May 2017

What is your bedroom door policy for your children?

Many parents struggle to keep their younger children’s door open no matter how many times they tell them not to close their bedroom door. Unless you are extreme, you can’t really take the door off – since you do want to provide your children with basic privacy to change, for example.

What is the secret trick that keeps your kids listening? Many parents are torn between what is the right boundary: to give your children the space and privacy they “need” or enforcing strong guidelines on allowed door use? This is not to say that children shouldn’t have alone time in their rooms to read, relax, and self-explore. This is specifically related to children who have peers over; the presumption of privacy is inappropriate for younger children (and old children/teens who have opposite sex guests).

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. It really all begins with the level of respect your child has for you and for themselves. Dr. Jim Taylor, professor at the University of San Francisco, who specializes in psychology of business, sport, and parenting, explains that being friends with your child is not beneficial for them. Parents must maintain their role as parents and set boundaries where necessary to keep them safe.

With respect to the room door, it should stay closed unless there is a question of safety. Specifically, when friends are over, your children should understand that there will be no presumption of privacy, especially if the friends are kids you may not know. Additionally, Dr. Taylor states that if you teach your child the value of respect early, they will benefit in many ways which will positively carry over into adulthood. Children who are taught exemplary respect:

  • Are happier, more successful, and have healthier relationships.
  • Are unselfish, considerate, caring, and generous.
  • Respect you and other influential adults.
  • Honor reasonable boundaries placed on them.
  • Are more likely to trust you and abide by your directives.

It’s not that simple to just impose new rules and restrictions on your children; you must start young and gradually give your children more freedoms as they earn them. Once it is established, your children will understand that having a door is a privilege and closing the door to keep you out for any reason (other than changing and other agreed upon details, of course) will not be tolerated.

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Are You Asking for Help?

It is extremely difficult to ask for help; for some, more than others. Making requests for help induces so much fear some that it paralyzes the ability to learn without shame or guilt. The fear is very real; there are many valid reasons to be afraid. Some of the more common fears are: the fear of asking for help and receiving more than you asked for, the fear of asking for help and having to “owe” or be indebted to someone, the fear of not being self-sufficient or independent if help is obtained, or the fear of not being able to ask for help appropriately or correctly – especially if there was no one around to teach you.

Toni Bernhard J.D. Professor at the University of California for 22 years, served as the law school’s dean for six years. As a nationally acclaimed self-help author, she explains that there is a great deal of vulnerability associated with reaching out for support. Our strongest fear of being vulnerable is holding us back from asking for help. Bernhard illuminates that “many of us don’t like to ask for help. We may have been taught that it’s a sign of weakness, so we cling to the notion, ‘I can do everything myself,’ even if it’s no longer the case.”

At school, asking for help could be intimidating or frightening, especially if it’s in front of the whole class. Our society is built around the ultimate mission statement: “getting ahead”. But again, shouldn’t our mission be centered around learning?

At work, unless we are new, asking for help is often seen as a deficiency. You cannot dare expose that you do not have knowledge that perhaps all other co-workers possess. It feels almost easier to figure it out on your own, even if it takes longer, than to admit to someone that you need help. Does this mindset of “getting ahead” really help productivity if your employees spend time worrying about asking someone for help instead of just completing the project by reaching out for assistance?

Whatever happened to wholesome teamwork or simply wanting to learn from each other? We all know the famous phrase “sharing is caring” (sharing of information in this case). We teach our children these things when they are young; the question we all should ask ourselves now is: at what point did we learn (or were taught) to fear, hide, hoard, and withhold from others?

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Improve Your Time Management

During busy times of the year, it feels like there are too few hours in a day. For some, it seems that every day the to-do list keeps growing and that no matter how much effort one puts into knocking items off the list, it simply refuses to shorten. There is a method to take some of the stress away from what may seem like endless tasks on your never ending to-do list.

The goal involves adjusting your time management; the method is a planned out follow through. Beverly D. Flaxington, a corporate consultant for over 17 years, adjunct professor at Suffolk University, and author of award winning books such as 30 Days to Understanding Other People, A Daily Approach to Improving Your Relationships, and Understanding Other People, identified tips for better time-management to increase your productivity:

  • Pick your style. You know what has worked and what has not worked for you in the past. Settle on a method that works for you: whether you use your phone or a planner – pick a method to keep you on track daily and stick to it.
  • Take your values into account. Of course all our to-dos are important; however, writing a simple “to-do” list and going line by line is not the optimal way. Everything that has to be done should be ranked based on what matters most right now.
  • Pick your daily focus. Baby steps go a long way. Each day, pick a few things from your list that are the highest priority; only focus on those things that day. The hard part is keeping your focus from diverting to other things throughout the day.
  • Break it down. Each to-do on the list has little to-do’s within themselves. Once you have selected your priorities for the day, take some time to break down the steps that are necessary for each task to be completed. This will help create a realistic image of how much time you need to complete the task.
  • Get organized. When everything has a place, you save time by not having to look for things. Make a promise to yourself to put things back in their place when you are done using them.
  • Value your time. Social media is fun and entertaining, but before you even realize it, it can eat away at chunks of your precious time. Before you even login to your favorite site or application, set a time limit for yourself for when you will put it away and get back to work.

If you really commit to becoming more productive, you will quickly see that you can get things done and have enough time for relaxation. All it takes is a little planning and dedication. With persistence and enough practice these six skills will become a habits in no time!

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7 Reasons You Can’t Resist Your Fast Food Temptation

Many of us lose the battle and find ourselves yet again at the same drive through that we have vowed to stop coming to. We all know fast food is not good for us – but did you know that the reason you are so hooked on your favorite fast food place is no coincidence?

Fast food business use tactics specifically proven to get their consumer dependent on their product. Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., who currently works at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a postdoctoral fellow illuminates 7 different reasons we cannot shake the craving of fast food.

  1. Sugar is addictive: Dr. Gowin explains “Just as you can develop a physiological and psychological dependence on cocaine, you can become dependent on sugar”.
  2. The push of convenience: there is a fast food restaurant nearly on every corner – if you lose your control for even a split second you may fall prey to the next fast food place coming up.
  3. The Value Meal taps the brain’s economy: If it’s cheap, it’s easier for you to justify getting it.
  4. Our brains prefer high-calorie foods: Dr. Gowin states that “Our brains can tell the difference between high [caloric] foods and diet foods even if they taste the same”.
  5. Speed has addictive properties: If you feel hungry you want to satisfy that craving as fast as you can – and what better way to quickly fill your belly then a drive thru?
  6. Brains like branding: When we like something or it was pleasant our brain makes us seek it out again, you can basically anticipate the pleasure you will get from fast food and it gives all the more push to go.
  7. McNuggets stoke your memory: ”Eating a McNugget not only sates your appetite for chicken (and the glue that holds the McNugget together), it also reminds you of your childhood, the cool Transformers toy you got in your Happy Meal, and the first time you were big enough to order the 10-piece instead of the 4-piece” explained Gowin

Self-control can be pretty hard if you take all the 7 reasons in account for our poor decision to get fast food. However, education is power – now that you know all the tricks being used against you, you are more aware and hopefully this awareness will help you steer away from fast food more often in the future.


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Fear of Change


Everyone to a certain degree fears change – because change ultimately means something new, unpredictable, and uncertain. Overall, we humans do not like change – most of us offer some resistance to it. Change is especially hard when it is forced upon you.

Why do those who want to change—who have a genuine desire to change—still cannot get themselves to make the necessary modifications in their life? William Berry is a practicing psychotherapist, professor at Florida International University, and author of The Second Noble Truth. In his book, he explains that even if a desire to change is present, there are many potential barriers that stand in the way of change.

Berry states that one of the primary barriers is an inability to transform quickly, because what they are altering may have provided a meaningful purpose to them in the past–which is hard to let go of. Furthermore, biologically speaking, our brain is actually wired to resist change. As human beings we seek out pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy – none of which help us change or make changes in our life.

It’s not hopeless; change does not always have to be terrifying. Solutions are pretty simple to understand; they are a little tougher to practice. To accept change with ease, you must remain open-minded. This allows you to reap the benefits of continuous improvement. However, to maintain being open-minded, you must always try to gain or obtain new knowledge and information.

William Berry suggests that “acceptance of change can contribute to a more positive perception, as well as embracing forced change”. Basically, you are trying to teach yourself to keep your focus on the positives to eventually get rid of the negatives. Additionally, Berry explains that self-talk is really helpful if you identify as someone who is already what you wish to become.

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Could Your Child Be the Bully?

Many think that bullies are only made in hostile, negligent homes. False. A bully can be produced in multiple homes, come from multiple parenting styles, and blossom out of many different types of experiences. Quite frequently, parents are shocked when they find out their child was the aggressor. Do not be naïve when it comes to your children – children are not born bullies; bullying is a learned behavior. Kids need guidance to change their negative behavior and the guide should be a parent in charge.

Dr. Bob Myers, a licensed child and adolescent psychologist for over 30 years and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine lists the red flags parents and guardians need to be aware of:

Increased Aggression: Kids have a harder time controlling and regulating their emotions; often they will stay angry even after confrontations in class are done and they are home.

School Troubles: Grades are a good way to see if they are struggling in school; sometimes a decrease in grades can show that your child is focusing more on school peer relationships than on academic. Additionally, getting in trouble with the teacher or getting sent to the principal’s office is an alarm that something may be going on.

Change in Friends: Take a good hard look at who your child’s primary friends are–this will be a good sign of who your children are. Has your child’s primary group of friends changed recently? What does their group of friends seems like—are they positive or negative?

Belongings: Have you noticed that your child has new things when they come back home? Does your child have more money then you gave them? Bullies are known to take material possessions from others; this would be a tell-tale sign that they may be taking things that don’t belong to them.

Blaming: If you notice your child not taking responsibility for their wrong doing or if they are playing the role of the victim (intentionally for personal gain), they are generally more inclined to be bullies. The more a child values their reputation, the more probable it is for them to have a tendency towards bullying.

Stay aware, stay informed, and stay in charge to make sure your child is not harming others or being harmed by others. As parents it is your job to protect your children and to protect others from your children when they pose a risk.

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7 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied

It’s hard to prepare your child for situations in which they can be bullied, in part because bullying manifests in myriad different ways. The National Center for Educational Statistics counts more than one out of every five students having been bullied. Twenty percent; these numbers are simply unacceptable.

Mendi Baron, founder and CEO of Evolve Treatment Centers and teen advocate, created a list of seven signs that help parents identify if their child is experiencing some form of bullying.

Seven signs that your child is being bullied:

  • Having cuts and bruises that are not explained
  • Isolating from friends and family members
  • No longer wanting to go to school or take part in school activities
  • Lacking interest in homework and sliding grades
  • Complaining of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
  • Having trouble sleeping or suffering from bad dreams
  • Lack of appetite

Alert readers will notice that these are some of the primary symptoms of childhood depression. However, it is rarely easy to notice when your child has been targeted or abused by a bully. Let me ask readers this – has bullying become more prevalent or have we all simply become more attentive to the signs? Or, alternatively, has the definition of bullying significantly broadened in the past generation?

This post doesn’t seek to answer those questions—merely to raise awareness of bullying and alert parents to potential signs.

If you suspect that your child might be being bullied, you must help them understand that their pain is important to other people. Bullying is not something one should have to go through as a child–it does not have to be a part of growing up, like some tend to believe. An Alpha Parent doesn’t let bullying slip under his or her nose.

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