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How Can I Prevent Play From Turning Into Work?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, The Psychology of Parental Control, Wendy S. Grolnick says, “When children do activities for the reward rather than the joy of the activity, they no longer get the feelings of freedom, competence, and pleasure that they had gotten. Their play has turned into work.” (p. 40)

In other words …

As parents, we like to reward our children for the good work they do. Sometimes though, we use rewards in ways that make our children less likely to want to do the things for which we are rewarding them. When children know in advance that they will be rewarded for doing something, their internal motivation is replaced with an external one. The reward becomes payment for their efforts, turning the fun into work. Rewards work best when they are unexpected and unannounced.

How you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time you want to reward your child for something, do not announce it in advance. If the child doesn’t know until after the fact that they will be rewarded then they will still get the benefit of doing it for themselves, rather than the reward.

To find out more …

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Grolnick’s, The Psychology of Parental Control.

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How Can I Provide A Safe Haven For My Partner?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson says “If we have generally found others to be safe havens and have a secure bond with our lover, then it is easier for us to keep our emotional balance when we feel vulnerable, connect with our deepest feelings and voice the attachment longing that is always part of us.” (p. 143)

In other words …

Everyone needs a safe place where they can let their guard down and be themselves. By paying attention to our partners and providing them with support and empathy, our relationship can become that safe place. The more our partners can see our relationship as a safe place, the more free they can feel to open up and share with us.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

This week encourage your partner to share with you what is going on in their life: their frustrations, their hopes, their joys, and their fears. The more support and acceptance we can give our partners, the safer they will feel about sharing with us.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden program at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Johnson’s Hold Me Tight.

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How Can You Feel Better Now by Thinking About the Past?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson says, “Unearth a past moment of positivity, whether from yesterday, last week, or last year. Allow yourself time to roll your mental images around in your mind. Look at them from all angles. Pump them up and drink in their sweetness now, cherishing them once again.” (p. 211)

In other words …

One way we can increase our positive feelings in the present is to dwell on our good feelings from the past. The more we savor the happy times from our past, the more joy and contentment we can find in the here and now.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

Choose one memory that you remember fondly. Recreate it as completely as you can in your mind. What sounds and smells did you experience? Spend time reliving that moment and dwelling on how good you felt.

To find out more …

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Fredrickson’s book, Positivity.

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How Can I Help Children Who Are Upset to Calm Down?

Here’s a great idea …

In his book, Between Parent and Child, Child psychologist Haim Ginott says, “An empathic response that mirrors to children their upset feelings and expresses the parents’ sympathy and understanding is effective in changing children’s angry moods.” (p. 55)

In other words …

When our children are upset about something we are often tempted to tell them to calm down and then we lecture them about problem-solving skills. But, this often leaves our children feeling even more frustrated than before. When our children are experiencing strong emotions, their feelings must be addressed before anything else. Simply acknowledging and showing understanding for our children’s feelings will go a long way in helping them calm down.

How you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time your child is upset about something, take time to acknowledge your child’s feelings. You might say, “That must have made you very angry,” or “You seem very upset about this.” When you show your child that you understand what they are feeling and that his or her feelings are important to you, they will feel more peaceful and be better able to solve their own problems.

To find out more …

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Ginott’s Between Parent and Child.

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Why Should We Encourage Our Partner to Speak?

Here’s a great idea …

In his book, Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness, Blaine Fowers says, “Encouraging your partner to speak is an act of generosity because it is a gift of your attention and interest. When you listen attentively, you are granting that your spouse has something worthwhile to say.” (p. 107)

In other words …

Sometimes during a conversation, we become more focused on what we are going to say next rather than listening to our partner. This sends the message that what they have to say is not important to us. If we instead take time to really listen, we show our partners that what they have to say matters to us.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time you have a conversation with your partner, make a special effort to listen to what he or she has to say. Tune out potential distractions. Encourage your partner to tell you more. Find out how they think and feel about things.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden program at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Fower’s book Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness.

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Do You Wish You Were More Resilient?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson says, “Positivity can do more for you than simply make you feel good. It can broaden your mind and open your heart. Your moments of heartfelt gratitude, joy, and love can transform your life for the better by building your resources and strengths.” (p. 36)

In other words …

When we focus on the positive in our lives we will be more resilient and better able to bounce back from the negative. We also become more creative and better problem solvers.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

One of the best things you can do to increase your positivity is to focus on the good in your life. Make a list of as many of the good things in your life as you can. Spend some time thinking about and being grateful for these things.

To find out more …

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Fredrickson’s book, Positivity.

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Useful Anger

How can I express my anger without hurting my children?

Here’s a great idea …

In his book, Between Parent and Child, Haim Ginott says, “Anger should be expressed in a way that brings some relief to the parent, some insight to the child, and no harmful side effects to either of them.” (p. 48)

In other words …

Sometimes we torch each other with our anger. But it doesn’t make sense to burn down the house to warm our hands. Instead we can show our strong feelings without attacking the person. We might say: “When I clean the house and you leave your things all over, I feel annoyed.” By expressing ourselves strongly and clearly, we can avoid the personal attacks.

How you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time you feel irritated about your child’s deeds (or misdeeds), try expressing your frustration without attacking or labeling the child.

To find out more …

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Ginott’s Between Parent and Child.

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Who’s Right?

Here’s a great idea …

In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman says, “In all arguments, both solvable and perpetual, no one is ever right. There is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective realities.” (p. 150)

In other words …

Humans often feel a need to be right. We refuse to back down from most arguments because we want to prove just how right we are. When we play this game with our partners, we all lose. Each of us tries to prove we are right, and we become enemy combatants. Even though we think we have more truth than our partners, the best thing we can do is try to understand each other. Then we can work together.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time you have a disagreement with your partner, stop and look at things from that person’s point of view. Search for the reasons behind their beliefs. Find the pain beneath the angry or hurtful things your partner says. The more you understand your partner’s point of view the better your relationship can be.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden program at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

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Do Your Thoughts Stink?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson says, “The flow of your emotions follows how you interpret your current circumstances. Dire interpretations create dire emotions. Charitable and optimistic interpretations breed positivity.” (pp. 154-155)

In other words …

Research is clear: Stinking thinking makes for gloomy moods. If, instead, we choose to see the good in our lives then our feelings will be much more positive. The more we practice finding the good, the more natural and automatic this will become.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

Tune in to the good things that happen to you today. Even when something happens that you don’t consider good, look for a way that something good might come of it.

To find out more …

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Fredrickson’s book, Positivity.

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Emotions Matter

Why are your partner’s emotions important?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson says, “Responsiveness…means tuning in to your partner and showing that his or her emotions…have an impact on you. It means accepting and placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner conveys and sending clear signals of comfort and caring when your partner needs them. Sensitive responsiveness always touches us emotionally and calms us on a physical level.” (p. 50)

In other words …

When our partner lashes out at us or withdraws from us, it may be mostly because they do not feel connected to us. We can avoid escalating many arguments if, instead of reacting negatively to our partner’s emotions, we take the time to connect with them. By showing our partners’ that their feelings and opinions matter and are important to us, we can help them feel secure again in our relationship.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time your partner does or says something that is hurtful to you, resist your initial urge to respond with anger or to retaliate. Instead, seek to find out the cause of their hurt or fear. When you find out what their underlying feelings are, you can work to help alleviate the pain and fears your partner is experiencing.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden program at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglifeor contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Johnson’s Hold Me Tight.