Diffusing those awkward family conversations
Whether gathering for vacation, holidays or birthdays, getting the extended family together can cause you stress – and unearth long-buried emotions. No matter how much you may want peace, remember that not everyone has the same viewpoints, even if they grew up in the same household. And that’s OK.
Here are some expert tips from the Center for Child Counseling, located in Palm Beach County, on how to tolerate – and even enjoy – that big family gathering:
1. Relax and tap into your safe place to stay calm – taking deep breaths or squeezing a stress ball may help.
2. Actively listen by making eye contact and giving family members your undivided attention. This helps them feel understood, even if you don’t agree.
3. Reflect and decide how best to engage in the conversation. Take in account who you’re speaking to and where they’re coming from.
4. Process what you’re thinking, before and/or after a stressful conversation, with someone you trust.
For more advice on how to approach family dynamics, sign up or log in to EveryParent below.
Calming ways to help your family manage stress
Just like us, the children we love may get angry, upset or frustrated when things don’t go their way. Learning how to handle those emotions helps foster positive and healthy relationships for a lifetime. Even the most low-key parents need help managing family stress once in a while.
First, try to identify what’s causing the stress and anxiety. Is it something going on at school? Within the household? With friends? Then try practicing a calm way of responding to the situation. You can also teach your children how to soothe themselves with deep breathing, counting backward or even applying hand lotion – anything that allows them to pause and reflect.
Lastly, if you’re worried about your children’s stress level, please reach out to one of the many great, free and low-cost resources in Palm Beach County, such as The Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative, the Parent-Child Center or Center for Family Services.
For a list of local resources to help your family manage stress, sign up or log in to EveryParent below.
What to do when grandma has different rules
Surrounding your child with a circle of loving adults is a beautiful gift. But it can be tough for you if the other caregivers in your child’s life have different rules. So it’s important to know children can learn that different rules apply to different situations.
You can also use the ACT method with your child (and with the caregiver, for that matter) to help manage the issue.
According to Jane Robinson, a licensed mental health counselor who co-founded Center for Child Counseling, when you use the ACT method, you’re …
1. Acknowledging how someone else is feeling
2. Communicating a limit to a behavior you don’t like or approve of
3. Targeting an alternative, and more acceptable, response to the situation
For more tips on parenting strategies, sign up or log in to EveryParent below.