Tag Archives: family support

How to Get to Calm: Lessons from the Oregon Trail
Getting to Calm

What would it take for you to stay calm when it comes to managing your kids’ behavior? Sometimes it feels like a herculean task.

Remember the Oregon trail? One wagon after another followed the tracks made by earlier wagons. The ruts got deeper and deeper as more wagons rode west. In places, a person could stand in ruts up to their waist. It would have been impossible for a wagoneer to veer off in another direction.

When we react to our children the same way over and over, we dig ourselves into emotional and behavioral ruts. Ruts run especially deep when they stem from beliefs we hold about ourselves learned in childhood. If you believe you’re never good enough, a disappointment, or unlovable, etc. from remarks made by parents or teachers, those beliefs stick and can drive your behavior.

The early pioneers stayed in existing wagon ruts for safety. So do we. It’s often safer to believe what we do about ourselves than to venture out on a new trail to believe I am good enough. I can do whatever I put my mind to. Try changing deep down beliefs. It’s not easy. It’s much safer to stay in familiar patterns, even though they may be self-destructive. Bad feelings about yourself lead to negative, damaging reactions toward your kids — in turn, sending negative messages to them. And the cycle perpetuates. Venturing into new territory to see things from a different perspective feels too unfamiliar, unsafe.

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Prevention of Drug Use: Are we looking deep enough?
Drug paraphenalia

Our state of NH is first in the nation in the horrendous heroin epidemic. Our Governor has appointed a “senior director for substance misuse and behavioral health” who is focusing on prevention by proposing “curriculum infusion” in our schools from kindergarten on up. I applaud this efforts highlighting prevention, which is intended to raise children’s awareness of how their bodies work—and don’t work.

However, when I see the word prevention connected to any program dealing with children’s well-being, I am no longer surprised by the blatant neglect of addressing the root of prevention—the family. Whether we are talking about bullying, resilience, school success, drugs and alcohol, high risk behaviors, you name it—the preventative factors begin at home in the parent-child relationship.

I’m sure that many teachers and administrators will agree with me that we over-stress schools with the work that should be done at home. While it most definitely needs to continue in schools, if the true work of prevention is not handled at home, schools cannot be accountable for filling the child’s need for connection.

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