Struggling with your Teen? Try This

Child angry at parentsIt seems like it happened all at once.  One moment you were praising your kid for being so good and the next thing you know he/she is a completely different child in a foreign looking body.  Not only are the clothing choices a bit different but the shoe size is rapidly increasing, the attitude is becoming disturbing, the vocabulary adds new shock value, the interests are unusual, and your once sweet child became a hormonal teenager with mood swings so high and low you need a score card to keep up.  To make matters worse, parenting is stressful as you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what is normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior.

Beginning at age twelve, your child develops critical thinking skills which literally transforms your child’s mind from being receptive to your opinion into questioning your opinion.  The goal of this age is to help your child develop strong critical thinking skills not to impair them during the process.  You can impair them by demanding that everything be done your way without questioning and without explanation.  While this is practical at a younger age, it is not during the teenage years where peers begin to have a greater influence than before.  Think about it for a second, which would you rather have: a teen who questions what others tell them or a teen who believes everything others tell them?

Hormones.  Imagine PMS times 10 for a teenage girl or a mid-life crisis times 20 for a teenage boy, now you have a better understanding of the intensity of hormones running through their body.  No, this does not give justification to poor behavior but this does explain the origin of the mood swings.  It is hard to remember that these hormones are new to your child and while it took you many years to become use to your own emotional mood swings, it will take many years for your child to adjust as well.  This is a process, not a one-time event and expecting anything less or more immediate will only intensify your frustration.

Respect.  Your once respectful child is likely to become disrespectful with you lately for unknown reasons.  With such repeatedly poor behavior it is easy to make your child’s disrespectful attitude the subject of nearly every conversation but this is unproductive.  If you instead begin with the end goal in mind of having a good relationship with your child, then paying attention to what your child is really saying rather than how they say it becomes the priority.  Once you have really listened to your child by finding some area of common agreement however small, then you can address the disrespect.  Your child will be more likely to positively respond to your requests after you have heard theirs.

Love.  I Corinthians 13:4a says that love is first patient and then kind.  As your child’s parent, you must first be patient with them and then kind.  This means that no matter how long it takes for your child to demonstrate a loving attitude towards you, you must continue to patiently wait for them with kindness in your voice.  This is loving behavior that is fitting for a parent.  It does not mean that your child can walk all over you and be repeatedly rude, it does however mean that when your child is rude, you don’t return the rudeness but act lovingly towards your child.

Discipline.  The days of time-outs are over now and if you don’t know your child really well, you will not be effective in disciplining them.  For instance, if video games are your child’s thing, then taking away the video games as punishment is effective.  But you can’t take it away all the time or the punishment will lose its’ effectiveness.  Basically you must have a variety of interests which you can draw from when needed.  Yet you must also have an absolute bottom line such as boarding school, reform school, or some alternative program always in your back pocket and ready to bring forward when needed.  If it comes to this, don’t back down, that is not loving behavior.

Teenagers are an interesting group of people and no matter how difficult you might struggle with them; they are well worth the effort.  One day you will look back fondly on these years and perhaps gain a couple of really good stories to share with their kids one day.

 

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.

The Difference Between an Obsession and an Addiction

parentAn obsession and an addiction can look the same but the root is very different.  For instance, you gamble every week spending approximately $10 on lottery tickets; gambling in this example is your behavior that can be obsessive, addictive or both.  The obsessive part of your behavior is gambling at the same store, on the same day, with the same numbers and if it is not done in this manner then you cannot win.  It does not matter if there is evidence of past wins; it only matters that things be done a certain way.  The addictive part of your behavior is dreaming of how the money will be spent, what will be bought, and who will benefit from the winnings.  The dreaming is active and an entire day can be spent just thinking about the possibilities.

Obsessive Behavior.  When you obsess, ritualistic routines are part of your everyday life.  Perhaps you comb your hair the same way you did as a teenager, you recheck all of the doors at night even though you have been told it is already locked, you replay the same conversation over and over again just trying to figure it out, you wash your hands after anyone touches them, you clean with bleach because that is the only way to get things truly clean, you straighten things up and like things in neat rows, or you count the number of beeps on your car door lock before believing it is locked.  All of these behaviors have roots in fear.  Fear that if you don’t follow your routine you will get a headache, fear that if you don’t recheck things the house will burn down, fear that you will miss something important if you can’t figure out the conversation, fear that you might get infected and die, fear that if things aren’t clean someone might think badly about you, fear that if things aren’t straight your whole life will be out-of-order, or fear that if you don’t hear a certain number you will lose the car.  Fear, either real or imagined, leads to obsessive behavior.

Addictive Behavior.  When you are addicted, you never feel satisfied unless using the substance.  Perhaps you drink alcohol to relax, take prescription drugs to numb the pain, shop for clothing to feel better about how you look, gamble to earn quick easy money, exercise to get the adrenaline high, look at porn to feel desirable, smoke to unwind, watch soap operas to feel romantic, play video games to feel successful or eat sugar to get energy.  All of these behaviors have roots in escaping from an undesirable place to a desirable place and in fantasy living.  Fantasizing about a life with less stress, fantasizing about a life without pain, fantasizing about a body that you want, fantasizing about having lots of money, fantasizing about feeling high all the time, fantasizing about being desirable, fantasizing about less anxiety, fantasizing about a romantic relationship, fantasizing about being the best or fantasizing about limitless energy.  Your fantasy life, either from real experiences or imagined, leads to addictive behavior.

Combination.  Putting obsessive and addictive behavior together can intensify both the desire to avoid fear and the desire to escape.  While you may clean with bleach because you fear that someone might think you are dirty, you can also become addicted to the smell of bleach and fantasize about living dirt free.  Or you can fantasize about being the best video game player and insist that you can’t be successful at video games until you reach a certain level three times.  This is precisely why it is hard to recover from obsessive and addictive behavior because they can be co-mingled rather easily.  The key is separating out the behaviors and tracing them back to the root of the problem in order to stop doing the undesirable behavior.

It takes time and energy to do this process and even in recovery of an addiction or obsession, new addictions or obsessions often emerge to take the place of old ones.  By recognizing what is obsessive and what is addictive however, you can go back to each individual root and address the underlying problem.  While it is a hard personal journey, it is well worth the time and effort.

 

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 Fear Fuels Obsession

Fear Obsession CycleHave you ever felt as though you were doing everything you could yet no matter how hard you tried things got worse and worse?  Are you caught in a trap that leaves you feeling helpless, frustrated and discouraged?  Do you find that your behavior which is careful and cautious to you is perceived by others as obsessive and often repels others instead of drawing them closer?  Certain emotions such as fear can add fuel to an obsessive cycle that you leaves you feeling trapped and out of control.

It all starts with a painful event such as abuse by a relative, abandonment by a friend or rejection from a job.  Each of these events can spark fear directed at another person for their part in the event or directed at you for failure in handling the event properly.  This feeling of fear is uncomfortable so you counteract it with a desire to over control yourself, others or your environment.  So you turn to the obsession of your choice: cleaning, checking, washing, excessive order, repeating the same conversation, repetitive thoughts, hoarding, perfectionism, reassurance seeking, rituals or counting.  Other people in your life don’t like your obsession so they in turn withdraw from you.  You are now confused by their response as you were just trying to avoid the fearful or anxious feelings.  This in turn results in another painful event such as a fight, more distance in relationships or further loss.

Acknowledge.  The first step to stopping the crazy cycle is acknowledging that you are repeating the same behavior over and over.  You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.  So admit it.  You are doing the crazy cycle.  This is not the time to blame others for the reason you are doing the crazy cycle; this is the time to accept responsibility for your own crazy behavior.  Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.  This maybe a new concept to you as our culture is quick to blame others, parents, churches, organizations, companies, governments, and even nations for bad behavior.  But this is not constructive thinking, it is destructive thinking.  You are responsible for your own behavior.

Stop at Fear.  There is nothing wrong with feeling fearful.  The Bible acknowledges that you will be fearful but you don’t have to control the fear by becoming controlling.  Whether you are acting scared, anxious or fearful or avoiding those feelings by being controlling, fear is still controlling your behavior.  It is OK to be fearful when you are hurt, when someone hurts you, or when someone hurts someone else.  Just don’t take it to the next step and become controlling; rather deal with the fear by confronting how you feel and taking responsibility for the actions that follow.  Just saying the words, “I am fearful or anxious but I’m going to act responsibly” can restore that out of control feeling to feeling more controlled.

Know Your Obsession.  What is your obsession of choice?  More than likely you have more than one obsessive behavior.  Not all of the obsessive behaviors are listed so taking an inventory of your go-to obsessions is extremely helpful.  Many times you will go directly from the painful event and skip right past the fearful emotion to the obsessive behavior because you have developed a conditioned response similar to Pavlov’s dogs.  In Pavlov’s experiment, he trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell by first giving food along with ringing the bell.  Before long, he only needed to ring the bell for the dogs to salivate.  You have done the same thing with your obsession.  You no longer need to feel fear to justify the obsessive behavior; rather you go straight from the painful event to the obsession.  If you know your obsessive behaviors, you can trace backwards to the fear anytime you feel the desire to become controlling and stop it from going any further.

You can take responsibility for your own behavior and stop the crazy cycle from destroying your life.  You do not have to be a victim to your obsessions or continue to allow painful events determine how you will respond.  Remember, if you make a mistake along the way and slip backwards, it is never too late to turn around no matter what others around you say.  Who you are is NOT defined by your mistakes.  Who you are is defined by your character which can be shaped by your mistakes only if you let it.

 

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 Anger Fuels Addictive Behavior

Anger Addiction CycleHave you ever felt as though you were doing the same thing over and over again getting worse and worse results no matter how hard you tried?  Are you caught in a downward spiral that leaves you feeling helpless and more frustrated?  While there are many reasons for addictive behavior, certain emotions such as anger can add fuel to the addictive cycle thereby increasing the intensity and feeling completely out of control.

It all starts with a painful event such as the loss of a job, the betrayal of a close friend or the disappointment of a missed opportunity.  Each of these events can spark anger directed at another person for their part in the event or directed at you for failure to handle the event properly.  The feeling of anger is uncomfortable so you counteract it with a desire to escape or a desire to find pleasure.  You turn to the addiction of your choice: alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, spending money, porn, excessive exercising, soap operas, adrenaline, sugar, or video games.  Other people in your life don’t like your addiction so they in turn become angry with you and withdraw.  You are now confused by their response as you were just trying to avoid the angry feelings.  This in turn results in another painful event such as a fight, loss of respect or distrust.

Acknowledge.  The first step to stopping the crazy cycle is acknowledging that you are repeating the same behavior over and over.  You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.  So admit it.  You are doing the crazy cycle.  This is not the time to blame others for the reason you are doing the crazy cycle; this is the time to accept responsibility for your own crazy behavior.  Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.  This maybe a new concept to you as our culture is quick to blame others, parents, churches, organizations, companies, governments, and even nations for bad behavior.  But this is not constructive thinking, it is destructive thinking.  You are responsible for your own behavior.

Stop at Anger.  There is nothing wrong with feeling angry.  It is a normal emotion which even Jesus felt.  But there is something wrong with acting out in anger or doing something to escape the anger or doing something to suppress the anger (pleasure seeking behavior).  Whether you are acting aggressively angry or avoiding the anger by running away, anger is still controlling your behavior.  It is OK to be angry when you are hurt, when someone hurts you, or when someone hurts someone else.  Just don’t take it to the next step and escape from the anger; rather deal with the anger by confronting how you feel and taking responsibility for the actions that follow.  Just saying the words, “I am angry but I’m going to act responsibly” can restore the out of control feeling to feeling controlled.

Know Your Addiction.  What is your addiction of choice?  More than likely you have more than one addictive behavior.  Not all of the additive behaviors are listed so taking an inventory of your go-to addictions is extremely helpful.  Many times you will go directly from the painful event and skip right past the angry emotion to the additive behavior because you have developed a conditioned response similar to Pavlov’s dogs.  In Pavlov’s experiment, he trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell by first giving food along with ringing the bell.  Before long, he only needed to ring the bell for the dogs to salivate.  You have done the same thing with your addiction.  You no longer need to feel anger to justify the addictive behavior; rather you go straight from the painful event to the addiction.  If you know your addictive behaviors, you can trace backwards to the anger anytime you feel the desire to abuse your substance and stop it from going any further.

You can take responsibility for your own behavior and stop the crazy cycle from destroying your life.  You do not have to be a victim to your addiction or continue to allow painful events determine how you will respond.  Remember, if you make a mistake along the way and slip backwards, it is never too late to turn around no matter what others around you say.  Who you are is NOT defined by your mistakes.  Who you are is defined by your character which can be shaped by your mistakes only if you let it.

 

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.

How to Avoid Emotional Eating

Molly has tons of wonderful suggestions about how to avoid emotional eating that everyone could benefit from applying!

 

http://www.liveinnanny.com/blog/how-to-avoid-emotional-eating-when-you-have-kids-who-make-your-crazy/

I Just Have a Little Apathy, But So What…

Matt does an excellent job of addressing some of the causes for apathy in young adults.  Whether you are struggling with a teenager or twenty-some-year-old who is still waiting for life to happen to them, you do have options.  The first is understanding the cause of the problem and the second is taking action.  Both of these steps requires you to be different from your apathetic child and therefore you have the opportunity to correctly model positive behavior.  Read on, it’s worth your time.

 

I Just Have a Little Apathy, But So What….

via I Just Have a Little Apathy, But So What….

Struggling with Parenting? Direct Parents are Motivating

SONY DSCWhen your child comes home with a bad grade on a test, you sit them down immediately and try to help them set new goals for improving their grade.  You explain about the importance of setting long-term goals and how their current behavior is not consistent with what they want out of life.  You never miss an opportunity to encourage and motivate your child to become what you already know they are capable of becoming.  But there is no doubt during the moments of disappointment and stress that your child’s wishes and opinions are second to yours.  After all, you are the parent and they are the child.

You are a Direct Parent.  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?  You are goal-oriented, focused, and motivating but you can easily overpower your child to the point of bullying and therefore miss an opportunity for tenderness, compassion, and mercy.  If your child is like you, there will be numerous arguments in a constant struggle for control.

The Good.  You are very good at helping your child set realistic goals, modifying those goals to address new circumstances and motivating your child to keep going when the going gets tough.  Your child will always have some sort of direction, even if you have to decide it for your child because no direction is failure and failure is not acceptable.  There are rules in your home and your child knows them, is reminded of them and has consistent consequences if they are violated.

The Bad.  You can overpower your child to the point of bullying.  Your desire to help your child is genuine but to your child you sometimes come across as harsh, uncaring, and unsympathetic.  This is justified in your mind as proper training for the real world that your child will one day face however you don’t fully listen to your child so your training may actually be misguided.  Listening requires time, understanding, and patience as information that is forced out of a child can cause them not to trust you in the future.

The Ugly.  Playground bullies are a pain but they are nothing in comparison to the parent who is a bully.  Yes, your child is a child and they need guidance but the guidance does not have to be pushy, demanding, or belittling.  A child who is bullied by a parent, usually acts out and bullies younger or weaker kids.  As an adult, they will bully subordinates or co-workers.  In the end, no one likes a bully.

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, direct parents are motivating so be motivating and minimize the bullying.

 

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?  Cautious Parents are Aware

 

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