Posts

By Teresa Mercer, LCSW, LCAC – Feb. 18, 2020

At some point most of us have probably lost some or all of our self-control. It may have involved our emotions, shopping, eating, or even something as simple as the urge to pop bubble wrap lying around.

Losing self-control can create a lot of problems with relationships, the legal system, the workplace, health, the school system, etc. While many of us learn from these experiences, there are some who will continue to have problems.

Think about how you learned self-control. Was it modeled from your home environment, social environment, or did you just instinctively know how to obtain and maintain self-control? It’s probably a combination of all three.

This fast-paced world and its ever-changing technology raises the concern that our youth are growing up with too many conveniences and instant gratification. This leads to lack of self-control. As a school social worker, I have talked with many young people over the years that can’t manage their emotions appropriately when they do not have their cell phone or get their game systems taken away.

Self-control is required in many aspects of life. It can also be achieved through various techniques.

Of course the first way to teach children self-control is to model it. Children of any age are watching and learning from us all the time, so self-awareness and regulating your emotions and behaviors is important.

Engage in activities that require a lot of patience and determination. Think about trying yoga or meditation. Both encompass the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental self. Mindfulness techniques also teach self-control. You can practice mindfulness just about anywhere at any time, by yourself or with someone else.

Mindfulness practice involves paying attention to and focusing on the present moment – and only the activity of the present moment, such as your breathing. This can be practiced at work or in the classroom.

Some games that promote self-control are the blinking game and charades. You probably remember the blinking game from childhood.  Sit across from your child and stare into each other’s eyes. The first one to blink loses the game.

People of all ages are tempted at times to do things they are specifically instructed not to do. Charades is another game to play. The person who is doing the acting out of the word must stay in control and not blurt out the word. It’s hard to keep quiet and not get frustrated when the other players are not guessing the correct word, especially for a child/young person. This is a great way to practice self-control. Children can also learn controlled breathing by blowing bubbles slowly.

Finally, learning effective ways to manage anger and other low moods is beneficial to everyone. Teaching children to express their feelings, listening to them, being non-judgmental and respecting their feelings only increases their skills in self-control.

Remember, it’s important to model the behavior you want from your child. You can only encourage and develop effective self-control skills in your child if you are demonstrating the same skills.

By Jenna Kruse, LSW – Feb. 11, 2020

Each day after school you may ask your child, “How was your day at school?” Most parents are met with a response similar to, “It was fine.” You may continue to ask questions to try to find out what happened during the day to create this mood, but instead of sharing, your child may become frustrated and shut down.

This is a scenario that many parents know all too well. As a parent trying to engage in positive conversation with your child, it is very easy to take these short, frustrated responses personally.

The next step may be to ask your child’s teacher if they are acting out at school. When asked, the teacher may respond, “No, your child does very well all day and is very pleasant,” which leaves you even more puzzled as the parent experiencing these difficult afternoons.

Consider this: A typical day for an adult might include waking up early, getting ready for work, working all day, engaging in relationships with coworkers and family, answering questions, helping others…the list goes on and on. Students often experience the same challenges throughout the day. At school students are met with rules, expectations, and routine. They are also expected to focus intently, answer questions and make difficult decisions all day.

The difference between the adult and child, however, is the coping skills used to help face these daily demands. Most adults have positive coping skills that help them. Kids don’t always have those skills yet.

The following are simple ways parents can help their children conquer their afternoon struggles.

  1. Encouragement Over Questioning – After exerting much thought and energy, even some adults need silence after a long day of work. Children are no different. Offering a smile and an encouraging phrase such as, “I hope you had a great day” or “I’m happy to see you” instead of a string of questions helps children feel more relaxed. It is also important that parents become comfortable giving the child space and saving questions for dinner or after the child has had time to decompress from their day.
  • Brain Break – Allow your student a break between school and homework time. Students are often overstimulated from the school day. By providing students a break to color, listen to music, play outside or do a craft, they are able to relax their brain and body before they are asked to complete more work. A consistent homework routine also helps students know what is expected and decreases the chance they will argue when it is homework time.
  • Afternoon Snack – Provide your student with a healthy and nutritious snack after school. Some students eat lunch as early as 10:50 am. After exerting considerable energy all day students are often very hungry after school. Having a snack prepared helps you avoid them being “hangry” and sets you up for a more positive afternoon with your child.

By supporting your student in these ways you are fostering positive coping skills and routine, which are tools that will aid your student in their school years and beyond.