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Have you heard the phrase “helicopter parent?” It describes a mother or father that ‘hovers’ around their child 24/7, overseeing every aspect of the child’s life to keep safe from every potential danger, pitfall and mishap. In theory this sounds great right? “If I am there to guide and direct every step I know my child will be okay.” However, this style of parenting is rarely realistic, or productive, as we cannot monitor their every move and in reality: life happens.

Adversity is a part of life. Those children who engage with adversity in their formative years learn how to handle it well and develop the ability to come up with strategies and solutions to overcome challenges. These are the kids that grow up to be resilient, getting right back up when life knocks them down a few pegs.

Here are some ways parents can raise resilient children:

Plant the Right Mindset

How your child sees the world, and their own potential in it, directly informs how they make decisions. Teach them a positive and empowering mindset from the beginning- a “growth mindset”. Teach them that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn what does and does not work. Validate that losing a game, or doing poorly on a test really stinks and help them focus on steps they can take to improve. Above all your kids should know that it’s not about win or lose- what really matters is the commitment and effort they put into reaching their goal.

Allow Them to Come Up With Solutions on Their Own

A child will never be able to develop their own coping strategies if someone is there every second making sure they never become hurt or disappointed. If your child is coming to you for help ask probing questions to get them thinking about how they can fix the problem. For example, “is there another way you both can play with that toy?” Communicating your belief in your children’s ability to solve their own problems with help to increase their self-esteem and belief in their own abilities. 

Let Them Take Some Risks

All parents want to keep their kids safe, but there comes a point when you’ve got to let go a bit and let them learn HOW to be safe on their own. For instance, one day your child will need to get their driver’s license. You can help that older child be a safe driver by allowing their younger self to ride their bicycle around the neighborhood. This will teach them to pay attention, look both ways, etc.

Teach Them the Right Skills

Teach your child how to navigate anxiety-producing or uneasy situations. Rather than focusing on the problematic areas of those experiences, focus on how to ensure safety or cope with them.  I work with lots of anxious kids, who have anxious parents. What I find is often the children are reacting to their parents anxieties. For example, a child who is concerned about bullying had a parent who was combing their hair and picking out their clothes in 8thgrade- because the parent was worried if the child did these tasks alone they would be bullied. This child then felt very insecure about their ability to make their own choices, keep themselves safe and how their peers perceived them. A better approach for that parent would be to teach them how to do their hair independently, encourage the child to be confident in whatever they choose to wear, praise the child on their best traits (humor, intelligence, kindness) and to discuss with their child how to handle a bully- if and when- a situation occurs.

Ensure Healthy Attachment

Children with secure attachment to their primary caregivers feel a sense of support and resilience. When a child is securely attached to their parents this serves a few functions: shapes mindset about the world and those in it (.e. the world is safe; I am loved), ensures they feel comfortable venturing on their own but equally as comfortable seeking support when needed, and these children also have greater ability to be open and honest with others about their feelings and needs. 

Seek Support When Needed

Resiliency isn’t something we are born with. It is a skill that must be instilled and molded over time. Planting these seeds now will allow for a child raised to face adversity, solve-problems, and do so with confidence and grace. Parenting is a challenge and it certainly does not come with a manual. If you need support in your parenting journey, give my office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Being a mom is hard, being a mom who strives to meet your child’s every need is taxing but well worth the effort. How do we balance meeting our children’s needs and taking care of ourselves? Being a good mom doesn’t mean neglecting yourself for the sake of your baby. What your child needs most is a happy mama who is able to be their calm and support. Self-care is really important for both you and your little one. What self-care looks like and what that means for each person is different. At Suffolk Family Therapy we provide Postpartum Therapy for moms experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Here is a list of suggestions of what you can do for self-care so afterwards, you are more ready and able to meet the needs of your little one.

  1. Support.

Support is number one because it makes taking a needed break possible. Utilizing grandparents, your partner, other family members or close friends is important.  If you have supports around you, ask for help. I know we want to do it all but sometimes even someone coming by for you to cook without the baby on you or take a shower alone will help you to feel relaxed. I struggled the first few months with leaving my son for any stretch of time but if you are comfortable, a walk outside in the park or dinner out with your partner is a good way to relax and center yourself. As I said earlier just having someone come over so you can enjoy little things like cooking, showering, or reading alone may be the bit of relaxation you need.

Understandably, this is not always possible if you have a limited support network. The phrase “it takes a village” really is true so it is important that you work on building your supports.  Finding like-minded parents that you feel comfortable leaving your child/children with can be a great source of relief.

No matter whom you leave your child with make sure they know how you want your child taken care of when you’re away. Tell them your preferences for medications. Teach them your child’s hunger cues and ways you soothe your child when he/she becomes upset. Always leave an emergency contact list.

  1. Exercise.

If possible go to the gym when your spouse is still home (before work or after). If you’re like me and that’s not possible, join a gym where you can bring your baby. I go to Fit4mom, which has the added benefit of also being a second support network of like-minded moms (at least in my location).

  1. Take a relaxing bath.

If you can’t get anyone to supervise your little ones, bring them in with you. My child loves baths. So its usually relaxation time for us both.

  1. Read.

I really love reading and always feel accomplished after I finish a good book.

  1. Take a walk!

If it’s nice out put on that baby carrier and take your baby with you. Just being outdoors is relaxing. Michael and I go on walks often. He likes to look at nature and usually is lulled to sleep while we walk. Fresh air and a change of scenery can be nice, especially in the early months where you may feel like your stuck in the house.

  1. Meditate.

Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour, meditation is a great way to relax and center yourself. I love the app Insight Timer they have all sorts of meditations and they vary in time commitments.  I also love the “sleep” feature so you can drift off to sleep and the app turns off when the meditation is finished.

  1. Color.

Seriously. I know it sounds childish to some but there are an array of adult coloring books that really are quite relaxing to do.

  1. Gratitude Journal.

Did you know studies actually show you can train your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 positive things a day? The list should be specific, not “my husband, my child, work”, but more like ” my child is healthy”, “I’m able to breastfeed”, ” my husband is supporting me in returning (or not returning) to work”. Postpartum therapy can assist you in identifying what is going right if you are feeling so anxious or hopeless you cannot think of a single thing to be grateful for.

  1. Call a friend.

If you can’t get out and you have no one able to come to you, a phone call can be a lifeline. Call someone who is supportive and willing to listen. Catching up with a friend or relative can really brighten your day.

  1. Listen to music.

Even if it’s music on while you have a spare minute to vacuum the floor. Crank up some old jams and dance around yourself. I love to sing, my dancing skills are not so great (but I will still dance like a fool), and I find singing really helps to release anxiety.

Take care of yourself. On an airplane they always tell you to put your mask on first. You need to be calm and happy to help your child be calm and happy. You’re also modeling good coping strategies for your child. They learn more from what you do, then what you say.

If you need some more help with navigating postpartum symptoms and want to begin postpartum therapy, please reach out to our office.

Sending love and light,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

Returning to school may be challenging for parents and children alike. The pandemic is still not over and many children, teens and parents have concerns about staying safe once school starts. Moreover, we are not sure what to expect as far as new rules in the school and changes to their normal school routines.   Though we cannot predict what will happen, it will be helpful to keep your child’s a home routine as normal as possible. Children may find it difficult to adjust back to their school routines after such a long break – parents may too. Here are some helpful tips to address their concerns and any possible behavioral issues:  

1. Be calm and comforting while communicating with your child.

It’s important to monitor your tone and facial expression. More than anything your child will be able to tell how your feel about these changes from these cues. If you seem worried it will only serve to heighten their anxiety. Make sure your facial expression and body positioning is relaxed; get down on your child’s level and offer comforting words.

2. Listen and Validate Feelings.

This change is going to cause a range of emotions for kids some may be excited, happy, sad, scared, angry, worried or frustrated. Whatever the emotion, let your child now you understand where they are coming from. Take into account what they may be feeling and try to see the situation from their point of view. “ I understand you are frustrated you cannot sit next to your friends at lunch that is hard and I know you have been excited to go back to school so you can spend more time with them.”   “I know understand you are worried about seeing your friends again when you have not seen them in so long. I know the first day will be hard but you are such a (funny/sweet/caring) boy/girl and I know you will reconnect with them again. Everyone has been away from their friends for a while and is probably feeling just like you.”

3. Set Limits and Boundaries.

Help your child to see the bigger picture and help them to find solutions to their concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to have big feelings but some behaviors are just not acceptable. Be sure to remain, calm, clear and assertive in limit setting.   “I know it is difficult to wake up so early again when you are so used to sleeping in late. We have to go back to school though. What can we do to make your morning routine easier for you?”   “I know you are used to staying on Xbox late but we have to get back into school routine. The Xbox needs to go off by 8 o ‘clock.”   “I see that you are upset but it is not okay to hit/bite/yell”  

What to Look Out For:

Covid-19 was a big adjustment for our kids and going back to school will be another big adjustment. Some children have a harder time expressing or stating their feelings and may display some of the following behaviors:     All of the above are normal reactions to stress. If your child is experiencing these symptoms it may be helpful to contact your school social worker, guidance counselor or find a local therapist to help them learn to cope with their stessors.   To get an idea of what changes may take place to your child’s school routine please check out CDC guidelines at the following link:

Take the first step in healing.

Remember: You are not your mental illness! Start your therapy journey today by requesting a free consultation to connect with the therapist who best fits you.
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Take the first step in healing.

Remember: You are not your mental illness! Start your therapy journey today by requesting a free consultation to connect with the therapist who best fits you.
Request a Consult
Subscribe for our Good Vibes Newsletter to join our community and stay up-to-date on our local events, workshops and groups!
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© 2023 Suffolk Family Therapy. Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, PC License and State: 087409 New York.
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