52 – 48% Do the Pumpkins have it?

Double Double Toil and Trouble; Fire burn and Cauldron Bubble

William Shakespeare

What does Halloween conjure up for you?

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For me? A happy memory of my Son and his friends dressing up and knocking on neighbours’ doors as we parents held a dutiful distance and drank wine from plastic cups.

For some, a blasphemous time where Evil lurks and danger is threatened to all mankind.

Is Halloween just another over-done, plastic, sticky waste of time or is it another day which encourages us to come together in some way?

At work this week, one of my young adults was distraught that her mother would not allow her to attend a trick or treat party at her friend’s house. I asked her why her mother had said no. She told me that her mother believed that Halloween was a form of worshipping the Devil. Having had a nasty experience herself with a Ouija board, this mum was taking no chances.

“And what does Halloween mean to you?” I asked her

“A chance to dress up in funny outfits and get free sweets” She chimed

I’m sure if we asked everyone, we would get something like a 48% vs. 52%

And should we banish Halloween or Stay with it?

Or are there more important things to worry about? …

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Common Parenting Mistakes – The Interfering Parent

TRAGEDY!!

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Tap, tap, tap…

I’ve been putting off writing this article.

I decided to sit and have think about why that is.

With some help from the goddess that is Adrienne Mishler, I did her yoga practice for writers and decided to go for it!

As I write, I realise that I lost my confidence a little. Life and it’s surprises took control of me over the last few months and whilst I was in it’s grip, I thought I was in control and getting on with things.

It seems, I probably wasn’t.

It was only as I returned to my work, which I love; that I realised how detached I had been. It was easy to get back into my “day job” of counselling young adults, and their energy for life soon boosted my own.

Ok, now for writing…

The dreaded flashing cursor captures my gaze. “Go on!” it says.

I find something mundane to do and avoid it’s shame.

But today, I decided to start tapping – and it feels good.

Back to my original question. Why was it so difficult? I’m still not sure, because I feel better with every tap!

My message to you all is, tap tap tap away! By looking the thing we dread straight in the eye, we take it’s power and absorb it as our own.

Don’t be afraid to look into your own flashing cursor, things are never as bad as we imagine.

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Common Parenting Mistakes – The Interfering Parent

Before you read on, please know that all parents are amazing and all parents (with the very odd exception) do the job to the best of their abilities. At least that is what I have to tell myself every now and again!

Our parenting style will be a unique blend of our personality type, our upbringing and social factors; along with the personality of our little darlings. what could ever go wrong??

I have inserted a parenting mantra for you to repeat as often as you need to, it helps to say it in the mirror, or better still, video yourself saying it and play when needed!

Mantra of the Good Parent

“I am a good parent

I love {insert name of offspring} and {insert name of offspring} loves me

I want the best for {insert name of offspring} and I am capable of giving my very best

I respect myself

I respect {insert name of child offspring}

I accept our relationship is always changing

And this can be for the better

I am a good parent”

Now, you have prepared yourself to read on, parenting mistakes are almost always examples of parents overdoing a skill. In my field of work, there are no true mistakes, we talk about using a skill a little too much…

Today, we discuss the Interfering Parent

The Interfering Parent

“Leave me alone” is an all too often comment splurted or spat at us by our lovely offspring.

The interfering parent wants to know exactly what their child is doing every hour of the day. Who are they friends with? Who have they fallen out with? What are their teachers saying? These parents have to be involved with everything their child is doing.

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The scariest comment I hear from young adults is “Me and Mom (or Dad) are literally the same person” Queue vomit gesture!

Is this you? What are you creating / suppressing in your child? Please be honest here…ok I’ll help you out

  • you are disabling the growth of autonomy (the sense of self)
  • you are creating a co-dependant relationship which will end badly – FOR YOU!
  • you could be encouraging your child to lie to you
  • you are disabling them from the best way of learning – making mistakes!
  • you are disabling their growth of resilience
  • you are using your own personal time badly when you could be having fun!

There are just a few to be going along with

Now, if you need to, repeat the Good Parent Mantra! Ok, deep breaths here.

As I mentioned earlier. If you are inclined to this style of parenting, it helps for you to realise which of the abundance of skills that you have, you are over-using. And here is the good news…

The Skill of Caring

Yes! you’re overdoing possibly the most precious parenting skill of all. You’ve fallen into a funk and it’s time to get out for the sake of both of you.

How?

First of all, take some time to think about what you get from interfering…from now on we’re going to say over-caring.

You may want to think about your own childhood. Were things similar? Maybe if they were, think about how you felt and how you would have preferred things to be. How did you find you were helped/hindered by this?

Were things totally different? Were your parents distant or absent?

You need to understand that you are “getting” something from over-caring. It is satisfying something within you which means that your over-use of skills is starting to have the negative effect of becoming all about you and not your child. This is the opposite of what you want.

So now it’s time to really dig deep and ask yourself what you get from “over-caring”?

Does it make you feel Safe? Loved? Wanted? Needed?

Obviously, this answer will be different for everyone so once you have identified what you get from over-caring, you can look at other areas of your life where you might get some level of satisfaction.

So, I challenge you to a social experiment! Try backing off from your precious offspring in one or two areas for a week.

Keep a journal and note down what you did differently and how things changed if at all.

The way in which your child re-acts could help you to realise what they are needing more of and, more importantly, what you can give less of. It may also make you face up to what you need more of and how you can give that to yourself.

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Happy Holidays???

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Happy Holidays???

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Well, that’s it now! School is officially out for the summer as the amazing Alice cooper once said – apologies for the ear bug!!

As a school counsellor, my work does not always end when school ends. Increasingly, I find myself working with children who are making the scary transition from Primary School to High School and are, frankly, terrified!

You’re 10 or 11 years old. You’ve made it through your first school experience. You’ve made friends. You’ve established yourself as a big fish in a little pond…

Suddenly, you’re a very little fish in a very, very big pond! Despite your physical size, you are now very strictly at the bottom of the pile! Yikes!

In all fairness to you brilliant parents out there, you are probably more afraid than your little angels of what they are about to go through. After all, you’ve been there! You’ve been jostled along the corridor by giants with floppy hair and braces, or, you’ve been asked “what are you staring at?” by prickly girls whilst they try and hide their nails from teacher.

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In this, the first of a series of helping hacks for parents and their Year 6’s, I want to focus on you as a parent.

Here are some do’s

And. More importantly, some don’ts

Separate!

We all do this…

“When I was at school, this happened”… “When I was at school that happened”

“My Mum told me to do this”… “My Dad told me to do that”

You get the picture?

First of all, that was probably anywhere between 10 and 20 years ago and we all know (because our kids are always telling us!) how out of touch we are and how things have moved on and changed over the last few years in terms of social media mostly.

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You need to make a separation between yourself and your child. They are not you and you are not them.

You still have the precious and short-lived power of knowing your child better than they know themselves. Please use this superpower wisely.

Think about your child. As much as you probably want him or her to be a perfect mini me of you or your partner, they are not! And thank you to the Human Race, we are all different! This means that we all react differently. If you get this bit right, you could be on your way to being a slightly above average embarrassing parent!

Observe!

Take some time to observe how your child typically reacts to new things at home. Do they take a while to get their head around something or are they straight in at the deep end?

Does your child use anger or humour to help them through difficulty? Or do they retreat and want to be alone?

Believe it or not, their personality type will already be forming and, try as you might to impose your way of doing things on them, it will not work!

This is where your superpower of knowing your child will come into use. Please match it with a drastically under-used superpower which is to NOT use your own experience to dictate next steps.

Action!

Once you have the magic ingredients which are that you have truly managed to separate your own childhood from your child and you have carefully considered how they react to change, you are ready to weave your magic.

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Ok, it’s not quite as dramatic and certainly not as easy as that!

  1. Start by opening up a conversation with your child. This is best done over an activity which (if you’re really imaginative!!) could be linked to the topic of starting High School.

In any event, it’s much easier to get information out of children and young adults whilst they are engaging in an activity (trust me! And my 98 broken pens!!)

  1. You may even want to ask in the third person or ask about one of their friends and how they are feeling. The key here is to help them to open up about how they feel without judgement.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY AND FIX THIS FOR THEM!!!!!

YOU ARE EITHER DIS-ABLING THEIR OWN SOLUTION-MAKING SKILLS OR AT RISK OF BECOMING TOO DEPENDENT ON THEIR WEAKNESSES

For more information, see my forthcoming blog on parenting mistakes

  1. Ensure that your child feels listened to, ask them if they want to write down some words or draw some pictures to show how they feel

Remember that this may bring out some negative behaviour as your child will be feeling anxious so be a little bit lenient. A good sentence may be… “I know you’re upset / angry / sad, but it’s not helpful if you throw things or shout at me. I understand so let’s talk some more about what is making you so upset / angry / sad”

  1. Once you have finished speaking to your child (try and keep discussions to little and often rather than a mammoth 30 minute interrogation), tell them that you have heard them and that you will talk again.

Walk Away!

Obviously not permanently, that’s just irresponsible! :-0

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Leave the conversation there. This may be the hardest part for you as a parent but you have 6 weeks to work this through. You can’t solve it, your child (with your support) will come through it stronger and more resilient.

And here’s the magical bit… most of that strength and resilience will come from knowing they can talk to you without judgement any time they need to.

Try this out and please let me know now you get on!

Look out for more in this series for parents and children and not forgetting you wonderful young adults out there! There will also be some handy titbits for you coming soon.

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

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Exams!! Argh!!

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The Ultimate Four Letter Word

 

 

Exams!! Argh!!

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Working with teenagers is draining! As any teacher will tell you

Living with teenagers is draining! As any parent will tell you

But, we often don’t consider what it’s like BEING a teenager. Yes we were all one once whatever that means to us but we’re not one now.

We may remember the flush of our cheeks and the dry mouth as we discovered our first love. We also remember with fondness the simplicity of being young with not a care in the World. What we often don’t remember was our struggle to navigate the World and do exams at the same time!

I have often said that whoever decided that putting a 15/16 year old through exams lasting anything from 30 minutes to 5 hours is cruel or mad.

Add to this the fact that they have been told for the last two years that these are the most important exams of their lives and things become a little tense.

Read my blog about anxiety for more info

But don’t forget the vital ingredient here too, it’s hay fever season!!! If you suffer with hay fever I don’t need to say another word.

The list of “againsts” goes on. Let’s add lack of sleep for a teenager who should be getting at least 9 hours of sleep per night, crowd hysteria when teenagers are gathering before an exam, feelings of inadequacy afterwards when they hear from a friend they’ve flunked a question, boyfriend / girlfriend issues…

As educators and parents we can help to ease some of the suffering. Here are my top tips…

#1 Your best IS good enough

Too many teenagers who talk to me don’t realise that their parents and teachers only want the best for them. Change your language from “I think you should be getting a Grade 7 in English” to “You’re brilliant at English and you enjoy it, try and enjoy the exam and do your best”

Oh, and the World will not stop spinning if you don’t get what you think you should!

#2 Ensure surroundings are calm

Parents – help your teenager to structure their revision with built in breaks and a cut off time. All night cramming isn’t going to work!

Make them a soothing drink or snack and settle down with them in the evening for an hour before bed. You could even explore some sleep apps.

Educators – passing exams is not just about knowledge, it’s about wellness too. Look at integrating some breathing techniques into revision sessions and how about leading a group breathing exercise before the exam?

Read my blog about breathing techniques for more info

#3 Have a little patience

Wise words from Mr Gary Barlow! Enough said!

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

If you liked this article, here are some more you might be interested in…

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