30 episodes

Connected Families is committed to bringing you content that will challenge, encourage, and equip you to be the thoughtful and confident parent you long to be. Several times a year we take a break from our weekly articles to bring you themed series through podcasts.

Connected Families Podcast Connected Families

    • Kids & Family
    • 5.0, 160 Ratings

Connected Families is committed to bringing you content that will challenge, encourage, and equip you to be the thoughtful and confident parent you long to be. Several times a year we take a break from our weekly articles to bring you themed series through podcasts.

    What To Do When Kids Interrupt Important Conference Calls

    What To Do When Kids Interrupt Important Conference Calls

    Working at home can be challenging! And exasperating. In this difficult season where many parents are juggling kids and working from home, our “new normal” is anything but normal. Parents are asking, "How do I stop kids interrupting conference calls?"







    It’s hard to know how to respond to the challenges of interrupted conference calls. But this can be a great opportunity to help kids feel both loved and successful. Applying the Connected Families Framework for parenting can equip you to Connect, Coach, and Correct from a foundation of Safety. (This article is also available as an audio or video download.)







    Read this article and apply what you’ve learned to experience a more peaceful conference call!









    https://youtu.be/a7wsyxYjndU









    What should you do first when kids interrupt an important conference call? 







    Outside of the immediate challenge, it’s helpful to consider, “What’s going on in me? How do I view this? Am I responsible for having a perfect child?” 







    Feeling shame and embarassment about your child’s behavior during a conference call causes you to react anxiously, which increases your child’s anxiety and neediness. It may be that a light-hearted “sorry for the delay” to participants is appropriate, but avoid the temptation to repeatedly or emphatically apologize. That’s stressful for you and your child. 







    If you are expecting a certain behavior, but haven’t helped your kids both value it and practice it, it’s a setup for frustration! 







    It’s also important to thoughtfully consider, “What’s it like to be my child when I get on a conference call?” 







    Having an unavailable parent can be tough on kids’ anxiety levels!







    Research shows that our brains release oxytocin under stressful conditions, especially in social isolation. These elevated oxytocin levels drive an urgency to get help when we feel stressed or anxious. Your child’s demands may be a sign of elevated stress levels.







    In addition, up until age three or four, a child’s worldview generally revolves around himself. That child will probably not be thinking of your personal comfort during that important call for work. 







    Considering all this, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Ditch those profuse apologies, take a deep breath, and remember that these are great opportunities to extend God’s grace and mercy to yourself, and to your child. 







    Want to avoid kids interrupting conference calls? Be proactive.







    Thoughtful and intentional connection can go a long way! Before your meeting, prepare by connecting well with your child - even if it is just three minutes. Let them know you are delighted in them. Make meaningful eye contact. Fill their cup! Enable them to be peaceful so they can head off to be independent. 







    One mom, who is working from home, stated, “I have been trying to connect with my kids through short bursts of focused, joy-filled attention frequently throughout the day. It seems to be helping them to play independently for longer periods of time, which is helping me to get things done that I need to.”







    It probably won’t be helpful to just tell kids not to interrupt. It may even cause more anxiety! Coach them and build skills ahead of time to demonstrate what you want them to do instead. If you are expecting a certain behavior, but haven’t helped your kids both value it and practice it, it’s a setup for frustration! 















    How can you set your child up for success?







    Proactive coaching goes a long way in preventing interruptions:

    • 7 min
    Is Your Child Refusing to Do Schoolwork?

    Is Your Child Refusing to Do Schoolwork?

    Is your child refusing to do schoolwork? What can you do? Many parents are feeling the pressure of “crisis schooling,” and children are struggling to find motivation for their schoolwork. Though doing school at home may have initially been appealing, the novelty (for most) is wearing off. 







    Kids have been cooped up at home. Now that spring is here, they just want to be outside!







    In this article (also available in video or audio download), learn practical ideas to empathize, encourage, and empower (problem-solve). You can bring more joy into your child’s educational experience. 









    https://youtu.be/diyGxblEsE4









    Check what's going on inside you first







    Doing “school at home” during the pandemic was not a choice for many parents, and this can cause a lot of anxiety. 







    Before we can effectively help our kids, we have to learn to navigate our own anxiety. It is then we are better able to lead our children calmly. Remind yourself and your children that there is plenty of grace for this, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.















    Empathize when your child refuses to do their homework







    It is important to empathize with our kids before we try to solve the problem. Ask yourself:







    What's it like to be them?What are they feeling? What are their basic needs or stressors that are causing them to struggle? 







    Your child might be experiencing over-stimulation, boredom, low blood sugar, fatigue, or lack of exercise and/or sleep. They could also be experiencing sadness and grief. 







    Online schooling is not easy for kids







    Studies also show that virtual meetings are exhausting for kids and parents! It’s harder to read social cues on a screen, and response delays can hinder effective communication. Kids may also feel self-conscious about “performing” on a screen. 







    Distance learning lacks the variety that an in-person classroom provides. Our brains were created to function on reflected light, and learning in front of a screen means more light-emitting exposure, which can also contribute to fatigue.







    Whatever the stressors our kids are experiencing, it’s really helpful to express, “I get what it’s like to be you!” 







    Encourage your child 







    Along with empathy, we can encourage our kids. Let them know, “I see and enjoy good things in you!” The word encourage literally means “to fill with courage.” So fill your kids with courage about who they are! 







    Doing “school at home” was not a choice for many parents, and this can cause a lot of anxiety.







    Remind them of previous successes, and dwell on what is good instead of focusing on what isn’t good. Fist bumps, high fives, humor, and positive affirmation can remind your child of success and provide needed encouragement. 







    Empower: problem solving together increases motivation







    The schoolwork problem is hard. Crisis schooling is a crisis situation—for kids, too. Once we have empathized and encouraged, our kids will feel safer and calmer with us. Then we can then work to solve the problem.







    It's important to watch for what your child naturally gravitates toward: What picks them up? What helps them? Teach them to advocate for themselves by asking for what they need to be successful.







    How Ashley learned to problem solve her schoolwork







    One mom, Julia, wrote about some helpful solutions she discovered with her 9-year-old daughter during a struggle over schoolwork:

    • 8 min
    Help Your Struggling Child Grieve His Pre-Coronavirus Life

    Help Your Struggling Child Grieve His Pre-Coronavirus Life

    Like many of us, your child might be grieving his pre-coronavirus life. This challenging time can bring strong emotions to the surface in our kids (and in us as parents). These emotions can be signs of a child's underlying grief. And difficulty in expressing that grief. 



    Read on to learn why it’s important to allow your children to grieve, and healthy ways to help them process their grief. This article is also available as a video or audio download.





    Why is it important for our children to grieve?

    We’re hearing from a lot of parents whose kids still aren’t adjusting well to the new challenges of “Stay-at-Home” orders and social distancing guidelines.



    Resistance to homework. Power struggles. Tantrums. Withdrawn children.



    These are just some of the challenges parents are facing. Add to this list the responsibility of managing school work while trying to work from home and you’ve got a recipe for stress and discouragement. 



    Parents tell us they’re trying to help their kids adjust but making little progress. It’s a tough load!



    Grief is real! Our kids, right along with the rest of us, are dealing with grief right now. It feels unnatural and even overwhelming to lose our normal life rhythms. 



    Our kids are likely grieving the loss of school friends and other activities. Their lives have been turned upside-down and they are probably limited in their ability to process those feelings.



    Many of us can probably relate to this struggling mom:



    “Dear Connected Families, I need help figuring out how to help my four year old manage his grief over the loss of his wonderful life at preschool. His teachers at his preschool are so loving and he has wonderful friends there. He misses his teachers and friends and wants to hug them and play with them. I’m doing what I can, I bought new puzzles and books.  I’m trying to fill his love tank but he has such intense needs and I have a two year old as well. Please help.” 

    Are we distracting our children from their grief?

    As your child struggles, your first inclination may be to distract him with “happy things.” But you don't want to teach your child to sweep their feelings aside and pretend they don’t exist. Instead, view this as an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson in dealing with disappointment.



    You probably don't blatantly order your child to toughen up. However, that might be the message your child hears. If you put more energy into trying to relieve your child’s disappointment than you do into validating it, you may drive the mourning inward. 



    Kids need permission to feel sad. Sometimes kids have big feelings of grief. But when invalidated, those feelings get locked up inside and come out in twisted ways. They can only intensify an already difficult situation.  

    Kids need to feel safe and be given permission to express their grief.

    How to help your child process grief

    Hard as it is, don't try to help your kids “get over it.” The best gift you can give them is to be present and to sit with them in their emotions and discontent.



    Jesus told us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”



    There is a direct link between mourning and comfort.



    The term here for mourning comes from the Greek word, pentheus. It means to express externally what’s being experienced internally.



    When the grief is deep, it may take some time for even the most mature among us to express the deep things that are pent up inside. 



    God is patient with us when we grieve. Likewise, our patience and presence with our kids during their grief will help them learn to understand and navigate their feelings. Our patient presence with our kids communicates in a tangible way that God is present with them too. 



    God gives us safety and permission to mourn.

    • 8 min
    How to Create a Simple Sensory Diet for Restless, Homebound Kids

    How to Create a Simple Sensory Diet for Restless, Homebound Kids

    Are you “walking on eggshells” with restless, homebound kids? Do your kids have a case of “Grumpy Child Syndrome”? Your family may need an extra dose of a healthy sensory diet. What is a sensory diet? Why is it important? And how can you incorporate it in practical ways with your kids? Read on. (This article is also available in video or audio download.)







    In the midst of current uncertainties, we may find ourselves encountering grumpy kids. (We may even admit to experiencing some grumpy feelings of our own!) There is nothing wrong with you or your kids. 



    Just like our bodies need healthy food at the right times of the day so we don’t get “hangry”, we also need healthy, timely sensory experiences. Everyone's body needs healthy movement to help improve mood! Feelings of grumpiness and restlessness in our kids could be signaling the need for a more balanced sensory diet. 

    What is a sensory diet? 

    A sensory diet is the purposeful use of sensory and movement activities at key times of the day (along with quiet times strategically interspersed) to make it easier to naturally regulate energy and emotions. Big muscle play is especially important for a sensory diet.

    Why is a sensory diet important?

    When we’re upset, our brains trigger the release of fight or flight neurotransmitters to get us ready to “slug or run” in self-protection. The blood flows away from our frontal lobe and goes to our big muscles.



    If that body chemistry isn't used for its intended purpose of big muscle action, it stays in a person's system and creates an ongoing sense that something's wrong. And, when a child’s nervous system is on edge, it doesn't take much to trigger an aggressive or defensive reaction. 



    What’s the answer? Play! When placed in a tense situation, play-deprived rats were either aggressive, or ran away to a corner. Remarkably, an hour of play a day offset this tendency. There’s evidence this is also true for humans!



    Knowing this about rats, it's no wonder why cooped up kids are so irritable...



    Big muscle play uses up those fight/flight neurotransmitters and increases serotonin, the feel-good hormone that kids are often low on. Sensory activities can increase serotonin and improve mood!

    How does a sensory diet work?

    Just like we need good food at times of hunger, look for the typical times of day that kids might get edgy out of “sensory hunger.” Shortly before that time offer some sensory activities. Consider interspersing "recess" at scheduled times of the school work day, especially before tackling a difficult subject.



    Another typical “sensory hungry” time is late afternoon or right before dinner. Your child could use a hop ball to bring the napkins to the dinner table one at a time, an activity which has helped numerous kids sit better at dinner. 



    If you have kids that get riled up with big muscle play, a key to an effective sensory diet can be making sure activities are rhythmical and purposeful, rather than wild and chaotic. Provide structure and repetition, using obstacle courses, bear walk or crab walk relays, music and movement activities, or bike rides if those are an option.





    Get creative with sensory materials at home

    One mom was struggling with her son and his math. She gave him the idea to slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag, climb back up and do it again. And again. Structured, repetitive climbing and bumping! He went from being testy and cranky, to happy and cooperative! This particular kind of movement had given his body and brain the sensory input it needed to be calm and focused for his schoolwork.



    One family recently got a trampoline* for the backyard to deal with the growing “cooped up” restlessness they were seeing. Jumping on the trampoline brought dramatic changes to one son’s behavior and outbursts...

    • 6 min
    What You Misunderstand About Your Misbehaving Child

    What You Misunderstand About Your Misbehaving Child

    If you’ve got a child that seems to be misbehaving more than usual, you’re not alone. These are trying times. If your child seems to be acting out all of a sudden, you might have a Stressed, Anxious, or Discouraged (SAD) child.



    You can be a person of peace in the midst of chaos. You can understand your misbehaving child.



    The current challenges of staying at home can cause even more distress for a child who is already intense and sensitive. A struggling child can increase tension in an already stressful situation.







    In this article, also available as a video or audio download, you’ll  learn what’s going on in kids’ brains when they struggle with outbursts of whining and demanding behavior. When we understand our misbehaving (SAD) child, we can better help them!

    Why do kids misbehave?

    It might be hard for you to believe, but kids generally don’t misbehave to make your life miserable. There are a variety of reasons a child might be acting out with strong emotions. Kids could be:



    Stressed by external circumstances (there are plenty of these right now!).

    Anxious due to sensory issues, being highly gifted, or just fear about what’s happening in the world. 

    Discouraged because of feelings of failure, inferiority, or sibling insecurity.



    Another contributing factor could be serotonin imbalances, which are common in children. When serotonin is low, kids are easily angry, aggressive, impulsive, irritable, anxious, discouraged, and don’t sleep as well. 

    Your child’s struggle is not a reflection of his or her character. 

    Whatever the underlying cause, remember:

    Your child’s struggle is not a reflection of his or her character. 



    Four-year-old Maria described her inner turmoil after a busy morning with other kids;  “My brain couldn’t make my body stop being mean. My heart is kind but my body doesn’t listen!”



    A negative response with lectures and consequences will only increase your child’s stress and reinforce a “problem-child identity.” When kids off-load their stress, their outbursts are signaling the need for a safe parent to come alongside and coach them through it.





    How can I help my misbehaving child?



    Get in their shoes. Ask yourself, “What’s it like to be my child right now?”

    Reframe the situation with compassion. Maria’s mom responded to her struggling daughter, “We’ll get this all figured out! I love your kind heart and it shines through even when your body ‘doesn’t listen.’” 

    Enter confidently as an ally and a coach. Communicate, either through your words or actions, “I’m strong enough to handle your difficult feelings. The Holy Spirit comes alongside to comfort and help me, so I can do the same for you!”



    When kids off-load their stress, their outbursts are signaling the need for a safe parent to come alongside and coach them through it.

    Listen deeply, especially when your child is acting out.

    Julia’s mom found success with her daughter’s outbursts by saying, “Julia, you have some big feelings! Let’s set the timer for three minutes, and you can tell me everything you’re feeling and upset about. When the timer rings, we’ll problem-solve!” This mom set aside her judgments and listened well, which helped both of them calm down so they could solve the problem.



    When we respond with understanding and compassion, we can build an identity in our child as a problem-solver rather than a problem-child. That’s something to celebrate! 



    We all want home to be a safe place for our family during these challenging times. The goal is not to eliminate chaos and make behavior go away, but to invite God’s grace and truth to guide our compassion for our struggling children.



    You can be a person of peace in the middle of chaos.

    • 9 min
    Am I a Bad Parent?

    Am I a Bad Parent?

    You are not a bad parent. During the pandemic, start learning how to stop parenting out of guilt or anxiety.







    This content is also available in an audio version. 







    When we’re in crisis, the voices built most deeply in us come out. Sometimes that can be positive. Other times it turns self-critical. 



    Instead of blaming ourselves, we can remind our hearts that we are created in God’s image to do good works. We can be vessels of God’s grace and presence to our families during this difficult time. 

    Look for the bright spots in your parenting

    As hard as it may be to see at times, there are bright spots in your parenting. 



    It’s almost never as bad it could be. 



    Let’s get a little deep for a moment: There is a distance between “as bad as it could be” and what is actually happening. The efforts you are making to bring God’s grace to your family are what is creating that distance. In other words, things are not as bad as they could be because of the things you are doing well! 



    Focus on what you are doing well as a parent and allow God to grow those moments each day.





    Tips to grow your parenting without shame

    You can do better than mere survival during this challenging time. You can even grow your parenting and come out better on the other side. 



    Here are some practical tips:



    Slow down, take deep breaths, trusting that Jesus is fully in control and that He never leaves us.

    Look at the opportunities. Look for “yes” moments that are now possible because of less time constraints.

    Look at the successes. Ask yourself, “When did I connect well with one of my kids?” or “When did I hold it together when I could have lost it and what helped me to achieve that?”



    In other words, things are not as bad as they could be because of the things you are doing well! 

    One mom’s parenting success during “stay-at-home” orders

    Enjoy this story from Abby, mom of 3 from Minnesota, who has been working hard to connect well with her kids. She is learning to choose grace and be present with her kids in the midst of life’s daily messes:



    Now let me just tell you on Day 1... oh wow!  That day was HARD. I am an extreme extrovert.  I gotta see my people. And then there was the FEAR. Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the virus. Not being able to know, to plan, to execute our daily routine. That first day there were tears and screaming. The anxiety - not just mine but my kids' - was thick and oppressive.



    But I had a change in mindset over the next 2-3 days. I realized that we are "all in this together,” and EVERYONE else was having a similar experience, so there was nothing I could do but truly surrender it all. 



    Everything that was most important to me was under one roof. So it turns out I did have my people.  And I still had a Jesus who I knew was walking alongside me in all of this, and I had the framework that Connected Families had given me. 



    I do struggle to stay calm but I read Jim’s post where he said, “Whenever I feel anxious I literally tell myself, ‘Jim, this isn’t helping. You can’t solve it. But you can breathe deep and remember that Jesus promised to never leave you nor forsake you. (Deep breath) That’s it. Do it again.’” I did this. 

    You’re not a bad parent

    You are not alone. In your community, and the world as a whole, there are millions of parents walking through this together. Struggling does not make you a bad parent.



    Every family has unique challenges and trials to navigate and it can be exhausting. We see you. We hear you. And we want to walk alongside you. Share your prayer requests with us - we’d love to pray for you.



    Related Posts"God is Always Up to Something!"4 Tips for Parenting During a PandemicAre We Gonna Be Okay?

    • 8 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
160 Ratings

160 Ratings

moarkis ,

Every episode is a gem

I’ve been so thankful for the voice of Connected Families in my life since discovering this podcast. It has been an encouragement and a hopeful guide in the midst of parenting struggles!

jvyfyfyvjvfu ,

Thank you!

So glad I found your podcast. So helpful! I haven’t figured out how to reach out but when I do! 😍😍😍

momoffive$ ,

Fantastic

I’m a mom of five with still so much to learn. Thank you for your clear, Christ-centered help!

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