Monthly Archives

January 2012

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Want A Compassionate Teen?

A Great Idea …

“The best way to help a teenager develop a broader range of empathy is to help provide a consistent experience of being understood and empathized with.” (Stanley I. Greenspan, in his book, The Secure Child, p. 43)

In Other Words …

Teenagers need our compassion and understanding just as much as younger children do. When they are independent or argumentative, it may be harder for us to give understanding to them. Yet when we are quick to criticize our teens, especially before completely hearing them out, they will be less willing to share with us. They will also have a harder time practicing the empathy that we have not modeled for them.

How This Applies to You …

Make time to be with your teenager this week. Before you get together, think about the things that are happening in his or her life. Think about your teen’s interests and concerns. Then, when you get together, listen with your whole self. Try to feel what your teen feels. The more empathy and understanding you show your teenager, the closer you will be and the more your child will develop empathy for others.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend The Secure Child by Stanley I. Greenspan or Between Parent and Teenager by Haim Ginottwhich can be found online at www.betweenparentandchild.com

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Facts of Life and Love

A Great Idea …

“Many relationship problems aren’t truly ‘problems’ at all; they are facts of life. If you label something as a problem, you imply that it has a solution. If you label it a fact of life, you understand that you simply need to learn to live with it.” (Susan Page, in her book, Why Talking is Not Enough, p. 57)

In Other Words …

When our partners have habits or personality traits that we don’t like, we may think that we can “fix” our partners and make them act in ways we think they should. They reality is that about 70% of what we don’t like about our partner will never change. If we choose to accept our partners as they are and enjoy their strengths, we will find greater satisfaction and contentment in our relationships.

How This Applies to You…

What aspects of your partner or relationship bother you? Can you accept those things? Try to focus your thoughts and attention on the qualities you enjoy in your partner and relationship instead of dwelling on the irritations.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Why Talking is Not Enough by Susan Page or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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Tune In

A Great Idea …

“Children experience frustration and resentment when parents seem uninterested in how they feel and in their point of view. Parents can initiate favorable changes in their children by listening with sensitivity.” (Child psychologist, Haim G. Ginott, in his book Between Parent and Child, p. 83)

In Other Words …

Very few things get us more upset than when we feel like we are being blown off or ignored. The same is true of our children. When our children don’t feel that we are listening to them, they may act out even more in an attempt to be taken seriously.

How This Applies to You …

Listen attentively to your child. Face the child. Notice how he or she is speaking. Try to understand what the child is feeling. Express your understanding: “Wow! That was hard!” “You must have been upset.” Keep listening. Your child is likely to feel safe, to feel valued, and even to find solutions to challenges as you show earnest interest.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Haim G. Ginott.

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It

A Great Idea …

“If you simply pretend to be extraverted when you’re with others-that is, if you act bold, talkative, energetic, active, assertive, and adventurous-no matter what your natural inclinations are, you’ll extract more positivity from those social exchanges.” (Barbara Frederickson, in her book, Positivity, p. 191)

In Other Words …

Most of us feel shy or want to withdraw from others sometimes. Yet, if we treat people as if they were friends, they often become friends. And we enjoy happiness as the fortunate side-effect.

How this Applies to You …

The next time you are tempted to withdraw from a group or person, make a special effort to be sociable and cheerful. You can always ask, “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done today?”

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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

For more information, we recommend Positivity by Barbara Frederickson or The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

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Take Time Together

A Great Idea …

“One of the reasons it’s important to spend time with your child is that you never know when he is going to open up and tell you what’s going on in his life.” (Laurence Steinberg, in his book, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, p. 48)

In Other Words …

We often pepper our children with questions: “What did you do in school today?” or “How are your friends?” or “How did you do on your test?” We hope to connect with our children, but we want to do it quickly. However, there is no way to compress relationship conversation into fly-by encounters. If we want to know what’s happening in our children’s lives, we need to have relaxed time together-whether playing, working on a project, or going shopping. When our children have unhurried and enjoyable time with us they are more likely to let us into their worlds.

How This Applies to You …

Adjust your pace to spend happy time with your child. Rather than rushing through time together or fretting about your next task, relax into leisurely time with your child. Follow your child’s interests. Enjoy your child as he or she explores the world. Be together.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinburg or Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.

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Turning Challenges Into Blessings

A Great Idea …

“We will never have lives without challenges. We would probably be bored if we did! The surprise is that we have more control than we realize. We don’t have to give up. We can call on our resources and change the way we think about our challenges. When life gives us lemons, we can squeeze them and make lemonade, or lemon meringue pie, or frosted lemon cookies! What we do with our challenges is up to us.” (Family Life Professors, H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall, in their publication, Managing Stress)

In Other Words …

When we face stressful situations we can view them as terrible events that tear us down or as opportunities to help us learn and grow. When we rally our resources and tune our thinking to positive possibilities, we turn our challenges into blessings.

How this Applies to You …

When challenges arise, take them as an opportunity. Inventory your resources and start looking for silver linings. Try it. This is a proven formula for dealing with stress.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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

For more information, we recommend The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky or Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman.

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How To Teach Respect

A Great Idea …

“When I say that you should treat your child with respect, I mean you should give the same courtesies you would give anyone else. Speak to him politely. Respect his opinion. Pay attention when he is speaking to you. Treat him kindly. Try to please him when you can. Don’t worry-you can do all of these things and still maintain your authority as the parent.” (Professor of psychology, Laurence Steinburg in his book, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, p. 182)

In Other Words …

We should avoid sending mixed messages. When we yell at our children and ignore their opinions, we are not teaching them how to be respectful. Respect is taught with respect. Even firm limits and unpleasant consequences can be delivered in respectful ways.

How This Applies to You …

Think of someone you admire. Next time you interact with your child, show him or her the same respect you would show the person you respect most. Listen attentively. Honor the ideas. Speak compassionately.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinburg or Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.

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Healing Comes First

A Great Idea …

“If you hurt your partner when he or she is already hurting, you’ll just throw gasoline on the fire. Before you start to deal with the [issue at hand] . . .you must find a nonverbal way to connect and show that you value each other. (Patricia Love and Steven Stosny in their book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 108)

In Other Words …

A physical wound should be treated with proper first aid before the injured person tries to resume normal activity. The same is true for emotional wounds. Those wounds need to be treated with compassion and kindness before issues can be dealt with.

When our partners are hurting, we shouldn’t immediately push them towards solutions. We need to offer listening ears, tender hearts, and loving gestures. Only when our partners feel safe and loved can we return to effective problem solving.

How This Applies to You…

The next time your partner is hurting, don’t try to fix the problem until you deal with your partner’s pain. Just be there and listen. Sit with your partner and offer comfort. After your partner is feeling better, you can work together to find a solution.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stonsy or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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What’s Your Focus?

A Great Idea …

“Optimism is not about providing a recipe for self-deception. The world can be a horrible, cruel place, and at the same time it can be wonderful and abundant. These are both truths. There is not a halfway point; there is choosing which truth you put in your personal foreground.” (Professor of psychology, Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness, p. 111)

In Other Words …

We all choose which truth we will feature in our lives. We can dwell on the pains, worries, and disappointments of our lives. Or we can focus on the growth, opportunities, and prospects. When we focus on the positive things that happen, we will find ourselves more energized and optimistic.

How this Applies to You …

What are some of the things that have happened to you this week? See how many positives you can find. You may discover a surprising number of small blessings: sunshine, children’s laughter, talking with a friend, or chocolate. How can you be more aware of and focused on the positives in your life?

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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 information, we recommend The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky or Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman.

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Choosing Loving Actions

A Great Idea …

“If the only solution to the problem is that your spouse needs to make a change, you have put yourself in a terribly weak position. Because you have no control over what your spouse does or doesn’t do.” (Susan Page, in her book, Why Talking is Not Enough, p. 71)

In Other Words …

We are quick to blame our partners when things go wrong. When we blame, we refuse responsibility and, in the process, we also relinquish power. This choice leaves us at the mercy of our partners’ willingness to change. There is a better way. We can identify a way that we can bring more love and light into the relationship. We can choose loving actions.

How This Applies to You…

The next time you are tempted to blame something on your partner, pause a moment. Find ways that you can improve the situation. When you work to actively build your relationship instead of waiting on your partner to do it, you will be empowering yourself and your relationship.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

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

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Why Talking is Not Enough by Susan Page or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.