Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Changing Our Outlook

About a month ago, I was invited to speak at a conference on religion and disabilities. I was only able to get off work for 1 day of the 2.5 of the conference,  but my coauthor could entire the entire event. Frustrating? Yes, but I chose to appreciate the time I was offered.

Then a very important work meeting was scheduled during the same time I was scheduled to speak. Again, I  made a conscious determination to look for a solution rather than becoming upset. My boss agreed to let someone else attend in my place. Relief.

I found out during a work meeting that the class I was supposed to teach had been moved to lunch time that day. I had a day packed with meetings, but was able to slip away and do the class. That afternoon, the assistant principal at my school asked if I could take time from my one personal day at the event to make some phone calls. I politely refused, and she was very gracious about it.

Today is my time to spend learning and giving the keynote address. I anticipate there will be some challenges, but pray things will go well. If they don't, I'll have more opportunities to practice my patience.

How do you take setbacks in stride?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Preparing for Changes

Some schools are out, and others are finishing up. Children with special needs often have trouble adjusting to new routines, even when it's for a great reason like summer vacation. Here are a few tips to get you over the hump:

  • Discuss the upcoming changes. 
  • Make some plans and set up a new routine.
  • Emphasize the positive aspects of the different schedule. 
  • Discuss concerns, but don't allow your child to dwell on them. 
Soon it will be time to prepare for a new school year. More tips:
  • Say good things about the staff--if you set up bad expectations, they will be fulfilled.
  • Talk about how you will prepare things like supplies and clothing. 
  • Arrange for a time to tour the new school/classroom and visit with the teacher. 
  • Generate excitement by helping your child review good memories from the past year. 
What are your best tips for ending or beginning a school year?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Having Hard Conversations

I've been talking to lots of people lately about having hard conversations. Many difficult dialogs take place between families and school personnel.

Here are a few tips to keep challenging chats from becoming hostile or impossible:

  • Be polite.
  • Don't blame current staff members for mistakes made on other campuses. 
  • Try not to act hostile--we are not your enemies.
  • Don't make assumptions, expain your position calmly.
  • Pick your battles. Every phone call is not a time for a laundry list of complaints.
  • Be sure the person you contact is in a position to help you--contact teachers about grades, etc.
  • Give them 24-48 hours to respond.
  • Don't expect information over weekends and school breaks.
  • Please understand that there are certain things that can't be done (ignoring crimes on campus, changing grades, etc.)
  • If you have a serious problem, talk to an administrator. 
How do you make hard conversations easier?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Edited Thoughts

Latest in a series of blog posts based on "Train Your Brain to Get Happy" by Aubele, Wenck, & Reynolds.

Many times what is making us unhappy are not our circumstances, but what we think about our lives. Here's how to edit your thoughts and lift your mood:

  • Run your impressions by your friends to check accuracy. 
  • Have a planned distraction--something else to think about, preferably a happy time in your life. 
  • Give yourself a break. It's often easier to forgive yourself than others. Don't take that guilt trip.
  • Let go of hurtful events rather than reliving them over and over. 
  • Look for a solution rather than reviewing the problem. 
  • Talk to a loved one to help you sort things out or for a distraction.
  • Do something fun. Have some quick enjoyable activities ready for when you need a boost. 
How do you edit your thoughts?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Increasing numbers of young adults are failing to leave the nest. It's not inability to find employment or housing keeping them home, it's that they have not developed the skills they need for independence.

A recent study of college students by researchers at Brigham Young University revealed that these adults have a deep concern for their children. Unfortunately the constant inappropriate intrusions made by the parents harm the youngsters psychologically.

It begins when the children are very young. Don't interfere in the squabbles of elementary school children unless someone could get hurt. They need to learn to get along with others, and that includes social problem solving.

How can you determine if you're a helicopter parent? The researchers have these criteria:

  • Do you think you have to protect your child from all pain and suffering?
    • Remember that suffering can be a source of growth. 
  • Learn the difference between helping and coddling.
    • When you let them try on their own, then provide a safety net, that's help. Dictating actions and stepping in to manage problems is coddling.
  • Only call or text your child once a day or less on a regular basis. 
    • Never call during school hours unless there is an emergency, and discipline your child for using their phone to contact you during class time. 
  • Don't intervene in conflicts for college-age children by contacting roommates, friends. or school officials. They need to learn to deal with challenges on their own at this point. 
    • Don't swoop in and try to solve their problems. Let them manage, and take their lumps if they've made a mistake. It's part of learning to be an adult. 
  • Develop your own interests so you have other things to think about. If you have no outside life, you're a helicopter parent. Take a class, join club, or learn a sport.

How do you teach independence to your children?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Training Your Brain to be Happy

Latest in a series of blog post based on "Train Your Brain to Get Happy by Aubele, Wenck, and Reynolds.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a proven method to change actions and attitudes. You can implement some of these methods on your own. Here's how:

  • Create a log of events, your feelings, and thoughts about what happened. Do this 3-4 times each day for a week. Take note of any patterns that either raise or lower your mood.
  •  Distract yourself from negative thoughts by thinking about something positive. 
  • Take time to recall a happy time when you start thinking negatively.
What's the best way to distract yourself from negative thoughts?