Parenting Coaching
 Parenting is the most difficult job in the world.  It takes much more than love to raise a healthy, happy, and well adjusted person.  Apart from the physical and economic demands, there is the never ceasing emotional toll that can wear down even the most experienced.  The good news is that there does not exist a perfect parent, just as there is not a flawless child.  Every child's unique personality and life experiences lend to emotional and psychological needs that are different from every other child.  

Some parents have approached me with significant guilt over events such as divorce, past emotional or psychological abuse, or their children being witness to domestic violence.  Children can have strong reactions to these events and for good reasons, but it does not mean they are doomed for life.  As a parent myself, I understand greatly how deep guilt can burrow into our hearts, and at times immobilize us.  Without blame, I collaborate with parents to develop a plan for guiding their child back to emotional health.  Children end up healthier, stronger, and with a better parent-child bond.  

I therefore offer parenting coaching that is tailored to your struggles and your child's needs.  Together we will identify the problem behaviors and develop strategies to encourage more appropriate actions from your child.  Additional benefits from parenting coaching include deepening your bond with your child, decreasing your parental stress, developing your coping skills, and improving your parental confidence.     

It is always extremely important that parents be as honest and open as possible because I can never know your child better than you.  Therefore, parenting coaching is a collaborative effort between you, any other co-parent, and your therapist.  Children are not typically involved in parenting coaching, in order to empower parents as the parents.  Feel free to contact me with further questions or to schedule a meeting!

www.positiveparenting.com is an excellent website on various parenting ideas and writings. 

 
Parents of Strong-Willed, Intensive Children!
Feeling as if your child is running the household? Struggling with bed time, tantrums, or leaving the house on time? Parents of strong-willed children often report high levels of stress and frustration due to the behaviors their children demonstrate. It is very important for you to know that you did not cause this, and your child really is not set on ruining your life. Likewise, your child is not trying to give you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time! It is also very important for you to know that there are many things you can do to help yourself and your child. 

1. Reframe: Instead of threatening punishments, reframe their choices. For example, "Kids who eat a good dinner get dessert" and "Kids who clean up their toys get to go to the park." This allows your child to choose what consequence they want: dessert or no dessert. Going to the park or staying home. This also removes you as the punisher, since your child is choosing the consequence. It is extremely important to follow through with whatever options you give your child. This includes making sure that you are comfortable with either choice, and that both are safe. For instance, you would not offer your child worms to eat for dinner if they do not eat the food you provide because you hope they choose to eat their dinner instead. Additionally, it is important that both parents are on board with the options and related consequences. 

2. Give Constructive Praises: Praises like, "good job" and "great work" are good for kids to hear, but they are also vague and conditional. Constriuctive praises are comments that are specific to what the child is doing. For example, "You did a great job tying your shoes by yourself", "You were so respectful in speaking with your brother just now", and "I'm really proud of how careful you were while carrying your dishes". These statements drive home the positive actions your child is doing, prime your child to continue doing them, and build your relationship. For best benefit, give these constructive praises numerous times per day. Imagine how great you would feel at your job if your boss provided these kinds of praises throughout your day!

3. Give Physical affection: Due to the difficult behaviors strong-willed children exhibit, many have poor relationships with others. Likewise, they often feel badly about themselves because they are getting into trouble so often and hearing negative comments about themselves and their behaviors. Physical affection is very important to help build up their self-esteem and connection with you. It can take the form of hugs, kisses, back rubs, high fives, swinging around, and small, short tickling. Please remember to respect your child's physical boundaries. If they indicate or say they do not like a certain type of affection, respect their wishes. Not only does the physical affection nurture the relationship, it also tells them that their wishes matter. This teaches them how to respect others' physical boundary wishes.

4. Remain calm. Strong-willed children feed off of your emotions and will work hard at amping their emotional displays higher than yours. Speak in a calm, quiet voice, and disengage physically before you have a chance to engage physically or verbally. When you remain calm, your child does not have anything to fight or argue. 

Parents of strong-willed children often meet with me many times in order to role play the above skills, as well as to develop positive ways to give directives. These sessions are held without children so we can focus on skill building, developing confidence, and avoiding your child holding it against you. If you are interested in more support and ideas for working with your strong-willed child, please call me at 616-949-7460, x110. 

Parents of Teenagers
The good news is that the chaos will end, I promise!  You can do this!  The bad news is that your child's brain will not be fully mature until around the age of 24 years. (Ever wonder why auto rates reduce around that age?)  At the same time that you are reeling with confusion, feeling overwhelmed, and sometimes insane from your teen's behavior, so are they. Following are a list of strategies I share with parents of teens to help them get through this tough time.

1. Maintain emotional regulation when addressing behavioral problems or concerns.  The calmer you are, the calmer they will be. In the long run. You will also be teaching them about emotional regulation when you stay calm.

Short, concise, and respectful
Positive statements giving unconditional love and respect
Remain as calm as possible