Minding Back to School: 3 Tips For a Great Year

September is here and millions of students are officially back-to-school! Parents and children have been making some major adjustments to their daily routines that often come with a bit of stress and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to ease into the fall season seamlessly! TT_Back_To_School

1)  Mind Their Routine: it is time to reinstate the chores, study time, curfews and bedtimes that may have been relaxed during the summer. Parents should make sure that they are aware of their child’s academic and extracurricular obligations and create boundaries around them that will facilitate their child’s success. Depending on their age, consider including your child in the creation of these rules and boundaries to increase buy-in and compliance.

2)  Mind Their Body: a strong mind begins with a strong body. The carefree eating of summer has come to an end. It is time to incorporate healthy food staples back into your entire family’s diet. This helps promote academic success and optimal physical development. The national “Let’s Move” campaign offers some tips on how to improve your family’s overall diet.

3)  Mind Their Mind: as your child adjusts to their new classroom, teacher, friends and school, make sure you regularly inquire about their experiences. Having routine conversations with your child about the things that matter to them creates a foundation of trust and feeling of safety within the family unit. Remember it is not your job to solve every problem for your child, but they should be comfortable discussing any of their problems with you. Key themes to keep an ear out for during your talks are:

  1. Evidence of bullying
  2. Self-esteem changes
  3. Mood fluctuations
  4. Self-destructive behaviors

The beginning of a new school year is exciting for both children and parents. It is imperative for parents to take a proactive role in ensuring success during this transition period. If your child demonstrates problems during this time that seem extreme or go on for an extended period of time, I encourage you to contact their school to set up an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher and school counselor. They have a plethora of resources available to support you and child, as well as access to specialized community-based resources such as counselors and therapists if necessary. Congratulations in advance on having a wonderful school year!

3 Ways to Get Your Apology Accepted

sorry-e1404402424391.jpg

Who did it and why? is a question that often comes up in the therapy room. When someone has been emotionally hurt by another, it can be difficult for the hurt party to move forward from a place of pain, anger, and resentment. A common reason for this difficulty is the lack of acceptance of the offending party's remorse. An apology may have been given, but it was not fully accepted.

sorry

Here are 3 ways to help ensure your apologies get accepted so you can start bridging the gap in your relationships:

  1. Listen: The first step to getting your apology accepted is to listen to what has gotten your partner so upset. Give you partner as much time as they need to express themselves; do not interrupt their story and reflect back what they have shared with you when they have finished speaking. The goal here is to understand your partner and for your partner to feel understood.
  2. Say "I'm Sorry": We often try to correct our wrong before we have actually apologized for our actions. If we feel our partner should not have been hurt by actions, or our actions mirrored one of their own behaviors from the past, we find it difficult to express empathy or remorse to our partner. Saying I'm sorry" is not an acknowledgement of guilt, it is a validation of our loved-one's feelings. If you truly want to move forward and bridge the gap with your partner, you must first validate their experience of you.
  3. Commit to a behavior change: The most challenging step to having our apology accepted is our follow-through with a behavior change. Gaining insight into your partner's emotional make-up, via steps 1 and 2, will help inform how you can better relate to your partner in the future. Behavior changes can be small or large, but are most effective when they are mutually agreed upon. Remember, your credibility is only as good as your follow-up!

Getting past hurt, anger, and resentment can be a challenge for families and couples. If you are having difficulty managing your relationships, I encourage you to explore counseling services in your local area designed to assist you in learning and implementing communication techniques that improve understanding and strengthen emotional bonds!

This post first appeared on Cheryl's blog.

Making "Cents" of Money in Relationships

Just_Married-e1399429788493.jpg

When we look at the marriage customs of our ancestors, marriage was often a business relationship that brought two families together. Now that love is the foundation of many 21st century relationships, why does MONEY seem to contribute so often to relationship conflict? Mine, Yours, Ours DollarsSometimes, when each partner works and they can't agree on financial issues, they decide to split the bills down the middle or allocate them out in some other fair and equitable manner. Once the bills are covered, each partner can spend what they have left as they see fit.

It sounds like a reasonable plan, but the process often builds resentment over the individual purchases made. It also divides the spending power, eliminating much of the financial value of marriage.

How to Bridge the Gap: Develop a pre-approved purchase agreement (i.e. purchases below a certain amount are discretionary; purchases above $500 are to be discussed). Be a check and balance for each other.

Debt Broken_Piggy_BankFrom school & car loans to credit cards and gambling habits, most people come to the relationship with financial baggage. If one partner has more debt than the other, or worse yet one partner is debt free, the sparks can start to fly when discussions about income, spending, and debt servicing come up. How to Bridge the Gap: make it a goal to live debt free; mutually develop a plan for paying down debt regardless of initial ownership. Once paid down, make it a goal to pay credit cards off monthly. For those who aren't married, knowing what you are about to get yourself into can help you decide how to deal with it. If you just can't come to an agreement, but your heart won't let you walk away, a prenuptial agreement may be an option.

Power Play Power_PlayPower conflicts often occur in the following scenarios:

  1. He works and she doesn't
  2. He's unemployed and she's working
  3. One partner earns more than the other
  4. One extended family has money and the other does not

When these situations are present, the money earner (or the one who makes the most money) may have a tendency to want to dictate the spending priorities. Although there may be some rationale behind is idea, it is still important that both partners cooperate as a team!

How to Bridge the Gap: The power play issue can get ugly quickly!! Few things build resentment faster than being made to feel inferior. If you've got the cash, you need to be sensitive about how you present spending decisions. If you don't have the money, you need to be prepared for the stress and tension that is almost inevitable, even in good relationships. The Bottom Line Like many relationship problems, lack of communication is often the underlying issue in money-management conflicts. Challenges aside, getting married can have serious financial advantages. It is a great way to double your income without doubling your expenses. If you can synchronize your goals, you and your partner can reach them much more quickly than working alone!