Monthly Archives

June 2011

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Labels Disable


A Great Idea …

“When conflicts arise over your teen’s behavior, don’t use trait labels (lazy, greedy, sloppy, selfish) to talk about it. Talk instead in terms of specific actions, telling your child how what she has done affects you.”  (Psychologist, John Gottman, in his book, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, pp. 211-212)

In Other Words …

When we’re frustrated, we quite naturally hang labels on our children. Those labels don’t motivate them. In fact, they tend to discourage them and make them angry. For example, if our children leave clothes lying around, rather than call them lazy or sloppy, we can make a simple statement: “When I see clothes lying around the living room, I feel frustrated. I feel like throwing them away.”

How This Applies to You …

The next time a conflict arises with your teen, take a moment to conquer your urge to strike out at your child. Take a deep breath. Express your frustration in a way that invites action rather than generates resentment and discouragement.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more on parenting, we recommend Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Childby John Gottman, or Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott. You might also read free ideas from Between Parent and Teenager at www.betweenparentandchild.com

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Thoughts Get in the Way


A Great Idea …

“Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 76)

In Other Words …

Rumination is a name for reprocessing our pains. Rumination is similar to what some mammals such as cattle and sheep do to digest their food. They swallow food, soften it in the first stomach and then regurgitate it to chew it some more. We humans occasionally do something similar psychologically. We process a painful experience and send it on to memory. Sometime later-probably when we’re feeling distressed–we bring the memory back to mull over. Often we start stacking our complaints. This destroys relationships and personal peace. Dwelling on the problems of the past can rob us of our futures.

How this Applies to You …

The next time you find yourself caught up in a negative thought, stop the thought. Find a new way of looking at the situation. Consider the other person’s point of view. Check your expectations. Ponder how you may have contributed to the misunderstanding. When we process painful experiences with understanding and compassion they lead to wisdom. Try reprocessing one of your painful experiences. By finding more positive ways to look at our past we will find it easier to experience peace and satisfaction in our present.

To Find Out More …

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org.

For more in-depth reading we recommend Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligmanor What Happy People Know by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth.

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Soften Your Startup


A Great Idea …

“When a woman asks [a man] to “get in touch with his feelings,” it’s like asking him to get in touch with a red-hot horseshoe. Here is the key to remember about a man’s emotions: he has to ease into them gradually, not abruptly.” (Marriage experts, Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, in their book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 51)

In Other Words …

Often when women want to talk about their feelings, they will dive right in and get to the heart of the matter. This can send men’s heart rates through the roof. They often feel surprised and attacked. Wise counsel to women who want to have a good discussion with men is to “soften the startup.” Rather than sneaking up on your partner and whacking him with a problem, try inviting him to a discussion about making your relationship even stronger.

How This Applies to You…

Next time you want to discuss something sensitive with your partner, wait until you’re feeling peaceful. Design your message so that it doesn’t feel like a demand or accusation but does feel like an invitation to a stronger relationship.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking about It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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Speak From Peace


A Great Idea …

“We can’t help feeling angry or upset with our children from time to time, but, as a rule, it’s not a good idea to discipline your children when you’re mad or distressed. Your anger may be perfectly legitimate…but you’ll exercise better judgment as a parent if you’ll calm down and wait for your anger to subside a bit.” (Psychologist Laurence Steinberg, in his book The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, p. 26)

In Other Words …

Parenting often combines life’s frustrations with childish mistakes. It’s perfectly natural to get angry, but it’s not very helpful. We will be more effective if we take time to calm down before we respond to our children’s misdeeds.

How This Applies to You …

The next time you feel like exploding with your child, take a break. Maybe you ask the child to go to their room while you collect your thoughts. Find a peaceful place. Take some deep breaths. Think about your child’s point of view. Consider what will help them learn. The key is not to make the child sorry but to help them live better lives.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg or Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.