‘Tis the Season for…ANXIETY!

The beginning of the new school year is a common time for kids and parents to experience anxiety.  The parents are anxious that kids will be happy and thrive in their new grade, new school, with new friends, etc…  Kids are anxious about all of the unknowns, their new teachers, new kids, new school, new classroom, everything is new even if they went to that school last year.  For kids who experience anxiety, as a rule, it’s especially challenging.  Their anxiety that may have been a bit lower in the summer is back with a vengeance! 

Here are a few tips to help your kids and yourself deal with this very anxious time of year!

  • Manage your expectations of your kids and situations realistically
  • Make sure you are taking good care of yourself to ensure maximum patience with your kids
  • Take time away if you need it, meditate, exercise…self-care is of paramount importance, not a luxury
  • When your child is expressing anxious feelings, don’t try to reason with him/her.  Combatting logic with feelings never works!
  • Stay in a place of compassion – “I know this is hard!” “Do you need a hug?” “New things can be scary!”
  • Don’t change plans to accommodate anxiety unless absolutely necessary.  Kids have to learn that their anxiety doesn’t change the circumstance, it just takes the fun out of it.
This is a stressful time of year for parents and kids alike.  The more preparation and proactive planning there is, the happier everyone will be!!
Wishing you balance,
Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT
www.BalancedParenting.com

The Bridge to Connectedness…

I love when a theme emerges with my clients and this month’s theme has been about feeling “safe” in relationships. When we use respect with each other and truly cherish our partners’ and our kids’ strengths AND weaknesses, we make them feel SAFE with us. They feel able to be honest, able to be vulnerable without fear and able to open their hearts and share with us; this is what leads to true connectedness and intimacy in relationships.  This is what we all crave and yearn for from those we love. Look inward at how you might make your partner or kids feel “unsafe” with you and work to hold your tongue when criticism or harshness comes. Your compassion and unconditional love are your greatest bridges to true connectedness.

Wishing you balance,

Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT, BCPC
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA on Facebook 7-27-16

Respect at all times!

Respect at all times! How can we expect our kids to be respectful of us if we are not respectful of them? We don’t deserve respect just because we are the parents, we have to earn it, too, and model how to do that for our kids. Use a respectful tone of voice; choose your words and timing wisely before making a request of your child; remember that just because something is important to you, doesn’t mean it is important to your child or important to others. Remember that those with whom we live deserve as much loving respect and more as those we meet on the street.

Wishing you balance,

Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT
www.BalancedParenting.com

A Different Kind of Independence – Letting Go!

What do you fiercely hold on to that you should be letting go of? There’s been a theme in my office this week of people struggling to let go…of something.  Sometimes it’s an event in the past, or a grudge that we hold on to even if we forgot why, or a thing that holds sentimental value or none, or a story that we tell ourselves that we don’t want to challenge or question. There is much that we hold onto that drains our energy or drains our relationships or drains us financially. Independence Day can mean many different types of independence.  How about a healthy letting go of something that no longer serves us?  What do you want to let go of today?

Wishing you balance,

Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook
7-6-16

Independence Day is Every Day!

Here in the U.S. of A. we are celebrating Independence Day!  What is independence?  The dictionary defines it as freedom fromthe control, influence, support,or aid of others.  As a country, we are still figuring things out, but how are you doing within your family? Are you fostering independence in your kids?

At every age and developmental stage there are things our kids should be able to do on their own.  It’s a long road to adulthood, but shorter than it looks.  We have to begin the process early on so that once they get to the later teen years and are looking for more independence, we want them to have had a lot of practice.

  • In infancy, we need to teach our babies to play by themselves for periods of time and to fall asleep on their own.
  • As toddlers, we want them to dress themselves, feed themselves and to take on small responsibilities like putting dirty clothes in the hamper or putting their toys away. 
  • During the school-age years, we want kids to do their homework themselves, to remember their jackets at school, to help make their lunches and to help more around the house (increasing each year)
  • During the middle school years we want our tweens to be independent students (asking for help when needed, of course), to wash their own gym clothes and to take more responsibilities around the house – setting/clearing the table for dinner, folding their laundry, yard work, etc…
  • During the high school years, kids should be doing their own laundry, beginning to manage their money (with guidance), making business-type phone calls, managing their time, and many other skills that they will need once they go to college or move out of the home, so that they can navigate life without our control or aid.

Many parents struggle to encourage independence in their kids because they fear they will no longer be needed or they fear their child will fail.  The truth is, we are working to put ourselves out of a job, but not to end the relationship!  We want to love on our kids forevermore and that’s great! We just don’t want them to “need” us to get through each day.  If you do want that, you need to ask yourself why and what fulfillment is lacking in your own life.  Don’t ask your kids to fill you up – you fill yourself up and give your kids the space to make a life for themselves.

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT

www.BalancedParenting.com
4

Reacting vs. Responding

A life of raising kids is certainly filled with adventure! You never know what is going to come at you! The true test of balanced parenthood is being able to keep our heads on straight when times get challenging.  The key is to RESPOND to situations, not to REACT to them.  What’s the difference?  Sometimes, it’s simply taking a second to take a breath, let our anxious heads have a minute to settle in with the situation and then making a clear and concise decision about how to handle something rather than the typical knee-jerk reactions we are usually likely to employ.  But how do we do that when we are in the moment? The key is less in the moment than in other moments.  When we take good care of ourselves on a day to day basis – rest, exercise, healthy food, self-care, nourishing relationships, etc…we are more likely to have the internal resources to stay centered in a “knock-you-off-your-feet” moment.  What have you found works best for helping you to stay calm in those crazy moments?

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook
6-15-16

Talking to Kids About Terrorism


Terrorism and kids. What do we tell our kids about such horrible events in the news such as the Orlando shooting? Of course, only as is age-appropriate, we tell them the truth. There are people who hate and who want to destroy and do it with notoriety. It’s is heartbreaking to know that some people don’t value life in the same ways we do. We must talk about that with our kids and remind them that there are so many more good people than bad in this world. It should be a conversation that continues over time, but always remember to point out the good people who step in to help and repair the communities who are wounded. We all need to be those helpers and repairers.


Mr. Rogers said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”


Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com

Growing up and growing away…

Let’s talk about separation anxiety – not just for our kids, but for us parents, too! Every level of development brings with it a new level of separation. Birth: we cut the umbilical cord and literally separate our bodies from one another; weaning: we separate from the closeness of nursing and have to find other ways to be close and to feel connected with our babies; preschool/day care: our little ones begin to have a life separate from us and we no longer know everything they have seen or heard; grade school/middle school/high school: all bring with them new and greater levels of separation; college: our kids often move out and begin to make a life for themselves outside of our homes. These are all healthy and happy separations, but there is a level of grief that comes with each stage for parents.

My youngest daughter got her drivers’ license last week. She is a very independent spirit and I have hardly seen her in the past week. After spending lots of time together, she doesn’t need me anymore for transportation or driving practice. She is also my youngest child and I have been experiencing a deep sadness that goes with this latest developmental stage. I’m happy for her and she’s ready for this…I’m not so sure I was. I’m keeping the perspective that all is well and I know that each separation is healthy to prepare my kids to make independent lives – which I DO want for them! It’s ok if I shed a tear, too!

Please share your thoughts and personal stories, so I know I’m not alone!

Wishing you balance,

Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook 5/25/16

It’s all about optimism!

Let’s talk about optimism and faith. So many people suffer today with depression. Inherent in depression is hopelessness. We must teach our children a sense of optimism, faith that things won’t always stay the same, and a hopefulness in life and the future.  Talk to them about the impermanence of feelings and that there is always hope in the new day.  This basic knowing that, as parents, we can infuse in them with lots of repetition, can actually prevent depression in our kids later in life.

Here are a few tips:

  • Practice gratitude daily either at the dinner table or before bed;
  • point out the blessings in the challenges that happen every day;
  • remind your kids that feelings are fleeting and what makes them sad today will be only a memory tomorrow. 
Please share your tools of optimism with all of us!
Wishing you balance,
Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com
from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook

The Guile of Guilt

Today let’s talk about mommy guilt!  We have so many outside influences telling us we are falling short, less than or never enough. Our inside voices are even more cruel when we self-judge or experience shame around our parenting. Today, give yourself a break and tell yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH! We are all doing the best we can.  Take one small step to do something you’ve been wanting to do, but just haven’t. That will make you feel better that you are taking an action! Action is the best antidote to guilt and anxiety!  What do you feel guilty about most?

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA on Facebook