How to Explain Death to a Child

One of the hardest realities to explain to a child is death. Especially when it is the death of a parent, sibling, beloved grandparent, close friend or even a favorite pet.  As a parent, you try to protect your child from things that might harm them or from things that are too difficult to understand for their age but unfortunately sometimes this is not possible.  When you are faced with the reality that you need to have a conversation with your child about death, keep the following ideas in mind.

Don’t lie.  Whatever you do say, make sure that you are completely honest with your child.  Telling them that a person went to sleep for a long time does not help them and can confuse them later when they do find out the truth.  Don’t say anything that would cause your relationship with your child to be in jeopardy later because of a lie, even if it is just a little white lie.

Keep it simple.  Long winded explanations may make you feel better but a child will only hear the first couple of sentences.  Remember the teacher on Charlie Brown and how the kids just tuned her out?  You don’t want your child to turn you out during a difficult conversation so be clear and simple when you start.

Answer only the question they ask.  As a parent, you may be tempted to reinterpret your child’s question or answer more than they ask.  Resist the urge and instead repeat the question they ask for clarity by saying, “You want to know…” followed by their question.  If they say yes, then answer it simply; if they say no than ask them to ask a different question.

Don’t expect an emotional response.  Children need more time than adults to process what has happened because this is a new experience for them.  So if your child seems unemotional at first, don’t worry, just give them time to process what has happened.  Your child may also have inappropriate emotional responses such as laughing instead of crying; allow them the freedom to respond as they know how.  They may be laughing because that is the only way they know of releasing the stress and tension they feel.

Explain as often as requested.  You may find that your child comes back to you several hours or days later with the exact same set of questions they asked at first.  They are doing this to process what has happened and refusing to answer a question because you have already answered it is not helpful.  Rather, be consistent with your responses and answer the same question in the same manner.  Again resist the temptation to over explain, they are not asking the same question because they need more clarity, they are just trying to understand.

Invite them to ask more questions in the future.  As your child ages and has more experience to draw from, they may have additional harder questions later.  While they may have seemed like they are processing the grief well shortly after the death, problems may surface several years later as they learn more about life.  Look out for disruptive behavior at school, defiant behavior at home, or destructive behavior with friends as warning signs that your child may have more grief to process.

Get help not only for your child but for you as well.  Grief of close family members can take well over a year to process for adults.  For children, they seem to postpone aspects of their grief for later and sometimes it is not fully processed until they are adults.  As a parent, you need to get help so that you can better help your child first by example and next by experience.  Your child will be far more likely to ask for help in a productive rather than destructive manner if they have witnessed you asking for help.  The idea of being strong for your child and not getting help may be counterproductive for your child who may feel weak compared to you.

It is a tough to have a conversation with your child about death.  Before you begin, think about the right words to say then review the above suggestions rehearsing answers to some of the anticipated questions.  But if your child is resistant to the conversation, don’t force it on your time-table but rather be patient and sensitive to their time-table.  This will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your child.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Stop a Child from Being Bossy

Marcia has many good suggestions on stopping a child from being bossy with their siblings, other friends and sadly even with you.  It is worth a few minutes of your time.

 

http://www.gonannies.com/blog/2013/how-to-stop-a-child-from-being-bossy/

The Lonely Side of Mothering

playgroundI have been told many times that the best years of my life are when I was a stay-at-home-mom.  The comment came from an older woman who looked at me with envy while I struggled to change a diaper in a restroom with another child tugging on my pants.  Or the comment came from a friend who was driving to work after just having dropped off her child at daycare while I’m at home picking up sticky Cheerios off the sofa.  Or the comment came from my husband who wished he could stay at home instead of going to work every day while I’m wishing desperately for adult conversation about anything other than the kids.  For me, some of the loneliest years of my life came when I “got to” stay home with my kids.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not being ungrateful for the opportunity to be at home and watch my kids take their first step, play on the playground, pick on their siblings, or have one of their countless accidents that resulted in numerous trips to the emergency room.  I’m extremely grateful for these moments and will treasure them for the rest of my life.  These moments are priceless and I’m looking forward to the days when I can share them at my child’s graduation, their wedding, or with my grandkids.

Admit the loneliness.  I am grateful but I was also extremely lonely.  Many days would go by when my only real adult interaction was yelling at the commentator on the TV over some stupid political decision.  Many more days would go by when I would stop and enjoy a bathroom break without interruption let alone a hot bath or a pedicure.  Still more days would go by when I would sleep for an entire night without being awaken by a frightened child, a hungry child or a sick child.  Worse yet, no one seemed to understand my loneliness.  Not the older woman in the restroom, not my friend going to work, or my husband.

Explain the loneliness.  I don’t blame the older woman, my friend or even my husband for not understanding my loneliness because I never communicated it to them.  I just listened to their comments and instead of interjecting my feelings about the matter, I stuffed it.  On occasion I would try to talk to them about it but it usually was mixed in with frustration and anger because I waited too long.  There are many ways to explain hard topics to another person and I never took the effort to even try because I was too focused on keeping up the image that everything was wonderful.

Embrace the loneliness.  Looking back over many years, I can now see that there will always be periods in my life of loneliness.  This does not define me as a person; I am not depressed, socially awkward, or have a dislike for people.  Rather the opposite is true in every way however I will still get lonely.  The only conclusion I can draw is that loneliness is on the full spectrum of emotions and I was created to experience all of the emotions, not just some of them.  How can joy be felt with suffering, how can peace be understood without strife, and how can communion be embraced without loneliness.

As our children grew, things got much easier.  The parents of my kids became my friends and they helped to bring back sanity and normalcy to a seemingly crazy life.  And now looking back on those years, I can honestly say they were some of the best years of my life but often with the best come some of the worst.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Cautious Parents are Aware

Overprotective-Parents“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This is one of your favorite quotes and your child already knows it by heart.  You are a careful planner in every activity with many detailed lists in order by priority and usually color coded for easy reference.   This is responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior is not having a plan because danger lurks behind every corner and you might be unprepared.   It is important that you set the proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of your emotions so you are very careful about what you say, how you say it and explaining why you do what you do.

You are a Cautious Parent.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.  If your child is like you, they will ask a ton of “why” questions and be thrilled that you take the time to respond.

The Good.  There is reason and logic behind every decision and you are more than willing to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did.  You love to share your knowledge of the world in detail and could go on and on about one topic for hours.  Your child enjoys having their own personal “Encyclopedia” who is very resourceful and can cut research time down to a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, most schools don’t accept “Dad” or “Mom” on the works cited page.

The Bad.  You have a desire to share your wisdom with your child but too much information at the wrong time can do more damage than good.  Over explaining things does not equip your child to reason through things for themselves and frequently your child will be lacking in critical thinking skills as they have learned to just trust your judgment rather than figure it out for themselves.

The Ugly.  As an adult, if your child is still relying on your wisdom to guide their life, they will continue to flounder at nearly every job they do.  Still looking for someone to spell out every detail so they don’t have to think for themselves and risk making a mistake, your child will find comfort in menial employment instead of living up their full potential.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, cautious parents are aware so be aware and minimize the over explaining.

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving kids is a blast.  There are so many places to show them, so many things to explore, so many things to do and so little time.  It seems as if your calendar is always full and it probably is with birthday parties, trips to the zoo, new playgrounds, play dates with friends, soccer practices and just going to stores.  At home there are plenty of toys, games, crafts, and most likely an entire room devoted to the kids where they can play for endless hours.  You like all of the activity and encourage your kid to try new things constantly.

You are an Active parent.  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  You are interested in the people in your kid’s world and usually use your kid’s interaction with others as an indication of how well-adjusted they are.  If your child is like-minded, this conversation is easy but if not your child shuts down and can’t seem to figure out why this matters so much to you.

The Good.  Your kids will not be bored.  If anything, they will be exhausted at times and crave some down time to just sit on the sofa and watch TV.  You most likely encourage them to participate in a wide variety of activities and are not easily upset when your child changes their mind to a completely different sport.  After all, you probably did the same thing as a child.  Regardless of your financial status, your child will have many adventurous stories to tell, have a lot of physical activity, and numerous types of friends.

The Bad.  Exhaustion from excessive activities and lack of proper sleep are two of the biggest down sides to active parenting.  There will be times when the excessive activities on your calendar are too much for you and your child to manage so someone is likely to get disappointed or hurt when you can’t deliver on a promise.  Your promises have a long shelf life with your child and as they get older, they will remember and remind you of all broken promises.

The Ugly.  Too much activity does not allow time for recollection, rest, and relaxation so your child may grow up struggling with finding a balance between activity and inactivity.  The numerous friendships that you encouraged your child to have and maintain may also be overwhelming for them causing them to run in the opposite direction away from friendships.  Finally, your lack of following through on promises is an unhealthy model for your child who may also grow up making and breaking promises.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, active parents are fun so be fun and minimize the number of broken promises.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Could My Child Become a Violent Shooter?

Hulk (comics)

Hulk (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, no and maybe.  Remember the Hulk?  A normal looking man who turn into a green monster in a matter of seconds.  As a man he seems kind, understanding, logical, sympathetic, and systematic but given the right opportunity, he becomes unreasonable, angry, aggressive, spontaneous, and violent.  In a very simplistic way, this illustration clearly describes what happens to a violent shooter.  Yes, there are personality profiles, addictions, disorders, environments, and relationships that all contribute to the likelihood that a person will become a shooter but the bottom line is there is still a willingness to become the monster that lurks deep inside.

Who does this happen to?  Be honest for a second and recall your last monster like appearance.  Were you ranting and raving about something meaningless, were you throwing something across the room, were you crying uncontrollably, or were you wishing harm on someone?  If you can honestly assess your own monster like tendencies than you have the ability to discern your child’s monster like tendencies.  Everyone has this, it is just a matter of degree and triggers.

How does this happen?  It is like the flick of a switch.  One moment everything seems fine and then the switch is flicked and things are out of control.  Behind the switch however is a trigger that provoked you or your child into becoming the monster.  So the key is to know your own switches first and then you can more clearly see your child’s.  After all, some of your switches are likely to be the same or at least similar areas of frustration.

Why does this happen?  Well, within all of us lies an evil nature that if properly provoked could result in behavior uncharacteristic of you or your child.  Yes, it is hard to believe that your sweet innocent child might have some evil lurking inside but there is only person to be born without an evil nature and subsequently die without committing a sin and it is not your child.  Accepting the reality is far better than living in a fairytale land and pretending that your child is incapable of any harm.

What can I do to stop it?  Once you have accepted the possibility that your child could cause harm to others and learned their triggers, then you are in an excellent place to discern what type of care or treatment is needed.  If your child has numerous violent video games, talks about killing people, is easily angered into rage, has a history of causing harm to animals, or shows great disregard for authority, then your child needs immediate help from a trained professional.  If the reaction is less severe, then modeling proper behavior is the best place to start.  Your child will learn far more from how you act rather than what you say.

So yes, everyone is capable of evil.  No, this does not mean that your child will become a shooter.  But maybe, through good modeling in keeping your parent monster in check, you can teach your child to keep their monster from coming out and harming others.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.