Tag Archives: positive psychology

Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)

As author Mike Ferry points out, adolescents today experience alarming rates of depression and stress. He shares five ways parents can help their teen be happier. We present, “Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier.”

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Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)Pimples. Hormonal changes. Emotional extremes. Argumentativeness. Romantic relationships. If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you may be living through these and other aspects of the teen years. It’s a period of great upheaval, for kids and parents (not to mention the teachers who never escape the drama of middle and high school).

Stress, anxiety and depression

Adolescence has always been hard, but today’s teens are having an especially difficult time. For a variety of reasons, teens are suffering from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. Consider this statistic:

17% of high school students seriously consider suicide (22.4% of girls)

That’s unbelievable! Unfortunately, the trend continues into the college years:

54% of college students have extreme anxiety
30% of college students suffer from severe depression

As parents, there are some strategies we can employ to help our teenage children endure this rough patch and emerge stronger in young adulthood. We can practice these “protective factors” at home to boost our kids’ emotional immune systems.

Five Things Parents Can Do

Here are five ways to make teens happier and to promote long-term positive mental health.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry(1) Have a consistent home or family routine. I know how tough this can be. My wife and I have four kids; managing their sports schedules and social calendars seems harder than running a federal agency. If possible, try to have at least one family meal per week. You could also plan a family game night once a month and make it clear that nothing will take priority over it.

(2) Promote healthy habits. Our physical health impacts our emotional health. Encourage plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is often sacrificed due to homework and hanging out with friends, but it is an essential aspect of sound mental health. Do all you can to help your teen get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night.

(3) Practice spirituality. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Spirituality offers emotional support and guidance, in addition to a sense of purpose. If your family actively practices religion, help your teen grow in the faith by attending services on a regular basis. Getting involved with your religious community’s youth group strengthens social bonds and creates shared experiences that can sustain your teen in difficult times.

(4) Boost confidence. Many teens suffer from negative self-esteem. This may result from poor body image, stressful social interactions, or feeling inadequate in some way. You can help your teen feel more confident by celebrating his or her victories, large and small. Show your teen that effort leads to results, and that he or she has the power to achieve success in a variety of areas. For more ideas, you can check out my blog post on ways to develop a growth mindset in your child.

(5) Know what’s going on. Monitor your teen’s activities, both in the “real world” and online. Take a peek every now and then at your son or daughter’s social media profiles. Invite your teen’s friends to your house to hang out. Stay in touch with how your child is doing at school and beyond. Often, troubling emotional situations can be avoided by proactive and positive parenting.

Hang in there, parents of teens! It’s a wild and unpredictable ride, but it will be over before you know it. Your child will grow up and leave the nest (hopefully) with the tools needed for academic and personal success. With a great deal of patience and care, we can get our teens on track for stronger mental health in the present and down the road. If you’re interested in learning more ways to guide your teenage child through this tumultuous time, you may want to check out my online course, “The Parent’s Guide To Surviving Adolescence.”

Mike 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

 

Seven Ways of Teaching Happiness to Your Kids (Mike Ferry)

Happiness is the “Holy Grail” of parenting. While all of us want our kids to be happy and successful in life, we may not know exactly how to achieve this goal. Fortunately, the “science of happiness” can show us the way to teaching happiness.

teaching happiness, science of happinessYears of research have revealed certain habits and beliefs that make us happier, more creative, and more effective in everything we do. Rather than waiting and hoping that emotional well-being will descend from the heavens, we can show our children how to forge happy lives.

Since learning about this branch of psychology, I have been on a mission to share this knowledge with parents. I wrote a book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, to help parents identify the habits of happiness and teach them to their kids. We are all thirsting for guidance in this department, and I hope that my efforts make a difference.

teaching happiness, science of happinessI’d like to give you seven ways to point your children towards lives of joy and meaning. These ideas come from my free 21-day “Happy Family” challenge. As is the case in other areas of life, practice makes perfect if you want to form the habits of happiness!

1. Write down the names of three people, places, or things you are grateful for. If you want to learn more about the importance of gratitude, please sign up for my email list. As a thank-you gift, you can download the “Gratitude” chapter from my book for free.

2. Spend some time in quiet prayer or meditation. Nurturing our spirituality is an important aspect of happiness.

3. We feel better when we are creative and thoughtful. Create and send a homemade card to Grandma, Grandpa, or another special person in your family’s life.

4. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Do you know the countries of Europe? If not, start learning them here.

5. Combine these five words to form a short story. If your story is hilarious and unrealistic, that’s just fine.

Miami
Santa
Banana
Anteater
Wagon

6. Think about a time when someone was kind to you. Give yourself a quiet space to reflect on this happy memory.

7. Bake cookies for a neighbor. When you deliver them, talk about the fun you’ve been having with the “Happy Family” challenge! Maybe your neighbor will enjoy the experience as well.###

Mike 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

Stress in the Family: Its Effects and What to Do About It (Guest: Dr. Kristen Lee Costa)

BTRadioIntAlthough most everyone would agree stress is part of life, there wouldn’t be much life if there was no stress at all. Stresses and forces in our lives serve a purpose in pushing us along toward our dreams and goals.

Dr Kris color cropped finalBut, of course, too much stress can wreck a life and harm a family. So we need enough to function and grow, but not so much that it limits hope and makes us sick. Balance is the answer. How do we find it and keep it?

What are the effects of fast-paced, warp-speed lifestyles on the family? How do parents, children and teens interpret and manage all the expectations they experience, as well as the demands they put upon themselves. Why is it happening and what can be done about it? How do we reach and teach balance and resilience in ways that are healthy and sustainable?

“America’s Stress and Burnout Doc,” Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, is here to help us with these questions and concerns. As a parent, she understands the challenges that affect a family’s ability to bounce back from trying circumstances. What she shares on this program can make the difference between surviving or thriving in a world overflowing with challenges. What better skills could we teach our children?

BOOK COVER FINALDr. Kris will share with us her RESET model, a framework that’s been called “a breakthrough model for reframing stress.” As the Department Chair for Behavioral Sciences at Northeastern University, Dr. Kris’s research and teaching interests include individual and organiational well-being and resilience. She operates a clinical and consulting practice devoted to preventing and treating burnout and has worked with thousands of families. Dr. Kris is the author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Motivational Book of 2015. She’s also a regular contributor for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. (27:16)

http://www.resetyourstress.com

 

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The Science of Happiness & Positive Family Psychotherapy (An Interview with Dr. Daniel Trussell)

BTSpotlight

The Changing Behavior Network caught up with Dr. Daniel Trussell to ask him about his very successful approach to family therapy. Here is what he shared with us.

Daniel, you practice positive psychotherapy and positive family psychotherapy. How is that different from traditional forms of psychotherapy?

Rather than looking at the pathology of the family and treating symptoms like behavior or attitude problems, the focus in on teaching the activities and behaviors that flourishing families exhibit. This changes the family dynamic and reduces the likelihood of future mental health problems.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, is positive family therapy your invention?

Not at all. All the work I do is scientifically based on leading academic research found in the discipline of Positive Psychology – the Science of Happiness.

You practiced within a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) model before shifting to Positive Psychology. Why did that happen?

I still find a lot of value in using interventions embedded in cognitive behavioral therapy and DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) as well. But over time I saw the limitations of CBT. A lot of my work has to do with attachment, family system dynamics and increasing family life satisfaction. I understood the importance of including a richer therapeutic experience than just diagnosis, symptom management and support to maintain treatment compliance if I wanted to help a family acquire the skill set to build resiliency, improve well-being, support self-determination and reduce tension.

What is the focus of positive family psychotherapy?

The Science of Happiness demonstrates that those who report optimal well-being and highest life satisfaction share common characteristics. Seligman found that optimal well-being only occurs when there are an abundance of positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and purpose and accomplishment. Langer determined that people with highest life satisfaction share the traits of being generous, loving, authentic, direct and open to new experience. Emmons et al show the health benefits from expressing gratitude. Altogether there are eight primary themes in positive psychotherapy.

What is a typical course of treatment in positive family psychotherapy?

First I help the family identify the activities that support optimal family functioning and those that cause the family to flounder. Next, we explore parental expectations and family attitudes along multiple dimensions and push aside barriers that keep the family from functioning well. This requires careful negotiation from each family member. Typically this includes an analysis of family rules, consequences for not following the rules, tasks that each member routinely performs to maintain household harmony and a reward system for successful outcomes. We look at how each individual’s unique strengths contribute to healthy family functioning and insure that activities are set up so each family member thrives.

How can our readership learn more about the Science of Happiness and positive family psychotherapy?

UC – Berkeley provides a fantastic free online course on the Science of happiness. You can go to www.EdX.org to register for this self-paced course. You might also want to pick of a copy of the How Families Flourish Workbook by Daniel Trussell for step-by-step instructions on optimizing family functioning.

Dr. Daniel Trussell can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com for more information on positive family psychotherapy. [website]
To access Dr. Trussell’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right, typing in “Dr. Daniel Trussell.”

 

In The Spotlight (Christy Ziglar and Dr. Daniel Trussell)

BTSpotlightChristy Ziglar

Christy Ziglar, CFP(r) is an experienced personal financial advisor by training. While developing a financial literacy program for young students in the Atlanta Public Schools, she discovered that many of those youngsters lacked the basic skills of goal-setting, delayed gratification and the self discipline required to make good choices in general. She was inspired to launch the Shine Bright Kid Company and to write the Shine Bright Kids stories to help children ages 4 to 8 learn to focus on things that matter most.

ChristyPhotoIn addition to being an experienced financial planner, Christy is the mother of twins and niece of the late Zig Ziglar, legendary speaker and motivator. Her books incorporate a favorite Zig Ziglar word of encouragement to highlight the wisdom and message of the story. Ideals Children’s Books loved the concept and agreed to be the publisher.

Can’t-Wait Willow was the first Shine Bright Kids picture book. It’s about making good decisions and learning how to put off the good in order to have something better in the end (delayed gratification).

RaiseBrighterKids_270 squareWillow exceeded all expectations, going into reprint much earlier than expected and was names a “Most Beloved Bedtime Story of 2013” by Red Tricycle, as well as the “Children & Teens Book of the Year” by Book Gateway.com. The second book, Must-Have Marvin, is headed for reprint and was named one of the “Best Books of 2014” by Atlanta Parent Magazine. It stresses relationships and valuing people over possessions. The third book in the series, Whatever Wanda, is scheduled for release in April of 2015; it will emphasize the importance of a positive attitude.

It certainly looks like Christy, the Shine Bright Kids and Ideals Children’s Books are moving in a direction that would make Uncle Zig very proud, indeed.

For more information about Christy and the Shine Bright Kids, visit the website [link], where you’ll also find free materials and activities for children and families. (Check the free materials page here on the Network, also.)

To access Christy’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right by typing in “Christy Ziglar.”

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Dr. Daniel Trussell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. Daniel Trussell is a Licensed Professional Counselor, positive psychology coach and author who has spent his career helping individuals and families reduce and prevent mental health concerns and problems. Currently CEO of WebStar Behavioral Health, he comes from a background in clinical and senior executive positions in managed care, non-profit and governmental agencies. Dan has a clear picture of the concerns and the costs.

But he also has a vision for solutions, especially when it comes to the health and vitality of families. Dan’s most recent work, How Families Flourish: A workbook for family optimization, is a compilation of 50 years of research findings in the fields of psychodynamics, family structure therapy, behavioral analysis, attachment theory and positive psychology (the science and study of happiness).

DTrussellHow Families Flourish: A workbook for family optimization, written to be both informative and interactive, is divided into three sections. The first section identifies 18 characteristics of families that flourish and experience highest levels of life satisfaction. This section also explores common mistakes made by families that are floundering and languishing.

The second section of the book introduces a taxonomy of universal character strengths that broadens and builds positive emotional experience, increases resiliency to life’s challenges and deepens healthy family attachment, respect and communication.

The third and final section, “The Family Charter,” is a step-by-step guide for constructing an action plan for creating and sustaining optimal family functioning.

How Families Flourish: A workbook for family optimization will help any family and its members improve as they strive to flourish. The book is a must-have for any professionals working with families.

Dr. Trussell also provides workshops, webinars and individual consultation with parents seeking to overcome oppositional behavior problems in the home and create more family harmony.

To learn more about Dr. Trussell and his work, go to his website [link]. He has also provided an excellent and generous resource to our page of free professional materials here on the Network.

To access Dr. Trussell’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right, typing in “Dr. Daniel Trussell.”