Fighting Fair

Posted by wendy on May 25, 2010 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Before You Start…

1. Be clear about the exact issue you wish to talk about or are angry about. Stick to only this issue in the course of your discussion. If there are several issues to be resolved, it might be best to arrange separate times to deal with each. If you bring in too many issues, you will be unlikely to resolve any of them.

2. Choose a time, which suits both of you. Agree about how long you will go on for and stick to the deadline. Do not start a discussion when one of you has something important to do; for example putting children to bed, or when one of you has just returned home from work.

3. If possible, choose a suitable place where you can be private and undisturbed. You may wish to unplug the phone or switch on the answer phone.

Fighting fairly to be effective…

4. Take it turns to talk and really listen to each other, and give each other an equal amount of time. Shouting across each other may be satisfying in the short term, however it will not lead to a successful resolution of the issues.

5. Make statements rather than ask questions. Speak without accusations or judgements. Ask permission before you make an emotionally loaded statement. Avoid generalisations for example “you always” or “you never” etc. When the other person has finished speaking, try to accept their statements without becoming defensive. Before you express your own viewpoint, repeat their thoughts and feelings back to them so that you are both clear that you have understood.

6. DO NOT DRAG UP THE PAST. Stick to the particular issue, which is the subject of the fight. Although very tempting, if you bring up a catalogue of past “sins” or misdemeanours it will only cloud the issue.

7. Express any anger you may feel, but DO NOT resort to abuse such as name calling, Shouting, blaming or worst of all violence. These tactics are not only dismissive and disrespectful, in the worst case are likely to lead to the courts or worse. An agreement not to harm the other person, you or the environment is a good starting point.

When and how to stop…

8. Stop if you can’t keep the communication straight; stop if you feel that the fight is no longer related to the specific issue; stop if either of you become abusive.

9. Take your share of responsibility for what has happened. Be prepared to apologize for any error, which is identified on your part, and be prepared to hear and accept an apology from the other person. Both can be very difficult.

10. You may not be able to reach an agreement. It is ok to agree to differ and work out a compromise together.

11. Agree to discuss a compromise; often what is required is a creative compromise. Remember the goal is not to have a “winner” and “loser”; healthy relationships are “win-win”.

Fair Fighting: Ground rules

Remain calm. Try not to overreact to difficult situations. By remaining calm it will be more likely that others will consider your viewpoint.

Express feelings in words, not actions. Telling someone directly and honestly how you feel can be a very powerful form of communication. If you start to feel so angry or upset that you feel you may lose control, take a “time out” and do something to help yourself feel steadier – take a walk, do some deep breathing, pet the cat, play with the dog, do the dishes – whatever works for you.

Be specific about what is bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on.

Deal with only one issue at a time. Don’t introduce other topics until each is fully discussed. This avoids the “kitchen sink” effect where people throw in all their complaints while not allowing anything to be resolved.

No “hitting below the belt.” Attacking areas of personal sensitivity creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability.

Avoid accusations. Accusations will cause others to defend themselves. Instead, talk about how someone’s actions made you feel.

Don’t generalize. Avoid words like “never” or “always.” Such generalizations are usually inaccurate and will heighten tensions.

Avoid “make believe.” Exaggerating or inventing a complaint – or your feelings about it – will prevent the real issues from surfacing. Stick with the facts and your honest feelings.

Don’t stockpile. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time is counterproductive. It’s almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which interpretations may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.

Avoid clamming up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding to the other, frustration and anger can result. Positive results can only be attained with two-way communication.

Establish common ground rules. You may even want to ask your partner-in-conflict to read and discuss this brochure with you. When parties accept positive common ground rules for managing a conflict, resolution becomes much more likely.

Fair Fighting: Step by Step…

To make the Fair Fighting ground rules effective in resolving a specific conflict, use the following steps:

Step One: Before you begin, ask yourself, “What exactly is bothering me? What do I want the other person to do or not do? Are my feelings in proportion to the issue?”

Step two: Know what your goals are before you begin. What are the possible outcomes that could be acceptable to you?

Step three: Remember that the idea is not to “win” but to come to a mutually satisfying and peaceful solution to the problem.

Step four: Set a time for a discussion with your partner-in-conflict. It should be as soon as possible but agreeable to both persons. Springing something when another is unprepared may leave the other person feeling that he or she has to fend off an attack. If you encounter resistance to setting a time, try to help the other person see that the problem is important to you.

Step five: State the problem clearly. At first, try to stick to the facts; then, once you’ve stated the facts, state your feelings. Use “I” messages to describe feelings of anger, hurt, or disappointment. Avoid “you” messages such as “you make me angry….”

Step six: Invite your partner-in-conflict to share his or her point of view, and use active listening skills. Be careful not to interrupt, and genuinely try to hear his or her concerns and feelings. If it seems helpful, try to restate what you have heard in a way that lets your partner know you have fully understood, and ask your partner to do the same for you.

Step seven: Try to take the other’s perspective – that is, try to see the problem through his or her eyes. The “opposing” viewpoint can make sense even if you don’t agree.

Step eight: Propose specific solutions, and invite the other person to propose solutions, too.

Step nine: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each proposal.

Step ten: Be ready for some compromise. Allowing the other person only one course of action will likely hinder resolution. When there is agreement on a proposal for change, celebrate! Set a trial period for the new behavior. At the end of the trial period, you can discuss the possibility of modifying or continuing the change. If no solution has been reached regarding the original problem, schedule a time to begin the discussion again.

For Further Reading

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury & Bruce Patton (ed.). Penguin, 1991.

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. HarperCollins, 1997.

Anger, the Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavris. Touchstone, 1989.

Messages: The Communication Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1995.

book Talk to Me: How to Create Positive, Loving Communication by Steven & Catherine Martin

Divorce and the Children: Guidelines for Parents

Posted by wendy on March 2, 2010 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Divorcing parents need to have as one of their main concerns the growth and development of their children.  This includes how divorce affects their children’s future lives, as well as how their children accept and cope during the year following divorce.  Helping children to mourn and adjust to their new lifestyle can be beneficial to them as they try to redefine their role.  The follow can help parents to assist their children in coping with this issue.

1.  Acknowledge the Reality of the Marital Breakup.

a.  explain the family events; discuss the “who, what, where and how” of the divorce.

b.  provide continued support and reassurance that the child is not at fault

c. explain repeatedly to the child that he or she is loved by both parents

d.  allow frequent contact with the noncustodial parents and visits with grandparents when convenient.

2.  Disengage from Parental Conflict and Distress, Resume regular activities.

a.  return to regular activities and relationships at school and at play as soon as possible

b.  help the child avoid the anger and distress of the parents

c.  speak directly to each other and avoid sending messages through the child

3.  Resolve the Losses in the child’s life

a.  talk about and acknowledge feelings of loss for specific parts of the child’s life; give the child permission to cry about them; avoid promising solutions which cannot be delivered.

b. provide ways to see the missing parent

c.  try to maintain as much of the familiar living and school conditions as possible for one year

4.  Resolve Anger and Self-Blame

a.  talk about the child’s anger even though he or she may deny it; young children (elementary or younger) can talk more easily about the feelings of animals or other people

b. encourage the child to forgive  him or her self for having wished for the divorce to happen or for being unable to “fix” the broken marriage.

5.  Accept the Permanence of Divorce

a.  reassure the child that he or she is loved by both parent- then even though they cannot live together, their love of the child is forever.  Even when one parents make little effort at contact, reminding the child of fun times and looking at pictures of the child and parent can be helpful.  Letter writing can also be therapeutic for an older child.

b.  Make clear that the divorce is a reality, that there will not be a reconciliation.  Children need clear messages which are gentle, but also straightforward and honest.

6.  Achieve Realistic Hopes regarding Relationships

a.  instill hope that it will not always hurt; that the child can love and be loved,; and that life can be healthy and whole in a single-parent family or blended family.

b. as the parent, believe that you and the children will not only survive, but that you will live happy and healthy lives again, the children take their cues from you

c.  successfully negotiate the five previous steps, if you get stuck , find help from someone who has negotiating and communication skills.

Remember, your first responsibility is to the child’s safety well-being if the marriage desolved due to violence or neglect, put safety and security as your first priority.

What is your love language?

Posted by wendy on under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Understanding how your partner receives love, and being able to communicate how you receive love can improve your ability to remain connected as a couple.  According to Dr. Gary Chapman who wrote the popular book, The Five Long Languages (Northfield Publishing, Chicago 2004), people come with a set of love languages and a relationship is doomed to fail if one person doesn’t understand the other’s language.

Here are the Five Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical love

So why try to learn your spouse’s love language? Because it could save your marriage and a long-term relationship is tough. Both spouses need to feel that their love tank is full either through verbal affirmations, quality time, gifts, acts of service or physical love. Falling in love is easy and that emotional high you feel when you first met your spouse isn’t going to last more than two years according to Chapman. Sustaining that love and that feeling takes work and it takes an investment of time and energy to act on your spouse’s love language. For instance, if a spouse who loves getting gifts is married to someone who always forgets her birthday or doesn’t want to spend the money to buy her something, then this marriage is on the fast track to built-up resentment.

Here are some tips explaining the five love languages:

Words of Affirmation

These are simply words letting your spouse know how much you love the scarf she’s wearing, or how proud you feel when your husband plays first base in the softball league. Noticing and remarking on your spouse’s accomplishments, physical appearance or talents goes a long way to build self-esteem and self-image. These in turn help make a happier spouse who feels more confident because they have a partner who believes in them.

Quality Time

Watching TV together on the couch doesn’t equate to quality time. You might be together, but your focus is placed elsewhere. Quality time means that you maintain eye contact with your partner, you listen for feelings, you observe their body language and you refuse to interrupt them. If you’re busy with something and can’t devote your full attention to your spouse, it’s OK to say that you don’t have time and will spend quality time with him or her later.

Receiving Gifts

This might be the easiest love language since everyone loves getting gifts! Gifts don’t have to be expensive in order to be received well. Think about writing a short note, picking up a flower, or buying an inexpensive card.

Acts of Service

Many times the husband will appreciate the wife’s cooking, cleaning and sewing while the wife will appreciate the husband taking out the trash, raking the yard and painting the living room. The trick here is to do these acts of service out of love and not out of fear or resentment. Sometimes the best way to make sure these acts of service are appreciated by the other person is to issue a few words of affirmation and appreciation.

Physical love

You may think this love language would be all male dominated, but in fact many women need human touch to serve as a reminder that they are love and appreciated. Physical love doesn’t have to always mean sex; it can be a peck on the cheek, a back rub or cuddling, and both sexes are sure to enjoy these activities!

The way to find out which love language is your dominating one is to ask yourself these three questions:

  • How do I express love to others?
  • What do I complain about the most?
  • What do I request most often?

While figuring out your spouse’s love language it’s important to try not to think of marriage as a problem to solve or a project to be completed – it’s a relationship! Learning your lover’s love language should come from love and not from “something that needs to be checked off of the list.” But most of all, discovering how to please our mates and speak their language can fill a marriage with powerful intentions that may need to be tapped when challenging times arise.

10 Steps to more effective parenting:

Posted by wendy on under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

  1. Catch kids being good
  2. Set limits and be consistent with your discipline
  3. Make time for your kids
  4. Be a good role model
  5. Make communication a priority
  6. Be flexible & willing to adjust you parenting style
  7. Show that your love is unconditional
  8. Be aware of your own needs and limitations as a parent
  9. Nurture your child’s self-esteem
  10. Say “I love you” everyday

An ADHD Symptom Checklist for Parents

Posted by wendy on February 15, 2010 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Needs repeated reminders to complete each step of the morning routine

Loses or forgets items needed for school

Has trouble settling down when the school day starts

Seems to have trouble responding when spoken to directly

Gets easily distracted or daydreams in class

Has difficulty doing what the teacher asks

Has difficulty following classroom, school or home rules

Makes careless mistakes in classwork or homework

Has trouble being careful ad neat while writing or drawing

Forgets to turn in homework assignments

Has difficulty sticking with tasks long enough to complete them

Has trouble completing tests, quizzes, tasks or activities in the time given

Has difficulty with work requiring long concentration, like math tests

Has trouble switching from 0ne task or activity to another

Blurts out answers in class discussions

Fidgets or squirms in seat

Has trouble staying in seat when expected

Has trouble staying quiet when expected

Has trouble waiting turn

Interrupts classmates or breaks in on their games

Becomes less attentive as the day wears on

Fails to bring home assignments or materials needed to do homework

If you are answering often or very often to these questions, it might be time to get assistance to help your child succeed in school  Often medications are not necessary, learning better organization, how to self manage attention and focus, and establishing routines to help take the guess work out of homework.  Call me at 501-327-7224 for an assessment and start down the road to a better school experience for you both.

10 things you should know about Depression

Posted by wendy on February 10, 2010 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

1. Depression affects your mind and your body.  Depression affects your thoughts, feelings, actions and health.  It affects the way you sleep and eat.  Depression makes it hard to go to work, school or social events.  Depression can also affect your relationships with other people.

2.  There is no single cause for Depression.  Depression can be triggered by changes in your brain.  It can also be caused by stress, illness or a painful life event.  Depression can run in your family.  The cause of depression is not always clear.

3.  Depression is not a simple change of mood.  If not treated, depression can last for weeks, months or years.  When you are depressed, you cannot “make” it better. 

4.  Anyone can become depressed.  Depression can affect men, women, children and the elderly in every ethnicity and economical background.

5.  Some people have only a few symptoms of depression, while others may have many.  Symptoms can come on suddenly or happen gradually over time.  Some common symptoms include: 

Feeling sad or irritable for no specific reason – Extreme tiredness – Changes in sleeping and eating habits – A loss of energy or enthusiasm – Trouble thinking, concentration and remembering – Lack of interest in activities that once brought you pleasure – Physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, stomach problems, and pain – Feelings of guilt and despair – Thoughts of death or suicide – If symptoms persist for longer than a few weeks, depression may be the cause.

6.  Talking to a health care provider is the first step in treating depression.

The health care provider will give you a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.  A physical exam can rule out other causes, such as illness or medications that can cause depression like symptoms.

7.  You can find relief from depression.  There are a variety of treatment options.  Sometimes, more than one approach is needed.  Common treatments include:  Counseling can help people change thought patterns and manage stress.  Antidepressant medication are helpful in many cases, you will need to work with a health care provider to find the medication that works best.  It may take several weeks or longer for the antidepressant to start working.  The best results are usually seen when counseling and medication are used. 

8.  Healing from depression takes time.  While you cannot make your self better, you may be able to help the process.  Set small goals for your self, break big tasks into smaller ones.  Stay active, physical activity can help to lift your mood.  Eat three meals a day, get plenty of sleep, and stay away from alcohol and other drugs.  Try to surround your self with supportive people. 

9.  Family and friends can help.  The most important thing anyone can do for someone with depression is to help him or her with treatment.  It is important to show care and concern.  Do not ignore comments about suicide.  Stay with the person until he or she gets help.  If your are depressed, the hardest thing may be to reach out for help.  However, this is the first step to feeling better. 

10.  For more information talk with your health care provider or contact Healing Path Counseling at 501-327-7224.  Visit these websites:

National institute of Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health America

If you are in crisis or afraid you may hurt your self, call 1-800-273-8255