12/19/16: Good stuff, bad stuff. It’s all stuff!

Did you know that good stuff can be just as stressful as bad stuff? Everybody knows about DISTRESS. That comes with bad things happening. The Greeks, however, have a prefix, “EU” that means “good.” So, EUSTRESS is stress that comes when good things happen.

Hans Selye, MD, a Canadian psychiatrist back in the day, developed a list of the 50 most stressful things we encounter in life. Top of the list is “Death of a Spouse.” Second is “Christmas.” Third is “Divorce.” Although not always alternating in the pattern, the point is that both Eustress and Distress are prominent on the list.

Count on equal measure of eustress and distress when you or your child is going through a transition. Normal transitions for kids during a school day include asleep to awake, home to school, between classes, lunch, recess, school to home, and awake to asleep. During these and other transitions in life, we tend to find trouble.  Much heartache and difficulty can be avoided by simply giving your child a heads-up. Tell him five or ten minutes before the anticipated transition that he needs to wrap up what he’s doing and get ready.

If you get attitude for your efforts, recognize it as evidence of your child having an emotional fever. Bring the fever down by active listening, that is, trying to play back to him what you think he is feeling at the moment. After the fever is down, noticed by lower tension and calmer voice, go back to giving him another heads-up. The transition will occur, but you can lower the stress levels associated with transition.

Let’s Get This Blog Going!!

11/15/16 — From time to time, I will offer helpful tidbits about Christian parenting, communication, and relationships. Here is my first entry:

Did You Know? Less Is More!

 Your 3 yr old daughter, Megan, is trying to build a tower with blocks. It keeps falling down. After three tries, the fourth time it falls down again. She picks up a block and hurls it, before throwing herself on the floor and dissolving into tears.

Being the ever vigilant mom, you see this meltdown and conclude, “Hmm. Looks like my little girl has an emotional fever.” You go to Megan to console her.

This is your moment of decision. Some moms would scold. “Young lady, you don’t throw blocks like that. You could have broken something or hurt your brother.” That scolding, although completely warranted, does not console and creates emotional distance between you and Megan.

Other moms might go into lecture mode. “Darling, how do you expect to get that tower made if you just give up like that? You know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Again, lost opportunity and, by the way, you might duck after the lecture because Megan might just wing the next block at you.

When your child has a problem, and you notice symptoms of an emotional fever, active listening is the go-to remedy. Scolding or lecturing take lots of empty words to make your point. These tactics are all about you and your power. Active listening uses an economy of words. The fewer the better. Your goal is to try to say back to Megan what you think she might be feeling in the moment. “Wow! You’re really frustrated right now, huh?” As a rule of thumb, most people can accurately state a feeling in five words or less. More words creeps into lecture mode, or unnecessary explanation that dilutes the impact of shared feeling. However, as long as you see symptoms of an emotional fever, continue active listening. Stay current with what your child is saying. Most kids can say they are mad, glad, sad, or bad. Active listening helps them expand their feeling word vocabulary and enriches the emotional intimacy you are building with your child.

When helping your child through a difficulty, use active listening. And, did you know? Less is more.