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Archive for January, 2010

Are you worried about playing favorites?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 by:

Some parents find they feel closer to one child than the other, which can cause terrible guilt and a great deal of stress. We can’t choose our children and their different personalities can mesh–or–clash with our own. It’s not easy when we feel an easy love for one child, and a love that takes more work for another.

Sometimes this just has to do with personality–we often get frustrated by the traits in our children that we don’t like in ourselves. Sometimes we react to behaviors and tendencies our children have that remind us of things we don’t like about our spouse, or a relative we have trouble getting along with. And as we react to our children, they often act out in return–often exaggerating the behaviors we dislike the most.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do to protect your relationship with your child and to ensure that things do not become more challenging between you–or to repair the damage if they already have.

• Make sure to spend special connecting time with this child for a few minutes every day.
• Make sure you tell your child what you admire or appreciate about them, taking special note of things they did that were positive that day.
• Make sure to cuddle and be nurturing to them every day. Stroke their cheeks, look into their eyes and make them feel delicious. Do this even if it’s a struggle–it will help the bond and improve behavior.
• Write them little notes to leave in their lunch, or on their bedroom door.
• Use humor and jokes to bond and enjoy one another. Take time to be silly and playful.
• Catch yourself if you spend more time with one child over the other, or if you speak to one child in a gentler way. If they are complaining about it, there may be a reason.
• Be aware of overcompensating (or protecting one child over the other if you notice your spouse favoring one child).
• Find and celebrate the strengths in all your children. Traits that make them a challenge to parent may make them strong and competent adults one day.
• Don’t beat yourself up, just because you are a parent does not mean you are not a human being. It is normal to react to difficult behaviors. And if you do overreact, you can always go back and repair.

Feeling this way does not make you a bad person or a bad parent, it just means you are reacting to a dynamic and that it is important to be aware of that and to be aware of your contribution to that dynamic. If they push you away or reject you, try not to act hurt. Respond in a neutral way and try again later, or try something more subtle, like finding a cute picture of them and talk about how adorable they are in it. Remember every child needs to feel loved and lovable; it is the single most protective thing in terms of good emotional and social health.

It is also important to realize that the child, whom you feel like giving that nurturing attention to the least, is the one who needs it the most.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and found of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at or visit

Helping your child succeed

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by:

My husband and I took our five-year old skating the other day and what a pleasure it was. She listened to our instructions, put them into action and stuck to it. She fell and got up, fell and got up again. She tried and tried until she was skating on her own. It made for a happy outing and a wonderful achievement for her.

This was not how it went years ago when we first took our older son skating. He is sixteen now, happy and successful at almost everything he tries but, back when he was five, this kind of outing would have been a nightmare. Two minutes on the ice and he would have been crying and demanding to go home. It was the same with bike riding, basketball or anything new that he tried. As parents, we would fluctuate between being angry and very sad for him. He was a perfectionist and the second he couldn’t do something right, he quit in a fury.

Anxious children and often gifted kids seem to have this trait. It’s as if they have it all figured out and feel they should be able to easily master it. Then, as soon as they realize they can’t, they are devastated and refuse to try further.

These same kids often have difficulty losing and will quit games with peers as soon as things don’t go their way. It is very hard to know how to deal with this and as a parent you either find yourself getting incredibly angry or just giving in because the fight is simply too much. It can also be embarrassing when your child is the one storming off the soccer field or lying in the middle of the ice rink.
Here’s what to do:

• Stay Neutral This is very hard, but threatening and getting angry do not work with a child like this. Neither do bribes.

• Empathize This is a hard one, but try to empathize with their frustration and then give them some space. Sometimes staying there and trying to talk them into it only fuels the episode. Go on with what you’re doing and don’t stop the activity, check in from time to time to see if he is ready to try again and repeat if not.

• Don’t lecture If they completely refuse and will not try, don’t go on and on about it. Make a statement about how hard it must be when their frustration gets in the way of their fun and how much you would like to see them push through these feelings. Then try to walk away.

• Don’t have a parade If they do decide to try again, don’t go overboard saying “Oh that’s so great, look he’s back!” This will embarrass your child and raise the stakes, often making him quit again. Calmly, and in a neutral way, welcome him back, but don’t make a big deal about it.

• Watch your agenda Be certain that it is not your need for them to be interested in, or good at, this activity that is driving the issue. If your child senses this is more about you, it can add to his anxiety and fuel the desire to quit.

• Don’t compare Try not to compare your child to siblings who have mastered the same activity. This can lead to shame and further shut down.

• Acknowledge the effort, not the outcome Focusing too much on achievement and end results can leave kids stressed and afraid they won’t be able to do it again. Praise even the smallest attempt at the activity.

• Talk about their brain When they want to quit because they can’t master a skill fast enough, tell them that it takes time for their muscles to learn how to do it. The brain knows how but it takes time to get that information to the muscles. This can really help kids who give up too quickly

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and found of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at or visit

Watching the Haiti Tragedy–as a parent

Saturday, January 16th, 2010 by:

Yes, I used to get upset anytime I heard about a disaster. But now that I’ve become a parent I find listening to any one’s loss almost unbearable. I’ll admit, sometimes I even find it hard to watch an episode of CSI when a child is in danger.

The recent earthquake in Haiti is the largest natural disaster to occur since I’ve become a mother. I’ve sat glued to my television set in horror as reports of children being trapped under rubble, missing family members and collapsing prisons take hold of my emotions.

I tell myself not to sweat the small stuff, then find myself doing just that. I’m more on edge. I snap at the littlest thing my husband does (or doesn’t) do. My children (God bless them) drive me crazy.

I finally realized it’s my feeling of hopelessness amongst all of this suffering that is putting me on edge. Although there is little I can do, I can donate money. As I clicked the send button to Red Cross, my tears finally started to come. Although a donation is very little in light of such an horrendous event, the action of doing something enabled me to move beyond the annoyance of inactivity and allowed me to feel. To feel the love I have for my family and to acknowledge at least a little of the hurt that is currently going on in Haiti.

A donation is not much but if everyone does something small it can at least help get care, food and water to the hundreds of thousands that are currently suffering.

Time to Pay up your Chocolate Tax

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by:

Chocolate Boob Tax has been officially launched with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Looking for a way to lose weight and do good?

Chocolate Boob Tax is putting out a challenge to all moms to make yourself accountable for your cravings.

In 2010, I’m pledging to pay $1 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation each time I eat chocolate.

My goal is to raise $10,000. While I love chocolate, I obviously need a little help to reach my goal.

If you love chocolate but are looking for a way to limit your intake, visit Chocolate Boob Tax. Tell us about your indiscretions and when you get to $25 log onto Eat Chocolate, Find a Cure to pay your chocolate tax.

Lose Weight or Find a Cure Trying

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 by:

A self-proclaimed chocoholic I decided to make good from my bad habit. For the next year, each time I indulge I will donate $1 to help find a cure for breast cancer.

Care to join in?

You can track my progress and join in yourself by following my blog: Chocolate Boob Tax