Gentle Parenting

Gentle Parenting

Gentle Parenting

What is the Gentle Parenting Approach?

Gentle parenting is an approach that is centered on mutual empathy and understanding. While some parenting techniques follow certain guidelines and rules, gentle parenting is more of a “way of being” that promotes feelings of security and inspires positive growth for both the child and the parent!

Gentle Parenting: Where to Start

In order to use gentle parenting effectively, it is important that parents first explore their own anxieties and insecurities. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all bring with us experiences that could get in the way of us gently approaching our kiddos. 

Maybe you had a parent who yelled at you when you were young, so when your child yells at you, it creates feelings of anxiety? Or maybe you had an absent parent, and your fear of not being enough for your child is crippling because you know how hard that can be? 

The truth is since no parent is perfect we all bring baggage to the table, BUT the more aware of this baggage we are, the better able we are to deal with it and be fully present with our children!

Why Does Gentle Parenting Work? 

Gentle parenting is thought to be successful, because it “meets children where they’re at” developmentally versus expecting them to master skills that even some adults can’t get right! When we can meet a child where they’re at, we acknowledge that their behaviors are what is expected based on their brain development, which means that we need to address those behaviors in a way that makes the most sense to the child. 

Rather than pathologizing “bad behavior,” it acknowledges that children behave in ways that just make sense given their needs in that moment. Parents ask themselves, “what is my child trying to communicate to me in this moment?” For example, a child who is screaming in a busy grocery store may be feeling overwhelmed by the chaotic environment, is hungry or tired, or might be needing reassurance from his/her parent that they are safe. 

Although some would look at this behavior as simply unacceptable, gentle parenting suggests that there is always a logical reason why children act the way they do and when we can find out “why” we can support them better through that unwanted behavior, which ultimately builds mutual trust and respect! 

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Gentle Parenting Challenges

Although gentle parenting is helpful for many families, parents may encounter some challenges with this approach: First, some parents might be so focused on meeting their child where they’re at that it can be tempting to become overly permissive and allow all behaviors to play out without setting appropriate boundaries. 

Second, gentle parenting requires significant self-control as a parent, which could be too difficult for some parents with unresolved experiences or past trauma, or those who have a hard time regulating their own stress. 

In this case, it may be helpful to speak with someone, like an online therapist or coach, who can help you through those barriers so that you can be more present and attentive to your child. As a parenting coach and family therapist, I have found it helpful to work with many parents on their own reactions to their children and where that reaction comes from while implementing gentle parenting. 

Gentle Parenting and Discipline

Some people believe gentle parenting to be too “soft” and absent of discipline. However this is not the case! In fact, gentle parenting views discipline as a necessary tool to teach children not only how to behave but how to have good relationships with others. After all, the word “discipline” means “to teach.”

Discipline in gentle parenting first involves reassuring the child that you love them by meeting the child’s needs and then offering clear and consistent boundaries in order to promote safety and security. There is no traditional positive or negative reinforcement in gentle parenting, but rather the focus is on connecting because the more connected we feel to our parent, the more we trust that their boundaries are good for us. 

I once heard someone say, “the most important thing for your child to hear after ‘I love you’ is ‘I won’t let you’.” Gentle Parenting is just that: a balance of firmness and kindness. 

To tackle a tantrum, gentle parenting suggests:

  1. Getting down to their level (literally) and reassure them that they are allowed to feel emotions! 
  2. Provide empathy by actively listening to what is making them feel so upset (even if it seems ridiculous to you), and then…
  3. Naming how they are feeling so that they can better communicate that feeling in the future. The goal is not to prevent or redirect all negative emotions. The goal is to help teach your child how to communicate and deal with negative emotions when they happen. 

 

Gentle Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

How do you practice gentle parenting with a strong-willed child? Patience and empathy! Think about it this way, if someone is repeating the same darn thing to you they must REALLY need you to understand what they’re saying. The same is true for children who are strong-willed. They may think they know what is best so they fight you to convince you that their way is better. 

Ultimately, they need to understand that as the adult and parent, you actually know better! AND that you’re willing to hear them and respect them, that their feelings matter, and you’re there to support them. But supporting them doesn’t have to mean you’ll do everything they ask… I think we can all agree most of the time candy for dinner isn’t actually the best idea!

Just remember, consistency is key! Keep redirecting towards boundaries AND reassuring them that they can trust you as their parent because you care about them. The next time your child doesn’t want to go to bed, try saying “I love you so much and I see that you are having fun and want to stay up, but I won’t let you stay up past your bedtime because your body needs sleep”. 

What to Do When Your Family and Friends Disagree with Your Gentle Parenting Style

In my work with parents, I am asked questions like “what if my parents or friends disagree with my parenting style – what if they don’t believe gentle parenting works?” And, “how can I build necessary boundaries without hurting my relationships?”

No matter what parenting style you choose there’s likely to be people who disagree with you. This doesn’t mean you have to conform to their parenting style or cut them out of your life. True to gentle parenting, kindness and firmness can be helpful tools in navigating these conversations. 

Just like children, grown-ups are more likely to respect your point of view when they feel their opinions are heard. So, try starting with asking them why they choose to parent differently. Be curious and kind just as you would with your own child, and then offer your own perspective. It may also be helpful to point to some resources, scientific studies, or specific examples of how gentle parenting has helped your family. 

If you are still met with opposition, that’s okay! Disagreeing on parenting styles is not worth losing people you care about. The important thing is that you’ve found a way of parenting that works for you. At this point, find your inner “gentle parent” and communicate “I love you, and I won’t let you”– tell that person how much you care about them and their relationship, but you won’t let them treat you poorly or let a disagreement affect your relationship with them. 

Many families have found gentle parenting to be solace in a world of parenting do’s and don’ts. The families I’ve worked with have discovered that this style of parenting not only helped their children learn new positive behaviors, but they’ve also found their parent-child relationship is stronger! My hope for you is that you might find gentle parenting to be just as meaningful. 

With kindness, 
Georgi Chizk

 

Bentonville Arkansas Marriage Counselor Bentonville Therapist Bentonville Premarital Counseling Bentonville Family Therapy Online Therapy Arkansas

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

If you are interested in learning more about the gentle parenting approach or would like support in your parenting journey, Georgi is an excellent parenting coach and family therapist. 

 

 

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How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship

How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship

How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship

Let Yourself Feel Loved

OVERCOMING INSECURITY | It’s not uncommon for both women and men to feel insecure in a relationship from time to time. We often see emotional insecurity as an underlying issue to address with couples who come to us for marriage counseling, couples therapy, premarital counseling and relationship coaching. After all, when couples don’t feel completely emotionally safe and secure with each other it tends to create conflict and problems in many other areas of their partnership. [For more on the importance of emotional safety and how it may be impacting YOUR relationship, access our free “How Healthy is Your Relationship” Quiz and my mini-couples coaching follow up video series.]

It’s especially true for people in new relationships to have some anxiety, but even people in long-term relationships can worry about their partner’s feelings for them sometimes. While very common, feeling insecure in your relationship can create problems — for both of you. 

Root Causes of Insecurity

If insecurity is an issue in your relationship — either for you, or your partner — you might be speculating about the root causes of insecurity and how to heal them. People can struggle to feel emotionally safe with their partner for a variety of reasons — sometimes due to their life experiences, but sometimes, due to things that have happened in the current relationship itself. 

Insecurity After Infidelity: Certainly being let down or betrayed by your partner in the past can lead you to struggle with trust in the present moment. Insecurity after infidelity or an emotional affair is very common. In these cases, the path to healing can be a long one. The person who did the betraying often needs to work very hard, for a long time, to show (not tell, but show) their partners that they can trust them.

Anxiety After Being Let Down Repeatedly: However, insecurities can also start to emerge after less dramatic betrayals and disappointments. Even feeling that your partner has not been emotionally available for you, has not been consistently reliable, or was there for you in a time of need, it can lead you to question the strength of their commitment and love. Trust is fragile: If your relationship has weathered storms, learning how to repair your sense of trust and security can be a vital part of healing. Often, couples need to go back into the past to discuss the emotional wounds they experienced with each other in order to truly restore the bond of safety and security. These conversations can be challenging, but necessary.

Insecurity Due to Having Been Hurt in the Past: Sometimes people who have had negative experiences in past relationships can feel insecure, due to having been traumatized by others. For some people, their very first relationships were with untrustworthy or inconsistent parents and that led to the development of insecure attachment styles. This can lead them to feel apprehensive or protective with anyone who gets close. However, even people with loving parents and happy childhoods can carry scars of past relationships, particularly if they lived through a toxic relationship at some point in their lives. It’s completely understandable: Having been burned by an Ex can make it harder to trust a new partner, due to fears of being hurt again.

Long Distance Relationships: Certain types of relationships can lead people to feel less secure than they’d like to, simply due to the circumstances of the relationship itself. For example, you might feel more insecure if you’re in a long-distance relationship.  Not being able to connect with your partner or see them in person all the time can take a toll on even the strongest relationship. Couples in long-distance relationships should expect that they will have to work a little harder than couples who are together day-to-day, in order to help each person to feel secure and loved. In these cases, carefully listening to each other about what both of you are needing to feel secure and loved is vital, as is being intentionally reliable and consistent.

Feeling Insecure When You’re Dating Someone New: And, as we all know, early-stage romantic love is a uniquely vulnerable experience and often fraught with anxiety. Dating someone new is exciting, but it can also be intensely anxiety-provoking. In new (or new-ish) relationships where a commitment has not been established, not fully knowing where you stand with a new person that you really like is emotionally intense. If you’re dating, or involved in a new relationship, you may need to deliberately cultivate good self-soothing and calming skills in order to manage the emotional roller coaster that new love can unleash. 

Feeling Insecure With a Withdrawn Partner: Interestingly, different types of relationship dynamics can lead to differences in how secure people feel. The same person can feel very secure and trusting in one relationship, but with a different person, feel suspicious, worried, and on pins and needles. Often this has to do with the relational dynamic of the couple.

For example, in relationships where one person has a tendency to withdraw, be less communicative, or is not good at verbalizing their feelings it can lead their partner to feel worried about what’s really going on inside of them. This can turn into a pursue-withdraw dynamic that intensifies over time; one person becoming increasingly anxious and agitated about not being able to get through to their partner, and the withdrawn person clamping down like a clam under assault by a hungry seagull. However, when communication improves and couples learn how to show each other love and respect in the way they both need to feel safe and secure, trust is strengthened and emotional security is achieved.

Types of Insecurities

Emotional security (or lack of) is complex. In addition to having a variety of root causes, there are also different ways that insecurity manifests in people —and they all have an impact on your relationship. As has been discussed in past articles on this blog, people who struggle with low self esteem may find it hard to feel safe in relationships because they are anticipating rejection. The “insecure overachiever” may similarly struggle to feel secure in relationships if they’re not getting the validation and praise they thrive on. 

For others, insecurity is linked to an overall struggle with vulnerability and perfectionism. People who feel like they need to be perfect in order to be loved can — subconsciously or not — try to hide their flaws. But, on a deep level, they know they’re not perfect (no one is) and so that knowledge can lead to feelings of apprehension when they let other people get close to them. In these cases, learning how to lean into authentic vulnerability can be the path of healing. [More on this: “The Problem With Perfectionism”]

Sometimes people who are going through a particularly hard time in other parts of their lives can start to feel apprehensive about their standing in their relationship. For example, people who aren’t feeling great about their career can often feel insecure when they’re around people who they perceive as being more successful or accomplished than they are. This insecurity is heightened in the case of a layoff or unexpected job loss. If one partner in a relationship is killing it, and the other is feeling under-employed or like they’re still finding their way, it can lead the person who feels dissatisfied with their current level of achievement to worry that their partner is dissatisfied with them too. 

Insecurities can take many forms, and emerge for a variety of reasons. However, when insecurity is running rampant the biggest toll it takes is often on a relationship. 

How Insecurity Can Ruin a Relationship

To be clear: Having feelings is 100% okay. Nothing bad is going to happen to you, or your relationship, or anyone else because you have feelings of anxiety or insecurity. The only time relationship problems occur as a result of feelings is when your feelings turn into behaviors.

If people who feel insecure, anxious, jealous or threatened don’t have strategies to soothe themselves and address their feelings openly with their partner (and have those conversations lead to positive changes in the relationship), the feelings can lead to behaviors that can harm the relationship. Some people lash out in anger when they perceive themselves to be in emotional danger, or that their partner is being hurtful to them.  Often, people who feel insecure will attempt to control their partner’s behaviors in efforts to reduce their own anxiety. Many insecure people will hound their partners for information about the situations they feel worried about. Still others will withdraw, pre-emptively, as a way of protecting themselves from the rejection they anticipate.

While all of these strategies are adaptive when you are in a situation where hurtful things are happening, (more on toxic relationships here) problems occur when these defensive responses flare up in a neutral situation. A common example of this is the scenario where one person repeatedly asks their partner if they’re cheating on them because they feel anxious, when their partner is actually 100% faithful to them and has done nothing wrong. The insecure person might question their partner, attack their partner, check up on their partner, or be cold and distant due to their worries about being cheated on or betrayed — when nothing bad is actually happening. This leaves the person on the other side feeling hurt, controlled, rejected, vilified… or simply exhausted. 

If feelings of insecurity are leading to problematic behaviors in a relationship, over time, if unresolved, it can erode the foundation of your partnership. 

How to Help Someone Feel More Secure

It’s not uncommon for partners of insecure people to seek support through therapy or life coaching, or couples counseling either for themselves or with their partners. They ask, “How do I help my wife feel more secure,” or “How do I help my husband feel more secure.” This is a great question; too often partners put the blame and responsibility for insecure feelings squarely on the shoulders of their already-anxious spouse or partner. This, as you can imagine, only makes things worse. 

While creating trust in a relationship is a two-way street, taking deliberate and intentional action to help your partner feel emotionally safe with you in the ways that are most important to him or her is the cornerstone of helping your insecure girlfriend, insecure boyfriend, or insecure spouse feel confident in your love for them. The key here is consistency, and being willing to do things to help them feel emotionally secure even if you don’t totally get it. This is especially true of the origins of your partner’s worry stem from early experiences of being hurt or betrayed by someone else. 

Tips to help your spouse feel more secure: 

  • Ask them what they need from you to feel emotionally safe and loved by you
  • Give that to them (over and over again, without being asked every time)
  • Rinse and repeat

How to Stop Being Insecure

Of course, it’s very frustrating to partners who feel like they’re not just true-blue, but doing everything they feel they can to help someone feel safe and secure… and yet insecurities persist. While partners of anxious people do need to try a little harder to help them feel secure, the person who struggles with insecurity needs to also take responsibility for their feelings and learn how to manage them effectively. Note: This doesn’t mean not ever having worried or insecure feelings (feelings happen y’all), but rather, learning how to have feelings that don’t turn into relationship-damaging behaviors.

Without the ability to soothe yourself, become grounded in the here and now, and get your emotional needs met by your partner (or yourself), unbridled insecurity can put a major strain on a relationship. But how? How do you manage insecurity? That’s the million-dollar question, and that’s why I’ve made it the topic of the latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast! 

If you’re struggling with insecurity in your relationship — either as the person who worries, or the one who’s trying to reassure them — you’ll definitely want to join me and my colleague Georgi Chizk, an Arkansas-based marriage counselor and family therapist who specializes in attachment therapy as we discuss this topic. We’re going deep into the topic of insecurity in relationships, and how to overcome it. Listen and learn more about:

  • The root causes of insecurity
  • The surprising ways insecurity can impact a relationship
  • Practical strategies to help someone else feel more secure
  • Actionable advice to help yourself feel less insecure
  • How trust and security are healed and strengthened
  • Concrete tools couples can use to banish insecurity from their relationship

We hope that this discussion helps you both overcome insecurity, and create the strong, happy relationship you deserve.

With love and respect, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby & Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT

P.S. Pro Tip: Once you listen to this podcast, consider sharing it with your partner. Doing so can be an easy, low-key way to start an important, and necessary conversation about how to increase the emotional safety and security you both feel in your relationship. xo, LMB

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How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Juniore, “Panique”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

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Online Therapy: What You Should Know About Teletherapy

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Online Therapy: What You Should Know About Teletherapy

All Your Questions Answered

Teletherapy is also referred to as Online Therapy, Telehealth, TeleMental Health, Telemedicine, and E-Health. Although it has many names, it serves one purpose: to make your physical and mental health services more accessible! The use of Teletherapy has become more common as technology has grown to make life more efficient. 

The truth is, traditional therapy (going to a therapy office) just isn’t always convenient or even possible. There have been times in my life when I’ve felt too busy to squeeze in one more “stop” on my drive home, and other times when I just wished I could conduct my day from the comfort of my bed. 

Even now, with social distancing efforts underway, it seems that we are forced to cut certain social interactions out of our life, and unfortunately traditional therapy may be one of those. However, with Teletherapy services you don’t have to wait to see a therapist in person.  

What Actually Is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is essentially just a platform for your therapist to communicate with you. This can be through online-video, a phone call, and even sometimes texting or email. Here at Growing Self, we are advocates of teletherapy counseling via online HIPAA compliant video. I personally love to see my online therapy clients through online-video because I feel more connected with them when I can see their faces.

Here’s a Guide To Online Therapy if you’d like to learn more!

What Teletherapy Is Not… 

It is not a modality or a “type” of therapy. Basically, therapists will conduct their sessions, as usual, using their specific clinical training. In other words, I don’t switch to a new style of therapy just because I’m using technology. Instead, I allow technology to help me reach my clients so that I can use the clinical training I’ve already received. 

Teletherapy is also not a 24-hour crisis hotline. A therapist using telehealth may not be equipped to handle immediate crises. It is true that technology increases the accessibility of your therapist, however calling a 24-hour crisis line, such as 1-800-273-8255 (Suicide Prevention Hotline), may be more helpful if you are in need of immediate assistance.

If you are looking for emergency resources, we have put together a list for you here: Emergency Resources

What Are The Risks And Benefits Of Teletherapy? 

One question as an online therapist that I receive from my online couples therapy and individual therapy clients is, “don’t you miss certain cues when you can’t see someone in-person?” The answer… yes and no. 

For the most part, I can read people’s facial expressions and body language as long as the video quality is good, yet there are times when I wish I could see someone’s foot-tapping, or when a couple reaches out to hold hands during a session. Despite some “missed cues”, video therapy can also increase the effectiveness of the therapy process because people seem to feel more comfortable in their own homes. 

Other benefits include the efficiency of Telehealth. Pulling out your phone and hopping on a video session takes much less time than getting in your car, driving to the therapy office, finding parking, and then walking through the door. Not to mention the cost of travel saved!

Overall, I find that most people are pleased with the convenience of Telehealth. 

One risk to note is privacy. As an online therapist, I strive to do all that I can to protect my clients’ privacy. However, I cannot control what happens on the other side of the screen. It could be harder for some people to find a safe and secure environment to conduct an online therapy session, especially if they have family members in the next room! 

Doing things like closing the door, using earbuds, or starting a sound machine outside the door can help. Also using HIPAA compliant software. Growing Self offers a secure business HIPAA compliant Zoom link to consultations and clients. Using a secured video platform can help provide extra security. 

Lastly, Telehealth may not be a good option for you if you experience serious mental health issues. In this case, seeing an in-person licensed therapist in your state may be a better option. 

In-person therapy may also be better for you if you struggle with extreme anger or emotional reactivity, especially for couples therapy. 

Is Teletherapy And Online Couples Counseling Affordable?

Here at Growing Self, we believe that you and your relationships truly matter. We care about YOU! This is why we provide affordable online therapy and work with your insurance when it is appropriate to do so. 

Money is never the most important thing. Not in life, not in love, and certainly not in good business. Money is never, ever as important as people. Just like you, we have values and integrity. Our values are centered around helping you.

Because your well-being is so important to us we will not allow money to stand between you and the Love, Happiness and Success that you deserve.

We will explore solutions with you, be flexible with you, and help you get connected with the right services to fit both your needs and your budget.

Does My Insurance Cover Teletherapy?

We can help you use your insurance for your sessions at Growing Self IF:

  • You are doing therapy (not coaching)
  • Your policy covers behavioral healthcare with out-of-network providers
  • You meet criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis
  • AND you are working with a clinician who is licensed in your state of residence.
  • For couples, we help you use your insurance if you or your partner has a diagnosis that your couples work is focusing on. (As well as the above criteria).

How Do I Find A Therapist For Teletherapy Sessions?

Overall, Teletherapy is effective, convenient, and easy to use AND can be an extremely helpful tool for those seeking psychotherapy from their own homes. 

Research consistently shows that the key component of meaningful and effective personal growth work is working with the right person.

Because the goodness of fit is so important, as part of our dedication to your success, we offer you a free consultation meeting with the expert of your choice so that you can meet them face-to-face, learn about their background and approach, discuss your hopes and goals, and talk about what your work together might look like.

If it feels like a good match, you can then continue meeting until you’ve achieved your goals.

Growing Self has an excellent team of therapists experienced in providing therapy services through online-video. If you’re interested in learning more or would like to schedule a free 30-minute online therapy consultation, our client services team is here to help you find the right fit for your individual and relationship goals. Please visit us here to get started: Powerful Online Therapy and Coaching.

Wishing you Love, Happiness and Success on your journey,
Georgi Chizk, M.S., LMAFT

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

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Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

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As communities continue to adjust to the effects of Coronavirus, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear and confusion. Your children might be looking to you for answers and reassurance, yet you may need answers and reassurance yourself! So what do you do? 

Over the last few weeks as an online marriage and family therapist, I’ve been asked many questions from my clients with the hope that my answers can bring about peace of mind for families wrestling with uncertainty, and I believe there are some conversations and strategies that could help you find what you’re looking for…

Focus On What’s Underneath All Those Questions

Most of the time when we seek to understand it’s because we need reassurance, we need to feel more in control. I believe that fear and anxiety prompts these needs in us. As humans, feeling out of control is vulnerable and scary, so we react out of survival and we seek to understand. [More on letting go of control: How to Release Control and Let Things Go.]

In times like these when everything seems uncertain and scary, fear can become an unwelcome companion. Both adults and children listen to fear and let it sweep them up into waves of anxiety. Unfortunately, the more questions we ask, the more we realize how much we don’t know, and the more anxious we feel, especially in relation to something as unfamiliar as COVID-19

I’ve realized in my work with families that speaking to childrens’ fear can be more helpful than simply answering their questions. As the adult, we can acknowledge that their fear makes sense, and maybe even share with them that we also feel afraid when we don’t have all the answers. Fear is a normal human experience and it’s okay to talk about it. 

Remember That You Are A Team

One of the most empowering things you can do as a family is talk about teamwork! Even though you may be confined to your home and your social circle has shrunk, you still have each other! Don’t let fear or anxiety distract you from that. 

Use this time to reinforce your teamwork– play family games, watch movies together, have meaningful conversations at the dinner table. Your children could find so much peace in knowing that the unity of your family is one thing they can be certain of. 

It’s Okay If We Don’t Have All The Answers Right Now

Unfortunately, we don’t have all the facts about COVID-19 and with the ever changing statistics and research we are learning new facts daily. It’s impossible to keep up! So rather than stressing out about “knowing everything” focus on a few key things we do know: 

(1) This is not forever

(2) There are specific things we can do to make this better

(3) The rest is out of our hands

Teach your children that it’s okay to not know everything. Better yet, teach them that they can find hope and peace despite not knowing! 

The truth is, it is impossible to always be in control, so if we teach our children that the only way to feel at peace is when we’re in control, then they will feel distressed most of the time. 

In my work with clients, I’ve found the better antidote to anxiety is realizing that even in the face of not knowing, there is still hope. 

Change Your Perspective

It is okay to acknowledge the fear that your family is experiencing. This is normal and healthy. But rather than dwelling in that fear, try to practice being present as a family. 

Rather than looking months ahead and wishing away these moments, do something meaningful with the time you have today. Even though social distancing can feel distressing, I’m personally trying to look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to spend more time with my family, an opportunity to re-evaluate what I’m grateful for, and an opportunity to choose hope over fear. 

My hope for you and your family is that you’ll feel empowered to have meaningful conversations during this time of uncertainty. Because even when we are afraid and don’t have all the answers, coming together as a family can make a difference. 

With Kindness,
Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

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Heal Your Bond

EMOTIONAL AFFAIR RECOVERY | So often when the word “affair” is used, we assume a sexual affair. However, an emotional affair can be just as (if not more) detrimental to the relationship. 

Why is this? Well, first of all, when your partner is having an emotional affair, it can be highly traumatic. We are created to make decisions that help us survive, so we gravitate towards people who we believe will provide us with not only physical safety, but emotional safety as well.

 When we discover that our emotional connection with our partner is compromised and therefore our emotional safety is compromised, it can be a devastating and highly distressing experience. [How to tell? Read: The Warning Signs of An Emotional Affair]

As a Bentonville, Arkansas marriage counselor who specializes in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) I know that healing your emotional bond after an emotional affair is challenging, and also possible.

Stages of Emotional Affairs

Emotional affairs typically begin with one partner getting too close with someone outside of the relationship. And not just any someone: Someone they’re attracted to.

The first stages of an emotional affair generally involve feelings of attraction, and increasing feelings of closeness with the emotional affair partner. People in emotional affairs may be flirting and sharing personal details about one’s life and his/her relationship, but it can also look more innocent like confiding in the outside person during times of distress. Emotional affairs can start on social media, or at work — anywhere someone has the privacy to share.

While this may seem relatively harmless, the risk of an emotional affair is that the emotional closeness is being taken away from the primary relationship and given to someone else. Over time, people begin feeling increasingly connected to their emotional affair partner, and less connected to their spouse. From an EFCT marriage counseling perspective, this damage to your feelings of safety, security and attachment is not just jarring, but difficult to get over.

Furthermore, as emotional affairs go on, it’s not uncommon for them to turn into sexual affairs. But even if they don’t go that far, when spouses discover emotional affairs it often leads to feelings of betrayal and damage to their sense of trust and emotional safety. Again, from an EFCT attachment perspective, this “attachment trauma” can lead to many other problems in your relationship. In order to heal your bond, you need to restore your sense of trust and safety.

Ending an emotional affair can be difficult for the person who has come to depend on an outside person to meet their emotional needs. And for people who’s spouses were engaging in an emotional affair, trust can be very hard to rebuild.

After an emotional affair, my clients come to me feeling hopeless, alone, and unsure of how to move forward. The truth is, recovering from an emotional affair is hard work, and almost always requires the help of a trained professional. However, the good news is that many couples who are committed to rebuilding their relationship can… and even go on to establish a stronger, more satisfying relationship than ever before.

As a therapist who works with couples recoving from infidelity, as well as emotional affairs — all from an emotionally focused couples therapy lens — here are some steps that I recommend.

Emotional Affair Recovery: The Path of Healing

Step 1: Recognize The Emotional Affair For What It Is: An Affair

Since we often consider an affair to be sexual, it can be challenging to accept that an emotional affair is as equally valid and detrimental as a sexual affair. Until you are able to do this, it will be very difficult to recover. 

For those of you who have committed the affair, your partner (and your relationship) cannot truly heal until you are able to see how your actions affect him/her. For those of you who are victims of the affair, admitting that you are emotionally betrayed can be the beginning of a truly healing experience. 

Step 2: Commit To Moving Forward After The Affair

Because affairs are so emotionally devastating, it is easy to throw in the towel and assume there is no hope for recovery, however couples who are committed to recovering can actually make it through! 

The key to recovering from an affair is to decide to move forward, and renew your commitment to the relationship. For emotional affair recovery to work, both partners need to be committed to the process of recovery, no matter how hard it may be. 

It is also important to note, however, that if you have experienced emotional or physical abuse, or if the affair is still on-going, there are much bigger barriers to emotional safety and it may not be safe or healthy to pursue affair recovery. 

Step 3: Set Boundaries

Since the hurt partner is feeling betrayed, in the early stages of recovery it is vital that the unfaithful partner shows him/her that they are committed to moving forward. The most helpful way to demonstrate commitment is by setting clear boundaries with the outside partner.

 This means cutting ALL ties with him/her. Doing this will provide the hurt partner with a sense of safety that the affair is less likely to occur again AND it shows him/her that the unfaithful partner is truly wanting to move forward in their partnership.  

Step 4: Work On Reviving Your Relationship

I mean really work on it.

Recovering from an affair is hard work and requires a commitment not only to each other, but to the very process of recovery. Possibly the best thing you can do at this point is to reach out to a trained professional that can help.  

As a couple’s therapist, I try to help couples through this difficult process by providing a space to atone for the affair, attune to each other’s emotional needs, and eventually attach to each other in a deeper more meaningful way than before. 

In addition to participating in couples therapy, you can also do things outside of therapy to help revive your relationship! 

First, nurture your friendship. The very foundation of a healthy relationship is a good friendship, so do things that help build fondness. Go do something you’ll both enjoy together! 

Another thing you can do is find small ways to tune into each other’s emotional needs. Try using an “I feel, I need” statement in order to create an opportunity for connection. 

The Good News

There is hope! Many couples recover from emotional infidelity. It is possible. The process of recovery takes time, so be patient with the process, with your partner, and with yourself. 

Ultimately, you can rebuild a relationship even better than it was before!

NURTURING HEALTHY FAMILIES & HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS | Georgi Chizk, M.S., MFT-C is a warm, compassionate EFCT marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

 

If you’d like Georgi’s help in healing your strong bond, schedule a free consultation to meet with her online or at our Bentonville, Arkansas office location.

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The Problem With Perfectionism

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The Problem With Perfectionism

Keep The First Picture

After a long run in the blistering Texas heat with my friend, she looks at me and says, “Let’s take a picture!” Instinctually I said, “sure!” and smiled for the camera.  Then I saw the photo… After pausing to think about the state of my face (I looked like Sloth from The Goonies), I frantically asked, “Maybe we should take another one?” And then she said something that I found remarkably empowering… She said she was starting a new personal goal to keep the first picture. 

Puzzled, I asked her why. “It seems like everyone takes about ten pictures and funnels through at least five different filters before they’re satisfied with the photo they’ve recreated. Why don’t we just appreciate the raw moment we captured the first time?” she asked. 

Wow, why don’t we?…

The Problem with Perfectionism 

It seems like there is an unspoken expectation that we should always be happy and healthy. We should always be perfect.  Even when we’re going through some of the darkest moments in our lives, there’s an underlying pressure to keep it hidden. “I can’t talk about this. I must appear like I’ve got it all together” we tell ourselves. Whether you’re a single parent, having trouble at work, or dealing with a mental or physical illness, somehow it’s a lot easier to post a photo of you smiling than one that shows what’s really going on… 

The problem with perfectionism is that it’s not only impossible but fleeting. The second we feel like we’ve achieved the slightest perfection in one area of our lives, we’re paranoid about the mess we’re hiding in another corner.  And there we go: around-and-around this cycle of striving, failing (while making the appearance of succeeding), feeling disappointed and ashamed, and then doing it all over again. Even in my own life, this cycle has deceived me into missing out on some pretty great moments, which to me is the most disappointing outcome of perfectionism.

We’re Missing Out on The Moment!

The pressure we feel to be perfect can cause us to miss out on the moment. Perfectionism convinces us that there’s an even better moment to be fabricated and if we believe it enough, then it’s that fabricated moment that actually happened. 

There are two problems with this lie that Perfectionism tells us: First, believing a moment is perfect doesn’t make it so. Second, who says the moment that actually happened wasn’t worth cherishing even if it wasn’t “perfect?!”

Even messy moments have a purpose. It’s the messy moments that have brought you where you are today. These moments should be celebrated! Not hidden. It’s the failing that teaches us the most, gives us the humility to try again, and ultimately allows us to grow. 

Speaking as a chronic perfectionist myself, I know how hard it is to actually flip the switch and just sit in imperfection.  The truth is, there’s a fine line between being okay with imperfection and being apathetic to personal growth. That’s why “keeping the first picture” can be such an empowering tool for us perfectionists! It’s a simple action that creates change little-by-little, picture-by-picture. 

What “Keeping the First Picture” Can Teach You

  1. It teaches you to appreciate the moment for what it is…sweat and all! Looking at that photo can show you exactly what was happening in your life at that moment that eventually led you to this moment. The candid nature of life can be harsh and daunting, but it is also sweet and transformative. When you look back on that first picture, you can use it as a window to reflect and then grow. 

  2. It empowers you to let go of Perfectionism. Keeping the first picture can give you the courage to slowly let go of the “ideas” of perfect moments you’re chained to. To look at your tired face and say “Man, that was a crazy day”, but know that you hold the power to say “No” to Perfectionism. You don’t have to put on a show or a filter just to appease Perfectionism. You can be authentic! One picture at a time. 

As a therapist, I have seen so many clients who struggle with the desire to have the perfect life (perfect relationships, perfect job, the perfect body), or at least seem perfect on the outside… In their search for perfection though, they’ve missed out on the moment! Although it seems simple, keeping the first picture can help you take one step towards appreciating what you have and letting go of what is unachievable and frankly not as perfect as it seems. 

After I kept that first picture I didn’t see how red and sweaty I was, I saw two friends who hadn’t seen each other in months, after a long run, talking about our lives, our future, and our friendship.

What do you see in your first picture?

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

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