Parent Coaching is a Lifesaver When You Feel Out of Your Depth

Everyone thinks they’re an expert on parenting until they become a parent. Maybe you once believed that parenting would be a breeze. But now that you have a child or children of your own, you feel confused and overwhelmed. You may even find yourself wishing that kids came with an instruction manual.

While no such manual exists, there is something else that can help you become the best parent you can be: parent coaching.

What is parent coaching?

The goal of parent coaching is to identify opportunities for improvement in your childrearing methods, to improve your relationship with your child, and to put things back into perspective when your parental responsibilities become overwhelming.

Typically, a parent coach will meet with the parent or parents for a one-on-one consultation. During this session, you can share your general concerns with the counselor. Be sure to let the coach know whether the issues in your parent-child connection started at a specific time.

Most likely, most of your sessions will involve both parents, or you and the child’s stepparent. Together, you will learn how to best communicate with your child, help your child learn to communicate well with you, and how to communicate your feelings to each other . The important thing is to learn to work together as a team and find productive solutions to your family problems.

When to seek help

If you and your family are dealing with any of the following situations, parent coaching can help.


When children’s parents split up, many issues can come to the surface. Your children may feel forced to choose a favorite parent. Some children feel obligated to be the parent. The stress and confusion of your divorce can negatively impact them in ways you may not be able to see. With the help of a parent coach, you can learn to meet your child’s needs while also taking care of your own.

A sudden change in your child’s attitude

Does your child seem quieter and more reserved than usual? Did their grades in school take a nose dive? Do you find yourselves fighting often over small things? Did your positive relationship suddenly, and without warning, turn bitter and resentful? A parent coach can assess the situation from an objective place and help you uncover the cause of your child’s sudden attitude change.

Behavioral issues

If your child is disrespectful? Do you suspect that your child is engaging in reckless or illegal behavior, a parent coach can help you communicate your concerns, set firm boundaries, and work to correct the behavior.

Sudden life change

Are you moving to a new city? Is your child starting a new school? Did you or your child recently experience the death of a loved one? Whatever life throws at you, a parent coach can help you withstand the impact of a sudden life change – so you can continue to provide your child with the emotional support and security they need.

There’s no shame in seeking help

There’s a common myth that good parents know how to raise children instinctively – as if everything you need to know about parenting suddenly becomes clear the moment your child is born. This misconception is why many parents feel embarrassed, ashamed and reluctant to ask for help. But there’s no shame in reaching out for guidance, especially because today’s generation lives in a culture saturated with new forms of technology. The techniques we learned from observing our own parents growing up simply aren’t relevant to today’s children.

As the world changes from generation to generation, so should our parenting methods. A good parent coach remains up-to-date with the latest in child psychology, research on family dynamics, and the impact of cultural trends on families.

So, if anything on the list above resonates with you or if you just want to be a better parent for your child, reach out to a parent coach. You’ll be glad you did.

Everyday Stress or Anxiety? What's The Difference?

When you feel run down, when you worry a lot, when you can’t sleep at night and you feel overwhelmed, the question is: is this the result of everyday stress or are you suffering from an anxiety disorder?

And indeed, the two can be difficult to distinguish from each other.

So, what’s the difference?

Stress and anxiety disorders are closely related.

There are scientific discussions about anxiety disorders. Are they genetic? Is stress the trigger?

Here are some of the main differences between everyday stress and anxiety disorders:

The human stress response

The human stress response is necessary for our survival.

Our system responds to danger by going into the famous ‘fight or flight’ mode. Our hearts start to beat faster, our breath becomes shallow, our digestive and reproductive systems shut down temporarily. We become super-alert and vigilant.

If there is a tiger in the vicinity, we are now best equipped to run away or fight it.

This is what happens in response to everyday stress triggers – triggers that rarely involve a live tiger anymore.

And that’s part of the problem.

The human stress response does enable us to deal with other dangers such as traffic, a difficult boss, and very demanding tasks with a short deadline.

But it is a very crude response to the triggers of the complex and sophisticated lives we now live.

If your symptoms are related to everyday stress, they will arise as the stress response is triggered, and then weaken and eventually disappear as the human relaxation response kicks in, and as the stress naturally dissipates.

Everyday stress is normal. So is everyday relaxation and recovery from stress.

Anxiety disorders

When does the anxiety produce symptoms?

Anxiety disorders produce similar symptoms to everyday stress, but they can have very different triggers.

Anxiety disorder symptoms are triggered by the anticipation of a future threat, real or imagined. Anxiety can produce fear, avoidance behaviors, and are associated with thoughts and beliefs that perpetuate the anxiety.

With Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the anxiety symptoms are triggered almost at random. Anything that upsets the patient’s routine or sense of calm can set off an episode of anxiety.

What is the timeline?

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when anxiety symptoms persist for a specific period of time, depending on the type of anxiety, or for more days than not over a period of six months. A psychotherapist or psychiatrist can assist you in determining if your anxiety has reached a point where psychotherapeutic or pharmaceutical interventions are warranted.

How intense are the symptoms?

Another important aspect of anxiety disorders is the intensity of the symptoms.

Are they mild and manageable? Can you quite easily recover from them or do they disrupt your everyday life? Or do you feel caught in your anxiety with no way out?

If your anxiety seriously affects your ability to live and work, then you are probably suffering from an anxiety disorder. The same is true if your anxiety makes you feel hopeless and helpless or if you have frequent panic attacks that make it impossible for you to lead a normal life. If you have suicidal thoughts, you immediately need to seek help.

How do you get out of it?

Everyday anxiety is a very good reason to seek professional counseling. Your counselor can help you find solutions that will make your life less stressful and will put you in charge when you are dealing with those everyday situations that cause stress.

If you think you might suffer from an anxiety disorder, get a diagnosis from a mental health professional. There are many treatment options available, including medications and psychotherapy, and many people can manage their anxiety disorder very successfully.

Whatever you do, don’t spend your energy and time worrying about this.

These conditions deserve your attention and they can be treated.

Don’t add unnecessary suffering to your already stressful life!

Future Together? Analyze Your Relationship To See If You Have One

Is he the one? Is she?

You may come to a point in your relationship where you wonder about your future together.

Are you ready to put more effort into your relationship? Or does it seem to be going nowhere?

It’s not always easy to know what’s next. And deciding if you can commit to someone for a long time is a deeply personal decision. How will you make it?

Analyze Your Relationship By Asking These Questions

Taking a step back and objectively looking at your relationship is an important step to know what’s next for you both – a long-term commitment or going separate ways.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we trust each other? – Trust is essential for real love and a successful relationship. That means you can be apart comfortably. You may long for each other, but not too much. You don’t feel happier when you’re away from your partner, nor do you feel completely insecure.
  • Are we in the same boat? – Of course, that doesn’t mean you agree on everything. It means you must have the same goals, the same view of your future. When one of you wants to live carefree without children and the other wants to settle down and have a big family, there’s no long-term potential.
  • Do we have respect for each other? – It means liking the essence of who your partner is, without wanting to change them. You can look past their little quirks and accept them for who they are, including their flaws. As a matter of fact, you’ve contemplated them meeting your parents.
  • Can we talk openly? – You can’t have a good relationship without good communication. So, you should be able to speak about everything that’s on your mind and tell them things that you won’t tell anyone else.
  • Are we equals and share equally? – This includes putting the same amount of work into the relationship, neither one taking or giving a lot more. You should also both be comfortable accepting and sharing things willingly. Never should you feel obligated to do something for your partner just because they did something nice for you.
  • Can we agree to disagree? – You have to be able to disagree and get over it without holding a grudge. That includes listening to and taking your partner seriously, even when you think they’re totally wrong. Your goal is to work out your differences and be supportive during hard times, stress, and bad moods.
  • Do we enjoy being together? – You should appreciate sharing the simple pleasures of life – like laughing together. Your partner should attract you, not only for their physical attributes but perhaps even despite them. Chemistry is an important ingredient in a healthy future together. It has little to do with physical beauty.
  • Are we comfortable being ourselves? – That means you don’t mind showing your weaknesses to your partner. It also means, when things don’t go right, they’re the one you go to for comfort. And it means you feel like yourself around each other, without the need to edit thoughts or feel anxious and self-conscious. You pretty much understand each other, even without a word.
  • Do we bring out the best in each other? – Certainly, your partner can’t be everything for you. But they should be able to complement the best part of you. Being with them should make you feel like a better person, not a worse one.

The fact is, relationships are complicated. They may begin happily, but then become negative or stale without you realizing it. So, there is no easy answer to figuring out your future together. But, if you take a moment and reflect on these questions, you may be better equipped to know what’s next. If you find that you need help and guidance in discussing the next steps for your relationship, a qualified couples counselor can help you navigate the next steps.

14 Step-Parenting DOs & DON'Ts

Blending families and step-parenting are sure to bring challenges, and it often creates stress in your relationship with your partner. Here are a few DOs & DON’Ts for step-parents to consider to help make the transition to being a stepmom or stepdad a little smoother.

  1. DON’T expect an immediate blended family.
  2. DO go slowly.
  3. DO choose activities that bond you as a family.
  4. DO create new family activities and traditions.
  5. DO let your spouse and his or her child to have their own private time.
  6. DON’T get upset on Mother’s / Father’s Day.
  7. DO prepare yourself for “You are not my dad/mom.”
  8. DO accept your stepchild for who they are.
  9. DO be flexible in what your stepchild calls you.
  10. DON’T feel every holiday must be spent together.
  11. DO be prepared for a child’s rejection.
  12. DO recognize your stepchild may show love in different ways.
  13. DO respect a stepchild’s need for privacy and decorum.
  14. DON’T feel you need to solve every problem.

Remember that you must find time to take care of yourself, and attend to your relationship with you partner. Children benefit from knowing that your relationship with your spouse is strong and that it is a priority for each of you.

(Excerpted from Stepparenting: 50 One-Minute DOs & DON’Ts for Stepdads & Stepmoms by Randall Hicks)

Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect: Is Your Partner Suffering? How to Cope

Could there be a reason why your marriage feels two-dimensional? Why do you keep thinking that something is missing?

Is there a reason why your partner often gets overwhelmed and frustrated or withdraws when you address problems or conflict?

Absolutely. Your partner could be suffering from the long-term negative effects of emotional neglect.

How can you know?

How to Recognize the Effects of Emotional Neglect in Your Partner

A child subjected to emotional neglect receives a very subtle but immensely persuasive message: Your feelings don’t matter!

Due to their emotions being suppressed throughout their childhood, these children have a hard time learning how to recognize, accept, understand, and articulate their feelings. As adults, they often can’t communicate their needs, connect emotionally with those closest to them, or tolerate conflict.

Suffering these effects of emotional neglect, your partner may frequently be irritable for no reason and unable to process emotionally charged situations through critical thinking. They may also misread the emotions of others or their own and withdraw quickly when they become confused or overwhelmed. They may even seek escape into various addictions to avoid seemingly difficult situations and discomfort.

All this may leave you wondering about what is going on with your loved one and feel hesitant about your interaction and your relationship. It’s like they’re there, but not truly present, at arm’s length and yet so distant.

How to Cope When Your Partner Suffers the Effects of Emotional Neglect

  • Educate yourself

Learn as much as possible about Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). You will probably begin to find the answers to why you’re not completely happy in your marriage. Explain it to your partner Ask them to look into it , and perhaps take a CEN questionnaire that will help them determine  if they’re suffering from the effects of emotional neglect.

  • Be reasonable

Don’t expect too much from your partner. Be patient and reasonable because they may not always be able to connect with you on a mature level. Remember that they’re probably just as perplexed about what’s wrong as you have been. When your partner makes a concerted effort to learn about CEN and tries to work with you, express your appreciation for their actions. Stay open and available for further communication about the issue.

  • Show empathy and compassion

Provide physical, behavioral, and emotional forms of support. Be kind and compassionate, showing your understanding about how hard this may be for them. Let them see that you truly love and care about them overcoming the effects of emotional neglect. But also make clear how important this is to you and your relationship. Be honest and open with your emotions, letting them see how much pain this problem has caused you, without assigning blame.

  • Learn to ask vertical questions

To help deepen your relationship, try new ways of communicating and connecting. Vertical questions can accomplish that. They’re different from normal questions because their aim is not to gather information but to access deep emotions. They’re often challenging, making you look inside yourself, not outside. They can also lead you to discovering something meaningful.

  • Seek out a professional counselor

If you just can’t seem to be able to cope or the situation doesn’t improve at all, don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional. A skilled and competent couple’s therapist can usually help those suffering the effects of emotional neglect along the way.

Isolation: Lonely? 5 Crucial Ways to Overcome Childhood Emotional Neglect

Isolation can be a result of childhood emotional neglect and its accompanying symptoms. In adulthood, it often reveals itself as loneliness.

Why is that? Because childhood emotional neglect causes feelings of shame, inadequacy, and fear.

While you may act upbeat, happy, and positive on the outside, deep within you feel unworthy and insecure, constantly thinking that you will be rejected and abandoned. Maybe you fear that others will not like the real you. So you resist having needs and depending on others. Perhaps you fear any connection and the resulting feelings of vulnerability.

Loneliness is a reflection of all these deep-seated negative emotions.

Sadly, feelings of isolation create a vicious circle. The more lonely you feel, the more you think of yourself as unworthy, incompetent, and inherently flawed. The more you devalue yourself, the more you isolate. And the more you retreat into isolation, the more lonely you feel.

It never seems to end.

What can you possibly do to overcome the isolation of emotional neglect and leave this cycle behind?

Ways to Conquer the Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness

To heal the deep wounds that create isolation and lead to loneliness, it’s essential that you build up your ability to love, respect, and care for yourself. How?

1. Confront your inner critic

Pay attention and catch yourself in the act. It’s pivotal to replace negative self-talk. Replace, “Nobody could ever love me” or “People always avoid me”, with positive messages like “I’m lovable just the way I am” or “I do have people in my life that support me.” Avoid sweeping assertions about other people’s motives that will only make you sink deeper into the mire of isolation and loneliness.

2. Fight the urge to isolate yourself

Isolating yourself will only confirm your worst fears – that you’re not worthy of love or respect – because in your isolation you don’t allow any true outside feedback to filter through. Instead of capitulating to loneliness, fight the urge to give in and withdraw from others. Assume the best about everyone – including yourself – and open yourself up to the possibilities. Sometimes you just have to make yourself do the things you fear most.

3. Accept that needing someone is not a sign of weakness

There’s no shame in wanting close relationships in your life. Needing to feel a connection or wanting to rely on another person is a normal and healthy aspect of human existence. It’s something very positive. In fact, it’s a sign of confidence when you seek and are able to develop close connections. To begin, pay attention to how those around you feel and respond to their feelings and needs.

4. Cultivate an emotional support network

Weed out the toxic people and stick with the relationships that inspire you. Even if it’s just one person to start with. One trustworthy person can be the catalyst to ease those feelings of isolation. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable, find your voice, and let that person know and understand you. Tell them what you need, what you want, and how you feel. Share your experiences, your dreams, and your goals. And learn to appreciate the mature view and stability older friends bring to the table, too.

5. Appreciate the benefits of the occasional solitude

Simply being alone doesn’t have to make you feel lonely. Instead of seeing occasional physical isolation as a disadvantage, use this time of quiet and peace to reflect on and connect with your deeper self. Solitude can be valuable and enjoyable when you use it to create space to think. It can help you know yourself better and see your qualities and strengths much clearer.

Overcoming isolation takes strength, endurance, and patience. Hence, actively imagine yourself emerging from the loneliness. That mental picture will be imperative for keeping your goal right in front of you and your motivation strong.

Childhood Emotional Neglect: Why Validation is Vital for Recovery

Imagine the scene:

    You’re in a large room, full of people. As you wander among them, you watch them interact, talk, laugh, but not one of them pays any attention to you. Not one gives you even the slightest glance, acknowledging that you’re there.

    You stop and turn to some, asking questions. Nobody reacts. You yell, you scream. You hop up and down and wave your hands in front of their faces to get their attention. But nobody so much as flinches. You get completely ignored – as if you didn’t exist.

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

There are those that live that nightmare each and every day of their lives. Ignored. Non-existent. A zero. Completely invalid.

Although they exist in bodily form, they feel like a shadow of a person, a ghost. Pushed into oblivion by childhood emotional neglect.

They don’t understand themselves, their world, or those who live in it with them. They don’t feel they can voice their opinion or ask questions. No one notices them.

No one ever told them: “I see you. I hear you. I’m here for you. I’m listening.”

But that is exactly what they need: Validation.

Why Validation is so Vital for Recovering from Childhood Emotional Neglect

The fact is that a wound can only begin healing when it’s noticed and attended to.

Emotional neglect is a wound deep inside a person that’s often not noticed easily by others. Validation is like hearing the silent screams of this person and paying attention to it.

Only then can any healing begin. How?

Validation promotes recognition and acknowledgment.

It allows the person suffering from emotional neglect to feel heard. No longer are their feelings ignored. No longer do they feel as if everyone is thinking they’re crazy. Finally, they get recognition that their feelings exist and that there are reasons for them.

In particular, acknowledging their negative feelings can bring great relief. When you acknowledge their anger, frustration, and sadness as something real, it confirms the validity of those emotions. That they’re not simply an overreaction.

Once a person feels validated, they can begin managing their emotions. Now, they don’t have to convince others anymore that their feelings are real. They can openly talk about them, recount their thoughts and worries. It unlocks the door to their secret world.

Validation leads to acceptance and understanding.

No matter if you agree with them or not, accepting and not judging the feelings of those pained by childhood emotional neglect, helps the healing process. It shows them true compassion, sympathy, and empathy. That, in turn, facilitates understanding and promotes trust.

Understanding comes through active listening, absorbing, and reflecting back what you heard them say. Once that person feels understood, they can then start seeing their past as what it truly was. They can see that their pain is not their fault and they can begin accepting those feelings themselves. It eventually can lead them to forgive and move on.

Validation provides assurance and support.

Knowing that their feelings are normal, can provide great relief for a victim of childhood emotional neglect. They no longer have to worry about feeling odd or anxious. Their self-esteem can begin to recover.

When you validate them, it assures them that you’re by their side and that they’re important to you. It helps them to understand that they’re not alone anymore. And when you give them support without telling them what to do or minimizing their feelings, you give them freedom. It takes a lot of pressure and self-doubt off their shoulders and helps them to be motivated.

As you can see, validation has immense power. It teaches a person suffering from the effects of childhood emotional neglect to exist as an individual. It confirms and testifies to their feelings and opinions. That they exist, have substance and value, and that they’re valid, worthwhile, and important. Validation is vital for healing.

Childhood Emotional Neglect May Be Skewing Your Self-Perception: Here's How

  • Have you ever wondered why your self-perception seems to be amiss? Why you’re unsure about your interests, your talents, or your likes and dislikes?
  • Have you ever felt lost about your direction in life? Like a loser because the career path you chose didn’t work out? Or like a misfit, because you’re unable to hold a steady job, changing work again and again?
  • Have you ever lamented your apparent lack of resolve? Or your tendency to give up when a challenge presents itself?
  • Have you noticed you downplay or can’t identify your strengths, yet over-emphasize your weaknesses?

Stop for a moment and consider what the answers could reveal.

Self-Perception Becomes Skewed by Childhood Emotional Neglect

If you could see yourself reflected in the hypothetical questions above, you may be struggling with two specific effects of childhood emotional neglect – unrealistic self-appraisal and low self-esteem.

Self-appraisal is the ability to identify one’s own preferences, strengths and weaknesses, and personality traits. It lays the foundation for your self-esteem as well as confidence in your own worth and abilities.

In your case, both have become skewed. But how?

How Your Self-Perception Develops

The concept you hold of yourself determines your choices in life. It helps you to choose what to strive for, what skills to work on, what schooling to seek, what career to pick, and even what intimate relationships to pursue.

Your appraisal or perception of yourself develops from the feedback you receive from your environment – your social interactions. That feedback gives you information about your skills, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and shortcomings. While many people throughout your life will have input, your parents provide you the most important feedback with the strongest impact.

How Your Self-Perception Becomes Skewed

Emotional neglect often robs you of this valuable feedback. When your parents did not attend to your feelings – ignoring or invalidating your emotional needs – you missed out on pertinent information. With that lack of feedback, you were, in turn, unable to understand yourself and develop a sense of who you are. Your identity.

Not only did the effects of childhood emotional neglect begin to show back then, they continued to impact your life going forward. Your difficulties pinpointing your wants and needs and making decisions about your life are a manifestation of these effects. It’s like you’re expected to make important choices for a person you don’t know. You.

How Your Self-Perception Impacts Your Self-Esteem

Since your appraisal of yourself is at the base of your self-esteem, a negative or unrealistic self-perception negatively affects your self-esteem. Subsequently, it erodes your confidence, happiness, and well-being.

For example:

  • If your parents didn’t listen when you talked, you may appraise yourself as boring and uninteresting. Apparently, you had nothing of interest to say.
  • If your parents didn’t seem to spend a lot of time around you, you may conclude that you’re not as fun as other people. And perhaps, others may not like you once they get to know you.
  • If your parents belittled you or shamed you, you may perceive yourself as unlovable, worthless, or incapable of success.
  • If your parents didn’t treat you as attractive, you may have developed a distorted view of your body, thinking that no one will want to have an intimate relationship with you.

Over time, this skewed self-perception may have become a big part of your personality. It isn’t always negative, but it’s usually highly inaccurate. And, ultimately, it leads you to derail yourself, impacting your career, your relationships, your whole life.

The good news? All of these distorted thoughts and beliefs are not fact. They’re fiction. They’re relics from long ago. And they are changeable. They don’t have to shape your perception of yourself anymore!

9 Emotional Neglect Symptoms: When You're Not Sure Why You're Suffering

Are you suffering from anxiety and moodiness, but you don’t know why? Do you often compare yourself to others and believe you’re a failure? Have you been described as aloof or distant?

Are you feeling like you don’t belong at times? Do you usually just want to be left alone? Is it easier for you to love animals than people?

Are you often feeling empty inside?

Maybe you are one of the many adults who say they had a good childhood with happy memories, but you still struggle with a sense of loneliness and a fear of rejection. You’re sure you haven’t been mistreated by your parents, caregivers, or peers. So, why do you feel this way? What’s missing from the picture?

Your struggles may be founded in something invisible from your childhood. Something that’s often overlooked and overshadowed by more visible problems, such as child abuse or trauma. Something that does silent but substantial damage to a person’s life.

You could be suffering from emotional neglect symptoms.

Emotional Neglect and Its Symptoms

Emotional neglect is not a negative action – such as mistreatment or abuse – it’s a lack of action.

Typically, emotional neglect symptoms develop

1) when parents ignore, fail to notice and validate, or do not attend to their child’s feelings appropriately, have unrealistically high expectations, or constantly focus more on the needs of another child, or

2) when parents fail to set boundaries that provide structure and safety or fail to enforce rules, consequences, and discipline.

Many parents who emotionally neglect their children suffer from emotional neglect symptoms themselves. They are usually well-meaning and unaware of what effects they have on their children or how they can change their actions.

You may notice the following symptoms of neglect in yourself:

1. Poor Emotional Intelligence

You often have difficulties knowing, understanding, and trusting your own feelings, as well as those of others. You never learned how to identify, tolerate, or manage your feelings. Thus, rather than allowing your emotions, you feel guilty, ashamed, and even angry about having feelings at all and try to hide them.

2. Feelings of Emptiness

You’re feeling numb and hollow inside. Something seems to be missing, but you’re unsure of exactly what. You often wonder who you are or what your purpose is.

3. Low Assessment of Self

You have a poor concept of yourself and low self-esteem. It’s hard for you to accurately describe yourself, your feelings, and your goals.

4. Having the Fatal Flaw

Not only are you easily overwhelmed or discouraged, you usually end up blaming yourself for everything. You think you can never succeed and always get things wrong.

5. Fear of Dependency

You worry in excess that if you trust someone else, you will be let down. Or if you open up to another person, you will be rejected or be a burden to them.

6. Perfectionism

You tend to hold yourself to unrealistically high standards and unwittingly set yourself up for failure. Often, your lack of clarity about your own expectations for yourself or those of others for you stresses you out.

7. Difficulty Being Nurturing

Self-care is selfish in your eyes and self-indulgent. And your difficulty being nurturing to others often makes you look uncaring, unsociable, and aloof.

8. Lack of Self-Compassion

While you may have plenty of compassion for other people, you find it hard to show yourself the same kindness and sympathy. Hence, your inner critic keeps you from having a happier life.

9. Troubles with Self-Discipline

Your procrastination skills are unmatched. You always seem to leave everything to the last minute and have yet to see many projects all the way through.

If emotional neglect symptoms like these cause you trouble in your life, seek out a qualified professional to help you make more sense of your past, present, and future. You don’t have to keep suffering!

6 Unique Ways Women With ADHD Struggle (And What To Do About It)

Of course, we all experience occasions of forgetfulness, misplacing something important in a messy house or running late for appointments. But for many women, these challenges are daily events that actually impact their lives. They struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What makes it even harder? Women with adult ADHD often face several unique challenges that men with the disorder typically don’t have to contend with.

What are they and what can you do about it? Let’s see:

The Unique Struggles of Women with Adult ADHD

1. Failure of early diagnosis

Unfortunately, women with adult ADHD typically remain undiagnosed much longer than men. This may be due to the fact that symptoms in girls can be more subtle and easily missed than those in boys. They usually seem less hyperactive in a typical sense. But in reality, they’re often very frustrated by seemingly simple tasks.

What to do about it: Parents, educators, and psychiatrists need to be more vigilant, paying attention to ADHD symptoms in girls, who may otherwise be well-behaved and high-achieving.

2. Consequences of skepticism and stigma

While women with adult ADHD may seem extroverted and animated, they often feel labeled as being scatterbrained, unreliable, willful, lazy, incompetent, or unmotivated. This can cause emotional challenges, like feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.

What to do about it: Actively seek out people who appreciate the best in you and focus on the positive. Don’t put yourself in situations that will confront you with impossible expectations and negative comparisons.

3. Impact of hormones

Monthly hormone fluctuations can intensify symptoms in women with adult ADHD due to an increase of estrogen. But when a woman enters perimenopause, a strong decrease of estrogen can be just as devastating and even cause extreme forgetfulness.

What to do about it: Talking to your primary care physician and/or psychiatrist about managing the destabilizing effects of fluctuating hormones is critical. You may need extra help in handling PMS and menopausal symptoms.

4. Lack of support

For women with adult ADHD, the greatest struggle may be trying to fulfill the duties expected by their family and society in general – the role of caretaker. Often they are the support system for everybody else but lack access to a support system for themselves.

What to do about it: Give yourself a break and stop expecting the impossible of yourself. Educate your partner and family about the effects of ADHD. Ask them to handle some household matters, including taking the children away from the home without you at times.

5. Dual roles – dual stress

The dual roles of a full-time career and being a wife and/or mother can intensify stress tremendously. Problems with routine matters, such as buying groceries, making dinner, or replying to emails may lead to being overwhelmed and exhausted for women with adult ADHD.

What to do about it: Eliminate or delegate some of the things you do yourself – at home or at work. Seek advice from a therapist on parenting, relationships, or career matters that takes your ADHD into account.

6. Single parenting

Being a single parent adds additional stress for women with adult ADHD. Since the mother most often remains the primary caretaker for children, single parenting adds a huge burden to women with adult ADHD.

What to do about it: Try to approach any difficulties with acceptance and good humor. You’ll have more energy for the positive things in your life. Simplify your life and reduce some of the commitments you or your children have. Also, recognize your limitations, ask grandparents or friends to help out.

Certainly, while both men and women with adult ADHD face obstacles, the lives of women may be impacted in different ways. But with diligent effort and patience, you can learn to successfully cope with emotional challenges, social expectations, hormonal fluctuations, or single parenting.

Putting Your Partner First: 5 Ways it Helps Foster a Happier Family

“The greatest gift you can give your child is a strong relationship between the two of you.”

This quote from Dr. John Gottman highlights the pivotal part a happy family is built on – a strong marriage. Interestingly, it goes contrary to the mistaken efforts of so many who put their children before everything else.

But isn’t your first priority supposed to be your children? Would it not be selfish to put your partner first?

Sadly, couples who put their own marriage before their children are often criticized. Yet, research has shown that the children from families where spouses put their relationship with each other first most often do better in life than children whose parents put them above all.

Consider, for a moment, how putting your partner first can benefit the whole family.

How the Entire Family Benefits from a Healthy Marriage

Putting your partner first fosters a strong relationship bond and creates a happy and healthy marriage – the foundation of a family. Every member of the family, including the children, benefit from the stability of this foundation. How?

1. It allows children to become independent, responsible, and emotionally balanced adults

When you starve your relationship with each other, it can become weak and unhappy. With a weak foundation, your children lose out on the support they need for developing into independent and responsible adults. In contrast, a strong marriage, where you show interest in each other, display respect and affection for one another, and work as a team makes your children feel safe and loved.

2. It promotes less anxious and exhausted parents and less demanding and entitled children

The more attention you shower your children with, the more exhausted and anxious you usually become. Not only that, but making your children the center of everything often makes them more dissatisfied and can easily turn them into adults who think everything has to revolve around them.

3. It makes it easier to set, respect, and enforce boundaries

When you drift apart and don’t act like a team, one of you may draw closer to your children. But that makes it much harder to see clearly what boundaries your child needs to develop their personality well. Plus, you may also put more pressure on your child to fulfill your emotional need for success. Both are unhealthy patterns. Conversely, if you’re not over-involved nor use your children as an extension of your own success, you’re much less likely to cripple your children’s development.

4. It helps children grow up with good guidance and the example of a loving marriage

By putting your partner first, you children often do better in school and social situations because you taught them, by example, how to treat others with respect and handle conflict. Your example also shows them what a healthy and happy marriage should look like. This makes it more likely that your children will learn how to create such a relationship themselves and marry someone who will put them first.

5. It helps parents to maintain a solid marriage beyond the child-rearing years

Your relationship existed since before your children were born and you certainly want it to remain long after they leave home. Putting your partner first throughout the child-rearing years will contribute to continually having a close bond once your nest is empty and it’s just the two of you again.

Certainly, prioritizing your marriage while raising children isn’t easy, but it’s worth it, as it benefits the entire family. So, don’t take your relationship for granted. Carve out the time, put each other first, and fight for staying close and connected. Your family’s happiness depends on it.

Waves of Emotion: Women, What Do You Do? Ride Them or Run?


What a beautiful gift. They deepen and enrich our lives like nothing else. They can take us to the highest heights – but also to the lowest lows.

Just like the waves of the sea, the waves of emotion deep within us are in constant motion. They calm when the winds of life send you a gentle breeze, and they agitate when a turbulent storm rushes in. Feelings may wash ashore and simply wet your feet, or they can crash so hard that you could lose your emotional balance.

So, what do you do when waves of emotion swell and head straight for you? Should you turn and run? Or ride them out?

Ride or Run?

The problem with running from a wave is that it will often pursue and overtake you.

As with literal waves, getting pulled under and tossed about by your feelings is a scary thing. The harder you fight the current, the more exhausted you become.

By the time the wave ebbs and you pick yourself up again, another one is on its way.

As time goes on, for lack of strength, you can’t run as fast and you get pulled under more often. You find yourself repeating this cycle over and over. In the end, if you don’t make a change, you may even drown.

There is a better way to handle waves of emotion.

Riding them out allows you to stay on top, in control, and not be pulled under – no matter how enormous the swell may become. And you can learn how to do it!

How to Ride Your Waves of Emotions

We don’t have an inborn instinct about how to manage our feelings and achieve emotional balance. Being able to identify and manage our emotions is a learned skill:

1. Observe the waves – The first thing you’ll have to do is get a feel for your waves of emotion. Watch them coming and going, learn to name them, and recognize the differences.

2. Understand their source – Emotions just don’t magically appear out of the blue for no reason. You have to figure out what triggers them. Sometimes, their source isn’t very obvious. You have to investigate and dig deeper, exploring them without judging before you ever react.

3. Accept them – You can’t stop the waves of emotions. They’ll continue coming, wave after wave. It’s how you’re wired. Therefore, accept that each one of your feelings is valid. It tells you something about yourself. Once you accept that they’re part of you, you can simply let them flow and respect how you feel in each and every moment of your life.

4. Harness their power – Emotions have enormous power – tap into it! Even negative emotions can teach you something. For example, anger provides you energy and motivation. Fear affords you alertness and endurance. Harnessing their energy slows down the waves of emotion. You no longer fear them because you can use them to your own advantage. You are no longer helplessly at their mercy.

Achieving Emotional Balance

Remember, with every emotion, you have a choice of responses. Ignore it, explore it, or fight it. Of course, every option carries a suggestion with it for how you could react. But you don’t have to act on those suggestions. There are always more ways to respond. It’s completely your choice.

Look at your choices and ask yourself: Is how I want to react going to help me or hurt me?

Think about it carefully – observe, understand, and accept. And then pick the reaction that will allow you to harness the energy from your emotions to come up with a positive solution for yourself. One that will benefit you long-term and help you achieve emotional balance.

Counseling Questions? What You Need to Know About Professional Help

It’s important to get your basic counseling questions answered if you’ve never seen a mental health professional before. After all, the more you understand, the better the counseling experience will be for you.

Let’s shed some light on the topic and consider a few different counseling questions.

How Does Counseling Work?

Most counseling sessions take place once a week for approximately one hour. Sessions are completely confidential and may continue as long as you and your counselor feel they’re helpful.

Counseling requires hard work in the form of self-exploration, personal insight, and honesty with yourself and with your therapist. Counseling is a partnership between you and your therapist.

The therapist assimilates what you tell them and determines how the pieces come together. Your counselor will be objective and help you to identify areas of your life to focus on in therapy, and the right therapeutic approach to help you. During your appointments, your counselor may teach you coping and problem-solving skills to utilize outside your appointment times. While they’re often very candid, your therapist will never make any decisions for you.

You must be completely open and honest about your feelings, experiences, thoughts, and actions with your therapist. Commitment to the counseling process and trust in your therapist are important keys for progress and recovery. It’s imperative that you consider your counselor’s feedback carefully and practice what you’ve learned in your sessions in your daily life.

What Types of Therapies Are Common?

Individual Therapy – Sessions are held with one individual at a time. They normally focus on exploring negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and making positive changes.

Couples Therapy/Marriage Counseling – Sessions are held with two people who are in a committed relationship. It often focuses on teaching how to handle challenges, improve communication, overcome an incident of infidelity, parent cooperatively and effectively, and have a happier and more satisfying relationship.

Family Therapy – Sessions are held with more than one member of a family at the same time. It usually focuses on resolving conflict and improving interactions between individuals.

Group Therapy – Sessions are guided by a professional therapist and are held with a group of peers that work on the same problem, such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.

What Types of Mental Health Professionals Are There?

All mental health professionals are licensed, regulated, and governed by a professional licensing board, and they must abide by and adhere to a strict code of ethics for their profession. The terms “counselor,” “therapist,” and “psychotherapist,” may be used interchangeably in most mental health professions. Here is a brief description of the most common mental health professional designations:

Counselor/Therapist – An LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), and an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), are individuals who have completed a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field. They provide professional counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health services to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Social worker – A person who has a minimum of a master’s degree in social work or a related field. An LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) is trained to help families dealing with various social issues, but they are also skilled and trained in providing mental health and counseling services to individuals and couples. 

Psychologist – A person with a graduate degree in psychology who is licensed to work with patients who need mental health therapy. Most psychologists hold a doctorate (PhD) in their professional discipline. A psychologist may hold a master’s degree, and work under the supervision of a psychologist holding a PhD. Like LPCs, LMFTs, and LCSWs, psychologists provide counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Many psychologists are trained to provide specific mental health testing that they deem necessary to help diagnose specific conditions. They often work cooperatively with other mental health professionals (LPCs, LMFTs, and LCSWs) to provide needed testing for their clients.

Psychiatrist – A medical doctor (MD) whose medical specialty and training focuses on mental and emotional disorders. They are licensed to prescribe medication, and they also may provide psychotherapy. Often, psychiatrists will provide medication management for a patient, and work in coordination with the LPC, LMFT, LCSW, or psychologist who is providing counseling for the patient. Psychologists, LPCs, LMFTs, and LCSWs often refer their clients to a psychiatrist if they determine the client needs medication for their condition.

How Do You Choose Which Mental Health Professional to See?

Choosing the right mental health professional for you is a lot like finding a primary care physician, or other professional. You may know someone who can refer you to a therapist they really like. If not, search online for therapists in your area who work with your particular concern or mental health diagnosis, or ask your insurance provider for a list of therapists they work with. Contact the therapist and ask questions about their areas of specialty and training, how much they charge per session, do they accept your insurance, and other questions you have. Many therapists will offer a free consultation over the phone or in their office. A consultation gives you the opportunity to see how comfortable you are talking to them. Once you see them in person, or have a phone conversation, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about choosing a therapist that is a good fit for you.

Keep in mind that not all therapists and patients match up. You may have to find someone else if the first therapist you talk to doesn’t fit your needs, for whatever the reason. But don’t give up. Your mental and emotional health is worth finding the right fit just for you.

Negative Comparisons and Low Self-Esteem? How Women Can Nix Them!

At times, demands and perceptions from external sources can cause negative comparisons to creep into your thoughts and disturb your inner peace. It’s an alluring, but dangerous, emotional trap that only makes you feel jealous, inferior, and inadequate. This can easily lead your self-esteem to a new, all-time low.

Ruminating that someone is better looking or slimmer, makes more money, is higher up on the career ladder, has a happier marriage or a more caring partner, is a better parent, or has a lot more friends is like fighting a losing battle. There are an infinite number of comparisons you can make with an unending number of people. The Internet and social media have now driven the possibilities for negative comparison off the scale!

So, what’s the point?

Be Aware of Negative Comparisons and How It Affects Your Self-Esteem

It’s truly a shame that we ever allow ourselves to make comparisons with others. You never remain objective! Have you noticed?

Frequently, you end up comparing the worst of what you know about yourself with the best of what you presume about another person. How is that fair?

What you perceive to be true is usually what the other person lets you see. It’s an edited version of what they truly are. They’re not going to reveal their negative thoughts and emotions to the world. They will put their positive side on display. What happens is that you’re looking at a distorted and inaccurate picture when you compare yourself to others.

How could you possibly live up to that idealized image you have of them? In fact, chances are even they can’t live up to it!

Nix the urge to make negative comparisons and focus your energy on raising your self-esteem. It will free you from this unfruitful struggle and help you grow into your authentic self.

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Accept your imperfections and embrace your uniqueness.

Remember: nobody is perfect! We’re all human. We all have flaws, weaknesses, and difficulties. When you set reasonable expectations, become compassionate with yourself, and accept yourself for who you are, you truly start growing.

Stop labeling and limiting yourself.

Society may have a specific definition of success for a woman, but you don’t have to let yourself be pressed into that mold. Instead of succumbing to limiting, negative self-talk, visualize and affirm that you’re confident and strong. Step outside the box society dictates. Give yourself permission to try out new things and make some mistakes along the way.

Become aware of your own successes.

Think about what you have and have accomplished, not what you lack or haven't done. Make a list of your past achievements to motivate yourself to pursue more of your dreams and goals. You have unique gifts that allow you to make valuable contributions to the world around you. Nurture these strengths and enjoy doing what you do well.

Find inspiration without comparing yourself.

Learning from others is not comparing yourself to them. Talk with those you admire and ask them questions. Read about those who have achieved what you would like to achieve. As you learn from those you admire, do it with the right attitude and motive. Don’t let their success intimidate you. Don’t let it blind you to your own self-worth. Let it inspire you to reach your dreams. Most likely, you will find that the people you admire were vulnerable and courageous, took risks, and made many mistakes in their journeys to success.

Remember there will always be someone better.

When you realize that you are going down the road of negative comparisons again, change focus. Increase your positive self-talk, talk to a supportive and trustworthy friend, recite some positive affirmations, or read something inspiring.

Faulty perceptions, negative comparisons, and thinking that someone else is much better than you, just wastes time and energy. Focus on your own goals and motivations and commit to growing a little each day.

Above all, strive to be the best possible version of yourself – not someone else!

Shedding Should and Must: Demand Less, Get Real, and Love Well

You should be further ahead than you are right now.

You should dress better and weigh less.

You should suck it up and smile more.

You must make some changes if you ever expect to be happy.

How did it feel to read those statements?

Did you feel your body tense? Did a frisson of tension, or agreement, or even helplessness run through you?

Don’t worry. You are not alone. Too many of us really don’t know how to think any other way.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

First of all, the should and must barrage we impose on ourselves is a form of cognitive distortion. Therefore, the way we see and think about ourselves seems true but is not really accurate or helpful at all. Thus, we make the mistake of thinking we must box ourselves into doing what we perceive is right and best, rather than focus on our needs and wants.

What happens when we indulge this distortion?

Life gets hard and inflexible. All the shoulds and musts we carry around have a way of making us forget we have valid choices. In fact, you might even tell yourself you shouldn’t even want to exercise them.

Think about it, how many times have you chastised yourself or criticized your own actions or desires, reminding yourself of the multiple things you should do, say, think or become?

More specifically, how many times have you believed that:

  • good people should be focused on predetermined activities, parameters, and goals for happiness and contentment?
  • successful people must rise through work and society. They should be smart, funny, sexy, loving, well-liked, and so on and so on?
  • moral people must be pure-minded or like-minded and increasingly perfect as the years go by?

How many times have you felt you failed to meet your own list of internal demands? 

Unfortunately, should and must can take over pretty easily if we aren’t aware. To break free, intentional exploration of our thoughts, wants, and relationships is important. Consider the following ideas for relief:

1. Shed your “Shoulds” and Learn to Demand Less:

Run your list of shoulds mentally. Right now.

What should you be? Thinner, healthier, younger, friendlier, smarter, funnier…? Basically, you “should” be a better version of yourself, right? Sadly, you tell yourself all the time that you’re just not getting life right. That you’re just not good enough. 

To combat such thoughts, empower yourself. Notice should and must when they come up. Practice mindful awareness. In addition, intentionally respond to the demands you place on yourself with self-compassion.

Refuse to be bossed around by musts. Get curious. Ask yourself:

  • “Is this something I really want?
  • “Why do I believe I should do this?”
  • “What am I afraid might happen if I go my own way?”

You may find that the answers to your questions uncover some unexplored thoughts and emotions. Thus, you may be inspired to change your response. Or you may simply feel more in tune with your wants and motivations.

2. Explore your “Musts” in an effort to get real with yourself and your world

The primary problem with should and must?

That the things we should do, must have, and ought to become just don’t have much to do with who we really are.

“Shoulding” your life and relationships limits and polices your experiences unfairly. And, consequently, leaves you with few assurances that you are fine the way you are.

However, with the help of a compassionate counselor, you can learn to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behavior. Time with a good listener is extremely beneficial as you get know your authentic self and take action.

You can live your life without shoulds directing you. Learning to trust yourself will be key.

3. Minimize Should and Must to maximize your ability to live and love well

Self-compassion, self-discovery, and authenticity are gifts that accompany your willingness to shed your shoulds. In addition, you may find that you are more able to invite loved ones to a more honest, accepting and compassionate relationship with you.

Also, feeling less compelled to live up to outside demands, your tendency to control others with a list of your own shoulds and musts may lessen. Sensitivity and awareness will extend beyond yourself and open your mind to what others need and want, too. As a result, loving yourself and others can be a much more meaningful experience.

Are You Ready To Live Free?

All in all, it’s true that should and must are often sneaky, unforgiving taskmasters. But, hopefully, now you can start to believe your life is bigger than you thought… and entirely yours to reimagine.

So, go ahead, gather some solid support and get to work.

Shed your should and must habit. Change your mind. You’re ready.

Therapy Service Dog? Why Your Counselor's Therapy Dog Makes You Feel So Much Better

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” – Bernard Williams

    Your counselor’s therapy service dog comes over and sits right beside your leg, his head tilted upward, his gentle gaze fixed on you. You only glance at him for a moment. But that’s all it takes. His warm puppy eyes, glimmering with expectation, goodwill, and love, captured your heart in an instant.

    You instinctively reach out and pet his head. With a soft, satisfied grunt, he lays it onto your knee. His gesture sweeps away even the least bit of resistance left within you. Feelings of calm, warmth, and satisfaction wash over you. All barriers drop and a serene smile plays on your lips.

How did this simple animal just find the key to unlocking all the doors to touch your innermost feelings without one word?

Your Counselor’s Therapy Service Dog: The Secret Key to Your Heart

If you own a dog, you’re probably no stranger to the healing effects of their unconditional love and acceptance. If you don’t own one, you may wonder how a therapy dog contributes to you feeling so much better.

  • They have a relaxing presence.

The presence of a dog – therapy service dog or not – makes you feel safe. It provides a calming and soothing effect, making your heart rate and blood pressure drop. In this relaxed and safe setting, it becomes much easier for your therapist to build rapport with you.

  • They offer non-judgmental acceptance.

The consistency in a dog’s behavior is comforting and provides an emotional anchor. They are always happy to see you. Also, they are very forgiving and willing to accept you just the way you are, flaws and all. It’s a beautiful feeling knowing that you can count on someone who won’t judge you for anything you’ve done.

  • They provide the positive benefits of touch.

Petting a therapy service dog makes you feel happier, even when you’re talking about something that is stressful. They usually notice very quickly when you’re emotional and need a “hug”, moving to your side to allow you to pet them.

  • They model free expression of feelings.

The simplicity of their benevolence, their desire to be of service, and their ability to express their feelings without holding anything back encourages you to express yourself. When a therapy dog engages you – making you laugh or entertaining you in other ways – it takes the focus off of you and moves it to them. That can open up the way for you to talk freely without feeling like all eyes are on you.

Chemistry is the Key to Your Counselor’s Therapy Service Dog’s Appeal

Many of the aforementioned benefits are directly connected to the increase and decrease of certain chemicals in your body that stimulate positive emotions.

What exactly happens on this chemical level?

  • Stress hormones decrease.

Interacting with a therapy dog causes a significant drop in stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of these chemicals are connected to high blood pressure, emotional problems, anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping. A drop benefits your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

  • Feel-good hormones increase.

Interaction with the dog also causes a rise in healthy, stress-reducing hormones, such as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. While dopamine and endorphins lower stress and anxiety and improve mood, oxytocin has the broadest effect and most powerful healing potential of them all. In fact, human-animal interaction has a very strong impact on the level of this particular hormone. A rise in oxytocin, in turn, stimulates good feelings, relaxes your natural defensiveness, and engenders care, trust, and bonding.

Yes, quite literally, you’ve got chemistry! And that chemistry creates a feeling of safety within you. And that is the secret key to why your counselor’s therapy service dog makes you feel so much better.

Your Relationship is Heading Where? Ask Yourself These Questions

By Janie McMahan, MA, LMFT

Is he the one? Is she?

You may come to a point in your relationship where you wonder about your future together.

Are you ready to put more effort into your relationship? Or does it seem to be going nowhere?

It’s not always easy to know what’s next. And deciding if you can commit to someone for a long time is a deeply personal decision. How will you make it?

Analyze Your Relationship to See If You Have a Future Together

Taking a step back to look objectively at your relationship is an important step. It’s important to know what’s next for you both – a long-term commitment or going your separate ways.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we trust each other? Trust is essential for real love and a successful relationship. That means you can be apart comfortably. You may long for each other, but not too much. You don’t feel happier when you’re away from your partner, nor do you feel completely insecure.
  • Are we in the same boat? Of course, that doesn’t mean you agree on everything. It means you must have the same goals, the same view of your future. When one of you wants to live carefree without children and the other wants to settle down and have a big family, there’s no long-term potential.
  • Do we have respect for each other? It means liking the essence of who your partner is, without wanting to change them. You can look past their little quirks and accept them for who they are, including their flaws. As a matter of fact, you’ve contemplated introducing them to your parents.
  • Can we talk openly? You can’t have a good relationship without good communication. So, you should be able to speak openly about what is on your mind and tell them things you won’t tell anyone else.
  • Are we equals and share equally? This includes putting the same amount of work into the relationship, neither of you taking or giving a lot more. You should also both be comfortable accepting and sharing things willingly. Never should you feel obligated to do something for your partner just because they did something nice for you.
  • Can we agree to disagree? You have to be able to disagree and get over it without holding a grudge. That includes listening and taking your partner seriously, even when you think they’re totally wrong. Your goal is to work out your differences in a respectful and kind manner. Be supportive during hard times, stress, and bad moods.
  • Do we enjoy being together? You should appreciate sharing the simple pleasures of life – like laughing together. Your partner should attract you, and not just for their physical attributes. Chemistry is an important ingredient in a healthy relationship. Though, it has little to do with physical beauty.
  • Are we comfortable being ourselves? That means you don’t mind showing your weaknesses to your partner. It also means, when things don’t go right, they’re the ones you go to for comfort. And it means you feel like yourself around each other, without the need to edit thoughts or feel anxious and self-conscious. You pretty much understand each other, even without a word.
  • Do we bring out the best in each other? – Certainly, your partner can’t be everything for you. But they should be able to complement the best part of you. Being with them should make you feel like a better person.

The fact is, relationships are complicated. They may begin happily, then become negative or stale without your realizing it. Thus, there is no easy answer to figuring out future potential. But if you take a moment and reflect on these questions, you may be better equipped to prepare for whatever is next.

Baby Temperament: Carved in Stone or Flexible?

Generally, there are three categories for baby temperament: difficult/active, easy, and slow-to-warm. Each includes very different natural inclinations and personality traits.

What are these traits and how do they manifest themselves in a child’s personality or behavior?

Difficult/Active Child: Intense and Passionate

Children with this type of personality have a lot of energy and need a lot of space. They are intense, determined, and can be very vocal when interrupted in whatever they’re doing.

Busy environments and new things stimulate their passion and mood – in positive and negative ways. External sensory stimuli, like smells, sounds, or bright lights, can bother and distract them. For that reason, they can have difficulty adapting to changes and new situations.

Often, their attention span seems short. But, when they find an activity they like, they can get so absorbed that they engage in it for hours. You may find it difficult to get their attention or have them transition to another activity.

Easy Child: Happy and Responsive

Children with this type of personality have a moderate activity level and easily adapt to routines. They usually go with the flow and transition to new situations quickly, even when it’s at odds with what they need.

Sensory issues don’t bother or distract them very much. They will stay on task, able to play alone for a long time. Should a problem come up, they normally react mildly and with tempered emotions.

Slow-to-Warm Child: Careful and Passive

Children with this type of personality are often inactive, quiet, and shy, but they may get fidgety now and then. They are cautious and concerned about new situations, even frightened at times. Though, their expression of fear is normally mild. Instead of reacting aggressively, they often simply withdraw.

Their mood depends on their comfort level, and external sensory stimuli may play into that mood. If they perceive a situation as dangerous, they usually don’t engage in it. They need a lot of time to adjust to new situations and often stay to the side, watching.

Once they do warm up, they typically engage at a slow pace, needing time to feel secure enough to try out an activity. They like routines and predictability and tend to get easily distracted by new things.

Is Baby Temperament Carved in Stone or Flexible?

Scientific research into our genetic makeup has expanded a lot. Behavioral molecular genetics are even examining how our genes connect to our individual traits and personalities. It’s certain that we inherit different temperaments and aptitudes from our parents, but these inborn tendencies are not carved in stone. Our experiences, training, and personal efforts add to what we start with at birth.

As any caring and sensible parent, you surely want to give your baby the best in life. While you probably don’t want to arbitrarily put your child into a “baby temperament box,” it is good to know what their natural inclinations are. But don’t imagine your child can’t grow beyond that. As a matter of fact, you can be one of the biggest influences in their lives.

To begin with, you can make sure your baby’s environment is in harmony with their temperament to maximize psychological growth and healthy development. Knowing their personality will also help you teach and encourage your child in a way that will work best with their temperament.

So, instead of labeling them or pressing them into a fixed mold, help them to learn, expand, and adapt their personality. However, be ever cautious how your own temperament may affect how you view your child. Guide them to become the best version of themselves, not just a better version of you.

Regulate Emotions and Control Impulses: Activities to Help Your Child

Emotional self-control is an essential skill for daily living and interaction with others.

Children with poor emotional-regulating skills are more likely to have problems with aggressive behavior, anxiety, and even depression. As a matter of fact, research has found that how much self-control a person has as a preschooler can predict how well they will regulate emotions later in life.

Clearly, learning self-control must begin in early childhood.

For your child to be able to regulate emotions, you must teach them how to control impulses. How can you accomplish that? What activities can help your child to regulate their emotions?

Daily Activities That Require Your Child to Regulate Emotions

These are activities that you and your child probably do on a daily, or almost daily, basis. There’s no need to go out of your way. But if you realize you’re not doing them very often, make a consistent effort to consciously include them in your daily routine.

Consistent repetition is important for your child to truly learn. Every time they control impulses successfully, they’re learning strategies to regulate their emotions in other situations as well.

Children learn to regulate emotions and control impulses when:

  • waiting – in a line at the store or food place, for meals while sitting at a table, for food to cool down before eating it, or for a person’s attention or assistance
  • playing – side-by-side with others without touching or interfering with their project, cooperating with a playmate, play independently for a limited time while a parent attends something or someone else, or waiting for their turn
  • doing one thing before doing another thing – put away toys before taking out new ones, or wash their hands before eating
  • practicing doing only one of something – take only one cookie out of the jar, push the elevator button or the doorbell only one time
  • reading together – wait to turn the page, sit calm, or pay attention
  • having a specific place for something – a chair for reading and coloring, a spot by the door when ready to leave, or walk on the sidewalk for safety reasons
  • cooking, baking, or gardening – wait for the results, like a cake or meal be finished, or the plant to grow and bloom

Games That Help Teach Your Child to Control Impulses

Any time you ask your child to play by rules, you’re encouraging them to learn self-control and emotional regulation. Focus specifically on games that teach careful listening, paying attention, following directions, waiting, and taking turns.

Consider playing such games as Red Light/Green Light, Simon Says, Musical Chairs, Hide and Seek, or Freeze Tag. Many of these games are old-time favorites and you may remember playing them as a child. For the most part, they’re better played in groups, but you can adapt some of them for when it’s just you and your child.

There are also a lot of games that require moving to music at a certain pace – fast or slow – or games that incorporate doing something to a specific count – like hopping or clapping hands. Plus, for older children, games such as Charades, Slap Jack, Pictionary, and other board games present impulse control challenges. Consider your child’s age when selecting what to play.

To make it even more challenging, mix it up by putting a twist on a game. For example, when playing Red Light/Green Light you can change up what the commands mean. “Red light!” becomes go and “Green light!” becomes stop. It will encourage your child to go against habit and to inhibit their impulses. Similar things can be done with other games.

Every time you make a change, your child has to regulate their response anew – helping them to work out their brain muscle. So, practice, practice, practice! And have a ton of fun!

Take These Steps To Bring Your Family Closer Together

Is your family as close and as bonded as you would like it to be?

Many parents are working long hours and often lack the time and energy it takes to be truly present to their partners, their children, and their extended family.              

Common strains, such as financial and emotional demands can create tension within virtually every family. Add to that our human limitations, like being stressed, anxious, and exhausted, and you can see why the family members may feel distant from one another.

Is there a way to bring your family closer together, despite the challenges?

Steps for Bringing Your Family Together

  • Lead by Example. The most basic fact you, the parent, must understand is that you are the leader of your family – regardless of whether you’re single or married. What that means is that you must have a vision for what you want your family to be like. You must be committed to acting to get there, and you must do it in such a manner that you inspire others to imitate you.

For that to happen, the first step you must take is a good, long look at yourself and how you’re leading. The second is to prioritize what’s important and meaningful to you. Live in such a way that others can see what has value to you. When you lead this way, you can help create a good spirit in your home – a spirit of love, respect, and togetherness.

  • Communicate. To know each other well, you must share information with one another. Make it a goal to engage in conversations with your children. Discuss various subjects they’re interested in. Ask about their music, friends, activities, dreams, or goals. It goes both ways, too. Tell your children about your own life. Share stories about growing up, challenges you faced, and the rewards you received.

Say and show that you like each other, writing notes, or doing other things that affirm your mutual affection. And remember, the most important part of communication is listening. True listening does not mean “fixing” or giving advice - it means you listen and validate the other person's thoughts and feelings. Listening fuels caring, sharing, and giving.

  • Make Time. Spending time together creates a true bond. Make sure, though, that it’s fun for everyone. Try eating at least one meal together as a family. Does that seem old-fashioned? It may be, but research indicates that dining together each day helps your child live a more balanced, connected, healthy life.

As the parent, you need to learn to control your own schedule and plan to create routines to strengthen your family. Plan weekly family activities and outings, play games or support a family member for a special event. There are many opportunities to have a fun time together if you keep your eyes open.

  • Work Together. Teamwork fosters closeness, caring, and respect for each other. Do tasks or chores together – like cooking or baking, working in the garden, and household tasks and chores. Make sure you choose activities that accommodate different ages and skill levels so that everybody can participate. Show appreciation for your children’s efforts, giving them loving and genuine praise and encouragement.

Creating a close family takes effort and commitment, particularly on the part of parents. Commitment must be willing and the effort needs to be consistent on a weekly, or even daily, basis. Don’t give up against the tide of problems you might be facing.

Take one step at a time and keep building your family bond and closeness. It will certainly be worth it – now, and into the future!