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.

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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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.

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

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Why Introverts might love January

Phew, thank goodness that’s over for another year!!

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I have an INFJ personality type.

It is said that I am the rarest personality type with less than 1% of “me’s” in the World population! I think that’s pretty cool but it does cause problems when I talk about my introversion to my amazing Extroverted friends and family.

If you want to know your type, take the test here

You see, I need to give you a little bit of geek info here for all of you personality type junkies. Although I possess introverted intuition which basically means I live my life in my head (it’s great there!), the “f” in my formation means that I also possess extroverted feelings. Again, to the laymen this means that I like to make people feel at ease and happy so I can appear extremely extroverted. I also morph into the situation I’m in.

For example, at parties, I will appear to be the life and soul but this is short lived as I quickly become exhausted and feel trapped in a World of small talk and exposure.

I can cope with it at work and as I have a job which requires me to be on the same wavelength with many different people, it works well. Also, I get to go home and veg for an hour to process my day and rest my tired brain,

You don’t have to have the same personality type as me to feel this way but many of you (almost 50% have an “I” formation don’t forget) will be identifying with some of what I’m saying.

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Here are 5 signs you’re a strung-out introvert following Christmas…

  1. I feel tired all the time – mental tiredness is different from physical tiredness which we all feel at this time of year. Your brain just can’t seem to get into gear
  2. I feel upset or angry and I don’t know why – agitation with others is a sure sign that your introvert walls have been breached
  3. I feel as if everyone is getting to me – I will often describe this feeling as “fractured” like an eggshell that has been partially broken
  4. I want to be alone all the time – you’ve had enough “people time” you’ve been using your extroverted skills for the last few weeks and you’ve had enough
  5. I don’t feel like myself – you’re not serving the need inside of you to have quiet time. Often returning to work can be another stress, having to be around people and be your work persona

Luckily, there are things that you can do to help you through and soon you’ll be feeling your amazing quietly confident self again…

Own it!

Know that you are more introverted and accept that you actually need to be alone sometimes. This doesn’t mean disappearing on a Buddhist retreat for a month, it simply means accepting that it’s ok to feel as you do and understanding why.

Be Mindfully Alone

By this I mean take time to acknowledge that you are putting time aside to be alone. Even if it’s a walk, a run, a bath or shower; tell yourself “I’m taking this time for me” and enjoy it. You could even try notching up the amount of minutes you’ve taken throughout the day and indulgently look back on them at the end of the day.

Breathe

This is the best way to deal with, well, ANY situation. If you can find your breath and truly be with it, you’re onto a winner. First of all, look at the way you breathe. Stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath in. Chances are your upper chest will rise and fall as you breathe…

WRONG!!

This is sadly the way too many of us breathe. We are only using our upper torso to breathe which means we’re missing out on essential yummy life giving oxygen.

Do a full BELLY BREATH try and bring the breath to the bottom of your belly so that it inflates when you breathe. If you don’t know what I mean, watch a baby or an animal breathe, they’re so much better at it!

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Once you have the hang of this, breathe in fully for a count of 6, hold for a count of 6, breathe out for a count of 6 and hold for a count of 6.

Repeat this for around 1 and a half minutes. you’ll probably feel a bit dizzy (that’s the oxygen) but you’ll be energised and that’s another 1 and a half minutes just for you! you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Don’t be Afraid to say No

I’m rubbish at this, always have been –  and even now as I try an explain myself to my nearest an dearest I get blank looks. I choose to remember how much better I feel when I serve my self and my needs. I become the best version of me!

Hopefully, you will have found something to like about this blog. If, however, you’re reading it thinking “What is she talking about?” you’re probably one of the other amazing 50% of the World who are extroverts.

Extroverts! I salute you!

Introverts! I salute you!

Ambiverts! I salute you! (that’s a whole other story!)

Remember to be aware, but most of all, be kind, after all we are all needed to make the World go around.

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

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When a counsellor feels inadequate

Surprisingly, this happens a lot.

Is there more at play here?

Do we, as school counsellors, feel that we are older, wiser and therefore better equipped to know the meaning behind the words we hear?

As an INFJ personality type, I pride myself on my almost psychic ability to smell out when there is more to a story than meets the eye.

Every so often though, I get side swiped!

So, how do we deal with it?

I, for one, am not good at dealing with these feelings. In general, I always feel that I could, or should have done more. I often switch from my extroverted feeling function and wallow in my shadow personality function of the logical thinker.

 

I try and think about what could have led to the current situation. I will torture myself by reading into conversations, looks, body language, etc until I piece together how the revelations were drip fed to me and create the whole “logical” story. The story I missed!

It’s a grim part of my personality and one which I try and work on as I’m aware that whilst I’m worrying about what I could, should, would have said, I’m not giving my attention to the person who now needs it.

There is no answer for people like us who do these jobs because we care about others, except a wise example that my clinical supervisor once gave me.

“Difficulties we face in our personalities are often caused by the over-active use of a skill we have”

Let me use my situation as an example…

I have a skill and that skill is the ability to genuinely care for others and to support them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. This makes me happy.

Sometimes, I over-do this skill by thinking that I must be the answer to everyone’s problems all the time. Obviously, I can’t because that would be physically impossible. This makes me unhappy.

So, if we imagine an upwards curve, when we are in our happy place, the curve is in an upward motion.

When the curve starts to tip, the tipping point; it begins a downward trajectory.

Think of this like an upturned smile or a down turned sad face.

So after I have wallowed in self-pity for a while, I begin to examine my curve and concentrate on its upwards-turned smile.

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

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Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Following the success of the first part of Gee’s Story, I feel honoured to share her next chapter with you. It’s almost impossible to sum up in a relatively short blog post, the trials and triumphs of Gee and many others like her but i’ll give it a try.

Please also look out for another inspiring story coming soon – Chantelle’s Story

Year 11

Year 11 for Gee started out in much the same vain as she had ended Year 10. She was sulky and complained about her awful summer break. She was glad to be back at school.

There were still problems for Gee in school and she was dodging lessons and shouting at teachers who were trying to get her back into them. Patience for Gee was wearing thin and, with GCSE’s looming, I knew that her chances of exclusion were high.

I decided to work through a timeline with Gee. This is a method I use often with young people as it can help them in many ways to make sense of events in their lives and can also help with less talkative students. For more information see my article on timelines.

Gee’s timeline revealed that she had lived in Basingstoke and Devon for her early years and moved to the Midlands around the age of 8. Her early childhood had, it seemed, been largely uneventful.

The last two years, however, had been too traumatically eventful. The extend of which I would not discover for another two years. As it was, what she revealed explained a lot.

At age 13, Gee’s parents had started to have a lot of problems and they had to move to a new house. At the same time, Gee was visiting her Nan in a care home regularly and her granddad collapsed and was ill in hospital.

Just before Gee’s 14th birthday, she was told that her Dad was, in fact, not her Dad and that she had a different Dad to her two younger brothers with whom she was living.

From her 14th birthday onward, things seemed to spiral. Gee’s Nan died and Gee wrote and read a poem at her funeral, a big step for any 14 year old.

Her Mother and Step-father split which resulted in a court case for custody of her two younger brothers.

Finally, the icing on the cake, Gee was being bullied at her previous school and moved to this school; her last chance.

In the space of 10 minutes working through the timeline, it was easy to see why Gee was a mess.

There had to be something inside of her, something that had grown within her in those early happy years that was inside waiting to fight back and break through the blackness that now resided in her mind.

I felt Gee’s sense of hopelessness as she told me that she had discovered that her biological father had been abusive towards her Mother, due to his own awful childhood. “That’s my Dad…am I like him?” she asked.

Her Mother had told her during an argument in a crazy moment of anger that she was indeed just like him.

I had a vision of a desperate child, helpless and suffocating as giant shovels of dirt were falling over her head. With each shovel, she was disappearing, and I knew it wouldn’t take many more to lose her altogether.

Then something happened…

Gee told me that her Mother had left the area and had told her and her brothers that she didn’t want any contact for a while. Surprisingly, rather than the final shovel for Gee, this was to prove to be the hand that she needed at the time to pull her up.

As sad as it was for Gee to have lost contact with her Mother, it took away a lot of the emotional angst that she felt, and she had to help her Step-father who was struggling to work and provide for them all. I felt this gave her some focus when she needed it.

Within a couple of weeks, I saw what I always knew was inside of Gee. She was a strong, kind girl; committed to making things right for her family, whatever form that took. A light had been ignited inside of her and she shocked everyone with her determination.

Gee announced that she was going to pass her GCSE’s! A naturally clever girl, she had missed so much work that this was a tall order. She had been predicted D’s in most subjects. Gee also announced that she wanted to stay on in 6th Form as school was the only place she felt safe and happy.

We looked on, helpless spectators, willing her through it. Teachers stepped up and gave her extra help, even those she had told to “Fuck off” seemed to have been placed under her spell.

The time came for Gee’s GCSE’s, she got through every single one. She continued to see me until the school broke up in July. Then came the anxious wait…

If you like what you see, please follow me here on wordpress or twitter or Facebook

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