Managing Holiday Stress- Tip Sheet

Posted by staff on December 22, 2014 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Getting Started

Use the following questions to help you take a look at how you can make the holiday experience work best for you.

    • What do you enjoy about the holiday season?
    • What do you not like about the holiday season?
    • How could you make the holidays more enjoyable?

Common causes for Holiday Stress and Holiday Stress Busters

Holiday Emotions- Expectations, family conflict, extra work or home demands, can lead to feeling tired, run-down, and emotional over the holiday season.

Holiday Stress Busters for Holiday Emotions

        • Do something you enjoy each day/Laugh often
        • Focus on positive self-talk
        • Pick your battles (Figure out what is most important, and let some things go)
        • Spend time with family and friends

Expectations- Sometimes we put expectations on ourselves based on previous holidays, old traditions, and the desire to please others.

Holiday Stress Busters for Handling Expectations

        • Prioritize – set small daily goals
        • Delegate-let others help out and contribute
        • Speak up about your expectations and needs
        • Be flexible
        • Know your limits

Money- The holiday season may lead to more expenses in multiple areas including gifts, food, and travel. This can lead to stress and cause conflict at times in relationships.

                                                Holiday Stress Busters for Handling Money

        • Set a budget and stick to it
        • Discuss financial limits/Prioritize
        • Be creative
        • Avoid competing with others 

Health- Many times our health is the last thing on our minds during the holiday season. Stress, poor eating, and lack of exercise can take a toll on our bodies.

Holiday Stress Busters for Health

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Maintain a balanced/nutritious diet
  • Exercise a minimum of 120 minutes per week
  • Have compassion for yourself
  • Drink Responsibly

Safety- The holiday season can lead to more time on the roads, more time out in the cold, and other safety concerns (such as if you use a fry your turkey)

Holiday Stress Busters for Safety

  • Allow extra time for driving (check road conditions, be aware of increased traffic, wrecks, etc)
  • Complete winter maintenance/Prepare vehicle for travel
  • Avoid creating potential fire hazards in the home with decorations
  • Don’t over exert if manually shoveling snow
  • Be aware of winter conditions-Watch footing in snow and ice
  • Be aware of surroundings when shopping

 

Don’t Forget

 

Have A Plan

Be Gentle with Yourself

Don’t rely on your memory

Always have a back-up plan/ Be flexible

Do something for others

Talk things out

Seek help when feeling overwhelmed

 

                                              HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!                               

 

Five Categories of Ineffective Communication

Posted by staff on July 10, 2014 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Five Categories of Ineffective Communication
1. Withdrawal – Stonewalling, becoming stoic, giving minimal responses, or exiting in the middle of a heated discussion.
2. Blaming – Accusing, finger pointing, yelling, trying to dominate the discussion.
3. Resentful compliance – Over-accommodating to your partner in order to avoid tension or potentially nasty discussions.
4. Whining – Complaining, competing for the victim position, is being very indirect about what you want.
5. Confusion – Inability to think clearly, going blank.

What is ADHD?

Posted by wendy on April 4, 2011 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition characterized by difficulties with inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Symptoms of inattention, or hyperactivity and impulsivity must be severe enough to cause impairment in the daily functioning of the person in at least two settings: at home, in school, in the community or in the workplace.

ADHD is a serious public health problem. Sufferers have higher rates of other psychiatric and behavior disorders and are at greater risk for problems in academic performance, career attainment and accidental injury.

The U.S. Surgeon General, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), among others, all recognize ADHD as a valid disorder.

Prior to the age of 5, ADHD symptoms may be difficult to accurately diagnose, because many preschoolers are highly active and prone to being easily distracted and overly impulsive. As the young child gets older, problems with hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity tend to stand out, gaps in school performance become clearer, and problems with behavior or learning become more of concern to parents and teachers causing referrals to health providers and educators to determine if a problem with ADHD exitis.

Prevalence of ADHD

In the United States, ADHD affects about seven percent of the population. However, ADHD exists throughout the world. Children with ADHD have been identified in every country in which this condition has been studied. ADHD is three to five times more common in boys than girls.

ADHD used to be thought of as a childhood disorder with symptoms diminishing during adolescence and outgrown by adulthood. We now realize that, more often than not, children with ADHD continue to exhibit the disorder through adolescence and into adult years. The lack of consensus on the criteria and procedures for the diagnosis of ADHD in adults impedes our understanding of the prevalence of this condition in the adult population. Adult prevalence has been estimated between two to four percent.

ADHD can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life. Children and adolescents with the disorder often have difficulty with socialization, school performance and behavior. Adults with ADHD can exhibit problems in college, in the work force and in social relationships. Failure to perform as well as others can lead to problems with self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

Health care professionals have been diagnosing and treating children and adolescents with ADHD for dozens of years. In fact, almost half the referrals to mental health practitioners in schools, clinics or private practices are to treat children and adolescents who have problems related to inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. Early identification and proper treatment can improve the quality of life for those with ADHD leading to improved school and work performance, social adjustment and success in accomplishing one’s goals.

Problems with Self-Regulation

ADHD affects a person’s ability to regulate behavior and attention. Students with ADHD often have problems sustaining attention, controlling hyperactivity and managing impulses. The brain is responsible for self-regulation–planning, organizing and carrying out complex behavior. These are called “executive functions” of the brain. Executive functions refer to the variety of functions within the brain that activate, organize, integrate and manage other functions (Barkley, 2005; Brown, 2005, Cooper-Kahn et al., 2008).

Difficulties in self-regulation exist to some degree in everyone. Many people have experienced problems with concentration. Sometimes it’s a result of being tired, bored, hungry or distracted by something. We have all had times when we were overly restless or hyperactive, we couldn’t sit still and pay attention, became overly impatient, or too easily excited and too quick to respond. Does this mean we all have ADHD? No. although problems with self-regulation are found in everyone from time to time, these problems are far more likely to occur in people with ADHD. And they lead to significant impairment in one’s ability to function at home, in school, at work or in social situations.

Types of ADHD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2000, provides healthcare professionals with the criteria that need to be met to diagnose a person with ADHD. To receive a diagnosis of ADHD, a person must exhibit a certain number of behavioral characteristics reflecting either inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity for at least six months to a degree that is “maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level.” These behavioral characteristics must have begun in childhood, must be evident in two or more settings (home, school, work, community) and must not be due to any other mental disorder such as a mood disorder, anxiety, learning disability, etc.

There are three types of ADHD. Some children with ADHD show symptoms of inattention and are not hyperactive or impulsive. Others only show symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most, however, show symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

  • Predominantly inattentive type
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
  • Combined type

While the term ADHD is the technically correct term for either of the three types indicated above, in the past, the term attention deficit disorder (ADD) was used, and still is by many. For the past ten years ADD and ADHD have been used synonymously in publications and in public policy.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM-IV-TR (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Barkley, R.A. (2005). Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. (3rd ed.) New York: Guilford Press

Barkley, R. A. (2005). ADHD and the nature of self-control. New York: Guilford Press.

Brown, T. E. (2005). Attention deficit disorder: The unfocused mind in children and adults. New Haven,CT: Yale University Press.

Brown, T.E. (2000) Attention-deficit disorders and comorbidities in children, adolescents, and adults. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

International Consensus Statement on AD/HD. January 2002. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 5 (2), 89-111.

Jensen, P.S., & Cooper, J.R. (2002). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: State of science •best prac-tice. New Jersey: Civic Research Institute.

Johnston, C. (2002) The Impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on Social and Vocational Functioning in Adults. In P.S. Jensen & J.R. Cooper (Ed.), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: State of the science • best practices (pp 6-1 – 6-16) New Jersey: Civic Research Institute, Inc.

Recommended Reading

Barkley, R. A. (2000). Taking charge of ADHD. The complete authoritative guide for parents. New York: Guilford Press.Brown, T.E. (2000). Attention-deficit disorders and comorbidities in children, adolescents, and adults. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Brown, T. E. (2005). Attention deficit disorder: Theunfocused mind in children and adults. New Haven,CT: Yale University Press.

Cooper-Kahn, J., & Dietzel, L. (2008). Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A parents guide to helping children with executive functioning. Maryland: Woodbine House.

Hallowell, E., & Ratey, J. (1994). Driven to distraction. New York: Pantheon Books

Nadeau, K. G., & Quinn, P. (2002) Understanding women with AD/HD. Silver Spring, MD: Advantage Books.

Parker, H.C. (2005). The ADHD workbook for parents. Plantation, FL: Specialty Press, Inc.

Solden, S. (2002). Journeys through ADDulthood. New York: Walker & Company.
Internet Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NCBDDD)

CDCs National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

A Relationship Lesson From the Greatest College Coach of all Time

Posted by wendy on March 9, 2011 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

I have a guest columnist today. It’s Matt Sargeant, a recent Princeton graduate who played basketball there and is a big fan of John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach of all time.

Can couples learn about teamwork from John Wooden? He took over an undistinguished, faltering program at UCLA in 1948 and never had a losing season when he retired in 1975. He won 10 national championships in 12 years including 7 in a row.He often used this Will Rodgers quote when talking to his players, “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

He also had another rule for his players: If you throw a pass to a teammate and it is not caught, you say,  “My fault bad pass, we’ll get the next one.” Or give some encouraging words like, “Don’t worry, no problem” and move on to the next play – even if you think it’s a perfect pass that should’ve been caught.

This approach will help them BOTH succeed in the future.

The above quote and the rule are philosophically linked. The rule is set up so that the players are encouraged to move on to the next play and not dwell on what just happened. It’s over. Nothing you can do about it. Let’s succeed on the next play.

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

Getting angry at a blown catch, no matter how well thrown, is hugely counter-productive. The catcher knows it was a good pass. The scolding will make him feel worse or get defensive. He’ll stop moving forward because he’ll continue to think about and/or emotionally react to that play that is no longer occurring, and that will negatively affect him on the next play. Nobody wins.  When the passer verbalizes responsibility and keeps encouraging the other player, the oddest of things happens. The teammate will usually reply, “No, it was my fault, I’ll get it next time.” Now both players are moving forward positively, and everyone has admitted their role in the situation.  The passer by definition didn’t throw a perfect pass, because it wasn’t caught. The teammate admits the pass was good enough to catch, and he will catch the next one. This duo has a far better chance of success on the next play over the duo that is angry at each other over a play that is in the past and cannot be changed.  The game of Basketball, like relationships, is a fluid process, and because of that it doesn’t help to stick on a “busted play.” If someone keeps obsessing about the previous situation, it will affect his or her performance in the present moment. In any relationship it is the responsibly of each person, as a good partner, to put their partner in the best situation to succeed on the NEXT situation if they made a mistake on the previous attempt.  It is not beneficial to any party to obsess or get angry over a mistake. People make mistakes. But it is normal (not healthy) to assign blame.  Allow your partner to be accountable by encouraging him and looking for ways to help him improve, rather than get angry and give him the opportunity to be defensive.

The next time your partner blows it, makes a mistake, or gets testy, try two things:

1) Take a few deep breaths. Breathing helps you manage your reactive emotional brain.

2) Express how you feel, but use positive language and emphasize how you want to focus on ways you could have helped your partner succeed or feel less defensive.

We all make mistakes, and the true test of a partnership is letting your partner know they are not alone when they feel defensive or angry or insecure. Start by saying, “It’s OK, we will find a better outcome.”

Let them know they have someone to help them figure out a better way or a better response. Because, wouldn’t you appreciate it if they treated your mistakes or defensiveness with kindness and support with an emphasis on moving forward?

It is not easy doing this, but then being the most successful coach ever is not easy either.

Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson, Founders and Directors of The Couples Institute,

Do’s and Don’ts A Guide for Family Members and Friends of someone with an eating disorder

Posted by wendy on March 3, 2011 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

• Educate yourself about eating disorders. Eating disorders develop and is maintained by a combination of factors, and eating disorder symptoms can serve as a very effective coping mechanism. Once the eating disorder cycle is activated, it is very difficult to break. Your loved one cannot “snap out of it” or use will power to overcome the eating disorder.

• Compliment and reinforce characteristics and interests of than weight and appearance. Part of recovery for your loved one is to separate his or her self-esteem from appearance. You can help by commenting on strengths, abilities, and interests that are not related to appearance, weight, or shape.

• Share activities that don’t raise concerns about weight and shape. This can also help your loved one to learn to obtain self-worth from areas not related to weight and shape, and at the same time provide a distraction from urges to have symptoms.

• Express your concerns, and communicate directly and openly. Don’t beat

around the bush. If you have concerns, it is good to express them directly. This

models good communication for your loved one and also helps you to avoid

sending indirect and confusing messages.

• Offer your support by being available and listening. Use your listening skills

and allow your loved one to talk about what is on his or her mind. Try not to

offer advice or to fix things.

• Be open to letting your loved one talk about his or her feelings. Part of your loved one’s recovery from an eating disorder  includes identifying and expressing feelings.

• Allow your loved one to be independent and in charge of his or her own

recovery. It is important that your loved one start to build up his or her own level

of confidence, in order to recover from bulimia. To support his process, you will

need to keep a balance between offering support and allowing your loved one to

accomplish tasks and make decisions on his or her own.

• Realize that it is best for your loved one to go at his or her own pace and

make his or her own decisions in terms of eating and recovery. If your loved

one feels coerced, your attempts to help could backfire.

• Examine your own beliefs about food, weight, and shape. Your beliefs about eating, your own weight, or other people’s weight may be contrary to the

approach your loved one needs. It is helpful to examine your beliefs and to be

aware of any direct or indirect messages that you might be sending.

• Treat your loved one like any other family member or friend. If you give

your loved on special status because of the eating disorder, you may inadvertently reinforce the symptoms.

• Encourage professional help. Or, if your loved one has decided to discuss his or her problems outside the family, support this decision.

• Be aware of your own and other family members’ needs. Eating disorders can take a serious toll on a family or a friendship. Try to take care of yourself and find ways of obtaining support for yourself.

• Be patient. Recovery may take some time. Having symptoms slips after a

symptom-free period is not unusual and does not mean your loved one is giving

up or is back to square one.

The following is a list of don’ts.

• Don’t comment on weight, shape, or appearance. Any comment that you make about weight, shape, or appearance will probably be interpreted negatively. It also sends the message that your loved one’s appearance or body size is important to you. Avoid making comments even if your loved one asks for your opinion. In this case, you might want to refer to this guideline, and state that you don’t want to go there because you think that it is not in his or her best interest.

• Don’t ignore the problem. An eating disorder is a complex problem that usually doesn’t go away on its own. Your loved one will benefit from your understanding and support.

• Don’t blame yourself or your loved one for the eating disorder. Blaming will not help the situation and will likely leave you feeling guilty or angry.

• Don’t demand change. If it were easy to change and recover from an eating disorder, then your loved one would have already done so. Your loved one has a difficult battle ahead and can benefit from your patience.

• Don’t get involved in a power struggle. This is the last place you want to be.

This will give the eating disorder strength and power. If you find that you are

involved in a discussion or a dynamic where your loved one is arguing in favor of

the eating disorder and you are arguing the other side, disengage and reevaluate.

• Don’t take control or police eating or symptoms. This may lead your loved one to feel out of control.

• Don’t rescue your loved one. This can lead to feelings of ineffectiveness,

incompetence, and dependence.

• Don’t give the eating disorder special status. This type of attention can

reinforce the eating disorder and make it difficult for your loved one to recover.

• Don’t take on the role of a therapist. Know your limits and recognize your own needs.

Note: There may be exceptions to these guidelines based on the seriousness of your loved one’s condition and his or her age. For example, sometimes it is necessary to take control or to rescue your loved one if their life is in danger or they are very young.

© 2003 by Randi E. McCabe, Traci L. McFarlane, and Marion P. Olmstead, New

Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA 94609 1 of 2

Tips Anger Management in Children

Posted by wendy on February 25, 2011 under Uncategorized | Comments are off for this article

Tip #1 – Teach how to respond instead of react
Parents can teach their children the difference between feeling angry and acting on anger. Michelle explained to Brandon that feeling mad is neither good nor bad, but hitting someone out of anger is not OK. She then explained that we have choices as to how to deal with angry feelings. Encouraging your child to take time-out until they cool down, to keep a journal, draw, or talk out their emotions are positive outlets for feelings of anger.

Providing a means by which to channel feelings into positive actions is another tool to help your child deal with his or her angry feelings. Examples might include taking a relaxing walk, writing letters and cards, doing something nice for another person, or donating time to a worthwhile community project geared toward helping others.

In the short run, life at home will be easier when children learn how to work through anger. In the long run, children will continue developing ways to cope with anger as they become teenagers and adults, and will pass these skills along to their own children.

Tip #2 – Be aware of how your children are seeing you
Start by setting a good example. Children learn from observing your behavior. Be aware of the messages you are sending your child in terms of how you behave toward them, how you behave toward other people, and how they see you handling your own anger and stress.

Unfortunately, some misguided parents create hatred in their children by modeling prejudice, intolerance, disrespect or violence toward other people that may be different from them or have different word views. Teaching “empathy” (the ability to see the world from the perspective of another), openness, tolerance and understanding are extremely valuable anger-management tools to teach yourself and your children.

Tip #3 – Tell children personal stories of triumph
Your children need to hear stories of how you may have overcome hardship, adversity, or other life challenges. Research shows that hearing your stories of empowerment over rough times or situations can make your children feel more attached to you, and give them more hope for themselves to be able to overcome their life difficulties. Having more optimism and developing more positive attitudes can often reduce anger in children and adults alike.

Tip #4 – Be consistent in parenting
At any age, anger is often generated between the gap between what is expected and what actually occurs in reality. With children, it is especially important to outline exactly what the consequences are (positive and negative) for their behavior—and then stick to it! Consistency makes children feel more secure, less anxious, and less likely to react angrily if they don’t get “their own way.” Parental consistency between parents or other adults in your child’s life is also very important to create stability and a sense of predictability.

Tip #5 – Reduce family stress
Coping with family stressors is an important tool of anger management, as angry outbursts are much more likely to occur as personal and family stress levels rise. There are many ways to buffer family stressors such as maintaining regular rituals for eating together, sharing the day with each other, finding time to play together, and emotionally supporting each other.

Parents can also help their children learn to calm themselves or self-sooth when angry. It is often helpful to calm their anger by using the five senses: touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing. Squeezing play dough, splashing in water, running around outside, listening to music, painting a picture, tensing and relaxing muscles, taking slow deep breaths, or eating a healthy snack are all good responses to angry feelings.

Children who respond well to touch can be taught how to massage their own neck or arms as a self-calming technique. These same children also may find a great deal of comfort in stroking or caring for a pet. To reduce stress, try telling your child the following:

  • Let’s draw a picture about how you feel
  • A warm bath sometimes helps wash away angry feelings
  • When you feel hungry and irritable, tell me and I’ll find a snack for you
  • Sit down and take slow deep breaths until you have calmed down

Tip #6 – Teach your child how to solve problems
Parent can teach their older preschool, school-age and teenage children to problem solve as a “prevention” tool for getting angry. Michelle, for instance, taught Brandon to “stop and think” the next time he was angry—before losing control and striking other children. She also taught him how to listen to his cousin with both his eyes and ears, before getting upset so that he could “name” the problem and discuss what was upsetting him.

Turns out that Brandon’s cousin had made a disparaging remark about Brandon’s father who happened to be incarcerated. Once the issue was named, Michelle taught Brandon to think of different ways to solve the problem. They agreed on Brandon telling his cousin how much it hurt his feelings to hear “bad” things about his father. As a final step, they agreed to discuss how well their planned worked in a few days.

Most children will need adult help in thinking through this process and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. And it does take time. The advantage, however, is that after doing this process over and over, most children soon will become fairly good at identifying a problem and coming up with different options for solving the problem on their own. A child that has much practice in thinking of different ways to solve a problem is much more likely to solve a conflict in a positive way instead of just reacting with the anger response.

  1. Step 1

Stay calm. When you child is angry he or she will need your help to cope with the feelings and frustrations. Don’t get angry at your child for being upset. When children are mad and out of sorts, it’s a challenge not to get angry ourselves, but if you get angry too then there will be even more confusion.

  1. Step 2

Accept angry feelings as natural. Understanding that you child is upset, frustrated, or simply mad is the first step to productive solution. Many parents have trouble expressing angry themselves and when the child is mad, the parent’s confusion gets mixed in. Then instead of feeling mad and getting over it, the commotion stretches out.

  1. Step 3

Put words on the feelings. Anger is a call for help. When children are angry, they need you to set limits for their behavior while understanding the feelings that are causing the uproar.

  1. Step 4

Acknowledge the upset by empathizing. Say something like: “Are you upset that you have to do the dishes?” or “Are you frustrated that you can’t go outside right now?” Understanding calms the situation.

  1. Step 5

Teach about angry feelings and boundaries. Say something like: “It’s okay to feel mad, but it is not okay to punch your brother.” or “It’s natural to be upset, but it is not okay to throw your books.”

  1. Step 6

Keep it simple. Instead of delivering a lecture, keep your comments sweet, short, and simple. Say, “Lets, take a time out and we can talk about what happened later.”

  1. Step 7

Focus on the solutions. After you have empathized with the feelings and after things have calmed down then you can assist in finding the solution. Ask about the solutions in a calm and friendly voice. Ask: “What are you going to do?” and “Is there anything I can do?” and “Have you thought about?

  1. Step 8

Assure your child that “Everything will be okay and that it will work out. Adopt the attitude of just because we are mad that doesn’t mean it has to ruin our day. Go outside together and take a walk. Say: “Don’t worry, we will find a solution. I will help you.” Give your child a gentle hug and a comforting smile.

Could you be Depressed?

Posted by wendy on February 18, 2011 under Helpful Tips | Comments are off for this article

Did you know that clinical depression strikes men, women and children of all races and socio-economic groups, often resulting in the loss of motivation, energy and the pleasure of everyday life? Clinical depression often goes untreated because people don’t recognize its many symptoms. The good news is that almost everyone who gets treated can soon feel better.

Here is a checklist of ten symptoms of clinical depression. A sad, anxious or “empty” mood which persists

  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Change in appetite and weight, whether gain or loss
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little, or awakening often
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

 

If you experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine, please call to set up an appointment and start feeling better now.

Teaching Children Anger Management

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

Tip #1 – Teach how to respond instead of react
Parents can teach their children the difference between feeling angry and acting on anger. Michelle explained to Brandon that feeling mad is neither good nor bad, but hitting someone out of anger is not OK. She then explained that we have choices as to how to deal with angry feelings. Encouraging your child to take time-out until they cool down, to keep a journal, draw, or talk out their emotions are positive outlets for feelings of anger.

Providing a means by which to channel feelings into positive actions is another tool to help your child deal with his or her angry feelings. Examples might include taking a relaxing walk, writing letters and cards, doing something nice for another person, or donating time to a worthwhile community project geared toward helping others.

In the short run, life at home will be easier when children learn how to work through anger. In the long run, children will continue developing ways to cope with anger as they become teenagers and adults, and will pass these skills along to their own children.

Tip #2 – Be aware of how your children are seeing you
Start by setting a good example. Children learn from observing your behavior. Be aware of the messages you are sending your child in terms of how you behave toward them, how you behave toward other people, and how they see you handling your own anger and stress.

Unfortunately, some misguided parents create hatred in their children by modeling prejudice, intolerance, disrespect or violence toward other people that may be different from them or have different word views. Teaching “empathy” (the ability to see the world from the perspective of another), openness, tolerance and understanding are extremely valuable anger-management tools to teach yourself and your children.

Tip #3 – Tell children personal stories of triumph
Your children need to hear stories of how you may have overcome hardship, adversity, or other life challenges. Research shows that hearing your stories of empowerment over rough times or situations can make your children feel more attached to you, and give them more hope for themselves to be able to overcome their life difficulties. Having more optimism and developing more positive attitudes can often reduce anger in children and adults alike.

Tip #4 – Be consistent in parenting
At any age, anger is often generated between the gap between what is expected and what actually occurs in reality. With children, it is especially important to outline exactly what the consequences are (positive and negative) for their behavior—and then stick to it! Consistency makes children feel more secure, less anxious, and less likely to react angrily if they don’t get “their own way.” Parental consistency between parents or other adults in your child’s life is also very important to create stability and a sense of predictability.

Tip #5 – Reduce family stress
Coping with family stressors is an important tool of anger management, as angry outbursts are much more likely to occur as personal and family stress levels rise. There are many ways to buffer family stressors such as maintaining regular rituals for eating together, sharing the day with each other, finding time to play together, and emotionally supporting each other.

Parents can also help their children learn to calm themselves or self-sooth when angry. It is often helpful to calm their anger by using the five senses: touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing. Squeezing play dough, splashing in water, running around outside, listening to music, painting a picture, tensing and relaxing muscles, taking slow deep breaths, or eating a healthy snack are all good responses to angry feelings.

Children who respond well to touch can be taught how to massage their own neck or arms as a self-calming technique. These same children also may find a great deal of comfort in stroking or caring for a pet. To reduce stress, try telling your child the following:

  • Let’s draw a picture about how you feel
  • A warm bath sometimes helps wash away angry feelings
  • When you feel hungry and irritable, tell me and I’ll find a snack for you
  • Sit down and take slow deep breaths until you have calmed down

Tip #6 – Teach your child how to solve problems
Parent can teach their older preschool, school-age and teenage children to problem solve as a “prevention” tool for getting angry. Michelle, for instance, taught Brandon to “stop and think” the next time he was angry—before losing control and striking other children. She also taught him how to listen to his cousin with both his eyes and ears, before getting upset so that he could “name” the problem and discuss what was upsetting him.

Turns out that Brandon’s cousin had made a disparaging remark about Brandon’s father who happened to be incarcerated. Once the issue was named, Michelle taught Brandon to think of different ways to solve the problem. They agreed on Brandon telling his cousin how much it hurt his feelings to hear “bad” things about his father. As a final step, they agreed to discuss how well their planned worked in a few days.

Most children will need adult help in thinking through this process and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. And it does take time. The advantage, however, is that after doing this process over and over, most children soon will become fairly good at identifying a problem and coming up with different options for solving the problem on their own. A child that has much practice in thinking of different ways to solve a problem is much more likely to solve a conflict in a positive way instead of just reacting with the anger response.

  1. Step 1

Stay calm. When you child is angry he or she will need your help to cope with the feelings and frustrations. Don’t get angry at your child for being upset. When children are mad and out of sorts, it’s a challenge not to get angry ourselves, but if you get angry too then there will be even more confusion.

  1. Step 2

Accept angry feelings as natural. Understanding that you child is upset, frustrated, or simply mad is the first step to productive solution. Many parents have trouble expressing angry themselves and when the child is mad, the parent’s confusion gets mixed in. Then instead of feeling mad and getting over it, the commotion stretches out.

  1. Step 3

Put words on the feelings. Anger is a call for help. When children are angry, they need you to set limits for their behavior while understanding the feelings that are causing the uproar.

  1. Step 4

Acknowledge the upset by empathizing. Say something like: “Are you upset that you have to do the dishes?” or “Are you frustrated that you can’t go outside right now?” Understanding calms the situation.

  1. Step 5

Teach about angry feelings and boundaries. Say something like: “It’s okay to feel mad, but it is not okay to punch your brother.” or “It’s natural to be upset, but it is not okay to throw your books.”

  1. Step 6

Keep it simple. Instead of delivering a lecture, keep your comments sweet, short, and simple. Say, “Lets, take a time out and we can talk about what happened later.”

  1. Step 7

Focus on the solutions. After you have empathized with the feelings and after things have calmed down then you can assist in finding the solution. Ask about the solutions in a calm and friendly voice. Ask: “What are you going to do?” and “Is there anything I can do?” and “Have you thought about?

  1. Step 8

Assure your child that “Everything will be okay and that it will work out. Adopt the attitude of just because we are mad that doesn’t mean it has to ruin our day. Go outside together and take a walk. Say: “Don’t worry, we will find a solution. I will help you.” Give your child a gentle hug and a comforting smile.

Teen Peer Pressure: Raising a Peer Pressure-Proof Child

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Learn what kinds of peer pressure teens face, who’s most vulnerable, and how to help your son or daughter resist.

Making Your Child Resilient to Teen Peer Pressure

In spite of adolescents’ vulnerability and the strong influence of peers, parents can exert a positive influence on their adolescents’ decision-making processes, offering them ways to combat the effects of peer pressure. Experts explain how.

  • Keep communication lines open
    Talk to your kids — and don’t wait until they’re teens. Healthcare professionals, counselors, and educators agree unanimously that open communication between parents and their children helps youth better manage teen peer pressure. “It’s not too early to have an honest conversation about drugs, sex and other pressures when your child is in fifth grade,” Miller says.

    Dialogue that starts early pays off in the long run. “The kids who weather the decision-making process are those who can talk to their parents, no matter what the issue, and who know that even if their parents don’t approve of it, they will listen and help them make a decision that makes sense to them,” Forcier says.

    Research supports this theory. Teens who report learning a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who say they haven’t learned a lot about drugs from their parents. That’s according to results of an annual, nationwide survey of teens in grades 6 through 12, conducted by Partnership for a Drug-Free America and reported by Tom Hedrick, senior communications officer and founding member of the association.

  • Practice peer pressure scenarios
    Teen peer pressure may come as a surprise to your child. Out of the blue, he may be offered a cigarette or a swig of alcohol, and he may have no idea how to respond. You can help prepare him for these scenarios. “Find a calm period, prior to or during early adolescence, and role play,” Solotar suggests. “It’s much easier to manage a situation if you’ve already thought it out.”
  • Listen to your teen’s perspective
    Express your personal opinions, but don’t let them shut down communication, advises Forcier. “You want to make clear to your adolescent what you believe in. But if you shut down on certain topics, your kid won’t come to you as a trusted adult,” Forcier says. She offers the example of the parent who adamantly refuses to discuss birth control with her 15-year-old daughter. “These kids are the ones we often end up seeing for pregnancy tests,” Forcier says.
  • Keep inviting your kids into your life
    “There is a natural break [between teens and their parents], and it should happen. But I tell parents to keep inviting kids to do things. Kids want their parents to maintain the relationship,” Allen says. He warns that it may take some creativity and effort on the part of the parent. “You might have to find new ways to relate to your kid,” he says. He suggests trying to find mutual, life-long interests to share with your adolescent, like playing tennis or cooking together.
  • Think beyond punitive responses
    A parent’s initial reaction to an adolescent who comes home inebriated may be to punish. But, ultimately, that’s not a solution to the real problem. “A punitive response doesn’t get at what you need to change the behavior,” Forcier says. “If a teen is 14 and she’s drinking, there’s probably a good reason for it. If you address it, maybe she won’t need the alcohol.”

Five Categories of Ineffective Communication

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  1. Withdrawal – Stonewalling, becoming stoic, giving minimal responses, or exiting in the middle of a heated discussion.
  2. Blaming – Accusing, finger pointing, yelling, trying to dominate the discussion.
  3. Resentful compliance – Over-accommodating to your partner in order to avoid tension or potentially nasty discussions.
  4. Whining – Complaining, competing for the victim position, being very indirect about what you want.
  5. Confusion – Inability to think clearly, going blank.

To create a flourishing relationship, we have to resist using these ineffective coping reactions. If you can’t resist, the only other solution is to find a partner who doesn’t do any of these  – even when they’re up to their neck in alligators!

PRACTICE EXERCISE

Here is what you each do. Decide on a topic. Take an index card or sheet of paper. Write down how you want your partner to feel after the discussion. Simply write the qualities (not the actions) you hope they would feel. For example, respected, loved, accepted, considered, etc.

On the other side, write down how you would need to be in order for you partner to feel that way. For example, you might write, I need to be compassionate, a good listener, open, tactfully direct, respectful, etc.

Then go ahead and have your discussion. This discussion doesn’t need to have a resolution to count as a success (although it may happen spontaneously). You are changing the way you talk about a difficult topic. The negotiation comes later if the topic needs to be negotiated. Remember, you are creating a major breakthrough by changing the process of how you discuss a tough topic. This will guide you through many problem discussions in the future.

If you push too fast for a solution you are simply responding to your own impatient anxiety, which messes up even the best intentions to change the way you talk about a topic.

This communication tool is the fine art of cooperation at its best. Cooperation and consideration are the heart of resolving any conflict. By focusing on how you want your partner to feel at the end of the dialogue, you are opening yourself up to a different kind of negotiation tactic. You’re adding a new tool in your toolbox.

There you have it. Focus on how you want your partner to feel and focus on how you will bring that about. The more you do your part, the easier it is for your partner to do his part. Each of you commits to try this experiment at least three times.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

If you will practice two questions as the dialogue heats up, you can break the logjam, get back on track and avoid those dead end arguments.

Often one person can unilaterally alter the course of an argument. It only takes a genuine desire to learn something about yourself.

The first question to ask in a bad discussion is, “What am I doing that is non-productive right now in this conversation?”

Now before you think I’m asking you to bring a rope to your own hanging, there are several reasons why this is one powerful intervention.

In a bad discussion, you both are saying damaging things. Finger pointing triggers even more finger pointing. The race is now on for who can be the biggest or loudest accuser.

Asking what you are doing that is non-constructive will catch your mate off guard. Instead of having to fight to prove their case, you are actually asking them to think a little bit about what is going on.

Frankly, your question gets them to stop blurting out non-thinking, reactive, disconnected, emotionally charged accusations. Your partner will shift gears to another part of their brain – the  part that will assess what is happening and why it has gone awry. Because you have asked for this information, your partner can relax a little instead of continuing the attack.  On some level your partner will be grateful that you are interested in changing the course of the argument.

You have slowed the blaming juggernaut. But there is still another question you can ask that really keeps the discussion going more smoothly.

The second question you can ask is, What can I do that would be more constructive right now?”

This is a great question to keep things on track. People who do this kind of research say 55% of your arguments can get handled just by staying on track in any given discussion. These two questions can help you stay on track if you ask them with the appropriate voice tone, facial expression and body posture.

Then if you want to be a hero, see if this question fits. Ask, “Why is my doing that important to you?” My guess is that you will often be surprised by the responses you get.

And one final question: Are you willing to experiment using these questions to save yourself some serious stress and be a hero?