Psychologist offers tips to mothers at meeting

LA CRESCENTA — Temper tantrums may be a part of raising a young child, but that doesn’t mean the angry outbursts can’t be positive experiences for parents, a child psychologist told a group of moms Thursday.

About 20 mothers filled a nursery room at St. Luke’s of Mountains Anglican Church to hear Gina Lyons explain that feelings of stress, frustration, depression and anger are normal for mothers overwhelmed with responsibilities, although those negative emotions could be avoided with a different outlook, she said.

In those moments of distress — when a child is being overly active or demanding — parents could check their negative feelings by recalling good things, like the positive attributes of their children, or the smooth portions of an otherwise chaotic evening, Lyons said.

One mother said she often got upset with her husband for not contributing as much to raising her children as she did, often blaming him during her moments of frustration, and other moms echoed her sentiment. But Lyons encouraged the group to focus on the positive aspects of their spousal relationships, rather than the negatives.

“In that situation, maybe the key is to change the thought to, ‘It’s so wonderful when he’s here, I wish he was here now,’” Lyons told the group.

Lyons was speaking about positive parenting to the MOMS Club of the Foothills, a support group for mostly stay-at-home moms that holds its monthly meetings at the church’s nursery. The group plans to host upcoming discussions about gardening activities for kids and going green, said Annmarie Pesa, the group’s co-president.

The talk was helpful because it presented a solution for coping with very real and prevalent emotions, attendees said.

“It can be the most amazing and wonderful experience of your life, but it could also be the most challenging,” said Jenny Wilson, co-president of the club, who added that advice on dealing with negative emotions toward spouses was most useful for the moms, many of whom immediately blame their partners for their struggles.

Lyon instructed the group to complete two exercises, including one where moms wrote down all of the positive attributes of their children, which was helpful for Melissa Lindemulder, who said she came to the meeting for help with her 5-year-old son’s frequent fits of anger.

“I think that’s really helpful because, of course, you love your child, and you see them doing things that’s really adorable and really cute,” said Lindemulder, explaining that those thoughts aren’t usually on the forefront of her mind during her child’s temper tantrums, but that she was going to write down positive characteristics and hang them up in her house to help bolster good feelings during difficult times.

“When you’re faced with a fit, I think that it can help you just slow down and meet the child and see what he needs.”

Lyons based Thursday’s session on the curriculum for a six-week class she will teach at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The course would help parents work toward becoming more positive when reacting to often stressful or frustrating situations, Lyons said.

The MOMS Club is planning to hold a preschool expo Jan. 24, although the location and time is uncertain, Pesa said.

The expo will give parents a chance to meet representatives from more than a dozen preschools, to help them better gauge their options in terms of price, care and the best fit for their children, said Diana Thompson, the club’s publicity coordinator.

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