Doing Life Together

wisdom-92901_1280You don’t consider yourself too strict. You simply expect a lot from your children. In fact, some people call you a perfectionist. Yes, you are demanding. At times, you do push  because you want things to be right.

But is there a dark side to high pressure, high performing pushes? Does perfectionism cause relationship problems?

A study in the Journal of Personality provides insight into parents who drive their kids to perfection. In the study, researchers followed 263 seven-year-old grade school children for 5 years. They wanted to assess the impact of a perfectionistic parenting style on their children.

They found that those children whose parents were rated as intrusive (perfectionistic) by the researchers had children who were were overly critical of themselves. When parents corrected, took over and did for their kids, these behaviors undermined their children’ feelings of being good enough. And those negative feelings of not measuring up translated to depression and anxiety later.

Perfectionism may produce high functioning people in terms of their skills or talent, but it can also create people who are afraid of making mistakes and then engage in self-blame. Researchers call this “maladaptive perfectionism.” The concern is that this type of perfectionism may result in a person’s negative well-being, with self-criticism, symptoms of depression, anxiety and even possible suicide.

The bottom line then is to encourage children, not pressure them to the point of creating insecurities. So if you tend towards perfectionism, pay attention to how you translate this tendency to others. Are you pushing too much, overcorrecting, not allowing others to learn from their mistakes?  Are you contributing to negative well-being by wanting things done right and your way?

Take a step back. Recalibrate and allow grace. You don’t want to push to the extent that your children or others resent you, even if they become good at what they do.


acorn-planting-941552_1920Newsweek online recently posted an article entitled, Age 5 is too late: Public schools must focus on early learning. The author pleaded for education reform. She said a “coordinated curriculum between both the early childhood education program and the elementary school program is crucial; thus, creating a public school system beginning at the age of 2, or at the latest, age 3.” She then defended her position with brain research, informing us that the optimal window of learning is ages 0-5 for a child. The quality of care during that time sets the stage for later learning. I would agree that the brain is forming new connections and learning daily.

I disagree, however, in terms of where that learning should take place. The author wants kids in public education during those early years. Send them to a preschool where their minds can be stimulated. But what about early childhood education in the home?

A two-year-old does not need to go to a public school to bridge the learning gap. Three-year-olds don’t need to start reading or writing their name. Children can learn at home with parent interaction, while developing a strong attachment to their parents. A secure attachment also sets the stage for learning. When the home is a safe place with a caring parent who loves on their child, learning takes place.

I was my children’s early childhood teacher. I rearranged my career to do this, sacrificed income and did what I needed to do to be there during this critical developmental time. I’m not a saint, nor an elite. I did have a working husband, so yes, I could stay home and change shifts with him for a few hours of night work.  For income, I worked when my kids napped or went to bed. It wasn’t ideal for my career, but their needs during this critical period of development were more important.

My classroom was parks, playgrounds, field trips and nature walks.  We would swing, run,  look at exotic bugs and plants. I was teaching, creating curiosity, and providing active learning by doing. There was no classroom structure–just the exploration of new things and new experiences. And  during that process, I was imparting my values.

I am perfectly aware that some parents have to work to survive, but maybe this is where we should rethink how to support families -find ways to keep parents and children together during this critical development period. It would strengthen attachment. I don’t believe sending a two-year-old to a public school can do that.

To learn, a child needs a sense of security and a home base that provides safety. This is where we need to put our efforts in  early childhood development. What can we do to support parents who need to work, who are stressed, whose family problems are causing instability and chaos in the home? How can we strengthen the parent-child attachment in order to prevent future problems?

Rather than send a two-year-old off to a public school, I would rather find ways to keep that child in the home of a nurturing parent who can teach through relationship. That would be a program to get behind.

woman-1446557_1920Have you ever thought, “I haven’t posted in social media for awhile. I don’t know what is going on?” Then you feel guilty and worry that you have somehow missed something important. Actually, those anxious feelings could be a good thing if you tolerate them. A break from social media might be saving your mental health, especially when it comes to depression.

New research tells us that people who use social media most often have higher rates of depression! That’s right, the higher your usage, the more at risk you are for developing depression. Now, we aren’t sure if more depressed people take to the screens, or if the screens help create depressed people. But we do know there is a connection. And other researchers who conducted a study on Facebook use did conclude that Facebook use created unhappiness in younger people. Thus, we have enough evidence to say limiting your use of social media would be a good thing. Say goodbye to nomophobia (the fear of being without your mobile phone).  The world will continue. Life will go on!

If you are someone who feels insecure, envious of others or simply  struggles with esteem, social media may be contributing to those feelings and leave you more anxious and depressed. Therefore, a good place to begin is to evaluate how you feel after looking at social media sites. Does this help your mood or leave you feeling down? If you feel worse, limit your time, but ramp up your time engaging with others in real time. Support and connection is protective of developing depression.

Consider also that people on social media tend to present a fabricated view of themselves in order to appear happy and successful. They aren’t living the perfect lives they may present on social media. So don’t look at these sites and compare. And if you are on social media with people who are constantly negative and posting things that bring you down and lead to feeling sad, defriend. Instead build real life social support. Have coffee with people. Find a community group or church to do life with people. Engage with people who will share both strengths and weaknesses. This helps with perspective. And a realistic perspective and expectations about life can prevent feelings of depression.

For more help and information regarding balancing your digital life,

teens and cell phonesSara is only 12. Selfie posting on social media is a daily event. Her parents wonder why she takes so many pictures of herself? Is this an indicator of narcism? Should they be concerned?

These parents aren’t alone. Most of us wonder, what is the connection between selfies and narcissism? Researchers are trying to sort it out since selfies are here to stay. We want to know if we are raising self-absorbed kids given their interaction with social media.  Some researchers say, YES; others say NO; still others say, we don’t yet know.

Author and clinical psychologist, Dr. Laura Markham, says NO. Selfies do not indicate narcissism. Based on her research, she believes children are more confident, not entitled. However, researchers Fox and Rooney found a small correlation between men who posted numerous selfies and narcissism. But in that same study, women  did not show that connection. This relationship between selfies and narcissism is complicated to study. A few studies here and there with conclusions can’t give us a good answer yet.

Like most things, parents can use common sense when it comes to social media posting. Children should be taught how to be good netizens. Discussions regarding what to  post and how often to post are necessary with children.

Furthermore, parenting experts wonder if helicopter parenting plays more of a role when it comes to narcissism. Children who are hovered over and  not allowed to fail or struggle, lose their self-confidence-a healthy marker of self-esteem. And over scheduled kids quickly learn that they are the center of attention. Family life revolves around them and their next event.

Perhaps instead of focusing on selfies, we should help children find their place in a working family unit-do chores, be grateful, struggle and be allowed to fail. Children who are unconditionally loved and learn how to serve and think of others will not be narcissistic. For those kids, selfies are probably just harmless fun.


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