Monthly Archives: August 2019

How To Raise a Narcissist, and How To Avoid Doing So

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You’ve met them, even if you didn’t know what you were looking at or listening to.  People who are full of entitlement and expectation, but lack a certain depth of empathy (Emojiis on Facebook after someone posted the loss of their pet doesn’t count).   Folk who are very conscious of where they stand in the social ladder, and where everyone else is too.  People who think the nicest houses and the most fashionable cars are more important than deep emotional connections and giving back to society.  Partners that tell you that if you only made more money, looked better, or had a better backhand then they wouldn’t “have” to cheat.

How do narcissists start out?  Is it genetic?  Are they victims of trauma?  Is it something in the (sparkling) water?  No; you have to start with the right temperament.  Children who are naturally compassionate are less likely to end up as narcissists.  Having a strong temperament with lots of drama supports the development of narcissism.  And you don’t have to be a narcissist to raise one.  Not at all.  With a nod to the famous “South Pacific” song, you have to raise a narcissist very carefully.  Here’s your roadmap:

  1. Be overindulgent, regardless of your financial abilities.  For wealthy families, overindulgence is easy.  Sometimes too easy.  For kids from limited incomes, it looks a little different.  They won’t have everything they ask for, but they might still get scarce resources spent on them, even when the shower leaks and the tires on Mommy’s car are bald as billiard balls.  Being allowed to control where and when things are done for themselves and the whole family, rather than negotiate and accept limits; that’s overindulgence as well.  It could be extending bedtimes, doing homework for a child “so they don’t get too upset”, or even not paying the household bills so that a child gets what they insist they want.  Overindulgence is more of a sense of things being out of proportion and demanded, rather than bestowed with balance, forethought and awareness.
  2. Fail to provide consistent emotional attention/education, and teach children to seek external validation.  Again, this doesn’t mean that the parents of narcissists were cruel, or even mean.  They could have been very depressed and unable to reflect and respond to a child’s feelings.  They could be away a great deal with work or social commitments, leaving childcare, especially emotional childcare to paid employees.  Working parents:  do not think I am attacking you.  Leaving the house and leaving your child’s heart are two different things.  Working makes juggling home life harder, but it isn’t impossible to make the time you have at home high quality.  But if you are at home and your head is at work, or if you are at home and your head is on Facebook, then you aren’t giving your child what they long for; your interaction and your teaching about emotional and relationship hygiene.  Childcare, especially the care and feeding of emotions and self-image, is actually not that much fun for parents.  Helping your child manage their feelings and listening to them as they learn to do so is work.  Lots and lots of work.  And it requires time and attention from you that won’t always be much of a thrill.   Ask any child psychologist.  If you didn’t really want to raise kids, but you have them (for whatever reason),  you may not be very motivated to spend the type of time with them that isn’t at an event, on the stage, at the podium, etc.  the type and amount of emotional investment needed to parent children may seem too much.  People do sometimes end up parents when they knew that they weren’t really cut out for the job.
  3. Model a strong sense of entitlement.  You need to enter a restaurant expecting that you shouldn’t have to wait for a table at the price you are paying.  Complain if the babysitter has the flu and ruins your plans for the night.  She should take better care of herself if she expects to have this job!  Value your child’s grades more than their effort, and make sure they know that making their projects look great is much more important to you than their passion for the theme or what they learned.   Try not to share the spotlight if you can help it, so that you emphasize to your child that being the center of attention is very, very important.

How can you prevent raising a narcissist?  Make sure that you take care of your own mental health needs.  If you are depressed or addicted, get help.  Now.  If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, decide if exposing your child to this person is healthy.  The chance that you will save or cure a narcissistic partner is very low.  But they can support this trait in their children.  That may be a high price to pay.  If you don’t know how to build emotional skills in your child, learn.  Seek parenting guidance and don’t be embarrassed; no one is born knowing how to do this parenting thing.  Having a sincere desire to support the emotional health of your child is your superpower.

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How To Correctly Reposition Your Child’s Legs When They “W-Sit”

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Hypermobile kids, kids with low muscle tone, and kids with sensory processing issues are champion “W-sitters”.  What’s that?  If your child sits with their thighs rotated inward, knees bent, and their feet rotated so their toes point outward, you have a W-sitter.   This sitting pattern isn’t abnormal if it is only one of many positions your child uses while playing on the floor.  It really isn’t.  But if it is the ONLY  way they like to sit, the only way they are able to sit without falling over, or the only way they are comfortable sitting on the floor, you may have a problem.

What kind of problems?

Persistent W-sitting can tighten hip and leg muscles to the point at which walking is negatively affected.  It also overstretches and discourages the development of the muscles needed for good walking and postural control.  It can loosen important hip and knee ligaments that are also essential for walking.  W-sitting inhibits active trunk muscle activation (that core thing again!).  We all know that having a weak core is a problem for good quality movement.  And finally…poor gait quality is a safety issue.  More falls, more tripping, more leaning on things and people.  Read Safety Awareness With Your Hypermobile Child? Its Not a Big Thing, Its the Biggest Thing for a deeper dive into safety awareness.

There is a sensory impact as well.

What isn’t always so obvious is that having a weak core and only using a sitting position that locks the lower body into a collapsed position tells a sensory-sensitive kid that their brain is telling the truth; they are vulnerable and it is not that easy or safe to move.  This inhibits movement exploration and opportunities to build balance, strength, etc.

So….What is the best way to reposition your child’s legs?

  1. Don’t pull their feet out and around.  If your kid has issues such as hypermobility, you may be contributing to more joint problems if you place force on delicate tissue.
  2. You can demonstrate alternate sitting patterns and see if they will copy your position.  This requires the language, cognitive and motor skills to do so, and the willingness to comply.  Young children and special needs kids may not be able to follow your directions.  Some parents tell their child “Legs out” or “Fix your feet” and they slowly learn what that means.
  3. Try practicing regularly and rewarding other sitting patterns.  Praise will work for some kids but not all kids.  You know if you have a child that will take the bait.
  4. Tilt their trunk to one side, and wait for their brain to elicit a “righting reaction”; kicking the opposite leg out and forward.  Repeat on the other side.  A child with CP may not be able to overcome their spasticity to perform this, but you certainly can try it with any child.  If your child fights you on this, tip them to the side faster so that the reflexive response overs before they realize it, and use all your Happiest Toddler techniques Use The Fast Food Rule For Better Attunement With Your Child to decrease the oppositional behavior.
  5. Think of other more dynamic positions for play.  Read Three Ways To Reduce W-Sitting (And Why It Matters)

Does Your Older Child Hate Writing? Try HWT’s Double-Lined Paper

 

This paper has been more useful to older kids (6+) that I see for handwriting help than any other paper on the market, and almost any other tool Problems With Handwriting? You Need The Best Eraser , Great Mechanical Pencils Can Improve Your Child’s Handwriting Skills .  Why?  Regular lined paper, and almost all worksheets, are usually jam-packed with lines.  Red lines, green lines, lines with airplanes and worms.  There are papers designed by occupational therapists that are even more complex than the mass-market choices.

All this is often visual noise to kids with sensory processing issues and ocular or visual-perceptual issues.  These problems are sometimes subtle and appear to be behavioral.  The kids who “hate to write”.  The kids who look away when you are demonstrating how to write a letter or spell a word.  The kids who cannot seem to remember where to start a letter, even after repeated practice.  These children often do much better with HWT’s double-lined paper.

Let’s drill down into the design of this unique paper:

  • Double-lined paper provides just two lines; the baseline and the midline.  Knowing where to start uppercase letters and tall lowercase letters is important, and this paper encourages practice and awareness while still giving some structure to writing.
  • There is a wide empty space between sets of lines.  This is intentional; children have room to place the tails of lowercase “y” and “j”, for example, without blocking the uppercase or tall lowercase letters of the next line of writing.  For many kids, not knowing what to do about crowding and spacing is a good reason to stop trying to write well, or sometimes even write at all.
  • This sturdy paper is pre-punched to be used in a 3-ring binder.  The quality of the paper is very high, which means that it doesn’t tear easily when a child erases a mistake.  Most schools provide the thinnest paper for teachers to use as handouts, creating the potential for a disaster when given to a child that struggles with grading their force on an eraser, or makes multiple errors in a word.
  • Brains get practice in sizing and proportion.  Once kids have a pattern of letter formation, it is easier to accomplish without the extra midline.  But so many kids need that “training wheel” effect much longer than scrolls recognize.  Many kids need a day or two of double-lined paper use to start understanding the way a letter “h” is twice as tall as a letter “a” and the same size but aligned differently than the letter “y”.  Of course, pointing it out is important, and so is working on other writing qualities such as letter and word spacing.
  • Kids write faster.  Because they are guided to proportion and start letters correctly, they don’t waste time thinking about it or erasing incorrect letters.  Again, this doesn’t mean their brain isn’t taking it all in.  If that were true, we would start every kid on single-lined paper in preschool.
  • There are three line sizes, so you don’t have to abandon the double-lines when your kid enter middle school.  I will admit that I wish the pre-k/K paper were thicker.  But it is still fairly sturdy.
  • You can alternate using this paper with single-lined paper to see when to “take the training wheels off” and stop using double-lined paper.  Kids should always have a chance to practice with standard paper, but when the choice is between fighting and crying, and quickly executing a homework assignment, it is no contest.

 

The best paper wins.

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Does Your Child “Trace” the Room’s Perimeter or Hate Big Spaces? There is a Sensory-Based Explanation

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Space; the final frontier?

When you see it, it looks like Helen Keller crossed with a Roomba.  A child enters a space, even a familiar space, and runs the perimeter without stopping to play or examine things.  They may trace the room with their fingers, or repeat this process many times before they “land” and engage in some kind of purposeful activity.  If they get upset or challenged, they may resume this behavior.

One explanation for this behavior is that it is a solution to spatial processing difficulties.  When a typical child over the age of, let’s say 14 months, enters a room, they use their visual and auditory skills to tell them about the shape, height, and contents of the room.  As we mature, we use higher-order sensory input to inform our awareness and thinking.  We use sound in particular to tell us about the space to our sides and behind us that we cannot see.  Kids with ASD and SPD are stuck using immature types of information, and need to use them more often and more intensely to get the same knowledge.

How does this feel for them? Think of Notre Dame cathedral (before that awful fire).  The soaring ceilings and the long aisles create an other-worldly feeling you cannot escape.  Your brain knows you are not in your living room, or even in your own place of worship back home.  The medieval architects knew this too.  That was exactly the effect their were aiming for.  To set you back on your heels with the wonders of G-d.  How?  By making the spatial characteristics very unfamiliar and difficult to square with everyday experience.  To have you feel smaller and less in control in the presence of the almighty.

Now imagine that every space you inhabit gives you that feeling.  You enter a room and your eyes go everywhere.  You want to walk around to give yourself more information about where you are.  You don’t, but your nervous system is suggesting it.  You feel off balance and vulnerable.  Sound familiar?

What can you do?  Treating spatial processing issues isn’t easy.  Addressing limitations in vestibular and visual processing can really help, but I think that sound-based treatments are some of the easiest and most effective.  I use Quickshifts effectively to address spatial processing issues  Quickshifts: A Simple, Successful, and Easy to Use Treatment For Processing, Attention and Postural Activation.  Of course, it is best to address all the sensory processing issues any child has to get the best results.  You want to cement in the skills of better sensory processing by achieving good functioning in multiple situations.  But spatial processing problems have to be addressed to achieve a calmer and more organized state.  You want every child to feel safe and supported wherever they go!

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Effective sensory processing treatment helps kids feel safe in big spaces

Quickshifts: A Simple, Successful, and Easy to Use Treatment For Processing, Attention and Postural Activation

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Every child loves music, but not every music is therapy!

What if you could add a sensory-based treatment that could target specific sensory and behavioral goals, doesn’t require expensive equipment or a large therapy space, and you could see the effects within a very short time?

Since adding Quickshifts to my therapy sessions, I have been able to address some of the more difficult behaviors and sensory processing issues I encounter in EI.  Very young children are often afraid of being on therapy balls and swings, and they don’t always tolerate the Wilbarger or Astronaut protocols Why Is The Wilbarger Protocol So Hard To Get Right?.  But everyone can listen to music.  Enter Quickshifts.

I am primarily using them over speakers, since even older kids are struggling with wearing headphones.  I find that this isn’t preventing progress, and I periodically try to reintroduce headphones with children over 2.  They can change so quickly that I never know when “NO” will turn into “maybe”.

Why Modulated Music Wasn’t Working For Me

I stopped using Modulated music a long time ago.  Not because I didn’t think it was an effective treatment.  Because I couldn’t get any compliance at home, and I saw very little progress with use only in my sessions.  There was often a learning phase, in which I had to adjust the amount of listening time to prevent overwhelming young or very challenged children.  Using them only in treatment sessions seemed to make little meaningful difference in my little customers.  The way Modulated music needed to be scheduled and used (two daily 30-minute sessions, 2-3 hour wait before sleep times and between listening times) made it almost impossible to use with young children at home, regardless of how willing parents seemed to be.  And very few parents were that willing.  Maybe they would be able to do insulin injections on a schedule, but not music.

Quickshifts:  More Flexible, More Easily Tolerated, More Effective in EI

Quickshifts have been much more flexible, but just as successful.  Maybe more!  They can be used often throughout the day, any time of the day.  I haven’t seen one small child react in a way that indicated that they were overwhelmed.  The ability to target specific types of sensory-based goals means I can deliver results.

Parents are happy to be able to download the albums and use them to improve transitions, sleep, attention and more. The use of technology to entrain an alpha brainwave state means that if the album isn’t a perfect fit, I don’t get an overwhelmed child; there is always some improvement in regulation and arousal.  But when I have seen kids generate more postural activation, calm down and even laugh, or tune into their environments in ways they never have before Quickshifts, I wonder why I waited so long to get this treatment on board.

If you are tempted to go out and buy these albums without the guidance of an OTR that is trained in sound therapy, please reconsider.  The reason that I have had such success is not just because this treatment works.  It is because it is used as part of a whole sensory-based protocol, in which I can select and prescribe the right music to be used at the right time.  There really is a reason to have an OTR help you.  You will get better results, avoid problems, save time and money, and have someone guiding you.  Not Dr. Google.

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What To Say When Your Child Says “I Hate You!”

 

daiga-ellaby-699111-unsplashIt happens to almost every parent.  It could happen when your child is a fuming preschooler, or a haughty tween.  Doesn’t matter.  It still hurts.  A lot.  Even the sweetest child can hurl one of these statements out when they don’t get what they want or aren’t allowed to do something.

The biggest question isn’t “Why are they saying that?” but “How do I respond?”  There are a few choices I can think of that don’t involve nasty threats or violence.  Let’s drill down and see if there is one that rises above the crowd:

  • “But I love YOU!”  Hardly ever a winner.  Said with a warm smile or through gritted teeth, this rarely works well to alter a child’s attitude.  It seems that they work harder to explain why they are so annoyed/disgusted/irritated with you.
  • “Don’t you ever speak to me that way again!”  Well, you have drawn your line in the sand.  Let’s hope you have a consequence that you are willing to administer, because it is likely that you will be hearing this again.  Maybe soon.
  • “Wow, that hurts me”  OK, that sounds heartfelt and honest.  The problem is that at this moment, your child may be trying to hurt you.  You have just informed your child that success has been achieved.  In the long run they probably aren’t sociopaths, and they probably will regret hurting you.  But right now?  They aren’t in a place in which they care about your feelings as much as you’d like.

 

And the answer that might just work?

  • ” You are really, really mad at me right now”  Stating how they feel using a fraction of the energy and emotion that your child is spewing is, wait for it….The Happiest Toddler on the Block’s Fast Food Rule.  Yes, the same strategy you use when your two year-old’s cookie falls on the floor can help you with this situation as well.  Because making it clear to the upset person that you “get” them, even if you don’t agree with them, can dissipate some of the indignant venom fast.  You might have to repeat it again after you hear more words about what an idiot you are, or what a bad mommy you are.  Only after you see that they have dialed down some of the venom can you offer a solution, a trade, or a bit of commiseration.  Why?  Because jumping in too soon sends the message that what you’d truly like is to shut them up.  That will not be good.

Want more information on THTOTB strategies?  Read Help Your Child Develop Self-Regulation With Happiest Toddler On The Block and Stretch Your Toddler’s Patience, Starting Today!.