Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I work at a daycare and anyone who spends any amount of time with a toddler knows about the “mine” syndrome. “Mine” and “no” become two of a kid’s favorite words once he or she begins to talk. Here is a funny, but true look at the rules of a toddler.

1. If I like it, it’s mine.
2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
5. If it’s mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down,
    it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it’s broken, it’s yours!

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By: Katrin Schumann

No mom really likes to admit she’s a perfectionist—but of the 500-plus women we spoke with over the years of researching our new book, Mothers Need Time-Outs Too, we discovered that perfectionism is the number one issue keeping modern mothers from enjoying the moment. We are all so busy trying to be everything to everyone—and doing a stellar job while we’re at it—that we don’t have a spare second to plug into our own needs or desires.

But beware: this will hurt us, and our families, in the long run!

Countless psychological studies point to links between perfectionism and dysfunction. “One of the most pernicious forms of self-generated stress stems from perfectionism,” explains Dr. Jon Allen in a 2003 Perspective Magazine article. A continuous cycle of striving, failure, and self-criticism creates stress which pumps our blood full of hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Both have been proven to harm the immune system, making people more vulnerable to a variety of illnesses—from the flu to cancer. Perfectionists often want and expect others to be perfect, too, perpetuating the cycle and leading to disagreements, wrecked relationships, and even more stress.
So what’s the solution? It’s easier than you think! Mothers say it’s important to:

  • Accept imperfection, perhaps even revel in it. Joelle, mother of one from New York, loves going to her messy friend’s house. It reminds her that not everyone has to live with the same standards.
  • Share responsibility, and let go of the need to always be in control. When your nine-year-old folds laundry, tell her you appreciate how hard he or she tried.
  • Choose your priorities. You can cut down on your activities—and your children’s—to free up time for other things or for nothing. YOU are in the driver’s seat.
  • Open your mind to alternative ways of running things. Elizabeth, raised in Germany and now living with her family of five in France, noticed how differently even those two neighboring cultures can be when it comes to mothers’ standards. “There’s no one way to do it correctly,” she said. “It really helps me to know that.”
  • Trust yourself. Be comfortable with what works for your family: it doesn’t matter what other people think about how your kids are dressed, whether your kitchen is spotless, or if your son made the A-team.

Dr. Allen, a professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine adds: “The good news is, although perfectionism can be a relatively ingrained personality trait, it can be moderated over time.” Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness, and if lowering your standards will help you carve out a some more “me-time,” then give it a try—your family will thank you for it!

First published July 2008

Read more: http://www.divinecaroline.com/22126/53065-perfectionist-moms-cut-out#ixzz1CSffPKgH

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by Guest Blogger Rob Wildman Ph.D. on January 28, 2011

Over the last few decades of research — and my simple observation of glowing mommies-to-be and their bouncing babies – I’ve come to see that nutrition is absolutely critical to a healthy pregnancy and infant.  

As a nutritionist to many mommies-to-be and a proud father of two, I’m often asked what are the best foods for pregnancy?

I’ve made it easy with a list of seven foods that can make every bite count toward a healthy pregnancy. These foods are practical and also enjoyable during a time when a woman’s tastes, cravings and lifestyle are all in constant states of change.

Here are my top seven:

  1. Coconut Water – It’s typical for a woman to gain more than 15 pounds of water during pregnancy as her blood volume expands and she creates amniotic fluid, not to mention the water going into the developing bundle of joy. Be sure to get at least 8 cups of fluid daily, including water and non-caffeinated beverages. Coconut water is an especially nice and delicious option because it provides natural electrolytes, such as circulation-supporting potassium.
  2. Yogurt – Yogurt provides protein, calcium and probiotics to build bacteria that supports the immune system, healthy blood glucose levels and the digestive tract. Also, because constipation is common during pregnancy, some women can help keep regular by eating yogurt daily.
  3. Cranberries – Pregnancy brings an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberry acts as a natural antibiotic in the urinary tract by providing special nutrients that decrease the ability of bacteria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract.
  4. Spinach – This leafy green contains vitamin A, calcium, B-vitamins and folate for energy and neural tube development. Spinach is also well known for its eye-protective properties because of its lutein content, which literally functions as sunglasses for the eyes, helping both you and your baby.
  5. Omega-3 Fat – Omega 3 fatty acids from fish and algae — as well as flaxseed — support a healthy, developing baby brain, as well as circulatory system.  



Robert Wildman, Ph.D., is a nutritional expert and registered and licensed dietitian with a focus on teaching people how to eat to live longer and healthier. He has authored several nutritional books including The Nutritionist: Food, Nutrition, and Optimal Health.

source: http://healthbistro.lifescript.com/2011/01/28/7-super-foods-during-pregnancy/

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Learn how to identify and resolve schoolyard taunting
By Sarah Mahoney Posted August 09, 2010 from Woman’s Day September 2010

If you read the news, you’ve seen the headlines: “Mother Blames Son’s Suicide on Bullying,” “Youth Violence, Hateful Speech Expose Dark Side of Social Media,” “Bullied Student Sues School.” Bullying has become such a widespread problem that the government has recognized it as a major mental health concern for kids. And for some of those kids, it has tragic consequences—a truth brought home by cases like that of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old in South Hadley, Massachusetts, who committed suicide in January after being tormented by older teens, and Scott Walz, a high school senior from Johnsburg, Illinois, who committed suicide in March after years of bullying.

And unlike in the past, when kids confronted each other at school, today’s bullying can reach mass networks of people through things like texting, Facebook and YouTube. Sixty percent of high schoolers say they have experienced cyberbullying, according to research by Elizabeth Englander, PhD, professor of psychology at Bridgewater State College and director of The Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center.

What can parents do to protect their kids? Turns out, a lot more than they think.

> Hey there Busy & Living Pretty readers! Being a young adult myself and having gone through these sort of trials and tribulations fairly recently, I figured I’d give my input too, just to get it out there. So all my comments throughout the article are in purple, just like my writing here. :)

Read the Clues

Phoebe Prince had reportedly been bullied in her native Ireland, so her mom was on alert when the family moved to the States. And Scott Walz’s mom also knew of her son’s abuse because it had reportedly been going on for nine years. But many other parents are in the dark. Heather McPherson of Studio City, California, remembers the night she innocently asked her then 12-yearold son about his homework. His reaction stunned her. “He started to cry,” she says. Finally he told her that some kids were taking his books in class, and that they’d also called him “faggot.” Heather was incensed. But she also felt guilty that she hadn’t noticed the signs. “I kept asking myself, What did I miss? ” she says. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

“It can be very difficult as a parent to see the clues,” says Susan Limber, PhD, professor of psychology at Clemson University’s Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life. A big reason? Our antennae aren’t up. With the stress of work and home, it’s not unusual for parents to take for granted that everything’s OK with their kids, especially since some signs of bullying, like moodiness, sadness and anxiety, mimic the ordinary ups and downs of adolescence. As for cyberbullying, a recent Yahoo! online safety survey found that 81 percent of parents know what cyberbullying is, yet in Dr. Englander’s study, nearly 70 percent of teens said their parents either don’t worry or rarely worry about online bullying.

But they should, and kids’ unwillingness to talk about any type of bullying just makes it harder. “About 60 percent of children don’t tell their parents when they’re being picked on at school,” says Susan Swearer, PhD, associate professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a leading bully researcher. Some clam up because they worry their parents will “fly off the handle and make matters worse,” she says. Other kids keep quiet due to embarrassment, or they think they can handle it themselves. So if kids aren’t telling, it falls to parents to figure out what’s going on.

In Heather’s case, her son’s tears spurred her to coax the truth out of him. Once she knew the full story, she fired off an email to the school’s director and her son’s teacher. Both assured her that the bullying would stop. “When I picked Matthew up that day, he told me that the problem had solved itself because the teacher happened to change everyone’s seat,” says Heather.

If you do notice a change in your child’s behavior, even if it’s small, keep an eye out for other red flags. That’s what Carla Ring of Foxboro, Massachusetts, did when she noticed that her eighth-grade daughter was she used to love, and her grades were slipping—all possible signs of a child who’s being bullied, says Dr. Swearer. (For more, see “11 Warning Signs,” right.) Carla soon noticed something else: “She was constantly texting: mad, frenzied texts, like she was putting out fires.”

At first, her daughter refused to open up, but Carla and her husband pressed her. It turns out some girls were calling her names and starting rumors about her—classic mean-girl tactics. “Boys tend to bully physically, while girls are more likely to use relational aggression, like gossiping and shunning,” explains Dr. Swearer.

For Carla, forcing the issue worked. But pushing kids to ’fess up when you suspect bullying isn’t always the best tactic. Demanding answers when a child doesn’t want your help is “one of the most challenging moments of parenthood,” says Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl and founder of the Girls Leadership Institute in Santa Cruz, California.

> This one is right on the money. Kids, especially teens can be straight up assholes. (please excuse my language) It just makes me so mad. I do not understand some people’s need to make others’ lives a living hell, to ruin someone’s day, or to sabotage other things to get what they want. It simply makes no sense to me. People can be sick and twisted, even at a young age, and pushing a kid who knows the “rules” of the school world (which are very similar to the real world), and the hierarchy of things, is not going to help at all. They may be afraid that one mess up in middle school could ruin all four years of high school for them – and at that age, those seem like the most important years of their life.

Your child may say, “Everything’s fine,” but if your sixth sense says otherwise, keep pursuing it, adds Dr. Limber. Just use a light hand. “You don’t want your kids to feel like you’re grilling them,” she says. Start a conversation in the car while running errands together or when you pick them up after school. “You’re not talking face-to-face, which may be more comfortable for kids,” says Dr. Limber. “The downside is that you won’t catch their body language, which can also provide clues.” So find other times to talk as well: at the dinner table and, with young ones, when tucking them into bed.

No matter where you start the conversation, the tricky part will be to get kids talking, especially if your normal way of checking in has been superficial at best. Too often parents limit chats to grades (“How did you do on your quiz?”) or easily-brushedoff questions (“How was your day?”). Encourage kids to share their whole school experience. You’ll gain better insight into their social lives, says Marlene Snyder, PhD, director of development at the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at Clemson University. Ask indirect questions: “Is it fun to ride the bus?” “Who’d you hang out with today?” It’s a lesson Heather learned the hard way. After her son’s bout with bullying, she began asking more about his social life and less about homework.


You have every right to check your kids’ Facebook pages and their cell phones. There are even free Facebook apps, like GoGoStat Parental Guidance and Social Shield, that allow you to set parameters and monitor use. “But be open about what you’re doing,” says Dr. Limber. “So much of the parent/child relationship is based on mutual trust, and parents should try to respect that—without having blinders on.” (Photo by Vanessa Davies.)

Tammi Fitzgerald of Chandler, Arizona, was glad she finally took hers off. She knew that her son James, 16, who is overweight, was struggling with bullies and she’d alerted the school. But one day she peeked at his open Facebook page and was horrified. “There was post after post of cruel comments,” says Tammi. She made copies of the pages—an essential move, say experts, since it proves harassment. But when she went to the school, all her son’s teacher could do was put the online bullies on notice. Since cyberbullying typically takes place on kids’ own computers, it’s harder for schools to act due to privacy issues.

> First of all, in my opinion, a kid shouldn’t even have a social site of any kind (Facebook, Myspace, Hi5, Friendster, Xanga, Livejournal, etc) until they’re at least 15. It’s just too crazy and dangerous out there. You really need to make sure your child is mature and ready for what can happen and what they can and will see our there on the web. Its unfortunate, but true.

> Second – uh, not necessarily. If you’re seriously suspicious of your child either being in a gang, or using drugs, or being in serious danger, then yeah, i guess you can snoop. But unless you want to destroy your relationship with your kid, I highly suggest that you completely exhaust every other option before resorting to invading their personal privacy. This one is a big one among kids and preteens, and a HUGE one for teenagers. Tread lightly.

React the Right Way

Once you’re aware of the situation, your first reaction may be the same as Heather’s or Tammi’s: boiling mad and ready to fight back. Some parents, however, have the opposite response. “They minimize the issue, thinking, Well, kids will be kids,” says Dr. Swearer. Downplaying the problem won’t make it go away. Instead, follow these steps. (Photo by Comstock Images.)

1. Assess the level of bullying. Is it one child saying mean things? A group of kids texting taunts to the whole class? Physical bullying? “All types of bullying should be taken seriously, but how you handle it will depend on the nature, severity and duration,” says Dr. Limber. Jot down the details as your child tells you, noting the dates and names of the kids involved. Make copies of hurtful Facebook pages or texts too. This way you’ll be clear on the facts. And let your child know that you plan to contact his school. “If he pushes back, fearing retaliation from the child who is bullying, explain that usually adults need to get involved, and reassure him that it’s the best way to put an end to the bullying,” say Dr. Snyder.

2. Email or meet the teacher. “Naturally you’ll be upset, but you’ll get more cooperation if you stick to the facts without letting your anger get the best of you,” says Dr. Limber. Your goal is to work together to find a solution.

If the teacher can’t resolve the problem, involve the principal, says Dr. Snyder. “Put it in writing, explaining the steps you’ve taken, and ask that he intervene.” Find out what he plans to do to keep your child safe. “Then monitor the situation,” says Michele Borba, EdD, an educational psychologist and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. “And if you’re not satisfied, meet with the superintendent or, if necessary, the school board.”

> In high school, in most cases, its better to just go straight to the principal. Meet with him/her, be calm, know what you want, and deliver it soundly. Don’t blow up, or you may blow your child’s chances at getting help. If the principal doesn’t see a problem with something you find threatening, then threaten to contact the police. That will either get him/her moving, or you will go get the police and they will help you.

How the school responds will be determined by their anti-bullying policy and disciplinary procedures. Most states require schools to have an anti-bullying policy. (See “Does Your State Have an Anti-Bullying Law?”, right.) Get a copy of it from the principal so you’ll know exactly what steps the school should take.

3. Report harassment to your ISP. One bullying tactic these days is to create fake profiles full of false information or inappropriate photos. “Contact the company that runs the site to have the profile taken off, and report harassment to your Internet service provider,” says Michele Ybarra, PhD, a cyberbullying researcher and president of Internet Solutions for Kids. Encourage your child to do the basics, like blocking harassers and changing usernames or addresses. Also, like Tammi, make copies to show the authorities.

4. If the bullying is physical, call the police. “The police aren’t likely to intervene unless there is a perceived physical threat,” says Simmons. If a bully alludes to assaulting or threatens to assault your child (or worse, already has), contact the authorities. Also call them if the bullying involves intimidation based on hate or bias, coercion, or any form of sexual exploitation. Finally, no matter how tempted you are, don’t confront the bully or his parents. Tempers are likely to flare, which will just make the situation worse, says Dr. Snyder. Leave it to the school or legal authorities.

Helping Kids Cope

“The psychological effects of constant bullying can be very similar to an anxiety disorder or even posttraumatic stress, leaving long-term emotional scars,” says Dr. Borba. Bullied kids can suffer stress buildup, withdrawal and more. Plus, since kids often blame themselves, falsely believing they did something wrong, their self-esteem takes a big hit. “Moving a child to a new class or a new school won’t necessarily heal the scars,” says Dr. Borba. “Depending on the intensity of the bullying, professional counseling may be best.” Typically, however, kids can bounce back if they have someone to help them with three key things—and that’s where you come in. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

Rebuild self-esteem. To counteract self-blame, remind your child that the bullying wasn’t her fault, says Simmons. “Explain that while this sort of thing does happen, it says nothing about who she is as a person.” Point out all her qualities, focusing on her character and spirit.

Create a network of friends. When Marty Wolner’s daughter became the target of mean girls at age 13, he and his wife focused on building her skills as a “floater,” someone who can move from one circle of friends to another. They encouraged her to make non-school pals through her dance and theater classes. “That way, she didn’t have to be devastated if any girls at school excluded her. She had other friends,” says Marty, a parenting coach.

> This would’ve come in handy when I was in high school.

Teach coping skills and assertiveness. Ignoring rude comments isn’t easy, but it is possible. One way to do it: If someone starts to insult your child, she can calmly begin texting another person. This strategy sends the message that the harasser’s words have no effect and ultimately makes him feel powerless. Sometimes that’s enough.

Many times, though, kids need to be assertive to get bullies to back down. Practice a few techniques with your child, like saying, “Leave me alone” in a strong voice. But when it comes to physical bullying, safety takes priority. Tell your child to immediately report any such incident to an adult at school. If he doesn’t, report it yourself, urges Dr. Snyder. And also inform the police.

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Learn how to loosen up and have more fun with your kids
By Gretchen Rubin Posted July 15, 2010 from HappinessProject.com

10 Ways to Be a Light-Hearted Parent

Photo: © Camille Tokerud / Getty Images

Blog post excerpted from Gretchen Rubin’s website Happiness-Project.com.

One of my Twelve Commandments is “Lighten up,” and I have a lot of resolutions aimed at trying to be a more light-hearted parent: less nagging, more laughing. We all want a peaceful, cheerful, even joyous, atmosphere at home — but we can’t nag and yell our way to get there. Here are some strategies that help me:

1. At least once a day, make each child helpless with laughter.

2. Sing in the morning. It’s hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone—particularly in my case, because I’m tone deaf and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity.

3. Get enough sleep yourself. It’s so tempting to stay up late, to enjoy the peace and quiet. But morning comes fast. Along the same lines…

4. Wake up before your kids. We were so rushed in the morning that I started getting up half an hour earlier than my children. That means I can get myself organized, check my email, post to Slate, and get my bag packed before they get up. It’s tough to wake up earlier, but it has made a huge difference in the quality of our mornings.

5. I’ve been researching the hedonic treadmill: people quickly adapt to new pleasures or luxuries, so it takes a new pleasure to give them a jolt of gratification. As a result, I’ve cut back on treats and impulse buys for my kids. The ice-cream sandwich or the Polly Pockets set won’t be an exciting treat if it isn’t rare.

6. Most messages to kids are negative: “stop,” “don’t,” “no.” So I try to cast my answers as “yes.” “Yes, we’ll go as soon as you’ve finished eating,” not “We’re not leaving until you’ve finished eating.” It’s not easy to remember to do this, but I’m trying.

7. Look for little ways to celebrate. I haven’t been doing holiday breakfasts long, but they’re a huge source of happiness. They’re quick, fun, and everyone gets a big kick out of them.

8. Repetition works. A friend told me he was yelling at his kids too much, so he distilled all rules of behavior into four key phrases: “keep your hands to yourself”; “answer the first time you’re asked”; “ask first”; and “stay with us” (his kids tended to bolt). You can also use the school mantras: “Sit square in your chair;” “accidents will happen,” “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” (i.e., when cupcakes are handed out, you don’t keep trying to switch).

9. Say “no” only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange shorts? Sure. Put water in the toy tea set? Okay. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Fine. Samuel Johnson said, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”

10. When I find myself thinking, “Yippee, soon we won’t have to deal with a stroller,” I remind myself how fleeting this is. All too soon the age of Cheerios and the Tooth Fairy will be over. The days are long, but the years are short.

Have you found any good strategies to cut back on the shouting and to add moments of laughing, singing, and saying “yes”?

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Prepare your kids for college by passing on these essential life lessons
By Melissa Gaskill Posted June 30, 2010 from Woman’s Day August 1 2010


Before I left for college, my father summoned me to the front yard and had me change a tire. He wanted to make sure I at least knew that much about cars.

For Andrea Ellinor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the need-to-know topic was laundry. “I’d never washed my own clothes,” she says. So once she was settled into her dorm room freshman year, her mom marched her down to the dorm’s basement for a crash course in using the washer and dryer. “That semester, I made a lot of phone calls home with laundry questions,” she says with a laugh.

Our parents had the right idea, if not the best timing. “When kids enter high school, it’s time to decide what responsibilities we want them handling by graduation,” says Carl Pickhardt, PhD, author of Stop the Screaming: How to Turn Angry Conflict with Your Child into Positive Communication. You have four years to help your teens learn to take care of themselves, so come up with a list of life skills you want to pass on, suggests Dr. Pickhardt.

If you’re worried that they’ll never get the hang of one skill, let alone all of them, try not to sweat it. If they mess up a time or two (or three) along the way, consider it a good thing. “Learning to handle minor failures creates a resilient kid,” says Michael Bradley, EdD, author of When Things Get CRAZY with Your Teen: The Why, the How, and What to Do NOW. And research shows that a resilient child is ultimately a successful one. “You can’t prepare your teens for all the challenges out there,” Dr. Bradley says. “But you can give them the ability to think their way through them.” It all starts with the basics, like these six essential skills.


If your teens are like mine, they think kitchens and bathrooms magically clean themselves. Before you foist this delusional thinking on future roommates (and eventual spouses!), introduce your teens to the broom, dustpan, mop and toilet bowl brush. Their weekly chores should involve each one. Reveal the wonders of weekly trash pickup too by making it their job to take out the garbage.

Just remember that knowing a skill and using it in their own domain are two different things. While every kid should have chores, don’t spend the high school years waging war over your teen’s messy room. Better to close your eyes to a little chaos in there (as long as she’s pulling her weight with her other chores around the house) and keep the lines of communication open for more important issues, says Dr. Bradley.

Car Maintenance

Boys today are more likely to spend time texting friends or hanging out on Facebook than hunched over a car engine. But teens (girls included) need to know the basics of caring for their ride: how to check the oil and tire pressure, and follow a basic maintenance schedule. Melissa Mieras of San Antonio says her husband, Tom, taught their three sons by doing those things— and explaining it all as he went along—with the boys around.

So, with your teen in tow, head to your garage and pop the hood. First, pull out the dipstick, then demonstrate how to wipe it off, replace it, pull it out again and read the oil level. Locate the reservoir for wiper fluid and where to check other engine fluids. Whip out the manual and have your teen look up the recommended oil change intervals and which type of oil to use. Point out the sticker with recommended tire pressure, usually on the driver’s door frame, and show her how to use a tire gauge (make sure one stays in the glove box). And the next time you stop at a gas station, show her how to add air to the tires.

If all of this is Greek to you, get help from a car-smart relative or trusted mechanic. If you take your car to the shop, have your teen tag along. Then, when it’s her car that needs work, let her do the talking.



Washing clothes hardly qualifies as rocket science, but as Andrea knows all too well, it doesn’t come naturally, either. Find a way to get your teens and their dirty clothes into the laundry room (if you have to bribe them with a movie, so be it). Now go over the basics: how to read labels to see what can be washed and what should be drycleaned, how to sort clothes by color and temperature, which detergent to use and how much, how to make sense of washer and dryer settings (be sure to explain that these aren’t the same on all machines).

Of course, the best way for teens to acquire this, or any skill, for that matter, is practice. After all, discolored clothes will drive home the importance of proper sorting better than any lecture from Mom. So after your tutorial, have your teens start doing their own laundry.

Be available to answer questions, but resist the urge to step in. Handling this kind of responsibility gives teens a greater sense of competency, and that’s the real goal, says Dr. Pickhardt. “Each skill they acquire helps them say, I can do it myself.” For that, a few ruined items of clothing seems a small price to pay.

Making Appointments

Austin, Texas, parents MaryPat and Mike Baringer insisted that their three now-grown children make their own appointments for haircuts, dental checkups and doctor visits, beginning in high school. Do the same with your teen. Give him a simple appointment calendar with the names and numbers of doctors, dentists and other important providers recorded in the address book section (or posted on a bulletin board). Be sure to remind him that he can’t be in two places at once, and to allow time for travel to and from appointments. Suggest he check cancellation policies as well.

The Baringer kids also made their own travel arrangements for college visits. This helped them learn good communication skills, and gave them experience in managing minor difficulties such as long layovers and missed connections. “Kids learn more when things don’t go smoothly,” says MaryPat.

Bingo, says Dr. Bradley. A bad decision your teen makes for himself is ultimately worth more than a good decision you make for him, he says.


Along with a few basics—perhaps roasting a chicken, scrambling eggs and making pasta—teach your teen to prepare a few of his favorite meals. Have him decide on a menu and make a list of needed ingredients, then take him shopping the first time. (The next time you can be the consultant.)

When you’re back at home, be there to coach him through the actual preparation from start to finish. Don’t forget to include cleanup and safe storage of leftovers. From then on, have him help you fix dinner more regularly. Remind him that, besides knowing how to feed himself well, cooking is a great way to impress a potential date. That should get his attention.

Managing Money

Thanks to the recession, knowing how to stretch a buck is more important than ever—a lesson Colorado Springs mom Nancy Erickson continues to drive home with her college-age children. “Kids need to learn to budget and avoid debt at all costs, especially in our current economic climate,” says the mom of three, who definitely practices what she preaches. Starting in high school, Nancy and her husband established clear boundaries with their kids about which expenses they as parents would cover and which ones the kids had to pay themselves—and they put it in writing!

Take a cue from the Ericksons. If your teens don’t have a bank account, make sure they open one. That way, they’ll have a safe, interest-bearing place to keep their allowance, birthday and holiday money, and earnings from a parttime job. Then help your teens add up their expenses—from the slice of pizza they grab after school to movies on the weekend to prom fees—and determine a monthly budget they can stick with.

What if they come up short? Resist the urge to bail them out. “Budgeting requires being able to delay gratification and think ahead, which are critical life skills,” says Dr. Pickhardt. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s a learning opportunity.

All photos by Shutterstock

source: www.womensday.com

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source: http://www.drpam.co.uk/home.php 09/04/2010

Spring into Action! Springs arrived and it’s the perfect time to refresh and recharge. Kick-start A better life with these spring-into-action-strategies:  

Your Career

*Watch for future-dependent happiness

At work people fall into what I call The Future-Dependent Happiness Trap. They say things like, “I’ll be happy when I get a rise,” or, “I’ll be happy when my boss notices my hard work,” or, “I’ll be happy when I find a new job.” Their happiness and job satisfaction’s bound up with some future date!

Identify ‘future-dependent happiness’ thinking – and decide how to build more happiness into your job today – even in small ways. Otherwise you stay in a negative cycle where you’re never satisfied, no matter how good a day you’ve had.

*Identify that magic ingredient you’re best at

Many stumble into a job they never planned to be permanent. They’re unsatisfied but aren’t sure what to do about it. Begin at the beginning: identify what you’re best at and what’s most rewarding. If there are any of these rewarding things available in your job then build more of them into it.

Ask your manager about ways to include more of this magic ingredient.  And if there’s none of that magic in your present job, look to retrain for a job that offers it.

*Get ahead with the boss

We get so wrapped up in our work we forget what might help our boss. Of course, practically everything we do is related to our boss’s work. But it’s wise to invest some energy into helping your boss and easing their day. They’ll appreciate it so you score points and come across as a team-player because you’re not just focusing on yourself.

*Stop doubting your abilities

Many talented/capable people doubt their abilities to do more rewarding things, or to get ahead at work often because their routine becomes dull and uninspiring. Take charge of something like a report , or meeting, and get stuck into planning it. Enjoy the challenge that’ll help reaffirm your abilities.

*Become a Yes person

Say Yes when a colleague suggests a drink or a coffee rather than crying off because of your workload. Many find work more fulfilling when they develop more fulfilling relationships with colleagues.

Your Family Life

*Identify your family script

Increase family happiness by identifying your family ‘script’ and the ‘role’ you play in that. For instance, you’re the youngest and have always been identified as “the little one” or “the baby”. A host of expectations go along with that ‘role’ like family members seeing you as needing lots of attention, etc.

Your role sticks with you for life but hold us back from satisfying family relationships. Now’s the time to identify your ‘role’ in the family ‘script’ and start behaving in ways that surpasses people’s expectations of you.

*Start delegating

Women confess to me how feeling overwhelmed means family life suffers. A big culprit for this is not delegating when they get home! They grit their teeth, get on with things when exhausted and should be delegating properly.

Make a list of chores (photocopy this) to delegate to your family. Discuss who does what and post the list on the fridge. Everyone ticks off their jobs when done. Each week put up a new copy of the list.

*Make sure everyone shines

It’s easy for the quiet or well-behaved one to get overlooked in the hurly-burly of family life. This can lead to simmering sibling rivalries. Ensure everyone has a chance to shine and feel valued even in simple ways like blowing their horn when they’ve done something thoughtful or helpful.

*Instigate family mealtimes

Families lead such frenetic lives they rarely sit down for a meal. Research shows this is destructive to family well-being. Make a point of regular family dinners – at least weekly. Everyone joins in and TV, mobiles and iPods are banned, encouraging people to listen to each other.

*Identify their positives

Make it what I call a ‘happy habit’ to tell every family member why you appreciate and love them. It’ll make all the difference to the way they feel about themselves – and you!

Your Relationships

*Recognise your ‘fallback mode’ –

All of us have a ‘fallback mode’ when stressed. So when you and your partner disagree you go into ‘fallback mode’ – the way you traditionally react. This means we lack flexibility in handling relationship hurdles.

Think through your fallback mode. For instance, when your partner’s angry do you avoid conflict, leaving the room? Or do you go into bully-mode and scream them down? Because your partner has their ‘fallback mode’ too, it’s easy to get stuck in relating to each other. The next time you disagree, resist your ‘fallback mode’, showing them a new you.

*Learn to say ‘sorry’

People repeatedly tell me they ‘wish’ they’d the courage to say sorry when wrong. Plus they wish their partner could apologise when they’re wrong. It’s difficult to say sorry – even when we’re wrong – because it makes us vulnerable. People don’t want to feel this but part of real intimacy is making yourself vulnerable.

Apologise when wrong and you’ll be amazed the difference this makes to putting a row behind you two.

*Learn active listening techniques

We’re so rushed we hardly look at our partner when speaking, let alone listen properly.  Practice ‘active listening’, giving them eye contact when they’re speaking as well as reflecting back what they say. Let’s say they complain about the lack of time you have together. Simply reflect back, “I know what you mean by our lack of time,” so they know you’ve understood them.

*Set your boundaries

I repeatedly hear complaints of a partner’s ‘bad’ behaviour. The only way to solve such behaviour on their part is to set your boundaries. Make clear what behaviour you won’t tolerate. If they, say, are late again for meeting up, then go on without them. They’ll soon learn your boundaries can’t be pushed.

*Rekindle romance

A little romance makes a big difference to your relationship. Make things sparkle with the classics: candlelit dinners, love notes and flirty e-mails, fun little gifts and loads of affection.

Your General Well-being

*Discover what makes you happy

When interviewing people for my new book I asked: what’s your most recent happy memory? Literally 99.9% answered things like: my husband surprising me with a candlelit dinner or my daughter ringing me for an unexpected chat, etc. It’s never:  buying a new hand bag! Start creating more of the things that’ll give you happy memories, today!

*Free yourself from worry

Learn to identify the little devil on your shoulder saying negative things. It says you’re not good enough, you could’ve done better, and that others are better than you, etc.

Challenge this little devil: does it help you, soothe stresses away, or make you feel better? The answer’s a resounding No! Instead develop a little angel on your shoulder. Each time you think negatively, seek guidance from that little angel that’s soothing and positive.

*Forget the big diet

Research shows you’re far more successful in shedding unwanted pounds, toning up, or getting fit if you do so step-by-step. That big new ‘celebrity’ diet, or even worse, a big ‘crash’ diet, won’t give lasting results!

Fill your cupboard with healthy foods and dump the junk foods. Walk, take stairs, and be active where ever possible, and you’ll find the weight falls off slowly but surely. Definitely make getting fitter fun by taking up a dance class, swimming, or even bowling.

*Try a new look

Studies repeatedly show that a new look can give you a real lift. Something as simple as changing your hairstyle or shade, getting a new make-up look from the make-up counter at a department store, or wearing a new shade of clothing can make you feel different. Throw away your ‘colour and style habits’ and have the courage to experiment a little!

*Get an anthem

Choose a song that fills you with happiness, strength, and a “I can face the world” feeling. Make this your personal anthem and play it when you need a lift.

A similar article was published in the Express Newspaper

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10 ways to create a loving and supportive home environment

By Crystal Tate Posted August 26, 2009 from WomansDay.com

 With busy work schedules, kids’ activities and infinite to-do lists, it can be hard to actually connect with your family on a regular basis. As a result, your family’s relationship could ultimately suffer. We spoke with Scott Haltzman, MD, author of The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight Keys to Building a Lifetime of Connection and Contentment, to find out how to grow closer—and happier—with your family.

1. Always acknowledge your family members. “One of the primary needs for an individual is feeling connected,” says Dr. Haltzman. It could be as simple as greeting everyone at the door when he or she walks in the house, or asking your daughter how her day was.

2. Sit down for dinner. Studies have shown that families that sit down for dinner together are less likely to have kids develop juvenile delinquency. Also, their children use fewer drugs and are more likely to finish school. Sitting down for dinner will also help build a sense of family strength and identity.

3. Engage in acts of generosity toward others. As a family, determine who needs the most help in your community, then decide to work together at a local food pantry or offer to assist an elderly neighbor. This is also an important lesson for kids, that it’s not always about them.

4. Schedule a family day. The only rule is that you must turn off TVs, cell phones, computers and any other electronics for 24 hours. Use this day to go camping, swimming or have a picnic in your backyard. This will help emphasize to your family that you’re connected to one another, not things.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Set a regular time to sit down together as family so you can talk about things that need to get done as well as address any issues that one of you may be having. This reinforces that a family has to work together in a proactive way to solve problems. Also, this will help kids grow into mature adults.

6. Be involved in a religious community. Families who regularly go to church or participate in religious activities usually have a better sense of purpose and meaning. They are also usually better able to resist negative influences.

7. Let the kids take the lead. Children often like to be heard, so it’s a good idea to sometimes let the kids decide what the family is doing for the weekend. It allows kids to be decision makers and learn their boundaries.

8. Make a commitment to work together. All families experience setbacks along the way. Despite any problems or issues your family may encounter, it’s important to turn a “give-up” mentality into a “we-will-work-it-out” one. Remember, your family is a team.

9. Take care of physical health. If you eat junk food and never exercise, your kids will likely follow in your footsteps. Enforce proper nutrition in kids by eating healthy, and consider exercising together as a family. Also, encourage your kids to wear helmets when bike-riding and seat belts while riding in the car. You want to serve as a role model to your family when it comes to taking care of their well-being.

10. Accept family members for who they are. Family members aren’t going to be carbon copies of one another. Sometimes you have to step out of your own perspective and look at another person’s point of view. Always keep your values in mind, but be open-minded enough to try to see things the way others see them.

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