Is Your Child More Anxious and Worried Since the Election?

During the election season, many of our children experienced a tremendous amount of stress and worry about who would win the Presidency.  It became especially apparent to me the night of the election. My daughters had invited a bunch of friends over to watch the election results.  As it became more clear from the news that Donald Trump might win, my younger daughter and her friends, who are all about 14 years old, looked at me with tears in their eyes and asked, “Allison, are we going to die?”

I was certainly not happy that Donald Trump might become President, but I wondered why they were reacting so acutely to the news.  “Why do you think that?” I asked. One after the other, they gave me their reasons why.  One child said, “My mom said if Donald Trump wins we will all be doomed.” Another girl said, “My dad said Donald Trump is incompetent and can’t run this country.” My daughter said, “Mom, I heard you ask dad ‘Do you want Donald Trump’s finger on the button?” I realized at that moment that a key reason they were so upset was because of the conversations many of us were having in front of our children about Donald Trump becoming President.  Interestingly, some of my friends who voted for Donald Trump also admitted to having had very little filter when they were having conversations about Hilary Clinton in front of their children.

As I looked at the fearful faces of these young girls, all I could do was imagine how worried and anxiety-ridden I would be if I were a 14-year-old child hearing from my parents that the world was not safe if a particular person became President. With much less life experience, our children view these comments as Continue reading…

A Survival Guide For Uncertain Times Week #3: Give up Positive Thinking

American optimism and positive economic sentiment in the United States of America as a national government hope metaphor as a wiper clearing the gray dark wet clouds with 3D illustration elements.

It is the end of week three of Donald Trump’s presidential term, and this week my Survival Guide will address the pitfalls of positive thinking. I have spoken to many people who didn’t vote for Donald Trump and are now struggling with his daily tweets, executive orders and Cabinet appointments. I find that many of the people I spoke to are either completely negative about Trump’s Presidency or are trying to stay positive and failing miserably.

When you are completely comfortable with uncertainty, a positive outlook comes naturally. You are not rattled by new events or tweets and can sustain faith that life will work out one way or another. It doesn’t mean you are not concerned or active in your community, you just tend not to worry so much about the future. Most people, though, have some degree of fear of the unknown, and turn either to negative or to positive thinking to help themselves feel certain, while deep down they are really afraid. The problem is that the certainty we seek doesn’t exist. The more we try to lock into any perspective, the more pain and chaos we feel.

A person feeling negativity towards the Trump administration will feel pain most of the time because they are always projecting that whatever is occurring today cannot get better or that bad things are sure to happen in the future. The person Continue reading…

Six Tips to Help Reduce Our Children’s Stress During the School Year

young mother praising daughter doing homework at desk

As our children are heading back to school, they may already appear a little more stressed.   Children that are in middle school and high school know that in the near future they will have hours of homework, papers and tests. If your children are in high school, they may already be dealing with college applications or SAT and ACT prep.  Many of our children will also be participating in sports, drama, science teams, newspaper and other extra curricular activity. The minute these demands fall upon our children they can become irritable, sleep less and you may notice things getting out of whack with family life at home. There is certainly a lot to explore regarding whether our children are being overworked and whether school homework policies should be examined. But what can we do for our children right now and during the rest of the school year to help them be less stressed and worried? The following are some helpful tips that won’t take all the work away, but will at least help our kids relax more, release some stress and stay focused and get their work done.

1. Give your child some Maybe Statements. Sometimes when our children get stressed it is because they feel stuck or things are not going their way. They don’t realize in the moment that life will always change again and their future is not doomed if some things at school are difficult or not working out the way they would like. Remind them that as bad as things may look or feel, there is always the possibility that Maybe what is happening will turn out to be good, Maybe things will get better, or Maybe they can accept what is happening and still be OK. Thoughts of Maybe will help your child to return to the present more peacefully and get their work done with less stress and worry. Tailor a variety of Maybe statements to your child’s situation: “Even though Math was difficult last year, Maybe this year things will improve”; “Maybe I will make some new friends this school year”; “Maybe some new ideas will come to me and I can finish my college applications”; or “Maybe everything is okay regardless of all my worries.” Help your children create a habit of keeping Maybe statements close at hand so they will be prepared when stress and worry arise.

Continue reading…

Some Of Us Think Holding On Makes Us Strong: But Sometimes It is Letting Go

heart balloon

A few weeks ago, I took my children to school in the morning and I thought this will be a quiet day and I can write and really get a lot done. At about 8:50 the nurse from school called . I was in a meeting so I missed the call. I called her back within the hour and it turned out my younger daughter had a stomachache, but she had gone back to class. As the morning moved on and I didn’t hear again from the nurse, I breathed into the moment and thought now I can have some peace today. Then at 11:00am I started getting texts from my older daughter that her head hurt and she was nauseated and dizzy. The texts continued until I met her at school and gave her some food and headache medication. By 1:30 that afternoon I was back home again. My younger daughter had an after-school activity but I needed to check on her because she was not well earlier. Sure enough, when I picked her up her stomach hurt too much to go to the after-school activity. At 4:00pm my older daughter arrived home with more symptoms. That day I had worked less than I had in a really long time.

Years ago I would have agonized so much because of how that day, for which I had so much hope, turned out. I would have told myself the story that “this should not be happening” or whined that “my day was ruined.” I would have continuously tried to get back to the day I had planned. Then one day I read the following quote.

Timeline_Cover_doNotRename92

I took a deep breath in and asked myself, what was I achieving by hanging on to plans that had gone awry? It caused me so much pain to resist what was happening. It was like punching a brick wall;  I could never break the brick but I would sure injure myself. Likewise, I cannot change reality by insisting it should be different.

So these days I just try to let go when the unexpected happens. Sometimes I even say to myself “of course, this was always the plan” and smile. I use whatever mantra works in the moment to help me let go of what might have been so I have room to embrace whatever I am experiencing. Sometimes I even say out loud, “my heart is open to this moment.”  It doesn’t change the fact that I am unhappy when my children are suffering, but when I’m not resisting I am not in so much pain. I find I’m also more present for my children and others around me. I accept that there is nowhere else to be but where I am and nothing else to do but care for the ones in front of me. Everything else will have to wait until circumstances are ripe to move forward. I even realize that MAYBE this is what I was meant to do that day. And I feel strong and focused with my realization that being in this moment is my best contribution to the world and to others around me.

So the next time your plans go awry at work or with your children, try the mantra, “of course, this was always the plan” to let go of attachment and expectations with a smile or use the mantra “my heart is open to this moment.” See if letting go gives you strength and direction when you need it most.

And don’t forget the moment always will pass and MAYBE before you know it you’ll have time and space again to get back to your plans!  Just Maybe!