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School Daze

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Some children find school an exhilarating challenge, while others are overwhelmed. Parents of young children can help them by being more involved in school. If you have the time or a flexible work schedule, you can participate in the classroom one day a week. This affords you the opportunity to observe your child and to help the teacher, who probably has his or her hands full. You can see what problems your child has adjusting to the school routines and find ways, by modeling the teacher, to help your child. Your presence also gives the younger child a feeling of security to know mom or dad is close by. Unfortunately some parents do not have this flexibility to take off a day and participate in their child’s classroom. You can still stay involved by attending parent/teacher conferences, calling the teacher periodically to see how your child is doing, and keeping informed about overall school events as well as your child’s individual performance.

Parents can also reduce their child’s school daze by helping them learn good study skills and overcome homework malaise. Self-discipline can be a difficult trait to build, but it is crucial to academic success. While IQ is important, a child’s feeling of confidence in herself and her ability to master a subject is also critically important. Make sure your child knows how to study and finds it a positive, rewarding experience. You can do this by using the “Homework Hassles” parenting tool. In addition, you should encourage children’s natural curiosity to learn. Provide opportunities to discover new things. Get excited about your child’s projects, both at home and school. Post school work on the refrigerator door as if they are pieces of famous artwork. And talk regularly with your child about his feelings about school. Is he afraid of another student? Does he think the teacher is nice or mean? What is it like riding the bus, or eating school cafeteria food, or playing at recess? Who are his friends and why does he like them? Even busy parents can find time for these discussions.

Use communication parenting tools to validate a child’s feelings about school without getting caught up in them at the same time. Remember that empathizing with a child (hearing about feelings and acknowledging their validity) is different from sympathizing with a child (feeling what they feel, be it mad, overwhelmed, or dazed). The former allows the parent to help solve problems while the latter get parents caught up emotionally in the problem.

Identifying Teens at Risk for PTSD:

Many teens are exposed to emotionally traumatic events, putting them at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A new study found online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry helps clinicians target those who are most vulnerable to developing PTSD.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital analyzed data on 6,483 teen–parent pairs from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a survey of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in the United States.

They discovered that 61 percent of the teens (ages 13 to 17) had been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event in their lifetime, including interpersonal violence (such as rape, physical abuse or witnessing domestic violence), injuries, natural disasters and the death of a close friend or family member.

Nineteen percent had experienced three or more such events.

Investigators determined the risk factors associated most strongly with trauma exposure included:

  • Lack of both biological parents in the home;
  • Pre-existing mental disorders, particularly behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional-defiant disorder.

Of all teens exposed to trauma, 4.7 percent had experienced PTSD under DSM-IV diagnostic criteria.

Risk factors for PTSD included:

  • Female gender: Of the total sample, girls had a lifetime prevalence of PTSD of 7.3 percent, and boys 2.2 percent;
  • Events involving interpersonal violence: the lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 39 percent for teens who had been raped and 25 percent for those physically abused by a caregiver;
  • Underlying anxiety and mood disorders (also a risk factor for exposure).

Recovery from PTSD was complicated if the teen:

  • Had underlying bipolar disorder;
  • Was exposed to an additional traumatic event;
  • Lived in poverty;
  • Was a U.S. native.

Need help for your teenager and live in the Redding, California area? Ron Huxley, founder of the Parenting Toolbox, is open to helping families through his private practice starting September 2013. If you prefer a consultation (not therapy) via Skype or email, click on the “Parenting Answers” link here or contact Ron at rehuxley@gmail.com.

Parenting Games: 3 Ways to Build More Cooperation

Sometimes parenting just seems like a game…that you can never win.

The other team has more energy, more time, and more players. To help parents improve the odds, we’ve come up with some new “game plans" that might even the score. 

Follow the Leader is a parenting tool that can be used in two ways:

 As a game; and as a “redirection" tool. When using this tool as a game, parents can invite their children to play “follow the leader.“ This game is fun on family trips or vacations. Families with more than one child can have each child take turns leading the family hike or singing a song. The leader has the power to choose which forest path to take or which song to sing. Each child (and parent) gets the opportunity to be the leader, thereby encouraging equality and fairness. When used as a “redirection” tool controlling children can be direct their need to take charge of a particular task, such as getting the family together for dinner or organizing a wood gathering party for the campfire. This is a great game to replace power-struggling.

Freeze Play is a parenting tool variation of the old stand-by: Time-Out

Time-out is usually conducted by isolating or excluding a child from the rest of the family or classroom. In this traditional form children are sent to their room, a chair in the kitchen, outside the classroom door, or left facing a wall. Time-Out has a number of disadvantages, the primary one being that it involves the use of punishment that may seem harsh to some parents and children. Some children may become out-of-control or physically destructive when put in isolation or exclusion time-out. Fortunately, parents can use a different form of time-out, that behaviorists call “nonexclusionary time-out.“

Nonexclusionary time-out, like isolation and exclusionary time-out, eliminates reinforces (interaction with others). It accomplishes this by freezing the moment of interaction with the child for a very brief, but poignant amount of time. For example, if a child starts whining when told they must wait for dinner to eat, the parent can firmly but evenly, say, “freeze!” The parent then avoids eye contact (i.e., attention during the discipline) for a few seconds and the child is prohibited from communicating during this time. Afterwards the parent can nonchalantly carry on the task at hand or use Time-In or educational parenting tool. Be careful not to place too much emphasis on talking about the misbehavior afterwards as it might inadvertently reinforce the child to misbehave again for the attention it gains.

It might be necessary for the parent to tell the child what is going to happen during “freeze play" and the expectation that there will be no communication/eye contact during that time, so that the child knows why the parent is “acting this way.“ In addition, the old rule of thumb for time-out, one minute for every year of life, can be used in Freeze Play by substituting seconds for minutes (e.g., one frozen second for every year of life.) 

Huddling is a parenting tool shorten version of a family meeting without all the fuss or preparation time.

Huddling is a quick, informal, type of family meeting that any number of family members can have together and can occur at any time or place. Football players do this before every play to make sure the team knows what the plan is and to make clear everyone’s job. Family members can stop whatever they are doing to have a quick, little meeting about a specific problem or task. Parents can play the captain by telling the family to “huddle together.” Put arms around one another for support or just gather together in a circle, face in. Talk about the problem or task and assign jobs or ask for quick input. Decide on a plan of action and say “let’ go!“ Parents can use this tool at the zoo to decide what they are going to go see first, at the restaurant to decide what everyone wants to eat, and at home to decide what toys need to be gathered up before going to the park. While these “game plans” don’t guarantee a winning season, they can coach parents on new ways to improve their performance and their satisfaction in parenting.

OK, let’s play!

 

Share your thoughts on these three power parenting tools by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

 

You can get more quick tips to change your family dynamics and have the family you dreamed about by contacting Ron now! Click here for more information.

An unsolicited endorsement by Kathleen Karns of the Toddler Tamer.

“Raising a family today can be an almost overwhelming challenge with the diverse differences in the family both socially and culturally. We are a society of single parent families and mixed families that do not fit within the parameters of the traditional, two parent family. When tackling everything from step-parenting to behavioral problems with children, the unprepared parent can feel as though they are drowning.

To provide solutions for this social chaos, family therapist Ron Huxley enters the fray with his phenomenal system called the Parenting Toolbox. By utilizing the vast array of services and educational tools available with a subscription to www.parentingtoolbox.com, struggling parents can find the information and resources that will equip them to face the challenges associated with raising their children in today’s world. The Parenting Toolbox offers an array of tools that will enable you to become a better parent:

  1. Knowing that the most important role that you can have in life is being a parent and learning to express the value of parenthood everyday provides the beginning steps to face all of the challenges that children can bring into life.
  2. You will learn new and variable ways of disciplining children without always resorting to corporal punishment that will stimulate the mind and instill respect.
  3. Either open or improve the lines of communication between parents and their children.
  4. You will be able to learn what more about the ways you were brought up affect the way you raise you own children and provide the means to change these parental patterns.
  5. Not only will your own self-esteem get a boost that it needs, you will be able to teach your children about their own innate value.
  6. Parents are given healthy ways to deal with their anger and stress in ways that will be helpful and non-abusive.
  7. Creative strategies are introduced to deal with challenging behaviors in children in safe and productive ways.
  8. Games, puzzles, and other creative exercises both strengthen the parent’s ability to communicate important concepts to the child but also enable the child’s ability to think and reason in social settings.
  9. Parents no longer have to be in the dark when it comes to ways to raise their children that will promote spiritual growth. Parents can learn ways to incorporate their spiritual heritage into the lessons and sources provided by the parenting toolbox.
  10. More than this, Ron Huxley and the parenting toolbox will equip you with something even more valuable: guaranteed life long support. This is the real commitment that parentingtoolbox.com makes. It will be there through every stage of a child’s development to provide not only just the right tools to make you a better parent but also support through groups of parents and professionals who have been there before.

Whatever the situation, you will be able to count on the resources of this amazing system to give what you need when you need it.”

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Parenting Toolbox Thought: If you think about today as having thousands of small choices, you can begin to believe that change in your family is possible. If you only look at the day as one way or the other, you limit yourself and make life continue to feel impossible. Be aware of the choices that present themselves every few minutes and take a thoughtful step in a different direction toward a better destination for your family relationships.