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Connected Families Podcast

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Connected Families is committed to bringing you content that will challenge, encourage, and equip you to be the thoughtful and confident parent you long to be. Several times a year we take a break from our weekly articles to bring you themed series through podcasts.
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Feeling burned out at the end of the day? Does parenting (and discipline) leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged?  If you are feeling "parenting burnout" there is help and hope. Perhaps you will identify with our guests today, Nate and Amanda. This couple joins us to discuss the burnout parents often face in the discipline process with their kids. What does parenting burnout look like? Like so many couples, Nate and Amanda were enthusiastic and confident before their children were born. They were ready with ideas about how they would parent and connect with their children. Yet, like many of us, they discovered that the reality of parenting did not always match those expectations. They had great intentions, but struggled to put those intentions into action.  As parents, we can get tired and discouraged. Do you feel yourself grasping for control and wanting an immediate fix for your child’s behavior?  Often the desire to get the right behavior from our kids can impede the relationship and cause us to lose opportunities to connect.   What’s going on in me? Amanda and Nate found new hope and perspective after taking the Discipline That Connects online course. They learned to build a foundation of safety for their children by asking themselves, “What is going on in me?” Amanda noticed that her anxiety about her children’s future caused more exhaustion and brought more tension to the situation. By implementing the practical and biblical strategies they learned together in the course, Nate and Amanda began walking a new path to decrease stress and bring energy back to their parenting.  Join Stacy Bellward (DTC course moderator) and Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families), as they talk with Nate and Amanda about the DTC course, and a long term vision for parenting that builds safety and connection. Hear about our unique combination of a biblical framework and a practical science-based approach that can totally shift how you view discipline, and help you build connection with your kids. In this episode you will: Discover how to parent from a place of peace and calm.Learn the value of staying in the moment (and avoid catastrophizing!).Hear practical examples from parents who have been through the course, and how it helped them create more connection with their kids.Learn the power of do-overs and developing new brain pathways to help kids make better choices.Get an overview of the Connected Families framework.  Do you feel like you are stuck in a parenting rut? Like your default responses are less than helpful? The discipline of misbehaving children can be hard and overwhelming. Discipline That Connects With Your Child's Heart is an 8-session online course that teaches you to ground your parenting in God’s grace and truth as you seek to grow a connected family. The DTC material is based on a unique biblical framework to help kids grow in wisdom and responsibility from a foundation of love, safety, and connection. We’ve built this course to be deep, but at the same time immediately actionable and memorable. ​​Registration is now open! The course begins October 6th. We'd love to have you join us!
“My kids will never grow up to be responsible!” “I am a terrible parent, and my child and I will never get along!” Are you parenting from a place of fear? Even catastrophizing a situation? Do you find yourself replaying negative thoughts in your mind about yourself and your child? You are absolutely not alone! It’s easy to let fears about our parenting and our kids grip us and cause anxiety. Toxic beliefs can affect our own hearts, and the hearts of our children. These beliefs are like a recording that plays over and over in our head. We hear a voice that says we don’t measure up, or we make negative assumptions about our kids, and we act out on those beliefs.  This kind of thinking can cause us to parent from a place of fear. Your intentions are probably good. You want to become more aware of what’s going on inside your heart, and guide your children from a place of calm and peace. One mom's story of parenting from a place of fear Join Stacy Bellward (DTC course moderator) and Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families), in an honest conversation about why it is so important to identify our toxic beliefs and replace them with grace-filled truth. Learn practical steps you can take to tame these beliefs and lead your family without fear.  Also joining us is Rebecca, a mom who took our Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart online parenting course. Rebecca shares the impact of this course, and how over time it improved her connection with her children. Listen as she shares her struggles with her own fears and toxic beliefs, and how she learned to replace those beliefs with thoughts that encourage safety and connection. In this episode, you will: Gain insight into why we sometimes parent from fear, and wisdom in working toward parenting from joy and peace.Learn to identify toxic beliefs, take those thoughts captive, and replace them with grace-filled truth. Hear practical ways to model self-calming strategies to your kids.Discover more about the Connected Families Framework, and how to build the foundation for connection and safety with your kids. Discipline That Connects online course Discipline That Connects is an 8-session online course that equips you to connect with your child’s heart during discipline. It is a powerful learning experience in a dynamic environment that motivates and encourages parents who are experiencing similar struggles. The DTC material is based on a unique biblical framework to help kids grow in wisdom and responsibility from a foundation of love, safety, and connection. We've built this course to be deep, but at the same time immediately actionable and memorable.  The course is a long term investment in creating more peace and connection in your home. We open up this online course to a new group of parents twice a year. Registration for our Fall 2020 session is now open! Check out more information and sign up here.
Are your kids scared of the world around them?  How are you talking about anxiety with your kids these days?  In current times coping is harder, and there seems to be more reasons to worry than usual. You may experience tension when your family gathers because everyone views what's happening in our world through different lenses, and with different opinions. Relationships with some of the most important people in your lives seem at risk. It can be hard to talk about things that concern or upset us.  When we are anxious, our kids are the first to know. Kids have a keen radar that senses when things are off in our world. When their radar picks up anxiety, the anxiety spreads.  In today’s episode, we discuss the anxiety that can come from things we can’t control, the things that happen outside our walls: Social unrest, pandemics, politics,  and school policies and decisions.   We WILL have trouble in this world Jesus promises we will have trouble in this world. In the midst of such trouble, you have a unique opportunity to empower your kids to be thoughtful and compassionate in their relationships with others. Learning to approach your kids with grace and wisdom can help keep your family grounded, and growing in God’s love and purposes, during uncertain times. This podcast is the fourth and final episode in a four-part series about anxiety. Listen in as Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, together with close colleague and marriage and family therapist, Chad Hayenga, discuss this relevant topic from a faith-filled, biblically-oriented perspective. In this episode This episode is packed full of rich conversation and practical insights about tough topics. In this episode you will: Explore habits that keep you grounded and help you “take every thought captive.”Discover how to have honest conversations with your kids with a “Big Picture” perspective.Learn how to communicate to your kids: “You are called and capable of figuring out even these really challenging problems!”Hear practical ways to have conversations about big feelings with respect and kindness.Gain insight in how to teach kids to wrestle well with their fears, listen better, and learn from the perspectives of others. The reign and the rule of Jesus’ kingdom is as present and powerful now more than ever. We are all called to be part of this heavenly kingdom. Whatever trouble you are experiencing, the power and force of God's goodness and grace are the most potent ways to overcome anxiety. Mentioned in this podcast: John 16:33Colossians 3:12,132 Corinthians 10:5John 18:36Philippians 4:6-8Philippians 4:11Matthew 6:25-34Numbers 6:24-26Family Meetings OverviewIs Your Child Refusing to Do Schoolwork?Free Resources from Connected Families Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! Want to learn more? This content from this podcast is also available in our blog post called: Teach Your Kids to Trust God...In Times of Unrest and Pandemic. In our newest online course, The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom., you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today! Here is what Mark and Kim had to say after finishing the course: We wish we’d had this training many years ago when starting our parenting journey, but we’ve found that it’s never too late to connect with each other and build up our family team. Changing our perspective and approaching our children (even the ones who are now young adults!) with light-hearted curiosity instead of judgmental lectures is a game-changer.
Mealtime battles, bedtime drama, homework struggles... Can you relate to these anxiety triggers in your home? Often there are deeper emotions under the surface, for both parents and children, that contribute to these conflicts. When we acknowledge and validate the emotions that drive our children’s anxiety, we can better equip them to self-regulate. Validating emotions also helps us avoid anxiety-producing power struggles. This equips us to approach these struggles in a way that empowers our children to feel safe, loved, and capable. We are excited to bring you episode three in our four-part Anxiety Series. Today Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, together with Chad Hayenga, marriage and family therapist, dig deeper on what some of the anxiety triggers might be in your home. Listen in as they talk about separation anxiety, homework, school, mealtimes, and more. In this episode about anxiety triggers you’ll learn: practical ideas to reduce power struggles at mealtime.how to approach homework battles with compassion while encouraging responsibility at the same time.how to validate your child’s anxious feelings. ways to empower your children to feel safe and speak up for what they need.  Mentioned in this podcast: 7 Practical Tips for Picky Eaters Raise a Healthy Child Who Is a Joy to Feed- Ellyn Satter Responding with Compassion When Kids Don't Make the Grade Practical Help for Families Struggling with Separation Anxiety  Bedtime Struggles  Connected Families FREE Resources Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course, The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom., you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today! When Joanne finished the course here is what she had to say: As a single mother of 3 boys, this course came at a perfect time! It is short, easy to consume, well structured and presented and most importantly 1)spoke to the heart of the issue, 2)gave and showed how to use questions and finally 3)reminded us of our role and God's role in parenting our children. I absolutely loved all the role-playing and examples that drove the points home. I personally plan to and recommend reviewing the course regularly, at least 3 times!
How do you teach your child not to be scared? Bedtime, meals, learning at home, performance anxiety, and separation anxiety can all be sources of anxiety for kids. This is especially true for kids who may be highly sensitive. Kids who struggle with anxiety are often more “on alert” than other children, and don’t always assess danger well.  Kids who are anxious can also get their cues from parents. The more we try to create an environment that keeps kids out of a highly-alert state, the more sense of peace and calm the child can feel. In our previous podcast episode, we discussed how modeling a calm spirit is a vital part of calming an anxious child.  In this episode, you’ll learn how to empower your children to constructively work through their anxiety, and to experience God’s peace and purpose for their lives.   This podcast is the second in a four-part series about anxiety. Listen in as Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, together with close colleague, and marriage and family therapist, Chad Hayenga, explore some of the best ways to encourage kids when they experience anxiety. Among the many practical tools in this podcast, you’ll learn:  3 “Don’ts” that can add to your child’s anxiety.3 “Do’s” that can equip your kids with confidence-boosting skills to handle anxiety.How to help your kids feel empowered with a teamwork mentality, and in their God-given identity to be brave. Mentioned in this podcast:  Philippians 4:6,7Ephesians 2:10Joshua 1:9The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears (includes the “second chicken” story mentioned in today’s podcast episode)Helping Your Highly Sensitive ChildHow to Create a Simple Sensory Diet for Restless, Homebound KidsBuilding Your Inner Coach-Brett LedbetterDan Siegel: Name it to Tame it Wondering if you have a highly sensitive child? Check out the sister article for this podcast: Helping Your Highly Sensitive Child. Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course, The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom., you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today! Hear what Melanie said after finishing the course: This course has shown me how often I try to control and run my kids’ lives instead of helping them to develop wisdom and responsibility for themselves. Asking questions such as, “What will happen if you choose to do that?” in a curious way has helped my kids learn to think about the consequences of their actions. There are so many helpful tips in this course for how to build responsibility and defuse arguments and power struggles.
Do you feel like your child is afraid of everything? Where does anxiety come from in our kids? This is a huge struggle parents often face, especially when tensions are high in the world around us.  A survey Connected Families conducted in spring of 2020 revealed that 70% of families in the CF community have reported elevated levels of anxiety in recent months. If you are experiencing this, you are not alone! Kids’ struggles and misbehavior can increase everyone's anxiety and the tension in the home. Our own anxious thoughts about children's misbehavior can cause us to try harder to control kids, which discourages them and escalates the problem.​ Our own anxious thoughts about this behavior can cause discouragement in our children, and can also cause us to become more controlling. ​ You have good intentions to help your child manage their big emotions. What can you do to wrestle well with this issue of anxiety in the home? Today’s podcast is the first in a four-part series about anxiety. Listen in as Jim and Lynne Jackson (co-founders of Connected Families) and Chad Hayenga (MA, LMFT, CLC) discuss the root of our anxiety struggles both for kids and for us as parents.  In this episode: Learn about the cycle that can cause anxiety in both you and your kids.Think practically about your anxiety and how to model healthy habits to your kids. Discover how to take control of negative thoughts and develop a more peaceful mindset.Identify the Antidote Cycle for growing away from the anxious habits we have. Mentioned in this podcast: Philippians 4:6-9 1 John 4:18 2 Corinthians 10:5 How to Create a Simple Sensory Diet for Restless, Homebound Kids Want to learn more? Our blog post "Are You Micromanaging Your Kids?" Here's How to Stop gives more practical and helpful tips to stop parenting from a place of anxiety. Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course, The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom., you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Read what Lisa had to say after finishing the course: The Power of Questions online course gives a solid foundation for why and how to ask thoughtful, meaningful questions. I love how the course takes you through practical steps to build relationships with your kids through questions. Taking the course helped our entire family start to build the life skill of asking quality questions that build understanding and grow wisdom. We even watched parts of the class with our 8 and 10 year old children to ignite problem solving conversations!
Have you ever heard an outrageous statement from your child? Outrageous statements come in all shapes and sizes and can often trigger disbelief or even outrage in parents. Perhaps that’s why they’re called outrageous statements!  It’s tempting for us, as parents, to respond to these situations with immediate correction or a lecture. However, this may result in unhelpful arguments. Hard emotions are often underneath our kid’s outrageous statements. How can we respond with love, connection, and safety to effectively help them grow in wisdom and responsibility?  Join Stacy Bellward (ACC), Chad Hayenga (MA,LMFT, CLC), and Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families), as they discuss the power of lighthearted questions in a conversational model that will guide wisdom-building responses in your kids. They also discuss the recently released online course from Connected Families called The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom. In today’s episode, you’ll discover: A useful analogy to help you “dig deeper” to understand your child’s underlying emotions.The power of lighthearted questions to build wisdom in your kids rather than “fix” the behavior.A practical conversational model that creates safety in relationships when confronted with outrageous statements from your kids.  Remember, your child is often frustrated and discouraged when they say outrageous things. Learning to find what is going on underneath the surface will better equip you to lead your family with grace. If you want to hear more about what to do when your kids say outrageous things, check out Stop the Crazy All-or-Nothing Thinking with These 4 Steps. Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom. you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today! Hear what Elaine had to say after taking the course: From the very first session, I saw what needed to change in my own heart. I found the way that Stacy and Chad coached was not condemning but instead encouraging, as I reflected on my need to focus on a long-term view of mentoring my child and not short-term obedience. For a busy mum of 3 young boys, 6 and under, I found the structure and content of the course easy to follow. The way the short videos highlighted the main points, the simple fill-in-the-blank style workbook, and the biblical references all reinforced these points for me. The change in me is gradual but I'm catching myself pausing and not reacting as much in some situations. For these baby steps (and the steering towards the right direction), I am so very grateful. Thank you! Join us today!
Are you feeling anxious about this summer? Summer can be a fantastic opportunity to connect with your kids, but it can also present new challenges. You want to have a great summer, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. Uncertainty and disappointment add an extra level of stress, especially with the new reality of cancelled activities and plans. In this podcast we will explore how to create a sense of teamwork in your family so summer is enjoyable for everyone. We, as parents, may also have our own fears about navigating difficult battles, such as screen time and boredom. We don’t want to spend the all our time nagging, exasperating, and arguing with our kids! Is it even possible to create a memorable summer while, at the same time, helping our kids grow in wisdom and responsibility? Join Stacy Bellward (ACC), Chad Hayenga (MA,LMFT, CLC), and Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families), as they discuss how to build an atmosphere of teamwork and connection with your kids that will equip them and set them up for success. In this podcast, you'll learn to: Think through your own best hopes for summer.Be thoughtful and proactive in naming potential problem areas.Be intentional and realistic about your summer goals. Connected Families recently released an online course called The Power of Questions. Learn more about it as you listen! If you want to learn more, this article compliments this podcast well, and has a great story of how a mom used questions to help avoid a power struggle with her toddler. Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today!
Does it seem like all you do is nag your kids? Are you frustrated because this is the sixth time you have asked your child to take out the garbage? Nagging and arguing can become the frustrating norm in many of families. Parents have good intentions. We want our kids to grow up to be responsible, right? Our fear and anxiety that our children will not grow up to be responsible adults can cause us to become controlling. This kind of projected negativity has the potential to affect our child’s identity. In fact, brain science reveals that these power struggles can be damaging to our relationship with our kids. Kids may embrace this projected negative identity, which could hinder their ability to grow in God’s good purposes for them.  Join Stacy Bellward (ACC), Chad Hayenga (MA,LMFT, CLC), and Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families), as they discuss what it looks like to cut down on nagging and help our kids grow in wisdom and responsibility. They also discuss the recently released online course from Connected Families called The Power of Questions: Less Arguing. More Wisdom.  In this episode you will: learn how to break patterns of defensiveness.discover the power of curious questions to create SAFE, productive conversations. receive a 4-step plan for holding kids accountable.hear an overview of this exciting new course! Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don’t miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! In our newest online course "The Power of Questions" you will learn the art of asking questions that build internal wisdom and character in your kids, and create a culture of teamwork in your family. Join us today!
You want to be intentional about screen time with your kids, but you’ve got an uphill battle! The pandemic isn’t making it any easier either. If you’re struggling with how to be intentional about screens, especially when your kids require them more than ever, this is the podcast episode for you. Join Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, as they dive into the challenges of our kids and their screen time. They discuss how best to approach screen time from a place of connection and guidance, not just enforcing rules. These ideas will equip you to lead your family with grace as you help your children feel capable and responsible when it comes to screen time. In this podcast you’ll:  Learn techniques and skills to connect with your child during the heat of the moment.Hear role plays involving real-life screen time conflict scenarios.Be given tools and scripts to work with your child to problem solve the issue of screen time together. Note: This podcast has an companion blog post. We encourage you to digest both, as there is different and complimenting content in each. Like what you hear? Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don't miss a single episode and others can find us more easily!
Working at home can be challenging! And exasperating. In this difficult season where many parents are juggling kids and working from home, our “new normal” is anything but normal. Parents are asking, "How do I stop kids interrupting conference calls?" It’s hard to know how to respond to the challenges of interrupted conference calls. But this can be a great opportunity to help kids feel both loved and successful. Applying the Connected Families Framework for parenting can equip you to Connect, Coach, and Correct from a foundation of Safety. (This article is also available as an audio or video download.) Read this article and apply what you’ve learned to experience a more peaceful conference call! https://youtu.be/a7wsyxYjndU What should you do first when kids interrupt an important conference call?  Outside of the immediate challenge, it’s helpful to consider, “What’s going on in me? How do I view this? Am I responsible for having a perfect child?”  Feeling shame and embarassment about your child’s behavior during a conference call causes you to react anxiously, which increases your child’s anxiety and neediness. It may be that a light-hearted “sorry for the delay” to participants is appropriate, but avoid the temptation to repeatedly or emphatically apologize. That’s stressful for you and your child.  If you are expecting a certain behavior, but haven’t helped your kids both value it and practice it, it’s a setup for frustration!  It’s also important to thoughtfully consider, “What’s it like to be my child when I get on a conference call?”  Having an unavailable parent can be tough on kids’ anxiety levels! Research shows that our brains release oxytocin under stressful conditions, especially in social isolation. These elevated oxytocin levels drive an urgency to get help when we feel stressed or anxious. Your child’s demands may be a sign of elevated stress levels. In addition, up until age three or four, a child’s worldview generally revolves around himself. That child will probably not be thinking of your personal comfort during that important call for work.  Considering all this, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Ditch those profuse apologies, take a deep breath, and remember that these are great opportunities to extend God’s grace and mercy to yourself, and to your child.  Want to avoid kids interrupting conference calls? Be proactive. Thoughtful and intentional connection can go a long way! Before your meeting, prepare by connecting well with your child - even if it is just three minutes. Let them know you are delighted in them. Make meaningful eye contact. Fill their cup! Enable them to be peaceful so they can head off to be independent.  One mom, who is working from home, stated, “I have been trying to connect with my kids through short bursts of focused, joy-filled attention frequently throughout the day. It seems to be helping them to play independently for longer periods of time, which is helping me to get things done that I need to.” It probably won’t be helpful to just tell kids not to interrupt. It may even cause more anxiety! Coach them and build skills ahead of time to demonstrate what you want them to do instead. If you are expecting a certain behavior, but haven’t helped your kids both value it and practice it, it’s a setup for frustration!  How can you set your child up for success? Proactive coaching goes a long way in preventing interruptions: Teach your children appropriate ways to ask for attention, like a tap on the arm. Help them practice this new skill by pretending you are on an important call. Give special signs (thumbs up/wink) that communicate: “I see you and I care!” If they want to show you something, let them know they can put their project or drawing in a pre-designated “waiting spot” until the call is over. Keeping this promise, and attending to it right away when the call is done, will build trust.
Is your child refusing to do schoolwork? What can you do? Many parents are feeling the pressure of “crisis schooling,” and children are struggling to find motivation for their schoolwork. Though doing school at home may have initially been appealing, the novelty (for most) is wearing off.  Kids have been cooped up at home. Now that spring is here, they just want to be outside! In this article (also available in video or audio download), learn practical ideas to empathize, encourage, and empower (problem-solve). You can bring more joy into your child’s educational experience.  https://youtu.be/diyGxblEsE4 Check what's going on inside you first Doing “school at home” during the pandemic was not a choice for many parents, and this can cause a lot of anxiety.  Before we can effectively help our kids, we have to learn to navigate our own anxiety. It is then we are better able to lead our children calmly. Remind yourself and your children that there is plenty of grace for this, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Empathize when your child refuses to do their homework It is important to empathize with our kids before we try to solve the problem. Ask yourself: What's it like to be them?What are they feeling? What are their basic needs or stressors that are causing them to struggle?  Your child might be experiencing over-stimulation, boredom, low blood sugar, fatigue, or lack of exercise and/or sleep. They could also be experiencing sadness and grief.  Online schooling is not easy for kids Studies also show that virtual meetings are exhausting for kids and parents! It’s harder to read social cues on a screen, and response delays can hinder effective communication. Kids may also feel self-conscious about “performing” on a screen.  Distance learning lacks the variety that an in-person classroom provides. Our brains were created to function on reflected light, and learning in front of a screen means more light-emitting exposure, which can also contribute to fatigue. Whatever the stressors our kids are experiencing, it’s really helpful to express, “I get what it’s like to be you!”  Encourage your child  Along with empathy, we can encourage our kids. Let them know, “I see and enjoy good things in you!” The word encourage literally means “to fill with courage.” So fill your kids with courage about who they are!  Doing “school at home” was not a choice for many parents, and this can cause a lot of anxiety. Remind them of previous successes, and dwell on what is good instead of focusing on what isn’t good. Fist bumps, high fives, humor, and positive affirmation can remind your child of success and provide needed encouragement.  Empower: problem solving together increases motivation The schoolwork problem is hard. Crisis schooling is a crisis situation—for kids, too. Once we have empathized and encouraged, our kids will feel safer and calmer with us. Then we can then work to solve the problem. It's important to watch for what your child naturally gravitates toward: What picks them up? What helps them? Teach them to advocate for themselves by asking for what they need to be successful. How Ashley learned to problem solve her schoolwork One mom, Julia, wrote about some helpful solutions she discovered with her 9-year-old daughter during a struggle over schoolwork: “We had a couple great victories recently. Last Wednesday Ashley started falling apart because she was struggling with schoolwork. I made a little written list for her of what she might need in the moment to calm down: Am I hungry?Am I tired?Do I need to switch subjects?Do I need something to drink?Do I need some ice water?Do I need a break?Do I need help? My natural impulse was to get frustrated and anxious, but instead I stayed calm and helped her in a compassionate way.” In this list Julia had sent a new and powerful message to Ashley: “I care about why this is hard for you.
Like many of us, your child might be grieving his pre-coronavirus life. This challenging time can bring strong emotions to the surface in our kids (and in us as parents). These emotions can be signs of a child's underlying grief. And difficulty in expressing that grief.  Read on to learn why it’s important to allow your children to grieve, and healthy ways to help them process their grief. This article is also available as a video or audio download. Why is it important for our children to grieve? We’re hearing from a lot of parents whose kids still aren’t adjusting well to the new challenges of “Stay-at-Home” orders and social distancing guidelines. Resistance to homework. Power struggles. Tantrums. Withdrawn children. These are just some of the challenges parents are facing. Add to this list the responsibility of managing school work while trying to work from home and you’ve got a recipe for stress and discouragement.  Parents tell us they’re trying to help their kids adjust but making little progress. It’s a tough load! Grief is real! Our kids, right along with the rest of us, are dealing with grief right now. It feels unnatural and even overwhelming to lose our normal life rhythms.  Our kids are likely grieving the loss of school friends and other activities. Their lives have been turned upside-down and they are probably limited in their ability to process those feelings. Many of us can probably relate to this struggling mom: “Dear Connected Families, I need help figuring out how to help my four year old manage his grief over the loss of his wonderful life at preschool. His teachers at his preschool are so loving and he has wonderful friends there. He misses his teachers and friends and wants to hug them and play with them. I’m doing what I can, I bought new puzzles and books.  I’m trying to fill his love tank but he has such intense needs and I have a two year old as well. Please help.”  Are we distracting our children from their grief? As your child struggles, your first inclination may be to distract him with “happy things.” But you don't want to teach your child to sweep their feelings aside and pretend they don’t exist. Instead, view this as an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson in dealing with disappointment. You probably don't blatantly order your child to toughen up. However, that might be the message your child hears. If you put more energy into trying to relieve your child’s disappointment than you do into validating it, you may drive the mourning inward.  Kids need permission to feel sad. Sometimes kids have big feelings of grief. But when invalidated, those feelings get locked up inside and come out in twisted ways. They can only intensify an already difficult situation.   Kids need to feel safe and be given permission to express their grief. How to help your child process grief Hard as it is, don't try to help your kids “get over it.” The best gift you can give them is to be present and to sit with them in their emotions and discontent. Jesus told us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” There is a direct link between mourning and comfort. The term here for mourning comes from the Greek word, pentheus. It means to express externally what’s being experienced internally. When the grief is deep, it may take some time for even the most mature among us to express the deep things that are pent up inside.  God is patient with us when we grieve. Likewise, our patience and presence with our kids during their grief will help them learn to understand and navigate their feelings. Our patient presence with our kids communicates in a tangible way that God is present with them too.  God gives us safety and permission to mourn. As we mourn, we are then able to receive God’s comfort. Grieving in a healthy way Notice how this mom, who is a coaching client, helped her 9-year-old daughter (who does not like question...
Are you “walking on eggshells” with restless, homebound kids? Do your kids have a case of “Grumpy Child Syndrome”? Your family may need an extra dose of a healthy sensory diet. What is a sensory diet? Why is it important? And how can you incorporate it in practical ways with your kids? Read on. (This article is also available in video or audio download.) In the midst of current uncertainties, we may find ourselves encountering grumpy kids. (We may even admit to experiencing some grumpy feelings of our own!) There is nothing wrong with you or your kids.  Just like our bodies need healthy food at the right times of the day so we don’t get “hangry”, we also need healthy, timely sensory experiences. Everyone's body needs healthy movement to help improve mood! Feelings of grumpiness and restlessness in our kids could be signaling the need for a more balanced sensory diet.  What is a sensory diet?  A sensory diet is the purposeful use of sensory and movement activities at key times of the day (along with quiet times strategically interspersed) to make it easier to naturally regulate energy and emotions. Big muscle play is especially important for a sensory diet. Why is a sensory diet important? When we’re upset, our brains trigger the release of fight or flight neurotransmitters to get us ready to “slug or run” in self-protection. The blood flows away from our frontal lobe and goes to our big muscles. If that body chemistry isn't used for its intended purpose of big muscle action, it stays in a person's system and creates an ongoing sense that something's wrong. And, when a child’s nervous system is on edge, it doesn't take much to trigger an aggressive or defensive reaction.  What’s the answer? Play! When placed in a tense situation, play-deprived rats were either aggressive, or ran away to a corner. Remarkably, an hour of play a day offset this tendency. There’s evidence this is also true for humans! Knowing this about rats, it's no wonder why cooped up kids are so irritable... Big muscle play uses up those fight/flight neurotransmitters and increases serotonin, the feel-good hormone that kids are often low on. Sensory activities can increase serotonin and improve mood! How does a sensory diet work? Just like we need good food at times of hunger, look for the typical times of day that kids might get edgy out of “sensory hunger.” Shortly before that time offer some sensory activities. Consider interspersing "recess" at scheduled times of the school work day, especially before tackling a difficult subject. Another typical “sensory hungry” time is late afternoon or right before dinner. Your child could use a hop ball to bring the napkins to the dinner table one at a time, an activity which has helped numerous kids sit better at dinner.  If you have kids that get riled up with big muscle play, a key to an effective sensory diet can be making sure activities are rhythmical and purposeful, rather than wild and chaotic. Provide structure and repetition, using obstacle courses, bear walk or crab walk relays, music and movement activities, or bike rides if those are an option. Get creative with sensory materials at home One mom was struggling with her son and his math. She gave him the idea to slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag, climb back up and do it again. And again. Structured, repetitive climbing and bumping! He went from being testy and cranky, to happy and cooperative! This particular kind of movement had given his body and brain the sensory input it needed to be calm and focused for his schoolwork. One family recently got a trampoline* for the backyard to deal with the growing “cooped up” restlessness they were seeing. Jumping on the trampoline brought dramatic changes to one son’s behavior and outbursts. The mom declared, “My boy is back. He has been full of joy. All the angsty moments, arguments with siblings, and hiding in his room have stopped.” (She also told me she was loving the trampoline as well!)
If you’ve got a child that seems to be misbehaving more than usual, you’re not alone. These are trying times. If your child seems to be acting out all of a sudden, you might have a Stressed, Anxious, or Discouraged (SAD) child. You can be a person of peace in the midst of chaos. You can understand your misbehaving child. The current challenges of staying at home can cause even more distress for a child who is already intense and sensitive. A struggling child can increase tension in an already stressful situation. In this article, also available as a video or audio download, you’ll  learn what’s going on in kids’ brains when they struggle with outbursts of whining and demanding behavior. When we understand our misbehaving (SAD) child, we can better help them! Why do kids misbehave? It might be hard for you to believe, but kids generally don’t misbehave to make your life miserable. There are a variety of reasons a child might be acting out with strong emotions. Kids could be: Stressed by external circumstances (there are plenty of these right now!). Anxious due to sensory issues, being highly gifted, or just fear about what’s happening in the world.  Discouraged because of feelings of failure, inferiority, or sibling insecurity. Another contributing factor could be serotonin imbalances, which are common in children. When serotonin is low, kids are easily angry, aggressive, impulsive, irritable, anxious, discouraged, and don’t sleep as well.  Your child’s struggle is not a reflection of his or her character.  Whatever the underlying cause, remember: Your child’s struggle is not a reflection of his or her character.  Four-year-old Maria described her inner turmoil after a busy morning with other kids;  “My brain couldn’t make my body stop being mean. My heart is kind but my body doesn’t listen!” A negative response with lectures and consequences will only increase your child’s stress and reinforce a “problem-child identity.” When kids off-load their stress, their outbursts are signaling the need for a safe parent to come alongside and coach them through it. How can I help my misbehaving child? Get in their shoes. Ask yourself, “What’s it like to be my child right now?” Reframe the situation with compassion. Maria’s mom responded to her struggling daughter, “We’ll get this all figured out! I love your kind heart and it shines through even when your body ‘doesn’t listen.’”  Enter confidently as an ally and a coach. Communicate, either through your words or actions, “I’m strong enough to handle your difficult feelings. The Holy Spirit comes alongside to comfort and help me, so I can do the same for you!” When kids off-load their stress, their outbursts are signaling the need for a safe parent to come alongside and coach them through it. Listen deeply, especially when your child is acting out. Julia’s mom found success with her daughter’s outbursts by saying, “Julia, you have some big feelings! Let’s set the timer for three minutes, and you can tell me everything you’re feeling and upset about. When the timer rings, we’ll problem-solve!” This mom set aside her judgments and listened well, which helped both of them calm down so they could solve the problem. When we respond with understanding and compassion, we can build an identity in our child as a problem-solver rather than a problem-child. That’s something to celebrate!  We all want home to be a safe place for our family during these challenging times. The goal is not to eliminate chaos and make behavior go away, but to invite God’s grace and truth to guide our compassion for our struggling children. You can be a person of peace in the middle of chaos. You can understand your misbehaving child. We are here to help, and would love to hear from you and to pray for you! Email your prayer requests to info@connectedfamilies.org.  Related Posts12 Misbehaviors and the Gifts-Gone-Awry Behind Them4 Tips for Parenting During a PandemicHow to Create a Simple Se...
You are not a bad parent. During the pandemic, start learning how to stop parenting out of guilt or anxiety. This content is also available in an audio version.  When we’re in crisis, the voices built most deeply in us come out. Sometimes that can be positive. Other times it turns self-critical.  Instead of blaming ourselves, we can remind our hearts that we are created in God’s image to do good works. We can be vessels of God’s grace and presence to our families during this difficult time.  Look for the bright spots in your parenting As hard as it may be to see at times, there are bright spots in your parenting.  It’s almost never as bad it could be.  Let’s get a little deep for a moment: There is a distance between “as bad as it could be” and what is actually happening. The efforts you are making to bring God’s grace to your family are what is creating that distance. In other words, things are not as bad as they could be because of the things you are doing well!  Focus on what you are doing well as a parent and allow God to grow those moments each day. Tips to grow your parenting without shame You can do better than mere survival during this challenging time. You can even grow your parenting and come out better on the other side.  Here are some practical tips: Slow down, take deep breaths, trusting that Jesus is fully in control and that He never leaves us. Look at the opportunities. Look for “yes” moments that are now possible because of less time constraints. Look at the successes. Ask yourself, “When did I connect well with one of my kids?” or “When did I hold it together when I could have lost it and what helped me to achieve that?” In other words, things are not as bad as they could be because of the things you are doing well!  One mom’s parenting success during “stay-at-home” orders Enjoy this story from Abby, mom of 3 from Minnesota, who has been working hard to connect well with her kids. She is learning to choose grace and be present with her kids in the midst of life’s daily messes: Now let me just tell you on Day 1... oh wow!  That day was HARD. I am an extreme extrovert.  I gotta see my people. And then there was the FEAR. Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the virus. Not being able to know, to plan, to execute our daily routine. That first day there were tears and screaming. The anxiety - not just mine but my kids' - was thick and oppressive. But I had a change in mindset over the next 2-3 days. I realized that we are "all in this together,” and EVERYONE else was having a similar experience, so there was nothing I could do but truly surrender it all.  Everything that was most important to me was under one roof. So it turns out I did have my people.  And I still had a Jesus who I knew was walking alongside me in all of this, and I had the framework that Connected Families had given me.  I do struggle to stay calm but I read Jim’s post where he said, “Whenever I feel anxious I literally tell myself, ‘Jim, this isn’t helping. You can’t solve it. But you can breathe deep and remember that Jesus promised to never leave you nor forsake you. (Deep breath) That’s it. Do it again.’” I did this.  You’re not a bad parent You are not alone. In your community, and the world as a whole, there are millions of parents walking through this together. Struggling does not make you a bad parent. Every family has unique challenges and trials to navigate and it can be exhausting. We see you. We hear you. And we want to walk alongside you. Share your prayer requests with us - we’d love to pray for you. Related Posts"Are We Gonna Be Okay?""God is Always Up to Something!" | Ep. 274 Tips for Parenting During a PandemicHelp Your Struggling Child Grieve His Pre-Coronavirus Life | Ep. 31Hope for Critical ParentsIs Your Child Refusing to Do Schoolwork? | Ep. 32Should Parents Have Do-Overs Too?Sometimes I Cry About My Parenting MistakesWhat To Do When Kids Interrupt Important Conference Calls | Ep.
NOTE: This content is available as a video,  a blog post (below), or a 7-minute podcast. We trust this will serve every situation and learning style well. Here at Connected Families we realize this is a tough time for many in our community and in the world as a whole. In response to the current pandemic, we sent out a survey last week to hear, “What is it like to be you?” The response was overwhelming, with a thousand parents responding in just a little over a day. People shared a wide range of responses: About 15% of you said you are doing quite well, finding less stress, and deeper connection in the slower pace. Another 15% said that stress is about normal. Still, another 70% of you are feeling more stress than usual, some of you a LOT more than usual. We read through each of your responses, and what you told us you needed was practical encouragement in short, bite-sized chunks. So, today,  we want to share a word of encouragement with you - You are NOT alone in this! Jesus “GETS” you! Hebrews 4:15 & 16 says,“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”   It helps to have a little context to really take in this verse. Temptations often have more power under stress. And Jesus had more than His share of stress, some of which you may relate to right now:  He was so exhausted that He fell asleep, in a boat, in a storm.  He “managed” 12 disciples who often acted like selfish children.  He navigated a stressful religious and political climate.  He was primarily homeless during the 3 years of his ministry, and had no regular income.  So basically…. He gets us, because He has walked in our shoes! He knows how hard this is for many of you right now.  No matter what’s going on in your life right now, Jesus is with you and cares about you! Regardless of what the constant conflict, messy house, or undone checklist looks like. So how does knowing that “Jesus gets us!” help in a tangible way during this unprecedented situation, especially when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Stress happens when there’s a gap between expectations and your ability to meet those expectations. What does this mean for me, right now? Here are a few practical ideas to help you keep things in perspective:  First of all, lower the expectations you have for yourself. Stress happens when there’s a gap between expectations and your ability to meet those expectations. Maybe you’re feeling pressure to make this a purposeful, connective time with your family. Or shine the light of Jesus to those around you. Or just get that to-do list done. Jesus exceeded expectations so you don’t have to meet your own!  Next, consider what expectations you have that might feel burdensome, and release yourself from those expectations!  Emphasize God’s mercy in the middle of the mess. Claim God’s abundant, overflowing mercy during your messiest, angriest moments. And say it out loud! During an angry power struggle with one of our kids, Lynne had a “Holy Spirit insight,” and said it out loud. “You know what I think God just said to me? ...that He has so much mercy on us in our struggle! He knows how hard it is for you and I to get along. And He loves us.” They both experienced God’s merciful peace. So, in the middle of the craziness, take a breath and remember that God is with you, and say that out loud.   God has abundant mercy for us. God has abundant mercy and good purposes for us in all things. One of the most memorable sermons we’ve ever heard was the spontaneous testimony of a young man in a small, lively church. As this young man was asked by the pastor to share a word, and he stood up and said, “One thing I’ve learned is that God is always up to somethin’ and it’s always somethin’ good!
When your kids misbehave, and you need to discipline them, have you considered what they are learning? Are they learning to submit to angry power? Or, perhaps, are they learning how to get better at hiding their misbehavior and sin? Guiding kids to right their wrongs is no easy task. Most families have one child that demands more of our parenting energy. Is that child hearing an unspoken (or spoken!) message that he/she is a “problem child”? Listen in as Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, dive into the “Correct” level of our framework - teaching the message, “You are responsible for your actions.” With plenty of practical applications and helpful stories from other parents, this podcast is packed with ideas for guiding kids to right their wrongs. These ideas will equip you to lead your family with grace as you guide your children towards reconciliation skills they will utilize for a lifetime. In this podcast you’ll: be given creative alternatives to yelling, time-outs, and punishment, while still holding your children accountable. explore how guiding our children to reconcile in a healthy way when they are younger can have a positive impact on their relationships both now and in the future.  learn a value system for correcting your child that does not just focus on correcting behavior. Mentioned in this podcast: Galatians 6:1 Galatians 6:7 Like what you hear? Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don't miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! We are excited to offer a Connected Families Framework magnet to you for only $5! (This price even includes shipping and handling!) It can help remind you of all you are learning through the podcasts. Order one for your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your car, or wherever you might need a quick reminder as you seek to lead your family with grace. (Live outside the United States? You can print a copy of the framework here.)
What skills would you like your kids to have when they go out into the world? Should you drop what you're doing to bring them something they forgot? How can you prepare your kids for conflicts they will certainly encounter in their relationships, family, and work environments later in life? Listen in as Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, explore what it means to have a vision for your family and give practical ideas for ways to mentor your kids in skills, wisdom, and faith. In this podcast you’ll learn: parenting skills that build emotional intelligence. how thoughtful questions and natural impacts can build wisdom. ideas to model faith and humility so we nurture our kids' faith in God’s grace and mercy. Like what you hear? Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don't miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! We are excited to offer a Connected Families Framework magnet to you for only $5! (This price even includes shipping and handling!) It can help remind you of all you are learning through the podcasts. Order one for your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your car, or wherever you might need a quick reminder as you seek to lead your family with grace. (Live outside the United States? You can print a copy of the framework here.)
You may have heard, “Move TOWARD the struggling child.” This phrase might seem counter-intuitive. Often, when our child is struggling, the last thing we want to do is connect with them.  When we show love unconditionally, especially when our kids misbehave, they will then genuinely understand that our love cannot be earned. And that our love is not reserved exclusively for when they are obedient, helpful, or behaving in the way we want. Join Jim and Lynne Jackson, co-founders of Connected Families, as they discuss what it looks like to make sure our kids know we not only love them unconditionally, but enjoy them. In this podcast you’ll: be given quick, easy “fly-by” ideas for connecting with your kids.learn strategies to help kids understand you still love them, in the middle of misbehavior.receive scripts and words to use that show empathy.hear a story from a mom whose empathy helped her connect with her daughter and get below her daughter’s anger.  Mentioned in this podcast: Zephaniah 3:17 Like what you hear? Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review Connected Families podcasts so you don't miss a single episode and others can find us more easily! We are excited to offer a Connected Families Framework magnet to you for only $5! (This price even includes shipping and handling!) It can help remind you of all you are learning through the podcasts. Order one for your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your car, or wherever you might need a quick reminder as you seek to lead your family with grace. (Live outside the United States? You can print a copy of the framework here.)
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