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Creating Resilient Kids through Connection

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Creating Resilient Kids through Connection Dr. Michael Cheng, Resilient and Ready, Centurion Centre, Ottawa, Tues, Sep 18, 2012. Human beings are social creatures. Humans cannot survive on their own They must require others for survival

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slide1
Creating Resilient Kids through Connection

Dr. Michael Cheng, Resilient and Ready, Centurion Centre, Ottawa, Tues, Sep 18, 2012

human beings are social creatures
Human beings are social creatures...
  • Humans cannot survive on their own
  • They must require others for survival
  • Thus, the core drive of every person is to be connected to other people
  • Healthy connections (“secure attachments”) between children/youth and nurturing adults is the single most important factor that contributes to resiliency
  • Bowlby, 1940; Ainsworth, 1979; Schore, 2001; Neufeld, 2004
a young children are happy more confident because they are deeply connected attached to parents

Parent

Child

A. Young children are happy/more confident because they are deeply connected (attached) to parents
q why are they so well connected because of the attachment cycle
Q. Why are they so well connected? Because of the ‘attachment cycle’…

Parent

Child

1. Young children express their needs…

3. Forms an attachment

2. Parents meet the needs

slide6

With secure attachment (i.e. when a child’s needs are consistently met), it is more likely that a child will have the seeds of resiliency…

View of World

I can count on my parents…

I can trust others…

View of Self

I am loved…

I am a good person…

I am competent…

I am capable…

slide7
Although children need strong attachments to parents, unfortunately often child-parent attachments weaken as children grow older…

Parent

Child

q if a child turns away from parents who do they often turn to instead of parents
Q. If a child turns away from parents, who do they often turn to instead of parents?

Parent

Child

a peers
A. Peers

Negative behaviours

Peers

Technology / Consumerism

Parent(s)

Child

Dalai Lama, 1998; Neufeld, 2005

a turning to 1 peers 2 things consumerism 3 negative behaviours is bad because
A. Turning to 1) peers, 2) things (“consumerism”), 3) negative behaviours is bad because…
  • They can never meet a child’s emotional/ attachment needs as well as only healthy parents can
  • Only parents can reliably provide emotional support, acceptance and validation
  • Especially with peers
    • Friendships come and go
    • Peers are still maturing and changing
    • Your BFF one day can be your worst enemy the next…
2010 kaiser family foundation survey
2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Survey

U.S. children/teens

7 hr/day

”Entertainment screens"

Television, cell phones, hand-held games, iPads, Internet games, Facebook and video games

2-hrs/day

Violent video games

American Academy of Paediatrics, Media Policy Statement

video clip debrief

VIDEO CLIP: DEBRIEF

Q. What does this do to a child’s brain?

Q. What does this teach you about life, dealing with conflict, and relationships?

video games are bad
Video games are bad

Research confirms numerous harmful effects of video games

Behaviour / mood / relationships

E.g. Decreased empathy / Increased narcissism

Physical health, sleep

Video games are however, great for

Training combat soldiers

Creating children/youth who lack empathy and see violence as a way of solving problems

American Academy of Paediatrics, Media Policy Statement

modern technology may be harming our relationships
Modern technology may be harming our relationships
  • Deeper intimacy in relationships being replaced by superficial, weak connections
    • “I have 500 Facebook friends, but I can’t really talk to anyone”
    • “Facebook depression”
  • Facebook cited by name in 1/3 of divorce filings (UK study, 2011)

Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, 2011; Dr. Sherry Turkle, MIT and TEDS Talk

dandelions vs orchids
Dandelions vs. Orchids…
  • Most children/youth are dandelions
  • Needs are low enough that they can take root and survive almost anywhere
  • “Ordinary children”
  • Some children are orchids
  • Fragile, special/high needs, needing special care
  • But capable of blooming spectacularly
the good news parents can ultimately do a better job at meeting a child s six attachment needs
The good news – parents can ultimately do a better job at meeting a child’s (six) attachment needs…

Negative behaviours

Peers

Technology / Consumerism

Parent(s)

Child

Dalai Lama, 1998; Neufeld, 2005

neufeld s six attachment modes from superficial to deep ways to attach to another
Neufeld's Six Attachment Modes: From superficial to deep, ways to attach to another

Neufeld, 2005

your close female friend spouse tells you about the horrible day that she is having
Your close (female) friend / spouse tells you about the horrible day that she is having…
  • Q. Most of the time, what does your friend want you to do?

1) Give brilliant advice,

2) Listen and validate those feelings

your close female friend spouse tells you about the horrible day that she is having1
Your close (female) friend / spouse tells you about the horrible day that she is having…
  • Q. Most of the time, what does your friend want you to do?

1) Give brilliant advice,

2) Listen and validate those feelings

listen for feelings accept and validate
Listen for feelings, accept and validate

When your child is telling you about a problem

Listen to your child the same way you'd listen to a friend

Use active listening – repeat what you have heard to show that you are listening

Acknowledge, validate and accept what feelings your child has

Feelings are never wrong

I want to tell my mom, but I’m so worried she’s just going to nag!

connect listen for feelings accept and validate
Connect: Listen for feelings, accept and validate

There, there, don’t cry… You only knew him a short time… You’ll find someone else…

(Crying) I can’t believe he broke up with me…

connect listen for feelings accept and validate1
Connect: Listen for feelings, accept and validate

I’m so sorry… Let me give you a hug…

(Crying) I can’t believe he broke up with me…

slide33
The power of connection and tears…When we cry enough (with support), we can grieve the loss, and then we are able to cope with the stress…

Okay, I feel a lot better now…

I’m glad she’s better… And I didn’t really do anything at all than listen!

connection before direction don t jump to directing correcting
‘Connection BEFORE Direction’ -- Don’t jump to ‘Directing’ / ‘Correcting’

There, there, don’t cry… You only knew him a short time… You’ll find someone else…

(Crying) I can’t believe he broke up with me…

crying is good because parents can then provide comfort
Crying is good because parents can then provide comfort

When your child is upset, explore your child’s feelings so that your child can ‘grieve’ about whatever the stress is

Crying with a parent is

1) Therapeutic and help your child’s brain process the sadness so that it is better the next time around

2) Therapeutic by helping your child see that s/he can turn to you for support

when you are dating someone
When you are dating someone…
  • You’re interested in getting a deeper connection with someone…
  • Do you say,
    • 1) “Hey, let's go on a group date together!”, or
    • 2) “Let's go out, just you and me…!”
spend 1 1 time with your child
Spend 1:1 time with your child
  • As a parent
    • Have regular, scheduled times where you spend 1:1 time with your child
    • 1:1 time encourages deeper communication and connection than with other family members around…
its all about our connections
Its all about our connections...

Friends

Father

Others

Relatives

Siblings

Mother

School

Child

is my child resilient
Is my child resilient?
  • Does my child have healthy connections?
    • E.g. parents
    • E.g. siblings
    • E.g. school / community / peers
  • With each connection, how deep is it?
    • Are they based on
      • Spending time together
      • Having things in common
      • Being loyal
      • Being valued
      • Expressing affection/love
      • Being able to confide feelings and feeling validated and accepted no matter what?
key mental health services in ottawa
Key Mental Health Services in Ottawa
  • Your child’s family doctor / paediatrician
  • In a crisis
    • Child, Youth, Family Crisis Line of Eastern Ontario (www.icrs.ca)
  • Hospitals
    • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (age 0-16)
    • Royal Ottawa (ROMHC) (age 16+)
  • Child/youth mental health agencies
    • Centre psychosociale pour enfants/famille
    • Youth Services Bureau (YSB) (age 12-20)
    • Crossroads Children’s Centre (age 0-12)
  • Private practice professionals
    • E.g. psychologists/social workers, counsellors
  • Information & Referral
    • PLEO Parent Navigator Service (www.pleo.on.ca)
    • eMentalHealth (www.eMentalHealth.ca)
    • 211
question
Question
  • Q. What does "at risk" look like?
  • A. The “at risk” child is the child who is not resilient, i.e. child who does not have strong connections in his/her life, for example:
    • The child is not attached to mom, dad, siblings, family, school, community, interests/activities, spirituality, peers...
    • Or the child who is only superficially attached, but not at a deep level
      • A child who spends time with parents/peers, but who is not truly able to talk with parents about his/her feelings
    • Or the child who seeks attachments with the wrong things, e.g. peers over parents, negative behaviours…
question1
Question
  • Q. When there are rules/consequences imposed on our children that they don't agree with, can these be "triggers"?
  • A. There will be times when you have to set a limit or consequence around necessary (and not trivial) things. When you set the consequence, it is important to maintain the connection with your child.
    • Do this by always staying calm
    • Do this by emphasizing common goals with your child
    • Overcome the pain of the break in the connection (which happens when you have a consequence) by talking about the reunion
    • Ensure that before you set a consequence and withdraw from the emotional bank account, that you have a reserve already built up.
example parent has to discipline their child who failed a test because of not doing any work
Example: Parent has to discipline their child who failed a test because of not doing any work...
  • Ahead of time, build up the emotional bank account by making sure that you spend regular 1:1 time with your child
  • Parent (calmly): “We need to sit down and talk about your math test. Do you want to talk about it now, or another time?”
  • Parent: “You know how you want to be a video game designer one day? I’m worried that’s not going to happen if you keep failing your math classes. What do you think?”
  • Parent: “I’m really sorry about this, but because you’ve not kept up with your homework, we are taking away your TV privileges for the next week, as we have talked about.”
  • Parents: “I can see your angry. That’s fine. I love you, and we’ll get through this. I agree, this is frustrating, and I want you to have your privileges back. When you regularly do your work for the next week, you’ll get back your privileges.”
slide50
Empathy can be used in all situations, even when setting consequences/limits and your child is upset at you

I can see your frustrated… I’d feel frustrated if I were in your shoes too. That’s fine… I love you. We’ll work through this… Do want me to stay and be with you, or do you want me to come back in a few minutes?

(Crying) I can’t believe you’re taking my cell phone away! You guys are so mean! I hate you!

question2
Question...
  • Q. How can we stay calm and not over react when my child is expressing him/herself?
  • A. Helpful thoughts to tell yourself as a parent:
    • “I am glad my child is letting me know how s/he feels.”
    • “Thank god that s/he feels comfortable enough to confide in me.”
    • “I have an opportunity to support my child...”
    • “Children do well if they can… every child wants to be successful, and cope well with life, school, home, friends/peers... If they can’t, its because of something getting in the way...”
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