The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.
  • Tantrums: Part Deux

    More Tantrum advice

    "To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today." -Unknown (www.parenting.com)

    Let's talk more about tantrums. Can there really be too much information about this topic? Here are a few things to consider from the physiological angle of behavior in children:

    • 90% of brain development occurs as early as before age 5
    • Full development of the brain occurs by age 25
    • Critical period of life/brain development occurs between age 5 and puberty
    • Last part of brain to develop is the frontal lobe – brain’s top executive functioning
    • “Neurons that fire together wire together.” (Hebb’s axiom)

    Source: Psychology Today     

    Remember: A child’s brain is like a house under construction.

    Let’s get into Dr. Thomas Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic program. Here are some things to consider, institute techniques and manage parents’ behaviors:

    1. Counting: 1-2-3, then take 5

    2. Kids are NOT little adults

    3. Don’t engage in a power struggle

    4. Be a united front with the other parent

    5. Your authority is non-negotiable

    6. Routine, routine, routine

    7. Time-Outs and Reverse Time-Outs

    8. No spanking (that’s a parental temper tantrum)

    9. Be the master of “quick exit”

    10. Use tantrums/behavioral outbursts as teachable moments

    These tenets can be found in Dr. Phelan’s books and on his website. We at Meghan L. Reitz & Assoc. use this program consistently with our young clients and their families. 

    Be sure to be a role model, live your own life, let your children love you and work on your relationship with your significant other. Being an effective parent means being a healthy adult. We cannot be successful in navigating a child’s emotions and behaviors if we do not take care of ourselves.

  • Tantrums!

    tantrums

    Raise your hand if you've experienced your child having a tantrum. I'm pretty sure anyone reading this would indicate they've seen this behavior before. You are not alone! This blog article will get into some nuts and bolts on how to deal.

    Let's start first with parenting resources. Most of us barely have time to manage our households- and then to be expected to read up on parenting?! There will be some positives, though, if you consider reading the following book: 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan. I will mention some other resources at the end of this article, but if you seek any book/parenting program, this should be your number one go-to.

    1-2-3 Magic is essentially a behavioral management program for kids- and parents! It uses counting and a clear disciplinary approach to parenting. Here are a few things to remember:

    1) Your child is not a little adult.

    2) You make the rules.

    3) Stay consistent.

    4) No monologues.

    5) Follow through.

    6) Use time-outs and reverse time-outs.

    Other resources include No-Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. They propose:

    1) Discipline is essential.

    2) Pay attention to your child's emotions.

    3) Validate a child's feelings.

    4) Assess your parenting style.

    5) Label emotions in a way your child can understand.

    6) Watch your emotional response.

    The health of your relationship with your significant other can also be of paramount importance in how your child behaves and reacts. Some great resources on healthy marriages and relationships include The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, What Makes Love Last by John Gottman and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, also by Gottman. In these books, you will have opportunities to practice more effective communication skills and develop healthier bonds. This in turn will provide a more safe, calm, stable and loving environment for your child. If those things are in place, you should see tantrums and acting out diminish.

    Remember: To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. -Unknown (www.parenting.com)

  • On Love

    On Love

    Attention couples! Let’s talk “love.” Are you struggling to connect with your partner? Has the spark faded? Feeling disengaged or complacent? Then you’ve come to the right place. 

    Our society has done a number on us in terms of our expectations for romance. Fairy tales are what play out in movies and things seem to “just work out” without much effort or energy by the characters. Love seems to be this euphoric wonderland. But what about reality? What about the struggles of life and the impact those have on a relationship? Mounting deadlines at school or work, raising children, family obligations- where does the romance fit in? 

    Like anything that is important or takes a priority in our life, it takes time and effort. We can’t expect a plant to grow without sunlight, water and nourishing soil. The same goes for our relationships. Once the “honeymoon” period wears off in a relationship, the flaws that we used to consider cute and endearing become annoying and sometimes even off-putting. There’s a fine line between lust and love. It gets blurred. And humans don’t have linear emotions. We are complicated beings with a whole lot going on in those heads of ours. 

    So how do we foster our relationships? How do we regain what we feel we’ve lost? Is it possible to repair what we see as broken? The good news is that we can take both proactive and even retroactive measures to address these questions. Here are a few tips if you are in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship: 

    • Be honest- build the foundation of your relationship from a solid place. 
    • Be mindful of your expectations- gut check how you feel things are going. Something doesn’t feel right? Listen and address. Have too high of expectations? You’ll always be disappointed. 
    • Pace yourself- have you heard of the phrase “fools rush in?” It’s easy to dive head-first into a relationship, confusing love with lust and moving things along at a speedy pace. Slow down. Enjoy moment to moment. 
    • Balance- don’t give up your family and friends. Try to balance time spent with your significant other while also fostering your already existing relationships. 

    What about those of us who have been in a long-term relationship and things seem fizzled out? Let’s touch on some ideas to reignite the spark: 

    • Know your partner- do you know your partner’s hopes and dreams? Likes and dislikes? Get to know them again. 
    • Communicate- healthy communication is the key to “getting” your partner. Do you tend to blame or be defensive? Try empathy and active listening instead.
    • Attune- join with your partner. Be present with him/her and be interested in what he/she is saying or doing.
    • Date your partner- carve out time to spend with your partner. The kids have gone to bed? Perfect. Check-in with each other. How are things going in the relationship? Play a boardgame. Fold laundry together. Do something and connect!

    As these are just a few thoughts on love and relationships, if you need a heavy duty tune-up, reach out to a couples therapist who can help you more successfully navigate your relationship. Sometimes we need a little outside help to lead us down the right path. 

    “The grass is greener where you water it.” - Neil Barringham 

    Resources: The Gottman Institute, Emotionally Focused Therapy with Dr. Sue Johnson

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