Love isn't enough

ING_33594_231343.jpg

When Sofia was only 4 years old, it began. Her bedtime ritual, which had previously been a pleasant hour with Mom and Dad, suddenly became stressful and exhausting. All at once Sophia began to react violently and throw tantrums to avoid being tucked into bed.

Evenings were full of screaming and yelling and frustrations. It was exhausting, not just for Sophia, but also for the rest of the family. Her loving and devoted parents tried various strategies they found in books and online, but nothing helped.

Instead, Sophia’s condition worsened as time went by. When her mother took some time off to go shopping, exercise, or meet with friends, Sophia sobbed her heart out. It all came to a head when the family received a telephone call from Sophia’s teacher saying she had hit one of the other girls in school. Not just hit her, but screamed right in her face.

The family felt powerless because they simply couldn’t understand the source of Sophia’s unreasonable behavior. It hurt them deeply to know that the daughter they loved was suffering so badly at some level.

Anxiety is common

But Sophia wasn’t alone. A full 3 percent of children in the U.S. aged three to 17 have been identified as having suffered from anxiety, and a National Survey of Children’s Health showed that 1 out of 7 U.S. children aged 2 to 8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder (MBDD). Stress among children is estimated to have increased 45 percent over the past 30 years in Canada. You can read more about stress in America here.

Our children live in a performance society, where they are constantly being told that they must be the best version of themselves and that only the best is good enough. It’s a part of our culture, and many of us parents tend to believe that busy days and high expectations are needed to help our kids reach their potential.

But there’s another factor that’s creating turmoil, insecurity, and stress in our small angels’ lives: It’s everything we don’t have control over; all the impressions and inputs our children take in every day.

Children are exposed to a lot of unnecessary things. Social media and access to sometimes disturbing knowledge and facts are no longer limited to adults. Our children have access, too. Children hear and understand far more than we know and this makes them afraid and insecure. Terror, war, conflicts and all of the worlds’ frightening messages reach our children without us realizing, and without them being able to put it all in context.

These external influences plant small seeds of fear in our children.

 

Read the full article here

How to talk to children about terror

There are so many horrible things happening in the world every day. Mass shooting in California, Texas or Orlando, terrorism in France, Syria and as last night in Manchester – no matter where, we are all impacted. Our fear is real – it is getting closer and that´s scary! If it´s scary to us – imagine how do our children feel?

Sometimes we feel better ignoring the truth

Because of our increasing fear, and because it´s too difficult handle our children's scared feelings too, we often ignore or even try to pretend that everything is just normal and fine, instead of talking to them about what´s really going on – those of us who are not psychically impacted. We want to spare them of too many scary thoughts, and that´s understandable but not always the best way to deal with what is actually happening.

Children have “big” ears

Children often hear us talk about tragic events - somehow when we don´t think they are listening. If they wont hear it from us, they will hear it from one of their classmates in school, from media, from the lady in the supermarket or at a friend´s home. They will know something!

We can´t always know how much they do understand though, but the fact that they will pick up maybe small pieces must lead us to find out.

Bad things will happen

My youngest child asked me this morning after the horrifying terror attack in Manchester: “Will all this terrible and scary around us ever end?” I could only reply by saying “no”. “There will always be bad and sick people, no matter where you go. We can´t let fear stop us live our life, but we can learn to manage our fear and anxiety by looking at it and talking about it” – when feeling safe and secure.

How to do:

1. Find out what your children know and also what they think about what has happen. Help them put words on their thoughts. Use open questions.

2. It is important allowing them to talk about what has happened freely and without you putting too many of your own thoughts into the conversation. Listen to what they are concerned about and let them tell.

3. Answer the questions, which your children ask. Don´t tell too many details and alarming stories about what you have heard. This will tell you a lot about your children´s perception level. They will continue asking, if there´s more on their mind.

4. It is important that we can accommodate the feelings associated with the experience. If we can't, how can we teach our children to do so.

Stay realistic optimistic. It is ok to feel afraid. Say that the world is big and there´s nothing to be afraid of where you are. Our adult fear we should keep to ourselves.

5. If you find it difficult to open up the conversation, let your children draw whatever they are thinking about related to what happened. It is a fantastic way to connect and talk about something third as it is not as direct and confronting as sitting across to each other and having “a talk.”

6. Show mercy and hope. As parents we have a big responsibility because we are the primary example of empathy and must practice being empathic ourselves. This can be done with our use of language, our behavior and actions. Children will constantly be focused on us and therefore what they experience in their home will be crucial for their empathy development and the way they interact with other people in the future.

7. No matter what – always remember that life can be seen very different depending on from which side you look. No one is born evil or bad. It is the behavior which we don´t like, not necessarily the person behind.  Put it in perspective by saying that most places is doing fine, and that the world is a big place. This happened in a tiny place far away from where you are.

 

When we feel vulnerable it rather draws us closer to others or pushes us away. Being tuned into children´s vulnerability helps them regulate their nervous system and gives them the opportunity to stay ok in this, often, very chaotic world. As a psychotherapist with many years of working in the field, I know that being aware of helping children to conceptualize their feelings, either by talking, drawing or something third – we allow them to be in touch with their own feelings and that’s paramount for their personal development.

We can teach them (and ourselves), not to be afraid of the whole range of emotions, confronting whatever we feel and still continue living – even though we are afraid sometimes.

 

 

The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl

When I grew up I loved coming at my grandparents place. Often it was only my grandmother and me having some hygge moments together, because my granddad worked and travelled a lot as a professor at the University. Without saying, I know she appreciated my company – she wasn´t alone and we were just in the moment together. I loved her and very often we sat on the couch, me leaning up at her, while she over and over again read fairytales from Hans Christian Andersen for me.  She always, out of many, suggested reading “The Little Match Girl”, which I loved dearly.

There was no doubt literature did something to my grandmother, it gave her comfort and a way to get away. I´m sure she saw herself in The Little Match Girl, who felt lonely and had to go through so much all by herself, even though I didn´t know at that time. It didn´t end happily, but for me it ended the best way. It was so sad and beautiful at the same time. Like her! 

Here you go:

Read More

When children's loneliness turns into a fantasy world

When children's loneliness turns into a fantasy world

I know that all parents want the best for their kids. We all do. And I know that we raise our children in accordance to what we believe is the right way, but sometimes we also know that it isn't enough. We need some kind of inner guidance we can rely on. Something that will make us feel confident that we are doing things the right way.

Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with a young girl.....

Read More

Why “hygge” is so important and helps reduces stress

Why “hygge” is so important and helps reduces stress

The Danish word “hygge” is a big part of why Denmark has been voted as one of the happiest countries in the world for over 40 years in a row.

Being in a social group is a very big part of being Danish. Danes like to find ways to work together and support each other in social groups.

The word “hygge” (pronounced hooga) dates back to the 19th century. It is derived from the Germanic word “hyggja”, which means to think or feel satisfied. Because Danes see “hygge” as a way of life, we all try to make it happen. That is, a cozy time together with family and friends. Feeling connected to others gives meaning and purpose to all of our lives and this is why Danes value hygge so highly. The individual is prized absolutely but without the interaction and support of others we don’t think we can be truly happy as a whole person.

Read More