Is trauma counselling relevant in the 21st century, or in South Africa? It is a shocking reality that trauma such as divorce, death, abuse, suicide, natural disasters, hi-jacking and housebreaking is part of our everyday lives.
Trauma counselling: how to recognise trauma
How do I know whether my child or member of my family is traumatised? Read more
If you are reading here, you are a human being and if you are a human being you certainly had experiences with dealing with change, or will experience a lot of changes in your life.
I meet a lot of people every day who struggle dealing with change and who wants to know how to teach their children to deal with change.
Adults, children as well as old people are all fighting a huge battle to cope with the changes that life brings us, AND we get scared and overwhelmed in trying to cope with these changes BUT most of us have to hold the pose in order to cope with the peer pressure and other people’s remarks about whether we do cope/or don’t cope with change. In this process, we even experience more pressure in order to cope with our changes.
I’ve read a wonderful practical book (which includes lots of pictures) “Who moved my cheese?” by Spencer (dad) and Christian (son) Johnson. It’s about dealing with the change of new circumstances. The book compares things that are changing in your life with a heap of cheese that is suddenly moved, leaving some “mice” confused. The story then tells the tale of how the mice deal with this situation.
Dealing with change: Personality impact
Every person has different personality traits that can assist in dealing with change, for example:
– noticing change early;
– scrambling into action;
– denying fear;
– withstanding fear;
– adapt in time;
– see that change can lead to better things.The moral of the story is that change doesn’t mean bad things. Change in this book brought a better life, better cheese that the mice could have ever imagined themselves to have and they got ten times more cheese and more variety than before.
Dealing with change: what is in it for you?
What can your magical cheese be?
Some important lessons that the mice teach us about dealing with change:
– Know the different parts of your personality. Know your own strong and weak points.
– When you stop being afraid, you will start to feel good.
– Don’t cling to the old cheese (your job, school, city). The sooner you will let go of the old cheese, the sooner you will be able to find new cheese.
– See a picture of your new cheese in your head. This picture will help you to find the new cheese.
– Smell the cheese often, so that you will know when it is getting old. This means to be able to stand aside and take a look at yourself and your situation, so that you could make changes if needed and not get stuck in your own old ways of thinking and doing.
– Move with your cheese and enjoy it, which means that life changes daily and you also change daily. So, move out of your safe zone and start to enjoy the new things (there’s a big chance that it could be better than your old life!).
Dealing with change: Fun activity (make your own collage)
– Cut out at least ten pictures (use old magazines) that you’ve got in your head of your new cheese (example if I have to move to a new city I will cut out pictures of a smile; a second picture of me reaching out and talk to new people, a third picture of myself (writing next to it “You can do it!” or “I am proud of myself!”).
– Glue the pictures on a carton and make your own collage (it means using a lot of pictures to make your own personal story).
– Write words and/or sentences of motivation next to your pictures.
– Put it on a wall/place where you could see it every day.
– Take at least three minutes every day to look at your picture and imagine yourself doing the actions.
– Make it part of your day to think and re-think your new cheese.
– It will soon become part of your thinking and it will help you to start living these new positive ideas.
– Enjoy your new cheese journey!
– If you want to teach your children how to deal with change, talk to the them about change, what change means, what feelings both they, you and the rest of the family are having. Every family member needs to put his own feelings into words. If your child is still young (under six), use a story about dealing with change to explain to him what’s going to happen (for example when you move).
– Teach your child to enjoy new cheese and not to get stuck with the old cheese.
If you are struggling with dealing with change, why don’t you try these fun activities, and join your fellow humans in dealing with change.
Discipline problems: What if my child doesn’t like the sound of “NO”?
In her book about discipline problems “I just don’t like the sound of NO!” Julia Cook tells the story of a boy who tries his best to convince his dad, mom and teacher to change “NO” into “Yes” or at least into “Maybe” or “Later” or “I will think about it”.
Discipline problems: What to do
Cook gives the following tips for parents and educators when dealing with discipline problems:
1. If your child doesn’t take “NO” for an answer, and you as parent give in, you are rewarding him and he will learn that “NO” doesn’t mean “NO”…but it means “Keep Trying!”
2. It is important to always praise your child verbally whenever he accepts “NO” for an answer or when he disagrees appropriately. Important: The praising should be genuine.
3. When your child appropriately disagrees with you, reward his behaviour by actively listening to him.
4. When you give your child a reason for saying “NO” be to the point. A long explanation won’t be appropriate and won’t have results.
5. Parents can always explain their reasons at a more appropriate time when their child is calm.
6. Set clear rules and boundaries for children as well as reasonable consequences when they are violated. Important: Follow through with the set consequences.
Discipline problems: The key
CONSISTENCY therefore will be the keyword to you as a parent when dealing with discipline problems. The results that you will “reap” in being consistent will make the effort more than worth it. So, just go for it. You can do it!
Few words can cause so much anxiety and stress than the word “exam”. The mere mentioning of the word can cause people of all ages from getting a good night’s sleep, and is some cases can even lead to more severe symptoms.
So what can we as parents do to help our children cope better with these stresses?
Below is some extracts from an article by Kerry Acheson, entitled “Coping With Exams: How Parents Can Help”. The full article is available from http://www.claremontpractice.co.za/newsletter-0913.html.
We know the following about exams:
Exams are stressful events;
Exams cause dread and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach;
Exams are inescapable;
Exams can cause anxiety, nightmares, stress and worrying.
Ways in which a parent can support his child with exam stress:
Support your child to gain more control over his exams by dividing his subjects into small tasks and to make exam notes every afternoon. Keep the atmosphere at home as calm and quiet as possible.
Teach your child to be self-aware by observing his:
Ø feelings and
Ø body when he gets anxious.
Encourage your child to catch and replace negative thoughts.
Put up affirmation statements around the house, for example:
Ø I do my best every day;
Ø I take the exams one step at a time;
Ø I can do it;
Ø I achieve my goals every day;
Ø I am calm and relaxed.
Deep breathing exercises and/or seeing a peaceful scene in his mind can be effective in reducing exam stress and anxiety. Also, help your child to develop a study schedule.
Exam stress management: preparation is key
A study schedule is made by:
Ø Calculate the available days for studying until the end of the exams.
Ø Estimate the needed hours of study.
Ø Divide the needed study hours between the days on the study schedule.
Ø Schedule the harder study times to the times of the day that your child is most alert.
Ø Review and adapt the study schedule along the way.
Ø Tick off each completed study session to gain a sense of progress and achievement.
Ø Encourage your child to have breakfast in the morning.
Exam stress management: On the day
On the day of the exam:
Ø Do deep breathing exercises;
Ø Calmly “imagine” the exam procedure;
Ø Use positive affirmations – tell yourself you will do well;
Ø If your child experiences “going blank” encourage him to do the breathing exercises and affirmations;
Ø Encourage your child to tell himself: “…it’s ok to be nervous, this will pass….”..
Mastering exam preparation is an art. It will take consistency from both you as a parent as well as your child to change his exam coping skills, and manage his exam stress.
Who doesn’t want to be tough? That person still needs to be born as we all want to have self confidence, belief in ourselves. Most of us want to be in control of ourselves and our feelings, we strive to be able to handle normal every day life challenges and we are all fighting a battle to stay with our good commitments, like eating more healthy, exercising more regularly, spending more time with our loved ones, etcetera. The above mentioned examples include the four components (known as the four C’s) of mental toughness, which are challenge, confidence, control and commitment.
What do mental tough people have that others don’t have?
They are willing to take action and not just wish that they had more emotional toughness. So, they get actively involved in the commitment to make their dreams come true.
Mental tough people belief in themselves. They focus on their best characteristics and work on their negative characteristics.
Mental tough people realise the importance to love and appreciate themselves. They know that you can’t reach out and love other people if you don’t like and love yourself. They know that they owe themselves to love themselves.
Mental tough people know how to be good to themselves. They know when to take a break in a hectic schedule, they know that they can’t function well if they don’t get a good nights rest and they exercise on a regular base.
They are more flexible than people who are not mental tough. A flexible person realizes that he is still able to make choices in the midst of adversity and difficult circumstances. Rigid people usually belief that they are trapped inside their adversity.
Mental tough people set goals for themselves. They realize that to keep on wishing and longing for what they want to achieve without setting any specific aims, will only remain dreams and wishful thinking.
During the next few weeks I will expand on above mentioned skills and characteristics of mental tough people. Watch this space, while you start to take action on your own mental tough journey.
References: Developing mental toughness (Peter Clough & Doug Strycharczyk)
The psycho-educational use of mental toughness in dealing with trauma (Unpublished Thesis by AMS Van Niekerk) (see References at the back)
With the new school year that started a few weeks ago, I had quite a view questions from parents on how to deal with separation anxiety (in this instance I’m referring to the situation where the child is afraid to get separated from the parent and / or guardian – as there is also separation anxiety where the parent experiences anxiety when he / she has to be separated from the child). The most frequent example of so called separation anxiety is a child who doesn’t want you to leave after you dropped him at school. Read more
Aggression in children, also called instrumental aggression is well known between the age of 2 and 4 years. This aggression isn’t meant to hurt, but to get hold of something like toys or space.
Between 2 and 4 children start to learn to say what they want and aggressive behaviour decreases as they develop more self-control. At the age of 6 to 7 most children are less aggressive, less self-centered and better communicators. Read more
At this time of the year “school readiness” is one of the hot topics of discussion amongst mothers with young children.
Moms are constantly concerned with the question “How do I ensure that my child is ready for school”. I have previously written about this topic, but I recently came across this very practical article, which gives excellent practical tips of how you can get your child ready for school. The article was prepared by Sinmarie Pieterse, and the original article is published at: http://www.claremontpractice.co.za/newsletter-0912.html. Read more
As an educational psychologist, I do a lot of reading, and sometimes I stumble upon a great book or article. This is the place where I want to share these books with you. You will find a link to Amazon.com where you can safely shop for these products online. Happy reading!