Monthly Archives: May 2016

trust

Why trusting your children helps them become trustworthy

When a parent tells me her child isn’t trustworthy, I ask her: “What does your child have to do for you to trust him?”

Often the answer is, “I can’t trust him until he earns my trust.”

It’s understandable that a parent feels afraid to trust a child who has disappointed her in the past.  At the same time, treating a child with distrust (even nonverbally) isn’t a good recipe for raising a trustworthy child!

Recently my ds17 went to the army for his mandatory initial check-in.  This is comprised of academic testing, a physical and testing for psychological stability.  To determine how he gets along with people, they began with questions about his relationships with his parents.

“What happens when you want to do something and your parents don’t let you do it?”  

Not wanting to sound like a goody goody, he tried to come up with an example but he couldn’t think of a time that had happened.  When he was pressed for an answer he still couldn’t think of an example, so they told him to make up something.  :)

When he later told me about this, he asked me if I remembered a time in the last couple of years that I didn’t let him do something he wanted to do.  I also came up blank.  Is that because I’m a permissive parent and I let him do what he wants?

Hardly.

It’s about trust.

trust

Here’s our informal process for discussing a request.  He lets me know there’s something he wants to do or somewhere he wants to go.  I listen to what that is.  Then I ask questions to clarify.  If there’s something I’m uncomfortable with, I let him know that overall it sounds fine but I’d be more comfortable if xyz were taken into account. He takes into account my feedback and acts accordingly.

I don’t have to control him.  I don’t need to assert my will.  I respect him as a mature and responsible person and communicate with him accordingly.  I presume in every interaction that he’s trustworthy.  And he really is.

How does a child become trustworthy?  And when do you begin to trust him?

Not by making him jump over or through your ‘trust’ hoop a certain amount of times.  (You know what I’m talking about. Some of you have been doing this for years with your spouse, too!)

Instead, you give your child the message that you trust them.  Then you give them opportunities to make independent choices.  After they’ve made their choices, let them know what you appreciate about how they handled that opportunity.  This starts at a young age and the choices get bigger as they get older.

As they get older, let them go somewhere by themselves.  Maybe it’s the neighbor across the hall to return a bag of sugar, the park next door.  Let them do some shopping for you.  Give them a list and rather than specify what brand of the item, tell them to get the one that he thinks is the best buy.

Sure, sometimes they make mistakes.    Maybe you sent him to the store for bread and milk, and he used part of the change for a chocolate bar.  Should you accuse him of stealing, or tell him that now you don’t feel you can trust him?  Or  that you won’t let him go to the store for you again unless you’re with him or until he shows he can be trusted?

No.  You’re hurting both you and your child in the short and long term with a response like that.

Have you ever had someone who didn’t trust you?  Even when you tried your best, they refused to notice your efforts and continued to fixate on and inflate your failings.

How did that make you feel?  Like trying harder?  Or did you give up, knowing that whatever you did wouldn’t be enough?

Maybe you did try again and again.  Are there people whose approval and trust you’re still trying to win, even after decades of unsuccessfully trying?

When you give your children the message, either verbally or through body language, that you don’t trust them, you don’t give them something to live up to.  Don’t ever tell your child: ‘I can’t trust you’.  Or, ‘I’ll trust you when you earn my trust’.  You might feel this way, but this doesn’t give a child any incentive to try harder and do better.

Our children reflect our thoughts and feelings about them.  Show them you believe in them, that you think they’re responsible, hardworking, trustworthy, able to make decisions – and then give them the opportunity to prove you right!

believe

They are going to make mistakes – it’s all part of the process.  When your child makes a mistake, give him the benefit of the doubt.  And give him another chance, perhaps with clearer expression of your expectations or boundaries.  Pay attention to the ways your child is trying to please you and let him know you notice his efforts.  Don’t let his successes be crowded out by bigger irritations and frustrations.

Our children are a reflection of the way we think about them.  Let’s remember that power and use it wisely!

Avivah

Sea of galilee

Nurturing myself by nurturing my marriage – my trip to Tiberias with dh

Dh is having a significant birthday in a week, and we decided to celebrate by spending the weekend in Tiberias – without our children!

The last time we did this was over ten years ago, and it was wonderful, amazing, renewing – something everyone should do when their stage of life allows for it. Couple time is so critical. There’s a reason you married your spouse!

It’s easy to forget what brought you together when you’re caught up in the busyness of life and you feel like two ships passing in the night or partnering business associates checking in about the tasks of the day.  Creating time to recharge and  reconnect allows you to renew and deepen your appreciation of one another.

And getting out of the house completely changes the energy.  I enjoy being at home and spending time with dh, but the dishes and laundry and kids are all still there and even when I create physical space to speak with dh without interruption, in my mind it’s hard to put everything to the side.

lake of galileeOur trip to Tiberias definitely was getting away!  The trip by bus was about 5 hours each direction.  The hotel we stayed at had a stunning view from high above the Sea of Galilee and we both agreed that just being able to sit quietly with the palm trees blowing, the birds chirping and the inspiring view was enough of a reason to have made the trip.  It was literally that centering.

But we also enjoyed the  food (that we didn’t have to prepare and clean up from) and the restful hotel environment, which is so different from home.  Conversations that weren’t interrupted ten times with various children going in and out, time to nap and read and talk about what we were reading and just be present in the moment-  it was wonderful.

We both agreed that this is something that we would like to begin to make a yearly event instead of waiting for a special occasion!

If you’re wondering who was holding down the fort, it was dd19, ds17, dd15 and ds13. They celebrated ds7’s birthday while we were gone and the kids all told us they had a great Shabbos with dd19 and ds17 in charge.

Years ago I resisted going away, feeling I couldn’t leave young children without me.  And in fact, I don’t take these trips away when I have very young children.  But we mothers can always find something to feel guilty about!  When we leave the house for our ‘couple time’ (and this includes our weekly date nights), I also leave behind any guilt!  Really, what is better for children than growing up in a home where their parents consciously take time to nurture their relationship?

Avivah

apraxia

Gemiini – an amazing resource for kids with communication or speech delays

Since I like to try things out before recommending it to you, this post has been a looong time in coming!

My three year old has a speech processing delay called apraxia.  Apraxia in simple terms apraxiameans that although the child knows what he wants to say and understands everything, the message gets scrambled somewhere in transmission between the brain and mouth.

This means that a child with apraxia has to work much, much harder to speak and it takes much longer.  I suspected ds3 had apraxia when he was 18 months, but the speech therapist told me he didn’t.  At his 2 year old speech assessment, I received a letter in the mail a few weeks after our in-person meeting and discussion (when nothing was mentioned to me) and it was only then that I saw he had been officially diagnosed with apraxia.

Based on what I had learned about apraxia I knew that weekly speech therapy was likely be inadequate to help ds3 learn to speak well.  So when two or three months later in December 2104 later I learned about Gemiini, I was cautiously hopeful.

Gemiini is a video modeling program designed to help children with autism that was getting breakthrough results.  What was exciting to me was that someone on a  Down syndrome group shared that she had started using it a month before with her child with T21 who didn’t have autism and was seeing significant improvements.

I took a month to look into it before signing up, and began using Gemiini with Yirmiyahu in Jan. 2015.  We’ve been using it since then on a regular basis.  I’ve been meaning to write about it for quite some time, but now that I just re-registered for a new subscription figured I shouldn’t keep you in the dark any longer!

Gemiini has a huge video library of words, phrases, social situations, etc that your child can watch repeatedly.  This is really important for a child with a speech delay or social delay, as it gives them the opportunity to see what the word means, how it’s used and there’s as much repetition as your child needs.  It’s incredible to me how many aspects there are to this program (eg learning to read) and how many ways it can be used, in different situations and at different levels ranging from beginner to advanced, for people of all ages.

When we began Gemiini, Yirmi had almost no sounds.  His sign language and ability to act out what he wants to tell us is excellent – someone in the park said a few days ago she’s never seen such a young child able to so clearly communicate without speaking – but spoken speech is obviously important.  Soon after we began using Gemiini, I saw him moving his lips as he watched the videos, trying to copy the word he was watching.  Since then he’s begun saying simple one syllable words and word approximations, which is very exciting.

Generally screen time should be limited or even avoided for young children, but since Gemiini is actually helping to heal the brain, it doesn’t have the negative concerns associated with screen time.  I use Gemiini with Yirmi for up to an hour a day, up to six days a week.

I spoke with a blog reader a year ago and mentioned we were using this program. She told me of a friend with a child with Trisomy 21 who was nine years old and nonverbal, and asked if the mother could contact me.  That person did call me and I told her about this program. Two weeks after starting Gemiini she called me back , and with emotion told me her daughter – who they assumed was unable to speak – had begun to talk.

Gemiini is a company with a huge heart and sense of mission.  It began with a mother of a large family being told her three year old twins were autistic and that one was beyond help (they’re now about 19 and in college).  She spent endless hours researching a way to help her own children and this video modeling approach now helps many, many children.

The program is a paid monthly subscription, with an option to try it out for a month and even have a free 20 minute consultation with one of their representatives to discuss how to use the program for best results for their child’s specific needs. They don’t want children to be denied this help because of financial constraints and finances and as such offer scholarships to make the program accessible to everyone.

In the word of speech therapy, this program is a huge advance and for me and many other parents, offers tremendous hope. It can be used in conjunction with a speech therapist or as a stand-alone program.  (In case you’re wondering, I don’t receive any compensation or benefits by mentioning this.)

The website is Gemiini.org and you can get more information there!

Avivah

Leadership Parenting classes beginning soon!

Now that vacation is over and life is getting back to its hectic norm, I’m back to supporting other people’s families!

The woman I co-led a workshop with several weeks ago is opening a women’s mind and body wellness center here in RBS next week.  I was asked to give parenting classes at the center and after seeing the wonderful space she has planned there, I’m delighted to be able to offer my classes in calming and peaceful mini-retreat environment that will enhance learning and renewal.  It’s going to be wonderful!

ProfileMy new local Leadership Parenting series will begin soon and here are the details!

Leadership Parenting is based on six foundational concepts:

Connection, compassion, courage, calm, clarity and correction.

Leadership Parenting teaches you to:

  • Trade the illusion of control for powerful parental influence.
  • Become a leader in your home.
  • Enjoy your children in a way you never have!

Raising my children has been an incredibly growth-filled experience that has enabled me to become more and have more than I ever thought was possible.  I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s really true.  And it’s from that place of gratitude and passion that I work with other parents to help them build the kind of family that will be a source of deep fulfillment for them.

When your family life isn’t flowing well, it doesn’t matter how successful you are in other areas – it drains your energy, causes you to doubt yourself and you feel resentment and stress instead of joy and purpose.

There’s a lot of conflicting information available about how to create a strong and connected family and in the earlier years of parenting I got caught up in that.  Not knowing when to be firm, when to give in, then questioning if I was being too firm or too loving.  Were my kids taking advantage of me?  Was I being responsive enough?

It took years of making mistakes (usually based on some expert’s advice) and learning from those mistakes to clarify what was working and identify the underlying principles behind the consistent positive results in our family.

That’s why I started this blog (almost ten years ago!) and do the work that I do – to help parents cut through the mental confusion so they can invest in their families in a way that will give positive results long term.  Why should you have to make all those mistakes yourself if you can avoid the potholes in your parenting journey?

For local readers, here are the details about the upcoming classes. The series will be 10 weeks long, and take place on Wednesday evenings from 8:30 – 10 pm, beginning May 18.  Location: Be Well Women’s Mind and Body Center, RBS. The series will be 350 shekels.

As always, I welcome those who are interested in getting a sense of my approach before committing to join us for the first class for free.  Contact me for details if you’d like register or connect!  avivahwerner@gmail.com.

(To non-local readers – ie, most of you! – eventually I’m going to figure out the technical stuff to make this available to you, too.  Please have patience with me and my time limitations!)

Avivah

A new family photo for Spring 2016!

Taking family photos are so fun, aren’t they?

No, not really.  It’s not easy to get everyone in our family together for a family photo.

That’s why our last family picture was in June 2015 for ds13’s bar mitzva.

June 2015

June 2015

The one before than was April 2014, less than three weeks after my face was burned.  It wasn’t an accident that I posted a small picture that I digitally resized to make it hard to see clearly how blotchy I looked!  We tried to take another one six months later but my skin tone was still so uneven in photos that I deleted every single picture.

April 2014

April 2014

This year, I insisted to my kids, we were  going to take a family photo during Pesach vacation!

I planned to do this on erev Pesach – yes, really, I thought this would be quite relaxed because everything would be done so far in advance (try not to fall off your chairs laughing!).  But I neglected to make sure that everyone in my family got a memo of my plans and some of them thought that sleeping before the seder would be a more bonding experience.

Actually, I agreed with them, and so I let them sleep.  We completely enjoyed our seder with all of our family members being well-rested and fully present.  And we took a picture  a couple of days later instead.

Unfortunately that morning ds3 woke up with a cold and he looked so miserable in almost every  picture. I’m grateful that we ended up with a couple of pictures that we like, and I’m optimistic that we can get another family photo in less than a year from now with ds3 looking like his cheerful self.

So here we are!

April 2016

April 2016 – from l – r, back row: ds8, dd21, ds22, ds17, ds13, dd15, dd19, ds10;  l -r, front row: ds6, dh, ds3, me

Avivah