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Misbehavior – A Form of Communication

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When a child misbehaves or exhibits behavior that becomes problematic, their behavior is telling you something, but what?
A child that misbehaves is trying to communicate that they have an unmet need, but how do parents determine what that need is?
Parents can look for clues that might tell them how the child is feeling. When parents figure out what is wrong or missing, they can then follow to assist the child to take care of themselves.
What are some of the reasons that a child might misbehave?
  • They may be hungry, tired, ill or bored.
  • They might not know or understand what is expected of them.
  • They might be held to expectations that are beyond their developmental level.
  • They may have experienced trauma or abuse.
  • They may be copying the bad behavior or their parents or someone else.
  • They may be trying to cover up feelings of pain, fear or loneliness.
  • They may be experiencing feelings that are overwhelming to them.
  • They may feel bad about themselves.
  • They may be experiencing bullying.
  • They may be experiencing dietary issues.
  • They may be trying to get attention from others.
  • They may be testing whether parents will set limits, boundaries and enforce rules.
  • They may be asserting themselves and seeking to be independent.
They may have an untreated disorder such as:
  • Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • General anxiety disorder.
  • Sensory processing disorder
It is important to remember that misbehavior does not mean that a child is “bad.” They should never be labeled as such. There is a difference between a child’s character and how they behave. What a child does is not who they are.
Maybe you’re frustrated and having difficulty determining why your child is misbehaving. Maybe you have an idea of why your child is misbehaving but don’t know how to approach the issue. Maybe you’re wondering if your child has an untreated disorder. If so, call us at Wasatch Family Therapy (801.944.4555) to schedule an appointment for a parent consultation with one of our trained providers. Mental health is just as important as physical health to a child’s well being.
Sue Hodges, LCSW

 

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Let’s Put the Phone Away and Talk!

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It seems that teens are tethered to their phones and they are reliant on them to help them navigate the world. As parents, we look back and wonder how in the world the kids of today would have survived without the buffer of social media. Would they be able to function if they had to speak face-to-face and have regular interpersonal communications without the crutch of a phone, ipad, or computer? Modern teens have grown up in a world where the technological advances of phones and other devices is constantly evolving. Phones and computers are made more intuitive to anticipate the user’s next move, and there seems to be an app for everything. The world is at our fingertips, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year. However, with all of these advances in communication, parents and teens still complain that they don’t communicate or understand one another. Why?

Parents say that kids today just don’t know how to carry on conversations or talk to one another without a phone in their hand, and even then, they don’t talk. Look around next time you are somewhere that has a mix of both teens and adults and observe what you see. Is it just the teens on their phones, or are the parents on theirs too? Guess what parents? We are part of the problem! We are using our electronic devices to avoid in-person communication, too. It’s a lot easier to sit and scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or watch a funny video or a Snap than it is to carry on a conversation with an acquaintance.We have become device dependent., and our kids are learning by watching us.

“But, I need to just check this email from work really quick!”

“But, I need to send off this text really quick before I forget.”

“But, I’m using social media to communicate with my kids.”

Obviously, these are all good reasons to use our devices. Life in our world relies on technology, but what is it costing us in our relationships? How can we strengthen relationships and communication with teens in the environment of social media?

Turn It Off

Actively unplug, take the devices off the table, literally, if even for just a few minutes. Eat a meal together, take a walk, hike your favorite trail, anything that enables conversations to happen organically. Giving your child your undivided attention lets them know that they are a priority to you.

Create Opportunities For Connection

Make space for a conversation to happen. Teens are faced with a lot of internal and external pressures, so they need a safe space, emotionally and physically, to vent their stress and frustrations. Teens are learning to self-regulate their feelings and parental support can bolster their efforts by validating what they are feeling.

Listen To Your Children

Don’t just hear them, but really listen to them. Sounds easy right? We are surrounded by sounds, but how often do we really listen? Listening takes practice; it is a skill. We often want to “fix” the problem, but often times advice isn’t the answer. They aren’t asking for the solution, they are asking for us to listen to their struggles. They are asking us to see them as capable of finding their own solutions and supporting them in trying.

So, let’s all put our phones away for a while and talk!

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Couples Say The Darndest Things

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Couples therapy can be both extremely challenging and extremely rewarding for those who participate. In therapy, there is nothing more powerful than seeing a couple re-kindle their trust and affection. On the flip side, there is nothing more vicious than a couple’s diabolical pattern of criticism and contempt.
Here is an article I wrote about some of the poignant things couples have said in couples counseling:
https://understandingtherapy.com/2017/05/04/couples-say-the-darndest-things/#more-1079
To schedule a session with Michael Morgan, call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555

 

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Are You Even Listening to a Word I Say?

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Have you ever been talking to someone and you are absolutely convinced that he/she isn’t hearing a word you are saying? Chances are you are right! Research has shown that the average person listens for 3 seconds before they start thinking about what he/she wants to say next. Researchers Miller, Sherod, and Phyllis developed a powerful communication tool called the Awareness Wheel, which includes a listening cycle. They outline very effective research based skills for listening:

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How Expressing Difference Brings Connection

How Expressing Difference Brings Connection

The concept of assertiveness is one of my favorite topics, and I’m excited to share  some of the key points from my new book “The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships.”

What is assertiveness exactly? Contrary to what some may think, it’s not being pushy, rude, or aggressive. In the book, I define assertiveness as the ability to reflect on one’s past and present experiences, manage one’s difficult emotions, and clearly express oneself while also being open to someone else’s perspective (that’s quite a definition, right!). Some women may fear or shy away from assertiveness because they think it will threaten their relationships, but practicing it is actually the only way to get your needs met while also maintaining a closeness with others.

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Women’s Workshop with Dr. Julie Hanks July 26

Women’s Workshop with Dr. Julie Hanks July 26

Grab a friend and join me for this rare one-day workshop for LDS women in Salt Lake City this summer. Don’t wait! Early-bird tickets on sale (Save $50). Seating is limited. Purchase tickets and get details below:

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Tips on Rekindling Your Relationship

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http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/date-your-mate-month-tips-on-rekindling-your-relationship

Click on the link above to see what Family Therapist Clair Mellenthin LCSW has to say about rekindling the spark in a relationship.

Clair says, “It is easy to fall into a status quo in relationships and to become stagnant but comfortable.” If this sounds like you, don’t worry, Clair has 5 Ways to Rekindle Your Relationship.

5 Ways to Rekindle Your Relationship:

  1. Surprise your partner with a sticky note every day this month with a short 1 sentence note (I love you! You are hot! etc.).
  2. Make sure to start the day and end the day with an embrace. a hug goes a long way even on the “off ” days.
  3. Schedule 5 minutes each night to sit together without TV and ask about how your partner’s day was.
  4. Initiate intimacy- especially if you are the one who typically doesn’t start it.
  5. Say thanks for the little things. make an effort every day to find something you can say thank you to your partner.

Head on over to WasatchFamilyTherapy.com, Clairmellenthin.com or call 801-944-4555 to make an appointment with Clair.

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It’s Not About the Nail… Or Is It?

By now you’ve probably seen Jason Headley’s parody on marital communication called, “It’s not about the nail.” [If not, let’s catch you up to speed…]

 

As comical as the sketch is, let’s be honest… there’s a lot of truth to it!

As a therapist who works with couples struggling to communicate, here are three recommendations for each partner in the relationship.
For the speaker:

  1. Request a specific time to talk 
    There’s nothing like trying to have a conversation when one or both parties are distracted by work, their phone, or a child. Instead, make important conversations a priority by intentionally setting aside time.
    Honey, do you have a minute later to talk about _____ after dinner? 
  2.  Explicitly ask for what you need
    Sometimes part of the problem is that we don’t know what we need. Stating this at the beginning of a conversation, or providing our partner with suggestions sets them up to succeed at meeting our needs in the conversation.
    “Sweetheart, I’m really struggling with _____. Would you mind just listening for a minute.
  3.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say
    Your partner is not a mind-reader. “But wait. If he/she really loves me, shouldn’t they just know to ______?” Maybe, but if they aren’t getting it by now and it’s creating a problem for you, it’s in your best interest to bring it up.For the listener:
  4. Actively listen
    Be mindful of your body language.  Do your best to help your partner know and feel that you are engaged in the conversation. As you listen, make sure your focus is on understanding your partners message, and not your response or rebuttal.
  5. Reflect back what you heard
    Often, the process of just listening to your partner’s message/issue can lead to a resolution quicker than providing a solution. Reflecting back their message not only helps make sure you understand it correctly, but it also helps them know you get it, and feel understood.
    So if I understand you correctly, you feel ______. Did I get that right?
  6. Empathize & Validate
    This is crucial. The most effective communicators are able to empathize and validate their partner’s perspective, even when they disagree. Showing empathy and validating emotions is one of the quickest ways to diffuse an emotionally charged conversation.
    You know, I hate feeling criticized and attacked too. So when you tell me that that is how you feel, I can totally understand why you’re so upset.”In conclusion, it may or may not really be “about the nail,” but when it comes to relationships, there’s no question that improving your communication is the right choice, every time.
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10 Sure-Fire Ways to Have Awful Sex

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Have Awful Sex

1) Worry about how sex will go, A LOT!

Anxiety actually works to suppress the spinal reflex that triggers arousal. So, if you want to have a hard time maintaining an erection or lubricating, get really worked up and anxious.

2) Don’t communicate with your partner about what you like sexually

If you want sex to be unpleasurable, do not tell your partner what kinds of touch you like and where. Keep those secrets locked in a vault and keep your partner guessing. Sex will become an experience you need to white-knuckle.

3) Obsess about the physical flaws you think you have.

A good way to make sex horrible is to get into your head, and out of your body. If you overthink how you look, it will go bad. Some research indicates that sex is more pleasurable when you view your own body as sexy. So whatever you do, don’t focus on your physical strengths.

4) Obsess about the physical flaws you think your partner has.

Make sure you focus on the parts of your partner’s body you wish were different. If you really want to go for the gold, consume a lot of media and pornography that has unreasonable expectations about body types of a sex partner that reflect a minute percentage of the population.

5) Say YES when you really mean NO

One of the best ways to make sex suck is to make it confusing. Have horrible boundaries and say yes when you really mean no, then you can make sure you are your partner are never on the same page.

6) Never or always initiate sex.

An important part of good sex is for both partners to feel wanted. In order to make it awful, make sure the patterns around initiation get super lopsided. You can make sure to increase feelings of insecurity and resentment.

7) Don’t brush your teeth.

You may not know, but smell, memory, and emotion are closely connected in the brain. Since sex is such an emotional experience and your partner is cued into their senses, you could try to make them feel icky by smelling Disgust is the exact feeling you want your partner to have during sex.

8) Have sex in an environment where your children and pets can interrupt at any moment.

If you want to make sex awful, certainly don’t focus on making it great. Don’t focus at all for that matter. Put yourself in a really distracting environment so you have a hard time focusing on the sensations and emotions you feel. Environments with many interruptions are ideal.

9) Try to read your partner’s mind during sex.

What ever you do, don’t ask your partner how they actually think and feel about your sex together. Make as many assumptions as you possibly can. This way, you can assure you have no idea how they experience you during sex, which means you will likely be missing the mark when it comes to meeting their sexual desires.

10) Don’t take care of your health

Try and be as unhealthy as possible. You don’t want to be in good physical shape in order to make a physical encounter like sex awful. You need to be in the worst shape possible. Make it really hard to maneuver and keep your stamina. An added bonus is that increased weight gain jeopardizes one’s ability to maintain an erection. In fact, most erectile dysfunction is due to weight gain limiting circulation, not mature age.

Schedule a couples therapy session with Kathleen

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Assertiveness Guide for Women Book Review on NewSocialWorker.com

Assertiveness Guide for WomenBased on both clinical wisdom from working with women and from her own experiences, Dr. de Azevedo Hanks invites women to embark on a journey to create a stronger sense of clarity, confidence, connection, and compassion by increasing their assertiveness in the areas of their lives that matter most. This book is useful to any woman who desires to increase her assertiveness and is a good tool for clinicians to use when addressing issues of connection, gender, attachment, and assertiveness. This wonderful guide is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be more assertive.

Reviewed by Beth Russell, Ph.D., LCSW, Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work, The College at Brockport for New Social Worker

Read the entire book review here

Download free book chapter of The Assertiveness Guide for Women

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