Self-Reliance: What Are Our Children Capable Of? (Greg Warburton)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this article, Greg Warburton, experienced counselor and author of Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance, offers great insights into redirecting behavior problems by encouraging youngsters to become more self-reliant. This account comes from the book.

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Children instinctively want to do things by themselves at very early ages. Remember the “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” call of the toddler?

Self-Reliance: What Are Our Children Capable Of? Greg WarburtonHow can parents foster rather than diminish their children’s early interest in self-reliant action and lead them toward a life of positive contribution? You will read in this story how self-reliant thought and action emerges for a six-year old when I set the stage with creative language, curiosity, quality questions and a belief in their capabilities.

Mary

I had been asked to meet with six-year-old Mary because her crying and inconsolability were increasing as her mother left for work each day. Mom had recently gone back to work because the family needed the extra money, but she was thinking of quitting her new job so she could again stay home and take care of Mary.

Three Special Questions

At our first meeting, Mary looked so small she almost disappeared as she sat on the edge of my office couch, feet dangling far above the floor. She earnestly listened to my three foundational questions. These quality questions, in which I used word-picture language, put the light of attention on Mary’s getting-on-with-growing-up challenge and instantly provided some practice for self-reliance, as viewed in her responses.

(Question #1) Have you made up your own mind about whether you plan to get on with growing up or growing down?

Growing up.

(Question #2) Are you the kind of child who likes to do your own thinking, or do you let others think for you?

Do my own thinking.

(Question #3) Are you the boss of your own life, or do you let others boss you?

(appearing amused): I’m the boss.

In an effort to understand Mary’s interpretation of the behavior trouble at home, I asked, “What do you call what you are doing that has your mother so upset?”

Mary’s word for the troubling behavior that was jeopardizing the family’s financial plans was CRYING, so I asked, “Can you be the boss of crying, or is crying the boss of you?”

“I can be the boss of crying,” Mary said.

Her answer was one indicator that, although this was only our first meeting, this young lady was starting to make up her mind to get on with growing up.

Another Question

As we began our second meeting, however, it was clear that the troubling behavior was continuing. Mary sat in my office with her head down. I asked her a very challenging question:

Mary, how much longer do you plan to practice crying when your mom leaves for work?

She was silent, still looking into her lap.

Ask More Tell Less, Greg WarburtonBelieving that she heard my question, I waited beyond the point of comfortable silence, yet she remained silent. I was getting ready to check in with her when she suddenly looked up at me with bright eyes, then clearly said, “I know I can’t keep crying for my whole life. I know I can’t always have my mom.”

At our next meeting, I asked Mary if things were better, the same, or worse with the crying trouble. Mary told me that she had stopped crying when her mother left for work, adding, “It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.” Telling herself the truth and admitting to herself what she had been experiencing led her to life-changing awareness at age six.

Recording “Growing Up” News

During a follow-up meeting with Mary’s parents, Mary and I had put her big ideas on big paper. (I playfully use chart-pack size paper to record growing-up news.) One of her parents took the big paper filled with her growing-up news out to their car, because Mary had said she wanted to put it up at home.

As we were discussing her progress with her parents, Mary announced that she had another idea to write on her paper. Neither of Mary’s parents were eager to go back out to their car to get the paper and bring it back into my office. They suggested they could just add the idea when they got home. But Mary stood firm and convinced us that she was serious and wanted to add her idea right then.

Given her insistence, we were all quite curious about why this was suddenly so important to Mary. Her father went out to the car and brought the paper back into my office. When we were all resettled, I asked Mary what idea she wanted to add.

“Do My Own Thinking,” she exclaimed.

I still remember feeling excited and emotionally moved by the fact that Mary knew that she could take charge of her life. No one asked her to do her own thinking about adding “Do My Own Thinking” to her list of big ideas; rather, she had begun taking charge of her life at age six! She now had a road map for how to help herself get on with growing up.

Children have the resources and innate abilities to handle whatever comes along. A parent’s task, then, is to assist children in getting clearer about their capabilities and practicing, practicing, practicing “I Can” thinking. They develop self-reliance when they are allowed to practice thinking and deciding for themselves, plus the successful completion of the tasks and activities they choose. ###

Speakers Group MemberGreg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

Getting Out of the Dumpster (Dr. Reggie R. Padin)

The Changing Behavior Network, Radio-style InterviewHave you ever known someone who was so miserable they felt completely powerless to change their circumstances? To them, their job and their life amounted to a dead-end street going nowhere. Change can be difficult, but it is possible. Welcome to “Getting Out of the Dumpster.”

Dr. Reggie Padin, Getting Out of the Dumpster, Reggie PadinLife  Can Be Difficult

Although no one has a corner on the difficulties life can bring, it’s a fact that some never work their way through it, yet others do. What accounts for the difference?

The answer to that question matters because our failures and our successes are not singular events that affect only us. They also affect those that love us and see us as an example of how they should handle the same events and circumstances.

In the real world, the stakes are pretty high, aren’t they? The ability to overcome limitations is a valuable skill.

Getting Out of the Dumpster

Dr. Reggie Padin, our guest on this program, got his wake-up call inside a dumpster, a very real, stinky, smelly garbage dumpster. He not only worked his way out of the dumpster, he continues to guide and help others deal effectively with their own Dumpster Moments.

Getting Out of the Dumpster a True Story of Overcoming LimitationsListen in as Reggie discusses the importance of taking complete responsibility, regardless of circumstances, and how it it so critically important to get into a mindset that will augment, not hinder, progress. And, of course, he will share about the importance of developing and executing a plan with clear goals and the importance of always attending to cherished relationships.

Dr. Reggie Padin

Dr. Reggie Padin is an optimist, visionary, educator, entrepreneur, writer, training and development expert, executive coach, and an ordained minister. His academic credentials include a master’s in divinity, a master’s in business administration and a doctorate in education. His mission is the ongoing inspiration and training of others to come out of their dumpsters. We are featuring his book, Get Out of the Dumpster, A True Story of Overcoming Limitations. (27:40)

www.reggiepadin.com

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NOTE: The complimentary pdf mentioned in this program, “Nine Steps to Changing a Mindset,” was not available when this interview was posted.

Can Thanksgiving Boost Your Child’s GPA? (Mike Ferry)

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, Mike Ferry offers some excellent suggestions on how kids and families can express their gratitude and realize some of the differences it can make. We present, “Can Thanksgiving Boost Your Child’s GPA?

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Mike Ferry, Can Thanksgiving Boost Your Child's GPA?Thanksgiving, one of our country’s favorite holidays, is revered for many reasons. We love to recall the kindness and good will that was shared between the Pilgrims and Native Americans so long ago. We devour feasts of pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes. We laugh as we tell stories among family and friends. And, of course, we watch hours of football.

Gratitude and Academic Performance

While we think of Thanksgiving as a time to dwell on our blessings, we may not realize that this holiday can actually boost academic performance for our children. This is because of gratitude, which has many benefits for adults and kids alike.

Numerous studies have pointed out the positive impact of gratitude on heart health, stress level, immune system, and longevity. Research has also shown that “prosocial behaviors” such as gratitude lead to improved performance in the classroom. In addition, kids who engage in these prosocial behaviors experience better job prospects, stronger mental health, and fewer negative interactions with law enforcement. As parents, isn’t it a good idea to foster gratitude in our children to make these outcomes more likely?

Putting it To Practice

There’s a good chance that your child could improve in the gratitude department. Actually, if you’re like me, you could probably demonstrate more gratitude yourself! The good news is that we can get better at being grateful with practice. Shouldn’t we focus on our blessings throughout the year instead of during a few days at the end of November? We’ll reap many rewards as adults, and our kids will see success at school and beyond.

Here are five tips for cultivating and practicing gratitude at home.

1. Model Gratitude. Parents who complain all the time will have kids who complain all the time. Make an effort to focus on the good. Want to take it to the next level? Set up a “parent’s complaint jar” and drop a quarter in it every time you or your partner complains about something. Your kids will love this!

2. Make a Gratitude Wall with Post It® Notes. Write down (or draw) something you’re grateful for at least twice a day. Do this in a room where you spend lots of time (like the kitchen). We tend to think about things that go wrong and bother us, but the gratitude wall will visually remind us of our blessings. Plus, of course, it’s creative and fun! When you’ve done this for a week, celebrate by going to your favorite restaurant or doing something else you enjoy.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry3. Earn the Fun with Gratitude. Does your kid want a cookie? Does your teen want the car keys? Make kids “earn the fun” with gratitude. They can get what they want after adding a Post It® note to the gratitude wall or telling you something they’re grateful for.

4. Connect with Current Events. We take so much for granted. Consider water, for example. When we’re thirsty, we go to the sink without thinking about it. What about those children in Flint? They can’t do that. We can point out to our kids how lucky they are by making connections with stories from the news.

5. Serve Others as a Family. Community service is a great way to become more grateful. By working in a food pantry, collecting used sports equipment for disadvantaged children, or singing holiday favorites at a nursery home, kids start to appreciate just how lucky they are. Plus, it’s a fun way to bond as a family.

So give the practice of gratitude some extra effort this season. You’ll like the difference it will make! ###

 

Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkMike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

 

A Salute to Courage: Honoring the WWII Generation (Dr. Davis L. Ford)

The Changing Behavior NetworkHere’s a special program honoring all US military veterans on Veterans Day, 2016. Especially honored are the veterans of World War II. The Second World War has always been an interest of mine (I was born during the Battle of the Bulge), so when word of Dr. Ford’s new book came, plans for this interview went into motion. He and I are both veterans; we hope that sense of service comes through in this special tribute. We are proud to present “A Salute to Courage: Honoring the WWII Generation.” –JDS

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Davis L. Ford, A Salute to Courage: Honoring the WWII GenerationMost of us have never known what it feels like to have our personal freedoms put at serious risk. The privileges that come with being an American are, much too often, taken for granted.

The Greatest Generation

But true freedom is NEVER free. More than ever, our children need to understand that. In this program we honor those that journalist Tom Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation: the men and women of the Second World War.

Our tribute here includes those who bravely fought a war in Europe and a war in the Pacific at the same time. They won them both depending on the support of the workers and families that supplied their needs with an industrial output of ships, tanks, planes and weapons that still boggles the mind today.

With passion and courage, everyone had a part to play. They played it as if their very future depended on it … because it did.

But the attack on Pearl Harbor was 75 years ago. Few of the veterans of WWII are with us today. Their children are,  for the most part, retired. Their grandchildren are middle-aged, and their great-grandchildren generally have few memories of being with them. Their lives and their service are preserved in stories, photo albums, picture frames and a few special keepsakes, like an American flag folded three corners.

The Second World War Through Younger and Older Eyes, Davis L Ford

Dr. Davis L. Ford

To help us honor this special group of Americans we have Dr. Davis L. Ford, author of The Second World War Through Younger and Older Eyes: A Personal Journey. His research and his travels to battle scenes in Europe and in the Pacific, as well as his many interviews with veterans that fought in both theaters, come to life in this engaging interview with your host, Dr. James Sutton.

Dr. Ford is a practicing environmental engineer with over 50 years of experience in the field, plus he’s a scholar and Adjunct Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He has lectured internationally and has written extensively on the treatment and preservation of one of our most valuable resources: water. Other books he has written chronicle the lives of soldiers and cowboys. (37:13)

www.davislfordphd.com

 

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Evaluating a Youngster’s Self-Esteem: Five Questions (Dr. James Sutton)

Special Report, The Changing Behavior NetworkIssues and concerns related to self-esteem can create significant difficulty for a youngster’s overall development and progress. Answers to these five questions will give you a pretty good idea of where a particular child or teen might be in terms of self-esteem. These are taken from one of Dr. Sutton’s latest, downloadable e-books, Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem (revised). The book obviously contains more information regarding followup, intervention and treatment. CLICK HERE to learn more about the book. We now present, “Evaluating a Youngster’s Self-Esteem: Five Questions.”

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Dr. James Sutton, Evaluating a Youngster's Self-Esteem: Five QuestionsThere are five questions that pertain to the evaluation of a child or teen’s self-esteem. It is probable that a child with low self-esteem will have difficulty in several of these. Answers to these questions and observations can be helpful in determining management and treatment.

Question 1 of 5:

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE SHE (OR HE) VIEWS HER OWN IMAGE AND ABILITIES?

It’s not unusual for youngsters to have issues with their physical appearance; our bodies stay with us for life. The body is an individual’s direct connection with the outside world, and the only part of a person that others can see, hear, and touch.

Is she confident regarding her physical appearance? If she is not comfortable, is the problem an authentic one, perhaps even one that could be repaired (like crooked teeth)? Or is her issue with her appearance primarily in her own perception only, such as an attractive child believing somehow that she is ugly?

Does she put herself down when it comes to appearance and physical characteristics? What is the nature of her complaints and concerns?

Does she feel up to the challenge of comparing herself and her abilities with age and grade peers?

Sports is another area which showcases a youngster’s abilities, or lack of them. How is she in this area? Competitive sports like soccer and Little League come into a child’s life early on and continue through school and non-school functions and events for years. For some youngsters, the pressure to perform is anything but fun.

Question 2 of 5:

HOW WELL DOES HE HANDLE FRUSTRATION?

Can he handle quite a bit before he “loses it?” Can he creatively use setbacks as challenges to try even harder, or is he overly reactive to aggravation and setbacks?

It’s easy to see how the behavior of an angry youngster can bring about consequences that only create more frustration when the consequences are applied. The frustrated child finds himself in a hole that moves only in one direction deeper, then deeper still.

If self-esteem is a container from which we manage our stress, then some folks carry buckets while others have thimbles. You can size them up easily during moments of frustration. Said another way, a low tolerance for frustration is almost always a tip-off to low self-esteem.

Question 3 of 5:

HOW DOES SHE HANDLE CRITICISM, EVEN CONSTRUCTIVE, WELL-INTENDED CRITICISM?

Does she accept criticism graciously and use it as a springboard for improvement, or does just about ANY criticism bring about a response like, “How come you’re always picking on ME?”

Some youngsters feel they have long since met their quota of mistakes for the rest of their lives! So, when one more is held up in front of them, they’re not exactly happy about it.

Sometimes there is an opposite effect. This is the youngster who had difficulty accepting compliments. This situation is actually part of the same concern.

We all have an image of ourselves as a total person. If that image is a poor one, compliments will be in conflict with it. In other words, the compliment can’t find a place to “fit.” Consequently, the youngster might reject a compliment in order to maintain consistency of a poor self-image and of low self-esteem. One might say that this is self-defeating and that it doesn’t make much sense at all, but it is consistent.

Improving a Youngster's Self-Esteem, Dr. James SuttonQuestion 4 of 5:

IS HE WILLING TO TAKE APPROPRIATE RISKS?

Life involves risk. The very hope of progress, just about any kind of progress, demands that we take risks; not fool-hearty risks, of course, but age and situation-appropriate risks.

Examples of risks include sports and other areas of competition, the sort of classes a high school student signs up for or seeking that first after-school job. Then there’s the big one for a guy asking a girl out for a date. Life requires risk all the time.

The bottom line of risk-taking is always the same: fear of failure. If that fear is strong enough, one will not risk. But there’s a paradoxical quality to it. Since one cannot experience success UNLESS he takes a risk, a paralyzing fear of ultimately creates more failure.

We might consider here a pattern of an opposite effect: fear of success. The whole notion of success doesn’t fit well with a poor self-image or a low self-esteem. Many youngsters will strive for a consistency of a poor self-image rather than a successful life-style. That seems to run contrary to the laws of personhood, but in more than three decades of working with young people, I have seen it happen over and over again.

Question 5 of 5:

HOW DOES SHE HANDLE RELATIONSHIPS, BOTH WITH PEERS AND WITH ADULTS?

Does she seem to have a number of meaningful friendships that have lasted, friendships into which she is invested? Does she speak easily and comfortably with adults?

At the other extreme we find youngsters who seem socially isolated and withdrawn. They might possibly say things like, “No one likes me!” They might even make friends easily, but have difficulty keeping them.

This youngster might either be uncomfortable with adults or spend all of their time with just one friend or one adult, like a favorite teacher. This might appear to be a very positive relationship, but the deeper message could be avoidance of other relationships. This can become a real problem, especially if that one intense relationship falls apart. And generally, if the relationship is one-sided in its intensity, it will eventually fall apart.

There are underlying issues in such an unfortunate scenario, such as two kinds of fear: the fear of closeness and fear of being socially “exposed” For an adolescent, a stage of growth where peers are such an important part of psychosocial development, just the thought of being “exposed” is quite disturbing. This youngster can be terrified that, if others get too close, they might not like what they see. One way of dealing with this problem is to never, but never, let anyone get too close. But, just like the problem of risk, not letting anyone get close is also self-defeating. ###

 

Speakers Group MemberA nationally recognized (and now mostly retired) child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. For more information about the ebook featured in this Special Report, CLICK HERE.

 

 

Co-Parenting with an Addict After Divorce: Developing the Right Mindset (Rosalind Sedacca, CDC)

 

Addiction and divorce can both cause confusion and conflict in the lives of children. Rosalind Sedacca has insights that can help. The Changing Behavior Network presents, “Co-Parenting with an Addict After Divorce: Developing the Right Mindset.”

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Co-Parenting with an Addict After Divorce: Developing the Right Mindset, Rosalind Sedacca Getting divorced and exploring the realities of co-parenting ahead? Life after divorce can be enormously complex; it’s especially challenging for parents who are coping with addiction issues and their consequences.

Cooperative co-parenting is always best for your children. It is easier for them to accept life after divorce when they have access, love and attention from both parents. Post-divorce co-parenting with an addict makes this process more complicated, especially if one parent is not fully dependable, trustworthy or responsible.

Common Parental Issues Following Divorce

Difficulties can be compounded by the many issues all parents face following a divorce:

• Both parents are bringing the raw emotions resulting from the divorce into a new stage in their lives.

• Mom and Dad are also bringing previous baggage from the marriage (ongoing conflicts, major disputes, differing styles of communication, unresolved issues and continual frustrations) into the mix as they negotiate a co-parenting plan.

• Both parents are vying for the respect and love of the children, They are easily tempted to slant their parenting decisions in the direction that wins them popularity with the kids.

• Anger and resentment resulting from the divorce settlement can impact and influence levels of cooperation in the months and years to come.

• Parents may disagree about major issues ahead that weren’t part of the parenting dynamic in the past: visits and sleepovers with friends, scheduling after-school activities, handling curfews, new behavior problems, consequences for smoking, drinking and drug use, dating parameters, using the car, and scheduling vacation time.

• Parents may not share values and visions for the children as they grow, and they may also not agree on the plan of action required to honor those values.

Challenges

When challenges appear, parents might find themselves struggling to find ways of coping. Agreement on how to co-parent effectively in the present and the future is not a one-time discussion. It takes on-going communication, both verbal and written, as well as regular connections via phone, email or in person. It also takes a commitment to make co-parenting work because you both want it to.

The consequences, when it doesn’t work, can be considerable. Your children are very likely to exploit any lack of parental agreement or unity, pitting Mom and Dad against one another while they eagerly take advantage of the situation. This is a danger sign that can result in major family turmoil fueled by behavior problems that neither parent is prepared to handle.

Addiction: Another Layer of Confusion

Addiction problems bring another layer of confusion. The addicted parent may not be granted shared custody and may have limited visitation. I encourage these parents to take advantage of video chats, emails, texting and other options today’s technology offers to support close parent-child connection.

It is essential that both parents always keep their promises and show up on time. Disappointments deeply hurt children. They will lose their trust and respect for a parent, which is hard to earn back. Don’t make agreements you can’t live up to. And never show up intoxicated or unprepared to parent, but be fully focused on your children and their needs.

When Mom and Dad are on the same page, they can parent as a team regardless of how far apart they live. These parents agree about behavioral rules, consequences, schedules and shared intentions regarding their children. They discuss areas of disagreement and find solutions they can both live with, or agree to disagree and not make those differences an area of contention.

If meals with Mom are vastly different than food offerings during time with Dad, that can still work if both parents respect the differences and let the children know it’s all okay. When differences become an area of high conflict, that’s when the kids can get hurt, being caught between battling parental egos. Children are confused and often feel guilty in battling parent situations, which rarely leads to any good within the post-divorce family structure.

Rosalind Sedacca, Parenting Beyond DivorceWhen to Consider Professional Support

Get professional support to guide you if you’re uncomfortable when the kids are with your co-parent. Discuss your options objectively. Sometimes we’re so caught up in past situations we can’t create workable solutions for co-parenting success without the assistance of a divorce mediator, therapist or mentor experienced with addiction and its challenges.

Keep in mind that when you’re more open and receptive to your co-parent, you are more likely to get what you really want in the end. Good listening skills, flexibility and the commitment to do what’s best on behalf of your children are part of a smart co-parenting mindset. Remember that co-parenting will be a life-long process for the two of you. Why not do it in a way that will garner your children’s respect and appreciation? They will thank you when they are grown adults. ###

 

Speakers Group Member, Rosalind SedaccaRosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach/Mentor and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She’s author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? and co-host of The Divorce View Talk Show and podcast. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, her mentoring services and other valuable resources on mastering child-centered divorce, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

Helping Your Athlete to Win Consistently (Greg Warburton)

Physical skills being the same for a group of athletes, the difference between winning and losing is often a player’s mental approach to the game. It’s not about luck and happenstance. Learn more as we present, “Helping Your Athlete to Win Consistently.”

Greg Warburton, Helping Your Athlete to Win ConsistentlyMental Training Makes the Difference

Mental and emotional focus, preparation and practice are the hallmark of athletes and teams that consistently win. In this interview, mental training consultant and author, Greg Warburton, will introduce us to a sports mental training program he has developed, a program with proven results. Greg is the author of Warburton’s Winning System: Tapping and Other Transformational Mental Training Tools for Athletes.

Energy Psychology and EFT

Warburton's Winning System, Greg WarburtonListen in as Greg describes an approach to mental toughness that’s related to Energy Psychology, a component of sport psychology. He will explain why it’s so critical to always be absolutely honest with one’s self, and why thoughts and actions should relate to “DO” rather than “DON’T.” He will also introduce a relatively new concept called “tapping,” a type of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s a powerful and always available tool for maintaining calmness, clarity and focus.

Greg Warburton

In addition to his consultation with athletes as young as middle school, Greg has introduced his mental training winning systems to players on five Division I baseball teams; three of them because Division I College World Series Champions over a seven-year period. A fourth team from Oregon State University had several players and mental training proteges that won national awards.

Greg is also an experienced licensed professional counselor and author of the book, Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance.  (28:55)

www.gregwarburton.com

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BONUS: Here’s a bonus from Greg, a guide entitled “Daily Mental Training in Sport Psychology.” Download it HERE.

Has “Depression” Lost Its Meaning? (Dr. Larry F. Waldman)

Special Report, Has "Depression" Lost Its Meaning?Dr. Waldman addresses a significant issue regarding how the word “depression” is often used; his insights and explanations here are absolutely on-target. It is important to note that children generally manifest depression differently than adults. (As one of my college professors once lectured, “Depressed adults VEGETATE; depressed children AGITATE.”) A depressed child is often seen as a behavior problem. Too often, while the behavior is being addressed, intervention for depression is either delayed or not addressed at all. So, whether we’re considering depression as it affects youngsters or adults, it’s a topic needing a LOT more understanding. With our thanks to Dr. Waldman, we present, “Has ‘Depression’ Lost Its Meaning?”  –JDS

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Dr. Larry F. Waldman, Has "Depression" Lost Its Meaning?Recently, I overheard an adolescent tell her friend, “I was so depressed yesterday but I’m fine today.” Her friend replied, “Yeah, I understand; I get depressed sometimes, too.”

This conversation reflects the very common misuse of the term “depression.” Most individuals mistakenly refer to depression when, in fact, they are simply sad or unhappy. We all occasionally “get down,” get “bummed out,” or have “the blues,” but these feelings usually last a few hours or a day or two, and the individual can manage their life—eat, sleep, work, socialize, etc.

True Depression is Serious

True depression, sometimes called clinical depression, is far more severe than a few hours or day or so “down in the dumps.” An average episode of clinical depression lasts approximately six to nine months; in some cases it can last a year or more. It is a deep, prevailing sense of sadness and darkness, often accompanied with the thought that, “I will never feel better.”

Truly depressed persons cannot carry on with their lives because they are unable to focus or concentrate, have no energy, cannot sleep or sleep excessively, cannot eat or overeat, and strictly avoid socialization. Depressed persons typically develop low self-esteem and anxiety. It is also common that physical symptoms accompany depression, like head- and/or backaches or GI distress. The term depression has clearly lost its meaning.

Depression at times is brought on by some negative environmental event but just as frequently depression begins with no apparent cause. Individuals with family members whom have struggled with depression, and thus may be genetically predisposed, are more susceptible to this kind of depression with no obvious precipitant. (Psychiatrists refer to this as “endogenous” depression.)

Depression is Dangerous

Depression is dangerous: People with clinical depression lose their ambition, confidence, and their jobs–even their careers. They have great difficulty fulfilling their role as parent and/or spouse and thus those relationships become tenuous. Depressed people may abuse drugs and/or alcohol in an attempt to ameliorate their symptoms. Finally, the prospect of suicide becomes more likely as the depressed patient becomes convinced they are defective and “will never feel normal again.”

Dr. Larry Waldman, Who's Raising Whom?To suggest that one can be depressed yesterday but be fine today, like the two teens referenced above, is ludicrous. This failure to appreciate the true gravity of the word depression is significant, also. Persons with clinical depression don’t get the family or social support they deserve because others think we all “get down” now and then.

Employers will be most considerate if an employee breaks their ankle but will provide relatively little understanding to the employee who requests time off for depression. Until recently, insurance companies covered physical problems much better than mental ones.

Finally, the depressed person may not fully understand their condition, feeling shame and refusing help.

Treatment of Depression

Treatment of depression requires a multi-faceted approach: consider medication; receive psychotherapy; eat right; sleep right; exercise; and socialize. Lying in bed in a dark room, waiting to feel better, will only prolong the depressive episode.

It is important that we cease misusing the word depression and recognize the serious medical/psychological condition it is. ###

 

Speakers Group MemberLarry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 38 years. He has worked with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of five books (currently) involving parenting, marriage, personal wellness, and private practice. His contact information is: 602-418-8161; LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.

 

 

Helping Fathers to Be Dads (Michael Byron Smith)

When Michael Byron Smith‘s son was in preschool, he drew a picture of a person with a second, much smaller person in the upper corner of the page. When asked about his drawing, the younger Michael replied, “It’s my dad; he’s thinking of me.” A child’s need for a father that’s present and involved couldn’t be stated any better than that. Welcome to “Helping Fathers to Be Dads.”

Helping Fathers to Be Dads, Michael Byron SmithEvery child needs the security of knowing they are in their father’s thoughts, yet the truth remains that, in too many cases, those needs go unmet. Some experts refer to this sort of unmet needs as Father Hunger. Quality research clearly indicates how the absence and the lack of involvement of fathers with their children comes at a dear cost. Present, involved, loving and nurturing fathers are needed now more than ever. Michael Byron Smith is sharing that message with fathers at every opportunity.

This is Mike Smith’s second interview on The Changing Behavior Network. He’s the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, and he also hosts a popular blog for fathers, “Helping Fathers to Be Dads.” Catch the interaction in this interview between Mike and host Jim Sutton as they discuss Mike’s experiences of being the oldest of six children raised in a home with no father present. The lack of a father’s support left them in very difficult circumstances.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithListen in also as they discuss their take on how individuals differ in how they handle adversity and how they recognize and take advantage of opportunities when they come. They also discuss how turning points can create permanent changes in the directions of not only one’s life, but in the lives and futures of their loved ones. Mike will also share about the impact of The Power of Dadhood and his blog for fathers.

Michael Byron Smith is a retired Air Force colonel and a former military pilot. He’s also a retired civilian engineer for the US government in the aerospace industry. Mike and his wife, Kathy, live in Missouri and are the proud parents of three children and grandparents of four. (28:50)

www.michaelbyronsmith.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: From his book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Michael offers “A Dad’s Self-Inspection Checklist.” Download it immediately and for free HERE.

 

Comfort in Chaos: Understanding Trauma Brain (Shenandoah Chefalo)

I make no bones about it: As a foster child, I don’t think I was an easy person to get along with. I certainly wasn’t trying to make bonds or connections with those around me. Of course, I knew nothing at the time about trauma brain.

Shenandoah Chefalo, Comfort in Chaos: Understanding Trauma BrainI went into foster care at the age of 13. My life prior to entering the system was one of immense dysfunction; I had practically raised myself. My mom was rarely around, and, when she was, it was usually to tell me that we were moving. We moved over 50 times and I went to more than 35 schools in my life before the age of 13.

Chaos had become my normal.

In learning to “cover” for my mom’s actions, and watching my mom talk her way out of almost any situation, I learned a valuable skill early on: lying. It was a skill that saved me numerous times from severe punishments.

Foster Care and Beyond

I thought foster care would be a positive solution to the life I was living. What I found was more of the same as loneliness, isolation and depression followed me into care. I had become disconnected from my feelings and simply accepted that I was unable to love … and was unlovable. I continued behaviors from the past and found no solace in the families that took me in.

I ultimately aged out of the system at 18 and was turned loose onto the world with no real connections to other people. When I hit the college campus, a feat I wouldn’t learn was remarkable until later, I made a pact with myself to never talk about my past with anyone. I was a good liar, and, because of that skill, I kept that promise to myself for more than 20 years.

Trauma Brain

I spent those years, hiding the past, keeping myself at arms length from any real relationships, and doing the one thing I was knew I was good at: lying. I didn’t know it at the time, but I found myself in what I now refer to as “trauma brain.” I would go to that comfortable place in my mind, a place of Fight, Flight, Freeze or Appease.

For me, there was comfort in chaos. When things in my life were going well, I looked for and caused chaos for myself so I could feel “comfortable.” Of course I  didn’t realize, at least not consciously, that I was doing it until I started to become increasingly unsettled with the life I was living. I had a good job, managed to get married and had a child, but I was only comfortable in the unknown.

I wanted to change.

For most of my life, I chalked up my behavior to the idea that I was just “crazy,” a concept I was comfortable with. I figured it was only a matter of time until I turned into my “crazy” mother. I was working in a law office at this time, and I would watch clients with similar tendencies. I had wondered about their past and when I started to ask, I was surprised by how many of them had been former foster kids, also. I had always assumed there had been very few kids like me. The numbers appearing in my office were off-putting, to say the least.

Garbage Bag Suitcase, Shenandoah ChefaloSelf-help Search

Flash forward. In an effort to find peace in my life, I initially turned to self-help books. I found a little relief, but often found myself going back to old habits. I started to realize that hiding my demons was only making me more depressed and more disconnected.

I tried everything: more books, journaling, yoga, meditation. and hiking. Physical exertion was having an impact, but it only lasted a few hours, then I was back in my mind, returning to old habits.

I finally realized that I had to tell my story. I wrote Garbage Bag Suitcase and began diving into an understanding of trauma and its effects on the brain.

The research began turning me onto new books. Suddenly I understood my “trauma brain” in a whole new way. I wasn’t “crazy;” my brain was just programed to constantly be in Fight, Flight, Freeze, Appease mode, and this knowledge changed everything for me.

Like a Sledding Hill

I recently heard Dr. Cathy Fialon explain trauma brain as a sledding hill. When you go sledding the path becomes worn, so you gain greater speed. The well-worn path is easy and comfortable. However, if you take your sled over a few feet to a part of the hill that hasn’t been used, it becomes more difficult to slide down; you can’t gain momentum and you often start and stop a lot. It takes time, she explained, to break in this new path and make it again enjoyable for sledding.

I understood exactly what she meant. My learned reactions as a child had become the well-worn sledding hill. It was easy for me to go down that road, regardless of the effects. But when I started working on myself (i.e. taking my sled to a new hill) it was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, while I’m still working on breaking in my new path, every once in awhile I like to take a spin on the old one.

That is “trauma brain” retraining ourselves, and oftentimes those we care about, how to break in a new way of thinking. I am thrilled to say I have a new career that allows me to help others recognize their trauma brain and the trauma brain of those around them, and to help themselves and others heal in a brand new way.

After all, we all deserve to try out a new place to sled. ###

 

Speakers Group MemberShenandoah Chefalo is a former foster youth and an advocate. She is the author of the memoir, Garbage Bag Suitcase, and co-founder of Good Harbor Institute, an organization focused on ensuring sustainable, implemented trauma care within organizations and individuals. You can learn more about her and her work at www.garbagebagsuitcase.com or www.goodharborinst.com