Month: March 2015

a woman looking stressed out with her hand on her head

Supporting a Parent Who Lost a Child

Losing a child is one of the most difficult things that a person can go through.  No matter how old the child is, the pain is going to be some of the strongest you have ever experienced.  If you are a parent who lost a child,  you can probably count the things that people have said to you that you wish they had not.  Many people may think that they are trying to be comforting and helpful, but sometimes their comments feel more like a swift kick to the shins.  If you are struggling for what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a child, here are a few options of what not to say and maybe some things that you could say instead.

Four Things You Should Never Say To A Parent Who Lost A Child

#1 Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything does not necessarily happen for a reason.  At least not that we of this world know about.  Sometimes life just does not make sense.  We all want for the world to be a safe place all the time, but that just is not the case.  Losing a child or knowing someone who has lost a child is one of the fastest ways to feel how unsafe the world can be.  One of the best things that you can say to grieving parents is that the death of their child does not make sense, that it is not fair, and that you wish there was something you could do to take away some of their suffering.

#2  Time Heals All Wounds

This is not entirely true either.  Rather than healing all wounds, time can soften a wound and change the ways in which grief effects you.  No matter how much time passes, not all wounds are going to heal.  The wound of losing a child will stay with you forever, but you will be able to experience it in different ways as you get further from the death.  It could be a good idea for you to ask the grieving person what you can do to help.  You could also just let him or her know that you are there and you are available to help if you are needed.

#3  Be Thankful

Telling someone to be thankful when he or she has just lost one of the most important things in his or her life will seem insensitive and like you do not understand the pain that is truly going on.  The most common things that others tell grieving parents to be thankful for is that living children, that they had the child at all, or that they can have more children.  The people who bring up these things often do not know if these are really the things that the parent should be thankful for.  These parents may not be able to have more children.  They may not have more children.  And they are more thankful than anyone could ever know for the time they had with their deceased child.  Their gratitude for every single moment they had with that child is what keeps them from staying in bed all day and choosing to leave the world behind.  Rather than telling the parent to be thankful, you should tell him or her that you are thankful for the time you had with the child, that you are thankful for them, and that you are thankful for their friendship.

 #4  Move on, or Let Go

When you tell a parent grieving the loss of a child to move on and get over it, you are causing that parent pain and you are rubbing salt into an already gaping wound.  The only things that these parents have to hold on to is the memories of this child and the love for him or her.  There is no moving on from that.  These grieving parents will always have both of those things.  They will not stop loving and thinking about and caring for a child who is lost to them.  They will not give up on a child who they would have gladly traded places with.

As mentioned earlier, it gets a little easier to carry around the weight of missing someone so much.  The hurt gets a little softer and more manageable, but there is not going to be a time when letting go of a lost child can truly happen.  Instead, let the parents know that you are there to walk beside them and hold on to them.  That is really what they need the most.

For support and advice on how to cope with the loss of a child, please call our Boca Raton office.

preteen daughter listening to music and rolling eyes with her mother trying to talk to her

Staying Close With Teenage Daughters

When your daughter goes from being your adorable little girl to the difficult preteen stage now called “the tweens”, it can be daunting for you.  Girls of that age can be moody, self-centered, overdramatic, surly, condescending, and prone to throwing tantrums.  Tween girls can also take on mature demeanors and be affectionate and very kind, but the hormones that are flooding their changing bodies sometimes make it more important for them to feel like they are figuring out their place in the world.  This can often come at the expense of their family’s feelings among other things.  She is likely to be working very hard to feel grown up and independent which means that it may be hard for her to show her need and affection for you as her parent.

If you are willing to adjust your thinking to the changing needs of your growing preteen daughter, this could be the perfect opportunity to keep your relationship solid so that you can both weather the coming years together.

Five Tips To Stay Close With Your Preteen Daughter

1. Give her some independence

It is normal for your preteen daughter to want to have some freedom from you.  She should be able to make some of her own choices.  Trying to control all of her choices will only be inviting rebellion.  If you can find appropriate ways for your daughter to make some of her own choices, then she will not need to rebel.  She is not always going to make the right choices, but even adults do not do the right thing all the time.

2. Encourage the things she is passionate about.

Any place that your daughter can feel confident and competent is a good thing.  She will be able to lose herself in the activity and forget everything else.  When she finds something that she is passionate about – it could be sports, painting, singing, dancing, or anything else – encourage her to continue doing it.  Help her to make it possible to continue doing the things that she loves the most.  It should be her decision rather than something that you or other family members push her towards.

3. Schedule quality time with your daughter.

In recent years, there has been a big push for families creating time to spend together.  Take that notion one step further and schedule time for you to spend with your daughter alone.  Choose a time each week when she is unlikely to have other conflicts like school or opportunities to be with friends, and choose something that you both like to do.  Even something as simple as taking a walk together is enough.  You are taking this time to seek a connection with her so that she knows that you care about her and understand that her life has meaning.

4. Insist that your preteen daughter get at least nine hours of sleep.

It is going to start to be harder for her to fall asleep.  With everything that is going on in her body, getting enough sleep can be difficult.  Science has attributed some of the moodiness of teenagers to not getting enough sleep which causes too much cortisol to stay in their bodies making them edgy and difficult to deal with.  She may fight you, but an earlier bedtime is going to be better for her in the long run.  If she is having trouble falling asleep, teach her some relaxation exercises so that she is at least getting some rest while waiting to fall asleep.

5. Talk about anything she wants to talk about.

Because of her age and her proximity to the teenage years, your daughter is going want information about love and sex.  She has certainly picked up some information along the way, but it has been proven that kids who are close with their parents or kids who are free to talk about what they want to know with their parents tend to be better equipped to deal with situations when they arise.  Teaching your daughter to walk away from any situation that is too much for her to handle is one of the best things that you can do.  Make it okay for your daughter to talk to you about anything and everything that she has questions about.  And be honest with your answers.

Compassion And Self-Empathy Promotes Healing

There is quite a lot of overlap in empathy and compassion.  Webster’s defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  Webster’s defines compassion as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings of misfortunes of others.”  So empathy is all about understanding and sharing while compassion is all about pity and concern.  Regardless of the kind of situation from which you are recovering – addiction, eating disorder, mental health condition – you are likely to be harder on yourself than you would be on almost anyone else.

For example, when we think about the mental health problems that we have experienced such as an eating disorder or depression – Have you thought about the harm that you could have caused to your body and your mind had you kept up with the disorder?  These things can make you beat yourself up.  Past wrongs that cannot be changed and near slips in the present can be the worst.

When you find that you are being hard on yourself, you may want to take a minute to think about empathy and compassion for yourself.  You may be regularly going out of your way to be there for your loved ones in all of the times when they are hurting, but you will not be the best person that you can be until you cut yourself a little bit of slack and learn that taking care of yourself is one of the best ways that you can help others.

4 Ways to Encourage Self-Empathy and Compassion

1. Breathe

Something so simple can be incredibly difficult to remember to do.  Your body is set up to naturally breathe as much as you need to keep living, but sometime being conscious of your breathing can make a big difference in how you feel.  Take a few minutes a few times a day to stop whatever you are doing and focus on your breath.  Close your eyes and take a few good, deep breaths for no other reason than it is good for you, and you likely do not do it enough.  Deep breathing can slow your heart rate and make you feel calmer overall.

2. Slow Down 

Taking time for deep breathing will naturally make you slow down a bit, but taking the time to think through your actions before rushing headlong into any situation can force you into making more mindful decisions.  Take stock of what is happening in the moment.  It is natural to want to rush through everything and make your decisions quickly, but that is not always going to yield the best results.  Take your time and think as clearly as possible.

3. Don’t Aim for Perfection

Perfection is not an attainable goal.  Anyone who tells you that you can achieve absolute perfection is lying to you.  What you can achieve is what is right for you and the other people in your life.  Much of the modern media ideal of how life is supposed to work perpetuates the idea that your life should be perfect and complete with the whole happy ending thing.  Most of us spend our time struggling and toiling and making the most of the happy moments in between.  Spend some time thinking about what you really want from your life and how you want your future to look.  The journey to reach the things that you want may be difficult, and you will need to readjust as you go, but it will be a lot better than trying to achieve unattainable perfection.

4. Be Kind To Yourself. Always.

Rather than waiting until something stressful has happened to be kind to yourself, do it all the time.  If you take the time to practice small acts of kindness for yourself regularly, you will be better prepared when a stressful situation presents itself.  Go to a yoga class twice a week.  Take a walk after dinner.  Sit down to read a book or the newspaper for 45 minutes each evening.  Watch your favorite television show every week.  Get a pedicure.  Spend a night in the woods.  Anything that is going to make you feel a little more relaxed all the time is going to be able to keep you from feeling like you are going to burst when something difficult comes along.

All of these things are going to be able to help you gain some compassion and empathy for yourself when you might not be feeling your best.  Take the time to do them, and you will start to feel better immediately.

individual therapy at boca raton

What To Do When Your Sibling Suffers From Addiction

Living with your sibling when he or she suffering from addiction can be a very stressful situation for all of the people who are living in your house, particularly for you if you are a younger person.  Growing up is difficult.  Adding in the element of an addicted sibling can make it that much more so.  You home life can feel unstable.  It can feel like you are less important or like you are always coming in second.  Your sibling could be violent toward you or have other problems beyond the addiction that are effecting your home life as well.  But there is hope for you.  There are some ways that you and your family can help to offset the negativity and the difficulty that you are experiencing and pave the way for a happier and healthier future for all of you.

#1  Get Educated

You are likely to feel anger and resentment toward your sibling.  This is a very normal feeling.  You may think that you do not care enough about his or her problem to learn about it and really understand it.  But it is really only in educating yourself that you will be able to understand what is really happening in your home.  Taking the time to read about his or her condition or to talk to some people who know more than you do about the subject can really help you to let go of your anger and your fear and start to see the bigger picture.

#2 Learn About Your Own Addiction Risks

It is possible that addiction has a hereditary element.  It may be able to be passed down through families.  Science has not been able to tell us just why and how this is yet, but children of addicts are more likely to be addicts themselves.  There is no real way to tell if you have the potential to suffer from addiction, but, if there are addicts in your family, then you are at a higher risk.  With most hereditary conditions, there is no choosing if you get it or if you do not.  With addiction, you can make the choice not to experiment with drugs or alcohol which means that you will not suffer from addiction.  That choice is yours to make.

#3 It’s Not Your Fault – Take Care of YOU

Dealing with a sibling who has an addiction problem and the potential of addiction running in your family can be time consuming and mentally taxing.  One of the best things that you can do is make time for the things that you want and need to do in order to be able to be happy and have the future that you want.  If it starts to seem like you are spending all of your time dealing with the addiction of your sibling, you may need to take a step back and remember that taking care of yourself is important too.

#4  Learn To Set Firm Boundaries

It is not unusual for siblings to trust each other and take each other into their confidences.  But some secrets are dangerous.  If you feel like you need to share something about your sibling with an adult, do it.  You will need to push aside any worry that your sibling will get in trouble because getting him or her the help that is needed is more important.  Other boundaries that may need to be set involve money and possessions.  If your sibling has an addiction problem, he or she may ask you for money or for anything valuable that you have.  Regardless of what he or she may tell you, this money or these valuables will likely be used to purchase more drugs or alcohol.  Rather than giving him or her the money and making it easy for him or her to get drugs, let your sibling know that you are not interested in fueling the addiction.  Then you should talk to an adult who you trust.

There are many different adults who you can talk to you when you are feeling lonely or neglected.  If your parents are not available, you could talk to a teacher or a school counselor.  You could talk to a pastor or another religious leader who you trust.  You could talk to a scout leader, a police officer, or the trusted parent of a friend.  You are not alone in this.  There are many people who can help make your life a priority.

picture of boss standing over a scared employee working at a desk

Are You Being Bullied at Work?

Generally, we think about bullies as school children on playgrounds, in hallways, and walking home at the end of the day.  The unfortunate reality is that bullies do not always stop being bullies when they have grown into adulthood.  Bullies can be found at any age in almost any setting.  The workplace is the perfect environment for breeding a culture that accepts bullying.  According to the Washington State Bureau of Labor and Industries, workplace bullying is defined as “repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or groups) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine; or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s).”

Examples of Bullying in the Workplace

Sometimes bullying in the workplace is noticeable and obvious.  Things like abusive language, teasing, belittling, overt violent or sexual intimidation, threats, intentionally presenting you or someone else with offensive materials or comments, or spreading hateful gossip about you or another employee are all considered workplace bullying.  There are also some more furtive ways that bullying can take place at work.  Bullying can be giving an excessive amount of work to a co-worker or an outranked employee and demanding that he or she complete it immediately.  It can also be denying access to the appropriate resources for the proper completion of a task, intentionally isolating you or another worker, writing inaccurate or unfair work assessments, displacing personal belongings, or giving you or a co-worker an impossible task or an impossible deadline knowing that failure is the only option.

In order to determine if you are being bullied, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends that you use the ‘reasonable person’ test. If you think that you may be being bullied, ask yourself if any other reasonable person would think that the behaviors you are enduring and the experiences that you are having are acceptable.  Are any criticisms that you are receiving reasonable, justified, and constructive?  Is your work meeting an acceptable standard?  Are you meeting the appropriate expectations?  If a reasonable person would not accept these behaviors, you may be getting bullied.  Bullies are trying to hurt you so they will not be likely to offer you any kind of support.

What Can You Do About Workplace Bullying?

There is no hard and fast rule about what should be done to curb workplace bullying.  Really, putting a stop to the abuse will depend on the willingness of your superiors and the company for which you work to listen to your concerns and to help you sort out a difficult situation.  The first step to take is usually keeping an account of the incidences of bullying that you experience.  You are building your case against the bully.  This is the evidence that you will use to confirm your claims.  Keep track of the dates, times, and specifics of the events including anyone else who was present so that they may be able to confirm your story.

Once you have a number of documented episodes, then you may be able ask the bully to stop his or her abusive behaviors.  You may want to have someone you trust present when you start this conversation so that the bully cannot claim that you said anything that you did not say or behaved in any kind of unseemly manner.  At this point, do not get into a debate with the bully.  State your piece, define the behavior that you find objectionable, and leave it at that.  Before approaching the bully directly, you may need to have a talk with your supervisor.  If the bully is your supervisor, you should move up the chain of management.  Continue on until you find someone who is going to listen to your claims and take them seriously.

You may feel like getting even with the bully and settling the score is your best option, but anything that you do in retaliation can weaken your case.  To management, it may start to look like a case of two employees who cannot get along rather than a true case of workplace bullying.  If the bullying gets to a point where you are in fear for your personal safety, you may need to talk to the police.  While technically, workplace bullying is unlikely to be a true crime, if you are being bullied because of your race, sex, religion, country of origin, or disability, you may be able to take action against a violation of your civil rights.

four children taking a test with a woman teacher

Intelligence Indicated by Drawings in Early Childhood

Ask your child when he or she is 4 years old to draw a picture of a child.  Once your child has complied, the drawing could be scored on a scale of 0 to 12.  The scoring depends upon the features included and if they are correct in number and in placement.  The scored features can include head, body, eyes, mouth, ears, nose, hair, arms, and legs.  In one scoring example, a child whose drawing has a body, a head, two arms, and two legs that are all correctly placed but does not include any facial features would receive a score of 4.

The “Draw-A-Person” Test For Intelligence

This test is called the Draw-a-Child or the Draw-a-Person test.  It has also been called the Goodenough-Harris test.  Dr. Rosalind Arden was the lead author in a study involving drawing and intelligence.  Dr. Arden and researchers from King’s College London recently studied 7,752 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to determine if the link between drawing and later intelligence was influenced by their genes.  The study took place in the MRC Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

Dr. Arden said, “The Draw-a-Child test was devised in the 1920’s to assess children’s intelligence, so the fact that the test correlated with intelligence at age 4 was expected.  What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later.”  She continued, “The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly. Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life.”

This test was developed by Florence Goodenough in 1926.  Later on, the test was revised by Dr. Dale B. Harris.  Along with testing children for intelligence, the test is also given to some people who are suspected of having a mental illness, particularly those who may have schizophrenia.  In the case of adults, they are typically asked to draw a person rather than to draw a child.  According to psychologist Julian Jones and his 1976 book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, schizophrenic patients do not always have trouble drawing a person.  If the patient in question cannot draw a person or has difficulty drawing a person, he or she is likely to have a mental illness.  Some patients will draw exaggerated features or have trouble with different pieces of the body.  Any of these difficulties can tell trained psychiatrists about the condition from which the patient is suffering.

Studies Done Between Twins Prove Effectiveness

Twins were used in the King’s College study to add an element of heritability to the research.  Non-identical twins share approximately 50 percent of their genes.  Identical twins share 100 percent of their genes.  Twins were chosen who were being raised in the same home, under the same conditions, with the same family environment, and access to the same materials so that the genetic factors would be the most apparent variables.

According to the research, the drawings of the 4 year olds who are identical twins were more similar to one another than the drawings done by the non-identical twins.  Researchers concluded from this that the differences in each child’s drawings would likely be a genetic factor.  They also found a strong genetic link between the score of the drawing produced at the age of 4 and the intelligence of the child at the age of 14.

Dr. Arden clarified, “This does not mean that there is a drawing gene — a child’s ability to draw stems from many other abilities, such as observing, holding a pencil etc. We are a long way off understanding how genes influence all these different types of behavior.”

Dr. Arden continued, “Drawing is an ancient behavior, dating back beyond 15,000 years ago. Through drawing, we are attempting to show someone else what’s in our mind. This capacity to reproduce figures is a uniquely human ability and a sign of cognitive ability, in a similar way to writing, which transformed the human species’ ability to store information, and build a civilization.”

relaxation therapy and stress management

Six Habits of Successful People

Most of the people in the world are looking for some surefire ways to be as successful as possible at their chosen vocation.  It turns out the regardless of whether you are the head of a major corporation or the best liked mop girl at the neighborhood car wash, there is going to be a pattern to the behaviors that make you ready to start or continue moving up the ladder in your professional life as well as your personal life.  If you choose to integrate some of these suggestions into your daily life, you may starting down the fast track to achieving anything that you would like to achieve in your life.

  1. Get Some Rest – You are unlikely to be able to make the best out of your day if you have not slept enough. Not sleeping enough can make you sluggish and forgetful as well as clumsy and scattered.  This is not the way to achieve the goals that you have set out for yourself.  There are going to be times occasionally when you do not get enough rest, but try to create the kind of environment that promotes sleep.  Use your bed only for sleeping.  Keep the lights low and any kind of distractions to a minimum.

  1. Set Goals – Setting up goals gives you something to work toward. Break large goals into smaller projects that can add up to the whole so that you can see some progress, and you will not be as likely to get discouraged.  Setting small daily goals can keep you in the habit of achieving things and keeping track of the ways that you have achieved things.

  1. Have a Morning Routine – Most people who are considered successful get up early in the morning. Often, people who are considered to be successful get up early because the early bird catches the worm, or so it is said.  This is not always a schedule that is going to work for you.  At whatever time you get out of bed, have a routine.  Get out of bed and do something right away that is going to get your day started off strong.  Exercise and listen to an inspiring podcast.  Read some of a book that will contribute to your day.  Have breakfast with your family and talk about each other’s goals for the day.  Accomplish one of your goals first thing so that you can feel accomplished so early in you day.  Whatever it is that you need to do to jumpstart your day, do it first thing.

  1. Plan Your Tomorrow the Night Before – If you go to sleep already knowing your plan for the next day, you may feel better which promotes good sleeping habits. If you get up in the morning already knowing what your day is going to hold for you, you can get started right away and start chipping away at the list of goals.  Setting your priorities the day before can help to keep you on track.  When thinking about your daily schedule, think about all of the projects you have on your plate.  Schedule the most important tasks or most difficult tasks first so that they will be sure to get done.  Be sure to leave some room in your schedule for any kind of immediate situation that cannot wait.  It may also help to set yourself a time limit.  Projects with no deadline or no time limit have a tendency to take longer than they really should so set limits and stick to them.  It inspires efficiency and effectiveness on the part of everyone involved.

  1. Ask Questions – All successful people ask questions. You may think that to be successful you need to have all of the answers.  That is not true.  You need to be okay with asking questions about anything that you need to have clarified.  If you do not understand, speak up.  If you have a concern, speak up.  It is your duty to do so because there may be someone else in the room who has the same question but it too afraid to speak.

  1. Remember to Take Care of Yourself – Taking some time for yourself is one of the best things that you can do to avoid burnout and dissatisfaction. You have to spend some time relaxing, eating right, getting enough exercise, being with your family, and doing the things that you like to do to be able to consider yourself truly successful.
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