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

Manage your expectations…


  I often say to my clients, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” It’s so true.  Often, we hope that people will behave differently than in the past, but we forget that it’s very unlikely and we become disappointed and frustrated.  The best thing you can do is to MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTICALLY based upon people’s past behavior. If you expect something different, then you are the fool.  If you put this into practice you will find that you will be disappointed by people a lot less often.

This is a very common way that I see people set others up for failure in relationships.  When our expectations are unrealistic, we become quickly angry and disappointed and really the person is being consistent with who they always are.
Watch for this in your own relationships!
Wishing you balance,
Bette Levy Alkazian, LMFT, BCPC
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com
#parenting  #relationships
from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook 4/27/16

How are you inconsistent?

Let’s talk about being consistent. What happens when we are inconsistent with our kids? I remember when my kids were little and I would say we are leaving in 5 minutes. Then, I would talk to my friends for another 30 minutes. Then, when I was actually needing to leave, my kids didn’t listen to me and I got mad. I wonder why! Because I said we were leaving so many times before when we didn’t actually leave. Why should they believe me this time? In what ways might you be setting your kids up to fail like I did? When you say something, follow through or tell them that the plans have changed. Kids need to be able to trust our words. Please share with us here how you struggle to follow through or to be consistent with your kids.


Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting

www.BalancedParenting.com


Posted from MOMIPEDIA on Facebook

Surly kids!

Surly kids! Our kids get cranky for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are hungry, tired or just overcooked from a long day at school. Other times, our kids are overwhelmed from too much stimulation, too much homework or too many demands on them. In addition, anxiety usually shows up in kids as anger or defiance.  So, here’s the bottom line: our kids’ behavior is attempting to tell us something. It’s our job to stay out of the behavior and rather than discipline them, reflect back what you think might be going on. “I think you’ve had a long day.” Don’t take their disrespect personally and help them to become insightful about what’s triggering them for themselves. Then, in a happier moment, brainstorm some strategies for the next time. This parenting thing isn’t for the faint of heart!

Wishing you balance,

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

from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook 4-6-16

When Life Throws Us Curve Balls…

Life is filled with surprises!  I know I don’t have to tell you that. The true test of our strength and resilience is in how we manage the curve balls as they are coming at us and afterward.

The curve balls of life are not always welcomed, but I’ve learned that what is is and we have to deal with it.  We cannot curl into a ball and shut down in grief, fear or sorrow.  We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other whether we feel we can or not.  In my family, we have faced job loss, divorce, terminal illness, death, mental illness, challenges with our kids and all the rest that life throws at many of us.

This survival instinct to keep on going, no matter what, is what I worry about for our kids the most.  I see many parents insulating their kids from the sorrows of life or sugar-coating them for fear of their children’s fear or inability to cope.  Perhaps these curve balls come at us repeatedly, at times, so that we have multiple chances in which we are able to build our coping skills as well as our children’s.  Anytime we avoid an opportunity we are missing the chance to teach our kids what they will need most when they are adults and, ultimately, when we are gone.

I know…this is getting a bit depressing, but doesn’t life get that way sometimes? What are the coping skills we can use right now to counter the effects of this newsletter?

  • We can take a deep breath
  • Go straight to gratitude to remember all that is good right now
  • You could journal about this horrible woman who sent you a newsletter that sent you into a tailspin
  • You could have a good cry
  • We could choose laughter – go watch a funny movie or go to YouTube and watch a comedian perform for a few minutes (this releases happy chemicals in your brain!)
  • Go outside and look at the beauty all around you – nature is the most healing tool you have and it’s right there all the time
  • Go for a walk or a run or go to the gym – exercise releases beautiful endorphins that relieve stress and make you feel happy
  • We can sit with the truth and the sadness and trust that things won’t always feel this way (Optimism! The ultimate depression-buster!)

Look, I just gave you some great tools not only for you, but for you to teach your kids, too!  This is the antidote to sadness and depression and your kids must have these tools in their pockets for their lives as they grow.  Instead of fearing their sad feelings, remember to be grateful that they are gaining the chance to grow stronger and better able to cope with this challenging school called LIFE!

Wishing you balance,
Bette Alkazian, LMFT
www.BalancedParenting.com

from the April, 2016 Balanced Parenting Newsletter

Growing Self-Esteem in our Kids!

Self-esteem! How do we grow it in our kids? First, we give them opportunities to do things for themselves.  When we step in and “help” or take over altogether, we rob them of the chance to feel good about doing something for themselves. We have to tolerate their frustration, allow them to be uncomfortable and let them get to the “I DID IT!” Stepping in communicates to our kids that we don’t have faith in them.  We want them to have faith in themselves so we have to have faith first. Before offering assistance, ask if they’d like your help and then be sure to give them the space to try for themselves the next time. Express your confidence in them and stay out as much as possible. Listen for those times when your kids are proud of themselves and then please share with us here!

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com

From MOMIPEDIA on Facebook

Meltdowns!

Meltdowns! No one likes them and some parents feel assaulted by them when their kids are having a hard time. Here’s a new way of looking at them that will hopefully give you some more patience and understanding. Lots of kids hold themselves together all day at school – swallowing their anxiety and even holding back tears, at times.  When they see Mom or Dad, they feel safe to let it out, hence, the after-school meltdown, the after-sleepover meltdown, the after-birthday party meltdown, etc… Our kids are just releasing what they’ve been holding in all day. Make the observation for them that they need to release their big feelings from the whole day (before or after the meltdown) and give them options for the future.  For example, a game of one-on-one, a bike ride or anything physical; a good chat about what was hard about the day; a creative outlet like drawing, painting, writing… Help your kids to navigate their big feelings without taking their behavior personally.

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting
www.BalancedParenting.com

from MOMIPEDIA on Facebook

Overwhelmed?

I’m seeing a lot of “Mommy Overwhelm” in the past couple of weeks.  I never know why things come in waves in my practice, but perhaps the winds in Southern California have kicked up a bit of energy that’s making people feel disorganized, out-of-sorts and just plain ol’ “crazy”.  The best thing to do when these feelings come on is to focus on self-care. A bubble bath, a bit of meditation or yoga, or some quiet time of just being still to shift the energy inside you from what is going on around you.  Be intentional about your self care because when you’re settled, it will be easier for your kids to settle, too.  Om….

Wishing you balance,

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

from MOMIPEDIA post on Facebook