Susan works with children, teens, adults, couples and families with academic, circumstantial, and/or emotional challenges, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, AD/HD, explosive behavior, and communication problems.
In her private work, Susan wears many hats. She helps children and adults who have difficulties with focus, impulsivity and planning learn truly usable techniques for dealing with memory and organizational challenges, as well as help in coping with the emotional fallout resulting from the endless frustrations and low self-esteem suffered by those who have ongoing struggles staying on task and organized, and managing distractions and impulses.
She helps parents of young and grade school-aged children learn how to manage meltdowns, childhood anxiety, challenges with friends and siblings, academic bumps-in-the-road, and the various array of other typical childhood issues.
Susan also works extensively with teens and their parents, guiding them to reconnect with one another, move out of depression, resistance and the many other stumbling blocks of adolescence, and get back on track emotionally, academically and in their relationships.
Ms. Stiffelman is very experienced at teaching and using The Work, a simple but powerful cognitive tool for identifying–and loosening the grip of– the stressful thoughts and beliefs that contribute to stress and relationship problems.
Five Ways Parents Can Regain Their Role as The North Star in Their Child’s Life
Children need parents they can lean on through the ups and downs of their lives. Just like the North Star that provides a traveler with a reliable point of reference, parents are meant to function as their child’s best source of support, comfort and direction. When a child senses that their parent’s ability to be calm and confident is inconsistent or unsteady, they begin looking to their friends for connection and direction. Read on to discover some of the ways you may unintentionally be giving up your position as the North Star in your child’s life, and how to reclaim it, giving your child the greatest gift: a parent they can truly lean on through thick and thin.
- You behave with the understanding that your ability to be in charge is not dependent upon how your child is acting.If we tell ourselves that we need our children to behave in a particular way so that we can feel we’re in charge, we’re in trouble. The truth is, the only way we can genuinely be in charge is when our sense of authority is independent of how our kids happen to be behaving. By shifting our focus from what we can’t control -our children – onto what we can – the stories and beliefs that trigger our upset – we become able to manage our reactions effectively. “He’s only kicking my car seat because he knows how much I don’t like it” or “She’s not turning off the TV because she doesn’t respect me” are the kinds of stories we create that fuel the feeling that we’re not in charge. Ultimately,our ability to be our child’s North Star has very little to do with what our kids are doing, and everything to do with what goes on between our ears.
- When your kids tell you something unpleasant– that they flunked a test, or they hate your lasagna– you manage your reactions.If you send your kids the message that you’re able to handle their bad news, you encourage them to believe you’re the right one to reveal their difficulties to. If you find yourself falling apart when your child reveals something challenging, take a look at what you’re making their news mean. “You hate my lasagna? You’re impossible to please!” “You flunked the test? You don’t care enough about your studies!” Again, by focusing on what you can actually control–the beliefs you create from the events that unfold as you parent–you can challenge the knee-jerk reactions that many parents suffer from when their kids tell them the unpleasant things going on in their lives. By maintaining your cool, you can hold on to the all-important role in your child’s life as the best one to offload their worries and problems to, and continue to offer them the loving and sane guidance they so desperately need as they negotiate the ups and downs of their lives
- You resist the temptation to use phrases like, “I’m only shouting at you because I don’t know any other way to get you to behave properly!”Children are greatly comforted when they have the sense that their parents are rock solid. In the same way that we would be pretty unsettled if the Captain of our ship began running around in a panic as a storm was approaching, it rattles our children when we tell them that our hysteria is a direct result of their behavior. As natural as it is to lose our cool?and as I’ve said, no one knows how to push our buttons better than our kids?we do our children a huge service when we let them know thatwe can manage our reactions regardless of how they are acting. Sure we prefer it when our kids cooperate and do what they’re asked, but if we fall apart when they don’t, it’s our responsibility, not theirs. If we slip up and say things like “You’re making me shout at you!” we need to apologize and show them what it’s like to be fully accountable for one’s own mistakes.
- If your kids seem to prefer spending time with their friends and confiding in them, you work on your connection so they continue to like your company and look to you for important guidance.In today’s society we’ve come to believe that as children approach adolescence, it’s inevitable that they will lose interest in spending time with their parents. While it’s true that children and teens are meant to socialize with friends, they never stop needing their parents to be the ones they look to for true support and direction. Kids who withdraw from their folks and spend all their time with their peers are at risk of making poor life choices. They need parents who will come after them and rekindle a genuine sense of connection. By learning how to fortify the relationship with their child or teen,parents reestablish themselves as the North Star in the child or adolescent’s life, and resume the essential role as the one who truly sees, celebrates and guides them towards becoming an independent,autonomous adult.
- When your kids want something they can’t have, you refrain from negotiating, explaining or lecturing in the hopes that they’ll stop badgering you.When parents are calmly and confidently in charge, they don’t engage in power struggles with their children. While it’s wonderful to give your kids the chance to be heard when they want something,there’s a difference between hearing them out and participating in a tug of war. Childhood is full of opportunities for kids to experience frustration. By discovering that they can feel their feelings of disappointment or sadness while being supported by loving parents, our kids develop the ability to be resilient and adaptable. Instead of negotiating, explaining or lecturing when your kids want to do or have something you don’t feel good about, relax and let them express their feelings. It’s not only unnecessary to give in and move the universe to where they’d prefer it to be, it’s actually not in their best interest. While there will naturally be times when we give them what they want, those times will be the result of a choice we made freely rather than an outcome of being worn down by persistent kids who cannot imagine not having what they want.
Whether it’s ignoring you when you call them to dinner, refusing to turn off the TV when you ask, or kicking the back of your seat as you drive them to soccer practice, our children and teens can get us stirred up faster than almost anyone else. The problem, however, isn’t that our kids do annoying things that set us off. It’s the meaning we assign to their behavior that cause us to lose our cool. When we learn to manage our own reactions, we give our kids what they most need from us: Parents who reliably hold the position as the North Star in their lives