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When Family Time Goes Wrong

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I realized after I wrote the title that it sounds like one of those Fox specials (“When Animals Attack!”).  But I’m sticking with it because sometimes family time can feel just that scary.

Okay, maybe not that scary.  But I know for myself that sometimes I feel a little anxious before embarking on a family excursion, especially one with more ambition (you drive farther, you pay higher admission prices, you up the ante because today is going to be SO MUCH FUN!)

And then it’s not.  But maybe it can be salvaged.  Here are some thoughts on how.

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.

How To Deal with the Narcissist in Your Life

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

In  my previous post, I talked about how to identify the narcissist in your life.  Now it seems only fitting to offer suggestions of how to deal with them.

A caveat: Every suggestion will not apply to every situation.  For example, if it’s your child, you can’t necessarily threaten to end the relationship.  When it’s your spouse with whom you share children, you might also feel more limited than if, say, it’s someone you’re more casually dating.  But hopefully, there will be a little something for everyone.

Is My Loved One a Narcissist?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Lately, it feels like I’ve been encountering a lot of narcissism in my professional and personal life.  I’ll be posting a blog on how to deal with narcissists separately, but first, you’ve got to know what (and who) you’re dealing with.

Narcissism, as defined clinically, is different from self-aborption/self-centeredness.  I’ll give you a handy guide on how to spot the narcissists in your life (and in Saturday’s blog, tell you what to do about it.)

Finding Balance

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

jugglingThis feels like an especially relevant topic for me at the moment.  I haven’t written this blog for over a week because I just plum forgot.  Life got away from me.  In trying to juggle so many roles (mother, therapist, writer, wife, blogger…), sometimes things just drop.  I imagine some of you reading feel similarly.

So I offer the following tips with full recognition of just how hard it is to do them.  You know the old saying: Those who can’t do, write mental health blogs.

But maybe they can help you perform your juggling act a bit better.

Five Reasons You Might Be Sweating the Small Stuff

Monday, February 24th, 2014

spotSometimes you find yourself reacting strongly to relatively minor events.  It happens to everyone.  But if it’s happening to you with more regularity, there could be something more behind it.

Here are some potential culprits:

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 …

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.

What’s the State of YOUR Union?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

surveyMany of us take our primary relationships for granted.  But every now and again, it’s time to assess just how we’re doing as friends, lovers, co-parents, and all-around partners.  Here’s a quick check-up/check-in that you can do on your own, or even better, with your partner.  That way, you can see how your answers (and your experiences) match up.

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:


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