As my daughter enters the middle of her eighth year, she is changing and growing rapidly.
She vacillates between the feelings and needs of a child, and the desires of independence of a young teen.
Eight years old is an age of rapid maturation for many children. She picks up on the nuances of relationships. She hears the news and is afraid sometimes. She is learning her own boundaries and setting limits, but still returning to the safety of family.
Here are 5 life lessons for my eight year old.
1. You are your own person, separate from me.
It warms my heart when you imitate me and say you want to be just like me when you grow up. But as you’re learning, I am far from perfect. Your life is your very own. I want to watch as you bloom and grow into your own being. You ask me constantly what you should do and get frustrated when I guide you back to what your thoughts and feelings are. As much as it pains me to say it, I will not always be around. You will gain independence and confidence. Have faith in yourself.
2. I will be there for you when you succeed and when you fail.
Yes, I will share in the highs of your life as you do wonderful things. I will also be there when things don’t work out, when your heart is broken, when your soul feels crushed. You can yell at me, curse me, and tell me you hate me. I will still be here for you, because you are my child. I may not like what you are doing sometimes, but I will always like (and love) you. Nothing in the universe will change this.
3. Reaching out for help, support, or love is never wrong.
I’m a therapist, so you’ve grown up seeing me helping others through rough times. I hope you’ve also noticed the times when I’ve reached out for support from friends and family.We do not live life alone. If someone is hurting …
Like all parents, there are a lot of things I make my child to do.
I make her brush her teeth. I make her to go to school when she doesn’t want to. She is not allowed to ride her bike without a helmet or to walk around the block after dark.
But, one thing I don’t make her do is apologize.
I realize this is different than a lot of parents. Like many things I do as a mom, not requiring her to say she’s sorry is something that has evolved as I’ve gotten to know the little person I’m raising.
Now before I get too much farther, let me point out that my child is not a brat who goes around hitting kids or calling them names. For the most part, she’s a kind child who deeply wants to do the right thing.
The other day she told me that while she was at a friend’s house, she dropped her friend’s small toy on the carpet and lost it. She didn’t tell her friend what happened.
She felt bad about this, and after holding it in for weeks she asked for my help.
We talked about what happened. I asked her what she wanted to do to make it better, and what would make her feel better. We called and talked with her friend and her friend’s mom about what she had done.
My daughter was sorry, and she told her friend this on her own, without being promoted, requested or required to.
She genuinely felt bad, and knew that admitting what she had done and working to make it better would make her feel better. She wouldn’t have to carry that burden of guilt around anymore. And of course she felt tons better after confessing her secret and offering to make it right.
What is the point of an apology?
Have you ever had someone say they’re sorry when you know they’re not? As parents, we want our kids to be polite and to do the right …
Kids carry around a ton of emotion.
As infants, they communicate with cries, screams, and eventually smiles and laughter.
Toddlers grow and begin to use spoken language in addition to laughter, hugs, biting, hitting, and crying.
The childhood years are generally calm. A second grader has not yet entered the emotional turmoil of the teen or preteen years, and has increased social skills that they didn’t have as a toddler or even as a preschool child.
Once a boy or girl hits the preteen years, the hormonal changes that will eventually take them into adulthood begin.
If you’ve ever talked with a group of parents about their own adolescent years, you’ll hear words like “chaotic” and “angry,” “depressed,” “anxious”.
Teens and tweens are full of incredibly strong and complex emotions. Their moods change and shift. They can be explosive and angry one minute, and the next minute write you a sweet note about how much they love you.
As a parent, grandparent, teacher or friend, how can you differentiate between the mood swings of an emotionally healthy adolescent and a teen who may be struggling with a more serious mental illness such as depression?
Even with adults it can be difficult to tell the difference between feeling blue and having depression. With teens it’s harder.
As a parent, you know your child best. If something feels off with your child, talk with them further or seek professional help. If you’re a caring adult in a teen’s life and notice something that is concerning, don’t hesitate to reach out to the teen or their parents.
One thing I hear time and time again from adults who were depressed as teens is that they wish their parents had understood and gotten them help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and seek help if you see some of these signs.
My daughter is seven now, but I clearly remember those days of leaving the grocery cart full and walking out of the store with a flailing, screaming 2 year old. Nearly anything can set a toddler off: a cat in her special seat, running out of Cheerios, or even the one-cent pony ride being out of service.
This is not to say that parenting a toddler is all pain and no joy. There were lots of wonderful moments as I watched my daughter learn language, when I saw the world through her new eyes and experienced her wonder.
But the crazy times? Yes. There were plenty of those.
Part of parenting is finding simple ways of making it through tantrums and screaming matches.
As a therapist, a mom, and a blogger, here are some tried and true suggestions for when your little one is out of control, and you feel like you’re going crazy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about body shaming and fat shaming.
It’s all over the media lately. And although kids being teased for their weight is nothing new, the power of the internet takes it to an entirely new level.
Carleigh O’Connell, a 14 year old girl from New Jersey, became a viral sensation and anti-fat shaming advocate when she posted a photograph of herself in a swimsuit in response to a graffiti message spray painted in her home town. Carleigh was recently a guest blogger on the site called Mighty Girl. She states:
What I now know…
I have realized that so many people, kids and adults, have faced and can relate to this type of negativity.
I have realized that sometimes you have to stare cruelty in the face and not drop your head.
I have realized that owning who you are and how you are made is much better than feeling ashamed or bad about yourself.
I have realized that is okay to not have everyone agree with you and your actions, because sometimes negativity can bring bigger and better things.
What happened to Carleigh is awful. No one should have to feel objectified like that. But Carleigh took the bullying and turned it around. She refused to be shamed. Because of her courage she has become a role model and hero to many.
There are many websites that exist for the sole purpose of fat shaming; websites that post pictures of overweight people and make degrading and cruel remarks about them. Sadly, some bloggers and writers believe that fat shaming helps people lose weight.
Fat shaming does absolutely no good and causes significant harm. If you’re a person who has experienced fat shaming, you know that being made fun of or mocked for your weight does not help you loose any pounds.
Despite what proponents of fat shaming want to believe, when people are humiliated due to their size, they gain even more weight.
Being overweight means that according to the medical establishment, you are carrying more weight …
The teen years are a developmental time when children begin to distance themselves from their parents and families.
This is necessary and healthy.
But sometimes the emotional distance can become too extreme and you will feel the need to reconnect.
Your job as a parent parent is not an easy one: to allow your child to grow an independent sense of self, yet remain close enough to provide support and guidance when needed.
As your teen grows in maturity and independence, keep 8 these ideas in mind to help you reconnect when the distance grows too great.
When your child’s pet dies, it can be a stressful and confusing time. He or she may not behave in a way that seems normal or natural, or their sadness may seem to linger for an extended period of time.
For many kids, the death of a beloved pet can bring nights of sobbing and tearful questions.
Even if the pet seems insignificant to adults, like a goldfish won at a fair, a child may feel as if their world is falling apart and mourn deeply.
On the other hand, some children appear nonchalant and unfazed about the death of a pet cat or dog. They may talk about the death in a matter of fact way and become focused on getting a new animal.
Parents may be struck by their child’s lack of intense feelings and worry that he or she isn’t crying or appearing to mourn. This can be especially true if the parents feel the animal’s loss deeply and are grieving.
Just like adults, no one child grieves in the same way as another. So whether your child reacts with nights of sobbing, pictures drawn, and an elaborate funeral complete with a decorated box and flowers, or if he or she shows very little outward sorrow, your role as a parent is to help your child through their loss at their pace and in their unique way.
Here are some suggestions to help your child when they are grieving the loss of a pet.
All these are examples of ways children can encounter death for the first time.
A child’s first experience of death often comes when a pet dies. For many children, losing a beloved animal can be the most intense sadness they have felt. It’s important for parents to take a child’s feelings on this seriously, and allow them to grieve how they need to.
Depending on your child’s age, experts suggest different ways of talking about death with your child.
For the very youngest of children, from infancy up to around three years old, kids cannot understand what it means to die, but they still feel the loss. For this age, focus on providing safety and comfort and love. Use simple terms to explain the death.
Preschool children may act out their emotions. Some kids become withdrawn. Others act out and become angry or destructive, or have mood swings. Children might have stomach aches or not feel good. Again, provide support and love. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings if they are able to. At this age, children may begin to draw about their emotions.
School age children have a better understanding of death. You want to be as honest as you can. If you have a belief in the afterlife, your child may find it comforting to think that their friend who died is in heaven. If the idea of life after death is not something you believe in, it’s fine to say that we just don’t know what happens after we die or that we simply don’t exist anymore. Help them find comfort in remembering their friend or loved one. Some kids find it helpful to plant a flower or tree as a reminder of the person who died.
Teenagers may react in both childish ways and adult ways. If your teen processes things verbally, he or she may need to discuss the …
Teens are bullied over the same thing generation after generation: physical differences such as weight, acne and facial features, speech differences, mental abilities/disabilities.
Teens get bullied verbally, physically (tripping down the hall, book bumping), and through writing.
One significant difference that teens face now is the vast amount of technology available, which has changed the dynamic of bullying behavior.
Teens are attacked through social media such as Facebook, text messages are sent, photos are sent and become viral in seconds. Sexting is not uncommon.
When you were a teenager, pictures were physical. Notes were on paper. And while rumors could get around quickly, they were not recorded forever on the world wide web.
As a parent of a teen, you can make a difference when your child is being bullied.
Here are 5 things that all parents of teens need to know.
Humans are all about community. By connecting with others, we find support, meaning, reassurance, and joy. Even the healthiest among us feels lonely and isolated at times. For those who struggle with physical or mental disabilities, the isolation can feel even greater.
How to people do it?