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Anxious Kids (and Anxious Parents)

anxious childThis Saturday I’m hosting the free talk on Kids & Anxiety. It looks like there’s going to be a full house (fortunately I have enough chairs now and we’ll just squeeze in if everyone shows). Because of the interest, I’m hoping to schedule another time to offer it early in the new year. I’m also doing out reach to professionals in other areas who are interested in sharing their wisdom with us so to keep up to date on future free events, please subscribe to my newsletter. (You can do this by scrolling down and filling out either the bright yellow box that will magically appear or by filling out the form in the black area at the bottom of the page.)

Because of the interest in the workshop and requests I’ve had from people calling my practice, I’m going to offer a group to help anxious kids in a few weeks. This is an 8-week program using research-informed practice to give kids tools that will help them understand and deal with anxiety. The workshop is called Coping Kids and you can learn more about it here.

I wanted to offer the group for several reasons:

  1. Research shows that group psychotherapy can be as effective as individual psychotherapy (and is also less expensive);
  2. It’s been my experience that many of my anxious kid clients feel isolated by their worry. Meeting other children who are learning to manage their anxiety can be a huge, huge relief;
  3. Creating community is incredibly healing; this goes for kids as well as adults;
  4. Finally, many of us learn best helping each other learn. Groups give us the chance to do that.

I do require a (free) 20-minute meeting beforehand just to make sure that the group is a good fit for that child. If it’s not, I’ll be happy to share other resources or give some direction if the parents are interested. Also I want potential members of the group to have a chance to meet me, see the space and ask questions.

I am going to keep the group small with a maximum of six kids so that everyone has the chance to participate.

Curious to learn more? Let me know.

Who needs parenting classes?

family-insideBecause parenting classes are often mandated for parents who are having trouble, some people are turned off by the idea of them. So I wanted to talk about who could benefit from parenting classes because that person might be you.

  1. Anyone who feels like he or she is parenting at odds with his or her partner. If you’re parenting one way and your child’s other parent is parenting another way and you find yourself knocking heads or arguing about what to do next, going to a parenting class together can help you get on the same page. Parenting for Attunement encourages parents to sit down and map out exactly what their goals are for their kids. Sometimes co-parents are very surprised to find out that what they value is a little lower on their partner’s list. Understanding the other person’s goals and point of view can be a huge help in discussing parenting dilemmas.
  2. Anyone who feels like they’re having to reinvent this whole parenting thing as they go. Some of us stride forward into each new developmental territory with absolute confidence. And then there’s the rest of us who are periodically baffled by this or that child’s brand new stage. Parenting for Attunement gives parents an overview of the typical stages of development and looks at the different temperamental types, which helps parents get a handle on where their child is now, why she’s there and what she’s likely to do next.
  3. Anyone who is baffled by any particular child at any particular time. Because we discuss the unique needs of different kids, parents who come to these classes walk away with a better handle on each child in the family and how their interactions are influenced by individual styles and temperaments. We also talk about our own place in the family and how who we are influences our children’s reactions and our own expectations. In other words, sometimes we really are speaking a different language than our children are and that’s nobody’s fault.
  4. Anyone who is anxious about their child’s future. In the course of the workshop, we examine and challenge the fears that can limit our options in ways that aren’t helpful. We work to understand when we’re being appropriately responsible and when we’re unnecessarily constrained by our worries.
  5. Anyone who worries that they’re not a good enough parent. There are many, many ways to be a good parent. Parenting for Attunement is not a class that tells parents to put tab A in slot B to build a perfect child; this is a class that understands that every single family is unique and every single parent is unique and every single child is unique. People leave the class with greater confidence in their own abilities as a parent and the resources to learn more.
  6. Anyone who has ever been frustrated, annoyed or angry at their kid (i.e., all of us).

I hope to see you at the next class!

Upcoming Workshops

brothersister-insideThis month I have the Talking Adoption workshop and then starting in April I’m going to be offering free 2-hour parenting workshops each month. These will be very small discussion groups on a specific topic with lots of great information and hand-outs (because I love hand-outs). They’ll be on the third Tuesday of each month at 7pm (with the adoption class being the exception) and I’ll hold them at my office. (If we outgrow the space I’ll look at holding them someplace with more seating room.)

You can see what’s coming up by clicking here to get a whole workshop list. You can also stay informed about upcoming events (because I’m always adding cool stuff) by subscribing to my email list. I send my list out once or twice a month (depending on what’s happening) so you don’t have to worry about me cluttering up your inbox. And of course I never ever ever share my email list with anyone else.

You can register for the following classes now and there’s more coming:

Talking to Kids About Adoption
February 26 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tailored to the needs of both pre-adoptive parents and those who are already parenting, this 2-hour workshop on talking to kids about adoption will help parents create and nurture healthy conversations. We will discuss: How to begin the conversation; the ways your child’s development shapes their need to know; telling the truth: when, why and how; engaging the reluctant child; how to be prepared for unexpected questions. There are only a few seats left and you can register by clicking here.

Beyond Because I Said So: Better Communication for More Effective Parenting
April 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tired of arguing with your kids? Sick of the power struggles? Discover ways to get your point across quicker, easier and with better results. This free 2-hour workshop will be fun, informative and will give you lots of tools to take home and start using right away. Space is limited so reserve your seat today by clicking here.

When Your Child Says “I Hate Myself”
June 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
This free 2-hour workshop will focus on understanding how self esteem changes as children grow and the ways that parents can help their children develop a positive self concept. We’ll talk about both typical child development and atypical challenges. Class size is limited so reserve your space today by clicking here.

Building Emotional Literacy in Your Child
July 22 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Emotional literacy — the ability to recognize and appropriately express our feelings — is at the center of healthy child development. Kids who are able to identify and express their feelings have fewer behavior problems and are easier to parent. This free 2-hour workshop will help you strengthen your own skills to help your child become fluent in the language of feelings. Class size is limited so reserve your spot today by clicking here.

Parenting for Attunement

eskimokiss-inside

The reason I love the Parenting for Attunement curriculum is that it’s not about me standing up in front of the room telling people how to raise their kids. Generally, I’m against that. After all, what makes me the expert on your life? I will bring my expertise on child development, family systems and values exploration to class facilitation. but the class is designed to help me guide you to become exactly the parent you need and want to be.

The class meets you in the context of your unique circumstances, values and experience to help you grow in confidence as a parent. You will gain skills and understanding that will change the way you look at your child, at yourself and at your world. Seriously. You’ll be a better parent not just now in the face of these challenges, but in the future, too, when your child’s needs change.

Parents have contacted me asking about the age range the class covers and whether or not this class is appropriate for parents of children with special needs. First of all, it’d be hard to take this class if your oldest child is an infant but it’s great for parents with toddlers on up. I’ve taught it to parents of 18-month olds and to parents of teens; it’s all good.

It definitely works for parents whose children have special needs if the parent is comfortable helping us understand the particulars of their child’s development. A good portion of the program is trying to get a handle on what the child is bringing to the table in development and temperament. While the class material defaults to typical child development, parents are encouraged to use the information in the way that best serves their children. I am also happy to help families identify materials outside of the curriculum that will help them in their understanding of the particulars of their child’s experience.

The first class meets, Wednesday September 18th from 7pm to 9pm at my Worthington office. It continues for the next six weeks.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the course and feel free to sign up for my monthly email newsletter to get alerted when I teach it again. Also if you are interested in bringing the program to your home or venue, let me know. I’d love to talk about the possibilities.

Points of view

In Selma Fraiberg‘s The Magic Years, she writes about a two-and-a-half year old child named David. One day David’s parents told him that they would all be flying to Europe for a vacation. David was a smart boy, verbally advanced, and his parents included him in their planning, telling him about the things he would see and how they would swim and ride on a train and be with friends. At first David was excited then as time went on he became more and more downcast about the trip, but he wouldn’t say why. Then one day he broke down in tears, telling his parents, “But I don’t know how to fly yet!”

Writes Fraiberg:

To understand this complex reaction we need to understand a number of things in David’s world view. First of all, he didn’t know how to fly, “yet,” which means that he expected that his all powerful parents would know how to fly … but that this was one of a number of advanced skills which he hadn’t mastered yet. … Here is a little boy who speaks our language so well that we can confidently discuss European trips and travel plans with him, but we discover that, after all, we are not speaking the same language. [emphasis mine] In the fantastic world of a two year old all things are possible, and a mother, a father and a little boy will assemble on their front lawn one morning, flap their arms and take off for a continent across the sea. Unfortunately, the parents do not notice that the little boy has not learned to fly “yet,” and the little boy stays rooted to the ground while his parents wing their way to “Yurp,” quite unmindful of the fact that a member of the party is still grounded.

boywindow-insideIn the parenting class I teach we spend time thinking about how a situation looks from our vantage point and then how it might look to our kids. Sometimes we think we know this but we forget. We are so used to the world we live in — where people get on airplanes to fly — that we forget that we are sometimes speaking a language that our children haven’t fully mastered.

When we come up against a roadblock in the shape of a very small and stubborn person in our home who won’t see reason, we might need to wind our way back and see if what we’ve shared makes any kind of sense. Maybe a 6-year old won’t see reason because he can’t see what we’re seeing. Maybe we’re not speaking a shared language.

It can be hard to slow down and remember that our requests and explanations don’t always make sense to our kids. But when we find ourselves at an impasse or facing a reaction that has us confused, we can remember the story of David who thought he was going to have to flap his arms and lift off to follow his parents on vacation. Maybe we need to make sure that we’ve shared the whole story.

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