What tips can we help you with?

Welcome to our Dear ICDFR Column. Read our responses to questions other people have asked us. Please contact us and ask us some of your own!
Read below for the newest Dear ICDFR questions and answers.

Helping Highschoolers Cope

May 18, 2020

Dear ICDFR, how can parents help their high school aged children cope with the loss of major life events, such as prom/graduation, all which they have looked forward to?

Rituals and celebrations are an important part of life, and they help us mark the important milestones in our lives. First of all, acknowledge their (and your) feelings of loss. Then get creative and brainstorm with your teen to invent a different way to celebrate!

Here are some ideas to get you started:
The prom: get dressed up, invite the prom date and take pictures; play music and dance on the patio; have a special dinner in a prom-decorated area.

Graduation: surprise your teen with a parade of friends doing a drive-by with signs and horns honking; have family members create short videos of congratulations and send to the graduating teen; have the teen dress in graduation garb and hold the ceremony in the front driveway with socially-distanced family members/friends watching from the curb or by Zoom; visit a special site with your teen dressed in graduation garb and take pictures. Follow up these events with a special family dinner to celebrate- a specially decorated cake and graduation decorations can add to the celebratory mood.

(Also consider using this as a “teaching moment” for your teen: i.e., discuss how sometimes things happen in life that we cannot predict, and we need to find alternative/creative ways to work around them.

Question:

Response:

Expression without the Attitude

May 17, 2020

Dear ICDFR, what tips do you have for how to help my child express their feelings without the attitude?

Helping your child express their feelings is extremely important. In fact, research studies show that one of the most important things in parenting is to acknowledge and respond appropriately to a child’s emotions. So,,, try to encourage your child to express their feelings; discuss how they’re feeling and why; comfort them and help them feel better; help them solve whatever problem they are facing.

Here are two helpful techniques:
1. ACTIVE LISTENING: “Active listening” is a verbal response by the parent to the child that’s used when the child/teen has a problem or need (e.g., the child is upset, angry, frustrated, crying, etc.). The parent attempts to put into words what she/he thinks the child is feeling. For example, a teen says “I don’t want to stay inside anymore – I want to visit with my friends!”

There are two parts to an active listening statement:
a) start with a “door opener” : “You seem…” or “It sounds like…”
b) and then add a feeling word: “…you are really frustrated.”

Once you have accurately identified what the child is feeling, proceed to figuring out what the problem is and brainstorm with child on possible solutions (you can do this with a child at least 2 or 2-1/2 yrs. old): “How about a group phone chat or a virtual group hangout time on Zoom? or playing a group videogame together…?”

(Two excellent books on this: Gordon, T. (2008). Parent Effectiveness Training; Gold, C. (2011). Keeping Your Child in Mind).

2. MIRRORING: A good technique to get a child/teen to open up, especially if you aren’t quite sure how child is feeling. Simply mirror back to child what they said in a questioning tone of voice:
-Child: “I never want to talk to Sheena again!”
-Parent: “You never want to talk to Sheena again?”
-Child: “No—she invited all our other friends to play a group videogame except me!”

Once you have an idea of what the problem is you can proceed with active listening and the problem-solving sequence described above. This technique helps a child open up about their feelings and want to say more.

Question:

Response:

Helping Highschoolers Cope

May 18, 2020

Dear ICDFR, How can parents help their high school aged children cope with the loss of major life events, such as prom/graduation, all which they have looked forward to?

Rituals and celebrations are an important part of life, and they help us mark the important milestones in our lives. First of all, acknowledge their (and your) feelings of loss. Then get creative and brainstorm with your teen to invent a different way to celebrate! Here are some ideas to get you started:
The prom: get dressed up, invite the prom date and take pictures; play music and dance on the patio; have a special dinner in a prom-decorated area.
Graduation: surprise your teen with a parade of friends doing a drive-by with signs and horns honking; have family members create short videos of congratulations and send to the graduating teen; have the teen dress in graduation garb and hold the ceremony in the front driveway with socially-distanced family members/friends watching from the curb or by Zoom; visit a special site with your teen dressed in graduation garb and take pictures. Follow up these events with a special family dinner to celebrate- a specially decorated cake and graduation decorations can add to the celebratory mood.
(Also consider using this as a “teaching moment” for your teen: i.e., discuss how sometimes things happen in life that we cannot predict, and we need to find alternative/creative ways to work around them.

Question:

Response:

Expression without Attitude

May 17, 2020

Dear ICDFR, how can I help my child express their feelings without attitude?

Helping your child express their feelings is extremely important. In fact, research studies show that one of the most important things in parenting is to acknowledge and respond appropriately to a child’s emotions. So,,, try to encourage your child to express their feelings; discuss how they’re feeling and why; comfort them and help them feel better; help them solve whatever problem they are facing. Here are two helpful techniques:
1) ACTIVE LISTENING: “Active listening” is a verbal response by the parent to the child that’s used when the child/teen has a problem or need (e.g., the child is upset, angry, frustrated, crying, etc.). The parent attempts to put into words what she/he thinks the child is feeling. For example, a teen says “I don’t want to stay inside anymore – I want to visit with my friends!”
There are two parts to an active listening statement:
a) start with a “door opener” : “You seem…” or “It sounds like…”
b) and then add a feeling word: “…you are really frustrated.”
Once you have accurately identified what the child is feeling, proceed to figuring out what the problem is and
brainstorm with child on possible solutions (you can do this with a child at least 2 or 2-1/2 yrs. old): “How about
a group phone chat or a virtual group hangout time on Zoom? or playing a group videogame together…?”
(Two excellent books on this: Gordon, T. (2008). Parent Effectiveness Training; Gold, C. (2011). Keeping Your
Child in Mind).
2) MIRRORING: A good technique to get a child/teen to open up, especially if you aren’t quite sure how child is feeling. Simply mirror back to child what they said in a questioning tone of voice:
Child: “I never want to talk to Sheena again!”
Parent: “You never want to talk to Sheena again?”
Child: “No—she invited all our other friends to play a group videogame except me!”
Once you have an idea of what the problem is you can proceed with active listening and the problem-solving
sequence described above. This technique helps a child open up about their feelings and want to say more.

Question:

Response:

Pick your Battles

May 15, 2020

Dear ICDFR, how can couples bring up those small things without sounding like they are nagging?

Timing is important. You don’t want to bring up an issue when there are other things going on to distract from the conversation or when your partner is in a terrible mood. Choose a time when both partners are relatively stress-free and have the space to engage in discussion. Choose your battles wisely, not every little thing needs to be addressed. If you raise every issue that bothers you, your partner will feel attacked and start to tune out your complaints. So you need to decide what is worth addressing and what can be left alone. A reputable couples researcher and therapist, Dr. John Gottman, advocates for increasing positive interactions rather than worrying about addressing the negatives. The goal is to have 80% positive and 20% or fewer negative interactions. When we are living under quarantine though, this percentage will likely be thrown off due to the stress and trauma of the situation. Be flexible during this time, it won’t last forever and once it is over, you can tackle issues that really must be addressed and that had to be put on the backburner. A quick tip for raising your concerns, use an “I” statement that addresses a specific behavior and indicates how you feel about that specific behavior. For example: “I felt hurt when you didn’t complete your chores yesterday because we had developed an agreement and I was relying on them getting done.”

Question:

Response:

Temper Changes with COVID

May 14, 2020

Dear ICDFR, my children seem to get upset more quickly during COVID-19. Is that normal?

This is absolutely normal. Children’s routines have changed and it’s unclear when things might get back to normal- this increases both children’s and adults’ anxiety levels. Also, kids are influenced by adults’ emotional responses, so if parents are stressed and anxious, children will be too. What can help: talk to children about their feelings; keep to a regular household routine (especially bedtime); keep your emotions under control; find ways to help kids connect with their friends- for example, a virtual playdate; keep children away from T.V. news stories about COVID; and plan fun, positive family activities to do together!

Question:

Response:

Personal Time During a Pandemic

May 14, 2020

Dear ICDFR, in quarantine, it is hard to find personal time when we are always around our partner. How do we find such self-care time?

People may have to get creative in how they build in personal time when living in the same space as their partner and potentially other family members. Each person has a different physical makeup in their home and so if physical space is available for alone time, I recommend using it. Communicate to your partner that you need some time for x,y, and z so that they realize it is not something against them but rather something you need to maintain your own health and well-being. At first, it may feel weird because it hasn’t been done before but after some adjustment time, it will feel more normal. If there is no physical space for you to retreat to then you will have to get creative. Take a bath, go for a walk, do a YouTube workout, and/or use the time when you lay down at night to meditate or pray—all these are examples of personal, self-care time. If you have pets, I recommend spending time with them as well. Pets offer immense benefits for health and well-being. They help reduce stress, cope with illness, and improve happiness levels.

Question:

Response:

Families Thriving 

Institute for Child Development and Family Relations (ICDFR)

 

5500 University Parkway,
San Bernardino CA 92407

www.csusb.edu/icdfr

Tel: 909.537.3679

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