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Category Archives: Tips for parents

Stop Tearing Down and Start Building: 5 Ways to Enrich your Relationships Today

Frustrated by the way your relationships are going? Feeling like you’re always at odds with someone at home or at work? Here are a handful of tips you can use to revitalize your relationships and improve your interactions with others.

  1. Look for the positives and focus on the other person’s strengths. For example, you might start by noticing how well your spouse manages his or her job, commitments at home, balance between free time and family time, or anything else. As you observe him or her, begin commenting about what you’ve seen like this: “You do a really good job with __________” or “I’m impressed that you were able to accomplish _________ today.” John Gottman says the magic ratio is 5 positive interactions for every 1 that is negative. In order to compensate for the inevitable bumps along the way, make a concerted effort to recognize the positive qualities of those around you each and every day.
  1. Employ active listening skills. Active listening initially includes paying attention, withholding judgment and reflecting the other person’s words by repeating them back to him or her. This is especially important—and challenging—when there is conflict. As you take the time to slow down and focus on your co-worker’s point of view, you may find yourself less focused on making your case and more willing to reach a mutually beneficial solution. If you want additional information on this topic, look here: https://www.ccl.org/multimedia/podcast/the-big-6-an-active-listening-skill-set/
  1. Take care of yourself. As you are able, focus on eating well, getting enough sleep, drinking water throughout the day, exercising, and managing your stress. This will have a positive impact on yourself and everyone around you. If you need help remembering to do these things, enlist some support partners. You might also use an app like Wunderlist to organize your goals and set reminders.
  1. Look for common interests and seek to engage in those whenever possible. When you think of your relationships, consider whether there are any favorite activities, interests, or even favorite foods that could bring you and the people you love together. For example, you might consider setting up weekly, bi-weekly or monthly dates to spend time with each of your children. Enlist their help to come up with ideas of things they’d like to do or explore with you, and work your way through the list you compose.
  1. Before you speak, consider the things you often say. If you are frequently at odds with someone in your life, think about the phrases you find yourself repeating to that person. Perhaps you need to change what you are saying so your family member can really hear the message. For example, if you find that you are constantly telling your dad that he’s embarrassing you in some way, maybe you could tell him some things you appreciate about him (see #1) and then give him a few tips about what he could say or do when he’s around your friends.

These five tips may seem simple, but will require a concerted effort on your part. If it seems overwhelming to implement all five at once, start with the one that seems the most likely to create positive change and work your way through the rest as you are able. Though you may encounter resistance at first, you will soon notice small differences in the relational atmosphere. If you or someone in your life would benefit from the help of a trained therapist as you work to improve your relationships, please call our office at 215.491.1119.

 

Dr. Lorna Jansen is a psychology resident at the Center for Neuropsychology and Counseling in Warrington, PA. She provides therapy, academic coaching and assessment for children and adolescents who struggle with academic demands, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Additionally, Dr. Jansen works with adults who are navigating life transitions, including college, marriage, divorce, and parenting.

Increasing My Productivity, Reducing My Stress: A quick overview

By Christina Carson-Sacco, Psy.D.

I think most people would say they’d like to be more productive, but also would love to be less stressed. As we are looking at a new year, it’s a good time to think about ways we can do this.

First, I’d like you to think about the roles you play in your life. Is it as a business owner? Parent? Partner? Community activist? Friend? Now, in light of that role, answer this question, “What’s my Mission Statement?” Draft your mission statement and write it down.

  • What do I do?
  • Who do I do it for?
  • How are they better off because of me?
  • What do I want them to feel?

Why do you need a mission statement? It keeps you on track. For example, if you’re thinking of yourself in your role as an activist helping homeless families, your mission statement might be, “I will increase awareness of homelessness in our county and support organizations that are providing shelter for displaced families.” If an opportunity to assist abused animals comes up, while you think it’s a very worthy cause, it does not fit with your mission statement, so you might delegate this task to another person, but not let it dilute your resources or take up your energy. Look at the questions above when examining whether or not to do something to test whether it fits with your mission statement for a particular role. This will keep you focused and help you to say “no” to requests that might distract or detract from your goals.

Next, how do we tackle those pesky to-do lists? Having lists of your tasks is a helpful way to organize and keep track of what needs to get done. Hopefully, you’re crossing tasks off on a daily basis. What many people are challenged by are the tasks that never seem to get done. Let’s take a moment to examine those tasks, by putting them into this chart. This will help you to examine why the task is never completed.

 

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For example, a task might be “organize my financial records.” The obstacles might be “need to get files from work.” You can then choose to either get the files or maybe ask someone at work to pull them together for you. Putting tasks on this chart can help clarify the obstacles, making it easier to decide how to handle them.

Some tasks have bigger obstacles, though. Beware of the “shoulds.” Is there a task that is on your list merely because you feel you should do it? However, you don’t really want to do it; you just think you should. For example, maybe one of your never-completed tasks is “Sign up to coach my child’s soccer team.” You may not really want to do that, but you feel you should because you believe “a good parent coaches their child’s team.” Examining that belief and making a conscious decision will help you to make a choice to either do it or remove it from your list. Be careful; the “shoulds” can be draining. You don’t need to do everything you feel you should do. For example, an incomplete task could be “fix things around the house.” You may believe “it’s frivolous to pay others to do household chores” or “responsible adults take care of these things,” but you never complete these tasks. Seeing them on your list could makes you feel drained or like you’re failing. It may be beneficial to either take some of these tasks off of your list or to hire someone else to do them.

Another other reason some tasks never get done is that we have fear connected to them. Looking at your never-completed to-do items, are any of them incomplete because there is some fear holding you back? For example, one of your tasks might be “go to the gym regularly.” It’s easy to think that you’re not crossing that off your list because you don’t have enough time. However, if you pause to consider a possible fear, maybe the roadblock is really, “I’m afraid that I won’t be very strong and will embarrass myself at the gym.” Identifying and facing these fears head on can help you overcome them.

Third, being productive and reducing your stress means taking good care of yourself. Remember, while some people may boast about how much they are doing, there is no pride in being busy. Being “busy for busy’s sake” can get out of control, feel overwhelming, and at times make you feel powerless over your life. Be conscious of how you’re filling your days and when you can say “no” to tasks. Ask for help when you need it.

Self-care must be on your to-do list. If your friend said they were feeling really stressed out, what advice would you give them? Treat yourself as well as you would your best friend. Doing these things regularly will help you manage your stress:

  • Sleep 8+hours
  • Eat 3+ nutritious meals
  • Hydrate
  • Go outside a little each day
  • Unplug from technology for portions of each day by setting designated work times and space
  • Exercise or just move
  • Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and other drugs
  • Create a good support system
  • Remember to care for yourself before caring for others; are you at the top of your priority list?

If you are struggling with any of these tasks like focusing, managing your life, overcoming fears, or any of the self-care items, a psychologist can help. While reading this may have added to your to-do list, the goal is to improve how productive you feel while keeping stress in check.

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Dr. Christina Carson-Sacco is a psychologist who has been helping children, teens, adults and families in private practice for 17 years. She specializes in anxiety, depression, parenting, school challenges, relationships, and life transitions. Learn more at www.TheCenterInWarrington.com

October is National Bully Prevention Month

In recent years, bullying has become a national concern. It appears that bullying has increased in settings such as school and in our local communities. Bullying can include behaviors such as verbal and cyber threats, physical aggression and excessive teasing.

What we know about bullying is that boys and girls tend to engage in bullying, but each tend to use different forms. For example, boys are more likely to engage physical bullying, while girls are more likely to engage in verbal and cyber threats. Research indicates that there is no one cause for bullying. Some contributing factors can be negative family, school and peer environments. Both bullies and victims can be at greater risk for future emotional difficulties. An additional challenge in combating bullying is that many adults do not recognize or consider bullying to be a serious issue. Additionally, many schools still do not have programs that address bullying.

The US Department of Justice reported that younger students are more likely to be bullied than older students. Bullying appears to be more prevalent between the 5th and 8th grade. Other reports indicate that students with special needs, such as Autism, are especially vulnerable to bullying.

What Can Parents Do?

  •  Parents can investigate whether their school has a preventive bullying program that goes beyond a “zero tolerance approach”. Effective school prevention programs emphasize a positive school climate with involvement and training on bullying for students, parents and faculty. This approach has proven especially effective at the elementary and middle school levels.
  • Parents can check their child’s social media activity on a regular basis.
  • Parents can keep the lines of communication open with their child with regular talks about their social and school experiences.
  • Parents can try to be aware of changes in their child’s behavior such as a child who becomes withdrawn, unhappy, has experienced a recent drop in grades, or demonstrates an unwillingness to attend school or go outside.

Jean Ruttenberg, MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Ruttenberg, MA

Jean is a well-known and respected specialist in the area of autism, ADHD and emotional disorders.  She assists all age groups and is skilled at solving difficult behavior problems.