Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

Are You Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language?

love

Several times a week, I send “thank you” texts to my husband. Sometimes, I thank him for something special he did for me or the kids or I’ll share something I like about him. I know he won’t text back – even though he reads all the texts I send, he’s too busy working to answer – but I still send him regular texts.

As I sent him yet another text today thanking him for working so hard for us, I realized I’m NOT speaking his love language. I’m speaking MY love language!

love-languages

My love language is words of affirmation. If he’d send me all the texts I send him, I’d be in love heaven!

However, his love language is quality time and acts of service. He feels loved when I make his breakfast without complaining, sighing or rolling my eyes, and he appreciates when I sit and watch TV with him at night instead of working on my computer.

I am challenged today to take another look at my actions. Am I truly showing my husband that I love him? If not, what can I do to change? Sometimes, small tweaks to our actions can make a big difference to our spouse!

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and true love this month, may we give our spouse’s what THEY need rather than what we need.

John 15:12-13: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

 

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When Your Child Hurts

My daughter loves our local community theater group. It’s designed for kids from grades four to 12, and everyone, no matter how well they sing and dance, gets a part.

For the past two years, my daughter played a part in the chorus. She sings, dances and in general has fun on stage. This year, she was hoping for a speaking part and even joined the school chorus so she could become a better singer.

Since November, she’s talked about rehearsing for the audition, which involves singing a short song and sharing a monologue. Unfortunately, auditions yesterday did not go well.

Today, she found out that she’s a villager once again.

As soon as she discovered her role, her face fell. I saw the disappointment on her face, and she quickly excused herself to go to bed.

Before she retreated to her room, I hugged her goodnight and told her she’ll make an amazing villager. I felt her body tense and heard her softly start to cry. My heart broke as I held her.

What could I say to ease her pain?

disappointment

I silently prayed and then told my precious child that I am proud of her for auditioning – it’s a big deal to stand in front of three adults in a small room and sing and talk! I also told her that I’m excited to watch her and hope she can find joy in her role. Since she’s a villager, she’ll be in at least half of the scenes, and some of her friends are also villagers.

I’m not sure my words did much to make my darling feel better, but I pray she remembers her value. It’s not determined by the role she wins in a play! And I pray she continues to put her all into rehearsals and enjoy this year’s theater season.

I also pray that she turns to God for comfort. I can hold and encourage her, but I can’t heal the pain she feels. Only God can do that.

What about you? How do you comfort your kids when they hurt?

Prayer: “Father, please hold my child tonight. She’s hurting, and I’m hurting for her. I ask you to hold her close and remind her of your incredible love for her. Also, may she remember her worth. Thank you for entrusting her to me and for being her Father, and thank you for giving me wisdom!”

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Honesty Sets You Free

honesty-sets-you-free

As part of our family’s adventure in wellness, I attend a Celebrate Recovery 12-Step study. A small group of ladies meet weekly to discuss the steps, pray and find freedom from various hurts, habits and hangups.

One thing I notice as I work through the study is that recovery depends on honesty. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem. To even work through the 12 steps, we must let go of denial and be honest!

But honesty is hard. It’s much easier to say that everything’s fine and cover up the shame, guilt, heartache and trauma in our lives. I know – I’ve done it for years!

And that’s why the devotional I read today (“When You Just Can’t Bring Cheerful”) resonated with me. We don’t have to be cheerful all the time and cover up what’s really going on in our hearts and lives. In fact, we find true healing only when we are honest, open and authentic. Think about it – God knows our hearts. We’re only lying to ourselves and hindering His healing work when we try to hide from Him.

I take comfort in the fact that even though honesty is challenging, painful, embarrassing and scary, it’s also the source of true freedom. I pray we can be honest with ourselves, Jesus and others today. May we take time to be authentic and real with our Father today.

Today’s prayer: “Thank You, God, for loving us, even the ugly parts, and for gently drawing us to Yourself as You give us freedom and joy! Give us courage to be real with You and trust Your gentleness, mercy and grace.”

Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)

Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her … and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.” (AMPC)

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Need a Smile? Check Out This Cute Snack!

healthy snack

I opened Facebook today and saw this cute snack staring at me from a friend’s wall. It instantly made me smile! Not only is it cute, but it’s healthy and my kids would eat it! Those are huge reasons to be happy!

Do you have any cute and happy snack ideas? I’d love to see them!

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When Momma’s Cranky

Hubby came home from work this morning and needed to borrow a few dollars for breakfast. I know he chooses to not carry a credit or debit card so that we can save money, and he doesn’t often ask for cash, but for some reason I felt cranky about his request today. He noticed, of course, and called me on it. I was able to apologize, but I also wondered what was going on.

Maybe my crankiness is because I:

  • Didn’t sleep well last night
  • Haven’t had enough coffee (I’m only on cup one, and it’s already cold.)
  • Feel irritated about a missing item I thought for sure was on my desk
  • Am angry with myself for misplacing the missing item
  • Feel anxious about the kiddos’ dentist appointments since I’m not sure how my son will respond or how the technician will react to him
  • Am choosing to be angry instead of gracious.

No matter why I was acting cranky, I can’t deny the tension between us and acknowledge that I am not being gracious and need (and want) to be!

So what will I do about it? How can I handle these cranky moments?

1.I realize that I’m the problem. I’m annoyed and am letting that control how I act.

2. I take the time I need to get myself centered. Prayer, some time alone and a date with a book or my noise cancelling headphones and praise and worship music should get me back on track.

3. I set priorities. What NEEDS to be done before the kids and I head to the dentist? Do i need to check social media, find the missing item or do dishes? No. Instead, breakfast, gathering my purse, teeth brushing, quiet time and a second cup of coffee take priority with my limited time this morning.

Ahh, that’s better! I can think clearly now and am feeling more relaxed. Okay, day, let’s go and be kind!

What do you do when you feel cranky? What helps you relax and unwind? I’d love to hear your tips!

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#momtexts

Anyone a fan of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon? I am usually sleeping by the time he comes on, but someone shared his post on Facebook today, and I took a break from work to listen. It’s hilarious! Anyone have any funny #momtexts to share?

http://www.foreverymom.com/hilarious-mom-texts/?utm_content=buffere9aa4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Zones of Regulation: A Behavior Breakthrough

It’s a yellow/blue kind of day. I woke up feeling blah, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep well. Maybe it’s the donut I ate for breakfast. Maybe it’s the busy day I had yesterday at the pool.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be able to use the Zones of Regulation. They help me acknowledge how I feel and give me actionable steps to fix my day and prevent me from going into the angry zone.

I discovered the Zones of Regulation a few years ago. My son’s speech, occupational and behavior therapists encouraged us to use the Zones as part of our behavior toolbox. With the Zones, my son can figure out how he’s feeling. That’s the first step to regulating his behavior and helping him stay on an even keel so that he can learn.

Over the years, I’ve adopted the Zones, too. After all, I have emotions like my kids do. Plus, I can’t parent well if I’m not taking care of myself. Especially in the past few months, I’ve been using the Zones to keep in touch with my emotions and process my feelings.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

According to the Zones of Regulation website, the Zones is a “systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.”

In a nutshell, the Zones help us figure out how we’re feeling. They also give us tools to help us manage and regulate our emotions. It’s a tool many therapists use, and it’s been a beneficial tool in our home.

zones-of-regulation

 

Think of the Zones as Traffic Signals

In an ideal world, everyone would be in the Green Zone all the time. As we all know, though, emotions change. Sometimes, we can go from Green to Yellow in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Try saying no to a toddler and watch them change from cooperative to obstinate in a hurry!

That’s where the Zone traffic signals come into play. Like traffic signals tell you how to drive on the road, we use traffic signals to identify our Zones.

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Green means you’re good to go. In the Green Zone, run errands, clean the house and play games without worrying that someone will be overwhelmed, throw a fit or object to the activity.

Yellow cautions you to be aware. Slow down and take a few minutes to identify how you’re feeling. Then take steps to address the anxiety, get out the wiggles or deal with nervousness so that you can move forward.

Blue gives you an opportunity to rest or re-energize. Take it easy, rest and relax.

Red means stop. Make sure everyone is safe and step back. Don’t push, prod, nag or move forward until you have calmed down and are out of Red.

What Zone are you In?

The Zones of Regulation are a constant part of my family’s daily routine. We often ask each other, “What Zone are you in?” It helps us figure out where we’re at emotionally. Depending on the Zone we’re in, we can change our schedule or use other coping strategies like exercise or games to help us calm down, rest or feel better.

The Zones help my family, and they can help your family, too. Take a look at these resources for more information.

zonesofregulation.com

socialthinking.com

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May I Have a Compromise?

While my hubby watches TV, my son plays Minecraft with his friend and my daughter enjoys a sleepover, I’m getting a head start on work for the week.

One of my writing topics is compromise. We already compromise and negotiate in our home a lot. I figure it’s a good way to give my kids a voice. I do not want to be a dictator, and everyone deserves to have a say in most sitations.

That’s why I was excited to find this interesting perspective on the topic at empoweredtoconnect.org. I definitely think “May I have a compromise?” is going to become a new mantra in my home! What about yours?

May I Have a Compromise?

By:

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

We began teaching our kids to ask for compromises when our now five-year old daughter was only two. We figured that she was old enough to have a conversation with us, so she was old enough to begin learning how to compromise.

One thing we’ve noticed over the years among kids who are adopted or in foster care is that they tend to have control issues — sometimes really BIG control issues. Many kids (and parents) struggle with control issues, but this especially true for adopted and foster kids that come from homes or situations where most, if not all, of their world was out of control.  Sometimes these kids had to raise younger siblings, or had to fend for themselves to find their next meal. Sometimes these kids had to use control and manipulation to stay safe, both physically and emotionally.  And some of these kids resorted to control as an attempt to mask their lack of trust and feed their desire to avoid being hurt, neglected, or abandoned ever again. Control is often an “all or nothing” proposition for these kids, and when they come to our homes they aren’t willing to easily give up the control they’ve worked so hard to get.

In our home we’ve decided we are going to help our kids deal with their control issues not by taking control away from them, but by sharing control with them. Share control with our kids?  Sounds crazy. After all, we are the parents so we need to show our kids that we are in control, right? The thinking goes that they need to respect our authority or everything will devolve into chaos. We followed this way of thinking for a while, but showing our kids that we were in control was NOT working. As we tried to suddenly take all the control away from them what we got in return were power struggles and the very chaos we were trying to avoid. What worked, however, was a very simple solution…compromise.

The insight that helped us grasp this approach was actually something that Dr. Karyn Purvis said – “If you as a parent share power with your children, you have proven that it’s your power to share.”  This helped me understand that I get to decide when and how much power to share when I offer my kids a compromise.  And offering compromises doesn’t mean that I lose control or give my kids all of the control.  It means that I teach them how to share power and control appropriately and by doing so, I teach them an essential skill for healthy relationships.

Here’s how a compromise works at our house:

Me: Son, please go clean your room.
Son: (who is playing a videogame) Sure mom. May I have a compromise?
Me: What’s your compromise?
Son: May I finish this level on my game and then go do it?

Since that is an acceptable middle ground I will typically say sure and let him finish the level before going to clean his room. Of course this is an ideal conversation. Often times it goes more like this:

Me: Son, please go get your room cleaned up.
Son: (who is playing a video game) Ugh!! Can’t I just finish this level first?
Me: Whoa! I don’t like that tone. Are you asking for a compromise?
Son: Yes.
Me: I’m listening.
Son: May I have a compromise?
Me: What’s your compromise?
Son: May I finish this level on my game and then go do it?
Me: Sure! That’s a good job asking for a compromise!

Learning compromises takes practice for both kids and parents.  As they learn this skill, it’s important to praise your kids when they ask for a compromise correctly (even if you have to prompt them). Still the risk remains that your child might not hold up his end of the deal.  So, as you start using compromises it’s important to remind your kids that if they don’t hold up their end of the compromise, then you won’t be able to offer as many compromises in the future.  Contrary to what I thought would happen, my kids have always held up their end of the compromise.  As a result, we have had far fewer control battles.

By using compromises our kids have learned that they have a voice. They know that I can’t always give them or agree to a compromise, but they also know that I will as often as I can.  And the funny thing is that they now are able to accept ‘no’ much better than in the past.

Remember – compromising is NOT about allowing our kids to argue or debate with us, nor is it about losing our control or giving them all of the control. It is about sharing power – our power.  Compromises give our kids a voice and allow them to RESPECTFULLY ask for what they want and need.  And compromises give us as parents the opportunity to teach our kids an important way of relating that builds trust and connection.

http://empoweredtoconnect.org/may-i-have-a-compromise/

 

 

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February 5 – Let’s Talk About It!

#StrongerThanStigma

#StrongerThanStigma

When I was a child, I hated group events, including family get togethers. They made me feel anxious, nervous and stressed. To escape, I sat in the corner with a book and read.

Unfortunately, other kids and even adults criticized my preference. I was teased and ridiculed, and I felt ashamed of my anxiety.

I carry that shame into adulthood. Whenever I feel a need to escape stress, anxiety or other uncomfortable emotions, I turn to a book, but I worry about what others will think of me.

For too long, I’ve hidden my anxiety. Today, I express the truth and acknowledge reality.

If I could tell my childhood self anything, I’d say:

Read your book!

Enjoy your hobby!

Learn something new!

Expand your vocabulary!

Solve mysteries!

Explore other cultures and lands!

Relax on your sofa, bed, backyard or bus!

Be you!

What about you? Are you hiding a mental health illness or challenge? Take five minutes today to be #StrongerThanStigma. Share your truth, know you’re not alone, get help, #BC2M and celebrate you today!

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Make Your Home a Yell-Free Zone With Two Helpful Tools

In Everyday Use
(Photo courtesy Flickr, David Goehring)

Confession time: I’m a yeller.

I admit – I do hold my tongue many times. But when I’m pushed into a corner or feel out of control, my blood pressure rises, my voice rises and I yell.

After two pretty intense yelling episodes on Monday alone, I decided to get serious and get help.

I started by praying for wisdom. I asked God to show me how to stop yelling and to change me. Sure, I could blame my behavior on my kids, the cats or circumstances, but the bottom line is that I control whether or not I yell. If there’s an ongoing trigger, a need for control or some other root issue that increases my proclivity for yelling, I want to know about it and know how to change it!

Then, I read Facebook. My cousin and a local parenting expert shared two articles that spoke to my heart.

Get Closer

Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures shares how getting closer can reduce 90 percent of all yelling in a classroom and a home.

I tried that tip yesterday. As my kids grew louder and louder in the playroom, I walked to them instead of standing in the kitchen yelling for them to be quiet. I saw the problem for myself and was able to deescalate the situation with calmness. We all resumed our activities with peace and goodwill rather than anger and frustration.

How often can an escalating situation be diffused by getting closer? I plan to keep practicing this tool and test it out.

Show Compassion

The second tool comes from Dr. Laura Markham at Aha Parenting. She says compassion is the key that turns off the yelling.

Too often, I expect myself to remain calm no matter what pressures I face, but that’s unloving and unrealistic. There’s only so much pressure a person can face before they pop.

When I begin to feel the pressure rise inside, I can take a breath and give myself permission to feel stressed, anxious or angry. Then, I’m able to step back and calm down before I burst.

Plus, I can apologize if I mess up. Admitting mistakes and asking for forgiveness are two essential skills I want my kids to learn, and I teach best when I model the behavior I want to see.

These two tools might not eradicate yelling from my home. However, they offer helpful steps I can take today as I strive to make my home a yell-free zone. What tools do you use to stop yelling in your home? I’d love to try them out!

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