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What Parents Can Learn from Disney/Pixar's Inside Out

Inside Out

I don't think I've ever talked about a movie with patients as much as I have about Disney/Pixar's Inside Out. It is truly a one-size-fits-all film which can help any of us-- adults and kids alike-- understand and feel empowered to make choices about what goes on with the emotions in our minds. My new favorite intervention in session to help patients get a new perspective is to say, "Let's 'Inside-Out' this one. Who is in charge of the control panel in your mind? Who do you want to be taking over the wheel?" This strategy is not limited to the therapy room-- you could try it at your dinner table, or even at your next staff meeting and don't be surprised if you see the wheels of flexibility start to turn.

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What to do when your child starts mouthing off

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Don't you hate those "gotcha" moments, when (often in public, but audience not required) your child flings some words at you like-- this is lame, or, this dinner stinks, or, this vacation is boring-- and it takes all your strength not to fling some equally undesirable words back? Well, me too. Here are some ideas to get you out of the gotcha moment and make it a win-win situation for all. 

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School's Out, Structure's In: How to Plan Your Child's Summer "Work Week"

©2015 Corbis/Veer, used by permission

Please tell me I'm not alone, but every year when school lets out for summer, I worry (yes, I do) what are the kids going to do with all of that free time? So practicing what I preach, I know it's better to use my time planning than worrying, here's a plan to introduce a little structure into your child's summer vacation. Not too much, but just enough. It could help end the fights over screen time and make a better summer for everyone in your home. Happy summer all!

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Don't Save the Wisdom of Failure Until Graduation

Corbis Images by permission

Graduation speeches encouraging students to be resilient in the face of failure (because therein lies the path to success) are becoming a staple in American culture. But why save that great advice until the 11th hour? Imagine how different things might be if our children learned how to approach and manage risk and uncertainty from the very beginning of their education. Here are some simple ideas that we can start using today to make resilient risk-taking part of everyday life for our children, and ourselves, too!

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When Tragedy Feels Near, But Is Very Far

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Last month a tragedy happened in my hometown of Philadelphia when an Amtrak train derailed killing eight people and seriously injuring many, many more. The day after the crash my husband and I had long ago planned to meet with our lawyer to update our will. The juxtaposition of these events gave me a lot to think about, especially, how hard it is to be resilient, even when you are an anxiety therapist. And how, as parents, we need to be-- for our children, and ourselves.

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How to Correct Your Anxious Child

Veer/Corbis used with permission

Should you correct a child who is always worried about making mistakes, being in trouble, and having people mad at them? This is the question that parents of anxious children ask me every day. The answer is yes. In fact, the best place for anxious children to learn that being corrected or having someone mad at them is temporary, survivable, and much more rare than they fear, is at home where they are loved and cared for. Check out this post on how to practice resiliency-promoting discipline in your home, and lower the anxiety level for all.

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How to Manage College Admission Stress

©Veer, Used by permission

March madness. If you have a high school senior that expression takes on a whole new meaning as you wait for the college admission results to come in. Is your child's entire future dependent on what comes in the mail (or these days, email)? Is there really life beyond the thin envelope? At the moment of impact, the answer is no. But after the brief flatline, when it feels like the horizon of your child's future has dropped out of sight for both you and your child, there is a resounding -- yes. In this article, parents and teachers can learn how to help kids to put this moment in perspective and see that no matter what happens come April 15th, they have their whole life ahead of them.  

 

 

 

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What to Do When Your Child is Afraid to Go to Bed

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When I was a little girl, I couldn't sleep for weeks after seeing The Wizard of Oz-- how could I when those flying monkeys were stuck in my head? Monsters, zombies, bad dreams, the wind rustling in the trees-- all children go through times when their fears get the better of them-- and one of the best times for fears to sneak in and take over is in the quiet and darkness of bedtime. Here are some fun and effective solutions to help your child take charge of their bedtime fears and get a good night's sleep!

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To Fall in Love Again, and Again, Ask Questions!

couple23

Hello dear readers! A few weeks ago I started to write a post about what to do with the habits of your partner that well, aren't your favorite (enthusiastic chewing, unfortunate puns, socks just outside the hamper, you get the idea) perfect for Valentine's Day, right? But then I came across this wonderful love story in the New York Times Modern Love column by Mandy Len Catron-- "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This"-- and it inspired me to write this post instead about enlisting our curiousity rather than our anxiety when it comes to our most important relationships. I promise I'll finish the other post, too-- worry not! Happy Valentine's Day, all!

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What to do when you're afraid of throwing up

throw up fear

Happy new year, readers! This may seem a strange way to start off the year, but this is an opportunity for change, and for millions of Emetophobia sufferers, they'd love to not bring their disabling fear of throwing up into the new year. Maybe you know someone like this-- or you are someone like this! Here are many ideas for understanding how this phobia works, how to take charge of it, maybe even have some fun with it, and importantly, how to overcome it.

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How to Survive Family Holiday Gatherings, And Even Enjoy Them!

Cia de Foto / DecorLove / CC BY-NC-SA

Many people can't wait to get together with their families for the holidays; others dread this time of year. I am going to go out on a limb here and say in most families the potential is there for both experiences! There's goodness to be shared, and there are minefields to be tiptoed around. But this is family—our families— the only ones we've got. Here's a post I wrote a while back about taking on the challenges and finding the good during the holidays. It's a favorite of mine, I hope you enjoy (and share it with a friend who really needs it!). Happy, healthy holidays and all best wishes for 2015!

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Freeing Your Holidays from Anxiety

Winter lights

Are you hoping that this holiday season will be different for you, and that you can limit the stress and connect more with what this time of year really means to you and your family? Me too! Here is a post I wrote a few years back about that very topic. Happy, peaceful holidays to all!

 

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How to Talk to Your Child (and Yourself) About Ebola

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Many parents are hesitant about whether or not to bring up the topic of the Ebola virus with their children, because they don't want to upset them, and more to the point-- because they don't know what to say because they're feeling overwhelmed themselves. Here are ideas about how to talk about Ebola by shifting away from the fears and to the facts, and even how to refocus on gratitude and compassion, the greatest antidote to fear.

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Preventing Homework Procrastination

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Homework? No thanks, I'll do it later... Procrastination, what has been referred to as a human instinct, starts young. Five year olds with a mere five minutes of homework would rather do anything than sit still and be trapped with what will feel to them like hours of torture! In this post I describe many strategies for teaching kids to sneak past the tough beginning of their work session, and get more quickly to the middle-- the part when they are in their groove and heading toward the finish line. Feel free to use these ideas to get your own work flowing, they have been adult-tested too!

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Homework is Stupid and I Hate Everything!

homeworkBack to school means to back to homework, and for many families that means back to homework battles. For the next couple of blog posts I will share ideas about how to get kids and families on track with that necessary evil, I mean, that vehicle for reinforcing learning-- homework!

 

 

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What Robin Williams Can Teach Us

robin-williamsAs much as we are interacting with people who are suffering from depression everyday-- research suggests that at any given time as many as one in ten adults is in its grips-- the suicide of the beloved, Robin Williams, shook us, stunned us, and saddened us greatly. It also left us with many questions, among them-- what can we do to help people with depression? Here are my thoughts with special help from my friend, depression-insider, Therese Borchard.

 

 

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How to Take Charge of Back-to-School Fears

back-to-schoolWhat's a parent's first instinct when a child is afraid? To reassure, to take away the fear, to tell your child that everything is going to be okay. If only that worked! In this post we see how asking your child the right questions about her fears can be even more powerful than giving reassurance, because it shifts kids out of worry mode and into thinking mode-- and that's exactly the mode they need to be in for school, and for life! Here's to a great school year for all!
 

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What to Do When Your College Student is Homesick

Ian Fuller / Foter 

This week as students are heading off to college, parents are wondering-- what do they do when their child is unhappy or homesick? Is it a sign of trouble, or just a normal sign of change? This is normal! Teaching your children (young adults) how transitions work is your new job. Here are many ideas to get you started.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Ways To Get Rid of Perfectionism and Live a Better Life

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I was in my favorite coffee shop recently (I would walk very far for the best iced Americano in town) and the barista was dumping out a latte that just wasn't up to snuff for her. I joked that perfectionism is only important when it comes to making coffee. She laughed and said, no, perfectionism is important everywhere. We got into a whole discussion about whether perfectionism was really sustainable, and how it is different from striving for excellence. In the end we agreed to disagree (I think it's just a matter of time; she's young) and I enjoyed my delicious drink. But it got me thinking about how destructive perfectionism can be to a person's well-being, not to mention productivity, so I am reposting this piece I wrote on the topic a bit ago. Here's to striving for excellence (not perfection)!

 

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Happy Birthday to Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Second Edition is Here!

freeing your child from anxiety revised editionHello all! The day has arrived, the Second Edition of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety is on the shelves as of today! You can check out the book on amazon by clicking here. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt to give you a preview of how anxiety disorders, though as many as 1 in 5 children, and 1 in 4 adults suffer from them, can be treated and even prevented. Here's to less worry all around. In your own head, and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Freeing Your Child from Anxiety Second Edition is Almost Here!

small coverHappy summer every one! I have been hard at work this past year on a revised edition of my 2004 book, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. In the mail today, I just received the finished books! They will be availabile in stores and online on July 29th, 2014, but you can pre-order by clicking here. I am really excited about the new edition. It has three new chapters, and... an additional 160 pages of text, and... lots and lots of wonderful new illustrations courtesy of my amazing husband, Phil Stern, and lots of new strategies including a "Do It Today" section at the end of every chapter. Check it out! Here's a sample "Do It Today" to get you started. You can try it on your child, or get a "two-for-one" and try it on yourself. Here's to less worry all around!

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How to Not Pass on Stress to Your Kids

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Recently I had the pleasure of talking with my dear friend, Dr. Dan Gottlieb on his NPR radio show, Voices in the Family. His guests, Drs. Sara Waters and Wendy Mendes from University of San Francisco were reporting on their study of the transmission of stress from mother to infant. It was a great conversation, and you can listen to the program here. The take away message was very positive-- that parents can do so much to manage their stress and importantly "repair" their connection with their child if stress gets in the way-- through apologies, loving gestures-- and just spending time together. In otherwords, we don't have to pass on our stress, we can clean it up as we go. Here's a piece I wrote to share these ideas. 

 

 

 

 

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How to Handle a Personal Crisis at Work

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Divorce, health problems, taking care of sick children, taking care of sick parents-- none of us are immune from these challenges which can impact every aspect of our day to day life. It's hard enough to handle the stress of a personal crisis itself, but how do we do so in the context of our jobs when people are depending on us? I had the pleasure of talking with Business Insider journalist, Jacquelyn Smith, about how to manage a crisis in the work context in a way that minimizes, as much as possible, our own stress as well as that of our colleagues.

 

 

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Teaching Children to Succeed in Sports by Managing Their Mindset

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As an anxiety therapist who works with kids with perfectionism, especially around sports, I always appreciate when the Olympics come around. By watching these unparalleled feats of human agility, grace, strength and beauty and also seeing that things don't always go as planned, children can learn that excellence isn't the same as perfection and that true mastery can often be measured (in gold!) by how quickly one bounces back from disappointment and mis-steps. You'll learn in this blog post strategies to teach kids how to increase their mental agility in sports-- just like the pros.

 

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The Valentine's Day Post: How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Relationship

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It's almost Valentine's Day, and while we scramble to find the perfect gift, maybe we've already got it! Researchers at University of California Berkeley have found the secret to love and connection can be revealed in the words we use in our relationships. What's the word that packs the most power? The one that is woven through the conversations of happy couples? It's the word "we." Check out why. And happy Valentine's day dear readers!

 

 

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