Setting limits with children

53523_hotel.jpgAn important part of childrearing is setting limits, especially when children are very young. The hard part is making sure that setting limits is done through education – letting the child know why we are saying “no” to something, not just refusing. Another vital part of this education process is that we keep our voices factual rather than critical or shaming, otherwise the lesson is lost and the child just feels oppressed. It is hard for us to remember this when children are young, because usually the pace of living is stressful for everybody and being relaxed and calm seems impossible. Also we are in denial at that time about our behaviour and how uptight we are. Children feel the full brunt of harsh, unexplained limit-setting and it affects their self esteem badly. This can result in serious rebellious behaviour in childhood and all the way through to adult relationships.

at four years of age she is the cutest
and she is very aware of ‘living the good life’
as I babysat my granddaughter in the hotel suite
she declared that she wanted stuff from the mini bar
I had to be very careful how I refused her
tonight we were going to eat
in the restaurant downstairs which
my nine year old grandson had been
given the honour to escort us to
I began with “no, darling”
the disappointment in her eyes showed
that there was anger bubbling deep inside
so I sat down near her and pointed out that
using the mini bar costs too much
her eyes mellowed and this showed that
the information made sense, so she seemed at peace
after the delicious meal downstairs
we enjoyed watching the movie Happy Feet, in the suite

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Sleeping to the sound of music

Sound of nature, photo by Daniel Jaeger Vendruscolo, Pato Branco, Brazil, sleeping musicA relaxing activity is to play instrumental peaceful music as you fall asleep. It is vital, though, that the music be gentle and not have words that can instil a contrary message in your subconscious mind. Some songs, although beautiful, have messages of ‘poor abandoned me’ or psych you up with ‘I’m a winner’ and this is not relaxing as you sleep. Also important is that you play music that will finish and not be repeated all night because this may only keep you in a light sleep and not give you the rest you need. The same applies to sleeping with the TV on which can keep your mind busy all night. Then you wonder why you are tired and crotchety during the next day?

as we talked about the tension in their relationship
and what took place on a daily basis
it became apparent that every night they
watched TV in their bedroom
for relaxation of course!
they fell asleep while it was on
as their therapist I suggested that they
try turning the TV off when it was time to sleep
and they could play soft relaxing music instead
they did and the difference in their daytime
behaviour and interaction was noticeably calmer

Sound of nature, photo by Daniel Jaeger Vendruscolo, Pato Branco, Brazil, sleeping music

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Romantic trade-off

You&Me, photo by Valentina Jori, Roma, Italy, intimacy How many times have you been frustrated with your partner because you feel that you give and cannot get the same in return? Whether it has to do with the type of movie you want to see or what hobbies to share. This can affect your sex life too because the partner who feels less powerful in the relationship can lose their sex drive and can appear to be with-holding that pleasure. Of course, communicating your innermost concerns is a tricky task for some. An effective way to right this imbalance is to use a romantic trade-off. The couple can sit and work out what each one feels is missing in their relationship and then agree to trade-off one requirement for another. In that way there is a fairness to the process which results in greater intimacy. Sometimes this is done with the help of a therapist.

Susie was a sexy, sensual woman when
they first got together
that’s one of the characteristics that
attracted Bob to her
then after awhile that changed drastically
Bob had wondered what had caused that
was she no longer attracted to him?
when they came to see me we looked at
what worked and what didn’t and
some of their needs and wants were negotiated
for a romantic trade-off which satisfied both
not all requirements were resolved but at least
they agreed to disagree, for now

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Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's Day, photo by Michal Koralewski, Gniezno, Poland, day of loveToday is the day of love. Some people criticise the practise because they believe it is too commercialised. Other people enjoy the romantic and sensual mood of the day. It was once the role of the male to send flowers, chocolates and poetry to the female, often it was an anonymous gesture, creating intrigue. Nowadays it is something both men and women do for each other. It is a ritual that enhances relationships. Unless both partners dislike celebrating the day of love, then it is worthwhile to participate in the celebration.

Bruce felt that it was ridiculous to
celebrate Valentine’s Day
Vicki was looking forward to
receiving some show of affection
on the day of love from her new partner
somehow he had managed to avoid it
on previous occasions but she had
made it clear that it was important to her
Bruce ordered the works
flowers, perfume, choice words in the card
and dinner for two at a romantic restaurant
why? because he is a smart bloke and
values the relationship enough to
do the right thing when he is made aware
just as Vicki has done with his wishes
such as fishing with the mates on the
first Sunday of the month and the
regular card night at their place
with her playing the hostess
this exchange of favours to satisfy
each others desires is what makes
their relationship special

Happy Valentine’s Day, photo by Michal Koralewski, Gniezno, Poland, day of love

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Flirting and seduction

Flirting Swans, photo by Jenny W., Honolulu, Hawaii, nature's loveWhen people first meet, they spend all their time involved with flirting and seduction. That’s what keeps their passion alive. It’s understandable that in time the passion will cool and usually a truer love will grow because nothing stays the same. Nevertheless, it’s so important for the relationship when the flirting is maintained as a ritual, because it keeps love alive, stopping people from becoming too serious.

they noticed that it had been awhile since they
had chuckled, teased, flirted and joked a little
then it became apparent that they hadn’t had
such a great time in a long time, so
they made an agreement to include flirting in
a part of each day to develop the art
rightfully so, not only did they get better at it
but it was such a boost for their relationship
something so simple yet so effective.

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Timing is vital

Clock, photo by Henning Buchholz, Bremen, Germany, high priorityWhen good intentions become failures, then our timing could be out of sinc. Timing is vital in any plan of action, even for simple discussions. How often do we begin to say something, feeling confident and enthusiastic, and then the whole situation deteriorates into struggling in emotional quicksand? The more we struggle the worst it becomes and we wonder how it happened? Perhaps we didn’t consider whether it was appropriate to bring the matter up, no matter how simple it seemed. Perhaps we didn’t consider whether the other person was in the mood to deal with the matter. Perhaps we didn’t consider how capable we were at that point to express the matter appropriately. Or a combination of all of these things. When we pause and plan how to express ourselves, especially taking into consideration how right the timing is, then the interaction has more of a chance of being successful.

Stephanie had learnt from a young age
not to jump into the emotional deep end!
her father had a volatile personality
whether he was drunk or not, and so
before she spoke about anything delicate to anyone
she’d ask “are you free to speak for a moment?”
this usually prepared the other person
and it spared her unnecessary hurt!
how easy would it be if it were protocol for us
to first ask this question, just as we
automatically say “please” and “thank you”,
checking that the timing is right, could
protect us from abusive personalities
whilst respecting each others availability to
be fully present in a discussion

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Role models

Dad's Shoulder, photo by Joseph Zlomek, Pottstown, United States, loving parentSome people have had abusive parents as role models. Others have had one parent functional and the other dysfunctional. Unfortunately, there are those who have been abused and become abusers, mainly because they experienced how powerful induced fear was. The promising thing is that as we grow most of us learn to appreciate the healthy role models and mimic them in adulthood.

Nina was surprised that her mother’s abusive behaviour
hadn’t made her an emotional cripple, but remembered
that her father was a gentle, loving parent and
whenever she was tempted by her mother’s words
to believe that she was ugly and worthless
Nina would recall her father’s unconditional love
which gave her the confidence to make healthy choices
at times it took a lot of work to raise her self esteem
because her mother’s words would creep into
Nina’s thoughts unexpectedly, however
that was short lived as she developed the skills
to diffuse such thoughts by sending them
off into the universe in imaginary balloons

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Resentments

That look, photo by Betty Miller, Colorado, United States, http://fireyes.deviantart.com, inner turmoilEvery day we have mixed feelings about different matters. Resentments are strong feelings which we can bury deep within, contaminating our wellbeing. What’s worse is being in denial about doing just that. Resentments are so cunning that we can ignore their existence until it’s too late and we have surprising explosive behaviours. That’s why it’s far better to be in touch with our feelings and own them as being naturally ours, and in doing so they settle down. Then we need to observe their origin and what can be done to resolve this turmoil. The expression ‘befriend our demons’ means finding those feelings which we have suppressed, that have subsequently turned into problematic behaviour, and processing them.

she had long ago ‘befriended her demons’
as a result of intense therapy and
personal and professional development
she took pride in being a guide for others
on similar journeys of enlightenment
but she didn’t notice resentments building up
deep within, in her inner world
on the outside she was busy and happy
but something was not as it should be
she’d gained weight and had an insatiable appetite
it took 3 OA meetings a week to get real
about her buried unwanted feelings of
resentment, self pity, boredom, loneliness
which she was busy avoiding with activities
and for which she had paid the price
fortunately it didn’t take long for her
to tweak her choices back into healthy living

That look, photo by Betty Miller, http://fireyes.deviantart.com

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Dignity or pride

My dog, photo by Lily Rosen, Tel Aviv, Israel, animal posture
My dog, photo by Lily Rosen, Tel Aviv, Israel

This photo depicts the utmost dignity and beauty. There is a fine line between dignity and pride. Dignity is a strength of character which helps us to deal with life, maturely. This can mean that we survive the worst of life’s ups and downs by having such a strength. Things happen which can either be absolutely terrible or unbelievably amazing, yet how we handle such events determines our health and wellbeing because extremes can stress us. Pride on the other hand leads to a closed character and secrecy, which keeps emotions buried causing illness and unhappiness.

as a young man he was charm itself
popular and loved by men and women
women wanted him, men wanted to be like him
he appeared dignified but was closed
and especially secretive about himself
he became dysfunctional and in time his aggression
lost him his family and the respect of many
unfortunately, he doesn’t see that there is
anything harmful in his choice of behaviour
and he leaves ‘dead bodies’ in his path
whilst self medicating with unhealthy things like
cheating, lying, excessive drinking, overeating and
who knows what else?
his only chance is that he comes out of denial
and becomes more transparent about who he is

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Act as if

I love you, photo by Hannah Boettcher, United States, universal messageWe are often faced with someone else’s negativity. When this happens it is far better to acknowledge their message so that they don’t keep repeating it, and then let it wash off us like water off a duck’s back. We don’t have to wear someone else’s negativity. Instead we need to remember that they are entitled to their opinion and we don’t have to agree with it. So if we keep a positive attitude then life is more fulfilling. If we ‘act as if ‘ then it becomes a healthy habit. Free of sulking, free of resentments and in time a more pleasant way of living life.

when I was younger I got easily upset or annoyed
and my serenity depended on another person’s behaviour
so if someone upset me then I would hold a grudge
in other words sulk until they saw my point of view
on my journey of personal enlightenment
I learnt to let go of resentment when someone upset me
now I express myself as calmly as possible
and then ‘act as if ‘ a new page has been turned
after a few minutes I am at peace and have
no need to labour over the issue or
feel resentful until an apology is forthcoming
love is ever-present and ever-healing
an invaluable asset, tried and true

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