Archive for May, 2011

Tantrum-free vacations

May 23rd, 2011

Tantrum-free vacations: 5 creative tips to keep your sanity, travel with your children, and have a fun vacation, really!

You want to spend your vacation at a spa resort, your husband’s idea of a good time is a weekend at the golf course, and your kids can’t wait to test out the latest hot rides at the amusement park. Is there such a thing as a family vacation that makes everyone happy or are you destined to hearing the children grumbling from behind their DS, “are we there yet” while you’re refereeing their arguments from the front seat?

No matter what age your children are, from tots to teens, vacations can easily become hijacked by whining, pouting, and full out screaming from kids and spouses too. So how can you have a tantrum-free vacation, keep your sanity while traveling with your children, and actually have a fun time?

Try these 5 sanity saving tantrum-free traveling tips:

1.Pick vacations that will have something each family member can enjoy. No, you don’t have to sacrifice grown-up time to enjoy a happy family vacation. Choose a location that will have something for everyone, such as a family friendly cruise with kid themed activities and lots of adult amenities or the family resort with the water park that suits mom’s desire to shop and dad’s golfing needs. If you have more than one child share some special ” vacation alone time” with each child, where they can spend time with mommy or daddy doing an activity they choose.

2.  Many children have a difficult time with transitioning, going from one thing to the next, and for some children a vacation is overstimulating. They may have a difficult time with loud noises, new experiences, or may be sensitive to moving from one place to another. Often tantrums or meltdowns are a child’s way of expressing that they are overwhelmed. A little preparation can help with the transitions. Share with your child images of where you are going and talk about what they will see and experience. They can even begin a scrapbook with images of their vacation before they leave and complete it when they return, so they have a feeling of control over the experience.  Pack a few things in your child’s travel backpack that will help your child with transitioning and waiting, such as favorite music on their mp3, favorite DVDs, a new coloring book, or a new toy. Remember to always pack snacks and juice or water; a hungry kid is a cranky kid (and that goes for adults too).

3.  Adults need fun too. Hire a babysitter for a night on the town and you will model to your children the importance of taking care of your relationship. Ask the concierge about the babysitting services the hotel provides or recommends, or you can google babysitting agencies such as http://www.sittercity.com/ and http://www.care.com/. Make sure that the sitters are screened for background checks, and that they are CPR and First Aid certified, then take some time to dance the night away.  Also, book adjoining rooms for older children so you can have some alone adult fun time too.

4.  Head off the meltdowns and tantrums at the pass. As a parent you notice the signs that a melt down is brewing. It could be whining, or attempts to agitate their siblings, and you know that these are the early warning signs that the tantrum storm is coming. Take a minute and breathe before you respond. Children pick-up on your emotional state and mirror it via the phenomena of mirror neurons, meaning if they are agitated then you are likely to mirror their emotional response, which only amplifies their tantrum. Research suggests taking a deep breath allows you to increase the flow of oxygen to your brain, whereby you’ll approach the situation from a calm and rational place, rather than reactive response. Take a breath, let your child know you understand how they feel, and then calmly talk with your child.

5.  Take a break. Sometimes there is just so much that your child can experience in one day before they become overwhelmed. Create some downtime each day where they can just play in the pool or chill with their tunes. Be realistic for the developmental age of your child, and just how much activity is too much, and you will minimize exhaustion tantrums.

Vacations can be fun filled for the whole family when you use these sanity saving tantrum-free traveling tips. Need some more support to help your child? Join our international community and get 27/7 access to tools and tips to help your child manage their behaviors and feelings!

This original article was modified and featured on YourTango


3 tips to help your children when their lives are in upheaval: Lessons learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver to help your family in difficult times

May 19th, 2011

What happens when you tell your spouse, “Oh, by the way honey I had an extra-marital affair and did I mention I had a child too”. It leads to some difficult dinner conversations to say the least. As a creative parenting expert my concern is how to help children cope with such a family bombshell of betrayal or infidelity.

This story resonates with so many, as it is likely you have experienced someone you loved sharing a betrayal or you have revealed a family secret to your loved ones. Regardless if you are the one betrayed or the betrayer, breaking someone’s trust or having your trust broken often stirs up feelings of shame, guilt, anger, sadness and blame.

Arnold, Maria, and Arnold’s mistress are all impacted by this public revelation, and as adults they have the opportunity to make decisions and communicate what they feel, but what happens to their children? How will they process this monumental moment when their lives have dramatically shifted and they have little control over the circumstances?

Here are 3 tips to help your children when their lives are in upheaval because of a betrayal or infidelity

  1. Communicate as a couple with your children and let them know what is happening and why. Children will intuitively pick-up on when there is a problem in your relationship, and it does not help your child to perpetuate a lie or secret. Share with your children what is happening in a neutral way, without yelling blaming or shaming the other person. Be aware of your child’s developmental age and how much information is too much. If it is possible, have both parents present when you are sharing information and allow your children an opportunity to ask questions. It may be difficult to share information when you are feeling angry and hurt, so ask for support from a therapist to help you share information that will in the best interest of your children. Here’s my advice for Maria and Arnold: sit the children down and calmly share what has happened and allow the children to ask questions.
  2. If you are the one who has been betrayed it is essential that you seek out support and allow yourself sometime to process your experience. Your family will be impacted by this information and it’s helpful for children to know what will happen next. If you are still reeling from emotions it will be difficult to make a rational decision that best serves you and your children. Children desire to feel safe and secure and when a betrayal occurs they may become anxious and easily overwhelmed. They will likely want to know what’s next, so be prepared to talk with them about what will happen next when you and your partner discuss the situation. Here’s my advice for Maria and Arnold: be clear on what will happen next and relay this to the children. Be concrete if at all possible, such as where they would be moving to, when, if it is permanent, what will happen with their schooling, would they have their own bedrooms, and when they would be able to see their mother or father. The more information your provide the more you can introduce a sense of control and normalcy into this time of transition.
  3. Provide your child with outlets for self-expression outside of your relationship. At times they may want to talk with you and ask you questions, and other times they may seem like they don’t care at all. Children will often mask their feelings, especially if they are worried about upsetting their parents or they feel like when they talk you put their other parent down. Every child is different, and if you notice changes in their behaviors or grades then it is time to seek out additional support. In the meantime, tell them you are willing to talk and listen to whatever they have to say. Allow your child an opportunity to talk without interrupting and take time to actively listen by stopping what you are doing and giving them your full attention. During this time it may be helpful to encourage your child to express themselves through art, play or sports- these are natural ways children process emotions and experiences. My advice to Maria and Arnold: no matter where they are living, ensure that their children are able to attend their regularly scheduled activities, even if it means driving them across town; while you are driving your children turn off the radio and listen to them instead.

In life there are moments when your life as you know it shifts completely, and what you once believed to be true changes dramatically. During this most difficult experience there is an opportunity to help your children learn to cope with change and upheaval. These 3 tips will help your child when your lives are turned upside-down by betrayal and infidelity.

If you are looking to support your child, we can help. Click here to schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation and learn how you can help your child.


Want to learn from a pioneer in the therapy field and internationally acclaimed author?

May 17th, 2011

I’m wildly excited to interview therapy pioneer and international legend Bill O’Hanlon as part of the International Association of Therapists in Private Practice (IATPP) Monthly Membership call next week.

If you are not yet a member I strongly urge you to sign-up today. Bill is going to share a gem on the call that can easily pay you back the full payment of your membership (plus even more)! Wahoo! When I heard it I had a moment where I gasped and realized how I could help more people and add more income to my practice with VERY little effort. I do hope you’ll join us for this golden nugget of information that will help you reach more people and easily add income to your practice.

Here’s the scoop:

Our next International Association of Therapists in Private Practice (IATPP) Practice Building call is Tuesday, May 24th.

Topic: “Freeing your work in time and space: How to create passive income and work from anywhere doing work you are passionate about”, an interview with guest expert Bill O’Hanlon. Esteemed clinician, author, pioneer of solution orientated therapy, Bill has written over 31 books, has been a featured guest on Oprah, has given over 2500 talks in the North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand since 1978.

Bill will detail the system that he has used to generate more than half his income from location-free and activity-free sources while making a broader impact, thus freeing his time and energy to spend quality time with himself and his family, as well as create even more cool stuff for his clients and customers. He will detail the five major ways to free your work in time and space while expanding your impact to a broader audience.

You’ll also learn:

  • Life in the passing lane: If you’re so smart, why don’t you have enough time?
  • First steps: Starting passive income streams
  • Second steps: Location-free income and impact
  • Third steps: Freedom from time obligations and schedules
  • Fourth steps: Getting permission and attention from people interested in you and your work
  • Fifth steps: T-shirt, jeans, naps, exercise and time with loved ones: Living free and working from anywhere

This call is F-R-E-E if you are an IATPP Association Member. MP3 recording and transcript are also included. This exciting, professional association is surprisingly affordable and includes monthly training calls, checklists, forms, templates, an active and amazing community and more…all for just a few pennies per day. Click here now for all of the exciting details.
I’m looking forward to sharing this exclusive interview with you!


Why developing self-esteem in children may be overrated, seriously?!

May 4th, 2011

I came across a study recently on self-compassion, and how people who are more compassionate with themselves have less depression, anxiety, and tend to be more resilient, optimistic, and happier. So it got me thinking about how we encourage self-esteem in children, yet we don’t spend as much time and energy on cultivating self-compassion.

What does it mean to be self-compassionate and how can we teach children how to become more compassionate?

Adams and Leary (2007) define self-compassion as the ability to react with self-kindness and understanding when encountering difficult situations. In addition, self-compassion involves mindfulness of nonjudgmental awareness, and acceptance of one’s common humanity and understanding that they are part of a larger experience, and that others too share the common experience of difficult situations and emotions. Those who exhibit higher traits of self- compassion are less extreme in their reactions and fixate less on problems than those who exhibit lower self-compassion.

Although self-esteem (feeling good about one’s self and maintaining a positive self view) is related to self-compassion, it has been noted in research that when experiencing negative events a self-compassionate mindset may be more beneficial than high self-esteem.

As a child there are days when you get picked on, forget your homework, get totally embarrassed by a friend or a teacher. Encouraging self-compassion in children reduces negative emotions and increases personal responsibility for an undesired situation, whereby a child realizes their mistakes, without being overwhelmed by negative emotions. In doing so they are less likely to melt down or shut down or avoid feelings or circumstances in the future, and are likely to increase their ability to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors.

So how can you help your child increase their self-compassion?

Give them an opportunity to process the experience through play or art. Children often will explore their emotions and feelings through art and creative play (yes, even teens). Before you try to have a talk with your child allow them some space to understand and explore the experience of what happened. Provide them with a favorite creative activity, such as drawing or building with legos, or give them some quite time in their room.

  • Model compassionate self-talk. If your child is struggling with a situation or problem let them express what they are feeling. If you find they are becoming negative and self-blaming acknowledge their feelings (“yes, I understand you are mad”…) then encourage your child to be compassionate in how they talk to himself or herself (“everyone has a bad day, today was a difficult one, tomorrow will be different”).
  • Encourage flexible thinking. Children who are at a younger developmental level will often think that things are ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, meaning they made a mistake then they believe they are bad. This black and white thinking may keep your child stuck perseverating that they are “not good enough” or “there is something wrong with them”. Acknowledge the situation and then encourage all the different ways your child could have handled the situation or can cope with it next time. Be playful and allow for divergent creative thinking and downright silly ideas.
  • Ask them what they would they say if it happened to a friend. This gives your child some distance from the problem and allows them the opportunity for awareness and kindness.
  • Consider Consequences. Parents often struggle with consequences and worry about too few consequences or too many consequences. Criticism and discipline from an authoritarian “my way or the high way”  style parenting will impact your child’s development of self-compassion; whereas an authoritative parenting style provides structure, support, guidance and feedback while helping your child resolve the issue.

Notice how you model your behaviors. Children naturally mimic the adults in their lives, so be aware of the messages you send when you make a mistake or encounter a problem. Modeling self-compassion is the best gift to give yourself and your child too.

Do you need more help for your child? Schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation by clicking here