If you haven’t heard of Dr. Brene Brown that likely means that you are not a psycho therapist. She has become a ROCK STAR in profession therapy circles and I have become an ABSOLUTE Brene Brown JUNKIE!! I have read and re-read every book she has written; listened and re-listened to those same books; high-lighted, outlined and committed to memory her main premises because her research findings are revolutionary and understanding and then applying them holds the key to what she would term a “whole hearted” life.
What exactly does Dr. Brown study, you might ask. Promise yourself that you won’t lose interest and stop reading when I tell you because as unappealing as the main emphasis of her research might seem on the surface, it is essential to understanding how to develop, among other things, a sense of worthiness, the ability to feel loved and the experience of feeling that we have a place where we belong in this big bad world.
Dr. Brown studies SHAME, which is, as she puts it is “the thing that gets in the way of our sense of worthiness.” Shame is defined as, “The belief that we are not enough,” that we are somehow flawed, imperfect, less than, don’t measure up, inherently bad, that we are a mistake. We use all kinds of ineffective and downright damaging tactics to try to avoid feeling shame such as trying to be perfect so that we can avoid the judgement of others; numbing our feelings through any of a number of methods including, but not limited to, drugs, alcohol, food, television, social media, work (anything that will allow us, for a time, to escape from uncomfortable emotions); and, of all things, attempting to protect ourselves from feelings of loss by what Dr. Brown calls “foreboding joy” which is an ineffective tactic designed to diminish the experience of loss by not fully embracing the joyful moments that life has to offer – the thinking being that if we don’t fully embrace some aspect of our lives, when it’s gone, we haven’t lost anything because we had nothing to lose.
As this school year wraps up, most students and parents will eagerly, or for some anxiously, wait for report cards. Progress in reading, math, writing, physical education and perhaps, depending on your district or structure of your school, aspects of learning such as ‘motivation’ or ‘character’ will be indicated somewhere on the document. However, do you know how your child is functioning regarding social skills? Does it really matter?
Research in education today signals a resounding yes. In generations past, children acquired these skills almost exclusively at home and within their families. With increasing negative societal influences and various sources of stress bombarding so many of us, it’s hard for parents to go it alone. Schools can often be an important partner with parents to provide positive social skills development. Yet, what can you do if your child doesn’t seem to be interacting socially in age appropriate ways?
I wanted to switch things up a bit and put out an article about a medical/social issue by guest blogger April Young Bennett of Voices for Utah Children. Today’s topic? A case for vaccinate your child. Read on to learn more about this important issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet on June 24 to consider adding Meningitis B vaccine to the list of recommended youth vaccinations. This disease kills 10-15% of the people infected, and other victims may suffer serious consequences, such as the loss of limbs, nervous system problems, deafness, brain damage and seizures or strokes. Widespread vaccination could prevent outbreaks like the recent outbreak at the University of Oregon (UO) where a student died and six other contracted the disease. Similar outbreaks have taken place at other campuses, such as Ohio University and Princeton. A positive recommendation for youth vaccinations for Meningitis would mean that insurance companies not already covering it will be more likely to do so. This is excellent news!
Widespread vaccination campaigns have a proven track record for preventing deadly disease. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization made an exciting announcement: Rubella, a disease that causes miscarriages and severe birth defects, has been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere thanks to immunization. Similar success was achieved in at eliminating smallpox from the Americas in 1971 and polio in 1994.
Believing positives about yourself when you feel crummy can be difficult and sometimes feels impossible. This is especially true for teens suffering from Anxiety or Depressive Disorders. Often times, teens, like adults, get stuck repeating or focusing on negative aspects or assumptions about them selves, and are resistant to looking for a more balanced or kind perspective. This constant self-criticism not only amplifies negative mood and behavior, but also makes it more difficult to see those positives that actually exist. To help counteract the negative self bias I hear from many teens I work with, I ask them to develop a “Positives List.”
Unfortunately for most, simply writing down positives is not a big enough step to actually believing those positives. The key step to making this process work is in writing a detailed account (1-2 paragraphs) about when, in the past, they actually demonstrated that quality or characteristic. I usually have them write 2 examples, but sometimes one is enough. When appropriate I also have them add when and how it impacted others or their environment positively. This process requires that they begin to search for actual memories to back up the positive they have listed, rather than just stoping with a word bank. Since the event has already occurred it is easier for the positive qualities to be substantiated.
Even the most confident of parents often feel uncomfortable with the prospect of talking to their children about sex. Most understand that if we fail to talk about it, they will learn about it from media and peers, and that it is our responsibility to do so to ensure that they have accurate information.But still, it’s not an easy conversation to have! And even for those who are brave enough to do so, how can we best help our kids not only know the facts, but also have a healthy attitude toward their bodies and understand sex in a way that will benefit them? Here are 5 ways to be a sex-positive parent:
1) Realize It Begins At Birth
Many parents wonder what is the appropriate age to begin talking about sex. But the truth is that positive attitudes about bodies and sexuality begin from the very beginning. When children are young, don’t be afraid to verbally celebrate and affirm the importance of their bodies. Even during toilet training, take the opportunity to help them notice how wonderful and useful their bodies can be. Kids absorb the messages you send in your tone of your voice and by how you respond to their actions.
Specific forms of therapy have proven to be very effective for those who struggle with any extreme eating patterns. You know the drill: the holidays hit, we overeat or eat all the nutritionally weak foods, then resolve, usually in January, to stop all sugar intake or eliminate total food groups like “carbs”. We’re disciplined for 2 or 3 weeks then our body feels deprived and we do a complete 180. Does this feel like banging your head against a wall? It does to me!
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers 4 techniques to find balance in eating.:
1) Sequence NOT Elimintation. The order in which we eat foods does make a difference. Try to eat nutritionally dense foods FIRST, but don’t eliminate food groups altogether. Eliminating ALL SUGAR or ALL CARBS leave us feeling deprived and the psychology behind that process increases our desire for something. Often nutritionists recommend eating lean protein first because as it is more filling, then vegetables/fruits, then grains, then desert. One client I worked with 5 years ago lost 50 pounds just be adopting this technique. She lost her strong desire for sugary deserts over time because she didn’t feel deprived of them (she could have them if she wanted them….just after the healthy stuff). She set herself up to succeed not fail. It took 6 months, and by then it was a lifestyle for her,. Today, 5 years later, she still wears the same jeans.
2) Measure progress with Feelings not Numbers. Rather than weighing yourself everyday, try tapping into how you feel at the beginning of each day. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel fatigue? My guess is over time, after eating healthier, you will wake up feeling energized, more relaxed about food having a sense of control over your health. Scales increase anxiety whether you have lost or gained weight. If you are down, you become more anxious increasing worry about maintaining that weight; more rigid in food choices, and ultimately set yourself up to buckle under pressure.
3) Start and end your day with Breathing Techniques. Ideally, a trained therapist can teach you these skills, called “mindfulness skills”. DBT offers one skill called 4 Square Breathing which leads to balanced food choices throughout the day and relaxation at night.
4) Stay in thePresent Moment. When you make unhealthy choices, don’t dwell on it day after day or even hour after hour. Stay present and start making heathier decisions now. Beating ourselves up about poor eating habits only lead to extreme cycles once again. Stop the head banging once and for all! Personally, I eat chocolate cake to prevent binging! To learn more about mindful eating contact our office about enrolling in a 6 week DBT course.
Schools today operate with high academic standards. As early as kindergarten, teachers, administrators and parents want to measure students’ performance in order to monitor the rate of learning and make changes as early as possible. Current research supports that this practice, when practiced with fidelity, can lead to creating the most effective learning environment for the majority of students involved. For students participating in this system who fall below the average academically, or who may exhibit problem behaviors or social immaturity, grade retention – also known as ‘failing, holding back, not promoting, or having the student repeat the same grade in the next school year’ – continues to be a practice in our public schools. The logic goes something along the lines of: Sally didn’t do well in the 3rd grade this year, so let’s send through another time, and maybe this time she’ll get it right.
Being a good parent requires a tremendous amount of time, love, and energy, but what happens when a well-meaning mom or dad becomes too enmeshed in their children’s lives? Over-involvement can unknowingly do damage to kids, who then become responsible for their parents’ well-being and happiness. On the other hand, parents who can draw a separation between themselves and their children are emotionally healthier and are actually able to give more to their families.
LCSW Julie Hanks recently discussed this topic on KSL’s Studio 5. Below are some questions she suggested to ask yourself to determine whether or not your kids define you (along with some strategies to help you reclaim yourself if you find that you’ve taken on a little too much):
I have noticed that most parents try their best to teach their children to succeed. Of course we do! All parents want their children to grow into successful happy adults. No parent wants his or her child to suffer or be unhappy. Fortunately, life will always bring struggles and hardship no matter how much we love or prepare our children. Yes, I said fortunately.
When we don’t allow ourselves as parents to struggle, our kids never watch it or learn how to do it themselves. Children can develop the belief that everything has to be okay all the time. “Mom and Dad always have it together, so I should too.” That is an expectation that will surely be met with disappointment and failure. Here are some ways you can help your children expect struggles and embrace them.
Let’s face it: young children lie. They make up stories and often exaggerate what really happened. So how can we encourage honesty in our kids?
LCSW Holly Willard gives us some insight on this topic. She says the age of the child matters. A 3-year-old doesn’t developmentally understand what it means to lie, so this is innocence and we don’t really have to worry about it. When a child is 5-6, his/her mind goes back and forth between fantasy and reality, so we can try to help him/her understand what is real and what is not. By 7-8, it’s time to hold our kids accountable for telling the truth.