Dear Clementina

A Flipped Lid?
Clementina


flipped lid artwork


Dear Clementina,


There has been a lot of tantrum throwing in my house lately, and I'm embarrassed to say that we don't have a toddler in the family. My children are toddler-esque in their rants. The pre-teen and teenager have been crying hysterically, complaining, panicking, yelling, stomping their feet, fighting, and talking back, no - screaming back on a regular basis. My daughter's body language tells me when she is crossing to the dark side. She slowly raises her right hand in the air and releases the volcanic eruption with her voice. To make matters worse, my husband struggles to handle these situations calmly. He joins right in on the hysteria and then I am faced with three out of control family members. Should I seek shelter or attempt to calm the storm?

Last one standing, Where's the lifeboat?


Dear Survivor,


Put on your foul weather gear for this one... Let's face it, young children are not the only ones who throw fits, and neither are teenagers. Brain science can help us understand a lot about tantrums. At Saint Clement School, teachers, parents, and students participate in,a five minute exercise which can change lives.


See Dr. Daniel Segal's video:


When we are in our thinking brain, we are able to think clearly, function properly, and learn. When our lid is flipped, we go straight to emotions and to our fight, flight, or freeze response. We need to cool-out, refuel, recharge, and plan for what's next. A positive time out is needed to get us back into our thinking brain. Students learn to be aware of signs in their body that they may be flipping. They mention clenched teeth, a bad feeling in the pit of their stomach, steam coming out of their ears, etc. Teachers may notice tight raised shoulders or an accelerated heartbeat. Mr. Clementino claims that he can feel his blood pressure rising. Whatever the cue, tuning into escalation is the key to de-escalation.


Mirror neurons in the brain explain why Mr. Clementino goes straight to the ceiling when the teeny Clementines are escalating. We mirror the expressions and emotions of others. When Mr. Clementino feels his blood pressure rise, he needs to use de-escalation tips to prevent an adult sized tantrum. Fifth, sixth and seventh graders watched this video on mirror neurons.

My advice to you is this; instead of jumping ship, withstand the storm. How? Talk with your family about flipped lids. Our brains all have the capacity to flip. Prepare for rough seas by reinforcing positive time out. Do we prepare for a storm during the storm? No, we prepare when seas are calm. We talk with children about flipped lid and positive time-out when their brains are in thinking mode, and we agree on a strategy that may keep them from flipping. Everyone needs a cool out spot. The spot may be a comfortable nook at home or it may be an image that we visit no matter where we are. I often model going to my spot, "I'm about to flip and I can't talk about this right now. I can talk with you when I am calm." If they flip anyway, that's ok too, since they will have a cool-out space waiting for them. In theory, they will also have a parent dressed in foul weather gear who will weather the storm. When the storm passes, it is time to talk.


Don't give up the ship,

Clementina

Here are some resources I've found helpful related to flipped lid. Please enjoy!


Daniel Siegel, The Teenage Brain


Daniel Siegel, Connecting to Calm

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Raising Grateful Children
Clementina

Dear Clementina,

Today's gloomy weather is enough of the same color. Where does the sky begin? Where does the ground end? To boost my spirits, I began shopping on my favorite website for cheery throw pillows. My son caught sight of my screen and said, "More pillows?" Though his question was sincere, I felt agitated so chose to use the temporary but effective Ignore tool that I picked up at the Positive Parenting Workshop and went right on scrolling the photos of decorative pillows. I came across a beautiful linen bolster with the word GRATEFUL embroidered across it. Though the colors were dull, I wondered if this word would spruce up my household and my family's outlook.

I have heard the word GRATEFUL spoken frequently amongst my friends at Saint Clement. I share their concern when I say, how can I teach my children to be thankful for what they have? It seems that no matter what they have, it is never enough. They are always wanting more! When I was growing up, things didn't come as easily. I need to find ways to help them appreciate what they have. I do not intend to raise my children to take things for granted or, God forbid, to be considered brats!

Please send me a ray of sunshine and a few tricks to prevent the brat brigade!

-Gloom and Doom

Dear Gloom and Doom,

Here comes the sun! You are obviously a conscientious parent who appreciates the school's partnership in value formation. You have the benefit of being part of a parent community that shares your concerns.

First of all, the most powerful parental tool you possess is the ability to MODEL gratefulness for your child. Thanking the Starbucks barista a second and third time will not go unnoticed, especially if Starbucks is a daily stop in your morning routine. This may carry over into the cafeteria where parent volunteers are thanked for squirting ketchup, opening milk cartons and slicing pancakes! Children are watching when you deliver dinner to a friend in need, volunteer for school and church events, or hand a sandwich to a homeless person on the sidewalk

SERVICE TO OTHERS is a direct path to creating appreciation for one's gifts. Many adults take part in parish service opportunities as an individual or as a family. The school community participates in Anchor Day, donating dollars to local and national charities. There are personal connections to these organizations; giving teachers and families the chance to deepen the meaning of bringing a dollar to school. Children may not always verbalize what they are learning through these experiences. You may decide to initiate a dialogue by saying, "What are some things you learned?" or "What are some things you noticed?" or you can allow the lesson to speak for itself. I can assure you that they are learning and noticing whether it is articulated or not.

The practice of regular FAMILY MEETINGS AND CLASS MEETINGS (Positive Discipline) includes the routine of all members giving appreciations and compliments. This practice gives children, parents, and teachers a window to see what others are contributing to the family or classroom, that may go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of a "regular" week. For example, Mr. Clementino might say, "Clementina, I was very busy at work this week and I appreciate that you drove the Cuties to all of their activities." Thank you, Mr. Clementino.

Another way to integrate gratefulness is to keep a family gratefulness binder or a private gratefulness journal. Research on GRATEFULNESS tells us that people who take the time to notice gratitude are happier in general than those who do not take the time to be grateful. In many cases, patients who suffered from depression and kept a gratefulness journal found the journal process to be more effective than medication.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fit...

David Steindle-Rast, a Benedectine Monk says, "It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy." His Ted Talk and history can be found here.

So, Gloom and Doom, you are already doing incredible things. It is time to LET THE SUNSHINE IN! -The Fifth Dimension

Love and Sunshine,

Clementina

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Clementina shares helpful resources!
Clementina

Dear Clementina,

Sometimes, when I'm not praying for patience, I go to Barnes & Noble and loiter in the parenting section, hoping that my finger will land magically on the right book from the shelf. The "right book" is the one that will tell me exactly what to do in response to the specific behavior challenge I might be facing on a given day, from one or more of my children. The employees may stare at me while I frantically rip through the indices of a stack of books, but I know that I will find something, maybe even a good photograph of a parent feeling the way I do? Is there something I can do to be more efficient in my search for good parenting advice?

Feeling Scattered


Dear Scattered,

There are reasons that the parenting section is so large at Barnes & Noble. Parents have many questions about raising children. Parenting is the most important job we could ever hold and also the most difficult job. At the same time, no one could ever tell us how amazing it is to have children in our lives.

That being said, where do we find the answers? When my first child entered toddlerhood, I realized that he was a BOY. By that I mean, I needed help understanding his behavior; what was he thinking, why did he need to move constantly, and why did he talk to me in a "Captain Hook" voice? At playgroup, he and his friend Paul would hit each other over the heads with their trucks and the girl mothers would just stare at us. Paul's mother phoned later; "I'm so embarrassed! Do you think they'll kick us out of the playgroup?" That's when I began reading Michael Thompson's books about BOYS. Mr. Clementino chuckled and commented, "You aren't going to find the answers in a book." I kept reading. When my son's pre-school teacher called and insisted that I pick him up early, I read more; tantrums, fit throwing, fighting on the playground.

Mr. Clementino was right. I never did find the answers in a book. I did learn a lot about boys. I learned about something called the "boy code". I learned about tantrums and developmental stages and communication techniques. Most importantly, I learned how to understand my child and to trust my parental instincts. Since I was the one doing the reading, Mr. Clementino looked to me to coach him through some tough moments. It would sound something like this, "Clementina, what am I supposed to do NOW?" Believe it or not, I coached him through the moment, right on the spot, many times with the child listening. Clementino prefers experiential learning. Though our parenting history isn't perfect, we've grown to appreciate our strengths and have strong relationships with our children. We continued to be blessed and challenged each day.

Since there is no formal training, internship, or interview process for parenting, I use my resources and thank God for them every day. Saint Clement School offers support to parents through Positive Parenting Workshops. These workshops are experiential in nature and the goal is to create strong parent community. We add a variety of tools to deal with common misbehaviors. We have a beautifully compiled list of books and articles LINK Ms. Dan has a library of her favorites in her office.

I welcome emails and wish you the best on your search to discover your parenting strengths!

clementina@stclementschool.org

Stay True to You,

Clementina

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