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When Outbursts Mask Depression in a Teen (Dr. Laurie Hollman)

Dr. Laurie Hollman, Unlocking Parental Intelligence, When Outbursts Mask Depression in a TeenOn one of many Saturdays, a thirteen-year-old spent the day screaming, throwing things, criticizing everyone for hours then slamming her door to her chaotic messy room and sleeping for hours.

Barely revived for dinner, she complained about the food, yelled at her mother for not knowing she was a vegan, and tossed her full dishes in the sink.

Her mother was angry, tired, and felt disrespected. She didn’t deserve this treatment and took it personally. Was this what the beginning of teenage life was going to be? Could she tolerate it?

Have you ever experienced this kind of scenario?

Earlier in the day this distraught mother had yelled,” What’s wrong with you?” sarcastically fed up and beside herself with her incorrigible child. Her husband was no help: “Now you’ve done it. She’ll never speak to you again.”

They had an argument about how to raise kids, something they’d done since she was a baby.

Something was “Hidden”
But by the end of the weekend, the thirteen-year-old’s mother shifted her tone and asked once again, but in a gentle voice, “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” To this change of maternal voice, her daughter let forth a torrent of tears.

“I have no idea!” she said. “I wake up with a weight on my shoulders and force myself out of bed. Everybody and everything irritates me. I don’t want to be this horrible person, but I think I’m going crazy.

Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, Laurie Hollman PhDThis was the opening her mother needed to understand that the outbursts were hiding a deep insidious depression overtaking her daughter. There were no outward stressors beyond the norm of lots of homework, dramas with girlfriends, and frustrations with teachers. Her grades were decent, she got to school on time, and nothing traumatic seemed to be happening, or had it ever that she could remember.

This mother, however, was reminded of the depressions that crept through the female side of her family; now she knew it was her daughter’s turn.

Signs of a Struggle
The outbursts were just outer signs of a deep internal struggle with a biological base that made everyday life seem like a torrent of wounds. Her child’s revelation opened the door to a wish for help that had been conveyed indirectly through all the complaints, messes, and screams.

They weren’t bids for attention; they were demands for support and help. And once this mother no longer felt personally provoked, she could see with different eyes that the baby she had nursed and cuddled needed her warmth and strength again without judgment or accusations.

Learning, Help and Love
That cold weekend turned into a warm one as mother and daughter shuddered and cried together. Regaining composure the mother explained depression to her daughter. They google searched the signs and symptoms and knew this was beyond her daughter’s immediate control. She needn’t be blamed or accused of anything. They would work it out with help and kindness. This surely wasn’t about discipline, messy rooms and outbursts; it was going to be about learning, professional help, and above all … love.###

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. has a new book out, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius, and wherever books are sold.
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May 25, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Counselors, Difficult Child, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Virtue in an Election Year (Dr. Daniel Trussell)

Dr. Daniel Trussell, How Families FlourishNo matter which candidate you support, there is no better time than a presidential election year to teach older children and adolescents about civic responsibility, critical thinking, and integrity. These activities all characterize people who live the good life, those who report the highest level of life satisfaction and happiness. Therefore, teaching virtue in an election year is very much worth the effort.

A “Themed” Family Meeting
If you’ve read my articles in the past, you know I am a strong advocate for regularly scheduled family meetings. Family meetings are a time to celebrate successes, compliment achievements, problem solve challenges and explore individualized family values. You might consider a family meeting themed around the presidential election.

One way to approach the discussion is to ask your child what they observe about each candidate’s performance during debates, forums, news bites and advertisements related to character traits the candidates’ exhibit rather than on their political platforms.
While this may seem a daunting task, here are some tips to help you guide the conversation.

Six Societal Virtues
Seligman and Peterson identified six virtues that can be found in virtually all societies. These include:

WISDOM- acquiring and using knowledge
COURAGE – accomplishing goals in the face of opposition
JUSTICE – building community
HUMANITY –befriending and tending to others
TEMPERANCE – protecting against excess
TRANSCENDENCE – connecting to the larger universe

Each virtue is demonstrated through consistent character strengths of an individual. Let’s look at those strengths.

How Families Flourish, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Daniel Trussell, PhDFor WISDOM, the strengths are a love of learning, discernment, curiosity, originality (approaching problems in new ways) and perspective.

COURAGE includes integrity, persistence, bravery and vitality.

JUSTICE involves teamwork, fairness and leadership.

HUMANITY manifests through generosity, loving and being loved, and social/emotional intelligence.

TEMPERANCE embodies forgiveness and mercy, humility, self-control and prudence/discretion.

TRANSCENDENCE encompasses appreciation of beauty in all things, gratitude, hope, spirituality and humor.

While no person exemplifies all the strengths mentioned above, it is helpful to identify the top and bottom strengths of an individual. For your family meeting conversation, you might want to look at the top three and bottom three strengths of each candidate from both parties.

A Few Ground Rules
If your family is not skilled at family meetings, some ground rules are worth mentioning. Family meetings need a rigid start and stop time where all family members are present. Once the meeting time is set, it can’t be changed unless there is a life or death emergency, so plan accordingly. No personal devices are to be used during this or any other family meeting (turn off TV or music, don’t answer phones etc.)

Each member gets an opportunity to identify the strengths of each candidate, without interruption, comment or judgment from the other family members. After everyone has had a chance to talk, a more general discussion can begin.

The time factor in family meetings is very important. There is much less resistance to family meetings when they start and stop promptly. If time runs out before everyone has finished, it is better to schedule an additional family meeting (same time, next week) than to extend the meeting.

A Nice Surprise
You might be surprised to learn how your kids are reacting to and absorbing the campaign information they are exposed to. The purpose of this family meeting is not to persuade anyone to come to your way of thinking but to learn about each individual’s personal reaction to this exciting electoral process. It only happens once every four years so let’s grasp the opportunity!

 

Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com. [website]

 

May 19, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Ways to Boost Creativity (Mike Ferry)

Mike Ferry, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Ten Ways to Boost CreativityCreativity is a path to happiness. The more time we spend being creative, the happier we’re likely to become. In addition, creativity is an essential aspect of innovation, which will propel us to a brighter future. As kids many of us are naturally creative. Unfortunately, our creativity tends to be eliminated as we enter school. So, here are ten ways to boost creativity.

The really good news is that we can reclaim our creativity. In addition, we can help our kids preserve and develop their creative capacity.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike FerryHere are ten (hopefully fun) activities designed to engage your skills of creativity. Using each group of words, compose a short story, skit, poem, song, movie, dance, etc. Let your mind roam free. If this becomes hilarious and a bit chaotic, so be it! Maybe you could try this exercise the next time you need an icebreaker in the office, the classroom, or anywhere else. Plus, you might learn a thing or two by looking up the meanings of any people, places, or things you don’t know about. The more we learn, the more creative we can be!

 

Submarine
Giraffe
Tampa
Violin
Superman

 

James Bond
Walla Walla, Washington
Skunk
Hula hoop
Nutella

 

Onion rings
Portland
Candles
Chinchilla
Millard Fillmore

 

Tuba
Vatican City
Thin Mints
Al Capone
Poker

 

Golf cart
Beard
Mars
Guinea pig
Ronald Reagan

 

Oak tree
Porsche
Suitcase
Lebron James
Aardvark

 

Pufferfish
Sphinx
Popcorn
Babe Ruth
Glockenspiel

 

Walrus
U2
Sled
Kabbadi
Napoleon

 

Molars
Ottawa
Silk Road
Flip flop
Olaf

 

Louis Armstrong
Iguana
Starbucks
Columbus Zoo
Hello Kitty pencil

This is a recent blog post of mine that has been getting some attention on Twitter. I’ve tried a few of these with my students, and the process has been lots of fun. ###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

 

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Humor, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Parents Can Instill a Thirst for Learning (Michael Byron Smith)

Michael Byron Smith, The Power of Dadhood, Helping Fathers to be DadsHave you ever witnessed the look in a child’s eyes when the light bulb comes on? Adrenaline rushes in the moment he or she understands something which once puzzled, frustrated, or mystified them, accompanied by a great boost to their confidence. These moments are so important because success always begets more success. However, a child will have few opportunities to feel that rush or become more confident if not properly challenged intellectually. Let’s look at how parents can instill a thirst for learning.

photo by Michael Byron SmithBy challenged, I mean being introduced to new things which have to be studied to be understood. To a toddler it could be putting shapes in similarly shaped openings. As they mature, it could be building their own shapes, or houses, or cars with Legos and Lincoln Logs. Learning, like infinity, never ends. Experiencing it, like infinity, you may need a rocket ship. Parents can be rocket ships for their children for there will always be new discoveries to be found, studied, and conquered.

The stars of our galaxy are a wonderful way to stir the imagination. It could be explained that the North Star, the Big Dipper or other constellations helped early travelers find their way. Chemistry sets and microscopes are great tools to learn science, such as how to make slime or crystals, or how to see microscopic objects invisible to the naked eye. Each step of learning advances a child to a higher level of knowledge and a stronger desire to learn more. And don’t forget to take your kids to the local zoo or science center! Better yet, teach them about animals before you go. They will be fascinated.

I remember how astonished I was when I learned I could measure the exact height of a tree without climbing to the top and dropping a tape measure from the top branch to the ground. It was simple trigonometry. By finding a point away from the tree where the top of the tree was at a 45-degree angle from the ground, I knew the height of the tree was the same as the distance to the tree. I then wanted to learn more ways trigonometry worked to solve more mysteries.

Photo by Michael Byron SmithI haven’t even mentioned to greatest tool to a child’s imagination, that being reading! Reading to toddlers, or even babies fascinates them. They see the writing and the pictures and know they are related. Even the comfort of being on your lap and having your attention relates reading to being safe and loved. What better way to introduce a child to learning. As they get older, children want to be able to translate a written string of letters to understandable thoughts and descriptions, just like mom and dad can do.

Late Starts in Learning Can Be a Terrible Burden
But what about the child who is never read to, not to mention never having a learning tool like a chemistry set with simple experiments any parent can teach. They are left unaided to stimulate their imaginations which become a distinct disadvantage compared to their peers, those who have had loving attention and mentoring. Even though some children are born with more active imaginations than others, every child will be helped by outside stimulation. And although their schools are a key place to stimulate the imaginations of kids, the real joy of learning is discovered in the years prior to formal learning. Not surprisingly, it is the parents who are the key parties in challenging their children during these early years.

Very important in raising more than one child is to understand their different paces in learning and varied interests. Some kids will be more challenging than others, but they must not be compared. You want to challenge the fast learner and the slow learner at different rates but with similar degrees of challenge, i.e. where they will succeed, but not too easily. When over challenged, kids will get frustrated and want to quit. If under challenged, kids will be bored and disinterested in moving forward.

photo by Michael Byron Smith, parents are key teachersIf you are lucky, your child will find a passion. A child with a passion is like putting them in cruise control towards their love of further discovery. They will be driven by their interest and not by your prodding. With a passion comes a desire to learn more and more. A passionate child will more often live in the moment and not brood about the past or future.

The Dry Sponge Theory
Lastly, remember this when your child complains about not quite understanding a subject in school. Have him take the next higher level course and while he may struggle again, he will look back at the last level with more understanding. For instance, let’s say your child struggles with multiplication. If they graduate and then learn algebra, it follows that when she looks back to multiplication, multiplication won’t seem as difficult any longer.

I call this the ‘Dry Sponge Theory.’ (I discuss it in more detail in my book, The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs.) A dry sponge absorbs quite a bit of moisture. However, when a sponge is totally wet, it won’t absorb anything more. A larger sponge will have room for more absorption. Taking algebra makes your learning sponge for multiplication bigger, allowing a capacity for more understanding. It follows that no one is an expert at the level they are studying. They become experts at a level two or three steps lower than where they are currently studying. For instance, sixth graders would be considered experts in fourth-grade subjects…and so forth.

Michael Byron Smith, The Dry Sponge Theory

Your kids may not be convinced of the ‘Dry Sponge Theory’, but hopefully you will be convinced to push them forward. The ‘Dry Sponge Theory’ works similarly for topics that may bore your child like Art Appreciation or History. They may not become historians, but their learning sponge will have increased in size and, therefore, in capacity. Other topics will fall more easily into place. I am convinced of this.

Summary
Parents are key teachers in the most important early learning years–when the sponge of a child’s brain is insatiably thirsty. Introduce interesting things to them. Challenge them. Make learning fun and look for a passion that may pull them forward. And finally, if they aren’t passionate about learning, keep pushing them. Knowledge and the thirst for learning are so important for their futures! ###

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithArticle and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
Helping Fathers to be Dads blog

 

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , | 1 Comment