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Recently I sent out a survey inquiring about issues parents wanted help with. The feedback I received entailed learning how to manage tantrums, dealing with resistance to transitions and coping with parent guilt.
As each parenting situation is different, I thought it be best to start off with listing a few books I believe are helpful to any parent who wants to feel more in control and less guilty.
1) Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell - The essence of this book is to help you as a parent understand the science behind your emotions and how your childhood is currently influencing your parenting.
What I loved about this book is how much it normalizes what many of us parents are feeling at one point or another. I also loved the parental self-reflection exercise that personally gave me an opportunity reflect on who I was as a child. Forewarning- this part was difficult, at least for me, because it did tap into some pain from my childhood. Be that as it may, I strongly encourage every parent to consider the importance of some of these questions. Once you decide to take on the questions in this book, be sure to also bring a notebook and a box of tissues.
2) Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté - this book is geared to parents who are interested in learning how to keep their child close especially during the teen years.
What I love - it gives hope to those of us who believe it is normal for teens to detach from us and want nothing to do with us. It also informs us of how certain behaviors from toddlerhood end up feeding into this sense of teenage detachment. I also love how real it is about topics surrounding peer pressure and sexuality.
What I don't love about this book is some of the verbiage that may spark insecurities within a parent. There were moments where I thought some people might feel like they are being shamed. Overall though, I would recommend parents read this book even if you don't have a teenager yet because laying the foundation now with your young child can help make things better by the time they reach the tween and teen years.
3) Parenting with Theraplay by Vivien Norris and Helen Rodwell - this book is particularly helpful in understanding how children and parent attach anmd detach both verbally and non-verbally.
What I love about this book - it explains four different ways we can connect with each other, signs to look for that indicate we are having trouble connecting and games we can play with our child to help facilitate a stronger bond.
What I don't like about this book is how overwhelming it may be for some parents because of how much information it provides through the lens of a therapeutic approach that some may not be familiar with. Guidance from a therapist trained in Theraplay can help with reducing any sense of overwhelm. I would recommend this book for any parent who is looking for tips/strategies on how to connect with your child and feel more in control as a parent.
Overall, there is no shortage of parenting books on the market. The three aforementioned, are ones that have helped me on my parenting journey and as a result I have recommended to some of the parents I worked with and have seen it help them.
Would you like to share you the names of books that have helped you on your parenting journey? Feel free to share them below.
If you are you interested in taking the survey to let me me know how I can help you, click here.
Thank you for reading!
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How Do I Improve My Low Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology as "one's attitude towards oneself or one's opinion or evaluation of oneself, which may be positive, neutral, or negative." Low self-esteem, in particular, is characterized by self-doubt, relationship insecurities, lack of confidence, sensitivity to criticism, and difficulty making decisions.
Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have a negative attitude, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and/or have a tendency to self-sabotage good things in their life. Friendships, family interactions and one's career can all be affected by low self-esteem especially if he/she believes, "I'm not good enough," "I’ll never amount to anything," “I suck at everything,” "I'm not worthy."
Such beliefs can cloud a person's judgment and affect the way he/she perceives situations around them. For example, being passed up for a promotion may be interpreted as not "being good enough" when in fact the individual may have not taken the steps necessary to show interest or initiative. Having low self-esteem is not the end all be all as there are ways to overcome this type of thinking. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin improving your feelings of low self-esteem:
Acknowledge Your Positive Qualities - we all have positive attributes but recognizing them and owning them can be hard to do, especially if we have a tendency to focus on our negative traits. In order to counteract negative thinking, you may find making a list of your talents, skills and feel-good experiences to be helpful. Listing any compliments you have received regarding your personality, work, etc., can be beneficial as well. Composing such a list and referring to it when you feel you are doubting yourself can help to challenge these negative beliefs.
Surround Yourself With Positive People - being around people who are positive and supportive can help you build your confidence, improve your personal and professional relationships and reduce feelings associated with self-doubt. By interacting with positive, supportive family, friends and colleagues, you are more than likely to be challenged to think differently and engage in activities you may have otherwise avoided. Being around supportive people can also help to provide you with motivation to achieve successes you initially thought to be impossible.
Consider Therapy - in some cases, engaging is the above tasks is not enough to overcome low self-esteem, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained because of past traumatic experiences. Getting help from a mental health professional can help you understand the root of the problem, how certain factors in your life may be contributing to your low self-esteem and explore ways you can overcome your negative thoughts.
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Throughout my work with clients and even just in my own social circle, a common question arises...."What does a healthy relationship consist of?" In a previous post, I discussed 2 key components to a healthy relationship and in this post, I will add two more. While there are many factors that contribute to a thriving relationship, the amount of compromise and love that is shared between a couple is vital.
Compromise - a relationship consists of two separate individuals who generally have different personalities, upbringings, values and thoughts. Problems can arise when the two individuals either do not know how to come to terms over something they disagree with or are unwilling to do so. This can lead to a stubbornness mentality or "tit for tat" relationship, where each person becomes more focused on winning their side of the argument which ultimately causes a relationship to deteriorate.
The act of comprising cannot be seen as "giving in" but rather as a willingness to meet your partner halfway and respect his/her individual opinions; much like you probably did when you first started dating. Compromising is a skill that requires listening and communication - something that can be hard to do when a couple is at odds with each other and emotions get in the way. This is where guidance from trusted sources like a religious/spiritual affiliate, a relationship counselor and/or seminars, workshops and books geared to relationships can help. Once you are educated, patience and practice is then needed to enhance this skill.
Love - according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, love is "a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person." At the core of any relationship, a certain level of affection, concern, care and regard for the person you are with is needed in order to overcome certain differences. Love is often the stepping stone that allows us to be more considerate and respectful of our significant other's views. While love will not resolve all issues within a relationship, it is a strong force that can pave the way for better communication and compromise.
What are some of the resources you used to enhance your love and ability to compromise with your partner? Please share your thoughts below.
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For many individuals, the ability to verbally communicate something they find upsetting can be challenging, especially when emotions get in the way. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a natural instinctive state of mind that results from one's mood, circumstances or relationships with others, emotions may lead to an inability to calmly, rationally and effectively communicate. Understanding why your emotions may be blocking you from effective communication is often the first step towards improving relationships. Below are a few common reasons individuals may experience difficulty in verbally communicating their thoughts...
1) Your “Guard” Is Up – for individuals who have experienced hurt, it is common for him/her to want to protect their sense of vulnerability. Having a protective layer a.k.a a "guard" may help do just that. Whether the "guard" comes in the form of an attitude or an approach towards dealing with others, the main goal is for it to shield the person from emotional pain. Therefore, instead of verbally communicating and exposing one's thoughts and feelings, an individual may instead express his/her discontent by engaging in a negative interaction. Understanding whether or not you are trying to protect yourself and knowing why you are doing so can help you identify what can trigger your negative reaction and what you can do to improve your communication style.
2) You've Only Learned One Way to Communicate – it’s not uncommon to come across individuals who believe the only way they can get their point across is by being negative. For example, some individuals will speak in a harsh tone, use demeaning language or even scream, believing that is the only way they will be "heard." For others, the thought of expressing their feelings is something they will not engage in for a variety of reasons, including if their cultural upbringing views it as being disrespectful Education and reassurance about the various ways thoughts and feelings can be communicated in a respectful manner can help to address this issue.
3) You are Being Ignored or Disregarded – there is no doubt that upon learning how to communicate effectively, one's emotions can still get the better of the situation especially if he/she feels their concerns are not being validated or addressed. Being ignored, belittled, or disregarded is something that can send almost anyone into a world of frustration. So, what should someone do in this situation? Figure out a way NOT to explode. Whether you take a break from the conversation, count to ten or express your belief of being disregarded - you essentially want to do something that will prevent your negative reactions from surfacing. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Overall, most people will come across a situation where they have to communicate the frustration they are experiencing because of another person. The ability to communicate effectively relies on various factors but knowing who you are, how you function and what triggers your negative reactions can greatly help you better control your emotions so they don't take over.
What techniques do you find helpful in controlling your emotions? Please share them below.
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Within my therapeutic practice, I often work with individuals who experience anxiety related to problems they are having in their relationship. While some individuals will question whether they should do anything different, others are unsure if they should put in any more effort. In order to help them with their uncertainty, I often encourage them to work on some of the key components I believe are important to having a healthy relationship.
Communication - Being able to openly and honestly talk with your partner about what is bothering you about the relationship is vital. Without this, you may find yourself not voicing your opinion about what bothers you, which can result in your partner believing everything is fine. The problem with one person believing everything is fine is they will continue engaging in the behavior you may find troublesome thereby increasing the chances of feeling resentment or irritation with your partner. Whether you are worried about your future, your sex life, your differences, etc., it is important to bring up any issues you have so that you can both work on improving the situation and resolving the problem.
Respect - Having to communicate your feelings about what may be a sensitive issue for you or your partner can be hard to do, especially if one person is hot-tempered and/or very emotional. As a result, it is important to remember to be respectful. Essentially, you want to avoid saying or doing things that you know will upset your significant other. For instance, if your loved one despises when you walk away from an argument, then don't. Or, if he/she hates when you scream then try to speak in a low, calm tone. Showing respect can also be done by refraining from accusatory statements that place all the blame on your partner as it will only cause him/her to become defensive.
Being in a committed relationship, especially when the honeymoon phase is over, is without a doubt challenging. While I realize the aforementioned suggestions are "easier said than done", it is crucial to understand that with patience and understanding a lot more can be accomplished as opposed to having anger and resentment.
Do you believe there are other important components to a successful/healthy relationship? If so, please share them below. .