What can we find for you?
Happy New Year! Can you believe January 2022 is almost over?
As the first month of 2022 is almost over, Kids’ Turn San Diego is reflecting on our path since March 2020. What a journey it has been!
We lived the motto of “building and flying at the same time” for almost a year and then we realized, wait, we got this! The location of our program is less important than the skills we are teaching. It matters less if we are sitting knee to knee in a circle of 25-30 parents in a Family Workshop Class or with 15 children sitting around a table than if we are providing a safe virtual space for children to share their feelings and for their parents to gain insight into their own words, actions, and behaviors.
We reflect. . . since March 2020, we watched parents lose contact with a child because the other parent believed that their child’s other parent was putting their child in harm’s way, exposing them to COVID, not requiring masks, or simply choosing to use the pandemic as a tool to destroy parent-child relationships. This was painful to hear about and saddens us, especially when we hear 8 year old children telling us that one of their parents is “toxic”. This is not the word of an 8 year old child!
Then we listened to children tell us how much they wish their parents would stop fighting, that they want them to stop arguing and yelling at each other, and to stop yelling at them – their children. This, by the way, is not new. Children have been wishing this and telling us this for 25 years! (We celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2021!)
As we reflect . . . we wonder, do parents continue to argue with their co-parent, even though they have been divorced for years? Do parents still send 10 page texts or emails? Then we think about you . . . are you a parent who says bad words or negative comments about your children’s other parent? Are you forcing (from your child’s perspective) your children to have relationships with your new partner? Are you a parent who is role modeling ineffective communication and unhealthy relationships to your children?
We hope you will reflect! If you answered yes to any of the above questions, from the words of children who have attended our programs, PLEASE STOP!
Your children want their parents to get along. They want you both at their sporting events, dance shows, and school activities. They don’t expect you to sit next to each other, but they want you there, and they deserve to have two parents show up for them! And by the way, if there is a bonus parent in the family (a step parent), your children want you to accept their bonus parent. Stop being jealous or mad that this person gets to raise your children. Stop saying mean things and setting the expectation for your children to dislike their bonus parent. YOU CANNOT CONTROL OTHERS, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, WORDS AND BEHAVIORS. You have choices about what you think, feel, say and do!
Consider, for a moment, what if for 2022, you made the choice to accept that you and your co-parent got divorced because you couldn’t make your marriage work, and with divorce you need to transition to a different type of relationship – a relationship that is about your children. You are both important to your children. Children are half one parent and half the other. There is no denying this fact! So why would you choose to deny your child access to their other parent, or why would you say mean things about the person that helped you create your children?
What if you decided to take a step back and acknowledge your part in your failed marriage and divorce? What if you recognized that the anger continues between you and your co-parent because you are making a (maybe unconscious) choice for it to continue? What if you decided enough is enough?
What if you decided that for 2022, you were going to accept your part, acknowledge it, and free yourself up from any blame or guilt you feel? What if you decided to leave every negative comment behind? What if you decided that being kind and caring in 2022 to everyone is your goal? What if you chose to praise your children for what they are doing well and focus less on the areas in which they struggle?
What if you decided to be your best self, and if you’re not sure who that is, what if you made discovering that your journey for 2022?
Imagine what life may be like. . .
Less arguing and more peace. Less anger and more love and happiness. Less energy spent on trying to “win” and more energy spent on making every moment with your children count.
Thank you for reflecting with us! We hope your 2022 journey will be full of fun, love, and laughter. We hope you will choose peace for yourself and your children. They really want that and we know you do too, even if it is deep down inside of your heart. Let go of anger and walk the path of resilience and joy! Be a happy person and parent who role models effective communication and healthy relationships. Your children deserve this version of you, and we hope your entire family will find happiness as they walk the path of kindness, care, and peace. We’re here if you need us! Enjoy the journey!
Tricks (or Treats!) for Co-Parenting on Halloween
Halloween is quickly approaching which means lots of sweet treats, crazy costumes, and family fun! However, if your family is experiencing divorce, Halloween may also be a stressful time as it starts the difficult question of, “how do we share the kids for the holidays?”. Whatever the decision there is not one parent who wins or loses! Your whole family can have a fun and spooktacular Halloween with these tricks to co-parenting on Halloween!
Being able to both accompany your children as they trick-or-treat is ideal for children in divorced families. If you choose to share the night together, here are some tricks to remember:
1. Put your child first!
Being around your co-parent can bring out complicated thoughts and feelings. Despite these emotions, remember that successful co-parenting occurs when each parent values how important it is to put their child first! Take time to listen to what your child wants to do. Maybe they want to trick-or-treat with their friends, or dress up and parade around the house. Halloween is a holiday for the kids to have fun! If it’s possible, for the one night, put aside your own feelings and make decisions with your child in mind first.
2. Make decisions ahead of time.
One of the most important things to avoid on Halloween is arguing in front of your children. Show your children that you and your co-parent can cooperate! This means that you’ll want to figure out how the night will go ahead of time. Things to consider are what time you’ll meet up, what neighborhood you’ll be going to, how long you’ll stay out for, and who your child goes home with at the end of the night. Making these decisions ahead of time will help make the rest of the night flow smoothly!
3. Enjoy the night!
Children pick up on tension and stress easily, so it is important for you to relax and enjoy the night as well! Take pictures of your child in their costume, hold their hand as you walk around, and simply let yourself enjoy the quality time you are getting with your child. Yes, your co-parent may be with you as well but that does not have to change the fun that your child has, or that you have. By doing this, you send a message to your child that says, “We love you and are committed to making you happy! We can put aside our issues for you.”
Not all cases are the same, so if you would rather choose to split the day or alternate which of you is with the children each year, here are some ideas on how to handle your Halloween:
1. Leave the Choosing to the Parents
Do not force your child to choose between one parent or the other. Putting your child in the position of choosing parents can be emotionally distressing so do not set them up for disappointment or unnecessary stress. Your child comes from both you and your co-parent, so they love you both! Talk to your co-parent to decide who will have your child at what time/year/days. If this seems difficult, you can always reach out for professional help!
2. Create new traditions!
Just because you do not have your kids on Halloween night does not mean the fun ends. Create a new tradition with your kids! Halloween events occur throughout all of October. Maybe your business throws a Halloween party that you can take your kids to? Does your community host any trunk or treat events, or pumpkin patches? Could you find a day to watch Halloween movies and decorate the house together? Halloween is not limited to one day. Your child will feel lucky that they get to celebrate Halloween more than once, and you will both get to bond during this quality time together!
3. Share the highlights.
Send photos of your children in their costumes to your co-parent. Let your children know you are doing this, as it is a kind gesture that will feel good to your children. If you’re the parent getting the picture, when you see your children, make sure you tell them how much you loved their costume! Stay engaged with your child and ask them about how the night went or what their favorite parts were. These simple actions can help your children feel more comfortable and confident about your family’s divorce because they’ll know you are still part of their life.
We hope these tricks help make Halloween a treat for your entire family! Remember that using a creative and kid centered approach to sharing holidays can make even the most complicated situations a success. Happy Halloween!
Understanding ADHD: Walk in My Shoes and Gain Perspective on the Most Common Myths
October is known for Halloween festivities, but did you know that it is also the official month for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness? Many children and adults live with ADHD, as it is very common. This poem tells it all:
Take my hand and come with me,
I want to teach you about ADHD.
I need you to know, I want to explain,
I have a very different brain.
Sights, sounds, and thoughts collide.
What to do first? I can’t decide.
Please understand I’m not to blame,
I just can’t process things the same.
Take my hand and walk with me,
Let me show you about ADHD.
I try to behave, I want to be good,
But I sometimes forget to do as I should.
Walk with me and wear my shoes,
You’ll see it’s not the way I’d choose.
I do know what I’m supposed to do,
But my brain is slow getting the message through.
Take my hand and talk with me,
I want to tell you about ADHD.
I rarely think before I talk,
I often run when I should walk.
It’s hard to get my school work done,
My thoughts are outside having fun.
I never know just where to start,
I think with my feelings and see with my heart.
Take my hand and stand by me,
I need you to know about ADHD.
It’s hard to explain but I want you to know,
I can’t help letting my feelings show.
Sometimes I’m angry, jealous, or sad.
I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and mad.
I can’t concentrate and I lose all my stuff.
I try really hard but it’s never enough.
Take my hand and learn with me,
We need to know more about ADHD.
I worry a lot about getting things wrong,
Everything I do takes twice as long.
Everyday is exhausting for me…
Looking through the fog of ADHD.
I’m often so misunderstood,
I would change in a heartbeat if I could.
Take my hand and listen to me,
I want to share a secret about ADHD.
I want you to know there is more to me.
I’m not defined by it, you see.
I’m sensitive, kind and lots of fun.
I’m blamed for things I haven’t done.
I’m the loyalist friend you’ll ever know,
I just need a chance to let it show.
Take my hand and look at me,
Just forget about the ADHD.
I have real feelings just like you.
The love in my heart is just as true.
I may have a brain that can never rest,
But please understand I’m trying my best.
I want you to know, I need you to see,
I’m more than the label, I am still me!!!!
This poem speaks the truth about people living with ADHD. I hope you will always remember the last line of the poem, “I’m more than a label, I am still me!!!!” because ADHD does not define a person. Instead, ADHD is a behavioral condition that can make everyday routines and tasks more challenging for people who have ADHD. By the way, if you had it as a child, you probably still have it as an adult but hopefully you learned strategies over the years to manage your energy and have put systems in place to keep you focused and organized. Here are some tips for helping children manage ADHD challenges.
1. Provide clear, consistent expectations, directions, and limits. Children with ADHD are most successful when the adults in their lives are consistent. In divorced families, there are oftentimes different rules and structure at each home. For example, one parent may have bedtimes, homework time and dinner time, while the other parent may avoid rules and structure and go with the flow when their children are with them. Different rules in different houses can be challenging for all children in divorced families but most children easily adjust and transition from one set of rules to the other. However, for children with ADHD, the adjustment and transition may not be so easy. If your child has ADHD, we encourage you to read the poem again and take a walk in your child’s shoes. Children with ADHD respond well to structure, so rules and charts are a great tool for success. Break activities down and give one direction at a time. Praise your child and encourage them to be successful. Charts with stickers for success are fun for elementary age children and, believe it or not, even older children like to gain rewards, so be creative with your older children.
2. If a doctor has prescribed ADHD medications, follow the doctor’s order. Children who have been prescribed ADHD medications are most successful when their medications are taken as prescribed. In divorced families, oftentimes parents are not on the same page about ADHD medications. What does this look like? Here’s the visual. . .our child gets their medications during the first and third weeks of the month when they are with me but they do not take the medications on weeks two and four because their other parent doesn’t believe in giving medications, and probably doesn’t believe in the ADHD diagnosis. As with all other medications, ADHD medications need to be given consistently to work effectively and to avoid negative effects to the child. The medications are prescribed to help a child focus. If you don’t think your child needs the medications or you don’t believe in the diagnosis, we encourage you to read the poem again. Is this your child? If co-parents disagree, talk to the doctors and get on the same page. It is not fair, nor is it healthy, for your child to be on and off medications.
3. Boost your child’s confidence. Children with ADHD may receive lots of negative feedback from others in their lives, including teachers, parents, coaches, and peers. Every negative comment hurts their heart and may negatively impact their self-esteem. Read the poem again and share it with everyone in your child’s life. Your child deserves to be understood and treated with respect at all times. As your child’s parent, ensure your child has positive interactions and hears the word “yes” way more than they hear “no”. Spend time with your child and engage in activities that strengthen and build your child’s self-esteem. Schedule fun outings with your child, praise your child for big and small successes, acknowledge your child’s strengths, and tell your child how much you love them!
Here are some tips for parents:
- Don’t waste your emotional energy on self blame. You may have experienced negative experiences where people shame or blame you for your child’s behaviors. Remember, ADHD is not a result of poor parenting. ADHD is a behavioral condition that has to do with the structure of your child’s brain. When you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe and remember your child’s love at the center of it all. You can join a support group and seek professional help to ensure you are your best self for your child. There are also lots of social media sites that you may find helpful.
- Educate yourself and become your child’s best advocate. The best way to help your child is to take time to learn all you can about ADHD. Know how ADHD specifically affects your child, as every child is different, and be able to speak up for your child’s rights! Here are some common ADHD myths that you may find helpful:
As co-parents, the best thing you can do for your child is to communicate and cooperate because, at the end of the day, you love your child above all else and your child loves both of their parents. To learn more about October ADHD Awareness Month check out the official ADHD Awareness website!