Blog : traverse city

Pure Michigan Litter: The Psychology of Trash

Pure Michigan Litter: The Psychology of Trash

A number of photos have recently been circling the Facebook-Twittersphere about the trash at the Traverse City National Cherry Festival. As a counselor and psychologist, I’m interested in the human behavior behind the problem.

I’ve traveled throughout Haiti, Nepal, Thailand, and much of South America. In those travels, I’ve observed how different cultures view trash.

What happened in Traverse City at the National Cherry Festival was that after fireworks, air shows, and the 4th of July, people left piles of trash on the northern Michigan beaches. Here are a few observations and best-practices that we can all learn from.

Here is an awesome video about one way to make throwing trash away more fun.

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Traverse City Marriage Counseling

Traverse City Marriage Counseling

5 Tips for Distant Couples

Traverse City Marriage Counseling | Tip #1

Focus on the big goal of marriage: Why did you get married? Probably to spend your life with someone, have a level of intimacy, and grow with them. If you keep focused on the big goal of marriage, feeling that intimacy, then you’ll have an easier time letting go of the small things. When we do marriage counseling with couples in our Traverse City office, we often find that they aren’t focusing on the big goal of marriage. The book ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer is a great resource to help focus on the big goals of marriage.

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Traverse City Family Counseling

Traverse City Family Counseling

5 Ways to help angry kids

Are your kids angry? Did your son recently get a MIP? Does your daughter sneak out? Do your kids throw tantrums? As experts in counseling children, working with angry kids, and family counseling, we want to help. Whether that is through reading our blog posts about family counselor or scheduling an appointment, we’d love to be a resource to you and your family. Counseling is a tough journey, but it can help families grow closer.

Traverse City Family Counseling | Tip #1

Be consistent: Kids want to know what to expect. A parent should be the most reliable person in a child’s life. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Follow through will help your child feel safe.

Traverse City Family Counseling | Tip #2

Have Goals: Having goals for yourself and for your child will help you to know what you want done. The more clear these goals are, the better. It helps to break those goals down into smaller points.

Traverse City Family Counseling | Tip #3

Keep your emotions under control: Every child knows how to push their parent’s buttons. When a parent keeps their emotions under control, it teaches children how to react in difficult situations. Here’s an inforgraphic that we use in family counseling.

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How to Improve Kids’ Sleep | 10 resources to help kids sleep

How to Improve Kids’ Sleep | 10 resources to help kids sleep

How to Improve Kid’s Sleep

As parents, we want to stay educated and up-to-date on what best helps our kids learn, grow, and thrive. This page is centered around the topic of sleep. Why sleep? Here are a few reasons:

1. Sleep is core to improvement and maintenance in a number of areas including attention, depression, anxiety, and learning.

2. For kids to prepare their brains for learn absorption, they need 8-10 hours of sleep.

3. Behavior changes can be addressed quickly through improving sleep.

Tools to help learn about kid’s sleep

Below you’ll find several tools, resources, and articles that can help you as a parent to educate yourself about the topic of sleep.

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Microbes, Your Gut, and Your Brain | How new research is changing the face of anxiety

Microbes, Your Gut, and Your Brain | How new research is changing the face of anxiety

That phrase, “I just felt it in my gut,” might be true after all.

Researchers are now finding that what we eat actually has a profound biological effect on our mood. It’s because we’re feeding a bunch of microbe in our body. They react to what we eat. In fact, they out number our cells 10:1. In fact, they may be more in control of us that we ever thought possible!

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Kids should play more video games…or should they?

Kids should play more video games…or should they?

Watch Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk above to know how this fits into video games.

Hospice Workers Report Top 5 Regrets on Deathbeds

Here’s the link to the article

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

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Why you should sleep more | Better sleep = Better grades

Why you should sleep more | Better sleep = Better grades

9 ways to get better sleep

Sleep is when our brains organize what has happened. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep. People/kids in school need 8-10 hours to appropriately categorize what they have learned.

Less sleep = More anxiety/depression/academic failure

Don’t have a TV in your bedroom, it stimulates your brain to think it is morning and makes your brain want to be awake in bed

Turn off screens 30 minutes before bed, it’s like looking at the sun and wondering why you are awake

Keep a notepad next to your bed to write down ideas/to-do list, it frees up your brain

Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day

Reduce caffeine after 3:00 pm

No alcohol 2 hours prior to bed

Take a melatonin (talk to your doctor first)

Breathe deeply

Focus on something like tightening and releasing your muscles, to stop yourself from thinking about the day or tomorrow

 

counselor Traverse City counseling familyJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI, where he helps families, kids, parents, couples, and individuals to reach their goals. He knows that sleep issues are prevalent with kids and parents, when families can have stronger bedtime routines, issues of behavior, anxiety, depression, and academic concerns all typically improve. He is also the author of Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier

 

Nine ways to get better sleep

Nine ways to get better sleep

9 ways to get better sleep

Sleep is when our brains organize what has happened. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep. People/kids in school need 8-10 hours to appropriately categorize what they have learned.

Less sleep = More anxiety/depression/academic failure

Don’t have a TV in your bedroom, it stimulates your brain to think it is morning and makes your brain want to be awake in bed

Turn off screens 30 minutes before bed, it’s like looking at the sun and wondering why you are awake

Keep a notepad next to your bed to write down ideas/to-do list, it frees up your brain

Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day

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Joe’s new parenting book

Joe’s new parenting book

Joe’s New Book

Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier

 

From Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier:

Control vs. Voice

So how do we use this new information about guiding our kids to help them change their behavior? Ultimately, you have no control over your child. They make decisions every day. They are their own persons.

Webster’s defines “control” as: “To exercise restraining or directing influence over. To have power over. Reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels <control an insect population> <control a disease>”

The part of this definition that I like is the “directing influence over”. I would argue that this comes less from control and more from having a voice in your child’s life.

One of Webster’s definitions of “voice” is, “wish, choice, or opinion openly or formally expressed.” So to have a “voice” in your child’s life is for your wishes, choices, and opinions to somehow take root in them.

Think about who has a voice in your life. Who can say to you, “Here is my opinion” and you consider it?

Is it your mom?

Dad?

Best friend?

Wife or husband or significant other?

How did they gain that voice in your life? Did they do something? Did they act a certain way? Is it because you have seen how they live their life and you respect that? Do you aspire to be like them or certain parts of them? What is it that allows them to have that voice, not control, in your life?

I believe that it is trust. They somehow built trust in you. Building a voice comes from trust. For kids, that trust comes from three specific things. To build trust as parents we must demonstrate:

  1. Consistency and love
  2. Set an example
  3. Spur something in our children that brings life

Consistency and Love

In future chapters I will discuss more in-depth what this looks like and ways that you can increase consistency and demonstrate your love. One definition of “consistency” is “agreement or harmony of parts or features to one another or a whole.”

To be a consistent parent, you have to have harmony in what you do. What does this mean? It means that it is better to say nothing at all, rather than a false promise. By false promise I mean not following through on things you say. If you give a warning to a child regarding their behavior, then follow through.

When you start thinking this way, two things will happen inside of you. First, you will slow down the frequency of threats that you make because you know that you need to follow through. Also, you will evaluate the intensity of threats.

One thing about threats: they don’t work.

 

Threats don’t work

Why don’t threats work? Think about it this way. Your boss keeps coming in your office for two weeks reminding you of a date that a report is due. She says, “If it’s not on my desk on November 12th, then I’m writing you up.” November 12 comes and goes, you had some crazy things happen in your family and you just couldn’t get it done.

Then in January she does the same thing for the report due January 29th. Again you miss the mark and it comes and goes, yet no write up. Imagine this happened over 18 years in the company. Sometimes she does write you up sometimes she doesn’t.

Now imagine a different scenario. At a staff meeting she announces that reports need to be timely. To try and help the staff keep it in their mind, if the November 12th report is in on time you will get an overnight at the hotel of your choice and if not, then you will be written up.

No more reminders.

Then she does what she says.

Often parents believe that they have a voice in their child’s life and that is enough, but really a voice is earned through consistency. Your action of giving positive or negative consequences will speak more than anything you could say ahead of time or threaten.

Even when threats do seem to work, it is usually not based on building a long-term voice in your child’s life.

The second part of this is building love. I trust that you love your child deeply; otherwise you would not be reading this book. So it is not how to build your love for your child that is the issue, it is how do children receive love?
Consistency in parenting helps kids feel safe. If you are about to manage a child in a grocery store and help her choose good choices there, then you can definitely take on any monster, bad dream, bully, and tornado. Kids fear all sorts of things.

A psychologist named Maslow created what he called the “Hierarchy of Needs”. His belief was that if basic needs are not met is it is harder or impossible to work toward higher needs. Thus, if safety needs of security aren’t met, it is harder to build feelings of love and belonging.

I had a client recently who had her apartment broken into. She was staying up all night because she was scared someone would break in, then she was sleeping during the day, but her classes were slipping. Her feelings of lack of safety made it harder for her to do more complex thinking like that which is required in school.

The same is true for kids, as they see that you can handle a variety of situations, they will trust that you can protect them…

counselor Traverse City counseling family

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling. He is also the author of the books Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier
and Practice of the Practice | A Start-up Guide to Launching a Counseling Private Practice

14 Ways to Show Your Kids Love on Valentine’s Day

14 Ways to Show Your Kids Love on Valentine’s Day

Traverse City counseling counselor kids
Even parents need reminders. Sometimes it’s easy to just get in the routine of parenting. Although Valentine’s Day is often for lovers, we love our kids! It is a special day to share with them just how much they mean to you. Here are a few tips and ideas.
  1. Take them out for breakfast.
  2. Give them 14 extra hugs.
  3. Make a list of everything that they are doing right, read it to them at breakfast.
  4. Treat their mother or father well, even if they are a jerk.
  5. Have one-on-one time with them.
  6. Play a family game.
  7. Make their favorite meal for dinner.
  8. Plan a family outing, go for a hike, or explore something new.
  9. Do a craft together and then give it to someone special in their life, let them pick the person.
  10. Read an extra book at bedtime, even if you are really tired.
  11. Be home when they are home.
  12. Make a list of what they have taught you and read it to them.
  13. Do something playful that uses energy like playing in the snow.
  14. Redirect your own frustrations and anger and respond as graceful as possible to situations.

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Parenting Soup

Parenting Soup

Being a good parent is like making soup. For those of you who have never made soup, except out of a can I’m sorry. You are truly missing out.

When making a good soup you can of course follow a recipe. But, some of the greatest surprises are when you create a soup from what you have and then it is amazing. As you sip that steamy amazing broth and dip bread to absorb the flavor, you understand that you may never taste this exact soup again. You savor it. When it is gone, you attempt to replicate it, but only if you are lucky will you create the exact same flavor again.

When I make soup, I look in the fridge and review what we have and need to get rid of. If we’re lacking, I move toward the freezer. I may start with sautéing meat or onions, then I’ll add additional vegetables to create a depth of flavor. I may add some flour to the oil or butter to make a roux.

When I was volunteering in New Orleans at a shelter for people in the final stages of AIDS, I asked a number of the nurses, “Can I have your gumbo recipe?” They almost always replied, “Son, you just use whatcha got in da fridge, or you use Zataran’s.”

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2013 goals

2013 goals

Now that Christmas is behind us, 2013 goals are here. Maybe this will help you reach those goals this year. Whether it is to be a better parent, help your kids, improve your marriage, exercise more, or just create a better you…this should help!

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How to get through the holidays

How to get through the holidays


Traverse City Counseling Private practice

Step 001: know what you want and what makes you happy

        

Step 002: tell yourself that no matter what happens, you are going to do your best

                        

Step 003: prepare your family as best as you can.

 

 

Step 004: do your best to be happier, more helpful, and a better person. Try to let things go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

counselor Traverse City counseling familyJoseph Sanok , MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor in Traverse City, MI, where he helps angry kids, frustrated  parents, and distant couples…and just about everyone else. He loves the holidays and can’t wait to eat pierogies!

A rap is worth a thousand words

A rap is worth a thousand words


Parents rap about maintaining their household by videosonlytube

I just saw this video. I don’t have much insight regarding counseling or therapeutic issues to write about. More that I just love how this couple seems to work together. It is so easy to get caught up in life’s tasks, but when a couple fires on all cylinders it feels so good to watch and for the couple it is great.

John Gottman, a marriage researcher talks about a couple’s tendency to begin to live parallel lives. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work he talks about how over time, a couple can drift away from one another. Their parallel lives become more like roommates, than as partners.

Dr. Gottman discusses how couples need to have a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative. I would take that a step further. Couples also need to focus on daily interactions that cause strife and grow their cognizance of how their mood and personality can change the tone of the environment.

Further, marriage research discusses how a couple needs to look at their issues and see if the are resolvable or if they are positions that the person is entrenched. If it is not an issue that can be resolved, such as religion or sometimes politics, a couple can agree to disagree or figure out a way to call a “time out.” When couples begin this process, they can find less stress that effects their daily life.

So maybe I had a comment or two, but the video is pretty awesome, isn’t it?

 

counselor Traverse City counseling family

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed therapist and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He is learning techniques to help his clients and his own marriage. Also, he likes funny rap videos like this one.

Traverse City counseling counselor therapist family

 

 

 

The Teen Brain

The Teen Brain

“All teenagers are risk-takers, moody, and get embarrassed by their parents.”

“They are angry and hate adults.”

“They only listen to their friends.”

Are these statements really true?

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore discusses why teenagers seem more impulsive and less self-aware than grown-ups. She compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to adults. Often typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the expanding development of the brain. Within the context of my counseling practice, parents often view their children through an adult lens.

As I watched this video at my Traverse City office, I liked the idea of synapse pruning. This is where the adolescent brain is working to fine tune brain tissue that is important and that which is not needed. Functional MRIs help to discover aspects that are more or less important and to view what assists teenagers through this process.

Further, the limbic system is more sensitive to the emotional rewards and feelings of risky behavior. It is heightened during adolescence so that risky behavior feels more exciting and fulfilling. However, the pre-frontal cortex  is the section that stops risky behavior and helps to connect behavior and consequences. That section is not as developed. So there is a deeper sense of excitement without the stop-gap measures.

 



So what can parents do to help their teenagers?

  • Understand the teenage brain and learn more to develop a working knowledge of what natural barriers they may experience.
  • Realize that frustrating behavior is often part of teens learning how to appropriately be independent.
  • Environment can play a substantial role in which synapse connect. Work to create an environment that helps your teen to have a realistic understanding of the world.
  • Don’t fear giving positive and negative consequences. Seek to have them relate to the inappropriate behavior. You don’t need to assist in funding behavior that you do not agree with, but do it with love and understanding.
  • Work to allow family discussion so that your teen feels heard.
  • Get counseling or therapy as a family if you feel that you have hit a roadblock.

counselor Traverse City counseling family

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is the owner and a counselor at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He does therapy with families, teens, and couples to grow through all of the phases of life. He is interested in the neuro-development of people over a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Counseling Traverse City therapist

Three things anyone can do to prevent suicide

Three things anyone can do to prevent suicide

 

 

counseling Traverse City counselor therapist

Appearing in the Record Eagle on 9-8-12

In 9th grade, the school counselor brought me and several other students into her office. She informed us that a peer had committed suicide. Later, the entire school was informed. It is devastating to get that type of news. Every 15 minutes another family, friend, and school deal with news of a suicide.

This coming week is Suicide Prevention Week. Often people think that the issue of suicide prevention is only for mental health professionals, but sometime in each of our lives we will probably have it touch us. Here are a few things that every person should know to help a friend, family member, or co-worker.

If you are concerned, ask

Asking a person if they are suicidal is the best first step. When a person is dealing with intense emotions, friends often feel uncomfortable asking about suicide. However, a direct question from a friend or family member is shown to reduce the risk of suicide.

Understand more about suicide

For a number of years, San Francisco has employed interviewers to speak with people who have jumped from the Bay Bridge and survived. One thing that an overwhelming majority report is that during their fall, they regretted the decision and hoped to live. These individuals often became advocates for suicide prevention. Further, research continues to support that suicidal feelings often last only hours, but return if help is not sought.

Know resources

Knowing that you can ask about suicide and that it is often a short-term feeling, getting a friend help is a great first step. Third Level Crisis Center (231-922-4800) is a 24/7 resource.  Also, supporting the individual through counseling and being a friend is the best role that you can have.

When we as a community work together to help those that are struggling, when we ask, understand, and refer, it can help reduce suicide. Each one of us can use our relationships and unique roles to be a part of a more healthy community.

 

counseling private practice

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC  is owner and a counselor with Mental Wellness Counseling. He is hosting a free Suicide Prevention Wine Party with NMC Student Life and Lake Side Counseling on Sept 12 at 5:00 at Left Foot Charley. Visit www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com/wine for more details.

Photo used with Creative Commons, thank you Robert S. Donovan

The Cancer Effect

The Cancer Effect

cancer counseling thyroid

In July I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Fairly soon I will be having a bunch of additional tests and have a treatment plan. I will soon have my thyroid removed, have a scar on my neck, and be on medicine for the rest of my life. I feel too young for all of this.

On Sunday I was swinging at the beach with my daughter and wife. My wife was pushing my daughter and the sun was bouncing off both of their faces. It was better than any photo. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the two of them deserve to have a husband/dad around. How life in the simplicity is wonderful.

So often in my life, I have thought about my next steps and how to improve, evaluate, and enhance my life. I strategize  and am goal-oriented. I often have a view that if there are improvements to be made, that life will be better when those improvements occur. Maybe it has been in regards to improving the furniture in my house or renovating a room.

When that is done, then I will be happier.

When I start seeing more clients in my private practice, then I will be happier.

When my websites are running more, then I will be happier.

My formula has been that as progress occurs, happiness will develop too. In many ways this is true and reiterated in our lives. When we complete college, we usually get a better job and have more economic freedom. We can choose our career direction more accurately and potentially develop careers that are fulfilling. When I fight with my wife and we work it out, we usually fight less. Fixing often does lead to more happiness.

However, holding out for that happiness or believing that future me will be happier because of those things is a farce. That belief, that is perpetuated by media, friends, and our own internal voices is a falsity. If we are not seeking balance and emotional wellness now, we will not have an easier time tomorrow, next week, or next year. Instead, it will be harder because we then have more time living in the less fulfilled world we have created.

I have been given a gift through telling people about my cancer. When I tell someone those words for the first time, they will hug me, cry, give me encouraging words, tell me that they are praying for me, or sending me positive vibes.

Really they are saying, “Joe, you matter to me. The world would not be the same without you.”

In doing this, I am on the receiving end of experiencing something magnificent, knowing that I matter to people.

How often do we tell people that they matter? It can be a “Wellness Discipline” to build our own health. When we notice that others matter and that they are important to us, it builds that relationship, while also creating a thankful heart. The more that we experiences a feeling of thankfulness in the now, the harder it is for the other mindset to push its way in. We can’t have those mutually exclusive feelings of “I am so thankful for what I have right now” and “I will be thankful and happy when X happens.”

So today, may you grow in your thankfulness and tell people that they matter to you and that the world would be different without them. Tell them and tell yourself that life right now is good and wonderful and full of moments of simplicity with the sun bouncing off people’s faces swinging on the beach.

 

counselor Traverse City counseling familyJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling. He is trying his darndest to approach thyroid cancer with an attitude of thankfulness, even though he feels like it really sucks.

Helicopter Parents Gone Wild

Helicopter Parents Gone Wild

traverse city counseling counselor therapist

A “helicopter parent” is a parent who hovers over their child, waiting to catch them before they skin their knee. “Helicopter Parents” schedule, plan, and create a world for their children. They are usually highly involved and deep down want the best for their kids. They are often high achievers or wish they had been high achievers. “Helicopter Parents” also are usually highly involved in their kid’s education, after-school activities, and social lives. Overall, they have great intentions. I may even end up being one, in some area intentionally and in others unintentionally.

The hardest transitions for “helicopter parents” are to stop when they are tired and to allow age-appropriate freedoms. Are you one of these parents?

When you’re sick of flying

When these parents are frustrated with their kids, it is often because they don’t want them to fail. They have a difficult time with skinned knees and broken hearts. They have created a dynamic where they are the safety nets for their children, rather than teaching them how to create their own nets.

This typically creates a dynamic where the parent is blamed for the child’s mistakes. Both the parent and child think that it is mom or dad’s responsibility to get homework done, wake up on time, and not be “bored.” Yet, ultimately, we each are responsible for changing our lives toward what we want.

So how do you land the helicopter?

Daddy needs a drink

When was the last time you took a bath without interruption? What about sitting outside and enjoying the evening? Time with friends without looking at your phone for texts from your kids?

Sometimes, a parent needs to just step back and let the kids experience natural consequences. Whether it is a teen waking up late for work or kids sorting out who gets to play the game system, stepping back will often show you what you kids are capable of. Usually, the worst case scenario is not that bad and the best case is that they will increase their abilities to be responsible.

But they’re not old enough

Every single generation does it. They think they are so dang special. In counseling sessions or even with friends, I’ll ask, “What did you do when you were (insert age here)?” Almost universally friends and client respond, “I did some inapropriate behavior but…

“…it was different in the 60s, 70s, or 80s.”

“…things were safer.”

“…we didn’t have the internet.”

But parents weren’t thinking that then. They were thinking the same thing that parents are thinking now. When we’re a kid, we are oblivious to the dangers, consequences, and ways of the world. How did we learn? Was it when mom said, “No” or was it when we tried it out and formed our own conculsions?

Now I’m not saying take a step back and let “Lord of the Flies” occur in your household. Otherwise, you may come see me in counseling for something else. The main goal is to transition toward the empty nest not to have it be a sudden change.

 

counselor Traverse City counseling familyJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed therapist and counseling in Traverse City, MI where he owns Mental Wellness Counseling. He once flew in a helicopter in Nepal, it was a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

Photo from Creative Commons, thank you JD Hancock

Mental Wellness: Opposite-sex friends

Mental Wellness: Opposite-sex friends

sex opposite gender friends counseling Traverse City counseling

Originally featured in the Record Eagle July 14, 2012. Available at: http://record-eagle.com/features/x748660390/Mental-Wellness-Opposite-sex-friends

I have seen many a friendship and marriage fail because of opposite gender friends. What happens when you have a great opposite gender friend and you get married? What about friends that you make after marriage that are opposite of your gender?

A marriage is built on trust, love, and the ability to grow together over time.

At the core of this issue are healthy communication, openness, and realizing that you made a lifelong commitment to your spouse.

Each couple has to decide their own levels of comfort, but here are a few discussion points that seem to help.

More time together in groups

Time together in groups, whether as a group of three or larger, helps the friend and the spouse get to know one another. As well, it sends a message that the primary relationship is the marriage. Within these types of settings the friendship does shift, but it also sets a boundary of intimacy with the opposite gender friend, spouse, and to oneself.

Be open about alone time

When I have meetings with opposite gender professionals, I let my wife know about it. If a friend of hers saw me out with another woman and then talked to her, it may raise unnecessary internal or external questions for my wife. Seeking to avoid even the appearance of questions can build trust. Even though my intentions are professional, within a marriage couples are often combating their own internal dialog as well as the actual discussion that occurs. The same is true of opposite gender friends. Alone time should be discussed and agreed upon.

Be careful of depth

When someone is struggling in their marriage, they often discuss those issues with someone. Sometimes lamenting and complaining about a relationship is a way to verbally sort out thoughts.

However, when this is with an opposite gender friend, it can complicate the relationship.

The friend wants to support their friend, while also needing to respect boundaries that have been established.

As well, intimacy with that supportive person can lead to an emotional connection that distances spouses from one another.

Other’s intentions within a relationship cover the map of possibilities. That is why it is important for spouses to discuss their levels of comfort.

The biggest errors occur when friends unintentionally or intentionally start to take on roles that are primarily the spouse’s.

counselor Traverse City counseling familyJoseph R. Sanok is a licensed counselor and owns Mental Wellness Counseling. He works with family issues and enjoys innovative projects such as family therapy on a sailboat.

 

 

 

Photo used with Creative Commons thanks to jessi.bryan

Mental Wellness: More than beauty rest

Mental Wellness: More than beauty rest

sleep counseling Traverse City counselor family

Originally appeared in the Record Eagle, April 21, 2012 available at:

http://record-eagle.com/bodysoul/x1350020161/Mental-Wellness-More-than-beauty-rest/print

My grandma had a sleep mask. You know the kind that blocks out light? Hers was pink. I always thought it looked stupid. Then my wife gave me one last December, except mine is brown and black. When I got it, I thought, “Am I ever going to use this except on an airplane?”

Every morning when the light smacks me in the face at five something, I now put it on and have a glorious last hour of sleep. I love it.

We all know how important sleep is for kids. If they don’t get their naps they are cranky and everyone in earshot knows. We underestimate the importance of solid sleep for adults. Here are some things you should know:

Sleep is tied to mental wellness

Did you know that poor quality sleep is tied to anxiety, depression, attention, mood swings, panic attacks and self esteem? If you are fighting with your kids, spouse, or friends, feeling frustrated, or just anxious, maybe it isn’t medications that you need. Maybe you need more sleep.

Sleep is tied to memory

During the day our brains store most information in a short-term part of our brain. At night, the brain sorts through what is important and what is not. Everything from the color of your boss’s shirt to that marketing report gets sorted to keep or delete. If not given enough time to sort, the brain hits the delete button. Things you understood yesterday will be harder to recall.

Sleep can improve with a few simple changes

Going to bed and waking up at similar times can improve your body’s ability to get deeper and better quality sleep. As well, increasing exercise, time outside, and eating more fruits and vegetables will help. Eliminating caffeine in the evening and drinking more water can help unclog the sleep center of your brain.

Sometimes we make our lives more complicated than they need to be. What if all you need is a little more sleep? It could be the key to improving the relationships in your life, even if all it takes is a pink sleep mask.

counselor Traverse City counseling family

 

 

 

 

Joseph R. Sanok is a licensed counselor and owner at Mental Wellness Counseling. He helps angry kids, frustrated parents, distant couples “¦ and just about everyone else. Check out his “Happiness Resources” at www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com/resources/happiness/.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo used with Creative Commons license, care of blue.sky

Parenting and stepping back

Parenting and stepping back

counseling Traverse City counselor

There are so many factors that go into parenting. It seems that every friend, website, magazine, and blog is telling you how to get more organized and structured in your parenting.

But what if I told you that you were too organized and rigid? Would that be freeing?

Of course there are times that you need to focus on structure and consistency. I teach parents those skills all the time. But I was thinking about this the other day. I was feeding my 13 month daughter. Everytime she would take a bit of banana, she would spit it out, smear it all over, and often then throw it on the floor. At first, I was saying, “No, we don’t eat that way,” or “Let’s not smear the banana.”

Then I stopped.

She has the rest of her life to eat in a polite way. So I just enjoyed the moment with my daughter. My stress dropped and almost immediately I was laughing with her.

Here are some things that most kids need more of:

1. Unstructured time to explore and play. This helps the brain learn to create, rather than be told how to create. For example, kids that watch a TV show and then have the action figure of that show are more likely to engage in play that has been defined by the TV show or by what the action figure is “supposed” to do. Over time, kids may say to one another G.I. Joe is a person, you can’t pretend that it’s a rocket ship.

2. More toys that don’t have a “meaning”. Why do you think kids love sticks, boxes, and tape? They are totally free.

3. Messy time to get dirty, covered in paint, and feel free. As well as the fact that it is just plain fun, it also helps them develop sensory skills.

4. Time to make their own choices. If their time is scheduled by adults, they will not learn the important skills of working hard and resting hard, or even saying, “I don’t feel like doing that.”

By giving kids the abilities to have choice, create, and get messy, it will help them learn and adapt in ways to help them become more agile in how they live life. Also, it will cause much less stress as a parent to let go.

 

private practice

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor and owner at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He enjoys playing outside with his daughter.

Bus Monitor Bullied

Bus Monitor Bullied

Bus Monitor Bullied

counseling traverse city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About a week ago, my wife was changing my daughter’s diaper. She was parked outside a pharmacy in Traverse City and she was changing the diaper on the front seat of our car. I wasn’t there.

Some teens pulled up and were seated with their windows down. They started making comments about “the crying baby” and “shut that baby up.” Of course, the audacity of the teens caught my wife off guard and in the moment she didn’t think of what to say or do, she just wanted to leave.

The recent viral video about a bus monitor being bullied has touched a nerve. In the video, a bus monitor is called a litany of names and she ends up crying. The video is just plain terrible.

People are asking:

What has happened to our society?

How are kids this terrible?

Where is the respect?

What is going on?

In some ways, kids are just as cruel as in past generations; however, they have more tools for learning and spreading this cruelty. The point for me is not how we got here, but how do we get out?

When I work with families in counseling, at my Traverse City practice, we discuss a number of factors. Here are a few steps that can help with this discussion.

Schools have been limited

In past generations, teachers and principals spanked, paddled, and hit kids. It is essential to strong learning and emotional development for kids to feel safe. Those days are done and I am not advocating for them to return. However, due to the culture of lawsuits and continued restraints on teachers to give detentions, in-school suspensions, and other negative consequences, it has created an environment where youth will dictate their own culture.

Parents are less involved

As parents evaluate their interactions and involvements in their kid’s lives, they need to continue to seek consistency and a culture of both positive and negative consequences. Our society continues to function based on us all seeking that most of our actions have clear consequences. As parents build this social skill in kids, they will collectively gain traction.

Society as a parent

Even though we are more connected, most cultural tools have been de-centralized. As a result, specific parenting and expectations have become less clear. As  a result, we don’t want to “step on toes”. Often people don’t speak up when their “gut” is telling them to speak up.

The answers to these behaviors are not clear cut like many talking heads are saying, but, as we evaluate empowering schools, parents, and individuals, we may see bullying decrease.

 

private practice

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and owner at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He has worked with bullied, at-risk, angry, and hurt kids since 1998. He also loves sailing.

15 things I learned while in the hospital

 

Psychologist Traverse City Family

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t told everyone, but I have told a lot of people, my daughter was recently in the hospital for a week. It was something fairly severe and we’re now in recovery mode. Here are some things that I wrote down the night that her surgery was over and things were stable. Maybe you will resonate with these things, maybe you don’t think your reaction would be the same. Either way, I hope it inspires you to build deeper relationships, appreciate family more, or reach out to those in your life that are hurting.

1. Our network of friends and family is much larger in size and heart than I ever knew possible.
2. I can handle much more than I ever thought possible.
3. I can be annoyed with someone and have a deep appreciation for them at the same time.
4. I need to appreciate every single day that there is not a health crisis in my family.
5. I don’t need to work harder so I can have more time with my daughter, I just need to make the time.
6. My wife is much stronger than I imagined.
7. My daughter is much stronger than I ever thought a kid could be.
8. I can still trust God even when I am angry, hate, or don’t understand Him and His decisions about healing.
9. Overall, people want to do good.
10. Humankind knows a lot more about the human body than I ever imagined.
11. I really love family and friends.
12. Food heals where words can’t.
13. Sitting with someone means a lot.
14. Facebook is a great tool in a family crisis.
15. Even though I hate McDonald’s, I love the Ronald McDonald House.

I’m not sure what you will glean from this, but I hope it serves you wherever you are at.

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.

 

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.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joseph_R_Sanok

 

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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:
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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:
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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.