The Swallow Family Secrets: Building Children’s Character Counselor’s Corner by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
The Swallow Family Secrets
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
I’m really excited about bringing this new column to you each month that I hope brings a smile to your face. There is a plaque in my counseling office that reads ‘If you see someone without a smile, give him yours.’ I often notice that my private counseling clients focus on the negative of each day. I, too, can find myself dwelling on what didn’t go right whether it be a rude driver in heavy traffic, the air conditioner breaking, family members not helping, a computer glitch’well, you get the picture!
When I think about what makes me smile, it’s often small, simple things such as starry nights, a favorite song, the Home & Garden section of the newspaper, my six beloved dogs, a cardinal on the bird feeder, and my mother’s chocolate pie!
This makes me think of two families I know–the Swallows and the Clarks. The Swallow family doesn’t mind my using their real name because they are a family of birds. I’ve known these barn swallows and their ancestors for eight years as they live from March through November on my porches. Last year there were 13 different mud nests that they attached to the walls just below the porch ceilings in which they raise their babies.
They do a fabulous job rearing five babies per nest each summer. In fact, the babies are so well developed emotionally and physically that their first flight out of the nest resembles a jet plane taking off! One doesn’t worry about the survival of these babies. What have their parents done to accomplish this? Mother and Father Swallow both feed their children at home (no junk food allowed), set regular bedtimes, and give lots of chattering and touching. No TV, phone, video games or computer cause isolation and separation within this family.
And had I not witnessed this next event year after year, I would hesitate to report it. The day the babies are due to leave the nest, all Swallow relatives are invited and between ten and twenty show up to offer congratulations and support. They all keep zooming in front of the nest demonstrating to the babies the exhilaration of flying and urging them to try it. To top this off, after on the job training from their parents during the day as to how to catch insects, these babies returned to the nest each night (with one on the ledge as they are now too big to all fit in the nest) for a full week of a little comfort dinner and more encouraging words from mom and dad.
The Clark family (not their real name for obvious reasons) are private counseling clients of mine who are concerned about their depressed teenager who is self-mutilating by cutting on her arms. I noted how disconnected this family was so I gradually put them on the ‘Swallow Family Plan.’ This involved increasing their rare family meal times to eating together a minimum of three times per week; teaching the parents to set and enforce limits; having them schedule a weekly fun family activity; encouraging more visits to grandparents; and having the parents drastically increase positive communication and praise. Within one month, Mr. and Mrs. Clark reported ‘1,000% improvement’ (their words, not mine) and think I’m a miracle worker. They apparently don’t know a Swallow family!
Copyright ‘ 2014- 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column titled ‘The Counselor’s Corner.’ I’m beginning a series on negative peer pressure.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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