Helicopter Parenting: is it a choice?

clip_image008_thumbHelicopter Parenting is a term used to describe parents who “hover” over their kids and try to control their kids’ choices regarding friends, education, schooling, hobbies career and even partners. The original intention behind the helicopter parenting style is to protect children and to help them get the most out of life by directing them towards what the parents think is right for the child.

Helicopter parenting comes with much love and care for the children, but there is always the risk the parents may become obsessive and create a dependent and helpless attitude in the children by not giving them the opportunities to experience, learn and evolve using their own judgment.

The greatest risk of using this parenting method is that of the parents adopting a form of perfectionism that sends a message to the child that Mom or Dad’s way of doing things is the only right way. Rather than creating a feeling of safety, love and appreciation for the child, perfectionism creates a feeling of inadequacy and fear. In simple words:

Anxious parents raise anxious kids

A new study showed that an over-involved or overprotective parenting style, often referred to as “helicopter mothers”, increases the risk for later anxiety in children. The study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, followed 200 children, aged 3-4 years old, and again 5 years after, at the age of 8-9. It also contains observed interactions between mothers and children, as well as mothers’ responses to statements like “I determine whom my child will play with” and “I dress my child even if he/she can do it alone”.

Read more about helicopter mothers

From the Life Coaching Deck: Trust Your Healing Powers

Young woman with smooth skinAs a life coach, I have to keep a strong belief in the power of coaching even when those who come for coaching seem impossible to help at first. Recently, I had to question my belief when a new client came to me that made me doubt my ability to help her. After years of working with people and helping them see the amazing power of the mind, when Millie came, I had some doubts.

Millie was referred to me by a friend. He said to me, “Ronit, Millie needs to come and see you urgently”. So we scheduled a session and to my coaching deck came a gentle, beautiful 40-year-old woman with spots all over her face.

The more she told me about the problem, the more I doubted about my ability to help her. How on Earth can I help a woman with a 35-year-old skin problem? I am not a dermatologist. I panicked a bit and talked to myself, “Come on, Ronit, you’ve helped people who had taken antidepressants for 24 years, you’ve helped people who had used drugs, you’ve helped sick people. You can do this”. One side of me said, “You can do it”, while the other asked, “How?”

I had no answer.

Read more about how to heal yourself with your mind

Anorexia: Healing through Creativity

SingerCreativity and self-expression are wonderful ways to recover from an eating disorder. Not eating and overeating are ways to control your life. Creativity happens when there is full control and can even be a form of meditation.

When I was young, I had many throat infections. My mom’s solution was always to take me to the doctor and give me antibiotics. This was a major part of my life for about 10 years. I took antibiotics about 6 months every year as a kid. It freaks me out to think about it now. When I grew up and learned more about the connection between physical problems and emotional states, I discovered that my throat infections could have been a result of being unable to express myself. Funnily enough, when I started writing at the age of 14, they disappeared.

I also learned that self-expression can be a cure, so since then, whenever my throat starts playing up and I have that familiar dry tingle threatening to flare, I sing! I turn the music on at full volume, or do it in the car, and sing! It does magic. One day and the infection is gone.

Using art for self-expression is a wonderful way to regain control over your life. You are on your own, creating what is in your mind. No criticism, no expected outcomes, just you and your creative flow, so you can feel how your body obeys your commands.

In any creative form, there is a sense of freedom that anorexic people desperately need. They have the freedom to try new things, the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to express themselves, the freedom from rules and boundaries – basically, the freedom to be themselves.

Also, immersing ourselves in creative art can work as a great distraction from thinking about the emotional challenges that take over otherwise. Anorexic people continually think about their “distorted body”, about food and about their problems. Keeping busy and doing something creative is like putting a sign on the door saying “time out” from thinking and hopefully those thoughts will never come back.

People are different and find different forms of self-expression, but all of them are wonderful and can help in healing and recovering from anorexia or other eating disorders.

Read more about how to heal yourself from anorexia

My School Horror: Untouchable

Girl looking sadSchool was not one of the best periods in my life. I have become a teacher in hope of making a different in the lives of the many children like I was who are not very good in their studies, have few or no friends and struggle.

It is hard for people to imagine this, but for some kids, school is a big struggle for survival. This struggle is carried with them for years to come, even when those kids become parents themselves. When I talk to my clients about the negative beliefs they have about themselves, I discover that many of them were formed in school, when other kids said nasty things that they had no way of overcoming. I understand this very well, because I was the same. It took me a long time get over it and what really helped me was moving from primary school to middle school.

In 1st Grade, I was not a very popular girl. If there was a hierarchy in class, I was at the bottom of it, with 2 other kids that had their own problems. I loved going to school, because my teacher was the angel for me. She was soft and understanding and always treated me nicely, but the other kids never wanted to play with me.

When I did not come to school, it was very hard for my teacher to get one of the kids to come over and give me the homework (although some kids lived in my neighborhood). In the morning, when we had to stand in pairs in front of the classroom door, I was always left at the end and the child that had to give me his hand did this it in disgust. Although my teacher was very kind to me, I was always alone. Every year, until the end of primary school, when the end of year came and my class gave a performance, I stood at the back, holding a sign or something, by myself.

Was I maybe just not a friendly girl?

Read more about my school horror

Anorexia: Love Your Body

Model smiling with diet symbolsWomen with Anorexia have issues with their body image and a feeling of helplessness and inability to control their life. The combination of these challenges makes them seek control in any way and not eating seems to them a great way to gain control.

Society around us obviously contributes a lot to the negative body image and self image girls have during childhood, through their teenage years and later on into adulthood. The image of an anorexic teen girl can be misleading. There are also many women are anorexic who need help.

One way of healing is learning to love your body.

Loving your body is giving yourself the permission to feel good physically and it must be done slowly, with love and with patience. If you are a parent or someone who wants to help an anorexic person, just saying, “You need to love your body”, will not make the required difference.

The best idea is to help the anorexic person search for good things – positive thoughts, encouragements, small bits of progress and every little achievement – to help change their perception of their life’s reality.

Read more about loving your body and curing anorexia

Smoking Parents – Smoking Kids

Man and the benefits of stopping to smokeMy dad was a smoker. He was a heavy smoker, consuming 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day. I remember my older sister having many fights with him over this. She complained, he tried to quit for couple of days and then went back to smoking. I did not have an opinion about it. All the men I knew smoked. It seemed natural to me. My mom was a very silent complainer. She never smoked but could not change his mind. In some cultures, smoking is much more acceptable and is a status symbol. It was a manly thing to do.

One day, my dad discovered that my brother, who was 14 years old then, stole his cigarettes and smoked with his friends. My dad was furious and started screaming at him. I was about 11 and I remember us standing there and accepting that my brother did the wrong thing. But then, while he was screaming his head off, my older sister, who was 15 years old at the time, said to my dad, “How can you tell him he can’t smoke and it’s not good for him if you smoke so much yourself?!” (I always admired her guts). The amazing thing was that he stopped screaming and walked furiously out of the house. It was the last day he ever smoked. Unfortunately, my brother still smokes today, even after he had a heart attack at the age of 45.

Parents who smoke hurt their kids, not only by making them passive smokers, but also by setting an example that they can never take back. Do you know how many times since then I have heard my dad asking my brother to stop smoking? Thousands. Unfortunately, he was too late.

In some cultures, smoking is very acceptable and is even a status symbol, “the manly/cool thing to do”. A few years ago, we went to visit my family and my uncles were there, all of them smokers. One of my uncles asked Gal, “Would you like a cigarette?” Gal said, “No, thank you. I don’t smoke”. Then, he asked, “Would you like a beer?” and Gal said “No, thank you. I don’t drink beer”. My uncle looked down at him and said, “You don’t smoke and don’t drink. What kind of a man are you?”

Read more about how to stop your kids from smoking

Anorexia: How to stop worrying

Horribly skinny boyAnorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.

Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.

I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.

The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.

Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.

Worry is a feeling of fear from a possible bad future. People go to the future inside their head and imagine something bad, then come back to the present carrying the fear of this possibility. If it seems to you not to be real, it is because it is not. We all do this in some form, but some people have a problem distinguishing between their imaginary future and the present and those people do not just worry. They have what we call an anxiety attack.

Here are 10 tips to address worry or, in its severe form, anxiety, that may be a trigger to choosing not to eat. These are good for anyone, whether they have anorexia or not, and can help you help another person too.

Read more about how to stop worrying and recover from anorexia

The Value of Community

Homeless person sleeping with dogWhen I was growing up, there was a strong sense of community in everything. The people in my parents’ generation told stories of small places, where they knew everyone and did most things in a group of peers of families. Today, most people live in big cities, many live away from their hometown and family. Many people move every few years. Community is a luxury.

During the Easter break, we watched the movie Canvas with the kids. It tells the story of a family in which the mother has Schizophrenia. The father works as a builder for a rich jerk who buys speedboats and cars, but pays him too little too late, so they do not have enough money for medicine, which their basic health insurance refuses to cover.

The film shows how being poor and sick can have negative effects on your life and spin it out of control so quickly that it is super hard to recover. Because people expect certain behavior from adults, the mother creates a scene, which gets them thrown out of public places, like restaurants. Business owners may empathize with someone who sees imaginary people, but they still have a business to run.

The boy, being young, cannot truly understand what is happening to his mother. Unfortunately, neither can his schoolmates, who bully him for it. Also unfortunately, the father is a simple man who struggles to get by and lacks the emotional tools to help his son relax and cope with the mother’s strangeness and absence, let alone the additional social burden he has to endure.

Read more about the value of community

Anorexia: Exaggerated Perception

Young anorexic manPeople with eating disorders like anorexia often have an exaggerated perception of life. It is as if they see the world through huge magnifying glasses and things that seem minor to others seem huge and overwhelming to them.

If you have anorexia or any other eating disorder, or if you have a child that has it and you want to help, it is important to focus on the thoughts and the mindset and not on the food. Not eating is not the problem. It is the solution that people with a distorted perception find for their problems.

Avoid trying to convince them to eat. It only makes things worse. Anorexic people need control, not a nagger.

Avoid punishing a child who has anorexia. It only increases their helplessness and their desire to control something (ANYTHING) in their life, like what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat.

Generally, anorexic people have a very bad self-image, considering self as useless, not worthy, a failure, stupid, an idiot, etc, and they use every little thing that happens in their life to reinforce it. They use their glasses to look for proof they are worthless and they do not consider single events as temporary or coincidental, but as part of their identity.

Here is a list of thoughts that make big things out of small things and demonstrates the effect of the huge magnifying glasses anorexic people wear. Each one you get rid of will reduce the magnifying effect.

Read more about how to treat anorexia

From the Life Coaching Deck: Art Fights Depression

A couple sculpted in woodGail asked for a relationship coaching session, but said she would come by herself. “My husband won’t come”, she said. No matter what I asked her, her answer was related to the fact her husband was depressed and was unwilling to help himself. He had lost his job years before and that had sucked the life out of him. For 5 years, he had been sucking the life out of Gail and her two wonderful boys.

Having a depressed family member is not easy to handle. Most of the time, the depressed person cannot admit he or she needs help and rejects any help attempt. Those around them feel helpless and drained.

Gail was very creative in her attempts to help her husband. She went to the doctor and talked to him. She tried to make him go to the doctor, without success. She got him some vitamins and he refused to take them. She arranged holidays to make him happy, but he stayed depress.

Eventually, after 5 years of trying, Gail left home.

Read more about how art helps with depression