Four Steps to Help Parents Reduce Holiday Stress (Dr. Thomas Phalen)

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The holidays are coming up, and although many parents look forward to having their children home from school, they also find that after a few days it isn’t so easy having the kids underfoot all the time. The youngsters are all excited about Christmas, they start fighting more often, and when they’re not doing that they complain to their parents that they’re bored.

TPhelanphotoThis season is one of those odd times that combine a lot of fun with a lot of stress. It isn’t easy having the children right on top of you again, especially when they’re all pumped up about the presents they’re going to get and can’t seem to leave one another alone. Here are a few ideas for maintaining sanity during these both enjoyable and difficult times.

1. Help Kids Plan or Structure Part of Each Day
With school-age kids, help them plan or structure part of each day, then let the youngsters figure out what they are going to do to entertain themselves for the rest of that day. Do not fall into the trap of seeing yourself as the resident entertainment committee! You might help Emily by allowing her to have a friend over to eat dinner, watch a video and then sleep overnight. The rest of the day your daughter decides for herself what she’ll do. Or you might take Ryan out to lunch and then to a movie, but the rest of the day he entertains himself.

boys_sled2. Be Clear About the Rules from the Start
Make the above rules clear as soon as the vacation starts, so when the kids come up to you and say, “There’s nothing to do,” you can reply, “You and I will be going out at 4, but in the meantime I’m sure you can think of something.” Above all, don’t keep making suggestion after suggestion after suggestion, only to have a child shoot down each idea as soon as it’s out of your mouth. Making a lot of suggestions to your children for what they can do implies that you are responsible for their keeping busy and feeling entertained.

3. Plan Lots of One-on-One Fun
Plan lots of activities one on one with your children. Just you and one child—no spouse or siblings. Not only does this eliminate the fighting, it offers the opportunity for real closeness and bonding. Most parents find that it’s a lot easier to have fun when it’s just you and one child, rather than the whole family together. This may sound funny, but family fun is overrated! Kids love having a parent all to themselves, and under these circumstances each youngster is usually much easier to get along with.

4. Avoid Feeling Guilty
Don’t feel guilty if—two days before December 25—you find yourself wishing the kids were back in school already. You have lots of company! It’s not easy having a lot of wound-up little ones chasing each other around the house.

Dr. Thomas Phelan is a clinical psychologist and the author of 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (1.5 million copies sold). His most recent book is Tantrums! Managing Meltdowns in Public and Private. Visit www.123magic.com for more information.

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The Tablecloth: A Story for the Christmas Season

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Jim Gentil, my friend in Austin, Texas, published this story about seven years ago in his online newsletter, The Power of Positive Living. It captures the essence of the Christmas season. It was originally written by Howard C. Schade under the title of “The Ivory and Gold Tablecloth.” May this story bless your soul, as it has mine. –JDS

 

At Christmas time, men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a huge miracle — not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit and prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now, the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood.

But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down-church. They felt that, with hard work and lots of faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

The Storm

stormBut, late in December, a severe story whipped through the river valley; the worst blow fell on the church. A huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they could not hide the ragged hole.

The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!” But his wife wept, “Christmas is only two days away!”

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended an auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a gloriously beautiful, very ornately sewn, gold and ivory lace tablecloth.

It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. But it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who had any use for such a thing today. There were a few half-hearted bids, then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.

He bid it in for $6.50.

He carried the glorious gold and ivory lace cloth back to the church and very carefully put it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel.

It was a great triumph. Happily, he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

The Woman in the Cold

busstopJust before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop.

“The bus won’t be here for 40 minutes!” he called, inviting her into the church to get warm.

She told him she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town, but she had been turned down. As a Jewish war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while, she dropped her head and prayed.

She then looked up and saw the great gold and ivory cloth. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel.

She looked a the beautiful tablecloth with with remembering eyes.

“It is Mine!”

The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn’t seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and lovingly rubbed it between her fingers as tears welled in her kind eyes.

But they were happy tears of recognition.

“It is mine!” she said. “It is my banquet cloth!” She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it.

“My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it.”

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese, and that, in being Jews, she and her husband wanted to flee from the Nazis. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border.

But she never saw him again. Later, she heard he had died in a concentration camp.

“I have always felt it was my fault to leave without him,” she said. “Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment.”

The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the beautiful cloth with her. But she refused saying, “No, no, the cloth has found its way to you. You need it. It has purpose here; I want you to have it. I am happy knowing you have it.”

She gazed lovingly up at the magnificent gold and ivory lace cloth, then quietly went away.

The Repairman

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the magnificent cloth was going to be a great success. It has been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.

The glorious gold and ivory lace cloth actually glowed in the candlelight. It cast lovely fine designs on the walls and ceilings of the church. Everyone looked around in wonderment, and a tranquil ambiance was cast over all.

After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him the church looked more beautiful than ever before.

chimesFrom the generous donations that were given, a few days later the pastor had the local jeweler, who was also the clock-and-watch repairman, come to repair the church chimes.

The repairman’s gentle middle-aged face drew into a look of great astonishment! As if in a trance, he walked right up to the beautiful cloth and looked upon it intently.

“It is strange,” he said in his soft accent. “Many years ago, my wife, God rest her, and I owned such a cloth. My wife put it on the table (and here he gave a big smile) for holidays and when the Rabbi came to dinner.”

Reunited 

The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in the church to get warm, saw the cloth, and recognized it to be hers.

The startled jeweler clutched the pastor’s arm. “Can it be?” he said, through desperate tears.

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed the woman for the governess position and got her address. Then they both drove to the city.

The jeweler knocked on the heavy, weathered door. As it opened, there stood his beloved wife. The many years of separation were immediately washed away by their blissful tears. They held each other in loving embraces, never to be parted again.

Purpose in the Storm

True love seems to find a way. To all who hear or read this story, the joyful purpose of the storm was to knock a hole in the wall of the church.

So, Dear Ones, the next time something knocks a hole in your dreams or your goals, just remember to have enough faith and enough belief in those dreams and goals to lovingly and creatively hang your own brilliant lace cloth over the temporary mar.

Then watch the miracles come. ###

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Raising Safe, Responsible Children Using Native American Principles (Guest: Laura Ramirez)

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More than ever, we are drawn to realize that responsible children capable of growing into competent, yet humble, adults make up the bedrock of any culture.

LRamirezphotoBut exactly how do we help our children learn and exercise not only responsibility, but the capacity to work and relate easily with others? How do they learn to balance self-assurance with authentic humility and manage friendliness with caution? How do they learn to manage or avoid those who might cause them harm in  some way? How do we teach our children to handle life confidently and safely without being burdened by fear?

The wisdom within Native American parenting practices recognizes the importance of teaching children positive, real-life lessons early on. According to our guest on this program, Laura Ramirez, Native American children are taught by custom the importance of having vision instead of fear as it applies to their purpose, their role with others and their oneness with the environment. These children are also taught, when very young, that understanding their nature plays an important role in their growth and development.

keepersbookLaura will share with us insights and principals for being “keepers” of our children as they raise them to become safe and quietly confident young people. And, no surprise, they are deeply rooted in time-tested Native American practices.

Laura is a child advocate, author and workshop leader. Her book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, has won four awards, including the Gold Nautilus Award for books promoting conscious living and social change. Laura’s husband, Larry, is a Native American, of the Pascua Yaqui tribe. The couple have two sons and live in the sage-dotted foothills of northern Nevada. (28:07)

http://www.keepersofthechildren.com

 

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What If It’s NOT ADHD? (Guest: Frank Barnhill, MD)

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What does this mean? It means that almost 2.5 million young people are being misdiagnosed, mismedicated, and wrongly labeled as ADHD. The implications of this are far-reaching and harmful to our children.

In this fast-paced and fact-filled interview, ADHD expert and family practice physican, Dr. Frank Barnhill, describes the problems and concerns associated with a “quick fix,” a hasty diagnosis of ADHD and use of stimulant drugs without benefit of a thorough evaluation. He shares how a wrongful diagnosis in children and teens can lead to employment, legal, and emotional problems in adulthood. He then draws on his 30 years of family medicine to cover important questions parents should ask their doctor to be sure their children are being effectively evaluated and treated for ADHD (29:04).

mistakenforadhdDr. Barnhill is the author of the aclaimed book, Mistaken for ADHD. It stands as a definitive resource for ruling out the many conditions and disorders that can, at first appearance, look much like ADHD.

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Five Kernels of Corn: An Act of Gratitude and Faith

BTLifesMomentsHere is a story taken from a November 23, 2006, entry in Dr. Sutton’s earlier blog, It’s About Them. The original source of the material was Marshall and Manuel’s book, The Light and the Glory (Fleming H. Revell, 1977). These men did exhaustive research on the material included in their book, often being allowed access to documents and journals not readily available to the public, such as this account taken from the journal of William Bradford. As incredible as this story may seem, it is shared as being true, a testament to the power of a simple, sustaining faith.

……………………………………………

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in a natural harbor on the inside of the northern tip of Cape Cod. There it stayed. The location was not the Pilgrims’ first choice; they had planned to settle near the mouth of the Hudson.

pilgrimsThe area where the ship made landfall had belonged to the Patuxets, a fierce tribe that took intense delight in murdering anyone who would dare invade their territory. A sickness, however, had wiped them out, leaving their land free for the taking. (Other Indians, fearing “bad spirits,” would have no part of it.) The Pilgrims didn’t even have to clear fields for planting. They were alread there for them.

The nearest neighbors were the Wampanoags, a civilized tribe ruled by Massasoit. The chief and his people accepted the Pilgrims and helped them. Squanto, a lone survivor of the Patuxets, made his home with the new inhabitants and taught them how to survive in this new and challenging land.

Although the bounty of the summer of 1621 brought a time of heartfelt gratitude (the first Thanskgiving), the Pilgrims’ obligation to repay the backers who had financed their voyage left them dangerously close to starvation. Food stores had all but disappeared.

At one point, a daily ration of food for a Pilgrim was 5 kernels of corn. With a simple faith that God would sustain them, no matter what, they pulled through. History records that not a single one of them died from starvation that winter. Not a one.

The harvest of 1623 brought a surplus of corn, so much that the Pilgrims were able to help out the Indians for a change. So joyous were they that they celebrated a second Day of Thanksgiving and invited Massasoit to be their guest.

He came, bringing with him his wife, several other chiefs and 120 braves. All sat down to a feast of 12 venison, 6 goats, 50 hogs and pigs, numerous turkeys, vegtables, grapes, nuts, plums, puddings and pies. But, lest anyone forget, all were given their first course on an empty plate.

They were each given 5 kernels of corn.

Must-Have Marvin (Guest: Christy Ziglar)

BTRadioIntThe concept that people and relationships are far more important that wealth and things is accepted by most folks; it holds a prominent place in our most important values. A review of accumulated end-of-life regrets would find hardly an individual that wished they had worked for more “stuff.” Many folks in that situation, however, have lamented broken relationships. That should tell us something.

ChristyPhotoIt’s easy, isn’t it, to be drawn down paths that entice us with status and possessions? Unfortunately, Madison Avenue keeps those paths well-lit. How many of us can identify a time when we wanted something so badly that we were resolved to have it, no matter what, regardless of its cost in resources or relationships? Then later, we discovered we paid too much.

That realization, as difficult and uncomfortable as it might be, can help us learn a necessary lesson: People are ALWAYS more important that possessions.

Marvin_CoverOur guest on this program, author Christy Ziglar, has written a book for children that skillfully addresses the conflict of values regarding possessions versus relationships. The book, Must-Have Marvin, follows a young boy who has to stumble a bit before he truly understands that friends are more important than things.

Must-Have Marvin is the second book in Christy’s very successful Shine Bright Kids series; plenty more are on the way. These books promote principles for living shared world-wide by the late Zig Ziglar, master motivator, encourager AND Christy’s uncle. Zig’s timeless influence continues on in every page of these great books for kids.

Christy is the founder of the Shine Bright Kids Company in Atlanta Georgia, where she and her family currently live. (29:17)

http://www.ShineBrightKids.com

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Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home (Guest: Christy Monson)

CMonsonphotoEveryone’s in a rush today. It seems that authentic and meaningful communication with others is a vanishing skill. Even handwritten letters have given way to quick emails, quicker texts and hasty tweets.

Few of us have enough time to spend meaningfully with others, and it probably shows.

Families are not immune to this “abbreviation” of communication. In many instances, loved ones needing our presence, our time, our words and our support don’t get nearly enough. Oh, families remain intact, but without the strength and bonding that could be there. This is most realized when an emergency or difficult circumstance affects the family.

According to our guest on this program, retired therapist and author Christy Monson, families that focus on becoming synergistic, and put the work into making it happen, not only handle the tough times better, bonds within the family grow stronger and stronger.

Family Talk BookOne important activity of synergism is the family meeting, or Family Council. When family meetings are scheduled, and the time and effort for having them are honored, children learn how their presence and input matters. They learn the facts of family finances and how to set and realize goals. And they learn that conflicts and probles can be resolved, because walking away is not an option. Indeed, family meetings can teach dozens of insights and skills that children can practice for a lifetime.

In this program, Christy discusses the benefits and payoffs of synergistic families, and she takes us through the steps of establishing, conducting and maintaining the Family Council. Her experience and personal examples will make it meaningful.

Christy has authored many books and articles that support and strengthen individuals and families. In thie program we’re featuring her latest book, Family Talk: How to Organize Family Meetings and Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships. (27:48)

 

http://www.ChristyMonson.com

 

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How to Be A Great Parent (Guest: Dr. Nancy Buck)

PR photo in libraryThere is plenty of evidence to show that the brain processes negative factors quicker, longer and with more gusto than it processes the positive. We tend not to reflect on things that are going well, but just look at what we do when events and circumstances cause us concern.

What does this mean regarding how we communicate with our children and students? Answer: Just about EVERYTHING.

According to our guest on this program, developmental psychologist Dr. Nancy Buck, we want our kids to be SAFE. Our children, however, want to have FUN. These distinctly different priorities can clash into conflict. (It happens often, doesn’t it?) Nancy will show us how our typical responses in these situations can take a toll. In the process of unintended difficulty, relationships suffer.

Great Parent coverIn this fast-paced and stimulating program, Nancy provides the research and rationale for better understanding a child’s wants and needs, as well as methods for redirecting youngsters in ways that are more successful and more pleasant. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

Dr. Nancy Buck is the founder of Peaceful Parenting, Inc. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today, and she’s an in-demand speaker and presenter on the topic of effective parenting. Nancy is the author of the acclaimed book, Peaceful Parenting, as well as a just-released work, How to be a Great Parent: Understanding Your Child’s Wants and Needs. (29:17)

htpp://www.peacefulparenting.com

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The Joys and Challenges of Foster Parenting (Guest: Dr. John DeGarmo)

JDeGarmophotoIt would be difficult for us to ever fully realize and understand the value of foster parents. Their contributions are ongoing reminders of the resilience of the human spirit and the impact of love, support and assurance when it is needed most. Indeed, there are many successful men and women who were raised in foster families.

It’s a serious thing to remove a child or teen from their biological home, yet circumstances can dictate just that. Through no fault of their own, youngsters’ lives can be changed dramatically as they are placed with a foster family, for not to move them could expose them to serious, even life-threatening, physical and emotional risk.

Although folks who have “been there” will tell you the blessings of being a foster parent outweigh the troubles, it’s understandable how a  child or teen going into foster placement might not be happy about it. Patience, insight, understanding, and sometimes a pretty thick skin are needed to help these kids find their footing on a better road. So, according to our guest on this program, foster parent and foster parenting expert, Dr. John DeGarmo, being a foster parent takes a substantial amount of grit in addition to love and compassion.

Fostering LoveIn this program, Dr. John explains the nature and process of foster parenting, and he freely shares some of the ups and downs he and his wife, Kelly, have experienced in their 12 years as foster parents. He also discusses some of the behaviors and characteristics of youngsters coming into foster placement (especially for the first time), and how they are best addressed. (These could include hoarding of food, boundary issues, poor school performance, difficulty with conflict, problems in exercising trust and fear of rejection.) Dr. John also shows how we all can best assist foster children and their foster families.

Dr. John travels extensively, speaking and training on foster care. He also hosts a weekly radio show, Foster Talk with Dr. John, and he’s the author of a number of books on foster care. In this program, we’re featuring one that has been especially well-received, Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent. (28:50)

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Solving Problems Collaboratively (Guest: Dr. Ross Greene)

RossGreeneThere’s an old saying that goes, “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.” Although this bit of country wisdom might explain a lot of things in this world, our guest today, Dr. Ross Greene, strongly believes it does NOT explain the behavior of challenging children and teens. In other words, inappropriate behavior DOESN’T come from youngsters because they are deciding to be difficult or manipulative, or that they are unmotivated or “bad.” He suggests poor behavior happens because a youngster is lagging in the skills to fix the behavior himself.

Dr. Greene will share how the past 30-40 years of research supports a position he states constantly: “Kids will do well if they CAN.” Not only will he make this perspective more clear in this program, Dr. Greene will explain what this means in terms of behavioral intervention, and he will direct us to a gold mine of resources and support as we collaborate toward success.

ExplosiveChildbookDr. Ross Greene is the originator of the Collaborative Problem Solving approach and the author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School. He is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and he holds teaching and lecturing positions with Cambridge Hospital, Virginia Tech and Tufts University. Dr. Green is the founder of Lives in the Balance, a non-profit entity that disseminates his model through no-cost, web-based programming. He consults extensively with families, schools, inpatient psychiatry units and residential and juvenile detention facilities, and he lectues world-wide. (26:27)

http://livesinthebalance.org

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