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Mental Wellness: Build time to slow down

traverse city counseling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published at http://record-eagle.com/features/x239062040/Mental-Wellness-Build-time-to-slow-down by Joseph R. Sanok

I can’t slow down. I need this article more than anyone. I have a baby, house, job, private practice ” the list goes on and on. I bet your list is similar. There is always a reason why I can’t slow down.

I went to the U.P. this past weekend. I sat and drank coffee, looked out at the morning water, and read a magazine. Why is it that when we get away from town, we let ourselves relax? These are three things that are starting to work for me (I’m not there yet).

Put it in the schedule

Did you know that 15 minutes is 1 percent of your day? I think we actually have time to relax for 15 minutes, we just don’t make the time. If something is written down, we’re more likely to follow through. Plan to relax.

Get out

When we are in our homes, we see the laundry, cleaning and opportunities to not relax. Planning time out of our house clears our mind and gives us permission to forget about the struggles for a space of time. Get away from your house.

Drag it out

When I do errands, I fight for the closest parking spot, hurry in, hurry out and run back home. There have been times when we have gone to the farmers market and parked a few blocks away. We strolled, looked at the river, and we didn’t hurry home. Drag out the time that you are out and about.

But why should we slow down? Shouldn’t we be more efficient and productive? Yes, this is true. There are times during the week that productivity and efficiency are of value. Yet, if we make it a lifestyle, we increase our stress, which can lead to a lower quality of sleep, which increases anxiety and depression, while lowering our quality of life.

When you step back, why are you in such a hurry and what is it doing to you? Try it for a day and see if makes you feel better.

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Friends and Crisis: Dos and Don’ts

You never really appreciate a life of normality until crisis hits. Our family has been through a number of things lately: a death, a major medical issue, and close friends having their own crisis. It is amazing how it seems that high profile events bring out people’s true social skills.

I learned through experience what not to say when someone is in crisis. It was several years ago. I heard that a friend of mine’s parents had got divorced. I was close to my friend, but not to his parents. During a large festival in our town, I ran into the mom and said, “I’m so sorry to hear about you and _______.” It seemed to be the right thing to say. She broke down crying in the middle of the festival.

I felt terrible, I didn’t know how to leave, and I regretted saying anything. After that I was fairly gun-shy. When I heard that people had a miscarriage, death, or sickness, I didn’t know what to say. So I just watched from a distance. Now that I am going through my own experiences, I feel that I have an understanding of what has worked and not worked for me.

Food

Do

Make or bring food. It allows the family to focus on one another, rather than shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

Try and make something they can freeze or bring it frozen. If others are bringing food they can pull it out when the time works for them.

If you can, use things you don’t need back like Tupperware, something disposable, or a pan you don’t care about. Tell them, “Don’t worry about getting the pan back to me.”

Don’t

Don’t expect to hang out with the family long.

Don’t just show up, call and ask if there is a convenient time.

Talking

Do

Empathize with the family. Our friends that have said, “That must be hell” “I can’t imagine going through that” and “When will the universe stop shi**ing on the Sanok’s?” have been some of the most helpful comments. It makes us feel less crazy, like our feelings are normal.

Let the family or person do the talking. Saying, “If you don’t feel like talking about it, that’s ok, but how are you doing?” This is helpful because it is nice to be given permission to blow someone off and stay quiet, yet invited to talk.

Don’t

Don’t offer suggestions unless you are asked. If people are dealing with medical issues, they probably are consulting with the doctors. If they are going through a death, their closest friends will probably know what/when to suggest therapy. In general, suggestions make people feel like you want to solve their problems and make them move through their grief, rather than be with them.

Expectations

Do

Expect that your relationship will be different for a while. They may see you more or less. They may want to sit at home and drink beer. Who knows how they will react? They may not want to talk. Realize that people handle crisis very differently and the way they react can differ too. The best thing for you to do is to carry the relationship for the both of you during this time.

Don’t

Don’t get offended when they focus on something other than your relationship. If you do get offended, don’t show it. Months later if it is still bothering you, you can talk with that person. People don’t need to think about the dynamics of your relationship as well as their crisis.

Don’t worry about spending too much or too little time with them. Ask them if it would be helpful to come over. Most people will tell you what works if you ask in a direct way.

Don’t say, “Call us if you need anything.” Say something more specific like, “Would it be helpful if we had you over for dinner? We’d love to have you, but you can totally say ‘no’.” Sometimes what people need is awkward to ask for like a gas card. Rather than ask, “What do you need?” say something like, “Here’s a gas card/meal/hug if it would help.” By giving the person an out and being specific, it helps to give them the power and control, when life seems out of control.

Depending on which side of the crisis you are (going through it or supporting through it) everyone should realize that you are lucky to have one another. As someone going through life issues, I am so thankful for people saying and doing something, even if they fumble through it. Despite the missteps some have taken, we have realized that it is all done out of love and care for us, which is absolutely wonderful to have in our life.

I would much rather have someone awkwardly try and console me, than to remain quiet out of fear…and then go through a crisis alone. Even if you don’t do all the “dos” or you accidentally do some of the “don’ts” it is ok. Just do your best.

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

 

Money, Couples, and Mayo

 

It all started when we were shopping for mayonnaise. I mean, we didn’t go to the store just for mayo, it’s not like we have an all mayo diet, but it is now known as the “Mayo Incident.” I would say that it started years before that incident, but it was the catalyst.

We had been married a month. I was determined to live frugal so that we could make ends meet. My wife knew that I was frugal and wanted to establish that we could have fun in life. I saw it as an opportunity to focus on living poor, so as to be rich later. She saw it as a quality of life issue. We both entrenched into our positions. I wanted the generic mayo that was fifty cents cheaper, she wanted to “bring out the best.”

I “won”, in that we got the off brand. She then decided that she would only eat sandwiches with mustard. I was stuck eating crappy mayo. Finally, after two months, I caved, threw it out, and we have had Hellmann’s ever since.

When I step back from the Mayo Incident, I see patterns that we have both sought to overcome. She has recognized that she did not make financially sound decisions in the past, whereas I realized that I have missed out enjoying the fruits of hard work. I don’t know exactly how we each arrived at those unique positions, but somehow, somewhere, we did.

Our first year of marriage was rough; it was not the bliss we imagined. We had to struggle through many other areas we had entrenched ourselves. What helped us was finding a common goal to work toward that was bigger than either of our own personal agendas. When we focused on where we were going as a couple, it made more sense to step back from our entrenchment.

I think this is also true in work and friendships. So often, I see that I am distracted by the present situation, that I don’t look at the broader goal. For example, I just started learning about ways to expand my counseling practice. My thought was, “If I could someday make money in a passive way, then I could spend more time with my family and not work as hard.”

That’s a good thought, but I found that instead of playing with my cute 11-month daughter, I was on Twitter, Facebook, building a website, and listening to podcasts on passive income. I had lost sight of the goal. I was giving up family time to have more potential family time.

Now I have shifted to trying to only reply to emails/Twitter/Facebook when my daughter is asleep and after my wife and I have had time together.

I think that I’ll always struggle with the balance of new, exciting projects and family time. But it is helpful to see what is happening, step back from my current project and look at the real goal. In that way, I hope to avoid another Mayo Incident and work toward my true direction I am seeking.

Joseph R. Sanok is the owner of http://www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com where he helps angry kids, frustrated parents, and distant couples. He also helps private practice clinicians be more awesome through his blog http://www.practiceofthepractice.com, where he discusses marketing, running a business, and setting up a website.

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Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Three Tips to Relax More as a Parent

How’s it going friend?
I hope that your day is going fabulous! Also, thank you in advance for passing this on to one friend, I’m sure you know a parent that can grow with you, so thanks for helping your friends through this newsletter. 

Today’s newsletter is going to be a shorter letter with a few great tips to get you started with getting rid of Mommy/Daddy stress! I’m sure you’ve heard several things to reduce your stress, but maybe you haven’t thought of it this way, when you set time aside for yourself, you are more emotionally healthy, therefore, you will respond better when you have parenting decisions to make, you won’t yell as much and you’ll be more level headed. 

Sometimes you need someone to tell you:

“Take time for yourself, you have my permission.”

Tip #1 The Magic Three
Getting quality sleep, exercise, and eating foods low in processing all help reduce stress and help you feel more focused. There is something about these three in combination that destroys stress. Exercise makes you tired, which helps you sleep child clears your mind, as does healthier foods.

Tip #2 When you say “no” you are really saying “yes”
I was wondering, friend, do you feel guilty when you say, “no”? For me it helped to realize what I was saying “yes” to when I said “no.” If you say “no” to another play date, you say “yes” to more time at home, getting things done, or relaxing, Also, when you allow yourself to hear what your body needs, it is easier. We sometimes have Mommy/Daddy guilt, thinking we always have to be educating, playing with, or engaging our kids. It is alright to step back and relax for a moment. Realize that 15 minutes of time is 1% of your kid’s day. If you step back for 1%, the other 99% will be substantially better. 

Tip #3  Outsource something
Do you have friends or family members that could watch your child for 30 minutes every Wednesday while you go for a run? Could you swap having someone clean your house floors for something you enjoy more? Sometimes we don’t creatively engage with our friends. What if we folded laundry together at your house this week and my house next week? It would be more fun and go faster.

If that doesn’t work, send me an email, I’d love to help you out. Contact me now 

If you liked this, please pass it on to a friend or post it to Facebook/Twitter. Thank you so much!

 
Do you agree?

Well friend, that’s it for now!

-Joe

Joseph R. Sanok owns Mental Wellness Counseling  and is a Dad. He loves helping angry kids, frustrated parents, and struggling couples. He lives, works, and plays in Traverse City, MI. He also just launched the blogwww.PracticeofthePractice.com where he helps therapists to be more awesome. Check it out if you are a therapist looking to launch a private practice. 

Boundaries | Tantrum-Toddlers to Tantrum-Teens

First let me say “welcome” to all of our new subscribers. It has been overwhelming to see how many new people joined us in the last month. Welcome, welcome welcome and thank you! Those of you that are the vets of the list, thank you as well for sticking with me! Now, down to business.New Website
I have completely redesigned the Mental Wellness Counseling website, so that we can have not just counseling things, but items that are of interest to anyone seeking happiness, better parenting skills, or to improve their relationships. We have had some debates within my family about the front page design, I want to know what you think, please go towww.mentalwellnesscounseling.com and let me know. Do you love it? Hate it? Think it is cheeeezzzzy?Have a question for Joe? 
Contact me now 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way.

Dear Joe,
I was out with my six-year-old and he wanted a soda pop before we left the mall, we were on our way home and I knew he’d be headed for bed. How can i reduce his tantrums over these little things?
-Soda-Pop-Mom

Dear Soda-Pop-Mom,
First, I would get down to his level. I would then say, “We are about to head home and it is going to be bedtime when we get there. A pop (or soda or “Coke” if you’re from Texas) is not going to help you sleep, so right now you can’t have a pop.” Then stand up and let him throw his tantrum.

After about 30 seconds, get down on his level again and say, “That’s not going to work, we need to head home.”

Most kids will eventually get it together within 3 minutes or so. If they seem to go longer, ask yourself if you have been giving in to this behavior. If so, are you teaching them to tantrum to get their way?  More times than not, when this approach is applied, the problem behavior disappears within a few times of consistently following this approach. The book Common Sense Parenting has a number of resources that can help, check out my website for some other ones that I think are great:http://www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com/resources/parenting/.

-Joe

By Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

I just spoke at this group in Traverse City called Single MOMM. We talked about boundaries, kids, and friends. We discussed three things: 1. Make the boundary clear 2. Give feedback on the boundary 3. Make following the boundary easier.

For kids, being specific and clear about the boundary is the most important part. They will find a way around it or genuinely not understand. You then may mistake ignorance for defiance. So make it really clear.

Second, consequences are a great way to teach kids. Giving positive consequences to encourage positive behavior is the most effective way to change a behavior because you are teaching a new skill to replace the old skill. Thus, when you stop reinforcing and old way of getting something and encouraging the new, the child starts moving (sometimes very slowly) in the correct direction. Shoot for a 5:1 ratio of positive:negative.

Lastly, all this should lead into making the right path the easiest. Tear down barriers, if there have been problems with homework, design it so they can make the right choice easiest. The old way should be the hardest way to get what they want.

If that doesn’t work, send me an email, I’d love to help you out.Contact me now 

Do you agree?

That’s it for now!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Four Things Every Preschooler Should Do Every Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Joe,
My five year old daughter talks to everyone, she is a lovely person with a big personality. I am worried that she will talk to strangers and it could lead to something bad. What are your thoughts on “stranger danger.”
-A Mom in Traverse City, MI

Dear A Mom in TC,
First of all, it is great that your daughter has such great social skills. It is wonderful to see kids develop abilities to socialize at such a young age. I have often found it interesting that in my generation we were taught “Don’t talk to strangers” and then later in life we were suppose to switch to start “networking” with strangers once we were in a career. When the fear of strangers is put into a child, it often stays through life. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has called “stranger danger” a myth. As well, the National Criminal Justice Reference Surveys(https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=206179) discusses how most abductions occur from family members or people that are in the child’s life.
This is not to say that you should do nothing. In general, talk to your kids about what makes a person “safe”. Talk about good touch/bad touch. Talk about not keeping secrets. Believe your child when they are worried or scared, and keep communication lines open. Also, watch for people that are in your family or friends that may spend too much attention on your child. They might be nice or they might be a creeper, unfortunately, as parents we have to keep our radar up.

Give those strategies a whirl and let me know how it goes.
I hope that helps.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Every parent wants their child to be healthy, happy, smart, and a functioning member of society. So what are some habits that are essential to building your child’s success? Here are four things that you should do your best to incorporate into your child’s life:

Sleep
A regular bedtime for kids that has a well established routine is essential. A lot of parents underestimate how much sleep their child needs, and that some parents don’t know what their “well-rested child” would really act like. Behavior problems can often be a perpetual lack of sleep. This can also be true of keeps and sugar. Parents may not know what their well-rested and unsugared child would look like. Further,
many parents drop rest/nap time too quickly. Or they will choose “rest time” is in front of a TV watching a video, where it seems like quiet time on their bed with some books would be a better choice. According to Dr. Weissbluth, MD and sleep researcher from Northwestern University School of Medicine: Four year olds on average get 13 hours of sleep per day. With 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep and at least one hour of daytime sleep.

Outside Time 
It is hard to be outside and not active…the two seemed to go hand in hand. The fresh air is good for kids and helps them sleep better too. As well, time outside in non-defined play (play that the story is not handed to the child) produces more creative thoughts and opportunities to explore their world. As well, with the discussions about obesity, fitness, and healthy eating, outside time can be a part of an overall healthy life.

Creative Time
Ever wonder why we loved a giant box over any other toy? There were no limits as to what it could be: a spaceship, car, castle, ice cream stand, tunnel into the center of the earth where there are golden fairies and monsters. Boxes are amazing! When kids can explore through their play, it helps them build neurological pathways differently than kids that have very defined play. For example, when a child has watched a specific TV show and then has action figures from that show, research shows that they tend to retell the story, rather than create completely new stories. Give kids the opportunities to create their own story lines and pictures.

Physical Touch
Kids need hugs, comfort, and to know that they are accepted, especially from the men in their lives. Physical touch helps them develop their senses. The Harvard University Gazette stated, “Hugs are as vital to the health and development of infants as food and water, according to decades of research by a Harvard scientist.” (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1998/06.11/OfHugsandHormon.html). Although this focused on infants, it clearly continues throughout childhood (and maybe even adulthood, could an extra hug reduce your stress?).

With these four daily routines you will see your child’s behavior continue to improve and grow, further academic success later in life has been tied to all of these habits. Today is the best day to start!

Do you agree?

That’s it for now!

-Joe

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Blah in our Brains

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. sanokcounseling@gmail.com

Dear Joe,
What are some approaches to improving bed time routines for my kids? They are 9, 12, and 13.
-I Need a Break, Kalamazoo, MI

Dear I Need a Break,
First start with their ages and how much time they need to sleep. Depending on their wake-up and bus times most 9 year old should be in bed between 8:00-9:00, however, since you have two old kids you may want to have the 9-year-old have and 8:30, 12-year-old 8:45, and 13-year-old 9:00. Until high school, most kids should go to bed prior to 9:30. Once you determine the times that you want, stick to them. Start the bed time routine at least 15 minutes before, that means no TV for the 15-30 minutes before bed.

One technique that seems to work well is the have weekend bedtimes based on weeknight compliance. For example, “If you go to bed at 8:30 during the week for 3 nights, your weekend bedtime is 8:45, 4 nights 9:00, all 5 nights 9:30.” This provides a clear positive consequence for the desired behavior. Some families create charts to keep track. Also, tying their behavior to the social skill of “building trust” can help. For example, “Thanks for being in bed on time. By doing that, you are showing me that I can trust you to do what you need to do.” Then, when they ask if they can do something, you can say, “You know, you have done a great job building trust at bedtime, sure you can go to the store with your friend.”

Give those strategies a whirl and let me know how it goes.
I hope that helps.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Blah in Our Brains
By Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC
I hate the time change. I don’t understand why during the darkest part of the year, we make it darker. I would much rather have it stay dark until 10:00 am and have light in the evening. But maybe that’s just me. This time of year triggers in people a sense of fatigue, sadness, depression, and feelings of blah. Whether you deal with clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder, or feelings of blah, there are several things you can do that will help you feel better.

Get More Light
Even when it is light outside, it seems to still be cloudy in Northern Michigan. A window usually is not enough. Regular lights do not capture the full light spectrum. They usually only have the blues and violets. Getting outside and sitting by a window will help, but changing some of your bulbs in your office or home to full-spectrum light bulbs can really help. A number of studies have shown that full-spectrum light can help with depression, sadness, and the feelings of blah (blah is not a clinical term used in research studies). Bulbs usually run $14-$24 dollars, a lot cheaper than therapy.

Get More Exercise
Exercise releases natural endorphins in your body. I was at the University of Michigan Depression Conference last year and one speaker was discussing how some studies are showing that exercise paired with counseling can be more effective than psychiatric medication. Even a short walk or taking the stairs can be helpful.

Get More Veggies
Fruits and vegetables can help with replenishing the body’s nutrients. Loads of colors in your diet are helpful. A diet of reduced processed foods helps to make the brain more receptive to light and exercise during the winter months. WedMD has a number of helpful nutrition suggestions,http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery

Get More Socialization
When I work with clients dealing with depression they often get into a cycle of alone time. They don’t feel like going out or doing anything which makes them feel like they don’t want to go out and do anything. During winter months we often feel like we want to hunker down and stay home. Socialization and new activities help us free up the blah in our brain.
Once you try these tips, you will hopefully see changes. With that said, you also need to know when to talk with your health care provider about pursuing additional options.
As with any change, it is better to start small and make little changes that you can do. Maybe for you a step would be to change a light bulb, go for a daily walk, eat broccoli again, or plan a potluck with friends or family. The hardest part is taking a step in the right direction, after that you will pick up momentum and have a blah-free winter.

Do you agree?


Resources 
University of Michigan has a great set of resources called The Depression Tool Kit. There are videos, worksheets, and tons of resources. Check it out, it will help you and/or the people you work with! http://www.depressiontoolkit.org/

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Ask Joe

Therapy family counseling Traverse City

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. joe@mentalwellnesscounseling.com Dear Joe,
There is so much in the news these days about sexual orientation and tolerance in schools and communities (anti-bullying, etc.) and I’ve seen videos about people who knew at a very young age that they were “different” but never know how to deal with it, or what it meant. How should a parent talk to a child about “being gay” if they suspect that their child may show signs of homosexuality? A parent wouldn’t want to frighten a child by insinuating this about them, but wants them to know that they are loved and accepted no matter what. How do you think such a conversation could go?
Please Help- Traverse City, MI

Dear Please Help,
Thanks for this question. Yes, this is a topic that many parents are concerned about. As well, we as a community need to look at this issue, especially because suicide amongst GLBTQ teens is shown to be higher. I think that there is a three-prong approach regarding the topic of homosexuality and talking with your kids.

1. Create an environment that is conducive to conversations about the issue. If someone in your home, on TV, or somewhere else says something like, “That’s so gay” meaning “That’s so stupid” correct them. As you work to create a home where it is safe to discuss these issues, it makes questions of homosexuality or really any difficult conversation easier for your child. No matter what your beliefs about homosexuality or faith perspective, you want your kids to be able to talk with you about the issues they are concerned about.

2. Engage in non-threatening conversation. There’s a reason that schools start with birds and bees before they teach kids the whole story. It helps kids learn the whole context of sexuality. As a result, it is also healthy to take this approach when there are gay characters on TV, movies, or in the headlines. For example, Traverse City just had a vote on an ordinance regarding GLBTQ issues surrounding employment and housing. Asking your kids about their thoughts on these types of things can be a non-threatening way to discuss the issue. Also, talking about characters in TV, what they are thinking, how they are acting, and what your kids think are important. Rather than just telling them what you think, tech them to think. Part of your role as a parent it to teach your child how to engage in the world as a thinking citizen.

At the heart of these discussions is that your kids should feel that they are being listened to. If your child tells their thoughts, only to be told that they are not correct, they will be less likely to ask you questions. Do you want them going to their friends instead? Who knows what kind of misinformation they may get. So make sure you are educated on the issue and if you are not sure, just tell your child, “I don’t know, but let’s research it together.”

3. Don’t press the issue. Once you have created a sound environment and showed that questions are ok, let you child make steps in their decisions as to how to express their sexuality. For them, they may need time to process their sexuality. Mentioning that you will always love them no matter what can be helpful, as long as it does not come out of no where, but in the context of a conversation. Some kids come out in high school, others college, others may be straight, but just are more effeminate. During this time of stepping back, educate yourself as much as you can.

I hope that helps.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Setting a Good Example
From http://parenting.org/article/setting-good-example
We often hear the expression, “Children are like sponges,” uttered by parents, grandparents, educators and counselors. This phrase captures the reality that children are always learning from what they see and hear, and that the vast majority of what they learn comes from watching their parents. Parents can model a variety of behaviors to their children, including how to behave appropriately when angry.
Role Modeling and Anger
Anger is a naturally occurring emotion that cannot be avoided. All kinds of circumstances can trigger it. Parents model for their children how, and how not, to manage anger every day. Parents teach their children to manage anger well when they remain calm, cool and collected even when they’re upset over a circumstance or behavior. Parents teach their children how to manage anger poorly when they yell, become aggressive, throw things, slam doors or swear in response to angry emotions.
Wherever you fall in the spectrum of being a good or poor manager of your anger, here are six valuable strategies that can help you improve your and your child’s behavior.
1.    Make a list. Think about instances where you managed your anger well and times when you didn’t. Record when and where those times happened, and who and what tends to set you off.
2.    Evaluate your behavior. Assess the reasons behind the times when you managed your anger well. Identify what helped you control your anger.
3.    Assess your anger. Reflect on situations when you are likely to become angry and not manage your anger well. Determine if you tend to lose your temper at certain times of day, with certain people or in certain circumstances.
4.    Watch yourself. Pay attention for a few days to how you act when you are angry or frustrated. Ask yourself if the behavior you display when you’re angry is something you want your child to imitate. Decide to practice good behavior and discontinue bad responses to anger.
5.    Express yourself. Decide how you can express yourself better when you are angry. Think of and practice situations that typically make you angry. Then visualize yourself having a positive, rather than negative, response.
6.    Communicate. Tell your child that you are working to manage your anger better. Apologize if you have mistreated him or her when you felt angry. Tell your child you will do your best to act differently in the future. Make a commitment to change.
Another good tactic is to ditch the age-old saying, “Do as I say and not as I do.” It doesn’t help you be a better parent and it doesn’t help your child grow into a responsible, successful adult. Understand that children most often copy what they see and not what they hear. Commit to being a positive role model for your child to imitate. Let your children see you manage your anger in a positive way by expressing it appropriately and calmly, without raising your voice or your hand. Doing so will speak louder than angry words ever could.
Do you agree?


Resources
This is a great “Happiness Quiz” that will give you resources and ideas on how to improve happiness. A lot of the suggestions are based on strong research: http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/happiness-quiz/

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Tired Parents

 

Counseling "Traverse City"
Counseling "Traverse City"

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. sanokcounseling@gmail.com

Dear Joe,
I have a toddler will not take naps. They are clearly tired but it is always a fight. Usually he falls asleep, but it is always a battle. Any suggestions?
-Tired Parent in Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Tired Parent,
There are a few factors to take into account. First you’ll want to watch for sleep signs and second you will want to monitor overall sleep patterns. Kids in the 0-5 range give a number of clues they are tired well before they are cranky. Our 5-month daughter will scratch her ears, rub her eyes, yawn, and just seem to be slowing down. As kids grow, they want to stay engaged so they fight the body’s natural slow down. We as parents need to be asking ourselves if they are slowing down or waking up? If they are slowing down, we need to reduce stimuli and make it easier to transition into sleep. Some parents are fearful of stopping a TV show or activity if they see sleep signs. But this is a very important step. Imagine if your child was extremely hungry, you would try and give them a snack. Sleep is the same kind of need.

Second, in the book and blog “Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Weissbluth (see www.weissbluthmethod.wordpress.com), he discusses how sleep perpetuates sleep. Therefore, if your child is going to bed too late, it will hurt nap time routines. Most kids need 12-14 hours of sleep. This isn’t just 0-5 year olds, older kids need 10-12 too! When the overall sleep plan is developed, while also looking at sleep signs, the nap time ritual should get easier.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Sixth-Grade Developer Teaches Students How to Make Apps
http://www.good.is/post/this-sixth-grade-developer-is-teaching-students-how-to-make-apps/

Where can today’s students go to learn how to make an app? That’s the question Thomas Suarez, a sixth-grader from suburban Los Angeles, asked himself after realizing that most of his peers like to play games and use apps, but schools don’t teach the basic programming skills needed to make them. So Suarez, who taught himself how to make apps using the iPhone software development kit—he created the anti-Justin Bieber, Whac-a-Mole-style game “Bustin Jieber”—decided to start an app club at school.

Suarez has been a technophile since kindergarten, and he already knows several programming languages. At a recent TEDx conference, he explained how students in the app club get the opportunity to learn and share their app making with each other. The club even asked the school’s teachers what kinds of apps they could use in the classroom and then set out to design them.

Why isn’t an app club standard fare at schools like French or drama clubs? It would allow students to learn both problem-solving skills and programming basics in a practical, fun way. Let’s hope Suarez’s app club idea spreads so that more kids can make the transition from app user to app developer. Do you agree?


R
esources
Get some great free music through Groove Shark (www.grooveshark.com). It uses an online playlist, so it is not illegal. My daughter really likes Johnny Cash’s Children’s Albumn.

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Giving Good Instructions to Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. joe@mentalwellnesscounseling.com

Dear Joe,
I have taken away my child’s TV, but I still see them watching it when I get home from work. I give consequences and they won’t do them, any strategies?
-Frustrated in Traverse City

Dear Frustrated,
There are several approaches that may work. Rather than take away TV time when you are not there, try and institute changes when you are available. For example, say your child rolls her eyes and says something to you that warrents a consequence. Say to them, “Because you rolled your eyes and did not accept my decision tonight you will not have TV. However, you can choose to clean the bathroom as your consequence instead.” By giving them a choice, they are more likely to follow through.

If you have not been consistent in the past, your child will not expect you to follow through. Often times, parents feel they need to justify or convince their children. However, your actions of giving positive and negative consequences will speak much louder than anything you say. By building your skills and consistency, you are showing your child that you are someone they can trust. Good parenting leads to feelings of security and trust.
-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Giving Good Instructions to Children

From www.parenting.org
Author:

Deanne C. Haisch, M.A., LMHP

Does getting your child to do something feel like an impossible task? One of the reasons may be the way in which you are asking. Children are not necessarily receptive to the types of verbal instruction that we use with our spouse, colleagues or other adults. Instructions for children must be given in a way that they understand. Below are some helpful hints on how to give kids instructions that will make both you and your child more successful.

Get your child’s attention – Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you give a direction. You should be within three feet of your child so you can talk in a normal or calm voice. This helps your child know that you are talking to him/her. You can get your child’s attention by calling his/her name, making eye contact, or turning off the lights.

  • Be clear and concise – Instructions should be short and to the point. The fewer words the better. A good guide is one word per year of life. (ex. Instruction for a two-year-old might be “shoes on”; where a five-year-old might be “go get your shoes on”). If there are too many words, it becomes more difficult for the child to know what is expected. The instruction should also be free of vague words.
  • Give one instruction at a time – Do not give your child a long list of instructions. When you give more than one instruction at one time, your child may forget, not understand, or feel overwhelmed.
  • Be realistic – Give your child instructions that you know he/she can follow. For example, do not expect a 3-year-old to get completely dressed by him/herself.
  • Be positive – Let your child know what you want them to do rather than not to do. When we only describe the negative behavior “don’t run” we still leave many other options available (skipping, hopping, etc.). Telling the child what we want them to do “walk, please.” Does not allow for any other options.
  • Don’t ask, tell – Do not ask your child to do something. Instead, tell your child in a firm but pleasant voice what you want them to do. Do not say “will you go brush your teeth?” To the child this implies that they have a choice. Instead, say “go brush your teeth.”
  • Reward compliance – let your child know that he/she did a good job following the instruction. Praise your child. The more you praise your child the better the chances that he/she will follow directions in the future.

Examples of Good Instructions:

  • John, give me the truck.
  • Lindsey, go wash your hands.
  • Dylan, look at the book.
  • Taylor, put three blocks in the bucket.
  • Jessie, walk next to me.

Resources
Learn about kids and sleep:
http://www.sleepforkids.org/
http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/not_tired.html

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Four Parenting Tips

Counseling Traverse City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Parenting Tips

Parenting can be so complex, here are some quick tips to get you going:

1. Start observing: When you review your child’s behavior, what do you see, hear, and observe. What is your starting point? Once you establish the description of behavior, it will be easier to determine what you want to change. What is normal for them? Do they do the behavior one time a day, hour, week?

2. What are they getting?: Kids do behaviors for a reason, it is your job to figure out what that reason is. Are they avoiding something? Gaining something? Usually they are trying to gain something positive or avoid something negative. After you know what they are doing (step 1) and know what they are getting/avoiding, you can create a plan.

3. Plan for change: You want to make your path the easier path for your child. This can be through setting up positive consequences (privileges or praise) or negative consequences (chores and time away from things they like). Once you start your plan, you will want to see how you are doing.

4. Review how you and your child are doing: After you begin your plan, check in with your child. Say something like, “A week ago you were saying ‘no’ 2-3x per day, but I’ve noticed that it has really gone down.” Also, evaluate your own consistency and quality.

Starting with these four steps are a great way to start working on specific behaviors.

If this newsletter got forwarded to you, you can sign up to get each and every issue, www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com

Resources
This is a great video about our changing world and what it will take for our kids to get jobs! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo

That’s it for now, keep in touch!

-Joe

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.