Friday, December 28, 2012

50 New Years Resolution Ideas

Many of us look at the new year as a reset button and that is a great way to look at it. There is ALWAYS a way to improve your life. If you want a better life it is about making a bunch of tiny steps in the right direction. Below I have written a list of ideas on what you can do to head your self in the right direction! Remember there is ALWAYS hope.

1. Have a cleaner house.
2. Take steps to get more organized.
3. Go to school.
4. Work out more.
5. Spend more time with your kids.
6. Repair a broken relationship.
7. Go to counseling.
8. Work harder on your marriage.
9. Look for a career you can be passionate about.
10. Get a pet.
11. Quit smoking.
12. Quit drinking.
13. Quit doing self destructive things to yourself.
14. Invest in healthy friendships.
15. Socialize more.
16. Go to church.
17. Start a new hobby.
18. Tell people you care about them more often.
19. Join a group or a club.
20. Volunteer.
21. Deal with your past traumas.
22. Be friendlier.
23. Get out of your comfort zone more often.
24. Write a bucket list and do it!
25. Find someone to help.
26. Take better care of your health.
27. Take better care of your car.
28. Face a fear.
29. Get in touch with a long lost friend.
30. Allow yourself to show your emotions to a trusted friend.
31. Do something that you would be proud of.
32. Quit procrastinating.
33. Work on improving your self esteem.
34. Decrease your depression.
35. Decrease your anxiety.
36. Get your anger under control.
37. Learn how to cook.
38. Drink more water.
39. Get toxic people out of your life.
40. Eat healthier.
41. Read more.
42. Follow a budget.
43. Donate money to a good cause.
44. Read more to your kids.
45. Pay down debt.
46. Listen to more music.
47. Find a student to mentor.
48. Give more compliments.
49. Recycle more.
50. Laugh more often.

Make sure you tell someone what your news resolution is so they help hold you accountable!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Connecticut School Shooting

I want to start by letting you know I am intimidated to write on the subject of the Connecticut school shooting because I know there is a tremendous amount of emotions tied to this event. The act in and of itself is heart breaking and horrendous. All over the country people are afraid to send their children to school. I myself was nervous walking into the high school this week for a session with a teen. I think people can wrap their heads around teens shooting teens out of revenge even though it is still horrible, but an adult shooting school children is a whole other level that sends terror down many of our spines.

I would like to make a very important point. The news had indicated that this shooter may have had Aspergers. Any one reading this: do not generalize your fear from this situation onto all people with an Autism diagnosis. Just because someone has this same diagnosis does not mean they are dangerous. 

A diagnosis isn't a reason to be afraid of people. People can manage a diagnosis well and you would never know they even have it.  It is more important to look at symptoms. Warning signs that some one needs help includes:

  • a social person becoming very anti social
  • suddenly losing interest in loved activities
  • talk of hurting self or others
  • sleeping excessively
  • often angry 
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • a person who is bullied a lot
  • a person who does a lot of bullying
  • cutting self
  • running away from home
  • outbursts of violent or rebellious behavior
  • break down of home life

If people have symptoms on this list it does mean they are necessarily going to shoot up a school, but it does mean they could benefit from counseling and they are in an at risk position. Counseling can do a huge amount of preventative work in preventing harm to self or others. Therapy can reduce depression on average by 85%. If you know some one who you feel is at risk please get them in to see someone.

If you are interested in finding a way to help the people in Connecticut follow this link:

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Courtesy of the Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

  1. Get up 15 minutes earlier
  2. Prepare for the morning the night before
  3. Avoid tight fitting clothes
  4. Avoid relying on chemical aids
  5. Set appointments ahead
  6. Don't rely on your memory ... write it down
  7. Practice preventive maintenance
  8. Make duplicate keys
  9. Say "no" more often
  10. Set priorities in your life
  11. Avoid negative people
  12. Use time wisely
  13. Simplify meal times
  14. Always make copies of important papers
  15. Anticipate your needs
  16. Repair anything that doesn't work properly
  17. Ask for help with the jobs you dislike
  18. Break large tasks into bite size portions
  19. Look at problems as challenges
  20. Look at challenges differently
  21. Unclutter your life
  22. Smile
  23. Be prepared for rain
  24. Tickle a baby
  25. Pet a friendly dog/cat
  26. Don't know all the answers
  27. Look for a silver lining
  28. Say something nice to someone
  29. Teach a kid to fly a kite
  30. Walk in the rain
  31. Schedule play time into every day
  32. Take a bubble bath
  33. Be aware of the decisions you make
  34. Believe in yourself
  35. Stop saying negative things to yourself
  36. Visualize yourself winning
  37. Develop your sense of humor
  38. Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today
  39. Have goals for yourself
  40. Dance a jig
  41. Say "hello" to a stranger
  42. Ask a friend for a hug
  43. Look up at the stars
  44. Practice breathing slowly
  45. Learn to whistle a tune
  46. Read a poem
  47. Listen to a symphony
  48. Watch a ballet
  49. Read a story curled up in bed
  50. Do a brand new thing
  51. Stop a bad habit
  52. Buy yourself a flower
  53. Take time to smell the flowers
  54. Find support from others
  55. Ask someone to be your "vent-partner"
  56. Do it today
  57. Work at being cheerful and optimistic
  58. Put safety first
  59. Do everything in moderation
  60. Pay attention to your appearance
  61. Strive for Excellence NOT perfection
  62. Stretch your limits a little each day
  63. Look at a work of art
  64. Hum a jingle
  65. Maintain your weight
  66. Plant a tree
  67. Feed the birds
  68. Practice grace under pressure
  69. Stand up and stretch
  70. Always have a plan "B"
  71. Learn a new doodle
  72. Memorize a joke
  73. Be responsible for your feelings
  74. Learn to meet your own needs
  75. Become a better listener
  76. Know your limitations and let others know them, too
  77. Tell someone to have a good day in pig Latin
  78. Throw a paper airplane
  79. Exercise every day
  80. Learn the words to a new song
  81. Get to work early
  82. Clean out one closet
  83. Play patty cake with a toddler
  84. Go on a picnic
  85. Take a different route to work
  86. Leave work early (with permission)
  87. Put air freshener in your car
  88. Watch a movie and eat popcorn
  89. Write a note to a far away friend
  90. Go to a ball game and scream
  91. Cook a meal and eat it by candlelight
  92. Recognize the importance of unconditional love
  93. Remember that stress is an attitude
  94. Keep a journal
  95. Practice a monster smile
  96. Remember you always have options
  97. Have a support network of people, places and things
  98. Quit trying to fix other people
  99. Get enough sleep
  100. Talk less and listen more
  101. Freely praise other people

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Get Over Your Ex

1. Stop idealizing your ex.
As perfect as you remember them to be, they weren't. Take them off of your pedestal and try to be realistic about them.

2. Do not allow yourself to fantasize about what life would be like if you were with them. 
It's not likely what you are imagining is true and even if it is true, it's not helpful to torture yourself with those thoughts. They will lead to nothing productive. Change the subject in your mind if you catch yourself doing this.

3. Provide yourself with closure.
Write a letter to them, that you never send, telling them all you need to say. In that letter also say goodbye. Even if you never send this letter it can still provide closure in your mind. You can also set a chair out and pretend they are sitting in it, and say goodbye this way.

4. Do not keep things that remind you of them. 
It's not helpful to look at their picture every day, wear their sweatshirt and sleep with their pillow every night. Get rid of that stuff. Start new routines. Even buy new stuff if you have to.

5. Look for good things that have happened because you are not with them. 
Did you meet someone else, have a child, get a new job or some other positive thing since you broke up? Find something you value about your current life, that you can be grateful for.

6. Put hope in the future.
Take steps toward making  your future more satisfying than your time was with them. Find ways to make your happiness independent of that person. You don't need them to be happy or fulfilled.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Get Your Kids to Listen to You

Are you sick of your kids not listening to you? It can be maddening when you tell your child to do something and they completely ignore you! Well I have simple trick that can work in a lot of scenarios.

This trick is called, First... Then. What this means is, if your child wants cookies they first have to have their carrots. If they want to watch a movie they first have to clean up their toys. You will give them what they want but they have to first do what you ask. This is a very effective tool in motivating children.

Remember you will sabotage yourself if you give in before they do what you ask. Stick to your guns and do not give them the "then" until they have done the "first".

To help people fully understand the concept I am going to list some examples for you.

  • First take a bite of chicken then have you can have an m&m. (this trick is very useful with the picky eaters)
  • First brush your teeth then you can watch one more show.  
  • First clean your room then you can have a friend over. 
  • First do your chores then you can have dessert. 
  • First take a shower then you can have your phone back. 
  • First do your homework then you can go on facebook. 

*For younger children or non verbal children doing first then with pictures can be effective. 

Parenting is one of the trickier things a person can sign up for. Children are always requiring us to stretch and be creative to teach them what they need to learn. I hope this tool is useful for you as it has been for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

5 Ways to Overcome the Holiday Blues

Are holidays hard for you? A tremendous amount of people answer yes to that question. Holidays can be miserable because of family conflict, no family, deaths, divorce or other related heart ache. Many people dread the holidays and count the days until it's over. Today I am writing a list for you of five ideas on how to make the holidays more enjoyable.

1. Make it not about you.
Find a place to volunteer. Many abuse shelters, homeless shelters and churches have volunteer opportunities on holidays. When we serve others in need it can make our problems and pain seem smaller.

2. Start a new tradition.
 Perhaps the holidays are depressing for you and there is nothing in it to look forward to. If that is the case for you, find something to look forward to. Start a new tradition like having a hot coco party with friends, cutting down a christmas tree, finding someone to help, making do it yourself gifts for people, baking cookies, finding something silly to do, or whatever other creative idea you can come up with.

3. Find resources.
If you are depressed or anxious get counseling. If you have financial problems talk to community helpers about what resources are available to you. Often times there are more options around the holidays to help with problems like that. Whatever your problem is, seek help. There are countless resources out there for every kind of problem.

4. Use the holidays as a way to motivate yourself.
If you have always wanted to start running, start schooling, or start playing chess use the holidays as an excuse to make it happen. Maybe now is the time to get a new pet. Make a positive change that will distract you from your holiday stress.

5. Set good boundaries for yourself.
Be prepared to say no if you need to. Make the holiday manageable by only agreeing to what you can handle. Also don't forget to meet your basic needs.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Loss and Grief - Activities to Help You Grieve

By UW Extension 

Losing someone special, regardless of the relationship, can be difficult.
Here are several practical suggestions that may assist in your journey of healing and growth:
  • Take care of yourself physically. Grief can take its toll on a person’s physical well-being. It’s important to do your best to get adequate rest, to eat regularly, to take a walk or enjoy other forms of exercise that appeal to you.
  • Forgive. Even in the best of relationships, there are usually memories that need healing. As you think about your relationship with your loved one and bring to mind areas of hurt or regret, give yourself permission to forgive. This may involve forgiving the person for the times he or she failed you, and it may involve forgiving yourself. This isn’t easy, but it’s an important step in moving forward. If the hurts you carry are deep and difficult to forgive, consider seeking professional help.
  • Explore your spirituality. Times of solitude, inspirational reading, prayer, meditation, and community worship can provide comfort and enlightenment as you cope with your loss. Losing a special person can deepen and strengthen your spiritual life. Nourish yourself spiritually in whatever way works best for you-—prayer, song, worship, meditation, or study of scripture. Ask questions, and then allow yourself to be open to the inner guidance you receive. Listen to the whispers of your heart and soul.
  • "Talk" with the person you lost. During moments of solitude, perhaps late at night or early in the morning, talk to the person you lost as if s/he were right there with you. Say whatever is on your mind, everything you wished you had said while s/he was still alive. After speaking, take a few moments to allow yourself the time to feel a sense of peace.
  • Write letters. Similar to the exercise above, write several letters to the person you lost. In the first letter or two, openly express whatever feelings you might be experiencing. Don’t censor yourself. If you feel angry, lonely, depressed, fearful, happy, or relieved, say so. The key is to allow yourself to say what’s on your mind and in your heart. Once you’ve done so, write a final letter of gratitude to them. Let him/her know what you appreciate and what you’ve been grateful for throughout the years.
  • Treasure fond memories. There are several ways in which you may want to treasure fond memories of your special person. You may choose to collect mementos and put them in a scrapbook, or put together a video collage of photos collected over the years, or host a potluck dinner for family and friends and record stories they share about the person. Do whatever helps you create lasting memories that you can go back to in the days ahead.
  • Take time with your special person’s personal belongings. You need not sort through your special person’s personal belongings right away. According to grief specialist Dr. Alan Wolfelt: “You, and only you, should decide what is done with their clothes and personal belongings. Don’t force yourself to go through these things until you’re ready to. Take your time. When you have the energy to go through them, you will.”
  • Honor your special person. Think of something you would like to do that would be significant or meaningful to your special person. Maybe s/he volunteered at the local meal program, so you decide to volunteer or contribute to the same program. If the person sewed quilts for the local children’s hospital, you might continue in her footsteps. Whatever you choose to do, make it something that will help you celebrate your special person’s life and memory.
  • Work through your grief. The only way out of your grief is through it. Try to accept your feelings, whatever they may be. Grief is a natural process, nature’s way of bringing us to acceptance, healing and peace. As painful as it can be, allow yourself to experience your emotions and get through them.
  • Share your pain and hope with others. Give your grief words, and find at least one person you trust and respect with whom you can comfortably share your emotions. Pour out your heart and soul as often as you need. Consider seeking counseling from a professional, as many people find this very helpful.
  • Complete “unfinished business”. Try to be aware of anything associated to your special person that remains unfinished. Do whatever you feel is important to reach a sense of closure.
  • Be kind to yourself. You’ve suffered a great loss. You need to give yourself special care, including taking the time to rest, eating healthfully, exercising, and socializing with family and friends. Be gentle and understanding with yourself--treat yourself as you would a dear friend if she were suffering.
  • Let yourself cry. Sobbing promotes relaxation and the release of tension and sorrow. Tears are nature’s ways of cleansing and healing. Crying is a gift; allow yourself to receive it.
  • Tune into what you are feeling. Depression, anger, fear, guilt, regret, loneliness, relief, peace-—whatever your feelings, let yourself experience them. Gently pay attention to your body and to your feelings as they arise.
  • Reach out to others. Though you will likely need time to yourself, it’s also important that you share your thoughts and feelings with others. Find a few people you respect and trust, and pour out your heart. Let your friends and family know what you need from them-—a listening ear, a hug, or just time together.
  • Postpone unnecessary changes. Try to hold off on major decisions or unnecessary changes. Give yourself some time before deciding to move or making a career change. Allow yourself first to grieve and heal. You’ll then have a fresher perspective and more energy for getting on with your life.
  • Accept the difficult memories. Your special person has died, but the life you shared and the many memories are still very much alive. All relationships include good times and difficult times. We’ve all made mistakes and have regrets. Give your special person and yourself the gift of forgiveness. Learn from the painful times, then let them go.
  • Cherish your fond memories. Allow yourself to enjoy all of the wonderful memories you and your special person have shared. Treasure these memories and let them be lifelong companions that comfort you and cheer you.
  • Surround yourself with things that are alive. The authors of "How to Survive the Loss of a Love" recommend that you add new life to your environment: “In addition to family and friends, invite other living things into your life-—a new plant, a stray kitten, the puppy you’ve always wanted, some goldfish, or a fresh bowl of your favorite fruit.”
  • Be adventuresome. After you’ve given yourself plenty of space to grieve and heal-—and only you can know how long that will take-—it’s time to make some fresh starts. Think about what you’d love to do. Let yourself dream, then follow your heart and take some risks. Redecorate, launch into a hobby that interests you, or explore new people, places and ideas.
For more information see:
  • On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss (2005) by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
  • Caregiving and Loss (2001) edited by Kenneth J. Doka and Joyce D. Davidson
  • Surviving the Loss of a Spouse (2006) edited by Sheryl Garrett
  • Death of a Parent: Transition to a New Adult Identity(2003) by Debra Umberson
  • Death of a Parent: Reflections for Adults Mourning the Loss of a Father or Mother (2003) by Delle Chatman, William Kenneally & William Kenneally
  • Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal (1999) by Beth Witrogen McLeod

Adapted with permission from GriefWorks, Sam Quick, Professor Emeritus, Human Development and Family Relations Specialist, Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

At Risk Youth Questionnaire for Moving Forward

At risk youth can get out of their trouble if they are willing to work hard and have someone to guide them. Here is a questionnaire to help guide you through that process. Common goals include: Anger management, Respecting Authority, Utilizing Self-Calming Strategies, and Improving School Performance

How did you do on goal 1?

How did you do on goal 2?

How did you do on goal 3?

What obstacles made it hard for you to achieve your goals this week?

What areas did you see progress in or are you most proud of for this week?

What do you need to do differently next week?

What should you repeat next week?

Are there any problems needing to be solved this week?

How high were your stress levels this week?

What coping skills were most effective this week?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Make Divorce Easier on Kids

  1.       Make a plan as soon as possible and stick to it.
a.       It is a major adjustment when parents split up. The sooner they have a set schedule the sooner they will have a “new normal”.
b.      Transitions are especially difficult for children so reducing the number of transitions can be helpful.
  2.       If possible keep routines and rules the same at both houses.
a.       It is less to adjust to if environments are not drastically different. Behavior problems can occur when there is too big of a gap between environments. There are times when it’s not possible to make both environments the same. When that happens just do your best to be consistent on your end.
  3.       Make a visual calendar for your child to see when he/she will be where.
a.       A visual tool to help children understand when they will see their parents next can help with anxiety and missing the other parent.
  4.       Allow your child to have an item to take with them for when they miss you.
a.       Having a picture book of mom or dad, a blanket, or stuffed animal that reminds them of mom and dad can help them when they are feeling lonely.
  5.       Don’t talk bad about your ex.
a.       It’s hurtful to children to hear negative things about their parents. It could hurt their relationship with you and your ex. It is not in the best interest of anyone. *This also includes not talking bad about your ex’s boyfriend or girlfriend.
  6.       Do NOT encourage your child to take sides.
a.       That will only hurt the entire family. Do your best to help your child stay positive about both parents. (even if one is a dirt bag)
  7.       Allow your child to talk about their feelings.
a.       Allow your child to open up and don’t take it personal if they are struggling. Part of how they will heal is getting those emotions out.
  8.       When talking about why you split up keep it simple.
a.       Don’t go into whose fault it is or what either of you did wrong.  This is not an opportunity to bad talk your spouse. 
  9.       Consider counseling if you and your ex cannot communicate effectively about the child.
a.       Having a third party to discuss schedules, rules, and boundaries can be very helpful when emotions are too high post-divorce.

Remember children of all ages can sense tension. It is in your children's best interest if you can get along. You don't have to like each other but being civil and working together goes a long way for your child's mental health. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Tell if Someone is Manipulating You

Manipulative Techniques
by Anita Anand

How do you tell if someone is a manipulator? Or if you yourself have manipulative tendencies? Simon identified the following manipulative techniques:

• Lying: It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time, although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimise the chances of being lied to, is to understand that some 
personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently, and often in subtle ways.

• Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.

• Denial: The manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.

• Rationalisation: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behaviour. 

• Minimisation: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalisation. The manipulator asserts that his or her behaviour is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting – for example saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke.

• Selective inattention or selective attention: The manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don't want to hear it.”

• Diversion: The manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.

• Evasion: Similar to diversion but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague, and weak responses.

• Covert intimidation: The manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle, indirect, or implied) threats.

• Guilt tripping: A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.

• Shaming: The manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, and subtle sarcasm.

Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.

• Playing the victim role (“poor me”): The manipulator portrays himself or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke 
compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.

• Blaming the victim: More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.

• Playing the servant role: Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause. For example saying, he is acting in a certain way for ‘obedience’ and ‘service’ to 
God or a similar authority figure.

• Seduction: The manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supports others, in order to get them to lower their defenses, and give their trust and loyalty to him or her.

• Projecting the blame (blaming others): The manipulator often finds scapegoats, in subtle, hard-to-detect ways.

• Pretending innocence: The manipulator tries to suggest that any harm done was unintentional or did not do something that they were accused of. The manipulator may put on a look of surprise or indignation. This tactic makes the victim question his or her own judgment, and possibly his own sanity.

• Pretending confusion: The manipulator tries to play dumb by pretending he or she does not know what you are talking about, or is confused about an important issue brought to his attention.

• Brandishing anger: The manipulator uses anger to brandish sufficient emotional intensity and rage to shock the victim into submission. The manipulator is not actually angry, he or she just puts on an act. He just wants what he wants and gets angry when denied.

Anand, A., (2012) Personal Growth - The Manipulation Trap: Are you a victim? Retrieved on October 18, 2012 from

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Consequences of Grandparent Divorce

Grandparent age people are divorcing more than ever now.  So what are the consequences of couples divorcing at this age?

Well the research states that divorce causes distress for parents, children and grandchildren of any age.
·         Infants cannot understand the reasons why, but do feel the emotional tension in the home. This often displays in irritability, and change in eating or sleeping habits.
·         Toddlers can become more clingy or needy when stress increases in the home. This can also be expressed in anger toward parents or siblings that appear to be unrelated to the source of stress. It is common for developmental regression to happen. For example, a child who is potty trained might start having accidents, or a child might start to suck her thumb again.  Sleeping may become difficult and nightmares could even occur.
·         Preschool and elementary-age children often blame themselves, and have increased anxiety about how their roles will change. For example, they may worry about if they will see Grandma and Grandpa, or if their grandparents will still love them. They may also have nightmares and sleeping problems.  It is common for children this age to become aggressive and angry toward parents, grandparents, and siblings under this kind of stress.
·         Teens may express their struggles by withdrawing from friends, family and special interests. They may feel driven to take care of one or both of their grandparents. They may start to question their own beliefs about marriage, divorce and relationships. At times they may act out by doing rebellious activities such as drinking, drugs, sexual activity, swearing or aggression. 
·         Young Adults children of divorced parents often respond stronger than people would think.  Expecting your adult children to take it in stride might not be realistic. This can completely change the relational dynamics. Children’s worldviews can be challenged by this, they might start to question their childhood memories, and they might even struggle with guilt. “My parents said they stayed together all those years because of me.”  Adult children might view the situation as not just their parents separating, but rather that they are “losing their family”.
·         Age 30+- An interesting dynamic that happens with parents divorcing with adult children, is the parents often heavily depend on the children to transition through the divorce. Parents can forget that their children are grieving too and see how capable they are and rely on them to do things that their spouses used to do. This can become a tremendous stress to adult children.
·         Parents divorcing in the 50+ age bracket face their own special adjustment problems. They often have family and friends that are 20 to 30 year-long friendships that are discontinued due to the divorce. They may have habits or activities that they never had to learn how to do because their spouse did it, and now they are forced to learn how. These issues can be very difficult to adjust to.
·         Severity of symptoms will greatly vary in all ages based on the situation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to Tell if Someone is Lying

Have you ever been talking to someone thinking to yourself, "I wish I knew how to tell if they were lying!" I know I have!! Well here are some tips on how to tell!

1. Watch if they touch their face.
When people lie they might cover their mouth, scratch their nose or touch their face more than normal, especially near their mouth. It is like they are covering their face to cover the lie.

2. Watch their eyes.
According to Wikihow (2012), "When people remember details their eyes move to the right (your right). When people make something up, their eyes move to the left."
When people lie they might rub their eyes, or blink more or longer. Lack of eye contact is not necessarily a tell because people often will force eye contact to seem more truthful.

3. Watch for quick facial expressions.
There is something called micro expressions. These appear on people's face for a split second and then go away. You need to watch closely for this because it often reflects a persons true feelings.

4. Watch their body language.
Nodding their head no when they are saying yes with their words can be a sign. Excessive fidgeting, sweating, or frequent swallowing can be a sign. Keep in mind some of these signs can simply be from being nervous, not necessarily lying.

5. Watch how they tell the story.
Some times when trying to make a story believable people will add in too many details, giving away that they actually made up the story. They may also be off with their timing on how they respond to you. Hesitating before answering or answering very quickly can be a hint.

Keep in mind we can never know for sure just by following these signs. It's helpful if you know the person and know what a typical response looks like from them so you have something to compare it to.


Henahan, S., (1999). Science of Lying. Retrieved on October 7th, 2012 from

Intelihealth, (2000). Null Is Lying Unhealthy? Retrieved on October 7th, 2012 from

Wikihow, (2012). How to detect lies. Retrieved on October 7th, 2012 from

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Rebuild Your Relationship with Your Adult Children after Your Divorce

The stigma of getting a divorce is starting to lift. According to AARP (2012), divorce for people over 50 has nearly double since the 1990’s. Retirement and empty nest syndrome are often triggers for relational tension that result in divorce.

Adult children of divorced parents often respond stronger than people would think.  Expecting your adult children to take it in stride might not be realistic. This can completely change the relational dynamics. Children’s worldviews can be challenged by this, they might start to question their childhood memories, and they might even struggle with guilt. “My parents said they stayed together all those years because of me.”  Adult children might view the situation as not just their parents separating, but rather that they are “losing their family”.

So how do we navigate these murky waters and how do we preserve the relationship with our adult children?

Try to understand what they are feeling.

This can be hard because you are going through a very difficult time yourself –your divorce, but understanding that this is a trauma for your adult children as well, can make it easier to response in a positive way to them.  Your adult children might be angry at you, they might feel depressed or they might even try and fix the relationship for you. No matter how your child responds, do not try to rush them through their grieving process.

Try to respect your adult children’s boundaries.

An interesting dynamic that happens with parents divorcing with adult children, is the parents often heavily depend on the children to transition through the divorce. Parents might forget that the children are grieving too. Your child may want to help but your child may not. Be aware that this might be difficult for them, and look for other help if it is presenting as a problem for your child.

Do not talk bad about your spouse to your adult child.

It may feel like they are an adult and they can handle it, but keep in mind that they are not your confidant. Talking bad about your spouse to your child could lead to your child taking sides, or it could hurt their relationship with either parent. They may be mad at you for talking bad, or they may side with you and be angry with the other spouse. Either response is not in the best interest of the family. In addition to not being able to hear bad things about your spouse, this also means your child might not be able to celebrate with you different aspects of your new life that you may enjoy.  Try to be sensitive to this.

Re-establish that your love for them has not changed.

Show your children with actions that even though you are not married anymore, you still are the same person to them that you have always been.  If you used to be a good listener for them, continue to do so. If you used to go out to coffee continue that routine.
It can be rough, especially for the first year after the divorce. Do not be afraid to seek counsel if you feel your relationship with your children is severely damaged.

Abrahms, S.,( 2012). Life After Divorce: More Boomers are Calling it Quits after Years of Marriage. Retrieved on September 20th, 2012 from

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Helping Grandchildren with Grandparent Divorce

When grandparents divorce grandchildren may be confused, angry and/or sad about grandparents separating. They may have questions like, “If they quit loving each other will they quit loving me?” The questions they ask can be hard to answer and throw you off guard.

My plan was to give my children a short answer as to why Grandma and Grandpa do not want to live together anymore, and hope my kids didn’t bring it up again. Unfortunately the short answer did not satisfy my four year old. He wanted to know if they would ever get back together, or if we could teach them to get along. When he visited either of my parents he would be upset because the other grandparent wasn’t there. I came to find that my child’s response was not uncommon.  

To aid in the grieving process it is good to let children know that the decision to live at separate houses is final. A child having false hope that their grandparents will move back together is not good for accepting this change. You can gently tell them something like, “They tried everything they could and it did not work. Now they feel the best decision is to live in separate houses.”

It is important to point out to children that their love from their grandparents will not change. Just because Grandma and Grandpa do not love each other, it doesn’t mean that they will quit loving them. Be intentional about having children spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. This can help children see that Grandma and Grandpa are still the same.

Children may be concerned that mom and dad will split up too. My child asked me several times when I was going to move out like Grandma did. Letting your child know that just because Grandma and Grandpa separated doesn’t mean mom and dad will too, can help them not feel this anxiety.

Children often communicate their anxiety with behaviors. Doing things like drawing pictures, asking them questions about how they are feeling and reading books like, “When Grandparents Divorce” can help children adjust more quickly and reduce any negative feelings they might have.

For older children you can address the issues directly. Explain to them what will change and what will stay the same.
EX: “Grandma will live at ____, and grandpa will live at _______. Holidays will be like ______. Grandma and grandpa still love you just the same and are excited for you to come visit them.”

Allow children of all ages to ask as many questions as they like and try to be open and honest with them. Avoid talking bad about either grandparent. Keep in mind as you talk with them that you would like to preserve the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent.

Remember these two important tips:
  1.       If you feel like your children are struggling, and you don’t feel like you have all the tools you want to handle it, see a counselor.   A counselor or therapist can help your whole family process through this major life change.
  2.       Any child going through a hard time will benefit from extra quality time with a loved one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

15 Activities to Help a Traumatized Child

  1.        Buy a doll house and toy people/pets that can fit inside. Allow the child to freely play. Children will naturally project their situation onto the toys as they play with them. This type of play can help them process their situation and give you insight into their perspective on their life.
  2.        Ask the child to draw a picture of how they feel and let them know there is no wrong way to draw it. They can scribble, they can draw objects, or they can even write words.
  3.        Ask your child to make up a story with you about a child their own gender. “Let’s make a story about a little girl!” Let the child be the guide for what happens in the story.  This can open the door to have the child talk about what is stressing them out without having to talk about themselves.
  4.        Ask the child to draw a picture of a bad guy.
  5.        Ask the child to draw a picture of their family.
  6.        Ask the child to draw a picture or tell a story about a time when they felt safe/secure and then a time when they didn’t.
  7.        Make a list or draw a picture with your child of ways they are now safe and secure.
  8.        Write a story with your child of their life. Allow them to give details but you can also add details with them.
  9.        If you child is younger you can ask it, “How do you think this stuffed animal would feel if it was you?” If they are older you can ask how their friend would feel.
  10.    Ask the child to draw a picture or make a list of things that make them uncomfortable or unsafe.
  11.    Teach them the difference between safe secrets and bad secrets. Ex: surprise b day party vs not telling that someone did something bad
  12.    Make a list of all the safe people that love your child.
  13.    Make a plan with the child for when they are scared, sad or uncomfortable.
  14.    Ask the child what they would change about their family.
  15.    Ask the child to pick an animal for each member of the family and ask them to explain why they chose it.

When you do these activities make sure you are feeling patient and strong. It would be harmful to the child if they were yelled at for opening up about this type of thing. They need to be met with love, understanding and patience. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Questions to Ask Your Kids

20 Pillow Talk Questions for You and Your Child

iMOM Pillow Talk IconHere are 20 Pillow Talk Questions from iMOM to help you jump start your relationship with your child. For daily Pillow Talk Questions delivered to your email inbox, sign up for the Espresso Minute Daily Email.
  1. What do you like to dream about?
  2. What is your best memory this school year?
  3. Who is your hero? Why?
  4. How would you describe your family?
  5. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  6. What are you most proud of yourself for?
  7. Who is the kindest person you know? Why?
  8. What do you like most about your best friend?
  9. What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?
  10. If you were an animal what one would you be and why?
  11. When is the last time someome hurt your feelings? How did you react?
  12. Do you know someone who is going though a hard time? How can you help them?
  13. What is the scariest thing that happened this year?
  14. If you could keep only one thing, out of everything you have, what would it be?
  15. Who do you think is really successful? Why?
  16. What’s the best thing about your teacher this year?
  17. When do you feel misunderstood by grown-ups?
  18. What three words best describe you?
  19. What’s something that makes you angry?
  20. What’s the best compliment you ever received

© 2011 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Build Your Self-Esteem

Do you have stuff-esteem or self-esteem? I have to admit I am guilty of having stuff-esteem at times. What I mean by this is when we get our self-confidence from the stuff that we do instead who we are on the inside. For example my self-esteem sometimes suffers when I think I am not thin enough, I don’t make enough money or I do not dress nice enough. When your self-esteem is based on exterior things, you never actually have “self-esteem”. Really what you have is stuff-esteem.

The problem with this theory of looking at your value is it is very fragile. When you lose your job, gain weight, or have some other slip up in life you completely lose your confidence. This is dangerous.

 It is time to reframe how we look at ourselves.

Step 1: Look at yourself on this inside. What is good about you? Are you honest, hardworking, loyal, creative…?

Step 2: When you feel low remind yourself exterior stuff isn’t what really matters and does not define you. Reminder yourself of the good things about you that are lasting.

Step 3: If you have things about yourself that you do not like make a plan to change them. Do not be content with your flaws, and then celebrate your growth.

Step 4: Do things that accentuate your strengths.

An example of a self-esteem building activity is I decided I am some one that isn’t afraid to face a challenge or my fears. To prove that to myself I signed up of the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is a mud filled, 12 mile, military style obstacle course. The obstacles include jumping from heights into water, jumping into ice water, crawling through dark tunnels and many other challenges. In this 12 mile race there were 24 obstacles to face my fears. I completed the entire race with my brother and my friend. Afterwards I felt amazing and I now have this memory to look back on to remind myself of who I am.

These kinds of activities create powerful memories to remind you who you are on the inside. Sometimes in life we go through the motions and we forget to act on who we really are. When we live life this way we miss living a satisfying, self-esteem filled life. When you question if you are a good person or not you need to give yourself evidence of what is in the inside. If you are lacking evidence, look inside and see what is good, then act on it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Get Rid of Nightmares

Nightmares can be vivid and horrendous. They can cause people to wake up terrified and even dread going to sleep. There are a lot of reasons people have nightmares, and if you want to get rid of your nightmares exploring the alternatives is important.

Stress can be a big factor contributing to nightmares.  This especially can be the case when you go to sleep thinking about what stresses you out. Managing your stress can reduce your number/severity of nightmares.

Relaxing before bed is important. An active mind is more likely to have nightmares than someone who is relaxed. Bedtime routines are even important for adults. Scheduling time to unwind before bed can reduce the number/severity of nightmares, help you fall asleep faster, and help you to sleep deeper. Working out, getting in heated arguments, or doing other strenuous activities right before bed is not conducive to getting rid of nightmares.

Illness has been known to cause nightmares. Sometimes when people run a fever or have other illnesses it is paired with nightmares. If that is the case for you, you are in luck because it will likely pass with your illness.

Medication is also a common cause of nightmares. If you are on medication and suffering from nightmares talk to your doctor about if that could be the cause. Recreational drugs can also cause severe nightmares.

Actual discomfort can work its way into dreams in weird ways. Any pain or even having to go to the bathroom can present itself in nightmares. Buying a new mattress can help with reducing nightmares and help you sleep deeper if your current mattress is old or uncomfortable.

Look for themes in your dreams that parallel with your real life. Figuring out what your dreams are talking about can help you pin point what you need to work on to get rid of them. Keeping a dream journal can help with this. If you cannot figure out what your dreams mean talking to a therapist can help.

Trauma often results in nightmares. The good news is as you process and make progress on healing from your trauma, the dreams should reduce. See a therapist if you feel like you are not making progress.

Practice controlling your dreams. People often don’t realize they can control their dreams. Start practicing taking an active role in your dreams. You will be surprised at the control you can take over them.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exercise to Reduce Depression, and Anxiety

Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often for Depression, Anxiety, Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2010) — Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers, according to researchers who analyzed the results of numerous published studies

"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health," says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be."
Smits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, based their finding on an analysis of dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health, including the authors' meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers' review demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.

The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy don't reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an associate professor of psychology.

"Exercise can fill the gap for people who can't receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don't want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments," he says. "Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged."

The researchers presented their findings March 6 in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. Their workshop was based on their therapist guide "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders," with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009). For links to more information see .

"Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger," Smits says. "Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing."

After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients' exercise guides and motivators.

"Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program -- which can be difficult to sustain -- we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits," he says. "After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy -- and you'll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise."
Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.

"Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps," he says. "This isn't about working out five times a week for the next year. It's about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today."

New CEU now ready!!

  Objectives:  Participants will gain an understanding of common comorbid diagnoses associated with Autism (ADHD, Depression, and ODD).  Par...