Less Serious, More Playful

Less Serious, More Playful

Feel like your life is one endless stream of “to do” tasks? All work, no play. You can go through your life seriously “serious” all the time. I have to admit I tend to run this way, full of purpose … Continue reading

How to Create What YOU Really Want for the Holidays Ahead

happy-holidays-with-snow-and-penquin

I cannot believe I am writing a blog post on this, but it has already began – the thinking, the obsessing, the worrying, the planning, the stressing about the holidays ahead. The four upcoming holidays can feel like they all merge together into one massive overwhelm. It can be hard to separate them out. But of course it does not have to be that way. I want to share some ideas on creating holidays that are truly what YOU want. And now is the time to contemplate all of this – at the beginning of this time frame.

It is so easy to get caught up in it all and end up doing things you may not really want to do. Or to sometimes not really plan and end up not doing what you really want to do with your holiday time. So here are some ideas to consider.

 Questions you might ask yourself about the upcoming holidays that may help you be the true “creator” of  YOUR  holidays:

  1. What would my perfect holiday times look like? What would I be doing? Who would I be with? Ex. – For some it may mean enjoying time with loved ones. or slowing down to enjoy a special what ever it might be.
  2. What does each holiday really mean to me? Or what do I want it to mean to me? Ex. –  One family may say it is a time to reflect on what we are really thankful for?
  3. Does what I do reflect what I want my holiday to look like and be about? Ex. – Yes and No. Maybe yes we spend time together. But no there is too much competition with iPhones, video games, etc.
  4. What are my most favorite memories of past holidays? What was I doing? Ex.- One child may say when we had the snow ball fight in the front yard. Dad may say, when we went out looking at holiday lights and had hot chocolate after. Mom may say when we all made a holiday meal together.
  5. What are my most un-favorite memories and what can I do to avoid these from happening again? Ex. – This might be for some – the stressing and rushing and overwhelm.
  6. Do my holidays all merge together without a real feel of truly enjoying each one for what they are? A very good question, are we really mindfully enjoying each holiday?

Develop a Flexible Plan That Fits You and Your Family

  • Meet together as a couple or a family to talk about some of the above questions.
  • Decide together (or for yourself if you are single) what your main goals for the holiday are. Is it to relax? To be with family? Enjoy special holiday activities? Celebrate a particular religious belief? A mix?
  • As a couple or family you can put together a flexible plan of the kinds of things you want to do and begin gradually to work toward this.  Incorporating everyone’s ideas is very important if you are in a family or as a couple.
  • Keep in mind that too much will feel overwhelming for most people and that thoughtful choices are a much better route to go. It is not so much about how much you can pack in, but incorporating what you most want to do and really taking time to ENJOY it.
  • Try to stay open and flexible as plans shift and change as they will at times. Knowing you can be happy even if things do not happen exactly as planned.

My hope for you and your family is that you create what you most want and desire. Happy Holidays to you and your family!  holly-leaf-small


Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

A Fun Calming Technique for Children – Butterfly Breathing + Butterfly Hugs

butterfly animated smiling pink with poka dots butterfly note for board.docx - source Your child is angry and beginning to escalate. Or you know your child is anxious and not sure how to feel better. I want to share a simple, fun technique designed for children I recently learned about at the Oklahoma Play Therapy Association’s Annual Conference. Dr. Jennifer Baggerly, PhD, Professor at the Counseling and Human Services at the University of North Texas at Dallas presented the Butterfly Technique. Here is how it works:

Butterfly Breathing

  1. Let your child know there is a way to make them feel better. It is always best to help your child when the emotions have not escalated to a very high level.  The sooner you can assist the better.
  2. Ask your child to pretend to be a butterfly! Model for your child what butterfly wings would look like. Hold your arms out and bring them in toward each other. And then out again, letting your arms / wings flap.
  3. Practice together with your child how their butterfly wings work. Practice always helps for being able to remember later when it is needed.
  4. Have your child now let the butterfly breath as it flaps it’s wings. Model for your child how the butterfly breathes. There is more than one way this can be done. The most important message is for the butterfly to breathe deep. One way to model this is by demonstrating and talking through the following wing / breathing pattern.
  • As the butterfly opens its wings, take a deep breath – you can count 1, 2, 3 as you open your wings if you wish.
  • As the butterfly closes its wings, let the breath out, letting all your worries out – you can count 3, 2, 1 as you close your wings if you wish. 

5.  Continue  “Butterfly Breathing” until your child feels more calm.  Model and do this with them as they learn this technique.

Note:  One website that shows the Butterfly Breathing technique with the 1,2, 3 count is:   elfenworks.org/butterfly. In addition you may go to iTunes and look at the Butterfly Breathing app put out by Elfenworks, which is free. The Elfenworks site has a butterfly breathing script and additional information in regard to their butterfly breathing technique. 

 

Butterfly Hugs

To add to your “Butterfly Breathing” you can add “Butterfly Hugs”.  Here is how you would do butterfly hugs:

  1. The arms / wings can fold into the chest with hands moving to rest on the arms, giving a hug to yourself. 
  2. Hands tap the arms and then hands rubbing the arms from left to right.

Good luck with your butterfly breathing and butterfly hugs and remember you may find it helpful for yourself to use as well. And the more you model for your child the more he or she will probably use it!

 

 

 

 

Teaching Your Children About Giving

christmas tree for birds philbrook 2015

With the holiday season upon us, it sometimes feels like all we hear from our children is “what they want for Christmas”.  Many of us hope that we can help our children develop a more balanced approach to what they want / need and helping others with what they want / need. The focus of this blog piece will be on the end of teaching our children about giving. “Giving is a basic value that makes our society a humane and civilized one.” This is not always easy as there is just so much of us during the holiday season. So it becomes about us too as adults coming to terms with  our own balance of the two things. So it may start there with us examining our own hearts.

christmas tree brid decoration philbrook 2015 orange with seed in it

I decided to re-visit this topic that comes up for me ever so often in my own family. I was at Philbrook Museum of Art over the Thanksgiving holiday with my family and saw the beautiful outdoor Christmas tree decorated for the bird’s to nibble on. It made me think of the trees I have created in the past with my children when they were younger for the birds. And thought again of the issue of making sure I create this “self-care / other care” balance in my family. So here are a few ideas on the side of giving to others.

Christmas tree bird decoration philbrook 2014 grapefruit

 

Teaching Your Children About Giving

  1. Start with yourself. How do you feel about giving? Are your beliefs or values reflected in your actions?  “I feel what our children see us doing is the foundation for teaching our children about giving.”  For what we do will so much more affect our children than what we say to them. We are powerful models for our children. The second piece of this is about our balance of self-care and other care. Is our balance where we want it to be and is it reflected in a way that our children can see this balance? 
  2. Create GIVING OPPORTUNITIES that are developmentally appropriate for your children. These activities work best when done together as a family. They carry so much more weight and power this way. AND they create some very special memories and solidify the message you want to give to your children.  These activities might include some of the following: going through toys and games no longer needed or wanted and passing them on to a non-profit agency; assisting in making some holiday treats to take to a nursing home or a neighbor, having children use part of their allowance to buy something for a special toy drive or angel tree, volunteering their time to help someone who needs help, etc. All of this depends of course on the specific age of your child. 
  3. Talk with children about WHY you like to give to others in your family. This may take a bit of a different slant for different families. For some it may have a religious basis. For others it may be about their own family values. ” Regardless it is good to talk about why we give in our family.” Talk with your children about why you give. This is good for us all to consider as adults. Why do we give? For me I give because it feels right, it fits with my religious and personal value system and it always comes back as to good feelings and blessings in my own life. It is important to remember that giving comes in different forms – our time, our talents, our material goods, our money.  This is another conversation one can have with their children. This is not a lecture, just a discussion as the time arises that it makes sense to talk about it. “But again, it is the action itself that will cement in your child’s memory the value or message about giving.”  
  4. Praise your child for their giving. It always help when others acknowledge our efforts. Of course, the intrinsic rewards of giving are powerful in themselves. 

christmas tree bird decoration philbrook 2015 cranberry ring

I hope you will find your balance in your family of self-care and other care. And that you will give your children this holiday season the gift of giving. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes! Tanna

christmas tree dec for birds philbrook 2015 orange with cereal cranberry string

 

 

 

“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family” Thanksgiving Activity

Thanksgiving animated picture nov 2015

Want to encourage your family to be thankful and appreciative of one another? I am always trying to think of ways to encourage this kind of interaction to take place in my own family and with the families I work with. We might remember to be thankful of those outside our family, but at times we overlook those closest to us. So let’s use Thanksgiving as a start point in remembering to show our thankfulness for our loved ones.

I have always liked the activity at Thanksgiving where you go around and tell one thing you are thankful for.This is a fun one to do around the dinner table.  This is fairly easy for most people to do. Most of us can think of one thing that we are thankful for. It is good to remind folks it can be a small thing. It does not have to be large. I have enjoyed this version, But I am thinking of another version for this Thanksgiving that I thought I might share.

“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family.”

In this version you are encouraging the family to reflect about what they like about their family as a whole. It is easy to take family for granted. And Thanksgiving is a perfect time to think about this. Now it may be that you do not like everything or very much about your family. But my guess is that with some thought you can think of one thing you are grateful for. I might note that family can be the family you have created and gave birth to or it can be your family of origin.

If you really can not do this version, then go back to what you are in general thankful for. But you can use this as a time to think to yourself or with your partner or spouse what family attributes you wish to create that later your children will be thankful for. That is a bit deeper. But sometimes thinking ahead can be a good thing. What we project out is many times what we get back. It is sort of like goal setting or creating an intention.

I wish you all the very best of Thanksgivings!

Thankful orange picture with branches be thankful

 

 

Happy Journals, Happy Families

journal picture IMG_7984 (2) november 2015

I sometimes suggest a “Happy Journal” for a client who needs to do more focusing on the “happy stuff”. I at times will ask the entire family to partake in this simple, but very effective activity. I always like to remind folks that “what we focus on is what we get more of”. Thus, for those who want to have a happier family here is a tool to encourage your family to look for the happy in their lives.

The Set Up for Beginning Your Happy Journal Family Adventure

  1. Have a family meeting where you set down and explain what you are going to do as a family. “Because we want to focus on the good or what makes us happy, we have decided we are all going to keep happy journals. What we focus on we get more of. So here is a way to put more focus on the happy.”
  2. Have family members choose from a variety of decorative spiral notebooks or journals as to what they like the most. I would suggest that you buy a few more than you need so that there will be some choice for everyone. Plus you can pick out ones that you know will be a hit with each of your family members. If you have young children or those who like to draw you may want to include some that are blank paged journals.
  3. Suggest that everyone write in their “happy journal” everyday. “We would like for everyone to write down something in their happy journal everyday. This way it gets to be a habit for us all to think more about the “happy stuff” that is going on in our lives.” You can suggest that everyone try to think of 3 things that made them feel happy that day. Or whatever number of things that you feel would work with your family. Or you could leave it open ended, with no set number.
  4. Each person can write or draw what made them happy that day. This is helpful for those who are not writing yet or for those who prefer to express themselves in this way.
  5. Maximize or let your happy experiences grow by sharing them with one another.  This could be done in a set way or a more spontaneous way.  Some possible more structured ways of sharing might be: sharing at the dinner table every night one happy thing that everyone is planning on writing in their happy journal or sharing at bedtime with each other. Sometimes tying an activity to a routine already in place can help. In a more spontaneous way, you might ask your child, “What have you found to put in your happy journal lately?”
  6. All family members participating makes this a very powerful activity. When children and teens see there moms or dads write down what is making them happy and sharing this, they will see that this is a family value or something that is important – to focus on the happy stuff or the good.

I hope you will try this whether your family is just you as a couple or if you are a couple with a young child or if you are a single parent family or a blended one. It is all good, encouraging each other to see the happy things that are all around us!!!

Bixby “Pumpkin Patch” – A Fun Family or Couple Activity

pumpkins with people and counry in background at pumpkin patch IMG_7755 (2)

If you have not been to Bixby’s Pumpkin Patch in a while, you should go check it out. We had not been in a couple of years and were surprised at the wide variety of things to do. This would be a wonderful fall break activity or any time in October. Their last day is October 31. So you have a few more weekends to have a bit of fun in the Bixby countryside. For those of you that do not know, Bixby is South of Tulsa, going straight out on Memorial. Bixby is known as one of Oklahoma’s strong produce areas due to its rich dark soil, being close to the Arkansas river.

Here are the “basic’s” as to info on the Pumpkin Patch:

What: “The Pumpkin Patch”, which is associated with Carmichael’s Produce on South Memorial (but not at the same location)  has pumpkins of all sizes, colors and shapes , plus other decorative fall produce and corn stalks. Animals (lots of babies and mamas) of all kinds. Camel Rides. A Cane Maze. A Pony Go Round with Live Ponies. Hay Bale Climbing Area. Wagon Ride.  A Concession Stand. And more.

Where: 17137 S. Mingo, Bixby, OK (South East Corner of 171st and Mingo). Steve Carmichael suggested I remind folks that you will need to go down Memorial and over the Arkansas river into Bixby before you can access Mingo in the Bixby area.  This is slightly into the country. Yahoo! The best contact number is: 918-366-4728. This is Carmichael’s Produce number and they are best able to answer questions for you about the Pumpkin Patch.

When: Current – October 31, 2015. 9:00 am – 7:00 pm   Monday – Saturday   &   10:00 am – 7:00 pm Sunday

Why: For a Very Fun Fall Family or Couple Activity. For all ages.  And there is no entrance fee.

Come take a picture tour of some of the things to see and do at the “Pumpkin Patch”

goat mama with two babies one nursing pumpkin patch

Mama Goat and her Babies

sheep pair at pumpkin patch

A Pair of Beautifully Marked Sheep

porcqupine at pumpkin patch close up

A Gorgeous Porcupine

rabbit close up at pumpkin patch FullSizeRender (21)

A Pretty Rabbit

There are many more animals to enjoy, but too numerous to include. You will find chickens, pigs, horses, camels and more. So if you are an animal lover, you will love this. Many of the children were enjoying feeding all of these sweet creatures.

pony carosel with real ponies at pumpkin patch

A Fun Real Pony Carousel

tanna in maize maze at pumpkin patch

Enter the Cane Maze

This was actually much larger than we realized. It was so much fun to weave in and out of the paths. Scare Crows were placed throughout the maze. A fun walk for a family or as a couple. So hope you will consider this fun venue that is only open in October. Here is to lots of fall fun!

Five Tips in Forming a Good Parent Teacher Relationship

teacher by chalk board and apple animated aug 2015 clip art

It is that time of year. It is back to school for your children. You may have some anxiety about what the new teacher or teachers will be like. Will they be nice? Will they be strict? Will they work with you as a parent?  We just want the best for our children. One thing that can give your child an extra boost is if you have a good parent teacher relationship. Teachers are human and they cannot help but let parents affect their view of the child in their classroom. So you may want to consider the following tips in regard to developing a good connection with your child’s teacher or teachers.

teacher parent child meeting clip art illustrated august 19 2015

Five Tips to Form a Good Parent Teacher Relationship

  1. INTRODUCE YOURSELF. BE FRIENDLY. Take advantage of all open houses, back to school nights or any event that the teacher is involved with. Make a point to have a positive conversation with your child’s new teacher. Talk about how you have heard good things about her or compliment how the room is set up, etc.
  2. BE A HELPER. BE A SUPPORTER. Teachers are so many times overwhelmed with lots to do. The more help they have the better teachers they can be and the more cool experiences they can offer their students. And the more they will see you and your child in a positive light. Plus, it will feel good to help your child’s school. And an opportunity to be in the know about your child’s school and a little more about the world your child lives in the majority of their day. There are many ways to help and support the teacher. Ask if you are not sure.
  3. TALK FRIENDLY ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER.  This would be directly to your child and while your child may be listening to a conversation you are having with another . If you are positive about your child’s teacher, it is more likely your child will be as well. In addition, when you try to focus on the strengths of your child’s teacher this will aid in a more positive relationship with the teacher.  This is not to say that we do not address concerns and problems. We do, respectfully and with some positive relationship going in that can help when working on problems.
  4. BE A POSITIVE COOPERATIVE PROBLEM SOLVER. When you hear about an issue that is not resolving itself, work with your teacher to find positive ways to address the issue. If your child’s teacher approaches you for a meeting or phone conversation, etc. try to stay calm and objective and really listen to what your child’s teacher is saying. Reflecting back or summarizing what they have said can make them feel very heard. This is always the first step in good communication is really listening and hearing one another. So after you have really heard what your child’s teacher has to say, they will be more open to hearing what you have to say about the issue at hand. Being respectful and cooperative in our responses and how we approach a problem will go a long way in gaining cooperation from a teacher. Ask how you can help. Try to gain ideas on what concrete things can be done to help with the situation. You are on your way to being a collaborative problem solver. A team working together for your child.
  5. GO THE EXTRA MILE – SHOW APPRECIATION. There is nothing more relationship building as APPRECIATION. We all want to be acknowledged and appreciated. Teachers love to be appreciated. So consider what is most appropriate for your child’s teacher. The age of your child will make a difference of course. You will have different appreciation strategies for a kindergarten teacher and a high school teacher. Some will be the same, but others different. All teachers appreciate a hand written note or card that is specific in how you appreciate them. An email note (if you have access to this) can work as well. Sometimes a note to the principal of how you appreciate your child’s teacher can be powerful  Of course, verbal praise or appreciation or acknowledgement is always a winner. Plus, for younger children’s teachers small gifts at appropriate times creates positive feelings. Traditional times for notes, cards and gifts are Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentines Day. But appreciation creates good feelings any time of the year.

teacher in red cape with T on shirt illustrated clip art august 19

 

The key to a good parent teacher relationship is really like any good relationship. One in which there is respectful, positive communication with sharing of gratitude and appreciation. This solid foundation creates a space in which problems can be worked on in a collaborative fashion. Best of wishes in creating a positive parent teacher relationship!

A Very Simple Calming Breathing Technique for All Ages

pink rose from tanna's back yard

Looking for a way to calm yourself or help your child calm himself. Try this very simple breathing technique. What makes it a bit different is that it is extremely simple and tries  to incorporate your memory of a pleasant sight and smell. And most of all it is Simple, Simple, Simple. And I have decided so many times those are the things we can remember easily if we are feeling stressed and over the top.

Here is my version of this simple technique:

MY ROSE

1. Visualize a beautiful rose. Or you could imagine a rose garden if you wanted. Maybe your favorite color of rose or roses. (If you are explaining to a child, you might say “Think about a beautiful rose.”)

2. Take a deep breath and smell your rose. (Remember the wonderful smell of a rose and keep this in mind as you are breathing in your rose.)

3. Hold the wonderful smell for a few moments. (This would be at the top of your incoming breath. Hold in that great smell, enjoying it.)

4. Let your breath come out with a sigh or just naturally as you think of your rose.

5. Continue smelling roses until you feel calmer.

 

Alternatives to the Rose:

  • You can of course use any flower that you love and that you like the smell of.
  • You can also choose another sight that has a pleasant smell that you particularly like. This might be the ocean and the smell of the ocean OR it might be trees in a forest and the smell of a forest. This of course will be an individual thing as to what fits for you.

You might consider if you want to do the rose as your “calming anchor” to make sure you on purpose smell some roses outside or at a flower market and breath in their fragrance and do this exercise to build in a memory.

I have decided you never know where you might pick up a good idea. In this case, I was watching the movie, Danny Collins. There is a part where his young granddaughter is having trouble calming herself. Danny’s granddaughter has a diagnosis of ADHD.  The father tells her to remember her rose and then he walks his daughter through a similar kind of exercise that I have added to a bit.  I always want to give credit to sources that inspire or plant a seed for an idea for me.

I wish you the best in finding your own special rose or rose garden!