Sunday, September 30, 2012

Helping Grandchildren with Grandparent Divorce



When grandparents divorce grandchildren may be confused, angry and/or sad about grandparents separating. They may have questions like, “If they quit loving each other will they quit loving me?” The questions they ask can be hard to answer and throw you off guard.

My plan was to give my children a short answer as to why Grandma and Grandpa do not want to live together anymore, and hope my kids didn’t bring it up again. Unfortunately the short answer did not satisfy my four year old. He wanted to know if they would ever get back together, or if we could teach them to get along. When he visited either of my parents he would be upset because the other grandparent wasn’t there. I came to find that my child’s response was not uncommon.  

To aid in the grieving process it is good to let children know that the decision to live at separate houses is final. A child having false hope that their grandparents will move back together is not good for accepting this change. You can gently tell them something like, “They tried everything they could and it did not work. Now they feel the best decision is to live in separate houses.”

It is important to point out to children that their love from their grandparents will not change. Just because Grandma and Grandpa do not love each other, it doesn’t mean that they will quit loving them. Be intentional about having children spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. This can help children see that Grandma and Grandpa are still the same.

Children may be concerned that mom and dad will split up too. My child asked me several times when I was going to move out like Grandma did. Letting your child know that just because Grandma and Grandpa separated doesn’t mean mom and dad will too, can help them not feel this anxiety.

Children often communicate their anxiety with behaviors. Doing things like drawing pictures, asking them questions about how they are feeling and reading books like, “When Grandparents Divorce” can help children adjust more quickly and reduce any negative feelings they might have.

For older children you can address the issues directly. Explain to them what will change and what will stay the same.
EX: “Grandma will live at ____, and grandpa will live at _______. Holidays will be like ______. Grandma and grandpa still love you just the same and are excited for you to come visit them.”

Allow children of all ages to ask as many questions as they like and try to be open and honest with them. Avoid talking bad about either grandparent. Keep in mind as you talk with them that you would like to preserve the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent.

Remember these two important tips:
  1.       If you feel like your children are struggling, and you don’t feel like you have all the tools you want to handle it, see a counselor.   A counselor or therapist can help your whole family process through this major life change.
  2.       Any child going through a hard time will benefit from extra quality time with a loved one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

15 Activities to Help a Traumatized Child


  1.        Buy a doll house and toy people/pets that can fit inside. Allow the child to freely play. Children will naturally project their situation onto the toys as they play with them. This type of play can help them process their situation and give you insight into their perspective on their life.
  2.        Ask the child to draw a picture of how they feel and let them know there is no wrong way to draw it. They can scribble, they can draw objects, or they can even write words.
  3.        Ask your child to make up a story with you about a child their own gender. “Let’s make a story about a little girl!” Let the child be the guide for what happens in the story.  This can open the door to have the child talk about what is stressing them out without having to talk about themselves.
  4.        Ask the child to draw a picture of a bad guy.
  5.        Ask the child to draw a picture of their family.
  6.        Ask the child to draw a picture or tell a story about a time when they felt safe/secure and then a time when they didn’t.
  7.        Make a list or draw a picture with your child of ways they are now safe and secure.
  8.        Write a story with your child of their life. Allow them to give details but you can also add details with them.
  9.        If you child is younger you can ask it, “How do you think this stuffed animal would feel if it was you?” If they are older you can ask how their friend would feel.
  10.    Ask the child to draw a picture or make a list of things that make them uncomfortable or unsafe.
  11.    Teach them the difference between safe secrets and bad secrets. Ex: surprise b day party vs not telling that someone did something bad
  12.    Make a list of all the safe people that love your child.
  13.    Make a plan with the child for when they are scared, sad or uncomfortable.
  14.    Ask the child what they would change about their family.
  15.    Ask the child to pick an animal for each member of the family and ask them to explain why they chose it.

When you do these activities make sure you are feeling patient and strong. It would be harmful to the child if they were yelled at for opening up about this type of thing. They need to be met with love, understanding and patience. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Relationship Stress Test



RELATIONSHIP TEST  Adapted from Dr. Phil McGraw’s Relationship Rescue

1.  Do you or your partner hold a grudge after an argument?  YES OR NO

2.  Do you or your partner frequently keep your feelings bottled up?  YES OR NO

3.  Do normal discussions often turn into big arguments?  YES OR   NO

4.  In an argument is name-calling used?  YES OR NO

5.  Do you or your partner want to win the argument more than the relationship?  For example, do you fight to be right?  YES OR NO

6.  Do you dread spending time with your partner?  YES OR NO

7.  Do you or your partner withhold affection from your partner as a punishment?  YES OR NO

8.  Do you or your partner avoid talking about serious issues?  YES OR NO

9.  Have you given up on trying to meet the needs of your partner?  YES OR NO

10. Are you filling the emotional void left by your relationship with other people and activities?  YES OR NO

11. Do your arguments end with one or both of you feeling worse?  YES OR NO

12. Do you or your partner feel “defensive” when you’re together?  YES OR NO

13. Do you often feel stuck in your relationship?  YES OR NO

14. Do you feel your partner doesn’t understand you?  YES OR NO

15. Do you often feel angry or frustrated with your partner?  YES OR NO

16. Do you feel your partner doesn’t appreciate you?  YES OR NO

17. Do you often feel lonely in your relationship?  YES OR NO

18. Do you keep score if your relationship? If they aren't nice to you you wont be nice to them.  YES OR NO

19. Do you feel negative about your future together?  YES OR NO

20. Do you feel like your best is never good enough for your partner?  YES OR NO

TOTAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS ANSWERED YES = __________

SCORING:
0 to 4    Good relationship, rare stress
5 to 10  Relationship needs work, occasional exposure to stress
11 to 15  Seriously troubled, frequent stress
16 to 20   Relationship is damaged and is in need of a major change

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation





Life is busy. We all have more to do than hours in the day. We are faced with a choice. What do we choose to go without? Well I am writing this article to encouraging you to not skimp on sleeping. There are serious consequences to lack of sleep. After periods of extended wakefulness or reduced sleep neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly effecting a person's behavior. Just like a person cannot jog for three continuous days a person's brain cannot operate without rest breaks.” S.L. (2008) This is costing about $100 billion per year in accidents, lost work and medical bills according to Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, 2002.


There are two ways you can suffer from sleep deprivation:  
1. Going extended periods without sleep
2. Getting less than 7 hours per night repeatedly

Consequences of Not Enough Sleep:
Mood instability
Thinking/processing problems
Instable functioning
Decrease in coordination and physical ability
Memory loss
Difficulty with high level thinking
Weight gain
Increased anxiety
Slurred speech
Lack of impulse control
Decrease attention/lack of focus
Decrease memory intake
Decreased judgment
Hallucinations
“temporary insanity”
Increased susceptibility to illness
Increase risk of accidents by 20% or more depending on your level of sleep deprivation Heart disease
High blood pressure
Depression


Myths and Facts about Sleep from helpguide.org
Myth 1: Getting just 1 hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning. You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day. But even slightly less sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly, and compromise your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Myth 2: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules. Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by 1–2 hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.
Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue. Not only is the quantity of sleep important but also the quality of sleep. Some people sleep 8 or 9 hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.
Myth 4: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.
Adapted from: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (PDF) The National Institutes of Health

So when looking at your to-do list please move sleep up to the top of the list. Ironically you will find when you get enough sleep it is easier to achieve your goals.


Sources:
ww.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm
Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, 2002


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Questions to Ask Your Kids


20 Pillow Talk Questions for You and Your Child


iMOM Pillow Talk IconHere are 20 Pillow Talk Questions from iMOM to help you jump start your relationship with your child. For daily Pillow Talk Questions delivered to your email inbox, sign up for the Espresso Minute Daily Email.
  1. What do you like to dream about?
  2. What is your best memory this school year?
  3. Who is your hero? Why?
  4. How would you describe your family?
  5. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  6. What are you most proud of yourself for?
  7. Who is the kindest person you know? Why?
  8. What do you like most about your best friend?
  9. What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?
  10. If you were an animal what one would you be and why?
  11. When is the last time someome hurt your feelings? How did you react?
  12. Do you know someone who is going though a hard time? How can you help them?
  13. What is the scariest thing that happened this year?
  14. If you could keep only one thing, out of everything you have, what would it be?
  15. Who do you think is really successful? Why?
  16. What’s the best thing about your teacher this year?
  17. When do you feel misunderstood by grown-ups?
  18. What three words best describe you?
  19. What’s something that makes you angry?
  20. What’s the best compliment you ever received

© 2011 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Build Your Self-Esteem



Do you have stuff-esteem or self-esteem? I have to admit I am guilty of having stuff-esteem at times. What I mean by this is when we get our self-confidence from the stuff that we do instead who we are on the inside. For example my self-esteem sometimes suffers when I think I am not thin enough, I don’t make enough money or I do not dress nice enough. When your self-esteem is based on exterior things, you never actually have “self-esteem”. Really what you have is stuff-esteem.

The problem with this theory of looking at your value is it is very fragile. When you lose your job, gain weight, or have some other slip up in life you completely lose your confidence. This is dangerous.

 It is time to reframe how we look at ourselves.

Step 1: Look at yourself on this inside. What is good about you? Are you honest, hardworking, loyal, creative…?

Step 2: When you feel low remind yourself exterior stuff isn’t what really matters and does not define you. Reminder yourself of the good things about you that are lasting.

Step 3: If you have things about yourself that you do not like make a plan to change them. Do not be content with your flaws, and then celebrate your growth.

Step 4: Do things that accentuate your strengths.

An example of a self-esteem building activity is I decided I am some one that isn’t afraid to face a challenge or my fears. To prove that to myself I signed up of the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is a mud filled, 12 mile, military style obstacle course. The obstacles include jumping from heights into water, jumping into ice water, crawling through dark tunnels and many other challenges. In this 12 mile race there were 24 obstacles to face my fears. I completed the entire race with my brother and my friend. Afterwards I felt amazing and I now have this memory to look back on to remind myself of who I am.

These kinds of activities create powerful memories to remind you who you are on the inside. Sometimes in life we go through the motions and we forget to act on who we really are. When we live life this way we miss living a satisfying, self-esteem filled life. When you question if you are a good person or not you need to give yourself evidence of what is in the inside. If you are lacking evidence, look inside and see what is good, then act on it! 

http://toughmudder.com/

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Get Rid of Nightmares



Nightmares can be vivid and horrendous. They can cause people to wake up terrified and even dread going to sleep. There are a lot of reasons people have nightmares, and if you want to get rid of your nightmares exploring the alternatives is important.

Stress can be a big factor contributing to nightmares.  This especially can be the case when you go to sleep thinking about what stresses you out. Managing your stress can reduce your number/severity of nightmares.

Relaxing before bed is important. An active mind is more likely to have nightmares than someone who is relaxed. Bedtime routines are even important for adults. Scheduling time to unwind before bed can reduce the number/severity of nightmares, help you fall asleep faster, and help you to sleep deeper. Working out, getting in heated arguments, or doing other strenuous activities right before bed is not conducive to getting rid of nightmares.

Illness has been known to cause nightmares. Sometimes when people run a fever or have other illnesses it is paired with nightmares. If that is the case for you, you are in luck because it will likely pass with your illness.

Medication is also a common cause of nightmares. If you are on medication and suffering from nightmares talk to your doctor about if that could be the cause. Recreational drugs can also cause severe nightmares.

Actual discomfort can work its way into dreams in weird ways. Any pain or even having to go to the bathroom can present itself in nightmares. Buying a new mattress can help with reducing nightmares and help you sleep deeper if your current mattress is old or uncomfortable.

Look for themes in your dreams that parallel with your real life. Figuring out what your dreams are talking about can help you pin point what you need to work on to get rid of them. Keeping a dream journal can help with this. If you cannot figure out what your dreams mean talking to a therapist can help.

Trauma often results in nightmares. The good news is as you process and make progress on healing from your trauma, the dreams should reduce. See a therapist if you feel like you are not making progress.

Practice controlling your dreams. People often don’t realize they can control their dreams. Start practicing taking an active role in your dreams. You will be surprised at the control you can take over them.