How to Teach Your Kids to Connect with Others

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2017

One of the coolest things we ever see is children playing together, having fun and laughing with joy. It’s a pleasant feeling when we see children playing together in unity. It warms our hearts.

But as a parent, as wonderful as it is to see my kids playing with their friends, I also see it as a psychologist. And the psychologist in me knows that it is not just a nice thing to see our children having friends. It is crucial for their future, as the ability to create and maintain good relationships is one of the most important skills that anyone can have. Research has shown that it is related to our happiness, goal achievement, success in almost every area of life, physical and spiritual health, financial well-being, stress resilience, and on and on. So, I want my kids to have fun with their friends, but I want it more than for today. I want it to be a part of learning an ability that they are going to need for the rest of their lives.

And that brings us to a question, “How...

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A Letter to my 12-Year-Old

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2017

Dear Lucy,  

How proud I am of you! You have turned into and are turning into such an amazing, incredible, loving and lovable person. I love watching you, being with you, listening to you, learning from you and much, much more. Your presence lights up a room, and when you are around, heaven has taken a moment and touched us all. I love you.

So, as you turn 12, I have asked myself, "What is 12 about? What does a 12-year-old need to be able to do to really be 12? Just because a body is 12 does not mean the person is, at least on the inside. They may be 4 and just wearing a 12 year old's costume, looking like they are 12. But 12 has some very important aspects to it. It is a time of completion, and a time of growing up that will have meaning for the rest of your life. In light of those kinds of thoughts, here is my test for you to answer the question: "Am I 12?"

I do not expect for you to answer 100% on the whole list, nor 100% on any given question all of the time. None of us...

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The Best Thing a Couple Can Do for Each Other

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

Acceptance has to do with being able to relate lovingly and without judgment to everything about your partner. It is embracing the reality of his or her strengths and weaknesses, gifts, and imperfections. It does not mean that you approve of everything about your spouse, but it means you are willing to relate to all of him or her without condemnation, even those parts with which you don’t agree or of which you don’t approve.

Sexuality requires you to be open and exposed, with all your blemishes and scars. Acceptance creates an environment in which you and your spouse are aware of what the other lacks, but you don’t allow those imperfections to stop the flow of love and gratitude for each other. You are so much in love with the character and soul of your beloved that accepting the body is a small thing. However, if you don’t convey acceptance, or your partner does not feel acceptable regardless of what you say and do, then your spouse will tend to hide,...

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Having Boundaries Means Taking Responsibility for Our Choices

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

Any time is a great time to take stock of boundaries in our lives and renew the desire to take responsibility for our choices. This leads to the fruit of “self-control.” A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else.

Think for a moment how often we use the phrases, “I had to” or “She (he) made me” when explaining why we did or did not do something. These phrases betray our basic illusion that we are not active agents in many of our dealings. We think someone else is in control, thus relieving us of our basic responsibility.“I really need you to watch your nephew,” Tiffany said.

“What does she mean by ‘need to’?” Kyle thought to himself.

“Adam has been out of town for work. I’ve got a million things I’ve got to do, and I think you should help me out here. I’m you’re sister, and you should do this for your...

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How to Raise Mentally Strong Kids

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day issues, like homework and soccer practice, that you forget to look at the bigger parenting picture. Kids need skills to overcome challenges and rebound from setbacks and without proactive guidance, many kids aren’t developing the mental muscle they need to become mentally strong adults.

Here are three ways to help your kids develop the mental strength they need to reach their greatest potential:

1. Teach your kids to think realistically.

Kids struggle with the same kinds of unhealthy thoughts as adults. Catastrophic thinking, self-doubt, and harsh criticism are just a few thinking errors that rob kids of mental strength.

When kids express their concerns out loud, many adults are quick to say things like, "Quit worrying" or, "It'll turn out fine," when kids express concerns. And while that may give kids a temporary reprieve from their harsh inner dialogue, kids aren’t learning how to develop healthier self-talk.

The...

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The Hardest Boundaries You'll Set in Your Life

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

In each of our lives, there's one person who's always tearing us down, who recklessly spends our money and makes inexplicable decisions that cost us valuable time, and sometimes that person can let us down like no one else. Yep, I'm talking about myself. And you. And everyone who struggles to place boundaries that they can adhere to in their own lives.

Being mature about the boundaries we set for ourselves is tough.

How to begin:

Address your real need!

Out-of-control patterns often disguise themselves as something else. You need to address the underlying need before you can deal with the out-of-control behavior. For example, impulsive eaters may discover that food is a way to separate and stay safe from romantic and sexual intimacy. Their fear of being faced with those kinds of emotionally laden situations may cause them to use food as a boundary. As their internal boundaries with the opposite sex become firmer, they can give up their destructive food boundary. They learn to ask...

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When You're Expecting Perfection from Others, You're Asking to be Disappointed

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

Have you ever had one of those moments where everything just seemed perfect? It never seems to last, does it?

What are those perfect moments? How do we create more of them?

We all have a perfect nature, and in a perfect world, every one of us would succeed beyond our wildest dreams. However, we do not live in a perfect world, so we have to manage the imperfection that makes up our day-to-day reality. We have to pursue virtue and ideal outcomes despite living in a world that sometimes seems to reward people who act in bad faith.

We need to develop the character to face reality, to handle whatever challenges are put in front of us, and to overcome them. Part of developing that character is admitting your imperfections to yourself. There may be a lot of qualities that you really don't like in others, that you might give yourself a pass on because you haven't examined your own life the way you scrutinize others. We must do this because otherwise we will be continually disappointed, and...

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When You Set Boundaries, Your Consequences Will Maintain Them

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

Danielle had a problem with tardiness. She believed time was like an accordion; the more events you packed into it, the more it would simply stretch to accommodate the activities. As a result, she always planned too many things for a particular time period, thinking she had time to do them, and then ended up half an hour late for the last one. This not only kept her rushed and unable to relax and enjoy life but also inconvenienced her friends who had set aside time to be with her.

When she joined a support group, she immediately became an active and involved member. She was a caring person and so well liked that when her lateness trait emerged, the group quickly forgave it. In fact, they would wait until she rushed in before they'd start discussing issues. They finally saw that the problem wasn't getting better, so they told her, "Danielle, we care about you, but we're concerned about your tardiness. It's bad for you and for us. So from now on, we're starting on time, whether or not...

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How to Teach Your Child to Take Responsibility

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

I have a friend whose teenage sons are very relational, caring, and fun to be around. At the same time, they don’t know where the dishwasher is or how meals end up on the table, because my friend does it for them and doesn’t require them to learn those sorts of tasks. So while they are loving people, these kids’ lives are marred by a lack of self-control and responsibility.

Love needs structure and form. Just as the heart needs a skeleton, love requires another ingredient; it needs ownership, the ability to take upon one’s own shoulders the responsibilities, burdens, and problems of life.

I may seem odd to think of a child, especially a young one, learning ownership. Children certainly are too young, inexperienced, and frail to take full responsibility for their lives. Yet they can learn to do so gradually. Little by little, as your children mature, you can ask them to carry more and more responsibility, so that by the time they are ready to leave home, they,...

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Setting Boundaries with Toxic People at Work

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

When you’re dealing with difficult people, be prepared to encounter resistance, arguments, justifications, excuses, attacks and the like. Just learn to accept that as part of the territory and do not try to fix it. That’s not your job, and the less you get caught up in rabbit trails, the clearer things will be for you.

But when you’re confronting someone at work, especially a boss, what you know about addressing personal issues may not be to your benefit in a professional setting. Whenever I teach on this, I get questions about the workplace, because people often do not feel free to say anything out of fear of losing their jobs.

And I appreciate those questions, as there is a hierarchy of needs in life. It’s more critical that you have food and clothing than a boss who is kind to you. However, that doesn’t do away with the need to be treated in humane ways either. If you are in a toxic work environment, here are some thoughts to consider.

First, people...

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