bright.

You've probably been in my dad's shoes on more than one occasion...watching your child struggle through an awkward moment. Maybe your child is hanging out with kids who don't even talk to him or her.  Maybe your kid helps everyone with their homework but never gets invited for fun activities. Your child may talk out of turn or be ignorant of social cues. 

In the moment, sitting on the sidelines while you watch your child struggle socially probably feels like you are in a free-falling plane.  The oxygen masks are down and your challenge is to put one on yourself before putting one on your child.  There's a reason for that. You need to be calm in order to help your child and you can't help if you're not breathing or are hyperventilating.

The darnedest thing seems to happen to you when you see your child is struggling socially.  You move from observing a tough moment to envisioning a worst case scenario where you fear that your child won't have any friends and will become an outcast. In this bully-awareness age, you worry your child will be bullied or will be seen as one.  As much as you teach your child not to worry about what others think, all you start to do is worry about what others think of your child!

If you try to problem solve or create a teachable moment while you are reacting, you are setting yourself and your child up for an anxious response.  It's best to calm down and assess.  Is this troubling moment a pattern for your child?  Is it new?  What do you think your child is trying to accomplish with his or her behavior?  Is there a social skill or cue that your child may need help with? Try to separate your fear from what is really going on.

Once you've calmed down a bit, ask your child about it. Say something like, "I noticed the other day that_____ and I was wondering if_______" You may have just misinterpreted something.   Try to get a sense of what your child was thinking and what he/she was aware of during the interaction.  Try, too, to get a sense of what they were hoping for.            

Explain your intent.  Clarify that you are on your child's side.  A supportive statement like "I know what it's like to want to be popular"  helps you connect with your child on his/her intent. More than anything, kids just want to feel understood and heard.

Ask for permission to problem solve.  Us adults do lousy with unsolicited advice. We're all just grown-up kids so it makes sense that kids will struggle with receiving it, too.  If your child turns you down, accept this and explain that you understand.  It's also ok for you to explain your worry if something doesn't change.  You can say something like "I am sure you don't want your mom or dad butting in to your social life.  It's just that I know you have a lot of great ideas and you're a great leader.  I don't want other kids to misunderstand that and think you're being controlling."

Be careful with orchestrating social scenarios where your child can be successful.  Sometimes well intentioned parents take it upon themselves to help their kids socially by arranging play dates, social activities, or talking to parents of other kids involved.  This is such a slippery slope as kids need the opportunity to figure relationships out on their own.  They have to live with and survive their own mistakes.  If they don't feel that natural consequence, they'll never learn.

Sure, my junior high self really wished my father would have just gone along with my lie.  Truth be told, there's a part of my adult self today that wishes he had, too.  That was an awful night with my heart thudding in my ears for hours and lots of crying in the bathroom the next day.

However, I never lied to make friends again.  I never pretended to be something I wasn't and even though I took the long way, I came to like myself more. 

Parents, it's so hard to give up control and to not problem solve.  However, if you keep the dialogue open and share your thoughts with your child, he or she will be better equipped to deal with uncomfortable social situations independently. It's the dialogue that creates the teachable moment.  It's your acceptance of their feelings about things that helps them sort things out.  They can stop worrying about what you think or what you're going to do and they can get clear about what they think and what they'd like to do.

I know you were probably hoping for some kind of plan or response where you could swoop in like a superhero and spare your child pain and awkwardness.  Unfortunately, kids can't escape those times and they shouldn't be able to.  It's in their response that they begin to learn not only who they are, but who their friends are, too.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shy Children and Sad Parents

Friendships are really important for kids.  Friendships help kids learn social skills.  They help kids learn to identify feelings and ways of responding to them.  Friendships are a source of fun and memories for kids.

Sometimes, though, a child having friends is more important to his/her parents than it is to the child.

I've worked with parents who are sad, worried, and heartbroken because their child doesn't seem to have any, or many, friends.  Parents start to attach stories to these observations.  They worry that their kids are being bullied.  They worried that their kids are lonely.  They worry that their children are sad and feeling left out.  For a parent, seeing their child have only a few, or worse, no, friends is a great heartbreak.

It doesn't have to be heartbreaking.  Sometimes children with few friends are just shy and introverted.  Their preference is for solitude.  They enjoy being alone and doing quiet things.  They aren't looking out a window longingly, watching neighbors playing and wishing they could be outside.  They usually know they could join in if they wanted to.  They are just grateful that they don't have to because their preference is to be inside doing something they enjoy.

So, how can you tell if your child is shy or struggling?       

Plain and simple, kids who are struggling with friendships often look like they are struggling.  They are talking about other kids and what they are doing or not doing.  You might notice that your child is reaching out and other kids aren't reaching back.  You might start getting reports from school that your child is having difficulty with peers. You might observe more impulsivity, frustration, and irritability with your child. Watching your child with other kids, you might just observe something that can only be defined as "awkward." These are all signs that your child is trying really hard at making friends and having little success.

I am going to talk to you in my next entry about helping kids who are struggling socially so stay tuned. Hint: Subscribe to my blog in the upper right corner and it will land directly in your inbox.

For today, we're going to talk about kids who are not struggling.  They seem calm and content. Their body posture is relaxed.  They may not talk too much but they don't seem tense, sad, or disappointed.  They seem at ease with themselves.  Usually, they are more at ease with themselves than their parents are watching them!

If the milk hasn't even spilled, there is no reason to be sad.

If you're worried about your son or daughter, you're likely talking to him/her about it.  Do you sense sadness?  Do they seem disappointed?  If not, don't attach those stories on to them. If they are good with their level of social interaction, work with yourself to be ok, too. No need getting sad if they seem content and happy with their lives.

Your child may have a preference to be home when "everyone else is out playing." Before you attach a social problem onto your child, rethink the problem a bit.  Your child is happy and content being home?  He or she likes spending time with you?  Your child seems to be having a good time hanging out with the family?  How is that a bad thing?  Odds are, you have created a family space that is loving, nurturing, and happy. An environment like this sets any child, shy or not, up for success.  It makes sense that your child would be happy there, too.  Don't question it.

Friendships are only one way kids learn about relationships.
Yes, friendships can be amazing opportunities.  Kids can learn about sharing, taking turns, conflict resolution, and a whole host of other things.  They have opportunities to test out their feelings and ways of reacting to them.  I don't argue any of this.

However, kids can still learn and grow in these areas, even if they are introverts. In fact, introversion can usually help kids become more emotionally intelligent as introverts are commonly really good observers.  School provides them with plenty of social opportunities.  So do sports, boy scouts, girl scouts, camp, or after school programs.  Kids can learn about feelings by reading about them in stories, observing what they see in the world around them, and engaging in social settings where they are more comfortable.  We live in a social world and your child will not be lacking in opportunity for social or emotional development, even if their preference is to be away from other kids.

Set your child up for success.

When parents start to worry about their child's level of social interaction, the first thing they start to do is problem solve. They start arranging playdates, scheduling sports activities, and arranging family outings, all in a misguided attempt to fix a problem that is only a problem to them.  When shy kids sense this, they retreat more into themselves.  They don't feel understood or accepted and worry about being forced to change.  They see your sadness and worry and their focus becomes easing that, rather than paying attention to themselves.

Take stock of your child.  What does he or she like to do?  When do you see him/her happiest?  Where is he/she the most successful?  Paying attention to where your child is successful will help you create more opportunities for your child to experience this success.  When kids are moving within their preference, they are more comfortable observing and learning from others.  They learn about empathy.  They see how other people interact.  They not only engage to the extent that they are comfortable doing so but they also become more willing to try new things and take more risks because of their interest in the activity.

Give up on forcing your kids to be social.

Since I was a kid, I have hated peas.  Hated them.  People have told me that I "just haven't has them the right way." Some have said that I just need to have them "fresh from the garden." Others have said "frozen are much better than canned." To each of them I say "Nope! Nope! and Nope!"  I just don't like peas and I cannot be talked into liking them.

I bet you can see where I am going with this.  Hop on.  I promise it's going to be ok.

You cannot force social interaction and friendship onto your child and expect him/her to like it.  Forced interactions cause anxiety, mistrust, and doubt.  No one will warm up in that kind of environment. When you decide you know what is best for your child and thrust it upon them, you are playing the power card.  As a parent, you may get what you want but at a high cost.  You'll cut off dialogue, shut your child down, and create an environment where being social is scary. 

Time to stop thinking that you know what is best for your child socially and start listening to your child.

Be on your child's team.

If you join with your shy or introverted child on his/her preferences, they will be more likely to ask for help when they need it.  If kids know it's ok for them to be shy, they'll talk about times when being shy or introverted is hard.  They'll be open to your support, and yes, problem-solving.  Once they know it's ok for them to be the way they are, they are more willing to try new things and take new risks.

Call or email me if you find yourself worried about your shy kid.

With just one consultation, I can provide you with the tools you need to help your shy child shine and prosper.

Next up: Helping parents of kids who are struggling socially.

Until then,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Address Your Parent Guilt and You Will Reduce Your Parent Fails

I want you to join me in the fight against parent guilt.

I know...initially there's something that can feel good about saying "I wish I didn't let my kids watch so much TV" or "I am mad at myself for yelling at my kids so much".  If you can tell yourself you know what you should have done, in some backwards way, you are reassuring yourself that you do know a little bit about parenting.

Parent guilt creeps in at times when you are overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, and feeling ineffective. You feel a loss of control and if you can convince yourself that you are the problem, then you have control again.  You can change whatever you think you did and feel better. You have access to the solution.

Sitting in that overwhelmed state with no clue as to what a solution might be is maddening,  At the right moment, in an overtired day, it can be scary.

It's that fear that opens the window for parent guilt to creep in.  It all comes down to one solitary thought: What if I am a bad parent?

Hang on.  That kind of thinking is a cancer that can challenge parent/child relationships and can compromise your abilities as a parent.

How is that?  After all, if you're punishing yourself, you are telling yourself you can do better next time. Punishments are about learning, right?

Not in this case, unfortuately.

When it comes to parent guilt, we are dealing with shame.  It's staring you right in the face and is making you feel small and ineffective.          

When you feel guilty about something, your first instinct will sometimes be to overcompensate. You might buy your child something he or she hasn't necessarily earned. You'll be more likely to tolerate disrespect because you'll tell yourself that you "deserve it". You want to make amends so you might allow your child to skip vegetables and still have dessert.  Bedtime might be delayed.  Rules around screen time might be softened as you try to atone for your "parenting sins".

What do you think happens next?

The guilt powers parenting fails.

Harsh words, I know.  I don't like telling people they are committing parenting fails but it's true. Changing rules or expectations out of guilt causes confusion. You become inconsistent with yourself. You lose bits of your household structure.  You make a few too many compromises and if you don't reign it in, your relationship with your child can be affected.

When parents become inconsistent or when a child's structure changes without explanation, a child can develop anxiety.  They feel less in control and are worried that the adults don't have control either.  This can cause kids to distance themselves, act out, or show restless behavior.  Structure and consistency tells kids that you've got this and that they are safe.

As much as you think you are making amends for something you are guilty of, you run the risk of inadvertently causing new problems for your family. Kids start to feel and act entitled, relationships weaken, and parent stress intensifies.

I get it.  Parent guilt can't just be turned off like a switch.

I wish I could make your parent guilt evaporate just by wishing it so.

As with any parenting challenge, it's only managed with work and a commitment to change on your part.
  • Commit to reducing your parent guilt. The first step will be changing the way you think and acknowledging that parent guilt isn't serving you. Make a commitment toward reducing the power that parent guilt has in your life.
  • Accept that everyone, and every family, has non-negotiables.  There are things in your life that cannot be changed.  Work.  Finances. Outside commitments. You need to work.  Other people besides your kids count on you.  There are always going to be competing needs and demands that cannot be avoided.  The sooner you accept this as a reality and stop expecting yourself to be some superhero parent, the sooner you can reduce parent guilt by problem solving more effectively.
  • Not all non-negotiables have to suck.  Some non-negotiables can and should be things that will promote your own health and sense of well being.  Date nights.  Time with friends.  Time for hobbies. Exercise.  You need these things in your life to be your most authentic self and the best version of you.  Without them, you'll go mad and your parenting is sure to suffer.  Time to stop feeling guilty for things that make you a better parent.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.  If you haven't walked a mile in their shoes, you have no way of knowing the challenges that other parents face.  You also have know idea as to whether or not they share your families values.  The challenges and obstacles you face will be different from theirs.  Making comparisons without all the facts and then assuming you are the guilty party is a waste of energy.  It zaps your positive outlook and sense of hope.  It slowly kills your spirit and that cannot be good for parenting.
You cannot make yourself a better parent by making yourself feel worse.

No good can come from the kinds of thinking errors you make when you are feeling parent guilt and are encumbering yourself with unrealistic expectations.

There are better tools for improved parenting than parent guilt and shame.  

Find them with me at Fresh Start Parenting. I am a parent coach providing local and distance coaching in Wakefield, MA. I can provide you with the tools that will help you meet your parenting goals, find your parenting wins, and leave with more confidence and less shame.

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Praising kids should have a point.

I have to tell you the truth.            
Sitting down to write a post about praising kids is making my skin crawl.

I'm worried about what you, the reader and parent, must be thinking.  I'm imagining that you've already stopped reading and have left the page thinking of me as "one of those people" --the kind of person who thinks we should let kids believe that the sun rises and sets on their behinds.

Good.  You're still reading. Please hear me out and stick with me on this.  I am NOT one of those people!  I promise!

I just happen to think that if I am going to stand behind the idea that kids should be called out on their poor behavior and be held accountable to rules and expectations with consistency, that they also deserve to hear praise and recognition when they get it right.

There.  Now that wasn't so bad or painful to hear, was it?  Turns out, it was pretty easy for me to say, too.

Think about it for a second.  How many times in a day do you think kids are given directions?  How many times a day do you think the average kid might get redirected or asked to do something differently?

What if those times were the only times a kid's behavior was paid attention to?  Care to guess what might happen?

You've got it.

You'd have one heck of a pain in the neck kid on your hands.  If kids can't get your attention positively, they will try to get it negatively.

Teaching kids how to get positive attention starts with praising them and catching them being good.

No, that doesn't mean they should hear a parade of "good jobs" or "nice work" all day long. Statements like that just blow smoke up their said behinds.  You check it off your list but there is no meaning to it.  You aren't mindfully noticing the kid.  Soon, your child will think that you aren't really paying attention or that you are just parroting what "parents are supposed to say".

Want to make praising your kids count for something?  Interested in using good behavior as a teachable moment instead of their bad behavior?

Make the praise statement specific, measurable, and observable.  Simply saying "Good job" doesn't work because it isn't specific enough.  It doesn't teach the child which behavior or skill you'd like to see again. Instead, try "You did such a good job cleaning your room today.  I didn't see any clothes on the floor and was happy not to find any hidden messes in your closets."

Praising kids with specificity shows them that you're really paying attention and that you see them. Here, the child will know that a clean room means all clothes are put away and nothing is shoved out of view.

Next, be sure to tell kids WHY their behavior is good or pleases you. I know what you doubters are thinking.  "Duh! Of course kids know it's good to clean their rooms and listen to their parents".  I disagree.  Yes.  Kids should clean their rooms and yes, they should follow their parents directions but do you really want your kids to listen simply "because (you) said so"?

I don't.      

The idea here is that we give directions and expectations to kids so they learn things.  We are preparing them for the real world.  We want them to learn to clean their rooms so they:

  • Learn to respect their space and their belongings
  • Learn the tasks involved in organizing
  • Learn to respect the space and belongings of others
  • Can feel organized.  Kids perform better in clean, organized environments.  Chaotic and messy environments can lead to chaotic and messy behavior.
When we tell kids to clean their rooms, they think we're doing it for us...because we want our houses clean, because their messes make us crazy.  Yes, both points may be indeed be true but that isn't why we want them to clean their rooms so we have to tell them so.

Next time, try saying "I love that you cleaned your room so well.  Everything is put away.  You're going to get your homework done faster with your desk so neat.  You'll be playing that video game in no time."

It is A LOT.
It annoys me sometimes and I am as verbose as they get.
Just deal with it.  Teaching takes time, patience, and sometimes, lots of words.

Providing kids with the reason why their behavior is good increases the likelihood that they will repeat the behavior.  Developmentally, kids learn empathy in stages.  However, they learn the idea of "what's in it for them" rather quickly.  Teaching kids why being good, working hard, or showing effort helps them out is key to helping kids learn to be internally motivated.

When we praise kids regularly and with specificity, for things they actually showed effort with or took a risk for, they learn to become internally motivated.  They start to make good choices for themselves because they want to benefit themselves.  They start to internalize good decision making. 

Without specificity, without teaching why a kid's choice is a good one, the kid only learns to please adults or to avoid trouble and the actual skill being taught is wholly missed.

I've thrown a lot at you here and I hope I have challenged your thinking at least a little bit.  I know this stuff isn't easy and that is why I am here to help.  If you're struggling with the balance between praising and limit setting, I can help you tow the line.  If you're stuck in analysis paralysis, you can work with me to get untangled.  Kids are tricky. Teaching them is trickier.

Find me at Fresh Start Parenting and let me help.  We can begin today. Starting the new year off feeling more in control of your kids and of your parenting vision sounds really good to me.  How about you?

Until next time,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Parenting Through Your Fear and Sadness

There are a few parenting moments that can hit you like a sucker punch.        

One of the most air-sucking ones is when you hear your child say "I hate you". It usually comes right after you have told your child a consequence for not following a rule or a direction. The two of you are "in it" and your child has used heavy artillery with those three words.

Another moment might come when your child questions a death in the family, a divorce, or other tough time for your family.  You'll see your child hurting or struggling to adjust.

These moments are just awful..  They're heartbreaking. In these moments, your child forgets you only want what's best.  They are only thinking about privileges lost and being forced to deal with changes they didn't want and never asked for.

It's is crucial to push through and Be The Parent.

Hear me on the this. Yes, there are going to be times in parenting when you hear "I hate you". It will sting but you cannot let the moment hold you hostage. Yes, your family may go through something at some point and you will be tempted to "go easy" on your child because "things have been so hard". I get the thinking but it's not what your child really needs.

Kids really do need limits to feel safe. Rules, limits, and a consistent schedule tell your child that an adult is in charge and that you've got this. When their daily structure changes or rules are bent for them, kids sense this and it doesn't build security.  It increases anxiety and worry. 

For them, if things are changing, things must be really bad.  If they see a parent become easily disabled with a momentary outburst, they may initially feel victorious because it's what they think they want.  However, after, when things are calm, they start to wonder: "Who's really in charge here?"

I've written about this before and know I will again. Without limits, kids falter, either emotionally or behaviorally.

It's so important that you not fear your child's rebellion, aggression, or upset.  It feels overwhelming in the moment but it doesn't last.  If you tow the line and hold the boundary, you are giving your child room to settle and gain perspective.  Without that wall, without that limit, kids gets anxious and they start to become unraveled.  There's no way for a child to calm and gain perspective in that anxious state.  Instead, your child will up the ante and increase the acting out behavior until you are forced to respond. 

Setting limits won't compromise your relationship with your child but not setting them could cost you your child's respect.

Remind yourself that this bad mood, this "I hate you" moment is temporary.  It won't last.  Set the limit.  Enforce the rule.  Show your child who's in charge and then he or she can get back to the business of being a kid.

When families go through periods of change, everyone needs time to adjust.  When a grandparent dies, parents divorce or separate, or when there's a financial hardship, the family is forced out of the comfort of regular, everyday schedules.  Make room for this sadness.  Talk about it out loud.  Share your feelings and encourage everyone else to do the same.

You may schedule less things.  You might plan fewer social outings.  All of that is normal, expected, and encouraged.  However, this is NOT the time to back off of rules or expectations.  Homework still needs to get done.  Bedtimes still happen. Rules around TV and other electronics still need to exist.


Because when your world is falling apart and everything is changing, everyone--including us grown-up kids--will feel more comfortable in a predictable environment.  If you give your kids a pass on homework or let disrespectful language pass without acknowledgment, your child has no grounding--no foundation to rely on.  

"Getting back to normal" feels safe for kids.  It builds security and promotes healing.  If the schedule is changing and they don't know what's expected of them, kids will become anxious and as I said above, there is no healing in those moments--only worry.  In order for your kids to heal and find peace amidst the change, they need as much as possible to stay the same. They will crave what is familiar.  It's their grounding and where they will find comfort.

Look, I get it. Rules and limits don't sound warm and fuzzy.  They don't seem as nurturing as a free pass might.  Telling a child who is grieving a loss or missing a parent who lives somewhere else to go to bed might sound heartless.

 Limits can be nurturing and you can add nurturance to limits. 

You can stay in your child's room until he or she falls asleep. You can pass a loving note under the door of a child who is shut away in a bedroom and giving you the silent treatment.  Letting your child know that an adult is in charge makes it easier to go to sleep at night and to school in the morning.  Creating normalcy, or your new normal, will decrease anxiety and worry.  Your child will build resiliency and begin to thrive during a changing time.

Guess what?  As you've heard me say before, we're all just grown-up kids here and what's true for kids is true for us, too.  Schedules and structures help us feel safe, too.  Creating predictability during an unpredictable time will help you, too.

By helping your child heal, you are helping yourself.

This is how you get your parenting win amidst the hardest and most challenging of times.

Until next time,