This month is filled with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There’s lots of coordinating between people, places and things. Miscommunication is likely to happen between family and friends. Whether it’s the hot topic of politics or playing a board game and all the little moments in between making cookies. Disagreements happen in relationships. What is important is how you choose to get through those moments. Will that disagreement bring your relationship closer or further apart?
“No, you were supposed to bring that, you never do anything that I ask!”
Silence is a form of communication that over time can drastically hurt any relationship. Taking a break from talking about something can sometimes be a helpful form of silence. However, the one I am referring to that is hurtful can be called “the cold shoulder” or “stonewalling”. This type of silence is way to never speak about the hurt or too have someone feel punished through the silence. Keeping hurt, anger and frustration inside only makes the brain and body feel more overwhelmed.
Silence can develop due to trying to keep the emotions from overloading the brain. Other times, this strategy develops because the family style tends to have high conflict and the message is we must just keep the status quo. However, inside the burning feeling of frustration, sadness and loss keeps piling on. Making your voice heard despite wanting to revert to silence is very hard.
When you’re with a person that uses silence as a way to communicate it can be difficult to break through. Our nervous system is set up in a way to protect us from danger. When your brain experiences data coming in as conflict it can turn on the alarm system which needs to fight, flight, freeze or collapse. Those responses are ways for the body to protect itself and survive what is happening. However, our perception is that this is a threat, turning our emotions off and staying silent is the way to survive. Being silent is not a strategy that works in the long run. Your brain gets flooded with so much emotion that it’s too overwhelming to speak out about the situation. This ends up creating a greater disconnect between yourself and others.
So how do you go from using silence as your way to communicate to then speaking about your hurt.
The saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” always sticks in my mind when we are talking about communication. How we talk to each other and what we say is critical to keeping open communication.
Here are some examples of statements that you can make to break the silence.
-Hey we haven’t talk in a few_____, I’ve been upset and I am not sure how to talk about it.
-I am feeling scared, I want to talk to you about this but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want us to be silent anymore.
-We are just going through each day, and talking about what everyone needs. I miss talking to you. I miss you.
-I am frustrated and I really don’t want to argue or do this silently then pretend to forget about it. I am scared about how to talk about this. I want to figure this out together.
-I know if we talk about this it will be hard, but we can do it, I care too much about us and I don’t want to go on in silence.
Maybe you are the one who often communicates, then pass this article along to someone who can benefit. Building a healthy relationship with a significant other, friend or relative takes hard work. It will feel scary at first to talk about your hurts but then a sense of relief and eventually closeness. Maybe the closeness is not with the other person but with yourself in being able to be speak your truth.
So in these next few weeks of the holiday season break the silence. Be uncomfortable. Your truth being heard in a way that is open and loving to yourself and others is a gift any relationship would enjoy.
“Goodbye’s hurt the most when the story was not finished”- unknown author
Loss. Unbearable and difficult to stand in grief and not run from it. The death of a loved one is devastating. Whether it’s a sudden death or one that was a result from a long term illness, it is all hard. Your brain is literally adjusting to this information. The painful conflict from our brain is, “Where is my loved one and why don’t I see them,” even though I know logically they are not here anymore. Their memory is all around you and it can be painful to think about those memories after they have died. I recently read it’s not time that heals all wounds but that at some point you start to adapt to the person no longer being physically around you and that helps you heal.
We go through a variety of different feelings when we lose someone. We wish that we could close our eyes and let the grief pass without notice. We won’t magically feel better overnight, so it’s important to take some kind of action to help move the grief. You get to decide how you experience grief and what you need around you to bring you comfort.
Ways to help heal
Grief can be a long journey. Sometimes getting through the day is the best we can hope for. Planning for ways to help you heal allows you to deal with grief even if its just one small step at a time.
Homework. Yes, it has begun. The goal of many parents is to get it done without nagging, complaining or arguing. How do you do that? What is the secret? I want my child to be organized, stay focused and learn from past homework mistakes. My answer is to develop a plan together. Involve your child in the goal setting instead of dictating to them what they need to do. This fosters their independence and participation, and critical thinking skills.
So here are 5 strategies for a successful homework session and scripts on how to say it to your child.
1) Introduce the plan. “Last year we struggled getting homework done, I was yelling at you, and you would get upset at me and it was really hard. Let’s figure out how to be organized so we make doing homework easier.” They will be more open to hearing what you have to say.
2) Location. Have a spot they can keep all their papers, backpack, and even shoes. Maybe there is a corner on the counter that all the papers go. Also using a folder to keep homework in helps. “Where should we put your backpack, and papers when you come home from school?” and “What will you do when your done with homework?” No more scrambling to get out the door in the morning and homework still sitting in the printer, not packed.
3) Homework routine. Where will they study? The kitchen? Their bedroom? “Last year we had a hard time doing homework at home, let’s try going to the library after school and doing it there.” “Which spot in the house do you think would be the best to get the most work done?” “It usually works when you do homework after a snack, what do you think?” Then say, “Okay we can try this but if it doesn’t work we need to talk about what will.”
4). Embrace fidgeting. It can be really hard for many kids to sit still and do homework especially after a long day at school. “I notice when you do homework you move around a lot, lets come up with some ways you can move and still get your work done.” Kids who need to move can do homework standing up, chewing gum, holding a small fidget ball, sitting on an exercise ball or listening to soft music. If you can help them come up with a productive way to fidget it will help them focus.
5). Original plans evolve over time. Check in and discuss what is working and what is not working. “It has been really successful when you do your homework in your room with music, but I noticed that you’re not doing it at the time we picked and then its dinner and you’re not done.”
Don’t wait and see what happens after the first marking period. Help your child be able to solve problems independently. If the first plan didn’t work that’s okay. Don’t toss in the towel and hope for better luck next time. Sit down and help your child plan for what they need.
The face begins to turn red and I know each time it’s coming. A loud growl and words that sound like The store again! My brother is soooo annoying (then a loud smack), my app isn’t working! No, I don’t want to want turn the t.v. off. You are so mean. The loud and angry lion with roars of what he doesn’t want to do.
This is a tough day. Wait this happened yesterday, too! I have a few minutes of calm before the storm and I’m feeling like I want to avoid asking my kids anything because I don’t want to deal with the anger and I’m tired. What I want to do is make the days better but I keep getting pulled into to the same angry cycle. I just finished reading No Drama Discipline book by Dan Siegel. I decide to use it to help guide me in our family meeting.
I approach the kids about sitting down together to talk, their eyes roll and the look of oh no is all over their faces. I take a deep breath to help me keep calm. We sit around the table and I start by saying all the specific things they do that have been good. I see a hint of a smile, then each one speaks about what has been positive this week. I take a deep breath. I’m going to be authentic and I say what we are going to talk about next is hard, but it’s something we need to figure out together. I give them each an example of how their behavior is not okay when they are angry. The first one starts with blaming his anger on everyone else.
I empathize and say, getting really angry is hard, I get it. We are a family we need to figure out other ways to express our anger. You can be angry, but show me different a way to be angry. I take another deep slow breath. Our time is short. I don’t want this talk to go on for too long for I am concerned about it taking a turn for the worse. I only have their focus for so long.
So we move to the next part which goes like this. We all like to go out to eat. Each of us likes to have different choices, so let’s come up with our own menu of calming options for when we get angry. I take out paper and markers and we do it together. They come up with a list of 10 items;
They draw some pictures to match the list. On the cover is a large lion to represent the anger. Then we added a specialty menu item that said if the first choice doesn’t work then try something else on the menu. So we all said good bye for now to the angry lion but if we hear any growling we know just what to feed it because we have some pretty good options on our menu.
Families argue and disagree. That is part of being in a relationship with other people. However, it’s important for families to have open communication and develop different ways to problem solve. Anger is a normal feeling what’s important is how we cope and communicate our angry feelings. Meeting with your family in this way helps encourage a change in how the family communicates.
Often with transitions comes anxiety and worry. It’s normal for a child to feel worried about going back to school. Questions may sound like this: What if my teacher doesn’t like me? What if I miss the bus? What if my friends don’t talk to me? What if I don’t know anyone at lunch? Who is my teacher? What if she’s mean? What if something happens to mom while I’m at school?
Extreme fear may lead to not wanting to go to school. Avoidance of school only increases the anxiety and makes it harder for the child to attend. When a child stays home from school it reinforces that there is something to be worried about. A child may even resort to throwing a tantrum in order to convince parents that staying home is a good idea. It is very upsetting when a child or teen is having a tantrum. Parents often feel exhausted and helpless. They wonder whether or not to send their child, thinking that tomorrow won’t be as bad. However, anxiety gets bigger when the child avoids school, so tomorrow will not be better. It may actually be worse.
Here are several ways parents can help:
A partnership between parents and child is crucial to be successful in challenging worry. We can’t “fix" when our children are worried, and rescuing them and avoiding the scary situation's only make worry take a stronger hold. We need to listen to what they feel and work together with them on confronting their fears.
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