On the Horizon – 10/11/11

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 165: Come to the Edge

On the Horizon is an award winning weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

To keep receiving On the Horizon, please add the email address “nicolebeurkens@horizonsdrc.com” to your safe address list.

  • A Note from Nicole: Going on the Road in 2012
  • Feature Article: Moments Together: Engaging Our Children in Everyday Life
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Simple Solutions Seminar & Parent Education Day
  • Recommended Resources

It’s been a whirlwind fall so far with lots of exciting things happening around here.  One new development is that starting next spring I will be speaking in different cities around the country each month on topics related to processing and neurodevelopmental disorders.  At this point I know that I’ll be in the New York City area for a few days in mid-March.  Watch the events calendar each week to see when I’ll be in a city near you in the coming year.  In the meantime, I’ll be in Dallas from November 1-6 for some meetings and consultations.  If you are in that area and would like to schedule a consultation with me please call the office to discuss arrangements.  I’d love to see some of you in person while I’m there!

I’ve been thinking again lately about how we as adults spend time with our children.  The feature article this week is one I wrote a few years back on this very topic.  While we may feel that we spend a lot of time with our children, the real issue is the quality of that time and whether we are really “together” or just in the same place at the same time.  Read the article below and let me know what you think.

Do you have a child who struggles with wetting and/or soiling behaviors?  Check out the Ask the Horizons Team feature below for some information and strategies.  If you have a question you’d like to get answered, feel free to email us at questions@horizonsdrc.com.  We will put yours on the list to answer in an upcoming edition of the newsletter.

Enjoy your week!

Looking to the horizon,

Nicole

Moments Together: Engaging Our Children in Everyday Life

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

I witnessed something recently that has caused me to think about the time we spend with our children, and the importance of everyday moments.  While standing in line at the counter of our family’s favorite pizza place, waiting for our take-out order to be ready, I noticed a little girl and her parents walk into the restaurant and sit down.  The girl was probably around 5 years old and she smiled widely at me as they walked past.  My pizza was taking a while, so I had the opportunity to stand and watch this family out of the corner of my eye.

They sat in a booth together, the little girl next to her father and across from her mother.  After ordering their drinks, both parents immediately pulled out their cell phones.  The father was pressing buttons with his phone to his ear, apparently listening to voicemail messages.  The mother was fiddling with the buttons on her phone while looking at the screen.  I watched as the little girl sat there silently looking around the restaurant, then back at her parents.  She intermittently sipped her drink, kicked her shoes off and then put them back on, and at one point handed her glasses to her mother to have them cleaned.  Her mother set the phone down long enough to wipe the glasses with a napkin, and then promptly devoted herself to the phone once again.  The only other time I observed the parents to pause their interactions with the cell phones was when the server came to take their order.  As soon as the server left the table, those cell phones were back in hand again.

I watched this go on for 15 minutes as I continued to wait for our pizzas, and the same scenario was still occurring as I left the restaurant with pizzas in hand.  There was a part of me that wanted to go over to the table, grab those cell phones, and make the parents look at their little girl.  That, coupled with a lecture about the importance of relationships and engagement in the development of children, would have made me feel much better!  I resisted the urge, however, and instead thought about this sad commentary on our society and how we define “spending time” with our children.

Click here to read the rest of this article…

Question:

Our 10-year-old son has been having wetting and soiling accidents on and off for years.  However, in the past few weeks this has become a daily occurrence and nothing seems to be working.  Every time we ask him about it he lies to us and says he doesn’t need to go or he didn’t just have an accident.  This is causing a major problem and we don’t know what to do about it.  The situation seems hopeless!  Any advice?

-Kathy in Texas

Answer:

Hi Kathy,

I agree that this can be a very challenging problem, and one that creates stress for families.  However, there are a number of highly effective strategies that can alleviate this problem.  I’ll share some of them in general here, but encourage you to seek additional information and guidance for your specific situation.

  1. Recognize that there are often two issues that cause problems with wetting and soiling – physiological issues and emotional issues (generally anxiety).  This behavior is not something that most children enjoy doing or are even very conscious of.  Coming at the situation from a place of understanding and patience is an important first step.
  2. You mentioned that this has become more of a problem in the past few weeks.  The first thought I have is related to the start of the school year, and the increased stress levels that often occur surrounding school.  I frequently see children struggle more with wetting and soiling when they are under significant amounts of stress.  The more stress and anxiety, the more likely kids are to be unaware of their bodies and lose the ability to use effective coping strategies.  Identifying stressors in your child’s life and making attempts to reduce them will likely be an important strategy.
  3. You mentioned that your son “lies” to you when you ask him if he has had an accident.  Again, I’d like to reframe this for you to think about it in a different way.  It is very normal human behavior for us to lie about something when we are confronted with it, especially if we know we have done something inappropriate and wish we hadn’t.  I’m guessing your son doesn’t want to be perceived as a “bad kid” and, therefore, feels it is better to deny he has had an accident than to be honest about it.  There may also be times when he is genuinely unaware he has wet or soiled.  One suggestion I have is to communicate with him using direct statements, rather than questions, when these situations arise.  Instead of saying “Did you have an accident?”; you could instead say, “You had an accident and need to come to the bathroom with me to clean it up.”  That doesn’t leave room for him to respond to your question with a “lie”.  You state the obvious in a calm but firm way, and move on to cleaning it up.  This can avoid adding emotion to an already stressful situation.
  4. If you haven’t already looked into physiological issues related to the wetting and soiling, that would likely be beneficial.  There can be issues related to constipation, urinary tract infections, etc. that can cause an increase in these behaviors.  You can start with your pediatrician, or work with a nutritionist or other holistic health practitioner to identify dietary and other changes that may be helpful.

I hope these ideas provide you some food for thought as you tackle this challenging issue with your son.  There are other strategies that are also beneficial but these at least get you started.  If you would like to talk about your situation more specifically, please feel free to contact our office.

Take Care,

Nicole

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Upcoming Events

Simple Solutions Seminar
October 20, 7-8:30PM via teleseminar

The Stress-Behavior Connection: Strategies to Reduce Your Child’s Stress and Improve Functioning

Click here for more information.

Parent Education Day

Horizons Clients Only

October 29, 10:00AM-3:30PM at Horizons

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Resources

Do Something Daily Calendar

The Calendar offers a daily dose of inspiration and ideas for spending time together—whether you have 60 seconds or 60 minutes.

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Horizons DRC continues to provide therapy and consultations. Telehealth options are available. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or for resources to help handle this situation.