WHEN SEX IS CHEAP

15 Aug

 

“I am not going to confess all my sins just because I had an orgasm” Sharon Stone said and I froze in front of the screen. Sharon (Catherine Tramell) was exceptionally beautiful. She was also American. She was a writer and exceptionally wealthy. She also just won the ultimate victory against all men in the world. Or it felt like it to me. I was a 16-year old girl, in Siberia, and Sharon Stone instantly became an idol to me (and to millions other girls, I think). To support my admiration, the protagonist in the movie became instantly obsessed with her and even potentially put his life on the line just to have sex with her. She, on the other hand, remained un-phased by the mind-blowing sex that they had (which Michael Douglas called “the fuck of the century), and never confessed her sins.
I watched her and knew that this is somebody to imitate and admire. I was 16 and had no idea what an orgasm was. In fact, i knew next to nothing about sex, period (theoretical knowledge doesn’t count of course, as it’s as relevant as knowing how to breath, in theory). Now I think that Catherine Tramell also didn’t know anything about sex (given her stupid statement, which used to fascinate me). In fact, I’m sure all her mind-blowing orgasms were fake just to sell the movie.

” I had a date with him, and it was a fun date, the conversation was really flowing, and he treated me nicely. So, after dinner we kept going from one bar to another, and it was really fun, so I went to his place and we had sex, and it was really good, but in the morning he acted all weird, i don’t think i will hear from him again. But it doesn’t really matter”, she finishes with a brave smile on her face. She sits in front of me. She is shamelessly young (22), she is extremely attractive (and tall) and bright. She finished her short account of that date, and she is ready to move on. Because that date “doesn’t matter”, in the end it didn’t mean anything.

I am her therapist. And I’m genuinely puzzled. Not by her account. By how many times I hear this story again and again. There seems to be a consensus among young people that sex, in itself, is meaningless. It’s not even sex. It’s a “hook up”. It’s definitely not something to cry over. Your sexual partner is definitely not somebody to “confess all your sins” to.

I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. But I begin to wonder if this is not one huge conspiracy of dating apps. Because they are the only ones who benefit from it. Definitely not people. At least not women. And also, the whole idea that sex “doesn’t mean anything” is simply false.

Sex is important. Forget sex, human touch is important. How many people will tell you that they feel better simply because they received a hug? How many times you smiled (but also felt sudden warmth), when you hear stories about people just giving other people hugs? We became so isolated, that people get themselves pets just to have somebody to hug, no practical purposes (and pets are definitely important, just ask the owners). For crying out loud, people hug trees, just to experience that feeling of being close to something alive.

Yet, we live in a funny culture, where hugs are important and sex isn’t.

“Why are you saying it doesn’t matter?” I ask her “Of course it matters. You liked him. You felt he likes you back. You spent a lot of time with him. You felt some connection. You were hoping that he was feeling it to. You went to his place. You spent the night. You feel he doesn’t want to see you again. How can it be unimportant? How is it humanely possible not to feel disappointed, rejected, upset? Why do you feel compelled to deny yourself humanity?” We are both puzzled. She is puzzled because I just stripped her of her defenses. I am puzzled that the consensus among youth now seems to be that defenses are more important than authenticity.

“What can I do if he is not calling me?” she asks with sadness.
“At least give yourself permission to feel sad and disappointed now, these are only normal human feelings, completely appropriate to the situation, just give yourself permission to feel, what you are actually feeling now, because if you don’t, you will be cranky and irritable for the next week or two. You might make some silly choices or end up in unnecessary arguments, and you won’t even know why. Let’s just stay with this feeling now”.

“I know why he is not going to call me back, I lingered too long in his place”. Of course, but she did because sex was good.
“Sex was great, and I have had so much bad sex” she says with a sad laugh.
Of course she did. This is also the story that I hear again and again “I met with Ben, we went to the bar and we had 8 shots of gin, and we went to his place, and he lasted 30 seconds”.
“We both were so wasted, i don’t even remember anything”.

Of course she had a lot of bad sex. All her friends did. When sex is meaningless, it’s mostly bad.
Well, any purposeless, meaningless activity will be just that. Empty. Unmemorable. Nothing to think of. And yet, we are talking about extremely intense experience here. Ironically, taking meaning out of this experience, also takes away all the pleasure. Why bother at all then? You are better off going to the gym, no health risks, only benefits.

The truth is, sex is hugely, ridiculously important, and we all yearn for it. imagine being hugged warmly and lovingly by somebody who you like. Imagine the hug being prolonged, strong but comfortable, you are feeling held and cared for. You are feeling loved. Now take that feeling to some crazy power. That’s how good sex makes a woman feel. Oxytocin is released into the brain and it makes your trust your partner. It makes you want to confess all your sins (not that you should, but it will take some restraint not to). In fact, Oxytocin is SO powerful, it makes even autistic children more sociable, and now, it is being considered as a treatment for autism. Endorphines, released after good sex, make you euphoric.
Euphoria can linger for weeks. That’s what good sex does to your brain, to you mind, and to your heart.

And yet, young people insist on taken all of it out of equation because of course, they hate being vulnerable. But vulnerable they remain. My client will have to repeat again and again “it doesn’t matter”, until she convinces herself, that the good sex she had doesn’t matter. And she is of course in danger of submitting herself to dozens more meaningless sexual experiences. Because she feels it makes her less vulnerable.
It’s actually reverse. Because meaningful sex is such a rarity to her, she lingered for so long in his place for the next day. She acted like it mattered, which of course, violated his expectations. He, too, is under that social contract that sex doesn’t matter. So, her lingering was probably annoying. Maybe a little be scary (“why is she still here?” is a natural thought if we all agree that what happened doesn’t matter).

Sex matters. When good, it can create a life-long connection, even when both people know they kind of, sort of, shouldn’t stay in contact any more. When it’s bad, it creates an aversion, and for a while, you really don’t even want to see that person, even when you know you are kind of, sort of, being mean. Sex can create families and break families apart. Sex can be life-altering experience. But for all of that sex has to be meaningful. In other words, it has to be sex, not some kind of drunken acrobatics.

“You know, I decided not to sleep with Ben” my client said.
“Why?”
“Because I kind of like him”
“So, when you really like the person, you don’t sleep with him? You only sleep with people you don’t like?”

I think, with all the “hook up” culture and continuous re-defining of terms, and all the attempts to protect our egos, young people made themselves terribly confused. But confusion is a natural state for youth (I’m 43 and still terribly confused about many things, so there). But I’m really concerned that they also made themselves joyless. That would be quite sad. Almost as sad as meaningless sex.

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10 Aug

Meditations or Medications?

This story is told with permission of my patient and her parents.

N. is a bright and lively 9-year-old girl. Her parents brought her to see me because she was dealing with sever anxiety, multiple daily panic attacks, nightmares, and social problems. When she came to see me, she was on 10 mg of Adderall for her ADD (adult dosage) and 175 mg of Zoloft (200mg is a maximum adult dosage).

During the initial evaluation it became clear that N. was overwhelmed by her anxiety symptoms. In addition to her panic attacks and nightmares, she was also suffering from fear of future panic attacks, known as anticipatory anxiety. A bright, talented, and kind girl, she was not able to function in the real world. She couldn’t successfully create friendships, focus, achieve academic success or even interact with her warm and loving parents.

During our first session, we practiced a deep relaxation. She called it “hypnosis.” But that’s not what it was. It was a guided a meditation session that helped her to relax and start releasing her fears. She imagined the color of her fears – deep blue. She visualized a blue smoke leaving her body gradually during the meditation.

She was soon taken off Adderall. Stimulants like Adderall can increase the “fight or flight” response and make people, especially children, feel extremely anxious. The parents were encouraged to research Intuniv (non-stimulant ADHD medication). I also taught the mother simple relaxations and meditations to do at home with N.

In the following week, during our regular session, N. said that she felt much better and so did her mother. Her sleep normalized. She said that she no longer had episodes of intense panic. We started gradually discontinuing Zoloft.

After six sessions, N. practices daily meditations and relaxations. She started learning techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy to monitor her scary thoughts and substitute them with opposites.

She is no longer on Adderall. We continue to withdraw Zoloft slowly and carefully. Currently, she is on 125mg. Our goal is to bring it down to 0. N. now says that she is completely free from panic attacks and is very excited and happy about her upcoming international vacation.

 

To access my meditation stories for children please visit:

http://www.calmchildstories.com

Meditations for Children

31 May

Dear all, I am happy to recommend meditations for children that I recently developed with my super talented team which included musicians, artist, attorney and two beautiful children who helped us, inspired us and even read meditations. These meditations are unique, because they are written as stories, not as a boring breathing exercise. Still, they train children the most important skill: to pause, take a break and relax even when it hurts and feels difficult.  These meditative stories are read by a child, which makes it immediately relatable to other children. We are not teaching them we are sharing with them! We are there for them.

Please, listen to these meditations for children with your children. Be there for them!

Lots of love to you and your children from all of us.

 

http://www.calmchildstories.com/

ADHD? HYPOSENSITIVE? WHAT TO DO

9 Jul

This is a continuation of my now old post about Soviet Schools and how most kids who would have been labeled ADHD in the USA system benefited from the clear structure and many recesses in USSR.  And definitely, there was no Adderall in Soviet Union.  Well, what to do now, if your child is labeled ADHD (correctly or not, is another matter), and clearly cannot succeed in the current system.

 

  1.  The main mistake all parents almost instantly make (myself included) is starting the conflict with the teacher in order to protect your child. This is the worst mistake to make.  First of all, you need to recognize that your child is unique and does not feet the cookie-cutter system of American schools. Secondly, the teacher (even if she is awesome) cannot bend the system to fit your child’s needs. Just think about it. Children don’t have recesses. Neither does she. She is teaching for many hours non-stop.  She has to handle a class of 25-30 kids virtually on her own. Among those kids there are at least 4-5 (including  yours) that require unique attention because of ADHD, Dyslexia, Speech Delays, etc.  In addition, there is a handful of kids who are going through something. There is divorce, financial issues, move, illness (maybe even death) in the family.  At any point there is a child in the class who is not feeling well (headache, throat, stomach, you name it). And there are some kids who are being bullied.   She physically cannot spread herself so thin even if she tries.  If you start conflicting with her, she will resent you, and hence, your child.  If you respond to her complains in a defensive way you are not helping your child. Instead, recognize that she is right. Your child is unique and difficult to teach and manage.  Ask her about her experience with similar children, and what her recommendations would be (to  use at home). She is reaching out to you, because she needs help. Assure her that you are willing to help and be there for your child and for her.   Becoming and ally with the teacher (regardless of who she is and what she is doing) is the best thing you can do for your child while s/he is in her care.  There was a teacher who my child initially didn’t like and he was convinced she was picking on him.  I assured the teacher that I will fully cooperate with her. She was extremely thankful, she repeated that she likes my child and picking on him because she cares about him, and on every meeting she reiterated how thankful she is to work with cooperative parents.  My child finished the year with multiple achievements award signed by that same teacher.  The initial trigger for that turn over was my full and genuine recognition of the problem she pointed out (and my willingness to cooperate with her) rather than trying to run away from the problem or blaming her for being incompetent, unkind and what’s not.   I know think that she is an OK teacher.  Just like many other OK teachers my child will thankfully, have.
  2. Ask her what gives her the biggest pain. Is it the not-submitted Homework (I have may share of pain with those), behavior?  If the main problem is organization, then it’s on you to help your child by externalizing everything. For example, set a block in google calendar for HW time, with reminders. Make sure, your child clearly sees/hears reminders (half an hour before start, 15 minutes before start, and 5 minutes before start).  Make sure there are breaks in the Google Calendar, so that your child can jump, run, eat, drink for 5 minutes between different parts of HW.
  3. Sit down with your child to create a daily task list (on paper or in Google Calendar again). The point is for your child to check-mark every task, once it’s completed.
  4. Make sure your child visually sees his/her schedule. Even if you feel s/he knows it be heart, you won’t believe how much more s/he will be organized if s/he actually SEES the schedule, and look at it again and again for referencing.
  5. I cannot over-estimate the importance of daily chores. They are great for self-esteem, organization, sense of contributing to the family.   The point is not to overwhelm your child with work, but to make sure s/he is doing something meaningful, something that leads to your appreciation.
  6. IF the problem is not focusing in class, you NEED to get the teacher on your side.  Agree with her that there will be a sign for your child (she could tap him), when he daydreams. Explain to the child that she is not picking on him, she is trying to help him.  Ask the teacher if your child can be teacher’s helper or, if she rotates children, if she can give him some other chore. First, it will give him an extra opportunity to move a little bit. Secondly, it will help him create relationship with her and feel connected to her.  Ask her if he can get 3-4 bathroom breaks during the day. he will get a chance to run down the hall, drink some water from the fountain (and, go to the bathroom if needed). Those breaks will help him to concentrate better, when he is in school.
  7. It is extremely important that your child doesn’t suffer socially because s/he feels different from other children. ADHD kids are prone to being bullied (and sometimes, they are bully themselves due to poor impulse control. They occasionally shout at other kids, touch them, and alienate children, slowly becoming loners).  The best remedy for that is play-dates.  Pick a child or two and invite them to your house on more or less consistent basis. If your child will create relationship with about 2 children in her/his class, it will help him to become confident across all other social interactions.  Those kids will be unlikely to take part in bullying. S/he will her a small group to lean on. Overall, having a small group of children who support your child is sufficient to eliminate bullying, since for the most part, bullies pick on loners. It is your job to make sure,your child is not a lone by inviting other children from his class to your house.  I can’t stress enough  the importance of that point.  Alas, in my practice, this has been truly difficult to enforce with the parents. They are busy. They feel shy to call up other parents and invite their kids. They want it quiet in the house.  Yet, out of everything I wrote this could be the single most important thing you can be doing for your child’s development. It’s impossible to do well and achieve your potential when you are not happy. It’s impossible to feel happy if you spend so much time among kids who do not like you.  It is a parent’s job to help the child create those connections (and feel liked and accepted in class), but inviting other children to the play-dates. Your child will be more confident, happier, and ultimately, more successful even academically.
  8. It sounds tedious and artificial but you need to develop a system of negative and positive reinforcements for your child. Alas, since Pavlov and Skinner, we haven’t found any other behavior shaping mechanisms.  WHen your child behaves s/he deserves a small reword. When your child acts out in school, doesn’t do his/her homeworkd and so forth, s/he experiences negative reinforcement (fancy word for taking something away from your child). It’s best when the system is clear, predictable and your child is fully aware of it.
  9. It’s WONDERFUL when the positive reinforcement is time with YOU.  You can have ice-cream with your child and talk to her about a topic of her choice. YOu can watch a movie (of your child’s choice) with your child. Any joint activity with your child is a wonderful positive reinforcement, as not only it’s pleasurable, but it also enhances your connection.

 

ADHD? Hyposensitive? and what old Soviet school (maybe) got right.

30 May

I want to talk more about our kids. “Our” because I also have two children like that. They need to fidget. They need to move. They are bright but make silly mistakes. They struggle with transitions. They struggle starting their work. The struggle finishing their work (unless they LOVE what they do – then they will do it non-stop, forgetting about eating, sleeping and bathroom). They are impulsive.  They are labeled as ADHD.

I don’t want to start a discussion about whether ADHD exists (and why so many children are diagnosed in the US and so few are diagnosed in France). But one thing is certain in my mind: like Autism, ADHD became a huge umbrella for a range of different symptoms, and those symptoms might not have the same etiology.  For example, some of those ADHD children indeed have a non-“mainstream” neurological wiring, some of them suffer from a diet which is wrong for them, some of them face challenges created by anxiety (and it is actually anxiety that makes them fidget, not so much ADHD itself). Some of those kids are creative, bright and sporty. Some of them are loud and angry. Some of those kids are sad, introverted and quiet  (and still making silly mistakes on tests when asked about material that they know perfectly).  Because ADHD (or labeled as ADHD) kids are so different, what I will write won’t help everybody. But, I hope, it will be helpful to some.

Movement

The need to move results from a need for stimulation. It is a variation of what we call sensory-seeking behaviors.  It goes together with running around, standing up, jumping, squirming in her seat (poor kid, she wants to RUN), sucking her thumb, chewing her clothes, doodling and so forth. One thing that I was horrified to learn about the American schools is that kids go from one class to another practically without breaks. They are supposed to transition perfectly from Math to English without any time in between.  If you ask me, I would say it’s humanly impossible for any healthy child (or even an adult). Watch yourself please. When you work, how do you transition between tasks? Right. You go get tea. You go to the bathroom. You stretch. Basically, you move.  At the very least, you will check your email or even Facebook just to take your mind off work if only for a moment.  American kids do not have such a luxury.  An 8 year old (or even a 5 year old) is supposed to sit quietly in her chair (or on a rug, and I will get to the whole “circle time on a rug thing” later) without unnecessary movement, and close her English book and then open her Math book and continue to work without bathroom, email checking, fidgeting or even stretching.  When I hear about this “structure”, I want to remind people that cruel and unusual punishment is unconstitutional in the United States.

In the “good old USSR” we started the 1st grade not younger than 6, and most kids were 7 (compare to America where kids start Kindergarten – and get labeled as ADHD et al – at 5). Therefore, our stamina, endurance and, hence, the ability to sit still was much greater. In addition, in good old USSR every class lasted only 45 minutes (no more than that).  In between classes we had a 5-10 minute break (and there was a “large recess” which was 15-20 minutes).  That was the time for us to go crazy – run around, scream, even fight if needed (within reason of course). It was also the time to transition from Math to Russian, and so forth.

Furthermore, many ADHD kids struggle with writing. Writing requires a lot of concentration on many level (sentence construction, spelling, control over fingers, and so on).  I remember how in good all USSR my elementary school teacher (who was not such a great teacher to be honest) interrupted our Russian classes just to have us stop writing and MOVE our fingers (we moved fingers to a short rhyme which went like this : “We’ve been writing for so long, our fingers are tired, we’ll give our fingers a short break, and start writing again”).

The teachers were simply mindful of the simple fact that kids do not need to be labeled, or medicated, kids need to move!  Frequently, during the class, when the teacher detected that our attention flew away, our teachers asked us to do 5-10 sit ups.  That was enough to satisfy our sensory systems and bring our focus back to the classroom.  Here I was shocked to find out that completely natural need for movement which many young children have is pathologized and even criminalized.

Structure

Children crave structure.  Spacial structure is achieved through careful and reasonable ways to divide space with physical bodies. Temporal structure is achieved through reasonable dividing time with changing activities (e.g., from waking up, to brushing teeth, to having breakfast, to going to school etc – time is divided with various activities which create structure). Children (and adults) want to trust their structures to be solid and not to collapse.  Solid structures are those that are predictable. When children know what comes next, they are able to transition, they are less anxious, and their behavior is easily managed. American elementary schools effectively destroy the structure with the so called “rug activity”.  When I first saw that rug, I got a warm feeling, thinking how my kid will be lying comfortably listening to a story. Then I got the phone call from school that my child was lying comfortably (just like I imagined!) on that rug, during the circle time.  That completely threw me off.  If the teachers don’t want the children to lie comfortably, why set them up with that rug?  If you or I are placed on a rug during the day, I bet we will be lying comfortably pretty soon, and then fall asleep too.  But our kids are not allowed to be comfortable on that rug. They have to sit up. But if they have to sit up, wouldn’t be more reasonable to leave them at their desks? Sitting up is hard, but at their desks our young kids are not tempted by that rug.  Overall, the golden rule is: kids cannot be quiet and still when there is no structure.  And, I think, the teachers have to decide: should they be really progressive and allowing our kids a reasonable level of comfort (e.g., lying down and maybe even falling asleep on that rug) or let go of the progressive education, move children back to their desks, where they will be sitting quietly (only interrupted for sit ups every 20 minutes, like we were back when USSR existed and America was good).

Temporal structure is as important. When our time was divided into classes and recesses not only we got to move, we had predictable temporal structure to hold on to, and we had time to transition between activities.  We always knew what our next lesson will be. We were counting the minutes till the bell (the bell rang when the lesson was over). We made plans for next recesses. Overall, we existed within a clear temporal arrangement which reduced our anxiety.

To create solid structure, one needs tools.  For example, THE BELL.  I personally hated the sound. Even when the bell meant the end of the class, it got on my nerves. Half of the time though it meant the beginning of the class and got on my nerves even more. Still, better hate the bell than the teacher.  Bell is so much preferable to teachers’ screaming and asking pupils to be quiet because the next class started.  It’s also much better thatn parents’ nagging the child to do HW. That’s why I strongly recommend that all parents of those kids use technology. When the alarm goes off, the child starts homework, when it goes off in 15 minutes, your child is allowed to take a bathroom break.  You don’t have to be nagging or screaming. Let the Bell nag your child and be hated.

Rituals are extremely important tools. We had quite a few in school (some of them were crazy). But among more reasonable one was a simple ritual to stand up in the beginning of each class, when the teacher enters the room. This standing for several seconds (no more than a minute), helped us transition from running around like maniacs to becoming quiet, diligent students. While standing quietly, we were able to found the board, the teacher our pencils and collect our brains. Once we were allowed to be seated, we were ready to open books and start working. And of course, having to stand up for the teachers instills some respect, which never hurts.

Notebooks are super important. The usage of notebooks was very simple. All our HW was done in the notebooks and not on separate pieces of papers. Nothing was lost. We could easily find and check our HW from weeks ago. Notebook is more difficult to lose than a single piece of paper. Notebooks were handed to the teachers in the morning. They were returned to us with HW checked by the end of the school day. No lost HWs.

I could go on.  And I am not a big fan of Soviet schools, and I was never a fan of Soviet Union. But some of those things worked. I want to tell you quickly what happens to kids in an American school.

Did your child’s teacher complain to you that s/he makes silly mistakes? Of course. All her energy, all her concentration goes into restraining from forbidden movement! No fidgeting, no doodling (I hate that one, as I doodled my way from Siberian elementary school to Princeton University, and I’m the biggest supporter of doodling).  Of course, poor kids would make mistakes, they are exhausted from keeping still!

Did your child’s teacher complain about behavioral outbursts? Of course, when your child has to sit for hours processing a lot of new information without any recesses or breaks s/he will be overloaded and having all kids of meltdowns.

I will try to write another post about what we, American parents, should do. But, right now, I just want you to realize that your child is not a villain, not a monster and, definitely, not stupid. He simply tries to operate and survive within the system that is stack against him (and his sensory system).

When your child is the bully…

22 Feb

It’s hard to imaging anything more upsetting, frustrating and confusing than learning that your own child is the bully.  There is also embarrassment as you learn gradually the whole story (because you learned it first from your baby and s/he didn’t say the whole truth, or maybe didn’t say the truth at all). Well, now you know it. Your baby teased another child. Maybe even hit another child. Took toys from another child. Your baby made another child cry and feel miserable.  Now you know the truth. What to do next?

1. Show your shock to your child.  It is ok (in fact desirable) to be honest with your child and show your true feelings. You are shocked? Say it.  You are angry? Verbalize it. It is fine to say to your child that you never thought s/he would hurt somebody else’s feelings.  Express your feelings honestly.  And then, without initiating any punishment give your child some space to think things through.  At this point, don’t offer any solution. Don’t talk about punishment.  Explain to your child honestly what you feel, and now, when there is a lot of tension created, leave your child alone to work through this tension.  If your child tries to initiate the conversation with you, it is ok to say that you are not ready to talk to him/her yet, because you are still hurt by his/her behavior.

2. While your child is thinking things through, you should do the same.  It is important to identify what fuels your child’s behavior.  Is she frustrated with something and tries to dump her frustration on another child? Is she insecure and tries to compensate by making another child feel even worse?  Sometimes, the children don’t realize themselves that their behavior is hurtful.  So your next step  depends on the primary causes for your child’s behavior.

If she is insecure, you will need to work on her self-confidence. You might even have to explain to her that true confidence comes from within. Furthermore, by behaving this way, she is losing friends she has, because ultimately she becomes less likeable.

If she is frustrated with somebody else, and displaces her anger on other kids, you will have to help her work through her anger.  Explain to her that it’s ok to feel angry, and dumping it on somebody else will indeed give her temporary relief.  However, it doesn’t reduce her anger long term, and next day s/he will feel angry again. because all she is doing is creating a cycle of anger.

If she is not aware about how the other child feels, you might have to explain it to her. Also explain that the damage she is causing is long term, and she is much better off creating friendships.

3.  When you talk to your child again, you need to be clear that hurting other people is unacceptable. That although you  love your child, you cannot be her “friend”, cannot play with her, talk to her, do anything with her while she treats other people like that. You have to be very firm expressing your disappointment and your inability to support her in any way, while somebody else is hurting because of that behavior.  Your child will be upset, but if you want this pattern to end, this conversation has to be memorable and serious.

4. After you see that your child is upset and worries about the other child’s feelings you can go back to section 2, and help your child with his/her problems. If this is insecurity, you need to express your belief in your child. If s/he struggles creating her own friendship, offer play dates and joined activities.  Re-think your child’s extra-curricular activities to include those and instill respect for others.  If she is frustrated with something else, offer your help. Basically, after you see that your child is remorseful, offer your support.

5.  It is always  helpful to make sure that your children have some chores. This is the way to learn respect for others. They also feel that they contribute something to the family (and not just continuously receive stuff from their parents). Finally, through the chores, children create a sense of accomplishment (which should be as respected as any other achievement in sports or academics).  Children who do chores are usually more connected with their family members and they create friendships easier.

6. When do you need to seek professional help?  You should look for help if you see that your child lacks empathy.  If your child doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care) how other children feel. This could be an important symptom of an underlying condition, which should be ruled out.

7. Finally, we should always remember that sometimes children misbehave because they are seeking adults’ attention. Even negative attention better than 0 attention.  Is your child’s misbehavior one of those cases?  Is s/he trying to tell you something?  It’s always great to have at least half an hour a day (preferably more of course), when you give your complete and undivided attention to your child, which means, turning off TV, Phone, Computer and looking at your children, asking them questions and giving them answers (preferably honest).  This might be all they need to feel confident, secure and happier.

 

When Your Child Is Bullied

14 Feb

It’s extremely painful to watch your child suffering from bullying. Your child feels scared and helpless and so do you. It is natural to start blaming other kids. You might want to try to switch your child’s school. But sometimes, it’s difficult. Other times, after you change classes or schools your child becomes again a victim of bullying.

How can you help your child?

  1. As painful as it is, you have to consider what your child contributes to this dynamics. Is she needy? Is he impulsive? Is he following other children around to the point of being annoying? Is he teacher’s pet?  And so forth. The more you learn about your child the better.  There should be absolutely no blaming of your child, s/he is the victim! Still it’s important to identify behaviors that invite bullying.
  2. You need to start working on growing your child’s confidence. There are several ways to do it. First of all, you can try to create a social circle for him outside of school. Start actively working on inviting kids form the neighborhood or your friends’ kids for a play-date. He should have group play dates as well as one on one play dates. However, it is up to you to organize those kids so that they all have fun, together with your child. Remember, your child doesn’t have adequate social skills, that’s why s/he became the victim. So, please, make sure these play dates don’t fail! Be the facilitator! Prepare the board games for them to play (preferable) or a movie to watch (less perfect, but will do).  Make sure your child and the guests enjoy themselves.  It will be much easier for your child to cope with bullying in school, when he knows that he has his friends outside of it!  His confidence will grow miraculously from this increase in his social contentedness. In fact, his behavior in school might change too, and the bullying might decrease.
  3. Your child needs to get into sports. Most people right away try to send their kids to martial arts. Nothing is wrong with it. But actually, team sports might be preferable, think football, basketball, baseball.  Your child might be refusing due to low confidence. Try to be supportive and encouraging. If nothing else works, go with your child’s preference, even if s/he prefers swimming. It is great. There will be achievement, confidence growth and then, new friends.
  4. Talk to the teacher. Ask the teacher to talk to the kids without mentioning your child (to avoid exasperating the problem), but the kids to need to be reminded that there is 0 tolerance for bullying, and that the children who do it, will be punished through а detention or even suspension.  Sometimes, such a talk is enough for many kids to stop supporting the bully.
  5. Study your kids’ class dynamics. who is the bully? who is the leader? who supports him? Who are the bystanders? Start with bystanders. Invite them one by one for play – dates. Try to turn them into your kids’ friends. Take them with your child to the movies.  Your child wil gain confidence when he knows that at least some kids in the class are his friends.
  6. Finally, the bully.  Sometimes, those kids are pretty unhappy themselves (most of the times). Sometimes, they are victims too in some other situation. It is unfair to your child and to you, but on many occasions, simply talking nicely to the bully (without mentioning your child) can change things around. When you pick up your child, say “hi” to the bully, ask about how things are at his home, how it’s going for him etc. Give him a little bit of your attention.  Do it as an experiment once. The result might surprise you.
  7. If available, sign up your child for social skills group. Also, re-think your home dynamics. Your child needs help with his/her confidence and social skills. It is on you to help her!