On the Horizon – 12/21/11

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 174: Parenting Thoughts for the New Year: Changing “I Should” to “I Could”

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.

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  • A Note from Nicole: Enjoying Holiday Goodies
  • Feature Article:
    Parenting Thoughts for the New Year: Changing “I Should” to “I Could”
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Simple Solutions Seminar & Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

We’re busy wrapping up 2011 here at the clinic, and enjoying the many goodies that families are bringing in.  So many of you are excellent bakers and treat makers!  The clinic will be closed from Friday, December 23 through January 2 so that all of our staff members can enjoy the holidays with family and friends.  Our family is getting ready to welcome extended family for the coming week, and my kids are excited to spend time with their cousins, aunts, and uncles.

As we look toward the start of 2012, I’d like to share an article I wrote a couple of years back about parenting thoughts for the new year.  It’s easy to think about all the things we “should do”, but something interesting happens when we start to think about things in terms of what we “could do”.  Read the article and think about what you could do in the coming year.

May your family be richly blessed by the spirit of the holidays, and the hope that a new year brings.  We will look forward to connecting with you all again in January!

Looking to the horizon,

Parenting Thoughts for the New Year: Changing “I Should” to “I Could”

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

The start of a new calendar year tends to be a time for us to reflect on the past year, and also make plans for what we envision in the 12 months ahead. Some people make resolutions, write to-do lists, or set goals for themselves. What often happens with these lists and resolutions, however, is that they fall by the wayside shortly after they’ve been written. One of the reasons for this is the pressure we put on ourselves to accomplish these things; and that pressure and level of expectation leads to stress, resentment, and ultimately giving up on what we originally set out to do.

I recently heard someone talk about changing our “I should” to “I coulds.” That really resonated with me on a personal and professional level, as it seems so easy to get caught in the trap of stressing about everything I “should” do. When we think of things in terms of “I should,” we exist in a pressured state of feeling forced to do something. Thinking about what I “could” do shifts us into a mindset of choice—I am deciding in this moment whether to do this thing. It not only sounds different, but it feels different to phrase options from the perspective of “I could” instead of “I should.” There is an internal mindset shift that occurs when we do this; and it allows us to move forward with trying to do the things we could, instead of getting stuck in the mode of pressuring ourselves to do what we should.

Since we are at the start of a new year, we have the opportunity to think about the year ahead in terms of “I coulds.”

Click here to read the rest of this article…


Help!  My daughter is still obsessed with Halloween and doesn’t want me to get out the Christmas decorations. She continues to go outside to pull the pumpkins out of the compost pile and bring them back inside. She has no interest in putting up the Christmas decorations and she is usually so excited about Christmas! What can I do to help her get past this obsession?

– Kellie from Grant


Oh, poor thing! It can be so hard to let go of something that was so fun! I have a couple of simple options that could really help:

  1. Take the pumpkins and throw them in the trash! While this eliminates the problem, it doesn’t help her to regulate her emotions behind it, guide her to learn how to cope with it, or help her to apply this to future times, so I suggest option number 2.
  2. In order to make this very visual for her, you can pull out two items that represent both holidays – maybe a small Christmas tree and a pumpkin. Once you have these in place, get out decorations for both and discuss with her which one you should decorate. If she chooses the pumpkin, simply mention that Halloween/pumpkins are done and now it’s time to get ready for Christmas. Do this after each decoration you put on the tree. This may upset her the first 2, 3 or 8 times, but eventually she’ll be able to emotionally regulate around being done with the pumpkin.  If necessary, put the decorations on the tree yourself, one at a time and as you walk past the pumpkin say “Bye pumpkin, see you next year! Yay, it’s time to get ready for Christmas!” Go back to the decorations and invite her to join you if she is ready. By the time you do this several times and you continue to spotlight the end of the holiday and the excitement of the next, you may just be surprised by the results. You may even be able to get her to pick the pumpkin up and throw it in the trash by the end! This approach will help her eventually regulate her emotions, visually see the end the first holiday and increase excitement over the next holiday to come.

Good luck and happy decorating,

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