Parenting With the HEART in Mind
Weekly parenting tips to grow the social and emotional capacity of your children and family.
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January, 12 – Fighting Fair Family Pledge
Wouldn’t it be nice if this year there was NO fighting in your home? It would be nice… but here’s the thing–fighting is inevitable in families. It does not mean that there is something wrong with your kids or your family, it’s just reality. There are, however, differences between fair and unfair fighting. Criticism, disdain or defensiveness don’t help with fair fighting. Empathy, responsibility and love do help with fair fighting. Check out this great article from Jennifer Miller, Author and SEL Family Consultant, to learn more and get the “Fighting Fair Family Pledge”.
January, 5 – Family Feelings
How do you want to feel as a family? That may be a difficult question to ask or answer for some families, especially after the busy-ness of the holidays. In this short interview, Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, discusses how to talk about emotions with your family.
December, 22 – Less is Better
Although we try to make the holidays a joyful and special time, these festivities seem to bring a great deal of stress for parents and families. Traveling, hosting, and being out of the regular schedule all add up to having tired, overly agitated, and cranky children and parents. Dr. Laura Markham has a handy list of tips to survive the holidays. I would summarize it in one sentence: Less is better. When we lower our expectations about how things should be, and how many things can be done on a given day, we start realizing what really matters–connection. So, allow yourself to slow down and enjoy things for what they are (messiness included), you may actually have a wonderful time.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season, and a peaceful New Year!
December, 8 – Siblings Kindness
Fights among siblings is probably the focus of many parenting conversations: “Why do they bicker all the time? Can’t they just get along?” According to Jennifer Miller, Family SEL consultant, there are many small things that parents can do to reduce the fighting and encourage siblings to be kind to one another. It starts with noticing when they are getting along and playing well together, and making a point to tell them what you saw. It also requires that you regularly discuss gratitude to develop a grateful mindset in your children. For more tips to help siblings get along, read Jennifer’s great article.
November, 24 – Saying “No” Is Self-Care
“I’m seeing more mothers who feel an overwhelming pressure to live up to not only the crushing expectations of motherhood but also the obligations of performative self-care.” says Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a perinatal psychiatrist specializing in women’s mental health, in this New York Times article. Dr. Lakshmin recommends approaching self-care as firmly deciding what you will not do and setting boundaries, instead of something else that needs to be added to your family to-do list. Dare to try it?
November, 17 – Lessons from Dropping Out of College
Jenny Lu dropped out of her Ivy League college just 3 weeks into freshman year. In this thought provoking article, she explains how she spent many sleepless nights in order to get good grades and be a model student. Pushed by her parents, she never communicated the pressure and stress that she felt. Once in college, she realized it was not for her. Once you read the article, think about think about what parent behaviors may have contributed to Jenny’s feelings about success and her experience in school. What could you do today to avoid your child feeling hopeless and isolated due to academic pressures in the future?
November, 3 – Permission to feel
A growing body of research finds that a child’s ability to cope constructively with life’s ups and downs plays a key role in their academic and social success. Knowing how to deal with disappointment, asking for help, or resolving conflicts constructively are skills that can lead to better behavior on the playground and better focus in the classroom. And parents play a key role in teaching these skills to children–it requires that we label and express our emotions, and regulate them in positive ways. For more details, check out this great article.
October, 27 – Self-compassion
Would you like your children to be academically motivated and enjoy emotional wellbeing? Teach them self-compassion. Research shows that students who adopt a growth mindset thrive on challenges, show resilience in the face of obstacles and view failure as part of the learning process. Both self-compassion and growth mindset are robust responses to the inevitable ups and downs of life. “When we are self-compassionate, we remind ourselves ‘I am a human and the human condition is imperfect for all of us” said Kristin Neff, self-compassion researcher and psychology professor at the University of Texas. Read this great article to learn how to teach self-compassion to your children.
October, 20 -On multitasking
Many parents want to believe that they are being efficient (and awesome) when they tackle more than one project or task at once. Dinner, homework help and texting? Check. The truth is that multitasking increases our stress level in a number of ways–we are more distracted, miss important information and feel more anxiety. Parents are more likely to lose their temper with the kids when they are multitasking! To break the cycle, and truly become more efficient read this article from the Washington Post.
October, 13 – Discussing identity issues
A recent survey of 6,000 parents conducted by Sesame Street found that a majority of parents rarely, if ever, discuss race/ethnicity, gender, class or other categories of social identity with their kids. If families don’t discuss social identities at home, kids are left alone to make sense of the differences they see, with little more than stereotypes, television and guesswork to guide them. The key here is to have conversations with your children about these topics, so they are able to build a positive sense of identity, and be respectful of everyone else’s. Read more about the survey in this NPR article.
October, 6 – On generosity
Many parents would agree that their self-sacrifice for their kids is totally worth it. However, research shows that people who care about others and neglect themselves are more likely to become anxious and depressed. On the other hand, generosity is not about sacrificing yourself for others — it’s about helping others without harming yourself. Adam Grant suggests in this New York Time article to consider giving as something joyful you choose to do for the benefit of others.
September, 29 – On anxiety
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. This is a big concern for parents and educators alike. If your children are dealing with anxiety, support them by teaching them how to manage their feelings, instead of protecting them from their triggers. Although it won’t take the uncomfortable feelings away, it will help them develop skills that will support them in the long term. For other tips to help your children with anxiety, check out this article by the Child Mind Institute.
September, 22 – Mental Health
Mental health issues are still taboo in our communities⏤many people believe that having a mental health issue is a sign of weakness, so you can just “toughen up”. Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, UC Berkeley Professor, talks about humanizing mental health issues in order to move from stigma to compassion in this great article. If your family is struggling with mental health issues, ask for help. Here’s a place with resources to get you started.
September, 15 – Homework Struggles
Many students struggle when it comes to homework. Their stress tends to be exacerbated by three primary challenges: procrastinating, feeling overwhelmed and struggling to retain information. If this sounds like your child, you probably want to know how to support them now, so they can be more successful later on. Check out this helpful article with tools for each one of those primary challenges.
September, 8 – Communication
How many times have you asked your child ‘How was school today?’ and got a ‘good’ without any more details? After 7 hours being in school, you would think they have something to share, right? If you want to get more information about your child’s day, try changing the question. For example, saying something like ‘Tell me about a conversation you had with a friend today that made you excited’. For other suggestions, check out this article from instructional coach and author, Elena Aguilar, published in Edutopia.
September, 1 – Using emotional intelligence as a parent
Parenting requires resilience, strong negotiation skills, and a large amount of patience. Dr. Anabel Jensen, founder of the global EQ network Six Seconds, says that “parenting is like trying to stand up in a hammock and not spill your lemonade.” Can you relate? In this article, Dr. Jensen explains how to use emotional intelligence in your parenting and change the way you fight with your kids by pausing, prioritizing, and looking at your options. Handy printable handout in the article.
August, 25 – Responding to children’s behavior
Children sometimes react to daily situations in ways that parents don’t understand. What’s the big deal about…wearing white socks? Brushing hair before school? Or grabbing a jacket? You name the challenge! Parents sometimes react to children’s behaviors, without considering the underlying thoughts or emotions that drive these behaviors. So, how do you do it? There is a great tool called “parent mentalizing”, which means seeking to understand our own and our child’s behaviors from the perspective of underlying mental states, such as thoughts, feelings, and needs. Check out this article from the Greater Good Science Center to learn how to put it into practice.
August, 18 – School is in session
Ready or not, here it comes! School starts next week. With a little preparation, you can make the transition back to school a little easier for children and adults too. Check out these great tips from Aha Parenting, and make sure you pay attention to your own needs as well. It is a big transition for everybody in the family! Here’s to a great start of the school year.
August, 11th – Back to School
“Emotional preparedness for school is just as important as the school supplies we carefully purchase, label, and organize to get our children ready for their first day.” Jennifer Miller, Family SEL Consultant.
Summer is almost over, and the beginning of the school year is just around the corner. Going back to school can be an exciting time for your child, but as with any transition, it can also be fraught with worry, fear and a sense of loss. Ease the transition back to school with these great tips from Confident Parents, Confident Kids.
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