Tag Archives: self-esteem

The Power of Acceptance

All parents struggle with fears and worries about their children and many end up just getting in their own way. When you take your children’s behavior personally and use your authority to control them to do what you want, you may wind up creating the scenario you most fear.

The problem comes when we think it’s our children who need to change when indeed it is us. Whatever you need to do to get to acceptance is the answer.

The following is a story from one of my clients that I find truly inspiring. Her struggles to understand her son and ultimately herself have led to a wonderful relationship. I hope it motivates you to trust your children and let go of a small bit of your fears. You will always have fears and doubts — you wouldn’t be a conscientious parent without them. But in the moment, when your child needs your connection, you must be able to at least temporarily put those fears aside.

Reflections on my journey with my son – Mother of three

I am enjoying a playful moment in the kitchen with my 6’6, 17 year old son. He likes to get in my space and see if he can startle me with his big teenage energy. I get flustered and cry out, “You make me feel anxious when you do that!” He smiles with this gentle warmth and looking right in my eyes​ ​he says lovingly​, “​Mum, it’s not what I do​ that makes you feel anxious. It’s what you ​think​ about what I do.”

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Hugs Reduce Stress

Toxic stress in early childhood can harm children for life, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Don’t think your children have experienced toxic stress? All children do to differing degrees. Whoever said childhood is bliss didn’t know what he was talking about. Children experience stress just by being a child. From nightmares, worry about transitions, being afraid of the dark or thunder storms, social fears, children have a hard lot. And that doesn’t cover huge emotions and dysregulation that they cannot possibly understand when asked, “What’s wrong?” Then being punished, criticized, or threatened for behavior they can’t control…. You name it, a day rarely goes by when a child doesn’t experience stress.

Stress arises for a child when sensing a threat with no one to protect him from that threat. Children who experience this kind of stress in the early years, even prenatally through mother’s hormones, “…are more likely to suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments…also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers and tangle with the law.”

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Oct. ’18 Q&A – Pull-ups for Poops, Healthy Anger and Early Adolescent Rejection

Pull-ups for Poops

Q. My 4 yo daughter won’t poop on the potty/toilet. She uses a pull-up to poop (she is very independent in the process). She holds it if she isn’t at home. She is totally fine with peeing in the toilet and has been for about 2 years now. Two things I think are contributing are that she gets constipated and has had some pain with pooping. She says she isn’t ready to go on the toilet because she’s scared it will hurt more. We are working with her Dr. on resolving the constipation and in the last couple months it’s been a lot better. She also regressed in this area when her baby sister was born. I’m not sure if that’s still part of it or not after a year and a half. She does have a few “baby” things she still wants to do, so maybe this is one of those things too. She has said she knows she’s too big to still poop in a pull up (her dad and I have never said anything like that to her). We have tried really hard not to make a big deal about it and let her decide to do it on her own, but I’d really like to stop buying pull-ups!

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Aug. ’18 Q&A – Does your child fit with his school, Disrespect and Test Anxiety

Does your child fit with his school?

Q. Our feisty 5 yo is not settling into school too well, and we have to attend meetings with the teacher due to his misbehaving ways. When asked why he acts out, ie: drawing on walls, running away from the class, ignoring instructions etc, he says, “because I felt like it”. This is quite concerning as he attends a Catholic School and is raised by a practising Catholic mother with very loving and devoted parents. He does not seem to understand what it feels like to be in someone else’s position. We are at a loss after trying to talk to him and discuss alternative ways of behaving with no positive results. Another concern is his lack of concentration as he has approx. 4 mins. of attentiveness before he loses interest and proceeds to do what he wants to do, sometimes ignoring instructions and/or consequences. I have been doing some research and strongly believe he may need some assistance with self-regulating. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can help our strong willed, stubborn child who is loved very much. We very much want him to enjoy school rather than say he hates school and doesn’t want to go?

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June ’18 Q&A – Refusing the Toilet, Unrealistic Expectations and Huge Feelings

Refusing the Toilet

Q. My 3 yr old daughter goes to a small home daycare and uses the toilet there without accidents but refuses to use the toilet at home. I understand that it’s more of a control issue than a potty training issue. I have been letting her wear pull ups at home as long as she puts them on herself. She still refuses to try the toilet. There hasn’t been any event that I can think of that would have scared her. She is very verbal and will tell me that she just doesn’t like to use our potty. She won’t poop at daycare either. She holds it until she gets home and gets a pull up on and then she goes.

Do you think I am doing the right thing by letting her wear pull ups at home? I have tried not letting her, and she lays on the floor and screams. I am trying to make it her idea to use the potty and am trying not to make a big deal about it. She is so stubborn about it that when we “ran out” of pull ups she wore the same one for the entire day. When it leaked down her leg, she changed her pants 4 times, but still refused to use the toilet. Any ideas? I have tried everything (stickers, rewards, bribes, presents, running out of diapers/pull ups, picking out her own underwear, we made a potty for her babies, she has a potty and a seat for the toilet, tried going naked).

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“Wait, aren’t I the parent here?” Using Your Parent Authority

The human child remains with a parent until the child is capable of making his own decisions about his health, safety, and well-being. The parent holds authority over this child until that time — usually through the teen years.

That’s the reason for parent authority. It is not to control the child to be who the parent wants or to demand obedience to make life easier for the parent. This leads to power struggles and rebellion or looking to others for authority and approval.

Your job as parent is to insure that your child does what she shouldn’t be expected to do on her own – simply because she’s too young.

Rick Trinkner of the University of New Hampshire has researched the types of families who raise self-confident, self-controlled, respectful children. Trinkner says,

When children consider their parents to be legitimate authority figures, they trust the parent and feel they have an obligation to do what their parents tell them to do. This is an important attribute for any authority figure to possess, as the parent does not have to rely on a system of rewards and punishments to control behavior, and the child is more likely to follow the rules when the parent is not physically present.

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July ’17 Q&A – Pacifiers / Shyness / Self-loathing
Pacifying an upset baby

Your Questions / My Answers

Should I use the pacifier for calming?

Q. My son is 2.5 years. My question relates to dummy use. He has always soothed through sucking! I breastfed until he was two. Then I fell pregnant just before his 2nd birthday so a drop in supply. I offered a dummy for nighttime comfort only. Lately he’s asking for it throughout the day. My calm, easy going little boy is experiencing lots of tantrums in response to minor incidents, like when we play and my assigned character does something he doesn’t like. After yelling what he thinks should happen, he often hits or kicks me and screams, ‘Where’s my dummy!? Get my dummy! Get it! Get it!!!!’. I’ll stop what I’m doing and find his dummy. He is instantly soothed. Tantrums are exhausting as I am nearing the end of pregnancy. I read your post saying that with a soothing calm presence, children will calm down, at which point we can say, ‘look what you were able to do, etc’ thus showing that they can get through and deal with difficult feelings. Is my son’s reliance on a dummy preventing him from learning he can calm himself? Could my pregnancy be related to his tantrums / need to soothe.

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Lessons from “Chinese mothering”

Never have I experienced such a collective button being pushed than with Amy Chua’s revelatory story of how she raised her two girls the Chinese way. Is it the threat we feel when she throws western parenting under the bus? This is what happens to anyone of us when we feel blamed, disdained, or put down. We get defensive and either take it in as defeat or fight back. Exactly what our children do when we blame them. We are clearly getting our hackles up as she puts down what we do, especially what we have doubts about doing.

I just finished the book, and I must say I found her unabashedly honest about her dictatorial methods that would make the hair on anyone’s neck stand straight up—methods she says would be seen even as illegal in the western culture. I have a hard time believing that most Chinese mothers would say the things that Chua said to her girls. Her story points out many things we can learn from. Her girls are as different as night and day attesting to such different temperaments. Her oldest went along with and apparently agreed to go along with her mother’s style. It pushed her to reach her greatness. Her youngest took more than I would expect rebelling all along the way to which Chua’s very Chinese mother even gave warning. This daughter’s final straw came in public in Red Square in Moscow when she screamed our worst nightmare at her mother—a point to which she was driven by a mother who just would not listen.

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Pendulum Parenting-from “nice” to “Chinese”!

How many parents find a balance in their parenting that works. We seem to go through cycles, fads as it were. We didn’t like the autocratic parenting many of us were brought up with so we reacted and swung the opposite way being nice to our children, giving them all they want at the same time interpreting what they wants as what they need. Hard to get those two straight! We were all about raising our children’s self-esteem and thought we would do that by telling them how wonderful they are at everything they do. Trophies for every kid on the team, praise stickers and prizes for “good” behavior, telling children how special they each are…. Well, that backfired big time, but we hadn’t quite figured out what to do instead when along came Amy Chau with her new memoir, Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. Chau’s book shows us how Chinese mothering raises successful children (or that’s what she wants us to see), which is once again a swing in the far opposite direction. She chastises American parents for being soft and feeling-oriented and shows us how her harsh, autocratic style led to two very successful daughters – altho almost at the risk of losing one of them. By calling her daughter “garbage”, refusing the “lazy” efforts put into home-made birthday cards, threatening them with anything and everything to illicit perfect performances both academically and musically, she claims she boosted their self-esteem and takes full credit for their successes. As children’s failures are a shame on the family, she says that absolutely a child’s behavior is a reflection on mothering. Hmmm. Doesn’t that leave the child’s nature out of the picture. Indeed, her second daughter’s nature is what in the end broke Chau’s uncompromising severity-a little.

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