Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Magic of Setting Limits

Imagine if you're a blind person and every morning when you wake up, you find that someone has moved all of the furniture in your house.  You bump into things at every turn and struggle to find your way even to the next room.  Eventually, you would probably stop getting out of bed or would go so crazy that no one would recognize you! 

The same is true for our kids.  I know it's kind of a stretch, but stay with me here.  If the rules change, shift or disappear altogether, our kids become confused.  In order for our kids to feel safe and secure and to be able to explore the world, they need consistent limits.  When their world is predictable, they aren't expending any energy on testing (ok, any more than is absolutely necessary!) and they are free to blossom and develop without any delays. 

Testing is a typical part of growing up, but when our kids test the limits and the limits are just where they found them the last time they checked, they move on.  That's why kids who have inconsistent limits have to test with their behavior on an on-going basis.  They are saying, "please take this power away from me!"  Kids with no boundaries experience anxiety, because kids need the adults in charge to BE IN CHARGE!

I challenge you to look in the mirror and see where your limits are a little loose that might be causing your kids some anxiety.  Do them (and you) a favor and give them the limits and boundaries they want and need!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to Center

I have a confession. I have been a bit lazy about my own parenting lately and it showed in my youngest daughter's behavior. She has been argumentative, angry, anxious, yelling, obstinate, defiant and just overall a total brat! Her older sisters were no longer willing to babysit for her because she was so defiant with them. She has been arguing with her dad and me and I knew something was out of balance. I just wasn't sure what was going on and, honestly, I kind of ignored it. Ok, truth? I was avoiding dealing with it. Of course, what happens when we avoid something? It gets worse until we finally decide to do something about it, right?

Things really came to a head this weekend. There was fighting, screaming, a telephone call from the kids interrupting our adult dinner out, and even something thrown at her big sister (that REALLY crosses the line!) I decided to dig my head out of the sand and to finally address what's been going on in my own house.

My husband and I sat down with our ten-year-old. We told her that her excellent brain, her wonderful athletic talents and her adorable face meant nothing if she wasn't a good person on the inside. We told her that her disrespect for us, her sisters and even her coaches was over! The consequence of throwing something at her sister was that she was forbidden to use anything with an on/off switch for two weeks.

This is the first time she has ever been "grounded". She has had many other consequences along the way, but we wanted her to know that we meant business and that we weren't letting her get away with anything this time!

Her reaction was astounding! She didn't argue. She didn't cry. She didn't even seem angry with us. In truth, there was a peacefulness that fell over her. She was the most delightful child to be with for the remainder of the day and evening. She took care of her responsibilities, she took her shower the first time I asked (that had never happened before) and she went to bed willingly and hugged me tight before she fell asleep.

I have been telling my clients for years that when you set the limits your kids need, they will thank you with their behavior. It's about time I took my own advice! More about why this worked like magic, to come!

Ahhh...peace feels good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Value of Perseverance

What do you think of as your greatest accomplishments? Raising my daughters is definitely up there, but I'm not quite done with that one.

Looking back, I consider getting my Marriage and Family Therapist license and finishing my new book two of my most rewarding accomplishments.

What makes them so significant to me? The fact that initially I didn't think I could do either of them! I just didn't have the confidence that I had what it took. Regardless, I took the necessary steps to embark on the journeys. Literally, leaps of blind faith!

Along the way, there were many moments in which I felt hopeless that the goals would or could be achieved. It was just too hard! Giving up would have been much easier!

But I kept moving forward. Some days felt effortless, but others felt like I was traveling through thick mud. Worse yet, some days felt like I was headed in the wrong direction altogether!

Then, the end became closer and more visible. In both instances, I remember feeling a little bit of disbelief that I might actually accomplish my goal! I also felt a little bit scared of what comes next.

The most important part for me was that I never gave up! Even when I REALLY wanted to!

My deepest hope is that I can now teach my daughters about the value of perseverance. Perhaps I've been teaching them all along?

At the end of that long road, is definitely the sweetest of rewards!

Tell your kids about your own difficult challenges and the wonderful benefits of

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School

Well, today was the bittersweet first day of school. Bitter because of the wonderful lazy mornings of summer, the relaxing days on the beach and by the pool (in-between working, of course) and the slower pace we've all enjoyed.

My girls and I traveled to Washington, D.C. and enjoyed the sights of that great city along with a delightful visit with family. We went away for a long weekend and luxuriated by the pool. The best part, of course, was not having to do homework or make lunches!

The sweet part of starting school is that we'd all had enough of our togetherness. My kids were bickering like crazy and I think they were getting a little bit bored! (They probably wouldn't admit it, though!)

So here we has started and a new chapter begins. I can't believe how big they've gotten and how much their friends grew during the summer.

With a new school year comes new responsibilities. Making lunches, putting backpacks away, keeping track of homework, washing gym clothes, and so much more!!!

What responsibilities can your kids take over that are age-appropriate?

Have a great school year!