5 Tips For Helping Your Children Overcome Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is something all kids face at one point or another. We know the statistics – our kids are more likely to bully, act out, experiment with things like drugs and alcohol and indulge in self-harm behaviors like eating disorders because of the influence of classmates and peers. The older your child gets, the more dangerous peer pressure becomes. At the same time, it often seems like we have less and less power as parents to protect our kids from other kids. We want to raise strong kids who will arise above that pressure, but how can we really ensure that will happen? How do we teach our kids to be leaders and not followers? To turn to us for guidance instead of getting swayed by the lure of popularity and social standing?

Here are five tips for helping your children overcome peer pressure:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open.

The more you talk to your child, the more you’ll understand what pressures he or she is facing and what is going on at school and outside the home. If our children feel they can turn to us in times of need, they are less likely to turn to other sources. Encourage your child to talk about his or her day on a regular basis. You don’t need to know everything, particularly as your child gets older, but assert yourself as someone willing to listen without judgment. Talk through situations that may not involve your child specifically and point out ways to avoid situations where temptations will be more difficult to avoid.

  1. Teach your child self-confidence.

This is huge and begins from an extremely early age. Instilling confidence in your child will set him or her up for the rest of life. How do you do this? First, make sure you are emphasizing positive body image. This means not criticizing your child’s eating habits or making comments about weight. This also means not making comments about your own weight or emphasizing appearances over what is really important. Compliments and praise should be handed out frequently – when the situation warrants it, of course. Celebrate your child’s uniqueness in every way. Show your pride and teach your child to feel pride for accomplishments and a job well done.

  1. Reinforce positive values.

Make sure your children know where you stand on important issues. Point out instances of honesty, standing up for someone getting picked on and choosing the path less taken. As parents, it’s our job to model the type of behavior we expect. Set clear and strict rules when it comes to things like drugs and alcohol, and most importantly, explain your reasoning for those rules.

  1. Monitor your child’s friends.

This doesn’t mean spy on your children or take away all their privacy, but you should feel comfortable around your children’s friends and their parents. Encourage socializing at your house. Leave them alone to have their time, but also keep a watchful eye on the types of behavior and language that is used. Don’t tear your children’s peers down, but if you see behavior you don’t like, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your children in a non-threatening way. If the behavior is truly harmful, then of course, you can take the necessary precautions to limit your child’s interaction with that person.

  1. Encourage your child to get involved.

This goes back to self-confidence, but the more involved and part of the community someone is, the less that person will feel the need to take extra steps to fit in. Don’t force your child to engage in clubs and sports if he or she isn’t interested, but stress the importance of being involved in something or finding a hobby that is fulfilling and then being proud of that activity or hobby. Being a part of a team can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. A sense of belonging truly helps children overcome peer pressure from other sources.

Do you have any other tips? I’d love to hear!

So Many Of Our Children’s Problems Can Be Solved With More Sleep

One of the biggest problems plaguing children today is a lack of sleep. Once children enter middle school and go on in until high school, they are usually involved with social activities, involvement in sports and other clubs and also dealing with a great deal of homework.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends children ages 6-13 get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers should get between 8 and 10. So many studies have found that school children do not get enough sleep at night, and the consequences affect everything from their school work and athletic performance to their overall health and well-being.

For one, not getting enough sleep has been proven to lead to things like unhealthy eating habits. A lack of sleep can cause acne, as well, at a time when teens are already experiencing a surge of hormones. Things like forgetting facts and things they’ve studied can lead to poor performance on tests and increased anxiety. Poor sleeping patterns can even contribute to things like ADD/ADHD.

The truth is, though, that sometimes making sure your child gets enough sleep is very difficult. Particularly if your child suffers from anxiety over social issues or school work, sleep can be hard for some. Busy schedules and packed weekdays can cause our kids to struggle to get everything done – craving a bit of downtime before they fall asleep at night.

It’s important to stress how vital sleep is with your kids. Make sure your kids understand the need for a routine, even as they grow older and start handling more responsibilities. Things like caffeine and too much sugar can alter children’s sleep schedules. Also, making sure your kids stick to a routine is helpful for making sure they are getting the recommended amount of sleep. Encouraging your kids to shut off all electronics at LEAST an hour before bedtime will help them fall asleep easier.

I find it’s helpful to recognize signs of lack of sleep with your kids. If your kids are acting out or seemingly more irritable than usual, if you are having big blow ups at night over homework or tears about little things or if you notice your child is starting to struggle in a subject that once seemed manageable, pay close attention to how many hours of sleep your kids are actually getting at night. Sometimes, things might need to be eliminated from a schedule. If too many sports and activities are causing exhaustion, it might be time to cut back. At the same time, help your child understand that sleep is not a punishment. It’s simply something that keeps their bodies and minds functioning at full capacity, especially at a time when their bodies are growing and changing so rapidly.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Importance Of Seeking A Nanny Before You Give Birth

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When you are pregnant with your first child, there are so many things to think about and people are constantly giving you advice. It can be such an exciting and overwhelming time! One thing I recommend to all new parents, though, is really taking the time to search for a nanny prior to giving birth. I’ve seen many parents wait until their child is born, thinking they will have plenty of time in those first few weeks to really search for someone. Here are five reasons to consider finding a nanny while you are still pregnant.

  1. It gives you time to really do your research before you are stressed out with a newborn. While those first few weeks are magical, they are also exhausting. The last thing you are going to feel like doing on such little sleep is looking through resumes and talking to references.
  2. You won’t make a decision based out of fear of doing it alone or having to find someone in a rush before you go back to work. If you are in a hurry or getting worried about having no help, you might make your decision based off fear or desperation. You want to have all the time you need to find someone who is perfect — not just okay for the time being. The more time you give yourself, the more relaxed and thorough you can really be in the process.
  3. You will have plenty of time to get to know the person before leaving her with your new baby. It’s very tough to leave your baby with anyone, but especially someone you feel like is a stranger. If you hire someone way ahead of time, you can get to know the nanny in the weeks before the birth and then after the birth, as well. You want to feel very comfortable with the person before you have no option but to leave your child with a childcare provider.
  4. You can really focus on the type of parenting philosophy and type of nanny care you want your child to have. While you are pregnant, it is the perfect time to have discussions with your partner as well as focus on awareness just by yourself. You can think clearly about the type of parent you want to be, the type of childhood you want your baby to have and the type of person you think will be an asset to your family. If you wait until after the baby is born, a lot of time you are thinking more about immediate needs and not the big picture. It can get easy to get hung up on someone who can start right away and completely forget about finding that ideal person who will make your family life better in the long run.
  5. You will have plenty of time to train your nanny once the baby is born and she can get to know you and your routine before you absolutely need her. I think it’s a great idea to have your nanny start to get to know you and your baby before you are ready to leave her with your child full-time. The earlier you hire someone, the more likely it is that you’ll have plenty of time to train her and get acclimated to your home and family.
 If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

Parenting Tools: Love and Logic And Counting To Three

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I’ve talked briefly about Love and Logic parenting because I think it’s a great philosophy, and I’ve seen it work. I want to equip parents with as many tools as possible, because as we know, being a mom and dad does not come with a guide. There is a great book that I highly recommend called 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W Phelan.

The book talks about practical strategies to help give your kids choices and also set appropriate boundaries – without yelling. I think one thing most parents say before they have kids is that they don’t want to be the type of parent who is always screaming at their kids. But, as we all know, once you become a parent and you are faced with the day-to-day stress and the task of teaching your child responsibility, it is so easy to resort to yelling. The thing is, though, that only creates more stress and hinders our children, who don’t respond well to anger.

The idea of Love and Logic parenting is to be very clear with your kids about their choices and the consequences. Make your rules make sense to them. The key here is that you have to follow through. Empty threats are the worse because they teach your children nothing and make you upset and angry. Instead, tell your children what you expect, why you expect it and what will happen if those things aren’t done. Then, simply follow through with a consequence that makes sense.

For example, we were having trouble getting my youngest child to brush her teeth before going to bed. At some point, it needs to become the child’s responsibility. So, one day, I decided to stop the nighttime struggle and presented her with this scenario. I said, “They are your teeth and therefore it is your responsibility to brush them. I’m not going to do it for you. However, as a parent, I have to protect you from getting cavities. That’s part of my job to keep you healthy. So, if you don’t brush your teeth then you won’t be able to eat any of the sugary treats or candy that you like because that is what is most likely to cause cavities.”

This blog talks more about Love and Logic parenting as well as using the “1-2-3 strategy.” The idea with counting is that you are giving your child a formal warning and time to focus on what the consequence will be for a certain behavior. After three, you need to take action and follow through with a consequence.

What other strategies do you use that you’ve seen are effective? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Transitioning: Your Kids Are Getting Older And You Don’t Need Your Nanny For As Many Hours…Now What?

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This is a struggle many parents, including me, have struggled with. I’ve talked to numerous friends with the same problem: What should we do now that we don’t need our nanny full-time? If you really love your nanny and your kids are used to her, but you don’t need her all the time because your kids are in school, how do you keep her around while scaling back her hours?

Many people have asked if it’s okay to ask their nannies to replace their housekeepers, and instead of watching the kids full-time, replace those hours with some light housework/errands. To answer that question, let me tell you a little bit about my own experience…

When my little one got into pre- school and I didn’t need my nanny full-time, I made the mistake of helping her find another part-time job. Of course it was very kind of me to do that, and it helped both of us. It saved me money and I was able to keep my nanny. However, I also asked my nanny to walk our dog who was old and without asking her, she also cleaned up after the dog who wasn’t able to hold her urine/poop. She did it all with love and care. And, then, she approached me one day and said that she was willing to clean for us but she didn’t want to babysit anymore.

As it turned out, my friend who I shared her with gave her name to her neighbor who was looking for someone to clean and offered her $20 hour. I was paying her $17 at the time.

Why am I writing this? I think that in hindsight I should’ve had the conversation with my nanny and asked her how she felt about doing other responsibilities instead of watching my kids. She needed the money, so she agreed to do whatever I asked even though it wasn’t what she really wanted to do. Then, when she had an opportunity to work with a different family who offered her more money she immediately took that opportunity, ultimately leaving me without someone to watch my kids part-time, which was what I was afraid of losing in the first place.

Last week, I met with a client who was very frustrated because her nanny got really angry with her. When I asked what happened, my client Susie said that when she no longer needed her nanny for 50 hours a week, Susie asked her how much money she needed in order to keep her job. The nanny told her she needed 30 hours a week, and Susie agreed that would work. In addition, Susie asked her to do some more light housekeeping and also clean after the cats and keep up with the cat litter. While her nanny agreed to do it, she quickly became very resentful and wasn’t really doing a good job with the cleaning and was not respectful to Susie.

When Susi confronted her nanny and asked her why she wasn’t really cleaning, her nanny got angry and asked to leave. The next day her nanny came and left a note saying she wasn’t coming back to work. Luckily Susie came home early that day because the nanny had left at 12 PM and her two girls had to be picked up at 2:30 PM. Susie was most devastated because her nanny left after four years without saying goodbye to the kids.

So here are my takeaways from these stories. In my opinion, when and if you need to cut your nanny’s hours then you need to have a serious conversation with her and figure out if that works best for both your family and her. If this is not the case, then as hard as it is to see someone you care about go and as challenging as it can be to acclimate to a new person, you have to make the decision that it is time to find a different kind of nanny who doesn’t rely on a full-time job with benefits. Another important thing to consider is that the person you had caring for your kids when they were babies and toddlers might not be the nanny who your kids need now or the nanny who suits your family as they get older.

It is therefore very important to think about what your family needs and what your nanny needs and wants. If you cannot pay your nanny full-time, sometimes it is better not to come up with different responsibilities for her to do that she might not like to do or might feel are not what she originally signed on for. A better option might be to share your nanny with another family and supplement hours that way, always being mindful that when you open it up to other families, it can become easy for your nanny to just pick the best pay/job responsibilities. Another option is to increase her pay while you are transitioning and help her find a different job. Ultimately, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and with your nanny from the outset and keep the lines of communication open. If your nanny feels like one day she will no longer be needed or one day she will be a full-time housekeeper when what she wanted was to look after children, she’ll most likely turn to looking for other jobs or become resentful of the relationship that was once so healthy.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

Here’s How Letting Go Of Guilt Will Make You Happier

As moms, we often feel guilty about one thing or another.

When I wanted to continue my education after having my first child, I felt guilty for leaving my kids at home with a nanny. When I started working, I felt guilty for not spending enough time with my three girls. When my 11-month-old fell and had a concussion while my nanny decided to watch TV in our bedroom, I blamed myself for being selfish and putting myself first before my children.

When we ordered in food for dinner when I felt exhausted and depressed because taking care of three kids is extremely exhausting (and yes rewarding too…) I blamed myself for being a bad mom who couldn’t even make dinner for her family. I even went on to tell myself, “What would my mom think of that?” and I came up with a whole story in my head of how horrible I was because I wasn’t a full-time stay at home mom.

There are many reasons why I thought the topic of mom’s guilt and self-blame is a good topic for Mother’s Day. After I met with a mom client who was depressed and heard what she had to say about being a mom, I was convinced that this was the perfect topic to write about.

Silvia is a mom of two boys whose dream is to be able to return to work as an interior decorator. She did that for 10 years prior to having her first child, and she tried working on a few projects after having kids but her boys and her husband weren’t happy that she wasn’t home. Her guilt and self-hatred for leaving her boys with a nanny made her decide that she would not work until her boys were older. When I asked Silvia how she felt about being a stay at home mom she said, “I feel like the days just go by and I am not doing anything meaningful. All my friends work and have careers and I am one of the only 40 years old I know that does nothing. I feel like I am nothing.”
I was very sad to hear Silvia telling herself all these negative things about being a mom. I explained to Silvia how her negative talk affects how she feels and why she behaves in ways that she wants to change (sleeping a lot, bingeing and not engaging with her boys and husband).

I asked Silvia what she wanted to do and she was certain that she wanted to stay home with her boys, ages 3 and 6, for at least two more years before she was going to go back to work.I also asked Silvia to tell herself that and be secure with how she says it to herself and others.

Silvia said, “I am a proud stay at home mom and the CEO of the Klien Family.” We both laughed and Silvia’s homework for the week was to pay attention to what she was telling herself and write it down. Guilt and self-blame are very popular with moms, and once you let go of them, you enjoy motherhood a lot more.

I found a great article that talks about dealing with the guilt we have as mothers and actually paints guilt in a positive light. We can use our guilt to channel it into making changes and actually get us to do something about the feelings tugging on our conscience. However, as the article goes on to say, most of us use our guilt in negative ways and allow it to take over our lives.

I think the most important thing is that moms understand they are in control of what they are telling themselves. Guilt and blame result from moms telling themselves all kinds of stories. Even if the stories are right, we can use the feelings of guilt and self-blame as a motivator to help us change the story.

I’ve found it is SO important for moms to use each other as a support system. Talking about your feelings of guilt surrounding motherhood helps you to realize you aren’t alone. Comparing yourself to other women, on the other hand, will just breed those negative feelings. I’d love to hear about the kind of guilt you often feel as a mom! We can use my Facebook page or the comments section here to start the conversation!

Here are just a few things I hear moms blame themselves for:

Being tired

Needing “me” time

Not being able to be two places at once

Having to work

Not being able to always spend equal time with each child

Not being as “fun” as other moms

Forgetting things — it happens

Letting someone else handle the meals

Getting frustrated

LW Wellness Network provides emotional and mental help for those who are struggling from stress or depressions, don’t hesitate to ask. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Nanny Spy Confession: The Importance Of Awareness In Choosing A Nanny

I talk a lot about awareness because I believe as parents, and as people, it is one of the most important parts of growing and thriving. This is a story about a client (I’ve obviously changed a lot of details and the name) I worked with who was looking for some advice on hiring a nanny.

When Karen first came to me she was eight months pregnant and was really excited but also very nervous and anxious about the idea of hiring a nanny when she had to return to work. She didn’t even know where to begin and would ask me questions like, “What should I look for in a nanny?”

I had to get her to answer that question for herself, so I started asking what values were most important to her and how she wanted her future child to be raised. I also asked what her biggest fears were when it came to someone else looking after her child.

As we discussed these questions, a lot of her family history came up. Her biggest concern was finding a stable support system, for both herself and her children, as she had moved cross-country to NYC when she was 18. When Karen was 15 years old, her mom was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died a few years later. Her dad was an alcoholic during her childhood and she had lost contact with him since. Karen had to grow up at a very young age and, consequently, one of the biggest factors she was looking for in a nanny was stability and support.

Another question I asked was, “What do you fear most about hiring a nanny?” Karen revealed that she was terrified of hiring the wrong person – someone who would put her child in harm’s way. When she thought of what could go wrong, her mind would spiral. Eventually, it came out that when she was younger, there was an incident at a playground where she fell off a slide and had some very serious injuries involving stitches. It became evident that this had translated into high levels of anxiety for her future child’s safety.

The child wasn’t even born yet and she was scared to death of a nanny taking her eyes off her child and something terrible happening. While safety and consistency are two very important characteristics to look for in a nanny, in Karen’s case, she needed to work through some of her own fears and understand that what had happened to her was an accident. There is no way to protect your child from every single cut and scrape.

A child’s exploration is extremely important. Awareness helped Karen see that while there were some things she would be able to control about her future nanny, she would also have to learn to trust in order to not develop into a mom who hovered over both child and nanny.

As she became aware of her fears and her childhood, she was better able to articulate what she was looking for in a nanny and not just focus on the hyper-vigilant aspect. Throughout this process, she realized she had some unresolved issues. She had never properly mourned the loss of her mom or dealt with her tumultuous relationship with her alcoholic father and his sense of helplessness. These are all issues that would come out eventually, but as she went to therapy and talked through them she realized how important it was to address them head on before they became a part of her parenting style or negatively blinded her to what she was looking for in a nanny.

I also asked her to identify what types of parenting her parents exhibited throughout her childhood. Her father was controlling at times, but in general, he was fairly absent and therefore she didn’t have a lot of rules or boundaries. She was close to her mother, but again, she wasn’t given a lot of structure at a young age. This became something she craved for her own child.

Especially for new parents, I always recommend thinking through your own childhood and putting thought into why you fear the things you fear. This will help put your fears into perspective and keep you from blowing them out of proportion in a way that could negatively affect your children.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

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Preventing Obesity In Our Children With Mindfulness

As an eating disorder specialist, and someone who battled an eating disorder for many years myself, this is a topic very close to my heart. Food has become such an obsession in our culture – and body image issues, as a result.

We all know that obesity in children is a growing epidemic in our country. However, eating disorders are also a huge problem, so as parents, it’s hard to know how to deal with the issue of eating when it comes to your children and their health.

An interesting study was published earlier this year in the journal Heliyon that found a connection between impulsive thoughts in children’s brains and how much they ate. For the study, scientists at the University of Vanderbilt looked at the brains of 38 children between the ages of 8 and 13. From MRIs, the researchers were able to establish a connection between physiological reactions in the brain and food behaviors. Then they established connections between BMI and the kids’ eating behaviors (they used this questionnaire).

The results aren’t shocking. We know eating disorders aren’t just a mental thing – they are a physical thing. However, the researchers concluded that teaching children mindfulness could go a long way in helping prevent obesity. If we recognize the connection between children’s impulsive behaviors and eating habits, teaching them mindful techniques, to really focus on what it is they are putting into their mouths, could decrease their eating.

Dr. Cowan, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said,”We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity.” He went on to say that while mindfulness hasn’t shown much of an effect on adults and eating behavior, perhaps testing the connection in kids could be more beneficial.

Teaching our children mindfulness – being aware, staying in the moment and focusing on tasks at hand – is a skill that will benefit them in more ways than one.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists, contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you

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An Introduction To Love And Logic Parenting

In the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many families. I have had many parents tell me they need the help as they feel like they are about to have

a mental breakdown. As a mother of three girls, I can relate to what these parents were saying as parenting is extremely stressful, and as we all know, it doesn’t come with a parenting guide. I started looking into parenting skills and parenting philosophy 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest child. While I thought I knew a lot as I worked with children since I was 12 in the kibbutz daycare, I discovered that despite my psychology degrees there was a lot more to learn about parenting. I wondered on many occasions why no one taught a parenting class in college??? Even if one didn’t want to have a child, we all have parents, and as such, can at least relate to some of the things involved with raising children.

I developed a passion not just for working with my clients but for working with parents. I wanted to learn as much as I could about parenting so I could better help families. More specifically, I wanted to help parents become more confident and competent by obtaining basic skills that would allow them to gain more control over their children.

Love and Logic (L& L) is an approach to parenting that has been around since 1970. It involves courses worldwide with over 45 books written about the topic. I recognized at a young age there is a big need for parenting and nanny classes, and Love and Logic was a good place for me to start.

While there are several parenting philosophies such as STAR parenting, Triple P Positive Parenting, Nurturing Parenting, Common Sense Parenting and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, among others, I will focus here primarily on the Love and Logic philosophy as I wanted to share an approach that is easy to understand and that can really start helping parents immediately.

Empathy is the foundation of L& L. Empathetic statements help keep kids in a thinking mode instead of survival mode, and they allow learning to occur rather than giving the child an opportunity to focus upon the anger of the adult. Most importantly, empathy builds relationships.

Dr. Seigel, who I often mention, wrote several important books, and he describes a kid’s brain as an “upstairs and downstairs brain,” to differentiate between the emotion part of the brain versus the rational part of the brain. It is important to keep kids in the rational part, and the L&L approach can help with this.

The objectives of L&L parenting are to:

 

  1. Identify steps to responsibility

 

  1. Recognize who has control

 

  1. Offer appropriate choices

 

  1. Identify who the problem belongs to

 

When parents use empathy and don’t react negatively to a child, they help the child stay in the upstairs part of the brain (more rational part) and not the downstairs (emotional).

Parents often send their kids into their downstairs brains, which causes kids to become very reactive – instead of sticking to chronological thinking. Especially in the case of toddlers and preschoolers, they may seem overly emotional about things that are simple, but sometimes as parents, we are unknowingly sending them into that state by the way we respond to conflict or stress in situations. The L&L theory delves more into how we as parents can keep them out of that state. This includes designing appropriate consequences for certain behaviors. This document goes into a lot of detail about Love & Logic parenting, and I’ll be talking about it more on this blog, but I wanted to start the conversation by addressing the need for real thought about the skillset we have as parents and how we can make a more conscious effort to use empathy, letting our reactions nurture and protect our children in a way that lets them grow.

LW Wellness Network’s parent coaching provides practical tools and strategies to assist Parents in overcoming the struggles. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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