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Sunshine Parenting

Author: Audrey Monke, Parents on Demand Network

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Camp Director, Mom, Author, and Speaker Audrey Monke and other youth development experts discuss summer camp, family life, raising thriving kids, and ideas for living more connected and happier lives.
149 Episodes
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm chatting with Dr. Chris Thurber, a legendary trainer in the camp industry and a clinical psychologist who works at Phillips Exeter Academy, about how important it for parents to connect with their teens. Chris has developed online training programs for educators and youth leaders around the world and many of the best practices and concepts he teaches apply to parents. We also discuss how the skills kids learn at camp can help them to thrive in life. Big Ideas Even one summer working at a summer camp can be so valuable for the experience gained and training in relational, leadership, and communication skills. Much of the training camp counselors receive is helpful for teachers and parents. Thurber's Tic-Tac advice: Expend as little energy as possible, “no more energy than a Tic-Tac.” Take a break from lecturing or nagging and instead use the low-energy responses of a look, a point, or just saying the child’s name. In our society today, it is harder than ever to be an adolescent. One big reason is the competitiveness of education. Colleges are getting more applications from students around the world as high school graduation rates continue to climb. Parents and students should consider alternatives to college such as apprenticeships and vocational training. Parents need to have more conversations with their kids--girls and especially boys--about their emotions.  Expressing empathy helps to alleviate the pressure that kids are feeling these days. When parents minimize or downplay their feelings, kids do not feel connected. Quotes: Chris: "The reason I think Happy Campers is a brilliant book is you've taken the lessons that we get to practice in a very intense way as camp professionals for, you know, seven, eight, nine weeks with constant feedback about whether it works or not. And I don't mean that kids were filling our questionnaires. I mean, they're either listening or they're not, or they're being compliant or they're not...It's a wonderful laboratory and classroom for parenting." Chris: "We have an untapped resource in a sense at camp. Everyone who is lucky enough to be a staff member at a camp is going to be that much better as a parent. The rest of the world can benefit from what we've understood about child development and behavior management, leadership, supervision, physical and emotional safety." Chris: "Instead of having high school graduates who are excited about going to college or university, they're starting to feel the pressure, even in elementary school or early middle school, to set themselves apart from the crowd, to develop a unique talent, to begin preparing their resume for college." Chris: "It's creating a tremendous amount of pressure for adolescents and that's a problem. They're more anxious, more depressed. It's taking an emotional toll.  Also, we're not thinking creatively as adults about education broadly construed. You don't necessarily need a college degree." Chris: "Apprenticeship is the model we use at summer camp. We have younger leaders apprenticing with older leaders or younger counselors with older counselors so you're learning on the job. We should be applying that to more things." Chris: "It's awesome if you get a bachelor's degree in English literature or physics or computer science, but not everyone wants that, needs that or has that as a career path. And I think we have, as a society, fallen victim to the perceived prestige of a college or university degree and completely overlooked expanded opportunities for vocational training and apprenticeships." Audrey: "You know that what makes a thriving adult is not a test score or even a degree from us particular place. It's these character traits and these interpersonal skills and this emotional depth and all these things that actually can be counter to when we're so focused on these specific metrics." Audrey: "What do you want to be building and growing in yourself and in the kids you work with? You want people who are going to be great friends, who are going to stop and help someone who needs help. When you're so busy climbing your way up to something, you make decisions and sometimes you're not your best self." Chris: "I recommend camp because it's the ideal complement to a traditional or non-traditional classroom setting. You take kids from being mostly inside and bring them outside. You take kids from mostly sitting to mostly running around. You take kids from doing things that have a lot of numbers, quantitative marks associated with them and put them in less structured, less evaluative circumstances." Chris: "It's a way of stretching your brain and building resilience that will not only relieve stress and boost your mood, but also make you more resilient to future challenges. Camp is not the panacea, but it's a huge part of robust youth development." Chris: "Ask better questions. Students here, like students at a lot of schools, are really sick of parents asking, what were your grades? Or if we want to steer clear of performance markers, what'd you do today? How was school? Those are well-intentioned questions. They're benign but they're not nurturing a relationship." Chris: "There are many students here with wonderful relationships with their parents. And I think a big key to that is taking an interest in your child as a person and how are they unique and how are they evolving, developing rather than continuing to try to fit them into some mold." Chris: "Kids need, people need room to be creative and be themselves. I want parents to encourage, to say that it's okay, who knows what it will lead to, but it doesn't need to lead to anything if it feeds your soul. The most authentically happy people in the world are the ones who tap into one of their signature strengths in service to other people." Audrey: "I think there's a lot of value in adults and parents showing kids what it's like to tap into those things even if it's different. If they see you doing something you enjoy, they learn that adults do things they enjoy and they're having fun and they meet other friends that way. So that modeling is really important." Chris: "Model this kind of humility and show your kids, not tell them, how to live. Show them what it is to balance work and play and sleep and get a little exercise and model what it's like to bounce back from failure. If you say something that you realize didn't have the intended effect or was the wrong thing to say, don't move on and pretend like nobody heard it. Talk about it, fix it. If you're enraged, that's not the time to debrief it, but you can always circle back." Chris: "Talk with your kids about what your vulnerabilities are. It's such an important thing to be able to do. For well-intentioned parents who make missteps, you shouldn't view your kids as fragile. They can bounce back from something you said or didn't say or forgot. They need to see you trying hard. They need to see you learning from mistakes." Chris: "Provide empathy but when you get to the end of your empathic statements, full stop, let it sink in. Let your kid respond. Let them just process the fact that you acknowledged some of the dimensions of their emotional experience. We are all tempted to immediately follow our empathic statement with problem-solving. But when someone is in distress, whether it's they didn't like the news they heard from a college or the grade they got on a test or the fact that you know their significant other just broke up with him by text message, or whatever it might be, they don't want to hear the solution right now and they probably know what the solution is anyway."   About Dr. Chris Thurber Dr. Christopher Thurber enjoys creating and sharing original content for business leaders, independent educators, and youth development professionals. He is a board-certified clinical psychologist, educator, author, and father. Chris earned his BA from Harvard University in 1991 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA in 1997. A dedicated teacher from a young age, Chris has more than 30 years of experience working with camps and independent schools. He has written numerous book chapters and scholarly articles on leadership, homesickness, and youth development. An award-winning contributor to Camping Magazine and Camp Business, Chris has also shared his opinions and expertise on national and international radio, television, print media, podcasts, and webinars, including The Today Show, Martha Stewart, and CNN. In 1999, after a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Chris accepted a position as psychologist and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy, a coeducational, independent school in seacoast New Hampshire. Combining his love of research, teaching, and clinical work, Chris’s work at Exeter has grown to include publications and presentations for The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) the British Boarding Schools Association (BSA) and the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA). Chris has keynoted conferences for all three associations and has delivered guest lectures on the differences between Chinese and American public education, as well as the complementary nature of schools and camps at schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Wenzhou. In 2000, Chris and his lifelong friend, Dr. Jon Malinowski, co-authored the critically acclaimed Summer Camp Handbook, hailed by psychologist and parent, Dr. John Weisz, as “a remarkable accomplishment…the best in its field…required reading for every camper’s family…the most comprehensive and scientifically sound coverage of the camp experience available.” The Summer Camp Handbook has since sold tens of thousands of copies, won a Parenting Press Gold Award, and been translated into Chinese. As part of his lifelong effort to enhance the camp experience for young people, Chris has been a guest on The Today Show, Martha Stewart, CNN, Fox, CBS Morning News, and NPR. Chris is the Founder and CEO of CampSpirit, LLC,  which provides consultation and training to professional educators and youth leaders around the world. As he traveled across five continents to present in-person staff training workshops, Chris realized that no directors of summer youth programs had enough time with their employees to provide all the necessary training prior to opening day. The increased complexity of health regulations and accreditation standards, as well as heightened awareness of child abuse and risk management, made training demands higher than ever, especially for seasonal employees and volunteers. But with a fixed period of time during which to conduct on-site training, an innovative educational solution was imperative. Resources Mentioned Chris Thurber Expert Online Training David Brook's Road to Character Bill Pollack's Real Boys Michael Thompson Related Posts/Podcasts Why Teens Need Summer Camp More Than Ever Ep. 89: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men with Michael Reichert, Ph.D. Ep. 92: Creating Strong Relationships with Teens Ep. 32: 10 Benefits of Summer Camp for Teens Ep. 27: Raising Teens who Thrive with Stephen Wallace 11 Ways to Help Kids Create REAL Connections
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm talking about my theme for this month: Connection! All month long, my posts and podcast episodes are centered around this topic, and it's one that I feel is critically important to raising thriving kids. In fact, the first chapter of my book Happy Campers (Secret #1) is Connection comes first. 6 Tips for Creating Connection #1 Ask good questions. As Chris Thurber shared in last week's episode (Ep. 122: How to Connect with Your Teen with Chris Thurber), Parents often ask kids questions about school and sports - questions that focus on their achievements - instead of questions that are more about them as a person. Use my Questions for Connection download (below) for 50 questions that can help spur deeper conversations with your kids. These kinds of questions show your child that you care about them, and you're interested in their thoughts and feelings. Don't forget to ask follow up questions. If they share about a topic, circling back to that, even a day or a week later shows that you were really listening and cared about what they shared. #2 Give kids your full attention. As little as 5 minutes a day giving your child your full attention will make a big difference. It might be easiest to have this be at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit, such as at bedtime. Kids need our full, undivided, undistracted attention for at least a few minutes every day. #3 Listen & Empathize Listen and empathize, instead of trying to solve their problems for them. When parents do less preaching and teaching and just show up for their kids, it builds trust and confidence. Make sure kids know that we're on their team and we're with them whether or not they've made a mistake, gotten a bad grade, or are having some kind of problem. #4 Have a daily sharing practice. Sharing can be any time of day and in any format. When we look for good things in our daily lives we tend to be more positive and our wellbeing increases overall. Start by sharing one good thing that happened--or three. #5 Write a heartfelt sticky note Use one of my Sticky Note Solutions to connect with your kids. Leave an encouraging note on their bathroom mirror, on their pillow, or in their lunch box. Tell your child something you really appreciate about them and something that's an inner quality or what we call a Level 3 affirmation. #6 Use their "Love Language" Find out what your child's love language is and show them you care by giving small gifts, acts of service, quality time, positive compliments, or affection. Even though we can all appreciate any kind or loving gesture, there are certain ways that we feel most connected with other people. Kids really enjoy it when we speak their love language. Big Ideas Creating a close and connected family culture that promotes positive, lifelong relationships is the most important thing we can do for our children. Forming a positive, nurturing relationship with your child will help ensure your child’s future happiness and success in all areas of life. Feeling appreciated and accepted for who they are, and knowing that parental love is not conditional on performance, is critical to your child’s well-being. Our kids need to clearly get the message of belonging at home: “You are valued and needed here.” Quotes Audrey: "You can really develop a close bond with someone when you just take the time to ask good questions and then listen intently to their response." Audrey: "When I'm talking to campers at camp about being a good friend, I share with them that asking questions is a great way to get to know people better and to get closer with your friends. And then really listening to their response and asking followup questions about their answers is like the next level." Audrey: "I think that full attention is something that is really rare these days. We're all so distracted that to give someone our full, focused attention takes intention." Audrey: "Attention means really not just not having any distractions present, but clearing your mind and being just really mindfully present with your child." Audrey: "When our children come to us with their latest kind of issue, challenge, problem, instead of jumping in with our advice and insight and wisdom, take a deep breath, let a little pause happen in the conversation and then say something empathetic." Audrey: "That's probably the key to so many relationships. Instead of offering our advice and wisdom, just offer our empathy and our connection and being there for them." Audrey: "I do encourage some kind of daily sharing habit, whether it's just between you and your child or your whole family. It really does improve your connection and it also improves your child's communication skills because they're both sharing with others and they're listening and learning to hopefully ask followup questions and be more aware of what's going on with other people as well." Audrey: "Sometimes in the day to day life, we're so caught up and keeping things moving forward that I feel like especially when my kids were younger, I spent a lot of time just kind of nagging them. It was so much about logistics was a lot of our conversation, so it wasn't really a very connected feeling." Audrey: "If you know your child has been really busy at school and regularly has been so great about doing their chores, but you step in and do it for them and say, 'Hey, thanks so much for working so hard at home. I wanted to give you a little lighter load today so I folded your laundry for you.' That would go a long way in just letting your child know how much you care about them."   Resources / Related Posts & Podcasts Connection Through Questions Arthur Aron's 36 questions Ep. 122: How to Connect with Your Teen with Chris Thurber Ep. 121: The Power of Showing Up with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson Giving Kids Our Full Attention 11 Ways to Help Kids Create REAL Connections Ep. 116: Why We Need to Unplug to Connect with our Families
In this podcast episode, I'm joined by my friend Christine Carter, a sociologist working out of UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center and author of some of my favorite parenting books. We are talking about her newest book, The New Adolescence, Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distractions. Big Ideas As your kids enter adolescence, parents should change their mindset from being their manager to being their coach. As they get older, kids need to be their own manager and take care of more things independently. Kids need less practical support and more emotional support. As their "life coach" you can help them to clarify what outcomes they want and be there for them, without being over-involved. 3 Core Skills Kid Need for the Digital Age: Focus Connection Rest Parents should try to model a life full of focus, connection and rest. The New Adolescence offers tips and talking points on some difficult topics such as sex, drinking alcohol, drugs, and money, and ways to discuss them with your child. The earlier kids start drinking alcohol, and the more they drinking in high school, the more likely it is that they will develop a substance abuse disorder. It is important to note that marijuana today has higher THC and less CBD than in years past and pot use in adolescence has proven to hinder brain development. Real-life social connections are a good antidote for depression, stress, and anxiety. Quotes Christine: "As parents, we haven't adapted to the massive changes (in our culture) and we're not continuing to adapt as things continue to change." Christine: "If we're used to doing everything for our kids and we find meaning and a sense of purpose in being somebody's chief of staff or manager, then it's hard. It's a loss of a role." Christine: "Kids need coaches to ask them to clarify what it is they want, what outcomes they are after and to help them to get those outcomes. You can be as emotionally supportive as you want but not over-involved." Audrey: "Our kids will have setbacks and make mistakes and sometimes get themselves into bad circumstances. These things are going to happen." Christine: "We can only do our best. I understand why parents are not engaging in some of these harder issues because it's hard to even understand what's going on." Audrey: "Your book is a great guidebook and it's a great start for people who are struggling. There's this balance that sometimes parents have a hard time finding, between letting your child grow up, gain more responsibility, more independence, trusting them, and changing your relationship." Audrey: "I think it's very simple to think about changing from being a manager to a coach. You're there for advice. You want them to come to you when they're struggling with something or need some help, but you are not going to, for instance, make their dentist appointment anymore. You share with them the phone number and make sure they know how often they need to go and that kind of thing." Christine: "We are living through an age of great distraction. At the same time, we're seeing a real change in the type of work these kids are going to be asked to do. Most of them will be paid to think...and focus." Christine: "They're not developing focus as a skill because they're multitasking all the time. They're constantly interrupted. They never learned to value focus or have the experience of doing deep work." Christine: "Focus is the superpower of the 21st century. That is the most important thing that they need for their success and happiness. We know that the sort of deep gratification and fulfillment comes from being able to persist in your long term goals. And that takes focus." Christine: "Building mastery takes focus. The things that are really gratifying to us, take focus. That's different from focusing for hours-on-end on a video game." Christine: "Connection is the most important predictor of happiness that we have. It's the most consistent finding we have in a hundred or so years of research. Our overall wellbeing is predicted consistently by both the breadth and depth of our real-life social connections." Christine: "This is a generation that is less connected, ironically, than previous generations. They spend less time with their friends." Christine: "The human nervous system evolved to be connected in person. We get a lot out of touch, even micro touches, like a pat on the shoulder, and eye contact. Our nervous system doesn't feel alone when it can make eye contact with somebody else." Christine: "When your nervous system feels like it's alone, as it does when you're alone in your room, but connecting with people over text or social media, it starts to feel stressed." Audrey: "If parents only do one thing, it's fostering the relationship with their kids and helping their kids foster those close face-to-face relationships." Christine: "When you look at the tsunami of mental illness that is coming toward us in terms of super high anxiety, depression, suicidality, it's explainable alone from a data standpoint--just by sleep depravation. When you control for sleep, all the problems start to go away." Christine: "Kids are the most under-slept teenagers we've ever seen. It's really affecting their mental health. They're under the impression that they need to stay up late, that it's more important to study than to sleep, that they're too busy to take breaks." Christine: "Our culture believes in busy-ness like it's a sign of your value, your productivity, your importance. And of course, none of that's true. It's completely limiting belief. But this is how we operate and our kids have picked up on this. They don't rest and it impairs their brain development." Audrey: "I'm better at what I do when I take breaks, if I get a good nights' sleep, if I have plenty of time to read, time with my friends, I'm better at everything else. Those rest breaks make me better." Audrey: "It's not that the screens are bad, there are lots of fun things that happen and connection, it's what it has replaced when kids are on them all the time." Christine: "If you have a kid who's struggling, they're not alone. You're not alone. It's really hard for all of us and there are a lot of resources out there." Christine: "We just have to engage. We just have to do our best. Once you have some more tools, you'll be able to do better. You'll see the quality of your relationship with your kids will change." About Christine [caption id="attachment_7187" align="alignright" width="243"] Photo Credit: Blake Farrington[/caption] Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the author of The New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction (2020), The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less (2017) and Raising Happiness (2011). A senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Carter draws on the latest scientific research in psychology, sociology, and neuroscience — and uses her own often hilarious real-world experiences — to give parenting, productivity and happiness advice. She lives with her husband, four teenagers, and dog Buster in Marin County, California. Resources Christine's free downloads are available on her website. Follow Christine of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn Her books: Raising Happiness, The Sweet Spot, The New Adolescence Coaching resources Christine Carter's Blog Greater Good Magazine Related Ep. 1: Raising Happiness with Christine Carter Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Christine Carter, Ph.D. Ep. 41: Getting Comfortable with our Kids’ (and our own) Discomfort with Christine Carter The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work, Christine Carter Ep. 123: Connection Comes First Ep. 93: Teaching Healthy Relationship Skills to Improve Lives Ep. 92: Creating Strong Relationships with Teens Connection Through Questions Ep. 2: 10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs  
In this episode, I'm joined by my good friend and longtime camp industry colleague, Brooke Cheley-Klebe. Both of us have three daughters, so we've had a lot of discussion over the years about raising girls. In this episode, Brooke and I talk about how she stays close to her daughters, currently ages 14, 11, and 7.  She has many insights both as a mom and from her 25 years working with campers and staff at Cheley Colorado Camps. Parenting girls today is more challenging than ever. We can all use new ideas and insights, and Brooke has some simple strategies to stay close to her girls. Parents and caregivers can help their daughters become thriving adults by focusing on our connection and relationship with our daughters. Show up in those little moments, such as having breakfast together, bedtime, driving in the car. Make eye contact, and connect. Rituals--especially around bedtime--are important anchors in your relationship with your children. Help girls understand that they're enough just the way they are. It's more important to be authentic than perfect. Teach them about practicing a growth mindset and model positive self-talk. In conversations, connect with fun questions that focus on their thoughts and feelings rather than their achievements, like grades and scores. Practices like meditation, setting intentions, being present and expressing gratitude, help to create an environment where kids, especially our daughters, thrive. Find hobbies, fun things to do so that our kids can see us enjoying life.
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm speaking with Niki Spears, the co-founder of the Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey. She started this organization to bring the positive messages of Jon Gordon's book, The Energy Bus, to schools everywhere. Niki has spent over 15 years working in education. Once an elementary school principal, she now works full time as a teacher educator and change leader. Big Ideas Educators have the power to transform the culture of their schools and create an environment kids love with amazing, positive energy. Research clearly shows that culture and leadership greatly influence a school’s learning environment and students’ academic success. Bringing the principles from The Energy Bus to life in schools has helped transform the culture in classrooms around the country. A key principle taught is that you're the driver of your bus. Your attitude will help you to control the outcome. Giving students the opportunity to understand the power of choice is important. Start early by offering them options so they get to practice making decisions. People can learn to choose their responses in difficult situations. Ask kids to think about what brings them joy or write down what they are grateful for so that they learn ways to overcome negative thinking. Parents and educators can read The Energy Bus for Kids with their children. It's a story about the importance of positivity and transforming your mindset. It is helpful for parents to share with their children how they stay positive at home and at work and model positivity. Positive school climates are linked to increased high school graduation rates, turnarounds in low-performing schools, reduced school violence, and increased communication among students, families, and faculty. The Energy Bus program is now in over 150 schools across the country--and growing! Audrey & Niki at The Energy Bus training, 2017. Quotes Niki: "The positivity is truly contagious. What you focus on, you get more of, so when you focus on the positive, more of that flows into your life." Niki: "You're responsible for your own happiness and no one else is going to make you happy." Niki: "Our teachers have to understand that they are the leaders of their lives. A lot of times, teachers feel as if they are the victims. That's how society makes us feel sometimes. I want teachers to understand and remember that this was their choice to become an educator." Audrey: "What's amazing about your whole program--and the whole book--is that it trickles down. You're teaching the teachers this concept and once they've taken it in, they're passing it along to the kids." Audrey: "I love that this training is not just some kind of esoteric concept for teachers, but it's so immediately applicable at the school." Niki: "If we want to see magic take place in the classroom, we need to address the elephant in the room, which is adult behavior." Niki: "I know our jobs are challenging, but if we have a positive attitude going in, then that positivity will definitely trickle down to our students who need us to be present for them." Audrey: "Teachers need this training because you can't just depend on a school administrator to solve an issue that's about a culture." Niki: "We can't control the events, but we can control our response to the things that happen to us." Niki: "If they take that time to pause and think about their choices, they are becoming empowered and they're sitting in the driver's seat now, as well." Niki: "It's not all about one person being in control, but it's about empowering people to understand that they are in charge of their thoughts, actions, and results." Niki: "At one of our schools in Texas, when we walked in they were playing music, the kids were greeting each other in the hallways, they're dancing, and you could tell the staff loved being there. It was a fun place to be that day. Every school should have this kind of energy." Niki: "You do have a choice about how you look at a situation and about whether or not you're going to adopt a belief." Niki: "When we conduct training, people come up with their own strategies. They collaborate. We teach them the principles and they decide how to teach that principle to their students. It's amazing what happens when you empower people to do that." Niki: "If you're not in the driver's seat, nothing is going to happen. I talk a lot about taking 100% responsibility. There's so much power in taking responsibility. When we blame and complain, the only thing we are doing is keeping up the drama. Your bus is stuck in the mud." Niki: "Love your passengers. In schools, we talk a lot about bullying and what happens when we have anti-bullying campaigns is more incidents of bullying because you just reinforced bullying. So if we reinforce kindness and love in our schools, we see more of that." Audrey: "When you tell kids what not to do, all they hear sometimes is what's at the end of the sentence. So instead of, 'No diving' we say, 'Jump in feet first.'" Audrey: "I think so often adults don't really treat kids with the respect they deserve. They're people, they're humans with feelings and thoughts. And if they're not behaving appropriately, we need to get curious about why that is happening. It might be because they're not feeling loved and respected where they are." Niki: "Each person comes into a building with their own personal culture. And so it's up to us to talk about what we share, what we have in common. It's important to talk about our mission, our vision, and to share that with students so that they can align their behaviors with where we want to go." Audrey: "It's the power you have if you're the teacher, if you're the adult in the classroom, in the cabin group. If you're the adult, you have a tremendous ability to create this amazing positive culture for your students, your campers." Niki: "Every teacher needs a lot of tools in their toolkit. They have to see themselves as 'edutainers' because you have to engage kids to keep their attention." Resources @NikiSpears4 @EnergyBusSchools Join the Journey! Jon Gordon’s Blog Print out bus tickets 10 Rules for the ride of your life   Related The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, Jon Gordon Hop on The Energy Bus! Ep. 58: Authentic Teaching with Jackie Beyer  The Power of Positive Words 10 Fun Ways Teachers Can Help Kids Connect with Other Kids Happiness Habits More pics from Niki's visit to camp in 2017:
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm speaking with Dr. Jess Shatkin, about preventing mental illness and promoting health in children and adolescents. As a clinician, researcher and educator, Dr. Shatkin is one of the country's foremost experts in adolescent mental health, risk and resilience. Big Ideas Extensive research about mental health has led us to a good understanding of what we can do preventatively for young people. Dr. Shatkin offers practical strategies for parents and people working with kids to help prevent mental illness: Practice authoritative parenting: show love and support give clear guidelines set limits reinforce positively punish infrequently Other parenting styles, authoritarian, permissive or negligent parenting, produce more negative outcomes for children. Professionals need to understand and apply these authoritative parenting skills when working with kids. Kids themselves can learn these basic tools of behavioral modification, and it would go a long way toward helping them have better relationships, social awareness, and improved mental health. These behavioral modification tools are: positive reinforcement effective commands - brief directives not stated as questions and praise by labeling exactly what was done right active ignoring - ignore the behavior you don't like coupled with positive reinforcement for good behavior scheduling kids using reward programs limit setting consequences (such as time-outs for little kids) Global strategies to address these issues: We should support more teacher training in these areas. Early education should include teaching behavior modification, emotion regulation, emotion identification, and communication skills. Resilience education with college students has lowered anxiety, improved mood, and coping skills, lowered dysfunctional attitudes. Dr. Jess Shatkan's triumvirate of good health, three healthy habits that every parent can help their child to develop: Exercise When people exercise regularly, they feel better about themselves, they feel more competent and more empowered. Too many kids are not getting enough exercise. More physical activity leads to better concentration and overall health. Sleep Sleep is critical for managing stress and anxiety. When people don't sleep their brain patterns are disrupted causing worse decision making, higher rates of obesity, and less empathy. Nutrition Obesity is a huge problem, as over 35% of children are overweight. Parents need to provide healthy meals whenever possible, avoid fast food and pesticides and hormones in food. Schools and parents can teach the importance of good nutrition. Because excessive screen use is shown to have damaging effects on health and wellbeing, parents should enforce these screen rules: parents own the screen and the child uses it as a reward or opportunity. parents "friend" their kids on social media parents supervise and limit screen time screens should be in public spaces (not bedrooms) use a blue light blocking device when used in the evening to avoid sleep problems An environment like camp, which offers time away from screens, exercise, healthy food options, positive social interactions and well-trained counselors, promotes good mental health for our children. Quotes Jess: "Mental illness is growing in frequency, it's happening more commonly. The more we study it, the more we see it, the better our practitioners are trained, the more easily we pick it up, the more treatments we have, the better people do. But at the same time, we've learned so much now about mental health that there's a lot we can prevent." Jess: "Kids who have parents who are authoritative do much better in every way. They become better students. They're more likely to stay in school, less likely to have a premature pregnancy, less likely to get sexually transmitted infections, less likely to get involved in drugs, less likely to have accidents and injuries like automobile accidents. They are more likely to go to college. They're more likely to be healthy adults and not have depression and diabetes and all the rest. It's the amazing power of parenting." Jess: "I think that we should be teaching the skills that lead to this kind of approach, this sort of behavioral modification, in the earliest of years, that teachers could be using these skills in elementary schools and kids could be learning what these skills are in high school so that all their relationships are better." Jess: "So it's a mistake to ask your kids for things unless no is an acceptable answer.  If you give them a choice, 'would you like to wear a sweater or jacket? It's cold tonight.' You get a choice, but it's not, 'do you want to put on something?' or 'do you want to brush your teeth?' or 'do you think it's time to do this or that?' Or 'how about cleaning your room buddy?' or those kinds of things." Jess: "Authoritative parenting can be taught through parent training--this is what I mean by prevention. We see a lot more mental illness amongst kids who drop out of school, amongst kids who have premature pregnancy, amongst kids who have accidents, injuries, and sexually transmitted infections. And these kinds of things will help us to manage the behavior of kids better so we don't get to that point." Audrey: "The camp counselor training that we do is a lot of this stuff that you're talking about. It's using positive words, ignoring things, pointing out the kid that's doing the thing right so that the other kids see that you noticed. It's all this basic stuff but most of them have not experienced it themselves before they've come to camp. And so they will tell us afterward that because of the training they got at camp, they're a better parent. They're great teachers." Audrey: "Some teachers don't know how to relate to kids. They go through their teacher training, they get their credentials, and they know all about physics or English, but they don't know what their kids need in order to feel belonging, connection to the teacher and a desire to learn what's being taught." Audrey: "I always say like connection before everything else. Connection before correction of course, but also just connection before learning. Your kid on the first day of school is sitting in that class of 30, and they're thinking, who's here am I gonna have any friends? Who's gonna be my partner at this science table? The teachers need to address that. Do a few team building activities like the ones we do at camp. It might take five minutes and then you have this connection and the kids are looking forward to going into that room and feeling part of this community. It's so fundamental. And the same with families. So I'm with you on that. I would love to see universal parent education." Jess: "When I go into schools and I say to parents, 'what do you want for your child by the time they graduate high school?' they never say 'be great at geometry' or 'be able to speak iambic pentameter.' What they say is, 'I want them to share. I want her to be a good citizen. I want him to do what he says he's going to do. I wanted to have good friends.' They never say anything about academics. Mostly its human qualities." Jess: "We spend a third of our lives asleep, yet nobody knows anything about sleep except for people who study sleep. And then there's a lot to know about sleep. Now you may not be able to make yourself a perfect sleeper by learning about sleep, but you can do a whole lot better than you're probably doing now. And it makes a big difference for people." Audrey: "I agree with you that the first thing is just parents understanding communication, how to relate to their child and have this authoritative style. But sleep is so critical and for parents too because when we don't get enough sleep, we are not good with anybody. So it's like everybody is sleep-deprived." Jess: "Increasingly we're recognizing that there really is an impact from screens. It impacts the brain, it impacts the way we perceive a threat, how anxious we feel. It affects our sleep in a big, big way, and when your sleep is affected, a lot of things are affected." Jess: "We can look deep into the brain now and we see the effect that being on screens is having on kids. We see less empathy and when the screens are taken away, they all of a sudden become more empathic." Jess: "Exercise helps our bodies in myriad ways, not the least of which is to sleep and burn calories effectively. You maintain a high metabolism, but also to improve your mood. We know that people who exercise regularly improve mood and we know that exercise works as well as psychotherapy for mild and moderate depression." Jess: "I always direct parents to do stuff with their kids. Go biking with your kid, take vigorous walks with your kid, go hiking with your kid. There's nothing better than family activity." Audrey: "I just think if there was one thing parents of young kids could do now is just keep the screens out for themselves too. It seems like that's a simple thing that actually if you're not on your screen as much, you're probably getting more exercise and more sleep." Jess: "There was an interesting study where they took middle school kids out in the woods for five days and they did school out in the woods and the kids had better eye contact at the end of those five days. They reported more empathy in the surveys that they completed. They were happier." Audrey: "It's true that when kids are at camp, they report that they feel happier and they feel like they have better friends in those two weeks at camp than all year because it's real connection without distraction. And they're outside, getting tons of exercise and a lot more sleep and nutritious food." Resources Dr. Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, who leads the educational efforts of the NYU Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He sees patients each day, in addition to running all medical student, resident, and psychology training emanating from the department. In addition, Dr. Shatkin has developed the nation's largest undergraduate program in child/adolescent development at NYU, which teaches 100 courses to over 5,000 students each year. Finally, Dr. Shatkin studies adolescent risk, resilience, and the prevention of mental illness. He has written two books, over 100 scientific articles, and is a popular presenter at meetings and conferences worldwide. Social media: @DrJessPShatkin Facebook Dr. Shatkin's radio show on Sirius XM Dr. Shatkin, Born to be Wild book Dr. Shatkin, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Alan Kazdin, Parent Management Training Book Cynthia Whitham, Win the Whining War Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training Related Ep. 16  about Dr. Shatkin's book Born to be Wild: Why teens take risks and how we can help keep them safe. Ep. 111: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World Ep. 87: The Impact of Camp Experiences with Laurie Browne, Ph.D. 10 Reasons Great Parents Choose Summer Camp for Their Kids  
Show notes & links available here. Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is one of my favorite people. She's a psychotherapist, founder and executive director of the Center for Connection in Pasadena, California, and co-author with Dr. Daniel Siegel of four of my favorite books, including her most recent one (out on January 7, 2020):  The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become And How Their Brains Get Wired. Over the past several years, I've had the privilege of getting to know Tina not just as an amazing speaker and author but as a phenomenal person and friend. She even wrote the foreword for my book, Happy Campers! In The Power of Showing Up, Tina and Dan share important research and findings about childhood attachment and how being present for our kids is so vital for their healthy development. This book is helpful not only for parents but also for adults who want to better understand how their own childhoods impact their adult relationships and how to change generational patterns of insecure attachment. Big Ideas One of the best predictors for how well kids turn out is that they have a secure attachment with at least one person. As discussed in the conclusion of the Whole Brain Child, the most important thing a parent can do is to show up and really be present for their children, helping them build secure attachments. Showing up means offering a quality of presence. And it’s simple to provide once you understand the four building blocks of a child’s healthy development. Every child needs to feel what Siegel and Bryson call the Four S’s: Safe: We can’t always insulate a child from injury or avoid doing something that leads to hurt feelings. But when we give a child a sense of safe harbor, she will be able to take the needed risks for growth and change. Seen: Truly seeing a child means we pay attention to his emotions—both positive and negative—and strive to attune to what’s happening in his mind beneath his behavior. Soothed: Soothing isn’t about providing a life of ease; it’s about teaching your child how to cope when life gets hard, and showing him that you’ll be there with him along the way. A soothed child knows that he’ll never have to suffer alone. Secure: When a child knows she can count on you, time and again, to show up—when you reliably provide safety, focus on seeing her, and soothe her in times of need, she will trust in a feeling of secure attachment. And thrive! There are 4 different types of childhood attachment based on parenting patterns: Abusive, frightening parenting leads to disorganized attachment. Avoidant attachment results when parents avoid dealing with the emotional needs of a child. Intimacy is lacking and parents are not tuned into the internal world. This type of parenting results in children who shut down emotionally and they grow up to also have this dismissive pattern. The anxious parent is really unpredictable or even intrusive. The parent's emotions take over and flood into what's happening. This results in clingy, unpredictable behavior and ambivalent attachment. The "Good Enough" parent is one who shows up when needed. This secure, optimal attachment pattern can be full of ruptures and mistakes as long as reparations are made with kids. They get the message: "You're safe. I'm with you. We'll figure it out together." When kids feel safe, seen and soothed most of the time, their brains are wired to securely know that if they're having a hard time or in distress, someone will see it and show up for them. Repeated kinds of secure attachment experiences build the middle prefrontal cortex. This is the seat of insight, empathy, emotional regulation, bodily regulation, attuned communication, intuition, morality, executive function, the part of the brain that allows us to be mentally healthy and to have a wide window of tolerance to withstand adversity. We live in a time when there is so much distraction, disconnection, and despair. The antidote is being present with each other and really focusing on connection. Quotes Tina: "There is one thing that can really be our North star in our relationships as caregivers with our children. And it actually applies to all of our relationships. One of the best predictors for how well kids turn out is that they have a secure attachment with at least one person." Tina: "This to me is the most important of all of the things I know and all the things I've ever studied or written about or talked about. This is the one most important thing." Audrey: "About 10 years ago when the Whole Brain Child came out, it wasn't as hard to show up as parents. Now, we are so fragmented and it's more normal to be distracted and not present. It's so interesting to me how the concept of mindfulness has exploded. Basically, it's just being where you are and with the person you're with. It's not some crazy concept, it's just something that now we need to intentionally practice because it's no longer common." Tina: "This whole achievement-based way that we define success, and the focus on what kind of college your kid gets into, has really driven our parenting to this kind of hyper-parenting space where it's even harder to be present and see our kids and know our kids. That hyper-parenting is seen as the norm. And that's not what the science says that we should be doing, it's kind of the opposite." Tina: "It's the experience we have, in particular, the repeated experiences, and even more particularly repeated relational experiences that have a huge impact on how our brain wires. So if our homes are frenetic and chaotic, and we're constantly over-scheduled and distracted and disconnected, constantly trying to just make it to the next thing, those are the kinds of experiences that are wiring the brain for that kind of pace, hyper-alert and never calm. It breeds anxiety. Instead think about how we can create environments or relationships that are actually safe havens, a safe harbor for the ship out in the storm." Tina: "Attachment really is a mammal thing. It goes beyond humans and at it's basic, its that when we are in danger or distress, we go to an attachment figure that will help us be safe and survive. We are biologically programmed to choose someone to help us. So when parents provide that secure attachment, which looks like the 4 S's of safe, seen, soothed, then over time that leads to secure." Tina: "You can imagine how powerful it is to give the gift of security to kids because then they find relationships, like friends and partners, that they expect to see them and show up for them. Ultimately what happens is that their brain is wired to provide the 4 S's for themselves, so they can help themselves feel safe, seen and soothed." Audrey: "Sometimes when parents think of the word safe, it can lead to over-parenting and not allowing our kids to climb up the jungle gym or do these things that are a little bit risky. Keeping your kids safe does not mean putting the bubble wrap on and not letting them ever go anywhere or do anything." Tina: "If we overprotect them, that is actually not making them safe. That makes them fragile. The way we learn how to be resilient and how to handle difficult things is by practicing sitting in, dealing with and walking through difficult stuff." Tina: "It means walking with them through it and allowing them to do it. It's also not permissive. It's also having boundaries where your kids know that you mean business and you're going to hold the boundary. That actually makes them feel safe." Tina: "Just showing up in that moment with my presence is all my child really needs. That's the key." Tina: "There are so many competing things for what we should be doing as parents. We beat ourselves up for not doing enough and there are moments when I don't know what to do or if my instinct is right." Audrey: "It's not about being permissive. When your child's upset about something, it's not about giving in to them. In fact, that's not right. You need to hold the boundary, but you can do it nicely. I think parents sometimes think they have to be harsh to hold a boundary because maybe that's what was modeled for them." Tina: "The most important thing at any given moment is to really be present. We need to do our own work and have our own self-care so that we have the capacity to do it." Tina: "If we didn't have that modeled for us or we didn't have our brains wired in that way because we had parents who were scary or who were emotionally dismissing or who made things worse instead of soothing us, we need to make sure we have people in our lives that show up for us and give us the 4 S's so that our tank gets full so that we can do that." Tina: "I think it's such a good way to live. It's not just with our kids, but you know, when you're in the store checking out, making sure you're not on your phone and you're making eye contact with the person and just asking how are you today? Or you know, has it been really busy? Be present in whatever moments you have because it's better for the world." Audrey: "We don't have to be perfect, we can just do the basic human showing up stuff." Tina: "That's also a good thing to remember: Not perfect, but present. That's just a good little mantra."   Related Helping Kids Find Their “Green Zone” (and Finding our Own!) Ep. 20: The Yes Brain with Tina Payne Bryson, PhD   Ep. 95: Raising a “Yes Brain” Child with Tina Payne Bryson The Yes Brain with Tina Payne Bryson Connection Through Questions 11 Ways to Help Kids Create REAL Connections Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. Learn more about Tina by visiting her websites: The Center for Connection Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. Other Books by Tina Payne Bryson and Dr. Dan Siegel: The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind No Drama Discipline The YES Brain
In this episode, Sara Kuljis and I discuss the importance of family rituals and traditions. It's one of the topics that we wanted to cover with parents in our Raise Thriving Kids Workshop that we had in September. Big Ideas Family Rituals and traditions are important because they: help build a sense of shared identity and deep belonging. help us organize and make sense of an ever-changing world. help teach and impact faith and family values. They may remind us of our cultural backgrounds. provide safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world. help us cope with trauma and loss. produce amazing memories, the silly and the sacred. Talk to your kids about what traditions are important to them and let them come up with their own. Quotes Sara: "It has been remarkable to watch how important, year after year, the daily rituals and traditions of summer camp are to our campers and to our staff. I dove in and did quite a bit of research on this and was struck by how profoundly shaping rituals and traditions are in our family cultures." Sara: "In our fast-paced world, where people travel for work, where families are going in different directions more often, where we don't necessarily live by extended family, many of the rituals and traditions are falling by the wayside. Kids have fewer of these anchor points than they used to back in the day." Sara: "There are things that stay the same when lots of other things are changing and it really does give us a sense of structure and stability and addresses our longing for simpler things and things you can count on. I think that's very important to kids, especially as they're growing, changing schools, maybe moving homes. Maybe family dynamics are changing, but I can count on tradition." Audrey: "People like that security of know that things are as they were. Kids need structure, they need to know when bedtime is, but they equally need the ritual of being tucked in and having someone say prayers with them or say goodnight to them or whatever the tradition is in your family." Sara: "Children want boundaries. They want a frame around the picture. As they are figuring out how to live life, they really crave discipline. So structure and traditions add to that and it creates a sense of safety and knowing what to expect." Audrey: "You almost don't realize some of the practices that you do or don't do that are traditions.  It is anything that you do that is part of your family's life. So many of our rituals are communicating our values." Sara: "There are a lot of life skills, really practical stuff, that are embedded in traditions that are helpful for our kids. Traditions provide us safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world. The more change, the more rituals and traditions we need." Audrey: "When things are tumultuous, you just want these touchstones of things that are still going to happen, that you can depend on still being there, regardless of what else has changed." Sara: "I urge you to look back and think about the rituals built into your family. What are the memories that came out of that? What glue to bond a family and help you get through some of the bumpy times." Audrey: "Sometimes when you're in it, you don't realize that those are traditions. If there's something that you do as a family that's really fun or memorable, why not repeat it each year?" Sara: "As you think of the traditions in your own family, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure. The big things are awesome but sometimes it's just the daily flow of life things that provide even more anchoring." Audrey: "Returning to camp itself, or to the vacation places where your family likes to go, year after year, will help to bring calm back to the storm of life." Audrey: "Rituals and traditions are just something that can be going on all year, every day or every weekend or whatever, Friday night, movie night, a Saturday morning hike -- it could be anything." Resources Find out about our next Raise Thriving Kids Workshop 100 Family Memories 5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities Related If you liked this podcast episode, listen to: Ep. 7: Family Pace and Space with Sara Kuljis Ep. 23: Peaceful Mornings with Sara Kuljis Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis Ep. 70: Parent on Purpose with Amy Carney    
This episode is a live recording of my chat with Sara Kuljis about some of our favorite year-end reflection activities. Joining Sara and me for this episode is Kate Rader, one of the participants from our Raise Thriving Kids Workshop. Kate is a stay-at-home mom to 3 adventure-seeking and fun-loving kiddos, Lauren and Caroline, identical twins who are 13 and Jack, age 10, wife to her college sweetheart Jeff and curious lover of books, podcasts, and conversations about intentional parenting and living. [caption id="attachment_6803" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Kate Rader and family[/caption] Here's what Kate had to say about our workshop: "It was just so wonderful to be in a room with people who care enough to be intentional about the choices they're making for their families and what they want for their families because it's a work in progress--and we're all working together." Big Ideas In addition to parenting books, podcasts, and coaching, workshops are a great resource for parents. Just as most people need continual training and education in their careers, parents can also take the time to learn and connect with others in order to feel invigorated. It is helpful to share what is working and to discuss best practices for strengthening family bonds. We talk a lot about the importance of self-care and modeling a balanced life for our kids. Today we discuss the ideas I shared in my recent post, 5 Simple Year-End Reflections: Create a Reverse Bucket List. Look back over your life and make a list of the cool things you've already done. 100 Family Memories - brainstorm and make a list of what happened in your family this year. Pick a Quote-of-the-Year. Find a quote that resonates with you, or something motivational, looking back or looking ahead, a quote you want to live by. Select One Word that you want to guide you in the new year. Be authentic and make it a word that is uniquely yours. Remember your Favorite Books or resources from the past year. Take time to let the new things that you have learned (in books, podcasts, workshops) to percolate and apply the concepts or practices to your life. Pick one or two of these ideas that resonate with you. You can do an activity on your own or engage the whole family. Make the delivery of the idea fun and light. Allow people to be silly. Getting the family together over the holidays, expressing gratitude, and setting intentions together are my favorite ways to bring in the new year. Quotes Sara: "Sometimes parenting intentionally feels counter-cultural. When we're swimming upstream, to have fishies to swim with is so confidence building. It's reassuring, it's empowering. I've loved all the parents we have gotten to work with through this project because it has fueled me." Kate: "The regular accountability is equally as important to me as the one-day workshop. Whether it's via podcasts, recorded conversations, or live conversations, getting together at Starbucks, or whatever it might be, that's really beneficial in maintaining the kind of wonderful feelings that we got coming out of the workshop." Kate: "If we're going to develop a true family culture, we need to be intentional about spending time together as a family. And that time is harder and harder to come by." Kate: "Just being together, away, experiencing some new adventures has been a neat way for us to firm up our family culture and values and make memories together. That's been a key take away for me." Kate: "It's not about those grand gestures. It's about the thoughtful, meaningful moments where people take the time to appreciate their relationships." Audrey: "Even if you're not a person who gives affirmations, I really don't think there's a person in this world who wouldn't mind getting a nice note saying something that someone likes about them." Audrey: "Sometimes parents start thinking that their relationship with their child is supposed to be like a normal, reciprocal relationship. Expecting that you pour into this child and they're going to pour back to you, is not how parenting works. However, I'm seeing that once they're adults you may get more of the reciprocity than when they were kids. I get very filled up now by my adult children when they give me affirmations or send me a nice message--it's really great." Audrey: "You keep encouraging, even if you don't think it means something because I think it really is landing somewhere." Audrey: "Another activity could be taking a year's worth of fun texts, cards, and nice messages and putting them somewhere like in a scrapbook just as a great boost." Sara: "I love the idea of sitting down with the whole family and saying, 'let's look way back' because there is a chance that something that I didn't consider very bucket-y might have been really significant to my kids. I think it will remind us that it has been a rich life of experiences." Audrey: "I would challenge you to focus on yourself for your own reverse bucket list. Sometimes it's good to just think about for your own self-awareness and self-worth and knowing that you're enough just the way you are. I would suggest that the bucket list idea is more of a personal thing because it is recognizing the goals you've already achieved and the cool things that you've done, whereas the 100 Family Memories would be the things you're grateful for." Audrey: "The goal is to try to remember (as many as) 100 things so you get down to some of the minutiae and those are some of the funny, random, individual things that happened. It's been a really fun practice." Kate: "I think when you allow each family member to share their treasured memories from the year, it gives us insight into their personalities and their level of value and priorities, as well." Audrey: "I like spending time at the end of the year, really thinking through what my one word is, thinking about what was good this year and what is it that I want to take into the new year and feel more of, or do more of--I love the process." Audrey: "Determine the kind of person you want to be in the next year. Identify the characteristics of that best self. When you're being your best self, what does that look like? It has guided me a lot because once I pick a word, I then seek out resources and ideas to help me live that word better." Kate: "It's a neat way to put the focus on how you're going to spend your time, your energy, your reading, and research--all that good stuff. When it is meaningful, it really does carry you through the year and it gives purpose to how you're spending your time." Audrey: "It really hit me that my best contribution to my family, to the world, comes when I focus and take the time to do some research, reading, writing, thoughtful time, which is not a normal part of life anymore. You have to actually build in focus." Audrey: "There are so many new ideas and things you can do, but to really move the needle, all you need to do is just one. I am challenging myself this year to slow down on the consumption of new information and instead get out the books I've read, look at my highlights and just recap." Related Posts & Podcasts 5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities Learning to Enjoy the Little Things 100 Family Memories #oneword My One Word for 2019: Focus Ep. 68 12 Parenting Tips for Happier, More Connected Families Ep. 105 Live Above the Noise with Rob Reiher Resources Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist How to Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp Finding Fred Podcast  
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm speaking to Dr. Jennifer Levin, a marriage and family therapist who specializes in health crises or transitions, especially related to traumatic grief and loss. We discuss ways to support others, particularly children, and promote growth after trauma. Big Ideas Traumatic grief is an unexpected, sudden loss that people experience. Sudden, devastating events can cause a great deal of grief, trauma, and stress. People experience post-traumatic growth when their life changes significantly for the better due to the experience they had with the trauma. There are four areas wherein people experience post-traumatic growth: deeper relationships increased personal strength positive spiritual changes stronger appreciation for life in general Kids and adults react differently to grief and trauma. Kids tend to float in and out, whereas adults may get stuck in deep sadness and experience more of the traumatic symptoms. The first thing to do for children after a traumatic loss is to assure safety and reestablish some normalcy and a sense of routine and structure. Helpful tools for kids are sensory-based activities, mindfulness skills, guided imagery, and visualizations. We can help them learn how to take control of their situation and give them positive feedback and praise when they use a great coping skill. Make sure children are exposed to positive relationships with other supportive adults in their lives. Especially in the case of loss, it is important for families to keep talking about their feelings. Memory Bowl Tip: keep a bowl and a stack of index cards in an accessible place. Any time you have a memory of the person, the dog, the loved one who has died, you write it down on the card and put it in the bowl. Then, when you're having a tough grieving day or on an occasion when the family is together, everyone can read the memories that are in the bowl. This is a great way to keep memories and family times together alive. Quotes Jennifer: "It's pretty amazing watching someone come in right after a loss, working through them to address both the trauma and grief and then having them say, 'Oh my goodness, I think I've grown in (this way)' and to be able to focus on that." Audrey: "Unfortunately, we are inevitably going to face grief of some kind. It's hopeful to think that it doesn't have to lead to disaster." Audrey: "Many of us have been blindsided by the experiences that kids share with us in the camp or school setting, where they share something really hard that they have gone through." Jennifer: "Right after an immediate loss that's been traumatic, the first thing to do is to assure safety, establish some normalcy and a sense of routine when the world feels chaotic and out of control." Jennifer: "We see behavioral problems come up, problems with sleep, academics, friends, when there is no routine or structure or normalcy." Jennifer: "Containment may not necessarily lead to post-traumatic growth, but more stabilization, which is the first thing we have to do before we can start addressing trauma and grief." Jennifer: "Post-traumatic growth is something that happens over a significant period of time and adults can play a huge role in decreasing the chances that a child will have longterm difficulties and increasing the chances for post-traumatic growth." Jennifer: "Sometimes we have to say, 'I'm not sure how this is going to play out in the future, but right now you are safe. I got you. You're okay. I love you. All of your needs can be met right now.' This gives them a really strong foundation for growth." Jennifer: "One thing that goes without saying is parents and adults have to take care of themselves first before they are able to give this to kids. Kids are able to tell when it's inauthentic, insincere, and when the parents are running on empty." Jennifer: "Positive relationships with adults help foster post-traumatic growth. If it's not a parent, then its a teacher, a coach, a religious figure." Jennifer: "Kids and adults react differently to grief and trauma. I think it's wonderful that kids can float in and out, in and out, and when they're in the moment, the feelings are intense, difficult, scary and overwhelming. But again, with the right support and encouragement, they're going to transition out and be okay." Jennifer: "We as adults have such a role in teaching our kids how to express themselves, how to get these feelings out, and then how to cope with them." Audrey: "Usually if a child is grieving about something, usually the adults who are closest to them are also grieving. Getting outside help is so important, even if your child appears to be fine. For them to be aware that these feelings may come up at any time and there are resources for them. That's a really important thing." Jennifer: "Grief is such a unique experience for every person, every family. Everybody in a family grieves differently. I'm really big on acknowledgment, an adult acknowledging that they're sad or grieving, that they're fearful--that's the very first step." Jennifer: "Acknowledge the pain. I think it's great for your kids to see you cry. It's great for them to see you express emotion and for you to say, 'Mom is really sad right now, but I'm okay. You're okay and we're going to be okay.' Then talk about that." Jennifer: "Checking in is important because it gives the message, 'I'm here if you want to talk and if you don't, that's okay.' So what you do is monitor other things: Are they socializing with their friends? Are they doing well in school? Are they sleeping? Are they eating? Are they doing extracurricular activities? When you start to see issues there, then that's a red flag. Even though they're not talking about the grief, it's definitely impacting them." Jennifer: "We grieve the way we live. If we're someone who doesn't share our feelings very often, then when we experience grief we are not all of a sudden going to become someone who talks about all of our feelings." Audrey: "Keep talking about the person. Some people think it's better not to bring the person up but the last thing that someone who is grieving wants is for people to forget the person who was so important to them."   Links More information on Dr. Jennifer Levin's private practice can be found at Visit her new site: You will find her free mini video course, 3 Tips for Surviving Traumatic Grief. Dr. Jennifer R. Levin specializes in working with adults, adolescents, and teens experiencing traumatic grief and sudden loss.  In 2000 Jennifer received her doctorate from UCLA in public health focusing on the needs of cancer patients at the end of life.  She has served as the executive director of Hospice of Pasadena and volunteered with the American Cancer Society and the Wellness Community.  Jennifer provides continuing education training, consultation, and mobile grief services to schools and community-based organizations experiencing bereavement and loss.  Jennifer is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice in Pasadena where she works with clients living with chronic and terminal illness, bereavement and complicated loss and traumatic death.  She facilitates support groups in traumatic grief, spousal loss, teen grief and also specializes in post-traumatic growth. Related If you enjoyed this episode, check out: Ep. 112: Helping Teens Exposed to Trauma with Ruth Gerson Ep. 93: Teaching Healthy Relationship Skills to Improve Lives Ep. 80: The Emotionally Healthy Child with Maureen Healy Ep. 117: Raising Good Humans
Show notes & links available here. In this episode, I'm chatting with mindfulness expert Hunter Clarke-Fields, author of Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids, is my guest on for Episode 117. We talk about the importance of modeling positive responses to difficult situations and using tools like mindfulness and meditation to be a less reactive parent. Hunter's blog, podcast, and other resources can be found at Big Ideas Raising Good Humans is a book that offers tools and ideas for parents on: how to regulate your stress response how to become less reactive how to respond in order to get more cooperation from your children There are 2 main parts of the book: The Inner Work mindfulness, unhooking from negative thoughts, meditation learning about your own triggers how to manage difficult feelings and model problem solving self-compassion. The Outer Work -- Skillful Communication Mindfulness is the intentional ability to stay in the present moment with a sense of kindness and curiosity. The benefits of a meditation practice are reduced anxiety and depression, better sleep, more feelings of wellbeing and being less reactive. Our own childhood impacts so much of who we are and how we parent our kids. Parents can acknowledge that most kids have a different pace. Being patient with them can help circumvent conflict. Use the "Friend Filter" by speaking to your child as respectfully as you would a friend or a friend's child. Quotes Audrey: "In this day and age, with all the inputs we have, and how most parents are struggling with the overwhelm, anxiety rush and can't turn it off--this is why your message is so needed right now." Hunter: "There are basically these two wings that you need to fly. One is this wonderful advice out there in the parenting world, what to say and how to communicate. But that goes out the window when you're losing it because you can't access it. You literally can't access that part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex where your verbal empathetic ability is, so there is also inner work that goes along with it." Hunter: "There's a word in the mindfulness tradition called 'noble failure' because we all fail at being able to control our monkey mind. But that's okay. That's not how you judge your practice. You judge your practice and how it helps you by how it makes you feel and how you're able to be present in the other parts of your life." Hunter: "We're at our worst in parenting when we're just reacting in anger. We have to have a way to calm it down. We have to build the muscle to calm or be able to be less reactive in peaceful times. This is a muscle you're building. Just like you're not going to read about tennis and then go out and play the world grand slam." Audrey: "In our family, we talk about our highs and lows. Let's make sure we are not just sharing the good stuff, or sharing only the positive feelings, because we've got to get those bad things out, too. Even when you're a generally positive, upbeat person, there are always hard things." Hunter: "We expect our kids to turn things around and have this awareness when we don't have it ourselves. The ability to look at and understand our feelings is so practical. If you only show your kids a veneer of perfection, 'I'm always positive' and 'I'm always calm' -- that's just not true. Nobody is like that. Even the Dalai Lama gets mad sometimes." Hunter: "We can give lip service that 'It's okay for you to have these feelings,' but then we don't allow ourselves permission to be angry, frustrated, or sad. We hide that away rather than acknowledging that within ourselves. That piece of acknowledgment is really crucial to all this work." Hunter: "If you go into a situation where you're feeling upset or when you're starting to get annoyed, when you can say these things out loud and just label those (emotions), it actually provides a lot of relief to the stress and tension of a moment." Audrey: "I think its really important for us as parents to be real with each other and make sure that we all know that we have these moments. Just working on having fewer of the bad moments feels so good." Hunter: "The second part of the book is about how to be helpful, how to speak in such a skillful way that your child wants to cooperate with you--from the inside out--because they care about you, rather than because you're using power over them and making them." Hunter: "There is this idea we have that its the norm for adolescents to rebel. I really think that it's not true. Actually, adolescents rebel against the kind of destructive communication and parenting habits that we have. Culturally, we're not very skillful." Hunter: "We are in the soup of a very unskillful culture where we are constantly ordering and threatening our kids. Some of these things feel like they work in the short term, but in the long term they actually make kids less likely to want to cooperate with you." Hunter: "There are natural consequences to some things that happen and we definitely hold boundaries, but there are ways to speak and ways to communicate and interact that create a more loving, cooperative relationship." Audrey: "Even as adults, we respond better to being told we get to do something fun or have some kind of privilege because we did our task or met a goal." Hunter: "If you had a friend staying with you, or even if you were talking to one of your friend's children, someone who's a little more removed from you, how would you ask that person? How would you make the request to that person? Putting on this filter can help us look at our own language." Audrey: "We are often frustrated that they're not immediately doing something, but that's more our problem. If you want your kids to be sitting down for dinner, tell them five minutes before you actually need to sit down." Hunter: "That's why self-compassion is so important. We're not robots. We're not going to get it right. We're not going to be perfect all the time. We're going to be aware for a little while of what we're not doing right--and that doesn't feel good--but it's part of the learning process." Audrey: "Not only do we need to think about how we talk to our kids, like we are talking to a friend, but also how we talk to ourselves. We get so disappointed in ourselves when we're trying to do new things. But any new habit or communication style is going to take time." Audrey: "We don't need to get overwhelmed with all of it. Even if you apply just one of your ideas, it would move the needle on raising the connection and peacefulness in the home." Resources Calm App ABOUT HUNTER Hunter Clarke-Fields is a mindfulness mentor, host of the Mindful Mama podcast, creator of the Mindful Parenting membership, and author of the brand new book (12/19), Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. She helps parents bring more calm into their daily lives and cooperation in their families. Hunter has over twenty years of experience in meditation and yoga practices and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide. She is the mother of two active daughters, who challenge her every day to hone her craft! Learn more about Hunter at Contact Hunter: Raising Good Humans Book Page: Raising Good Humans Facebook Page: Hunter Clarke-Fields, Mindful Mama Mentor Instagram: Mindful Mama Mentor Twitter: HClarkeFields LinkedIn: Hunter Clarke-Fields The Mindful Mama Podcast Related If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, check out: Learning to Breathe Ep. 103: How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Kids Ep. 80: The Emotionally Healthy Child with Maureen Healy Ep. 97: Parenting the Challenging Child with Signe Whitson Ep. 92: Creating Strong Relationships with Teens How to Have a Closer Family in 5 Minutes a Day
Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve been obsessively telling everyone about this quick read. If you, like me, feel a bit “at war” with time, feeling there’s “never enough” and you “don’t have time to relax,” then you’ll benefit from Vanderkam’s wisdom, too. The book, true to its title, offers realistic ways to both feel less busy and get more done. More importantly, Vanderkam reminds us to focus on making the most of the moments and time we do have and always remember that "people are a good use of time." View all my reviews I have a vivid memory from ten years ago of my youngest child, then age four, asking me, "Mommy, are we in a rush?" I stopped in my tracks and realized that, yes, in fact, we were in a rush. We seemed to always be in a rush to get somewhere, get one more thing done, or just get out the door. He knew that, because he was always with me and was learning about how life worked from me. I was not being a good role model in how I viewed and used my time. I didn't want to always be in a rush, and I certainly didn't want my sweet boy thinking that life is always just a rush from one thing to the next. In the past decade, I have not fulfilled my goal of stopping to watch the sunset every single night, but I have learned to savor moments a bit more, slow down once in a while, and listen well (sometimes) to my people as they share their stories. I have had far more coffee and walk dates with friends, read more books, and gone to bed earlier. I even slowed down enough to write the book I've always dreamed of writing. There is, in fact, enough time to do the things we want to do. We just need to learn to prioritize the things that are most important and make time for those things first rather than hoping we'll miraculously end up with time for them once our "to do" list is done. Off the Clock offers tips for making the most of the time we have. Watch Vanderkam's TED Talk, "How to gain control of your free time": Visit Vanderkam's Website (I've subscribed to her email list and am going to try out her time log!) Listen to Ep. 56: Off the Clock with Laura Vanderkam.
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In this episode, Sara Kuljis is back to talk about giving kids meaningful compliments and focusing on our kids' strengths. We recently hosted our Raise Thriving Kids workshop in Newport Beach where we spent the day discussing positive parenting tools. Since then, we've received a lot of positive feedback, especially on the topic of Level 3 Affirmations. Big Ideas Part of camp staff training involves teaching them to more regularly and more deeply affirm real character traits that matter in the campers. The children are able to go home knowing that they have this "gold" within them. They divided the affirmations, or compliments, into 3 levels. Level 1 affirmations are words that convey worth, value, and importance in one's possessions or one's physical appearance. Examples: "You have beautiful hair." "That's a really cool new skateboard." These are compliments on things (physical traits or material possessions) that a child doesn't have a lot of control over and it can create a sense of insecurity. Level 2 affirmations are words that convey worth, value, and importance lies in one's performance or accomplishments. Examples: "You fixed your hair so cute today" and "You were amazing at the skate park today." Level 3 affirmations are words that convey worth, value, and importance in one's efforts, character, in one's very being. Examples: "I appreciate the time you took to do your friend's hair. I admire that about you" or "I admire how hard you've been working to improve your skating skills. You've been out there every day. I appreciate your grit and determination." Level 3 traits are more likely to develop and grow in our children when they are acknowledged and praised. Quotes Audrey: "There's nothing wrong with level one affirmations and in fact, you feel good when someone comments. But there are levels up from that." Sara: "Parents hover in level two a lot. At camp and at school, we often emphasize that skill they learned and it's awesome to affirm that in a child. But our kids are buried by the sense that they have to outperform and they have to accomplish way beyond what any reasonable expectation is." Sara: "When affirmations get stuck at level two, where we value and shine a light on the importance--almost exclusively--of accomplishments and performance, we are doing our kids a great disservice." Audrey: "This is probably how most of us were raised and often results in having really high expectations for ourselves that can get to a destructive level called 'perfectionism,' where we feel like no matter what we do, it's never enough." Audrey: "We all have this fundamental need to be valued. We want people to notice us and value us and sometimes we think we are being valued for what we do, or what we accomplish." Audrey: "It's not what we do or what we have that makes us a valuable, important person." Sara: "Praise the process that your child went through to accomplish something. If I'm looking at the process, I'm looking at determination, perseverance, grit, inclusivity, kindness--all of the really deep character traits we're all hoping our kids have." Audrey: "If our teachers and coaches focus on when they see someone demonstrating one of those traits that we want to build up in our kids, like kindness or generosity or patience, and point it out, that's going to grow it. It's really important for parents to do it. But when kids hear those kinds of affirmations from another adult, it's really powerful." Audrey: "There's a lot of overlap here in mining for strengths and really taking the time to notice our kids and who they are and what makes them tick because kids right from the beginning show their stripes." Sara: "For parents, it's loving the child you have, not wishing for the child you don't." Audrey: "Bringing to the surface and naming some of those character traits for our kids is so helpful because they are the ones they are going to use to do great things. Whatever those great things are, they'll use those traits. They'll use their kindness, their energy, their gift for seeing what's going on or for organizing events or for including people. They're going use those skills everywhere in their lives, but not if they're not called out. We need to name them." Audrey: "What better way to show our gratitude for another human being than by giving them a level three affirmation." Related Posts/Podcasts Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis Ep. 114: Precursors to Gratitude A Grateful Family is a Happy Family: 5 Gratitude Practices Ep. 77: Comparison is the Thief of (Parenting) Joy Ep. 75: Begin with the (Parenting) End in Mind
What comes before gratitude in our children? In this episode, Sara and I discuss how we can prepare our kids to become grateful people. Sara and I talked about gratitude last year in this episode about Growing Gratitude. Big Ideas As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, it is important to remember that we can cultivate a heart of gratitude all year long. Good manners are important but employing these "precursors" to gratitude can help instill our family values in a deeper and more meaningful way. Precursors to growing gratitude: Avoid over-giving, as it can lead to entitlement. When we earn what we have, we value it more. Cultivate empathy. When kids realize that there is a cost (money, time, energy or thought) associated with everything they have, they are more grateful. Model gratefulness. When kids hear their parents thanking each other, showing respect and demonstrating gratitude, they are more likely to adopt the same habit. Be exposed to seeing how most of the world lives or not always having daily comforts. A vacation from things like big meals and hot showers, such as in camping situations or while traveling, can help us to realize a greater appreciation for all we have. Quotes Audrey: "You can't just start saying thank you or start doing gratitude practices and suddenly become this grateful person. There are precursors to gratitude." Sara: "When our kids are little, one of the first things we teach them is to say please and thank you. As my kids grew, I wanted their thank yous to come from inside them, not from me reminding them." Sara: "It's my work to do as a parent to set these things up and to cultivate these habits in myself and in my home so that when it's time for our kids to build the muscle of gratitude, it fits in. It's kind of super-powered and more authentic." Audrey: "Practicing kindness and practicing gratitude is good because you build the muscle." Audrey: "The depth is what we're talking about. It's almost like a mindset, a way of thinking about things and remembering the impact of what we do." Sara: "As parents, we so long to meet (our kids') needs well, but we also feel compelled to meet all their wants. By 'needs' I mean shelter, love, food, medical care, sleep, all the things we need to thrive. But then we get on this hamster wheel of, 'well, they better have the newest iPhone, or best kind of tennis shoes, or the tutor everyone else is going to,' and we can over-give. We can over-meet their wants to a place where they develop an entitlement." Sara: "We've really got to guard our choices. We're developing grown-ups eventually who can work and earn something, who can long for something, who can have an appreciation because they had to wait or they had to grow into it." Audrey: "The expression 'delayed gratification' has 'grateful' in it." Audrey: "It's just kind of balancing. Are we giving in a good way? Are we overdoing it? It's the 'over-giving'. It's not to not-give to our kids, it's to give in a way that we're thinking through, is it the right amount?" Audrey: "You have to do things. You have to gain competence to earn confidence. You can't make someone confident. It has to take some time. It comes from learning that it's okay to make mistakes, you're not going to be good at everything the first, second, third, even 20th time." Sara: "When we help kids understand 'what did it cost that other human to provide this to me,' it naturally grows gratitude in them." Audrey: "Young kids are made to be self-focused. That's normal developmentally. Anything we can do to get them out of their head helps. I do think empathy is such a key thing." Sara: "I think sometimes our kids hear us being critical of things or dissatisfied with things more often than they hear us being grateful. Make thanking each other, thanking your spouse for something that he or she did, a really normal thing." Sara: "If our kids never see us being grateful, how will they suddenly become grateful people?" Audrey: "If you're only living in the bubble of your neighbor, which likely is safe, or you're own home, which likely has electricity and your kids have their own beds and running water, I think that we can get almost desensitized." Audrey: "We can just set our kids up, get that soil ready to really build their gratitude muscles." Sara: "Whenever we do something in the daily flow of life, it just becomes part of who we are as a family. Finding a habit or a ritual (not just around the Thanksgiving table--although that's awesome!) where we get to name something that we're grateful for, or practice thanking another person for something, done daily or weekly makes things stick." Audrey: "When we adults practice this ourselves it goes a long way in setting our kids up to be more grateful." Resources/Related Posts Three Good Things A Grateful Family is a Happy Family: 5 Gratitude Practices Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis Gratitude Revisited 5 Ways to Create a Happy Thanksgiving
In this episode, I'm speaking with Suzanne Tucker of Generation Mindful, a website dedicated to helping kids learn how to regulate their emotions. Big Ideas While working as a physical therapist, Suzanne realized there was much more going on in people's wellbeing than just the physical body. The whole health approach to healing and wellness is what led her to start Generation Mindful. Parents and educators love the science of positive discipline but struggle to apply the science of connection practically in their everyday lives. Generation Mindful offers evidence-based tools and toys that make connection a habit in homes and schools. They nurture emotional intelligence via play and positive discipline. Generation Mindful helps people overcome perfectionism, feelings of inadequacy, and promote connection. Their mission is to raise an emotionally healthy world. Generation Mindful tools and toys can be found in 70 countries and their community is in nearly 100 countries around the world. Quotes Suzanne: "If you're looking to get on the superhighway of spiritual growth, just jump on it because you're going to find it in Parenthood." Suzanne: "Parenting makes life apparent." Suzanne: "It was that love of whole health and learning about ourselves and being on a spiritual journey myself that brought me into doing empowerment-based education with families." Suzanne: "We've got to make it easy. We've got to make it fun. We've got to get this evidence-based brain science into everyday life because people feel 'not enough' and it's not right." Audrey: "Instead of punishing someone for being dysregulated and needing to calm down, making it a thing that 'hey--we all have these moments. Let's find a way to just create a space where we can just feel good.'" Audrey: "Adults, we need this, too, the candle that smells good, the book we really like, that calms us down, and a cup of tea." Suzanne: "It's not just about education and support (because we need both of those.) What I found in my work is that children are concrete learners and so are adults. We are very much supported when we open a box--it's concrete." Suzanne: "It's really about embodying wisdom. It's about creating this community that inspires you and is there to hold your hand online. We've got all these online supports, the blog, a private community for anyone who goes through our six-week self-paced course." Suzanne: "It really starts from the inside out. And we're about supporting and inspiring you into what we think of as a mind shift into self-awareness first, 'connect before you correct' and just seeing misbehavior as an unmet need, without the guilt, and training ourselves out of shame as a motivator and guilt as a filter." Suzanne: "We are all about creating habits because habits lift us up. Habits just happen...We want to connect, but if it's not a habit, it's not happening." Suzanne: "It's really about the brain science of honoring emotions as sacred and integrating." Audrey: "Name it to tame it. We all talk about that." Suzanne: "Just by labeling the things that happened in the day and which mood group would I associate them with, is like the middle brain doing pushups. The hippocampus, that really important part of the brain that helps with emotional regulation, is going down, doing the pushups and it's training that part of the brain that wants to react. It's actually laying the neural synapsis so it can learn to respond." Suzanne: "Once we get over our fear we're empowered to show up powerfully with what is. Then we can source the tools and support to just be where we are and meet the child where they are." Audrey: "You see the kids' behavior is just like the tip of the iceberg and all those things going on underneath; it's like the behavior is just kind of a clue. Be curious. They aren't trying to ruin your day or be terrible. They're communicating something that they're having difficulty articulating." Suzanne: "Where is the source of emotional intelligence in relationships? It's in pausing to look in each other's eye, to listen, to share. It is so simple, yet how hard it is in everyday modern life to carve out a sweet little five minutes to talk about things that matter?" Resources Time-In ToolKit Snuggle Buddies and My Feeling Calendar Dr. Dan Siegel Free Positive Parenting Class from Generation Mindful (ENTER PASSWORD: FreeAccessClassOne) Related Posts/Podcasts If you liked this episode of the podcast, listen to or read: Ep. 110: Keep Calm & Parent On 10 Ways to Teach Kids to Calm Down Ep. 103: How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids Ep. 97: Parenting the Challenging Child The Whole-Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson Ep. 95: Raising a “Yes Brain” Child with Tina Payne Bryson
In this episode, I'm talking with Dr. Ruth Gerson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at NYU's Langone Medical Center, about helping teens who have been exposed to trauma. Trauma is, by definition, when an experience feels so threatening to one's safety and well-being that it overwhelms one's ability to cope. Human beings, especially children, are amazingly resilient. Not only can we humans survive terrible things, but often we commit incredible acts of strength and heroism in the face of adversity, such as the soldier who carries a wounded friend out of battle despite her own wounds, or a father who rescues his children from a raging fire. But just because we survive something does not mean we are not marked by the experience. -Ruth Gerson, M.D., Beyond PTSD Ruth's book, which she co-authored with Patrick Hepple, is Beyond PTSD, Helping and Healing Teens Exposed to Trauma. Ruth is a colleague of Dr. Jess Shatkin, who I interviewed back in Episode 16 about his book, Born to be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe. Both Ruth's book and our conversation have opened my eyes to the prevalence of trauma and the importance of helping teens who have been exposed to trauma. Trauma can manifest in many different and unexpected ways. In most cases, our kids aren't even aware that it is past trauma that is causing them to feel or behave in certain ways. Big Ideas Certain traumatic experiences are just too much for our brains and our bodies to take in. The structure of Dr. Gerson's book is set up so that you can read sections related to different behavioral issues, such as self-injury, risky behavior, substance use, school refusal, aggression, and many other topics. Trauma-informed care for kids is necessary for anyone who works with youth today. The goal of this book is to help people know how to look for, talk about, and find kids the right help following trauma. Some of the factors affecting kids response to trauma are: their developmental and emotional age/maturity level the context and support of their environment their previous experiences Behavior is communication. Watch out for any significant changes in a child, such as: temperament sleep and eating patterns showing an increased amount of anxiety or fear When a child discloses something that is difficult for them to share, make sure to give an appropriate response and not expressions of disbelief. Help the child to feel heard and safe. Quotes Audrey: "Oftentimes, we're very focused on teens' problematic behaviors when really the underlying thing that really needs to be addressed is something else and that is just how they're coping with this trauma." Ruth: "A kid who experiences trauma over and over is going to be much more sensitive to something happening. It's kind of counter-intuitive and it's actually something that kids often say is they feel like, well I should be used to this or it shouldn't affect me anymore. And so it's a real point of education that we try to give to kids that just because you've been going through something forever, it doesn't make it easier." Ruth: "But traumatic experiences, or things that push us beyond that (comfort zone) line and having that happen over and over again, are really detrimental. Not something that you can learn to grow from without help." Audrey: "Even in adults, trauma can manifest decades later which is why I think it's so important, the work you're doing to help earlier when kids are having these symptoms." Ruth: "I really encourage parents to trust their instincts. Parents know their kids better than anyone. We know their ins and outs. We know their tiniest habits. We know the littlest ticks and their littlest, funny tells that let us know what kind of mood they're in or whatever. So I really encourage parents to trust their gut." Ruth: "You have to be able to take that step back and try to think from the kid's perspective what might be going on that would make them behave in this way. And that's hard because it does require putting aside how difficult that behavior is for you, the parent, to be on the receiving end of it. Just like it's really hard to be with a baby who won't stop crying. But the only way to solve the underlying problem is to try to step back from our own emotional reactions and try to take the kid's perspective." Ruth: "We can still encourage our kids to be able to do the things that they need to do to be successful socially and to be successful in school and then as professionals. But if we just tell them to do it without understanding why they're struggling, we're not going to be successful." Ruth: "There's a lot of shame and a lot of silence around trauma. So kids don't know that it's not their fault. They don't know that it's something that happens unfortunately to a lot of people and that they can speak up about may, can get help for it. And so they don't talk about it and they don't ask for what they need because of that shame and that pain that keeps them silent." Ruth: "Because trauma can be such trigger for shame, particularly with things like sexual trauma or suicide, kids are made to feel like it was their fault. Kids take that initial reaction of disbelief as disbelief, right? They don't believe me. They don't think it's really happening. I should never talk about this again. And it can be really damaging." Audrey: "Kids can be very resilient and work through things and we can help them with that by just being supportive and being caring, regardless of how awful it is." Audrey: "When you can stay calm and not let them get to you, you're more effective with them. And I think in a lot of ways I feel like it's easier to do with other people's children than with your own." About Dr. Ruth Gerson Dr. Gerson is board certified in both general and child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr. Gerson received her bachelor of arts in Biochemistry at Harvard University and received her medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her internship and general psychiatry training at the Cambridge Health Alliance-Harvard Medical School residency program where she served administrative chief resident. Dr. Gerson completed her child and adolescent psychiatry training at the Child Study Center at NYULMC and Bellevue Hospital Center. She also completed a public psychiatry fellowship at NYULMC. Contact Dr. Gerson. Books Related Posts & Podcasts Ep. 111: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World Ep. 16: Born to be Wild with Dr. Jess Shatkin 7 Ways to Help Kids Through their Teen Years Helping Kids Through Their Low Point Ep. 97: Parenting the Challenging Child Ep. 100: Teens’ Advice for Raising Responsible, Independent Kids Ep. 110: Keep Calm & Parent On
In Episode 54, I'm chatting once again with my long-time friend and camp colleague, Dr. Jim Sears. I've known him as Camp Doctor  "Bones" for the past 14 years, but he is better known by his patients at his family's pediatric practice as "Dr. Jim." You might have caught our previous episode (Episode 51), where we talked about building kids' self esteem. In this episode, we talk about some of the benefits of camp and what we think parents can learn from summer camp to bring home some of the benefits of the experience. We touch on topics related to our kids' well-being, including positive behavior management, health tips, encouraging kids to be themselves, gain autonomy, and unplug! Positive Behavior Management Catch them doing the right thing Attention seeking behavior "Give the good attention to specific positive behaviors." Dr. Jim Sears Health Tips "Wow! What's different about my daily living up here at camp?" Quite active - more walking Incidental exercise- walking and chatting with friends from one activity to the next Meal structure - specific times for meals - not much snacking. Stay busy not bored "It's okay to be hungry." Dr. Jim Sears "How do I get my kids to eat the chicken and broccoli for dinner?" Healthy snacks available and the only option Discovering new foods through experiences away from home (like camp) Our kids need to be around other people besides us who are making healthy choices "Sometimes another mentor or adult can make really big strides with your kids." Audrey Being Themselves Clothing choices It's cool to be independent and do your hair a little bit differently Cool to be wacky-be your own self Get dirty Developing Autonomy "One of the best things about camp, for kids, is that, for the first time for many of them, they get to make their own choices and decisions about a lot of things, and they're not getting as micromanaged about all the details of their existence." Audrey Opportunties for independence when children are young- give small practice opportunities Being discerning about the world without being fearful Learning how to deal with little discomforts Unplugging/ Break from Technology No phones at lunch in school Meals at home unplugged Screen addiction "When you're on your phone, generally it's information going in, in, doesn't allow stuff to come out." Dr. Jim "Car rides are one of your best chances with teens for meaningful conversations." Dr. Jim Navigating uncomfortable social situations without a phone is good About "Dr. Jim" Dr. Jim spent several years as a co-host on the Dr. Phil hit spin-off series called, The Doctors, a nationally syndicated hour-long daily talk show that is informative and entertaining! Dr. Jim earned his medical degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1996 and completed his pediatric residency at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Tod Children’s Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio in 1999. During his residency, he received the honor of “Emergency Medicine Resident of the Year.” Dr. Jim has been featured on’s “Ask the Experts,” and has written for “Parenting” and “BabyTalk” magazine. Dr Sears’ medical advice has been featured on “Dr. Phil” and the PBS parenting series, “Help Me Grow.” He is an active contributor to the content of, and is a co-author of The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood (Little, Brown 2006), Father’s First Steps – Twenty-Five Things Every New Father Should Know, (Harvard Common Press 2006). The Premature Baby Book (Little, Brown 2004), The Baby Sleep Book (Little, Brown 2006) and the best selling The Baby Book – Updated and Revised Edition (Little, Brown 2013). Dr. Jim’s personal passions include endurance cycling, triathlons, sailboat racing and musical theater with his daughter, Lea. His favorite role has been Harold Hill in “The Music Man.” Other recent favorite productions include “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat” (French brother), “The Wizard of Oz” (Cowardly Lion), “Annie” (Rooster), “Fiddler on the Roof” (Lazar Wolf) “Oliver! (Mr. Bumble) and Big River (King). In his free time, Dr. Jim enjoys snow skiing, hiking, and mountain biking (especially during a beautiful sunrise!). Links Ask Dr. Sears
  In Episode 56, I'm chatting with Laura Vanderkam about her book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done. Laura is the best-selling author of several time management and productivity books including 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, and What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast. Laura also co-hosts the Best of Both Worlds podcast with Sarah Hart-Unger. They discuss work/life balance, career development, parenting, time management, productivity, and making time for fun.Laura lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at When I read Off the Clock in August, I shared my thoughts about it here. I am thrilled that I also had the opportunity to interview Laura for my podcast and ask her questions including her advice for how to overcome the hurdles I faced trying to track my time. Big Ideas Time and how we perceive it We all have the same amount of time but spend it differently. How we think about time changes how we perceive it. When we walk around saying "I'm so busy", are we? Which moments become your story? Data study on time perception 900 people tracked their time and reported how they felt about it. What things are a good use of time? Evaluating your time How to effectively track your time? Doesn't have to be exact! Getting a general sense of where time goes. Data helps us see where our time goes. Looking at time in weeks versus days. Effortful versus effortless fun Effortless fun is easy and ends up being the bulk of our leisure time. Effortful fun is more memorable. Putting in work to have fun. Quotes " You find people who are doing amazing things professionally as well as personally but they all have the same amount of time we do". -Audrey Monke "Time is all about how we perceive it. We all have the same amount of time. It all moves at the same rate. But that’s not really the way we think about".  -Laura Vanderkam "When we walk around with the story “I’m so busy” we will constantly look for moments that show that". - Laura Vanderkam "You want more time doing stuff you enjoy. Nobody wants more time in a traffic jam or boring meeting". - Laura Vanderkam "Your fun can take some work but you will be so happy you did it" - Laura Vanderkam Find Laura Laura's TED Talk, How to Gain Control of Your Free Time: Laura Vanderkam's Website Best of Both World Podcast Laura's Other Books:   168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think LEARN MORE     I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most of Their Time LEARN MORE       What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast LEARN MORE
In this episode, I'm talking to Debbie Reber, creator of TiLT Parenting, the host of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, and the author of Differently Wired: Raising and Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. While this book was written mainly for parents that need extra support, I think it will resonate with all parents of all kids. Big Ideas Every child deserves to be understood and accepted for who they are. We are all wired differently. Some differences are more visible than others. Each kid needs different tools to thrive in life and we can help them figure out what they need for their individual journey. When parents and children communicate their needs and explain their differences to others, people are more understanding and accepting. 3 Key Take-Aways: Find a community and resources Find the right kind of support (parent coach, couples counselor, online communities) Embrace and accept kids' strengths; teach them to articulate their needs. Gifted kids also have special needs that can be addressed and supported in schools and at home. As a parent, set aside what you think your child's (social, academic, physical) life should look like, and respect your child's own timeline. Quotes Audrey: "Sometimes people are just kind of under the radar. Maybe they aren't diagnosed with something, but their parents just sort of know that they don't move through life the same way that other people do." Debbie: "Many of the kids in my community may not have a formal diagnosis but a lot of them are extra sensitive, have heightened anxiety and are more tuned in and the world is an intense place for them." Debbie: "I wanted to cast a wide net and include any sort of narrow atypicality because there are so many of us. But when we stay in our little buckets, we don't get to tap into the collective and recognize the power in our numbers and why things really do need to change." Audrey: "Sometimes our biggest challenges become our biggest gifts." Audrey: "You did this journey together with your son, learning how to help him navigate the world and then how to help you navigate the world as a parent. You figured out how to embrace your son and all of his strengths and his uniqueness and help him become his best self. And you helped him be able to articulate to the world who he is and what he needs." Audrey: "I've always loved delving into all the personality type inventories that just help us learn how the way we see the world or react to things is different from other people and being a little more empathetic and understanding of that as opposed to thinking it's wrong." Debbie: "We're really looking at this person as an individual human on their own incredible journey. I think it can be really hard when we're just kind of on this treadmill of life, doing what everybody else is doing. Take a conscious step back and say, 'wait a minute--who is this kid and what do they need to do to really thrive?'" Debbie: "It's not easy to take that pause and to really shift your focus." Audrey: "Even for people with different interests, the concept that there is one path is so flawed. Kids who aren't academically inclined or school isn't their thing are left feeling like they don't fit in. Often, it beats them down to the point where they don't have the opportunity to explore their interests." Audrey: "The impact of not letting kids be who they really are and exploring that is coming out in the rise of mental health disorders, substance abuse, and suicide among adolescents and young adults. All of these things can be traced back to the same idea that if you don't fit into some prescribed thing, the world is hard." Audrey: "We all have a lot of parental shame, insecurity, guilt, worry and often loneliness when we are kind of embarrassed by our kids' behavior or confused or just don't get it." Debbie: "There's a lot of judging in parenting. It's pervasive and it's really harmful. It hurts us and when people are judging it is triggering their own insecurities. I think it's so important to find safe spaces to connect and to share." Debbie: "It's important to get clear and remember what the core goal is and that is to support these kids in becoming who they are." Debbie: "One of the ways we can bolster our foundation is to surround ourselves with people who fully support our family. When we do this, we relax, our kids relax, and we all get to go about our business from a place of confidence. Community changes everything. It lifts us up. It deepens our well of resources. It fuels our bravery. It allows us to be our authentic selves. It reminds me that we and our children are not alone. It's time we ditched the doubters, skeptics, and those will never get it and instead surround ourselves with our people." (Differently Wired, pg. 217) Debbie: "Part of the process is for us to speak openly, without fear or shame or worry. That's part of the accepting process of knowing that there is no one way to be normal." Debbie: "I imagine we are going to create a more accepting society if we stop shaming certain behaviors, ostracizing people, or making them feel like they're aberrations when really it's just a different way of being." Debbie: "One of the biggest gifts we can give a kid is the opportunity to truly know themselves and understand how their brain works and what's going on and then how to advocate for themselves, how to speak up." Debbie: "When people understand, it changes everything. People are afraid of what they don't understand. In a society that puts so much weight on conforming and fitting in, when we don't understand something, we tend to make up stories about it or push it aside." Audrey: "For more typically-wired kids, it teaches them super important character traits like kindness, empathy, and compassion." Debbie: "As parents, we can really spin out and get concerned if what we're seeing in our own family isn't matching our idea of what this should look like. Every child is on their own timeline. Everyone is growing in strengths and may have some lagging skills but they even out eventually. If we can keep our eye on the goal to raise a responsible human being who knows themselves, who understands what they need and has the tools to reach their potential, that's what we're going for." Resources The Miracle Morning Learn more about Debbie Reber and TiLT Parenting: TiLT Parenting on Facebook TiLT Together Facebook Group TiLT Instagram Related Posts/Podcasts If you liked this episode, listen to Ep. 104: Know and Love Yourself AND Your Kids 4 Ways to Focus on our Kids' Strengths Ep. 71: Growing Your Child’s “Bushy Broccoli Brain” Ep. 30: How to Raise a Durable Human with JJ Madden 10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs
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