Starting school this year has been rough for my son. He has terrible anxiety and stresses over everything. We can’t seem to convince him, no matter what we say, that his fears are unfounded and he is OK. He is having some panic attacks too, and I’m starting to wonder if he needs medication, but I really really don’t want to go there. Do you have any suggestions for helping him have less anxiety?
There are some things you can try before resorting to medication. I’m going to give you suggestions that could help change your child’s fear-based thinking on both the conscious and subconscious levels.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and is a master coach and speaker.
I read your article last week about parenting and I have a question about it. I can see that I am control focused and I have probably damaged the relationship with my kids because of my high expectations and need for obedience. I think they have lost respect for me too, and think they can never do anything good enough. This has even made them a little passive aggressive, so they tell me what I want to hear to my face, then turn away and do whatever they want. It’s almost like in trying too hard to have control, I now have even less. Is there anything I can do at this point to turn this around?
First you must ask yourself if you want control and obedience, or if you are willing to let that go, for self-driven, responsible, wise children who respect you.
It’s super easy, as a parent, to want obedience and control, because these make you feel safer, but in the end I think you will agree that you don’t really want blindly obedient sheep who are easy to control. You want strong, wise, independent children who make good choices for themselves — right?
The reason you subconsciously like control and obedience is that when children misbehave, it triggers both your core fears, failure and loss. Bad behavior makes you afraid you’re failing as a parent (or afraid what others will think of you) and it creates your greatest fear — losing them. So, controlling them seems less scary.
When these fears get triggered in you, your autopilot subconscious reaction (that comes before you have a chance to think) is usually to get angry, emotional, controlling or self-focused. In this place you aren’t even capable of seeing what your child needs in that moment. You are too focused on you. In this place you usually yell, control, punish or push to get whatever you need to quiet your fear.
When you parent like this (from fear) your children will feel it and they know this whole thing is all about you and what you need to make you feel better. This isn’t about them or coming from love.
This is what makes them lose respect for you. Fear is never respect. Fearless strength, wisdom, love and compassion are.
I think you would agree that blind obedience isn’t really what you want. What you really want are happy, wise, well-balanced, mature children who respect you and have a healthy connection with you, which gives you some influence in their lives to help them. So here are some tips to create that:
1) If you want your kids to respect you, you have to be respectable. Respectable means you have control over your subconscious reactions and think before you speak. It means you are mentally and emotionally mature and wise. A respectable parent is a conscious parent, who is showing by example that good decisions pay off and create happiness. You must be someone who practices what you preach and deserves respect. If you struggle with this, I highly recommend some coaching or counseling to work on your fear issues and learn some tools and skills for making your own life better.
2) If you want your kids to respect you, you must be respectful. This means you show them the same level of gracious, kind, mature behavior you would use with peers or adult friends in your life. (But this isn’t about being a lenient friend instead of a parent.) It’s about treating every human being, even the ones in your house, with courtesy and respect, honoring their value as a human being as the same as yours. This means you will ask questions about what they think and feel, and really listen and even care about their opinions. It means you will include them in the process of setting rules and their consequences, because if they have a voice they will respect you and the rules more. If you want respect, you must give it.
3) Watch your attachments and make sure your attachment to “the connection you have with your child” is more important than your attachments to anything else. Most of us have some unhealthy attachments and care too much about tasks, things, ideas, control and approval. These attachments sometimes cause us to put these things before people. On our psychological inclinations chart (on my website) you will see that many of us are overly attached to these things:
Ideas — We only feel safe if our family members fit the expectations or ideas we have about what they should be or do. Anything outside of that ideal feels unsafe. So, you may need conformity so badly you may hurt the people or sacrifice a connection for it. Your children may start to resent your ideals as more important than they are, which means they will further reject it.
Approval — This means your sense of self-worth comes from what others think of you and/or your children. An attachment here will again make children lose respect for you because your neediness and people pleasing come from fear and weakness, not strength or confidence.
Achievement/tasks — This means you attach your value to your performance and you are overly focused on doing everything and doing it perfectly. This may mean you put the projects you do for your family ahead of actually showing up for them emotionally. You may see sitting with them, asking questions and listening, as lazy or less important than cooking, cleaning or working.
4) Remember your children are here to teach you every bit as much as you’re here to teach them. Every problem, power struggle or misbehavior is your perfect lesson or chance to grow. I believe your specific children were sent to you, because your unique challenges are exactly what they need to grow. There are no accidents, and though you aren’t a perfect parent, you are apparently the perfect parent for them. If you mess them up, it will only be in the perfect way they needed to be messed up, so they can spend the rest of their life learning, growing and processing these perfect challenges for them.
5) Be authentic, vulnerable and real with your kids. Let them see you make mistakes, apologize, and learn. Show them you’re a struggling student in the classroom of life too. Let them see you get hurt, forgive, and find balance between caring for yourself and caring for others. Don’t be a drama queen though and subject them to emotional immaturity, but do let them see your heart.
6) Do more listening than talking. Have great conversations that don’t turn into lectures. Listen more because you are actually interested in understanding them, not just guiding them. Help them to explore their options in each situation and figure out why some choices are better than others. Tell them they are smart and should make good decisions for themselves, not for you. Have great conversations about what it means to have integrity, and be honest and responsible. These conversations aren’t about control, though, they are about being authentic and sharing why you have decided to live the way you have. Always ask permission before you talk, share or advise your kids. “Would you be open to letting me share something I’ve learned with you?” This is a great permission question, but honor it if they say no.
7) Understand your child’s unique personality, psychology, fears and values. You can do this by asking lots of questions or you can get some professional help to discover your child’s unique psychological inclinations. Armed with this knowledge you will know exactly what they need.
You can rebuild a healthy connection with your child, but you may also need to sincerely apologize first. Explain how your fears of failure and loss have made you overly attached to control, approval, ideas, task or things. Let them know you are now committed to change that. Work on being more respectable and respectful and you will earn back their respect.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is hosting a parenting workshop on Aug. 25. Please visit her website for information.
I am in my 50s and have been on disability for three years. Part of my challenge is that I can't do anything physical. My yard is a disaster and is a constant reminder of just how worthless I am. My sweet little wife does everything, and I am so blessed to have her. She is not so lucky to have me. I have been on depression medicine for eight years so I should be fine, but I’m not. I have thoughts of suicide, at least weekly. My focus is gone and I am lost as to what I should do and who I even am. I was once a helper and a problem solver, people talked to me when they had problems to feel better. I don't know where that person is now. What can I do at this point to get my life back?
It sounds like you are feeling rather hopeless. The most important thing when going through times of hardship, illness, grief or depression is not to lose hope. You must hold onto belief around two things:
1) This experience is in your life for a reason, and that reason is to serve you in some way.
2) It will change, because no state lasts forever.
Victor Frankl’s book "Man’s Search for Meaning" has always helped me get through rough times, mostly because he has credibility with me when it comes to suffering. If he found the strength (both physically and mentally) to survive a concentration camp, torture and I’m sure horrible discouragement, then I can do it. Frankl said that “suffering ceases to be suffering in the moment it finds meaning.” What he meant was if you see every experience as here for a purpose, to serve your growth, it makes it at least count for something, which helps.
I would recommend you sit down with some paper and answer Frankl’s question to his fellow prisoners after the war, “Can you write down 10 positives this experience has created?”
When you can see the ways this might be making you stronger, wiser, kinder or more compassionate toward others, you will see life as a wise teacher trying to educate you, you will see this whole experience from a more positive perspective.
But when your challenge is one that most likely will last the rest of your life, I have another suggestion (and I have a health problem like this myself, so I know how discouraging it can be). In this situation you must focus on this hour or this day — and no more. If you try to carry the weight of all the coming years today, it will crush you. Don’t think about the long haul. Focus on getting through this hour as positively as you can and keep doing this every hour.
Claritypoint coach Kristena Eden interviewed an inmate from the Utah State Penitentiary recently to talk about hanging on to hope (since this is a place where life often feels hopeless). These are some other key principles that came to light.
1. Keep believing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Allow room in your heart for dreaming about better times. It is easy to let our dreams go because we just feel they are impossible or we are not good enough to accomplish them. But take a look around your world today. All the amazing technology and the conveniences we now enjoy were at one time thought to be impossible. If you can dream, then you can hang onto hope.
2. Give sincere encouragement to others. This is a big one. Giving encouragement to others is one of the greatest ways to validate them and make them feel valued. You don’t have to agree with what they are choosing in their life, but a few minutes to just ask questions and listen to them can make a world of difference. When other people feel that you care about them, they feel better and you do to. Even when you can’t do much physically, as long as you can talk you can encourage others.
3. Replace destructive thoughts with positive ones. Your thoughts are the building blocks of your quality of life. Your thoughts become feelings, so you want to monitor your thinking and recognize when negative thoughts show up, you have the power and agency to embrace them or replace them. In my book "Choosing Clarity," I teach a four-step process for choosing trust and love in any moment.
4. Be an overcomer, not just a survivor. A survivor is still a victim, an overcomer is a victor who understands it was just a lesson and you were meant to get through. Overcomers don't complain about the hardship forever because they leave it in the past.
5. Focus on gratitude. It doesn’t matter how bad things seem, they could be worse. There are always things to be grateful for. Sometimes it’s things you are grateful you don’t have as much as for what you do have. Count your blessings (especially the small ones) every day and you can’t slide into hopelessness as much. There is a greatGratitude Worksheet on my website you ought to try.
6. Keep your confidence, you are meant to overcome this. You are not in this place to fail or be crushed. You are here to grow and meant to find solutions, courage and strength to get through. The answers you need are around you somewhere, but they may require work and effort to find and only when your lesson is done. For now stay solution focused and ask for help from every resource and person that shows up in your path. Greg Thredgold suffered with depression for 40 years before finding a solution and climbing out. He has written a wonderful book called the "Depression Miracle," where he explains many ways to stay positive and optimistic.
We also highly recommend finding a coach or counselor whose approach works for you. You may have to try a few to find the right one. Don’t give up if the first one doesn’t click. Stay optimistic, because pessimism doesn’t help.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be achieved without hope and confidence” — Helen Keller.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and is a life coach, speaker and people skills expert. Kristena Eden is a coach with www.corelivingessentials.com
I have a son who is a very difficult child, and I really struggle to get along with him. That’s probably an understatement. He makes life harder than it needs to be and fights us on everything. He doesn’t do anything until I lose it and get mad or mean. I love him but I don’t like him, and that makes me feel terrible. Any advice on this would be great. I want to have a good relationship with him, but I don’t know how to change this.
Children (and people in general) are easier to understand than you think, and if you can understand or get clarity around what makes them tick, you will then know exactly what they need and how to motivate and get along with them.
In my work I have found there are 12 psychological inclinations or types of people (you can learn about them here), but to make understanding your child super simple in this article, I will divide people into two types, which apply to both parents and children:
Think about this for a minute, because you might already know.
If you are a control-focused parent, you may be overly focused on tasks or things. You may like order and structure and everything in its place. You may run a tight ship and expect obedience. You may lose you temper easy or feel taken from, offended, walked on or mistreated quite often. You may have a victim mentality, at times, about the way life has done you wrong. You may be a perfectionist and be critical when things don’t go the way you think they should. You may have high expectations and might get frustrated or angry when a child doesn’t do what you ask and quickly. You might feel disrespected and try to demand respect. You might behave badly when you feel out of control. (All of these might not apply to you, but some of them will.)
If your child is control-focused (which sounds like yours), you probably have power struggles every day. These children want freedom more than anything else. They may want or insist on making their own choices as much as possible. They might manipulate you to get their way, especially if you are a validation/approval focused parent. Control-focused children may also get passive aggressive if they can’t openly defy you without getting in trouble, and this could make them hard to like. These kids want respect and agency to find their own path, and they will often fight you for it.
If you are a validation and approval focused parent, your greatest fear is failure, looking bad and/or criticism or judgment (not being liked or good enough). You may be quite strict because you are trying to prevent looking bad to others or you could be overly lenient and avoid discipline so your child will like you. If you are like this, your child can subconsciously feel your insecurity and might use these to manipulate you or disrespect you, especially if you get emotional or dramatic when you feel disliked or not good enough. You could also be overly focused on earning your value through your appearance, performance, property or popularity, and your children may feel they come second to your needs for yourself. They could feel this and resent it. Does this sound like you?
If you have a child that needs validation or approval, they might do anything and everything to get your attention. If good behavior doesn’t work, they might try bad behavior. These kids need a great deal of praise and reassurance, and if they don’t get it or aren’t feeling important or special, they could act out. If you are a control-focused parent, who is often frustrated when not obeyed, you may be prone to frustration toward your child. To the approval-seeking child, this may feel like disapproval. If they feel they can’t ever please you, they may give up trying. They may fight with you because they resent not feeling more important. If you are an approval-seeking parent, you might make everything about you and forget to validate your child enough.
Once you have figured out which dynamics are in play in your home, here are some tips for dealing with each other:
You can create this in your home if you accurately figure out what you and your chid need and focus on giving more of that every day. You will be surprised how quickly they respond and behave better when their needs are met. If you need additional help with parenting skills, I highly recommend getting some professional help.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and teaches parenting workshops.
I don't know if you have addressed the subject of aging, but if you haven't, would you. Although I am not really that old by today's standards (65 years old) getting older is not for wimps. Some days life is very hard alone to struggle through, let alone accompanied by aches and pains, loss of memory and so forth. Do you have some thoughts on this subject?
Getting older can be a challenge both physically and psychologically. As you age, your health, memory, strength and stamina decline, but that doesn’t have to get you down. Just like everything else in life, you have the power to choose your perspective on it, and mindset matters
Sophia Loren said, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
Here are 12 ways to stay positive and happy as you age:
Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
We can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
I have hit a rough patch the last few years and think I might be suffering from depression. I don’t know the difference though, between regular discouragement and the kind of depression that justifies talking to a doctor or counselor. I have always thought people with depression just needed to buck up, but I think now it’s not that easy. This dark cloud over me won’t go away no matter how hard I try to think positive. I really don't want to take medication, but how would I know if it’s necessary and what else can I do? I’d love some advice on breaking free from this. Any suggestion is worth a try.
Depression is becoming increasingly common in our world. Some experts think the rise in cases of depression is tied to the amount of processed junk food we eat. A University College London study showed that people who ate a lot of fried, processed, high sugar junk food were 58 percent more likely to suffer from clinical depression. Other experts blame heavy metal poisoning, a sedentary lifestyle or even living at high altitude, which may be why so many Utahns have it.
Whatever it is, the World Health Organization estimates that 121 million people around the world are clinically depressed. Many of those live in the USA as 13 percent of Americans are now taking antidepressant drugs. (This figure jumps to 25 percent for women in their 40s and 50s.)
Opinions vary on whether these people really need medication. Some think antidepressants are way over-prescribed and others think they are absolutely necessary, despite the many side effects. I would recommend talking to your doctor and researching all your pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options before you decide what's right for you. If you have mild to moderate depression I offer a homeopathic depression bootcamp that is good option for those who don’t need medication.
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you are chemically depressed, not just sad and struggling:
Most importantly, don’t lose hope, because there are answers, and just because you haven’t found yours yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t — and soon. I also recommend talking to a counselor or coach who can teach you some skills for processing and replacing negative thoughts and feelings. With brain illnesses you want to work on the problem from the physical, mental and spiritual side.
Here are nine other suggestions to help you survive and beat depression:
Brighter days are coming!
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.