The beginning of last week’s entry began to discuss, in a way, the beginning of our development as social and emotional individuals. If you’ve never heard of Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development, find a great article here that explains each stage. Fascinating (maybe only to a mental health counselor) how each stage is characterized by a psychological crisis that needs to be resolved before graduation into the next stage of development. Trust vs. Mistrust, for example is the first stage a person goes through beginning at birth through their second year of life...Read More
The holiday season is often busy, lightening fast, and full of breaks to a our typical routine. Bedtimes are missed, lines are long, and let’s not even get started on what we’re eating. Mental health ties in so closely to our physical heath, and we need to put care into several aspects of our lives to keep ourselves on the up and up. Winter (it's so dark and cold), and specifically the Holiday’s really make this….challenging.
Self-care is not top of my list for the Holiday season. I’ve got presents to wrap, things to decorate, last minute shopping, cleaning, travel…and the list goes on and on. It’s often the furthest thing from my mind…and it’s MY JOB to help others create a plan to care for themselves. So I know that self-care must be hard to work in for pretty much everyone. Let me blow your mind 1st by saying that most things you’ve read about self-care are not true – self care is not about massages, walks outside, or hot mugs of lavender tea. Self-care is about setting YOURSELF, your mental health, your health as a top priority.
How can we make caring for our well-being a priority this holiday season? You’ve already taken the first step – clicking “read more” on this article. You’re already thinking about how to make this work during one of the busiest times of the year. Yahoo! Let's take things a few steps further -
1) Your To Do list. Whether it’s a mental list, or written out and color coded (don’t JUDGE, I love different color sharpies) - pair it down. There is no prize for the one that shoves the most into 24 hours. Prioritize – does it have to be done this way? Does it have to be wrapped, or will a gift bag work? Does it have to be baked/cooked homemade? Does it have to be so complicated, or is there a way to simplify? And finally – delegate. Delegate, delegate, delegate; let others help you. Ask others to help you. LET others help you.
2) While we’re on the topic of prioritization, take a glace at the week ahead – where are there breaks during the day that you can schedule in some me time. Having lunch at your favorite place, watching that movie that always makes you laugh, going to a yoga/meditation class. Schedule these things in right along with, Pick up the roast for Sunday dinner, take so and so to piano lessons, wrap gifts for grandma. Making yourself and your well being a priority means that these things are JUST AS important as your obligations (term used with endearment, not disdain) to others.
3) Try talking to yourself differently. We all have internal dialog – conversations that go on in our brains all day long; thoughts that drive feelings and actions. What does your internal dialog sound like – does it sound panicked? Pessimistic? Annoyed? Switch things up and help this inner dialog lean more towards the positive. Write yourself notes, quotes, song lyrics and place them in places you go every day; bathroom mirror, car speedometer, your cell phone, your planner. Change the internal conversation when you notice it’s being driven by panic, pessimism or annoyance – think of a giant stop sign STOP – and change your perspective.
Stuck in a long line? I can answer some emails while I stand here, I can strengthen my core by standing tall, balancing on one foot than the other, I can complete some online shopping, Wow, such interesting people watching.
Have 20 things on your To Do list? (first of all re-visit #1 of this list) Work in mind breaks, a few moments to take a deep breath, stretch out the muscles in your neck, hydrate, etc.
4) I saved the toughest for last – Say no, with out providing a novel about why. Setting boundaries are so important for your mental health, and the ultimate exercise in self-care. Often we feel that we need to do it all, say it all, be it all. It’s not possible. So set your boundary and protect it with - no. My favorite work around for this one (because I struggle) is to suggest an alternative.
Instead of….. let’s do…..
How about …… instead of…….
Holiday season is dark (physically dark, seriously, the sun is often non-existent), busy, and full of all things sugar related. So beef up your self-care strategies to prevent that post-holiday burn out. Happy Holidays!
I'm just so $^@& MAD!!!!!
...I recently had one of my 4th grade client's scream during session. Clenched fists, hunched shoulders, scowl on his face. "Yes, I can see that," Was my response, "something has made you really angry....". One of my favorite things to work with my kids on is finding the words to describe the way they're feeling. Sounds so simple - describing how you feel; but it's really not. "How are you" we're asked probably 10 times a day by different people, typically as a greeting. "Fine", "Well", "Ok", we typically answer - none of which are feelings. I find, many times over, that it's hard for people to put into understandable, intelligible, descriptive, words, how they are feeling. Probably because honest answers are not expected or encouraged when someone asks "How ya doin?". This goes for me as well, I can relate to my kiddo...sometimes what comes to mind is I am just so $^@& MAD!!!!!
Feelings charts; love them. MAD is often a place holder, a go to feelings filler word for - What I'm feeling is intense, it's strong, it's overwhelming and I don't know how to describe it to you.
With my kids - I try to avoid asking questions -especially why questions. Well why are you upset? Why are you screaming? What's wrong? Instead I focus 1st on keeping my tone and my over all presence, calm and focused, 2nd encouraging my kiddo to keep going - what they're feeling is ok for us to talk about, and I can handle it.
I can see that you're upset
Wow, you are very mad
You're showing me that you're angry
While their feelings are fine, especially in our counseling space, certain behaviors are not so much. Throwing things is a no, hitting yourself is a no, breaking toys is a no. Every helping professional is different, but for me as long as you're not hurting me or hurting yourself - get it all out. Scream, yell, stomp your feet - let's have it. I recently had a kiddo (different kid) begin yelling about his frustration with his teachers and the work they're "making [him] do". His voice begins to escalate. He stands up out of his seat. Into his vocabulary spills words like "freakin", "flippin", "stupid head"....and then...."F$@^!" He stops. He looks at me..... I look back, silent. He continues, every other word profanity now. After a while I notice out loud "you're not yelling anymore, and you're sitting back down, do you feel better now?"
As a adults we often can't find the words to describe how we're feeling. How often do you avoid or ignore a situation because, well, it'd be uncomfortable to confront? How often when there's a rift in a relationship with someone do you sit down with them, talk it out, listen to their "side of the story" and come to an understanding? How often are you able to do either of these things, sure of yourself - confident that you've got the words to express what you're feeling, and the ability to maintain your calm and cool. My guess, if you're anything like me, is not super often. How can we expect our kids to?
We all need a space to talk things out, to process thoughts and feelings, un-judged and unfiltered. We all need a space to turn I'm just so $^@& MAD!!!!! into - I'm so disappointed, I'm so hurt, I'm so scared.
Better than Good Job! Empowering phrases for kids
I fall victim to the “Good Job” curse more often than I care to admit. It’s such a hallow phrase, it’s unspecific and general…but it rolls off the tongue so easily when a student does something…well, good. - “Great job bud!” The truth is, a teacher’s words of encouragement often carry their students through challenging moments. Praise fills our tanks, the right set of words, at the perfect moment, wow, it’s like a jolt of energy. These moments with our students is what builds a strong foundational relationship, and new teachers building classroom management skills can definitely benefit from expanding their praise bank of praise phrases.
I try to be cognizant when giving praise and encouragement, taking a moment to choose my words carefully so that they are specific to the moment, AND the student. Want to work on this with me? Here are some of my favorite phrases to use with my kiddo’s:
You are so smart
You made a very careful choice
I have faith in you
I know that you can __________
_______ was a challenge, and you didn’t give up!
You are so resilient
I believe in you
I see that you are working incredibly hard
I am curious, how would you solve this?
I am excited to see what you come up with
You make me smile
This warms my heart
I am confident you’ll come up with something
I knew you could ______
You were such a kind friend to _____ when _______
Ya know, everyone makes mistakes, what can you do different next time?
You are strong
I love your confidence
You’re a careful thinker
You’re showing me that you’re a careful listener
You’re so helpful
There are some days that I am just not on top of my game for whatever reason; I’m tired, crabby, hungry, overwhelmed, worried about a family matter, and the list goes on. As a result of this, the relationships I have with students and my team on campus may be effected. Let’s say my first interaction with a student or parent happens to fall on one of my “off days”, what impression does this leave? How effective can I possibly be with this person going forward if our relationships starts off on the wrong foot?
Not every day will be rosy and magical. So when an established relationship begins to sour, or seems to have been pulled apart, how do you come back from that? Today’s post will focus on 5 steps to take in order to build some strength back into a starved connection between you and your child, partner, friend....and the list goes on.
Preserve and Prevent. We all want to feel valued and cared for by others in our lives; child or adult, – this is true for ALL. When we feel cared for by another person, we are more likely to be open to comply with that person’s requests. i.e I want to please you, because I want you to be proud of me because I believe that you care about my successes OR I want to help you out when I see you’re having a rough day, because I want you to feel loved because I know you have done the same for me and want you to feel better. So work every day, even on the “off days” to build strong relationships with those around you.
Take Ownership. This step is so important because it acknowledges that a misstep happened, that a mistake was made. It brings it out to the forefront. No one is perfect, that is part of being human. You’ve made a mistake and you’re putting it out in the open. I suggest that if the relationship repair you’re working on involves your kiddo, who also made some missteps that contributing to the current rockiness of your relationship – take your ownership first, then request the same of your little one. This works with adults too, taking ownership of a mistake first typically puts people at ease, making them less defensive. Own it, and request the same in return.
Most kiddos will need a little help getting through this part, but you’re a great guide, but if you're reading this for tips and help, you're already thinking in the right direction. Remind them of the rules of the house, or your expectations of them and tie this into the behavior that caused the problem. And inquire “How can you work on this to improve for tomorrow?”
Really Apologize. Using the words “I am sorry” or “I apologize”. Have you ever walked away from an “apology” from someone else and thought to yourself they never said they were sorry. Don’t be afraid to apologize and mean it. It strengthens the bond we have with our kids when we can be honest, and model appropriate behavior – even when we mess up. This can be hard to do, I know it is for me, but again, it’s so important for the other person to hear the words. This is important for children to see other adults doing; model, model model.
Make a request. Put your needs out there, make a request for the future. Other people can’t read your mind, so if there is something you need to help make the relationship stronger – ask. The worst that could happen is that they say no. With kids "It would be helpful if....", or "I expect.... while we are in the store".
Prioritize your desired outcome. Keep in mind what is most important to you, and what your desired outcome of this interaction is. This step is more so useful for relationship repair with your partner or another adult. In order to achieve your desired outcome, you may need to bite your tongue, or accept responsibility for something that, in the way you see it, fell to someone else. Is it more important for you to be right, or for you to preserve the relationship?