Archives for posts with tag: Scarborough

Mental health in schools is kind of like mental health anywhere else. Building and maintaining it both depend on a great many things ‘going  right.’ So how can a parent, or for thDSL for Parents 2013at matter even a hard working teacher, even get the big picture of a student’s school day? Of what they are going through?  One place to start is to piece together all available professional input and to organize it in ways that make sense to the average person. Luckily, stacking things in a bio-psychological way (symbolized by the ridiculously tall school house here) makes sense of a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s also consistent with newer ways of looking at mental health. But this approach is going to be the subject of a workshop at Canadian Mental Health Association in June, by me, so respecting the limits of not double-publishing material now promised to the CPA, I’ll have to ask folks to wait at least until mid June before  say more. (The concept map shown here was previously web-published.) In the meantime, this is the active team approach already in use at Psychology is Growth.

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illustration by Paul Lee & Brian Horton, from, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Omnibus, Volume 3, Dark Horse Books, Jan. 2008

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[Buffy] My former self hates the new Me. –But I LOVE Me.

[Xander] I think you just warped something besides time, there, Buff.

[Willow] A time warp! Exactly! Buffy, that’s how you USED to think your assignments would get done.  Seemed easier than measuring out each day and week like wooden yardstick. Right? Now you know it WORKS! But we have to know exactly HOW stick with that stick!

[Xander] Quit stealing lines and sticking with sticks, Willow. Not your gig!

[Buffy] But she’s right, Xander, and the tricks she taught me should work for guys too. You know the best part? I get to HOLD TEACHERS ACCOUNTABLE. I NEED to start my assignments early. I NEED to pace them toward their due-dates. Now it’s the TEACHERS who are scrambling to get stuff to ME!  THE POWER!! Ooooh, this is better than my last triple kill. . .

GRRRWAAHHSHSH!!!

[Xander] Oh, clever. Slayer passing discretely as a slayer. That’ll throw them.

[Willow] Lay off Buffy, Xander. She’s discovered the FOUR BASIC MISTAKES she was making. And she’s corrected all four. Taking notes, twinkie-eater? Here you go:

1. DON’T wait til the teacher gets around to structuring the assignment. TELL them what times you have already booked to work on it and WHEN you need their deets.  UP FRONT.

2. DON’T wait until you have a large block of time to work on a large assignment. Large blocks mostly get wasted. Then you are even farther behind.

3. DON’T attack an assignment as if it was all one big thing. It’s not. It’s a bunch of hidden sub-goals. You have to do the detective work first. Find all your sub-goals. Put them in the order. Be ready to do the first sub-goal. Right on that day you first get the deets.

4. DON’T lose a single day. Book one hour each day, or second day, to bank some progress. Get intense for that hour. Then lay off. Berween days, it’s still in your head. So you don’t really lose that day either.

[Xander] Cool. Can I get marks for those days off?

[Willow] Get real. My point is this. Never again will you keep forgetting what your assignments are even about. Man, I never had that problem.  But everyone I know practically pees themselves when it happens.

[Xander] Nice to know you’re comfy-dry there, Willow.

[Buffy] Be nice, you two. We’ve got work to do. Best part is this: The kill is SO SLOW. It’s against the Slayer Code to do that to a vamp. Nev-Ver! They have feelings, you know?  BUT ASSIGNMENTS?  NO MERCY!

[Xander] Buff. Chill. You’re sounding psycho. In fact, lemme outa here.

[Willow] You can do it too, Xan. You don’t have to be all vicious like Buffy here. Maybe you go can undercover. Let’s shop for reading glasses. Maybe a visor ‘n’ like-that. Just til you get your courage up. No-one needs to know that you’re Heaven’s Child sitting on the Hellmouth. ‘Cept — come exam time — gotta warn ya — EVERYBODY wants to be your friend. Guys are the worst. And if they can get YOU to help them instead of Buffy or me, WELL! Get ready to play Popularity, Release 2.0, Mister.

[Xander] Okay. But they can get their own Twinkies. Hell! They can BRING the Twinkies!

[Buffy] That’s the spirit!

[Willow] WHERE?! …OH CRAP, BUFFY! DON’T USE THAT…It sounds different, from you.

 

–a ‘Use-Me-Now’ resource for teens, babysitters,

maybe parents:

So how IS a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like mindfulness meditation? “IT’S NOT!”   (…Cue awkward silence . . . ) 

Okay,  but we can imagine. Try this:

Image  

Peanut butter is sticky. So is attention. On purpose, we stick our attention to the thing that we focus on. Just like peanut butter sticks to a slice of bread. If we’re fascinated, it’s hard to scrape our attention off that fascinating thing. –Like getting to the next level of a computer game. If it’s a job we would rather avoid, we have to dig out LOTS of attention, to glob onto it, until we’re done. 

Jelly is floppy. So is relaxation. Ever seen jelly stand straight and tall? Me neither. Sometimes when we first wake up in the morning, we feel just like jelly, all relaxed and peaceful. If we want to get up and do stuff, we have to stretch and flex our muscles, just to un-jellify them.

So let’s say we have two slices of life. (LIFE?) Okay, bread then. Let’s start with bread. And we want to fill the space between those slices with two things: Peanut butter and jelly. It’s a no-brainer that we want good coverage. No big gaps.  So we spread the PB evenly and flop the jelly evenly. Also, we try to keep it on the bread, and not spill globs over the edges.  Same with meditation. Simple! Two slices of life, with a bit of time in between. (Time, space, whatever.) We just spread our sticky attention inside ‘right now’ and try to keep it from spilling over, to other times, besides now. Then we let our floppy relaxation spread itself, all over the same time  as our attention.  

There’s one other way to explain all this.  If you’ve read other stuff about meditation, like the book, Peaceful Piggy, you may have read about letting your breath just do what it ‘wants’ for a while.  For most people, the breath is the easiest thing to pay attention to, without ‘doing’ anything. It’s a way recognize that it’s only this time, only right now, that we’re paying attention to. 

While we’re busy paying attention, we don’t have to actually DO anything.  (WHAT?!) That’s right. Sure, it’s weird to think of paying attention to ‘nothing.’ So it’s not quite totally nothing.  That’s where the breath comes in, because it’s one of the things that our body ‘does’ all the time.  We don’t have to work at it. (Okay, other stuff too, but we’re keeping it polite, here.)  

Here’s where the magic of relaxation comes in.   Ever been so tired that you just HAD to do nothing?  Maybe it was a ‘good’ kind of tired because you played hard or got a big chore done?  That feeling is really close to what meditation feels like. 

‘Noticing’ is an even better word than attention. All we have to do is keep quiet and keep ‘noticing’ what our breath feels like doing, in each moment.  It changes a tiny bit, now and then. That’s got the sticky attention part going. What’s cool is that the floppy relaxation part kind of just spreads itself.  We just let it.

If we notice some particular tense muscle somewhere, hey, flop some jelly on that part — okay not literally. Just let that part relax, especially.  BUT: Just so we don’t fall asleep, we find the most comfortable-but-alert position we can. First time learning this, that might be sitting straight up. It might be in a chair or on a cushion, legs crossed or not. “Is there such a thing as TOO relaxed?”  Well, only in meditation.  If our PB & J sandwich has one whole jar of jelly in it, we won’t get to taste the normal-size layer of PB.

Same principle here: If we’re TOO relaxed, we can’t pay attention. We just fall asleep.  The opposite is kind of disgusting too:  A whole jar of peanut butter in your sandwich means you won’t get to taste the normal-size layer of jelly. (Same thing: If we work SO hard at paying attention, there’s NO WAY we can relax.)

‘Breath’ to the rescue. It’s totally enough, just to keep bringing our attention back to the breath. For sure, our attention will sometimes slop over a bit, to other times besides now (things that happened; things we have to do; things we worry will happen) kind of like a puppy that wants to run here and there to explore. We call our attention back gently and kindly, as we would that puppy.                        . . . Happy breathing!                      

Yours in health and development,

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

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WHERE DOES ATTACHMENT ‘COME FROM?’

son & mother - attachment

(ONTARIO) From the heart, of course. But so many parent who have lots of heart still struggle with it.  Take comfort in the fact that you are in the majority.  –A large majority actually, at least in Canada and the U.S.  Blame it on technologically focused society, hyper-mobility or the six-day corporate work week, for decades now (at a minimum) most of us have been growing up with overriding, child-parent ‘issues.’  That is: Most of us as parents have our own attachment 

These are typically the big pieces, in how each of us manages the relationship, with each child we have. For most of us, our own uncertainties about ‘how to be’ just plain get in the way.

WHAT? ARE YOU SAYING WE’VE ALL BECOME SELF-ABSORBED PARENTS? No.  It would be amazing if every one of us could always feel good about ourselves and about our child—and at the same time!  But unless you’re among the fortunate few (and it has very little to do with economics) who have grown up feeling over-archingly secure and con-fident your-self, or you have done some very advanced personal growth, that often turns out to be one !@#$%^&*! challenge.

WHAT IS CO-REGULATION? 

Father and son - attachment

How we learn to handle the toughest times and how we figure them out, as a child-parent ‘team’ makes all the difference.  How can two such unequal people truly be a team? That is the emotional genius of parental learning. We don’t have to be born to it, or be experts in anything, just to get there with our own child. No honest parenting expert out there got to be so, without paying their dues. But for most of us, it takes time. And it’s trickier if child and parent happen to be ‘born different.’  Child and parent can have different, inborn temperaments (from the latin for colouring—as in tempera paint.)  It’s quick, easy and enlightening to get a read on your own child’s temperament just by going to Prof. Sandee McClowry’s website at NYU’s School of Nursing:

http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/insights/

SATI Blank Profile - Cropped

You won’t have to give any identifying information and you’ll immediately get a parent-friendly, memorizable profile that looks like this, with X’s where your child’s four basic temperament factors stand. You’ll also strike a blow against the tyranny of psycho-logical tests that only clinicians can give and interpret.

–In truth, these tests are invaluable, when needed.  But, as parents, many of us feel empowered when we realize psychologists do NOT have a monopoly on guided insight. There’s simply no need to keep all of it behind the jewelry counter. McClowry’s book, Understanding Your Child’s Unique Temperament helps us take next steps.

Bonding is much easier when child and parent both have the same, inborn, foundation layers of their personalities. But how many times have you heard a parent exclaim: “OMG, what is with Kid-2, here?— My first one was so easy!” (Or the exact opposite.)  We simply come in different emotional flavours, right from the start.

OK, SO WHERE’S THE QUICK ‘N’ EASY PARENT TEMPERAMENT PROFILE?  

Great idea!  But our temperament gets overlain with other layers of our person-alities, throughout life:  our own  childhood bonds with either parent; our social learning with peers; and finally, what we each build on top of all that:  our adult self-concept. Still, in our closest relationships, where we truly must be, or can’t avoid being our truest selves, our natural, inborn differences re-emerge. Stuff that our colleagues would never guess would push our hot buttons can be ridiculously easy for a family member to target if they’ve had too much stress (and for some reason, you seem to be part of it).

Bonds - Market Share- best resolution

Now, none of us would like to admit it, but we can find ourselves doing the exact same thing with our own kids when we’ve had too much stress. That can confuse both child and parent. But as parents, we can learn to bridge that gap. When we do, we show our child: Not only can I comfort you when you’re scared; not only do I too recall having that kind of disgusted, overexcited or stunned feeling, but even when I mess it up as your parent, I can still figure it out. (Or if you can’t, at least now you know what kind of help will actually help.)

Mother & Son - Pat-a-Cake

Through co-regulation, we show our child that growing up never ends. Self-regulation is the magic of how kids can then keep building, more independently, on that.

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

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