“Do I Have A Sensitive Child!” – Article 1 of Parenting The Sensitive Child

“Do I Have A Sensitive Child!” – Article 1 of Parenting The Sensitive Child*

Remember that old disco song by Chic – “Aw Freak Out” Chances are, when you hear that song it may make you sigh, weep, wring your hands in despair or cause you to laugh hysterically because you already know you are parenting a sensitive child. These children “freak out” at “everything” leading to parent frustration, exhaustion and makes us question every decision we make as parents. On the flipside, sensitive children are some of the most brilliant minds – poets, musicians, artists, writers, scientists, mathematicians and forward thinkers!! Have patience dear parents of these sensitive children, there are many things we can do to support you and your sensitive children!

 

My Coaching practice is FILLED with sensitive kids and sensitivities manifest themselves in numerous ways. Here are just a few ways to identify that you are living with a sensitive child if you are still unclear:

 

  1. They feel “everything” – it can be SO frustrating to reason with these “feelers”
  2. They worry about the littlest thing – they talk about things that might or could happen – 20 years from now
  3. They have super vivid imaginations – seeing things and talking to things that we can’t see or hear – carrying on conversations with “invisible friends”
  4. They often appear nervous or anxious which causes them to back out of participating in fun activities – no amount of reasoning will encourage these wee ones to participate
  5. They don’t like changes and they need routine – if you don’t follow the routine – all heck breaks loose
  6. They cry easily or often appear to be feeling sad – no matter how much we try to make cheer them up or make them laugh
  7. They want to do everything perfectly or they don’t want to do it all – the simplest of activities can upset them like doing crafts, colouring or printing if not done “perfectly”
  8. Their senses are on overdrive – they appear to have super hearing, super taste buds, or they are sensitive to touch. These kids might not like foods touching, can’t wear clothing with seams, don’t like others to hug or kiss them
  9. They are very bright and know things you haven’t taught them – this has freaked many parents out and in fact the parents of a young girl that I know actually had to look up a word that she used (at the age of 2) because they didn’t know it!
  10. They are shy and maybe a little socially awkward and believe “no one likes them” – no amount of convincing or bribery can get these children to participate.
  11. They don’t sleep or can’t fall asleep easily

 

So, how do we support these wee ones without losing our marbles along the way?

 

First, acknowledge that their sensitivities are just part of who they are – embracing their differences can go along way to support self-esteem and self-worth.

 

Stick to routines whenever possible – including you parents. EVERY child needs routine and for the sensitive child, structure in their routine can help eliminate worry, stress and anxiety.

 

Allow them to make choices that support them – ask them if they know what they need to best support their needs.

 

Provide them with “their” outlets; if they enjoy climbing trees, let them climb trees, if they love to read or look at books, let them. If they like to chat with their invisible buddies, let them. They need space to do what best supports them, mind, body and spirit and kids need their down time too!

 

The most important thing we can do is to offer our children a calm, loving home environment where they are free to speak while their parents listen. We must remember that we are modeling our behaviours to our little ones so, the more calm and relaxed we are around our sensitive children the more calm they are. A solid, supportive foundation at home ensures a child can navigate life with greater confidence despite their sensitivities. *originally published online in 2013

 

Not In My Neighbourhood!

“Not In My Neighbourhood!” Helping Families Deal with Traumatic Events*

Our daily news is often fraught with unspeakable events that appear to be more and more violent and toward those that are the most vulnerable – our children. As these events hit closer and closer to home, the more we are bombarded with images, news footage and discussions on social media. As adults, we are able to process these events from a cognitive standpoint despite their devastating outcomes. When our children witness these images, see the news footage or overhear discussions, without the same cognitive development as adults, it can be quite devastating.

How do we protect our children from these random acts of violence that are so prevalent in our daily lives? How do we not allow our fears to impact our children? I clearly recall a couple of incidents within my community including 9 -11 and the possible release of a sex offender into our school district that absolutely impacted me personally. I was baffled insofar as what to share with my young children. I wanted to protect them and alleviate their fears while keeping my own fears from impacting them. I can’t imagine how recent events that were acts involving very young children have impacted today’s families.

 

What is abundantly clear is that during any time of catastrophic event, parents and their children need the support of their community. One of the things that I strive to do within my Family Coaching Practice is to continually build my support network of experts that can help my families with such events. Here is a list of recommendations that I believe are the foundation of support:

 

  1. Protect yourself as parent first and foremost. You’ve heard the old adage “put your oxygen mask on first” if a plane is going to crash. Parents need to find their support network through their work peers, friends, or other parents. If parents still find the situation unbearable, it might be worth a visit to your family doctor to find a mental health professional to support you through the trauma. Trauma whether direct or indirect can have detrimental affects on certain people and sometimes we just need a little help. It is also important that the parents do not to engage in the hype or sensationalism of the event especially if it has deeply affected them.
  2. Children 0 – 6. Turn off and tune out; turn off the radio/television and tune out from social media. At this age, children are observers of life and are deeply influenced by parents, siblings, and peers. Children of this age don’t need to know all that is going; it is too much for them to grasp from a cognitive standpoint. Limit their access to these events, and encourage family time and play, which fosters development and can be very therapeutic for the entire family! If parents so desire, focus on teaching children of this age safety rules both at school and in the home that are age appropriate and fun.
  3. Children 7+. At this age, it is much harder to control what they are hearing or seeing because they spend a lot more time with their peers. It is important that you be open and honest with them when they make inquiries about the situation. If you believe your child is struggling, seek professional help for them. Your family doctor is a great place to start to get the support your child needs. At this age, you can actually invite people from within the community to visit your child’s classroom or community group such as law enforcement, fire safety professionals or even therapists or professional speakers that have been through similar situations. It is important to follow your child or teenagers lead in dealing with these types of catastrophic events.
  4. Children involved with the trauma. If children have been through the traumatic situation themselves, it is imperative that as parents we take full advantage of any of the support programs that are available to that child, parent or sibling. If a program or support initiative is not provided, you can contact your local School Board, Police Department, Children’s Services, Parenting Support group or local church or community group who can assist in getting the right people to start this type of program. The bottom line is, we all want the same thing – happy and healthy parents and children. * originally published online in 2013

Alleviating Back To School Worries, Fears or Anxiety – For Kids

Just for you Kids!!!
Here is the video for Transitioning Back To School for Kids!! Look for Jasmine, my feline office assistant who made her first cameo appearance.

Alleviating Back To School Anxiety – For Parents!

Okay Parental Units … here’s is the video to support those of you with anxious or worried Kiddo Kittens! p.s. Jasmine is making her second cameo in this video too!!

Courtyard by Marriott Niagara Falls Girls Getaway

Spring for me is one of the busiest times for me as I am splitting my time between Opti-Mom and working with all my kiddos and their families as well as putting together the Simply Blossoming Women’s Retreat.

The Universe must have heard me asking (okay maybe it was more like begging) for some time away because in early January, the most beautiful surprise arrived in my inbox; an e-mail from Tricia, Marketing Director of the Courtyard by Marriott Niagara Falls stating the following: “Happy New Year! In celebration of a brand new year, we’d like to invite you to get wonderstruck at the newly renovated Courtyard by Marriott Niagara Falls. Your wonder-cation includes: complimentary accommodations, breakfast buffet, a $40 dinner voucher for The Keg Steakhouse & Bar and WEGO shuttle passes to local attractions and casinos.” A wee escape from all my hard work?? YES PLEASE!!!

I invited my Simply Blossoming business partner, Cathy  and off we headed to Niagara in April. First stop? Chateau Des Charmes Winery to pick some of their especially delicious pink bubbly as well as to stock up on some of their fab wines. The best part about Chateau Des Charmes? Getting giant hugs from Michele Bosc and chatting about what’s new at the winery. photo 1

We were warmly welcomed by the front desk staff whom even personally welcomed me. Yep, Cathy had to get a picture of that for me and yes I was giggling and snorting!!

We had a FAB dinner at the Keg using our generous gift certificate. Dinner was delicious and our server awesome and I think we even made him giggle and snort as well – see the theme here ….

photo 2

We used our WEGO pass to visit the casino which is perfect if you want to enjoy a few cocktails on your Girls Getaway. And no, there aren’t any photos of our time spent there …. ;) We wanted to thank both Tricia and Ryan of the Courtyard by Marriott at Niagara Falls for giving us this time to refresh and rejuvenate!! We would HIGHLY recommend a visit as it ‘s perfect for both family, couple AND girls getaways!!

xoxo Laurel (and Cathy)

“When EVERYTHING Happens At Once”

The past two weeks have been especially challenging in our home. Actually things have been a bit crazy since October personally and professionally. You never know what life is going to hurl/chuck/fling at you. I’m a pretty good “go with the flow” kind of person but this week has certainly gotten the better of me. Coincidently, one of my colleagues has been going through a similar situation. As I sat having coffee with my colleague yesterday, I asked her how in the h-e-double hockey sticks she was not losing her poo. She said quite matter of fact, “I stay only in the present and focus on the moment”. “For example”, she went on, “I am completely focused on you and I sitting her chatting over a glass of water”.

Later that day, with her heads resonating in my mind, I was working with a young, brilliant, beautiful client of mine. She and I had previous discussions about living in the moment and staying present (she’s 10). I showed her how to focus on an object and really pay attention to that object allowing her super bright, super busy brain to stop and be present in that moment of our conversation. She was SO excited to try it at school today and I will be getting a full report next week so stay posted!

So, when everything appears to be happening at once and you find yourself losing your mind, here are a few suggestions from my brain to yours.

1. Get lost! I mean get away from the situation – drive, run, walk whatever to get away from that which is happening around you.
2. Do something that best supports you! I went for a walk in the woods to visit one of my favourite places just to breathe.
3. Hang out with happy, supportive people that want to hang out simply because you are you.
4. Play! Play games, climb trees, read, do whatever makes you happy.
5. Stay healthy – exercise and eat right.

Remember that kids get overwhelmed too and it’s important for them to take time out too

“Mommy, I See Ghosts” – Part One – My Story

Today is #BellLetsTalk Day in support of mental health awareness which compelled me to write about the topic of wee one’s experiencing thoughts, feelings and visions of things that do not appear to be “there” by others. THIS topic is SO near and dear to my heart and is one that strikes fear in many people that can’t see, feel, or hear that which appears to be non-existent to an “outsider”.

As a child between the ages of 2 and 4 residing in the sleepy little town of Niagara Falls, Canada, I had many conversations with my 2 visitors whom I nicknamed Bumper Jack and Ginger Ale. Wearing soldier uniforms my friends came to check in on how I was doing. They told me they loved me and they were there to take care of me. They only appeared to me outside and when no one else was present. To me, they were just part of my every day life.  My mother was calm and matter of fact about these presences visiting me and didn’t appear to be outwardly frightened.

I told very few people about my experiences growing up with the exception of a select few of my closest friends and family because of the mental health stigmas associated with these experiences. Little did I know that one day through a chance opportunity presented by another highly intuitive friend that I would have my experiences validated. In that one, single, solitary moment my intuitive friend through a channelled reading (of which I had shared with her minute details about “my soldiers”), repeated back verbatim the messages delivered to me when I was age 2. She described their behaviours, mannerisms and military dress. I wept profusely knowing I had “always been right” and that it wasn’t just an “imaginative child” dreaming up these experiences. For in that precise moment, I knew I had always been telling the truth, my truth and that it didn’t matter what anyone else believed or thought. And as I travel along life’s path, complete strangers have come to me and asked if I’m aware of the 2 soldiers that stand next to me. I simply smile and say, “ I know, they’re my childhood Friends”.

“To B FF or Not To B FF – That is THE Question!”

I am yet again inspired to write this blog post after a private conversation ensued on Facebook about the coveted, childhood “Best Friend” sought after by many school aged children. Here is my 12.5 cents worth (yep inflation) on how to navigate your child through the whole best friend forever situation.

Positive social interactions are a wonderful influence on the growth and development of children. Establishing a core group of childhood friends can help foster self-esteem and connectivity to peers – a place for discussion and dialogue and sense of belonging in later developmental years.  All parents want their child to feel secure and many encourage their child to develop a core group of friends.  Out of this core group of friends, the “the best friend” situation may develop – the person your child can’t live without, the child your kiddo does “everything” with, they live at each others’ homes and they are stuck together like glue, they share each others secrets and desires. What could possibly go wrong …..

Ah yes … what COULD possibly go wrong went wrong in my childhood causing extreme sorrow and loss. What happens when the BFF becomes BFF’s with someone else replacing your child, potentially sharing all those worldly secrets and desires to their new BFF ?? How do we help our child bounce back from the grief, anger and sometimes depressed feeling of losing one’s BFF? Here are a few tips:

  1. Encourage your child to build friendships from many different social circles – neighbourhood kids, school friends and extra-curricular activity buddies so there are many support networks instead of one single solitary BFF.
  2. Let your child make decisions on who they want to be friends with. Unless you suspect that your child has chosen “Jack the Ripper” as their new BFF don’t interfere and allow your children to choose the “right” friendships on their own.
  3. Don’t force your child to become your BFF’s child’s BFF. Your BFF is your BFF based on YOUR criteria of what you want in a BFF.
  4. Modelling appropriate socialization with your circles of friends helps your children with their socialization and friend selection skills as well as know it’s okay to have SEVERAL core groups of friendships.
  5. If a BFF relationship “falls apart” don’t get emotionally involved (i.e. call the other parent and demand to know what’s what, call the children’s teacher and ask them to “fix it”) – children will search for and find new friends on their own ESPECIALLY if they have several social circles. Simply be an amazing listener.  Give them appropriate coping strategies to allow the emotions of loss to flow – journaling, riding a bike, running, whatever it takes to get the feelings out.

“Are You Using “But” Language With Your Kids?”

I was inspired to write this blog post today after receiving an e-mail that set my mind “a-thinkin’”. SO often I hear parents, coaches and teachers praise the children they are connected to and then finish off the praise with “BUT we’d like him to …” or “HOWEVER we’d feel better if she ….”.

Nothing sets my nostrils a flarin’ quite like “but” language. Words have SUCH powerful energies attached to them ESPECIALLY if you have a sensitive Kiddo Kitten at home or in your class.

Now I am not recommending that you need to stop supporting your children with the areas that require attention for improvement, what I am recommending is that you separate the comments and the situations. Children can become confused or tune out if the praise and recommendation for improvement get plopped into statement or situation. 

My tip? Inquire of the child how they thought they did and what areas for improvement they could recommend. Amazingly, kids often know what they need to best support them in that situation and in fact, they are often much more of a critic of their output than the adults. Gently guide them down path of self-reflection while building self-esteem and self-worth. You will be amazed at the results!!

Xoxo

Auntie Laurel