Being the Dad You Want to Be

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their … children than the unlived life of the parent.” — C. G. Jung

Although I’m writing this before Father’s Day, this won’t be published until several days after June 20th. How seriously we think of fathering is something I wanted to consider.

Traditionally, our patriarchal culture has promoted men to be the head of their families, to be the strong protector, the dominant one in relationships. Yet, the outdated stereotype of fathers is not helpful to children and can often be damaging. The good news is that many more dads are now sharing the valuable role of raising their children. They continue to be important figures in their children’s lives, both in intact as well as divorced families.

Of course, not all father-child relationships are created equal. As much as many dads embrace their relationship with their children, there are indeed differences in how men view their role. Much of this depends on their family of origin, childhood trauma, and their ancestral patterns of fathering. Typically, boys learn very early to be strong rather than to feel. Between the ages of 4 and 6, they can easily be disconnected from their feelings, as they experience shame with emotional expression. As they mature, their need to fit in with peers becomes more important. Admitting vulnerability, sadness, or defeat can quickly bring rejection or the withdrawal of support from their peer group, compromising their self-confidence.

The pressure for boys to always be strong is demanding — as such a large part of life experience is about hurt, sadness, frustration, disappointment, and many other vulnerable feelings, boys miss out on developing their emotional intelligence. We can’t expect men to seamlessly transform into emotional partners or nurturing fathers if they haven’t been raised to be tender, open-hearted. As boys grow older, any “recovery” must happen in private, rather than risk shame. When they finally emerge from isolation, having suffered in silence, those feelings have been internalized. Thus, parents might only witness the withdrawal, without understanding the reasons or the distress signals. It’s important to change this pattern by responding differently to boys. Providing a safe environment in which they remain in touch with their feelings, we need to also be aware of our shaming reactions to our boys. The unconditional love and acceptance of them, regardless of their behavior, builds healthy self-esteem.

In thinking about how all this relates to fathers, boys ultimately grow into the men who become the next generation of husbands and dads. What expectations do we have? Women want soul mates, intimate friends/partners. We observe their interactions with our children through a critical lens, expecting emotional nourishment, close connection, warm engagement. Some dads can easily provide this, while others fall short of meeting those expectations, spending much of their parenting years being reminded of their shortcomings, retreating from any emotional connection. Yet fathers play such a valuable role in their children’s experience, offering a different lens on the world.

Continue reading the rest at freepressonline.com

Kids are feeling anxiety about a ‘return to normal’

Recently, I scheduled a playdate for my 6-year-old with a good friend she hadn’t seen in months because of the pandemic. She was so excited — until, suddenly, she wasn’t. As the day approached, my daughter grew more and more irritable. The day before, she demanded that we bake cookies and make signs for her friend. When I told her we couldn’t, she exploded in an angry meltdown.

After she calmed down, I sat down with her to try to figure out what was going on. She tearfully admitted that she was terrified: She worried that her friend wouldn’t like her anymore, which is why she was trying engineer the perfect playdate — to ensure that she could win her friend back after months of being out of touch.

If you, as a parent, have been experiencing anxiety about the “return to normal,” your kids are likely to be harboring similar feelings, perhaps even to a greater degree. “We’ve gone from pause to fast-forward,” says Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, a clinical psychologist who specializes in early-childhood social emotional development and mental health. “It’s just really overstimulating. For all of us, and certainly kids.”

On the one hand, these struggles can seem counterintuitive. Isn’t this exactly what we’ve been waiting for — for things to get back to the way they were? For our kids to once again enjoy birthday parties, camp and visits with extended family? Absolutely — but we also need to remember that big transitions can be hard for children. Going from hardly seeing anyone and not doing anything, to seeing everyone and doing everything, can be confusing and overwhelming.

It’s been more than a year since we led “normal” lives, which is a very, very long time for kids — especially toddlers and preschoolers. They may not remember what things were like before, so the return to normal may actually feel like a departure from normal — the changes may feel jarring instead of reassuring. Compared with who they were before the pandemic, little children right now “are facing the world as completely different people,” Hershberg says.

Some may also be struggling because they don’t understand why the activities they were told were unsafe during the pandemic are suddenly safe again, so it can be helpful to explain why. You can tell them, for instance, that there are scientists and doctors in charge who conduct research to figure out what’s safe, and that you listen to them and do what they advise. The very idea that there are people in charge of these big issues can be reassuring for kids, Hershberg says, and can help them understand that you have good reasons for changing your behavior.

Children are also still processing the challenges […]

Continue reading the rest at www.washingtonpost.com

7 positive lockdown activities to practice as a family

7 positive lockdown activities to practice as a family

Maintaining a balance in life can be difficult but it’s not impossible.

A lot has been always talked about and written of mandatory restrictions that are imposed, in order to control the transmission of the coronavirus , but unfortunately not a lot of importance has been given to the mental crisis caused by this virus, which today is overriding everyone’s emotions, be it of kids or elders. According to the latest report issued by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, mental issues like stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, insomnia, denial, anger and fear have been reported globally.

Apart from individual sufferings, Covid-19 has also placed a heavy burden on families, with parents who are still not settled with navigating their work-life balance and kids unable to gear up with virtual learning.

Maintaining a balance can be difficult but it’s not impossible. Families, by coming together, can open many routes of positive thinking and make changes that suit their lifestyle at this given time. Here are some positive activities that families can practice during a lockdown to stay sane.

1. Exercise

This may sound quite ordinary but here’s a reminder why it is important to add exercise to your family’s calendar. Since connecting as a family is becoming more and more difficult these days, due to an excessive distraction from devices that vie for our attention throughout the day. It’s important to bring everyone in the family under one roof at least during the beginning and by the end of the day.

With this new sedentary lifestyle due to virtual classes and work-from-home schedules, everyone tends to move really less, however physical exercise is an opportunity to get everyone together and improve the well-being of all family members.

Some more reasons to practise physical activities as a family: Any physical activity signifies your healthy lifestyle choices; modelling it as a family practice will help you set an example as a parent.

While exercising, awareness plays an important role and it makes one feel fully present and engaged with the family.

Apart from these reasons, the primary aim is to set an intention of belonging and an environment of connection, which can act as a driving force for everyone in these difficult times.

2. Have a family screen time

This may sound bizarre, especially when parents are talking about limiting screen time , but indulging in movie time can help parents spend some extra time with their children and maintain their sanity levels. Parents can introduce their children to some old classics like Mrs. Doubtfire; Dr. Doolittle; Sound of Music; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Avengers so that they are not stuck to Tom and Jerry […]

Continue reading the rest at indianexpress.com

How to use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen their memory

How to use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen their memory

To remember things, you need to give them your full attention.

American neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova’s key findings on preventing Alzheimer’s disease show how to enhance memory to retain information. This research can be adapted to children.

Children can be supported to exercise their mind muscles. They can learn the best ways to get information efficiently into their heads and access it effectively when they need to.

In her book Remember: the science of memory and the art of forgetting Genova points out to enhance memory we don’t need to play “computer brain games” or “read books on recall strategies”, what we simply need to do is improve our skills of noticing.

She writes that “noticing requires two things: perception (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling) and attention”.

You can use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen memory muscles and become better learners.

This can be done by paying attention, slowing down, mind mapping, rehearsing, enhancing the senses and mixing things up up. Getting there

Fill your child’s backpack with snacks and drinks, and small figurines such as fairies, lions, tigers, koalas, dinosaurs or favourite small cars and trucks for storytelling and mud play. Figurines are great for storytelling and mud play. Kid’s binoculars and magnifying glasses are great for noticing and spying on birds and bugs.

Pack watercolour paints, brushes and recycled paper for painting, and chalk and brown baking paper for tracing bark, leaves, rocks, hands and play equipment. Play dough is great for natural sculptures.

Then you’re on your way. Creating a mind map

Like all animals humans use mind mapping to create maps of our immediate environment to navigate our surroundings. Our brain is wired to recall where things are located in space.For wild animals this is critical for survival and for children, it helps them to feel safe. You can’t do mind mapping in a car – it requires walking. Walking to the playground, run your hands across fence palings and smell rosemary twigs. Encourage your children to do this too.

Let your kids notice the things around them to create a mind map of their journey. Collect eucalypti leaves, gum nuts, acorns and other natural loose objects and pop them in the bag to be used later in potions or paintings at the park. You could make chalk drawings of rivers and fish on the pavement as a way of finding your path back home.

This pace may seem slow but to really notice, you need to slow down. A lot of neural work is happening as children construct a mind map. The more time adds detail to the memory.

Exercising the mind

Continue reading the rest at theconversation.com

‘Kids are suffering’: School Counselor Corps to expand mental health services

‘Kids are suffering’: School Counselor Corps to expand mental health services

On the first day of summer school for Okmulgee Public Schools, high school principal LuVona Copeland noticed multiple students exhibiting signs of anxiety. On day two, a few more students were showing signs.

“I’m very concerned,” Copeland said. “I think it’s getting back to being in a routine, getting back to being around other people because those kids were not in school all year long, they were virtual. There’s just not enough help where we are to handle everything on a regular basis, and I know in the fall it’s going to be bad.”

State education leaders agree.



As part of its Ready Together Oklahoma initiative aimed at supporting students throughout the pandemic and beyond, the State Department of Education is investing $35 million into a School Counselor Corps, which will fund 50 percent of the cost of new licensed counselor positions at public schools.

“Schools [have been] starting to understand about trauma, what the statistics are in our state and the assistance students may need,” said Shelly Ellis, deputy state superintendent of student support. “I believe this is part of the next step to what we can do to help assist students.”

Even before the pandemic, Copeland worried about the mental health of the young people in her eastern Oklahoma district.

“We had a great need before because of the demographics of our population,” she said. “We have very high poverty, 100 percent of our kids eat free at school — lots of single-parent homes, a lot of kids who are living with grandparents and great-grandparents. We had a great need to begin with, but probably about October we had kids starting to reach out to us.”

Copeland said students began reaching out to her and their teachers to express the difficulties they were having coping with the pandemic and getting school work done.

“I’ve had kids that tell me they wake up and just lay there and they can’t get themselves going,” she said. “They might not use the word ‘depression,’ but that’s exactly what they’re describing.”

Copeland said socially-distanced visits made by district staff to the homes of students who stopped participating in school virtually revealed more concerns.

“I started having parents tell me, ‘You don’t understand, COVID is a blessing for our family. He’s going to be able to work a full shift out at Walmart, and we’re going to be able to keep the gas on,’” Copeland recalled. “There’s a lot of layers to this that I didn’t anticipate. If you’re 16 or 17 years old and it’s on you to pay the gas bill, you’re going to do that before you do your school work. But that absolutely affects them, and here we are trying to reel them back in.”
About five years ago, Copeland said Okmulgee Public Schools started the approach of focusing on the “whole” student, including their mental health and emotional well-being. The district was able to hire a therapeutic counselor in 2019 to handle crisis management, among other duties, at school sites district wide. Still, one mental health professional is not enough.

Continue reading the rest at nondoc.com

Sport and the socio-emotional development of children

Sport and the socio-emotional development of children

Copyrights: Pro Sport Development A new research study by Pro Sport Development analyzes the impact of their Community Sports Program on the socio-emotional development of children.

Pro Sport Development (PSD) , in collaboration with Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) initiated an in-depth evaluation to better understand the impact of its Community Sports Program (CSP) on the socio-emotional development of children in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The overall intended impact of the CSP is to help children from marginalized backgrounds improve their socio-emotional health and well-being, and empower them to become confident and competent leaders within their own communities.

Over the past few years, the changes created by the program have been documented through articles, videos and case studies focusing on individual participants’ stories of change. In addition, analysis using secondary data pertaining to the CSP participants has been conducted. However, up until 2019, only basic quantitative data along with limited qualitative assessments were utilized to evaluate the impact of PSD’s sport for development initiative in Bhubaneswar.

Methodology

For the evaluation of the CSP in 2020-21, a mixed-methods approach was utilized. An exploratory design procedure was used, wherein the quantitative data was collected first, followed by the collection of qualitative data.

Within the quantitative data, baseline and end-line surveys were used with both target and control groups to analyze the changes in their socio-emotional wellbeing. For qualitative data, interviews with select participants, along with their families and PSD trainers, were conducted.

Quantitative data

A total of 267 children from two schools participated in the pre and post intervention surveys conducted for this evaluation. The target group (n=175) consisted of children registered for the CSP at the time of the baseline data collection, and were part of the online intervention implemented through the year. The control group (n=92) comprised of those children from the same schools who did not and have never previously participated in the CSP.

However, as seen in the data analysis of the surveys, the average responses and index scores of a few indicators of both the target respondents and control group have shown a positive change, whereas others have shown a negative change over the evaluation period. Interestingly, the change witnessed in the baseline and endline data for the average responses and index scores for all indicators for both the target respondents and control group follow very similar patterns.

Qualitative data

Qualitative data was also collected as part of the evaluation, in the form of short interviews with participants, their families, and the PSD trainers, to understand more deeply how the CSP impacted participants during this time period. This data allowed PSD to understand the personal impact that the program has had on participants. In total, six participants and their families were interviewed […]

Continue reading the rest at www.sportanddev.org