Children spend a good part of every day following instructions, so it's no surprise when they don't always comply. One way to help your child mind better is to give good instructions. Here are some suggestions for giving effective instructions:
Don't forget to use praise whenever you can. It will have positive consequences, including:
It is estimated that, every day, the average child hears 432 comments or words that are negative and only 32 that are positive. You can build a more loving, cooperative relationship with your child by choosing positive words and body language when you communicate.
These tips were submitted by licensed psychologist Charley Bowen, MA, who works with children and adults at Cabell Huntington Hospital's Counseling Center. If you'd like to learn how to improve your relationship with your child, please call the Counseling Center at 304.526.2049.
“Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked into it. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~Haruki Murakami, critically acclaimed writer
Each of us goes through personal storms in life. They may come in the form of financial problems, a serious medical diagnosis, a failing marriage, a struggling child or several troubling issues all at once. Whether your personal storm was brought on by circumstances beyond your control, by decisions you made or a combination of factors, it may produce feelings like anxiety, anger, stress, fear, disillusionment and despair. The key to surviving these challenging times is in how you respond to them. Counselor Danny Hodges suggests that the journey through a personal storm can be compared to the seasons of the year:
Your stressful situation may feel like the endless misery of the dog days of summer. It may seem as though you cannot endure the ongoing stress, pressure or “heat” any longer. And like a summer storm that pops up quickly and loudly, you may react with an irritable response or quick reaction that wasn't fully thought out. You may be feeling anxious, agitated, moody and/or melancholy.
You may struggle with personal thoughts that constantly take residence in your mind, or you may resist sharing your true feelings for fear of being misunderstood or being judged. Like the luxurious foliage of fall, eventually these unexpressed feelings and thoughts fall away, leaving barrenness, bitterness and grief. You may be feeling isolated and apathetic, magnifying your past failures and focusing on self-dislike rather than the situation at hand.
Just as the frigid temperatures of winter bring ice and snow, feelings of resentment and hopelessness and a lack of sustaining faith seem to freeze your heart. You find it easier to withdraw and isolate yourself into the chilling grips of despair than to reach out to the warmth of a friend, family member, physician, counselor or pastor. You may be feeling depressed and crying a lot, sometimes for unknown reasons. You may notice significant changes in your sleep patterns, and thoughts of dying may recur.
Spring is a time of renewed perspective and anticipation, and you may begin to experience personal growth as you adjust to the challenges you have been facing. You may experience moments of anxiety as you learn to redefine or make sense of your circumstances, and you may feel a newfound sense of clarity about what you truly want, what is truly valuable and where to find genuine support. You may experience a newfound energy and feelings of courage that motivate you to move forward.
Periods of significant crisis can offer you a tremendous learning and healing opportunity, if you take the time to reflect on your experience. They force you to stretch and grow into an even better version of yourself. You may recognize strength and resilience that you never knew you possessed. Your personal storm may clear out old beliefs or habits that don't support your redefined goals and new outlook. And looking back, you may realize that the person you were before the storm wasn't equipped to achieve the goals you are focused on now.
Coping and adjusting to life crises is very difficult. When you are facing your personal storm, remember that you are human and what you are experiencing is not uncommon. Good support systems are a necessary part of your recovery. You are not alone, and others have weathered storms in their lives. It's essential to allow yourself to seek their assistance in navigating you to a safe place of confidence and hope for the future.
"When I was 11 years old, I joined a swim team. I was the new kid at school, and one of my first friends was a swimmer and invited me to join. I had no idea what I was getting into. I had only had basic swim lessons up to that point in my life, whereas my new friend had been competing on the swim team for years.
Within the first few minutes of the first drill, I thought I was going to die. I literally just laid on my back in the middle of one of the swim lanes and struggled to catch my breath. Fortunately, I didn’t panic. I don’t know how, but I managed to remain calm and relaxed. The swim coach was a huge muscular man, rather intimidating in stature. He called me to the side of the pool. Bracing myself for his anger, I was relieved when he gently pointed out that I may want to think about starting with something at a more beginner level. He didn’t embarrass me in front of the team or tell me I would never be a swimmer. Instead, he helped me think through an option that made a better fit for me.
It’s okay to say when we are in over our heads. It is okay to ask for help. There is no shame in saying I am struggling or making a decision to try something different. In fact, growth requires these things. Part of the process is finding our own pace. It is also important not to panic. If I had panicked in the pool, I probably would have started to drown. I somehow instinctively took care of myself in that moment. I was able to admit to myself and others that I could not keep up with everyone else.
Sometimes I feel like this in my recovery and spiritual growth process. I compare myself to others who seem to be more successful than me. I struggle to keep up and feel bad when I can’t. I have to stop and catch my breath. I have to remember that I am right where I am supposed to be for today. I can take care of myself in the moment. It may not be where I want to stay, but for today, it is where I am.
Self-acceptance means accepting yourself fully for the person you are, including the things you like about yourself as well as the things you don't. It is an active process that involves a willingness to experience thoughts, feelings and emotions without denial or evasion. Self-acceptance plays an important role in how we communicate and build relationships with others."
This article was written by Shelley Coleman, PhD.
If you'd like to learn more about practicing self-acceptance, please call the Counseling Center at 304.526.2049.
Grieving is a personal and necessary journey with no predictable time frame or stages. Misconceptions about grief are common in our society because we tend not to openly mourn or talk about grief. When you and those around you let go of these misconceptions, it allows you to authentically express your hurt and grief in a healthier, more healing way.
Myth #1: After a certain amount of time, you should be over it.
Sometimes people who care about our suffering say things that don’t help much, like, “Isn’t it time to get past this and move on?” or “It’s time to pull yourself together and get on with your life.”
The truth is there’s no timeline to grief. In fact, if you lost someone you cared very much about, you will never stop grieving, but your grief will become more manageable over time.
Myth # 2: Time heals all things.
Time alone does not heal the broken heart of loss. Allowing ourselves to grieve over time heals the broken heart.
Myth # 3: What didn’t hurt last year won’t hurt this year.
Sometimes we tend to think of grief in a linear form: “If I face a difficult situation or memory once, I can check it off the list and move on. If it hits me hard the next time around, I’m somehow regressing.”
Sometimes what seems like evidence of “regression” is actually evidence that you are now able to face some things that you might not have been able to face before.
Holidays, special occasions and anniversary date are often times when the pain seems to come out of nowhere. Be prepared for this. When these times are approaching, have a plan that limits extra stressors, involves people who love you, and include an escape route in case you need time alone.
Myth #4: Avoid the pain and it won’t hurt you.
Grief that is unaddressed, put aside, numbed, stuffed down, or shut off can grow bigger and less manageable. Just like ignoring pain in your side could lead to a burst appendix, avoiding the pain of loss can lead to emotional and relational ruptures in our lives.
The way to heal the pain of loss is to allow the natural process of grief to take its course for as long as it needs. Just like physical pain in the body, emotional pain is an indicator that we need to pay attention and care for the thing inside of us that is hurting.
Myth #5: Crying only makes it worse.
Working hard not to cry or shutting our tears off is like keeping the locks closed in a dam; eventually the dam will break and the resulting flood of emotion will come crashing down on us and those around us. In the meantime, the pressure is building. We can’t feel much of anything, good or bad, and our health and overall vitality suffers.
Tears are a purposeful response to various kinds of pain. Notice how a child cries when the pain is bad, or an adult cries with a migraine. Tears wash some of the pain out. Just as the body secretes the chemicals needed when there is damage to a certain body part, tears are part of our body’s natural healing response for both physical and emotional pain.
Myth # 6: Talking about my loss only makes it worse.
Choosing not to talk about our loss keeps us from interacting with painful emotions and memories and keeps the memories and the hurt trapped.
Talking about the loss loosens the grip of the pain and allows us to develop new insights and accept encouragement. Talking with someone who’s been there and is further along in the grief process is especially helpful. They will quickly understand how confused and troubled you are and can offer hope from their experience into yours.
Myth #7: Getting angry won’t help anything.
Anger is a natural part of the grief process. When you lose someone very dear to you there are a lot of things to be angry about. Simply being honest about the emotion you’re dealing with at any given time will help that emotion work its way out.
Denying or repressing anger only strengthens its grip on you and allows anger to decide how to express itself. If anger is not expressed, it takes a toll on your health, vitality and relationships.
Find a safe and appropriate way to express your anger. Talk about it. Journal it. Go slam a tennis ball into a wall. Tell someone you trust all the reasons you’re angry. Be honest with your anger.
Myth #8: I shouldn’t bring anyone down by bothering them with my pain.
Identifying a few trusted people you can reach out to with your loss can become a lifeline for you, and an opportunity for them to see their help as meaningful and purposeful to someone in need of support and comfort. Your trusting them is a blessing to them, not a burden. It could also deepen that relationship in ways you never thought possible.
Myth #9: If I only had enough faith, I wouldn’t be struggling so much.
If you loved the one who died, you will struggle. Pain and suffering are not evidence of a lack of faith. Some of the spiritual “greats” of history suffered from deep grief and depression. As we see from their lives, suffering can produce faith and character in ways that nothing else on earth can produce.
Myth #10: If I can’t get over this loss, I will never be happy again.
You will never “get over” this loss. Because you loved the one who died, you will always have some level of grief about letting them go. But you will learn to live better with the reality of the loss and how it has changed your life over time, especially as you allow grief to heal you, and as you allow yourself to be an active participant in the rebuilding of your life.
Myth #11: If I begin really living again, I am dishonoring my lost loved one.
Learning to live again is one of the best ways to honor those who have gone ahead of us. If they loved you, they would desire healing and wholeness for you.
Myth #12: Grief is a terrible emotion.
Grief is not an emotion; it’s a process of healing. There are many powerful emotions that can accompany grief, such as sadness, anger, guilt and despair, but grief itself is the natural process that allows for those feelings to be experienced, accepted, expressed and worked out. In that respect, grief is not your enemy— it is your friend. Grief is not a reason to be hopeless, but a reason to have hope that you will find your way back to a life very much worth living.
This article was prepared by Christie Eastman, M.A., LPC, NCC, ALPS, Counseling Center Manager at the Cabell Huntington Hospital Counseling Center. If you'd like to learn more about healthy grieving, please call the Counseling Center at 304.526.2049.
At times in a relationship, communication deteriorates to the point where it seems like you are each having the same interaction over and over. You react to your partner's reactions and your partner reacts to yours. Nothing really changes, and the cycle of negative behaviors, thoughts and feelings stays the same.
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples is based on the theory that humans are hardwired for strong emotional bonds with others. According to EFT, couples have relationship problems when they have experienced emotional disconnection with their partner at key moments, which then leads to struggles with negative cycles of criticism and anger, among other emotions and reactions. The goal of EFT is to help couples overcome these negative cycles, re-establish their connection, and strengthen their emotional bond.
This technique was originally developed in the 1980s, so there has been plenty of time to gather evidence about how well EFT works. The good news is that:
Emotionally focused therapy is used with many different kinds of couples and in different cultural groups throughout the world. Distressed couples who are helped through EFT include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic illness.