Psych Central

Attachment Articles

Preparing for a Crisis

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

breezeI know this might sound oxymoronic: If a crisis is sudden, how can we prepare?

There are ways to strengthen yourself and your relationships so that you (and they) will bear up better under the strain of a crisis.  Here are some ideas on how to increase your resilience.

Couples Counseling in the Eleventh Hour

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

There are a lot of reasons couples might procrastinate about entering therapy.  It might feel shameful, like an admission they can’t do it on their own.  They might be afraid of what will come out in the room, and more comfortable maintaining some level of denial about just how distressed their relationship is.  They might feel overloaded and overwhelmed with all they have to do in their week, between jobs and kids and other commitments.

They might also hold the belief that if things get really bad, they can just do therapy then.  They might as well wait, they reason.  What difference could it make?

A lot.  And here’s why.

Accepting Your Child, As Is

Friday, March 7th, 2014

readingIt’s not an easy proposition.  An essential parenting duty is to teach, and to facilitate growth.  That involves change.  But sometimes, we might find ourselves trying to mold instead, and we might also find our kids fighting back.

What’s the difference between molding and teaching?  And what does it mean to truly  accept your child?  

5 Rituals to Strengthen Your Marriage

Friday, February 28th, 2014

kissI’m a big believer in the power of ritual.  When you do something over and over, you start to anticipate the feelings you’ll have.  So when it comes to our relationships, it’s important to have rituals that make us feel emotionally connected.  Perhaps even more importantly, they create the expectation of being emotionally connected, which is half the battle.

So here goes:

5 Common Mistakes in Parenting Your Toddler

Monday, February 17th, 2014

toysThis post was inspired by the fact that yesterday, I made at least three of them.  Just because we know better doesn’t mean we always do better.

But awareness is where better starts.  So here we go:

1)  Doing too much for your toddler.

What I mean is, doing what they should be learning to do for themselves.  An example would be picking up their toys for them as they flounce on to the next thing, instead of insisting  that every time, they clean up first.

I’m guilty of this one sometimes.  It just seems like too much work to make her do it, and she seems so happy and excited about the next thing.  What’s the harm ,really?

2)  The harm is the inconsistency.  We’re teaching our kids all the time, even when we don’t realize it.

Behavior modification is a regular part of life.  We’re teaching children how to treat us and others by what we pay attention to and what we ignore.

A basic rule of behavior modification is this: Behaviors that are intermittently reinforced are the most resistant to change.  What that means is, if I tell my daughter to do something and I let her ignore me 20% of the time, then she might try to get away with it 100% of the time.  She’s learning that it works sometimes, so why not try her luck?  This could be one of those times.

That’s why it is important to have her put her toys away 100% of the time.  It’s the rule; she has to follow it, even if I feel tired.  Because I don’t want her to learn that when Mommy’s tired, she can just do whatever she wants.

And always remember, they’re smart cookies, these toddlers.  Like I said, learning all the time, just not necessarily what we’re trying to teach.

3)  Using redirection all the time, and avoiding a simple “no.”

It’s hard to say no to your toddler.  For one thing, they often don’t take it well (tantrums and the like).  For another, we like to see our kids happy, and “no” is not likely to produce that …

This Valentine’s Day: Compromise with the One You Love

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

glovesWhen you first meet someone, compromise is effortless.  It’s a six week (or maybe three month) Vulcan mind meld.  But fast forward a few years, you’re living together, maybe  you’re married, and you realize that compromise might not be romantic, but it is necessary.

So in honor of this day of love, I figured I’d offer some tips on the art and science of compromise.

1)  Accept that compromise is a healthy part of relationships.

Some people think that disagreement is, by its nature, problematic.  I think that being with someone who often has differences of opinion can be invigorating.  Things don’t get stale when they stay surprising.

But if you are very different from your partner–even if you started out similar and then grew to be different–then you’ve got some work to do.  Having a positive view about doing that work, recognizing its potential rewards,  can help a lot.

2)  Do it together.

As in, one person should not be giving in all the time.  That is not compromise.  And if you find that you’re the one always giving in, it’s likely to breed resentment over time.

So it’s important that both parties recognize the value of compromise and negotiation, and that it is a joint undertaking.  Verbalize this: “We really need to work on how we settle disagreements.  We need to get better at compromising.”

3)  If the word “negotiation” strikes fear into your heart, you might need to work on your own assertiveness skills first.

Some people grew up in houses where disagreements meant conflict, and there were no negotiations.  Or maybe “negotiation” meant outright war.  Or “negotiation” conjures thoughts of asking your boss for a raise.

But negotiation is a key part of how to reach compromise.  It involves knowing yourself and why you value the things that you do.

4)  Once you know what you want and why  you want it, articulate that in a way that’s respectful of your partner.

Yes, I’m talking about I-statements.  It may seem cliched, but they are important.  They’re a way of owning your own feelings and not putting them onto the other person in a blaming way.

And …

How to Help Your Troubled Teen

Monday, February 10th, 2014

tableMany parents can see their teens floundering, but aren’t sure what to do about it.  They might overdo and become intrusive (which causes their children to want to push them away) or underdo (not say anything and just hope the problem goes away.)

I’ve got some suggestions about how to walk the middle ground and emotionally connect with your teenager.

Parenting: Making the Most of the Mundane

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

highchairWhen I was trying to get pregnant, I saw happy parents and children everywhere.  I saw what I most wanted for myself.

Now that I am a parent, I notice how stressed parents of young children often seem.  And I know myself just how demanding (and frankly, tedious) parenting can feel.  There’s so much to get done, and it leaves much less time for what I imagined the rewards to be.

So what if the mundane tasks can be made more rewarding?  What if instead of waiting for the good stuff, those tasks can become the good stuff?

How to Defuse Your Partner’s Defensiveness

Monday, January 20th, 2014

coupleWhen people feel they’re being attacked, their natural stance is to defend.  But what if your partner finds any feedback or criticism to be an attack?  How do you communicate?  Here are some tips:

When You’re NOT the Parent You Want to Be

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

tantrumI received this e-mail in response to my recent post, The Parent I Want to Be:

“What about when you know you’re not the parent you want to be, but you just can’t seem to do anything about it?  I have a teenage daughter and despite all my good intentions, I just keep getting sucked into doing the same old things that never work.  Any thoughts?”


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