Free gifts your child really needs.

By David Joel Miller.

Being a parent is difficult, give your child what they really need.

tin box

Holiday Gift your child needs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Christmas is almost here, but then it could be any day and this principle still holds. Parents want to be good parents. Even when you are struggling you still would like to think that you are doing the best you can for your children. Many people have been out shopping the whole season trying to find the just right thing. If you could just buy them the perfect present, then that would mean you were a great parent.

Don’t try to be the perfect parent. No one has ever been both perfect and a parent. The perfect gift will not mean you have arrived as a parent. Work on being a good enough parent. The really important gifts you will give your children are ideas and values not physical things. Concentrate on the gifts that will last a life time.

Here is my list of wonderful gifts you can give your children which cost nothing in terms of dollars.

The gift of love.

Make sure you give your child the gift of feeling loved.  Teach them how to love themselves and love others.  Don’t make your love conditional on anything they need to say, be or do.

Acceptance.

Make sure your children know that you accept them.  Let them know they are worthwhile just the way they are.  Don’t insist that they be stronger, faster, or smarter, in order to win your approval.

Personal Boundaries.

Teach your children to have and to respect boundaries.  A cardinal rule of parenting is that parents need to be parents and they need to allow their children to be children.  Don’t try to make your children into your best friend.  Don’t encourage them to grow up faster than they need to.

Life skills.

Teach your children life skills that are consistent with their developmental level.  Don’t expect them to do adult things when their small but don’t continue to do things for them when they’re old enough to be able to do them themselves.

Consequences.

Teach your kids the consequences for their actions for good or for bad.  It’s not healthy or good for your child to let them get out of the punishment they have coming.

Responsibilities.

Allow your children to grow into responsibilities.  Knowing your responsibilities and being able to fulfill them gives children a sense of accomplishment.  To build their self-esteem and self-efficacy children need to do things that can make them proud.

Reality.

Help your children to learn the distinction between what’s real and what’s fantasy.  Allow them to have their dreams and be creative.  Don’t encourage them to pretend that things are other than as they are.

A listener.

Give your children the gift of being a really good listener.  Having you listen to them teaches them how to listen to others.

Your time.

To a child, particularly a small child, the gift of your time and attention is far more valuable than the presents you will buy.

Happiness and Joy.

Encourage your children to become happiness experts.  Teach them to live a joyful life.  Please encourage a positive, can do attitude.

A good example.

Be a good example for your children.  Teach them the rule do as I do. They are going to copy your behavior anyway.

The difference between their needs and their wants.

Help your children to see that happiness does not come from getting everything you want.  Not all needs are physical, material ones.

Words, reading and writing.

Make learning an important part of your family life.  The more words your child knows the better they will do in school.  When they are small read to them.  As they grow encourage them to read out loud.  Help them to write communications which convey what they mean.

Curiosity.

Give your children the gift of curiosity, help them to explore the physical, natural, and the mental worlds.

Knowledge about work.

Don’t leave your children unprepared for the day they become adults.  Teach them about what it is to work and the types of jobs that they might be able to do as they grow.  Encourage them to research some of the careers that they dream about doing.

A clean slate – don’t saddle them with your baggage.

Don’t give your children the job of settling old scores.  Don’t bring them into adult quarrels.  If you have baggage from the past work on unpacking your own suitcase.

The chance to be them. Individuals, not a mini me.

Make sure your child knows that they will be different from you.  Let them explore what it means to be them.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Advertisements

Parenting.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Raising good children. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Raising good children.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”  Abigail Van Buren

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  James Baldwin

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why you should talk to yourself.

By David Joel Miller.

Talking to yourself, especially out loud has some benefits.

Girl talking out loud.

Girl Talking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who talk to themselves out loud can make people around them very nervous.  When we think about somebody who is talking out loud many people are likely to think of the psychotic person who was speaking to the voices or the disturbed person who is rambling on and on for no particular reason.  There can be some very definite positive benefits to talking to yourself.

Children are particularly likely to be talking to themselves out loud.  They have not yet developed the skills to self-monitoring and only speaking out loud when they are alone.  If you find that you are still talking out loud to yourself, this does not necessarily mean that are losing your mind.  But it may mean is that you have something very important on your mind and are forgetting to self-monitoring for other people around.  Below are some reasons that speaking to yourself out loud may be helpful.

You become a better public speaker.

Many famous public speakers began by practicing their speeches out loud.  If you know that you’re going to need to make a presentation, it can really improve your performance to practice that speech out loud.

Talking to yourself out loud reinforces memories.

If you just heard something and you need to remember it, saying it over and over again to yourself can help.  Going over a chain of events A happened and then B can help you to remember those events in sequence.

Talking allows you to practice what you are going to say.

Sometimes we know we’re going to have to have one of those difficult talks with someone.  It’s important to get the words just right.  Practicing what you’re going to say can help you identify things that may come out other than the way you want them to.  Listening to what you have to say can help you find just the right way to a convey that information.

Talking to yourself helps you learn the step to a process.

When you’re trying to learn a new procedure and there are several steps, it can help you to remember this process if you repeat each step as you do it.  In skills training the trainer may initially repeat the steps out loud to the client.  They will then have the client do the process while repeating the steps out loud.  Finally the client is guest to repeat the process while saying the steps silently in their head.

Talking aloud helps to clear a crowded mind.

People with very active, busy minds find that it can be helpful to clear that mind by going ahead and saying the things that are bothering them.  Sometimes this can be an automatic unconscious behavior.  While this is helpful to the person with a busy crowded mind it can be upsetting to others who might accidentally over hear.

You develop storytelling skills.

Good storytellers practice telling their story over and over.  If you’re going to be telling that story out loud to others it’s best to practice the story out loud.  Highly creative people often tell themselves stories. Sometimes when there alone they tell them out loud.  As you develop your storytelling and your self-monitoring skills you are likely to learn to tell the stories with your mouth closed and the words retained in your head.

You develop a supportive of relationship with yourself.

You’re going to spend a lot of time with yourself.  Work of becoming your own best friend.  One way of becoming supportive of yourself is to have those self-talks that you wish you could have with other people.  The more you practice these self-talks the better you will be able to contain them with in your head instead of having them leak out and others hear them.

It helps you to focus on a task or conversation at hand.

Sometimes we repeat things out loud during a conversation with another person.  It can help to confirm that we’ve heard things accurately.  You can also use talking aloud to help you focus your attention on what is being discussed or what you need to do.

It improves self-monitoring skills.

People who are working on their self-monitoring skills may find it useful to comment on their activities as they do them.

Self-talk helps you self-sooth.

When you’re feeling upset or on edge talking to yourself can be helpful.  Remind yourself that you are safe.

You improve your creativity by exploring possibilities.

Creative people may find it useful to have these conversations out loud to explore possible conversations.

So if you or someone in your life makes a habit of talking out loud consider whether this is a helpful skill or a lack of self-monitoring.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Closeness.

Sunday Inspiration.          Post by David Joel Miller.

Closeness.

Family Closeness.

Closeness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Closeness means you get hurt; closeness means letting down your defences and letting people see the tender skin under the carapace.”

― Cathy Kelly, Never Too Late

I tried to put things in perspective but sometimes you’re just too close to it.

Cormac McCarthy

You can’t find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.

Carrie Fisher

If your relationship with someone is based on your desire for them to change into something radically different, there’s no real closeness there, no real communication.

Patrick Califia

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

What is Selective Mutism (F94.0)?

By David Joel Miller.

Selective Mutism is the failure to speak at times when speech is necessary.

Can't talk

No speech. Selective Mutism.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Selective Mutism is an interesting disorder. It is one of the less common anxiety disorders and one which commonly first appears in childhood.  This disorder often co-occurs with Social Anxiety Disorder.  As with all the anxiety disorders Selective Mutism may continue well into adulthood.

Selective Mutism is not the inability to speak or the willful refusal to speak.  Selective Mutism occurs when someone chooses not to speak in a particular situation even when not speaking may cause them difficult.  Children with this condition will avoid starting a conversation with other children.  When spoken to they will fail to respond.

Selective Mutism gets noticed when children begin to attend school.

Children was Selective Mutism do poorly in school because they do not respond verbally to the teacher and do not read out loud.  Those with this disorder may use other ways of communicating rather than speaking.  Sometimes they will point, grunt or used personally significant gestures.  They may also be willing to engage in social activities when speech is not required.

Children with Selective Mutism are able to speak normally at home with their parents or primary caregivers.  They may be unwilling to speak in the presence of close relatives including cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.

Risk factors for Selective Mutism.

Children who are shy are at extra risk to develop this disorder.  Having parents who are withdrawn or growing up in a socially isolated environment may also be risk factors.  It is possible that having overprotective or controlling parents increases this risk.  There’s some evidence that children with this disorder has difficulty understanding the things that are said to them.  Having Social Anxiety Disorder or a family history of it may also increase the risks.

Other problems may accompany Selective Mutism.

People was Selective Mutism also frequently are shy and experience social embarrassment.  They may be isolated and withdrawn.  Children with Selective Mutism may be clingy and become easily upset.  They many also exhibit temper tantrums and oppositional behavior.

Having this disorder early in life and not getting treatment for it puts the child at extra risk for poor development and failure to learn needed social skills.

Things that are excluded from a Selective Mutism diagnosis.

To get this diagnosis, this condition of not speaking even when you need to speak, must go on for at a month or more.  If the thing keeping you from speaking is result of not knowing the English language or being bilingual in some way, this is not a case of Selective Mutism.

Also excluded from the definition of Selective Mutism are things related to speech fluency.  If the person involved is experiencing an episode of hearing voices, if being psychotic, or a schizophrenia like condition, this also is outside the definition of Selective Mutism.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5, some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

More “What is” posts will be found at What is.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) F94.1?

By David Joel Miller.

Reactive Attachment Disorder begins early in life.

What is? Series

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is one of those disorders which was moved in the DSM-5.

It used to be included in the chapter on Disorders First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence. RAD now appears in the chapter on Trauma- and Stressor Related Disorders.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is the result of deficiencies in early life care.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is an internalizing disorder. A related disorder called Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder, involves externalizing behaviors.  Both conditions are thought to be caused by poor caregiving early in life. RAD involves a consistent pattern of shutting down, withdrawing and inhibiting emotions. This disorder starts before age five and is rarely given after that age.

While this is a diagnosis primarily applied to very young children, in working with adults we often see conditions that probably began as Reactive Attachment Disorder.  A common statement is that they “just don’t get close to others.” This condition involves an inability to regulate emotion and unexplained anger, both issues we frequently see in adults who came from dysfunctional homes.

With children we usually know that the symptoms are caused by neglect and poor parenting.  With adults, similar symptoms show up as depression, chronic sadness, anxiety disorders or even personality disorders.  Our understanding of reactive attachment disorder is pretty much an all or nothing condition.  I can’t help wonder about the effects which varying degrees of neglect or failure to meet the child’s emotional needs might be causing.

Reactive Attachment Disorder involves a consistent behavioral pattern.

Most of the Trauma- and Stressor Related Disorders are related to anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders and are fear based. Reactive Attachment Disorder is about shutting down and internalizing. In Reactive Attachment Disorder there is chronic sadness, depression, and loss of the pleasure.  There may also be accompanying anger, aggression and dissociation. This involves a lot of withdrawal and inhibited emotion.

Reactive Attachment Disorder involves social and emotional problems.

Children with RAD are unresponsive to others.  They’re rarely happy or positive.  RAD involves frequent irritation, sadness and sometimes being afraid. Children with this disorder often react to adult caregivers in a negative way for no apparent reason. These patterns of poor relationships with adults continue even when caregivers change.

In adults we see similar patterns with those people who get diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder.  They often say they do not ever remember being happy.  What we often don’t know is if this person really had deficient care as a child or if they had a temperament which make them difficult to parent.  Sick, or irritable temperamental children are harder to parent and more likely to be abused or neglected.

Extremely deficient care results in Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Characteristics of this less-than-adequate care include emotional needs not being met, frequent changes in caregivers, and being raised in impersonal institutionalize settings.  Mostly this deficient care results in poor relationships with caregivers and other adults, but it may also affect peer relationships.

Sometimes other things look like Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Sometimes children with Autism or developmental delays exhibit symptoms that can look like Reactive Attachment Disorder. In young children it is important to be sure the problems were caused by poor caregiving.  In adults we see behaviors that we suspect began as Reactive Attachment Disorder, but without a prior diagnosis we can’t be sure. RAD may affect many other developmental areas.

Some cautions.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness this RAD needs to interfere with the ability to work, or in children, go to school, relationships, or other enjoyable activities or cause personal distress. Otherwise there may be issues, but the diagnoses will not be given. If the only time this happens is when someone is under the influence of drugs or medicines or because of some other physical or medical problem these problems would need to be more than the situation otherwise warrants. These other issue may need treating first, then if there are still symptoms, the diagnosis will be given.

Treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder.

For children getting into a situation with a caring, responsible, caregiver can make all the difference.  For adults with problems now, which may or may not be the result of early childhood experiences, there are several therapies which may be helpful.

It is imperative that children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder get treatment early to prevent lifelong difficulties.  Adults who struggle with emotional difficulties may find that they still have early childhood issues that need to be addressed before their adult problems will resolve.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Staying together for the children?

By David Joel Miller.

Staying together for the kids isn’t enough.

Unhappy Family

Unhappy Family

In relationship counseling we run into a fair number of couples that have been together a long time, often 20 years or so, and now they find that they just can’t hold it together anymore. The most common cause of this issues is that they have spent the last twenty years “staying together for the kids” instead of staying together because they want to be together.

Most people who have worked with children will tell you that your children are not being fooled by this behavior. Kids know when mom and dad are distant and don’t like each other even when there is no outright fighting going on.

Growing up in a home where the parent’s wish they were not together is not much fun. If you are in that situation consider letting go of your resentments and working on the relationship. If you have to live there you might as well find a way to make the relationship better.

Relationships can self-destruct without children.

It is not unusual for relationship to go through a period of severe distress just about the time the oldest child is graduating from high school. Couples look at each other and ask “why did we stay together all these years?” If it was for the kids now what? Do you two still want to be together?

Relationships like cars or houses need maintenance. If you have just used your relationship to focus on the kids and have not kept the connection with your partner healthy then after the kids are gone there is not much left.

Some couples split up and try to start their lives over. Most of the time they end up in new relationships, now wanting a relationship for themselves instead of for the kids. Often both people get new partners. Who wants to be alone once the kids are gone?

Guess what? This complicates things. You are not a twenty-something any more. Your new partner comes with an ex and some kids. So you, your ex, your new partner, your ex’s new partner and the kids and all their partners keep crossing paths. You think you put your needs on hold for the kids before? Looks like it has just gotten worse. Do you get to enjoy life while you are still alive?

You can distract yourself from being where you are.

Lots of people stay in bad relationships and suffer. They think that the suffering they will go through by staying is less that what they and the kids would go through if they end this relationship.

Plenty of people go through these young-children-years by trying to stay busy and distract themselves from a relationship that is not meeting their needs.

Dads tend to work a lot. The old idea was that dad worked and paid the bills so that the rest of the family could have a good childhood. The result of this model was that dad got robbed of being a part of the family he was paying for and the rest of the family gets to resent dad for never being there.

Lots of expensive toys do not make up for a lack of loving relationships.

Moms also get caught up in this. Mom usually has two or more choices of ways to stay busy and avoid looking at what is lacking in her life. Mom can become a fanatical “soccer mom.” Spend all day and all night not just taking kids to places but also volunteering to help the activity take place. Mom can get so caught up in the school and the soccer league and the clubs that she does not have time to talk with her own kids let alone dad. Or mom can insist the kids need more things and expensive activates and she can go to work and stay busy that way.

What will mom do if the kids escape? Some chase the grandkids down and try to stay busy and others drop into a deep depression because their life has no meaning without someone else to make happy.

Staying and suffering and going and suffering should not be your only choices.

Smart couples develop other choices. If you are having difficulties you work on the issues. Couples counseling can help, so can making sure that you allocate some time and resources to maintain your relationship. Couples that enjoy being together and doing things together survive the kid’s exodus.

Think this over. You have a lot of time invested in your family. Are you waiting to do your time so you can escape after the kids leave or are you willing to work on this relationship so that the two of you will have reasons to be a couple after the kids have moved out and on and started their own families?

There is life after children. You can have a good relationship after your kids start their own lives if you two can get though the process without hurting each other so much there is just no good feelings left in the relationship account.

If your relationship feels like doing time, consider getting help from a professional relationship counselor.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books